Chapter Forty-eight

It was late morning when Brock returned from checking the traps he’d set out a day earlier. He had already skinned and dressed the game he’d caught and was taking it to the kitchen area.

Walker glanced up from the pile of dough he was kneading and smiled. “Brock, I’d be interested in learning why you have a ‘cat-that got-the-cream’ expression on your face.”

Brock’s self-satisfied grin of accomplishment widened. “It’s done!” he announced. “The entire island has been covered and I can safely contest to the fact that it is completely uninhabited by any man other than ourselves. There is evidence of others having paid unplanned visits in the distant past, due I imagine to being blown off course during a storm. I found a total of three badly deteriorated shipwrecks in the course of my explorations, but absolutely no signs of anyone actually living for any length of time here before our arrival.”

“Well, at least those responsible for sending us here had that much correct,” Walker commented, not at all taken back by the big woodsman’s revelation. “And I believe we would certainly be aware of anyone having landed since as the beach may be the only area to do so safely.”

“There’s possibly another on the southern most tip of the island but it is somewhat more treacherous.” Brock handed over his bounty of rabbits.

“You’ve a good lot there, Brock,” the chef observed, taking several carcasses from the tall man after wiping his hands off on his apron..

“Yes, every trap had something in it,” Brock quietly informed him. He looked around the tent, seeking out a special someone. “You wouldn’t happen to know Raythe’s whereabouts, would you?”

“Yes, he and Spyke had just finished their chores when Galen rushed in here all excited about some find he’d made.” Walker laughed at the image of the two older lads racing out after the younger one. “I am sure Jordan would have gone with them, had he been here but he is off with Thad delivering the work crew their mid-morning snack.”

Brock shook his head. “Those lads have been searching for something ever since Gille and Levi fished up that crate of rum.”

 “I found it!” Galen announced excitedly. “W-we w-were looking in the wrong p-places, or at least from the wrong p-places. Come on!” he called out as he hurriedly climbed the side of a large cliff.

Safely on top of flat land, he ran closer to the side overhanging the ocean, lay down on his stomach and slowly inched forward. “Look down there!” he instructed, his young face beaming. “M-make sure you lie down to distribute your w-weight in case the edge b-breaks off.”

After following their friend’s example, Raythe and Spyke gazed down into the deep blue water. Their eyes widened and they smiled gleefully.

“For shit’s sake; how did we come to miss it?” Spyke asked and received a bewildered shrug from Raythe.

“Cause you can’t see this area of the ocean from the b-beach; that outcrop of rocks b-blocks it,” Galen explained. “You know w-what type she is, Raythe?”

“Looks like a clipper; three-masts and I’d say from the look of her, she’s been there a while.”

“Yeah, she sure as hell has a lot of damage. Her masts are busted and her side has a gaping hole in it.” Spyke leaned over further to get a better view.

“Take care, Spyke, you’re going to fall off.” Galen’s warning had them all backing up.

“I gotta get Larry and Aiden to see this,” Spyke said, heading towards the work site.

“B-bring Thomas b-back too!” Galen shouted after the rapidly departing man.

“I’m gonna see if Brock’s returned from trapping. You gonna wait here?” Getting a nod, Raythe turned to leave. He slid down the steep embankment, ran across the sand-dunes and disappeared into the trees.

Thomas and Aiden stood side by side near the cliff’s edge and carefully scrutinised what they could make out of the sunken ship. The tide was in and although the water was crystal clear, they realised it was impossible to determine the full extent of the vessel’s erosion. They looked at each other and came to a silent agreement. Glancing over at Brock, they become aware of him having reached the same conclusion.

Aiden sighed deeply. He knew what he had to say would not be taken kindly by the four young men standing behind them. They were understandably enthused at the prospect of scavenging for riches.

“Ye’ll not be mentioning yer discovery to anyone just yet,” Aiden firmly instructed. “Nor will ye be venturing out to get a closer look of that ship. ‘Tis understood?” He sternly eyed his two partners, having already overheard the young men making plans to explore for hidden treasures.

“That’s not fair, Aiden!” Spyke wailed his disappointment.

“Yeah,” Raythe jumped in, only to quickly back down when the huge Scot’s eyes turned towards him.

“I agree with Aiden,” Brock quietly intoned, wrapping an arm around Raythe. Getting the younger man’s full attention, he added. “You’ll be courting trouble, boy, should you choose to disobey.”

“We’ll discuss it during the meeting on Sunday and decide what, if anything, we’ll do about investigating the wreckage,” Thomas said, putting special emphasis on the ‘if’ for the sake of the would-be explorers amongst them.

“Aye, Sunday ‘tis but three days away and not that long a wait, ‘tis it?” Aiden reasoned as he and Brock led their partners back to camp leaving Thomas and Galen alone on the cliff.

“Galen, I find it interesting that you are the one who spotted this wreck. You want to explain to me how it is that you spotted it without climbing up here? Since I know we have discussed you not going places like this without talking to me first,” Thomas asked his young partner-to-be.

“I did spot it from here, Thomas. I’m allowed to wander along the water’s edge and this is a part of the shoreline. It is just a bit higher than the rest.” To Galen, all this made perfect sense.

Thomas sighed deeply. “Galen the water’s edge is where the water meets the land. The water is considerably below here, isn’t it?”

Galen held on to the bigger man’s arm for balance, leaned slightly to one side and carefully glanced over the edge of the cliff. “Yes, but it still touches dry land.” 

“Down there it touches dry land, not up here and I think you can see that as well as I. However, I will not argue semantics with you. Just hear me out, young man, I do not want you up this cliff or any other cliff alone again, is that clear?”

Galen exhaled loudly with a noticeable touch of frustration. “Yes, it is. But I never would have discovered the ship if I hadn’t come up here, Thomas.”

“Is the discovery of an old shipwreck more important than your safety? What if you’d run into trouble up here alone, or if you’d fallen? No one would have even known until we noticed you missing and then how long would it have taken for us to find you?” Thomas asked.

The sun was in his eyes as Galen squinted up at the taller man. He reluctantly admitted to himself that Thomas had a good point. Admitting it to Thomas was a bit harder. “Okay, guess you’re right.” His face suddenly brightened considerable when an idea came to mind. “Can we make a deal?”

Thomas was almost afraid to agree; however he couldn’t resist the smiling face before him. “Alright, Galen, what sort of a deal?”

“I promise not to come back here again on my own if you promise to spend some time exploring with me.” The young man bit his lip and waited hopefully. With long hours spent working on various projects, the two men had little time together and Galen badly wanted the attention.

Thomas sighed. “I haven’t exactly been spending much time with you lately, have I? I’m sorry about that, Galen. We’re to be married in two months and you deserve my love and attention. I promise to set aside some special time for you and me; to take walks and do some exploring of the island.” He drew Galen into his arms and kissed him deeply. 

Galen returned the kiss; clinging tightly to the man he loved above all others. Their deal had been made and sealed.

Dallas was bored. He put down his chalk and flexed his fingers. He looked down at his slate and staring back at him was the alphabet repeated three times in his still shaky writing.

He was actually beginning to enjoy school. His math was above average although he didn’t like it when Quentin changed from mental arithmetic to writing the problems down. His reading ability, which prior to classes had been below average, was improving almost daily. The main problem was his writing. It was a skill he’d never practised, as it had never been needed in his previous life. Troy had quickly become aware that what Dallas needed was repetitive writing exercises.

Raythe wasn’t paying any mind to the others as he was occupied with keeping an eye on Spyke who was obviously distracted. It caused Raythe to speculate on what his friend was plotting.

 Dallas sighed louder and this time he caught Troy’s attention.

“Finished your assignment, Dallas?” the teacher asked.

“No sir,” Dallas answered. “I’m bored, that’s all.” Troy fixed Dallas with a stern look which made him visibly squirm.

“I’d suggest you get on with your assignment,” Troy said sternly “You only get yourself in trouble when you think you’re bored. I would think you’d be able to survive one afternoon a week in class without losing interest so quickly.”

Dallas bent his head back over his slate and appeared to reapply himself to his writing assignment.

Classes over for the afternoon, Raythe dragged Galen over to one side and glancing around to make sure they were not overheard, quietly told him of his suspicions. “I think Spyke is gonna sneak out to that clipper. How about we go see what he’s up to?” Raythe smiled when Galen’s eyes lit up in anticipation.

Galen followed his fellow conspirator down to the beach but balked when Raythe started towards the cliff. “Ah, I’m n-not supposed to go up there, Raythe.”

Raythe stared in disbelief for a moment until understanding dawned. “For shit’s sake, Galen, you’re gonna have to tell Thomas to back off. You’re the only one who’s hardly allowed to do anything or go anywhere for that matter.”

“Thomas is just w-watching out for m-me, Raythe.” Galen blushed uncomfortably.

“Overbearing is what he is!” Seeing the hurt look on the other man’s face, Raythe sighed and relented. “Okay, the tide’s out, so we’ll find a hiding place among the boulders at the base of the cliff and wait for Spyke to show.” He knew he had made the right choice when Galen eagerly smiled his thanks. 

Meanwhile, Spyke waylaid Larry on his way to the work site and once again began badgering him about the possibility of sunken treasure. Their original plan had been nipped in the bud but that didn’t stop them contemplating the fun to be had. While Larry was more inclined to adhere to Aiden’s orders, Spyke was doing his best to persuade him to do otherwise.

“Wouldn’t it be thrilling to go down there and find a bunch of gold medallions and jewellery or maybe even some more rum?” Spyke exclaimed as he munched on a treat he had stowed away after the noon meal.

“Yeah, I’d love to explore the ship and see if maybe I could find some old artefacts. That’s what I’d consider a real treasure,” Larry replied as he reached over and broke off a piece of the molasses cookie.

Spyke gave his partner an annoyed look for helping himself. “Well, you’re an experienced diver and I’m a pretty good swimmer myself, so why don’t we go down now while the tide is out and take a look?”

Larry secretly admitted sometimes being a little annoyed at what he felt was an unnecessarily over-protective attitude on Aiden’s part. 

“Look, I know you have nothing to do right now ‘cause it’s your turn for some time off. I can understand the area being off limits for inexperienced divers but that shouldn’t apply to you. We gotta get down there and take a closer look before Sunday when everyone will be falling over each other to do it. If you won’t come with me, then I’ll go alone.” This threat was the last of Spyke’s persuasive arsenal as he appealed to his unenthusiastic partner.

Larry noticed the gleam in his young partner’s eyes and he wasn’t sure if Spyke was serious in his threat or just teasing but he wasn’t willing to take that chance. “Okay, I’ll come but just so I can be assured you won’t be in any danger. But by the hell, Aiden better not find out. Deal?”

“Deal! Let’s go!”

When they neared the water’s edge, Larry and Spyke removed their shirts and climbed over the large outcrop of rocks. Next, they merrily made their way over the wet sand toward their quarry. Spyke gave a whoop as he splashed through the ankle deep water, dragging Larry with him.

Despite the poor condition of the vessel, the daring young men were able to climb on board without mishap. Larry was pleased he had Spyke with him because he soon discovered there were a few spaces he was unable to fit into, whereas the smaller man had no trouble doing so.

Things were going along just fine and the two men were enjoying themselves tremendously. They eventually discovered what Larry determined had been the Captain’s quarters. So engaged in their escapade, they easily lost track of time and failed to notice that the tide had turned.

“Wow, Larry, this is great. Look here, it’s a small chest of some kind. Do you think there may be something of value in it?”

“Why don’t we haul it down from the shelf and take a look,” Larry laughingly suggested.

“You know, Larry, I don’t know why Aiden was so worried about this place. It’s as safe as being in our own tent.”

“Yeah, but we better keep this little adventure a secret until we can convince him of that, okay?”  

Spyke didn’t like keeping secrets from Aiden but he could certainly see Larry’s point. He reached up and grabbed the container seated on a shelf above his head and was about to make another comment regarding its contents when disaster struck. Just as the metal box was removed, the shelf gave way and came crashing down. In his haste to get over to assist his partner, Larry stepped on a badly rotten area of the floor and fell through it.  

“Damn it!” Larry swore when finding it impossible to free himself. He could feel the jagged wood scraping up the side of his thigh and cried out in pain. 

“Holy shit, Larry, hang on. I’m going down to see if I can free you from underneath.” 

Larry gritted his teeth and waited. A few minutes later he felt a desperate tugging on the boards and heard a muffled voice from below.

“You’re stuck hard, Larry, and I’m not strong enough on my own to get you out. I have to go for help.”

“Okay, but don’t get Aiden. Get Brock or Mitchell; they’re both big and strong.”

“Yeah, but I gotta tell Aiden,” Spyke insisted as he reappeared wet and dirty.

“No! Don’t tell him, Spyke. He’s going to kill me for doing this. But if Brock or someone else can help you get me out, he’ll never have to know”

“Don’t you think they’ll tell him?”

“Not if we tell them that we will tell him later; besides Aiden is too big to get in here. We barely managed to get in ourselves with the doorway partly block with debris.”

“Look, Larry, the tide is coming in and we’re wasting valuable time arguing. Now I gotta get out of here before we find ourselves under water.” With that, Spyke quickly disappeared.

Larry could hear him scrambling over the damp, rotting exterior of the ship. He tried to remain calm by closing his eyes and going into survival mode. Relying on his training in the marines, he calculated the speed of the rising water and figured he had approximately twenty to thirty minutes of airtime left. Hopefully, that should be enough for help to arrive.

As Spyke jump into the swirling ocean, Raythe and Galen called out and began wading towards him. 

Spyke hurriedly babbled out the problem. “I don’t want to leave Larry alone. Please, can one of you guys go for help?” He was becoming frantic. The water that had only been ankle deep when they got here was now up to his waist.

It took several minutes of heavy running for Raythe to find Brock. He grabbed the big mountain man and began telling him of Larry’s fate as he tried pulling him along the path back to the ocean. Brock in turned called out for Aiden and the three men raced towards the shore. They ended up being accompanied by Thomas and Mitchell.

The men hadn’t taken the time to question further; they’d just nodded and set off on a pace that Raythe found difficult to keep up with. When they arrived at the shore, Galen began wading out again and Raythe ran past Brock to quickly catch up to his friend.

“Raythe!” Brock bellowed. “Get back here!”

“Galen, get out of the water at once!” Thomas yelled.

Galen and Raythe reluctantly obeyed and retraced their steps.

Brock grabbed hold of Raythe and held him firmly against his side. “One man in danger is already one too many, boy.”

Thomas applied a hard swat to the seat of Galen’s pants. “You were told to stay away from here!” he declared. “However, we’ll discuss that later. If Larry is stuck, it’s likely he’s hurt. I want you and Raythe to get back to the campsite and inform Lakota we’ll be bringing an injured man in for his attention.

Galen and Raythe were anxious to regain their partners good graces, so they headed back at a run to notify the doctor of the situation.

Meanwhile, Aiden’s long strides had him rapidly covering ground, but he slowed momentarily when he witnessed his young partner, dripping wet and waving wildly from the partially submerged vessel. By the time he reached Spyke, the young man was almost incoherent, barely able to make himself understood. The big Scot hugged his youngest partner, calming him before issuing instructions.

“Okay, laddie, ye stay up here. Mitchell and I’ll rescue Larry.”

“No, Aiden, I have to go back down. You’re gonna need help freeing Larry ‘cause you’re both too big to get through the opening.”

Spyke led the way as the older men broke down barriers to allow them passage and soon they were standing outside the cabin where Larry by this time was in dire straits. He was beginning to hyperventilate due to the panic overtaking him as the water swirled around his chin.

“Take it easy, Larry,” Mitchell calmly ordered. “We’ll have you out in no time.”  He gave Aiden a nod and the two men submerged at the same time. In a matter of seconds, Larry felt his body drifting up as the wood encasing his legs was torn away by two pair of powerful hands. 

Spyke was to the first to climb out of the ship and joyfully announced Larry finally being freed. Aiden stayed down another minute or two, examining the extent of his partner’s injuries.

“I canna see as any serious damage ‘twas done ye, but I’ll know best when we get out of here,” the big Scot firmly stated. “Mixed with water, the amount of blood can be deceiving.”

The look on Aiden’s face as he helped Larry out of the ship almost made the ex-marine want to stay where he was. He knew he was in real trouble. He looked over at Spyke who had the same look of trepidation on his face that Larry strongly suspected he had on his own. 

Mitchell tore a long strip off his shirt and wrapped it around the gash on Larry’s left thigh. It would do until they got him to the infirmary and into Lakota’s care. “You may need stitches, my friend,” he commented. He stood back and watched in awe as Aiden lifted his partner and began carrying him towards the encampment where medical help would be waiting. Then he, Spyke, Thomas, and Brock quietly followed in the giant’s wake.

Forewarned that someone would be in need of medical attention, Yancey had everything ready. Not sure what would be required by the doctor and not wanting to waste valuable time searching at the last minute, he had surgical tools and a good supply of dressings laid out. He was fully prepared should the injury prove serious.

Lakota had just finished his final inspection of the instruments when the tent flap opened. He turned to see a pale, visibly shaken ex-marine being carried by a calm-mannered but somewhat annoyed-looking Scot. Spyke apprehensively stepped into the infirmary behind his partners.

“Just put him down on the table here so I can have a good look at the wound,” Lakota instructed.

Yancey brought a lantern with a large reflector over to a spot beside the table to provide the doctor with as much light as possible while Aiden gently set his injured partner down. 

Larry could tell by the big man’s body language that he was in for a lengthy discussion. He winced when Lakota removed the blood soaked bandage to take a better look at the injury. 

“Well, that’s a nasty scrape but it’s not deep. Aside from a couple of splinters that have to come out, it will not need stitching,” the doctor informed the anxious men.

“Uh, Doc, I’ve seen injuries like this before.” Larry was bound to try and persuade Lakota to let him stay in the infirmary for a day or two, at least until Aiden calmed down. “Maybe it would be wise for me to stay in here for a while. I mean, you know how quickly an infection can set in.”

“Are you in doubt of my ability to know what’s right for my patients?” Lakota asked, recognising what the young marine was doing.

Not wanting to anger Aiden any further with the thought that one of his partners would show disrespect to anyone, Larry quickly replied, “No Sir, that’s not what I meant….I just thought…..”

Aiden leaned forward and placed a huge hand on Larry’s shoulder. “The good doctor and I are verra much aware of what yer up to, laddie, so ye best end it now and be quiet.”

Feeling the blush heating up his face, Larry nodded and did as he was told. 

With Yancey’s assistance, Lakota set to work removing the debris from the wound and disinfecting it.

Each wipe made Larry wince, a few even caused his eyes to water. He appreciated Aiden moving in closer and placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. He was also grateful for the soothing rubbing motions of Spyke’s hand on one of his forearms. He kept his head down through it all but every once in a while he’d furtively glance up to see if his grunts of pain were changing the look of displeasure in Aiden’s eyes to one of sympathy.

Although Larry saw the concern in the older man’s eyes, he also saw the lingering anger and knew he still had some serious consequences to face. Finally, all too soon for Larry, Lakota had finished cleaning the injury site and Yancey had bandaged it.

“You need to keep the wound dry and covered. Come back tomorrow. We’ll need to change the dressing every day for the week. You’ll be back in shape in plenty of time for your wedding, but I’d like you to restrict your duties for the next day or two. I‘d prefer you try avoiding walking long distances or lifting any weights. Is that understood?”

Larry nodded. “Yes, thank you, Doctor.”

With Yancey’s help, Larry got off the table and tentatively put a little weight on his sore leg. He considered an attempt to fake the amount of pain he was in but seeing Spyke’s negative head shaking, wisely decided against it. Both young men knew Aiden would easily catch on to any shenanigans on Larry’s part and the ex-marine was already in enough trouble.

After thanking Lakota and Yancey for their care, Larry waited patiently while Aiden did the same then allowed himself to be helped out of the infirmary. 

Lakota shook his head while helping Yancey cleanup. “I imagine that is one fellow who’s going to have trouble sitting for the next few days.”

Yancey looked up and slowly nodded. “I would be very surprised if such was not the case. I do not recall seeing Aiden this infuriated before.”

Once Aiden was assured Larry was fine and not seriously injured, he’d ordered Spyke to go and wait for him in their tent. Spyke didn’t argue, he just turned and made his way across the compound while the older man gave Larry his undivided attention.

“It’s a shame to keep him waiting, Aiden. Why don’t you go see to him now? I don’t mind; really I don’t!”

“Oh I’m sure ye don’t, laddie, but dinna fash yerself as waiting willna harm him. ‘Tis time ye and I had a verra serious chat about what ye did this afternoon.” With those words, Aiden began to half carry, half tow Larry towards the woods. 

Knowing Aiden was going to do his talking with his hand, Larry dug in his heals in an effort to prevent his being pulled any further down the path, even while admitting how futile his efforts were. Next, he began pleading his case only to realise it was falling on deaf ears. “Please, Aiden, I appreciate the fact that you were right. It was dangerous. I’ll never disobey you again. I’m sorry.”

“No as sorry as yer going to be in a few minutes, laddie,” was Aiden’s response. Quickly tiring of Larry’s attempts to slow their progress, he picked him up and tossed him over his shoulder. When Larry kept mumbling and pleading, Aiden emphasised an order to keep quiet by giving the young man one resounding swat across the seat of his pants.

“Owww, Aiden! That hurt!”

Once they’d reached their destination, Aiden slid Larry off his shoulder and without any preliminaries yanked down the younger man’s trousers and undershorts then placed him over his lap. “Ye may think that one smack hurt, laddie, but yer about to feel a great deal more.”

Aiden didn’t hold back as he had done in past chastisements. Larry had crossed the line by not only blatantly disobeying a direct order, but by putting himself and Spyke in danger.

The smacks were hard and each one caused Larry to yell out in pain. He did his best not to break down in tears but as the heat became unbearable, he couldn’t hold it back any longer.

“Aiden, please stop!’ he pleaded as the painful swats continued to fall. He usually wasn’t inclined to beg like he was, but this reprimand seemed so much more severe that previous ones.  “No more, please!” Heaving sobs were causing his body to tremble when Aiden finally brought the punishment to an end and set the chastened man on his feet. Larry immediately placed his hands on his burning rump and tried to rub the pain away. He looked down at Aiden and dropped to his knees. He threw his arms around the big man’s neck and nestled into the heavily-muscled shoulder.

“Aiden, I’m so sorry for what I did. I thought I knew better and wanted to prove I didn’t need your over-protectiveness, but I was wrong. I do need you to watch over me sometimes when I become my own worst enemy.”

“Larry,” Aiden spoke softly as he pulled his partner closer. “I ken how ye may believe that because yer older than Spyke and have a wee bit more life experience ye should be treated different, but I’ve ne’er shown favouritism between the two I love. Rules for Spyke apply to ye as well, especially in matters of safety.”

“I realise that, Aiden, and I am so sorry for putting you in this position.”

“Well, ‘tis pleased I am that ye recognise my concerns. Ye’ve been punished, so ‘tis over and done. Now, as ye’ve had a hard day, let’s put ye to bed so ye can get some rest.” Aiden set Larry on his feet and stood up.

“Are you going to discipline Spyke?”

“Ye need not let it concern ye. Now come along.”

Larry rearranged his clothing and as he began to limp along beside Aiden, the blaze from the spanking he had just endured came rushing back. With every step he took, the rough material of his underwear rubbed against the tender flesh. To add to his discomfort, his leg was also beginning to throb. Aiden, finally showing him some sympathy, threw him over his shoulder once more and carried him back to their tent.

Spyke was sitting outside when he saw Larry and Aiden approaching. He quickly scrambled up, went inside and sat down on his pallet. He studied Larry’s puffy red eyes and made a note of how he winced when Aiden set him down on the mattress. The young man swallowed hard as Aiden took a hold of his hand and began to lead him out of the tent. Looking back, he saw a genuine look of sympathy in Larry’s eyes but also saw a small grin gathering at the corners of his mouth.

‘Damn that clumsy marine!’  Spyke thought as he was lead down the path to meet his own reckoning.

Feeling exhausted, Larry lay down and drifted off to sleep. He woke some time later when he felt another’s body cuddling up to him.

“Hi there, kid. How’s your backside?” Larry asked Spyke.

“Shit, Larry, can’t you see the smoke radiating from it? I’m on fire.”

“You and me both, Spyke; you and me both.”

 “He gave you the full treatment, did he, Marine?”

“Oh, yeah!”

“Well you shouldn’t have been so fucking clumsy enough as to fall through the floor. I thought Marines were supposed to be light on their feet?”

“No! If I wouldn’t have let myself get talked into something I knew was wrong by a certain little hellion, we wouldn’t be laying here with sore rear-ends.”

“Yeah, but either way it’s your fault, ain’t it? But I forgive you.”

The teasing cheered Larry up. Picking up on the same light mood, he retorted. “Oh, that’s big of you. Now I can go on living with a clear conscience.” There was a slight pause before Larry suddenly turned serious. “But get this through your head; what we did wasn’t right and I will not be forgetting this fire in my neither regions any time soon. And, I won’t be so easy to convince next time either.”

“Wanna bet? I can be pretty persuasive you know.”

Larry looked down at this young man lying next to him. He grabbed up his pillow and wacked him on the side of the head.

Spyke quickly retaliated and before long the two men were engaged in a full-fledged, no holds barred, pillow fight.

Larry’s split along the seams. The tent soon looked like a major blizzard was raging as feathers rained down around them.

Spyke reared back to give Larry one last thump but as he swung back, his pillow struck what felt like a stone wall and also split wide open.

Larry looked up to see their giant partner covered in feathers and started chuckling.

Spyke turned around to witness the same sight Larry had and he too began to snicker.

Aiden tried to act like he was angry at their actions but their mirth was contagious. With in seconds, the three men were holding their sides and laughing uproariously. The events of this afternoon were soon pushed aside as the sounds of merriment and love filled the air.


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