Warnings: Some elements unsuitable for sensitive readers. Profanity. Implied sexual situations.
It feels good.
No, it feels damn good, I decide as I look at the two checks in my hand. Lifting the tumbler of whiskey I set on the desk earlier, I decide I deserve a toast. "To me," I say out loud, my smile growing as I drink the liquid down in one swallow, exhaling as the fiery liquid burns its way down my esophagus.
At age forty-two I'm still bringing in higher stud fees than my horse, much higher stud fees.
Looking at all the zeros that trail the first number on my check, a low chuckle escapes.
It's all Buck's fault, not that I'd ever tell him. Hell, he's also the reason I own that horse, but I'll never tell him that either.
Placing the checks on the desk, I run a hand through my hair and stare off into space for a while, thinking back to the first time I got paid for my... services.
It was maybe eight months after Sarah and Adam's deaths and good ol' Buck decided I needed to rejoin the rest of the world. I can still see the nervousness and determination in his eyes as he made sure I got all dressed up. Then he took me to one of those parties that Sarah and I used to go to when we were talking about starting a breeding business, one with all those horse people.
He disappeared pretty quickly after we arrived and I headed for the bar. I had a good buzz going, but it wasn't quite enough to kill the pain that still threatened to consume me.
That's when they showed up - the Brits. Still don't remember what their name was, but it doesn't really matter.
He was gay. She wanted a kid. Other than that, their marriage was perfect, at least according to them. Since he didn't want to and they weren't about to let on to anyone that they couldn't conceive, they decided to find their own stud and I was it.
Of course, they didn't just come right out and say that. No. First we spent the evening chatting, then they invited me out for a late dinner. I was far enough gone to agree.
It was over the dessert that they sprung it on me.
She was ripe, ready to conceive. He offered more money than I make in a year. The thought crossed my mind that if I did this, I would be little better than a whore, but then they started asking about my health, my family history, my bloodlines. All the questions a person would ask if looking to breed a horse. That's when it dawned on me. It wasn't money for prostitution, it was a stud fee.
It had been eight months since I'd last been with Sarah. There'd been no one since and, unlike all the women who tried to pick me up in the bars, this didn't feel like a betrayal to her. This was business pure and simple. Ten thousand for the weekend and a hell of a lot more if she got pregnant and delivered.
Not like I had anything else to do that weekend anyway. The only weird thing was he liked to watch.
I got home sometime late Sunday and Buck was there waiting for me, worried about where I'd been and what I'd been doing. I just gave him a little grin and answered, "Living up to my nickname." Seemed to be the right answer.
I tossed my jacket on the back of the chair and headed to my room to shower. When I got done, I headed out to the kitchen for a drink and found Buck still there. It was strange. Normally he left once he made sure I was still alive. Then I see the check in his hand, but decide to ignore it. The need for something to deaden the pain of loss that was nearly overwhelming me.
"Pretty hefty check, Stud," he says seriously.
I couldn't have stopped the grin if I tried. He had no idea. Downing the first of, hopefully, many drinks, I turned and looked at him. "Stud fee," I said, turning back and pouring myself another glass.
"Stud fee?" he asks, obviously puzzled. "Since when do you own a stud."
Cursing to myself, I figured I owned a stud as of right then. I'd just have to come up with a plausible lie. "Bought it as a gift for Sarah," I replied, knowing he wouldn't dig too deep if my Sarah was involved. "It's at my sister's. She takes care of him and I get fees. Or at least most of them." I turn and look at him. He believes it. Now I just have to go find a good stud and the money to buy him.
Turns out the money wasn't really a problem. Six weeks later I got the second of three possible installments. Guess she was pregnant. It gave me more than enough to buy a stud for myself. All I had to do then was talk my sister into keeping him for me.
That turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. I guess she and her husband were looking for a stud just then for their mare, so they got what they needed and I got my cover.
That was five years ago. Since then, there have been nine other weekends. The check I received today means the live birth of my tenth child since Adam died. Seems there are a lot of couples in that circle that need some help. Next weekend will probably be the creation of my eleventh.
I pick up the checks from the desk again and smile. Turning them over, I sign the back and put them in an envelope to bring to my accountant. He'll take care of them and they'll go into the books as what they are - stud fees.