Title: Cutting Out by Meredith Shayne
Publisher: Bottom Drawer Publications
Genre: Contemporary, M/M, Erotic, Romance
Word Count: 78,000
A twenty-year veteran of the shearing shed, Aussie Shane Cooper loves his job, and the home he’s made for himself in New Zealand. If he’s a little lonely, he’s got good mates to keep his spirits up. When a hot, cocky young shearer named Lachlan Moore catches his eye at a competition, he’s content to look but not touch, knowing the young man is out of his league.
Lachie wouldn’t mind a piece of Shane, but the gorgeous gun shearer from Australia is soon forgotten when the Christchurch earthquake hits, and tragedy strikes Lachie’s family. Lachie deals with it the best he can, cutting himself off from all he knows. A year later and he’s back in the shearing shed, out of practice and lacking confidence. That Shane’s there to watch him flounder doesn’t help his nerves.
As Lachlan struggles to re-acclimatise, Shane can’t resist giving him a hand to get back on his feet. As they move from friends to something more, Shane finds himself wanting to know everything he can about Lachie. But Lachie’s got secrets he desperately wants to keep, and when things come to a head, those secrets might just mean the end of them before they’ve truly begun.
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“I CAN’T BELIEVE you dragged me up Queenstown Hill. Haven’t we been here a million times? I thought we were going somewhere interesting. With less of a fucking incline. Jesus.”
Shane stopped by the tourism panel art and looked at his friend Zach, who was looking decidedly green around the gills. “God, you’re such a whinger. Why wouldn’t you want to be out here on a day like this? And you, a walking tour guide and all. You’re a disgrace to your profession.”
“Fuck you. I’m hungover. That’s what I am.” Originally from Tasmania, Zach Harris was in his mid-thirties, handsome in a blue-eyed, blond, square-jawed, male-model kind of way, teeth blindingly white, and charm oozing from every pore. To top things off, he was a ski instructor in the high season, and a walking trail guide in the summer. He had people—men and women, which was fine by him—falling at his feet all year round. Right then, he didn’t look as hot as he usually did, because he looked like he was about to throw up. He stopped and raked a hand through his sweaty hair, then reached for Shane’s backpack and yanked a bottle of water out of it. As he tipped his head back, throat working as he drank most of the bottle in one go, Shane had to admit he understood why people did pant over him. But he and Zach had never slept together, and Shane didn’t regret that. They’d met almost as soon as Shane arrived in Queenstown ten years before. They’d had a fondness for the same pub, and an Australian accent coming from someone who didn’t seem like a tourist had drawn Shane like a magnet. First they’d bonded over being Australian in a sea of Kiwis, Brits, and South Africans. Then they’d discovered they had more in common, and not just a love of cock; Shane didn’t ski, but he loved to hike, and once Zach had found that out, he’d taken Shane exploring the walking tracks of Queenstown and its surrounds every chance he could get. They’d spent days out in the wilderness, scruffy and unwashed. Zach was the only person who knew why Shane had left Australia, and why he didn’t bother going back, and he’d never said a judgemental word about it. That was the kind of friend Shane had needed back then, not a friends-with-benefits one.
Shane had no sympathy for him in the present though. “How can you be hung over on a Tuesday, for fuck’s sake? It’s not ski season. Are any bars here even open on a Monday?”
“Are you serious?” Zach rolled his eyes and shoved the empty water bottle back in Shane’s pack. “You’re such a monk, Cooper. This is one of the most popular tourist traps in New Zealand—of course there are places to drink on a Monday. Even you could have a drink on a Monday, if you came out with me more often.”
Shane suppressed a sigh of exasperation. He knew what was involved when Zach went out on the prowl, and he was over it. He could find his own hook-ups. He just didn’t want to do that in Queenstown anymore. Don’t shit where you eat, that was his new motto now he was old enough to know better. Zach just hadn’t got that through his thick skull yet. “Come on.” Shane started upwards again. “Think yourself lucky I picked a trail with trees so you could have some shade.”
“Whatever,” Zach said, under his breath but loud enough for Shane to hear, which was definitely on purpose.
Shane ignored him. Soon they came out of the tree line and got a view of The Remarkables. Shane stopped and looked at the mountain peaks, and the small body of water in front of them, and felt the muscles of his neck and shoulders relax. He sighed softly, and then Zach came up beside him.
“You know, if you came out with me more, you might not need to relax by being in nature. You could relax in other ways. Ways that don’t involve trees, or your right hand.”
“Shut up.” Shane kept walking, up towards the Basket of Dreams sculpture. He loved the Queenstown Hill Time Walk mostly for the view you could get from the Basket of Dreams. “I get laid. Just not as often as you.” Zach seemed to get laid every five minutes; most people didn’t get laid as much as him.
“Well, maybe you should try—”
“Maybe you should try shutting your gob. I didn’t come up here to get a lecture about my love life.” Shane punched Zach on the shoulder. “Let me enjoy the view for five seconds, all right?”
A scientist in a past life, these days Meredith Shayne mainly uses her scientific training to poke holes in television pseudoscience. Originally from Australia, she moved to New Zealand to start a new life a few years ago and hasn’t regretted it for one minute, even if she frequently wishes that the New Zealand weather was a little better; if she’s forced, she’ll admit that the refreshing lack of animals that can kill you in New Zealand makes up for a little rain.
Meredith travels a lot, so much so that she has developed a shameful love of airplane food and knows her passport number by heart. When she is at home, she enjoys baking, horrible music from the 1980s, reality television, and gloating any time Australia thrashes the living daylights out of New Zealand on the sporting field.
Find Meredith at her website: www.meredithshayne.com
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