Chapter Nine (part two)

Ben closed his eyes. Leaned his head back against the metal toolbox and allowed the warmth of the midday sun piercing through the thin atmosphere to penetrate his body. In the high altitude, cloudless skies were excruciatingly bright. Despite a cool breeze in the air, the temperature was warm, and he’d already removed his sweater, content to sit in the elements clad only in his cargo pants and undershirt.

“You done with this?” Travis inquired, referring to the last few bites of the foot-long meatball and bell pepper sub they’d been sharing.

Without opening his eyes, Ben nodded.

“Mind if I finish it off?”

“No, go ahead.”

The side road they were parked on sat halfway between Glenwood Springs and Leadville, a remote pull-off area with ample space for the equestrian trailer, hidden from view of the interstate and the multitude of cars and semi-trailers traveling past. The oversized sandwich, pasta salad, and bottles of Gatorade purchased at a local sub shop in Eagle had been consumed, and now Travis and Ben sat in the open bed of the Dodge, left to the sounds of finches in the trees, occasional snorts from Maximilian, and their own silent, post-meal contemplation.

After departing from the Flying O Ranch and leaving a stupefied Jack Osbourne in their wake, they’d headed for home, drifting in and out of banal conversation, discussing everything and nothing and avoiding that which was most important and heavy on their minds. Something loomed over their heads, waiting to be cracked open, explored, dissected, but neither of them had the guts to pull it down into the light.

With one eye open, Ben squinted at his companion and watched as he finished off the last bite of sandwich. Marinara sauce pooled at the corners of his mouth until he brought up a napkin to wipe it away. His profile was rigid yet soft, harsh yet supple, mirroring his complex personality: a callous yet vulnerable cowboy who was unafraid of life yet equally full of angst. Tiny red scratches still crisscrossed his cheek from their tussle by the muddy creek. Although it had only been yesterday, to Ben it felt like days had passed. He found it odd how the passage of time on this trip glided by in strange ways, as though a vacuum had been cinched around them both to hold them at a slower pace than the rest of the world.

Travis crumpled up the sandwich wrapping and shoved it into the carryout bag. Took a final swig of his Passion Fruit Gatorade and added the empty bottle as well. Ben was surprised to see him dig down deep inside his boot and pull out a rubber-banded roll of money. Leaning back against the toolbox to join Ben, Travis held the wad up to examine it in the sunlight, as though to admire it. Or admonish it. Ben watched him twirl it around in his fingers. Eventually, Travis said, “I suppose we should talk about this.”

“That’s a lot of cash,” Ben commented. “Glad Jack owned up to what he owed you.  Seems like bullshit that he threatened otherwise, considering you two had a deal with Max.”

“He doesn’t always pay me in cash,” Travis answered. “Just for services he doesn’t want his wife finding out about…” His voice fell in decibels and he stared hard at the money. “He wrote me a check for Max. Legitimately, from his business account, on the books. This payment, though -” he pinched the money between his fingers “- this is for something else.”

A small wave of discontent rumbled through Ben’s torso, poking at his gut, and he tasted bile at the back of his throat. Swallowed saliva a few times to wash it away but was unsuccessful. Of course he knew the direction Travis was headed – he’d heard enough of the conversation with Jack to have an idea – but that didn’t make hearing the confession any easier for him. Meatballs and marinara and grape sports drink churned in his stomach, and he brought a hand up to his chest to keep the sickness at bay.

“The stud date wasn’t just about Max,” Travis continued in a muted tone. “It was about me, too.”

Ben got to his feet. Stood with arms wrapped around himself, staring off at the branches of evergreen trees. He was clenching his jaw so tight, it hurt. “I kinda figured something like that was going on,” he managed to get out. Slowly, he exhaled, oxygen barely escaping through gritted teeth. “The way Jack greeted you with a hug and then treated you like shit the second he noticed me in the truck, watching. That, and some of the conversation I managed to hear… Well, I knew your argument was about more than just horse breeding.”

Travis ended up behind him, standing close enough for Ben to feel his breath. Then, he wrapped his arms around Ben’s arms and brushed his whiskered chin against his ear. “I decided to come clean and tell you the truth,” Travis whispered, “because I know you heard some things today. But you didn’t hear all of it, and I couldn’t leave you with that kind of guessing game. Not now, when you’ve decided to stay.”

He paused. Slumped a little against Ben’s shoulder. “Fuck, I’m not proud of it,” he continued solemnly. “You know the old cliché: desperate times call for desperate measures. But I’m not going to make excuses for it or plea for your forgiveness. It is what it is. Like I told you, I’m trying to get the ranch out from under Curtis’ foothold. Improvements need to be made on the property, and all kinds of bills need to be paid, especially with calving season around the bend. It’s been a long road… and I’m taking a shortcut. I won’t blame you for wanting no part of it – or of me – now that you know. The second you give the word, Ben, I’ll drop you at the airport. Without question or protest.”

Myriad images of Travis down on his knees, laying spread-eagle on his back, perched on all fours with hairy balls slapping up against his chin and ass flashed behind Ben’s eyes like a graphic collage of pornographic blips. They were disturbing yet entrancing, abominable yet intriguing. To Ben’s surprise, a tiny speck within his sick, twisted psyche actually felt titillated at the thought of Travis tricking. What the hell is wrong with you, you deviant son-of-a-bitch? he cursed himself. This is all kinds of fucked up.

When he didn’t receive a response from Ben, Travis released his hold and stepped back. A few seconds later, Ben heard him hop down from the truck. When he turned, Travis was wandering off into the trees, head hung low with shame or disappointment or maybe both. A moment later, a cloud of cigarette smoke rose up, and the sound of piss hitting dirt and pine cones drifted over the air.

Ben sighed and gathered the trash from the truck bed and jumped down to the ground, snapping the tailgate shut behind him. Pausing to peek into the window of the equestrian trailer, he slid a couple of fingers down Max’s muzzle and said, “Wish you could have warned me about all this, buddy…”

In response, the sorrel stallion neighed and bobbed his head and then looked away as if not interested in solving Ben’s problems.

Travis returned from the trees, buckling his belt. “Let’s head out,” he said, taking one final drag of his cigarette. Once he’d snuffed it out beneath his boot, he picked up the squashed butt to drop it into the ashtray, but Ben prevented him from climbing inside the cab. Stood firm at the open door with his arm stretched out across the frame.

“What?” Travis demanded. His eyes were narrowed, his mouth turned down.

Ben pulled him into a long kiss. Tongues tangled together. Saliva pooled. When he released Travis, the man still had an expression of despondency on his face, horizontal lines creased across his freckled forehead in consternation. “What are you doing, Ben?” he asked.

“Kissing you.”

“Yes, but why…?”

“Because I want to,” he replied. “Because I want you.”

Travis blinked a few times, as if mulling over the statement. “You’re serious…”

Ben nodded.

“Even though you know I’m a whor-”

Ben cut him off by grabbing hold and pushing his mouth against his lips once more, shortening any distance between them until their hips were gyrating together – pelvis against pelvis, bulge against bulge. Further discussion about the gritty elements of the cowboy’s side gig could wait.

*    *    *    *

In the backseat of the extended truck cab, there wasn’t a whole lot of leg room, however there was enough space across the length of the rear cushioned bench for two bodies to lay together, one on top of the other. And that’s where Ben was perched: on top of Travis, drowning him in deep kisses, rubbing the palm of his hand against the hardened bulge beneath Travis’ button-fly.

They’d cracked the windows open a few inches, but despite this cooling effort, the cab was warm and stifling and gaining additional degrees with each passing minute. Feeling the heat, Ben pulled his t-shirt over his head with a one-handed swoop and tossed it aside to land wherever it landed. He hated tearing his mouth away from Travis’ feverish lips in order to do so and immediately returned to the oral connection once he was free of the garment. Travis’ hands glided across his bare back, tugging at his shoulder blades, running invisible lines down his spine until he reached Ben’s buttocks. There, his strong hands lingered, pulling and prodding and bearing down so that their hip bones were pressed together.

Ben shifted his attention to Travis’ jaw, dragging a line of saliva as his lips passed over his facial hair and dipped down to his earlobe. Then, below that, into the tender spot of his neck. In response, Travis shuddered and moaned and pulled Ben’s hips down harder. Without lifting his mouth off of skin, Ben slid a hand between their compressed torsos and began to open Travis’ shirt, one pearl snap-button at a time.

Snap… Snap… Snap.

Each sound was erotic, like the unraveling of clothing during a striptease act, where both voyeur and exhibitionist tremble in anticipation of the final outcome.

With mouth still clamped on Travis’ salty-sweet flesh, Ben moved farther down, kissing the ridge of his clavicle, pausing to swirl and dart his tongue around each nipple that was outlined by soft tufts of chest hair. Travis was aroused by this oral stimulation. “Yes, yes… that,” he whispered in approval, running fingers through Ben’s thick hair, his body involuntarily squirming on the seat.

Ben continued to concentrate on the taut nipples while his hand traveled south, tracing the thin line of hair that led down the length of Travis’ abdomen like a treasure trail to the prize. Attempting to unbuckle the leather belt with one hand at such a cramped, awkward angle proved difficult for Ben, and so Travis pitched in, completing the task himself, even unbuttoning his fly and pushing his boxers down so that his hardness flapped up against his stomach. Ben had the tremendous member in his hand before Travis could even wiggle the jeans and underwear off of his hips.

Ben’s tongue explored each pectoral, each abdominal muscle, as he traveled southward. The moment he reached the flow of precum waiting for him, he paused and relished the flavor before diving in full-force, stuffing his mouth, choking, sputtering, but all the while determined to suck out every last drop. Travis arched up to meet his mouth, equally determined, fingers clutching Ben’s hair and ears while his voice cracked with the phrase: “Fuck, baby, that’s good…”

Baby … The sentiment was sweet, comforting. Made Ben feel a deeper connection to Travis, even if Travis might not have intended for his spoken fervor to be interpreted as a sign of tenderness.

Releasing the man’s burgeoning, wet member from his mouth, Ben slithered back on top of Travis’ torso to drown his mouth in a kiss once more. Along with this upward motion, he pushed on the back of Travis’ left thigh, rolling the man up onto his lower back. Then, denim rubbed against denim as Ben pressed his own hardened member down against Travis’ backside. After practicing a few excited thrusts which emulated penetration, Ben buried his face against Travis’ ear and whispered, “Maybe I could fuck you this time…” not thinking clearly, spurred on by lust and the desperate need to be as close to the guy as he could possibly get.

If he could have melded directly into his flesh, like water absorbing into fabric, he would have done so…

Without verbal protest, but clearly exerting his opposition to Ben’s proposition, Travis grabbed a tight hold of his waist and expertly flipped him up and over until the roles were reversed and Ben was pinned beneath Travis’ torso and hips and legs. He couldn’t deny that he preferred being there, pressed under the weight of the body he craved, breathing in the scent of Travis, tasting the sweet, smoky flavor of his skin and mouth.

Travis initiated the myriad sensations which Ben had previously bestowed upon him: kisses along his face and jaw and neck, down across his clavicle, pausing to concentrate on each nipple, which didn’t bring as much stimulation to Ben but felt good nonetheless. The moment Travis unzipped Ben’s jeans and pulled his hardness out and bent down to take him into his mouth, straight down to the hilt without a single adverse reflex, Ben exhaled and tugged at the bobbing head of blonde curls above his crotch, wanting to hold Travis on his dick for as along as possible – until he could shoot a copious load straight to the back of his precious throat.

Travis paused and released Ben from his mouth. With deft hands, tugged on Ben’s jeans and boxer briefs until they were down around his thighs. Briefly, he resumed his oral magic, going strong and steady for several more minutes, all the while stroking himself, enjoying himself, until he decided that it was time to move on. He nudged Ben’s right hip, prompting him to turn over, and, without hesitation, Ben obliged. Grabbing him at the waist, Travis propped him up onto all fours, gently running the palm of his hand over the smooth mounds of perfect flesh, giving each buttock several light slaps which produced guttural groans from Ben with each hit

Flashbacks of the motel room, the creaky bed, the weight of Travis on his back while he expertly fucked him came front and forward and reminded Ben that his ass was for the taking, not Travis’. He preferred it that way – to be the receiver. Apparently Travis, from the way in which he’d quickly flipped Ben over to switch places with him, preferred it that way, too. It felt natural. Right.

When Travis slid a moistened finger deep inside Ben and leaned down against his spine to mutter in his ear, “I’ll take care of you, baby,” Ben shuddered. There was that word again: baby. Love and lust and everything in between hit him, and he pushed himself backwards to grind against Travis’ naked crotch, sliding a hand to clutch at his sweaty thigh and bring him in closer.

As soon the viscous drips of Travis’ precum slithered across his bare flesh, leaving a cool, wet trail behind, Ben said in a breathless pant, “Fuck, get in me, Cooper.” He knew he wasn’t near ready for it. Knew that it would end up being a big mess, because they didn’t have a towel, just their clothing, and they were in a truck, not a bed. But – fuck it all – he didn’t give a damn about the details, only the sensations. He needed to be filled.

Travis slid his finger out of Ben’s insides and took some time to prepare for the onslaught, first procuring a packet of lube from his apparent endless supply, then rolling on a condom from the same pocket of endless supplies. A bigger picture unfolded before Ben’s vision now – the reason why Travis kept lube and condoms and poppers in his pockets like keys and cigarettes, always at the ready. He had to be prepared. He had to keep an ample inventory of fuck paraphernalia on hand for wherever and whenever and whomever he ended up with. Ben was both put-off and turned on by the realization. Completely illogical, but he didn’t give a flying fuck.

The surprise came when Travis refrained from plowing straight into him, sending him through the roof, as he’d anticipated. Rather than quickly stuffing Ben full, he took his time, easing his way through, stretching Ben open with great care and tenderness, allowing him moments of reprieve to catch his breath and relax. When his thick cock was pushed all the way in, to the hilt, he paused. Leaned down against Ben’s back and clamped his mouth onto Ben’s shoulder. Curved his arm down and around to heft Ben’s own dripping member into his hand and stroke it gently. “You’re amazing, Ben,” he whispered. “Goddamn amazing.”

All sense of time and space and the ability to think clearly dissipated from Ben with each long and purposeful thrust that Travis propelled at him. The pressure had loosened, the discomfort had subsided. Now, it was all pleasure. And when Travis grabbed his hair and pulled his head around to kiss him, he thought he’d never felt so fucking good in his entire life. Every fiber of his being tingled. His mind felt desperate. Don’t let it end. Don’t lose your fucking load yet, he commanded himself. But his willpower didn’t last long. Travis stroked him to orgasm in a short amount of time, and his seed exploded onto the seat and onto the interior fabric of the door. Some of it dripped down into the boxer briefs and jeans that were stretched across his thighs.

Travis quickened the pace of his rhythm, grunting under his breath, pushing and pulling against Ben’s buttocks while his fingers dug into his hips. Ben braced a hand against the window, trying to keep his forehead from smacking against the door. The sound of skin slapping against skin filled the humid air of the cab. Rounding the crest of his own orgasm, Travis backed out, pulled off the condom, and fervently rubbed himself with the palm of his hand until he was shooting his warm load across Ben’s backside. Through heavy inhalations, he grunted, “Goddamn, that’s the best. You’re the best, Ben… Fuck.”

Guiding Ben’s head back once more to drown him in another kiss, he wrapped his other arm around Ben’s sweaty waist and hugged him close. The cum squished between his chest and Ben’s back like an adhesive spreading between them, bonding their bodies together. Bonding their lives together – at least for the moment. For now, they were inseparable.

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