Authors: SJD Peterson
Whispering Pines Ranch by
“Get a box of Kleenex and settle in for a stormy ride. It is totally worth it.” —Mrs. Condit & Friends
“In short, SJD Peterson rocked the angst, and I loved every word of it.” —Top 2 Bottom Reviews
“OH wow this was a franticly hot book.” —Musings of a Bookworm
“This book is brilliant, the storyline is fantastic, the characters are incredible….” —MM Good Book Reviews
“These books are all beautifully written, and this third novel is filled with scenes that illustrate that overarching reality of sensitive and authentic love that these men share.” —Book Binge
“The cast of Whispering Pines is dynamic and will draw you in, making you crave more.” —Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
“This book is amazing. Beautifully written, believably paced and just so honest and true.” —A Bear on Books
Masters & Boyd
5032 Capital Circle SW
Ste 2, PMB# 279
Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by SJD Peterson
Cover art by Ronaldo Gutierrez, Photographer
Cover design by Paul Richmond
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law. To request permission and all other inquiries, contact Dreamspinner Press, 5032 Capital Circle SW, Ste 2, PMB# 279, Tallahassee, FL 32305-7886, USA.
Digital ISBN: 978-1-62380-338-4
Printed in the United States of America
For everyone who is deemed different.
Don’t try to fit in, be you.
shimmery violet eye shadow, highlighted with a dusty gray, covered my eyelids. I cocked my head from side to side, watching my reflection in the mirror as the stream of light from the desk lamp caused the new makeup to sparkle. It was bold, daring, and in my opinion, totally kick-ass cool. With a steady, practiced hand, I added a heavy line of smoky eyeliner around each eye in a winged pattern. Thick penciled-in eyebrows with a high arch, a dab of blush to each cheek, and a light layer of gloss over my plum-lined lips completed the look. Damn, I looked good!
I looked over to see my best friend Bo leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest. “What? Too much?” I ran my fingers through my purple-streaked blond hair, fluffing it, giving it a little more height.
“Uh, yeah, you could say that.” Bo rolled his eyes. “We’re going to a frat party, not a rave.”
“Same diff,” I said. Bunch of posturing men, drinking and flexing their muscles as they chased after one conquest or another. The only difference was that at a frat house, the beer would be free and the dance floor for shit. Turning away from an exasperated Bo—I knew that expression on his face well—I grabbed the can of hairspray from the makeshift vanity and gave my hair another couple of blasts of the extra sticky hold. Once I was satisfied every hair was in perfect place and would be able to withstand forty-mile-an-hour wind gusts, I set the can down and turned back to face Bo.
Bo waved a hand in my direction. “And what the hell are you wearing?”
I looked down at my attire and shrugged. Torn and frayed jeans hung low on my lean hips, held in place by a black belt with silver studs. Heavy-soled black lace-up knee boots were hidden behind faded denim so only the black matte leather of the toe was visible. A vintage black Rolling Stones T-shirt, with the classic lips and protruding tongue displayed on the front, completed my ensemble. I hadn’t even added any of the numerous leather and silver bracelets I normally wore on each wrist, no collar or any other jewelry except the diamond stud in my right ear. If anything, I was underdressed.
“What do you mean?” I arched one perfectly penciled brow at him. “Not macho enough?”
Bo threw his head back and laughed. “You look like a punch-drunk drag queen.”
“Fuck off!” I mumbled, but laughed along with him.
Punch-drunk drag queen. Whatever!
Stifling my giggles, I ran a critical eye down Bo’s slim body. Boot-cut, dark-wash denim jeans, white, dollar-store tennis shoes, faded blue-and-white-striped polo shirt. One word came to mind:
. Okay, that was two words, but both were accurate. “Better than the thrifty-geek look you’re going for.”
When Bo and I stood side by side, our differences were glaringly obvious, like night and day. He’s the conservative one, while I’ve always had a flair for theatrics and love being the center of attention. No one was surprised when I decided to attend the University of Michigan as a theater major—what had surprised some was that I’d dragged Bo along with me. Bo and I were not only roommates but had been best friends since junior high. They say opposites attract and in this case, the saying was certainly true.
Bo’s real name is Bogart Humphrey, a cruel joke his parents played on him at birth and I promised to keep that secret since I was thirteen, under threat of having my head and eyebrows shaved while I slept. I never told anyone Bo’s real name, as even seven years later, baldness was still a very real possibility.
Bo is tall, a good five inches taller than my own five foot eight inches. He has mousy-brown hair always cut short and parted on the side, wire-rimmed glasses, and had a penchant for shopping at Goodwill for the most dull, nondescript clothing he could find. While I loved makeup, fashion, Broadway, dancing, and visiting art museums, Bo loved math, studied business, and was most comfortable hiding behind me in public—despite our size difference. He was happiest either watching
reruns or hanging out at conventions with his fellow
fans. However, no matter the differences, we’d grown up virtually inseparable since Bo moved into the house next door to mine. We were both only children, the only two boys around the same age in our neighborhood, and for some odd reason, we just worked as friends. One of the most interesting dynamics of our relationship was, as flippant and flamboyant as I was, he accepted me. We didn’t always like the same things, but we took turns and kept score on whose turn it was to pick the entertainment, be it club or restaurant.
While I was always speaking my mind, often times without the assistance of a filter between brain and mouth, Bo tended to be more reserved and quiet, at least until someone disrespected someone he cared about. He’d go from the shy, nerdy guy to the puffed-up protector whenever anyone threw a derogatory slur my way. Bo was raised to be a truly great person, and I loved him unconditionally. I knew he felt the same, but that didn’t mean I didn’t like to tease the shit out of him whenever the opportunity arose.
Bo didn’t say anything else about my appearance, knowing it was a fruitless effort to try to get me to conform to the ideology of normalcy. Normal—whatever that meant—was mundane, and if there is one thing Daniel Anderson Marshal is not, it is boring. I refused to dress like the masses in an effort to “fit in.” Sure, I took some ribbing for it, a few nasty insults tossed my way here and there when I walked by, even had some old guy ask me if I was a boy or girl. I answered by cupping the bulge in my pink skinny jeans and asking, “Would you like me to show you?” Did I also mention that I was a major smartass at times? I loved the shock and wow factor. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone that old move away so fast or turn so red. No matter what reaction I got, I’d still rather be an individual dressing the way I want, than a sheep that follows the rest of the crowd.
To prove this point, I grabbed my new white, waist-length coat with black fur trim around the hood and slipped it on. Yes, I’d bought it in the junior girls’ section and I fucking loved it. All soft and snuggly. Loved the way the fur felt around my face when I put up the hood. I’m a very tactile, as well as visual, guy.
“Okay, now I’m ready.”
“Don’t forget your Hello Kitty purse,” Bo said, brushing past me to grab his simple tan golf jacket from the back of his desk chair.
“Tsk, tsk,” I chastised. “How many times do I have to tell you, the Hello Kitty purse matches the pink fur boots, not the black gothic punk boots?” I pushed out my hip and placed a hand on it. “Jeez, Bo, can’t you even remember that fashion simplicity? Oh. My. God! Bag must match the footwear,” I told him overly dramatically and then stomped my foot to complete the effect. “Always.”
Bo suddenly stopped with his coat midway up his arms, eyes wide. “You don’t actually have one, do you?”
I just rolled my eyes at him as I stepped out of our dorm room. No, I didn’t have a Hello Kitty anything—the yellow boyshorts with the black outline of a popular kitty doesn’t count, since I’d never actually worn them, they were a gift—or a pair of pink fur boots, I considered going on a little shopping trip, just to drive Bo crazy, but there was no way I was wearing kitty anything. Bo complained about my antics sometimes, but I knew he liked them. I kept him from living a slow, painfully humdrum existence. Secretly I think he lived vicariously through me.
my boot on the first step leading up to the frat house and my nerves made themselves known by the jittery feeling in my stomach. I took a deep breath and squared my shoulders for the shit storm about to be unleashed. I hated frat parties. Add me to a cesspool of alcohol, combine a few alpha jocks, and stir in a little macho bullshit, and it’s a recipe for disaster. However, Bo was pining after some chick who would be there, and since he’d also grudgingly attended the ballet with me, I owed him.