When only a few trucks remained in the parking lot, Kyle figured he was safe to go back in. He slipped inside and headed to where they corralled the bulls for the event. The men bedding down the animals grunted at him and handed him a pitchfork. All they knew about him was he did the heavy work without complaining, all for the chance to spend some time with the bulls.
"Hey there, Blackie," he murmured to the one-ton bull in the pen closest to him.
The large Brahma-cross snorted at him, and Kyle smiled. In the event's program, they listed the bull as Texas Tornado and he was one of the rankest bulls on tour. He had a tendency to hook a rider once the man was down and try to gore him. That was the reason Blackie no longer had horns. His owner cut them off so he wouldn't hurt any more cowboys.
Kyle forked a quarter bale of hay into the bull's pen before resting the fork against the bars and reaching in to rub Blackie's nose.
"You're the only one he'll let do that."
Jumping back, he grabbed up the pitchfork and ducked his head. No one was supposed to touch the animals, except the owners and their workers. It ensured no one poisoned them.
"Sorry, sir," he mumbled, not bothering to look up.
A pained grunt drew his attention, and he peered up from under his hat brim. The tall man slowly straightened from the wall and stepped into the low light shining over the bulls' pens. Kyle's jaw dropped. Holy shit! Duncan Hornsby spoke to him.
"Don't worry, kid. I've watched you a couple times after one of my guys told me about Tex letting you touch him. I know you're not going to do anything bad to him."
Duncan took his time walking toward Kyle and, watching through his lashes, Kyle stared at the bull rider. Duncan was only five years younger than Kyle's dad, making him seventeen years older than Kyle. Yet where Clayton was slowly allowing his body to fall apart, Duncan kept in shape. A shape as gorgeous as most of the younger men on the circuit. As he studied the man, Kyle realized he was limping badly.
Where he found the courage to do what he did next, Kyle never knew. Setting aside the pitchfork, he hurried over to Duncan and eased his arm around the man's waist.