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“We’re heading down to the bar, you coming?” August is my best friend and right-hand man. We’ve known each other since we were four and have travelled the ranches together working since we were old enough to do so. The only time we haven’t worked together is when I left to serve in the Marines for eight years, otherwise he’s family to me. Home is wherever we’re currently settled. We’ve been here at Eagle Eye Ranch for three years, ever since I left the Marines. The family treat us good and the land is amazing. Paradise on earth. I am now foreman in charge of all of the men, which also means a ton more paperwork too.

“Nah man, I’m going to be here for hours yet. I’ll see you in the morning,” I dismiss him. Or so I think. When I look at him again, he’s got a weird smirk on his face. “What?” I snarl at him.

“Marley says there is a new bartender,” he smiles. Marley is his girlfriend and waitress at the bar. If you need to know anything about anyone, Marley is the one to ask. She’s cute, tiny and the biggest gossip I’ve ever met. August has no competition from me though as she is definitely not my type – I like my women to have some ‘meat’ on their bones. Fairly sure the last time Marley ate anything other than lettuce was when she was a child and I don’t like pointy bones and joints when I’m making love to a woman. Not my thing.

“And you’re telling me this, why?” I’m playing dumb on purpose. Ever since he and Marley got together, they have been trying to get me a girlfriend nonstop. They want me to ‘be as happy as they are’.

Excuse me while I barf.

I’m happy for them and wish them well but there is no one around here for me. Trust me. I’ve done the leg work. So someone new in town is intriguing… but it was also intriguing the last four times he thought I’d be interested only to find out we weren’t compatible. I have had my share of lovers and relationships over the years, but I have yet to find what I’m looking for.

The girl of my dreams.

I’m not looking for a vanilla relationship like August and Marley have – they’re happy and that’s great but it isn’t what I want. I’ve tried one on one relationships in the past and they were good for awhile, but it never stayed that way. Not for me. That is not what I want and until I find the right woman… well. It is a moot point because I haven’t.

“Finn, if you don’t get your dick some exercise man, it is going to fall off from lack of use,” August jokes. He thinks he is funny but as much as I kind of want to punch him he’s also right. It has been awhile, so maybe I should go out to the bar. Not to meet the new bartender – although it would be awesome if that worked out, but even if it doesn’t, I will still find someone to warm my bed tonight. Not to be too arrogant about it - but I always do. Apparently, I’m ‘sexy’. Whatever.

“We don’t all need a woman hanging off our dicks to be happy, August,” I smirk back at him.

“True, but if you have the option there is no other way to go my friend,” he throws back at me. Damn – he’s right. He does have the option because he has a girlfriend who might be receptive to his needs – I say might because girlfriends and wives have the right to say no too. But August’s chances are still better than mine. Damn.

“I’ll come for a drink – not to save my dick from falling off,” I laugh at him as we walk out of my foreman’s office. We hop into one of the ranch trucks together and take off. The drive itself takes about twenty minutes and it goes quickly, with August and I always finding things to talk about.

I’m extremely fortunate to have a friend like him – one I trust completely with everything. I only have one other person in my life like him – my friend Alistair Leroy. Ali and I served together and through some extreme moments our friendship bond was forged. I trust him with my life, and he trusts me with his. I left the Marines three years ago after being injured in a roadside bombing, but Ali remained. I haven’t seen him since but am looking forward to him visiting soon, since he only recently retired himself. My hope is to convince him to come work at the ranch – but I have no idea what condition he is in mentally. I still have nightmares – probably always will, so who knows what Ali is struggling with personally. August was a huge help to me, so hopefully the two of us will be whatever help Ali will need when he arrives in a couple of days.

As we enter the bar, I greet people I know. There are many of my ranch hands here as it is a popular place to relax after work, and the food is incredible. I hear a squeal and without looking know Marley has found August, so they’ll be sucking down each other’s tongues like it is their last meal. Blech. I need a drink, not live porn. I find a corner booth with a few of our crew and take a spot. A beer magically appears in front of me and as I thank the waitress – one of our regulars, I order dinner at the same time.

The conversation at the table is mostly about the ranch which isn’t surprising since that is the one thing that ties us all together. I work for the ranch, but I live for the land. I’m sure that’s true for most of the guys. Someday I hope to have my own small plot and raise my own cattle and horses – I’ve been saving for years and I almost have what I need. I’m not taking out a loan, I’m planning to buy it clean and clear – just a little while longer… In the meantime I’m lucky enough to love what I do.

In a noticeably short period of time my dinner arrives as well as another beer. The food here has always been filling and inexpensive if not delicious, and the booze is cheap, but the service is usually not great. They’re not terrible servers – just… easily distracted which can sometimes mean customers wait for their stuff. Tonight’s service isn’t just fast for this place, it would be fast anywhere.

“Am I that predictable Ronnie? You knew what I would order so you already had it cooking?” Everyone starts commenting and complimenting her on the fast service. She smiles and I assume because she knows it means a big tip, but she not only proves me wrong but that I’m also a jerk.

“Wish I could take all of the credit for it, but the credit goes to the new bartender. She suggested some changes when she started and it has really made things better around here,” she jerks her thumb over her shoulder towards the bar. Looking, I finally notice the new bartender August was talking about earlier. Wow. She’s beautiful. How did I miss noticing her before?

Her hair is dark, nearly black and it looks like it is likely pretty long, but I can’t tell for sure since it’s all wrapped up in a bun on her head. She’s short – can’t be sure from this distance but easily a foot shorter than me if not more. Wonder what colour her eyes are…? Can’t tell from here… She is curvy in all the ways I like my women to be. My dick approves and I’m suddenly in elementary school all over again with an erection for no reason – in public.

How soon is too soon to ask her out?

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