"Ahhhhhh. Ahhh, fuck, that's good!" The stranger gasped above him. The man's weight suddenly collapsed against his back as his temporary partner shuddered out the last of his climax.
Lowell shuddered, trying to catch his own breath, still gripping the wall for balance. He drawled out the words, forcing himself not to suck for air with each sentence. "Yeah. Yeah, not bad at all."
The world stopped spinning a split second afterward. The man pulled out and then off. Everything was back to normal. Lowell took another deep breath and stepped away from the wall.
"Ah ... thanks, man." Lowell buttoned his fly and strolled away from the alley without another look. He'd learned no one appreciated good-byes, least of all himself, after a quickie.
When he got near the bar at the other end of the dirty little alley, he paused, trying to decide if he felt any better.
Not much. The immediate need had drained off, but not the underlying problem. Moonbeams hit his face through a break in the buildings surrounding him. Almost a full moon. Shit. That never helped his itch.
Lowell hesitated at the bar's battered door and listened to the music wailing inside about good times, bad women and cold beer. Why go back at all? He'd been there before--maybe not this particular bar in this particular part of El Paso, but to enough bars just like it and enough men just like his already forgotten partner.
You'd think I'd be tired of this by now. Shit, I am tired of it. Thirty-one and still picking up the flotsam at two-bit bars to fuck.
Lowell grinned. Maybe the real problem was his cock still wasn't tired and it hadn't had any ass tonight.
He was an idiot. There was more than enough ass at home. Why did he hang out at these damn places and let himself get picked up like he was some kind of desperate whore?
Because I once was a whore. That's why. Sometimes going back to where he'd been as a scrawny kid, back when he was ready to bend over and be fucked on command--literally and figuratively--reminded him that his life now wasn't all bad. Hell, there were plenty who would envy everything he had right now. He was the one with the problem. He just hadn't quite found what he needed yet.
And odds were that he wouldn't find it tonight. He should give it up and leave. He had responsibilities now.
The volume of the music rose up in the bar, sending its false notes about the good times to be had. He wasn't restless enough to get suckered in by that, was he? Then again, he'd left his hat in the bar. No harm in getting it before he headed back.
Telling himself he was being stupid to linger, Lowell stepped back inside anyhow. The bar was smoky and noisy and like a million others. That was no surprise. There was nothing for him here and never would be.
Lowell walked to the back booth, where he could see his Stetson hanging on a hook against the wall. One minute, two minutes, and he'd be gone. The babble of drunken or excited voices hit his ears and he tuned it out. No more beers tonight. No more cock.
"I'm not interested." The cool voice that cut through his protective shield was female and husky and somehow familiar.
Pussy. That was something different.
His damn cock twitched. Bad idea, cock. Pussy is way too dangerous for us.
"If you're not, then what are you doing here?" The male voice answering her was slightly drunk and very unhappy.
"Maybe I should have said I'm not interested in you."
Lowell glanced over at the couple, deciding no one else cared whether he eavesdropped. The bar was getting more intriguing by the minute.
His eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared just a little once he saw her. She was a pretty girl. Tall. Reddish-brown hair, blue eyes. Flat stomach with a tiny ring attached to her belly, a fact she had no problem showing off since her skimpy little T-shirt cut off just under her boobs.
"Maybe you're too picky." The man started to get up from his chair.
Pretty and she smelled ... He sniffed again. She smelled like someone he should remember. Lowell scowled, keeping himself from rubbing his forehead with an effort. Sex, no matter how meaningless, made you sluggish. Why couldn't he place her?
He didn't have time to think about it, though. The girl got out of her chair, facing the would-be pickup artist down. Her jaw jutted out as if she meant to confront him with more than words. The kid was tall and looked strong, but she was still facing a drunken man. Lowell knew what that meant.
Unless he intervened.
"The lady isn't interested because she's with me." Lowell stepped up to the guy's elbow and growled the words into his ear.