The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing excerpt

"You said I could have two songs."

"Yes I did."

"Can I save the other one for later?"

"I don't see why not." Jimothy set his guitar down in its soft case. He stretched and yawned.

"You look like you're ready to collect your side of the transaction," Ricky said, rising from where he sat on the edge of the bed.

"I am, indeed," agreed Jimothy emphatically.

Ricky chuckled. "I thought so." He rose and went to his pack.

That bag must be bigger inside than it is outside, thought Jimothy. I bet if I asked he could magically pull a saddle out of one of those multitudinous pockets.

Turning around to face Jimothy again, Ricky held up a glazed pot about the size of a man's fist, its lid secured with a soft wax seal. "You're in luck. I was out, but I made myself stay an extra few minutes in Torvik just so I could restock."

"I appreciate your sacrifice," joked Jimothy.

"You should. You know how I feel about that city. I should warn you," he went on as he peeled off the seal, "it's sort of…pungent."

The moment the lid was off, Jimothy could smell the stuff. He concluded that his companion was a master of understatement. It wasn't that it smelled bad at all. In fact he quite liked the scent, detecting clove, cinnamon and peppermint oils. There was a hint of something softer underneath them, but he couldn't identify what it was. "You're not kidding. That smells like powerful stuff."

"Do you like it? I love it." Ricky stuck his nose in the pot and inhaled deeply. "Mm! Clears the sinuses a bit, too."

"I imagine it does. But all I care about is how well it works on sore muscles. I'd forgotten how hard horse riding is on my back."

"It's all that time keeping your balance. Don't be surprised if you wake up tomorrow feeling it in your gut and your thighs, too."

"I'm already feeling it in my thighs, thanks," Jimothy cracked dryly.

"I can rub those for you, too." This time Jimothy knew he wasn't mistaking Ricky's meaning or his expression, but before he could say anything, the younger man's eyes went wide. He quickly turned his back to Jimothy. "I'm sorry. That was inappropriate."

"No. Don't apologize."

"I shouldn't have said that. My mother warns me all the time that my mouth is going to get me into trouble. I'm really sorry."

Jimothy rose and came to stand a little behind and to one side of him. He cautiously reached out a hand and laid it gently on Ricky's shoulder. Ricky turned with the gentle pressure and the two men stood face to face. Jimothy looked down the short distance into Ricky's pale eyes and saw a mix of emotions he couldn't quite sort out. On impulse, he leaned in and kissed him on the mouth--a little cautiously, a little eagerly--and was thrilled when Ricky readily kissed him back.

They parted, but neither of them moved away so much as a step. There was a moment of silence until…

"Damn," breathed Ricky, his eyes alight once again. "Now that's the kind of trouble I like getting into." Jimothy laughed and they kissed again, deeper and hungrier and longer. Ricky pressed him back towards the bed until Jimothy bumped into it and sat down, abruptly breaking the kiss. He looked up at the other man and smiled salaciously.

"Nice bed."

"Blankets are soft, too. The linen sheets are nice on bare skin."

Jimothy ran a hand over them. "Mm-hmm."

Ricky stood close, legs spread just enough to squeeze Jimothy's knees between them. "I like to be on the bottom," he said, his voice daring a challenge.

"Then what are you doing up there?" Jimothy's words were met by a wide smile.

Ricky stepped back. Jimothy leaned forward to pull off his boots and moaned inadvertently as his back protested. Ricky laughed and knelt in front of him. "Let me do that," he offered. Jimothy was happy to let him. He held out each foot in turn and Ricky quickly removed Jimothy's boots and chucked them aside. They were soon joined by Ricky's boots and clothing. He pulled Jimothy to his feet and helped the aching man undress.

Standing naked together, each took time to look the other over appraisingly--flat bellies, sharply defined calves and thighs, strong arms. Jimothy smiled at the dark hair that curled over the other man's chest and the thin line of fine hairs that led down to his groin and his engorged penis. It was bigger than he'd expected and his own cock jumped eagerly in response. Ricky saw and grasped it, winning him a wordless grunt of excited surprise. He massaged the silken skin with strong fingers and Jimothy moaned and thrust his hips forward into his touch. Leaning in, Ricky tilted his head to nip at Jimothy's ear and murmured, "That liniment is good for more than treating sore muscles." He looked into Jimothy's dark eyes, his own as blue as the center of a candle flame.

Jimothy met his gaze steadily. "Then let's put it to good use."