Chapter Fifty-nine

The large tent stood empty for the first time in almost six months. It had functioned as a gathering place for meetings and activities, a kitchen and dining room, a school and library, and recently even a sleeping area. The lodge was finally complete and the long-awaited move underway as the harvest was put on hold for the day.

Thad grabbed up the last carton of kitchen utensils and started toward the exit. “What wrong, Jordan?” he quietly inquired when noticing the forlorn expression on his younger partner’s face.

Jordan stood glancing around the huge shelter and shrugged his shoulders. “I’m gonna miss being here. I get used to a place and I don’t like leaving it.”

“But, Jordan, we’re moving into the lodge. We’ll have our own room; you, me and Walker. It’s going to be so much more private. Now grab up that box at your feet and come along.”

“Come on you two, get a move on,” Larry excitedly encouraged. “This tent is about to come down as soon as I make a final check to see that nothing has been left behind. Should take me all of fifteen seconds,” he joked.

Thad and Jordon walked a little ways from the canvas structure and stood off to the side with several other young men who had been told to stay out of the way.

They all watched as ropes were untied and poles removed; then clapped as the tent fell inward, causing a large cloud of dust to rise up. It took the combined strength of Mitchell, Hendrik, Larry, Preston, Samuel and Aiden to get the huge canvas dwelling folded properly and loaded onto the wagon so it could be hauled to the new barn and packed away for future use next Spring when another ship of exiles was due to arrive.

“It sure looks barren now,” Seth murmured in reference to their original campsite. Aside from the fire pit and various logs that now seemed out of place, there was very little sign of almost thirty men having lived in this particular area for several months.

Nothing else was said as Thad, Jordon, Seth, Spyke, Wayne and Wes turned and walked along the well-trampled path that led to the site of their new home which was presently bustling with activity. They'd long remember this first Saturday in October as the day they finally moved into the lodge. Next Sunday would mark the sixth month anniversary of them landing here and there was going to be a very important event taking place. Everything had been relocated and now only the last of the unpacking remained as men settled into their assigned rooms.

Quentin took a seat at the long wooden table, setting ledgers, paper, pen and ink down in front of him next to a fresh cup of coffee. He had rearranged his new bedroom and had decided to finish up some paperwork. He couldn’t help but grin at all the commotion going on about him as he closed his eyes for a moment and deeply breathed in the heady aroma of new wood. The fresh clean smell completely surrounded him and he hoped it would last for a long time to come.

With a soft sigh, he pulled his attention back to the task at hand, dipped his quill into the small bottle of ink and began to write. He wanted an accurate inventory list completed in time for tomorrow's weekly meeting with the council. With the ship having only arrived just five days ago, he'd barely had enough time to count everything. He became so engrossed that he found it disquieting when someone abruptly plunked down beside him.

“Hi there, storekeeper; what are you up to?”

Quentin glanced over at the young man who had so rudely disturbed him. It was one of the new members to the community and as before, Quentin felt himself drawn to him. “I’m getting my records ready for the council.”

“Now that sounds stimulating. How can you stand the excitement?” The glint in Haly’s eyes let the older man know he was being teased.

“And I suppose you would have other suggestions of what I could be doing?”

“I was hoping we might have a chance to talk and get better acquainted.” Haly’s countenance was one of youthful anticipation.

“I guess I can spare a few minutes,” Quentin smiled and put his pen down. “So, how are you getting along so far?” he asked in an attempt to make small-talk.

“Pretty good, I think. I’ve talked some with almost all the guys. No easy feat considering how busy everyone is.”

“Have you made any friends yet? You know, with men closer to your own age and with similar interests.”

“No one with fishing experience, but yeah, Seth and I have kind of hit it off. He’s an ex-gambler, ya know. I found that rather interesting.”

“Yes, I know,” Quentin commented and shook his head at Haly’s obvious admiration.

“Some of the others have asked to accompany me on my boat once the harvesting is done. Most of them are younger than I am, but I’ll take them out two or three at a time.”

“That’s considerate of you.”

“They might think differently when I get them back to land. It’s hard work when you’re not used to it.”

“Some may prove to be very helpful once they get the hang of it. You’ve had your medical, right? How did that go?”

“Okay, I guess.” Haly shrugged and dropped his eyes; a clear sign he was holding something back. Seeing the older man’s raised eyebrow from the corner of his eye, Haly strongly suspected more information was expected. “The doctor said I was to stop chewing tobacco. I don’t think that is going to happen though; at least not as long as my supply holds out and I brought plenty.” He sent Quentin a nonchalant smirk.

Quentin didn’t smile back this time. In fact, he looked rather serious. “You’d certainly be giving up that habit if you were mine.”

Haly’s eyes widened. ‘Is he suggesting…..? Reckon there’s only one way to find out,’ Haly reasoned. “Is there any chance of that happening?” He crossed his fingers under the table where the other man couldn’t see them.

“Anything’s possible, Haly,” Quentin softly intoned, allowing himself to become mesmerized by the beautiful eyes he was gazing into. Several moments passed before he cleared his throat and sat up a little straighter. 

Haly took a deep breath when he realized this man whom he’d formed an instant attraction to, might be giving him the opening he’d been waiting for since his arrival. “Good, ‘cause I really like you,” he calmly replied. Then he leaned in and holding his breath in fear of being rejected, gently kissed Quentin’s lips.

In a matter of seconds, Quentin found himself responding to the passionate show of need and want. He wrapped an arm around Haly in order to pull him closer and then deepened the kiss. He’d never before thrown caution to the wind like this, but seemed unable to help himself.

“This is neither the time nor place for this,” Quentin murmured once they’d parted to catch their breaths. “As much as I’d love to go on, right now I really should be getting this bookwork done. But if you can wait for a short while, we can continue this discussion at our leisure a little later.”

“I should be able to make myself available. I trust you’re going to be worth waiting for.” In an attempt to project an air of light-heartedness, Haly was saying one thing but his eyes were pleading for something else.

Quentin capitulated and once again chose to ignore the paperwork in front of him. “Haly, we have to get a few things straight,” he began. “I know we seem to find each other physically appealing, but I need more than just sexual release. I want to make sure I’m attracted to you in other ways too.”

“I’m so happy to hear that, because I need you in every way I can think of. The first time I laid eyes on you, I knew I had to get to know you better.”

“I experienced something similar, Haly, and even though I’ve been contemplating someday making a life-time commitment should the right person come along, I don’t want to rush things. It really is much too soon for us to know if we are meant to be together.”

“We have to start somewhere, Quentin. We’ll never find out if we don’t at least give it a try,” Haly stated adamantly.

After giving Haly’s words a bit of serious thought, Quentin slowly nodded. “I tell you what, why don’t we meet later and spend a little time getting to know each other better?”


“After I finish here and you get your belongings stowed away.”

“I’ve done all that. Everything’s under my bunk. I don’t care much for sleeping alone. Hell, I don’t even like sleeping in that bunk. It’s why I return to my boat every night. Truth is, I’d rather sleep with you,” Haly winked and flirted shamelessly as if his hints hadn’t been blatant enough.

Quentin couldn’t help but laugh. He realized if he were to ever have a relationship with this young man, he was going to have his hands full. He was surprised to discover he just might be looking forward to every minute of it. “Then while you’re waiting for me, why don’t you find someone else to help get settled in. You can return in about an hour, by which time I’ll be done. After that, we’ll take a walk down to the beach and talk things over.”

“An hour it is.” Stealing one more kiss, Haly left Quentin to get on with his task.

The older man sat back and chewed on the end of his pen as he contemplated Haly's continued use of his fishing boat as his sleeping quarters. 

On the upper level were seven bedrooms, the ones on each end of the hallway being somewhat larger than those in between, with beds made to sleep three. The seven rooms immediately below were of identical dimensions, with one of the end rooms serving as a pantry.     

Galen was sitting in the middle of the newly-made bed in what would soon become his and Thomas’ room once they were married in a week’s time. He was watching his fiancĂ© neatly placing the last of his personal items in one of two drawers of a dresser that had been crafted by Aiden as a wedding gift.

“It sure w-was nice of Aiden to give us this first one, w-wasn’t it, Thomas?”

“It certainly was, Galen.” Thomas straightened up and smiled at the beautiful young man who now held his heart.

“I don’t m-mind sleeping downstairs in one of the b-bunks, especially since Haly let me have the top b-bunk. Besides, it w-won’t be for long. Only one w-week and one day left to w-wait.”

“With the heaviest part of the harvest underway, we’re all so busy that the time will pass quickly.”

Galen gazed up at the older man, his eyes shining with love for him. “I hope so,” he softly intoned as he thought about them making love for the very first time. He crawled to the end of the bed, knelt on his knees and wrapped his arms around Thomas’ neck.

Thomas pulled his young love into his arms and kissed him. He permitted himself to deepen the kiss and hold it until he felt himself growing aroused. He knew it was dangerous to let it go on any longer as being alone with Galen in what would be their bedroom and kissing him like this could quickly lead to them going further than he wanted. They’d waited so long for their wedding night. Thomas had promised himself to keep it special; that he would only take Galen as his lover after they’d spoken their vows. He could feel Galen melting under the kiss and gently pushed him away. 

They were both panting as Thomas held Galen at arm’s length and gently stroked the side of the younger man’s face. “I love you so much. I want you to understand why it is so important to me that we wait for our wedding night.” He sat down on the bed beside Galen and wrapped his arm around his shoulder. “I’d like to tell you about my first time making love.”

Galen inhaled deeply and leaned against the bigger man’s chest. Gazing upward with his face alight with interest, he softly declared, “I’d really like to hear about that, Thomas.” The young man had no experience himself having never been with another man, and was both looking forward to and a little apprehensive about his first time. He knew Thomas would tell him the truth, not blow things out of proportion like he feared his friends here on the island had done.

Thomas didn’t keep Galen waiting any longer. “When I was seventeen, my parents began to accept invitations to dinners and picnics at the homes of many lovely young ladies who lived in our district. My parent’s desire was that I would find one of these young women to be of interest as a potential wife. After more than a dozen such introductions, my parents began to despair over my apparent lack of interest and my father came to the conclusion that I needed to be given some motivation. He felt that some experience in the bedroom was in order. 

Of course, I wasn’t told about this. Instead, I was told that I was to accompany him on a business trip to New York City. We packed our bags and headed to the big city where we checked into a fine hotel room. After dinner that first night, my father explained that he was taking me to a place where I would become in his words ‘a man’. I soon found myself taken to a brothel and left in the care of a French woman by the name of Tillie.  She must have been fifteen years my senior, but she was a very wise and kind soul. It took her little time to realize that my problem was not a lack of interest in sex, but a lack of interest in women. Her European background left her without the prejudices against homosexuality that we have in our country. She was very discrete and said she would help me learn the art of making love. 

I was someplace between highly embarrassed and indignant that she thought I didn’t know what sex was. After all, I’d been raised on a farm. I’d seen the animals and I’d heard talk amongst the other boys, so I thought I knew it all.

Tillie then sat me down and explained the difference between just having sex and making love to someone.   She sent for a young man in her employ whose name was Pieter and instructed him to show me the ways of love. I was young and very easily excitable; a feeling I’m sure you’re very aware of.”

Thomas chuckled when Galen blushed slightly. “Pieter taught me how a man makes love to another man and how both can get satisfaction without hurting one another. He was strong and yet gentle when it counted. Though I quickly learned that I found satisfaction in what he referred to as topping, he did teach me about both parts of the experience and several other ways of finding release and pleasure together. It was in many ways a good experience, but it lacked one thing and that was love. I don’t regret that my father took me to the brothel, but I can never look back on my first experience and say it was with the man to whom I had committed my life.  I want you to have that which I didn’t. I want to make your first experience a very special moment of your life.  I want it to be a very special moment in both our lives. A week from now when we lay together in this bed for the first time, I want us to be married.”

So mesmerized was Galen by the gentle tone of Thomas’ voice and the story, that all he could do was nod his understanding and agreement.

“There’s no need for you to be standing on the bed, Brodie. It’s not as if you can jump on it being as it is only a stuffed mattress,” Yancey informed his partner.

“I know that, but I figured up here I’d be out of your way.” Brodie made his way to the far side of the bed and stuck his head out the opened window. Looking to his right, he laughed when he saw Seth was doing the same two rooms over. He waved to the other man and pulled back to step off the bed. He missed his footing and fell head-first against the wall.

“Good grief!” Yancey muttered in loving exasperation as he reached down to offer a helping hand to his accident-prone partner. “Let me see what you’ve done to yourself now, Brodie.” He gently probed around the lump that was beginning to form over the younger man’s left eye. “Darn good thing we haven’t got a dresser in here yet or you’d have done a lot more damage to yourself.”

“I average hurting myself approximately once a week, so I’m relatively safe now for another week,” Brodie smirked and quickly sat down on the edge of the bed so his backside would be out of reach of the hand he felt was probably coming his way at any moment.

Yancey just shook his head and rolled his eyes before turning aside to hide the smile forming on his face. “I wonder how many times you’re going to fall on the stairs before you learn to take your time. I’ve overheard some of the fellas placing bets and trying to decide on a prize for whoever comes closest by the end of the month. Maybe we should have suggested to the council that they give us a bedroom downstairs.”

“Ha, very funny,” Brodie feigned annoyance but couldn’t stop himself from smiling. “I’m just glad to have our own room, period! The infirmary might have been better than sleeping with everyone else in the mess tent, but it sure is better to have a nice double bed instead of having to push two cots together. I know Gille thinks so too. Besides, any privacy we had there would be lost when someone got hurt or sick.”

“I agree, love. I’m sure all of us are more than pleased to have our own rooms.”

“True, mostly because we no longer have to go off somewhere to have our way with each other.” Brodie lightly tapped his knuckles against the wall. “Hmm, I wonder how soundproof these logs really are?”

“I would imagine a lot more than canvas is. Why?”

“So we don’t hear each other having private moments, if you know what I mean.”

“I do,” Yancey chuckled at the blush spreading over his lover’s cheeks. “But, sweetheart, everyone knows we all make love to our partners; the same as we all know some partners are disciplined. Both deeds are intimate and not done in public, but neither is something you can keep hidden in such close living arrangements.” He wrapped his arms around his flustered-appearing husband and lovingly kissed him. “Don’t fret over it, love.” He wasn’t able to hold back a short laugh at the soft moan that sounded in the vicinity of his chest.

Dallas sat on the bed with his legs crossed, thinking. Moving into the lodge marked a new chapter in his life, as it did for all the men. It meant he had to face the extent of his relationship with Kevin. He had finally accepted that he loved his tough partner and that had scared him. He and Kevin made time every day to just talk to each other. Kevin had pointed out that although the sex between them was a good starting point for a relationship, he wanted open disclosure as well. There was no way he was going to let Dallas relapse. Although Dallas was slowly beginning to look forward to spending the rest of his life with Kevin, he still didn’t want to marry him. In fact, he wondered if he’d ever be ready for such a step. When Kevin walked into the room, Dallas launched himself into his lover’s arms and asked, “Want to try out the new bed?”

By mid-morning, the majority of the bedrooms had been straightened out to suit the needs of their various owners. Beds had been made, clothing hung up and personal items put neatly in place. Each room bore the touch of the men occupying it. Each man seemed to have found a way to add a bit of their personality to the room that would be only theirs until such time as they moved into new homes of their own.

The four single men did not have private rooms. Instead, they had been allotted the bunks that had been built along the wall behind the wide stairs leading to the upper landing. 

“Are you sure you’re okay with the lower bunk, Jay?” Shay asked as he sat down next to the man-child who was stretched out on the bed in question. 

“I sure am,” Jay enthused, grinning up merrily at his brother. “It’s all mine and I don’t have to share, right?”

“That’s right,” Shay assured him. “We’ve been here over a week, Jay. Have you decided what you like best?”

“Uh-huh. The bonfires at night and the cookies Walker makes for everyone,” Jay answered without hesitation. “Don’t like school though,” he pouted.

“But you got to admit you’re learning lots of new things and Troy is very patient with you, right?”

“I guess,” was the somewhat dubious answer accompanied by a shrug of indifference. 

Shay chuckled at his brother’s unwillingness to admit just how contented he really was. Patting Jay’s leg, he encouragingly suggested, “Since lunch isn’t going to be ready for a while yet, how about we finish setting up the place Aiden gave us for our cobbler shop?”

“I’ll help you today, but I don’t wanna make shoes anymore. I wanna work with Mitchell. He’s my friend now, you know.”

“Yeah, I know that and I’m happy for you, Jay.” Shay wasn’t sure if he was being completely truthful. On one hand he resented someone doing for Jay what he had always done, but on the other hand he felt a sense of relief at no longer having to shoulder all the responsibility caring for the other man had entailed. While acknowledging that he’d miss his brother’s company, he’d also get more done without the added work of keeping Jay busy and out of his way. He was confused and didn’t know who to talk to. Jay had someone, but he was now alone.

Shay kept these mixed feelings to himself and put on a brave face. “Come on then. The smell of food cooking is nice but it is making my stomach growl.”

Wallace pulled the two huge roast pans out of the oven and removed the lids one at a time in order to baste the plump chickens nestled inside them. He jumped at the unexpected thump immediately behind him and turned to glare at the young man who had frightened him in such a manner.

“Ah, sorry,” Jordan murmured in a small sincere voice. “This is the last of the kitchen equipment from the old mess hall. I didn’t mean to drop it.”

“You could have prevented it by exercising a little more care,” Wallace grumbled, then merely rolled his eyes and went back to what he’d been doing. 

“Please bring it all into the pantry, Jordan,” Walker called out from the storage area off the kitchen. He smiled as he was obeyed and once his youngest partner was within arm’s reach, drew him close for a reassuring hug.

“We’ll soon have this place set to rights and get back into our usual routine, my little mouse,” Walker whispered in Jordan’s ear, aware of the younger man’s apprehension over all the changes in the past week. Most particularly, the additional helper they had with the food preparation for thirty-two men. “We are all making adjustments, sweetheart. Wallace will settle in and I wouldn’t be surprised to see you and him becoming friends any day now.”

“I know he’s a big help to you, Walker. I just wish he wasn’t so grumpy at times. Thad says just to ignore Wallace when his nose is bent out of shape. Probably good advice, huh?”

“I think so too,” Walker chuckled and winked. “But we’ll just keep that between the three of us, okay?”

Jordan contentedly nodded his agreement. He figured given time and with the support of his two partners, he’d feel right at home soon enough.

Alfred paused outside the door and listening to the merry tune being whistled by his nephew. “Sounds like someone is enjoying himself,” he commented with a smile as he walked into the front section of the building that was now serving as the tailoring shop. The back, slightly smaller portion was being set aside for the cobbler’s work area. 

“Like you, I’ve always enjoyed my work, Uncle. Besides it mighty hard to be anything less than happy with all that’s going on today.” Nathan grinned but didn’t look up from the needle he was threading.

“All settled into your new bedroom?”

“Wes was putting the finishing touches on it before going with his brother to watch the dismantling of the gathering tent. Yours all done?”

“Not likely,” Alfred laughed. “No point in me doing too much as Wallace will just redo it. He’s content fussing over the little things and I’ve learned over the years not to interfere. Works well for both of us.”

“I’m glad he’s found a place for himself cooking with Walker and his partners. Lacking a newspaper, his not being able to do what he enjoys most would certainly prove a hardship for him.”

“He may not be reporting news nor doing public relations for my designs, but he definitely plans to continue his photography work. I do believe he is almost as excited about this upcoming wedding as the prospective grooms are. And then there are his plans to take pictures of everyone and start compiling notes to form as accurate a history as possible of this wonderful island and its’ inhabitants. And don’t forget his precious bees. A busy Wallace is a non-cantankerous Wallace; or at least a somewhat less cantankerous one,” Alfred amended.

Both men easily found the humour in the older man’s observation as both were fully aware of Wallace’s sometimes trying nature. Not that they’d love him more had he been even a little more even-tempered.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am that you’re here, Uncle Alfred. I have so much to do for the wedding next week and although my beautiful Minx does all he can to help out, his skills are limited. And although Quentin tried his best throughout the Summer, he never quite got the hang of it. You, on the other hand, work well and without unsupervised,” Nathan pointed out as if to suggest he considered this alone to be the most beneficial.

“Humph: after all these years, I should hope so.” Alfred feigned indignation, but with a twinkle in his eye as he set to work on one of many items from the pile of mending.

Raythe contentedly traipsed behind the big man dressed in buckskin. He was relieved they’d avoided making their move with everyone else by doing so last night. He was nervous about living in the lodge as it seemed so much more confined than had the tent. There, had he wanted to slip away, it was something he could easily do. Now, he’d have to escape through their bedroom window which was somewhat on the small side.

‘It could be worse, I guess,’ he sighed to himself. ‘Our room could be on the second floor.’ He increased his pace in order to catch up with Brock and watched as the woodsman emptied and reset the last trap.

“That’s it for today,” the older man announced, holding up their bounty of eight rabbits and a couple of raccoons.

“Do we have to go back right away?” Raythe’s reluctance was easily noticeable. “Can’t we go to our secret spot for a while?” Their special place was a small clearing next to a lake they had never told anyone about.

“Good idea.” Brock wasn’t any more anxious to return to the hectic proceeding at the lodge than was his young partner. He quietly led the way, arriving at their destination some twenty minutes later.

Raythe smiled and hungrily accepted the thick slice of bread, sausage and hunk of cheese Brock handed him. He sat on the bank of the lake, enjoying the meal his partner always had the foresight to pack before leaving camp.

“I love it out here,” the younger man mused, gazing out at the sun sparkling off the water. “It’s like we have this part of the world all to ourselves. I hope the good weather lasts a while longer, especially with the wedding next weekend.”

“I believe it will as the leaves have only just begun to change yet. I hope it won’t be too hard to find enough to decorate the lodge for the Thomas and Galen’s special day.”

Flipping onto his stomach, Rathye studied the man sitting nearby. “You sure there’s no one else living on the island besides us exiles?”

“Well although I’ve explored most of it, I haven’t walked every square foot of the island. But I am quite confident there are presently only thirty-two humans inhabiting the island. It is very likely that at some time in the past a ship or two got blown off course during a storm and ended up crashing on the rocks as I can’t see anyone coming here by design. Animals must have been the main cargo on at least one ship by the number still around today. While there is plenty of evidence in a couple of places much nearer the ocean that others were here at one time, it was long ago and it appears they never moved inland. Maybe many of the marooned survivors were too ill or injured to go very far. Guess we’ll never know for sure.”

“I kinda like the idea of being alone,” Rathye murmured, laying his head on his folded arms. The two men were relaxing, each with thoughts of their own filling their heads. Rathye surprised both of them by suddenly blurting out, “Do you think we’ll ever get married?” He slapped a hand over his mouth and stared wide-eyed at his partner.

“I’d like to,” Brock seriously replied. “But I like whoever I married to take my surname and I thought you were mighty proud of the one you already have.”

“I’d be prouder of yours,” was the shy response. “And I bet I’d take better care of it too.”

Brock reached out and gently caressed a blushing cheek with the back of his fingers. “What kind of wedding would you like to have, sweetheart?”

“Hmm, not exactly sure; I don’t do well in crowds. Troy and Levi already kinda considered themselves married when they got here. The day we landed, Levi took on Troy’s last name. Then we really went all out for Aiden, Larry and Spyke’s wedding; probably because it was the first and a threesome to boot. Lakota and Gille went off and did a private native ritual sort of thing. Bet it was nice too, cause Gille sure looked happy when they got back. But then they had Walker make it more legal-like and we all got to raise our glasses to them. Thomas officiated when Walker, Thad and Jordan got married early one Sunday morning. We celebrated that one with an extra special breakfast that everyone pitched in to make. Thomas and Galen’s is gonna be another grand wing-ding. Of course, that’s part in celebration of the big move and it being the first wedding in the new lodge. Yancey and Brodie’s last month was kinda low-keyed. They deliberately left telling anyone until the last possible minute, just to make sure we didn’t over do it for them. I think I’d really prefer not to tell anyone until after. You know; kinda by-pass the party part.”

Brock chuckled his understanding. “We can do it anyway you wish, boy. How about we talk it over with Walker and set the date for the end of the month?”

“Perfect!” Raythe exclaimed, rolling over to kiss his lover and seal the bargain.

“No one can accuse you of being unenthusiastic,” Brock teased when he got his breath back. “There’s bound to be as many different types of ceremonies as there are couples, or threesomes for that matter.”

“One type we’ll never see here is a shotgun wedding,” Ryathe joked, settling down once again on his stomach.

Brock’s bark of laughter had birds taking flight and Raythe thought now was as good a time as ever to bring up a subject he had mentioned before. “You’re a woodsman, hunter and trapper, Brock. You’re used to outdoor living in all kinds of weather. Why can’t we just rough it together instead of staying in the lodge with the others?”

Brock briefly closed his eyes and softly groaned. “We’ve been over this, boy. We are not going to be roughing it; end of discussion, unless you’re pushing to move it from verbal to hands on.” Although resigned to disappointing the younger man, Brock stood his ground while softening his demeanor. “Put it down to me mellowing somewhat and beginning to enjoy interacting with others. Besides, I prefer Walker’s cooking over my own any day.” He winked at his companion and was rewarded with a tentative grin. “Next Spring, we’ll build us a one-room cabin right on this site. Until then, the lodge is home.”

“So much for having complete privacy then,” Raythe grumbled. “Cause even though we got a room of our own so no one sees what we do, they can still hear us. Spyke says if a fella farts in his own bed it’s still gonna be heard.”

“Humph, that boy definitely has a command of the English language,” Brock stated with a shake of his head. His tongue-in-cheek comment had Raythe happily snickering.


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