Chapter Sixty



Two men leaned heavily on the tall fence. One with his arms folded on the top rail and the other with his outstretched in front of him. Mitchell smiled at the expression of joy on the younger man’s face. Hendrik was treating Walker’s horses to a handful of carrots and relishing some of the good memories such a simple activity reminded him of.

“Sure wish they were mine,” Hendrik murmured wistfully. “Guess I’ll just have to be content with having such beautiful creatures here with us.”

“More will probably arrive on future ships, sweetheart.” Mitchell watched his handsome partner give each of the animals a final pat and wipe his hands down the front of his pants. “Come and sit with me,” he requested, making his way over to the bench by the shady side of the barn.

Taking a penknife and block of wood out of his pocket, Mitchell began whittling. “There’s something I have to talk over with you.”

“I’m listening,” Hendrik assured him, sitting down next to his partner. He rested his back against the building and pulled his wide-brimmed hat down over his eyes.

“It concerns the Liang brothers. You’re aware of Lakota having asked me to befriend Jay, right?”

“Yeah, but we haven’t really had time to discuss the reasoning behind that request.”

“You’ve notice that Jay is a great deal bigger and somewhat darker-skinned that his half-brother. The reason being, that he was born to an unwed mother after she had been raped by a rather large black man who was drunk at the time and utterly infatuated with her. An older Chinese shoemaker married her when Jay was a baby and Shay was born of that union. Apparently, Jay has long harboured hopes of finding his biological father even though both boys have only ever been given the barest of details about Jay’s conception. This need for a paternal influence has developed since the death of their parents three years ago. Although it has been explained to Jay that I could not possibly be his sire, he still sees me as a kind of father-figure.”

Hendrik used his thumb to push back his hat and grin at the man beside him. “The kid may be onto something ‘cause I think you’d make a great father. Hmmm,” he mused, a great deal of humor in his voice. “I wonder what that will make me.”

“I’m not sure. How about just a friend or maybe an uncle?”

“It might work; no promises though. Besides, where will this leave Shay? All of us seem to be spoken for, which means the kid’s chances of finding a partner are mighty slim.”

“I was thinking you might like to mentor him. That young man can do with a lot of well-earned affection from someone who is willing to offer him support and protection. He’s been caring for his brother at the expense of his own wellbeing.”

“I don’t know, Mitchell.” Hendrik sat up a little straighter and looked his partner in the eye. “I’m telling you right out, Shay is one good-looking young fella and I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself becoming attracted to him. That said, I certainly don’t want to do anything that will harm our relationship. I love you, Mitchell. I don’t want things changing between us.”

Mitchell wrapped a big hand around the back of Hendrik’s neck and drew him close. “I love you too, sweetheart.” He dipped his head and roughly kissed his lover’s lips, claiming ownership as he did so.

Ending the kiss, he looked into the younger man’s sparkling green eyes and gently inquired, “If it should come to pass, would you be okay with the possibility of us someday forming a threesome?”

“It’s worth considering. At least I’m not gonna say no without giving it some serious thought. If it happens, we’ll end up being a family of four.” Hendrik whistled as he settled back against the barn with a contemplative smile spreading across his face.

“One thing I want clear, Hendrik. I’ll assume all responsibility for Jay; no one else is to raise a hand to him.”

“I understand, Mitchell. It isn’t in my nature to do so anyway.”

“It may be where Shay is concerned were he to become our partner. He may prove to be a handful once he’s comfortable with his place among us. I’ve already heard about some of the younger men being warned not to follow his lead and smoke or chew tobacco. One can only hope that if he and Quentin do form a partnership, that our quartermaster will put a stop to those habits. In the meantime, I have a feeling discipline is going to make for an interesting conversation to have with Shay and Jay as I don’t think either of those young men have ever had much of it.”   

“I am more than willing to leave that in your capable hands, Mitchell,” Hendrik smirked, not at all anxious to involve himself in that particular tête-à-tête.

“It is a dialogue we will all be taking part in, my good man,” Mitchell firmly insisted. “You should know that Jay asked me this morning if he could call me ‘Papa’. His request really caught me off guard. After all, I am only four years older than he is. But then I remembered Lakota telling me the lad would never mentally be older that thirteen, so I figured if it makes him happy, what the heck.”

“You know, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to eventually learn that the council might have considered this. It’s probably why we were given the larger bedroom downstairs instead of the average sized one we had first been allotted upstairs; particularly when you take in the fact that Shay and Jay’s bunk beds are practically right outside our door.”

“You have a good point there.” Mitchell grinned at his partner’s observations.

“While several of the couples have talked about building cabins of their own next summer, we’ve never discussed it. Guess it’s about time we did.”

“Hmm,” Mitchell nodded his agreement. “Some have even picked sites for their future homes. No rush though; we have plenty of time to see what takes place. In the meantime, we better answer the clanking of the dinner bell. Walker dislikes laggards.” He got to his feet and hauled Hendrik up. Together they made their way to the lodge.

By the time the men were sitting down to enjoy their first meal in the lodge, all belongings had been moved and bedrooms set up to suit the individual couples or threesomes. After six months of making do with logs, boulders, crates of various sizes and anything else they could find to use as make-shift furniture, it was nice to be seated around two long tables on proper benches and chairs.

Some of the men, particularly the younger ones had checked out the private rooms of their friends and were complementing each other on the way many of the rooms had been personalized.

Aiden and Mitchell would be kept busy for several months, crafting wardrobes and dressers for everyone as well as various pieces of furniture for the parlour-type area of the great room. There was also the request from Troy for studier bookshelves to replace the temporary made-over parts of crates they were still using. 

Presently, only the Infirmary was totally furnished and neither Lakota nor Yancey could think of another item needed for carrying out their work in caring for potential patients.

During the coming week when most of the men would be working in the fields, Aiden and Mitchell planned to finish building the silo and start on the bathhouse. It would be an addition off to the side of the kitchen area with three fair-size partitions. The old stove would be used for heating water and providing warmth to the room. The men knew that as badly needed as the three large bathtubs they’d received; bathing inside during the winter was a luxury none had been expecting. As the days grew shorter and temperatures dropped, bathing in the river would become extremely undesirable; the rainwater barrels just managed to provide enough water for kitchen needs and washing up. 

Plans to build on a school room adjacent to the great room had been put on hold until after the harvest, when more hands would be available to assist with the construction.

With help from Wes, Wayne and Samuel, Nathan had utilized much of the leftover building supplies to furbish not only his shop but also the space for Shay’s shoemaking operations.

Very little went to waste in this small community of theirs.

A week later, the island was buzzing with excitement. Another wedding was about to take place.  

Everyone had pitched in to see that the lodge was beautifully decorated and an abundance of special refreshments had been prepared for the celebration, along with plenty of imported wine and homemade apple cider. Each man dressed in his Sunday best in anticipation of their pictures being taken.

Thomas stood looking in the small mirror over the chest of drawers. He pulled the bow out of his string tie and began to retie it for the fourth time in an attempt to get it even. “I used to tie this every Sunday before church and never had a problem. Now I can’t get the damn thing right for the life of me.” He shook his head, turning to Aiden for reassurance. The large Scotsman had quickly become his most trustworthy friend on the island and was serving this day as his best man. 

“Here, allow me to get that for ye,” Aiden offered, pushing Thomas’ hands out of the way. Within seconds, the tie was done to Thomas’ satisfaction.

“Thank you, my friend. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m happy that this day has finally come but I think I’ve suddenly become a nervous bridegroom.” Thomas laughed. “No, that’s not quite the right term, is it?  Given there is no bride.”

Aiden chuckled and patted the other man’s shoulder. “Aye, ‘tis just an anxious groom is what ye are. ‘T’will pass once ye lay yer eyes on that beautiful young laddie ye are marrying.”

A happy smile lit Thomas’ face. “He is a beauty, isn’t he? I can’t believe he’ll soon be mine forever and always.  I can’t give him back what he lost when he was stolen from his family, but I will do everything in my power to make him happy and safe.”

“And happy he is, my friend. Now, we best be getting down to the great room where Walker awaits to start the proceedings. He’ll not appreciate us tarrying too long.” Aiden took his role as best man seriously and fully intended to get Thomas to his wedding on time.

“You’re right.” Thomas drew a deep breath and smiled. “Let’s go get me married.”

The two men made their way down the stairs. Thomas was taken aback by the beautiful way in which the room had been decorated. Boughs of evergreen and branches from deciduous trees resplendent with colorful fall foliage, along with bowls of sweet smelling fruits from their harvest filled the room with beauty and fragrance.  The other men of the island were dressed in their best clothing, cleaned and shining faces had been shaved of scruffy beards. It was truly what he’d dreamed of; a community coming together in joy and prosperity to celebrate the happiest day of his life. 

Meanwhile, Galen nervously paced in the space between the bed and the wall of Walker’s room. He glanced down at the traditional Greek costume he was wearing; the one that Nathan had spent a lot of time ironing to perfection. The young man wondered if the others would consider it strange or funny looking. He looked up as the door opened and Spyke walked in, closing it behind him.

Spyke’s eyes widened as he took in his friend’s outfit. “Holy shit, now that’s different!”

“My family is originally from Greece. This is what the m-men there wear when getting m-married,” Galen explained, blushing somewhat.

“I kinda like it,” Spkye announced after taking the time to walk around the other man to get a good view of it all. He smiled when he leaned in to softly say, “You know, Walker’s made some special Greek food just for you. It’s bound to be a lot better than that fuckin’ haggis he made for Aiden at our wedding.”

The light joking help Galen relax a bit. He was glad now that he’d chosen Spyke to be his best man.

“I hear Mitchell warming up his fiddle. It’s time to get out there and become a husband, Galen.” Spyke winked at his friend and opened the door to walk out before him.

Thomas and Aiden had moved to the right side of the great room and watched as Galen and Spyke came out of Walker’s room and took their place on the left side.

Galen starred wide-eyed at the transformation of the great room. He smiled when he saw Thomas standing at the far right next to Aiden.

As gentle strains of music came from Mitchell’s fiddle, the four men made their way slowly towards each other, meeting in the center where Walker stood waiting for them.

Thomas breath was taken away by the vision of Galen in the traditional white costume with colorful vest. He was both exotic and beautiful. Thomas had never known anyone like this young man who had stolen his heart. 

As they came together in front of the magistrate, Thomas reached out and took Galen’s hands in his own.  When the music stopped they both turned and looked towards Walker, in anxious anticipation of the ceremony that would join their lives together. 

Galen had trouble tearing his eyes away from the handsome figure of this big man beside him. He didn’t know it was possible to love and admire someone as much as he did Thomas. He swallowed nervously and tried to concentrate on what Walker was saying.

Walker looked solemnly at the men in front of him. He cleared his throat and raising his voice enough for all to hear, began with the traditional words of, “We are gathered here today to witness the joining of these two men in the sacred bonds of matrimony. This place of exile was meant to be an incarceration, but instead we have gained freedom to be who we are as men who lie with and love other men. We have formed a community built on fairness, on equality, on love. And today this community has the extraordinary pleasure of seeing two of its members make vows of eternal devotion and faithfulness.

Those of us, who have been here since the first day, have seen the relationship between Thomas and Galen grown from its early tentative friendship to a deep and abiding love. I do not believe there are any two people who are better suited for one another than these two. I believe Thomas and Galen have prepared some words to share at this point. Thomas, will you begin please?”

Thomas gave Galen’s hands a gentle squeeze as he began to speak the words he’d so carefully memorized.  “Galen, I arrived on this island a broken hearted man who thought he’d lost everything in the world that held any meaning to him. I now realize real meaning is to be found in what we have here, and most especially in what I found with you. I pledge on this day to be the best husband I can be, to give you my faithful devotion, to give you my guidance and my understanding, and most importantly to give you my love. 

Galen smiled as he maintained his hold on Thomas’ large hands and began speaking as clearly as possible. “Who could have known six m-months ago to this very day when you reached out to me, it w-would lead to this? Since that m-moment, my admiration for you has grown as has m-my love. There is no one else I w-want to belong to. I promise to always do my b-best to honor you and follow your example.”

Galen accepted a gold band from Spyke. Keeping only Thomas’ left hand in his one of his own, he slipped the wedding ring that had once been his grandfather’s onto the third finger. His eyes misted as he gently rub a fingertip back and forth over the symbol of his love.

Wanting the next words to come out perfect, he resorted to saying them in Greek. He had never understood why, but the stutter never presented itself except when he was speaking English.

“Ego dialexa pantrevomia esy epeidi agapo esy, Mou Dynami,” Galen softly murmured, his love for this wonderful man shining from his gentle gray eyes. “Tha agapi gia panta.” No translation was requested and none was given.

Thomas looked at the band of gold around his finger. It had meant the world to him when Galen has asked if he would wear his grandfather’s ring. He hoped the surprise he’d had prepared would mean as much to his new husband. He reached into his vest pocket and pulled out a shining new band of gold. “Galen, I too have a ring of gold for you to wear as a symbol of my love. As the one you gave to me came from your grandfather, this one I give to you comes from my own grandfather with a little help from our very own ex-miner.” He gave a thankful nod to Samuel. “The front casing from my grandfather’s pocket watch has been molded into this ring.”

Thomas slid the ring onto Galen’s finger. It was a perfect fit. Samuel had done an incredible job. “Galen Deon Manara, with this ring I thee wed; with all my worldly goods, I thee endow; with all my heart, I give thee love.” 

Galen sharply inhaled in surprise as the ring was placed on his finger. He glanced up at the man who had given him this magnificent gift, then back down at the ring, and marveled at the beautiful promises that came with it. He blinked and the tears that had been filling his eyes, slowly slipped down his cheeks.

“Efharisto, Mou Dynami,” Galen murmured his heartfelt gratitude.

Walker’s smile broadened. He took so much pride in being able to pronounce these two special men now legally married according to the statutes of the island community. Glancing around the room at the happy faces, he waited for the clapping to stop; then he announced that the festivities would begin momentarily.
  
A line formed as men stepped up to congratulate the newlyweds while Walker, Thad and Jordan set out platter upon platter of refreshments.

A short time later the music and dancing got underway. Throughout the afternoon, Wallace called for various couples and threesomes to pose for pictures. 

The celebration was drawing to a close when Galen left to change his clothes. When he returned, he wormed his way into a small group of men who were toasting Thomas yet again, and pulled on his new husband’s sleeve to get his attention.

“What happens next, Thomas?” he whispered.

Thomas wrapped his arm around Galen’s waist and pulled him close. “Next, my love, we say our thank you to everyone for their kindness and well wishes, then we head out for our wedding night.”

The newly married couple moved swiftly around the room doing just as Thomas said. Then they slipped quietly away to make the walk to what had become known as the honeymoon suite of the island. 

Though far from luxurious, the little cave Galen had found on their first week on the island was made warm and inviting by the residents. Aiden and Walker had come to the cave that morning and had laid out candles and pitchers of fresh water. Walker had left a larder can with bread, cheese, preserves and fruit for the honeymooners. They’d put fresh bedding on the stuffed mattress, and had freshened the air with cut flowers. 

When they arrived, Thomas pulled back the wood planking that had been put in place to keep out wandering animals and led Galen through the narrow opening. He quickly lit the candles and then turned to look at his new husband. He could see that Galen was looking somewhat nervous and for once at a loss for words. 

Thomas pulled the younger man into his arms and kissed him gently. “We’re going to take things slowly, my love. Let’s just start by sitting down on the mattress together.”

Galen was more than happy to follow his new husband’s lead and willingly did the older man’s bidding.

Thomas turned Galen’s head to face him and pressed his lips against Galen’s soft full mouth. The younger man opened easily to Thomas’ advances and soon he was deeply exploring Galen’s mouth with his tongue. As he continue to kiss him, Thomas slid his hands under Galen’s shirt and caressed his back moving his hands slowly around until they found the nubs of nipples on his chest. He let his fingers worry and scrape on the tender flesh until Galen was gasping within the kiss. 

Thomas broke the kiss and looked into his new husband’s eyes. “Let’s have a little drink, shall we?  I asked Walker to leave us a bottle of your wine.” Thomas opened the larder can and retrieved the bottle and two cups.  He took a moment to open the bottle before pouring a small amount in each of the cups. Handing one to Galen, he lifted in the air and smiled. “To us, my beloved, and to our new lives together as a married couple.”

Galen lifted his cup up and touched it to Thomas’. “To us,” he mimicked.

They drank some of the sweet wine, enjoying the pleasant warmth of the alcohol as it slipped down their throats. After a few moments, Thomas took Galan’s cup from him and set it aside. He once again kissed the younger man, tasting the wine on his lips. “I think we would be more comfortable if we were to lie down. Why don’t we get out of our clothes and under the blankets?”

Galen suddenly felt a little shy. For as many times as Thomas had seen him unclothed, this moment was different. He lifted a shaking hand to his shirt and began to fumble with the buttons

Thomas reached forward and gently pushed Galen’s hands away, then slowly undid each of the buttons on his shirt and then pushed it back until it slipped from his shoulders. He placed small tender kisses along Galen’s neck and down his shoulder, before he sat back and removed his own shirt. They both removed their boots and socks and quickly shucked down trousers. Thomas grinned as he noticed Galen was once again without his under clothes. 

Thomas’ erection was standing proud against his stomach and he saw with pleasure that his husband was also aroused. He drew back the blankets and guided Galen to lie down first, then slid in beside him while pulling the covers over them both to ward off the chill. He wrapped his arms around Galen and pulled him up against him. 

“I love you so much.” He allowed his hands a little more freedom as they roamed down Galen’s back and firmly grasped the rounded buttocks. He slid a finger down the crevasse and gently stroked over the tightly puckered opening, before spending several minutes touching and exploring the younger man’s body. He didn’t want to rush this experience. He felt the heavy testicles and lightly stroked the straining penis until he felt Galen thrust into his hand. He didn’t want to bring his husband to a climax quite yet, so he moved his hand back to stroking the buttocks and softly teasing the tight rosebud that would be his ultimate goal soon enough. All the while he was doing this, he was peppering Galen with small kisses and whispering endearments into his ear. 

Finally feeling that they were both in need of moving further, Thomas rolled Galen onto his back. Then he gently pushed Galen’s legs apart until he could kneel between them. “Pull your legs up to your chest, my beloved, like this.” He helped Galen to grasp each leg and hold them behind the knee so that his bottom was up and open for Thomas to access. Thomas had a jar of petroleum jelly beside the bed. He took a generous amount of the slippery substance and greased up his fingers. “I’m going to begin by just starting with one finger. It may be a little uncomfortable at first, but I want you to tell me if it hurts, okay?” 

“O-okay,” Galen replied nervously.

Thomas carefully pressed his finger into the opening until it reached the first knuckle. He moved it gentle in and out and then pressed a bit further until the second knuckle had breached the opening. He watched Galen’s face carefully as he advanced his exploration of his husband’s virgin passage. Soon he had the full length of his finger moving freely, so he lightly scraped against the small bump inside and heard Galen let out a gasp of pleasured surprise. 

“Did that feel good, my love?”

“Yes! W-what was that?”

“It is called your prostate. It’s a place of great pleasure inside of a man when he is being loved by another man.  It will become even better soon.”

Thomas slid his index finger out and aligned it with the middle one before he carefully pressed the two slippery fingers into Galen. The younger man hissed slightly at the discomfort of the wider stretching, so Thomas stopped pushing and just carefully rotated them around until the muscle began to relax enough that he could advance again. He spent some time moving the two fingers in and out and carefully stretching until Galen had relaxed a bit more. He noticed that Galen’s penis had softened, so he leaned forward and lightly slid his tongue up the length of it as he continued working his husband’s opening. 

Galen’s eyes flew open in surprise as he felt Thomas’ tongue on his organ. He never felt anything so incredible until Thomas scraped against that spot inside him at the same time he drew his penis into his mouth. His head thrashed back and forth on the pillow as Thomas worked him. Just before he felt himself about to explode, Thomas released his penis from his mouth and grasped the base of it firmly with his free hand. 

“Not yet, beloved; but soon,” Thomas smiled.

Thomas now had three fingers carefully moving in and out of the tight opening and knew it was as ready as it would ever be to accept his girth. He covered his member thoroughly with the slippery jelly and then aligned it with Galen’s rectum. “I love you,” he said as he pushed inward.

Galen bit down on his lip at the burning pain as Thomas breached him for the first time. He panted hard until his muscles began to relax.

Thomas moved forward very slowly, waiting patiently for Galen to become comfortable with his size invading the tight passage. He’d never felt anything as wonderful as the tightness that wrapped around him. He had to fight off the urge to thrust, not wanting to cause his new husband any more discomfort that necessary. Soon he was fully seated and he smiled when he saw the look of passion return to Galen’s beautiful face. At that signal he began to gently move in and out, making short thrusts at first then longer and stronger ones as his body’s needs took over his sensibilities. 

Galen couldn’t believe that the pain he felt only moments before was turning into more pleasure than he’d ever imagined. His penis was as hard as it had ever been and he reached for it to give it the stimulation it was screaming for. But Thomas’ hand gently batted his away.

“Mine!” the older man declared as he grasped Galen’s straining organ with a hand slick with petroleum jelly.

Thomas did his best to hold off completion as long as he could, but soon felt his testicles pulling up and his body preparing to climax. He worked Galen’s penis quickly, wanting to bring his husband to climax with him.  Within moments, the two men were yelling out their release. 

Thomas collapsed forward onto the younger man’s body, feeling spent and limp and breathless. The two lay like that for several minutes before Thomas had the strength to pull himself up and off of his new lover. He’d placed a small towel next to the bed and now took it and began to clean them both off of the products of their love making. 

He checked Galen carefully for damage and was relieved to see only the tiniest streak of blood and no visible tears. 

Galen looked to be almost incoherent in his post coital haze. It wasn’t until Thomas was wiping last signs of semen from his stomach that Galen finally looked at him with a smile. “I l-love you, Thomas,” he solemnly declared.

“I love you too, my beloved.” Thomas kissed Galen gently and then pulled him into his arms. The two lovers fell into a deep sated sleep. 

Galen smiled contentedly as the morning sun crept through the cracks in the cave’s wooden door. Just last night, Thomas had made love to him for the first time and introduced him to the joys of nuptial bliss. Initially there had been some pain, but it had been more than worth it when moments later the unexpected had taken over. Afterward, the young man had laid in a semi-stupor while his husband had washed him, tenderly checking to see that no harm had been done. Then he’d watched as Thomas completely clean himself, removing all traced of their lovemaking; all that is but the feelings of physical release and euphoria. Then both had slept deeply in each other’s embrace.

Now Galen stood at the foot of the bed gazing down at his new husband’s beautiful body which was presently in a relaxing sprawl across the rumpled sheets and displayed in all his intimate glory. Galen decided to set about sexually arousing the big man once again.

He crawled unto the bed and knelt between his lover’s legs. He began his pilgrimage of Thomas’ body by using only his fingertips to lightly stroke his feet, gently caressing each toe and the soles before working his way along the sides and ankles.

Thomas woke to Galen’s gentle touches. He lay still, enjoying his new husband’s attention and wondering just how far the younger man would go.

As he got bolder, Galen’s hands moved slowly up strong calves causing the dark hair to tickle his palms. Leaning forward, he placed teasing kisses along sturdy thighs and over the groin area, pausing for only a few moments to fondle heavy genitals and enjoy the sight of Thomas’ growing erection.

Thomas released an appreciative moan.

Completely over any shyness he had felt when beginning his exploration, Galen steadily moved upward over a firm, flat stomach. He leaned in to lick, kiss and nibble at each hardening nipple in turn while running his hands along muscular arms to solid shoulders. Looking up, he saw his husband watching him through slightly closed eyes and couldn’t resist grinning mischievously before pushing himself back the way he’d come. 

Galen had been getting lessons from Raythe on how to pleasure a man. He figure if anyone knew how it would be Rathye, since his friend had once earned his way as a prostitute. Taking Thomas’ thick shaft into his mouth, Galen remembered to keep his lips covering his teeth. He had practiced on a cucumber but found he really preferred the taste and scent of his lover more. The deeper he drew the engorged member into his mouth the harder he worked at relaxing his throat. He started humming and couldn’t help but enjoy a sense of jubilation when Thomas’ hips rose off the bed and the older man cried out his climax.

When his brain regained the ability to think, Thomas looked at Galen in amazement. He couldn’t believe the young man had given him such pleasure. It was more than obvious he’d had been talking to someone about oral sex as he seemed to know just what to do.

Thomas pulled Galen up into his arms and kissed him deeply. “I don’t know who taught you that, so I don’t know if I want to thank them or kill them. Please tell me I have nothing to be angry about. No one taught you that by example, did they?” 

“No one has ever touched me, Thomas, and I have touched no one b-but you. Raythe told me how to do it, b-but I only did it to a long, green vegetable.” Galen’s happy laughter echoed off the walls of the cave.

With his mind set at ease, Thomas lightly swatted the younger man’s bare bottom. “I think it is time we were getting dressed and heading home, my love.”

Meanwhile, Levi had woken before dawn and slipped quietly from the bed without disturbing Troy. He had arranged to meet Gille, Spyke, Brodie, Raythe, Seth and Shay in the kitchen to gather some of the things they needed to give Galen and Thomas a Shiveree. It was an old practice of playing tricks on a newlywed couple. Sometimes it could end up being mean-spirited, but the guys only wanted to surprised Galen and Thomas with a bit of fun. So Levi quickly dressed and made his way to the kitchen where he found Gille and Spyke waiting.

“Hi guys, ready to have some fun?”

Gille held up a large pot lid and spoon. “I’ve got my weapon,” he announced with a grin.

Levi lifted his hand to show his friend a cow bell. “I’ve got mine.”

Seth came into the room followed by Raythe with Shay in tow. “Look at these! Shay whittled one for each of us.” Seth held up one of four wooden whistles while Raythe handed another to Spyke. “They all have a different pitch and should be good for a lot of noise,” he added, much to the delight of the others.

The young men gathered up their noise-making devices and secreted out the door of the lodge, being careful not to wake any of the sleeping men within. Holding lanterns, they made their way along the path to the cave where Thomas and Galen were spending their wedding night. They carried empty canvas sacks and stopped to scoop up dried leaves along the way until all the sacks were filled. 

They wanted to get to the cave before the break of dawn so they could awaken the couple. They were surprised when they arrived to hear the sounds of voices within the cave. 

“Looks like our lovers are already up,” Levi commented with a smirk.

“Well weren’t some of you up early the morning following your wedding night?” Spyke inquired, leering at Gille and Brodie in particular. “Shit! Short of hitting us over the head with something, Aiden would never have been able to keep Larry and me from going on the prowl. You get my drift?” He waggled his eyebrows, which resulted in a couple of his friends having to cover their mouths so their laughter would not be heard.

“Well if they’re...well you know right now we should leave ‘em alone until they’re done,” Gille whispered

“Hell no! It will be more fun to catch them off guard,” Spyke hissed, always one to leap first and think later.

“Forget it,” Seth ordered. “We could already be getting ourselves in trouble.”

“I say we make some noise. It’s what this is all about. They have lots of time for...you know,” Levi said with a laugh.

“I agree,” Raythe spoke up. “What do you say, Shay?”

“Hey, I’m the single guy here, remember?”

“Let’s just go with our original plan,” Seth suggested and was relieved when the others nodded agreement, even though Gille’s nod was somewhat reluctant.

Inside the cave, Thomas was pulling on his trousers and admiring the sight of Galen doing the same, when the loud sounds of banging and screeching entered their sanctuary. “What in heaven?”

Galen looked up in surprise and almost lost his balance. Hastily slipping the shoulder straps of his overalls in place, he headed for the mouth of the cave. But once outside, he couldn’t hear or see anyone.

Thomas joined Galen and looked around for the source of the noise. “I think we have some company around here somewhere,” he said with a shake of his head.

“Whoever it was, is gone now, Thomas,” Galen informed his new husband when the older man stepped up behind him.

“I’ll gather our things so we can head back to the lodge and see if we can find out who it is,” Thomas offered and turned back. Returning with their belongings in hand, Thomas took up the lead. “Let’s head back.”

They hadn’t preceded more than a few yards when sharp whistling filled the air and explosion of dry leaves flew over their heads. 

Galen began batting at the foliage falling about them. He couldn’t help but laugh uproariously.

Thomas brushed the fronds off his head and looked around sharply for the culprits but could only hear the sounds of running feet in the woods on either side of the path. He couldn’t help but join in his husband’s laughter and at the sight of Galen with leaves stuck in the curls of his hair. “I think we have us some pranksters.”

“Or m-maybe they’re misguided well-wishers.” Galen eyes were sparkling. “Let’s get b-back to the lodge and see if w-we can find out who they are.” He reached up to pluck a stray leaf from Thomas’ shirt.

Levi was laughing as he ran to keep up with the other guys. “I don’t think they saw us.”

“They will if we don’t get back to the lodge before they do.” Brodie urged his co-conspirators to hurry.

The young men ran but kept up the whooping and whistling along the way.

Shay merrily followed along. He was having the time of his life. It had been a long time since he’d last done something without his brother tagging along. Shay felt a sense of freedom at being included in this bit of fun.

Thomas and Galen took a more leisurely pace until they were in sight of the lodge. As they approached, they could see a group of men assembled on the large porch.

As soon as the group saw Galen and Thomas, the haunting sound of Jordan’s harmonica filled the air along with the sweet sound of voices breaking into song. They sang an old love song composed by Robert Burns, ‘My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose’. Of course a few of the words had to be changed, but they only enhanced the meaning of the song for the two newly married men and the gesture was greatly appreciated.

Oh, my love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June
Oh, my love is like a melody
That’s sweetly played in tune
As fair art thou, my bonnie lad,
So deep in love am I.

As the two bridegrooms listened to the young men belt out their rendition of that beautiful song, they locked eyes and gazed lovingly at each other. Their hearts beat in time with the melody and their smiles told the whole story. They were now truly one; their lives together just begun.


TBC….