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    sojourn
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Change of Heart - 19. Chapter Nineteen

Still not Christmas! Bet y'all are beginning to feel just like when you were little kids and thought "Christmas will never come and Santa will never get here." Bear with me.

 

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Raymond and Joe had spent the morning fielding calls that typically started with a wife calling to express her thanks for the good time they shared last night. That would soon meld into the husband, who just happened to be standing there, wanting to talk with Joe. Mellie would switch the call into Joe's office and Joe and Raymond would then listen to several reasons why Joe should consider running for Mayor. Raymond simply grinned and winked and occasionally nodded each time someone expressed another sound reason. Most of the reasons first given had to do with the fact that Joe was not that “expletive deleted” the current Mayor. After they shared their disgust with their current elected representative, they would go on to express relief that a decent man was willing to consider the job.

By the time Raymond texted Daniel and left for their lunch date, he was convinced that Joe would be their candidate. While not enthusiastic, Joe seemed resigned to being a mayoral candidate. Raymond had no doubt that his Uncle and Aunt would do well for the town. Aunt Mellie was already enumerating several topics for discussion with the various women's groups around town.

Raymond knew it fell to him to bring in some new employment opportunities. That shouldn't be too hard since they held the controlling interest in a couple of high tech companies that needed desperately to expand. The construction jobs alone would make a major dent in the local number of unemployed.

The town was situated on an expressway and it's municipal airport could easily be expanded if necessary. It’s landing strip could already accommodate smaller corporate jets. Relocating the operations sector from Dallas would be accomplished within a matter of weeks. There was an entire downtown area that begged to be occupied and restored. The Adams family was about to make some local real estate broker very happy.

Raymond drove to the Firehouse to make his cash donation. He first asked for the Assistant Fire Chief, Bill Jordan. Taking him aside Raymond asked how cash donations were accepted and what precautions were in place to prevent theft. Bill explained that recipients were designated by schools, churches and local charities such as food banks and the like. By this time, most other donations of food, toys, etc. would have already been delivered. The cash donations required two signatures on every receipt. This receipted cash was logged in and then locked inside the safe to which only he and Chief Bumpkis held the combination. At five o’clock on Christmas Eve, each year, he and the Chief would total the cash and divide it by the number of intended recipients. They tried to balance it so a family of four would receive a little more cash than what a family of two would get and so on. Bill had tried to get the cash delivery date moved back so families could actually have the cash to spend for Christmas. That idea was squashed by the Chief who rightfully claimed that a lot of the cash donations came in on Christmas Eve. Once the amount was determined, envelopes would be sealed with the appropriate amount inside. The properly addressed envelope would be signed across the sealed lip by both Bill and the Chief. Once that was completed the envelopes would be divided so that the Chief and another fireman, usually the Chief’s cousin by marriage, would deliver half and Bill, accompanied by another available fireman, would deliver the other half. When asked about the split, Bill said the Chief was usually determined who would deliver to what addresses. Bill never questioned the number of envelopes he was given to deliver, though he was sure the Chief delivered a lot more than half.

With a clearer understanding of the procedures in place. Raymond recorded himself donating the cash to Chief Bumpkis and Bill Jordan. He made sure to record the serial numbers alongside the receipt. He assured both Bill and the Chief it was for tax purposes. He also told them other members of his family would soon show up with like amounts to donate and would also record the donation. Bill was most appreciative, he assured Raymond the money would go to some really needy families. Bumpkis was busy calculating and salivating when he realized how much cash was actually promised.

Raymond had texted Daniel and they agreed to meet at the diner. He saw Daniel waiting in his patrol car, talking on his radio when he pulled into the parking lot. Daniel cut short his chat and got out to greet Raymond as he approached. The warm smiles and enthusiastic handshake the big men shared were only small outward manifestations of the gushing warmth that charged through their bodies. Raymond knew he was not the only one to feel an actual jolt of energy when he grasped Daniel's hand. The glint in the Sheriff's eyes said so many good things.

It seemed like forever that they simply stared into each other's eyes, but it was only moments before they interrupted by a man clearing his throat. “Sorry to interrupt. Raymond, it's been a few years but I remember you quite clearly. My name is J. L. Livingston, we played football together, back in high school. You were a year ahead of me. I own the local real estate company.” Raymond remembered Jerry Lee as having been some twenty pounds lighter, but with the same contagious grin. Back then he insisted on being called J.L. Instead of Jerry Lee. Kids insisted on calling him Jerry Lee and unfailingly inquired if his “great balls” were on fire? “Julie told me to meet y’all here for lunch, along with Bill Slidesdale. She insisted we all had business to discuss. I understand you're looking to move back here and settle down. You know, Bill has just put your Daddy’s old ranch on the market. He built a house near y’all’s old ranch house for his son and daughter-in-law. It would make a fine rental if you don't mind having neighbors that close. Bill junior got killed in Afghanistan a while back and now the wife has taken the two boys to live near her folks in Houston. They’re the only family Bill and Sarah have left and they want to retire and move to be close to the grandkids. But, if you're looking to live in town, well I got a good range of available homes. If you need office space, I can show you plenty of office spaces right down on Courthouse Square. Just need to figure out what best suits your needs, both personal and professional.”

Raymond wasn't sure if he should thank Julie or choke the living shit out of her for messing up his time with Daniel. Before he could decide on a plan of action, they were joined by an older cowboy. Bill Slidesdale looked exactly like a mature rancher should, from his stirrups and faded jeans up to his worn Stetson. It was obvious the man had interrupted his workday to be here. Raymond thought he looked like an older Marlboro man. Raymond had only known the man by name. He had never revisited the ranch after his mother had it sold. He’d only found out about the sale two days before they were to move. One more thing he never forgave her for.

He thought he had schooled his expression until he saw a look of concern flash across Daniel's face. The other two hadn't noticed. Bill exchanged greetings, saving Raymond for last. The man’s grip was strong. “Welcome home son, I knew your Daddy real well. He was a fine man. I always half expected you to come around and maybe collect up some of his gear that your ma saw fit to leave behind. I let her know you would always be welcomed out there. I held onto your’s and his horses for the first five years, thinking you might come out to ride ‘em again. Left that old Willys Jeep of his in the tractor shed. Used to drive it around a bit. Junior got a kick out of riding in it. After he, uh, well I just left it there. You might want to come on out soon and collect it along with the rest of his stuff. Jerry Lee might have told you I’m moving to Houston as soon as I can get a buyer. I promised Julie, I’d give you first refusal. She was a godsend when we lost Junior. Truth is, we already bought a small place outside of Houston, close to the grandkids. We’re pretty much all moved out of the ranch house. We were back here just to make sure the boys had things well in hand. It's a miracle Julie caught us while we were here. I was working with the boys on some fencing. It took a bit of jawing to get me to break away, but like I said, we owe her.”

Raymond focused in on what Bill said about his Father's stuff. He was never told anything belonging to his father had been left at the ranch. She had discarded, sold or destroyed everything that had been a reminder of his Father. He had, for years, thought it was a sign of her profound, but hidden grief. Once he learned the undeniable truth, he saw it more as her purging forced choices and unpleasant memories from her past. He had tried to be understanding and never confronted her with what he knew. Bill’s revelations today showed how she systematically tried to destroy and deny his memories of the only real Father Raymond had ever known. For the first time ever, a totally disrespectful adjective describing his mother came to mind, “Bitch”. “Fucking Bitch”!

Guiltily he glanced over at Daniel. There it was again, that look of sincere concern. He tried to offer a reassuring smile. For the first time in many years, he wasn't sure it worked. For a moment, he thought Daniel was about to hug him in front of God and everybody. Raymond knew he would welcome the comfort such an act would bring.

He shook his head and addressed the group, “Well gentlemen, I think we best get inside before all the meatloaf is gone and we’re forced to eat one of Miss Julie’s delicious ribeyes.” They moved quickly toward the entrance. Their companionable chatter had them agreeing that eating anything Julie offered was never a hardship.

Julie greeted them just inside the door. Grabbing four menus she led the way over to the left leg of the horseshoe that wrapped around the kitchen. She didn't stop until she sat them at the table farthest from and out of sight of the front door. She signaled for a server. Leaning down she patted Raymond on the shoulder and quietly observed, “Personally, I’ve always thought of her as a bitch. Listen carefully to Bill. Your Daddy would be so pleased to know you were back living on the ranch.”

Their server, Melissa, turned in their orders and quickly came back with their drinks. Bill wasted no time in asking flat out if Raymond was interested in buying the ranch. Raymond, for some unknown reason, searched Daniel's face for a reaction. Seeing only schooled indifference, he focused on Bill and nodded. Bill, using pictures on Jerry Lee’s tablet, carefully enumerated the ranches dimensions and assets as well as pointing out several shortcomings that would soon have to be addressed. The house and outbuildings were pretty much as he remembered. It was clear that some things were in need of repair. Bill admitted that he had not kept on top of things since Junior died. He only had two full-time hands and they lived together in the foreman’s cottage. He praised them as hardworking and very competent cowboys. They had been with him since they graduated from high school together. He had already let them know about the impending sale. He had promised them three months wages as a bonus if they stayed through the closing. Bill stated he would encourage the new owners to keep them on as they knew the place very well and you weren't likely to find better workers or more honest, hardworking cowboys.

By the time the main course was finished, Raymond had made his decision. He excused himself to the men's room and once there made the necessary phone calls. Once he rejoined the group he told Bill he had men on the way to inspect the ranch. If things checked out, as he felt sure they would, those men were authorized to discuss an equitable price.

Melissa soon appeared with pie and coffee. She gave the apple to Bill, cherry to Jerry Lee and mincemeat to both Raymond and Daniel. When Raymond asked who ordered dessert for him, Melissa quickly volunteered, “Oh, Miss Julie sent it out as a celebration for you moving back to town and getting your ranch back.”

“Fine, but who ordered mincemeat pie with whipped cream for me. I don't even like mincemeat and I usually avoid whipped cream.”

Melissa laughed softly, “She said you’d say that. She said I should tell you “It won't choke you. You will like it and you owe her a hug.”

Raymond blushed at his earlier thought of possibly choking Julie. He then glared at one of the few foods he had refused to eat since early childhood. He eyed Daniel suspiciously as the Sheriff heartily dug in with obvious delight. If the umms and goofy smiles were any indications, both Bill and Jerry Lee were lost in some gastronomic nirvana. With a heavy sigh and great trepidation, Raymond brought a forkful of mostly whipped cream to his mouth. He had done it just to be sociable. It wasn't until he caught himself scrapping the last crumbs and smudges off his plate that he realized how much he had truly enjoyed Julie's magnificent mincemeat pie.

Bill tried to get the check, but Raymond refused. Bill insisted on leaving a tip and dropped a twenty dollar bill by his plate. Jerry Lee noticed Raymond's curiosity at such a large tip. He explained, “Melissa, is saving money for college. She works hard and is the first and likely the only child in her family to even graduate high school. So most everybody leaves a little extra when she is their server. It's a win, win. The money goes to a great cause and it leaves us with a warm sense of giving back. Don't let on, but some of us local merchants are trying to raise enough to fund a scholarship for her. I remember college, every little bit helps.” Jerry Lee winked as he slipped a twenty under his own plate.

When Melissa presented the check, Raymond sent it back insisting that if Julie wanted to eventually collect on her hug, she would add the pies and coffee to the bill. The bill came back amended accordingly. Sheriff Lovan thanked Raymond for lunch and headed back to his office. Raymond was miffed that he didn't get so much as a parting handshake. Raymond smiled as Daniel tried not to let anyone see him slip a twenty under his own plate. One more reason to like the man. Raymond left a tip almost equal to the total bill, on his card. Careful, so no one would notice he slipped a fifty underneath his plate. It was the smallest he had and like the man said, “it was for a good cause”.

Raymond had Jerry Lee follow him to the motel where his partial staff was holed up. Raymond turned him over to the appropriate individuals who would select the best suited commercial properties in town. They would present their options and recommendations for Raymond's final approval. Once his decisions were made the final price would be negotiated and Raymond would sign at the closing. In this case, time was short and the price would reflect the urgency. Raymond smiled when he realized they could probably buy the whole of Courthouse Square, several times over, for the price of their cheapest high rise building in Dallas, Houston, L.A. or New York.

Now he had to get their construction company in Dallas onboard for a fast turnaround on the ranch and any other properties they might acquire here. Though he would buy the ranch as a private purchase, it just made sense to use a construction team whom he knew and trusted. Without even realizing it was Christmas Eve, he made the calls that connected the construction company engineers and architects with the production consultants from the first two of their companies needing to expand. In turn, he connected them to the acquisition team here in town. By the time he got all concerned parties talking, it was late in the day. Nothing concrete was accomplished but all teams had jobs lined up for after Christmas.

Instead of feeling tired he felt a sense of contentment in knowing that he had accomplished a great deal in a short span of time. Once he realized there were no more calls to be made, he thought of Daniel. Suddenly his mild euphoria vanished as he realized he had hoped to have a quiet lunch and set the stage for perhaps something more intimate. At the least, he’d hoped to share dinner tonight. He had sure shot the hell out of that plan. Thank you, Miss Julie. He was definitely, this time, embracing the idea of choking her.

Raymond, again, picked up his phone. Hoping the man wasn't pissed off over lunch, he texted Daniel, “I should have texted sooner. Sorry, lunch didn't go as I had hoped.”

As he waited, Raymond chewed lightly on his lower lip.

He was staring at the phone in his hand, almost dropping it when it rang. Even as he put it to his ear, he silently cursed whoever was interfering with his texting conversation with Daniel. “Hello.” He said flatly.

“Oh, sorry. Am I interrupting something.” Raymond could hear the hesitation in Daniel's voice.

Suddenly cheered, he sputtered, “No, No, Not at all! I was disappointed that someone was disrupting my texting with you. I was surprised by your call. I really am sorry about having company for our first lunch together.”

“Don't worry about that. If I was going to blame anyone it would be Miss Julie. She blindsided us. I wasn't really too upset. I got to know a little more about you and that made it worthwhile. Actually, I should have called sooner to thank you again for a great lunch. I was worried a bit about your reaction to some of the things Bill Slidesdale had to say. I should have called sooner to check on you."

Raymond realized that Daniel had really noticed his anger toward the mention of his mother. He would have to explain the whole situation to Daniel soon. Before he could address that issue Daniel continued. "I have to go to my Dad’s for dinner tonight and I hope I can eat enough to keep them from worrying about me. Mom still treats me like I was still a teenager, living at home. She refuses to accept that I am a grown man, living on my own. She is in total denial that my metabolism has changed and I don't stuff my face 24/7 like I used to. It's amazing Dad doesn't look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy."

Switching topics and dropping his voice to a more serious tone, Daniel admitted, “Raymond, I agreed to have Christmas dinner at your Uncle Joe's. I was hoping you were planning on being there. I know you most likely already have plans with friends in Dallas or maybe you're gonna fly off to some exotic place to celebrate the New Year.”

Raymond gave a half-hearted chuckle. “I spend most of my holidays working. I have a few friends both gay and straight. Most of them have families with whom they spend the holidays. Any holidays, during which I am not working, I spend with Uncle Joe and Aunt Mellie. This is the first Christmas in almost four years when Jeff will be home. So come hell or high water, I will be there.”

“That's good to hear. Christmas always makes me think of family. Even when I was in the middle of a dry, hot desert in a hostile, foreign country, my thoughts were with my family. It makes me appreciate actually being near the ones I care about all the more special. I’m glad I’ll get to see you tomorrow."

Shifting into a more formal, somewhat distant tone, “Anyway, I was hoping we could get some time alone to discuss your role as my campaign manager. There's already talk about pressuring the mayor to step down. If they do that, they may call for a joint election for Mayor and Sheriff. Depends on if the County wants to share the cost of a special election.”

Trying to restrain his enthusiasm, Raymond replied, “That sounds great. I’ll be there all day. Why don't you come out early and we can spend some time getting to know each other better? Brunch will be served starting at ten. If you come before, it will be coffee and cold cereal, but I would appreciate the company. Besides the campaign, we need to discuss some issues relating to our Fire Chief Bumpkis. Nothing critical just some things we think you’d want to know about.” At Daniel's urging, Raymond took a few minutes to inform the Sheriff of the cash donations. Sheriff Lovan added fuel to the fire by suggesting they get a copy of the recipients, especially those provided by the Chief’s preacher. He suggested the Chief and the preacher might be working together to divert funds from the poor into their own pockets. Daniel described the slimy preacher as the kind of man who, after you let him shake your hand, you felt like you ought to count your fingers to be sure he didn't take one.

Raymond took notes and before long they changed the topic back to Christmas morning. “Jeff, Paul, and Maria are planning to arrive as soon as she wades through all the gifts Jeff and Paul will drown her in. Of course, Uncle Joe and Aunt Mellie refuse to be outdone. They both act like little kids at Christmas time and go all out. And uh, I may have bought a couple of gifts for Maria, myself. You should know if you're invited to share Christmas, there will be gifts with your name on them. Nothing fancy, just something to show you were remembered. I, uh, I may have put something with your name on it under the tree. I hope that's alright.”

Daniel chuckled, “No that just means I can bring the gift I have for you in with me instead of waiting until we could be alone.”

The silence seemed to magnify the physical distance between them. After several moments, Raymond was the first to speak, “Daniel, I can't begin to express my gratitude to you for giving me another chance. I wanted to use the time today to get to know you better. I know it seemed like I wasn't paying attention to you today, but I was. I saw your concern a couple of times when Bill and I were talking about my parents. It made me feel warm inside to think you could sense my discomfort and cared about my feelings for my Daddy and that heartless bitch of a mother. I know she married him without loving him. He was a good man and deserved so much more than she ever gave. Especially more than the casual disregard, she displayed after his death. I remember thinking I was the only one who loved him and missed him. That's a pretty heavy load to lay on a little kid. It made me feel closer to Uncle Joe when he used to talk about what a good and decent man my father was. I needed to hear that from someone who knew and understood how much I missed him. Even today, he helps keep my Dad’s memory alive. Together we funded a law school scholarship, in my Dad’s name, at Stanford.”

The silence returned. Daniel had heard the edginess build in Raymond's voice. Interrogations had taught him that Raymond was about to clam up and withdraw. He didn't want Raymond to ever regret sharing even the most intimate thoughts or memories with him. He sputtered out the most embarrassing thing about himself he could remember, “Jeff's father once caught us naked and daring each other to fuck a calf.” The silence echoed through his cell phone. Daniel looked to see if Raymond had hung up. It was a good thing the phone was away from his ear because the sudden roar of Raymond's laughter would have surely deafened him.

A kaleidoscope of emotion washed over him as Raymond's laughter seemed to never end. Embarrassment, anger, humiliation and finally humor as Daniel relaxed and laughed along with Raymond. It was much funnier in hindsight than it had been in real life. The image of two naked and obviously aroused twelve-year-old boys caught sprawled on a blanket in a barn loft, struck him as God awfully funny. They had scrambled at supersonic speed to get dressed while hiding their privates. Jeff's dad had ignored their dissembling pleas and simply collapsed in peals of laughter. By the time he retrieved his handkerchief, dried his eyes and blew his nose the boys were again dressed. Looking back Daniel wasn't too sure why they had felt so humiliated, angry and embarrassed. Once dressed, Jeff's Dad had pulled them both into a three-way hug and assured them that what they were doing was a normal part of growing up. He and his friends had done some of the same stuff. The only difference being, they were smart enough not to get caught with their pants down or worse yet… with their boots off. His last words on the subject had been, “Forget about those hard cocks for now. Your Mother wants you two to go shopping for school clothes. Which means you both should put on some underwear unless you want to flash the store clerk and your Mamma. If you two have any questions about any of this stuff, don't hesitate to ask me. Otherwise, this will be our secret, just between us cowboys.”

Raymond had calmed down and was surprised at how moved he was at hearing Jeff's Father was such an understanding and caring parent. He had often wondered. He had spent enough time in the man's presence to know he was a good man, a great boss, and a devoted family man. In the last years of the man’s life, he had tried to get to know him better and it was almost like losing a second father when he was killed.

“Well, I don't need to know if you committed an act against nature. I’m not sure if the statute of limitations runs out after the victim is made into hamburger or not. But, it does make it sound like the man was a very understanding and accepting father.”

“Yes, he was a good man. I think he was hurt that Jeff was gay mostly because he wanted grandchildren. As it turned out, he probably wouldn't have lived long enough to have seen them, even if Jeff had been straight. It was his acceptance that inspired me to tell my parents. I think he half expected Jeff and I would become seriously committed to each other. I think we were just too much like brothers to ever be serious lovers.”

“Sounds like you two got up to more mischief than I ever heard about. But, I’m glad I don't have to compete with him for your affection. Are you sure you don't have someone lusting after you that I need to know about? Daniel, you’re a handsome man. Women and men must be falling at your feet. Surely you know that.”

Daniel chuckled, “Look who’s talking. You could be Tom Selleck’s clone. Tall, dark, handsome and those sparkling green eyes. I bet ol’ Tom would give anything to have your eyes. I remember being surprised when I found out you weren't really Jeff's Uncle. I mean you gotta admit your eyes are exactly like his, his daddy's and his Uncle Joe's. He told me, you couldn't be any better as an uncle if you were blood kin. It’d make no difference to him. He couldn't love you more.”

“If I didn't think it disrespectful to my Father's memory I would have changed my name to Adams years ago. They have truly been my real family for most of my life. I will be forever grateful for my Uncle Joe. He’ the only one who tried to make a difference after my real Father died.

A slight pause, then Raymond continued, “Daniel, I don't want to be too pushy… but you know I'm staying at Uncle Joe's. You're welcome to come by after you have dinner with your folks. I mean, you don't have to spend the night, we could just talk and have a drink. If you wanted to stay the night we have plenty of spare rooms. You wouldn't have to sl...”

Daniel cut him off. “I’m not so sure I would be able to sleep knowing you were in the same house and not in my arms. I’ll most likely stay the night with my folks. Daddy’ll want me to have some of his homemade eggnog and after a couple, three of those, well, I might not pass a breathalyzer test. If I drive, I’m gonna have to arrest myself”. The two men chuckled together at the joke.

Raymond’s phone signaled a text. After reading it, he explained to Daniel, “I just got a text. Looks like I just bought my Dad's ranch back. The keys will be dropped off shortly by Bill and his wife on their way to Houston to surprise their grandsons. Come out early and go with me to look over the place. If you're not too hung over.”

“After last night it should come as no surprise that I am not much of a drinker. Two is usually my limit. Daddy's eggnog is a real knee-knocker, to be sure. Even with that, I expect I can get up well before some city slicker attorney type, with or without a hangover. How about I meet you there at eight o’clock.”

“If it's a challenge you're after, how about we make it seven? I’ll be bright eyed and bushy tailed.”

“Why don't we split the difference and make it six even? Though at that hour you will have to have coffee ready for me at the front door.”

“Coffee and toast at six it is. Don't wimp out. I’d hate to think I’m managing the campaign of a man who couldn't meet his obligations. This is only the first of many early morning meetings at which you'll have to have to appear bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Don't let me down.”

“I’ll be there. I’ll even have a magnetically mounted flashing light. You can ride me in your Tesla and show me if it's as fast as I’ve heard. Be warned, I sometimes get a chubby at high speeds.”

“If high speed gives you a chubby, you better bring a cum rag. My buddy “Chiron” will make you shot your wad. He does zero to sixty in 2.9 seconds, handles like the finest cutting horse and has a top speed of 155 mph. And he is as quiet as death.”

Daniel laughed out loud, “You named your car? Are you serious? Right now, you sound more like a high school prom queen than a skilled attorney and a highly respected businessman.”

The chuckling continued even as Raymond offered, “Laugh it up furball. Just get it all out of your system before you meet Chiron. He’s pretty tough, but I don't want you unintentionally hurting his feelings.”

The silence was suddenly deafening. “Are you serious”?

“Of course… I… Am… Not!... Gotcha!

“I had the opportunity to name the car and I always liked the idea of Chiron, the Centaur, Zeus’s half-brother. The falcon wing doors make others think of Pegasus, but I just always thought Chiron was more handsome and definitely more intelligent. He was the mythological father of medicine.

“Ok, just don't ever let me be cross-examined at your sanity hearing. What I first thought when you talked like your car was alive, would not make you look good.
"As much as I have enjoyed conversing with you, I need to get home, shower and head out to my folks. I'll see you at Joe's at six. Just make sure you have coffee in hand when you open the door.”

“I, uh, don't, uh, know…”

The hesitation made Daniel think he had pushed too far. “You don't know… what?”

“I don't know how you like your coffee.” Raymond couldn't help snickering, knowing he got Daniel's goat once again.

“Ok smartass. I can see it now. If you greet me at the door with other than medium brown coffee, no sugar, I may have to pull down your wranglers, no underwear, lay you across your own frunk and spank your bare ass till it's rosy red, in front of god and everybody.”

Raymond wasn't sure how to respond to virtually the same words that had almost ended any chance he had of building a lasting relationship with Daniel.

Raymond let go every trace of humor, “I haven't been spanked since I was a child, in public or private. But, if that is what it takes to earn a place by your side, name the time and place and I will do my best to accommodate your needs.”

Daniel was overwhelmed by the severity of Raymond's words and tone."

“After that, I’d be a fool not to forgive you anything. Wow! Just, Wow! I hate to say, have a nice evening, or enjoy your dinner, or good night. Everything seems so trite after that. The best I can do is… I’ll see you in the morning. I can't wait.”

“I can't wait either. And Daniel?”

“Yes Raymond?”

“Merry Christmas”.

“Merry Christmas to you too.”

There were a couple of moments of silence before either hung up. Neither was sure who did it first.

Well, the good news is... the next chapter is already written.

 

Now's a good time to let me know what you think. Please "Like" and or leave a "comment".

 

Jim

Copyright © 2017 sojourn; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Raymond is not just moving back to the area, but getting back his family ranch and Daniel is a surprisingly good catch too.  It seems things are going well, I just hope Jim doesn't have any more horrible surprises to torment the cast and crew of this yarn.  

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32 minutes ago, Daddydavek said:

Raymond is not just moving back to the area, but getting back his family ranch and Daniel is a surprisingly good catch too.  It seems things are going well, I just hope Jim doesn't have any more horrible surprises to torment the cast and crew of this yarn.  

I must be tired or old... or both. Seriously, for a moment I tried to figure out who among the characters was named, "Jim". LMAO!

As to surprises, I certainly hope... horrible surprises...not so much.

Thanks for your comments. Like I said before, they make me think.

Jim (the one who writes this stuff.)

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 I definitely missed any appearance of Maria. However, a very enjoyable chapter. 
 Its nice to see Raymond get his family ranch back... What an absolute bitch of a mother. To leave any remembrance of Raymond's father behind. 
 Its nice to see after many lost years. Chemistry is still alive and well with Danny and Raymond. 

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Fantastic Story and a Fantastic chapter!!!  Thank YOU for writing!

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27 minutes ago, ott said:

Fantastic Story and a Fantastic chapter!!!  Thank YOU for writing!

Ott,

You told me you had "liked" and  "commented". I was about to email you back and say, "That's great! Only next time, how about you like and comment on my story." 

Once I "refreshed" the page I realized you had "liked" and "commented" on my story. Oops! My bad.

See! Proof positive I am "technically" challenged.

Thanks so much for your email and like and your nicely worded comment.

Jim

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1 hour ago, BlindAmbition said:

 I definitely missed any appearance of Maria. However, a very enjoyable chapter. 
 Its nice to see Raymond get his family ranch back... What an absolute bitch of a mother. To leave any remembrance of Raymond's father behind. 
 Its nice to see after many lost years. Chemistry is still alive and well with Danny and Raymond. 

Thank you. I always enjoy your comments.

Trust me. Maria is front and center in the next chapter.

Regarding Raymond's mother... I try to understand a character's motivation. I usually succeed in seeing some good in the worst. However, I have lived enough to know there're really people out there void of even a spark of compassion or human decency. They are closer than we would like to think.

Your comment regarding chemistry makes me wonder. Would some guy who tripped my trigger, in my youth, still impact me today? There may be a story in that thought.

Jim

 

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1 hour ago, jtpawlik said:

I absolutely love this story and how it's going. 

Thank you,

I do worry about if there is enough sex or action or just the kind of things that make people look forward to the next chapter. It is when folks take their time to post a comment or email simply telling me they are enjoying the story that I feel more "comfortable" with my writing.

Thanks again,

Jim

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Really enjoyed this chapter; I do think that Raymond and Daniel could be a very interesting couple in the end, if they make it...  It may be hard on Raymond to go back to a place that he grew up but has been gone for so long from; that is never easy.  And with all the extra family issues involved because of his mother's actions, it may cause some pain before it gets better.

 

Can't wait for the Fire Chief to get his comeuppance, and you just know that he will...

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1 hour ago, Tazzle001 said:

Loving the story and the family. Ray and Dan make me want to pull up a chair, grab a large popcorn, and watch the fireworks. I can't wait for Tink and his other half to finally meet. I'm gonna need some water to wash down all that popcorn ( big grin). The Adams may be power players on the dl, but Miss Julie has everyone beat. You could write a whole series on her suttle manipulations (advice) over a whole town. She's like the angel in "It's a Wonderful Life " , but no one knows she's an angel. ? . Thanks again for a good time.-Brian 

Brian, as always you comments get me to thinking. Maybe I should have given Raymond and Daniel their own story. It is at least as interesting as Jeff and Paul's. Tink and Tom are going to simmer on the sidelines for quite a while. They deserve and will have their day in the sun. Just don't look for it until after the next solar eclipse.?

Miss Julie has been a Master Manipulator, with questionable psychic powers, since the first time she and her Great Dane, Bruno said hello in T.R.'s Tale.

your comment reminds me to add popcorn to my shopping list. You must be psychic to know I am down to my last microwaveable bag. Now, if only I could tap into your powers. I could rule the world... Note to self- buy popcorn, reduce caffeine intake.

thanks,

Jim

 

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1 hour ago, centexhairysub said:

Really enjoyed this chapter; I do think that Raymond and Daniel could be a very interesting couple in the end, if they make it...  It may be hard on Raymond to go back to a place that he grew up but has been gone for so long from; that is never easy.  And with all the extra family issues involved because of his mother's actions, it may cause some pain before it gets better.

 

Can't wait for the Fire Chief to get his comeuppance, and you just know that he will...

I am glad this chapter is getting some positive feedback. I have this feeling you are right, I suspect Raymond will face some unexpected challenges in his pursuit of Daniel and letting so of his sophisticated lifestyle.

Thanks, as always your comments make me think.

Jim

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Oooo! Raymond and Daniel are smokin'! It's amazing how fast Adams Inc. can put a plan together get the ball rolling. And is there a touch of the supernatural in Miss Julie? She seems perceptive beyond the powers of mere mortals. Now I know you said this chapter has important stuff, and you were right. But quit stalling ? and let's get on with Christmas! 

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4 hours ago, Crazyd1965 said:

Yeah Julie was meddling but it worked didn't it. Go team Danmond.

DanMond? I love it! LOL!

Maybe I should ask Julie about lottery numbers. Nah. I know what her answer would be.?

Thanks for taking your time to post your comments.

Jim

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3 hours ago, JeffreyL said:

Oooo! Raymond and Daniel are smokin'! It's amazing how fast Adams Inc. can put a plan together get the ball rolling. And is there a touch of the supernatural in Miss Julie? She seems perceptive beyond the powers of mere mortals. Now I know you said this chapter has important stuff, and you were right. But quit stalling ? and let's get on with Christmas! 

I like to think that Raymond  can muster his forces so readily because he truly treats them as family. He didn't have much family life growing up, so when he hires a new teammate, he subconsciously asks himself, "could I live this guy/girl as a brother/sister/cousin etc."

As to Christmas... I too am amazed that Jeff came home basically a week ago and 19 chapters later, I am still writing. I think it was the Martians in "Stranger in a Strange Land" who said, "Waiting is."?

Thanks for your continued interest and insightful comments.

Jim

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4 hours ago, Bill Christiansen said:

Julie could meddle my life anytime as long as it's as positive :). Another good chapter.  Keep them comin. 

I have never considered Julie as being capable of anything less than positive. Now that you mention it...  I still can't see it. Julie had been away from her town for a number of years. I think she is trying to help make a more positive environment.

Thanks so much for posting your comment. As long long as folks, like you, take their time to "like" and "comment" I feel an obligation to "keep them coming".

Thanks,

Jim

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Can't wait till 6 am next morning!

Love the interaction between Ray and Daniel

 

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5 hours ago, long1jo said:

Can't wait till 6 am next morning!

Love the interaction between Ray and Daniel

 

Yeah, I have heard that sentiment before. The first time I read it I thought, "WTF" "what happens at six o'clock. Then I burst out laughing. Oh yeah, Daniel and Raymond happen at 6 am.

 

I bet you guys think they are going to engage in some kind of recreational noncreational sexual congress... well you could be wrong. Just because Daniel gets aroused at high speed and just because Raymond owes the handsome Sheriff a bj, and just because they will be all alone in Raymond's new old home doesn't mean they won't behave like mature adults. After all, Raymond is an attorney and Daniel is a lawman, both professions which require considerable self restraint. So don't expect to see clothes flying the moment they make eye contact.

 

Shame, shame for thinking they will be mating like bunnies with the slightest provocation. At least give them the chance to get inside, away from prying eyes. Then, they can do it like really horny bunnies.?

Thanks for posting your comment.  I am just proofing the next chapter and hope to post it soon.

Jim

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On 2.05.2017 at 3:31 AM, sojourn said:

...

Shame, shame for thinking they will be mating like bunnies with the slightest provocation. At least give them the chance to get inside, away from prying eyes. Then, they can do it like really horny bunnies.?

yeah, horny bunnies :D 

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1 hour ago, Hlasota said:

yeah, horny bunnies :D 

YOU! Are definitely, my kind of people. ?

 

Jim

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Daniel did have a better childhood than Raymond, at least his parents were still alive and had accepted his sexuality ... with that cold hearted mother and holier than thou "stepdad", it was almost worthwhile for Raymond to be thrown out of their home, almost ...

Well Julie sure knew her way around that town; contrary to your protestations, I am quite certain she was a psychic !  Hopefully Raymond would feel more connection with his father at their old ranch and not have more bad memories dredged up ...

Well, I'm also looking forward to the 6am meeting / sexcapade !  Yay !

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