The first night out Jaxon had made a dry camp; no campfire just cold food. The next morning he had carried the small boat overland and portaged between some of small streams before he found this lake. The canoe had started leaking about an hour ago and swamped soon after that. Lucky for him he managed to hold on to his waterproof pack. He had carefully packed extra clothes, water, food, fishing line and hooks, and, most importantly, matches.
He could see the canoe floating low in the water with just the top of the gunwales showing as it followed the current away from shore. No use worrying about it now, he couldn’t fix the leak even if he could get it to shore and if it sunk or beached somewhere on the other side of the lake, no one would be able to find him.
Jaxon wasn’t happy to cause his Mom the pain of losing her son, but he just couldn’t stay in that house or that town another day. While he gathered dry twigs to start a small fire he wondered how she was doing. Shaking his head, he knew her life would be easier without him in the house. And his life would be better the further away he got from the hell his life had become since he had to return to his mother’s house after his dad’s death. His dad had loved and understood that Jaxon was gay. He supported his son. Father and son had spent most of their time living together in California while the older man worked for the forest service. When his dad died he was sent back to live with his mother. But the people in his new community were bigots and hypocrites, his step-father the worst of them. Yes, leaving was the perfect choice for him.
"Hey, James," Heath said smiling up at the older man.
"Heath you work too hard," James accused good-naturedly.
Heath nodded. Yes, he did, but so did James. That's what made the Teardrop Lake Resort the best of its kind. He said as much to James.
"Yes, but you need to get outside a little, too," James said. "Why don't you go check the grounds, its dark now and no boats should be out."
Closing down his laptop, Heath agreed. "I'll go do the grounds check and get a bit of exercise while I'm at it."
Heath and James made small talk as they walked toward the rear entrance of the resort. Heath respected all that James had done for the resort and for the community.
"I'll see you at breakfast," James said as Heath went outside.
The night air held a bite of frost in it. Winter wasn't so far gone that there wasn't a nip in the air and at a time when most resorts have empty rooms, the Teardrop Lake Resort stayed busy with couples who come to attend classes and fellowship with other couples in the same kind of relationship. Heath came here years ago and James had asked him to stay as their full time doctor.
Heath walked down to the docks and saw all the boats were in their slips and secured. Deciding to get that exercise he'd told James about, Heath started to walk along one of the many trails.
He inhaled deeply, enjoying the scent of the woods. Suddenly, he stopped. There was smoke in the air too. No one was out camping this night, Heath was sure of it. Anyone out would not be from the resort, but a trespasser.
Slowly, and as quietly as he could, Heath stepped off the trail he'd been on. He didn't want to come up against some hunters or anyone up to no good. Walking toward where the scent was strongest, Heath was almost upon the small camp before he knew it. This camp was made to be hidden, the fire banked to keep the light down, and it was made to be taken down quickly. Quietly walking around the camp, Heath stopped right before he stepped on the sleeping man.
The man was sleeping on a bed of leaves and pine needles. Heath couldn't tell how tall the man was, but he looked exhausted. Squatting down, Heath laid his hand on the man's shoulder and gently shook him awake.
"Sir. Sir, I'm sorry, but you are on private property," Heath said as the man's eyes opened. Brown eyes, that Heath felt he could drown in.
James picked up his walkie talkie handset so he could communicate with Heath as needed, plucked the keys for the ATV off the board where the recreational vehicle keys hung and headed out to the garage. He quickly hitched the trailer to the ATV and was bouncing along the south trail of the resort toward the lake. He keyed the mic, “Heath…where about are you? I’m almost to the lake now.” He heard Heath respond that they were quite close to the lake in a copse of trees.