Tuesday, November 3, 2015
TLR Chapter 33
Brody had been dozing off and on for about 30 minutes when he felt Harry move. He smiled at the groan.
Harry's bright blue eyes fluttered open when he moved. He groaned at the ache in his bottom. He all of a sudden started and tried to sit up and yelped at the pressure on his sore bottom. "I'm late getting back on my shift!" He cried with an "Oww!" He tried to struggle to his feet.
Brody pulled his lover back down. "You aren't late, Harry," he chuckled. "Lay back down."
Harry struggled. "Yes I am...let me go! I have to get back on my rounds or I'll get fired!" He cried in a bit of a panic.
Deepening his tone the younger man said, "Harry, listen to me. You aren't late because I called in for you and told James you wouldn't be coming back this afternoon."
Harry ceased his struggling and then scowled. "You had no right to do that!"
"I had and have every right, young man." Brody countered. "You are hurting. You just had your first spanking and I didn't go easy on you."
Harry bit his lip and sighed. "S-sorry." He said more quietly.
"It's ok, Babe. I know you're confused by some of this." Brody said. "You, we, need some time to just cuddle."
Harry said, "Okay...I-I...well I guess I didn't really know what to expect after you spanked me." He said softly. "We didn't talk much about it."
"No we didn't talk about it. I'm sorry about that but I think it's one of those emotions that you just have to learn by doing." Brody explained. "But I want you to know that no matter what I'll be here with you to help you through it."
Harry nodded. "I didn't think I'd still hurt." He told Brody with a pout.
"Were you ever spanked as a kid?"
Harry thought about it and said, "Not like you did."
Brody pulled Harry over to lay on his chest again. He thought that he should move them to the bedroom but for now the sofa was comfortable. "It probably hurt more because it was the first time you had a spanking from me. And like I said, I didn't go easy." He sighed. "You were holding so much inside that it took a lot to get you to release."
Harry looked away from Brody. "I'm sorry." He said softly.
"Oh Babe," Brody said kissing the top of the head on his chest, "you have no reason to be sorry."
Harry said, "I made you have to be hard on me...I'll try not to do that to you next time if there is a next time."
Brody actually laughed this time. "Harry, you didn't make me do anything. Granted, I didn't get up this morning planning to spank you but once I saw you all but asking for it, it was my pleasure to help you anyway I could."
Harry looked at Brody puzzled. "I was askin' for it?" He asked, then blushed. "Oh...because I was bein' irresponsible about the gas...I promise to not do that again. I've always been a very responsible person, even as a kid." Harry confessed.
"Harry," Brody firmly said, “yes, you are responsible. You have had to be responsible for everything for too long. It's time you had someone to share the load with and I'm here to help you."
Harry bit his lip. "It's okay Brody, I can carry my own part." Harry told him, beginning to build the tightness once again. "I can probably count on one hand the number of times I was spanked and I always felt worse that I had let Papa down than the actual spankin' itself." he told Brody.
"Harry, we are partners, you didn't let me down. It's my responsibility to guide and protect you. You admitted to me this morning that you were trying to see if I would leave you." Brody explained. "I hoped with me spanking you that you would understand that I'm here for the long haul. But if the spanking didn't convince you then maybe spending the next four days together will."
Harry looked at Brody. "What do you mean the next four days? I have to work the next two days."
"I was going to tell you tonight but now's as good a time as any to tell you that you have the next four days off."
Harry narrowed his eyes. "Since when? I didn't ask for days off."
"Calm down babe." The younger man ordered. He waited until Harry settled a bit before he continued. "You didn’t need to ask for the time off. James stopped me and asked, no, told me that he thought you were stressed and he wanted you to take tomorrow and the next day off as well as your regular days."
Harry looked at Brody suspiciously. "You didn't tell him you wanted me to take the time off?"
"Well, I did agree with him." Brody answered without telling him that he had brought the subject up. "You and I both know that working and taking care for your mom, especially now that she isn't recognizing you, is wearing you down."
Harry bit his lip. "I'm all right Brody. I've been doin' this for a very long time now."
"Yes you have and you have been doing an excellent job of it." Brody agreed. "But you don't have to do it all by yourself anymore. We have agreed to be a team. We will be there for each other but because we did agree to this I will have the final say in some things."
"What things?" Harry asked cautiously.
"Well for one that you get the rest you need."
Harry pouted. "I get enough rest." He argued.
Harry was still laying on Brody, his head on his lover’s chest and his rump within reach of the younger man’s hand. "Harry we aren't going to argue about this."
“Well...I do. I can do my work well and see Mom too. I've been doin' it for a long time now." He continued to argue.
"Harry." Brody hissed.
"You will take the next four days off and you will enjoy it."
Harry scowled. "We'll see."
Brody smacked Harry exposed rump with just enough pressure to get his attention. "What was that, Babe?"
Harry jumped at the smack and pouted. "Yes Brody."
"Good boy," the younger man praised. "Now are you up for lunch or do you want to wait for dinner?"
"I'm hungry." Harry said quietly.
"OK, slide off me and we can get a sandwich. Then we can talk about what we are going to do the next few days." Brody instructed.
Harry slid off Brody, standing and then blushed as he was still exposed from the navel on down.
"I don't think you will be wanting anything heavy on your rump for a while, Babe, but if you want to put some sweats on it's ok." Brody said.
Harry blushed brighter and nodded. "All right." He went back to his room scooping up his uniform pants and underwear from the floor and came back dressed in just sweat pants and a tee shirt.
While Harry was changing Brody whipped up a couple of sandwiches and placed them on the bar so Harry wouldn't have to sit down. He grabbed a couple of beers from the fridge knowing that they weren't going anywhere and hoping the beer might help his man relax. When Harry came back in the kitchen Brody opened his arms to him.
Harry noticed the sandwiches and the bottles of beer on the bar and was grateful Brody wasn't going to make him sit. Harry fell into Brody's arms and put his head on the younger man's shoulder and sniffled a bit.
"I love you Harry and I only want what is best for you," Brody whispered as he kissed the side of Harry's head.
"I know Brody, I'm sorry for bein' such a brat." He apologized, snuggling into the slightly taller man's arms.
Brody chuckled, "Hey, Babe, as long as you're my brat you have nothing to worry about because I know how to handle my brat."
Harry wrinkled is nose. "You can say that again." He reached back to rub his sore bottom.
The rest of the afternoon was uneventful with Harry napping on and off. They had a light dinner and watched a bit of TV then headed to bed. Harry was in a deep sleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow. Brody knew he had made the right decision when he spanked his brat. Brody wrapped an arm over Harry. All too soon he was sound asleep too.
Sawyer and Jenson walked hand and hand over to the infirmary to keep the appointment Heath had made when they stopped by the day before. The doctor wanted to see what he could do for Jenson.
“Ah, Sawyer,” Jenson said nervously, “do we really need to see the doctor?”
“Yes babe we do.” Sawyer answered. “Why? Are you withholding something from me that I don't know about Jenson?”
Feeling slightly weak at the knees Jenson decided to come clean and tell all. “Well, um, well, yeah kinda.” Jenson mumbled.
“Out with it,” Sawyer demanded.
“Jenson..” Sawyer asked again.
“Ok, ok. Do you remember when we first arrived and went to have our checkups and the doctor said that everything looks good, but wanted me to put on more weight and get more rest?”
“Yes Jenson I remember. So, your telling me there's more?” the Top answered.
Dropping his hand that held Sawyer's from the time they left this morning and then from class to now on the way to the infirmany, Jenson just dropped to the ground away from Sawyer.
“Sweetheart,” Sawyer went up to Jenson comfort him with hard kiss on the lips and hug. “Jenson, please look at me.”
Jenson brought his eyes up to meet Sawyers concerned eyes.
“Now tell me what's in that brain of yours.”
“Ah, well, I umm.”
“Jenson just tell me. What is going on?” Sawyer insisted.
“I didn't tell you that I have a disorder that I can't keep still and before I met you I went to doctors. They said when I was teenager that just didn't listen. The teachers just past me through my high school years just so I could graduate and they wouldn’t have to deal with me. By then my condition worsened. My foster parents said I either had ADD or ADHD. They didn't have me go back to be evaluated.”
Reaching down, Sawyer pulled Jenson up and turning him around delivered a hard swat to his backside. “I'm sorry you had to go through this as a teenager. It must have been hard,” Sawyer said. “But you should have told me.”
“Yeah, sorry, Sawyer, I didn't tell you.” Jenson said rubbing his backside.
“Look why don't we see Heath to see what he can do and then get that bite to eat. Are you ok with that?
“Yeah what?” Sawyer demanded
“Thank you Jenson.” Sawyer smiled.
“Let’s go then.” Sawyer said. “Oh before I forget when we get back from eating, we'll discuss you withholding about your health. Is that clear?”
“Clear.” The younger man agreed.
“Now come here.” Sawyer smiled.
Jenson went up to Sawyer and leaned in for a hug and those special butterfly kisses. Then hand and hand they walked to the infirmary.
Harry woke at four in the morning as was his usual routine. He slipped out of bed. His bottom was still sore, but not nearly as much as it had been the day before and he dressed in his uniform.
Harry got into the golf cart wincing a bit, but drove over to the security office to take over the shift from James that Ryan usually had.
James frowned. "Harry, what are you doing here? You're supposed to have today and the next three days off. Martin's going to take your shift." He informed Harry.
"I'm all right James. I can work my usual days."
James shook his head and saw Martin coming in. "Go home Harry...in fact, I think you'd better stay right here." James pulled out his phone and called Brody.
Brody heard the phone and jumped to get it before it woke Harry up. "Hello," he softly answered the call.
"Brody, it's James. Are you missing a brat?"
"Huh? Uh, no he's righ..." Brody said as he turned over to find Harry's side of the bed empty. "Well, yeah, James, I guess I am."
James said, "I thought so. Would you like to collect him here at the security guard office?"
"Sure, give me a few minutes to get dressed." Harry said. "I guess he didn't believe me when I told him it was your idea for him to take some time off."
James said, "I'll make sure he realizes that by the time you get here."
"Just don't kill him, James."
James said, "I'll let you do that."
"Thanks, he’s having a hard time sharing his responsibilities."
James said, "All right, I can understand that. He's a very responsible person like I've said before. I know I can always rely on Harry to be here when he says he will but he doesn't have to do that now that he's full time and not just filling in for others."
"Hopefully he will figure it out soon enough," Brody agreed. "I'll be there in ten minutes, James."
James said, "All right Brody. In the mean time I'll talk to him. When you get here then you can kill him." He chuckled.
"Thanks James, be gentle."
James said, "I will Brody, remember I have my own brat now too."
"Then it'll be good practice for you," Brody chuckled. "Bye."
James laughed. "Yes, bye Brody."
Martin had taken over his fellow guard’s shift so James stayed with Harry waiting for Brody.
James hung up the phone and then turned to Harry. "Brody will be here in about ten minutes to collect you Harry."
Harry cringed. "You didn't have to call Brody...”
James said, "Yes, I did. He's your partner and top and he needed to know, Harry. I gave you today and tomorrow besides your two regular days off in order to allow you to rest a bit." James scolded lightly. "A tired security guard is no use to either himself or TLR. You’re not as sharp as you should be when you're overtired."
Harry opened his mouth to protest.
James stopped him with a stern look. "Don't argue with me Harry. You know I'm right. When a security guard, military man, police officer, anyone who is to protect others is over tired they don't always have the edge they need and make mistakes...mistakes that could cause problems both for the person needing protection as well as the one doing the protecting. I'm tempted to give you two more days after your days off as well for pulling this stunt."
Harry looked horrified. "Please...don't do that James!"
James gave Harry another stern look. "Don't push your luck Harry. When Brody gets here I'll see what he thinks."
Harry stood, his head down and stayed quiet, waiting for Brody now.
True to his word Brody jogged up to the Security Office within ten minutes. It was clear that James had startled him from his sleep. "Morning James," he said then turned to Harry. "Did you forget our talk last night, Harry?"
James said, "Hello Brody."
Harry looked at Brody. "About sharin' stuff?" He asked.
"Well there is that but I think you know which conversation I'm talking about." the young man answered.
Harry fidgeted. "Umm...about havin' time off?"
"Did you actually think that James would let you work today after telling me to tell you to take some time off?" Brody asked. "But more important, did you think sneaking out of bed to go to work was really a good idea?"
Harry pouted. "I didn't sneak out of bed. I got out of bed like I do every mornin' when I go to work and I wanted to make sure James had coverage in case someone didn't show up when they were supposed to." He claimed.
James arched an eyebrow. "Harry, I hire reliable people and Martin hasn't let me down yet when I've asked him to cover for one of you."
Harry bit his lip at James's scolding.
Brody watched his brat hoping that James was getting through to him. "Harry, James and I both care about you. We want you healthy. James wouldn't have said you needed to get some rest if he didn't think you did." Brody paused letting that sink in.
Harry looked up at Brody quickly and then down again. "Yes Brody." He said quietly.
James said to Brody, "I just told Harry that perhaps a couple of days off after his regular days off might be in order. What is your opinion?"
Harry cringed at the suggestion, but stayed quiet, although he did open his mouth to argue once more and then shut it.
Brody lifted Harry's chin so he could look him in the eye. He could tell he was fighting back the tears. "I think, if Harry gets the rest he needs he won't have to take any more time off." He answered James. "What do you say, Babe?"
Harry nodded. "Yes Brody."
James nodded. "All right, but no more shenanigans or I'll be giving you two more days off understood Harry?"
Harry nodded. "Yes Sir, James."
"Good." He turned to Brody, "You can take him now Brody."
"OK then," Brody said, "Let's get you home and back to bed."
Brody held his hand out to James, "I will, James. Thanks for the help."
James shook Brody's hand. "You're welcome any time. We need to help each other whenever it's needed."
"Yes we do. Now climb up in the cart Babe and let's get you home."
Harry had gone to Brody's side when he said they were going home and now climbed in to the golf cart wincing a little as he sat down.
The younger man climbed in the driver’s side, nodded to James and drove his brat back to the bungalow.
Harry bit his lip and stayed quiet as Brody drove them back to their bungalow.
Once they got inside Brody pointed at the sofa and said, "Sit." To his relief Harry sat. "Harry I don't want to spank you again so soon after I did yesterday but I will if I think you need it."
Harry squirmed at Brody's words. "Yes Brody." He said quietly.
"We haven't really talked about rules yet but we do have a few basic considerations that you did a nice job of breaking this morning," Brody explained.
Harry listened and hung his head. "I did?"
"I can count at least three and probably more if I really try," Brody said. "You left without letting me know where you were going. You defied me by trying to go to work and you lied to both James and me when you said you were only checking to see if you shift was covered."
Harry blushed and said, "I’m sorry Brody. I won't let it happen again."
"I hope not, Babe. I know having someone you can depend on is new to you." Brody assured the older man. "It's not going to happen overnight but in time you are going to trust me and let me help you."
Harry said, "I'll work on it Brody."
"Good, now let's head back to bed."
Harry smiled with relief and took off his uniform and crawled back into bed with Brody.
Brody pulled Harry to him, planted and big sloppy kiss on his lips then laughed at the face his brat made. "I love you Harry Forrester."
Harry pulled Brody to him and said softly, "I love you too Brody Simpson.
"Ry, give me your uniforms, I'll put them through the wash in the next load." Coral called from the laundry room.
Ryan said, "No need for that Coral. I already took care of them."
"What do you mean, you took care of them? I've been running loads of laundry all day and I didn't see one of your uniforms. Where did you wash them? When?"
Ryan shrugged. "I put them through the dryer with a dryer sheet before you started washin’." He told Coral. "It's what I always do."
Coral tried not to wrinkle his nose. The thought of dirty laundry in with clean bothered him. He wasn't a neat freak by any means but he did enjoy the feel and smell of clean clothing.
"Are they in the dryer now? With the load I just did?" Coral asked, walking from the laundry room to the living room where Ryan was lounging on the couch, playing a video game.
Ryan shook his head without taking his attention away from the game. "No, I took them out and put them in the den."
"Get up." Coral commanded.
Ryan looked away from the video game he'd been playing and glanced at Coral. "Why?"
"Because you're going to go into the den, take all of your dirty uniforms and put them in the washing machine. Now." Coral said firmly.
Ryan looked at Coral puzzled. "They're not dirty." He argued.
"Putting them in the dryer is not washing them. When's the last time you did a load of laundry? Don't answer; I'm afraid of what I'll hear. Now put down that game controller and get up. You won't like it if I have to get you up."
Ryan turned his attention back to the game and said, "In a minute."
Coral wasted no time. He approached the young man, took the controller out of his hand, pulled him up by his bicep, turned him in one swift motion and landed three sharp swats on his backside.
"I've been letting you coast up til now, Ry, but that's ending today."
Ryan's hand flew back to protect his rear end from further swats. "Oww! What did you do that for?" He asked reaching back and rubbing, a pout on his face. "I was almost to the next level. Once I reached it I was goin' to get the uniforms, although I really don't know what all the fuss is about. They smell okay and are good enough."
"When I tell you to do something, you will do it when I tell you, not when you feel like it, understand? And right now, your job is to go to the den and get those uniforms. Then you're going to take them to the washing machine and put them in, with detergent, and put them through a full cycle. Got me?"
Ryan bit his lip for a moment still rubbing and nodded. "’Kay." He headed to the den, gathered his uniforms off the back of the chair where he had tossed them, bundled them up and crammed them into the washer until he couldn't fit in anymore. Then he picked up the box of laundry detergent and began to tip the box.
"Whoa! Put the box down and step back!" Coral ordered.
Ryan looked at him. "What? You said to put them in the washer and put in the detergent." Ryan said puzzled.
Coral sighed. He had no idea how this young man had been taking care of himself for the past four years. He had some bad habits and Coral felt he was the one to help break them.
"Take the clothes out and start with just the shirts first." He said more calmly.
Ryan asked, "How come? Why can't I just put everythin' in and wash 'em and get it over with?"
"Because if you cram the washer full, the clothes don't get completely clean." He explained.
Coral waited while Ryan separated the shirts from the pants and put them into the washer. Once again, the boy picked up the box of detergent, preparing to pour it in.
"Ryan! Hold up a second, kid." Coral said, dismayed.
Ryan looked up at Coral. "What now?" He asked.
"There's a measuring cup right beside the box, kiddo. Pour out a half a cup of detergent and pour that in, please." Coral said, mentally shaking his head at himself for being so short tempered with the boy.
Ryan did as Coral asked and poured a half cup of detergent into the washer. "Now what?"
"See that dial to the right? Turn it to 12 and push the button down. That'll start the water. You just shut the lid and the washer will do the rest of the work." He explained.
Ryan nodded. He did as Coral instructed.
"That's great," Coral smiled. "Now," he said a glint of humor in his eyes, "You can take this basket of wet clothes out and hang them on the line. I'll show you how."
Ryan frowned. "Why should we when we can just put them in the dryer? That's dumb."
"Because the dryer is full of your tee shirts and underthings, which you will be folding and putting away when they're done. Now let's head outside."
Ryan balked. “Why not wait until those things are dry and then put these in?"
"Because we still have a lot more laundry to do and most of it is yours, or had you forgotten the bags of laundry we took out of your trailer? And of course I need time to do my own stuff. So let's go, little boy, or do you need another swat?"
Ryan pouted. "I don't need either! I don't know why you thought you had to do all these clothes at once anyway! They coulda waited. There wasn't anythin' I needed right away!"
"Ryan O'Donnell, my house is not going to become a mess because you're too lazy to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done." Coral said dark eyes boring into green, all trace of humor gone. "Now, last chance. Take that basket, bring it outside, and I'll show you how to hang the clothes so they dry properly."
Ryan sighed, picked up the basket and trudged outside after Coral. He was not liking this one bit. When left to his own devices, he'd throw in whatever he absolutely needed to be washed, throw them in the dryer and call it good.
Coral was a patient teacher and soon Ryan had hung all of his clothes out on the line. He patted the younger man on the back and smiled. "There now, that wasn't the end of the world was it?"
Ryan gave Coral a little smile. "No, but I wouldn't want to do it all the time."
"It's a chore I usually do three times a week when it's just me. We'll have to do it more often now that there are the two of us. We don't want to get behind on laundry and have it pile up again."
"Now, we need to clean the kitchen and the living room, which one do you want to do?"
Ryan frowned "What for? They're good enough the way they are. They aren't dirty."
Coral let the muscles in his neck and shoulders relax before responding. "With two of us living here the place is going to need to be cleaned more often. Now, you can clean the kitchen, which means scraping the leftovers on the dishes into the trash and putting them in the washer, sweeping and mopping the floor, and scrubbing down the counters and the table. Or you can do the living room, which means vacuuming everything, including inside and under the furniture."
"And we need to get this done as quickly as possible, Ry, we have other things we need to get done today."
Ryan wrinkled his nose. "I guess I'll do the living room."
Coral clapped the boy on the shoulder and smiled again. Perhaps this wasn't going to be as bad as he'd initially thought. "I'll get you the dust rags and the Pledge, and the glass cleaner and some paper towel. We'll be done in no time and then we can go shopping."
Ryan asked, "Glass cleaner? Do I gotta do the windows or somethin'?"
"The coffee table is glass topped, or hadn't you noticed?" Coral laughed. "And giving the TV a good once over won't hurt either."
Ryan nodded. "Okay."
Pleased, Coral smiled, put an arm around Ryan and gave him a brief hug before leading him into the house.
"Go get the vacuum out of the closet in the living room. Do the dusting first, then the TV and table, and then vacuum, got it?"
Ryan nodded. "Yes." He went to the closet in the living room and got out the vacuum and looked it over. He plugged it in and then turned on the switch and walked around with it, pushing it around with the handle in the upright position and trying to steer it around the living room.
"You have to move the couch and chairs too Ry, and use the attachment to get under the TV and into the furniture. Alright?" Coral called from the kitchen.
Ryan looked puzzled. "I never used somethin' like this before Coral. My mom had one that had little wheels on it and it had a hose and you dragged it around."
"It's not much different, Ry," Coral smiled as he walked into the living room. "You just push instead of pull, and the hose is attached to the side here, you just pull it out and after you’re finished using the attachments to do the furniture and under the television, you put it back in like this,” he said, demonstrating how the hose detached and reattached.
Ryan nodded and began to push the vacuum around and said, "It's kinda hard to push around this way." He hadn't figured out how to release the handle so it was at an angle instead of completely upright.
Coral smiled again when he saw Ryan's dilemma and showed him the little pedal at the base of the vacuum, demonstrating how to push it down with his foot to release the handle. "There, that should make things easier. When you're done just push the handle upright and it'll lock in place again. Now I'm going to get started on the kitchen, unless there's something else you need me for?"
Ryan blushed with embarrassment. "Oh...now I feel pretty stupid." He said.
"No reason to feel stupid, Ry," Coral said gently, putting a comforting hand on the boy's shoulder. "If you've never used anything like this before there's no reason you could know how it works. Now get going," He said, giving Ryan a playful swat on the backside. "I'll be in the kitchen if you need me." Coral told him, turning away.
Ryan nodded. "All right." He went about doing as Coral had told him. When he had done the best he could he wiped down the furniture with the Pledge, making sure to spray on a lot so things shone and then used the glass cleaner on the coffee table and TV. He bit his lip remembering then that Coral had told him to do those things first, so he ran the vacuum again.
Coral grinned when he heard the vacuum going again. He knew that Ryan was trying hard to do as he'd been told, and he appreciated the effort. He finished with the kitchen and went back into the living room to give it the once over. He was pleased when he saw the great job that Ryan had done.
Ryan looked up at Coral and asked a bit anxiously, "Is it okay?"
"You did good, kiddo." Coral said, smiling and giving Ryan a quick, one armed hug. "It's great. Thank you, Ry." Coral reassured the boy. "Now, let's get into town, we have a few things we need to pick up."
Ryan asked, "Can't I just stay here while you do that?"
"You could, but then you'd have to sleep on whatever bed I picked out for you, and I like my bed rock hard."
Ryan asked, "A bed? I have a bed in my trailer."
“This bed is for you to use here. You can’t sleep on the blow up mattress forever and,” Coral had the grace to look a little embarrassed, "we had to trash the bed in your trailer, Ry. It was full of bugs and holes. Same with the little love seat you had in the living area. Besides, I'd like to buy you a new bed, and I think it would be a good idea for you to try some out and see which one you like." he said kindly.
Ryan bit his lip and then nodded. "All right. It seems everything I own is headed for the junkyard. I suppose you're right about the bed and the love seat." He said quietly. He looked up at Coral and said, "Okay, I’ll go with you to pick out a bed. It's been awhile since I had a new bed anyway."
"Alright then, my friend, let's get going. We'll take my pickup so we can bring the bed right here once you've picked it out."
Ryan smiled. "All right." He went with Coral.
Coral was pleased that Ryan was so willing. He didn't want to have to admit to the boy that he didn't trust him to stay out of trouble or to stay out of the bar at the restaurant while he was gone. The boy had only been clean less than a week and Coral knew that he'd still have cravings, and be tempted to find a drink somewhere if left by himself.
The two men drove to the employee parking lot and got into Coral's red pickup. The drive into town was enjoyable, each picking music to listen to. Coral thought there would be plenty of time to go over house rules once they'd gotten the bed set up.
Coral and Ryan drove the half hour to Masonville and went to the furniture store to check out the beds.
"Don't get anything larger than a queen size, Ry. It won't fit in the den." Coral joked.
Ryan said, "Only a Queen size? That won't be big enough for the two of us." He said in a loud enough voice it made other people in the store turn to look at the two men with varying degrees of curiosity.
Coral grinned and pulled Ryan into a hug, not caring what anyone else thought. "We can fit into a twin if we have to, but a queen will be more comfortable, don't you think?" He joked.
Ryan snuggling into the hug and playing it up a bit said, "Now that I think about it I think a queen would fit us to a T."
Coral chuckled and pulled Ryan into a bear hug. "We just need a bed strong enough to hold us while we play." He teased, his breath tickling Ryan's ear.
Ryan said, "Then we'd better take the brass bed."
Coral looked at the bed Ryan pointed to and smiled. It held a lot of promise. "Well, only one way to find out if you like it or not. Why don't you lie down on it, see how the mattress feels."
Ryan with a look of mischief in his green eyes went over and flopped onto the bed bouncing on it. He went to stand on it to jump up and down.
Coral felt he should be upset or angry but instead he bit back a grin. He effortlessly caught Ryan as he came down and landed on top of the smaller man, pinning him down. "Behave yourself, young man, or else." He growled.
Ryan whispered, "Promises, promises." He laughed.
"Just wait'll I get you home, little boy." Coral replied quietly, rolling off of Ryan and lying beside him, thoroughly enjoying the looks on the faces of the people nearby.
Ryan said, "Well that will be a while so I can enjoy myself between now and then."
A sales person approached them and asked if she could help them.
"Looks like we'll take this one, what do you say, Ry?"
Coral gave Ryan a playful swat to the hip, then looked at the sales woman. We'd like this frame, head and footboard... Ry how's the mattress? Think you can sleep on this or do you want something softer?"
Ryan jumped a bit at the swat and then said, "I think the mattress will be fine,” grinning, he said, “Yep, I like it.
Sitting up on the bed, Coral grinned at the now smiling woman. "Put it in a doggie bag, we'll take it to go." He quipped.
Ryan rolled off the bed and danced away from Coral. "On second thought, I'd better test a few more mattresses just to be sure." He headed for the next bed, stood on the mattress and bounced on it.
"Ryan O'Donnell, get down from there little boy." Coral warned, trying to keep the smile off his face.
He knew he should call a halt to his behavior, but Ryan looked so happy and carefree for the first time in days, he couldn't bear to be sterner.
Ryan said, "Yes Sir,” and jumped from the bed he was on onto another one, landing with a look of mixed horror and surprise as there was a loud crash. The young man and the mattress were on the floor amid the wreckage of the wood framed bed. The young man looked up in embarrassment and scrambled off the mattress. "Maybe we'd better just keep the one we have and get out of here." He said quickly to Coral while keeping his distance from the older man, expecting a hard swat at the very least for his admittedly childish behavior.
Coral bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. "I think you're right. Let's get out of here."
The floor clerk walked over and looked at the mess and the men disapprovingly as Ryan sidled toward the door.
"We'll take that one as well." Coral said, gesturing toward the broken bed.
The sales clerk's expression softened slightly. "Thank you, sir. I'll have the men bring your beds to your vehicle or we can have them delivered."
Ryan bit his lip as Coral said they'd take the broken bed and scooted out of the store to wait for him.
Coral glanced back over his shoulder to see Ryan scuttling out of the store and bit the inside of his cheek again to keep from laughing. "I'll drive my pickup to the delivery door and we'll load up there." He assured the woman. He followed her to the counter where he paid for the beds, trying not to laugh at the memory of Ryan's horrified expression. He just couldn't get it out of his mind.
“I appreciate you paying for the bed, it happens more often than anyone would guess and most of the time the person who wrecked the merchandise just runs off without paying for the damage.”
Coral nodded in acknowledgement of her statement and headed out of the store.
Ryan headed for the truck and got into the passenger side. He hoped Coral wasn't too mad with him about the broken bed. He didn't know that would happen.
A few moments later, Coral slid into the truck, a grim expression on his face. He started the engine and drove to the merchandise pick up door. Two men loaded the beds into the bed of the truck and tied them down.
Thank you, sir." The men said. Coral waved and smiled and drove away.
Ryan said softly, "I'll pay you for the broken bed. Maybe Mutt can fix it and I can put it in my trailer."
Coral turned his face toward Ryan, trying very hard to keep the grin off of his face. Finally he laughed and said, "It was worth it to see their faces when the bed broke. And I wish I'd had my camera on when you fell through. You're adorable."
Ryan looked at Coral and said a bit surprised..."I am? You're not mad?"
"God no!" Coral laughed. "I don't remember the last time I had that much fun. One broken bed is more than worth it." He said, rubbing Ryan's left arm.
Ryan relaxed and grinned. "They did have funny looks on their faces and I must have looked awful funny sitting there with the mattress on the floor."
"I thought that one woman was going to have a cow right there. She thanked me though. She said that a lot of people jump on the beds and break them and then just run out. She appreciated the fact that we took both of them. And you're right; maybe Mutt can fix the broken one. Or use the pieces for one of his sculptures." Coral grinned again.
Ryan was surprised. "Lots of people jump on the beds? And yeah, Mutt can do just about anythin'."
"Well, we have to stop to buy some sheets, pillows and a comforter for it. There's a store right down the street, we'll stop there and see if there's anything you like. Just please nothing orange." Coral joked.
Ryan grinned. "Then I'll buy everything orange colored.” He teased.
Coral shuddered theatrically. "Love the fruit, hate the danged color." He laughed. "Well, if you insist on buying everything orange, then we'll just have to do all of our sleeping in my room." He winked.
Ryan laughed. "Well that just might be worth it."
"Here's the store, kiddo." Coral said, pulling over into a parking space on the side of the street. "We’ll buy at least two different sets of sheets, ok?"
Ryan asked, "Why? When the ones I got get too bad we can just buy another set."
Coral shook his head in amazement but couldn't help a fond smile. "One to put on the bed while the other is being washed. Wash days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You are not going to sleep on white sheets until they turn dark grey anymore."
"And we’re not buying dark grey sheets so you can try to tell me they've been washed when they haven't." Coral joked, "I can tell the difference."
Ryan pouted. "How did you know what I was thinkin?"
"I can see the gears whirring in that pretty little sandy head of yours," Coral said fondly, "And lovely gears they are. Now, let's get shopping, kiddo. I have one more stop I want to make before we head home."
Ryan nodded. "All right." When they went into the store, Ryan picked out two sets of sheets, one blue and one a light green, and a navy blue comforter, along with two nice fluffy pillows.
"Looks good, kiddo. Last stop now. I only need two things so if you want to stay in the truck and keep an eye on the beds that would be great."
Ryan nodded. "All right. I'll wait here and keep an eye on the beds."
Coral pulled into the parking lot of the local grocery store and strode into the store, only to come out minutes later with a bag with a red bow on it. He handed it to Ryan with a smile.
Ryan looked at Coral puzzled. "What's that?"
"Open it." Coral grinned slyly.
Ryan plucked at the red bow and looked up at Coral, then separated the edges of the bag and looked inside.
Inside he found a box of dryer sheets and a large, round orange container. He read the label. "Tide Pods?" He asked, confused. "What are Tide pods? Do we use them down at the ocean when we go on vacation? And I thought you didn't like the color orange?"
Coral laughed, a deep throated laugh that went straight through Ryan, coming to rest in his chest. "You really are adorable." He said fondly. This boy was such an amazing mixture. Adult and yet still so naive. It showed in his every word and gesture. The boy was so genuine and innocent.
"I don't, but I don't have to sleep with the container, either." He joked. "It's laundry detergent." He explained. "I only keep the powder for emergencies. With this stuff you only need to toss in one pod per load of laundry instead of measuring the powder. And since you like orange so much, I figured you'd like it, since laundry is going to be one of our shared chores."
Ryan blushed. "I'm really stupid."
"Not at all," Coral reassured him, "It's like the vacuum cleaner. If you've never had experience with things it doesn't make you stupid. And I'm going to tell you, young man, and I mean this... if you don't stop calling yourself stupid I will swat you but good. Got me?"
Ryan frowned. "That's not fair. I feel stupid when it seems I should know things. If I had listened instead of runnin' my mouth, or at least read the label carefully, I would have known and not said somethin' so stupid, so that makes me stupid."
"That doesn't make you stupid, that makes you impulsive, and I've known Mutt and Jeff long enough to know how to deal with impulsive brats." Coral said, angling his hand so that he could swat Ryan's left flank.
"Call yourself stupid again." He said.
Ryan winced at the swat to his flank and then said, "I'm stupid."
Coral swatted again, harder. "Call yourself stupid again. Or have I made my point?"
Ryan rubbed at the spot where Coral swatted him and frowned, tears in his eyes. "You told me to call myself stupid...see how stupid I am...I didn't even know you meant for me to not do it." Tears came leaking out and Ryan turned away from Coral and mumbled, "Fuckin’ stupid idiot." To himself.
Coral sighed, feeling guilty for the misunderstanding. He pulled a reluctant Ryan toward him and enfolded him in a hug.
Ryan began to cry, trying not to.
The tears wrenched at Coral's heart. He had no idea when he'd actually fallen in love with the young man, but he had, and as well as he thought he knew Ryan, he now knew he had much more to learn.
"Shhhh, I'm sorry. You're not stupid hon and I don't want to hear you call yourself names again." He said, hugging tighter and wiping the tears from Ryan's cheeks as they fell.
When Ryan cried himself out he stayed limp in Coral's arms.
Coral kissed the top of the young man's head and rubbed his shoulder. "I still have a lot to learn about you, Ryan O'Donnell, and I'm hoping that you'll stay with me long enough for me to get to know the real Ryan. The whole Ryan. I'm sorry, hon."
"'Kay." Ryan sniffled.
Coral reached across Ryan, opened the glove compartment and took out a small package of tissues. He handed the pack to Ryan and smiled gently. "Let's get you home. We'll set up your new bed, wash the sheets and get it made up for your first night in your new rack."
Ryan used the tissues and wiped his eyes and blew his nose and then frowned. "Why are we washin' the sheets? They're brand new and clean."
"They're going to smell and feel funny until they're washed, and I want you to sleep on soft, sweet smelling sheets. Understand?" Coral asked, as he started the engine and headed back home.
Ryan smiled then and nodded. "'Kay, sounds good."
Coral reached over with his right hand and without looking, cupped Ryan's cheek gently. "That's my boy." He praised.
Ryan leaned into the touch and smiled. "Thank you Coral, I'm sorry I got upset because I didn't understand what you wanted before."
"My own fault for assuming you knew what I was trying to tell you. I've discovered that you're a very literal person, and I'm going to have to be more careful and precise in how I speak to you. Alright?"
Ryan smiled. "All right." He smiled at Coral and stayed with the smile on his face the rest of the way home.
Knowing that the beds weren't going to fit into a golf cart, Coral obtained clearance from James to drive his pickup onto the property long enough to transfer the lot into the bungalow and then return the pickup to the employee lot.
With much huffing and puffing the two men wrestled the beautiful brass bed into the den. They set it up and put the box spring and mattress on before collapsing onto it with wide grins on their faces. Without thinking, Ryan slid closer to Coral and put his head on the bigger man's chest, his green eyes heavy lidded and a smile of contentment on his face. Before long he had fallen asleep, still smiling.
Ryan sighed deeply as Coral left the bed and snuggled into the spot that was still warm from Coral's body without waking.
Coral smiled down at the boy and went into the kitchen to open the packages of sheets and pillowcases to put them in the wash. He tossed in one of the pods with a grin as he remembered what Ryan had said.
It was going to be a little while before he had to make dinner so he sat on the couch to watch TV. Before long he heard the buzzer indicating that the wash cycle was over and he switched over the sheets to the dryer. He checked the time again and noticed it was still too early to make dinner, and he didn't want to disturb Ryan, so he sat back down in front of the TV. It had been a bit of a long, exciting day and before he knew it, he too had fallen asleep.