Double Trails

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Chapter 68

-- TRACER --

The driveway alarm rang, and a few minutes later I looked up when Patrick came through the office door.

"How you doing?" I asked, standing and walking over to give him a big hug.

"Tired, but keeping my sanity." He turned and opened the door for Tiffany, who was carrying a little bundle. "The last few days woulda been hell, if Mom, Dad, and I hadn't been able to crash at Will and Ryan's old apartment."

I gave Tiffany a peck on the cheek and looked down. "Hey there, Mr. Micah." I held out my arms. "May I?" Tiffany placed him in my arms.

"Hey, Micah," I cooed to my nephew. "He's even tinier than I remembered."

"Well, he's a preemie," Tiffany explained. "But he's not ‘that' small!"

I heard a little noise from the bundle in my hands and looked down.

"Hey there... hey there... can I get a smile?" I asked, as I turned to his dad, "Where are the proud grandparents."

"They went in the house first," Patrick said. "They'll be out in a moment."

I cradled Micah and walked over to the radio. "Hey, Uncle Erik! You have a visitor."

"I'll be right there," came his reply.

"When do Will and Ryan get home?" Patrick asked.

"Sunday. They're dropping stuff off at Josh's new place and spending time with him before coming home. I think they plan on doing some site seeing, hitting the bars and such."

"They stopped by the hospital yesterday before heading north, giving Ryan a chance to meet Micah."

"When do your folks get here?" I asked Tiffany.

"They're coming on Saturday, which will give me a couple days to get settled in. Plus, your folks are heading back on Friday, so we'll have room for them at the house. Patrick mentioned you were going to North Carolina this weekend."

"I'm taking Kirk to Appalachian State to see his brother graduate. Fortunately, it didn't fall on the same weekend as Tech's. I felt bad last weekend that none of Josh's family came to the ceremony; and I didn't want the same thing to happen to Jacob."

"That's sweet of you," she said. "It's a shame that Josh's family won't even communicate with him. He seems like a nice guy, and deserves a family."

"He is a great guy, and he does deserve better. In some respects, I feel like the Double Trails family keeps extending - Josh, now Kirk and Jacob. But we're no substitution for real family connections."

At this point, Erik came through the door between the stable and the office.

"Where's my first nephew?" Erik said, looking straight at Tiffany.

"First?" she replied.

"Yeah, first. You're my one shot at nephews."

"What about Will and... oh... that's right, they'd be grandsons," she said. "Or hmm... that's a twist..."

"Don't go there... yet. I don't think I'm ready to be a granddad."

I walked over to Erik and put Micah in his arms.

 "Hey, little guy, it's nice to meet you," Erik said, looking down at the bundle in his arms.

"It was nice of you and Ryan to let Will and Tracer stay while I went through my ordeal!"

"Ordeal? You delivered in about six hours?" He teased.

"Almost seven!"

"How big was he at birth?"

"Six pounds - two ounces; nineteen inches long. The doctors said he might take as much as a year and a half to catch up for the five weeks he didn't get in my belly."

"Tiny," Erik replied.

"He's not ‘that' small," Tiffany sounded almost defensive.

"Well, Ryan was twenty-three inches long and almost eleven pounds."

"I would have exploded!"

"Kaitlynn had a very rough delivery," Erik explained. "Long, hard, and painful." He took a breath and changed the subject. "So, what's going to happen with your classes?"

"They'll have a permanent substitute for the last few weeks," Tiffany explained. "I hope I can get in there to let the person know what was really going on. This little bugger wasn't supposed to show up for another month!"

"At least, we have the nursery ready," Patrick chimed in.

"That's good," I said. "I'm just happy he arrived healthy and well."

My folks came through the office door at this point, and the conversation began to repeat itself. We visited for about an hour before they all headed north to Wolford.

Saturday morning, Kirk and I climbed into Ryan's Jeep early and drove over to Boone. We didn't get there early enough to see Jacob before the ceremony, so we met him outside the Holmes Convocation Center afterward.

"Congrats!" I said, shaking Jacob's hand.

"Thanks." He gave Kirk a big hug. "I have big news... I got a job offer from a small manufacturing firm over in Roanoke Rapids."

"A second congrats," I said.

"That's great," Kirk added. "You'll be a lot closer to me at school!"

"I checked online. It's about two hours away, so we can definitely see each other from time to time."

"Super."

"When do you start," I asked.

"June fifteenth. I'm going to try to get over there and find a place to rent soon."

I could see the almost dejected look in Kirk's face that his brother wasn't going to be around as much.

"Well, until you have a place, or any other time, you know you're always welcome at the farm."

"Thanks. One of my classmate's from Emporia and his folks are going to let me stay with them while I find a place and get a lease for July. Living with them will let me hold off till I have a paycheck. It's only a thirty minute drive, and that way, I'll already be working when I move in. I figure Kirk can spend the summer with me before he goes to school. But if I can stay at the farm until his graduation..."

"You can."

"That would be great," Kirk enthused.

"You know, you're welcome at the farm all summer, if you want," I reminded Kirk. "But I can understand wanting to be with Jacob. Anyway, instead of standing here, let's go find some place for lunch!"

We drove over to a nice steak house and celebrated Jacob's graduation in grand style. After lunch, we drove over to the dorms and finished loading his car. The overflow went into the Jeep, so Kirk could ride back home with Jacob - I had a nice ride, alone with my thoughts.

Ryan and Will got back late on Sunday, and the house felt very busy. Jacob spoke to me Sunday evening about pitching in on the farm until he left. So Monday morning, when the four of us were all in the office, I mentioned paying him.

"He probably can use the money," Will said.

"That's an understatement," Ryan agreed.

"I figured we could pay him what we pay the summer hires their first year."

"Sounds reasonable," Erik agreed.

We'd just finished the discussion when Jacob walked in to get his work assignment.

"You can help me with muck duties first," Will said.

"That's cool. You know I'm willing to do anything to help out."

"We figured we'd pay you like a first year summer hire," Ryan said. "That OK?"

"Y'all don't need to pay me anything. After everything all of you have..."

"Stop right there," Erik cut him off. "You're gonna need money, and that first paycheck won't come the day you start."

"You're being too generous."

"Smile... say thanks... and help someone out when you get the chance," I told him.

I could see a tear forming in the corner of his eye, as he said, "Thanks."

"Besides, muck duties aren't something you want to do for free," I teased.

We all had a short laugh, then Will and Jacob headed out to clean stalls.

"I saw there were fence repairs needed," Ryan said. "I can find one of the guys and tackle them."

"I'd rather you and Tracer work on the office things first," Erik replied. Before Ryan could say anything, Erik held up his hand. "You two showed that you have the skill for selling. I want... let me rephrase that, I think you need to develop a firm grasp on the business end of things. I'm not saying you'll live in the office, but all of us should understand the office work fully - and you've had the least experience in it."

"That's true. Will did a lot when he was injured, Tracer does it mostly now; and of course, you started it all..."

"Exactly. The fence repairs will be there later," Erik said. "I'm going to get to my list of chores."

With that he walked out.

"Where do you want to start," Ryan asked.

Before I answered, Christine walked in.

"Morning," she said.

"Morning," we both replied. "Anything special I need to work on?"

"Just the usual," I replied. Turning to Ryan, "Why don't we start with payroll."

 We dug into the office work, and I explained each item to him as things went along. We'd been at it a good while, moving from topic to topic when his stomach growled.

"I can't believe it's lunch time already," he said.

"We've been at it a while," I agreed. "It usually doesn't take this long, but with me explaining everything, it's slower,"

"That's good to know; I'd hate to spend all day in the office."

We walked into the house and made sandwiches. As we ate, we talked about the office work. Once finished, we went back to the office to check out the duty board.

"Well, I guess I'm not doing fence repair," Ryan said.

I looked to see that Will and Ezra had checked out to do that work.

"Why don't we ride up to the picnic area and check things out," I suggested.

I got all my tack on Night Dancer while Ryan did the same for Lucky Lady. We rode out to the far end of the property and did a little cleanup. As we trotted back to the stable, Ryan rode up next to me on the trail.

"It's so good to be home again."

"Considering how little you wanted to be away, I can fully understand that."

"Look who's talking..."

"What???"

"Dad told me he wanted you to go to UVA-Wise for school, and you wouldn't even consider it."

"That's different..."

"How?"

"I'd pretty much just gotten here, and I'd just started a relationship. Look Will went with you. Erik wasn't going with me. Even if it was only an hour and a half away."

He started to respond, but I cut him off.

"The biggest thing, Ryan, is I know my limitations. Will and Patrick are college material. I did fine with the community college, but that's my limit."

"I don't know that I agree with you. And I'm not picking on you..."

"I know."

"And I wasn't trying to pick on you either. More completely... I'm just agreeing that leaving was hard and being back is a good thing."

"Thanks. You think this is going to work out?"

"What?" I asked, a bit puzzled.

"The four of us living together."

"I'm sure it will have its rough spots - every relationship does. Put two people in a situation, and eventually something is bound to happen. Make that four, and of course, there'll be some friction. The important part is to keep the lines of communication open. Erik and I have talked about it a lot over the last few months, especially his biggest concern..."

"Which is?"

"Remembering that you're an adult, partnered, and have the right to a voice like everyone else. In other words, you're not his ‘little boy' anymore."

"He'll always be Dad to me. But I do appreciate the effort he's been putting in since Will and I got together; especially since he added us to the company and everything else."

We broke into the pasture on the far side of the barn.

"Look," Ryan said, pointing a good distance away toward the edge of the woods.

"He's a young one," I said.

"Yeah. His antlers are just little sprouts. Must be a year old from his size."

Night Dancer snorted loudly and the young buck looked directly at us, froze for a moment, then darted into the woods.

"You'll have to be careful what you plant in that garden with all the deer around," Ryan warned.

"I'm going to do herbs, which they don't like. I might do some tomatoes or something another year, just completely surrounded by the herbs to keep the deer away."

"Smart."

We rode into the stable, got the horses in their stalls, and removed their tack.

"I'm going to spend a good bit of time grooming Lady," Ryan said. "She hasn't had a good grooming in a while, I'm sure."

"OK. I'm going to check things in the office, then go in and start dinner."

In the house, I checked to see what we had. Someone had pulled a whole chicken out of the freezer and it appeared to be fully thawed. I got the oven going to 375, pulled out a few herbs, grabbed the butter dish and sliced off six good sized pats, then finally pulled out a roasting pan.

I checked the cavity and found it empty. I started pushing the herbs under the skin, then added the butter pats. There wasn't much butter left on the dish, so I grabbed it and coated the outer skin as well. I put the chicken in the pan and washed my hands.

"Need help?" Erik asked as he came through the back door.

The oven beeped to indicate it had reached the appropriate temperature.

"Sure. Open the oven, so I can slip the chicken in."

He complied, and we got the bird cooking.

"How long till dinner?"

"That's a pretty big bird," I said. "I'm guessing about one and a half to two hours to cook."

"So, I have time to clean up... good!"

"Yeah, that's why I got the chicken going, so I could take a shower, then worry about the rest of dinner."

"Smart boy," he said, as we headed upstairs.

"Shower together?" I asked, as we got into the bedroom.

"Sounds like a great idea... or we could use the tub."

"You... take a bath?" I was puzzled. Since we'd finished the remodel, I couldn't think of a time when Erik had gotten into the tub.

"Yeah... let's fill it full and get comfy."

I didn't know where this was coming from, but I was definitely all for it. We both striped down and threw our dirty clothes into the laundry basket. Erik got the tub filling, and I went to the closet to grab a pair of fresh towels. When I turned back to the tub, Erik was settling into one of the corners.

"Join me," he offered in his deepest bass. It really sent a shiver up my spin. At one time, I'd admitted to Scott that listening to Josh Turner's voice when he sang could get me aroused, because he always made me think of Erik. Unfortunately, I couldn't convince Erik to sing.

I carefully stepped into the tub and sat down between Erik's legs. The water surged up, and I realized that I should turn it off before I flooded the bathroom.

"This is nice," I said.

Erik wrapped his arms around my chest and nuzzled his hairy face into my shoulders and neck. He'd let his hair grow recently, letting his goatee fill out into a beard.

"Really nice," he said in a deep whisper.

His tongue ran up my neck, then onto the edge of my ear, causing me to shiver. His tongue moved away, and I felt his teeth lightly nibble my ear lobe. He moved down, ever so lightly biting my neck. I worked hard to suppress any movement... I didn't want to be bitten hard by accident.

Oddly, my body really started to relax as the steamy, hot water worked my muscles. Well... most of my muscles relaxed - my dick was rock hard.

Erik's hands started massaging my chest and playing with my tits. I just lay back into his hairy chest and let him have his fun.

After a few more minutes of play, Erik put his arms back around me and pulled me into him tightly. I felt so safe, so secure, so at peace.

We lay in the tub just snuggled up... silent.

It must have been at least twenty minutes later, and I was almost asleep when Erik said. "I think it's time to get out and dry off before we both become prunes."

 I stood up, grabbed a towel, and stepped out of the tub. I grabbed the second towel and handed it to Erik as he stood up. The intimacy of the bath continued as Erik and I toweled each other dry. I decided to initiate something, so I grabbed a bottle out of the vanity and took Erik by the hand, leading him into the bedroom.

"Face down," I said, as I lightly pushed him toward the bed.

I put a small amount of oil onto my left palm and rubbed my hands together to warm it up as I climbed onto the bed and straddled his butt. Putting my hands at the small of his back, I worked the heel of each palm up either side of his spine.

Erik let out a deep groan as my hands reached his shoulder. I grabbed the bottle, added a little more oil, and started a series of long strokes, working the muscles of his back.

I did my best to think how I'd want my back massaged as I worked different areas. When I found a knot, I'd work my heel into it deeply, trying to release the built up tension. After I had his back worked over, I moved down a bit more and massaged his butt. I slid down further and worked from his thighs up to the small of his back.

"This feels really good," Erik complimented.

"Good,"

I was about to move on when I looked at the clock.

"Shit," I muttered.

"What's wrong?"

"Dinner! We've been at this almost an hour; I need to work on the rest of dinner."

"I'll help - we can pick up where we left off after dinner."

"Deal."

I grabbed a small towel and wiped as much of the oil as I could off Erik. We both slipped into pajama bottoms, t-shirts, and went downstairs.

"Potatoes or rice?"

"Potatoes," I replied.

Erik and I were going about pulling together the rest of dinner when Will and Ryan came through the back door.

"Need help?" Ryan asked.

"Clean up, then one of you can set the table," Erik replied. "Otherwise, I think we have things about ready. Where are Jacob and Kirk?"

The driveway alarm sounded.

"That was timely," I said.

"Kirk had an after school thing," Will explained.

"Go get cleaned up."

Kirk and Jacob came in, and Kirk, realizing dinner was about ready, grabbed a stack of plates and started setting the table.

"Three more weeks!" Kirk announced.

"Till?" Ryan asked, being a bit of a tease.

"Till I graduate!" Kirk's voice sounded a bit exacerbated.

"I know, I was just pulling your leg."

"I'll be glad I'm done with school."

"Until September..." Will put in.

"Well, yeah. But I'm looking forward to that."

"You're looking forward to more school," Jacob's voice had a surprised tone to it.

"I think it's more likely he's looking forward to more time with Chet," Ryan said.

"CHET? Who's Chet?" Jacob asked.

"You didn't tell him? Sorry, dude," Ryan said... his voice showed he was a bit concerned.

"Tell me what?" Jacob's voice was getting a bit louder.

"It's really nothing," Kirk explained. "When Ryan and Will took me to tour the campus, they arranged for the head of the gay group to give us a tour. He's a really nice guy and..."

"And they seemed to hit it off," Will finished after Kirk's voice stopped.

"But nothing happened. We've exchanged a few e-mails - that's it."

Jacob had an odd look on his face.

"Trust us, nothing happened," Will added.

"OK. But I want to meet this Chet guy," Jacob said, in full big-brother mode.

"You will," Kirk assured him.

"And I want you to tell me more about him after dinner," Jacob added.

I decided to switch the topic, so poor Kirk wouldn't get any more flustered by Jacob. "How are your final projects going?"

"They're fine. I actually finished my project for English and government."

"One project?" Erik asked.

"Yeah. They combined it, so we could put more focus on it. Both teachers grade it from their perspective."

"What was your topic?"

"I looked at the evolution of the American two-party system, focusing on the demise of the Whig Party and the founding of the Republican Party."

"Intense," I replied.

"Well, I'm trying to push myself a bit."

"You'll fit in at college," Will admitted.

That got a big grin from Kirk. He went on to explain how he'd handled the topic, and what key points he'd provided... it made my head hurt.

After cleaning up the dinner dishes, everyone went into the den to watch television. Somehow, Fear Factor was the chosen show... not that Monday night television offered a lot of great options.

"Enjoy the show," Erik said. "I'm going upstairs and read for a bit."

"That sounds like a great idea," I agreed. "I can finish another chapter of Harry Potter. Night everyone."

A chorus of "good nights" rang out as Erik and I left the room.

As soon as we got into the room, Erik asked. "Where were we?"

"As I recall, I was giving you a massage."

"So, it's your turn. Face down on the bed, young man!"

I stripped off my pajamas and lay down on the bed. Erik pushed my legs apart a bit and climbed up between them. He must have grabbed the oil from the nightstand while I was stripping down, because his slicked up hands started gliding from the top of my butt crack up either side of my spine in one long very deep stroke. Reaching my shoulders, he worked a moment at the knots there, before starting a long stroke back down that went on to my butt cheeks.

His hands, at the top of my thighs, proceeded to move up my body, this time venturing ever so slightly in between my ass cheeks. Erik repeated these long strokes, and each time his hands slipped closer and closer to my hole.

As aroused as I was from his oily hands rubbing my hole, I was also very relaxed from the great massage my back was getting.

"I should put a towel under you," Erik said quietly.

"I'll just add some Dawn to the laundry load to help get out the oil," I replied. "Don't stop..."

"I won't..."

As he kept going, his strokes got deeper and deeper into my ass crack. My hole got slick as Erik spent more and more time playing with it. I finally felt one of his fingers slip in. My hole loosened slightly, a second finger, then a third.

"Fuck me," I moaned.

Erik poured a bit more oil along my crack before slipping his dick in.

"That's it! All the way in!"

Erik put his hands on either side of me, and started pumping in and out of my hole - deep, long strokes, working his cock over my prostate. I bucked back on his dick once and Erik quickly shifted his hands, placing one at the small of my back. I got the point - HE was doing the fucking!

"Harder," I moaned. "Pound that hole!"

Erik kept a steady pace, pushing his dick deeper and deeper into my hole.

"Ahhhhh…." I groaned, as his dick hit bottom.

Erik pulled all the way back out, then plunged back in.

"Ummph," I grunted as he hit bottom.

He repeated the motions, garnering more grunts. He started picking up the pace, the head of his dick coming right to the edge of my ass ring before slamming back in. The force of his hitting bottom each time kept me grunting constantly.

"Fuck... Fuck... Fuck." I stuttered.

"Damn right! This ass was made for being fucked!"

"Then fuck it, man! Fuck my ass!" I commanded.

The fuck continued at a hard, strong pace, and my ass was feeling really good!

"Gonna fill you up fast," Erik warned.

I whimpered slightly - a bit disappointed.

"Don't worry. That's not stopping this fuck!"

I clamped my ass around his dick, trying to milk a load out of it. I wanted that first load, so he could fuck me for a long, long time before the second load.

"That's it, baby, milk that dick."

I alternated tightening on his in thrusts and loosening on his out a few times, then switched, clamping down as he pulled out and letting him bury in deep easily.

"FUCK!" Erik nearly yelled, as he creamed my ass. He collapsed on top of me, and I clamped my ring around his dick with all the strength I could muster.

"You're not getting out, Mister," I warned him.

Erik nibbled on my neck, then licked his way up to my ear, tickling as he moved alone. His dick never really deflated; it got a bit softer, but stayed deep in my hole. After a few minutes, I felt it getting harder in my ass.

 "Ready for round two," he asked.

"Damn right! Fuck me... fuck me hard... fuck me deep!"

Erik flipped me over, grabbed my hips, and started working his dick in and out of my ass slightly. He wasn't pulling out very far - more like a quick rabbit fuck.

I tried to push up on his dick to meet his thrusts.

 "Let me do the work, Baby," he whispered.

I stopped moving and let Erik fuck at his own pace.

I started squeezing my ass, milking his shaft for all it was worth.

"Oh, fuck, that feels damn good. Tight, fucking hole!"

All of a sudden, Erik buried his dick in my ass fully, and I figured he was about to cum; but he held still and reached down, putting his arms behind my neck. I quickly realized he was going to pick me up, so I put my arms around his neck as well.

Erik stood, and once settled, started bouncing me up and down on his dick.

"FUCK!" I moaned.

His bounces, more like deep knee bends with an upward thrust, buried him deeper than I think he'd ever been in my ass. It also pounded my hole in a way that I'd never felt... phenomenal!

"This... is... one... hell... of a... FUCK!" I got out over six of the thrusts.

"Damn right," Erik growled.

 "Milk me, Fucker!" Erik ordered.

"Come on and cum, Baby! Fill me up!"

I did my best to arch my back a bit and kiss Erik as the bounces got harder and deeper.

"Oh... fuck..." I yelped as I sprayed cum up on both our chests and abs.

The clenching of my ass must have gotten to Erik, because he groaned as I felt his cock spasm a second time in my ass! I could tell Erik was exhausted after that workout, and he dropped me as gently as possible onto the bed.

Erik was covered in a layer of sweat, a lot of which had sprayed on me. I lay there a moment before realizing that I had cum starting to seep out of my ass.

We were both going to sleep well tonight!

Tuesday morning was more of the same, Ryan and I spent a lot of time looking over the AQHA web site.

"We've got a couple really good mares," Ryan said. "But not one that has the depth of pedigree that makes folks really take notice."

"Agreed, but you don't want to exceed Ragin Cajun's pedigree."

"Why not? Actually - now hear me out on this. If we get a mare that's top flight, she could be bred by Cajun or any other stud we bring in."

"The catch twenty-two. Do we get a better stud and sell his services, or a better mare and produce more saleable progeny?"

"Let's look at it from a financial transaction standpoint. Which pays off better? We need to talk to Will," he suggested.

"Huh?"

"They should have covered this in some of his financial courses. You know, cost-benefit analysis."

"Hmmm. A chance to see if he learned anything in college," I teased.

That got a big chuckle out of Ryan.

"Seriously though, I think we do need to research which angle is better."

"Agreed."

As we continued, Ryan pointed out a few things regarding our listings he thought could be enhanced.

"I'm betting it's a bit like a resume. You only get a few seconds to hook someone. Plus, we need to make sure we show up on the search results correctly."

"I thought you took an agriculture degree."

"I spent four years around IT students... like Josh. A few things they said took root."

"Good."

We spent a lot of time looking over the Double Trails web site as well. It was great to have a fresh perspective.

As with Monday, we were so involved in going over things that the morning passed quickly. Rumbling stomachs signaled time for lunch. We ate some leftovers, then went out to the stables to check for jobs.

"We have a group coming at two. Let's start pulling horses and getting them saddled up."

"Deal."

We spent about an hour getting the horses ready and out in the holding area.

"Who's the group?" Ryan asked as we pulled the last two horses.

"It's this small pediatric doctor's office from over in Tazewell. They're doing some sort of team building activity. You know... riding out to the picnic area, meeting for about an hour, then riding back."

"Who's riding with them?" Ryan asked.

"I figured we could monitor them out, help them dismount and tie up the horses. Then return later and do the reverse."

"Sounds good."

The group started arriving about fifteen minutes prior to their ride. Once they were all mounted, they took the outer trail to the picnic area. Ryan and I helped them dismount, tied up the horses, and they started their activities. We were just getting onto the inner trail when our walkie-talkies crackled.

 "... elp..." was all we heard.

Before I could grab it and respond, Hanks's voice came across.

"Repeat that, Will!"

"Hel..." Followed by static. "... down..."

"You're breaking up bad," Hank replied. "Do I need to call 911?"

"..esss...."

"Will do," his calm voice belied the panic I knew he, like me, was feeling.

"Who's on horseback," Erik's voice came across next.

"Ryan and I are out at the picnic area," I replied.

"Head for the back fence," Erik said clearly.

"Ambulance on the way," Hank interrupted. "Will, can you respond."

This time there was dead silence. I looked at Ryan and his face was as panicked as I'm sure mine was.

"Dad, we've got the doctor's office group at the picnic area," Ryan replied.

"Let them know we have an emergency, get over to Will and Ezra."

Ryan turned Lady, and I followed suit.

"Let them know," Ryan said, as we broke into the clearing. He spurred Lady into a full gallop and headed into the woods at the far side of the area.

I got up to the group. "We have an emergency," I explained. "We know something is wrong, but can't get details."

"Let us know how we can help," the doctor responded.

"WILL???" Ryan's voice came through the walkie-talkie. Silence was his only answer.

"I'll be right back, if we do need help."

 I spurred Dancer to catch up. I'd followed the trail for a bit when I heard the walkie-talkie crackle.

"Randy and I have the gator and trailer; we're headed to the picnic area. Have the ambulance meet us there!" Erik's voice rang out.

"Where were the fence repairs," Ryan called out. I could hear him clearly, but he was getting close enough to the back of the property that he was out of range of the base.

"What was that Ryan?" Hank asked.

I slowed Dancer a bit to grab my walkie. "Where exactly are they working?"

"About 100 yards or so uphill from the point where it crosses Sugar Run," Hank responded.

"I'm leaving the trail," Ryan said. "WILL!!!"

"Busy!" Was Will's crackled response.

I figured Ryan and I were both getting close enough to reach him finally.

I came to a small bend in the trail, cut hard to the right and through the trees. I knew I should slow down when a branch struck me, but after a hard ride, I came to the fence and went along it, heading for the broken section. About three minutes later, I saw Cotton-Eyed Joe and Sycamore Slick tied to a tree. I slowed Dancer and moved along a bit. As I came over a small rise, I saw Lady, then Ryan crouching next to Will. Will was on his knees next to Ezra performing what I assumed was CPR.

 "What's wrong?" I asked.

"He collapsed, and when I checked, I couldn't get a pulse. So I started doing CPR."

"Tired?" Ryan asked.

"Yeah."

"Team work," Ryan said. "I'll do the chest compressions, you do the breathing."

"How can I help?" I asked. "I never learned CPR."

"Go back to the path, call Hank and let him know to update the ambulance squad. Then see if any of the medical folks can help."

I didn't question Ryan's directions; I ran for Dancer. Once I got to the trail, I grabbed my walkie-talkie and called for Hank.

"Randy here," I got as a response. "We're on the Gator at the road beyond the picnic area. What's wrong?"

"Ezra's down... his heart stopped... Will thinks... they're doing CPR..."

"As soon as the ambulance crew gets here, we'll head in!"

"I'm getting some of the riders to help."

"Huh?"

"Doctor's office group,"

"Roger that," Randy's reply came.

I got to the picnic area and found the group already on horseback.

"We've got a man down back along the property line," I explained. "He's had heart problems before, so we're guessing heart attack. An ambulance is on the way."

"Let's go," the doctor said.

I turned Night Dancer and started back into the woods at full gallop. Knowing exactly where I was going let me take the best path back.

"Reinforcements," I called out.

I swung my leg over Night Dancer, then walked over to the doctor, helping her down. A couple of her staff also dismounted and moved to assist.

"How's he doing?" she asked.

"No response, so far," Ryan said.

I watched helpless, as she checked Ezra a bit.

"Switch out?" she asked.

"Yeah," Will said.

One of the nurses took Will's place while the doctor started the compressions. It seemed like forever before Erik, Randy, and the rescue squad showed up. The doctor and nurse conferred with the crew before getting out of their way.

I stood there watching as the EMTs got this device out and started shocking Ezra... I recognized it from movies and shows. I'd seen all the shows, but this was real and surreal... Erik, Ryan, Will, Randy, and I were clustered together watching.

After a few moments, one of the EMTs announced. "I've got a pulse... it's weak and thready..."

Another EMT continued to squeeze a bag over Ezra's mouth pushing air in and out of him. A few more minutes passed... "His pulse is steadier. Let's get him on a stretcher and get him to the hospital!"

We helped carry him out to the trail, got him onto the trailer, and Randy and Erik took off towards the ambulance. By the time I got back to the fence, everyone was mounted and Will had Sycamore Slick tethered to Joe. I climbed on Dancer and followed everyone out.


Prev To be continued . . .

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This is Chapter Sixty-eight of Double Trails. I attempt to respond to all feedback. Contact me at BndgDawg@gmail.com

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