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Friday, November 6, 2015

TLR Chapter 36

TLR Chapter 36
Written by Rosemarie, PJ & Snarks

It had taken a while to find just the right man for the job, but James and Jeff were happy with their decision.  Brendon, their baker, had been asking for extra help for a while now that two of his assistants had married and moved away, and Tristan Kane fit the bill perfectly.  Having worked at the same place for nearly ten years he came highly recommended.

"We're sorry to lose him," Said the owner of the bakery he'd been working for, "But we're a small business and we can't afford to pay him as much as he's worth.  He's going to be hard to replace."  

"We'll take good care of him," Jeff had said, smiling even though the woman couldn't see him over the phone.

"You'd better," The woman had replied with mock severity.  "We're very fond of the boy."

After saying his goodbyes, Jeff had hung up the phone and turned back toward the application on his desk.  All that was left was to call Tristan and tell him the job was his.  He picked up the phone again and called the young man to give him the news.  He could tell that the twenty eight year old man was thrilled even though he tried to control his excitement.

"How long will it take for you to pack up your things and move out here?" Jeff asked.  "Are you going to need help moving?  We can provide a truck and some assistants to make things easier for you."

"Would you?" Tristan asked, relief obvious in his tone.  "I don't have a whole lot being it's just me, but I don't really have the money to hire a van, and moving all of my stuff alone would have been a pain."

"I have your address in your file, when would be a good time for me to send the guys and the truck over?"

"I can have my clothes and dishes packed in a day or so.  Then it's just a matter of getting my furniture out."

"How large of a truck do you need?"

"I have a little dinette set with a table and four chairs, ummm, my couch, rocker, and recliner, two small televisions, two small tables, a small desk and chair, my bed... it's full size, two bureaus, a steamer trunk, and a six foot tall cabinet, some small appliances... and my washer and dryer and my fridge."

Jeff replied.  "All of the bungalows come with a refrigerator, dishwasher, and a washer and dryer.  You are of course welcome to bring your own and we'll just put the others in storage."

"No, that's fine," Tristan said quickly.  His own appliances were on their last legs anyway so it was a relief not to have to take them with him and wonder day after day when they were going to conk out for good.  "I'll just have to arrange to have the city pick mine up and after that I'll be ready to go.  Maybe in five or six days? Is that too long?"

"No, that's fine. Just give us a call when you're ready and we'll send someone over to help you with your things."

"Thank you." Tristan replied, his hazel eyes glowing with happiness as he ran his hands through his dark brown hair.

"Now, there are just a few things I'd like to remind you of once you're ready to move in."

"Yes sir?"

"You'll participate in an orientation session when you arrive, there are some forms you'll have to fill out, including the non-disclosure agreement that I told you about."

"Yes sir."

"Also, Heath, our resident doctor, has told me that he's gotten the copy of your medical history from your GP, and you're in fine health, however it is policy for all new comers to have a physical with him upon arrival."

"That's fine, sir.  I understand."

"Then it looks like we're all set.  We'll be seeing you soon."

"Thank you, Mr. Markham.  I'm really looking forward to working for the resort."

"Just call me Jeff.  We're very informal around here, and we're looking forward to having you.  Let us know when you're ready and as I said, we'll arrange to pick up your things."

"Thanks again... Jeff." Tristan replied, using the name experimentally.

"You're welcome, Tristan.  We'll see you soon."

"Bye for now then."


Jeff hung up the phone then picked it up once again to dial the bakery.

"Reinhart." Came a familiar voice.  He sounded a little out of breath.

"Brendon, it's Jeff.  How are you today?  Sounds like it's busy already."

"It is," Brendon Reinhart laughed, the skin around his brown eyes crinkling.  "I don't know what's going on but it seems like everyone and their brother wants fresh baked bread and rolls today.  We sent a huge shipment out to Gary at the restaurant first thing this morning, and he's already called to order more.  I've had Arnie and Spence baking donuts and muffins since six this morning.  This is the third time we've run out of bagels and Victor and Warren are threatening to quit if they have to make one more batch. And we haven't even started on the cakes and cupcakes yet.  When are we getting the new guys? Any word?"

"Yes, I just got off the phone with one.  He said he should be packed up in a couple of days, then when he calls to tell me he's ready I'll send Mutt and the others out there to help him move his things."

"Well I hope it's soon." Brendon groused.  "I've been pulling double duty trying to help all of them and do the baking at the same time."

"It won't be much longer, I promise.  One of the young men we've found, Tristan, is eager to start, so I have a feeling it'll be sooner more than later before he moves in." Jeff huffed a laugh.

If he hadn't heard the hustle and bustle in the background, Jeff would have sworn that the line had been disconnected.

"Bren?  Bren!" Jeff said again when there was no response.

Finally Brendon answered, sounding as though someone had punched him in the gut.  "Tristan?"

"Yes, the young man's name is Tristan.  Are you alright?"


"Yes." Jeff replied, surprised.  "I take it you know him."

"Yes, we... worked together a long time ago." He replied, running flour coated hands through his short, dark blonde hair.  He made an impatient sound, realizing that he was going to have to wash his hair and hands before he could continue what he'd been doing.

"Is there going to be a problem, Bren?  He came highly recommended, but if there's a problem it's not too late to call and tell him we can't use him after all."

"No.  No problem." Brendon answered quietly before he hung up.  Thoughts flashed through his head like quicksilver.  He could quit.  He could shut the bakery down and move, he could tell James and Jeff what the problem was, or might be, or he could just man up and go on as though nothing had changed.  He chose the latter.  No matter what had happened in the past, he loved the resort and the men on it, and he wasn't about to lose a good job just to spite one person.

Jeff looked at the handset for a moment before he hung up.  It wasn't like Brendon, no matter how busy he was, to just hang up like that.   He got up and walked across the hall to James's office and knocked on the door.

"Come in?"  Came James's curious voice.  "Jeff, you look a little worried.  What's wrong? Have a seat."

Jeff sat, pulled the chair close, leaned his elbows on James's desk, and explained the situation to James as succinctly as he could.

"Do you think there's going to be trouble?"  James asked, concerned.

"Brendon said there wouldn't be a problem but there was something in his tone that seemed off, and the fact that he just hung up like that, well let's just say I have my qualms right now."

"I guess we'll just have to see how things go then." James said, frowning reflectively, running his fingers over his lips as he thought. 

"If we have to, we can always send Tristan to work in the restaurant.  I know it's not what he signed up for but I can't see letting him go just because there's a personal problem between him and Brendon."  Jeff suggested.

"As long as he does his job to the best of his abilities and there are no problems, then I agree." James said, sitting back in his chair, his blue eyes darkening in thought.  He looked at Jeff and continued.  "I wonder now if we should have included Brendon in the hiring of the new employees."

"He said he was too busy to deal with it." Jeff reminded him, "And he left it to us to find his new assistants.  However, perhaps we should make a list of the other candidates and pass it by him, just in case there's another problem."

"That makes sense.  Print out the list and I'll have one of the boys deliver it to Brendon, just to be on the safe side.  Perhaps he even knows some of them by reputation and can recommend one himself."

"Will do." Jeff said, rising and heading toward the door.

"And Jeff,"

Jeff turned to look curiously at his friend.

"Keep a close eye out."

"I'll do better than that.  I'll send Mutt 'round to do the shopping there.  If anyone can sniff out a problem it'll be him."

"Let's just make sure he doesn't get embroiled in the middle of it." James laughed.

"My Mutt?  Never!" Jeff quipped.  "Why my boy is as innocent as a lamb."  He coughed and a noise that sounded suspiciously like the word 'Bullshit' escaped his lips.

"Sorry about that." Jeff said innocently, thumping his chest lightly.  "Dry throat."

"We'll leave it at then, shall we?" James grinned.

Jeff smiled wryly back, waved and left James's office to print out the list.


Heath looked at his watch before saying into the phone, "I better hang up, James.  Duke’s due here and he’s probably chomping at the bit wondering if I'm going to release him to light duty today."

"Do you think you will need any help with him?" James asked.

"No, I am going to release him so it should be fine.  See you at dinner," Heath said then replaced the handset.

Duke Montgomery made his way to the infirmary. If it wasn't that he had to get clearance from Heath to go back to work, even if it was light duty, he probably wouldn't have come. Not working was driving him crazy. He knew it was necessary if he didn’t want to sit at home longer being bored. He opened the door to the infirmary. The antiseptic smell hit him and he wrinkled his nose. "Heath?" He called.

"Back here, Duke."

Duke made his way toward the back of the infirmary to find Heath. "I'm here for my weekly checkup." He informed the doctor.

"Come on in and have a seat," the doctor instructed.  With his patient being well over six foot tall it was easier if he didn’t make him sit on the exam table, unless it was absolutely necessary.

Duke came in and sat in one of the chairs and fidgeted nervously.

Heath looked at the big guy before him.  "How's the arm feeling, Duke?" he asked as he stepped forward to remove the sling.

Duke said, "All right. It only hurts some at the end of the day now and sometimes at night when I'm sleepin', but not much durin' the day."

"That's good and to be expected at this stage." the doctor explained.  "You're lucky you didn't do more damage when you went to visit Dean."

Duke bit his lip and flushed. "Sorry about that Doc." He apologized again.

"I know you are, Duke, and hopefully having to use the sling an extra week helped remind you that I wasn't just being mean when I said you had to wear both the brace and sling.  It was for your own good." Heath said. "Anyway, that's behind us now.  I'm pretty sure James handled it, right?"

Duke turned red and looked down. "Yes Sir...he did and rather memorably." He confessed.

Heath chuckled. "Good, now let's take the brace off and have a look."

Duke held out his arm after Heath had removed the sling for him to remove the brace.

There was hardly any swelling and no bruising at all.  "It looks good, Duke."  Heath said. "Now let's get another x-ray just to be sure."

Duke smiled at the good news and nodded. "All right."

It didn't take long with the new computer program Heath had just purchased for the infirmary.  The x-rays appeared on the computer screen within seconds.  "Looks good, Duke."

Duke asked, "Is it all healed now?"

Heath chuckled again, "No, not hardly, Duke." the doctor said.  He replaced the brace and then instructed in a firmer tone, "You still need to be careful."

Duke sighed. "You mean I still have to wear the splint and sling? How much longer?

The young doctor sighed too and leaned against his desk.  "You are going to have to use the brace for at least the next three weeks," he said prepared for an explosion from Duke.

"Three weeks! That's forever! The sling too?! You said it was doing good!" Duke exploded.

"Duke, calm down.  Now!" Heath demanded without raising his voice. 

Duke got quiet but sulked and pouted.

"Are you ready to listen to me now?"

Duke snapped, "Do I got any choice?"

"Yes, you have a choice." Heath answered, his tone deeper and his eyebrow raised.  "You can listen to me and possibly get to go back to work or we can wait another week and see if your attitude will change."

Duke's grey eyes widened. He bit his lip and blushed. "Yes Sir."

"That's better, young man,” he said knowing Duke was older than he was.  “I am going to release you to light duty," Heath revealed.

Duke grinned. "Thank you...when can I start back to work?" He asked happily.

"James will be talking to you about a schedule with input from me, Duke," the younger man answered.  "But I have a few rules that you will have to agree to first. And yes, I will be telling both James and Jake the conditions."

Duke bit his lip and asked warily, "What kind of rules?"

"First, you will wear the brace.  You can start weaning yourself off the sling.  But if I find out you aren't using it if your arm is hurting I won't be the one dealing with that," Heath explained.  "Do I make myself clear?"

Duke bit his lip. "You'll sic James on me?"

"OH, yes, I most certainly would," Heath chuckled.  "Or maybe Jake."

Duke looked at Heath in horror. "J-Jake? You wouldn't! Umm....I don't want to deal with James either. I'll try not to break that rule."

"Good, then we shouldn't have any problems, right?"

Duke said, "I hope not."

"OK then, you will start out with light duty.  I don't want you doing anything to strain your arm.  It's not healed yet and you could damage it and we would be back to square one." Heath said.

Duke nodded. "All right Heath. What will I be doin'?"

"Like I said before, that's going to be up to James," the doctor answered. “He knows I was thinking about giving you the ok to go back to work."

Duke nodded. "All right. Are there any other rules or conditions I need to know about?"

"Well, you haven't been working for the last three weeks, you have a full force right now, so if you find yourself getting tired the first week or so I want you to call one of your off duty guys, or even Jeff or James to cover for you." Heath raised his hand when Duke started to protest. "Wearing yourself out will not help your arm, Mr. Montgomery."

Duke sighed. "All right, but I doubt I'll get tired. I've been too bored the past three weeks and it will be good to do something worthwhile."

"You probably won't but if you do you know what to do."

Duke nodded. "Yes, call Jeff or James to cover for me. Is there anythin' else?"

“Don't forget I’ll need to see you again next week."

Duke wrinkled his nose. "Can't we just wait the three weeks and then have an appointment?"

"Next week, young man."

Duke sighed. "Yes Sir."

Heath patted his patient on the shoulder, then not wanting Duke to wait another day to find out about his new schedule he decided to call James. "Now how about you call Jake and ask him to come over here and I'll call James and we can get this settled." He said then laughed at the expression on the big man's face.

Duke sighed. "All right. You all want to make sure everyone knows what I'm allowed to do." He pouted.

Heath grinned at the big man. "It's not that we don't trust you but I think the people that matter all need to know your new schedule."

Duke nodded. "All right."

"I could suggest that we also call Jeff." Heath said.

“No, I don’t think we need Jeff too,” Duke shook his head. "You call James and I'll call Jake." Duke pulled out his cell phone and dialed Jake's number.

Jake was dozing when the phone rang, he looked at the caller ID and saw it was Duke. "Duke? Hey Duke, what's up?" He asked groggily.

"Did I wake you? I’m sorry if I did Jake.  Heath wants you and James to meet with us to talk about my returning to work for light duty."

Jake yawned widely, “Sure, just let me get some real clothes on and I'll be right over... where are we meeting?" Jake asked, rolling off of his bed and rummaging through his dresser for clean jeans and a tee shirt. He looked in the mirror and noticed that he hadn't shaved yet, but decided to leave that until later.

"At the infirmary. I had to come for my weekly checkup, remember? You reminded me last night that there would be dire consequences if I didn't show up." He teased, knowing Jake had only told him he expected him to show up or he was going to drag him there himself like the first time.

Jake laughed, remembering the expression on Duke's face when he'd said that. "All right then, I'll be there in just a few minutes." The bartender said before hanging up. Jake changed quickly, slipped into some flip flops and headed out.

While Duke was talking to Jake, Heath called James and asked if he would come over to the infirmary to meet with him, Duke and Jake. James agreed he would be there as soon as he got Jax's lunch ready for him. Heath walked back in the room. "James is on his way," he told Duke.

Duke said, "Jake said he'd be here as soon as he got some real clothes on."

Heath laughed as he said, "Real clothes would be nice."

Duke grinned "Yes, I'd hate to see him in fake ones."

It didn't take long for Jake to arrive at the infirmary. He walked in and greeted the men with a smile.

"So what's up?" He asked curiously.

James arrived, parking his golf cart then entered the infirmary. "Hello everyone." He went up to Heath and kissed him on the cheek. "Jax is all set with his lunch."

"Good," Heath said returning James's kiss. "Let's get comfortable in my office, gentlemen."

Jake followed, curiosity written plain on his face. He sat on the couch that Heath gestured him to and looked on expectantly.

Duke sat on the couch next to Jake and James took a seat near Heath and waited for the doctor to begin the conference.

Jake smiled at Duke and patted the other man's leg in a friendly manner before turning his attention toward Heath.

Duke smiled a bit shyly at Jake as he patted his leg.

"As you know, Duke came in for his weekly exam this morning. His arm is healing nicely and I've released him back to work." Heath explained. "With conditions," he added.

"Conditions?" Jake asked, eyeing Duke, who blushed. "What are the conditions?"

"First, he is released to light duty," the young doctor answered.

"What exactly does light duty entail?" Jake asked, wondering what sorts of things Duke would be able to do, and how he could help the big man follow the rules and he knew that Duke was going to need help. The older man had been chaffing at the bit since he'd hurt his arm and Jake was sure that given even a little rein, Duke would be off and running if someone didn't stop him.

“Duke and I talked and he knows that he cannot do anything to put a strain on his arm. He can wean himself off the sling but he is to use it if his arm starts hurting or aching." Heath said. "Duke needs to use his common sense concerning not using his arm in a stressful manner."

"That means no running after people, no breaking up fights, and no punching out the moose." Jake said, trying to lighten the mood. He could see the storm clouds gathering over the other man's head.

"Exactly," Heath agreed. "The second condition is that to start I am requesting that Duke only works part time for the next two weeks."

"Part time?" Jake asked, "How many hours per week?" Jake saw the look on Duke's face and put a tentative arm around the older man. "You'll have to take it easy Duke. But the Doc is saying only two more weeks, you can hold out that long. You're tough." He smiled.

James had been listening to the conversation and liked that Jake was taking an active interest in Duke and his situation.

Duke frowned. "Part time? Morning or afternoon and yeah, I know, no hittin' any more moose and...well, what am I supposed to do if I come across a fight...let 'em have at it?" He growled in frustration.

James arched an eyebrow. "Call for back up."

"By that time they both could be bloody."

"I heard that Martin and Greg are back, so they'll be able to pick up the slack again." Jake said thoughtfully.

"They stopped in yesterday morning and are ready to get back to work." Heath added.

Duke said, "I can do my own job! I don't need anyone else doin' it for me!"

James said sternly, "Duke...stand down."

Duke glared at James but closed his mouth.

"Duke, your job is to be the head of security, and you are head of security, but right now, at least for the next two weeks, your job is going to be head of security behind a desk. It's called delegating, not slacking." Jake reassured him.

"Maybe I shouldn't release you yet, Duke. Remember our conversation this morning? About your attitude?" Heath questioned the big man.

Duke bit his lip. "Yes Doc and...well…okay, what am I supposed to be able to do now, and what can't I do?"

James looked thoughtful and looked at Heath. "Maybe he can partner up with Ryan and help him out. Ryan can handle any of the rough stuff?"

"That sounds reasonable," Jake chimed in. "I think it would be good for Duke to have company. This way he can get out from behind the desk and still be safe."

"I agree." Heath added.

James nodded. "All right if Coral is all right with it, and I can see no reason why he shouldn't be, then Duke and Ryan can partner up."

Duke frowned. "I don't need a baby sitter."

"No, but from what I hear, Ryan does.” Jake commented. “You'll be doing him a favor as well as James by keeping an eye out for him while you're together."

"Just what I was going to say, Jake." Heath agreed.

"Duke, can you obey these rules as they've been laid out for you?" Jake asked. "Will you keep an eye on Ryan, for his own safety?"

Duke nodded. "All right. I think I can do that, look out for him without him thinkin' he's bein' looked after."

"Precisely." Jake replied, pleased by the big man's acquiescence.

James smiled. "Thank you Duke. I know I'd feel better with you around Ryan for a while to make sure he's staying on the straight and narrow."

"Exactly, and if you do need any help with him Coral will be around too." Heath added.

Duke looked at Heath. "Won't Coral be sleepin' then?"

"We will have to discuss this with Coral but I think we should put you and Ryan on the 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift for now” James said. “That way you and Jake will be working the almost the same hours."

Duke looked at Jake and smiled shyly. "I can call Jake then if we run into any problems."

"Always," Jake replied with a smile.

"Ryan is still running the shooting range so he’s off Saturday, Sunday and Thursday," James said. "But he needs to be over there part of the day so he will be working the night shift."

Duke nodded. “So I wouldn't work those days either?"

James looked at Jake and then said, "No, with Ryan and Coral both off on the weekend we will need you to work. You and Jake will have the same days off so you two can spend more time together."

Jake grinned back, a gleam in his eyes, “I'm looking forward to it." he said.

"With you only working five hours a night you two will have plenty of time together," Heath grinned.

Duke flushed a little. "It would be good. We can get to know each other a bit better."

"So, are we in agreement and Duke you understand what we are asking you to do?" Heath asked.  “And can we trust you to be careful on the weekend?”

“Yes sir, to both questions,” Duke answered. “When do I start?”

“Ryan is off Saturday so I’ll get Coral to start your temporary schedule on Monday,” James decreed.

“Ok, sounds good but what are you going to tell Ryan about me working with him?” Duke asked.

James laughed, “We are going to tell him that we need him to watch you, of course.”

Duke shook his head and laughed, “Which is probably what you had in mine from the beginning.  OK, can I get going now, it’s dinner time and I’m hungry?”

Jake stood up and held out his hand to Duke, “Come on kiddo, we don’t need a hungry Duke loose on the resort.”

“Thanks Heath,” Duke said as Jake pulled him out the door.


Billy loved this time of night.  The moon was high in the cobalt blue sky.  Music whispered across the meadow from the lodge.  He’d miss TLR when he and Stephen said their goodbyes and headed back home.  Out of the corner of his eye he watched a small gray fox step from the woods.  The vixen patiently waited for her four kits to catch up with her then she led them along the path toward the lake.  ‘Probably looking for an easy meal’, Billy thought.  He watched the little family until they vanished into the dark. 

Shifting a little, Billy could still feel a mild sting as he sat on the porch swing.  Once Heath had released Stephen to be up and mobile again after his fall he had done just what he’d promised and made it clear that the only thing Billy was responsible for was climbing the cliffs alone.  The spanking wasn’t the worst one the older man had administered but then it didn’t have to be severe Billy’s guilt had already punished him. 

The swing swayed gently.  The night was too warm to try and sleep in their bedroom.  Billy sipped his ice tea.  Shadows danced from the glow of moon.  He could hear Jake and Duke whisper as they left the bar and walked along the path back to Duke’s bungalow.  He smiled, happy that the big man finally found someone.  As the two men moved out of sight Billy leaned back against his husband’s strong chest.  At this moment in time he didn’t want to be anywhere else.

Stephen draped his arm over his boy’s shoulder.  “I love you, Billy Boy.”

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