Chapter Thirty-six

Larry was in a panic. He could not find his diary. Although he found the need to use it less often since his relationship with Aiden and Spyke began, he occasionally found solace in putting his thoughts on paper. The small notebook contained his own very private feelings of the past and present, and he was mortified to think of anyone else reading them.

He tried desperately to remember the last time he had written in it. He knew he had penned in his and Aiden’s first time making love, but that was a while ago.

“Damn, where the hell did I put it?” he mumbled to himself. In his haste to find his missing property he had completely ransacked not only his, Aiden and Spyke’s sleeping areas, but also Walker, Thad and Jordan’s. Bedding was in piles around the tent and what little they had in the way of make-do furniture had been overturned.

As he shook out his pillow and blankets for what seemed like the hundredth time, it suddenly hit him. He had taken his diary to the fireside chat last evening and after writing a few lines, had put it down to join in the conversation taking place at the time. He had dropped off to sleep and barely remembered Aiden half walking, half carrying him back to their tent. His diary had been left behind.

Hoping the notebook had not fallen into the wrong hands, Larry rushed out of the tent and over to the fire pit. He completely forgot about the mess he’d made..

Out of breath, Larry reached his destination only to find his precious diary was nowhere to be found. Now real panic set in and began to make its presence felt in the pit of his stomach as he felt his breakfast threatening to make its way up his throat.

“Okay, Marine,” Larry admonished himself. “Calm down and think! Who was sitting next to you?” Letting his mind wander back to last night, he thought of where everyone had been seated.

“Galen! It was Galen and Thomas!” Larry excitedly exclaimed and he set out to locate the young man, fervently hoping that Galen had discovered the notebook and was keeping it safe until its owner claimed it. He knew he would be showing up for work later than he usually did but being as Aiden was often cautioning him to slow down and take things easy, Larry didn’t think this one time occurrence would cause much of a problem.

Galen counted off on his fingers the chores that had been completed so far this morning. The pigs and chickens had been fed, the eggs collected and delivered to the kitchen, the goats milked and the buckets cooling, and the sheep were grazing peacefully in their fenced-in area.

He stood and watched his friends head out to the construction site to join their partners. He was glad Spyke and Raythe were happy in their newly formed relationships, but it meant that the young man spent more and more time alone.

Galen’s friends rarely asked him to accompany them anymore as he was not allowed to wander from the encampment. He could not go further than the shoreline unless accompanied by his mentor, who at the moment was doing his morning inspection of the fields and would then be joining the majority of the men working on the new lodge before returning to camp for the noon meal.

Galen had not even seen the progress being made at the building site since the day after Aiden had announced that the last of the trees had been felled and construction would soon be underway. That had been over two weeks ago.

Feeling a cool, wet nose nudging his hand, Galen looked down and smiled at one of the two large golden retrievers. “Hello, Juliette. You and Romeo here to keep m-me company? W-wanna go splash in the ocean?”

Galen spotted Brodie, Yancey, Seth and Wes doing the laundry. He would have offered to help, but not wanting to incur Seth’s wrath, gave them a wide berth instead. Even though Yancey was giving them a hand, Galen knew his antagonist would still manage a derogatory comment or two.

Next, he stopped by the mess tent to see if anyone was around only to discover Walker and Jordan had already left to deliver the mid-morning snack to the crew at the work site. Thad was occupied and didn’t need any assistance. He also didn’t have time to stop and talk.

Galen was surprised to see Kelby sitting forlornly at one of the long tables instead of off somewhere with Quentin. He wondered not for the first time if something was wrong. Kelby had been very distant the last few days, so Galen chose not to disturb the man’s reading.

“Get those dogs out of the mess hall, Galen,” Thad patiently reminded the younger man as he turned back to concentrate on what he was doing when interrupted.

Galen whistled and obediently left the tent, his faithful companions trailing on his heels. “Good thing I’m used to entertaining m-myself, eh guys; ‘cause everyone else is so b-busy. At least, there’ll be classes this afternoon.”

Arriving at the beach, Galen undid his overalls, let them fall to the ground and merrily stepped out of the only article of clothing he wore. He knew he had the area to himself and loved the freedom of running naked along the sandy shore. The young man was as brown as a berry from head to toe.

It was here Larry ended his quest when he came upon Galen frolicking with Walker’s championship dogs in the puddles left behind by the outgoing tide. The small pools of water had been warmed by the summer sun. He was unperturbed by the young man’s state of undress having seen him like this in the past. 

“Yes, I found it,” Galen responded to Larry’s concerned inquiry. “I put it in a safe p-place for you and I never even opened it. I know how p-personal it m-must be.”

Upon learning that his notebook was in safekeeping under Galen’s pillow, he thanked Galen and contentedly made his way to the construction site without giving a second thought to the clutter he had left behind in his sleeping quarters.

Wes and Seth were huddled together. They were hanging up the last of the washed clothes and chatting amiably away when Wes began whispering something into Seth’s ear. Seth stopped what he was doing immediately and listened intently, his mouth slowly gaping open. Both were so engrossed in their exchange; they were totally unaware of Wayne’s scrutiny.

The older twin had come in from the fields to deliver wild mushrooms which Thomas had found by the woods, to the kitchen team. He was on his way back to the fields when he caught sight of his twin and Seth. He glanced over at them and narrowed his eyes suspiciously. Sidling closer, he strained to listen to the conversation.

“No! I don’t believe you!” exclaimed Seth, his voice low.

Wes smiled secretly at his friend and shook his head slyly. “I tell you, it’s true! When he first told me, I could not believe it either. But he has since proven to me that it is true.”

“Well I’m just gonna have to see if Preston is up to it,” Seth ardently declared.

“But Nathan warned me not to tell anyone,” Wes said with a giggle. “So don’t you breathe a word of this to a single soul! I’m telling you in strict confidence.”

Seth placed his hand over his heart dramatically. “Honour of a gentleman. I will carry this secret to my grave!”

Wes grinned and knocked Seth’s hand from his chest. “Idiot! You ain’t no gentleman and …”

Both men looked up in surprise as a smouldering Wayne pushed his way in between them. Putting his face close to Wes’, he snarled, “I trusted you!”

Wes blinked at his twin in surprise. “Wayne? What’s wrong?”

Wayne ignored him and swung around to face Seth. “Dare to repeat this and I will kill you both.”

“What the hell has gotten into you?” Seth’s response was one of bewilderment.

“Get lost! I want to talk to my brother!”

“You are acting kinda crazy, so maybe I better not leave the two of you alone.” Seth was rather concerned.

Wayne snarled. “Didn’t you hear me? I said to get lost!”

“Calm down, Wayne. What’s the matter with you?” Wes asked irritably before turning to Seth. “It’s okay, Seth. Let me talk to Wayne. We’re finished here so I’ll catch up with you later. And don’t forget, not a word.”

Wayne growled angrily. “Yeah, you better keep your mouth shut if you know what’s good for you!”

“Whatever you want, Wes.” Seth threw a disparaging glare in Wayne’s direction and walked away carrying two empty laundry baskets.

Grasping Wes’ arm in a death grip, Wayne pulled him along until they were at the side of the outhouses, hidden from view of anyone who might be around. It was mid-morning and most of the group was at their respective jobs, so the place was deserted.

Wes shook Wayne’s hand off and glared at him. “What the fuck is the matter with you?”

Wayne shook with fury. “You swore to me you wouldn’t tell anyone. It was my secret and I trusted you! Didn’t I make that clear?”

“What secret?” Wes asked, perplexed.

“You traitor! I told you never to repeat what I said to you.”

Wes paused for a moment and then his brow cleared. “Ass-hole!” he snapped. “You think I would just go round telling everyone my brother got raped? Is that how much you think of me?”

Wayne let out a ragged breath. “Seth has a big mouth!”

“Oh, for Christ sake, I didn’t tell Seth anything!”

“What did you say to Seth then?”

“None of your bloody business!”

Wayne moved closed. “To hell with your bloody business! You better tell me before I clobber you!”

“Oh yeah? You think I won’t take you on? Come on then.”

Both boys began to move in as they heard a rattling and the door of the outhouse closest to them suddenly swung open. They looked up speechless as Samuel loomed over them, his face grim. Wayne’s face drained of colour as he stared at his partner.

“I wouldn’t even think of it if I were you,” Samuel said coldly, his eyes sweeping over the twins. “What do you think you are doing? Hasn’t the council made it clear that there will be no fighting? Haven’t Nathan and I made it clear as well?”

Wes stepped back but Wayne was immobilised. He just stared silently at Samuel, his chest heaving. Thoughts chased one another through his head. Samuel must have overheard their conversation and he didn’t look very happy about it. Desperately, Wayne tried to remember what he and Wes had said and how much had been revealed. He felt sick with apprehension as the one man above all others from whom he wanted to keep the secret, was the one who had been in the outhouse. More than anything, Wayne wanted to fling himself into Samuel’s arms and seek comfort there, but he was too afraid to even move.

Samuel took in the situation at a glance and turned to Wes. “Wesley, Wayne and I need to talk. Please go and give us some privacy,” Samuel ordered firmly as he glanced back at his distressed-looking partner.

“No!” Wes said, boldly standing up to the imposing Samuel. “I’m staying!”

Samuel quirked an eyebrow at the young man and walked over to him. “I told you to go, Wesley. When I say something, I expect to be obeyed. Now go!” he said a bit more forcefully as he turned Wes back towards camp and sent him on his way with a firm swat.

Samuel watched Wes storm off and then turned to look at Wayne. It hurt him to see how distraught the young man looked. With an effort, he forced himself to stay calm, but his voice came out harsher than he intended.

“Wayne, I think it’s time we talked.” Samuel stepped forward and put a hand on Wayne’s arm.

Wayne clenched his teeth at the way Samuel sounded. At Samuel’s touch, he jerked away as if it burned him.

“Don’t touch me," he growled in a low warning tone.

Samuel looked back at Wayne, his grip staying the same but his voice lightening slightly as he realised he must have sounded angry before. Keeping his tone low and gentle, he used the only endearment he’d ever spoken to Wayne. “We really need to talk about this, my pet.”

Wayne’s eyes filled with tears as he looked away. “No, we don’t! Let me go! I don’t want to talk about it. I want to be alone,” his voice broke.

Seeing Wayne’s anguish, Samuel found it easy to push all else aside with the exception of his tormented lover’s comfort. “I can’t do that, Wayne. I can’t leave you alone, not at this time. This is something we need to talk about especially if someone here has...” Samuel paused as anger began to consume him again.

“You weren’t supposed to hear!” Wayne’s voice was anguished.

“Just when was I supposed to hear, Wayne? When someone else you’ve confided in decides to tell me? Or when some other young man falls prey to the monster that did this to you?” Samuel pressed on as his eyes filled with a deep sorrow.

“You were to never find out!” Wayne cried as he pulled away from Samuel. Within seconds he was running into the woods, crashing wildly through the undergrowth. He fled, paying no mind to the branches whipping at him and his clothes.

The minute Wayne raced off; Samuel was after him. Wayne was fast, but the older man was faster and caught up with his young lover as they came out into a clearing. He quickly grabbed Wayne from behind and wrapped his arms tightly around him.

“Wayne, stop!” Samuel softly pleaded. He held his struggling lover as he kept murmuring into Wayne’s ears. “Stop, please. Don’t run from me, please…please …”

As the sun filtered through the leaves onto the clearing, a feeling of surreal calm settled over the two men, caught so tightly in an unnatural embrace. Spring was long gone; the earth smelled warm and the air was thick with the scents of the woods. The shudders eased from Wayne’s shoulders and Samuel relaxed his hold as he got himself under control.

“Come on, my pet. Like I said before, we need to talk.” Samuel buried his face into Wayne’s neck and that was the breaking point for the young man. That Samuel would still hold him and touch him so tenderly; that Samuel would still want him.

With a great cry of pain, Wayne turned around and flung his arms around his lover’s neck. He sobbed as Samuel swept him off his feet and carried him over to a tree stump. As Samuel lowered them both and settled the young man on his lap, Wayne suddenly looked up and whispered. “It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t ask for it. Please believe me.”

Samuel grew puzzled for a moment before realising what Wayne must be thinking. “No, love; hush, baby. I told you we needed to talk. That’s all. No one is blaming you. Just tell me, please.” 

“It happened a long time ago,” Wayne mumbled quietly.

Samuel caught his breath. “It didn’t happen here? It wasn’t someone here who …” he trailed off.

Wayne shook his head and looked away, feeling shame and revulsion sweep over him. “No! No, oh God, it was before we came here!”

Samuel closed his eyes and said a silent prayer of thanks. If it had been anyone on the island who had violated his partner in such a way, he would have killed him with his bare hands. Feeling the shudders running through Wayne’s body, he turned his attention back to the matter that concerned him most. “Tell me what happened. I just want to know. I am not angry, and I promise I will not judge you, but I need to know.”

Wayne stared into the dark eyes watching him so intently and decided he had hidden from it long enough. He had let it shadow him, making him feel guilty, tarnished and afraid. Even if he wanted to keep it secret, he no longer could. It was time to face it all with Samuel, who had a right to know. Haltingly in a colourless voice, he recounted the incident, bracing himself against Samuel’s reaction.

Samuel sat very still as he hugged his shuddering partner closer. “Oh, my poor love,” he crooned, despite his own heartache. “I’m so sorry for what happened. I can only imagine how you must have felt.” He planted a soft kiss on Wayne’s head. “No one should be hurt like that!” He gritted his teeth, choking down his anger at the unidentified perpetrator of this crime.

Wayne stole a look at his partner’s face. “I didn’t want you to know. I didn’t want you to think I was damaged. I didn’t want your pity!”

Samuel briefly closed his eyes, wanting to choose his next words carefully. “I don’t deny I am angry at this man who could do such a heinous thing, and I am disappointed that you didn’t think I needed to know, but I am not angry at you nor do I think of you differently or love you less. I certainly do not pity you and certainly do not consider you damaged. I feel very sorry for what happened but that’s not pity. Do you understand?”

Wayne nodded his head, not sure of his voice.

Samuel tilted Wayne’s head and leaned in to press his lips to Wayne’s. “You listen to me, my pet. I love you. I assure you right here and now that this atrocity will never ever happen to you again. You have my word.” Samuel vowed to himself right there and then that he would never push Wayne into doing anything the young man was not comfortable with.

Wayne’s lips quivered but he managed a watery smile. Stealing another glance up, his apprehension turned to relief as he looked into Samuel’s eyes. In their depths, he saw sympathy, understanding and love; no recrimination, no reproach and most important of all, no disgust. The burden he had been carrying for so long was suddenly lifted off his shoulders.

Slowly their fingers met; one set curling into the other, snug and fitting. Like always, Wayne sat in the circle of Samuel’s arms and leaned back against the massive chest. Neither spoke as Samuel ran his thumb over his partner’s palm in a slow hypnotic circle. They quietly spent the rest of the morning here, finding no need for words.

Wes was a bit stunned at being swatted by someone other than his partner. With a throat that had suddenly gone tight, he quietly and instinctively went in search of Nathan. He wasn’t planning to tell Nathan, he just needed to be with him. In fact, he was afraid to tell Nathan in case he got in further trouble

Nathan looked up from the new design he was drawing and smiled. “Now to what do I owe this pleasant surprise, Minx? Have you finished the laundry already?”

“Yes,” Wes responded in a small voice. He began picking at a garment lying on the cutting table.

Putting down the sketch pad and pencil, Nathan held out his arms invitingly. “Come here, love?” he gently requested.

Wes trudged over and allowed Nathan to pull him in between his thighs. He chewed on his lower lip and stared at Nathan’s tanned throat.

“You seem unusually quiet.” Nathan observed the younger man’s face for signs of distress. “Has something happened to upset you?” He tugged until Wes was firmly nestled on his lap and soothingly rubbed his chin over Wes’ short, black hair.

Wes shrugged, feeling suddenly wary. He had sort of challenged Samuel earlier and he wasn’t at all sure how Nathan would take it. Nathan may be usually easy-going, but he didn’t tolerate disrespect. Wes didn’t want the older man to be angry with him.

“There nothing we cannot talk over, Minx, or take care of together, right?” Nathan’s soft voice offered encouragement.

Wes lowered his face and buried it into Nathan’s shoulder. “Nothing happened.”

“Hmm, you wouldn’t be trying to hide something from me, would you?” Nathan didn’t pull up Wes’ head to look in his eyes. He wanted his partner to talk freely, not feel intimidated.

Wes stayed motionless for a while before peeling himself away.  “Nathan....?”

“Yes, love?”

“You remember how mad Brock was with Troy for punishing Raythe?”

“I do, and I also remember us talking about it that evening. Why? Do you have further questions?”

Wes tried unsuccessfully to take the pique out of his voice. “You don’t seem to mind or care if I get ... um ... if someone ...”

“I would care very much if someone physically disciplined you, Wesley.” Nathan frowned as an unpleasant thought came into his head. “Has someone done so, Minx?”

Wes dipped his head further, his face obviously unhappy. Biting his lip tightly, he nodded his head once.

Nathan took in a deep breath in order to remain calm. “Who did what, Minx, and why?”

Wes’ spirit perked up at hearing the grim tone in Nathan’s voice. He opened his mouth to pour out his grievance, then abruptly closed it again as he deliberated over what to say. “It was Samuel,” he finally murmured.

“And just why would Samuel feel a need to chastise you? And what exactly did Samuel do to make you feel you had been punished?” Nathan patiently questioned, wanting to hear the whole story before making any further comments.

Wes began to fidget but Nathan’s hand stilled his restlessness. “He swatted me! Is he allowed to do that? I thought the council already decided no one can be punished unless it’s by his own partner?”

“Or possibly with his partner’s consent?” Nathan bit back a smile. He understood Wes’ anxiety and decided now was as good a time as any to explain the agreement he and Samuel had reached in order to keep their young partners safe in this as yet unknown place.

“You think this is funny?” Wes fumed, pouting and thinking to himself. ‘Isn’t the man the least bit concerned about me?’

Nathan tapped the jutting lip. “I am not laughing at you, Minx. I am relieved that nothing more serious took place. But, since we are on the subject, you and I need to talk over a rather important issue. One that Samuel and I have discussed and given a lot of thought to.”

Wes looked up nervously. “I didn’t do anything!” he protested, his voice rising a little in panic. Serious discussions with Nathan never ended well.

“Hey, hey, hey; there is nothing to get worked up over; at least not yet." Nathan teased and tightened his hold on his skittish young partner. “Now, first tell me why Samuel swatted you. I would really like to hear your version of events before Samuel comes to me with his.”

“I don’t know why ...” Wes began loftily, then stopped when he saw the older man’s raised eyebrow and continued in a more subdued tone. “He wanted to talk to Wayne in private and asked me to leave, but I refused. Besides, Wayne didn’t want to talk to Samuel alone and ...” he stopped again as Nathan held up a hand. 

“If, young man, you are telling me you sassed Samuel and got swatted for it, then the case is closed.” Nathan’s voice was firm, but his eyes twinkled at the glare he received.

Wes began to scramble off Nathan’s lap. “In that case, I see no reason ...”

“Oh no, you don’t!” Nathan insisted, refusing to release his hold on his partner. He turned serious and patiently repeated his earlier suggestion. “We really do have something else to talk over, Minx. It is important and I’d appreciate you giving it your full attention.”

“Let me go!” Wes twisted and got a sharp slap on the side of his thigh for his efforts. “Ow!” he cried out indignantly.

“Settle down and listen to me, please.” Nathan lightly ran his fingers over his own hand-print.

Grudgingly, Wes slumped against the solid body. “What?” he demanded ungraciously.

Nathan rolled his eyes and looked heavenward. Taking a deep breath, he plunged ahead. “We find ourselves living in a rather precarious situation, Wesley. As we continue to learn about this island, the number of uncertainties increases almost daily. It is with this in mind that Samuel and I have promised one other to watch over each other’s partner and to do everything in our power to keep him safe.”

Wes cocked his head to one side. “Huh?”

Suppressing a sigh, Nathan continued.  “Should the time ever come that for some reason Samuel, or I become unavailable, you and your brother will still have someone to depend on. Neither of you will have to go it on your own. More to the point, all the rules we presently govern our relationship by, will be maintained. Do you understand what I am saying?”

Wes’ fingers curled around Nathan’s shirt and held on tightly. He swallowed, suddenly serious. “What are you saying, Nathan? Where are you going?” He wasn’t even listening to Nathan. Panic had set in at the thought of losing Nathan in this place. The older man had become his one rock of stability.

“I am not going anywhere, my love. I am merely preparing for the unexpected.” Realising the need to set Wes’ mind at ease, Nathan continued in a slow, quiet voice. “Say for example, Samuel had to go out with some of the other men on a hunting trip, I would be here to help Wayne should he require assistance.” Nathan paused to see what effect his words were having.

Wes watched his face searchingly, trying to determine if Nathan was hiding anything from him. “Help how?” His eyes widened as an unwelcome thought entered his head. “Would he be sleeping with us?” Wes wasn’t exactly sure he liked that image.

“Not with us exactly, but he does share our tent,” Nathan smiled reassuringly. “I have promised Samuel I would look out for Wayne and see to it that your brother is not only kept safe, but that he also behaves in the same manner as he would when Samuel is nearby. Samuel has made the same promise to me.”

Wes recoiled from this new information; his face paler than usual. When he spoke, his voice shook with passion as he absorbed the gist of Nathan’s words. “I don’t want you to…to physically touch Wayne like that! And I certainly don’t want Samuel to touch me in any way!”

“Wesley,” Nathan hastened to clarify. “I think you misunderstand, love! I didn’t mean anything more than .....that is, I am simply talking about correction of destructive behaviour, not ...”

Wes shook his head fiercely. “I know exactly what you mean.”

“Then why would you feel that way, Minx? I would never do anything to harm your brother and Samuel would never harm you.”

“But I don’t want you to spank Wayne!” Wes said plaintively. “How do you mean to ... to ...?”

Nathan suddenly understood Wes’ trepidation. “How would I spank him?  Well, it would be done out of concern and only if the infraction was life-threatening. I know it would not be the same as it is between partners and lovers. I have no intention of baring Wayne’s backside and I trust Samuel to treat you and our very special relationship with the same respect.” The older man’s voice rang with conviction.

Wes immediately subsided, awed by Nathan’s demeanour. “You made Samuel promise he won’t punish me?”

“I made him promise never to punish you using anything other than his hand. But then why would he when he only uses his hand to punish your brother.”

“You won’t let Samuel spank me bare either, will you?”

“No, it is much too personal, and I’ve also made my stand regarding this known to Samuel, thereby ensuring it never happens.” Nathan understood how hard it was for his partner to accept the idea of being chastised by someone other than himself, but he needed to know that Wes would be cared for in his absence.

“Why does he have to punish me at all?” Wes mumbled unhappily to himself. He suddenly looked up. “He can report me to you if he is dissatisfied with my behaviour. And you could do the same with Wayne. Isn’t that better?”

“I agree that would be better, but I also know there are times when you and your brother give us no choice but to take immediate action. Do you not think this is so?”

Wes shrugged his shoulders eloquently. “Maybe,” he begrudgingly admitted, with a guilty glance in Nathan’s direction. “We don’t mean to get in trouble; we just do sometimes. I promise I won’t do anything to earn punishment when you are not around, Nathan.”

Nathan laughed at Wes’ expression, a mix between earnestness and hope. “Now that sounds like a plan to me,” he concurred. “Stay out of trouble and avoid unpleasant consequences.” He planted a tender kiss on the end of Wes’ nose. “How about promising that when I am around as well, hmm?”

“I’m always good when you are around, aren’t I?” Wes batted his lashes. 

“As good as you’re able to be,” Nathan teased, hugging Wes tightly. “And getting better all the time,” he murmured in his love’s ear. He laughed when their stomachs simultaneously complained of being empty. “Let’s go get a cup of coffee and maybe we’ll get a sneak preview of what Walker and his boys are serving up for dinner, shall we?”

Getting a nod of agreement, Nathan took Wes’ hand and together they strolled amicably over to the mess hall.


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