A Tumbleweed Adventure – Chapter Five
The next day, Golden walked down the lane carrying breakfast for the two boys. He let himself in and placed the tray on the table. He walked over and stood in the doorway to their bedroom for a moment, looking into the sleeping faces of the two men. He remembered looking in on Danny when he was younger, just as he was now. Danny had seemed very happy and content back then. That was before the trouble began with his father. It had started during Danny’s junior year at high school, and escalated throughout his senior year until their final confrontation that ended with Danny leaving his home for good. Something had changed in Danny’s father during that time.
Golden remembered that during Danny’s junior year, Mr. Eccles had become something of a celebrity in his church. He had advanced to a position of power in his congregation that seemed to go to Mr. Eccles’ head. It was from that time forward that things went downhill between Danny and his father. It revolved around Mr. Eccles’ worry that his reputation would suffer from Danny’s seemingly wayward ways.
Danny had always been independent, but never got into trouble as other kids did. Golden never understood what Danny ever did to merit the harsh treatment at his father’s hands. In his view, it was Mr. Eccles’ pride and supersized ego that was the problem, not Danny’s independent streak. From the beginning, Danny had always gravitated toward Golden’s company. Golden had called him his little shadow. The young boy had blossomed like a flower in full sun in Golden’s company. Every summer, Golden and Danny seemed to be inseparable. Delores frequently observed that he was more of a father to Danny than his employer. Whenever Danny was troubled about something, he came to Golden to talk about it. Over the years, Golden had come to see Danny as his own son, especially since he and Delores were childless.
Golden looked into Danny’s face and saw the same happy and contented look he remembered seeing years ago. He saw a similar look on Jerry’s face. They slept in each other’s arms which reminded him of how he and Delores used to sleep in that very same bed. He shook himself out of his reverie and sighed. How he missed his Delores!
He said, “Wake up sleepy heads. Your honeymoon is over. I expect you to earn your keep. I’ve brought your breakfast down from the main house, but I won’t serve it to you in bed. You’ll just have to drag yourselves out of bed if you want to eat.”
Jerry untangled himself from Danny and stretched, yawning widely. “Good morning, Golden. Thanks for bringing breakfast. We’ll be up shortly.”
Golden laughed, “You might be up, but that one will sleep all day if you let him. I remember that from when he lived here before. I always had to drag him out of bed to do his chores.”
Danny opened his eyes and said, “You did not. I was the one who dragged your sorry behind out of bed most of the time.”
Golden laughed and said, “Jerry, I have to compliment you. You’ve managed to cure Danny of his foul mouth. There was a time that he would have cursed me out and then some.”
Danny blushed and looked over at Jerry. Jerry grinned, “I’m glad to know that I’ve been a positive influence on the poor boy.”
Danny jabbed a finger into Jerry’s ribs as he said, “I’m not a poor boy.”
Jerry grabbed Danny’s hands and pulled him close. “No, but you’re all mine.” He kissed Danny. “What do you say to that?”
Golden laughed. “Danny, I think you’ve met your match. I’m glad to see that Jerry knows how to handle you.” He left the room and they heard him open the door. “Don’t be too long!” he shouted over his shoulder, shutting the door behind him.
Jerry said, “I like Golden.”
“I do too,” Danny said. “He’s the reason I dared to come here. I didn’t know that Delores had passed, but I figured Dad would still have Golden taking care of the ranch in his absence.”
“So what will we be doing today?” Jerry asked.
Danny replied, “I imagine we’ll be checking on the cattle today. If we’re lucky, we can do some rabbit hunting. I think I saw the shotguns still up on the wall in the main house. We used to ride in the back of the truck and shoot them as they ran for cover. They aren’t good eating, but it’s great fun!”
“What kind of rabbits are they?” Jerry asked, mildly interested. Shooting rabbits didn’t sound that great to him. Deer hunting was his favorite thing to do in the hunting arena.
Danny saw Jerry’s look and said, “I promise you’ll like it.”
Jerry grinned and said, “I’ll be just fine as long as you’re with me.”
“Then we’re going to have a great time,” Danny said, grinning.
Jerry got out of bed, his fine body on full display. He turned, showing off for his lover. He grinned and said, “If you want me, you’ll have to get out of bed and join me in the shower.”
That was all Danny needed to hear. He was out of bed in a flash and took Jerry’s hand, leading him into the bathroom. He turned on the water and adjusted the temperature. As soon as it was nice and hot, he stepped into the tub and pulled Jerry in after him. Jerry pulled the shower curtain closed and turned to his lover. He was beginning to really like their shower time together!
After showering, they dried each other off and went into the cabin’s main room. They sat down to the breakfast Golden had left them. They polished off the stacks of pancakes, several fried eggs and all the sausage links. They washed up the dishes and placed them on the tray, ready to be returned to the main house.
Jerry said, “I guess we had better get dressed.”
“We don’t have to get dressed, if you don’t want to,” Danny said, grinning from ear to ear. “I’d love to see you running around naked in the snow, freezing your balls off!”
Jerry laughed, “I think we can arrange for you to see what freezing your balls off means.” He grabbed his lover and lifted him over his shoulder and headed toward the door.
“Don’t you dare throw me in the snow!” Danny shouted, struggling to get free.
Jerry got to the door and asked, “What will you give me to NOT throw you in the snow?”
“I’ll let you fuck me as many times as you want,” Danny said.
“I can already do that. What else will you give me?” Jerry asked, laughing.
“I’ll give you all my love,” Danny said.
Jerry turned around and carried him into their bedroom. He gently laid him on the bed, pinning him against the mattress. He looked deeply into Danny’s eyes and said, “If you’ll promise to give me all your love for the rest of your life, I’ll take it.”
Danny said, “I’ve already given you my heart, Jerry. I’ll love you forever.”
Jerry released his hold on Danny’s arms and began kissing him all over. Danny’s hands roamed Jerry’s body. Their passion engulfed them as their bodies bonded together to form one single unit.
Jerry nibbled on Danny’s earlobes and whispered, “How many times can we have sex in one day?”
Danny turned his head and kissed Jerry before responding, “As many times as you can get it up.”
Jerry gave Danny a lecherous grin. “In that case, I think we won’t be able to keep count.”
Danny asked, “I wonder what Golden would say if he heard you talking about having sex all day?”
“He would say we’re acting like newlyweds,” Jerry said, laughing.
“And he would be right, because we are newlyweds,” Danny said. “Jerry, I want to buy a ring for you. Would you wear my ring?”
Jerry gazed into Danny’s eyes, “I would be honored to wear your ring. Will you accept one from me?”
Danny put his hand up to Jerry’s cheek, lightly brushing it with his fingertips. “I would love to wear your ring.”
“After we help Golden, we can drive into town to find rings,” Jerry said. “But we’ll have to buy rings at separate stores, or maybe in different towns to keep from raising suspicions.”
“We should get up and go help Golden before he comes looking for us,” Danny said.
“Okay, let’s get dressed,” Jerry said.
They dressed warmly and walked up the lane to the main house, carrying the empty food tray. They met Golden at the front door. He smiled and said, “Put the tray in the kitchen and let’s go feed the cattle.”
Danny ran the tray inside the house and then joined Jerry and Golden. Danny sat between the two men. Jerry put his arm around Danny’s shoulders and leaned over to give him a quick kiss.
Golden said, “You two had better not act like the newlyweds you are, in public. You don’t want to give yourselves away like that.”
Jerry laughed and said, “I know you’re right, Golden, but I love Danny so much that I can’t resist him.”
Golden snorted in response and started the truck. He drove them out to the fenced in area where they kept the cattle. They began unloading the hay from the back of his truck and throwing it over the fence into the feed troughs. The cattle crowded around the troughs to get at the fresh bundles of hay.
“How many head of cattle are there?” Jerry asked Golden.
“There are 200 head here,” he replied. “We can run as many as 500 head, but since I’m the only one working the ranch this winter, we kept the number down.”
They finished unloading the truck; then climbed into the cab for the ride back to the house. Danny asked, “Golden, will you go rabbit hunting with us tonight at sunset?”
Golden laughed and said, “You mean you want me to drive, while you and Jerry shoot jack rabbits.”
“Yes, would you?” Danny said, placing his hand on Jerry’s inner thigh. Jerry covered Danny’s hand with his own.
Golden glanced over at the two men and said, “I’ll do it, but you have to cook dinner after we get back.”
“Sure,” Danny said. “I’m sure we can scare something up in the house to eat; like rats or mice.”
Golden laughed. “I don’t think you’ll find either one of those kinds of rodents. The cats are pretty good at keeping the rodent population under control around the house.”
“Speaking of cats, do you remember Buttercup?” Danny asked.
Golden smiled, as the memory came back to his mind of 12 year-old Danny proudly displaying his fat yellow tabby cat. “Yes, I do. Wasn’t he the cat that you brought out to the farm from Richfield?”
Danny said, “Yes, that’s the one. Remember how he disappeared from the farm, and showed up a week later back at our house in Richfield?”
“Yes, I remember. He left a mouse on the back porch for your Uncle Alma who was keeping up the yard for your parents,” Golden said.
“Uncle Alma called us to tell us that the cat had showed up back at the house. But then he disappeared, only to show up on the farm a couple of weeks later. I was so happy that he came back,” Danny said.
“He must have been quite a cat to make it all the way into Richfield and back,” Jerry said. “By the way, why did you call a male cat, Buttercup?”
“I thought he was a female cat when we got him; so I named him Buttercup. After we discovered that he was a male, my parents tried to convince me to change his name, but I liked the name Buttercup,” Danny said. Jerry snickered; but before he could say anything, Danny said, “Don’t laugh! Buttercup was my favorite cat.”
Golden said, “Jerry probably thought like we all did at the time, that you were just being stubborn.”
Jerry guffawed, “Yeah, that’s it!”
Danny jabbed his elbow into Jerry ribs. Jerry grabbed Danny’s hands to keep him from doing it again. He leaned over and kissed Danny. He pulled back and looked into Danny’s eyes. “Don’t be so sensitive. Remember, I love you and I don’t mean to hurt you.”
Danny felt bad for what he’d done and said, “I’m sorry. It’s just that my brothers teased me a lot about Buttercup.”
“That was a long time ago,” Golden said. “You need to let Jerry tease you sometimes, Danny. You can’t have a good relationship without having a good sense of humor, even if it’s at your own expense.”
Danny looked at Jerry and said, “I’ll try not to be so sensitive about stuff.”
Jerry said, “That’s okay.” He intertwined his fingers with Danny’s.
They arrived at the house and climbed out of the truck. Golden said, “Why don’t you boys run into town and pick up some supplies for us. Here’s a list of what we need.” Golden handed them the list and a wad of cash. “Pick up a few things you guys like to eat, if it’s not already on the list.”
Danny said, “We’ll be glad to go. Who is living in my parents’ house in town?”
“I believe your Uncle Alma has rented it out for your parents. I don’t know who lives there at the moment. There has been a parade of renters in and out of there over the years,” Golden said. “You might stop by the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Larsen should be there until around noon.”
“Thanks for reminding me. The Larsens were good to me when I most needed a friend,” Danny said.
The two men climbed into Jerry’s truck and drove the 17 miles into town. “Let’s stop at the sheriff’s office first,” Danny said, giving Jerry directions. They pulled into a parking space and Jerry shut off the engine.
“Do you really want to see the sheriff? You know that he will be obligated to arrest us if he ever finds out we’re lovers,” Jerry said, his voice filled with concern.
“Well, let’s make sure he never finds out,” Danny said, climbing out of the cab of the truck.
Jerry joined him and they walked into the sheriff’s office. A young deputy sheriff saw them come in. He stood up from his desk and walked over to them. “What can I do for you?”
“We’re here to see Sheriff Larsen,” Danny said.
“Who should I tell him is looking for him?” the deputy asked.
“Tell him it’s Danny Eccles,” Danny said.
“Okay, I’ll be right back,” he said. He disappeared into the back office and then returned. “Follow me.” They followed him and found themselves in a large office. Sitting behind a large double pedestal mahogany desk was a large, heavy set man. He had small, deep set blue eyes, heavy jowls, a double chin and a shiny bald head. His ample person completely filled his large office chair. In fact, the chair looked like it would collapse from his weight at any moment!
He said, in a booming voice, “Hello, Danny! It’s good to see you!”
“Hello, Sheriff Larsen. I want you to meet my friend, Jerry Wallace.”
The sheriff extended his hand, but didn’t stand up. Jerry shook his hand and said, “Nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you, Sheriff. Danny has told me how you took him in after his parents booted him out of their house.”
Sheriff Larsen smiled and said, “Yes, Danny needed someone to look after him, and we were glad of the extra help.”
Danny said, “I will always be grateful for what you did for me.”
Sheriff Larsen said, “It was the least we could do. How are things going for you?”
“They’re good,” Danny said. “We’re visiting Golden over at the ranch for a few days before moving on to California. We worked in Jackson Hole this past summer; but the tourist season is over for this year.”
Sheriff Larson nodded his head in understanding. “Winter is a slow time here as well. We don’t get much traffic through town during the off season. Things will pick up again in the spring, when things warm up.”
“Golden suggested that we stop by to see you, since he sent us into town to pick up supplies,” Danny said.
“Thank you for stopping in to see me. If you plan on sticking around for a while, stop over to the house. The wife would like to see you, I’m sure,” he said.
“We’ll do that,” Danny said. They left Sheriff Larsen’s office and made their way out to Jerry’s truck. “Now, that wasn’t so bad.”
Jerry shook his head. “Danny, you like to live dangerously.”
They climbed back into Jerry’s truck. They stopped at the hardware store to pick up a new doorknob for the cabin. This one came with a set of keys, so they could lock the cabin door! Jerry spotted a jewelry store and stopped.
They walked into the little shop and were greeted by a short, balding man. “How may I help you boys today?”
Jerry said, “I’m looking for a simple gold wedding band.”
The shopkeeper pulled out a tray of gold rings from a display case. “Do you know what size ring?”
“No, I don’t,” Jerry said.
“Let me measure your ring finger,” he said. The jeweler measured Jerry’s finger and said, “You need a size 9.” He pulled out a golden wedding band and handed it to Jerry. “Try that on.”
Jerry slipped it onto his ring finger. He looked at and asked, “How much is it?” The jeweler named a price and Jerry said, “I’ll take it.”
A few minutes later, they left the little shop. Jerry grinned, I have my wedding band. Now we just need to get yours.”
“We can drive up to Salina,” Danny said. “I think they have a jewelry store there.”
They climbed into the truck and Jerry drove them to the grocery store, where they picked up everything on Golden’s list. They returned to the ranch and delivered the supplies to the main house. They helped Golden put everything away, before walking down the lane to the cabin. Jerry made quick work of installing the new doorknob. When he was finished, he stood up and grinned at Danny.
Jerry announced, “There! Golden can’t walk in on us anymore. Do you think we should give him a key just in case we get locked out?”
Danny laughed. “If we’re going to give him a key, why did we buy the new doorknob?”
“Good point,” Jerry said. “Let’s hide a key under a log in the wood pile. That way, we won’t get locked out.”
“That sounds like a plan,” Danny said, approvingly.
“Let’s go get your ring,” Jerry said. He left the cabin, and walked around the cabin to hide the key at the bottom of the wood pile. He returned to find Danny standing in the doorway. He had a pensive look on his face. “What’s up?” Jerry asked.
Danny answered, “I was thinking how much I missed being home. I’m glad we’ve been able to spend some time here.” He met Jerry’s gaze. “It’s good for us to start our relationship here, because home will be wherever you are.”
Jerry smiled and said, “That’s because we’re a family now, Danny.” He walked over and pulled Danny into his embrace. They kissed for a long time before Jerry said, “Let’s go get your ring.” He led Danny to the passenger side of the truck and helped his partner into the cab. He smiled and said, “Don’t get used to me opening the door.”
Danny stuck his tongue out at his lover. Jerry leaned inside the truck and stole a quick kiss. He practically jumped over the hood of the truck and climbed in beside Danny. They drove down the lane to the main highway and turned north. They passed through Richfield and on to Salina. They drove along the main street of town, and didn’t find a single jewelry store. They pulled into a gas station. The attendant came out and began filling the gas tank.
Jerry got out and started a conversation with the attendant. He looked to be in his mid-thirties, tall with dark and eyes. Jerry asked, “Do you know where there’s a jewelry store in the area?”
“Depends on what kind of jewelry you’re looking for,” the man replied.
“We need to find a man’s wedding band,” Jerry said.
“If you’re travelling north, you’ll have to drive to Payson to find a jewelry store that sells quality stuff. Otherwise, you can head south to Richfield. There are a couple of decent places to buy jewelry there,” he said.
“Thanks,” Jerry said. He paid for his gas and climbed back inside the truck. “I guess we’re going to Payson.”
Danny nodded his head. “I thought that might be the case when we didn’t see a single jewelry store on the main street.”
They returned to Highway 89 and continued north to Payson. About halfway through town, they found the jewelry store. They parked in front of the establishment and walked inside. A young lady in her mid-twenties greeted them with a smile.
“My name is Mindy. How can I help you two gentlemen today?” she said.
Danny said, “I’m looking for a wedding band.”
“Do you know what size you need?” she asked. Danny shook his head. “Let’s get you measured.” She handed Danny a couple of rings marked with their sizes. “Try these on.” He did as she directed and she said, “It looks like you need a size 10 ring.”
Danny looked at her in surprise. “Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure,” she replied. She pulled out a tray of gold rings and selected a couple of them. “Try these on.”
Danny put each of them on his ring finger. He chose a plain gold band. “I’ll take this one.”
She rang up his purchase and he handed her the cash. A few minutes later they walked out of the shop. Danny looked over at Jerry and said, “I always thought your fingers were bigger than mine.”
Jerry laughed and said, “Well, now we know that you have wider fingers than I do, but mine are longer than yours.”
Danny grinned and replied, “Yes, they are. Should I put my ring on now, or wait until tonight when we’re at the cabin?”
“Let’s wait until we’re alone,” Jerry said. “I want it to be a special occasion for us.”
Danny nodded his head. “Okay, I’ll wait.”
They drove back to the ranch, arriving just in time to help Golden load more hay into the back of his pickup. They drove down the lane to where the horses were corralled and fed them.
Golden asked, “Are you ready to go rabbit hunting?”
“Yes, we are,” Jerry said.
“Okay, let’s get the guns and the ammunition,” Golden said. He drove them back to the house where he unlocked the cabinet where the ammunition was kept. He unlocked the gun case and retrieved two shotguns. “Remember that these shotguns won’t leave much of the rabbit behind.”
Danny grinned and said, “That’s the whole point, Golden.”
Golden shook his head. “Kids! You’re all alike.”
“Only we’re not kids,” Jerry said, smiling.
“No, you’re not; however, you still act like teenagers,” Golden said, frowning.
They went outside and climbed inside the truck. They drove to a deserted part of the ranch and stopped. Golden turned on his search lights, turning to Danny and Jerry and said, “Go ahead and climb into the bed of the truck. You can load the guns at that point, and I’ll direct the spot light on the rabbits.”
Danny and Jerry did as they were instructed. Soon, they were ready, with their guns pointed out into the sagebrush. Golden started swinging the search light back and forth over the sagebrush.
Danny spotted a rabbit and pulled the trigger. “Got him!”
Jerry looked over at Danny and asked, “Why do you hunt rabbits?”
“We hunt them to bring down the rabbit population. Otherwise, they would eat everything in sight, leaving nothing for the cattle,” Danny said. “I’m not killing rabbits just for the sake of killing them, if that’s what you’re asking.”
Jerry said, “I was wondering about that; because you seem to be pretty mild mannered. You caught me by surprise when you asked if I wanted to hunt rabbits.” Another rabbit appeared in the spotlight. It seemed to be hypnotized by the light, sitting very still. Jerry raised his gun and fired.
They continued until they were too cold to enjoy the sport. They unloaded their guns and put away the live rounds. They climbed back into the truck cab. Danny was shivering pretty badly.
“You stayed out in the cold too long,” Jerry said, putting his arms around him.
Golden turned the truck around and they drove back to the cabin. He dropped the boys off and returned to the main house.
Jerry guided Danny inside and stripped off his clothes. He did the same, then walked his lover into the bathroom and turned on the shower. They stood huddled together under the warm water. Jerry held Danny close, nibbling on his earlobe. As soon as they were warm, Jerry turned off the water and dried Danny with a towel. He led him into their bedroom and wrapped him inside a comforter. Jerry pulled on some clothes and returned to the main room to build a fire in the fireplace. He also built a fire in the stove to cook their dinner.
Jerry pulled out a cast iron skillet and a kettle. He peeled potatoes and placed them in the kettle with some water and put them on the stove to boil. He placed some oil in the skillet and pulled two steaks out of the refrigerator. He also pulled out lettuce, tomatoes, and a cucumber for a green salad.
As soon as the potatoes were close to being done, he began cooking the steaks. Danny came into the main room and sat down at the table. He was wearing bright white briefs. “Thank you for making dinner for me.”
“You’re welcome, Babe,” Jerry said. He mashed the potatoes, adding butter, salt and pepper. He placed the mashed potatoes and the green salad on the table. Then he retrieved the steaks from the skillet and placed them on a plate. He sat down at the table with Danny and they said grace.
Jerry said, “I don’t have candles to make this a romantic dinner, but I hope you know that I love you, just the same.”
“But we have the light of the fire,” Danny said, smiling. He reached across the table and took Jerry’s hand. “I love you.”
They ate their dinner in silence, since words weren’t needed to express their feelings for each other. They made short work of the cleanup. Jerry walked into their bedroom and brought out pillows and a couple of comforters, spreading them out in front of the fireplace.
Danny joined Jerry in front of the fireplace. Jerry pulled him into his arms and kissed him deeply. “Do you think we should formally exchange rings?” Jerry asked.
Danny smiled. “Yes, let’s make it official.” They pulled the wedding bands off their fingers and exchanged them.
Jerry took Danny’s hand in his and said, “Danny, I vow to love you and cherish you for the rest of your life. I give you this ring as a token and a reminder of my promise to you.” He slid the plain, gold band onto Danny’s ring finger.
Danny took Jerry’s hand and said, “Jerry, I promise to love you and cherish you forever. I give you this ring to remind you of my everlasting love for you.”
They kissed each other passionately. Pulling back, Danny said, “It’s almost like we just got married.”
Jerry said, “It’s the closest to being married we’ll ever get.”
“It’s good enough for me, as long as you’re with me,” Danny said.
Jerry smiled and said, “I think we should consummate our union, since we’re officially committed to each other.”
Danny grinned and pulled Jerry closer to him. “I get to fuck you first, since you went first last night.”
Jerry asked, “Who said we had to rotate?” He gave Danny’s nipples a tweak, causing Danny to moan with pleasure.
“I did,” Danny said, running his fingers through the hair on Jerry’s chest. “I want to make you mine.” He leaned forward and captured Jerry’s lips. He helped Jerry move into a more comfortable position, as he continued to caress Jerry’s body with his hands. Jerry whispered in his lover’s ear, “Fuck me, Danny.”
Afterward, Danny lay on top of Jerry, his muscles completely relaxed. He could feel that Jerry was still very much aroused. Jerry put his hands on either side of Danny’s face and looked into his eyes and said, “I like it when you take charge. It’s a real turn on for me.”
Danny smiled and said, “It’s the same for me. I’ve always been attracted to strong men who have the confidence to be leaders, and who know what they want. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t interested having sex with a guy.”
Jerry said, “Well, that’s a good thing for me, because you had to wait until I found you. As far as meeting your criteria for your Mr. Right, I’ve never been one to follow other people. I prefer to be independent and free of conventions that society imposes on people. I guess that’s why I’m so attracted to you, in a way. Being in a relationship with a man certainly puts me at odds with most of the people in this country.” Jerry caressed his lover’s body, kissing the nape of his neck.
Danny leaned his head back and gave a sigh of pure pleasure. He loved how his body reacted to Jerry’s touch. “Don’t stop.”
Jerry whispered in Danny’s ear, “I have no intentions of stopping. It’s my turn to make you mine.” He captured Danny’s lips in a deep kiss. The flames of their passion leapt higher and higher as they abandoned themselves to the wants and desires of their hearts.
They enjoyed their time on the ranch as days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. They spent their first Christmas together in the little log cabin at the Eccles’ ranch, as well as ringing in the New Year. They spent many nights talking with Golden, who regaled them with many stories of his childhood; as well as answering Jerry’s questions about Danny and his family. Jerry felt like he had hit a jack pot in Las Vegas; because Golden knew everything there was to know about Danny. In fact, Danny complained that Golden was revealing too much information to Jerry!
One evening in early January, Danny and Jerry decided to go into town for dinner. They entered the only diner in town and took a booth. The waitress took their order and soon returned with their beverages.
Danny said, “Jerry, things are going so well for us at the ranch that I keep thinking something is bound to go wrong.”
Jerry said, “You’re just being paranoid, Danny. Relax and let’s enjoy our meal.”
Danny said, “I’m going to put some money in the Jukebox. Is there a song you want to hear?”
Jerry said, “Yes, I like The Platters. My favorite song is ‘The Great Pretender.’ If that one isn’t there any of their other hits would be great.”
Danny approached the Jukebox and dropped a coin in the slot. He found the song that Jerry had requested and punched in the numbers. He also found their hit, ‘Only You,’ and selected it as well. He picked out a couple of more songs and then returned to their booth
Jerry asked, “Did you find it?”
“Yes, I did and I picked their song, ‘Only You,’ as well. I didn’t know you liked them,” Danny said.
“Yes, I met them when they were performing in Los Angeles. I was working as a stage hand, setting up for concerts. They are a great musical group,” Jerry said.
“Who else did you meet?” Danny asked.
“Elvis Presley,” Jerry replied.
The waitress brought their food and they listened to their musical selections as they ate their meal.
“Let’s take the horses up into the Tushar Mountains. I want to show you the Kimberly Mine, if the snow isn’t too deep,” Danny said. “Most of the winter, you can’t get to it because of the snow.”
“We can leave tomorrow if Golden doesn’t need us,” Jerry said.
They finished their meal and left the diner. They climbed into the cab of Jerry’s truck. Jerry looked around, checking for pedestrians. Seeing no one on the streets, he leaned over and kissed Danny on the lips.
“Thank you for a nice evening,” Jerry said.
“You’re most welcome,” Danny said, placing his hand on Jerry’s inner thigh.
They chatted as they drove down the highway toward the ranch. Jerry parked the truck in front of the cabin and they went inside. Jerry was lighting a fire in the fireplace when Golden opened the door and rushed in.
“You boys need to leave here right now, and never come back. Sheriff Larsen is on his way over to arrest you. Apparently, someone saw you kissing in the truck in front of the diner, and called the sheriff.”
Jerry looked at Danny and said, “I’m sorry, Danny. I should have been more cautious.”
Danny said, “Let’s get our stuff and get out of here.”
Golden said, “I’m sorry it has to be this way.” He followed the boys into their bedroom. “Don’t come back this way. You can drop me a post card sometime. Don’t put your name on it, but write me a note saying you’re okay.”
Jerry had his things packed and headed for the door. Danny grabbed his gear and followed his lover. They went out the door, and threw their belongings into the back of the truck.
Danny hugged Golden. “Thank you for warning us. I’ll never forget you.”
Golden had tears running down his face as he handed Danny an envelope. “There’s enough cash here to see you through until you find a job somewhere else.” He turned to Jerry and said, “Don’t stop until you absolutely have to. Take good care of my boy.”
Jerry said, “I promise. Thank you for everything.” Jerry pulled Golden into a bear hug and then released him. “Goodbye.”
The two men climbed into the truck and Jerry started the engine. Golden tapped on the window. Jerry rolled it down and Golden said, “Take the back road out of here. The sheriff will be using the main road. That way you can make your way south toward Las Vegas.”
Jerry said, “Thank you again.” He rolled up the window and pointed the truck down the rutted track that led them between the river and the empty hayfields of the Eccles ranch. They eventually arrived at the rickety old wooden bridge that crossed the river. As they crossed, they heard the timbers groan under the weight of the truck. Jerry punched the accelerator, and the truck shot across to the other side.
Looking back, Danny saw the bridge collapse into the rushing, cold water of the Sevier River. “We barely made it across,” he said.
“I know,” Jerry replied. “Let’s hope that Golden can detain the sheriff long enough for us to make a clean get away.”
They came out to the main road. Jerry looked both ways before turning south, putting as much distance between them and the ranch as possible.
Jerry drove through the night. He had made this trip many times in the past; between the many moves he had made with his parents, and his own nomadic ways. They arrived in Las Vegas just as the sun was peeking over the horizon. Jerry reached over and shook Danny awake. “Danny, we’ve got to stop for gas.”
He pulled into a gas station. The attendant filled the tank and Jerry paid him, giving the teenager a nice tip. Danny took over the driving duties, following the signs for Highway 91. The highway had a lot of small hills and valleys, which made it difficult to pick up much speed without causing the truck to catch air at the top of every hill.
Danny said, “I’m glad we’re done with that stretch of road. I was beginning to get seasick from all the ups and downs.”
“You should consider yourself lucky, because I had to navigate all of the road construction just north of Las Vegas. That was much worse. We will need to stop in Barstow,” Jerry said.
Danny said, “Okay. Where are we going after that?”
Jerry said, “I think we should drive north to San Francisco to find your friend, Mr. Hansen. Do you still have his address?”
“Yes, I do. But why do you want to see him?” Danny asked.
“I think we need his help,” Jerry said. “He lived with his partner for many years. It would be wise for us to find out how they did it.”
“So you’re not jealous of him?” Danny asked, amazement showing in his voice.
“No, I’m not. Should I be?” Jerry asked, in return.
“No. I was just surprised that you wanted us to seek him out,” Danny said.
They stopped in Barstow. They filled up the gas tank and bought a new California roadmap. Jerry planned out their route north to San Francisco, showing Danny where he needed to go. Danny drove while Jerry tried to sleep. He stopped in Bakersfield to get something to eat.
They sat in the diner, looking out of the plate glass window. Jerry said, “I always knew we would have to live the life of a tumbleweed; but I didn’t expect to have to leave the ranch so soon.”
“I didn’t either,” Danny said. “I guess it was better that we left, because we were getting too comfortable there.”
Jerry nodded his head in agreement. “That will always be a danger for us. Getting too comfortable and letting down our guard will land us in trouble every time.”
Danny said, “I’m going to call Mr. Hansen.”
“Why don’t you call him by his first name,” Jerry said. “It’s not like you didn’t share his bed.” Despite Jerry’s attempt to keep his jealousy under control, it managed to manifest itself in his voice.
Danny gave Jerry a quick glance. “I thought you said you weren’t jealous of Mr. Hansen?”
Jerry knew he’d been caught. “Okay, I was jealous as hell that you spent every waking moment with that old man.”
“He might have been old, but he was a good fuck,” Danny said, grinning.
Jerry smacked Danny’s leg. “You weren’t supposed to admit that you enjoyed it.”
Danny looked contrite. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
Jerry glared at Danny, but managed to control his emotions. “Just don’t get any ideas about jumping into bed with him while we’re visiting him.”
A wide grin broke out on Danny’s face. “I can’t believe you’re jealous of DeLoy.”
Jerry said, “Why are you calling him DeLoy now, when it was Mr. Hansen before?”
Danny laughed. “I’m only doing it because you seem so obsessed with the fact that I had a few nights in the sack with an old man who was grieving for his deceased partner. It didn’t mean anything to him or me, other than a few nights of good sex.”
Jerry tried to calm down. He took a long drink of his beer. He knew he was being unreasonable. It frustrated him that he wasn’t able to control his emotions. No one had ever brought out such strong feelings as he had experienced since he met Danny. Until he had experienced the fiery heat of his love for Danny, and the powerful feelings of jealousy engendered by Danny’s interlude with Mr. Hansen, or ‘DeLoy’ as he had just called him, he had not been able to comprehend how anyone could lose control over their emotions.
Danny said, “How is my time in the sack with DeLoy any different than those times you went to the whore house? I know you went there a few times, and left me sitting at home alone.”
Jerry laughed and said, “Would you have gone with me had I asked?”
“No, I wouldn’t have gone with you, because Jolene cured me of any desire I ever had to be with a woman; but you didn’t answer my question,” Danny said, gazing across the table into Jerry’s eyes.
Jerry said, “It’s very different. I paid to have sex with those women, and they AND I knew there wasn’t any emotional attachment. On the other hand, you spent nearly all week with ‘DeLoy;’ and there was a definite emotional connection made between the two of you.”
“There may have been one on his part, Jerry; but he knew I was in love with you,” Danny countered. “He tried to convince me to move to San Francisco with him, but I told him I thought there was still a chance you might change your mind about being with a guy.” Danny reached over and took Jerry’s hand in his, and gave it a gentle squeeze. “I’m glad I was right about you.”
Jerry, somewhat mollified, said, “Well, I guess it all worked out for the best in the end.”
Danny said, “There’s a pay phone outside on the corner of the parking lot. Let’s pay for our food and make that phone call.”
Jerry signaled for the waitress to bring their check. He paid the check and left her a generous tip. They walked out of the diner and over to the pay phone. Danny pulled a slip of paper out of his wallet, while Jerry lifted the handset and put in a coin.
He turned and handed the phone to Danny. “Make sure you get good directions from him.”
Danny dialed the number and waited for the operator to come on the line. “You will need to put in more coins,” the operator said, quoting the missing amount for the call. Danny inserted more coins and the operator said, “Thank you. Please wait for your call to be connected.”
The phone rang twice before Mr. Hansen answered it. “Hello,” he said.
“Mr. Hansen, this is Danny Eccles calling,” Danny said.
Mr. Hansen’s voice showed his excitement. “I’m glad you called. Are you coming here? Where are you?” He spoke rapidly and didn’t wait for Danny to answer his questions. “Of course, you’re coming here, or you wouldn’t be calling me.”
Danny said, “Slow down, Mr. Hansen. We’re in Bakersfield right now, and we need directions to your home.”
Mr. Hansen asked, “We? Do you mean you’re with Jerry?”
“Yes, I’m with Jerry,” Danny said. There was a pregnant pause on the other end of the line.
Mr. Hansen asked, “Are you a couple?”
“Yes, we are,” Danny answered. “We need your advice, Mr. Hansen. We want to be together forever; but we need to talk to you about how you managed to be together with Herb over the years.”
Mr. Hansen said, “Congratulations, Danny. I didn’t think Jerry would have changed his mind about things, given how he treated you. I’m happy that you’re together. Please come see me.” He gave Danny specific directions about how to get to his house. Danny repeated them out loud to Jerry, who wrote them down.
“Thanks, Mr. Hansen,” Danny said. “We’ll see you in a few hours.”
He broke the connection and turned to Jerry. “I think he was a little disappointed to hear that we’re together.”
Jerry smiled and said, “I’m sure he is. He really fell for you, Danny. I totally understand how he feels; since you cast your magic spell on me, as well.”
Danny laughed and said, “I didn’t know I was a sorcerer working his magic on unsuspecting gentlemen such as yourself and Mr. Hansen.” They walked over to Jerry’s truck. Danny said, “I’d better drive, since you had a couple of beers and I didn’t.”
Jerry said, “Okay.” He walked around to the passenger side, and climbed into the cab.
Danny got in and started the truck. He pulled out onto the highway and started their trip north. Jerry navigated for them, following Mr. Hansen’s directions. They finally arrived in Walnut Creek. They navigated the city streets and arrived at the gates of a huge mansion. They pulled up to the guard shack and stopped. The security guard approached the truck. He had straight black hair that hung down to his shoulders, bushy black eyebrows over black eyes, a Roman nose, a big, thick black mustache, and a chiseled chin. The way his uniform fit him, it was apparent that he lifted weights and worked out a lot.
The guard said, “May I see your driver’s license, please.”
Danny pulled out his wallet and handed the guard his license. The guard looked it over, apparently satisfied by what he saw. He handed it back and said, “Welcome to Bellevue. Mr. Hansen is expecting you. Please drive up to the house and leave your keys with the valet, who will take care of your truck.”
Danny looked over at Jerry in surprise. He knew Mr. Hansen was wealthy, but this was way more than he had expected. The gate opened and Danny drove through and up the drive as he had been instructed.
He reached the house and parked the truck in front of the house, where a young man in fancy livery took his keys and said, “Please go inside. Charles will show you into the study, where Mr. Hansen will join you momentarily.” Danny looked the guy over from head to toe. He was tall and slender, with blond hair, blue eyes and a small pert nose. When he noticed him looking him over, he smiled at Danny, showing perfectly straight teeth.
Danny and Jerry walked up the steps and were greeted by Charles. “Welcome Messrs. Eccles and Wallace.” The man spoke English with a French accent. He had a pleasant baritone voice. Danny couldn’t help but notice how good looking the man was. He looked to be in his late forties. His hair was still jet black with gray around the temples. His face was deeply tanned. He had deep brown eyes, an aquiline nose, a generous mouth and a killer smile. He was trim and fit. He wore tight fitting white pants and a bright blue button down shirt. “I’m Charles. I am Mr. Hansen’s personal secretary. He is very excited to see you. I hope that you will enjoy your stay with us.”
Danny noticed how Charles emphasized the word ‘us’ and wondered if Mr. Hansen had taken Charles as a lover. He glanced over at Jerry and saw that he was thinking the same thing.
Danny looked back at Charles and noticed the appraising look he was giving them. Danny gazed directly into Charles eyes and asked, “How long have you been with DeLoy?” Danny pronounced ‘DeLoy’ with a husky tone of voice.
Charles’ eyes narrowed as he said, “I’ve been with Mr. Hansen a little over a month.”
Before Danny could say anything else, Mr. Hansen appeared in the foyer. “Danny, my boy!” Danny was swept into Mr. Hansen’s arms. Danny kissed Mr. Hansen, intentionally pushing his tongue past his lips. Mr. Hansen tightened his embrace, grinding his crotch against Danny’s. Danny heard a gasp, and Mr. Hansen released him.
Danny grinned like a Cheshire cat and said, “I’m so glad to see you.”
Mr. Hansen responded, “Not as glad as I am to see you!” He turned to Jerry. “Jerry, I am equally glad you came.” Mr. Hansen ignored Jerry’s outstretched hand and pulled him into his arms, kissing Jerry on the lips. He pulled back and looked Jerry in the eye. “I’m glad you came to your senses.”
Jerry smiled and said, “It took me another six months to figure out that what you said was true.”
Mr. Hansen said, “Come into my study and tell me everything that has happened since last summer.” He took Jerry and Danny by the hand, walking them across the foyer and into his study. They were followed by Charles, who stood near the door, as Mr. Hansen settled into his chair behind the desk. He looked up at Charles and said, “Thank you, Charles. I won’t need anything the rest of the day. You are free to do as you wish until tomorrow morning. We’ll meet here at the usual time.”
Charles smiled and said, “Thank you, sir.” Turning to the two men, he said, “It was nice meeting you. If you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll take a few laps in the pool.”
He left the room, closing the door behind him. Mr. Hansen said, “I hired Charles to be my personal trainer, as well as my secretary.”
Danny smiled and said, “But he’s more than just an employee.”
Mr. Hansen smiled and said, “Yes, you’re right about that; however, I think he will be leaving my employment soon. He thinks that he is more than he is to me. I’ve been waiting for the right moment to give him his two week notice. I think your arrival has given me the perfect reason to let him go. Now, let’s hear why you are here.”
Jerry said, “We’re here because we need your advice. You are the only man we know who has lived with his partner for an extended period of time. We want to be together for the rest of our lives; but we don’t want to end up in jail. How did you and Herb do it?”
Mr. Hansen met Jerry’s gaze, and asked, “You honestly came here to ask for my advice?”
“Yes, we did. For my part, I’ve had to overcome my feelings of jealousy I felt toward you. When you and Danny were spending every moment together, I was filled with so much hatred for you, it scared me,” Jerry said. “It really bothered me that you were right about Danny being in love with me. It took me a long time to admit to myself that I loved him as much as he loved me.”
Mr. Hansen nodded his head in understanding. “I figured you would come around, eventually; if you didn’t end up running scared from the idea of falling in love with another man.”
Danny said, “We’ve decided that we can’t stay in any one place for very long; because we’ll be found out, sooner or later.”
Mr. Hansen said, “That’s very true, unless you have enough money that people leave you alone.”
“Is that your secret?” Jerry asked.
Mr. Hansen nodded his head. “It wasn’t until Herb and I become millionaires that people finally left us alone. We bought this mansion and hired a security staff to keep people out. We also have adjoining bedrooms that have a door between them. That way, we could go to our own separate rooms at night, giving the impression that we were going to bed alone. Then we’d open the connecting door and sleep together. Of course, we had to make sure the other bed looked slept in.”
“I guess we’ll always be on the run, because I don’t see how we’ll ever become wealthy like you and Herb,” Danny said.
“That is where you’re wrong,” Mr. Hansen said. “I have a proposal for you to consider. I want to adopt you both as my sons. I am getting up in years and I have no children. I do not intend to leave a single penny to any of my blood relatives and even less to Herb’s family. They treated us very badly and I’ve never been able to forgive them for what they did to us. My only condition is that you learn to run my businesses. I can’t, in good conscious, leave my fortune in your hands, without making sure you know how to handle wealth and how to continue to amass more of it.”
Jerry looked at Danny and said, “What do you think?”
Danny said, “I’m not sure what to think.” He turned to Mr. Hansen. “You don’t want me to sleep with you or anything like that?”
“I would love to have a physical relationship with you; however, both of you have to be in agreement that your relationship won’t suffer as a result of sharing your bed with me. It is enough for me to know that I’m leaving my fortune in good hands,” Mr. Hansen said. He smiled and said, “Besides, I can hire almost any guy off the street to satisfy my sexual urges.”
“You won’t require us to live here with you?” Jerry asked.
“No, I won’t require you to live with me. I would love for you to stay with me; however, I know that you will need your own space, as you both adjust to each other,” Mr. Hansen said.
“DeLoy, why are you doing this?” Danny said.
Mr. Hansen held Danny’s gaze for a long moment and then answered. “I fell in love with you, Danny Eccles. I fell harder for you than I ever did for Herb. Herb was my life partner, my soul mate. You, however, are the man that makes my blood run hot in my veins. I’ve never been so attracted to any man in my life. The fact that you are unattainable, only makes you that much more attractive to me. Intellectually, I know that you are deeply in love with Jerry. I can see it in your eyes. I also know that Jerry is in love with you. What you two have is very precious and needs to be protected and safe-guarded. I love you too much, Danny, to wish you ill. Therefore, I will become your protector.” Here he glanced at Jerry. “I hope that Jerry will allow me that small comfort, since he has won the prize.”
Jerry said, “How do I know that you won’t try to take him away from me?”
Mr. Hansen replied, “You don’t. You’ll just have to trust me.”
Jerry said, “I’m okay with you playing the role of protector, as long as that is as far as it goes.”
Mr. Hansen nodded his head. “I understand. I would have been disappointed in you if you had said anything else. I want you two to have some time to think about what we discussed. Let me show you to your rooms. You need to relax and rest from your long drive.”
He stood up and indicated that they should follow him. He led them back into the foyer and up the sweeping grand staircase to the second floor. He led them down the corridor and opened a door half way down on the right side. They stepped inside.
Danny said, “Wow!”
Mr. Hansen laughed. “It’s pretty overwhelming isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is,” Jerry said. The room was opulent to the point of being ostentatious. There was an ornately decorated fireplace at one end, where a fire burned brightly. Arranged around it were a leather couch and love seat with a huge armchair in between them. At the other end, there was a grand piano with a number of sofas and armchairs arranged around it. The walls were covered with gold embossed wallpaper. Original oil paintings in gilded frames hung at intervals around the room. The deep carpet was pure white, with an occasional Persian carpet that added color to the room.
“I instructed Derek to bring your things up to your room,” Mr. Hansen said. They followed him through a door on the right that led into a magnificent bedroom. The king-sized four-poster bed stood at the center of the room, complete with canopy and bed curtains. The entire room was richly decorated in shades of gold and burgundy. The carpet was the same pure white carpet as the sitting room. Along one wall were a pair of armoires and on the opposite wall was a fireplace. The entire room was reflected in the surface of the mirror that covered the entire wall opposite the four-poster bed.
The same man who had taken charge of Jerry’s truck appeared in the room. Mr. Hansen said, “Derek, thank you for bringing up our guests’ luggage.”
Derek replied, “Mr. Hansen, I brought up their clothes but I wasn’t sure what to do with the camping equipment.”
“Leave it in their truck for now,” Mr. Hansen said. “Jerry and Danny, this is Derek. He joined Herb and I several years ago. I trust him completely.”
Derek blushed at his employer’s praise. “I only do what needs doing.”
Mr. Hansen walked over to Derek and pulled him into his embrace, kissing him on the lips. “Derek, you know that I love you.”
Derek ducked his head, but then raised his eyes to meet Mr. Hansen’s. “I know you love me.”
Mr. Hansen slid his arm around Derek’s waist and said, “Please make yourselves comfortable. Dinner is at 6 PM. I will send Derek to guide you to the dining room.”
Mr. Hansen guided Derek out of the room with him, and left Danny and Jerry alone. Mr. Hansen closed the door and pulled Derek into his arms. “Derek, let’s find Charles. I think it’s time to terminate his employment.”
Derek looked troubled, “Why are you firing him? I thought you liked how he worked with you.”
“I did like him working with me, but he presumes too much. I’ve decided you are to take his place by my side. Herb always wanted me to find someone to fill his place after he passed, and that someone is you,” Mr. Hansen said.
“How do you know that we’re a perfect fit? You’ve only known me for six months. I love you, but I want you to be absolutely sure; because I have no intentions of ever leaving you. I’m going to be accused of wanting you for your money, and all kinds of other horrible things. I’m not willing to go through all of that if you aren’t 100 percent sure. I’ve watched you flirt with Charles, and I know you’ve bedded him more than once. I won’t tolerate that kind of behavior if we’re going to be in a committed relationship,” Derek said.
Mr. Hansen gave his lover an injured look. “I’ve never violated your trust.”
“Not yet, you haven’t; but we’re not in a committed relationship. You’ve made it clear from the beginning that you weren’t interested in a permanent arrangement,” Derek said.
Mr. Hansen said, “Yes, but I want that to change.”
Derek searched Mr. Hansen’s eyes and said, “I want that as well. Just remember; I love you, NOT your money. I can’t be bought and I refuse to let money sway me in any way. I don’t need your money. My parents left me well off. More importantly, I saw how money ruined their lives. I won’t let that happen to me. I agreed to act as your servant while you explored your options. I’m glad that you’ve arrived at a decision.”
Mr. Hansen smiled, “You remind me so much of my Herb. Maybe that’s why I love you so much.”
“Well, I’m not your deceased partner, DeLoy. Be careful not to confuse your grief for him with what you believe to be your love for me,” Derek said.
Mr. Hansen held Derek’s gaze and said, “I’m in love with the flesh and blood Derek that I’m holding in my arms at this moment.”
Derek smiled and said, “Okay, let’s go take care of Charles. What do you intend to do if he turns violent?”
Mr. Hansen said, “I’ve thought about that and have taken precautions.”
Derek raised his eyebrows, but didn’t ask, knowing that Mr. Hansen wouldn’t divulge his plans. They walked arm in arm down the hall and down the stairs.
Once they were alone, Danny looked at Jerry and asked, “What do you think about his proposal?”
Jerry replied, “I don’t know. I’m really confused by his behavior. It’s obvious that he’s in sexual relationships with Charles and Derek, but, yet, he claims to be in love with you.”
“I agree. I’m wondering if he isn’t lying to us. I’m thinking we need to reject his offer. I’m don’t like the feeling I’m getting around here,” Danny said.
Jerry said, “I agree with you.” He walked over and sat down on the bed. “Well, let’s get a shower and enjoy our stay. At least we have a safe place to stay for a few days.”
Danny said, “Okay.” Jerry got up and walked over to Danny, taking his hand. He led him into their en suite.
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