Thursday, September 29, 2016
TLR Chapter 87
Jake and Duke had had a great time on their night off playing card games and watching movies until Duke yawned.
"I think it's time we hit the hay, kiddo, what do you think?"
"Sounds good," Duke managed to say, forcing his eyelids to stay up.
They shared one last kiss before Duke went into the bedroom they now shared. Jake waited for him to close the door and then sat in his recliner to think.
They'd shared a lot that night about each other and Duke had elaborated more about his growing up years and Jake's stomach was still knotted with grief after Duke had told him what his childhood had been like. It hurt Jake to know that his boy had been through so much during his early years, and none of it good.
He was suddenly hit with a great idea, but he needed to talk to someone about it first. He dialed James's number, hoping that the man was still awake at this time of night.
James happened to be standing near the house phone when it rang startling him a bit. "Hello, James here," He answered.
Jake glanced at the closed bedroom door and then brought the handset outside where there was less chance of Duke overhearing the conversation. "James, it's Jake, do you have a minute?"
"Yes, of course Jake, what is it?"
"Well, actually, will you be awake for a while longer? There's something I'd like to talk about and I need your advice. Do you mind if I come over?"
James smiled, even though Jake couldn't see him. "Sure, I'm here. I don't think Heath ever sleeps anyway and Jax just headed to bed."
"Thanks James, I'll be there in just a few minutes. Thank you," he said again before hanging up. He checked on Duke who was sound asleep, left him a note that he was going for a walk, then headed for the resort owner’s house.
James put on a pot of coffee and dug around for some cookies waiting for Jake to arrive.
Seeing that all the lights were still on Jake felt more comfortable knocking on the kitchen door. After James invited him in he noticed the coffee and cookies and grinned.
"Brendon's best. Thanks, James," he said taking the seat that James gestured him to.
James smiled. "Always." He sat with a cup of black coffee. He had placed cream and sugar on the table as well in case Jake wanted any. He looked at the other man with a smile. "Well, once you've had some of Brendon's best and some coffee tell me what I can do for you."
"Thanks James," Jake said distractedly pouring a cup of coffee and inhaling the aroma before taking a sip of the black brew. "You've known Duke for a long time now but I'm still learning about him. He told me about his childhood... I was about ready to cry, to be honest," Jake admitted, shaking his head.
James nodded. "Yes, it's pretty sad. I'm just real glad Dean had Duke and that he was a caring brother. I'm also glad they found their grandparents so they could continue to raise Dean while Duke went into the Marines."
"By my way of thinking Duke never had a real childhood. He never experienced the things he had the right to, the happiness he should have had, the carefree childhood that all children should be allowed to have. He grew up faster than he should have," Jake said, not sure he was making any sense and hoping that James would know what he meant.
James nodded. "You're right. He had too much responsibility at too young an age. Just because he was big for his age and could pass for older didn't mean he was any older than his actual age which of course was younger."
Jake managed a smile at James’s words and then frowned in thought again, staring at his coffee as though it were a crystal ball with all the answers inside. He looked back up at James and said, "I want to give him what he missed out on. I know he's an adult but it's never too late to have fun, don't you think? I can't undo his childhood but I can give him better memories to dwell on."
The resort owner looked thoughtful. "It's a good thing Jake. Duke is a little kid in a very large body. I know Coral has been trying to do some of that with Ryan.”
"I'm trying to think of what I can do for him, with him, that will bring out that little kid. I was thinking..." he shook his head again, still not believing that he was thinking what he was thinking... "I want to take him somewhere, away from the resort, just for a week or so. But I know that if I just ask him to ask for time off he'll find a hundred and one reasons why he can't, the first being that he's head of security. He won't be willing to go with me unless... unless I have you in cahoots with me for back up."
James grinned at Jake. "Sure I'd love to be in cahoots with you, and yes, I'm very familiar as is Heath of the million and a half reasons why he thinks he needs to work," James chuckled.
Jake grinned and began to lay out his plan watching James’s face for any indication that he was too far off the mark.
James grinned widely as he listened to Jake then said, "I'll tell him there's a conference I'd like him to attend on safe activities on resorts and part of that is food and drinks and that's why you'll be going as well."
"Sounds like it could work." Jake grinned, glad that James approved of the idea and was willing to go along with the story.
"You can embellish it a bit if you need too, just let me know what you tell him," James told Jake a sparkle in his smoky blue eyes that reflected the mischief that he was capable of.
"When will you want to talk to Duke about the conference?" the two men said at the same time.
"Oh no, James," Jake said, "it has to come from you otherwise he'll say no."
James said, "I’ll do it then as soon as you've made the arrangements."
"Excellent," Jake said happily. "I'll get right on that tomorrow morning. Thank you, James!"
James smiled. "You're welcome Jake, and good luck."
Jake finished up his coffee and snaffled a couple of cookies before saying goodbye and heading back home with a huge grin on his face.
The next morning before Duke woke up Jake looked into their travel plans on his laptop, keeping an eye and ear open for Duke in case he woke up. As soon as the plans were made he called James, once again taking the handset outside so that Duke wouldn't overhear. "It's done," he said in a low voice. "Now all that's left is for you to call Duke and give him the news about the conference."
James chuckled. "When did you make the reservations for?"
"Two weeks from now," Jake said. "We'll be there for a week, more if it's alright with you, but I only made the original reservations for one week."
James nodded. "All right. I'll call in about an hour unless you think it would be better if I came over?"
"I'll make sure he's up in an hour for breakfast. I think a call would be alright. A visit in person might make him think he's in some sort of trouble." Jake laughed.
James grinned. "True. I'll call in about an hour then. By the way Jake if you and Duke want more than a week you can call me and I’ll authorize the rest of the time whatever you need or want."
"I'll get him up in about a half hour so that he'll be awake when you call. Thanks again, James. Talk to you soon."
"You're welcome Jake and yes...in an hour," he teased.
Jake was glad that James couldn't see him blush. He had in fact, been planning to wake Duke sooner, and much more slowly.
James said with a smile in his voice. "Talk to you in about an hour. That should give you two enough time if you make it quick."
Jake burst out laughing and then covered his mouth. He didn't want to startle Duke awake. "You know me too well," he chuckled. "Make that an hour and a half then," he added with an evil grin.
James laughed. "I know myself and my new partners too well. We're all in love and it's the way of things."
"Speaking of love, I'm on a time limit so I'd better get started." Jake laughed. "Talk to you soon, James."
James laughed along with Jake. "All right, talk to you soon."
Jake hung up and went into the bedroom to rouse his partner, slowly and with much pleasure.
Duke stretched and smiled. "Mornin' Jake," he said sleepily.
Jake leaned down and kissed his lover fully awake, his hand wandering down to touch the firm body and tickling over Duke's morning erection. "Do you want breakfast, love?"
Duke grinned. "Uh huh, so longs it's you."
"My pleasure," Jake growled pinning Duke down and kissing his boy again.
Duke returned the kiss in kind and with all the passion he felt for his other half.
An hour and a half passed and the two men were startled by the sound of the phone ringing. Jake mentally head slapped himself and quickly got up, pulling on his jeans and tee shirt once more. "I'll get it," he told Duke, trying to sound nonchalant.
Duke rolled over and began to reach for his sleep pants so he could go shower.
James waited for the phone to be answered, grinning knowingly when Jake or Duke didn't pick up after the first three rings.
When Jake picked up the phone he looked at the caller ID and laughed before he quietly said, "It's been an hour and a half already? Maybe I should have said two."
James laughed and said, "Maybe so, I didn't catch you in the middle did I?"
Jake blushed but grinned. "Nah, I'd just about gotten Duke good and awake by the time the phone rang."
James said, "Well that's good. Do you want me to talk to him now?"
"He's in the shower now, I'll tell him you're on the phone and to hurry up?"
James said, "No, we don't want him slipping on soap or burning himself by hurrying."
"Can I have him call you back when he gets out?" Jake asked a little sheepishly. He hadn't intended for the two of them to take so long.
“Sure, have him call me when he’s through.”
"Thanks James, we’ll eat breakfast then I’ll have him call you. Should he call your cell?"
James said, "Yes, he'd get suspicious if he had to call my home without good reason."
"Alright then, let me get breakfast started. Sorry about the... ah... delay." Jake grinned.
James said with humor in his voice, "Don't worry about it Jake."
"Goodbye for now, James. I'd say I'd go hurry him up but then it would be another couple of hours before we... ah... I mean... he gets out of the shower. I'll have him call you soon."
James laughed at Jake and disconnected the call.
Jake hung up the phone and began to prepare a breakfast fit for a Duke, whistling happily.
Duke stepped out of the shower, his longish sandy hair still damp from toweling, and dressed in jeans and a tee shirt. "Wow...smells and looks good Jake," he said as he sat down to the breakfast table.
"So do you." Jake smiled, leaning down to nibble Duke's neck and kiss his full lips. "Oh, and by the way, James called. It's not an emergency but he'd like you to call him on his cell when we're done eating," he stressed the words when he saw Duke reaching for the phone.
Duke pulled his hand back and said, "'Kay Jake." He began to eat a bit faster than usual for him.
"Slow down honey," Jake admonished, "I don't want you choking. James will be there when you finish. Got me?"
Duke blushed a bit, but slowed down as Jake directed. When he finally finished his breakfast he reached for the phone.
"Put your plate and cup in the sink, hon," Jake reminded him. "I'll wash the dishes.”
Duke gave Jake a sheepish look and took care of his dishes before picking up the phone and calling James.
Duke cleared his throat. “James, it’s Duke. Jake said you wanted to talk to me?”
James said, “Oh yes, thank you Duke for returning my call.”
“You’re welcome James. What did you want to talk to me about?”
James said, “There’s a conference in two weeks I want you and Jake to attend. It has to do with safe activities people can participate in as well as food and drink safety. Charles and Gary have already attended these kind of courses, but Jake hasn’t had the opportunity. The conference is a weeklong and it is just the thing for the two of you. When you come back you both can share what you’ve learned with your colleagues.”
Duke frowned. He didn’t like leaving the resort and asked, “Can you send Coral instead?”
James said in a stern tone, “No, he went last time I wanted to send you to a conference. This time it’s your turn and I won’t stand for any arguments. Understand?”
Duke bit his lip and said quietly, “Yes Sir.” Then he asked, “Where’s this conference?”
James said, “Down south, just past Georgia.”
Duke frowned. “It’ll take a couple of days to get there and back.”
James said, “You can both fly down.”
Duke turned a bit pale. “Fly?”
James said, “Yes, it’s the quickest way there and back and then you don’t have to miss as much work.”
Duke said quietly, “All right James. Does Jake know?”
James said, “I mentioned it the other day to him and he sounded excited to go. If he has any questions he can call me. The two of you should enjoy this conference very much.”
Duke sighed. “Yes James, and I suppose we will.”
James said with a smile in his voice, “That’s my brave soldier.”
Duke then rolled his eyes and smiled, “Yes Sir.”
The resort owner said, “All right Duke, you and Jake make sure you get ready for the conference. You have two weeks to prepare. I’ll drop by the airline tickets closer to the day the two of you need to leave. Have fun.”
Duke nodded, even though James couldn’t see him. “Thank you James and I’ll be sure to tell Jake.”
James said, “Good. If he has any questions he can call me.”
Duke replied, “Yes Sir, I’ll tell him. Good-bye James.”
James said, “Good-bye Duke.”
Duke disconnected the call and sat at the table contemplating all he had heard from James and gave a huge sigh. He’d have to figure out how to convince Jake to drive instead of flying to their destination.
Duke put down the phone and sought out Jake. "Jake?" he called.
Jake came out of the bathroom, toweling his hair dry and dressed in clean clothes. "Here I am, Hon. What's up?"
Duke smiled and then had a worried look in his grey eyes. "James wants us to attend this conference in two weeks. It's a week long. He said it's down south and we'll need to fly...can't we just drive?" he asked.
Jake walked over to his partner and put his arms around him. "Haven't you ever been on a plane, Duke?" he asked kindly.
Duke nodded his head. "I used to fly on transports in the service. That was enough for me. I don’t fly. Usually the conferences aren't far away that goin' on an airplane is necessary. I just usually drive."
"It'll take 24 hours to drive down there, hon. And we can't do it in one go so we'd actually need two days to get down there and two more to get back. Flying will save a lot of time."
Wrinkling his nose, he added, "Not only that, but we don't know where we'll be when we get tired enough to stop, and some of those motels are not the cleanest. We'd have to take what we can get, which might be pretty nasty."
Duke bit his lip. "I'm pretty sure we could find some place clean and nice wouldn't we? Maybe we wouldn’t even have to bother if we took turns drivin’ and one slept while the other one drove."
Jake shook his head at Duke’s proposal and smiled lovingly. "Are you afraid of flying, hon?" he asked as he pulled Duke into a hug.
Duke bit his lip again. "I've been on transport planes and they were pretty bad sometimes, but never a commercial flight. They sound pretty scary. Planes crash out of the sky."
Jake didn't know the exact statistics regarding plane crashes but he'd seen some pretty messy multiple car pileups during rush hour traffic. He couldn't bring himself to point that out to Duke, who seemed to him to be already nervous.
Jake clicked his fingers and grinned. "Hon, I have a friend who works at the airport, as a matter of fact he's one of the security guards. If I can contact him and ask him to give us a run through so that you can see what we'd be doing and what the inside of a commercial plane looks like, maybe you won't be so concerned."
Duke looked at Jake. "You'd do that? I've never flown commercially and I've heard all kind of horror stories about goin' through security and stuff."
"Let me see if I can get hold of him. In the meantime, you just sit back on the couch and relax. Put your feet up. Watch a movie. I'll keep you updated on whatever he says. ok?"
Duke nodded. "Alright. Thanks."
After Duke had taken a cup of coffee into the living room and settled down in front of the TV Jake called his friend Luis, who was more than happy to help out. "Just let me know when you want to bring him in and we'll go from there."
"Are you working on Wednesday or Thursday?" Jake asked. "Those are our days off."
"Yeah, I'm working both days. You guys just come on in this week and I'll give you the grand tour, alright?" Luis said happy to help out a friend.
"Thanks Luis, I really appreciate your help, and so will my partner. What time would you want us there?"
"It's kind of busy mid-day, so maybe in the morning?" Luis suggested.
"Sounds good. I'll see you two at eight then on... Wednesday?"
"Wednesday it is then. Thanks again, Luis."
"Anything for a friend. See you then. Gotta go now."
"Bye," Jake replied before hanging up.
Duke looked over at Jake, noticing he was no longer on the phone. "So what did your friend say?"
"It's all set for Wednesday, hon. We'll have to head out early but he's going to give us a dry run."
Duke nodded. "All right. That'll be good."
"So, we have the rest of the morning to relax. What would you like to do?" Jake asked.
Duke smiled. "We can go hikin'."
Jake grinned. "Great idea! You pack up our gear and I'll get the water and food ready then we can head out. Just remember," Jake said giving Duke a look, "don't overload your pack like you did last time. You're a big strong guy but there's no sense hurting your back again. Got me?"
Duke blushed a bit and nodded. "Yes Sir, got you.”
Jake pulled Duke down to give him a kiss and then turned him toward their room with a mild swat to his backside. "Now get moving, buster," he said with a mock growl.
Duke jumped a little at the swat but grinned at Jake and went into their room to gather the things they would need, putting water bottles in their packs last.
Once they were ready the two men walked up a path and into a wooded area where they would find one of the hiking trails.
About mid-morning Duke tried to hide a yawn. It wasn’t usual for them to be up so early on a work day, but with all they needed to do in regard to the conference and wanting to hike they took advantage of it.
Jake, seeing his boy hide a yawn suggested, “Perhaps we should look for a nice area to rest. We can have something to eat. It must be almost lunch time. After that we’ll need to head back. We can get in a few hours sleep before we have to report for our shifts tonight.”
Duke grinned. “That sounds wonderful Jake.” As they hiked they soon came upon a small meadow and stopped. They emptied their packs which had included a blanket for them to sit on as well as food and drink. When each man had his fill Duke yawned again.
Jake looked at his partner and said, “Let’s lie down here for a little while and then we can go back.”
Duke was full and quite content and so he agreed.
They had slept for about an hour when Jake awoke and woke his lover with a light kiss.
Duke’s grey eyes flickered open and he said, “Is it time to go back already?”
Jake nodded. “Yes, my little dove, let’s get going.” He stood and tugged at Duke until the larger man rose to his feet as well. They made short work of cleaning up and stowing the trash in their packs. Then they headed back to their bungalow