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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

TLR Chapter 28

 Shorty whistled as he walked into the stables. His morning work load had been light and now he was looking forward to a quiet lunch with Bo and the twins. He ducked his 6’2” frame out of habit as he entered the shorter side door. He’d bumped his head more than a few times before habit took hold. Shorty fully expected to see Jacob or Jarrod but neither twin was in sight. It was clear that they had been here as a pitchfork was dangerously tossed on the floor of the stall in front of him with its tines waiting to injure anyone not paying attention. Shorty picked up the fork and leaned it against the wall. He headed to the bunkhouse to have a word with the boys.

As he walked in the door he heard drawers being slammed and someone cursing under his breath. He followed the sounds to find Jacob in his room. His shirt sleeve was torn and bloody. "Damned slacker," Jacob growled, tossing aside another shirt and slamming another drawer. "Jerk!"

Jacob heard a sound behind him and he turned with an angry expression on his face, until he realized it was Shorty behind him. Suddenly he went very pale and as still as stone.

"What happened to you, Jacob?” Shorty demanded as he gently pushed the boy down to sit on his bed before he passed out. “And where is your brother?"

"Um, I um, I tripped. Fell against that raw outer corner of Rummy's stall and scraped my arm." Jacob finally said. "I was just looking for another shirt."

Shorty watched Jacob carefully as he answered. Something didn't sound right with the explanation. "Let me look at your arm. And while I'm doing that maybe you can answer the other question."

"Other question? What was that? Ow! My arm is fine, Shorty, really. I just scraped it. I'll be fine in no time."

"I asked you where your brother was, Jacob." Shorty repeated. "And your arm isn't fine, little boy. You did more than just scrape it; I can see splinters in there. Did you show your arm to Bo?"

“No, he’s out on a morning trail ride with some of the guests.” Jacob answered. He tried to pull away but got a light slap to the thigh for his troubles.

"Sit there and try to come up with an answer to my question while I get the First Aid Kit." the veterinarian said.

Jacob sat quietly and squirmed inwardly, trying to figure out what he was going to say. Shorty wasn't one to put up with lying, as he and his brother had both found out early on. He thought wildly of what he could say that would be close enough to the truth to keep the two of them out of trouble and looked up guiltily as Shorty came back into the room with the first aid kit. He swallowed a hard lump when he saw the look on Shorty's face.

From the expression on Jacob's face Shorty knew he had somehow let Jarrod talk him into another bad idea. "Jacob," Shorty quietly said. "Have you given any thought to my question?"

When the boy didn't answer Shorty knelt down and carefully cleaned the wound before pulling a couple of splinters out. He was giving Jacob time to think as he dabbed the antiseptic cream on and then bandaged the arm. "There, all done but after lunch I want you to go see Heath just to make sure I got all the splinters out."

"Thank you." Jacob said quietly, doing his best to avoid looking directly at Shorty. "Um, Jarrod isn't here. He, um, went out, um, a little while ago. He, um, said he had something to do." Jacob said evasively.

"Did he tell you what he needed to do?" Shorty asked as he stood back up. "Or say when he would be back?"

Jacob took a breath, stalling for time he tugged at the bandage on his arm. "This feels a little tight, Shorty, mind if I loosen it a bit?"

"Here let me check it," Shorty replied. He chuckled to himself knowing that his own irritation with Jarrod had caused him to wrap the bandage too tight. Loosening the wrap he asked, "Is that better?"

"Yeah, thanks. I, um, well, if lunch is going to be ready soon I need to take a shower or something, so, um," Jacob shrugged, “I'll go get washed up."

"Jacob, I just wrapped your arm. You are not going to get in the shower. But I'll tell you what is going to happen,” Shorty said as he pulled the boy to him smacking his butt hard enough for Jacob to know he meant business, “if you don't tell me where Jarrod is you'll find yourself across my lap."

Jacob swallowed again. It had always been him and his brother against the world and they had never given each other up, even to their parents. But was he willing to get his backside heated up to protect his lazy brother? The answer was, yes. He couldn't give Jarrod up, no matter what happened.

"He's, um, he's out. He'll be back soon, I'm sure." Jacob found himself praying that Jarrod would walk in right then. He glanced at the door, then back at Shorty pleadingly.

Shorty watched the emotions in Jacob's face. He knew it wasn't fair to ask Jacob to betray Jarrod but it also wasn't fair for Jarrod to put his brother in this position. "Let's have lunch, little boy, and if Jarrod isn't back by the time we're finished I'll call James and let him know we have a missing twin." He walked out of the room knowing Jacob would follow.

Jacob took a breath and let it out slowly. He knew that Shorty could very well have carried out his threat, but he also knew that Shorty was a fair man and wouldn't ever punish him for something that Jarrod had done.

He rubbed at the spot that Shorty had already swatted and felt the lingering sting. He was very grateful that the bigger man hadn't done worse. He wiped the nervous sweat off of his forehead and followed Shorty down to the kitchen.

"Grab the bread and I'll get the lunch meat out," Shorty instructed. In a long practiced dance, Shorty quickly got the meat, cheese, lettuce and drinks from the fridge while Jacob got the bread, plates and glasses out and onto the table. "Set a place for Jarrod and Bo, too."

"Yes sir." Jacob replied, glad that Shorty wasn't asking him questions anymore. He set four place settings then went to the drawer where they kept the napkins. He took a stack and put them on the table next to the mustard and mayonnaise. He looked to Shorty for further instructions.

"Thank you, Jake," Shorty said then pointing to a chair, "Come on, let's eat."

Jacob sat down but didn't move to make a sandwich, his appetite gone.

Shorty simply nodded toward his plate and said, "Eat."

Jacob knew it was better to do as he was told, so he made his usual salami and cheese with mustard and took a reluctant bite. He chewed slowly, his eyes glancing from the door to the clock and back to the door while they ate.

Shorty didn't say anything as he watched Jacob. He hoped Jarrod would show up before Jacob fretted himself in to being sick. When Jarrod did get back they were going to have a very long talk. Finishing his lunch well before Jacob had, Shorty stepped into the laundry room to drop a load of clothes into the washer.

Jacob was having a hard time swallowing his sandwich, but he knew that Shorty would insist he finish what he took, and would be upset if he found the half eaten sandwich in the trash.

Just then Jarrod came through the door, a wide smile on his face, a fishing pole in one hand and a wicker basket in the other. "Check this out little brother! I got us a whole mess of fish! We can have a fry tonight! Or maybe we can grill 'em. I could go for that. How about you?"

Jarrod finally realized that Jacob wasn't moving. He saw the two unused place settings and the one used plate. He looked at his brother inquiringly and noticed the wide brown eyes, so much like his own, glancing between him and something behind him. He slowly turned and saw a large, angry Shorty behind him. He tried to gulp and speak at the same time and ended up having a coughing fit.

Shorty waited for Jarrod to stop coughing. "Drop the fish in the sink then get over there and plant your butt in that chair, Jarrod." He turned to Jacob, "Finish your lunch."

"Yes sir," Both boys replied. Jarrod placed his fishing pole near the door, put the basket of fish in the sink and sat without another word. He looked up at Shorty, not sure what the man would do or say next. He was relieved when all Shorty did was turn toward the basket of fish. The older twin had already cleaned them so he wrapped them deftly and put them in the refrigerator so that they wouldn't go bad.

Jarrod turned his attentions to the food on the table. It smelled good and he was very hungry. He reached for some bread and began to make himself a sandwich, taking bits of the meat and cheese and gulps of soda as he made it.

He looked questioningly at his little brother who shook his head slightly. They both glanced over at Shorty and continued their silent conversation.

Picking up on the communication between the boys Shorty all but growled. "No, Jacob didn't tell me where you were, Jarrod. He's a loyal brother even if you used his loyalty to get your way again."

Jarrod smiled a charming, engaging, infectious smile. "Aw Shorty, he knows I love him like the brother I never had." He joked. "I'd never throw him under the bus any more than he would me." He looked back at Jacob and shined his smile on him. "One for all..."

Jacob grinned shyly back and leaned forward to give his big brother a hug. "And all for one."

"You might think this is funny, Jarrod, but leaving your brother to do your work so you could go enjoy yourself fishing is not funny or acceptable. What do you think James or Jeff will say about you leaving the job to go fishing?"

"They'd ask me how the fish were biting." Jarrod joked.

"Maybe I should call him and see if that would be his response."

"You don't have to call James, Shorty." Jarrod said, smiling the smile that had so often gotten not only him but his brother out of trouble with their parents.

"No, I don't have to call him because I can handle this myself," Shorty assured Jarrod. "Jacob, why don't you go over to the infirmary and let Heath look at your arm? You might need a tetanus booster."

For the first time Jarrod noticed that his brother's arm was bandaged. "What happened to your arm, bro?" he asked concern finally showing in his voice.

"I just slipped and fell, I'm all right." Jacob said, self-consciously hiding his injured arm under the table.

"Let me see it." Jarrod demanded, putting a hand out.

"No, really, it was just a splinter. I, um," he faltered seeing the expression on Shorty's face and understanding what the older man hadn't said, “I'll just go see Heath now, shall I?"

"Jake..." Jarrod said, a plaintive note in his voice, "I'm sorry, man..."

"It's ok, Jare. I'll be ok. I'll be back, um, in a little while." Jacob said, getting up with another glance at Shorty and looking away quickly as he saw the determination on the older man's face and knew what was in store for his brother.

"Go on Jacob,” Shorty said. "We'll be ok."

"Yes, sir." Jacob replied, turning quickly to get out of the bunkhouse as quickly as he could. He didn't want to hear what he knew was coming next. No matter what his brother had ever done, Jacob had always hated to hear his big brother cry.

Shorty pulled out one of the chairs, turning it away from the table. "I thought the last time we addressed the problem of you taking advantage of Jacob you promised me it was going to be the last time." He said watching the guilt spreading across Jarrod's face. "But I guess you weren’t as serious as I am about this." Shorty held his hand out to the young man who was like a son to him.

Jarrod flushed with guilt and looked down at the floor. He knew he had it coming and he knew he deserved it. He had to admit to himself that he did have a tendency to take advantage of his quiet, little brother's loyalty.  He held out a hand to Shorty and allowed himself to be drawn closer to the big man. "I'm sorry, Shorty." He said quietly.

"I'm not the one that needs to hear that, Jarrod," the big man explained. He reached out and opened the front of the jeans hanging loose on the young man’s hips then pulled just the jeans down and guided him over his lap.

Jarrod gripped the legs of the chair and waited for Shorty to begin. His heart was pounding and his breathing was already shallow. His shoulders and back tensed, dreading the first of many hard smacks he knew the grizzled veterinarian would deliver.

Shorty felt the tension under his hand. He smiled hoping that maybe this time Jarrod would understand what he did. He hoped that maybe he wouldn't need to repeat this lesson even if he knew the spanking would only delay Jarrod's thoughtlessness not eliminate it. Shorty raised his large hand and smacked both cheeks across his lap.

Jarrod nearly levitated at the sharpness and sting.  He never wanted to feel that hand on his bare rump. His hand automatically went back to cover his backside. He fought down a cry. Shorty gently pushed the hand down and away and continued what he'd been doing.

Jarrod was crying quietly when Shorty heard a boot scrape behind him. He looked over his shoulder and saw that Bo had come into the kitchen. Without missing a beat, he turned his attention back to Jarrod. "I'll explain in a minute, if you have any questions, Bo." He said conversationally.

Bo stood still, uncertain as to what to do.  Shorty had made him reread the contract and had explained the DP aspect of the resort, but being so new he'd never seen it in action. He realized that if it had been him he wouldn't want an audience, so he quietly turned to go upstairs to wash and change, hoping that by the time he got back it would be over. He winced as he heard the cries that were coming from Jarrod.

He showered and changed and then went back toward the kitchen. He listened closely before walking back in. He could hear Jarrod sobbing quietly and Shorty murmuring words of reassurance. He looked in through the door and saw Shorty holding the young man, and rubbing his back. Jarrod was holding on to Shorty as though his life depended on it.

Shorty held onto Jarrod until the younger man's crying had more or less stopped. "Normally I'd send you upstairs to take a nap, but I think you've had enough leisure time today, don't you?" He asked gently.

"Yes sir." Jarrod replied. He turned teary eyes up to look at Shorty and said, "I'm really sorry, Shorty. I'll apologize to Jake when he gets back."

"Atta boy," Shorty replied, giving Jarrod another reassuring hug, “Now, you get into that stable and take over where Jacob left off. I'll be in in a few minutes to sand that rough spot on Rummy's stall, just be careful in the meantime."

"Yes sir." Jarrod said once again before turning to leave. He smiled bashfully at Bo before heading toward the stable.

Bo wasn't sure if he had the right to ask so he sat down at the table and began to make a sandwich, thinking about what he'd seen and avoiding looking directly at Shorty.

Shorty cleared the used plates and washed them, allowing Bo time to process what he'd seen. When he finished he turned toward the stable master and asked, “Do you have any questions, Bo? Anything you'd like to discuss?"

Bo swallowed the mouthful of sandwich and took a drink before looking up at Shorty. "I don't know. My mind is kind of whirling right now. Am I allowed to ask what happened?"

"Yes, you can ask." Shorty replied, leaning casually against the counter. "Jarrod has a bad habit of taking advantage of Jacob's quiet nature and loyalty, and takes off to go fishing or swimming when he's supposed to be working. He did it again today. Granted we'll have a great fish dinner tonight, but that doesn't excuse what he did."

"If he does that so often, why... I mean..."

"Why doesn't James fire him?" Shorty smiled understandingly.

"Well, yeah. I guess." Bo replied.

"Jacob and Jarrod are a package deal, so to speak. They're very close and the best of friends. If we lost one then we'd lose both, and despite Jarrod's penchant for slacking on occasion, he's a good worker, they both are. They're loyal to James and the resort, and they're usually dependable, that is until Jarrod gets one of his great ideas and convinces Jacob to go along with it. Jarrod is ten minutes older than Jake, and has the more outgoing personality. He sometimes makes rash decisions, like he did today, but he's a good boy. They both are. They're like sons to me." He said fondly. "They just need a little correction now and again, as you saw."

Bo was silent for a minute, taking in what he'd heard. He wondered if he would fall into the category of 'son' once he'd been at the resort long enough for the two of them to become better acquainted but was afraid to ask.

Shorty patted the stable master on the shoulder feeling a tingle where his hand rested. He wondered if Bo felt it too. "We can talk more later if you want. In the meantime, finish your lunch. I have to call Heath to find out how Jacob is doing, all right?"

"Yes, thank you." Bo replied softly.

Shorty smiled understandingly. "I'll be right back." he said before going into the living area to use the phone.

Bo sat and took another bite of his sandwich, chewing slowly as he thought about what he'd seen and heard as he absentmindedly rubbed his shoulder where Shorty’s hand had been.


Knowing how important this get together was for Jaxon, Mutt made short work of the paper he'd been assigned. It hadn't been nearly as difficult as one of his engineering or math papers, and a little research into psychology helped him flesh out his paper. He had actually gone over the originally requested ten pages  The last two being heart felt apologies to both James and Jeff for going out of bounds in his role as maintenance.

Mutt appreciated the fact that Jeff had filed the paper in with his others, rather than just throwing it out, as he'd heard some Tops did.

A few days later, Mutt and Jeff had gone to buy the bulk of the supplies they'd need for the get together. Mutt had been excited and kept putting extra items in the shopping cart which Jeff promptly put back.

"You're not going to need that much." He'd said sternly. "There are only going to be the three of you. You're trying to buy enough to feed the resort."

"Yeah, but then there's you and James and Heath... I'm sure you're going to want to eat something besides dinner."

"I don't keep fit by eating a lot of junk food."

"I do." Mutt grinned.

"Your work is more physically taxing than mine is hon. I'm behind a desk most of the day."

"That's why I chose to do maintenance work. I just can't stand the idea of being indoors and behind a desk all day."

"I can understand that. I'm glad that you're keeping up on your engineering education, though."

"Well, I won't be thirty forever. I'm going to need something to fall back on when I'm old and decrepit like you." Mutt joked.

Jeff leaned in and whispered, “I'll show you who's old and decrepit when we get home, Brat."

"Promises, promises." Mutt whispered back with a smile.

"I think we have more than enough." Jeff checked his list. "Steaks, potatoes, vegetables, salad fixin's, snacks, four different kinds of soda, some Corona, coffee and three different pies for dessert. Can you think of anything else we need?"

Mutt pouted, “Why ask me, you'll just put everything back."


Mutt sighed. "How about rolls and butter, or better yet, garlic bread, to go with dinner. And we need bread and milk anyway, we're nearly out. We need sugar. And peanut butter and strawberry jam, and some of those pastries with strawberry and cream cheese filling that you put the icing on after they've been warmed up... you know the ones I mean. And oatmeal, and..."

Jeff cleared his throat, a sure attention getter for Mutt. The younger man stopped mid-sentence.

"Rolls and butter are a good idea; we can pick up garlic bread as well just in case. We'll need sugar for the coffee..."

"And bread and milk." Mutt added.

"Fine hon, but the rest of it will have to wait until we go on our regular shopping trip. No arguments." He said when he saw Mutt open his mouth to protest. "I'd hate to have to call off the gathering on Saturday."

Mutt frowned but kept quiet as Jeff brought the cart to the check out. He was quiet in the car on the ride home. He remained silent as they brought the groceries in and put them away.

"Are you going to give me the silent treatment all day?" Jeff asked.

At first Mutt didn't reply and then he looked at Jeff, fire in his eyes though his tone held a hint of frost, "You told me no arguments. You said you'd cancel Saturday if I argued. So I'm not arguing."

"There's something more bothering you, hon, talk to me."

Mutt carefully thought about what he wanted to say. "You know how important Saturday is to me. How important it could be to Jax, and I feel like you're holding it over my head. It makes me worry that if I step one foot out of line you'll ground me and cancel Saturday. It's... it makes me angry that you'd even consider it."

"You stopped yourself. It's' what?"

Mutt had been going to protest that it was blackmail but worried what would happen if he used a word that strong and disrespectful.

"It's not entirely fair." He answered lamely. "I know what our agreement is and most of the time it doesn't bother me. But this is important, and I don't like that you're... I feel like Wiley Coyote with the anvil over my head and nothing but a parasol for protection."

"I'm sorry."

"You... what?"

"I'm sorry you feel that way. Perhaps I was too hasty. We should have talked about it more, I think."

Mutt stood silently, his anger all but gone. Jeff wasn't wrong very often but when he was he was the first to admit it, and it always took the wind out of Mutt's sails when he did.

"So you're not going to keep threatening to cancel Saturday every time you think I'm stepping out of line?"

"No. We'll work something else out."

"Like?" Mutt asked, his stomach knotting a little.

Jeff went to the drawer where he kept Mutt's notebook and pen and took them out. "Have a seat."

Mutt sat, trying to contain a scowl. He hated writing lines. His handwriting wasn't the best and Jeff always insisted that his lines be neat and legible.

Jeff wrote a short statement across the top of the page as he usually did, and handed the pen and book over to Mutt.

'I can't always get what I want, and pouting doesn't help my case.'

"I want that fifty times. Neatly. Any..."

"Any lines that don't meet your standards will have to be re written. I know. I know!" Mutt groused.



"Stand up."

"Oh, Jeff..." Mutt began to plead.


Mutt stood and received three, sharp swats to his backside and was plunked back down onto his chair without ceremony. Mutt winced.


Mutt sighed and began to write, slowly and as neatly as he was able. By the tenth line he could see his writing becoming wobbly so he stopped for a moment to flex his fingers. He heard Jeff clear his throat somewhere behind him.

"I can write neatly or fast. I can't do both." He snapped.

"Up." Jeff's voice came, more closely this time.



Mutt stood and got three more for his tone.


"Why do I feel like I'm in church? Sit. Stand. Sit. Next you're gonna tell me I have to kneel." Mutt grumbled. Not quietly enough apparently, since Jeff pulled him up by his arm, bent him over the table and delivered six more with the large wooden spoon they used when they made tomato sauce, bringing Mutt up onto his toes.

"Had enough?" Jeff asked mildly.

"Yes, sir." Mutt gasped.

"You've been pushing your luck."

"Yes sir."

"It's going to stop now."

"Yes sir."

"Then sit."

Mutt kept his mouth shut this time, sat and continued to write, as neatly and as quickly as he could.


Harry smiled as he drove his truck to Masonville. He hadn't seen his mother since he and Brody moved to Teardrop Lake Resort. He got word she had been moved to the assisted living home there he and Brody had chosen for her. Near enough to the resort he could visit her every day like he had before they moved to TLR. He pulled into the parking lot and checked in at the desk, then located his mother's room. It had been set up nicely and he was pleased. He greeted her. "Hello mom."

She looked at him and asked, "Who are you?"

Harry was shocked. "It's me, Mom, your son Harry."

"Oh, hello sweetheart, can I make dinner for you? Harry should be home from practice soon."

Harry bit his lip. This was not what he expected.

His mother looked up at him with a bright smile and conversed with him as though he were his father instead of her son. He left feeling agitated and guilty. If he had known this move would put her in a setback he would never had moved her. He checked his mirrors and pulled out of the parking lot feeling rather dispirited. He saw a bar not far down the road and pulled in. He had turned off his phone when at the nursing home and because he was so upset with things there had forgotten to turn it on as he entered the bar and sat at a stool and ordered up a beer. When he had finished that one, he ordered another one. Once that one was gone he knew it was time to leave. Two beers was his limit if he was going to drive. He got into his truck and headed on back toward TLR.


Back at the resort Brody was beginning to worry about Harry. He'd left to visit his mom well over four hours ago and if this visit ran true to form he should have been home at least an hour ago. He grabbed his phone and called his lover. When Harry didn't answer Brody assumed Harry was still at the assisted living home with his phone off so he didn't disturb any of the residents. After another 30 minutes Brody called the home to see if Harry was there. Finding out Harry had left the home two hours before, Brody called James and told him he was going to look for Harry and if he showed up to  give him a call.

"All right Brody, good luck. I hope you find your man soon. If you have any problem, call me and we'll call out security to track him down."

"Will do, James."

He was walking toward the resort parking area when he saw Harry’s truck pull into the lot.

Harry smiled at Coral as he passed the check point and pulled into the resident’s parking lot. He saw Brody. He exited his truck and called, "Brody, I'm back...are you going somewhere?"

"Not now am not, Babe. I was going to look for you," Brody answered. He pulled Harry to him and leaned in for a possessive kiss on the lips. First smelling the beer and then tasting it he gave Harry a confused look.

Harry returned Brody's kiss and asked, "Why were you coming to look for me? You know I was coming home after I saw mom."

"You have been gone over four hours. I was getting worried." Brody explained. "I called your phone and the home. They said you left quite some time ago. So I was concerned." Brody paused not sure how to say the next bit. "I'd say from the taste of beer on your lips you stopped at a bar. Which means that you shouldn’t be driving?"

Harry bit his lip. "Um...yes, I did stop at a bar." He said quietly. "I only had two beers though because I knew I had to drive home...I must have forgotten to turn my phone back on." He pulled his phone out of his pocket and frowned as he saw it was dark, then powered it on and saw that he had a message from Brody. "I'm sorry Brody." He apologized.

Brody wrapped Harry in a hug. "It's ok, Babe. Let's go back to the bungalow and talk about it." He draped his arm around the other man's waist and guided him back toward their home. As they walked Brody pulled his phone out and called James.

"Harrington here." James answered.

"Hi, James, this is Brody. I've found our tardy security guard." Brody said.

James smiled and said, "I'm glad. Take care of your man Brody." He said a hint of sternness in his voice.

Brody understood the tone James was using and replied, “I will, James, I will."

James said with a smile in his voice. "Good man, Brody."

"Thanks, James. Thanks for the help, even if I didn't need it." Brody laughed. "Talk to you soon. Bye."

James said, "You're welcome, any time Brody. Good-night."

Brody pocketed his phone again still keeping his arm around his man.

Harry walked with Brody back to their bungalow.

Once inside Brody plopped down on the sofa pulling Harry with him. "Why did you stop for the beer, Babe? Did something upset you?" he asked as he pulled Harry into his side.

Harry picked at his fingernails and bit his lip. "Mom wasn't her usual self." He said softly.

"Oh," Brody softly said.  "Tell me about it."

Harry looked down. "She didn't know me...she thought I was Papa.  At first she asked who I was and then I told her and after that I still wasn't me, but Papa." He told Brody softly. "If I had known this would happen I'd never have moved her."

"Harry, I'm sorry that happened, but I don't think the moved was the cause of her not knowing you," Brody said trying to offer some comfort to his lover. "I'm sure she is a little unsettled, but remember she was having trouble distinguishing you from your Papa before we moved her. It’s the damn dementia."

Harry sighed. "I just hate that I'm losing her and...Well she's still my mom and it's not right or fair."

"No, it isn't fair," Brody agreed, "but we, you, are doing everything you can for her."

Harry nodded. "I know. It's just hard Brody to see her slippin' away little by little." He sighed once again and a single tear leaked out.

Brody leaned in and kissed the tear away. "I know, Babe, I know," he softly added. His heart breaking for this man, this son of a mother who didn't know him.

Harry leaned into Brody snuggling close.

They were quiet for a few minutes before Brody asked Harry, “Babe, did you eat anything this evening? Did you eat before you drank the beer?" He knew his tone was a little sterner than he meant it to be.

Harry shook his head and bit his lip. "I thought I'd share supper with mom, but that didn't work out."

Brody wasn't sure if tonight was the time to pursue these questions but he just couldn't keep the thought of him losing Harry because of a slow reaction from the beer while he was driving back to the resort. "What did you hope the beer would do for you, Babe?"

Harry said, "I'm not sure, calm my insides I guess. I was feeling shaky and anxious inside because I didn't want what was happening to my mom to really happen I guess." He tried to explain.

"Did it? Did it calm you?" Brody asked. "

Harry shrugged. "A little, but I'm still worried. I know drinkin' isn't the answer, but a couple of beers seemed good at the time."

"I’m glad to hear you say that you know it wasn't the answer, Harry, because I have to agree with you." Brody said. "And driving with even two beers in you isn't the answer either."

Harry bit his lip. "I'm sorry Brody, but I knew any more than that and I'd be illegal and if I'm in jail that won't help anyone."

"If you're in a wreck and in the hospital or worse it wouldn't help your Mom either." the younger man pointed out. "I know I couldn't bear to lose you."

Harry looked down. "I wouldn't have wanted that either Brody. I love you."

"I love you too, Harry."

Harry snuggled and kissed Brody.

Brody returned the kiss. "Harry, I want you to promise me that the next time you feel the need to drink you will only do it if I'm with you."

Harry looked at Brody. "Why?"

"So you don't drive home under the influence."

Harry asked, "Call you to join me?"

"You could do that, and I would come to be with you or you could just come home and we both could have a beer here together." Brody answered.

Harry nodded. "All right, I promise."

"Good," Brody said kissing his partner, "because if I find out that you are driving with even one beer in you your butt is going to answer for it."

Harry looked at Brody a bit stunned and then said, "I won't have to worry about that Brody. You know I'm a very responsible person."

"I know you are, Babe." The younger man said as he pulled Harry up from the sofa. “I think it’s time for bed.”


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