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Sunday, October 4, 2015

TLR Chapter 18

James glanced at the clock and frowned slightly, he was concerned about Duke. Heath had said the security guard had been injured and he was going to meet him in the infirmary. That was almost an hour and a half ago. He picked up the phone and called Heath.

Heath stood up and left the room to answer the phone. "Hi, James."

"Hello, Heath, how's Duke? Are you having any problems with him? How badly is he injured? You've been gone quite a long time." James said in one breath, but softly so as not to wake Jaxon.

"Whoa, slow down. He's ok," Heath told his partner. "He has a hairline fracture of his ulna. I splinted it." Heath paused for a minute, then asked, "Do you think you can come over here? Duke is asking about relationships and Jake and I are trying to explain, but..."

James glanced over at the sleeping Jax. "Yes, I can come. I'll leave Jax a note in case he wakes up, and he has the wheelchair nearby if he needs it.

"OK, see you when you get here." Heath said.

Heath hung up the phone and walked back in the room. "That was James checking up on me, Duke. See even though we are both tops we worry about each other."


James hung up the phone, wrote Jax a note, propping it up where he would see it immediately by both the phone and the walkie talkie, then left his house, got in the golf cart he kept there and drove to the infirmary. When he arrived he opened the door and called, "Where is everybody?"

Jake smiled as he gestured Heath to stay seated while he opened the office door to let the older man in.

Duke stiffened at the sound of James’s voice. "You didn't have to come, James...I was behavin'." He grumbled.

"I came to see how you and Heath were doing. I care about you too, Duke," James said gently. "I hear you banged yourself up pretty good. Are you doing all right?"

Duke nodded. "Yes Sir...I am now."

"Good to hear." James smiled and seated himself next to Heath placing his hand on his lover’s knee. "Anyone want to give me an update on my security guard's condition and fill me in on exactly what happened?"

"Well, like I said on the phone, he fractured his ulna and has a bruised hand.”

"How did it happen?"

"Duke, do you want to tell him how it happened?" Heath asked.

The big man bit his lip for a moment, then nodded and told James about how he had chased away the moose and the circumstances.

James shook his head and said deceptively mildly, " weren't prepared. You didn't have your flare gun and...Can you tell me why you didn't use your weapon? All security personnel carry a pistol."

Duke blushed hotly at the deceptively mild reprimand that had a tone of steel he was very familiar with behind it. "I-I...well, no excuse Sir." He said to James.

James nodded. "Duke it's not like you to be unprepared. I believe you need some time off. You've been working too hard and you're tired and making mistakes."

Duke looked at James in shock, but said nothing.

James looked at Heath. "How long do you want him off work, Doc?"

Heath looked at Duke then at James, "Well, Duke and I talked about it and originally I wanted him off a minimum of eight weeks before he can return to full duty," the doctor answered. "But a couple of weeks will probably be enough for the pain to ease off, at which time he might be able to return to light duty, such as paperwork that he can do one handed on the computer. And I would want him staying close to the lodge."

James looked Duke in the eye. "Duke, you will stay off work for two weeks, then and only then will you go back to a light duty work schedule if the doc here says it's all right. You are to stay off work as long as the doc tells you. You will do everything he tells you and you will rest like you're supposed to or you and I shall have a private conversation. Is that very clear Duke Montgomery?"

Duke swallowed and said quietly, "Yes Sir, loud and clear."

"Don't you think you're being a bit hard on him, James?" Jake asked.

James looked at Jake. "Not really, I know how hard headed Duke can be."

"James, we are going to have to relocate that moose before someone gets hurt worse," Heath said.

"Next time Con and Brian come in you might want to ask them to capture and relocate it." Jake suggested.

James nodded. "That sounds like a very good idea. His mother might need to be located and moved as well or he might come back."

"She should be kicking him out soon and he will probably get worse when she does." Heath agreed. He glanced at Duke who seemed to be weaving slightly.

"Duke, how are you feeling? Are the pills kicking in?" the doctor asked.

Duke gave Heath a goofy grin. "I think so."

James, looking at Duke, nodded. "I'd say they were."

"Better get him home," Heath agreed. "We can talk more later."

"That's my cue,” Jake said with a smile. “Come on, my friend. Let's get you home." He said helping the taller man stand. "Lean on me."

Duke grinned and began to sing the song Lean On Me. The other men laughed appreciatively.

Jake got Duke safely to the golf cart and back to his own bungalow in record time. He helped the big man into his bed, took off his slippers and pulled the covers up over him.

He resisted the urge to kiss him on the forehead, turned and began to walk out.

Changing his mind, Jake sat on Duke's couch and pulled the afghan over himself as he laid down. He didn't want to leave Duke alone.


Duke woke the next morning to the smell of food. He was groggy, and confused and positive he was dreaming. Who would be making breakfast for him, since he lived alone?

Duke tried to sit up and winced as he used his bad arm to push himself up. "Ow!" He cried, then bit his lip hoping no one heard. He looked down and wondered at why his arm hurt and then stared at the splint like thing in the bed not quite comprehending what it was or how it had gotten there.

Jake was in the doorway with an eyebrow raised in consternation. "What are you trying to do, make that injury worse?" He demanded, putting the tray aside and going to Duke's bed. He picked up the splint and tried to get it back onto Duke's arm.

Duke said, "No! I didn't realize...ow!" He yelped as Jake tried to get the splint back on.

"Easy, sit still while I get this on. Stop wriggling around so much, Duke."

“ ‘m sorry. It hurts." Duke said, sounding very young.

"I know it hurts, Big D. Just a second more... there, all done."

"Now, let me help you sit the rest of the way up. I have a nice breakfast ready for you, and two more of the pills Heath gave you last night."

Duke sighed in relief. "I don't know how it happened Jake. I didn't take it off honest."

"I know you didn't mean to, you weren't quite with it last night. We'll have to be more careful tonight."

Duke nodded. "'Kay." His grey eyes reflected the pain he was in. "I'll be all right."

Jake made a mental note to call Heath and ask if it would be all right to wrap an ACE bandage around the splint at night. If Duke couldn't unwind the bandage then perhaps he wouldn't be able to take the splint off either.

"Yep, you're gonna be fine,” Jake said, smiling. "Now here, take the pills." He offered the pills in one hand and the glass of cold orange juice in the other.

Duke said, "Somethin' smells good. I’m hungry."

"Bacon and eggs a'la mode." Jake laughed. "Without the a'la mode, but you get the idea."

Duke said, "I’ll just take the ice cream and you can eat the rest." He teased.

"Smart alec,” Jake grinned.

"Now, take the pills, the directions say to take them with food. So drink 'em down."

Duke wrinkled his nose at the pills. He wasn't much of a pill taker, but washed them down.

Jake patted Duke on the shoulder of his good arm and placed the tray down on Duke's lap. "Dig in."

Duke clumsily attempted to eat left handed. The eggs kept sliding off his fork and he became frustrated and finally said in a huff, "Just take this away...I'm finished with it.”

"No, you need to eat." Jake said, sitting down on the edge of the bed and taking the fork. He speared some egg and put it onto a piece of toast, placed a slice of bacon on top and folded it into a sandwich. He placed the impromptu sandwich in Duke's good hand. "Now eat."

Duke said. "Thanks." He chewed on the sandwich.

"After breakfast I'll help you get around, and after you're done with your morning routine I made some coffee, it's in the kitchen."

"I can walk, I just need help washin' up and getting’ my clothes on."

"That's what I'm here for." Jake smiled. "Want me to make you the other half of the sandwich or are you ready to get up and get dressed?”

"I'll take the other half of the sandwich thank you."

Jake made up the sandwich quickly and once again placed it in Duke's good hand. He resisted the urge to feed the other man. "So your majesty, would you like coffee before or after your shower?"

Duke chewed on the rest of his breakfast and once finished said, "If you take this away I can get up and go to the bathroom and get ready for the day."

"Do you need a hand washing or shaving, or can you do it left handed?" Jake asked as he removed the tray and put it on the top of the dresser.

Duke gave Jake a look. "I'll probably cut my throat if I tried to shave left handed. Maybe I'll just grow a beard."

Jake laughed, appreciating the humor. "I used to shave my grandfather when he lived with us, I think I can manage you, if you're willing to trust me with your money maker." He teased.

Duke grinned. "I suppose I'll have to."

Jake accompanied Duke to the bathroom. "Go do what you need to do and call me when you're ready to shave."

Duke nodded and pulled the door closed. After relieving himself he opened the door. "Now I need help washin' up and shavin'."

"Sponge bath or shower?" Jake asked. "Sponge bath might be easier on you, for now." Jake suggested.

"Definitely shower." Duke said decisively.

Jake laughed. "All right. I'll get the water started for you. You'll have to hold onto the handrail with your good hand. Keep your shorts on and I'll help you wash." He said as he gently removed the brace.

Duke asked, "How am I supposed to shower with my shorts on?"

"I just thought you'd be more comfortable with them on. If it doesn't bother you, sure, take them off." Jake started the shower, making sure the water was hot but not too hot, and helped Duke get off his sweat pants, leaving his under shorts.

Duke blushed and then nodded. "Take 'em off. I’m a Marine and we all showered together, well, that’s when we could get to a shower.”

Jake took off the security man’s under shorts and tried to give Duke as much privacy as possible under the circumstances, and helped the taller man into the shower. He wet a washcloth and soaped it up. "Just keep your good arm out to the side and I'll take care of that side first then you can hold your bad arm over your chest."

At 6’6” Duke had to lean down so Jake could wash his hair, rinse it, and then start washing his neck and shoulders where Duke’s good hand couldn’t reach. He worked his way down his back efficiently as Duke stood back up. He took the removable shower head and made sure all the soap was off before turning the water off and wrapping his friend in a bath sheet.

Jake helped Duke out of the shower and back into the bedroom where he picked out a pair of dark blue sweats and a white tee shirt.

Duke took the items from Jake, attempting to put the sweat pants on first, but quickly discovered he couldn't get them up over his hips one handed and frowned. “I can only get one side up, can you get the other?"

Shaking his head fondly, Jake pulled up the pants, then, changing his mind, put the tee shirt back and picked out a chambray snap down shirt. "Easier to get it on your arm once the sleeve is unsnapped,” He explained as he put the splint back on.

Duke nodded. "Good choice."

He gently pulled the right arm up and over the splint and Duke easily slipped into the left. He stood patiently while Jake snapped up the shirt. Then Jake slipped the sling Heath had supplied over the big man’s neck. He gently placed Duke’s arm in the sling just as Heath had done earlier that morning.

"OK, my friend, looking sharp." Jake grinned. "Ready for some coffee?"

Duke smiled. "Wonder if this is what it's like to have a valet."

Jake smiled, but the smile was a little off, “It does feel good to be taken care of now and again, doesn't it?"

Duke nodded. "It does for a bit."


Heath jogged down the path heading back toward home on his morning run when he decided to stop and check on Duke. When he reached Duke's bungalow he knocked on the door.

He was surprised when it was Jake who opened the door and not Duke.

"Heya Doc!" Jake said happily. “You're just in time for coffee. Come on in."

Duke, now dressed said, "Hi Doc.” and sat down so he could get some coffee.

Heath walked in and sat down at the kitchen table with Duke while Jake served them.

Heath recovered his wits and said, "I thought I would check up on our boy but it looks like I didn't need too."

"I was worried about leaving him alone last night, and I knew he'd need some help today, so I slept on the couch last night."

"How did you sleep, Duke?"

“Ok I guess, Doc, I don’t really remember too much,” Duke said, "Jake's been takin' very good care of me."

Jake looked at Duke and Heath with a grin. "My pleasure." He said, taking a sip of his coffee. "Doc, I have a question for you."

"Sure, what's the question?"

"Well, the splint came off during the night. I was wondering if it would be all right to wrap it in an ACE bandage, just during the night, to make sure it doesn't fall off again."

Heath looked at Duke while he answered Jake, "Sure, that's a good idea. I can bring one over later. You didn't hurt it more did you Duke?"

Duke said, "I don't think so. It was really hurtin' earlier, but Jake gave me a couple of those pain pills."

"Good, they will control the pain and you'll get some much needed rest."

Heath stood up and emptied the last of his coffee.

Duke said, "If I have enough coffee I'll be all right. I can make the rounds of the Lodge and other areas around it."

Before Heath could say anything Jake spoke up.

"I thought James told you to stay put for at least two weeks?" Jake said. "Listen, Duke, I need to go home and get some sleep before my shift tonight. If I leave you are you going to do what James said and stay put?"

Duke asked, "Can't I just do the rounds in the lodge and surroundin' area? It's not far."

"Duke, if you want me to get James, I can do that," Heath said.

"I distinctly remember him saying, '...You will stay off work for two weeks and then and only then will you go back to work if the doc here says it's all right...' ,"  Jake said, repeating most of what James had said earlier that morning. He left off the or else. He was sure Duke remembered it very well and didn't need more reminding.

“You don’t have to get James, Doc,” Duke said. “I’ll stay put.”

"Good man and wise choice, Duke," Heath said, adjusting the sling around Duke's shoulder. "Keep your arm elevated with this when you're up and about, and prop it up with pillows when you're sitting or sleeping. Right now I have to get back to Jaxon. Call me if the pain gets too bad and I can give you a shot. See you guys later,” Heath said as he walked out the door.

After Heath left Duke argued, "I know what James said, but there's no harm in just walkin' around the lodge."

"Mr. Montgomery..."Jake began, a fed up glint in his eyes.” can do as you were told. I'd hate to have to call James but I will if I think you're going to do something you know you've been told not to do. Or better yet maybe I’ll just take care of it myself.”

Duke's eyes widened slightly, his mind processing all he'd heard, and Jakes new tone.


Early Monday morning Heath stepped out on the infirmary porch, breathing in the fresh mountain air. He scanned the area before him and saw Stephen and Billy strolling toward him on the path leading from the lake.

“Good morning, gentlemen,” the doctor greeted the men.

“Hi, Heath,” Stephen returned the greeting while Billy waved to Heath.

“I’m happy to see you two. Saves me from hunting you down.”

Stephen looked at Billy with a ‘what did you do now’ look on his face. The younger man just shrugged at his husband.

Heath laughed. “Easy Bill, you’re not in trouble. I just wanted to talk to you about Jaxon.”

“Oh,” Bill sighed dramatically glad he wasn’t in any trouble. Although he didn’t think he had done anything wrong that should have caused him to be. He grinned at Heath, “Sure Doc, what did you need?”

“Well, as you know he dislocated his knee a couple of weeks ago and then hurt it again last Saturday after we all had dinner at the lodge,” Heath started to explain.

“Yeah, poor guy,” Bill said.

“So, I was hoping you could give me some ideas to help rehabilitate his leg. I know he’s not ready for anything to intense but if we can at least get a plan together it’d help,” Heath told the young physical therapist.

“That shouldn’t be a problem, should it, Babe?” Stephen asked his husband.

“Piece of cake,” Billy agreed. “The easiest thing for Jax would be to start him in the hot tub and swimming pool. Very low impact.”

“When should we start that?”

“How bad did he hurt his leg Saturday night?” Stephen asked.

“Luckily, not as bad as it could have been. It’s sore and a bit swollen. He bruised his opposite hip and shoulder,” Heath explained. “I had planned on removing his wrist splint but I think I’ll leave it for a few more days.”

Billy listened intently as the doctor listed Jax’s injuries. “I think you should wait another week or two before he tries anything. Once we get back to the bungalow I can work up an exercise plan for Jax,” Billy replied. Turning to his husband he asked, “Um, if that’s ok with you Stephen?  I’ll need to use the laptop.”

Stephen draped his arm over Billy’s shoulder. “I’m sure we can work something out, Babe,” he agreed and then turned to Heath. “Bill has a problem keeping off the laptop while we are here so I had to ground him from using it. But I’ll lift the restriction so he can help you out, Heath.”

Billy blushed and kissed his husband’s cheek.

“Well, we thank both of you for the help,” Heath chuckled. “I’ll let you go now. I need to head over to the house and check on Jax.”

“Ok, Heath,” Billy said.  “I can probably get the plan back to you tomorrow…”

Stephen cleared his throat raising his eyebrow to the young man.

“Um, well, maybe in a couple of days.” Billy mumbled.

“There’s no rush, Bill, don’t let it get in the way of your vacation. Jax isn’t going to be moving around much for a week or so,” the doctor warned. “I don’t want you getting yourself in any trouble.”

“I won’t, Doc,” Billy grinned.

“Talk to you later, Heath,” Stephen said. “Come on brat let’s go home.”


Duke was becoming extremely bored staying home for almost five days now. He was going to meet Jake for dinner, but that wasn't for a few hours yet. It was only two o'clock. He just had to do something. It seemed like a very long time to just do nothing until it was time for dinner. It was a nice day so with his arm in his sling the security man decided that a walk through the woods shouldn't be any problem. He'd just take the trail near the lodge and stable area and then meet up with Jake for dinner. He took off down a little used path that led past the stables and alongside one of the riding trails.

The twins, Jarrod and Jacob, were teaching Bo the various riding trails, one of which paralleled the walking path Duke was on, but the security man seemed so peaceful and at ease that they didn't disturb him. Besides, they'd been on the riding trails most of the day and were eager to get their dinner. The trail rations they'd brought with them hadn't lasted long and they were all very hungry. They arrived back at the stables and took care of the horses before going to the bunkhouse to shower and change before going to eat.

Duke strolled along the wooded path enjoying the sunshine and the sounds of the woods. As he walked along he caught a glimpse of riders, but paid them no mind as he continued along the path he had chosen and then veered onto another little used one that took him deeper into the woods. He stopped when the same bull moose that was the cause of him being unable to work stepped on to the path.

Duke scowled at the beast. "Trouble maker!" He muttered. "Go on home to your mother!"

The moose snorted, shook it's head and lumbered back into the woods, stopping only to look back over his shoulder as if it were grinning at Duke, who took a step toward it. The moose took one last look at Duke and headed off into the woods.

Duke chuckled as the moose left and he walked further along the path, shaking his head. He came across a small stream and noticed some minor flooding and frowned. He followed the trickle of water, the ground beneath his feet becoming spongier as he traced the source of the flood. A large, heavy branch had fallen into the stream and was blocking it's natural flow.

Duke began to attempt to drag the heavy branch out of the stream one handed and slipped on the spongy ground, falling and getting soaked. Frowning he removed the sling and splint, putting them safely aside on higher dry ground. Now, unfettered by the medical devices, he began using both hands and arms to remove the blockage. Normally Duke would have left the branch for the resort's rangers to deal with but he felt that he could handle the situation himself and it gave him something constructive to do on this beautiful day.

As the security man realized his strength wasn’t up to it’s usual level, he was becoming frustrated. Duke was getting even more wet and dirty as the water and mud churned up with his efforts to dislodge the heavy branch. The cold water began to numb his arms and legs and he wasn't aware of any pain in his arm so he doubled his efforts to remove the branch. He continued to work at trying to haul the branch from across the stream, moving it bit by bit. It wasn't until he felt a sharp pain from his pinky to his elbow that he stopped to take a break. Duke winced and cradled his arm as he sat down on a large fallen tree trunk to rest.


Back at the lodge porch Jake had been waiting for Duke to meet him for dinner. They had been meeting for an early dinner before Jake had to report for work since Duke got hurt. It gave them a few hours to talk. The big man was usually never late when it came to eating. After 30 minutes passed he became worried and set off to look for him. As he came down the steps he saw Adam. "Hey, Adam have you seen Duke?" he asked the young landscaper.

“Yeah, a couple of hours ago I saw him heading toward the stables.” Adam answered. “No, it was closer to two o’clock.”

"Thank you. Maybe he's already in the dining room. I'll have to check there again. Thanks, Adam."

"No problem, Jake,” the young man smiled and saluted.

Jake jogged back up the steps into the lodge. And a quick look around told him Duke wasn't there.

Craig, the maitre d', smiled at Jake. "Hello Jake, can I seat you?"

"Ah, yeah, I'm waiting for Duke. You haven't seen him, have you?"

The man shook his head. The tall security guard was hard to miss. "No, I haven't seen him yet, but I can seat you and escort him to your table when he arrives."

Jake sighed but allowed himself to be seated. He was scanning the room for any sight of his friend, when he saw Shorty, Bo and twins walk in. They saw him looking worried and walked up to him, taking seats across from him.

"What's wrong, Jake?"  Shorty asked.

"I was supposed to meet Duke here and he hasn't shown up yet." Jake admitted, “I don't know where he is."

"We saw him out on one of the paths this afternoon," Bo said. “The twins were showing me some of the lesser used riding trails. We were on our way back when he was walking up one of the side trails."

"Which one?" Jake asked, concerned. Duke may have fallen or been injured in some way and Jake tried not to let his imagination get the best of him.

"Off the horse trail behind the stables," Bo answered.

"Thanks Bo.  Are the twins at the stables? I'd like to check out a horse to get onto those trails. I won't be able to get in there with a golf cart.”

"I can go with you, Jake." Bo volunteered.

"If it's the one I'm thinking of," Shorty said, "getting a horse in there will be hard. Besides Duke probably just lost track of time. I'm sure he's ok and on his way back." Shorty added.

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Jake said trying not to show his worry. “But I’ll just walk out and meet him.” He added getting up from the table. “Thanks Bo for the information and the offer to come with me, but that isn’t necessary. You and Shorty enjoy your dinner.”

Bo smiled at Shorty and nodded. “All right.”

Jake said his good-byes and left the lodge through the kitchen then followed the same route Shorty and Bo did on Bo's first day. When he reached the trail Bo mentioned he started walking faster.


Duke continued to sit on the large fallen tree trunk cradling his arm for a few minutes more, waiting for the sharp pain to subside. He retrieved his splint and put it back on hoping it would help. He also picked up the sling and tried to get it over his head, but was having difficulty getting it straight. Finally he got the sling on and turned to see the stream still blocked and decided to give it one more try.

Duke began to tug once more at the large, heavy branch moving it a bit more with his good hand and arm.

Jake came upon Duke while he was struggling to get the sling on. Then watched him turn back toward the stream.  He saw Duke bend down to tackle the branch again and saw him move it a bit. Jake frowned, walked up silently behind Duke and gave him two sharp swats over his wet jeans.

Duke jumped, straightening and yelped, "Ouch!"  He whirled around and almost fell into the stream. His gray eyes widened when he saw Jake.

"What do you think you're doing, Duke Montgomery!?" He demanded, looking at Duke's bedraggled state.

Duke said, rubbing at his now stinging backside, "I was unblocking this stream. It was flooding."

"You are NOT supposed to be doing this at all! That's Con and Brian's job, not yours!" Jake scolded, referring to the two rangers who worked at the resort.

Duke, continuing to reach behind him and rubbing with his good hand said, "I was only helpin' them out."

"And I can tell you were doing it with both hands. I'm taking you to Heath right now. No arguments."

Duke bit his lip. "'s really not necessary." The security guard protested.

"You are going to Heath. I'll call him now. March!" Jake ordered.

The bartender unclipped his walkie talkie from his belt, switched to Heath's channel and keyed in.

"Heath, it's Jake. I have a patient for you. Can you meet us at the infirmary?"

Duke scowled at Jake as he called Heath. "I said it's not necessary...I'm all right!"

Heath answered almost immediately, concern in his voice. "What happened?"

"I found Duke standing in water, trying to move a large, heavy branch that was damming the stream on the path off Trail 5. I know he wasn't wearing his splint or sling because they're bone dry and he’s soaking wet." He said, giving Duke a look. "I just want you to check him out, make sure he didn't aggravate that fracture."

Duke bit his lip at Jake's observation.

"OK, Bring him in," Heath said. "Do I need to get James?"

Duke's gray eyes widened at Heath's question and he shook his head vigorously at Jake and mouthed, "No!"

At Duke's imploring look, Jake shook his head and replied, "No, that won't be necessary. Duke and I are going to have a talk on the way in."

"I'll have a few things to say to him myself once you get him in here. Is he all right otherwise?"

Duke hearing Jake saying they were going to talk on the way in gave the man a puzzled look.

"Yes, he seems fine.  I'd like to get him into some dry clothes first, if that's ok?"

"If he's not in any immediate danger, sure, get him warm and dry and then bring him in."

"Jake out."

“Now, Mr. Montgomery, you and I have to have a little talk, but that can wait until we get you home and changed. Let me look at that arm. Now!"

Duke swallowed hard. Jake was sounding more and more like James and he reluctantly complied, holding out his arm for Jake.

Jake removed the sling and splint carefully, frowning as he saw the deepening bruising on the hand and arm. He gave Duke a look that made the other man feel as though his stomach had dropped.

"You've bruised it again. We'll get you dry and changed and to Heath so that he can see if you did more damage. Then we'll have a little chat about what the words 'You're not allowed to work' mean."

"I didn't come out here to work, Jake. I was just bored and wanted to go for a walk. Heath said I didn’t have to stay in the bungalow."

"Yes he did say you could move around the grounds if you were careful and not do any strenuous work. Duke, this does count as strenuous work. You're not supposed to be doing anything with this arm other than the exercises Heath showed you. All you had to do was call Con or Brian and they would have come out to deal with this."

Duke couldn't look at Jake. He was beginning to feel a little sick from nervousness. He could see the other man was not happy with what he saw and Duke wasn't certain what was going to happen between the two of them. He was afraid he would lose the friendship he had with Jake as the other man seemed very upset with him. He tried to apologize. "I'm sorry Jake..."

"Not to sound cliché, but if you've made that fracture worse...I told Heath not to call James, but that doesn't mean you're off the hook."

Duke looked at Jake. "I don't understand." He said quietly, his stomach churning now with nervousness, having an inkling of what Jake might be thinking, but hoping it wasn't so.

"You and I can deal with this, or I can have Heath call James and he can deal with it. Your choice." Jake said, arching an eyebrow. "And I think you do understand, more than you want to admit. Let’s get going now. You have to get out of those wet clothes before you catch a chill."

Duke hung his head and walked along with Jake. "Umm...I don't want James involved." He said.

By the time the two men reached Duke's bungalow the air had a chill to it and Duke was shivering.

Jake led Duke toward the shower and helped remove the man's sling, splint and clothing. He ran the shower until the water was warm enough and gestured Duke in. Duke stepped into the warm shower.

While Duke was in the shower, Jake went into the bedroom and picked out clean underthings and clothing, choosing a short sleeved shirt and a ancient looking cardigan. He went back into the bathroom and called, “Do you need help with washing your hair?"

Duke finished showering stepped out and tried to dry off with one hand.


"I asked if you needed help washing your hair. How's the hand?"

Duke said, "No, I got it and my hand is sore."

"Let's get you dressed then." Jake said as he knelt to help Duke get his jeans on. He then helped to gently pull the short sleeved shirt over the bad arm before replacing the splint and sling.

Duke allowed Jake to help him dress without saying anything.

"Let's get going." He continued, helping pull the old cardigan over his good arm and hanging the other half over Duke's shoulder.


Heath was waiting on the porch of the infirmary when the two men arrived.

Duke looked at Heath. "Hi Heath." He said in a subdued manner.

“Hi Duke, I hear you've hurt yourself again. Let's get you inside so we can take a look at it."

"Sorry to pull you away from James and Jax," Jake said.

"Oh, no problem I was still here when you radioed."

Duke said, "It don't hurt all that much Doc."

"That's what you said last time, Duke." Heath replied, trying to keep the disapproval out of his tone. "Let's do another round of x rays."

Duke sighed and glancing at Jake and seeing his expression and Heath's tone of voice although professional held a hint of disapproval as well went along with the doctor, although a bit reluctantly.

"I told you last time that if you didn't do as you were told I'd cast that arm." Heath began.

Duke gave Heath a pleading look. "Please cast. I'll keep the splint on."

"Do you want to tell me how you managed to hurt it this time?" Heath asked.

Duke said, "I was trying to unblock a stream that had a large heavy fallen branch."

"What? Why were you in the woods?"

Duke told Heath, "I got bored. It was a nice day and I wanted to get out of the bungalow so I went for a walk."

"Well, I can understand you being bored," Heath agreed. "But I don't understand you wrestling a tree."

“It wasn’t a tree, Doc,” Duke said trying to defend his choice to clear the stream. “It was a branch.”

"The point is you should not have been trying to move that branch at all." Jake interjected with a disapproving frown.

Duke looked down. "Yes Sir."

Heath looked at the X-ray. "Well it doesn't look like the fracture is worse." the doctor said noting Duke’s response to Jake.

"You were told not only by Heath but by James as well what could happen if you reinjured your arm." Jake reminded Duke. "You were very lucky this time."

"Yes you were, Duke. I should cast you but I'm not going to because I am going to trust that you will leave the splint on," Heath explained.

Duke sighed in relief. "Thank you Heath." The big man sat quietly on the stool while the doctor replaced his splint and sling.

“How many pain pills do you have left, Duke?” the doctor asked.

“I’ve been trying not to use them as much, Doc, so I think I still have a couple,” Duke answered.

Heath unlocked one of the upper cabinets removing a bottle from the shelf.  He counted out six more pain pills, put them in a smaller bottle and gave them to his patient.  “Your arm in going to hurt tonight so I want you to take two of these with your dinner,” he instructed.  “I’m serious, Duke.  You won’t get any Brownie points for suffering through the night.”

“I’ll make sure he takes them, Doc,” Jake said taking the bottle from Duke.  “Right, big D?”

“Yes, sir.”

“If that’s all, Doc, I think I’ll take our friend here over to the lodge and get him some dinner,” Jake said as he helped Duke get the cardigan back on.

“Duke,” Heath said in a tone that brought Duke’s eyes up to his. “We aren’t trying to be difficult with you. But if you don’t follow my instructions you could permanently injure your arm and I’m sure you wouldn’t want that.”

“No sir, I wouldn’t,” Duke softly answered. “I’ll be more careful. I just need to figure out something to do so I won’t get bored.”

“Well, maybe I can help you with that,” the doctor said.

“What did you have in mind, Doc?” Jake asked.

“Well, you both know that Jax fell out of his wheelchair the other night?”

“Yeah,” Duke answered.  “But what’s that got to do with me not getting bore?”

“James and I were wondering if you could stay with him a few hours during the mornings?  You could keep each other company and if you needed one of us all you would have to do is call,” Heath explained.

Duke looked at Jake and then Heath.  “Yeah, I can do that,” the big man answered. “Jax is a great guy and shouldn’t be left all alone.”

“Then it’s all set. How about you come over about nine in the morning and stay with him till noon.”

“I can do that,” Duke agreed knowing full well he was still going to get bored but at least he would have company for a couple of hours.

Jake put his hand on Dukes shoulder. “Ok. Then, let’s go get dinner. Thanks Heath.”

“Yeah, thanks Doc.”

Duke followed Jake out of the infirmary and to the lodge. Just before they entered the building he stopped Jake and said, “I’m sorry I acted like a fool, Jake. I didn’t mean to worry you.”

“We all care about you, Duke,” Jake said. “I don’t want to see you hurt any worse than you are already. I’m sorry I swatted you because I don’t have that right but it was the only thing that I could think of to do to get your attention.”

Duke smiled and rubbed his rear. “Well, it worked but promise me one thing?” Duke asked.

“If I can, I’ll promise,” Jake returned the smile.

“Next time don’t swat me on wet jeans.” Duke chuckled and went to find a table.


  1. Hi, nice story. Just wanted to let you know it's maître d' (short for maître d'hotel, or headwaiter), not matre dee :)

  2. Thanks for catching that. Sorry we didn't answer sooner, I don't get much chance to reread the stories, and only now just came across your comment. I'm glad you like the story, and thanks for the heads up. We appreciate you taking the time to comment, and hope you're still enjoying the story as it unfolds.