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|-- TRACER --|
Breakfast the morning of the Fourth was a grab-what-you can kinda thing. I ate a couple pieces of left-over chicken and grabbed a diet Coke as I hurried through the kitchen and out to the stable.
Will had a left-over slice of pizza in his hand as he pulled the tractor up to the stable door. The tractor was pulling the fourteen foot hayrack wagon. The sides of the wagon had been removed to permit folks to climb on and off easier.
"Want to help me load up all the food?" Will asked. "I'm going to take it all over and get things ready at the picnic shelter."
"Sure," I said, and quickly climbed onto the wagon. Will gunned the engine and we were off to the house.
Ryan showed up as we got to the backdoor and helped me carry the larger coolers and heavier boxes of food. Will carried the trays of cupcakes and gallon jugs of iced tea. The three of us made short work of the loading, and the wagon was fairly full.
Will took off a bit slower this time, accelerating gradually. He headed up the driveway and followed the cleared land beside the roadway to the picnic shelter. It was the flattest clear path from one end of the farm to the other. I figured he'd get bored with that trip before the day was over, as he was going to be driving that path all day long.
As we pulled up to the picnic shelter, I noticed Janet walking over from the barn.
"I pulled my car into the barn and closed it up," she called to us as the tractor came to a stop. "That OK?"
"Sure, best place for it," I replied.
Janet helped me unload the heavier items and Will once again worked on the lighter stuff.
Once everything was off the wagon, I turned to start loading the refrigerator.
"Don't bother with that," Janet said. "I'll get everything organized. Who's going to be helping me with the cooking today?"
"Ezra's wife, Pam, is coming over to help from nine to one and Randy's wife, Ellen, will be here from one to seven. Megan will come over and relieve you when you want."
"Sounds good. Do you have a walkie-talkie for me?"
"I'll send one over to you with the next person heading this way."
Will was already sitting on the tractor, so I climbed onto the wagon and we were off. Without the food on board, he moved a lot faster. Once back at the house, Will positioned the tractor near the parking area.
"I'm going to get the ATV and make one last pass through the trails to make sure everything is clean," Will indicated.
"Take a walkie-talkie over to Janet," I said.
"I forgot to start up the air handlers for the inflatable play areas. Can you do that?" I asked.
"Well, have fun on muck patrol!" I laughed.
"Thanks!" Will replied. I honestly think he meant it. He was so tired of being cooped up in the office.
He took off for the barn to get the ATV, while I headed to the stable. As I walked in, I found the place full of staff busily feeding and grooming horses to ensure all was ready for the first set of riders.
I quickly lost track of time. Customers started arriving around nine a.m. for the first rides. I saw Will running the tractor a few times. I thought I saw Erik once or twice in the distance as he monitored the groups out on rides. Ryan was busy most of the day in the riding ring, showing newbies how to ride before they headed out on the trails.
My team and I kept up with the horses coming in off the trails all day. We'd water them, feed them, and deal with any other issues before they went out again for the next ride. The summer hires working with me were all fun, hard-working guys and gals.
Hank walked up to me and handed me a plate of food.
"I haven't seen you eat yet today, so when Megan brought food over, I fixed you a plate."
"Thanks! That was nice of you," I replied and looked at my watch, "Damn, two o'clock. Where did the day go?"
"With the crowds we've had today, just about any direction you can think of!" Hank answered with a laugh.
"Yeah, I think this is the best year yet!"
"Agreed, the parking area is almost full."
"That's great. Hopefully, it will garner a lot of long-term business."
"I'm sure it will since everyone seems to be having a great time!" Hank said. "Well, I'm going to get back to work."
I chowed down quickly and got back to work too. The rest of the day went flying by.
The last of the customers left about half past eight and we had all the rental horses in their stalls by nine. I was walking out of the stables when I saw Erik riding up.
"Tired?" I asked.
"Exhausted! I don't think I've been on solid land more than thirty minutes all day," he replied.
Erik dismounted and I took the reins of Diablo. I led Diablo into the stables and helped Erik bed him down for the night.
Most of the staff were heading to their vehicles when Will and Ryan pulled the wagon up to the house.
"How about a little help?" Will asked.
"Got much left?" Erik asked.
"We're nearly out of just about everything. We pitched anything that had been out in the heat too long. The stuff in the coolers is mostly what couldn't go bad, and what was in the fridge."
"Anyone wanting leftovers, feel free to take some home!" I called out.
Sodas and other beverages were carried out to the stables and loaded into the refrigerator. Food was hauled into the house, and our kitchen fridge and pantry were packed.
By the time things were settled, it was all I could do to strip down and climb under the covers. I don't think my head hit the pillow before I was sound asleep. My guess is that I was snoring before Erik came to bed.
Life returned to normal on the farm the next day. As we had hoped, the phones were busy for the next few days as folks started signing up for riding lessons. We also had several groups schedule rides. The biggest twist was that they all wanted to be fed – and with the new picnic area and grills we were able to accommodate them. Erik declared the Fourth celebration a huge success!
Two weeks after the Fourth a bit of trouble started brewing. Cooper, one of the summer hires, sprained his ankle while playing church league softball. This would leave us down one employee the rest of the summer. Three days later, Megan called in sick – some type of stomach virus. Now we were down two during our busy time.
Erik had to postpone the family trip to Blacksburg that weekend. We were supposed to go find an apartment for Ryan and Will to live in at college. I think Ryan was particularly disappointed in this delay.
Saturday morning, after breakfast, I went out to the stables to start getting the rental horses ready for that morning's rides. Will had run into town for some supplies and Erik was helping me with the prep work.
"Where's Ryan?" I asked.
"Didn't he ride in with Will?" Erik replied.
"No. Will was alone in the truck when he left."
"One second," Erik said with a hint of anger in his voice.
Erik walked out of the stall next to me and headed towards the back of the stables. A moment later I heard "DAMN!"
It didn't take a genius to figure out why Erik was mad, and a moment later he stormed by the stall I was in and headed toward the front of the stables. I finished up with the horse I'd been grooming and walked towards the front of the stables myself.
As I approached the door I could hear Erik's voice, but not make out exactly what he was saying. From the tone and volume, I knew Erik was not happy. I stood such that I could peek out the door, hopefully without being seen. There was Ryan on Lady in the riding ring – with Erik obviously chewing him out. As soon as Erik let up, Ryan started yelling right back.
I decided to disappear and let them conduct the next world war on their own. Five minutes later, Erik reappeared, muttering and cussing under his breath.
"Can you ride with the group this morning?" Erik asked.
I was about to reply that Ryan was supposed to cover for our missing employees when a light bulb finally went off above my head. "Sure," was all I said.
"I'm going to rework the schedule again. Hopefully, Megan won't be out too many days."
"Rework it?" I said. But that was the wrong thing to ask.
Erik let loose with a string of cuss words more virulent than I'd ever heard from him. As he let up the cussing, he finished, "Let's just say we're down three employees at the moment."
"Um, I'm sure I shouldn't be asking this, but…"
"Oh, I didn't fire Ryan - he quit!"
"He's being so stubborn and pigheaded about that damn rodeo shit. He wasn't supposed to work today, and he's not going to just because someone's sick."
"Yeah, so when push came to shove – he quit. FINE…"
I kept quiet after that and Erik and I finished grooming the rental horses. By the time we were ready to put their tack on them, both Ezra and Hank had arrived. The four of us made short work of the rest of the prep work and I went over and saddled up Long Division for the ride.
The customers started arriving and we got them all mounted and headed out to the outer trail. The group was a bunch of teens from a local church youth group. They were talkative and seemed to be having fun. Once we got to the other end of the trail, they dismounted and I helped them tie up their horses to the posts. They then had a Bible study class in the picnic shelter. Though invited to join them, I declined and walked over to the old barn. Once finished we all rode the inner trail back to the stable.
When I got back, I found Will helping Ezra with cleaning out the stalls.
"The first group is gone," I reported. "The next group isn't due 'till one this afternoon, so I let all the horses into the pasture to graze and cool down."
"Sounds good," Ezra replied. "Mind helping Will finish up on the stalls? I'm going to go help Hank and Erik – they're working on that section of fence."
A few moments after Ezra left, I turned to Will. "Did you hear about the fight earlier?"
"No?" Will looked stunned and puzzled. "What'd I miss?"
"Well, from what I heard – Ryan quit this morning."
"Yeah, he was out riding Lady in the ring while Erik and I were working. Erik got mad that he was the only one not working and stormed out to 'talk' to him."
"Oh God!" Will replied.
"*Oh God!* is right. They started a war that ended with Ryan quitting."
"Where is Ryan?" Will asked.
"I honestly don't know. He was still riding when I left with the group at nine. That was two hours ago."
"Hmmmm… his truck's out front. I parked next to it after I dumped the supplies off at the barn."
"Well, he could be on one of the trails."
Will's face lit up for just a second.
"You know where he is, don't you?" I asked.
"Probably, but I'm not telling. Let him stew for a while. If I go out there now, it will just push him over the edge if I don't support him."
We finished up our chores and walked over to the house for a quick bite to eat. The afternoon, for me, was uneventful. After saying good night to Hank and Ezra, I walked into the house.
"Let's go get some dinner," Erik said as I walked into the kitchen.
"OK. Let me go clean up a bit," I replied.
I hurried upstairs, showered and changed clothes. Refreshed, I poked my head into Ryan and Will's bedroom. Finding no one there, I looked into the study room. Will was sitting at his computer.
"Any word?" I asked.
"I haven't seen him since breakfast," Will replied. "I figure he'll show up eventually. Then I'm going to crack a bat over his thick skull."
"I wouldn't bother. This is between him and his Dad."
"Oh no it's not!" Will replied vehemently. "This damn rodeo obsession is impacting everyone. I thought he had realized that it wasn't an urgent matter, but I guess he's being pigheaded about it."
"Well, I'll leave it up to you. Erik and I are going out for dinner."
"Yeah. He invited me to go, but I just fixed a sandwich and am waiting for Ryan to return. Have fun," he said.
"Thanks. See you later."
Erik and I had a nice quiet dinner in town. We both avoided the topic of Ryan and talked about anything and everything else.
When we got home, the house was dark. Ryan's truck was not in the driveway so we figured the boys had gone out for a while. We sat and watched a bit of television in the den and finally went upstairs for bed.
I was awoken by a knocking at the bedroom door. I guess it woke Erik too as he answered "What?"
Ryan's head popped around the open door. "Have y'all seen Will?"
"We figured he was with you," Erik replied. "He wasn't at home when we got back from dinner."
"Oh," was all Ryan said in response.
"Spill it!" Erik ordered.
"We had a fight when I got home. I stormed out and took off in my truck. I got over my mad and came home to talk things over."
"Well, your truck was the only one missing," I said.
"I wonder if someone came and picked him up?" Ryan said.
"I doubt that," I answered. "Do you have a hiding place that Will knows about? He seemed to think he knew where you were sulking this morning."
Ryan didn't even respond. He just turned and ran for the stairs.
"I guess you gave him an idea," Erik said.
"Guess so. Good night, again," I mumbled.
The next morning, I was up first and snuck out of the bedroom to start some coffee. As I walked to the stairs, I noticed that Ryan and Will's bedroom door was open. When I got downstairs, they were nowhere to be seen.
I started the coffee and mixed up the batter for French toast. I set the table for breakfast and went back upstairs.
Erik was in the bathroom getting ready for a shower when I walked in.
"Morning," I said.
"Morning," he grumped.
"Disturbed sleep last night?" I asked.
"Yeah, I kept listening for the boys to come in – never heard them."
"Looks like they didn't," I answered.
"Well, I'll worry about what happened to them after a shower. Will's over eighteen and Ryan will be in a few weeks. I need to treat them as adults, I guess."
Erik turned on the water and adjusted the shower. "Care to join me?"
I climbed into the shower and picked up a wash cloth. Soaping it up, I started scrubbing Erik's back. I worked my way down to his ass and soaped up along the crack – working the rag in good. I reached under with the rag and washed his balls and dick. I knelt down, teasing his cock and balls thoroughly with the soapy rag. As I expected, his dick was already hard.
After a bit more teasing, Erik turned around, presenting me with his stiff dick. I cupped my hands behind him to get a bit of water in them and rinsed the soap off his dick. Once clean, I deepthroated him.
"Fuck, that feels good," Erik moaned as I milked his cock with my throat. I worked my tongue around his shaft while continuing my sucking motion. "You've got it all Baby, just don't pull me in with it!"
I backed off a bit on my sucking, but only a bit. I started bobbing up and down on his shaft while working my fingers lightly over his balls. This elicited more moans and groans from Erik.
He started thrusting into my mouth, pushing his dick down my throat deeper and deeper.
I picked up the bar of soap from the tub bottom and lathered up both hands. One hand I wrapped around my dick, and started stroking. The other, I slipped between Erik's legs and started slipping a sudsy finger into his asshole.
"Oh, Damn!" he groaned.
I picked up the pace, working my mouth over his dick faster and faster while working my finger in and out of his hole at a faster clip as well.
I felt his cock stiffen, and I worked my own cock harder with my other hand.
My efforts were rewarded by a blast of cum in my mouth. As Erik continued to unload in my mouth, I shot across the shower floor.
I licked the last drops of cum from Erik's slowly deflating dick and then stood to face him. He pulled me into a deep kiss – his cum flavored it well.
"What a way to start the morning," Erik sighed.
"Yup!" was all I could manage in response.
I leaned into him a bit, his wet fur rubbing against me. We spent a considerable amount of time slowly and tenderly washing each other after that. By the time we got out of the shower, my fingers and toes looked like prunes.
We dressed for the workday and went downstairs. We found Ryan and Will sitting at the breakfast table enjoying some French toast and bacon.
"Any left for us?" Erik asked.
"I'll fry some for you," Ryan said.
As Ryan walked over to the stove, I glanced at Will and gave him the 'one raised eyebrow' look. He just smiled back in return. I decided not to ask any questions at that point.
Erik and I sat down at the table while Ryan cooked us breakfast. Very shortly, Ryan placed a fresh stack of French toast – covered in fresh whipped cream and pan fried apples – and crispy bacon in front of us.
The four of us sat and talked about the usual nothings that fill breakfast conversations as Erik and I ate. Once done, I picked up our plates and loaded them into the dishwasher.
"Ready for work?" I asked in the general direction of the table.
"Dad, you got a minute to talk?" Ryan asked.
"Sure," Erik responded. He stood and headed into the office. Ryan followed him.
"Let's head out to the stables and get things going," I suggested to Will.
We walked quietly out to the stables. I put a lead on the first horse and maneuvered him out of his stall. Will walked in behind me and started cleaning up the bedding.
"OK, out with it!" I demanded.
Will turned and showed me a sly smile. "Out with what?"
"What the hell happened last night?"
"Two fights and a big sledgehammer," Will replied.
"OK, that's the short version. I want details!"
"After y'all left for dinner, Ryan came into the house and found me in the study. He told me his side of the fight with Erik and how he'd quit and all. I told him he was acting like a spoiled brat and a stupid ass."
"Oh shit," I commented.
"Yup, he blew his stack at me. How dare I side with his dad. We were all ganging up on him. He was just trying to do something of his own."
"And you let him rage on?"
"Damn right, on and on and on. When he finally stopped, I just looked at him and said *done with your tantrum?*"
"Yes, I did. And with that, he stormed out of the house and drove off."
He'd been gone about an hour when I figured out what to do next. I left.
"Yeah. I was wondering about that. Where did you go?"
"A private place that Ryan found years ago and shared with me earlier this summer."
"And where is that?" I asked.
"I'm not tellin'. Anyway, I guess it took him a few hours to get over his mad and come home. He musta figured out where I was at some point and he came out."
"When he got home, he knocked on our bedroom door asking if we knew where you were. I mentioned you saying you knew where he was that morning, and he took off."
"So, about midnight he finally shows up. I'd taken a sleeping bag and a lantern. He walks up and starts to say something, and I started in on him with both barrels."
"You what?" I was surprised as Will rarely was the aggressor in fights.
"I told him off royally. Called him a pompous ass, a spoiled brat, and a whole lot worse. Told him that he's been ignoring his job, his family and his lover for the last few weeks. I told him he needed to see a shrink for his obsessive-compulsive disorder."
"Stop a second. You told him he had a disorder?"
"Yeah, I was searching the Internet about obsessions and found this site about obsessive-compulsive disorders. I know he's not mentally sick, but I wasn't admitting it to him."
"Remind me not to piss you off!"
"When I finally stopped, he was bawling his eyes out. He apologized. He promised me he'd apologize to his dad – that's what he's doing now. He offered to completely quit thinking about ever doing rodeo."
"You took him up on that?"
"Of course not. But after much discussion, I did get him to understand Erik's and my concerns. He's not going to focus on it till after college."
"Damn, you were one manipulative guy last night."
"As you said, don't piss me off! Given time, I can plan a campaign to win any war."
"I'll remember that. Why didn't y'all come home after that?"
"Ummmm…" Will started and stopped.
I looked over at him and his face was beet red. "You had sex in the woods, huh?"
I was bent over laughing when Erik and Ryan walked up.
"What's so funny?" Erik asked.
"Nothing important," I replied.
Both Erik and Ryan gave me a weird look. I turned and went back to work with Will, ignoring their looks.