Daniel Blake carried his cares, his beliefs, his dedication on shoulders so broad it near took Tristan’s breath away. Everyone shouldered a load, everyone. But Danny made it look easy. Easy enough that if you had a problem, a question, a concern … Danny was the man you took it to. Because he never judged. He listened, gave it consideration and asked the question back at you in a way that made it new and different and shed light in dark places.
The light he shed with Tristan was showing him how love felt, beyond the physical, beyond the crushing and the one-nighters and the scratching itches for a quick thrill. His was slow burn, as constant as the air he sucked in his lungs. A cowboy who knew no other way than doing it right.
Danny Blake was a man who had pride without being prideful. His Ma might call it humble, but it seemed a step more than that. His Danny had some sharp edges, like a side of prickly cactus when it came to things that mattered.
From where he stood, those spines were evident already. He’d hinted at needing to talk. Tristan had a guess what that was about. Mostly about him, Tristan Wells, taking the next step, coughing up the entrance fees for the bigger venues, positioning himself in the points race for an end game he wasn’t sure mattered so much anymore.
Oddly enough, the problem came down to those two things he cared about. One was Danny, and that went without saying. He no longer spent nights staring at the ceiling, wondering if he was making a mistake, jigging sideways like a skittish colt every time Danny said or did something. Putting words in the man’s mouth, in his own. Fucking up time and again and never once … no, not once had he driven Danny away.
The man was a rock. His rock.
And that was the problem, the other thing he cared about. And it wasn’t so easy to put into words. He tended to see today clear as a bell, but next week, next month … that lay off in the distance, like a horizon with a blue haze of humidity distorting the big picture, blurring out the details. Beyond that, if you were talking years, he was lost.
Danny was different, he conjured the future … a future—theirs—in a way that didn’t seem possible. The man saw them together, for real. A couple. Living in the open, sharing their lives day-to-day. Not hiding from view, from the fans, from their friends, their competitors.
Being aware of the consequences from an early age, he’d taken his sexual explorations far from home, safeguarding his secret, making sure he didn’t shit where he ate, to use a crude expression. But it fit unfortunately. Danny had done the same. It sucked, but it was what it was, at least in their world.
But Danny wasn’t the kind of man to let things lie. He’d worked out a rough roadmap of how to get from point A to point B. So far, what he lacked were specifics. Tristan had a feeling those details were about to be laid out, sooner rather than later.
But first things first.
“Yore Mama ever tell you, you think too much, kid?”
The slow Texas drawl sent spider webs of awareness up and down Tristan’s spine. He tipped his hat back and swept his gaze from the barrel chest to the square jaw and deep ridges framing a mouth in permanent solemnity. Danny Blake’s shoulders weren’t the only thing carrying the cares of the world.
It was in the eyes, that knowing swimming in a sea of hazel, changing colors with the light, softening the edge of what, on another man, might have been austere and unapproachable. Not for the first time, he wondered what Danny’s breaking point might be, when his generosity would finally stretch and strain and bow under the weight of responsibility.