By Robin 'Red Hot' Kaye with a little help from Hunter Kincaid....
Hunter Kincaid sat at the bar in Humpin’ Hannah’s and looked through the front window waiting for his cousin, Ben and his wife, Gina.
He turned and faced his sister and favorite bartender, Karma. “Might as well.” He nudged his mug across the polished bar. Karma picked up his glass and held it under the tap while he watched. “God only knows when Ben and Gina will show up. When those two land in Idaho, it’s like the honeymoon starts all over again. You’d think they’d be through with that phase of their relationship by now.”
“I think it’s romantic. It gives us all hope that maybe someday…” Her words trailed off as she lost herself in a daydream. Watching Ben go through the ups and downs of true love had been enough for Hunter to handle without having the whole little sister thing to deal with. If anyone broke Karma’s heart—even temporarily, well, Hunter would have to hurt the guy, and Hunter was of a lover, not a fighter.
Karma over-filled his mug, catching it just a second too late as the foam slid off the top into the drain. “Here you go and there they are.”
Hunter turned to see Gina flounce through the door, stopping to let her eyes adjust to the dimness of the bar. He smiled at her purple, Sex-in-the-City meets Durango outfit. You can take the girl out of Spanish Harlem, but you can’t take the Spanish Harlem out of the girl. The fringe hanging off her short, purple jacket was over-the-top, but looked great over her tight black, “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” T-shirt. Stiletto-heeled matching cowboy boots and a tight, black short skirt rounded out the ensemble and had every person with a Y chromosome wishing he were Ben.
Hunter wasn’t even going to go there—not that he didn’t enjoy giving his cousin a hard time. He stood and waved them to a round table across from the bar. “Hey, you two. Let’s sit over here where we can have some privacy. Karma, bring us a pitcher and Gina’s usual when you get a minute.”
Karma waved him away as he accepted a hug from Gina, practically having to kneel down, she was so short.
Ben pulled a bar stool close to his own and waited for Gina to climb on before he sat. “Okay, what’s this all about?”
Hunter pulled out his phone and scrolled to the app that was a recorder. He didn’t want to miss a thing. “Robin Kaye called and asked if I’d interview you two for her blog.”
Karma brought over a pitcher, a mug, and a Grey Goose Dirty Martini for Gina. She set them down and smiled. “Oh, sounds like fun. Are you going to interview me too? You know I had a hand in getting these two lovebirds together.”
Hunter rolled his eyes. “If I were to interview the people responsible, I’d have to interview Grampa Joe and no one wants to do that.”
Karma laughed. “You’re just afraid he’ll get the idea to set you up.”
“Exactly.” Hunter watched Ben and Gina gazing at each other and stifled a groan. God, they were disgusting.
Ben leaned against the back of his barstool and threw his arm around Gina who smiled up at him. “I never thought I’d say this, but marriage was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Gina poked an elbow into his side. “Our second marriage. The first wasn’t so great, and then there was the divorce, which was pretty fun. But the second marriage is definitely the best thing.
Ben pulled her closer. “Oh come on, you have to admit the first marriage did have it’s high points. That’s when we fell in love.”
“It was okay after I figured out you weren’t gay and before you did your impression of a horse’s ass.”
Hunter choked on the beer he’d been drinking. Ben threw Gina a hard look and if Hunter wasn’t mistaken, Ben was blushing. “You thought Ben was gay?”
“Why do you think I married him? He said he had a business proposal, so I met him at his apartment over his art gallery. He told me he’d decorated the apartment himself, he dressed like a metro-sexual New York model, and treated me to a five-course gourmet meal that he cooked. Of course I thought he was gay. How did I know the second he crossed the Great Divide he went all alpha cowboy?”
Hunter waited for Ben to take a long sip of beer and finally meet his gaze.
“Fine. When Gina mentioned she thought I was gay, I went along with it. It almost killed me. And don’t you say a word, Hunter. I haven’t beaten you up in a few years but that doesn’t mean I still can’t.”
Hunter smiled and puffed out his chest. “I’d like to see you try.”
Gina rolled her eyes. “Would you two cut it out?”
Ben set his beer down with a little more force than necessary. “Fine.” He shot Hunter a look that was probably supposed to scare him—it didn’t. He couldn’t wait to tell Trapper and Fisher. He could only imagine the fun they’d have torturing Ben. He’d never live it down.
Shrugging and staring into his beer, Ben continued. “I didn’t want Gina to go and do something stupid like fall in love with me. Karma warned me it might happen. She pointed out the only hole in my plan when I proposed to her.”
“You proposed to Karma too?”
“Well, yeah. It’s not like we’re really related. Growing up like cousins doesn’t mean we are. I was just going to marry her to keep Gramps from selling the ranch. I wasn’t going to touch her—I swear.”
Karma passed by carrying another pitcher. “As if I’d let him. Ewww!”
Hunter sat back and folded his arms. “And you thought Grampa Joe would fall for that?”
Ben hung his head. “I was desperate, it was either marry Karma, or marry a complete stranger. Hell, if I’d known Gina was so incredible, I’d have married her sooner.”
“Yeah, but she wasn’t interested in marrying you.” Hunter turned to Gina. “Why was that? Well, aside from the fact that you thought Ben was a Brokeback Mountain cowboy.”
Gina shrugged. “Aside from the whole gay thing, there was the whole marriage thing. I never thought I was the marriage type. I’m too selfish, demanding, and I don’t play well with others. Marriage was the one thing I never wanted to experience.”
Ben tightened his hold on his wife. “She’s the most unselfish person I know. Still, I got her to change her mind.”
Hunter couldn’t help but laugh. He noticed Ben didn’t mention the demanding part of her personality or the problem with playing with others…though he seemed to have taught her a thing or two in that department. “So how’d you get her to change her mind?”
“It was my inescapable charm.”
Gina laughed. “It was inescapable only because he took me to the ranch which for those of you who don’t know it, is in the middle of nowhere. Believe me, for a city girl who doesn’t drive, it wasn’t only his charm that was inescapable.
“So Gina, how’d he manage to woo you?”
She turned to Ben. “Do people actually say that—well, other than Hunter?”
Ben shrugged. “There are those who talk about wooing, and those of use whose wooing is best demonstrated behind a closed bedroom door, on satin sheets, when there’s nothing else on the agenda for hours and hours.”
They exchanged a look that would incinerate petrified stone, leaving Hunter to admit—to himself only, of course—that on Ben and Gina, marriage didn’t look bad. In fact, on Ben and Gina, marriage looked pretty damned good.