"Mutt!" Heath welcomed with a smile, “Right on time."
Friday, November 6, 2015
TLR Chapter 39
Jeff had to be at work early the next morning so he thought he may as well make breakfast. It was actually Mutt's turn, but with the bandage covering his husband's hand, he didn't want to take any chances. When he called Mutt to come down for breakfast he got a sleepy grunt by way of response.
Jeff placed two Motrin and a glass of juice on the table beside Mutt's plate and called again. "Don't make me break out the ice cubes!" He warned.
Moments later Mutt shuffled into the kitchen, tousled and sleepy eyed, and Jeff couldn't suppress a fond smile as he served up half of a large omelet and several slices of bacon onto Mutt's plate, along with two slices of toast.
Mutt poured himself a cup of coffee, sat down at the table, immediately snatched up a slice of bacon and bit into it, savoring the salty, hickory smoked flavor.
"Eat everything, not just the bacon."
"You put a Western style omelet in front of me and think I'm not going to devour it?" Mutt joked, picking up his fork to cut off a large piece before stuffing it into his mouth.
"Easy there, hon,” Jeff said, concerned. "You don't have to rush today. Jax isn't expecting you for another few hours yet."
Mutt chewed carefully and swallowed before answering.
"I still need to wash up the dishes before I go."
Jeff raised an eyebrow. "And just how are you going to do that one handed? Heath told you to keep the wound dry."
"You can tape a plastic bag over my hand." Mutt suggested.
"I'll take care of the dishes." Jeff said pointedly. "You have an appointment with Heath this morning, remember? And don't forget to take those pills."
"I have lots of time," Mutt replied before popping the Motrin into his mouth and washing them down with the juice. "Besides, I don't want to make you late for work. If I have to I can just rinse the dishes with my right hand," he stressed, "And put them in the dishwasher for later. Heath said I could do that much, remember?"
Jeff frowned slightly but agreed that Heath had said that.
"Just remember, don't use that left hand for anything."
"I promise I'll take it easy." Mutt replied, "Now get going," He commanded with an impish grin.
Jeff leaned down and kissed his husband goodbye, picked up his briefcase and headed out. Mutt couldn't suppress a wide yawn. He finished his breakfast, made short work of the dishes and pan, then looked at the clock with a sigh. He'd gotten perhaps three hours of actual sleep the night before.
While Jeff had been sleeping soundly, Mutt had been up til the early hours working on the table, using fine grain sandpaper to sand out the small gouges and scratches on the table until he was satisfied with the results. It had been difficult using mostly one hand but he'd disassembled the table and had quickly seen what was causing it to wobble. One lock washer and one plain washer set between each screw and bracket, along with a little bit of glue on the screws, tightened things right up, after which he'd applied the first coat of an oak gel stain, being sure to wipe up the excess so that it would be smooth.
That had taken most of the night but he felt it had been worth the lack of sleep. He'd gone into the downstairs bathroom and taken another shower, careful to keep his bandaged hand clear, to get the smells of wood glue and stain off of himself. He'd changed into a fresh pair of sleep pants and tee shirt and put the others in the wash. Satisfied that all hints of what he'd done were gone, he'd slipped back into bed and passed into a deep sleep. He flexed his arm and winced. His whole right arm and hand ached from last night’s efforts, but he felt it had all been worthwhile.
Mutt looked out of the window, to make sure that Jeff was completely out of sight, after which he went behind the shed and assessed the table. He carefully applied another coat of gel stain, quickly wiping the excess to keep it from clumping in the crevasses of the tooled legs. He put the first application of stain on the drawer's surface and inside, being careful of the corners. Satisfied with his efforts, he wiped the sweat off of his face and turned his attentions to the unfinished knight.
He picked it up and began trying to carve but quickly became frustrated as he found holding the small piece firmly was next to impossible with the bandage on.
Making a decision, he carefully unwound the bandage and put it aside, then began to carve once again. He admitted to himself that even without the bandage it was hard to get a firm grip. He tried to put the piece into a vise but found that awkward, so he took it back out and began painstakingly to work on it. The wound hurt and the stitches pulled, but he worked meticulously and smiled triumphantly when he finally finished the piece. He had just put it with the others when the alarm on his phone went off, alerting him that it was time to go see Heath. Cursing silently that he wasn't going to be able to take a shower before he left, he brushed his clothes down as best he could, then carefully wound the bandage back onto his hand and refastened it before leaving and locking the shed.
"Mutt!" Heath welcomed with a smile, “Right on time."
Mutt blushed at the greeting and praise and smiled back. "Good morning, Heath."
"OK, let's have a look." Heath said, holding out his hands. He frowned when he saw the bandage had been tampered with but said nothing at first. It was as he began to unwind the bandage and saw the inside that he turned a frown on the younger man.
"Would you like to explain this?" Heath asked, keeping his voice steady. He thought he was going to yell when Mutt turned a confused look on him.
"There are wood shavings stuck in this." Heath said, pointing them out to Mutt who paled. "Do you want to explain?"
"I just went into the shed to check on the project I was working on yesterday." Mutt replied, blushing.
"And you thought you'd just work on it for a little while." Heath finished for him, giving Mutt a stern look.
Mutt couldn't meet the doctor's gaze and looked down at the half unraveled bandage.
"That's what I thought. Let's see if you've done any damage." Heath continued, unwinding the bandage to look at the wound. His lips compressed and his eyes narrowed. He leveled a look at Mutt before turning to pour sterile water and disinfectant soap into a basin to wash the hand, which was very red and irritated, and also covered in fine wood shavings.
Mutt looked down at his hand and paled again. "Heath..." Mutt began, his thought trailing off as the doctor turned back to him and began to carefully wash the area.
"You're lucky you're not mine,” Heath said, “And you're lucky none of this got into the wound, though how you managed that I don't know."
"I was careful,” Mutt said, a plea in his tone. "Please don't tell Jeff. Please?"
Heath pinned the young man with a look and said, “I'm not going to tell Jeff anything. You are. And I'll know if you don't."
"I'm sorry, Heath. I won't do it again. Please? If Jeff grounds me again... well, Jaxon's birthday is coming up and I have the party all planned... please!"
"You are going to tell Jeff what happened, you'll have to work the rest of it out with him." Heath said grimly, dabbing antiseptic on the wound before beginning to wrap it again in a clean bandage. He was a third of the way done when a thought hit. He went into a drawer and took out a thick plastic form. At first Mutt was worried that Heath was going to hit him with it but it looked too small to do much damage, if that was his intent.
Instead, Heath placed it over Mutt's half covered hand. It covered Mutt's palm and up to the first knuckle of his fingers. Nodding in a satisfied manner he placed the piece against Mutt's palm and began to wind the bandage again. Once he was done he fastened the bandage. "How does that feel?"
Mutt flexed his hand experimentally. "I can barely move it!" He complained. "The only thing I can move is my thumb."
"That's the point." Heath said, raising an eyebrow. "Now, you're due at the house to stay with Jaxon soon. But right now you're going to call Jeff and tell him what happened."
Mutt blushed, embarrassed, “OK, I'll call him from the house." He said, getting up from the table and chafing at the restriction on his hand.
"You'll call him now. I'll give you privacy to talk to him but then I want to have a word when you're done, so don't hang up. Understood?"
"Yes, sir." Mutt replied sadly.
Heath handed Mutt his phone then left the exam room and Mutt dialed Jeff.
"Heath? Is Mutt all right?" Jeff asked, concerned, when he saw the doctor's number appear on his caller ID.
"It's me. Mutt."
"Heya Sweetheart," Came Jeff's loving tones. Mutt's stomach dropped when he realized that that tone was going to be gone in just a few moments.
Hearing the tremor in Mutt's tone, Jeff sat up straight, alert and ready for anything. "What's wrong hon? What happened? Are you alright?"
"Jeff... I... I... I'm with Heath. Well, I mean, he's not in the room right now but he's in the next room waiting to talk to you but I'm at the infirmary..." Mutt rambled.
"Mutt. Matthew!" Jeff said loudly, causing his husband to pause in his rant. "Just tell me what's going on. Calm down, take a breath, and talk to me."
He heard Mutt take a breath and let it out slowly before he told his story. He felt his muscles and face becoming tense the more Mutt spoke.
"Come to my office. Now."
Mutt gulped, took another breath and said, “Heath wanted to talk to you."
"Put him on, and while I'm talking to him, you head over here."
Mutt sighed and called for Heath who was apparently standing right outside the door. Heath came in and took the handset.
"I have to go to his office now, while you talk. Is that alright?" Mutt asked deferentially.
"Go on. I'll see you tomorrow morning." Heath replied. "I'll call James and tell him you're going to be a little late."
Mutt turned to leave, tempted to stand outside the door to hear what Heath said, but he knew that if he didn't show up at Jeff's office immediately that would only mean more trouble for him. "Bye Heath." Mutt said sadly before he left the office.
Jeff was off the phone and waiting for Mutt when he walked into his office. Mutt gulped again when he saw the expression on Jeff's face.
"Jeff, I'm sorry! I just..."
"Stop." Jeff ordered.
"Give me your key to the shed."
Mutt took the keys out of his right hand pocket and fumbled with the large ring. He was able to locate the shed key but wasn't able to take it off the ring, so Jeff stepped forward to remove it for him, then put it into his own pocket.
"This is going to stay with me until your hand is healed." Jeff said sternly.
Mutt knew better than to argue and nodded, looking down at the pattern on the rug beneath his sneakers.
"Do you have anything to say for yourself?" Jeff asked.
"I just wanted to finish the last piece of Jax's birthday present. I knew I wasn't going to be able to finish it if I waited for my hand to heal. It's done though,” Mutt said hopefully, looking up at his husband.
"That's good, because you're grounded..."
"Don't! Please Jeff, don't ground me! You know that Jax's birthday is coming up. We have everything planned. The invitations have gone out and everything! Please don't ground me!"
"Let me rephrase that,” Jeff said, irritated at being interrupted. "You are not allowed to enter the shed for any reason until your hand is healed. You will not work on any more projects until your hand is healed. You will not do anything at all except what you're told until that hand is healed. If, as you said, the project is finished, then you have no reason to go in there anymore until the actual day of the party. Is that understood?"
"Yes, sir." Mutt replied contritely, hoping that that was the worst thing that was going to happen.
"It seems that grounding you is not having any effect, so we're past the grounding stage." Jeff said significantly. "I would like to have been able to deal with this now, but I have to work and you have to get to Jaxon's, so we'll talk about this before dinner tonight."
Mutt's stomach quivered uncomfortably. He was pretty sure what was coming and didn't relish the thought of having to wait all day for the anvil to drop on his head. But Jeff was right. The office wasn't the place to discuss the issue, and he didn't want to have to go sit with Jaxon with a sore backside and red eyes. "Yes, Sir." He replied.
Jeff pulled his husband into his arms and gave him a reassuring hug. "I love you, Matthew Elijah Tailor Markham. With all my heart and soul."
Feeling better, Mutt returned the hug. "I love you Jeffrey Allen Markham, with all my heart and soul."
"Now head off to Jaxon's house. I'll see you tonight." Jeff said, his tone softer than it had been.
Heartened by the exchange, Mutt smiled hesitantly and waved goodbye. He knew that he was going to be very sore tonight, but he also knew that once it was done it would be over and forgiven, and Mutt vowed to himself to never do anything so stupid again. If there was one thing he hated more than anything, it was upsetting Jeff and seeing that look of disappointment on his husband's face, and he would do anything to avoid putting it there again.
Mutt arrived at Jaxon's house and was grateful for the fact that James had already left for the day. He knew that Heath had to have told James what the problem was, and he didn't think he would be able to survive one more disapproving look from one more person today. He put a smile on his face and knocked on the door.
"Come on in, Mutt!" Jaxon called.
Mutt went in and laughed when he saw the pile of board games that was on the coffee table. "What on earth is all this?"
"James wanted to make sure we didn't get bored today, so he went out and bought all of these games for us to play." Jaxon grinned.
"Trouble... Monopoly... Gestures... I'm not sure I'll be able to do much there,” Mutt laughed, showing Jax his bandaged hand.
"What happened?!" Jax asked, surprised at the size of the bandage and worried for his friend.
"I went ten rounds with Duke's bull moose and lost." Mutt joked.
"No, really, out with it." Jaxon said.
"I was working on something and my knife slipped. It's not as bad as it looks. Heath put something under the bandage to keep my hand still, that's why it's so big."
"What were you working on?" Jax asked curiously.
"A totem pole." Mutt replied, thinking quickly.
"A totem pole?" Jax laughed.
"Yeah, the outside of our bungalow is so bare. I thought it needed something so I thought, why not a totem pole?" He said, thinking that a totem pole really wouldn't be a bad idea once his hand was better. He immediately began creating designs in his head.
"Hey! Are you with me?" Jaxon asked, grinning.
Mutt shook himself out of his thoughts and grinned sheepishly. "Yeah, I'm here. Sorry. So what do you want to do first?"
"Actually, I've been wanting to see this movie that Heath has in his collection. He's a horror movie buff and there's a lot of stuff I'm dying to see. And honestly," Jax admitted with a slight blush, "I'd rather watch them during the daytime with a friend."
"Is it too early for popcorn and soda?" Mutt asked slyly.
"When the cats are away the mice will play?" Jax replied.
"Which movie did you want to watch? I'll put it in and then make the popcorn."
"I already popped the movie in. Don't tell James or Heath, but I've been getting up and doing things while they're away.” Jax said conspiratorially.
Mutt grinned and shook his head, “You're as bad as I am."
"Thanks for the compliment." Jax returned. "I'll set up the movie."
"I'll be right back."
Mutt was in a great mood when he left Jaxon's house that evening. They'd had a great time, alternately playing the board games and watching movies. He hadn't thought he would enjoy board games but they'd been a lot of fun with Jax on the other side, even though the other man had wiped up the floor with him in Monopoly.
His mood changed little by little, the closer he got to his house. He'd managed to put his upcoming discussion with Jeff out of his mind while he was at Jaxon's house but the hard reality was coming back. When he got to their front door he seriously considered running into the woods and hiding for a few hours.
Fortunately or not for Mutt, Jeff opened the door and gestured his husband inside. Mutt sidled through the door, keeping his eyes on Jeff in case he decided to start before they even got into the house. Jeff suppressed a smile and followed Mutt inside.
"Corner." Jeff said, clicking his fingers and pointing toward the corner in question.
Mutt wanted to complain but thought better of it. He reluctantly walked across the living room and planted himself in the corner. He could hear Jeff in the kitchen, moving around and soon he smelled coffee brewing. After about five minutes he began to sigh loudly and shuffle his feet.
"Do you have something to say?" Jeff asked from the doorway.
"Well,” Mutt replied, turning slightly to look at his husband, “That depends on what you want to hear."
"Are you being smart with me, Matthew?" Jeff asked, crossing his arms.
"No, Sir. Not intentionally. It's just that you said we'd discuss things and all I've been doing is standing in the corner. It's kind of hard to discuss anything with a wall."
"Now you know how I feel sometimes." Jeff retorted. "Have a seat on the couch."
Mutt did as he was told and Jeff sat next to him. He turned to look at his husband, disappointment clear on his handsome features.
"I can explain." Mutt said earnestly.
"You can explain why you ignored Heath's instructions? You can explain why you continued working on that project after you cut your hand, had it stitched up and bandaged and were told specifically to take things easy and not use it for anything strenuous? You can explain why you took off the bandage and continued to carve despite the fact that you could have torn the stitches, cut yourself again, or exposed yourself to splinters that could have gotten into the wound and caused an infection? You can explain how that old table suddenly looks like new and has a freshly made drawer where there had been none? Yes, I saw the table, it was a little hard to miss, Matthew, being outside the shed and looking like someone spent hours working on it after they'd been told not to. If you think you can explain all of that, then by all means, please, explain." Jeff said, leaning back against the couch and giving Mutt his entire attention.
Blushing, Mutt said, "Ah, can I retract my previous statement?"
"That's what I thought. Have we discussed this to your satisfaction or is there something else you'd like to say?"
"I'm really sorry Jeff. I am. I just thought... if I had to wait for my hand to heal then Jax was going to get an incomplete present, and I want it to be perfect for him. After all he’s been through, he deserves it."
Jeff sighed. "Mutt, as usual, your heart is in the right place. However..." He said meaningfully, “That does not excuse the fact that you disobeyed orders and put yourself at risk. Again."
Mutt was terrified that Jeff was going to forbid him from associating with Jaxon and paled.
Jeff saw the expression on his husband's face and put his hands out, palms down in a settle down motion. "I'm not going to forbid you to be friends with Jaxon. If I never did that with Adam, Torren and the others, then I'm not going to start now."
Mutt released a breath he hadn't been aware that he'd been holding, and waited for Jeff to continue.
"However, I think we're past grounding and writing lines and papers. Extra chores are out of the question for the time being, Heath told me about the insert he put into your bandages so I know you have limited movement as long as it's in..."
"You took my shed key,” Mutt reminded him. "I'm already grounded from going into the shed to do any kind of work for as long as my hand is healing. Don't you think that's enough?" He continued hopefully.
Jeff leveled a look at his husband. "Can you tell me honestly that that will be sufficient? I blame myself, Matthew. I've been letting you slide, I think. It's clear that papers and lines haven't been getting through to you." He stopped speaking and gave Mutt a meaningful look.
Mutt took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He squared his shoulders and forced himself to look his husband in the eyes. "Do you want me to go get the belt?" He asked, his voice quavering.
"I don't think the belt is necessary," Jeff said.
Mutt let out another relieved breath.
"Go get the paddle. No arguments."
Mutt could already feel tears stinging his eyes. He held them back as he walked up to the bedroom closet to retrieve the paddle. It was twelve inches long by three inches wide, stung like the dickens and unfortunately for him, Jeff was a pro at wielding it. He brought it down and handed it to Jeff with military precision.
Jeff nearly smiled but knew it would be inappropriate. "Pants down." He said quietly.
Mutt unfastened his jeans, pushed them and his shorts down to his knees and laid himself over Jeff's lap.
Jeff felt Mutt tense up and rubbed his back a little until the worst of the tension was released.
"Ready?" He asked, biting back a smile when Mutt answered, “No?"
"Do you understand why I'm doing this?"
"Do we need to discuss this any further?"
"No, sir." Mutt said, beginning to tense again.
With that, Jeff raised the paddle and brought it down with a sound thwack. Mutt jumped as the breath whooshed out of his lungs in a gasp of pain. It had been a long while since Jeff had found a reason to spank him, let alone use the paddle. He'd nearly forgotten how much it hurt. He promised himself that this time, he would remember. Boy would he remember!
The paddle thundered down again and again. Before long Mutt was squirming and actively trying to get off of Jeff's lap. Jeff increased the pressure across Mutt's back to keep him in place and continued the paddling. He kept a close eye on what he was doing, determined to keep any bruising down to a minimum and to avoid hitting Mutt too far up and possibly hitting his tailbone, since Mutt was struggling and bucking so vigorously.
He concentrated his efforts on the fullest part of Mutt's backside, and worked his way down to the sit spot and the tops of the tender thighs. He did his best to block out his husband's cries and pleas, which tore at his heart. He knew this was necessary but disliked every minute of it. He reminded himself that this was for Mutt's well-being, and that with luck, Mutt would be more mindful of his actions in the future.
Jeff had made sure not to give Mutt more than fifteen whacks with the paddle, although he was sure that Mutt felt it had been a lot more. When he was done he put the paddle aside and gently rubbed Mutt's back and legs while Mutt sobbed into the couch cushion, crying softly "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"
Jeff gently pulled Mutt's shorts and pants up and pulled his husband into a comfortable position on the couch. He continued to rub Mutt's back and card his fingers through his husband's hair while Mutt cried harder.
Oh! That spanking had hurt, but it felt so good to have Jeff holding him and comforting him. He'd never known comfort after a punishment growing up, and he thought his heart would break with gratitude and love for his husband. He cried unashamedly, his head on Jeff's lap. He felt Jeff move slightly and several tissues materialized. Jeff gave a couple to Mutt while he used others to wipe the sweat and tears from Mutt's face. Mutt took the tissue in his good hand and wiped his nose, his breath hitching and eyes burning.
When Jeff moved to get up, Mutt clutched at the leg of his jeans. "Don't go!"
"I have to make dinner, hon.” Jeff replied softly, once again rubbing Mutt's back as he slid out from underneath. He placed a pillow under Mutt's head and then covered his husband with the throw blanket they kept on their couch. "I'll call you when it's done. In the meantime, just relax."
"Don't leave." Mutt said sleepily.
"I'm not going to leave, sweetheart. I'll just be in the next room. Sleep now." Jeff replied softly.
Mutt was asleep almost instantly. Jeff knelt down and brushed the sweaty hair off of Mutt's face and kissed him tenderly before getting up to go into the kitchen and start dinner.
At eight pm Duke reported for his first shift back since he was released to return to work. He met Coral at the office. The other man smiled. “Remember Duke, you have paperwork duty until ten tonight when Ryan should report for duty. The two of you can patrol, but let him do any heavy work or breaking up of fights or whatever you’re not supposed to do.” The man arched an eyebrow at the older man.
Duke shook his head. “Coral, I’m your superior remember? You were only my back up.” The big man grinned at his colleague teasingly.
Coral grinned back. “It’s good to have you back Duke.” He told the other man.
“Thanks Coral, and I promise I’ll keep a close eye on Ryan and not let him get into any trouble.”
Coral smiled. “Okay Duke, take your shift now and I’ll see you later.”
Duke smiled and got behind the desk and began sorting through some papers and Coral headed for his home.
Coral smiled as he entered the bungalow to find his brat relaxing in the living room playing a video game. “Don’t forget Angel, you need to report at ten tonight and you’re to keep Duke out of trouble. Don’t let him do anything he shouldn’t.” He reminded the younger man.
Ryan smiled, glancing up from his game for a moment. “I won’t forget Coral, I promise.”
Coral tousled his brat’s hair and went to the kitchen. Ryan had left a salad in the refrigerator for him and had cleaned up the kitchen. The older man smiled to see Ryan taking responsibility on his own to clean up things.
In about an hour Ryan put up the game. “I’d better be goin’.” He told Coral.
Coral smiled. “Yes, you should.”
Ryan put on his uniform and Coral inspected him and pronounced him ready to report for duty. He gave the younger man a kiss on his lips and Ryan snuggled into his top for a moment, then with a tight squeeze said, “I gotta go or I’ll be late and Duke don’t like his men reportin’ late any more than you do.” He grinned.
Coral grinned back. “Nope, don’t drive above the speed limit though, understand?”
Ryan wrinkled his nose, but said, “’Kay, I promise but it’s only a cart and can’t speed in it.”
Coral gave Ryan’s shoulder a squeeze and the younger man headed out of their bungalow and hopped into the golf cart they used and drove over to the security office.
Duke looked up as he saw Ryan come in. “Hi there Ryan, the lion let you out of the den?” He teased.
Ryan laughed. “Yep and now you can get out of prison for a while. Come on, let’s get on our patrol.”
Duke grinned and the big man stood and collected his gear and they headed out to the cart.
Ryan said, “I’ll drive ‘cause you’re not supposed to in the brace.”
Duke said, “I can drive with the brace if I want to, but it feels good to be chauffeured all over instead.”
Ryan wrinkled his nose at the older man. “I’m not your slave you know.”
Duke smiled, “No, you’re my friend and friends take care of each other.”
Ryan smiled and nodded. “Yes, they do.” He drove the cart around the usual areas they had to patrol and kept keen eyes out for any trouble.
Having someone to share the shift with made the night go by fast and before they knew it Duke was headed to the lodge for an early breakfast with Jake.
Ryan grinned when he saw Coral waiting for them at the office when Ryan brought Duke back at four the next morning. He had been worrying about spending the next three hours alone. He should have known Coral would take care of him.