Sunday, October 2, 2016
TLR Chapter 89
Dean was restless. He had been at the resort for a full week and this was only the third night he had spent alone. He missed the companionship of Jax and Griff. Finally, even though he wasn’t much of a drinker, he decided a beer would help relax him so he headed over to the lodge for a cold one. He froze as he came into the room not quite believing what he saw at the bar.
Jake and Duke were sitting side by side, laughing and holding hands on top of the bar. Jake took Duke's face in his hands and brought him down for a deep kiss. Dean noticed that Duke blushed a little, but was smiling widely and leaned down to kiss Jake back before he stood up.
Duke hadn't seen his brother and headed back to the security office smiling.
Dean stepped back and waited until Duke got up and left through the side door before he came further into the room. He slowly threaded his way over to the bar.
Jake, his break over, was back behind the bar helping guests when he saw Dean walking over. He smiled widely and greeted him. "Hey there! Nice to see you, Deano. You just missed your brother. C'mon and have a seat. What can I get for you?" he asked jovially.
"Beer, please," Dean mumbled.
Jake knew what kind of beer Dean liked when he did order one and went to get a large, chilled mug, filled it with the brew and brought it back. He looked over at his friend. He knew something was wrong but not what. "Need to talk?" he asked.
Dean looked Jake in the eyes. "Yeah, I guess I do."
“Is something going on with the job repairing the cabins?” the barkeeper asked.
"No, work is coming along great out there,” the younger man answered. "Jax and Griff are a great help."
Jake smiled encouragingly. "Then why don't you tell me what's on your mind. I may not be able to help but I'm a great listener."
Dean rubbed is hand across the light stubble on his face. "I saw you kissing my brother just now."
Jake looked surprised for only a moment and then replied, "Yes. I'm sorry if that upsets you, Dean. I thought that since you knew that this is a resort for gay men that you were more accepting of the lifestyle."
Dean laughed at the look on the bartender’s face. Quickly regaining his composure, he said, "Oh, I'm accepting, Jake. It was just a surprise to see Duke and you," Dean explained. "I didn't know Duke was gay. He never told me."
Jake nodded in understanding. "He wasn't able to admit it, even to himself, until recently," Jake explained. "Is this something you'd like to discuss with him? Or the two of us together? I can call him and ask him to come back."
"I don't want to make him uncomfortable, Jake," Dean said. "But, yeah we do need to talk about it and it'll probably be better if you're there. I've been keeping something from him too." Dean rubbed his face again. "And I'm not sure how he's going to take it when I tell him."
"When do you want to talk?" Jake asked, barely able to contain his curiosity. "Shall I call him back now or would you rather come over for lunch tomorrow?"
"Maybe tomorrow at lunch would be better."
"Alright then, Deano, I'll tell him. We'll expect you over around one?"
"Sounds good but can I ask you something first?"
Jake shrugged, "Sure. What did you want to ask?"
"I know what the resort is and the type of relationship encouraged here." Dean paused then blew out a breath. "You don't seem to be a brat so..."
Jake smiled. It had been difficult for a lot of people to come to grips with the fact that Duke was, in fact, a brat. He reached over the bar and put his hand on Dean's shoulder. "We can talk more at lunch tomorrow, ok? Duke can answer all your questions."
"Spoken like a true Top, Jake," Dean lifted his beer to his lips and drained the mug smiling at the questioning look on the bartender’s face. "I’ll be there at one tomorrow then."
"In the meantime, sit and relax. If you need anything else, just let me know," Jake replied with a smile. "I'll be right back if you need me," he said as he turned away to help another guest.
Dean waited until the man came back to him then shook Jake’s hand. “Thanks, Jake, for the invite. See you and Duke tomorrow at one.” He turned and threaded his way back to the front door.
Jake watched the other man depart, still curious as to what was happening between the brothers.
Dean arrived at Duke's bungalow promptly at one the next day, knocked on the door and waited to be let in.
"Duke, I'm in the middle of making lunch would you get the door please, hon?" Jake called from the kitchen.
Duke said, "Sure.” He knew Dean was coming for lunch so when he opened the door he grinned at his brother. "Come on in baby bro."
"Howdy, big bro," Dean said hugging Duke. "Good to see you."
Duke hugged Dean back lifting him off his feet a bit and grinning as he put him back on the ground. "Come on in. Jake's nearly got lunch ready."
Dean sucked in a breath and croaked as they entered the kitchen, "Howdy Jake."
"It's ready guys, c'mon in!" Jake called. He was just in the middle of placing the giant roast beef sandwiches on the table when the two big men walked into the kitchen.
Duke led Dean to the table and grinned as he took his seat and indicated that Dean should do the same.
Jake placed the condiments on the table along with silverware and then turned back to the fridge to take out several cans of Coke and a pitcher of iced tea. "Dig in guys," he grinned.
"Wow, Jake, you didn't need to go to all this trouble."
Jake laughed, "It was no trouble. You know what Duke's appetite is like. Not to mention that I can put away a couple of these as well."
Duke said, "He likes to do this sort of thing Dean. It's one of the things I love about Jake."
Dean's eyes darted between Duke and Jake. "Yeah, I can see that, Bro."
A blush grew up the big man’s neck and face when he realized what he had revealed.
"So, Deano," Jake began after swallowing the bite he'd taken, "what's on your mind?"
Duke looked curiously at his baby brother and then at Jake. "Is there somethin' goin' on I need to know about?"
Dean chewed on his sandwich a few seconds looking to Jake for help.
Jake cleared his throat and looked at Duke as he gently said, "Dean here walked into the lounge last night, Duke. He saw us at the bar."
Duke looked at Jake a bit puzzled, then a look of consternation came over him and he blushed. "You mean when we were umm...kissin'?" he asked, his blush deepening and not meeting Dean's eyes.
"Hey, Bro, it's cool. I was just surprised at first," Dean said. "But you're still my big bro and I love you."
Duke looked at Dean. "You aren't upset?" he asked quietly. "I know you know about Teardrop Lake and all...but I shoulda told you sooner...about me bein', um… gay, but I just realized it myself not too long ago."
"No, I'm not upset, Duke," Dean assured his brother. "How could I be upset or disappointed in the man who gave up everything to raise me?"
Duke's dove grey eyes grew luminous with unshed tears. "I love you baby bro...and you're right. I just should have told you earlier so it didn't have to come as such a surprise."
“Well, as long as you're confessing secrets," Dean said as he took a drink of his iced tea to wet his dry mouth, "I have something to tell you too."
Jake had an inkling about what Dean was about to say but since he didn't know for sure he kept his mouth closed, and focused his attention politely on Dean.
Duke gave Dean a worried look. "You're not sick...or... addicted to anytin'?" he asked uncertainly, not really wanting to know the answer.
"No, Bro," Dean laughed, "nothin' like that. But that might be easier to confess."
Duke frowned. "You're not in legal trouble...or...” He raised an eyebrow, “got a girl knocked up?"
Jake bit back a laugh. He looked at Dean and said, "I think it's best if you just say it aloud. It makes things easier."
Dean laughed again at the idea that he'd been with a girl. "Duke, it's nothing like that." He looked to Jake again then just blurted it out, "Duke, I'm gay too."
Jake had been expecting the announcement so his surprise wasn't as extreme as Duke's.
Duke's eyebrows shot up. "What?! How long have you known? Why didn't you tell me sooner?" He stood up and pulled Dean into a bone crunching hug.
"I didn't want you to be ashamed of me so I never told you," Dean confessed. "You were my big brother the marine. I couldn't tell you. I couldn't stand losing you."
Duke bit his lip, his exuberance and joy disappeared as quickly as dust in the wind. Tears came and he held Dean tight and cuddled him close. "I never could be ashamed of you, baby bro. I love you...I can understand about the Marine part...it prevented me from acknowledging my own orientation although James and Jeff have known for years. I'm sorry you didn't feel you could come to me."
"I had no idea you were gay. I knew you worked here for James and Jeff but I also know you had girlfriends in the past, so I just never knew."
Duke gave a bitter laugh. "Neither did I until I met Jake here and he helped me to see myself for who I truly am... how did you know baby bro?"
"I always felt different, D, and after you left for the marines I had time to explore that difference."
Duke looked worried before he said, “Maybe it was something I did when you were a kid, bro? Or something I didn’t do? What if I’m the reason you’re gay?”
Dean looked at Jake. He was at a loss for words. How could Duke think such a thing?
"People don't do anything to 'make' someone gay, Duke. It's the way we were made and nothing more than that,” Jake said trying to calm his lover down. “I know there's no scientific research to back me up, but I firmly believe that it's a matter of genetics and nature, not nurture.”
“Duke you know that’s ridiculous. You are not the reason I’m gay,” Dean firmly stated. “I’m gay because, well, because I am. It’s not anything you did. Or Mom did. It’s just who I am.”
“But two brothers in the same family?”
“Duke, I had a friend who came out just out of high school. Her brother tried the "normal" thing. Got married and had kids only to come out a few years ago. We were all pretty sure he was gay the whole time though. And you remember the Martin twins?” Dean asked. “They are both gay and they are boy and girl.”
“Look at Jare and Little Jake. They had a good home life from what I've heard, and they are both gay,” Jake added. “You protected Dean all of his life, Duke. You did the best you could for him. There's no way you can blame yourself for anything."
Duke said quietly, "I'm glad it didn't take you almost a life time to figure it out. I'm just sad we didn't know sooner about us."
"Maybe we were supposed to wait until now to discover that we both have a preference for men, Bro," Dean said. "Maybe before wouldn't have worked for us."
Jake nodded, "Dean's right, Hon, things happen in their own time."
Duke looked at both Jake and Dean and then nodded and said, "I suppose you're right. Things do happen in their own time. I'm glad we both have come to terms with this and that we don't have to have any secrets from each other."
"Me too, D, me too. Although I didn't know you had this secret," Dean chuckled.
Duke smiled. "I'm glad we were able to talk about this, baby bro, and that we live in a place that supports us."
"Yeah, and I guess I'm going to have to tell James and Jeff," the younger man said. "It's going to be hard to keep this from them. James is already suspecting something."
Duke arched an eyebrow. "Yes, you had better tell them, not much gets by them."
"And the sooner the better," Jake added.
"Ok, Ok, I'll tell them after we are done here," Dean laughed.
Duke nodded, then hugged Dean tight. "Don’t be afraid to tell anyone here Dean. Heath will need to know as well and there are others who you've known here for a while now and it would only be right to let them in on your little secret as well."
Jake looked at both men. "Duke maybe you should help him tell James."
Duke nodded, “All right Jake, we might as well let Jeff know too."
"Why don't you call James and see if he can come over and ask him to bring Jeff."
Duke smiled. "All right, I'll do that." He went into the living room and picked up his cell phone and made the call. When he returned from making the call he joked, “We'll soon be descended upon by tops."
"Should Jake be worried, Bro?" Dean chuckled.
Duke grinned and shook his head. "No. He's a top so he'll just join the company."
Dean looked between the two men. "So how does that work with both of you being Tops?" Dean asked fishing for confirmation that his big brother was a brat.
Duke looked at Jake and then said, "Usually it's a top and a brat or two tops and a brat or a top and two brats. There are some folks who pair up two tops... I'm not sure how that works, or two brats... one of my friends is a brat and married a brat," he laughed. "The stories I could tell you about them would leave you in stitches."
"Yes, usually, Dean," Jake said trying to help his brat out. "Duke and I are partners in our relationship but I am the head of this household."
"Someone needs to be in charge. When there are two tops and a brat like James, Heath and Jax the tops make the decisions together with the brat's input. Attending the classes here would help you out baby bro."
"Well, I actually do know about Tops and Brats, Big Bro, being here at TLR has helped with that," Dean said smiling at his brother.
Jake watched as a blush started to crawl up Duke’s face when he realized that his brother did in fact know about brats.
"Duke, listen to me for a second," Dean began. “Nothing has changed between us. You are still the man who raised me. You are still my best friend. That will never change. We just have a bit more in common now. More to share. And I know how strong a brat is. That he controls a lot in a relationship."
Duke looked at Dean and said, "Yeah, it’s nice to have somethin' else in common." He was feeling his world just tilted on its axis.
"How about you two finish your lunch before the others get here?" Jake suggested.
"Yes Sir," Dean chuckled.
All three men made short work of the rest of their lunch. They worked together to clear the table and moved into the living room to wait for the others.
James smiled at Jeff as they walked over to Duke and Jake's place, and asked, "Wonder what Jake and Duke are being so mysterious about?
"No idea. I have so many things going through my head right now, and I'm not sure which of them could be the right answer."
James chuckled. "With Duke you never can tell and with Dean being his brother...it's doubly interesting." He knocked on Jake’s door as they arrived.
Dean heard the knock and looked at his brother, suddenly nervous.
Jake answered the door and let the men in. Smiling he lead them into the living room where Dean and Duke were sitting, drinking coffee.
Duke bit his lip, but put a reassuring arm around Dean's shoulders.
James smiled. "Hello everyone, coffee smells good. Is there any left?" He asked Jake.
Jake grinned and went into the kitchen to retrieve a carafe filled with coffee and two cups. Cream, sugar and spoons were already on the coffee table, as were cookies fresh from the bakery.
"Hi, James, Jeff," Dean said standing up to shake their hands.
Duke also offered his hand to the men and Jeff and James gave the big man's hand a shake. "Coffee has arrived I see and goodies to go with them,” James observed a smile still on his face. “Thanks for the spread Jake."
“You’re welcome, happy to do it. Have a seat everyone, and get comfortable. It's going to be a bumpy ride," Jake quipped.
Dean blushed and sat back down on the couch.
James sat down and studied the two brothers sitting side by side. They looked different in appearance, but were very much alike in their manner. No one who knew them would doubt they were brothers. James asked quietly, "So what's the big mystery?"
The brothers looked at Jake, neither answering James.
"Nothing terrible, I assure you," Jake smiled. He looked at Dean asking him without words if he wanted to deliver the news.
"Well, I guess...um...seeing how this is about me, I better tell you," Dean said standing back up.
"Are you alright, Dean? You're not sick are you?" Jeff asked. He had a feeling he knew what was coming but he didn't want to jump the gun if he was wrong.
"No, I’m ok, not sick or anything," Dean answered. He rubbed his hand across his face. "This is harder than I thought it would be."
Jake smiled and walked over to Dean to put an arm around him. "Gentleman," Jake said, "I'd like to introduce you to the new and improved Dean Montgomery."
At the other men's confused expressions, he continued, "Dean has just informed us that he's gay."
James had his suspicions about Dean. He and Jeff knew about Duke almost from the beginning when he first arrived as a new Marine recruit to their company, but knowing Dean over the years he wasn't certain, so he'd wait to see what was said.
Jeff grinned and looked at Dean. "I'm glad to hear this Dean. What made you decide to finally tell us?"
“I saw Duke and Jake kissing last night," Dean answered. “And it seemed like the right time to tell D. Once I told him and Jake I knew I needed to tell you as well.”
Dean hesitated a second then his head swiveled to stare at Jeff. "What do you mean finally, Jeff?"
“Jeff and I have had our suspicions for some time now,” James answered for Jeff.
Taking a deep breath Dean chuckled, "I've known I was gay since I was a teen but back then I was afraid if I told Duke he would be disappointed in me."
"Why would you think Duke would have been disappointed, Dean?" Jeff asked. “His best friends are gay.”
“Back then he was my big strong protector. He was more a father to me than a brother.” Dean looked at Duke. “He had a girlfriend in high school. Duke left when I was eight. I didn’t know who I was for at least 8 more years. By then, he was my hero, the big Marine. I couldn’t lose him.”
Duke stood and wrapped his brother in a bear hug. “You can never do anything that would cause you to lose me, Baby Bro.”
Jeff cleared his throat to get the brothers attention. "You have the same tells that Duke did," Jeff added. "You're a young, attractive man who has never spoken about girlfriends or going out on dates with a woman. As a matter of fact," Jeff shrugged as he looked for the right words, "you've always seemed more at home here at the resort than anywhere else I've ever seen you. You fit right in with everyone here, and I couldn't help but notice how you looked at some of the guests the times you visited."
Dean laughed. "And here I thought my little secret was well hidden.”
James grinned. "So did Duke, but it's easy to see what you've known all your life. It takes time for the person themselves to figure it out many times, like Duke here.”
“Duke didn't even realize his own orientation until recently thanks to our friendly barkeep Jake here," Jeff added.
"I never knew, but then again the two of you are a lot older and wiser," Duke teased, knowing Jeff and James weren't all that much older than himself. He laughed. “I can thank a Maine Moose who I cracked over the head with my arm to scare it away for that." The large man grinned at Jake.
"I thank that moose every day," Jake said as he dropped a kiss on his brat's head.
Duke laughed. "I just bet you do, Jake."
“I do know Duke's best friends are gay but didn't want him thinking he might have done something wrong raising me,” Dean confirmed. “Which by the way he did ask if he had done just that and I hope I convinced him that being gay is just who I am just like it’s who he is."
"So tell me, Dean, have you met anyone?" Jeff asked.
Jake's eyebrows rose and he half grinned at Jeff. He'd wanted to ask the same question.
Duke looked on curiously. He wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer to that. He didn't want to lose his little brother to another man, but wanted him to be happy like he was with Jake. His feelings over all of this were still rather conflicted and confused.
Dean looked over at his big brother. "I have had a couple of boyfriends in the past but I never found a br...um...anyone to call my own."
"You'll find someone of your own soon, same as we did," Jeff smiled knowingly.
Duke said, "Dean seems to accept being gay," he looked at his brother, “easier than I have.”
James quirked an eyebrow at Jeff. He agreed with Duke. He had had his thoughts about the way Dean conducted himself at the resort and how he pulled his brother in at times when he was about to let his temper get the better of him.
"It's not hard to believe Deano is gay if you think about it, Dove,” Jake said.
"What do you mean, Jake?" Dean asked. "I try to rein in my gayness when I'm here."
Duke frowned at the thought that his brother had felt he needed to hide his true self from him and the others at the resort.
Seeing the frown Dean said, “Bro, I told you it wasn't going to change anything between us."
Duke looked from Jake to Dean and back. He plopped back down on the couch. Cupping his face in his hands he pouted like a true brat.
"So you two are ok that I'm here and that I'm gay,” Dean asked Jeff and James.
Jeff grinned. "Absolutely. Welcome to the club."
James smiled. "Yes, welcome to the club and if you'd like to think about becoming a permanent resident let us know."
“I’ll think about it, James,” Dean said knowing that Teardrop Lake would indeed become his home.