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|-- WILL --|
The guy on the TV had called it an ĎIndian Springí. Temperatures in late March werenít supposed to be this warm. Ryan had pulled the top off the Jeep that morning and I had us headed west on Route 460. Weíd be home in two hours.
"You ever gonna get comfortable driving this stretch of the road?" I asked.
"Give it time," he replied. "Iím sure I will. But you gotta admit it hasnít been that long since the accident."
"True," I admitted. "You ready for the excitement of the week ahead?"
"I donít know if I am or not, but Iíll get through it. Iím prepared for a lot of fun. This doesnít stress me out the way the last visit did."
"I can understand that - stress over meeting your brother for the first time. Now thatís done. Iím nervous about meeting him for the first time."
"WHY?" Ryan sounded truly surprised.
"Will I be good enough for his big brother? Will he like me or resent me?"
"Donít worry about it. Iím sure heís gonna like you a lot. Heís been very upbeat about meeting you in his e-mails. Plus, Iím not too worried about him liking you. Iím more worried about him questioning you to death!"
"Yeah, there is that," I agreed.
"What time do we have to leave for the airport in the morning?" I asked.
"Their flight arrives a few minutes after ten, so Iíd say eight-ish."
"That must be some hellish kinda flight considering they are two hours behind us. Are they leaving at nine p.m. and flying all night?"
"Actually, I think theyíve left already, if I have my time zone stuff right. They get to Denver, have a couple hours layover, then fly to Charlotte, have another couple hours layover, then fly to TriCities. Hopefully they can sleep on the flights; otherwise, theyíll be exhausted when they arrive."
"I think they will be exhausted regardless," I replied.
We went by Bluefield and I asked, "Do you want to drive now?"
"No, Dude. Iím fine with you driving. I kinda like being in the passengerís seat. I get to enjoy the scenery."
"I woulda figured youíd seen all the scenery along this stretch of road by now."
"Funny. Very funny."
I dropped it, not wanting to push my luck with Ryan at the start of spring break. We drove in silence for a while. I did have to agree with Ryan that the scenery was pretty. We were heading south on the Trail of the Lonesome Pine towards Tazewell skirting along the northern edge of the Jefferson National Forest. The trees were just budding and shortly the area would be vibrant green. Wondering what to say next, I looked over and saw that Ryan was asleep.
As we approached Claypool Hill Ryan finally stirred.
"Man, I needed that catnap. Hey. Can you pull into the Walmart? I want to pick up a few things in the grocery section."
"How about I go to Food City? Can you get what you want there? I doubt it will be as crowded and I donít want to deal with Walmartís parking lot."
"Sure. I was thinking about a couple meals I could teach Christian to make. I doubt Tracer has all the ingredients."
"What if we just go home first. Check to see what you need and get them on our way to Bristol. Youíll have better options down there."
"Smart boy!" He agreed. "That will work fine."
"Cool." I was glad heíd accepted my offer. I really just wanted to get home!
We got to the farm about seven p.m. and pulled into an empty space between Tracerís truck and the big dualie that we used to pull trailers. The thing that struck me was that Erikís truck was missing from the line up.
"Wonder where Dad is," Ryan said, before I could get the same question out.
"Weíll find out once we get inside, I guess," I said lamely.
We grabbed our bags out of the back and went into the house.
"Welcome home!" Erik said from behind the island.
"Tracer got your truck?" Ryan asked.
"Nope. Itís in the shop. A guy backed into me the other day in the parking lot at Walmart."
"Much damage?" I asked.
"His bumper smashed the back door and the entire rear side panel," Erik explained. "The estimate is about fifteen hundred."
"Is it worth fixing that truck," I asked.
"Since Iím not paying for it, sure," Erik responded enthusiastically. "A twelve year old, beat up, work truck doesnít have a lot of value left. But I donít want to buy a new one right now. There are other priorities at the moment."
"Like expanding the stables," Tracer interjected, as he came in from the den.
Dad rolled his eyes and gave Tracer a look.
Before Erik could formulate a response, Ryan stepped in. "Agreed. Thatís one of the items the four of us need to discuss,"
"Why donít we discuss it later," Erik replied.
"After dinner works," I put in. That earned me a look from Erik. It was becoming obvious he wasnít ready to support the expansion.
"We have company coming tomorrow and staying until Ryan and I leave," I continued. "Better to deal with it tonight and go over everything than to delay it again."
"OK," Erik relented.
Ryan and I carried our stuff upstairs. I slipped into the bathroom to wash up. Ryan came in a moment later.
"I wonder what Dadís deal is about expanding the stables?" he asked.
"I guess weíll find out after dinner. But I would bet it relates to the farmís finances."
"Tracer does a lot of the budget work," Ryan reminded me. "I would think he knows whether we can afford it or not."
"Didnít you once say your Dad didnít like having to take out a loan to buy the Pittson land? Maybe heís uncomfortable saddling the farm with more debt if we borrow to build the addition."
"Thatís a thought. But I really think we need it."
"Well, maybe we need to approach this carefully," I suggested.
"Yeah. I could tell from Dadís face that it isnít going to be an easy discussion. One of us needs to see if we can talk to Tracer before hand and see if our assumptions are correct."
"Good idea," I agreed.
We went back downstairs and offered our help with dinner. Tracer had things well in hand and quickly had a hearty meal on the table. As we finished up the last few bites, Erik started the conversation.
"OK." Erik grumbled. "Beat up on me."
"Dad," Ryan answered calmly. "Weíre not beating up on you. We just want to discuss the option of expanding the stable. You made the three of us co-owners of the farm. Thatís something youíre not used to Iíll admit, but itís something youíre going to have to get used to."
"Have I been that bad?" Erik asked.
"Not at all," I replied. "But you made it clear that you donít like the idea. We just want to explore, understand your position and then weíll all make a decision."
You could actually see Erikís shoulders soften and the scowl start to disappear from his face.
"So, whatís wrong with expanding the stable?" Ryan asked.
I looked over at Tracer trying to figure out why he was silent. He gave me a quick, sharp glance and I let it drop.
"I donít think we need it," Erik said.
"Every stall in the stable is full," Ryan replied. "Where would you put another horse if we get a new boarder?"
"Thatís the thing. I donít think weíre going to be getting any new borders for a while. With the economy as it is, folks arenít going to be buying horses."
"True, but what about breeding. Both Swirly and Delta are due in May. Where do we put their foals?"
"They wonít be on the farm long enough to worry about it," Erik answered.
"Erik, whatís the real reason you donít want to expand the stable?" I asked.
"Dad, are you worried about taking out a loan?"
"For all the years since I got this farm from Uncle Phil I never had any debt. I just remember how hard it was to pay the mortgage on my first house. Itís a comfort thing. We have a huge loan from buying the Pittson land. Iíd just like to clear more of that before we add more debt."
"Tracer, how are the farmís finances?" I asked. "You work with Janet on the books mostly."
"Theyíre fine. A little tighter at the moment than Iíd like, but thereís still some flexibility. When I talked to Janet, she thought we could swing a separate loan, or even refinance the Pittston land at a lower rate and take out some money to expand the stable," Tracer explained.
"How would that work?" I asked.
"I did my research with Janet. The loan was eight and a quarter on a thirty year fixed note. The monthly cost is about seventy-five hundred."
"Holy SHIT!" I blurted out. "How much did the farm cost?"
"It was around a million dollars," Erik explained "We did buy over one hundred acres."
"So how would this work?" Ryan asked.
"First off, weíve been paying about eight thousand a month. Paying down the principal in advance helps. We owe about nine hundred twenty thousand at the moment. If we refinance for nine hundred fifty at the new rate of five and a quarter; the new monthly payment is only fifty-two hundred a month. Oddly enough, if we do this and pay at our current rate weíll pay off the land AND the new stable addition four years earlier than the old note."
"That is if the land will appraise high enough to cover the new loan amount," Erik interjected.
"There is that. But land prices havenít really fallen of late. I donít think itís a big issue," Tracer explained.
I looked at Erik. His face was an amazing study of confusion, fear and amazement.
"So the three percent interest rate drop helps," Erik quietly stated.
"A lot," Ryan broke in. "Lower monthly payments - that would be a lot easier to handle! Any objections left?"
"If we move forward, we need to get an estimate on how much to build the new wing." Erikís comment had a heavy emphasis on the ĎIfí.
"Burt said it would cost about $25,000 to put up the structure, wire, and plumb it. He didnít include building the stalls as I figured we could configure them as needed."
"Youíve been doing a lot of homework," Erik admitted.
"Well, youíve been so dead set against this. I figured I needed every fact and figure ready to present to you," Tracer said.
His voice was a bit icy. I wondered if he and Erik had been fighting about this.
"Your presentation makes it a lot easier to accept," Erik admitted.
"So you agree we should move forward?" Ryan asked.
"Cool!" Ryan cheered.
We moved on to other issues involved with running the farm. We discussed general policy and future plans - leaving the day-to-day operations to Tracer and Erik. At least for now.
Later that evening, I snuggled up to Ryan in bed.
"Nervous?" he asked.
"Uh huh. I told you earlier, Iím concerned, worried, nervous about meeting Christian."
"Dude, get over it. Heíll love you! And even if he doesnít, it wonít change a thing between you and me."
"Still, nothing. I said get over it."
He put his hand on my shoulder.
"Damn, youíre tense!"
"Yeah. I guess the stress did it to me."
"Roll over onto your stomach," he encouraged. "Iíll give you a back rub."
I followed his order and he straddled my ass. I felt his hands run lightly up my spine and then really dig into my neck and shoulder muscles. His long, deep strokes felt wonderful."
"Hold on a second," he muttered.
With that, he climbed off, got out of bed and padded into the bathroom. He returned a moment later with lotion. With the cream, Ryanís massage went from wonderful to blissful. It didnít take many minutes for the knots in my shoulders to melt away.
"Mmmm... feels wonderful," I sighed.
Ryan didnít reply as he let his hands work their way down either side of my spine. As he ran his hands up my body, he leaned into me a bit more - allowing me to notice his hard dick. In fact, his dick rubbed up and down my asscrack as he continued the rub down.
"Iím not the only one enjoying this," I cracked.
"Want me to rub your back for a while?"
"Yeah. Then you can fuck me good!"
"Thatís an offer I canít refuse," I replied.
Ryan climbed off me and lay down next to me. I got up and straddled him much the way heíd done me. I grabbed the lotion and slathered my hands with it. I put the heel of each hand on either side of his spine and pressed down. I let my hands slowly work their way up his spine, keeping a constant pressure as I moved.
"Awww...." he groaned. "That feels so good."
Once I had my hands at the top of his shoulders, I worked them around a bit ensuring that I pampered his neck and shoulder muscles. I used long, flowing strokes to release any tension he might have built up.
"Damn!" he exclaimed. "If I knew you could give massages like this Iíd have had you doing it for a long time."
"I didnít know I could do it myself," I admitted. "Just doing things that I think would feel good and things I heard or read about."
"You could be a pro."
"Well, I donít ever expect to get paid for my rubdowns, so I wonít ever be a pro. The only one I want to rub down is you."
"Thatís sweet. Thanks!"
I kept up my ministrations. Trying to make his body feel as good as heíd made mine.
"Youíre gonna put me to sleep," he warned.
"Donít wanna do that just yet."
With his warning I let my hand continue the down stroke over the base of his ass and down his asscrack. I let my fingers tickle him lightly as I did.
I lifted up and slid down his legs a bit so I could focus my efforts on the small of his back and asscheeks. The therapeutic portion of the massage was officially over as I was now doing my best to arouse him with strokes that centered on his ass and sometimes strayed down to tease his prick that was now hard and throbbing between his slightly spread legs.
"Dude, you need to fuck me!" Ryan urged.
I wasnít going to let Ryan set the pace, but I did increase my attention on his crack. I hawked up some spit and let it drop right onto the bulls eye. Once there I used two fingers to work it deep into his hole.
"Thatís it, Baby," he encouraged.
I kept the massage of his asscheeks and back going, while using my two fingers to loosen his hole up good. I guess Ryan thought I was teasing him, as he started thrusting up on my fingers.
"FUCK me!" he pleaded.
"Iím gonna. I just wanted to get you good and ready!"
"Iím ready! Iím READY!"
I hawked up more spit and worked it into his hole.
"Dude, I need your cock in me!"
I pulled my fingers out of his ass and put the head of my dick at his hole. I let it slip in slowly.
"Come on!" he urged again.
I pushed a lot harder and felt my pubic hair crash into his asscheeks.
"FUCK, YEAH!" he moaned.
I pulled my cock back until only the head remained inside him. Then I pushed forward burying myself back in his ass. I kept using long strokes to really fuck his ass well. It felt good, but I wasnít getting the angle I wanted. I put my hands on his hips and pulled him up so his head was still buried in the pillows, but his ass was up in the air. With him up like this I was able to get a good fuck rhythm going and started to pound his hole hard and deep.
"OH!" he groaned. "Thatís the way to fuck me!"
I kept the long, hard strokes going as I really opened him up. Ryan started using his ass muscles to clamp down on my cock as it pushed in; releasing his muscles on my out strokes.
"Damn, Boy. Thatís one talented ass," I complimented. "It really knows how to take a fuck."
"After the years of fucking youíve given me, itís had lots of practice."
I started picking up my pace a bit, shortening the strokes as I got leverage on his hole. But I didnít want to cum yet. I wanted this to be a fuck for Ryan to remember. I pulled out of his ass and he let out a groan of disappointment.
"Flip over," I told him.
Ryan quickly flipped onto his back. I grabbed his ankles, pushing them towards his chest. With his ass exposed, I plunged my dick back into him. I looked down and saw that his rigid cock was drooling on his stomach. He reached to grab hold of it, but I pushed his hand away.
"No you donít. Not yet, at least," I warned.
"Aw. I wanna cum!"
I pushed his ass up a bit more so that I was driving down into it as I fucked. I must have been hitting his prostate as his cock dripped a bit of precum each time I pushed in deep. I let my hands start rubbing up and down Ryanís chest as I fucked him harder and harder.
"Dude, Iím gonna cum," he warned. With his words, he reached for his dick once again, and once again I smacked his hand away. "Please!"
I picked up my pace and fucked his hole faster and faster. My strokes were on target, hitting his prostate each time and causing him to emit little grunts. Suddenly, Ryan just let out a yell.
His ass clamped down on my cock and twitched constantly as I watched shot after shot of cum spurt from his prick onto his chest and abs.
The tightness of his hole triggered me to flood him with cum. I buried myself in him and just cut loose. I bent over and started kissing him deeply as we both finished shooting. I let myself collapse on top of him sticking us together with his cum.
"That was great," he cooed in my ear as I continued to lie there.
"That it was!"
"Ready for round two?" he asked.
"I think that might be a while," I admitted.
"How about a bath and then we get some sleep instead."
"Sounds more practical. We do have to drive to the airport in the morning."
"Youíre gonna have to get off me if weíre going to do this."
"I will... I will. I just need a bit more time to recover," I admitted.
We took a long hot soak together. Scrubbing each otherís backs led to more touching, kissing, and a lot less sleep than Iíd planned.
Saturday morning I was yawning as Ryan drove us down the Trail of the Lonesome Pine.
"So, still nervous?" Ryan asked.
"I guess not. Well, maybe a little."
"Iíve got a lot of plans for the week. Iím sure once youíve had time to interact, the two of you will become great friends."
"Itís gonna be funny being at the farm and not working," I said.
"You can work all you want, but Iím not gonna worry about it."
"Itís funny to hear you say that."
"Youíre the one that doesnít want to be away from the farm. Youíre the one that had a fit when Erik laid us off for the last few weeks of our senior year. Youíre the one that went manic when you couldnít work while we were recovering from the accident."
"OK... OK... OK. I admit it. I like working on the farm. But itís not in the cards for this week. At least Iíll get to ride, and Iím sure Iíll find time to do chores in the morning. You have to admit I come by it honest. Iíve been on the farm since I was five. I started working on the farm as soon as I could."
"I would rake the yard, pull bales of hay - you name it. The guys laughed Iím sure, but they let me do what I could to help out. I might have been six or seven when I really started to pitch in."
"Youíve never told me that."
"Will, Iím sure thereís lots Iíve never told you. Weíve spent over five years getting to know each other, but Iím sure there are lots of things youíve never told me, too."
"Well, yeah. True."
We spent the rest of the trip trying to tell each other things weíd never discussed before. Of course, Iím sure there were many secrets he didnít tell me and several I didnít tell him.
We arrived at the airport, parked in the short-term lot and headed to the baggage claim area.
"You said theyíre on United?" I asked. Iím sure Ryan saw the puzzled look on my face as we looked around the baggage area. There were no United markings.
"Well, the tickets say United. Just like Dadís and mine when we flew out. Theyíre flying in on US Airways Express from Charlotte. I think the first leg is United Express, then United, then US Airways Express."
I found the flight status board. "US Airways from Charlotte just landed."
"Then they should be here any minute. Itís only a fifty-seater as I recall."
We stood near the US Airways luggage carrousel for a few minutes until we noticed a crowd of people headed our direction. I was trying to see if I recognized anyone based on the pictures Iíd seen.
"There they are," Ryan announced. He was pointing at the crowd, but I hadnít picked Christian out yet.
Finally, I spotted Jackson - based on pictures Iíd seen. The first thing that struck me was how much like Erik he looked. He was as tall or maybe even taller than Erik, towering over the back of the crowd. But it wasnít just his height that made him look similar. As he approached, I noticed that his hair color, eye color, facial structure and even his goatee made him look like Erik.
I was so intent on Jackson, that I didnít really notice Christian until they were almost to us. Christian was gonna be a handsome man when he grew up and I was sure, just looking at him, that the girls were already chasing after him. He seemed tall for his age to me - maybe five-four or five-five.
I started looking at him more closely and noticed the strong resemblance to Ryan. Brown hair, blue eyes, and the same facial features. I made a note to myself to dig up some old pictures of Ryan - from when he was thirteen to see if they really looked as alike as I thought.
"You must be Will," Christian said to me, with more energy than Iíd expected.
"That I am. Itís good to meet you, Christian."
"Itís great to finally meet you. This is my dad."
"Jackson, itís nice to meet you as well," I added.
"Good to meet you," Jackson replied.
We completed the hellos, grabbed their luggage off the conveyor and walked them out to the Jeep.
"I wasnít expecting it to be this warm," Jackson commented.
"Itís very abnormal for this time of year," Ryan replied. "Getting summer temperatures in late-March is unheard of for us. But itís supposed to end in the next day or two. Then we go back to our normal cold spring forecast. Heck, we may get a dusting of snow while youíre here."
"Snow in March is something weíre more used to," Christian admitted.
I was a bit surprised that Christian hadnít started asking me a slew of questions as Ryan put us on the highway north. I guess my timing was just a bit off, as they started about the time Ryan exited onto I-81 north.
"So, Iíve heard a lot about you, Will," he started.
"Iíve heard quite a bit about you as well," I responded.
"What are you majoring in at Virginia Tech?" he asked.
"Agriculture and applied economics," I explained.
Before I could finish the description, Christian blurted out, "Thatís the same as Ryan."
"Close but not quite," Ryan corrected. "Heís doing agri-finance and Iím doing agri-management. Weíll have the farm thing completely covered once we graduate."
"Have you always ridden horses?" Christian returned to his questions.
"Actually, I didnít ride a horse until the first time I visited the farm."
"Do you enjoy it?"
"Most definitely. Riding is relaxing and enjoyable. I canít think of many things I like doing more."
"Do you have a favorite horse?"
"I ride Cotton-Eyed Joe most of the time," I explained.
"Thatís a funny name," Christian commented.
"Heís named after a folk song that has a dance associated with it as well," Ryan responded. "The dance got popular after being in Urban Cowboy and then again when the Moody Blues won a Grammy for a version of the song in 1985. Joe was born in 86 and was named after the song."
Throughout the drive, I was sitting in the front passengerís seat with Jackson directly behind me and Christian behind Ryan. Iíd turned slightly in the seat allowing me to talk to them easier. I was glad Ryan and Iíd taken the time to put the top back on the Jeep so we could talk more easily.
Erik and Ryan described Christian as intense. Yes, he asked questions, and there were a lot of them over the two hour drive. But I would call him inquisitive, not intense.
When we arrived at the farm, Ryan and I introduced Jackson and Christian to Tracer in the office. By the time we had their bags in the house and shown them their room, Erik had gotten back from the feed store.
"How exhausted are you two?" Erik asked.
"I donít know about Christian, but Iím fairly tired at this point," Jackson admitted.
"Iím not too tired. I was able to sleep on the main flight," Christian explained.
"I was thinking that since the weatherís nice, it would be a great day for a ride after lunch," Erik said.
"Thatís a great idea," Christian enthused.
"Sounds fine with me," Jackson said, sounding very reluctant. "Maybe I can grab a nap afterwards."
"You could grab one now if you like," Ryan said. "We can postpone the ride till you wake up."
"I donít want to miss the ride in both daylight and good weather," Jackson explained. "So letís stick with ride, then nap."
"Deal," Ryan agreed.
Ryan and I pulled together a quick lunch while Jackson and Christian started unpacking. Once we had the dishes in the dishwasher, Ryan told everyone to get ready to ride. For me it was easy; I switched from shoes to boots - otherwise I left my jeans and shirt the same.
I saddled Cotton-Eyed Joe while Ryan got Lucky Lady ready. We hitched them and then came back to help Jackson and Christian saddle their horses. While we did, Tracer showed up with Night Dancer and Erik with Shadow Dancer.
The six of us led our mounts out of the stables and climbed aboard. Erik and Tracer led the way, Christian and Ryan in the middle, and I rode beside Jackson at the end of the group. We got onto the outer trail making our way slowly through the woods.
"This is very nice," Jackson commented.
"We do a lot of maintenance to keep the trails in good order," I explained. "This part of the trails is still in great shape, but once we get over the crest of that hill youíll start seeing areas of damage."
"Problems?" he asked.
"We had extensive flooding last spring which damaged the trails and bridges along Sugar Run."
"Not really. Itís usually a quiet little creek. You know, lots of rocks, ankle-deep water running through. But last May we had a storm front become stationary over the area. The damage around here was extreme. All the bridges over the Run were destroyed and we spent a long time cleaning up the trails."
"One of the hassles and heartaches of nature I guess."
"That it is."
By this point, we had crested the hill and were headed down into the valley where Sugar Run went through.
"This is gorgeous," Jackson said.
"Maybe you can come back one time when the rhododendron are in bloom. Thatís the ultimate. This area gets a lot of tourists from that. There are wild hedgerows that run through the woods."
"Point them out to me if you would," he asked.
"See that line of bushes?" I asked, pointing to my left.
"Thatís what Iím talking about," I explained.
"Thatís huge! Itís what, six maybe seven feet tall and thirty feet long?"
"And at least five or six feet deep," I added. "In the late spring, that will be completely covered in deep pink blossoms."
"That must be beautiful."
"It really is," I agreed.
We crossed over Sugar Run and followed the trail towards the back of the property.
"How big is this place?" Jackson asked.
"Somewhere around two-hundred and seventy-seven acres," I explained.
"And I complain about mowing my acre and a half."
"Well, I doubt you have a staff that keeps up with everything."
"Just me and Christian now," Jackson replied. I caught a hint of a catch in his voice.
"You OK?" I asked.
"Fine. I just get a little misty at times. Itís only been seven months since Kaitlynn died," he admitted.
"Iím sure itís been very hard on you... and Christian."
"That it has. Itís funny. While Ryan and Erik were visiting, I donít think Ryan ever said one word about her. Christian didnít say anything either, not wanting to upset Ryan. But he did want to talk about his mother. In fact, I only talked to Erik about her for one short time. I had never thought about how hurt Ryan would be. My only thoughts were about Christian. Does Ryan ever talk to you about Kaitlynn?"
"Itís funny you ask. Iíve never even known her name till you mentioned it. From Ryanís perspective itís always been Ďherí or Ďsheí. Nothing more."
"Damn. She was such a sweet woman, wonderful wife and fantastic mother. Itís hard for me to believe anyone could ever hate her."
"For you and Christian it sounds like she really was. For Erik, sheís the woman that abandoned him and his son. In fact, from what Iíve heard she didnít even participate in raising Ryan the four years of his life she was around."
"Iíd love to know what changed. What happened in her life to transform her from what Ryan knew to what Christian knew."
"Iím sure if Christian talks about her, Ryan will be polite. But I donít know how much heíll interact."
"Changing the subject a bit, how did you and Ryan get together? I mean I know your brother and Erik are partners, but..."
"But how do you go from being the brother of Erikís lover to the lover of Erikís son?"
"Yeah. Sounds odd."
"I guess it is."
While we rode along the back fence line and then veered into the property to come out by the picnic grounds, I gave Jackson the condensed version of Ryanís and my life together. While Christian may have been able to compile an encyclopedia about Ryan, it was obvious that Jackson had not memorized every detail.
Once we broke into the open by the picnic tables, the six of us moved up abreast each other. We showed them around the area and then headed back into the woods on the inner trail. As we did, the pairings got changed around and I ended up with Christian leading the group. I looked back figuring Ryan would be with Jackson, but instead he was with Tracer - Jackson was beside Erik.
"What do you think of the farm?" I asked.
"Itís great," he replied. "I didnít imagine it being so large!"
"I was talking to your dad about that."
"Ryan said that the four of you co-own the place?"
"Yup. Erik deeded half of the farm to Ryan and I, and split his half with Tracer."
"Wow. I canít imagine owning all of this in a few years."
"Itís taking a lot of getting used to," I admitted. "I donít think it has fully sunk in, since Ryan and I are at school most of the time. After we graduate and work here full time Iím sure it will sink in."
"How do you like school?"
"Itís OK. Iíll be glad when Iím done. Sixteen years of school and Iím ready for it to be over."
"Iíve got five years of school before I get to go to college. Then four years of that."
"Starting to think about what you want to major in at college?"
"Not really. Dad seems to want me to follow in his footsteps and be an engineer. But I think I have time to decide."
"That you do," I agreed.
"How did you know that you loved Ryan?" he asked.
I figure my jaw dropped at that one, because he laughed a little.
"Sorry," he continued. "I didnít mean to ask something bad."
"Nothing wrong with the question. I was just surprised when the conversation changed so abruptly."
"Dad says I ask way too many questions," Christian admitted.
"Not in the least. Itís a great way to learn. Hmm... how did I know I loved Ryan. Well, I guess it started the summer after we met. He made me happy - you know being around him. I wanted to spend all my time with him. Then when I had to go back to Tennessee, I thought my world had ended. I wasnít going to get to see him, be with him, hug him, kiss him. I was miserable. Then my Mom and Erik were able to work things out so that we could be together and I was the happiest boy in the world. Iíve been very happy ever since."
"Thatís a good way to put it. ĎWow!í"
We rode back to the stable and got the horses back into their stalls.
"Nap time?" Ryan asked.
"Definitely for me," Jackson replied.
"I could use a few minutes of sleep too," Christian admitted while yawning.
"Weíll wake you up in time for dinner, if you donít come downstairs before then," I explained.
"That sounds good," Jackson agreed. "Thanks."
"See yíall in a bit," Ryan replied. After they went upstairs he turned to me. "What would you like to do?"
"A nap actually sounds good to me," I said.
"Thatís fine. Letís go snuggle up and get a bit of rest. Itís going to be a busy week."
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This is Chapter Fifty-five of Double Trails. I attempt to respond to all feedback. Contact me at BndgDawg@gmail.com
Chael and Rock deserve a lot of credit for all the assistance they provide. Their feedback leads to a much more readable story! Thanks as always to both of them.