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Friday, November 6, 2015

TLR Chapter 34

Ryan shifted and woke. His stomach was rumbling, and he had a strong craving for a beer. It was very quiet and he eased himself off the new bed. He crept to the door and peeked out into the living room. He smiled to himself when he saw Coral sound asleep on the couch and the TV going. He shut the door gently and then, slid the window slowly up so to not make any noise and then he quietly climbed out and headed for the lodge. He checked his phone and saw it was ten thirty and slipped inside the bar. He glanced around and saw that Jake wasn't around and neither was Duke or anyone else who knew he shouldn't be drinking. He approached the bar and asked Peter, one of the part time bartenders, for a beer. The man smiled and took the top off a bottle of Ryan's favorite beer and set it in front of him. Ryan took the first long drink and smiled at the taste and the immediate effect it had as it hit his bloodstream.

The bartender waited on a few other customers. Ryan had finished the bottle in three long pulls and when the man was available he ordered another. This one he drank a bit more slowly as the glow he liked made him feel content.

Ryan was sitting at the bar, enjoying his beer with his eyes closed, relishing the feelings that coursed through his head and body as the alcohol took effect. He didn't notice Duke and Jake coming into the bar. He wasn't aware that they'd seen him, which was just as well as he would have fainted if he'd seen the expression on Duke's face.

Duke's grey eyes narrowed and he pulled away from Jake striding toward Ryan who was sitting at the bar with a beer. He grabbed the smaller man by the bicep and hauled him to his feet with his large left hand while removing the bottle of beer with his splinted right one. "Just what the hell do you think you're doin'? Are you crazy? You just finished goin' through detox less than a week ago! Coral doesn't know you're here does he?"

Ryan, startled, couldn't utter a word as his friend and the head of security loomed over him. He tried to break from Duke's grasp without success.

Pete looked up, startled as the large man grabbed the smaller one and glanced at Jake wondering what the hell was happening to Duke. He never acted like this toward any of his customers.

Jake put a warm, light hand on Duke's shoulder and spoke quietly. "Duke, it's alright, I think we caught him in time. Ryan, sit down, Duke, have a seat next to him and relax." He said reasonably.

Duke let go of Ryan and parked his large, lean frame on the bar stool next to Ryan still glowering at the younger man. "I should fire your ass right now!" He growled.

Ryan rubbed his arm where Duke had grabbed him and sank back onto his bar stool looking down.

Jake went around the counter and looked at the two off duty security guards. "Let's talk, Duke. Just give me a minute, alright?" he asked quietly.

Duke said, "There's nothin' to talk about. He's sittin' here drinkin' a beer and he ain't supposed to be doin' that!" Duke snarled.

Ryan glared at Duke. "You ain't my keeper, so butt out!"

Jake pressed his lips together at Ryan's attitude but didn't say anything; he knew Duke had it under control. He went to the opposite side of the bar and called Coral. Once he heard the sleepy voice he knew exactly what had happened.

"Cor, Ry is here. He's been drinking. It was while I was on my dinner break. Duke has him. Do you want to come get him or should Duke just bring him home?"

Coral was awake instantly. Disbelieving that the boy would go against direct orders he ran to Ryan's room and looked in at the empty and still unmade bed.

“How's Ryan?" Coral asked. "Is he drunk?"

"Buzzed I think, but not drunk. Duke and I came back in just in time. Duke is really upset with the kid though. I have to get back and help him settle down."

"I'll come and get him, keep Duke from killing the kid, that's my job." Coral replied as calmly as he could. He jumped up, put his shoes on and headed toward the bar in his golf cart.


Duke looked like he was about to break Ryan in half. He stood back up and said, "You keep a civil tongue in your head O'Donnell!"

Ryan couldn't help but cringe as the larger, more powerful man loomed over him again.

Jake returned to where Duke and Ryan were. "It's all right Duke, I called Coral, and he’s on his way. Sit back down and have a little coffee with me. Ryan, I suggest you stay put and have some coffee as well." Jake ordered quietly, expertly placing three coffee cups on the bar with his left hand, and pouring the coffee with his right. He turned to place the coffee pot back on the burner before turning back to the two men.

Duke looked at Jake. "All right...I'll let Coral take him, but I should exact a little retribution before he gets here." He sat back down and sipped at the coffee, glaring at Ryan the whole time.

Ryan's insides shook like jello. Coral was coming for him and Duke looked like he'd like to chew him up and spit him out as his Marine persona came to the foreground. He thought about what he had heard about Marines eating people for dinner. He could believe that. He took a tentative sip at his coffee as well, but looked longingly at his almost finished bottle of beer. He began to reach out for it and Duke snatched it away. "Oh no you don't!" Duke growled and shoved the bottle at Jake. "Get this damned thing out of here."

Jake shook his head, giving himself a mental head slap for not thinking of it sooner. He took the beer and poured the rest down the drain. Ryan glared at Duke for a moment because he made Jake take away the rest of his beer, and then turned his own, ineffectual glare on Jake as he watched the bartender dump the rest of his brew.

Jake left long enough to get some bread sticks for Ryan and Duke to munch on until Coral arrived. He knew that Ryan at least wasn't going to have time to eat more than that.

Peter, the part time bartender tried not to stare at the scene before him.

"Get going, Pete." Jake said, not unkindly. "I'll take care of this."

Peter nodded and left to take care of other guests who were waiting.

Jake turned back toward Duke and Ryan, wondering if there was anything else he could do to diffuse the situation.

Ryan looked as though he had lost his best friend as he realized that he was in big trouble and just wanted to sink into the ground.

Duke, seeing Ryan's changed demeanor calmed down and said more quietly, "Ryan, I'm not only head of security and all that, but I'm your friend as well as Coral's. I want to see you well and be able to live a better life."

Ryan glanced up at Duke and then said, "Some way to show someone how much a friend you are by scarin' him half to death and takin' his beer."

Duke said, "That bottle of beer ain't your friend. It’s your enemy and those of us like me who care for you are your friends."

Turning his attention to the basket of garlic and butter breadsticks that Jake had given them Duke began to nibble on one. Ryan also took one even though his insides felt heavy and he wasn't really that hungry.

Minutes later Coral strode into the bar. It wasn't hard to see where Ryan was since he was right next to the huge security guard. He walked purposefully over to the three men who were gathered at the corner of the bar and was relieved to see that Duke had taken control of the situation.

"Ryan," he said, sternly. He made no effort to hide his displeasure.

Ryan jumped a bit at Coral's voice so close to him.

Duke smiled. "Hello Coral, sorry to have to have you come to collect this one." He nodded at Ryan.

"I'd say my pleasure, but considering the circumstances..." He said pointedly looking at Ryan, "Let's go. You and I need to have a conversation. Thank you, Duke, and Jake, for taking care of him until I could get here."

Duke gave Ryan a sympathetic look. "Take care Ryan. Just glad we were here Coral."

Ryan nodded. "Thanks Duke." He said quietly. He put down his partially eaten breadstick, and then bit his lip as he turned toward Coral.

"March." Coral ordered. There was no need for him to yell. His expression was more than enough to quell the younger man.

Ryan went quietly with Coral.

Duke watched Coral take Ryan away and glanced at Jake. "Sorry I came on so strong to him Jake, but what he was doin' was stupid."

"I understand, Duke. He's your friend and you care about him. I'm just sorry that he came in while I was away. I'd have stopped it before it started." Jake replied, feeling guilty.

Duke reached out and put a hand on Jake's shoulder. "We couldn't have known he was here or I know you wouldn't have served him. You'll need to talk to Peter and the other bartenders about it so it won't happen again."

"Will do, and I'll speak to the wait staff as well so that he doesn't try to order drinks at the restaurant either. Thanks Duke." Jake said gratefully.

Duke smiled. "If we work together we can keep those we care for safe."

"That's what friends are for." Jake replied with a smile.

Duke said to Jake, "I'm glad I wasn't wearin' my sling tonight."

"Why's that?" Jake asked curiously.

Duke said, "I wouldn't have been able to use both hands to deal with Ryan."

Jake grinned for the first time since the whole thing had happened. "You're right. You're a pretty awe inspiring guy, but the sling might have taken some of your edge away. I'm glad you were here, Duke."

Duke smiled. "So am I."

“And let’s not tell Heath or James that I told you that you didn’t have to use your sling tonight, ok?” Jake grinned.

Duke grinned back and gave Jake a conspiratorial wink. “Our little secret.”


Coral was silent during the drive back to the bungalow, willing himself to remain calm. He saw Ryan sneaking glances toward him from the corner of his eye and knew the boy was nervous, but felt it was better to remain quiet and calm than try to discuss the boy's transgression at the moment. There would be plenty of time for discussion once they arrived back home.

Ryan chewed the inside of his cheek wondering just how mad Coral was. He thought if Coral thought he was too much trouble he'd just load up his stuff in his jeep and go back to his own trailer. He glanced at him out of the corner of his eye from time to time, but kept his sandy head down.

Coral pulled up to the bungalow and gestured Ryan into the house. Ryan fairly ran into the bungalow. He stopped uncertainly in the middle of the kitchen, unconsciously keeping the table between him and the tall man who followed him in.

"Corner." Coral ordered.

Ryan looked at Coral puzzled. "Corner?" He asked quietly. "What do you want me to do with a corner, and the corner of what?" He glanced at the table that was between him and Coral and moved toward the corner of the table nearest to him. He put his hand on it and rubbed it along the edge.

Coral took a deep breath; he had to remember how literal Ryan was. "Go stand in that corner," Coral gestured, "Face to the wall. We'll talk in a few minutes. In the meantime, just stand there and think about what you did."

Ryan's green eyes widened. "Standin' in a corner is for kids. I'm not a kid." He protested.

"You're in enough trouble right now, Ryan. I suggest you do as your told on your own or I'll toast your backside and put you there myself."

Ryan frowned. "If I'm that much trouble, I'll just collect my stuff, pack it all in my jeep and go back to my trailer."

"You're not going anywhere, little boy, except into that corner. You have to the count of three."

Ryan looked at Coral. "Why are you doin' this Coral? I'm not a child. I'm grown. If I knew I was goin' to be treated like some kid I'd never have left my trailer to come here." He said softly. "You said you were goin' to help me, not treat me like a kid." Ryan gave Coral a disappointed and sad look. "I thought you were my friend, not my father."

Coral took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

"I am helping you, Ryan, though you may not see it like that right now. You need time to think about what you did, and I need time to calm myself enough to talk to you." 'And as long as you're going to act like a kid then you're going to be treated like a kid.' He thought to himself.

Ryan looked at Coral. "So why do I have to stand in the corner?"

"As I said, you need time to think and reflect on what you did and why it was wrong. You need to do it in a place where your whole mind is on that and that alone, no distractions, and looking at a blank space is the perfect way to do it."

Ryan bit his lip. "I'll try it, but if I don't like it do I have to continue to do it?"

"If you do as you're told, and think about the problem at hand, then you won't even notice the time going by. I want your full attention on what you did wrong." Coral replied, hoping that he was finally making the boy understand his motive.

Ryan said, "'Kay, I'll try it." He walked reluctantly and slowly over to the corner. He rubbed his upper arm where Duke had grabbed him and then fidgeted.

Coral waited until Ryan had done as he'd been told, then turned toward the laundry room, took the sheets from the dryer and folded them and then returned to see if Ryan had remained where he'd been told.

Ryan heard Coral taking the laundry out of the dryer and shifted and squirmed. He wasn't used to standing still for so long.

Coral returned from the laundry room and was pleased to see that Ryan hadn't moved. "You can come out of the corner now, Ry. Have a seat and let's talk."

Hearing Coral telling him to come sit he left the corner, wrinkling his nose, and sat down on the kitchen chair that Coral had pulled out for him.

Coral loved the way Ryan wrinkled his nose, but he knew he had to remain firm. "Did you think about this, Ryan?" he asked, sitting in the chair next to the boy.

Ryan nodded. "I thought about that you were doin' stuff while I was stuck in the corner and I didn't like that."

Coral lowered his head, trying to gather his thoughts, and then he looked back up at Ryan, keeping eye contact. "You were supposed to be thinking about what you did wrong, Ry. And I didn't keep you in the corner for long. Did you think at all about what you did and why you're in trouble?"

Ryan bit his lip. "I already know what I did wrong."

"Tell me, so that I know you really know. And then we can deal with this."

Ryan squirmed. "I went to the bar and drank a couple of beers when you told me not to and I snuck out when you were sleepin' so I was sneaky."

"I'm glad you actually thought about it, Ryan. Alcohol is going to destroy you if you don't stop. You obviously can't drink responsibly, and the fact that you had to sneak out to get a drink shows me that you knew it was wrong."

"Do you remember what I said I'd do to you if you drank anything stronger than soda?"

Ryan's green eyes widened. "You're not really goin' to..." He trailed off.

"I wasn't joking Ry. And I wasn't issuing idle threats.

Ryan asked, "Can't I have another chance?"

"You had a chance, Ry. You had a choice and you made the wrong one. I'm your friend, and I'm here to help steer you right. I don't want you to ruin your life because you can't control yourself. You said you're an adult. Then act like one. Learn to make the right choices. Learn to accept help when you need it. And right now, Ry, you need my help."

Ryan swallowed nervously and then nodded. He remembered what Coral had told him about how he had been helped with spankings and he chewed his lip. "Not for a whole week though?"

"Ryan, this is serious. What you did was serious. You've been in recovery less than a week. You promised you'd stop drinking. You went back on your word and not only that you snuck out of the house to do it. If I hadn't gotten that call you would have continued to drink, and you could have gotten yourself or someone else hurt. You do deserve a spanking. Whether or not you sit for a week is debatable, we'll just have to see if the lesson sinks in."

Ryan's green eyes grew magnified as tears lurked in them and he hung his head. "I'm sorry." He whispered.

Coral sighed. He didn't like to be the cause of Ryan's tears, but he'd rather have a live, crying Ryan than an alcoholic, or worse, dead Ryan. Coral wasn't above a beer or two after his shift or on his days off, or at a gathering, but he always limited himself to no more than two and half the time he didn't finish them before they went warm and flat. He vowed to himself that his own beer drinking days were over, so that he could be a positive role model for Ryan.

"Then come with me into the living room, hon," He said, taking Ryan's hand in his and leading him into the next room.

Ryan allowed Coral to lead him into the living room. He said softly, "When I woke the cravin' was so strong...I didn't really know what else to do. I think if you hadn't been sleepin' I might not have tried to sneak out...I suppose I was seein' if you'd know and stop was stupid."

"So you took advantage of me." Coral said sadly. "I can't sleep because you'll sneak out and drink? You could have woken me up and told me how you were feeling. We could have worked through it together. And in case you didn't notice, as soon as I knew, I came to get you, like any good friend would."

 Ryan began to cry softly and just allowed Coral to take him along. "I'm s-sorry." He sniffled. "I was bein' really stupid again."

 Coral reached out to wipe the tears from Ryan's face gently. "I know you're sorry, hon. And I told you to stop calling yourself stupid. You just need to learn how to think before you act. And if a spanking, or even standing in a corner from time to time will help you, then that's what we'll do. I care about you, Ry, more than I ever knew, and I don't want anything bad to happen to you. Understand?"

Ryan began to sob at Coral's words. "I don't know why you'd want someone like me as a friend, or why you'd care."

Coral drew Ryan into a hug. "I told you, you caught my eye at the academy. I saw, and still see, a lot of great potential in you. I grew to care about you there, and since you've come to live with me... well... I want to take care of you. I want to protect you. I want to keep you alive and well for a good long time. I want you with me." he admitted quietly.

 Ryan lifted his green eyes to the dark ones. "You really do, even though I'm trouble with a capital T?"

 "I really do, and any trouble you have is mine too. We can work things out together. Does that sound like something you can live with?" Coral asked gently.

Ryan nodded. "I think so, as long as you really want me, but if I'm too much for you to handle...I can always go back and live in my trailer at the shootin' range."

"You're not trouble, and I do want you. As far as living at the trailer, my friend Aaron has it locked up tight and has been running the range for you in your absence. He brought his RV and parked it next to your place. I told you, that trailer needs work, or to be replaced entirely."

Ryan looked sad at first at the news of his trailer, but then frowned in concentration as he took in Coral's words.

"Aaron? That name sounds familiar. Wait, is that Captain Dodge? He was one of my instructors at the academy. He retired didn't he?"

"Yep, old Artful himself," Coral smiled, using the man's nickname. "And he's been taking good care of the range in your absence. So it looks like you're stuck with me, Ryan O'Donnell."

Ryan gave Coral a watery smile. "Or you're stuck with me."

"I can live with that." Coral said, hugging the boy more tightly.

Ryan snuggled into the hug and then returned it in kind. "Good."

Finally he let go and held Ryan out at arm’s length. "We still have something to deal with though, don't we?"

Ryan bit his lip at Coral's words and nodded. "Yes Coral." He answered softly with a little shiver of apprehension.

Nodding his head in approval, Coral drew Ryan toward the couch. He sat down and held a hand out to the younger man to draw him closer.

Ryan took the outstretched hand.

"This is your first time, so I'm going to let you keep your jeans on. If it ever happens again though, Ryan, it'll be on the bare. Understand?"

Ryan shivered a little, but said quietly, "Yes Sir, and thank you."

Coral pulled Ryan over his lap and positioned the boy as comfortably as he could before raising his hand and laying down the first of many hard swats.

Ryan yelped at the unexpected sting. "Ow! Not so hard!" He begged.

"I'm sorry it hurts hon, it's going to for a while," Coral said, pausing for just a moment so that Ryan could hear him, "But it'll be over soon, and what happens after that is entirely up to you." He rubbed Ryan's back. "Let's get this over with. Ready?"

Ryan gave a little nod, although he wasn't going to be ever truly ready.

Coral patted his back and then gripped the boy firmly around the waist before continuing. He knew that the boy was going to be sore for a while, if not a week, but he also hoped that this wasn't going to be necessary for much longer.

Ryan couldn't help but squirm and kick and buck a bit as his bottom was well spanked. He was crying long before the spanking would end. He finally threw his hands back and brought his feet up as well to cover and protect his backside from any further spanks because it was hurting so badly.

Coral considered throwing his leg over Ryan's to get them down, but decided against it. He felt that Ryan had had enough, and frankly his own hand was stinging and tingling from the impact. He finally stopped, rubbing his hand lightly over the boy's back until he stopped crying.

When no more spanks were given Ryan felt his back being rubbed and he relaxed and sobbed. When he finally stopped crying he tried to push himself off Coral's lap.

Coral knew that the boy was spent as he tried and failed to get up under his own power. He helped the him up and led him to his own room, rationalizing that Ryan's bed still hadn't been made, and the comforter and mattress pad still needed to be washed.

Ryan went willingly with Coral, a bit wobbly and still sniffling a bit. "My backside's on fire." He complained.

"As long as you learned something from this, Ry, then it's worth it. Lie down hon, let me put the covers over you."

He drew down the covers; Ryan nodded and crawled onto the bed on his stomach. Coral would normally insist that Ryan wear his sleep pants but he made an exception for the time being. The boy was nearly asleep already.

Coral lie down beside him and put his arms around the young man, who once again, fell into a deep sleep. This time, Coral smiled and snuggled in toward the young man, determined never to lose him again. He placed a gentle kiss to the boy's forehead and pulled him a little closer. Shortly afterward, he fell asleep.


Ryan woke the next morning to see Coral's face close to his own, peaceful in sleep, one arm around Ryan. He smiled and tried to get up to get a better view of the man when he felt the pain in his backside and remembered the spanking from the night before.

He gasped; the soft sound woke Coral immediately and his eyes opened, alert, only to see Ryan frowning down at him.

"Well good morning to you too, Sunshine" Coral said with a smile. "What's with the glower?"

"You spanked me last night!" Ryan pouted, "It still hurts. You weren't kidding I can't sit. Is this really going to last the whole week?"

"It might not last the whole week, but as long as you remember that spanking and what it was for then it was worth it. Don't you think?" Coral asked with an understanding smile.

Ryan pouted. "I suppose so, I sure don't want another one and not on the bare!"

"You'll remember the lesson every time you sit for the next few days. Hopefully that'll be enough to discourage you from doing it again." Coral replied gently. "Now what do you say we get washed and changed and have some breakfast?"

Ryan sighed. "All right. What are we doin' today? More laundry? More cleaning?"

Coral looked down at the bed for a moment before looking into Ryan's eyes. "No, not today. I... there's something we need to talk about."

Ryan got a sinking feeling in his stomach at those words. "What did I do this time?" He asked.

"Hon, you didn't do anything, don't worry. It's about your trailer. You keep saying that you'll go back to your trailer to live every time you think you're in trouble with me, and... Well... I can explain it better to you after breakfast. I'd like to take you there so you can see for yourself."

Ryan looked at Coral curiously. "'Kay." He said hesitantly.

Coral smiled again and patted the boy's shoulder. "Come on, Sunshine. I'll get breakfast ready while you shower. I bought raisins." He said teasingly.

Ryan smiled. "Baked oatmeal?"

"You got it." Coral grinned.

Ryan nodded. "'Kay." he carefully rolled off Coral's bed and winced as he stood and walked carefully to the bathroom.

Coral, empathizing with the boy's discomfort, pulled him into a quick hug before releasing him to go take his shower.

Once in the bathroom Ryan examined the damage to his rear as best he could. It was still glowing a hot pink and as he showered he found an odd sensation that the hot water felt cool to his burning rear when it was hot everywhere else because his backside was still sore. He finished his shower and winced as he dressed in clean clothes and made his way to the kitchen. "I think I'll just stand at the kitchen counter to eat my breakfast." He announced to Coral.

"You'll sit like a civilized person, Ry." Coral said, "But," he continued, seeing that Ryan was about to argue with him, "I put a pillow on your chair, so you'll be more comfortable."

Ryan looked at his usual chair and saw the fluffy pillow. He eased himself onto it with a little grimace. It was tolerable and he said softly, "Thank you Coral."

"You're welcome, hon." Coral replied, sitting down with Ryan to eat breakfast. Ryan couldn't help but notice that there were no raisins in Coral's oatmeal. He suppressed a grin and dug into his own meal, adding extra raisins on his own for good measure, laughing when he saw Coral wrinkle his nose.

"This is very good Cor, thanks." Ryan said with a big grin.

Coral grinned back, polished off his oatmeal and put his bowl and spoon into the sink to soak. "I'll be right back, and then we can head out. Alright?"

He headed toward the bedroom to get clean clothes and went to take his own shower. He got back to the kitchen in time to see Ryan popping more raisins into his mouth as he stood near the table, waiting for Coral's return.

Ryan grinned at Coral and then rubbed his bottom with a grimace. "Can I take the pillow with me?" He asked as he limped over to the sink to put his oatmeal bowl in the sink with Coral's to soak.

Coral winced slightly, remembering what the morning after a hard spanking felt like, but he couldn't help but to wonder if the boy was playing it up a little more than was necessary. Erring on the side of caution, Coral gave the boy permission to take the pillow with him.

Ryan went over to Coral and hugged him tight. "Thanks." He said quietly. It had been a very long time since Ryan had been spanked and he hadn't realized how sore it could make him. His spankings when he was little consisted little more than a half dozen swats to the seat of his pants and he'd never been placed over a lap before. He didn't tell Coral that though.

Coral hugged the boy tightly to him and kissed the top of his sandy hair. "Go on, get comfortable in the cart, I'll just wash these really quickly and I'll be right out." he promised.

Ryan smiled and said. "All right and thanks." He grabbed the pillow and headed out to the cart. He placed the pillow on the seat and waited for Coral to head his way before he eased himself into the vehicle.

Coral saw the boy wince as he sat down. Even with the pillow he could feel the boy's discomfort, but as badly as he felt about having to spank Ryan the night before, if it kept the boy safe and made him think twice before pulling another stunt like he had last night, then it was worth it. He slid into his own seat and started the cart. In minutes they were at the employee parking lot and they got into Coral's pickup.

Ryan grabbed the pillow from the golf cart and put it on the seat of the pickup and got as comfortable as he could. He leaned back and tried to relax, his bottom throbbing a bit. He didn't complain though and just waited for them to arrive at the shooting range and his trailer.

When they arrived they were met by a man who was nearly as tall as Coral. The man had a dancer's build and moved like a cat. He smiled and approached the two men as they got out of the pickup.

"Ryan, you remember Aaron, he's been keeping the place up and running while you've been ill."

Aaron held a hand out to Ryan, "Nice to see you again." He said politely.

Ryan smiled. "Great seeing you again too, Art…um…Aaron and thanks for holdin' down the fort for me. Is everythin' goin' all right? Do you have any questions? Is there anythin' you need?"

"Actually, you kept the place organized and the paperwork was easy to find. You have an excellent filing system. I've kept your trailer locked up; I've been living in my RV next to it."

Ryan blushed a little at the praise from his former instructor. "Thank you. I try to stay organized in my work." He glanced at Coral and blushed a bit for him to know his records were impeccable even if his living quarters weren't.

Ryan wondered at first why Aaron had been living in his own RV instead of the trailer. That was when he noticed what bad shape it was in. Being drunk most of the time while he was home, he never really noticed it before. He looked between the two men, embarrassed that they'd seen it looking like that.

Ryan asked sheepishly, "It does look bad, doesn't it?"

Aaron looked a little uncomfortable. Before Ryan could ask, Coral explained, "It's worse on the inside Ry. Aaron, do you have the keys?"

Aaron gave the keys over willingly and excused himself saying he had some paperwork to catch up on.

Coral led the way to the trailer and unlocked the door. The smell of mold, animal musk, and rot wafted out to them. Ryan covered his nose and frowned. Had it always been that bad? How could he not have noticed before?

When they walked in, Ryan's eyes widened in shock. The wall behind where the love seat had been was a moldy patch. There was mold under the windows as well.

Ryan looked at Coral and said quietly, "I can't imagine why I never noticed things were this bad. I guess I knew on one level, but never wanted to actually accept it." He bit his lip. "It's really bad."

"Ry, I wish I could have found a better way to break this to you. The place is unlivable. Mutt, Adam and Torren have all been out here trying to get ahead of the mold and the animals but it's just in too bad a shape. Ry... You need to make the decision as to what to do with it. I was going to have it hauled away and scrapped but Mutt said it should be your decision."

Ryan turned and blinked back tears in his green eyes. "Haul it away...its junk...just like the rest of the things here." He started to walk out of the trailer.

Coral pulled the young man into a hug. "It's all right hon. you have a home with me, and we have everything we need. If there's anything here that you want to salvage, personal items we missed the first time, let's take them with us."

Ryan fell into Coral's arms and tears trickled down his handsome face. "I don't know, but we can look...most of everything here seems to be a pile of junk." He didn't say aloud that it felt like the rest of his life, including himself.

"Do you have any pictures you'd like to take with you? Anything of sentimental or personal value?" Coral asked.

Ryan said, "I'm not sure. We can see if there's anythin' that hasn't been ruined and turned to junk."

"Let's start in the bedroom, alright?" Coral said, hoping that Ryan would think of or find something quickly. He didn't like being in the moldy old trailer but he wasn't going to just leave the boy there alone.

Ryan nodded. "All right." He headed for the bedroom. The electronics and DVD's had already been removed by Mutt and he opened and closed drawers finding clothes that had molded and not much of anything else. He went through the other rooms in the trailer with much the same results. When they ended up back in the kitchen Ryan’s face was an unemotional mask.

"Alright hon, let's head out. I'll call the scrap yard when we get home." Coral said, closely watching the face of the young man he'd come to care so much about. He worried that Ryan would close himself off and that was the worst thing the kid could do.

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