Keeping his emotions under tight control was difficult, but Alejandro managed. With his back to Benji, he busied himself with loading the dishwasher, and waited for Benji to head outside. It was their routine. The older man would scatter the chicken feed while he cleaned up the breakfast dishes. But, as the man continued to sit and watch him, even after he’d made a joke about jumping him, Alejandro felt like a bug under a microscope. He probably shouldn’t have kissed him, but he’d had such a lost look on his face, and then he’d tried to warn Alejandro off taking him into town. When would the man learn that, despite his age, Alejandro didn’t run from a confrontation?
The sudden scrape of a chair being pushed away from the table had him sighing in relief. Soon he’d hear the snap of the screen door, but instead there was a sudden heat against his back and Benji’s arms appeared on either side of him as the larger man crowded him closer to the counter.
“If I don’t remember to say it, thank you, Alejandro.” His voice rumbled over Alejandro. Every muscle in his body trembled with anticipation.
“You’re wel―” He found himself suddenly spun around to face Benji― or rather Benji’s chest. Even as big as Alejandro was, his hand still stood a good eight inches taller than his respectable five-foot-ten height.
“But the next time you kiss me, it’d better not be because you feel sorry for me.” He wrapped a hand around the back of Alejandro’s neck to pull him up on his tiptoes. “Because I’d hate to have us end up in bed for that reason. Especially when I want you squirming under me because you want me as much as I want you.”
Then Benji laid a kiss on him that rocked Alejandro to his toes. Clinging to Benji’s wide shoulders, he was panting by the time the older man lifted his head. Benji didn’t seem to be in much better shape, his cheeks ruddy and his breath fast.
“Just remember that, boss.” He warned before stepping back.
Alejandro nodded mutely as Benji smiled, turned and slipped outside. Sinking back against the counter, he braced his weight on his arms. Damn, the man packed a punch. Inside his pants his cock protested loudly. The urge to track down his cowhand and have his way with him was strong. Only the steady tick-tock of the old kitchen clock above his head reminded him that they were on a tight schedule. If he did what he wanted, then they’d be late for sure. Even if his cock didn’t understand, his brain did.
“Get it together. He was just thanking you.” Turning back to the dishwasher, he poured in the soap before starting it. “Besides he’s still leaving. Even if the sex would be explosive, he has plans for the future that don’t include you.”
As the truck ate up the miles between the ranch and Idabel, the tension inside of Benji grew with each passing second. He didn’t want to make funeral arrangements, didn’t want to deal with his dad, and sure as hell, didn’t want to subject Alejandro to the fool. But as the old saying went, spit in one hand and want in the other… and see which one fills up the fastest. It wouldn’t be the one filled with his wants, that was for sure. He was screwed.
“I’d tell you to relax but something tells me that you won’t.” Alejandro kept his gaze on the road.
“I feel like I’m being led to my own death. If that makes any sense.” Benji tipped his head back against the headrest. “I’d rather be anywhere than here, but my sister is counting on me. If it weren’t for her? I’d probably send flowers and be done with it. I loved Mom― I did. But having to deal with Dad?” He turned his head to look at Alejandro. “I’d rather have my teeth pulled out.”
Alejandro chuckled and downshifted as they hit the city limits. “I can understand. I felt the same way when my dad showed up at my college graduation.” He took his eyes off the road for a moment. “But I dealt with it. I wasn’t going to let his presence ruin the day for me.” He picked up Benji’s hand and rubbed his thumb over it. “Just like you will make sure your mother gets the funeral she deserves.”
“I wish I had your faith in me.” Benji flipped his hand over to wrap his fingers around Alejandro’s as they turned into the funeral home parking lot. He immediately recognized his sister’s blue Mazda parked next to his dad’s silver Escalade. “Dad had fits when Lucinda traded in the Mercedes-Benz he got her for the Mazda.”
“But I see she still has it.” Alejandro remarked as he parked next to Lucinda’s car.
Benji smiled. “Of course she does. It’s one way she can get back at him without starting a war.”
“Little digs. I bet that sticks in his craw― almost as much as this will.” Alejandro gave him a genuine smile before lifting their joined hands. Brushing a kiss over his knuckles, he gave Benji a look so full of love it had him pausing.
He stared at his boss blankly. What the hell was Alejandro doing? Before he could form the words, there was a rap on his window. He stiffened. His father tapped his watch, a gesture reminiscent of Benji’s childhood. His father lived by that damned watch. Nothing ever changed, including his father. Even with the death of his wife, Benjamin Augustus Coleman III was turned out as elegantly as ever in his silk suit, neatly pressed shirt and perfectly matching tie. He was the epitome of a well-to-do attorney at all times. A pissed off well-to-do attorney.
“Ben, if you’re done making goo-goo eyes with your… whatever, your sister and I could use your undivided attention. At least she had the good sense to leave her roommate at home. Our meeting with the funeral director starts in less than ten minutes.”
“I know what time it is, Dad.” Benji tried to free his hand, but Alejandro continued to cling to it. Then he winked.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your father, darling, before I head back to the ranch?”
Benji’s jaw dropped. Of all the things he expected to endure today, his boss playing a total fruit wasn’t one of them. “Ah… I guess, cupcake.”
Benjamin’s shoulders stiffened. “I don’t have time for this, son. We have serious things to deal with today. I just lost my wife, and this isn’t the appropriate time or place for a social visit with some…” he glared over at Alejandro. “…twink you’re fucking.”
Benji wanted to recoil in horror. He couldn’t believe his dad was acting like this. “Dad! Alejandro happens to own the Rancho de la Luna. He’s not a twink!”
Releasing his hand, Alejandro exited the truck to square off with Benji’s father. “I’m sorry about your loss, Mr. Coleman, but there is no need to treat your son as if he’s a simpleton. You may have lost your wife but he lost his mother.” Alejandro stood his ground even as Benjamin slammed his fist down on the hood of the truck.
“You have no right to lecture me on anything, young man. You’re what twenty? Twenty-two at the most?” He glanced back at Benji, giving his son a condemning look. “As usual Ben is living up to my low expectations.”
“Enough, Dad.” Benji shoved the door open. “You can say what you want about me, but you’ll leave Alejandro alone.”
Benjamin laughed. “Alejandro is it?” He ran his gaze over Benji’s boss. “Let me guess, you’re Kemen Delgado’s boy. Tell me something son, are you assuring the bank doesn’t foreclose on that worthless ranch of yours the same way your daddy did?”
Surprisingly Alejandro didn’t even flinch. “You mean with a lot of hard work and just as long hours?”
Benjamin outright laughed. “Oh, I’m sure that he had to work hard… on his knees. The only reason Rancho de la Luna still belongs to the Delgados is because your daddy was the president of the bank’s lover. He sucked Ian Downing’s cock long and hard to keep that worthless piece of land. Much like you’re attempting with my son. I have a news flash for you, son― Ben may carry the Coleman last name, but he’s nothing but a broke, rundown cow punch, good for nothing more than running cattle. And in a few years, when his body gives out, he won’t even be good for that. I disowned him years ago. It’s only because I promised his mother he’d be here that I even let Lucinda call him when the doctor gave her less than a month to live.”
Alejandro bit the inside of his cheek to keep from decking the condescending man in front of him. Large like his son, Benjamin was merely an older version of the man he’d been falling in love with. Poor or not, Benji was twice the man his father was. Giving a short laugh, he pushed away from the bumper.
“You think I’m after Benji for his money?” He shook his head. “There’s one thing you’ll soon learn about me, Mr. Coleman. I’ve worked for everything I’ve ever had. Had my first paper route at twelve, earned a hockey scholarship to pay for college, hell I even worked two jobs while my mom died of staph infection. So despite the trust fund my father had the wisdom to set up for me, I’ll continue to do so. I could care less if Benji has twenty dollars or twenty thousand. I’d never take money from the man I love.”
The man’s jaw clenched. “Whatever. Come along Ben. Your sister is waiting inside.”
“Alejandro… I’m―” Benji looked torn, upset almost.
“Don’t worry about it. Nothing your old man says means a damn thing to me. You take care of business and I’ll see you back at home, sweetheart.” When he slipped back into the truck he was well aware of Benji’s gaze on him. His cowhand looked bewildered. He gave him another wink and blew him a kiss. “If you need me to come back and get you, call me.”
Benji gave a curt nod, before turning to follow his dad into the funeral home.
Alejandro’s smile disappeared a moment later as he put the truck into reverse. As he pulled away, he couldn’t get Benjamin’s words out of his brain.
“Your daddy… he sucked Ian Downing’s cock… to keep that worthless piece of land.”