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    MacGreg
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Dissonance - 15. Interlude

The following is an interlude chapter, written through Travis' perspective as only he can tell it.

Travis

Jack Osbourne can be a feisty trick. He never likes to be fucked without pretending to put up a good fight first. I figure it makes him feel better about himself afterwards - knowing that he resisted the temptation for as long as he could and only succumbed to it once he was left with no other option. Despite the dramatic objections, once his ass is stretched open, Jack inevitably turns into a sobbing baby, begging for more. His actions are predictable. So are his demands; I always have to fuck him twice before he’ll relinquish his money.

"None of this happened, right?" Jack announces, once I finish off my second set and he pushes me aside to get out of the bed. It's a phrase the older cowboy says after every coupling, like clockwork. I nod my head and perch on the edge of the mattress to pull off the condom. He lightly smacks me over the ear with a beefy hand before dropping a rubber-banded stack of bills onto my crotch.

Jack boasts a beer gut that extends across the room, nearly matching the size of his inflated ego, and I can't help but sneer at him as he tucks his fancy Rockmount shirt into the low waistband of his finely-starched Wrangler jeans. The large, ornate rodeo buckle he touts from a much younger life is barely visible beneath the extension of his protruding belly. Anymore, I have to position myself just right in order to even mount him. It's not that I don't enjoy topping a bear, but Jack's becoming more and more of a disgruntled prick with the passage of time, and I'm becoming less and less amenable to visiting.

But the decision isn’t entirely mine. At least not for now... Jack and Mason still have me on a short leash. Curtis has me on an even shorter leash. Eventually, I'll cut the ties that bind me to this – once the ranch is up to par, once extra help's hired on, once all of the property repairs have been completed and the buildings are restored, and Katy's off to college or wherever it is she ends up, and Mom gets the proper potter’s studio and lifestyle she deserves - and I can finally pay off Curtis for what's constantly dangled in front of me like a goddamn golden carrot. Eventually, I'll liberate myself from all of these restraints.

“Hope your stallion’s successfully fucked Sunshine by now,” Jack grunts. "I'll go out and check with Diego. Gotta be sure she's seeded, then you'll get the rest of your money tomorrow."

"I know," I mutter, as if his statement is anything new. Standing from the disheveled bed, I stoop to retrieve the condoms from the carpet and dispose of them as I enter the master bathroom. With a flip of the faucet, I turn on the shower and step into the tiled enclosure to scrub the scent of cologne, cigar and sweat from my skin. I don't like smelling like stogies, and I can't stand that Drakkar shit Jack douses himself in.

"T-bones on the grill tonight?" Jack asks from the open doorway of the bathroom.

Through the steam, I can see his profile leaning against the door frame. I turn the faucet to scalding. Lift my face into the hot water and let it scorch my pores. "I can't stay tonight, Oz," I announce. "I've got some business to take care of in town." Which isn't true, but I tell the lie anyway.

"Well, come back when you're done, then," he insists. "We'll have a late supper together."

I shut the water off and sigh. Step out of the enclosure and grab a towel to wrap around my waist. "I'll try," I mumble, but I've already made up my mind. There's no way in hell I'm going to sleep in his bed tonight. There was a time when I'd enjoyed curling up next to the burly man, but that time's long since passed. Now, I'd rather sleep in the backseat of my cold truck.

Jack pushes off from the door frame and comes forward, grabbing me by the wrist. "You should definitely come back," he states, almost like a command. I look at him without blinking, despite droplets of water falling from my bangs. He's about an inch shorter than me, so I have a slight advantage in our staring contest, and he knows it. After a moment, his expression droops, and he backs down. "I'd really like you to spend the night, Travis," he whispers. His hand travels up to my face, rests on my jaw. I can see sadness and desperation in his brown-gold eyes. Despite his ranch's success and his 30-year marriage, Jack Osbourne is a lonely old bastard. I feel sorry for him, but at the same time, I don't. He made life choices that he can't reconcile, and it's neither my fault nor my responsibility to make him feel better about it.

"I can't tonight, Oz," I say, taking a step back. "I've got things to do."

Reluctantly, he drops his hand down to his side. Gives me a sour look before turning on his heels. "I'll be out in the stables," he growls. "Use the back door when you leave."

Of course I will, Jack. I always do...

Once I'm alone, I finish drying off and gather my clothes from around the bedroom. Slide everything on and stuff the wad of hundred-dollar bills into my right boot, deep down so that it won’t inadvertently slip back out. The pressure's uncomfortable against my ankle, but it's way too much cash to fit into my wallet, and I can't risk losing any of it from my pockets.

Jack Osbourne prides himself on two things: being the wealthiest horse rancher this side of the Western Slope and having enough restraint to only step out of the closet a couple times year. At least, that’s what he tries to convince himself of. My visits to The Flying O Ranch are scheduled when Jack's wife, daughter and grandchildren are out of town visiting relatives in Nebraska or Montana - when there's no chance of a surprise return and Jack being caught with his pants down, whimpering at the edge of the king-sized bed with me at the helm.

Maximilian, my prized sorrel American Quarter Horse stud, accompanies me on these trips. It's how the trek to Glenwood Springs becomes twofold and lucrative: I fuck Oz, the stallion fucks a heated mare, and at the end of the day, everyone gets what they want. I walk away with $2,500 for the stud’s time plus $2,500 for my own time, and that equals a fuckload of cash in my boot. It's more income than a good month of horse boarding and feed lot auctions at the ranch can bring in. And all I have do is pretend to force myself on the old cowboy and fuck him twice. Should be easy, right? Too bad it leaves such an acrid taste in my mouth anymore.

Before leaving the house, I pass through the family room and swipe a bottle of Glenmorangie from Jack's overstocked wet bar. As soon as my feet hit the back deck, I light up a joint. The hash thumps the back of my throat, sears down my windpipe, travels into my lungs to relieve some of the disgust still broiling within me. Standing at the railing, I scan the horizon, gazing off across the wide valley. The sun, surrounded by patches of thin clouds, has started to set, dipping down behind the pointed crags of Storm King Mountain. I open the Scotch whisky and take a long pull before working on the weed some more. Jack hates it when I smoke pot around him, but I know that he's currently down at the stables checking on Max and Sunshine, so I take full advantage of the moment. Pulling up a cushioned deck chair, I swiftly land on it and prop the heels of my Justins up on the railing.

The valley sits quiet. Rays of low sunlight spread across the meadowlands in streaks, highlighting sparse trees and a few bay horses in the distance. Thoughts of Ben tumble full-force into my head again, just like they've done all afternoon, even when I was balls-deep inside Jack. He's going to be a tough one to get over, that's for sure. But I doubt I'll even be able to. There's something special about him, something different from the others. We weren't afforded a proper goodbye earlier – too much commotion, too many people and cars and taxi cabs in front of the resort and nowhere for me to park the truck and trailer except in a loading-only zone half a block away from the front drive. Audra and Bryan were goddamn impatient waiting for Ben to gather his stuff together and say goodbye. Even then, his words were brief. Mine were, too, because what choice did we have?

A trio of photographers stood across the street, vying for the chance to snap that one perfect photo that would gain front page attention and prove everyone’s rising suspicions about Ben Mansfield: the gay roughneck who might actually be gay... Of course, I wasn't going to give them the satisfaction of outing him, which meant that I had to refrain from touching his bruised cheek, pulling him close, apologizing once more for blind-siding him the way I had and for ending our time together so abruptly, when all I really wanted to do was take him back home for a few more days, just like he'd suggested. Impulses pushed aside, I leaned against the Dodge with my arms crossed and my heart compressed and voiced a simple goodbye, trying to make it sound like I didn't care but failing at it. The emotions were too fucking strong.

It was obvious the emotions were strong for him, too, the way he halfheartedly waved, thanked me for everything, and scuffled away with his head drawn down like the wind was kicked out of him. Witnessing his departure kicked the wind right out of me, too. But there was nothing that could be done about it. Rather than continue to stand there, watching him make his way to the hotel entrance, causing more bait for the photographers to take advantage of, I returned inside the truck and put it into drive. Pulled out onto the road, passing The Little Nell without another glance, headed in the direction of Glenwood to bring Max, and myself, to Jack's doorstep. It's not at all how I would have preferred to end the day, but the obligation at The Flying O hung over me, like a noose, no way to jump free of it. Not this time around.

And so now here I sit, regretting the whole goddamn afternoon, wishing there had been a different outcome.

Ever since the brutal burn of Eric, my hookups have been transitory and functional, meant only to satiate my needs and fill the void for a little while. But Ben's arrival three days ago had represented something different: a chance for actual enjoyment. Initially, I wasn't intending to lure him away from Little Annie’s, because I figured it was bound to stir up some trouble. But I've always prided myself on the art of the seduction, especially with floundering types who simply need a nudge in the right direction, and so I considered Ben a challenge to crack. A hell of a desirable one. The energy he shot at me across the table that night was palpable, no way I could resist it. And his interest in me was mutual, even if he claims that he was clueless about it at the time.

Of course I recognized who he was straight away, even though I pretended otherwise. You can’t pass by a magazine rack without his smug smile and piercing blue eyes catching your attention from the front cover of every publication. It's true that I haven't seen ‘Roustabout’ - I rarely get to the movies - but certain people I know, queer and straight alike, sit around on bar stools and squabble over Toby and Levi at great lengths as though the two roughnecks are close, personal friends of ours. So, in some ways, I feel like I have seen the film. Even Doug quotes a particular line to me every time he catches me spiraling back down into my depression: "I know you don't believe it, buddy, but love really can change a person's perspective. Stop fighting it so fuckin' hard all the time and let it happen."

Doug's been a hell of a great friend through much of the good and the bad in my life, but he still has no idea how deep the wounds of Boston really go or how challenging it is for me trust anyone anymore. The pain, the humiliation, the heartache are all permanently seared into the fibers of my flesh like a hot branding iron that never leaves. Memories continue to haunt me no matter what kind of substance abuse or reckless behavior I engage in. Lord knows I've fucking tried to erase it all. But 18 months later, I still wake up some nights in a cold sweat with stark images of degradation and torture pounding through my head. Being forced into submission when you're not a sub by a man who professes to love you and takes you on a trip to Boston but then subsequently kicks you down into the basement of a brownstone where two of his friends are waiting to top you without a single fucking safeword is an experience I don't wish upon anyone, not even my worst enemy. Hell, I'd say that I don't even wish that on Eric, but the truth is, I wish all of that on him. All of that and more. Twenty-fucking-fold more.

Katy, naive little girl that she is, has no clue how fortunate she is to have steered clear of his affection. To this day, she assumes that my return to Colorado without Eric is a result of my own cruelty, that I pushed him away because I'm a heartless bastard. I have no intention of correcting her. Some things are better left unsaid.

And then there's Jack Osbourne and Mason Gill marching around in the middle of my complicated life; closeted ranchers flashing their big money and coordinating stud dates through Curtis, who still pretends he doesn't know what's really going on, even though he gladly accepts the cash from me when I'm done. Not even dearest Doug knows about that part of my life. For me, it's just business, a means to acquire fast cash, and that's how I have to define it if I'm going to keep my sanity. But the truth is, I've grown tired of the game, and I've grown tired of these old ranchers leading double lives, begging me to mount them and then telling me to use the back door when I leave. I long for some fucking honesty, but everywhere I turn, it's non-existent, even within my own head.

Shoving my fingers down into my right boot, I touch the rubber-banded roll of hundred dollar bills. It's a hell of a lot of dough to forego once I make the decision to stop tricking. Even though I don't like it, for now it's important that I keep going and stay focused on the prize: the entire ranch mine, and Curtis finally out of my fucking hair. Half a dozen stud dates over the next year or so should do it - at which point, Mace and Oz will have no choice but to let me go. And if they so much as utter a single word of protest, I'll out their asses, no hesitation.

"Didn't I tell you not to smoke that shit around here?" Jack bellows. I flinch. I hadn't realized that he'd come up the deck stairs. With a sigh, I snuff out the burning end of the joint and slip the roach back into my cigarette pack. "I thought you were down at the stables," I mumble.

"I thought you were heading out," he retorts.

"I am." I get to my feet and push the chair back to the table. Jack yanks the bottle of Glenmorangie from the crook of my arm and says, "Not with this, you don't."

My impulse is to pop him in the face, but I refrain. Stepping past him with a frown, I hop down the stairs to the lawn and take off towards my truck. When I'm halfway across the yard, he yells out, "When you come back in the morning, we'll have breakfast together! In bed!"

Way to keep our rendezvous on the down-low, Oz. Why not use a megaphone next time? Diego may not have heard you in the stables...

I give no reply to him, just head straight to my truck, unhitch the trailer, and start the engine, anxious to distance myself from this ranch and the events of the day.

 

*    *    *    *

 

The doorbell hasn't been functional in well over a year, and it takes several knocks on the old raised-panel fiberglass door for someone to finally acknowledge that I'm standing on the porch. The red and silver Bronco is parked in the driveway, so I know someone's home, but I'm disappointed when it's Uncle Ed's grisly face that greets me. "What?" he barks with a glare, as though I've caught him in the middle of doing something important - like watching porn or getting high, both of which are plausible scenarios.

"Whaddo you want, Travis?" he repeats. He grips the partially-opened door with a thick hand, clearly indicating that I'm not invited inside. Dickhead hasn't welcomed me into his home since Dad died and he found out that I'm gay, so this reaction is not at all surprising to me. I don't give a damn whether he likes me or not; he's an ignorant, homophobic asshole who still can't fathom the fact that his wife ran out on him five years ago. But what I do care about is retaining a relationship with my cousins, the only two I have. I won't let him push me away from them.

"I thought I'd see if Carla and Stella want to go grab some dinner," I respond. "It's ribeye night at Sully's."

Ed just stands there, looking at me as though he's trying to figure me out. Rough stubble covers his jaw. His green eyes are puffy and bloodshot from too much hash. "They're not home," he states. "Off at some kind of school event." Narrowing his gaze a fraction, he adds, "Weren't you just here a couple of days ago?"

I nod. "Yep. I'm back in town now. Dropped my horse off in Glenwood, and I've got the night free, so I thought I'd come by and see if they want to hang out."

"Well, they're not here," he snaps. "So you'll have to find somewhere else to hang out."

I anticipate him slamming the door in the my face, but he pauses and looks at me again, studying me intently with his puffy, squinting eyes of disdain. "Stop coming around here so much," he insists. "I don't like you influencing the girls and all. It's not good for them."

I shove my hands down into the front pockets of my jeans to keep them from slamming him backwards onto the puke-green shag carpet of the living room. You're the goddamn bad influence, asshole... "Why not let them decide if they want me around?" I retort. "We're family, Ed, whether you like it or not."

Apparently, the mention of our shared kinship doesn't bode well with him. He snarls and says, "I'll tell them you stopped by," before shutting and locking the door.

I'm left standing there, fuming and alone on the rickety front porch. It's such a familiar feeling, I don't know why the hell it still fucking bothers me.

 

*    *    *    *

 

Mysteriously, once I leave Basalt and return to the highway headed for Glenwood, my truck veers off in the opposite direction, navigating its way back toward Aspen entirely of its own accord. I don't argue with the vehicle's intuition but rather allow it to transport me back to the place it knows I've been longing to return to ever since I left it earlier. The sun's fully set now, streets and businesses alight and people scurrying about doing their evening Aspen thing. I circle around the town for a bit, weighing my options, contemplating my objective. At one point, I pass by Little Annie's and slow way down to take a peek inside the front windows, not expecting to see him, of course, but fondly remembering the night and our first meeting. From behind, impatient cars honk at my tortoise-slow pace, so I find a place to pull over and park. After shoving a bunch of quarters into the meter, I walk a few blocks back to an accessories shop I remember passing.

Inside the small but posh establishment with its overabundance of dazzling, expensive objects, a young girl behind the counter greets me with an over-anxious smile and a chirpy "Hello!" She's wearing far too much makeup and cleavage for her age, just like Katy does. Just like my cousins do. Why are teenage girls so fucking anxious to become women...? I offer a smile to her in return and approach a glass display case housing a bunch of designer sunglasses. She follows me and says, "Looking for some new shades?"

I lean down on my haunches to get a better look at the selection. To assist, she turns on an interior mechanism that spins the mirrored shelves around. I watch dozens of glasses pass by before I sigh with indecision and stand back up. I need advice. "Think celebrity," I prompt her.

"Okay. A classic or contemporary look?"

"I'm not sure... How about classic but with some style?"

Her fake eyelashes flutter at me as she smiles again with perfect teeth and flirtatious dimples. "All of our sunglasses are stylish, sweetie," she purrs. From the display case, she retrieves a pair of Ray-Ban Olympians with green-tinted lenses and gold trim. "These are definitely classic. Very suave, very vintage, but also very sexy. Perfect Hollywood style." Opening the arms of the frames, she proffers the sunglasses to me and adds, "Try them on."

I do. In the round mirror perched on the glass countertop I study my reflection, shifting my profile up and down and around to gain a solid opinion about how the glasses appear from each angle. She's right; they're both classy and stylish. On me, they appear distorted and out of place, especially against my ragged scar, but on him, I know they'll look dashing.

Out of the corner of my vision, I catch the clerk admiring me. "They look fantastic on you," she croons.

"Thanks." Removing the frames, I hand them back to her and announce, "I'll take them."

"Great!" It's probably the easiest sale she's made all day. Excitedly, she pulls out a Ray-Ban case to slide the sunglasses into and makes a fuss about wrapping the case in gold tissue paper and placing it in a fancy little gift bag that features the boutique's name all over it. I don't have the heart to tell her that it's not necessary, that I'll only be tearing it all open once I'm gone.

She hand-writes the sale up on a receipt pad, and in the meantime, I dig inside my boot for the money. Her expression of intrigue and surprise is priceless as she witnesses me slide off the rubber band and pull two fresh one-hundred dollar bills from the sizeable wad to hand to her. "Don't worry," I assure her with a smile. "They're legit." She nods and accepts the money from my hand. Opens a small cash register and counts me back my change, which equals only a few coins, but I don't care about the cost. I need to do this.

Once outside, I remove all of the delicate packaging that surrounds the sunglasses and clip off the plastic price tag with my Leatherman, tossing the refuse in a nearby trash bin. Returning to my truck, I retrieve my coat, my baseball cap, and the flask from underneath the seat before locking up the vehicle and dropping a few more quarters into the meter. After pausing to take a long swig of Jim Beam to help steel my nerves, I place one foot in front of the other and begin the five-block trek to The Little Nell.

"I know you don't believe it, buddy, but love really can change a person's perspective. Stop fighting it so fuckin' hard all the time and let it happen..."

For all of you who take the time to read this story, my deepest gratitude. I appreciate your company here. Cheers - Mac

Copyright © 2017 MacGreg; All Rights Reserved.
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This interlude gave us great insight into Travis. I felt his loneliness and discontent. I think we now have our answer to the scar question too, even though it wasn't explicitly stated. I am surprised it's Travis making the first move, though. I can't wait for what's next. I have a feeling that Ben may not welcome him back with open arms. ;) Great chapter. I'm salivating for more already!

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I think we all knew that something bad had happened to Travis, and now we know what it is. For a male rape survivor, he's doing really well.

 

One touching part for me is how he wants to protect Katy from the truth. He still has a heart, even if rarely lets anyone see it :hug: The ending is also very promising. He has a long way to go, but he's started the journey.

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I didn't realize just how desperate Travis is to buy the rest of the ranch out from Curtis! Not really surprising that there is more than one closet case paying him for sex.

 

This kind of explains why Travis lets Katy get away with so much. So she never finds out the horror she escaped.

 

The cracks in the mask have deepened…

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I loved this little interlude chapter. We got to see more of Travis. Now we know what happened in Boston with Eric. What a horrible guy to do that to someone he supposedly loves. Travis' gruff exterior and inability to trust are just defense mechanisms he uses to protect himself from getting hurt even more.

 

Flying O Ranch -- I love that name. Could have been called Ozzy Land (maybe that's already taken in Hollywood) -- which reminds me: I really lol'd when I read Jack Osbourne is a power bottom! Ozzy's son? :rofl:

 

Can't wait for the next chapter, Mac! :)

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I am glad to know more about Travis, who I've liked from the git-go. Thanks for more good story. Jeff

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On 01/21/2017 12:32 PM, Valkyrie said:

This interlude gave us great insight into Travis. I felt his loneliness and discontent. I think we now have our answer to the scar question too, even though it wasn't explicitly stated. I am surprised it's Travis making the first move, though. I can't wait for what's next. I have a feeling that Ben may not welcome him back with open arms. ;) Great chapter. I'm salivating for more already!

Hi Val, I'm glad you liked this interlude. I wasn't sure if I was going to post it; I wasn't certain how much it would detract from the flow of the story. Good to know it's been perceived well. Glad Travis surprised you at the end. He pretty much surprised himself, too. :-) Cheers - Mac

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On 01/21/2017 01:17 PM, Graeme said:

I think we all knew that something bad had happened to Travis, and now we know what it is. For a male rape survivor, he's doing really well.

 

One touching part for me is how he wants to protect Katy from the truth. He still has a heart, even if rarely lets anyone see it :hug: The ending is also very promising. He has a long way to go, but he's started the journey.

Hey Graeme, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Travis has resilience, and he's doing his best to keep his shit together. Ben's presence lifted some of his pain, and it's a new feeling for him and one that he doesn't want to completely let go of yet. And I'm glad you caught his tenderness and protection of Katy - he'd rather she stay pissed at him than ever know the truth. Cheers - Mac

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On 01/21/2017 01:36 PM, droughtquake said:

I didn't realize just how desperate Travis is to buy the rest of the ranch out from Curtis! Not really surprising that there is more than one closet case paying him for sex.

 

This kind of explains why Travis lets Katy get away with so much. So she never finds out the horror she escaped.

 

The cracks in the mask have deepened…

Hey droughtquake, thanks for your comments, as always. You're right that the cracks in the mask have deepened. Travis tries his best to keep things together; it's been a rocky road for him, but Ben brought something fresh and new that lifted his pain for a moment. And I'm glad you caught the mention of Travis wanting to keep the horrors of Boston a secret from his sister. Cheers - Mac

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On 01/21/2017 06:36 PM, Mikiesboy said:

Sex for money ... some of it too close to home. Great insight into what makes Travis tick.

tim, I did think about you reading this and wasn't sure how it would be perceived. I hope it wasn't too trigger-filled. I value your readership and friendship. Cheers to you - Mac

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On 01/22/2017 01:58 PM, Lisa said:

I loved this little interlude chapter. We got to see more of Travis. Now we know what happened in Boston with Eric. What a horrible guy to do that to someone he supposedly loves. Travis' gruff exterior and inability to trust are just defense mechanisms he uses to protect himself from getting hurt even more.

 

Flying O Ranch -- I love that name. Could have been called Ozzy Land (maybe that's already taken in Hollywood) -- which reminds me: I really lol'd when I read Jack Osbourne is a power bottom! Ozzy's son? :rofl:

 

Can't wait for the next chapter, Mac! :)

Hey Lisa, glad you like this interlude. As I said to Val, I was a little hesitant to post it, but Travis wanted to be heard, so here it is... Ozzy's son, lol, you crack me up... :-) Cheers - Mac

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On 01/22/2017 07:49 PM, JeffreyL said:

I am glad to know more about Travis, who I've liked from the git-go. Thanks for more good story. Jeff

Thanks, Jeffrey! I wasn't sure how this interlude would be perceived, so I'm really glad to hear that you liked it. And that you like Travis. Cheers - Mac

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Outstanding, Mac. This gave me chills, I kind of speed-read through it the first time because I was so anxious, but I went back and read through it again and caught a few things I missed the first time. For instance, Travis implying that Curtis knows about his sex-for-hire with the other ranchers but keeps his mouth shut because he likes getting the money from it. Whoa. That's heavy, and of course so is the Boston memory. It's a wonder Travis can hold himself together at all really. I'm not confident he can be sturdy enough to withstand the challenges that are sure to come along with Ben and his own set of pressures. Can't wait for the next.

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On 01/23/2017 08:20 AM, LarryT said:

Outstanding, Mac. This gave me chills, I kind of speed-read through it the first time because I was so anxious, but I went back and read through it again and caught a few things I missed the first time. For instance, Travis implying that Curtis knows about his sex-for-hire with the other ranchers but keeps his mouth shut because he likes getting the money from it. Whoa. That's heavy, and of course so is the Boston memory. It's a wonder Travis can hold himself together at all really. I'm not confident he can be sturdy enough to withstand the challenges that are sure to come along with Ben and his own set of pressures. Can't wait for the next.

Hey Larry, thanks for the review. It's probably good that you read through it twice; there is quite a lot of information packed into it. Sounds like you did catch an additional point or two. We've sensed from the beginning that Curtis' and Travis' relationship is strained, and Curtis' reminders to Travis to "get the stud" to Glenwood is telling. Thanks for continuing to tune into this story, I appreciate it! Cheers - Mac

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And what an insightful interlude. Travis is carrying a lot around with him too. I almost wish he would or could tell Katy so she could back off some. He is protecting her, but it must be like salt in a wound each time..
That tough exterior won't hold I'm supposing.
If Curtis knows or even suspects how Travis is making the money for the ranch, he is more horrible than I thought.
Another terrific chapter Mac. Look forward to the next..

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On 01/24/2017 08:23 AM, Defiance19 said:

And what an insightful interlude. Travis is carrying a lot around with him too. I almost wish he would or could tell Katy so she could back off some. He is protecting her, but it must be like salt in a wound each time..

That tough exterior won't hold I'm supposing.

If Curtis knows or even suspects how Travis is making the money for the ranch, he is more horrible than I thought.

Another terrific chapter Mac. Look forward to the next..

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it, Def. I like hearing your feedback. Travis is carrying a lot on his shoulders and inside his head and his heart. It's been a tough road. But not all is lost - not completely. Cheers - Mac

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Harsh, revolting at times, and powerful. You did a fantastic job of revealing the real Travis. He's badly damaged, but he's still in there. It's a difficult thing to trust someone with your heart after the kind of betrayal the man's endured, but it's even more difficult to get through each day while trying to hold yourself together. That protective armor has a big crack in it now, and fresh air is entering. Fresh air named Ben. I find it a little ironic that he bought something Ben could hide behind, but I also find it sweet in that back-slapping way, that he bought something Ben can use and wear every day in his Hollywood life... something to remind the man of Travis daily. Beautiful. As stark as his situation is, I see hope for the man. While hell bent on escape for the last eighteen months, he's running toward something now, even if it's just a proper goodbye in his mind. I don't think it will take much for Ben to be receptive to the gesture. Both men are changing at the same time... is there a collision course ahead, or will they trust in each other... stimulating, Mac... well done... cheers... Gary....

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This is a fantastic interlude. It gives us some needed depth and breadth of Travis. Until now, he was the gay cowboy who was reticent and had fallen in love with a str8 man. In other words, he was a bit of a stereotype. This interlude gives him some history. It shows us his loneliness. He is selling himself for the goal of owning the ranch in solitude. I think he's fooling himself a little. He's doing it for more personal reasons like punishing himself.
I wonder about a couple of things. First, did he start selling himself after Boston and Eric? Is that when he no longer had his self-esteem? Obviously, he's repulsed by what he's doing, yet still willing to do it.
Then he uses some of his 'stud fee' to buy the sunglasses, ones that make him think of Ben. Is this a memento he's using to hurt himself again or a reminder of the actor? Lot's of questions and unknowns which make Travis so much more. Great job and continue mining your story for more gold like this.

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On 01/24/2017 05:17 PM, Headstall said:

Harsh, revolting at times, and powerful. You did a fantastic job of revealing the real Travis. He's badly damaged, but he's still in there. It's a difficult thing to trust someone with your heart after the kind of betrayal the man's endured, but it's even more difficult to get through each day while trying to hold yourself together. That protective armor has a big crack in it now, and fresh air is entering. Fresh air named Ben. I find it a little ironic that he bought something Ben could hide behind, but I also find it sweet in that back-slapping way, that he bought something Ben can use and wear every day in his Hollywood life... something to remind the man of Travis daily. Beautiful. As stark as his situation is, I see hope for the man. While hell bent on escape for the last eighteen months, he's running toward something now, even if it's just a proper goodbye in his mind. I don't think it will take much for Ben to be receptive to the gesture. Both men are changing at the same time... is there a collision course ahead, or will they trust in each other... stimulating, Mac... well done... cheers... Gary....

Thanks for such a thorough, thoughtful review, Gary. This means a lot. If the interlude came off as harsh, riveting, powerful, etc. to you then something went right. You're correct that the sunglasses hold a bit of symbolism to them. You're also correct that Travis' protective armor is cracking. As always, thanks for following along and offering your insights. Cheers - Mac

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On 01/25/2017 05:25 AM, Cole Matthews said:

This is a fantastic interlude. It gives us some needed depth and breadth of Travis. Until now, he was the gay cowboy who was reticent and had fallen in love with a str8 man. In other words, he was a bit of a stereotype. This interlude gives him some history. It shows us his loneliness. He is selling himself for the goal of owning the ranch in solitude. I think he's fooling himself a little. He's doing it for more personal reasons like punishing himself.

I wonder about a couple of things. First, did he start selling himself after Boston and Eric? Is that when he no longer had his self-esteem? Obviously, he's repulsed by what he's doing, yet still willing to do it.

Then he uses some of his 'stud fee' to buy the sunglasses, ones that make him think of Ben. Is this a memento he's using to hurt himself again or a reminder of the actor? Lot's of questions and unknowns which make Travis so much more. Great job and continue mining your story for more gold like this.

Hi Cole, thanks so much for taking a moment to write such an in-depth review. Travis definitely wanted his voice to be heard in all of this, and I'm glad that his POV has been received well. Rest assured, we are not done learning about him - his past and his future. From here, we will follow alongside Ben to uncover those points. Thanks again for your comments, Cole. Cheers - Mac

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Well, I guess it's not possible for a hot cowboy top to admit to his much younger sister that he was raped by three guys. But ultimately, they might both have been better off, if he had. She could have put all her anger into hating Eric and perhaps even helping him get revenge.
I don't blame Travis for fucking those ranchers for money. He has a clear goal and they are offering a good deal. Shame Ben came along before he achieved it, but hopefully he'll help out once he realizes. As for love - well, we can hope Ben has the guts. Right now I doubt it, but you're a good enough writer to make it happen. :yes:

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On 01/30/2017 02:03 AM, Timothy M. said:

Well, I guess it's not possible for a hot cowboy top to admit to his much younger sister that he was raped by three guys. But ultimately, they might both have been better off, if he had. She could have put all her anger into hating Eric and perhaps even helping him get revenge.

I don't blame Travis for fucking those ranchers for money. He has a clear goal and they are offering a good deal. Shame Ben came along before he achieved it, but hopefully he'll help out once he realizes. As for love - well, we can hope Ben has the guts. Right now I doubt it, but you're a good enough writer to make it happen. :yes:

I don't think Travis wants to admit to what happened in Boston to anyone, let alone his 15 yr old sister, but you're right, it would help to clear up some of the tension between them. Although, with her insolence and immaturity and angst, she might not consider Travis to be the victim in all of that. Thanks for your kind words about my writing, Timothy, that means a lot. - Mac

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Poor Travis... What a traumatic experience he's been through. And his current situation isn't great either. Seems he's accepting his feelings for Ben, though. That's good. The sunglasses are a nice gesture. Just hope Ben will recognise that.

I was reminded reading this of your answer to my recurring details thread a while back. You wrote, 'Whiskey and self loathing'. I'm getting that. :P 

Wish I could keep reading right now, but alas, once again it's bed time. I will pick up again tomorrow. Thank you for writing and sharing this story.

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On 3/17/2019 at 5:44 PM, Thorn Wilde said:

Poor Travis... What a traumatic experience he's been through. And his current situation isn't great either. Seems he's accepting his feelings for Ben, though. That's good. The sunglasses are a nice gesture. Just hope Ben will recognise that.

I was reminded reading this of your answer to my recurring details thread a while back. You wrote, 'Whiskey and self loathing'. I'm getting that. :P 

Wish I could keep reading right now, but alas, once again it's bed time. I will pick up again tomorrow. Thank you for writing and sharing this story.

Ah, yes, you caught on to my comment about whiskey and self-loathing. Well, it's accurate. Thank you for reading this story, Thorn. Your comments are appreciated!

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