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Sunday, October 4, 2015

TLR Chapter 14

Mutt was perched on the rail outside their bungalow.  He was waiting for Jeff so they could get an early breakfast before he had to leave with the other guys to help move the new stable master to the resort.  Today was Mike’s first day actually waiting on customers at the restaurant so Mutt had talked Jeff into having breakfast there today instead of fixing something at home. 

Hearing the crunch of tires on the gravel walkway, Mutt looked up ready to yell at whoever had broken the resort rules of driving anything other than one of the golf carts around the lodge and bungalows.  But he smiled when he saw Billy behind the wheel of the SUV stopping in from of him.  “Heya, Billy,” he said hoping down the steps.  “We expected you gu…” he stopped short when he saw Stephen sleeping in the passenger’s seat.  Mutt looked between the two men and noticed the worried look on the younger man’s face.  “Is he ok, Bill?” he asked.

“He started getting a headache about an hour ago,” Billy answered.  “I know it’s bad because he pulled over and let me drive.”

“Let me get Jeff,” Mutt softly said and bounded back up the steps and through the door.

Despite his worries about Stephen, Billy giggled when he heard Jeff’s gruff voice, “Boy, how many times do I need to tell you not to come busting through doors?”  Mutt said something but Billy couldn’t make it out. 

Jeff stepped through the door, came down the steps with Mutt following at a safe distance rubbing his hip.  He put his hand on Billy’s arm and asked, “How you doing Billy boy?”

“I…I’m ok, Jeff,” he answered knowing it was safe to let his walls down because another Top he trusted was here now.  “Stephen’s got a bad headache but he took something and has been sleeping.”

“OK, Bill, let’s get him to your bungalow and settled in,” Jeff instructed.  “Are you still ok to drive?”

“Yeah, I’m good.”  He started the SUV up and slowly drove toward the bungalow they always stayed in.

Jeff turned to a worried Mutt.  “Come here, Hun.”  Jeff pulled him to his chest.  “You do know better than coming in to a room that way but you aren’t in trouble,” he said rubbing Mutt’s hip.  “Run over and get Heath for Stephen, OK?”

Mutt stretched up and kissed his husband.  “Love you,” he affirmed and took off to find Heath.

Jeff grinned then went back into his office to get the keys for the bungalow.  He came back outside and jogged off to catch up with Billy.

As Jeff got closer he remembered that just a week ago he was entering this bungalow for a very different reason.  Then he was visiting here with James and Heath while they were caring for Jaxon.  He shook his head and jogged up to Stephen’s side of the SUV.  He tossed the keys to Billy.  “Will he feel better in the bed or one of the recliners?” Jeff asked before opening the passenger door.

“Probably the bed, Jeff." Billy answered.

“Ok, you go get the bed ready and I’ll bring him in.” 

Billy didn’t say anything, just unlocked the door and disappeared into their home for the next month.

Jeff opened the door and gently shook Stephen. 

The other top slowly opened his eyes.  Confusion showed on his face.  “Jeff?” he mumbled.

“Stephen," Jeff said as quietly as he could and still be heard, “I'm going to pick you up and get you into the bungalow.  Billy is getting your bed ready.  Let's go, OK?"

“What?  No, you don’t need to carry me.”

Jeff began to put one arm behind Stephen's back and one under his legs.  "Need?  Maybe not.  Want to, yes.  We'll go slow."  He gently picked up the other man and steadied him in his arms, before turning toward the bungalow and carrying him inside, despite his protests.

Stephen squinted his eyes against the light in the room as Jeff eased him onto the bed. "Where's Billy?" he asked. It was plain to see that even speaking was causing him pain.

"I'm here, Stephen," Billy said reassuringly, "I was just turning down the bed."

Jeff placed his friend down on the bed and turned to close the drapes as quietly as he could.

Billy helped Stephen lay back on the bed, cushioning his head on the two pillows and then worked on getting his husband's shoe off along with his prosthetic leg.  

“Sorry to show up like this Jeff,” Stephen whispered clearly in pain.

"It's your home, we'll always have room for you.  Is something wrong?  Can we help?”

Billy brought his husband a cool glass of water.  "He's had a couple of bad headaches lately," he explained as Stephen sipped the water.

Just then Mutt and Heath entered the bedroom.  Heath saw Billy and gave him a quick hug in greeting. 

Billy hugged the doctor back, relieved that he was there.

Then the doctor turned toward Stephen.  "So what's happening Stephen?  I heard Billy say you're getting headaches?  Are you up to answering some questions?” Heath asked.

"Yeah, I guess so."

“Where is the pain?  The back of your head?  The front?  Your temples? Or an all-around feeling?”  Heath thought it might be a bad migraine, but he wanted to be thorough.

This one started in my eyes.  Like a flash running through them." Stephen answered.  "Now it's in my temples.  My doctor said they were probably just migraines.”

“When did this one start?  Was there a cause?  Flashing lights?"  Heath asked, worried that the headache could be more than a migraine.

Billy looked at Stephen, "You've had these before?  You never told me you were getting a lot of headaches."

"They're just headaches."  Stephen said dismissively.  "I'm not going to get all worked up about a headache."  Stephen took Billy's hand, "I can usually control them, Babe.  But this one just happened."

"Mutt, go get my bag out of the cart, please.  I'd like to do a quick exam."

"Yes, sir."  Mutt turned smartly and ran to get the bag.

"Stephen?  Do you remember what triggered the headache?"  Heath asked again.

 "I think it was the morning light as we passed by the big falls.  It was reflecting off the falls," Stephen explained.

Mutt was back moments later and handed the black bag to Heath.

"Yes, that could trigger migraines.  Your eyes are sensitive to light?  I don't want to shine the light in your eyes if it's going to irritate them or make the headache worse."

"Yes, they are doc," Stephen answered.

"Do noises sound louder?"

"Doc, I saw him give himself a shot of something when the pain started," Billy said.

“No, noises don't trigger anything." Stephen answered.

“Do you feel nauseous?”

Stephen shook his head then though better of it, “No, not now."

Heath sat beside the older man and took his blood pressure. “Billy said you gave yourself a shot.  Are you taking Toradol?"

"No, Imirtrex.  The pain isn't so bad now, Doc," Stephen said.  "I think I just need to sleep it off."

"OK, good. I was just about to ask you that.  Your blood pressure is a little high right now but that is likely because of the pain.  Gentlemen, let's leave him to sleep.  Stephen, I’ll be back later to check on you."

He put an arm around Billy and led the man out of the room.  "The best thing you can do right now is make yourself something to eat and make some tea.  Stephen will be out for at least an hour."

Billy looked up at Heath.  "Thanks for being here, Doc.  I can't believe he never told me he was having the headaches."

"He's a top.  We tend to downplay any pain or discomfort.  If he's been having them for a while he probably didn't think to mention it.  It gets to be like breathing... you know you do it but you're not aware of it when it's happening."

"Yeah, Mutt chimed in, "Our tops are a sneaky bunch."

"And the funny thing," Billy said, "Is that if we did that we'd get in trouble."  He gave Mutt a grateful smile.

Mutt looked at Jeff and grinned, "We sure would."

Jeff patted the two men on the shoulders.  "We should get going." he said.

"You want to come to breakfast with us Bill?" Mutt asked

"No, I need to stay here in case Stephen needs me.”

"Can't I stay with Billy for a while?"  Mutt asked with puppy eyes. "I can make breakfast for him and we can watch TV together till Stephen wakes up."

"OK, I think that's a good idea," Jeff agreed.  "Heath, would you like to join me for breakfast at the lodge?"

"Sounds good, Jeff.  Bill, you have my number if you need me.  Otherwise I'll be back in a few hours."

"Yeah, I got it, Heath," Billy confirmed.  "See you later."

With a final reassuring pat to the man's shoulder, Jeff and Heath left the bungalow.

Jeff and Heath walked to the lodge and were seated by the host at Mike's station.

Mike walked up and smiled and blushed before standing tall and becoming more businesslike.

“Welcome to the lodge this morning, gentlemen.  My name is Mike and I’ll be your waiter today,” Mike introduced himself.  “Would you like to hear the breakfast specials?”

"No, Mike, thank you," Heath said.  "We'll just look at the menu for now."

"Would you like something to drink while you decide what you'd like?"

"Yes, I'll have coffee, please.  Black."  Jeff said.

"Coffee for me also, please." Heath replied.  "Just a carafe between the two of us would be fine, I think."

"Very good."  Mike said.

"You're doing a great job," Heath whispered.

Mike grinned and turned to get their coffee while the two men looked at their menus.

Gary was watching Mike from the door into the kitchen and Heath could see Charles looking over the dining room from the second floor.  Heath flipped a thumbs up to both of them.

The two men looked surprised at first, but then Gary smiled and returned the gesture.  Charles waved and went back to his office.

"So what looks good to you?" Jeff asked Heath.

"I think I'll have the ham and eggs," the young doctor said.  "You?"

"The western omelet looks good.  With hash browns.  And bacon.  Gotta have that bacon."  Jeff laughed.

Heath laughed too, "Yeah, all that grease.  I still want it even though I know better."

"Considering how much running around we do during the day, and the fact that we both work out, I think we can survive the occasional indulgence."  Jeff smiled.

"Good point."

Mike came back shortly afterward to take their orders and drop off the carafe of coffee.  Jeff poured a cup that was almost overflowing.  He took a sip of the hot brew and murmured appreciatively.

“I love Mutt but he can't make a good cup of coffee if his life depended on it."  Jeff joked, ‘He likes it strong enough to dissolve the spoons."

Heath heard a suppressed giggle from Mike.

“Don't you go repeating that, young man."  Jeff said with a sparkle in his eyes.

"N…No sir," Mike answered a cute blush to his face.

"Atta boy."  Heath smiled as he watched the young man take Jeff’s order.  He poured a cup of coffee for himself and added cream and sugar while he waited his turn to order.  He took a sip of the coffee and rolled his eyes.  The coffee was perfect.  He wondered if James or Jaxon could make coffee this good.

The men's discussion was interrupted by Jeff’s cell phone ringing.  "Hello?"

"Hey Chief, I just remembered, we have to go pick up the new stable master.  Do you or Heath want to come back and keep Bill company?  He fell asleep but I don't want to leave him alone."

Heath could hear the conversation, "I can go back and check on them," he told Jeff.

"All right then, Mutt, Heath is on his way back, just let him finish his breakfast.  Do you need my help?”

"Nah," Mutt replied, "It's gonna be me, Torren, Adam, Jacob and Jarrod.  That's more than enough people to get his stuff moved into the old bunk house."

"I don't need to remind you to behave yourselves, do I?"

Mutt stuck his tongue out at the phone before replying in the negative.

"I felt that, little boy."

Mutt blushed even though he knew Jeff couldn't see him.  "You didn't see anything, you don't have a picture of it.  So you have no proof that I did anything."  He teased.  It was an old game between the two of them.

"Please just be careful, Hon," he instructed.

"I will, Chief.  I'll see you later this afternoon. And don't worry, if anything happens you'll be the first one I call.  Love you."

"I love you too," Jeff said before he disconnected the call

Heath and Jeff finished their breakfasts and headed toward Bill and Stephen's bungalow, before long Jeff said goodbye and veered off toward his office.

Mutt gave Heath a grateful smile and ran toward the garage, where the other men were waiting for him.

Heath walked into the bedroom to check on Stephen.  Billy's eyes followed him around the room.  "I thought you were sleeping, Billy," he said.

"I was, but I'm too worried about Stephen to stay asleep."

"I understand, but Stephen is ok, Bill.  Right now would be a good time for you to sleep while he is."

"I'm just... afraid.  What if something happens while I'm sleeping?"

"Aww, Billy, nothing's going to happen.  Migraines are commonplace." Heath said consolingly. 

"I know but if they’re nothing to worry about why didn't he tell me about them? Why didn't I notice? He knows I could help with the pain.”  "

"I don't know why he didn't tell you," Heath said.  "Maybe he didn't want to worry you." 

"He worried me more keeping the truth from me."  Billy said, sadly.  

"Well, I'm here now, and I’ll keep an eye on him.  You sleep," Heath ordered gently.

"You are going to stay with us?  You promise?" Billy whispered.

"I'll stay with you.  If I have to leave for any reason, I’ll call Jeff or James to come and stay.  All right?"

"OK, thanks," the worried young man agreed and laid down next to his husband.

Heath stayed nearby until he saw Billy's breathing even out in deep sleep then he walked into the living room and sat down to watch TV.  He made plans to get some reading material for Billy on headaches so he could be better informed.  As much as he knew Stephen didn’t want to worry Billy, he also knew Billy need to know the truth.  The young man had enough to worry about with his husband losing his leg in that rock climbing accident.

Heath's phone rang and he grabbed it on the first ring not wanting to wake the guys in the next room.  “Hey, Jeff…no, they’re both sleeping…Billy was pretty upset when I got here…Yeah…Hey, I was wondering if you could do a search on the internet for migraine headaches and print out some information for Billy to read…Yeah, that’s what I was thinking it might help him to understand them more…Yeah, I’m sure being a physical therapist he works with them but Stephen having this one sure has him rattled…Ok, thanks…see you in a bit…Oh, could you do me another favor and let James know where I am?...Yeah,” Heath chuckled.  “Thanks Jeff…bye.”

Heath turned on the television with the volume on low enough that he would be able to hear the men in the other room if they woke and needed him.  Finding an old black and white movie, he got comfortable and settled back on the couch.

<<<<>>>> 

Elijah and Zay finished breakfast and set out on foot to the old barn to look around at the shops. Elijah was pleased how well things were going between the two of them.

Once they arrived at the barn Zay did a double take at how big the barn was and all the shops. “Cool man!”  Zay said.  “Let’s go check it out.”

“Zay,” Elijah said as he shook his head in awe on how big the barn is also, “alright Zay, I have one rule that I’d liked us to follow and that is that is we stick together and not wonder off. So If you need to use the bathroom I suggest you make that stop now before we look around.”

“Aye, aye, Captain!”  Zay said acting like a smart butt.

“Good. Get a move on, I'll be waiting.”

Sometime later they were shopping at an adult store that carried just about everything and anything. Elijah was headed for the check out when he discovered Zay wasn't behind him, “Damn that boy. I just went repeated our rule with him at the last shop,” Elijah said under his breath. Paying for his items he went out in search for Zay.

Outside the barn, Zay was heading to some woods when he bumped into a large guy in a security uniform.  “Um, hello sir, I..I seem to be lost.  Can you tell me how I can get back to the shopping area?”

“Name’s Duke,” the big man said.  He pointed back where Zay had come from and said, “Come with me and I’ll get you back to the path that’ll take you right behind the shopping area.”

“Thanks man,'' Zay said following Duke. Once they found the path he took off running in the direction the security pointed.

Elijah was getting angrier as he couldn't find Zay.  When he saw Zay coming up from the woods his anger subsided.

As Zay walked up Elijah enveloped him in a hug.  The younger man became nervous and as the thought came back to him that Elijah had just talked about staying together.

“Oh, crap,” he said out loud.

“Oh, crap, it is my love,” came a voice behind him.  “Where have you been?” 

“Ahh, I kinda of went for a walk on the trail while you were shopping and lost track of time.”

“Zay, what did I say right before we left this morning?” Elijah demanded.

Shrugging his shoulders Zay mumbled something like “Ah not…wonder off.”

“Can't hear you, please look up and tell me what I said this morning?”

Zay lifted his head up and repeated what he just mumbled a moment before. “Not to wander off.”

“Thank you,” Elijah said. 

“Zay, I was hoping we wouldn't have to do this while we are here at the resort, but I think it’s time for your first spanking since we've been together.”  Taking Zay's hand, Elijah led him to a secluded area of the woods and found a tree stump.  He sat down drawing Zay between his legs unbuttoning his jean shorts and slid them down to his ankles.  Bending him over his raised knee Elijah gave him half a dozen swats letting Zay know he made a poor choice and now was paying for it.

Zay, laying on Elijah's knee, moved off his lover’s lap when the last two swats landed, his hand flew back to protect his now sore behind. Elijah grabbed his arm and pinned it on Zay’s back and landed two extra swats to get the point across. “No one leaves without telling each other where they’re going.”

“Sorry, Elijah, it won't happen again. I just lost track of time.”

“Thank you, Zay, but you also left without telling me. So let this be a lesson and I want you to think hard on it.  Are we clear?”

“Yes sir, we're clear,” Zay answered rubbing his bottom.

“Great,” Elijah said letting Zay up and giving him a bone crushing hug.  “Pull your pants up and let’s walk back to the barn and get something to eat”.


<<<<>>>>  

Before they left, Mutt called ahead to the feed store to make sure Bo was ready to go.  

"Yes, I'm nearly ready.  I only have a few things in the back room everything else is in storage." Bo replied.

"OK., we'll pick everything up and you can decide what you want to keep or get rid of once you're here, all right?"

"Sounds good."  Bo agreed.  "I'll meet you at Stonemill Storage."

"We'll be there in just a couple of hours."

"See you in a couple then."

"Sounds like a plan,” Mutt replied, smiling.  "Goodbye for now."

"Goodbye,” Bo managed to get out before the connection was broken.

Bo brought out the last of the boxes and placed them in the back seat of pickup, when he noticed that one of the tires was flat.

He groaned and began to unload all of his boxes to get to his jack and spare.  It took him nearly a half hour to get everything unpacked, tire changed and repacked.  He looked nervously at his watch.  If he weren't there on time, would they just leave and find a new stable master?  He shook off the doubts that had been assailing him and drove to a nearby fast food place to pick up a quick lunch, then drove to the storage facility to wait for Mutt and his friends.

Before much longer he saw a medium sized truck pull into the lot and got out of the pickup to wave.

Mutt jumped down from the passenger side and held out his hand.  "Hi, Bo. Ready to go?"

"Sure am."

"This is Adam, and Torren," He continued, pointing to his friends.  "Jacob and Jarrod were going to come help move your stuff but they stayed behind to give the place a good cleaning once I told them you didn't have much. Shall we get started?"

Bo took out the shed key and opened the doors.  It wasn't a large shed and it was packed with what furniture and boxes he hadn't been able to bring to the store.

"Piece o' cake."  Adam grinned, clapping his hands together in a businesslike way.  "C'mon Tor, we kin get this taken care of in no time."

Mutt suppressed a smile.  He could literally see Bo's ears prick up to catch the sounds of Adam's accent.

"I can fit a few more boxes in the bed of my Ranger if that will help."  Bo suggested.

"I don't think that's necessary, Bo.  We could probably fit your truck in there too if you wanted us to."  Mutt joked waving his hand at Bo's 2000 Ford Ranger Super Cab.

Adam made a face and whispered something to Torren who blushed before he looked at the new stable master and nodded an acknowledgement.

"OK men, less jabber, more work."  Adam said, having already begun lowering their truck's back lift.

Without a word, Torren began to bring out one box at a time from the storage shed, hefting it on his shoulder as though it weighed nothing.

"Tor, put a few of those smaller boxes in the bed of Bo's truck and we'll load the larger items in our truck."  Mutt directed.  "Anything that doesn't fit safely we'll put in before we close the doors."

Without missing a beat, and still silent, Torren swerved toward Bo's Ranger and began to load the boxes into the bed and passenger seats.

"Let me give you guys a hand," Bo offered.

"Sure, many hands make light work, as the sayin' goes."  Adam chimed in.  "We'll be loadin' the heavier stuff closer t' the cab o' the truck, and along the walls."

"Do you have any breakables that need to be wrapped?"  Mutt asked.

"No, everything breakable was wrapped and packed when we moved."  Bo replied. 

"Well we have extra boxes to fill in spaces between things so that they don't bump around, and I promise we'll strap everything down tight before we even think of adding anything else."  Mutt said, helping Adam carry out the heavy, mahogany head and foot boards of the bed and lean them against the outer wall of the shed.  "We'll load the book shelves and the bed first."

Torren was packing the last of the boxes into the back seat by the time Mutt, Adam and Bo had finished loading the bulk of the furniture.

"Only a few things left." Mutt told him before turning toward Bo.  "We put the mirror between the mattress and box spring, it was wrapped pretty well but we figured why take chances.  The couch and chairs fit fine, and we loaded some of the smaller boxes onto the bookshelves before strapping them in.  We just need to stop at the appliance store before we head out and we'll be all set."

Bo smiled and thanked the men for all their help.  

"Our pleasure," Mutt said.  "You'll have to follow us to get to the resort after our stop but don't worry.  If we get separated we'll stop and wait for you to catch up." Mutt reassured them.  "Ready to roll?"

"Ready," Bo replied, smiling and grateful and feeling a little overwhelmed by the kindness of the other men.  Even the one named Torren who still hadn't said a word or cracked a smile during the whole thing.  Bo made a mental note to ask Mutt about that someday.

Bo followed the truck into the heart of Stonemill to the appliance store where Torren lowered the back lift again.  Two men came out and rolled a large box onto the lift.  Two more men followed with another, equally large box.  Mutt and Adam went into the store and came out with three smaller boxes while yet another large box was added to the others on the lift.  Torren hit the button to make the lift go back up and the men put the boxes inside, wrapping them in blankets and strapping them down tightly before closing the doors and raising the lift into an upright position.

"We're ready to go.  Here's my cell phone number so that we can keep in touch if anything happens on the road or if we get separated."  Mutt said.

"Good idea,"  Bo replied.  He took the paper and tore it in half, took a pen from his pocket and wrote his own number down before handing it back to Mutt, who smiled and saluted before he turned and jumped back into the truck's cab with the other two men.

Once inside, Torren smiled and looked at his friends.  "I think that went really well, don't you?"

"Except for the fact that I think you weirded Bo out, yeah, it went swimmingly."  Adam replied sarcastically.  "When are you gonna get over your shyness of strangers?  You work at a resort for pity's sake, yeh see strangers all the time."

Torren scowled.  "Yeah, but they don't want to stop and talk to me, so we get along just fine.  Now shuddup and let me drive in peace."  He gunned the engine needlessly, threw the truck into gear and stomped on the gas pedal, spraying gravel up behind them.

"Hey!  Settle down, Tor.  You're lucky Bo wasn't right behind us when you did that."  Mutt scolded, which made Torren scowl more.

"Torren Luis, don't do anythin' where I'll have to tell Eric."  Adam warned.

"You'd tell on me, Ad?" Torren asked, his voice a mixture of anger and disbelief.

"If you don't settle down behind the wheel, yes I will."

"Fine," Torren snapped as he slowed the vehicle to the speed limit.  He refused to speak to the other two men the entire ride back to the resort, but there were no incidents.

With a lighter heart, Bo put on some music and followed the truck to his new home.  


<<<<>>>> 


James and Shorty were outside the bunkhouse with a smile on their faces, waiting to welcome the resort's newest resident. They walked forward and held out their hands in greeting as the tall man got out of his pickup.

"Welcome to Teardrop Lake Resort, Mr. Daily.  I'm James Harrington, and I'm pleased to meet you at last. And this is Shorty Shortelle, our veterinarian."

Bo, who was six feet tall himself, had to look up to see 'Shorty's' face.  The man had to be at least 6'2" and was built like a barrel.

"Thank you, Mr. Harrington, Shorty.  I'm pleased to be here."

"Just call me James, please.  Mutt?  Will you and the others start unloading the truck?  I'll send Jarrod and Jacob out to help you.

"Yes, sir."  Mutt smiled.  "Let's go guys."

"Bo, please follow me.  I'll show you where the stables are so you can get acquainted with the horses."

"I'll go with and introduce you to them.  You've got some real characters on your hands."  Shorty grinned.


<<<<>>>>  


The bunkhouse, like all of the other buildings on the resort, was rustic but well kept, and tastefully decorated. Bo's jaw dropped when he finally saw the inside of the house he'd be living in.  "I could fit my entire apartment in this room six times.  Stacked." He laughed.

"Jacob?  Jarrod?"  James called.

Two identical young men with tousled blonde hair and blue eyes, wearing identical jeans, tee shirts and tennis shoes came out of the kitchen, one carrying a broom and trash bag, and the other a mop and bucket.  "Hello, sir!"  they said in unison, wearing not only matching clothes but matching smiles.

"Boys, this is Bo, our new stable master.  Bo, these are two of your hands.  They've been riding the trails with the guests until your arrival."

"Hello!"  They chimed.

"Welcome..." said one.

"To your new home."  Said the other.

"Everything is ship shape, sir."  Said the first one.

"That's fine, boys." James smiled.  He loved to see the reaction on people's faces when they saw the twins.  It was an act that the boys enjoyed putting on for strangers.  In reality, they two were as different as dogs and cats. "Please go and help the others move everything inside."

"Yes sir,” they replied before they turned to put down the things they were carrying against the wall.  Perfectly in step, they walked out the door to do as they'd been asked.

"Now, Bo, the boys have all been bringing in your things, you can tell them where you'd like them to put everything.  Look around, get used to the lay out."  James invited.

Bo looked a question at James who smiled and nodded.  Bo nearly ran through the house, looking at the bedroom, which was all but empty except for the boxes that he had marked 'clothes', the kitchen, which held still more of his boxes marked 'kitchen', the living room, and study, which had a desk and several chairs as well as a sofa in it.  

Bo stood by the door, taking in the planed, honey colored wood walls, the fireplace to the left, the kitchen barely visible to the right, and the plush couch and chairs in a handsome russet color.

"Oh, those aren't mine."  Bo said as he saw the twins roll one of the large boxes in, followed closely by Adam and Torren with the matching box.

"Yes it is." James smiled again.  "Derek left the washer and dryer here but they were thirty years old and on their last legs.  I’ve been meaning on replacing some of the old appliances and with you moving in, I have the perfect excuse to do it."

"And it's about time!"  Shorty complained.  His tone was belied by the twinkle in his blue eyes.

Mutt came in bearing two of the smaller boxes in each arm.

"And those?"  Bo asked, confused.

"A coffee maker and a toaster.  Consider them house warming presents."  He grinned.  "Just put them down on the kitchen counter, please Mutt."

The twins could be heard in a room off the kitchen, breaking the boxes apart to get to the new washer and dryer while Torren and Adam quickly left the house to bring in more boxes.   A few moments later the two of them were carrying in one of the mid-sized boxes.  

"In the kitchen, please boys.  Mutt can install these things when we're done moving Bo in."

"Install..."

"New microwave.  The old one was falling apart and beyond repair or cleaning, so we're replacing it."

"Mr... James... this is too much."  Bo said, aghast.

"You're part of the family now, Bo.  You, Jacob, Jarrod, Shorty.  And we take care of our family."

"I really should be helping to unload everything."  Bo replied.

"There are plenty of people to do the unloading, all you have to do is stay here and relax and tell them where you want everything as they bring it in. Now take a look around and decide where you'd like your things." said Shorty.

Bo looked around and really took in his surroundings for the first time.  There was plenty of wall space to put his bookshelves, and Mutt was right, his meager furnishings would fit into the room without making an appreciable dent.  He walked into the kitchen and shook his head in amazement.  It was beautiful.  Even in the early afternoon sunshine, the honey colored, stained wood shone.  The floor was blonde, polished hardwood.

The counters were topped with mottled granite that made Bo think of a tortoise shell, and the kitchen itself was modern. Beneath the space where the microwave would go was a white porcelain gas stove.  To the left of that was the refrigerator, and to the right was the sink.  Cabinets lined the walls above and below, which promised that no matter what they were bringing into the house, there would be no lack of room to store it. To the left of the refrigerator was a large bay window which let in the afternoon light and promised a beautiful view of the sunset.

He couldn't help but to admire the dishwasher.  He'd always washed his dishes by hand, both at the ranch and at the feed store, and it was nice to know that he had that option when he was too tired to deal with dirty dishes.  Then it occurred to him.  He was no longer alone.  He had a family of sorts. And as Adam had said, there were many hands to make the work easier.

"Take a look at this," Shorty said proudly.

He was torn out of his thoughts by the taller man's voice.  

Shorty stood beside a tall cabinet to the right of the sink.  He opened the doors with a flourish to reveal the largest Lazy Susan Bo had ever seen.  The five shelves were gleaming and smelled of Murphy's Oil Soap.  Just inside the door to the right was a space where an ironing board had been placed.  A new iron had been placed on the third shelf down in the Lazy Susan which also held bottles of spices on the top shelves and other cleaning items on the bottom.

"James,” Bo began to say, turning back toward the older man.

"Don't say another word."  James said, smiling.  "We were glad to do this for you.  All of you.  Frankly it was about time we got some new stuff in here.  We're grateful that you could come on such short notice.  It had to be difficult to pack up and move in such a short period of time."

Bo sighed softly, overwhelmed and grateful for the other man's generosity.

"Bo?" Mutt asked, poking his head around a doorway, "Do you want the rug that's in the bedroom or would you like us to bring the one from the storage shed?"  

"Mine has been in storage and probably has to be cleaned first.  I'll keep the one that's there for now, if that's all right."

"That's fine,” He grinned.  "Be right back."   Seconds later he heard Mutt's voice come from the living room door, "Coming in with the bed!"  

He and Torren carried the mattress, with one support rail balanced across the top, while Adam and one of the twins carried the box spring with the other support rail on top of that.  The other twin carried the headboard.  

Bo watched as the men brought the pieces into the bedroom.  "Where do you want the bed?"  Mutt asked with a grin.

"By the window, please?"

After they'd put the individual pieces together, one of the twins ran back out to get the foot board.  All of them working together put the heavy mahogany bed together in less than two minutes.  They then ran out to bring in the two large dressers and put them where Bo directed.  The bedside tables were placed in their spots, and the Tiffany lamps that had been wrapped in layers of bubble wrap were now placed on top of them.

"Sorry, Bo.  They're so nice I really wanted them in the bedroom.  Is that all right?" Mutt asked.

The taller man smiled.  "That's fine, thank you."

All of the men together made short work of it and all that was left for Bo to do was to unpack the boxes.

"Welcome to your new home.  We hope you'll be happy here.  I know you're eager to unpack but it is dinner time, and I'd like to bring you to dinner at the lodge.  Or, if you don't feel up to a lot of strangers right now, I'll ask Jacob to cook something for you here."

"You've done more than enough, thank you."  Bo said gratefully.

"Shorty, join us at the lodge?"  James asked.  The veterinarian was used to eating at the bunkhouse, but this was a special occasion and James was sure he would agree.

"Ayuh!  I'd love to."  He replied.

"Then we'll see you at dinner?  We still have an hour until the dining room opens.  That will give you time to freshen up and change, if you're not too tired."

"That'll be fine."  Bo replied.  

"Wonderful, in that case we'll leave you to settle in.  I have a few things I have to do at the office right now, but I'll have Jeff and Mutt will pick the two of you up in forty five minutes."

"Thank you, sir." he said, his voice thick.  "For everything."

"You're very welcome.  We'll see you soon."

James took out his cell phone and called Jeff.

"Jeff, I have a few things I need to take care of before dinner.  I've asked Shorty and Bo to join us at the lodge, but I'll just have time to get showered and dressed to get myself there in time.  Would you mind picking them up in about forty minutes?"

"No problem, James.  We'll see you there."  He said.  He hit the off button and called Mutt to tell him the plans.


"No problem, Chief.  I'll meet you at the bungalow in a few minutes." 

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