GENRE: Gay Romance
LENGTH: 10,643 words
Two brothers, one popular with the girls and one not. One gay, and one straight. Of course, it was Wade, the older gay brother, who was chased by girls and poor straight Shane who was unlucky and alone.
Forced by their father to be dude ranch tour guides, Wade and Shane endure an unending stream of male and female tourists with no action. That is, until the latest group arrives and the barn promptly burns down, creating a mixed bag of instant heroes -- straight, gay, lesbian, transgender.
After the horses are saved and the fire burns itself out, everyone -- gay and straight -- pair off for the night, leaving a very frustrated and drunk Shane alone in his car. A drunken night ride may change his life forever. Love or death? What lies along those old dirt roads? Love or death?
Well, they were in the barn, up in the hay loft, drunk and stoned. They, too, had been up most of the night, only now, the first one awake, one of the girls had lit a cigarette -- and fallen back asleep. The cigarette had fallen into the hay on which they slept.
Inside the hay loft, a spark landed on Chris's long blond wig. That's what woke him up. It wasn't real hair but the smell woke him up anyway, then the flames reached his left ear. His earring burst into shards. That made him leap to his feet, thinking a horsefly had bitten him, or a wasp, to which he was allergic. As soon as his eyes opened, he snapped to full awareness. His father had been a fireman, but when Chris was twelve, his father had not come home. So he had always had a keen interest in fire, along with a terrible fear of it. One long intake of breath shivered through him, putting out his fear, dampening his confusion, and he ripped off his wig and covered his ear with one hand. With the other, he grabbed the girl next to him and pulled her to her feet. He could just make out the ladder ten feet in front of them, and he pushed her toward it, telling her in what passed for a calm voice, "Climb down. Get out. Get help. Go!" He didn't bother keeping his voice high; he let his true voice come from his chest and the authority it gave him helped her understand the seriousness. She slid down the ladder, screaming as splinters caught her hands. To her credit, she opened two stall gates on her staggering way to the side door. She came out in front of Nancy and Anna just as the water came out of the hose, now pointed toward the barn. It knocked her to the ground, and one of the horses ran right over her.
Chris could not rouse the other girl, and they were now surrounded by fire, burning hay and wood that snapped and crackled like a song nobody wants to hear. He pictured his father and wondered what he would have done. He could hear the horses below, panicking, their hooves thudding on the stall doors.
A barn cat flashed by him carrying a kitten in its mouth, landing on a window ledge he hadn't noticed. He kicked the glass out of the window and saw the cat leap out onto the roof of the shed that stood right beside the barn. Then the cat came leaping back in. Chris picked up the unconscious girl in his arms, skinny and thin as he was, and managed to get both of them out the window. At the same time, the panicking cat, carrying a second kitten, came flying out beside him. He was about to pull the girl over to the other side of the shed roof when the cat tried to run back in, but the window was full of flames and burning hay, sparks flying everywhere. He grabbed the cat in his other hand, getting a vicious bite for his trouble. Somehow he managed to stuff the two kittens inside his shirt (or blouse, in his case), and, still holding the cat, dragged the girl to the edge and yelled for help.
Nobody could hear him; he knew that, but he tried for another minute, then dropped the cat over the side, and, holding the girl by her wrists, dropped her over the side and let her slip to the ground. He followed, finally realizing how shallow he'd been breathing. He felt like he was about to pass out, but pulled the girl away from the shed as far as he could manage. The cat followed, nuzzling his chest for her kittens. "Oh sure, feel me up before there's anything to feel," muttered Chris, who planned on having breast implants after he'd been on estrogen longer. Then he started to cry, wishing he had the courage-and the energy-to go back inside and save the rest of the kittens and the horses and whatever else was in there, and be the strong manly hero his father would have been proud to call his son.