Farewell from the Bookshelf!

Please note that GLBT Bookshelf -- the community wiki which was the parent to this fiction blog -- went offline on May 31, 2016, after seven years' service to members.

All Gay Romance will remain online till the end of 2016 in order to give contributors every opportunity to recover materials uploaded here.

Many thanks to all who contributed over the years, and good luck to everyone in your future works!


NEW! Stablemates by Linda Hines

NEW from DreamCraft!

by Linda Hines

ISBN # 978–0987172495
Word Count: 16,195
Heat Index 4
Genre: Contemporary • Erotica • Gay Fiction • Horses
Price: $2.99



Yates Whitaker is an ambitious accountant who avoids close relationships, choosing career instead. His brother, Colin, is serving in Afghanistan, and he’s caring for Colin’s horse, Rouge. When Rouge is injured Yates rushes to the stable, where Gavin Blalock’s horses are also boarded. Gavin seems familiar, and Yates soon recalls him from school, where Gavin – even then gay and out – defended him from bullies. Rouge had already been treated when Yates arrived, and, while he recovers, the men ride, have lunch … and admit their powerful mutual attraction, but Yates is stubbornly focused on work. Once again he seems about to let romance fade away – until the phone rings. Rouge is reacting badly to the antibiotic, and he could easily die. Gavin and Yates stand a painful vigil which compels Yates to face the realities of loss, death – and a man’s need for love.


“All you ever do is work.”

Preoccupied, Yates Whittaker pushed his designer glasses up the bridge of his nose. Spread out before him were the tools of his trade. His personal and business laptops, Blackberry, calculator, spreadsheets, pens and a yellow notepad covered half the kitchen table. He noticed the cat clock above the door already read nine. “I thought you and Stephanie were off to Savannah this morning.”

“We are.” Tall and lean, Trent was already in his T-shirt and cutoffs. He was also a CPA, who worked in the audit department of the large Atlanta accounting firm where Yates specialized in corporate taxes. About twenty-seven, and graduates of UGA’s Terry School of Business, both had worked hard to get where they were today professionally. “But what about you, Yates? It’s a four-day weekend, for Pete’s sakes. I know you’re not seeing anyone right now, but at least get out of this apartment! Sure, you have the partner’s attention because you volunteer for all this extra work, but I think you’re headed toward a burnout.”

“You sound like my mother.”

“Well, she’s right – and you know it!”

Yates grinned. “I’m gonna check this one more time – and then click send.” They had been friends since little kids. Trent knew him too well.

“Good.” Eyes narrowing, Trent crossed his arms. “So what are your plans while I’m gone?”

Yates shrugged. “Make some more beer, I think. Swim. Hang out. Maybe play some golf.”

“Sounds like fun,” Trent said dryly. “I’m surprised you’re not going home to work on your Mustang.” He chuckled. “How long’s that been now?”

“I got it when I was a junior in high school.”

“Well, I guess you don’t want to rush things.”

“That’s right.” Yates laughed. “And I might go home after all.”

“When was the last time you checked on your brother’s horse?”

“Ummm, three weeks ago, I think. You know Mom takes care of him.”

Yates threw his duffle into the trunk of his silver Chrysler 300, wishing once again he still had his old red Ford Ranger to handle the gravel road which led to the barn. Driving out of the complex, he was impatient with the congestion. However, he appreciated the amenities and close proximity to his office in midtown Atlanta which this location offered.

He maneuvered the car through the heavy traffic around the perimeter highway and headed up route 400, preferring everything about the northern suburbs except the horrendous rush hour commute. He was especially fond of Alpharetta. When his folks moved up there in 1980, one traffic light served the town, and large family properties and horse farms dominated the area. Now, the once-beautiful pastures were expensive subdivisions, and Alpharetta was as congested as any other community one might find on the north side of Atlanta.

Yates thought again of his brother, and offered a quick, silent prayer for his safety. Colin was a medic in the U.S. Army, assigned to a headquarters company in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was grateful Colin was able to call home as often as he did, but he surely did not want to have to tell him his horse was badly hurt. Colin had bought Rouge as a four-year-old. The big sorrel was now sixteen, and considered a family pet.

He pulled off the highway and headed east. He was above Alpharetta now, in a community known as Shake-Rag, and he welcomed the open spaces, white fences and green pastures which surrounded him. At least up here there were still trails one could ride for miles without crossing paved roads. Not far now – there it was on the right.

The sign was elegant, colorful, and engraved. Below the words ‘Pinetree Stables’ were images of a loping mare and a foal. He turned down a gravel road flanked by pastures where well-fed horses contentedly grazed.

The fall morning was fair and brisk. The sky was cloudless and brilliantly blue. The barn was near. An ornate wrought iron signpost stood at the junction of two paved drives. One marker pointed to the right and read ‘Trailers.’ The other guided cars to the left and read ‘Stables,’ which was Yates’s destination.

Maneuvering the winding byway, he drove his Chrysler into the designated area. Parking beside a powerful black 3500 RAM Laramie pickup, Yates got out of his car and walked toward the barn. Crossing the smooth cobblestones which covered the stableyard, he savored the antique ambience and the lure of the past he always felt when he came here.

Built as a hunting lodge in 1898, the magnificent stone and timber structure had been repurposed into a fine barn about sixty years ago, when the property became part of the thousand-acre Strickland family estate. The Stricklands were horse people – right now it was their grandchildren who rode. The stables were well-kept; the stalls offered to boarders were always full, and Rouge had lived here in contentment for the past five years.

Yates ran a hand through his sandy-colored hair. He appeared tall and lean-hipped in his well-worn jeans, and his blue polo shirt revealed a trim and muscular form. Professionally, he spent his days behind a desk. On his own time, he was handy with tools, and known as a hard worker who was knowledgeable in many construction trades. All his summers, from child to grad student, had been spent working at a century-old summer camp nestled in the beautiful North Georgia foothills.

Entering the coolness of the barn, he welcomed the heady scent of fresh hay, oiled leather and well-cared for horses. This was his getaway – thoughts of deadlines or professional concerns were not allowed through the big barn doors. Amused, he considered this place his ‘stress-free zone.’

He ambled past the office and feed room and down the stable aisle. Most of the stalls were empty now, as the horses were turned out, and the barn was quiet. A ginger-colored cat perched precariously upon the ledge of a stall door, and Yates paused to pet him, responding to old Tommy’s demanding mew.

A deep, soothing voice filtered through the whirr of the ceiling fans. He approached and saw Rouge cross-tied in the stable hallway. A tall stranger was speaking softly as he caressed the handsome sorrel’s head.

Yates was intrigued to meet someone his mother had spoken of kindly for years. Gavin slowly turned, and Yates was struck by the drama of his gaunt cheeks, angular features, and soft brown eyes. A thin, neat beard outlined his jaw. His dark hair was soft and thick and worn longish at the nape.

Rouge raised his head and pricked his ears. The sorrel was strikingly beautiful, with his rich red coat and lustrous white mane and tail.

“Hey!” Yates offered his hand and an engaging grin.

Gavin met his grasp. “Glad you could come.”

With a gentle hand, Yates swept aside Rouge’s heavy forelock. “Oh, you sweet boy,” he crooned, stroking the silky jaw. Slowly, he ran his hand down the arch of his neck, withers and onto his broad back. He frowned when he saw the half-moon cuts high on Rouge’s flank, and all those stitches.

“So what did Doc Mackey need to do?”

“He cleaned the wounds well and sewed him up. He also gave him tetanus and antibiotic shots.”

Yates stroked the big sorrel’s neck. “How’d Rouge take all of this?”

Gavin’s tone was affectionate. “This horse has a lot of sense. As soon as the local anesthetic took effect, he was pretty stoic about it, really.” He turned aside. “And it could have been worse,” he reasoned. “He may be hurting from the kicks, but he’s not lame.”

“Well, I’m glad you were here.”

“I’m sorry Rouge was hurt, but I got between them as soon as I could.”

Yates watched him move away. “I know your horses.” The buckskin gelding and bay mare had been Rouge’s stablemates for two years. “Strange we’ve never met.”

Gavin turned and leaned his back against the stall gate. The handsome bay placed her head over his shoulder. Gavin seemed amused. “From what I hear, your schedule is as demanding and unpredictable as mine has been.”

“What’s your line of work?”

“I’m a PA-C and a CSA…a physician’s assistant and surgical assistant. Until last week, I worked closely with a prominent neurosurgeon.”

“Until last week? What? Did you win the lottery? Are you retiring?”

“I wish.” Gavin chuckled. “Soon, I’ll begin a position with a neurology group in Alpharetta. I traded high stress and big bucks for regular hours and a shorter commute.” He stroked his bay mare’s pretty head. “I want to spend more time with my horses.” He turned toward Yates once again. “And what do you do?” He seemed amused. “I must admit, though, I feel I already know you. Your mother has mentioned you and your professional endeavors often over the past years.”

“I bet,” offered Yates dryly, “in that ‘my son, the accountant’ sort of way.”

Gavin’s tone was kind. “There’s nothing wrong with being proud of a son who knows what he wants and works hard to realize his potential.”

As they exchanged glances Yates’s smile was soft. He felt comfortable with this man. Again, he studied Gavin’s features, which seemed to him vaguely familiar. “Have we met before?”

“I wondered if you’d remember.” Gavin’s grin was lopsided. “We went to the same high school. You were a freshman when I was a senior.”

“That’s right,” Yates suddenly recalled, “a lowly freshman. We never once spoke, and yet I remember passing you in the halls.”

“I used to watch the baseball games,” Gavin said. “I remember you played third base and had a helluva throwing arm.”

Yates narrowed his gaze. “I remember something else, too – about the last weeks of school that year. A bunch of older guys had cornered me in the locker room, giving me a hard time.”

“Jealousy, most likely – they felt threatened by your skill.”

Yates nodded. “The usual disparaging remarks – insinuating I was less than a man, and calling me names, calling me gay…”

“You mean, back when words like that had the power to hurt you?” Gavin murmured.

“Yesss,” Yates admitted slowly. “I was just a kid, and not yet comfortable in my own skin.” Silence fell as their eyes met. “But then you entered the locker room,” Yates said. “I remember now. You told those guys to knock it off, or you’d knock it off for them. And they backed off in a hurry! I … I only learned later who you were – captain of the track team and president of the student council. More importantly to me at the time, you were openly gay and didn’t care who knew it.”

“It’s not particularly pleasant to remember such vulnerability. And yet it was a rite of passage most of us have shared. I suspect, though, you gained strength from the challenges they threw at you.”

“I did.” Yates smiled. “I never looked back.” He returned to Rouge’s side. The powerful sorrel liked having his face rubbed in a certain way. Chuckling softly, Yates was pleased to comply. “A thousand-pound baby, that’s what you are.”

Gavin strolled away and returned with an armful of hay, which he placed in the corner of Rouge’s stall. Yates unhooked the cross-ties and led the horse in. He pulled the halter over Rouge’s ears and stroked him for a long time before he closed the door.

“Thanks again for taking care of him, and talking to the vet.”

“Sure,” said Gavin. “You would have done the same for me.”

Yates nodded. In the stall next to Rouge was Aztec, Gavin’s big dappled buckskin quarter horse. “So what’s on your agenda?”

Gavin smiled as he led his bay out of her stall. “It’s a beautiful fall day, and I want nothing more than to ride my horses.”

“Sounds like a pretty good idea to me.” Yates stroked Aztec’s soft nose.

“Well, why don’t you come with me?” urged Gavin. “I have two horses who would certainly be pleased with the attention.”

“But what about Rouge?” Yates was hesitant. “Shouldn’t I stay here and watch him?”

“Rouge is fine where he is, and likely feeling a little dozy from the anesthetic,” Gavin assured him. “Well, you can stay here and watch him if you like or…” He gestured up the stable aisle. A stocky girl with short red hair and dressed in overalls rolled a wheelbarrow toward them. She picked the pitchfork from the barrow and turned toward the men. “Look, Janie is back now. She knows all about what happened this morning.” Gavin turned to the girl. “Hon, could you keep an eye on Rouge for awhile?”

“Sure, I can,” she said with a bright smile. “I’ll be here for a couple of hours, cleaning these stalls.”

“Well, good then. Thanks, Janie!” Yates glanced at Gavin. “Who would you like me to ride?”


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