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Change of Heart - 20. Chapter twenty

🎼Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat 🎼no really, Christmas is coming. Just not in this chapter.

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At last, the ride into town allowed Paul to settle into a calm resolve. Absentmindedly he realized that when Sam and Dave held hands, the driver's hand was always on top. They didn’t usually hold hands, but when they did, the driver's hand was always free to grab the steering wheel or a gun. He equated it with sitting with your back to the wall, just that little extra cautious, professional behavior. He made a note to mention it to Jeff and to copy their action in the future. That is, if either of them ever drove again.

Jeff had wanted to talk to the Sheriff about his intentions regarding the donations. His Uncle Raymond had assured him that he would be seeing “Daniel” today and would clue him in. Jeff mused as to why and when Danny became Daniel to his Uncle. Growing up no one but Danny's Mother ever called him Daniel. That was probably no more than a half dozen times and only when Danny was in serious trouble.

Arriving at the Firehouse, they asked for Bill Jordan. Bill greeted them and explained that Raymond had come by and told him to expect other family members with cash donations. Before they gave the donations, Bill led them to the tree and explained that the remaining names were not likely to get any gifts this late in the day. Fortunately, there were only a little over a dozen small envelopes with a first name and age alongside the identifying gender, i.e. Timmy, aged 7, boy. Inside they would find a wishlist.

As they were clearing the tree, Fire Chief, Burl Bumpkis stepped out of his office. With a malicious grin, the rotund one said, “What's going on here? What are these perverts doing in my Firehouse? And whose little girl is this? Get her away from these sick bastards. Jordan! Take her into my office while I get some of the boys to get rid of this filth.” Looking furtively around for support, he spied three firemen checking over the tanker truck. He hollered, “You three! Larry, Johnson, and you with ‘em get over here and bring that wrench.” The three men hurried at the Chief’s call. They knew he never personally assigned work or wasted time making small talk, so this must be important.

Maria was confused by the fat man's words. At first, she just cowered behind her Daddy Jeff because he was closer. She wasn't sure what all of those words meant, but she understood enough. That very loud and scary man was saying her Daddies were bad people, and that just wasn't right.

The Chief stood taller when Larry, his cousin by marriage, said, “What’cha need Chief? You need some trash taken out?” Paul figured this meant that the fireman was familiar with and likely shared the Fire Chief’s bigoted opinions. For the second time, since receiving it, he activated the alarm for his bodyguards.

The Chief tried to puff his chest out, only to realize his massive gut just protruded more. What chest he had, actually looked more like sagging breasts. The Chief barked out, “Exactly! These men are trash and need to be taken out of here. By force if necessary and I am here to say that force is necessary. Jordan, I said take this child into my office.” Glaring pointedly at Bill Jordan, he bellowed, “If you value your job…” Then facing the other three firemen. “all you men, will do as I say.”

Larry tried to take the wrench from the unnamed fireman. That man resisted and asked, “Bill”?

Bill Jordan took a deep breath and said, “You men go on back to what you were doing. There's nothing going on here except folks trying to help by taking the last of the Christmas tree wishlists so some poor kids don't miss out on Christmas. Your jobs are safe without y’all having to assault innocent citizens and likely get arrested to boot.”

Larry alone stood his ground, beside Bumpkis. The other two, simply nodded to Bill and quietly walked away.

Larry gulped noticeably. At the same time, Jeff realized Sam and Dave were suddenly at their side. “Paul, you called us. You need some help. We would love to get some time in punching out some fat... Miss Maria, wouldn't you like to go wait in the truck with Dave?" Both Maria and Dave gave Sam their best “and wouldn't you like to eat shit” look. Sam, seeing their reactions, simply shut up. He knew he'd have some groveling to do later.

It wasn't just the fact that every man present was taller and, by far, more muscular than Larry, excepting of course the Fire Chief. It was that both Sam and Dave made sure he saw their sidearms. Larry slunk away, hoping that the little squirt of piss he couldn't hold back, was not visible on the outside of his uniform pants.

Paul, trying hard to control his fury asked Maria to go to the truck and wait while they conducted business with the Fire Chief and Mr. Jordan. Maria stepped from behind Jeff and stared Bumpkis in the eye. While holding the fat man's gaze she addressed her Father. “No! I won't go to the truck. My Daddies might need me. And besides, it's not a truck it's a SUV. I think he's…” pointing a finger at Bumpkis’ face to clarify her accusation, “I think he’s a very bad man. Now let's finish our bizzyness and just leave. I don't like be’en round him.” With a glare at Bumpkis, she dropped her finger and almost snarled, “I hope you get the asses and twitches you deserve for Christmas.”

Paul was very proud of his little girl. At the same time, he wasn't sure if she had intentionally said asses instead of ashes. Even as Jeff swept her up into his arms, Maria's harsh gaze stayed with Bumpkis.

The Fire Chief looked around to find he alone faced the four men and the disrespectful little twit. He imagined her living in an orphanage where Merry Christmas would become a far, distant memory. He was sure the preacher could help manufacture a cause sufficient to remove her from her “Daddies” perverted care. He smiled to himself as he turned to see Bill Jordan hand them the last of the wishlists. Soon, he’d have to see if he couldn't find an assistant that took orders without constantly questioning him. He had to admit, Jordan made him look good on paper. The old Sheriff would've helped bring Jorden in line and deal with these faggots the right way. Too bad the temporary Sheriff wasn't as easily persuaded. The Mayor and the preacher would most likely back one of the other Deputies. One that would be willing to listen to the folks that rightfully run this town. Just like the old one did.

Bill offered the men an apologetic smile. “I hope this disgusting reception hasn't deterred you gentlemen from helping the poor. Even if it's my last official act as Assistant Fire Chief, it would be my pleasure to assist you.”

Jeff nodded to Paul who said, “We want to help YOU, CHIEF Jordan, now, more than ever.” Paul reached into his pocket, opened the envelope and spread them so the hundred dollar bills were fanned. “There are three thousand dollars in this envelope and my LOVER has another with an equal amount. I understand our Uncle Raymond has already stopped by and our Uncle Joe and Aunt Mellie will drop by soon, each with the same amount.”

Paul heard the fat bastard gasp at the term “lover”. But, almost as quickly he was certain he saw dollar signs rolling, like the spinning wheels on a slot machine, in Bumpkis’ eyes. It was a look Paul saw in the mirror the first time he had considered the power of a paycheck, unencumbered by student debt. That look in Bumpkis’ eyes had nothing to do with helping the poor and everything to do with money in his own pocket. Now to see if Bumpkis was willing to sell out his “moral high ground” and eat crow.

Paul nodded slightly to Jeff, and his partner dangled the bait. “Chief Jordan my family had every intention of helping those less fortunate through the Fireman’s Fund this year, as in years past. I think it would be best if I call Uncle Raymond to come down and retrieve his cash donation of three thousand dollars. I can also phone Uncle Joe and Aunt Mellie to meet us at our church and disperse the much-needed funds that way.”

Bill Jordan couldn't blame these men one bit. They had been insulted, denigrated and threatened with assault. In a subdued, apologetic voice, he offered, “Mr. Wilson, Mr. Adams, if you would like to call your Uncle Raymond, I can assure you, he can have his cash back today. If he has lost his receipt, I’ll just ask him to sign a waiver to that effect.”

Paul watched Bumpkis’ face fall at the thought of losing $15,000.00 in tax-free cash. He had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep the Cheshire Cat grin from his face. The thought of grinning faded all too quickly as he also fought down the rage he felt knowing the bastard had had access to these charitable funds in the past. An image of what Ilya’s men might do… He forced himself to concentrate on setting the trap.

Bumpkis almost literally fell all over himself trying to get an apology out of his mouth before Jeff could decide to call his Uncles. “Mr., uh, em, Mr. Adams, Doctor Wilson, we should consider the less fortunate before you let our petty differences get in the way.” He actually reached out to pat Maria’s upper arm. Both Jeff and Maria reacted by pulling away. Bumpkis let his hand drop without comment. “As you said, It's a long-standing Adams family tradition to aid the less fortunate of our community through the Fireman’s Fund. We are mere hours away from putting one hundred percent of your donation into the hands of the needy. Whereas choosing an alternative may actually deny many families that very badly needed relief at this special time. Now, Assistant Fire Chief Jordan and I can handle this with just a couple of signatures in my office and your fine family can go shopping for the poor children who might not otherwise get a visit from Santa tonight.”

Bill Jordan was not an idiot. He carefully examined his boss in a new light. He saw, not only, the ignorant, lying, blowhard, bigoted bastard that he already knew, but now he saw a slimy, lowlife that couldn't even be trusted with donations for the poor. He suddenly felt severely nauseous.

Jeff worried that the man’s obvious greed may have just opened Bill Jordan’s eyes to what an evil blight on humanity Bumpkis truly was. Once he saw the look of disgust on Bill’s face, he knew. “Chief Jordan we need to hear it from your lips that there will be no deviation from the procedures you have used these last few years. It is critical that we have your personal assurance that things go precisely as they did last year. We need to hear that any revelation, however personally distasteful to you, that may have occurred within the last few minutes will have no impact on how these funds are handled. Think about what I am asking of you. Don't answer until you are clear about what I am really asking.” Jeff was afraid he was putting too much emphasis on ‘procedures’. He could only hope Bumpkis assumed he was referring to his and Paul's intimate relationship.

Paul could see Jeff needed his help. Ignoring Jeff's address to Bill Jordan, Paul purposefully looked as if he was reconsidering the phone calls, “In your office you say?”

Bumpkis took the hint and started leading Paul toward his office. After a moment, Jeff, seeing the coast was clear, asked, “Bill, did you understand what I was saying. It’s critical that you use the same procedures as last year. We already have Bumpkis under video surveillance. If he touches a penny, we got him. You need to act normal. Do the same things you do every year, the same way. If you act like you suspect something he might spook and leave the money untouched this year. Can you do that?”

Bill stared pleadingly into Jeff's eyes, “I never realized until today… I trusted that bastard to have, at least, some human decency. After watching him slobber over a few thousand dollars intended for the poor, I wanted to puke my guts out. I feel ashamed of myself. I let those people down, just as surely as if I’d stood by and watched their houses burn down. How do I forgive myself, knowing that I allowed him to deny some families the simplest of Christmas’? Right now, all I want to do is go in there and beat that f…” Realizing Maria was still in Jeff's arms, Bill corrected his language. “Beat that man senseless. Maybe that would help me get back my self-respect.”

Jeff could see the man was close to tears. Clasping his shoulder, “Bill we don't have time for this. You can beat yourself up later. He... you can even beat up Bumpkis. Only later. Right now, we have to go in there and play our part. Come on they're there waiting for us.” Jeff put Maria on her feet and admonished her to stay with Sam and Dave.

Bill took a deep breath and said, “Let's do this! Let's nail this bastard!” It brought to Jeff's mind some corny line from a “B” grade action flick. He snickered as he followed a determined Bill Jordan into the Fire Chief’s office.

As Bumpkis promised, it went quickly even with the requisite ‘tax video’. Jeff was more than pleased with Bill’s guarded aplomb.

Once Maria was buckled into her booster seat, Jeff calmly said, “I forgot to tell Bill something Uncle Joe asked me to pass on to him. Sam, Dave come with me. You two”, indicating Paul and Maria, “wait here, and we’ll be right back.”

With that, the three men hurried back into the Firehouse. Maria met her father's troubled gaze. “Don't worry Daddy. Daddy Jeff is just going to give him a grownup spanking so he won't be mean to us ever again.”

Paul was dumbstruck. His mouth gaped open and shut, like a fish out of water. He finally muttered, “I hope that's all he does.”

Jeff and his “team” found Bill and Bumpkis still logging in the cash. “Chief Jordan could you excuse us for a moment? I just remembered a couple of details I needed to go over with Bumpkis alone.”

Bill didn't hesitate, “Sure Jeff, if you need a hand, I’ll be right outside, close enough to hear everything and nothing. As needed.”

Once Bill exited the office, Sam locked the door and closed the blind. Jeff wasted no time, he circled the desk and pulled the fat bastard to his feet. “What are you doing? You can't do this. I’ll have you arrested. I’ll call the Sheriff. Get out now! You fag… Oomph!”

That last was an honest reaction to Jeff's unrestrained punch to Bumpkis’ massive gut. “Look at me! Look. At. Me! You. fat fuck!”

Bumpkis would have avoided meeting the taller man's gaze and concentrated on his pain. Jeff, pulling on the fringe of hair the fat man still possessed, forced his head up. When Jeff was satisfied he had the turd’s attention he hocked a loogie and spat in his face. Bumpkis, even in extreme pain, inherently knew better than to wipe it away. “You slimy motherfucker. If you so much as look cross-eyed at a member of my family again, I will FIND YOU and I WILL KILL you. I give you my sworn oath, the coyotes will be feasting on your fat carcass before the sun sets that same day. Do! You! Under! Stand! Me!” Each word was punctuated with a harsh, open-handed slap across the fat man’s face.

Bumpkis searched the faces of the three men and uttered the only possibly correct response, a clearly stated, “Yes Sir, Mister Adams. I understand. Yes Sir!”

Jeff, Sam, and Dave unhurriedly left the office to find Bill waiting just outside. Smiling broadly, he offered, “I hope you never feel the need to remind me to treat your family with common decency. Let me know if I need to tell anyone, I was in there the whole time and that you just asked some of the same questions over again. That won't be a problem for me.”

Jeff shook the proffered hand and asked, “Just remember, same as usual. If you can get me a list of recipients that Bumpkis has personally handled, that would be great. Handle it carefully we need his fingerprints on it.”

Bill thought seriously, for a moment, “I’m pretty sure that won't be a problem. I’ll call you as soon as I have it.” They made sure they had each other's numbers.

As they exited the Firehouse, Dave asked cautiously, “uh, Jeff, have you ever seen the movie “Taken”?

Jeff glanced at Dave as if ‘WTF’? Then realization set in and he nearly busted a gut laughing. Soon the three were sharing a laugh that totally belied the seriousness of the situation they had addressed just moments before.

Chuckles and smiles carried them until they were again in the Suburban. Neither Paul nor Maria asked for an explanation concerning their mission or their humor afterwards. Instead, the discussion immediately turned to the wishlists. A bit of the Christmas spirit settled in as they read from and discussed the lists. There was no challenge when Paul directed Dave to drive them to Wally World.

Jeff was surprised at how comfortable he was inside Walmart. They divided up the lists and made quick work of the shopping. Sam and Dave insisted on funding two lists each. Maria understood more of what the children intended than any of the men. Her assistance, and insistence that it couldn't be just any action figure from that particular movie, was invaluable. Plus they asked Google once or twice. There were only two toys that were out of stock. Jeff bought a gift card worth three times as much as the price of the toy and they sent a note with Santa’s apologies. Since they had not asked beforehand, they bought ribbons and bows and wrapping paper.

They took their booty back to the Firehouse and turned it over to Bill. Jeff was glad Bumpkis stayed in his office. He didn't want to have to explain to his family, the handprints on that turd’s face.

Leaving the fire station, they headed for the diner. Paul was trying to rebuild his ire toward Julie. Either the whole thing was really much ado about nothing or that bastard Bumpkis had eaten all his anger.

He realized his negative emotions had dissipated at the Firehouse. When Jeff got back into the truck, Paul knew, Maria had understood Jeff’s intentions perfectly. His husband had just defended his honor. He felt suddenly stronger and warmer inside. This feeling was entirely new to Paul, it was… 'family pride'.

For whatever reason, he just didn't feel harsh words for Julie were necessary anymore. He was a whole lot more hungry than angry. He did, however, make a mental note to get Tink to give him a copy of the video of Jeff and the boys smacking Bumpkis around. It might come in handy to defend or justify his own aggressive actions in the future.

Julie met them at the door and led them down the right leg of the horseshoe-shaped dining area, all the way to the last table on that side. As she passed out menus, Julie asked, “Well Princess, how is your day going? You all excited about Santa Claus coming tonight?”

Maria looked doubtful, “I’m not so sure about Santa. The bad man Bumpkis said there were children who would have no Christmas if my Daddies didn't buy them presents. Why would Santa let that happen?”

Julie pulled a chair from another table and sat facing Maria. “Princess, there are all kinds of people in this world. Some, like the bad man Bumpkis, take special delight in destroying Christmas for as many people as possible. Try not to let him destroy yours. Your Daddies are taking steps to make sure that that bad man is put where he can't hurt anyone’s Christmas ever again. At the same time, they're trying hard to help Santa spread Christmas cheer to those less fortunate. The most important part of what they’re doing is helping Santa touch the lives of as many children as possible. It's true baby girl, the world has many, many more people than when Santa first got started. He has an impossible job now, to reach every child in the world. So, he gets help where he can. Every time you give a gift to someone you love, you’re helping Santa. Every time you give a gift or make a donation to help a stranger, you're helping Santa. The best advice I can give you right now, Princess, is to keep Santa safe in your heart. Do that, and you will truly never grow old. You’ll grow up, but not old. And especially not mean like Bumpkis. If you can do that, keep him in your heart, you’ll always know that Santa is as real and alive as you and me.”

With that, she stood, caressed Maria's tresses and walked away. All the men waited and watched their Princess expectantly. “Well, I suppose we'll all just have to help where we can. It's like you always say Daddy, we have to do our best and hope for the rest. I can't wait to tell DJ all about this Santa stuff. Daddy Jeff, do you think Santa could bring me my own cell phone this year?”

The burst of laughter shared around the table seemed to inspire good cheer among their fellow diners. Paul saved his partner by letting Maria know that a personal cell phone was one of the things she had to ‘grow into’. Jeff wondered if Aunt Mellie knew of some child that could use an already purchased cell phone? He decided to ask Julie on the way out.

Their server, Melissa, greeted them cheerfully and quickly took their drink orders. She certainly remembered her best ever tippers and went out of her way to explain that they were short staffed and she was working tables at opposite ends of the diner.

Jeff recalled the note Julie had given him the last time he was here. He thought this was the perfect time to spread a little Christmas cheer. “Melissa, would you get Julie for me. I need to ask her something.”

“Sure Mr. Adams, I’ll get her for you, right away."

Julie was soon standing over Maria's shoulders. “What's on your mind sugar?”

“I was hoping Melissa might be able to take a break and have lunch with us. It looks like the lunch rush is just about over and I wanted to discuss her plans for college.”

“I think that would be a great idea. Let her finish her other table and I’ll send her right over. She’s been talking a lot about majoring in accounting lately. Since you're bringing your business offices here that means she could intern and still be home for summers and holidays. She has a younger brother that is every bit as bright as she is. He has a couple of years to go before he can legally work outside the home. Just something to think about.

“One more thing. I am so pleased with the way you boys are handling Maria's questions. And no Paul honey, I am not about to chose a surrogate for you two. I’ll just say that Arkansas is ready when you are and Jeffrey G. Adams Jr. is most definitely eager to arrive. Sorry Princess, it's gonna be a boy. Just like your Daddies, you're gonna love him at first sight. But Hon, remember, that's almost a year away.”

Maria was busy writing her little brother’s name in blue crayon from the pack of eight Melissa had thoughtfully provided. Jeff was torn between helping his daughter spell his first name and comforting his lover. Paul's 'glazed over' look was hard to interpret. He felt honest relief when Paul's focus sharpened and a faint smile painted his face. Jeff praised Maria's penmanship and insisted they put it on the refrigerator door when they get home. He had a hard time explaining why junior had only two letters for such a big, important word.

By the time dessert arrived, Melissa had been promised a loan to cover tuition, books, room and board with a generous stipend for incidentals. With the understanding that she maintain a “B” average and upon graduation, she would work for the Adams Family Trust or one of its holdings for one year for each year of funded higher education. Each year of employment would clear away a year’s worth of college debt without detriment to her salary or benefits. Should her employment be terminated for any reason, the loan balance would then become an active interest-free loan. Melissa left work that day knowing this would be the merriest Christmas she and her family had ever enjoyed.

By the time lunch was over Maria had made a new friend and a very strong contender for a part-time sitter. Sam made the mistake of using the unenlightened term “babysitter”. Maria vehemently corrected him, since there would be no babies in the house until Junior arrived. Sam wisely and sincerely apologized. His partner pointed out that maybe he should think before he speaks. After all, that was the second time today that Sam had drawn the Princess’ ire. Maria asked Dave how could anyone draw ‘air’ since you couldn't see it. She looked at Sam with newfound awe. Sam lovingly suggested, perhaps Dave should follow his own advice.

Jeff, insisting he had to visit the men's room, hunted Julie down and asked if she knew someone who was in need of a new iPhone with prepaid unlimited usage. Turns out Melissa shared an old flip phone with her siblings. He knew he'd have to confess to Paul, but at least the phone would go to help someone who needed it. He would have one of his guys deliver it after they got home.

On the way home, Paul noticed that Jeff was becoming more moody, the closer they got to the ranch. Finally, Jeff realized he was worrying his partner. “I’m sorry. I’ve been thinking it's time I really took over the place and finally moved us into my parents' suite. I haven't really been in there since shortly after they… well, it's been a long time.”

“Hon, you don't have to move anything. We’re perfectly fine in your old room. Why don't you wait, at least until you bring your things from Chicago? I mean we can look at it today, and see if eventually, we want to make any changes. We don't have to be in a hurry.”

“You're right, but I don't like to put something off just because it's unpleasant. It was easy to ignore while I lived in Chicago. Let's take a look when we get home and then decide what to do and when to do it. You may decide the whole room is hideous and needs to be completely redone.”

“What do you remember about the room”?

“Well, I remember it being very masculine. I slept in there whenever Mom and Dad went out of town. I remember running to get into their bed, if a bad storm came up or if I had a bad dream. The room is very large. I think a lot of the furnishings are from the earliest days of the ranch. The bed is king size and has a horsehair mattress. It has to be cleaned and refurbished about once a year. That cost an arm and a leg, as my grandpa used to say. But, it’s very comfortable and well worth the cost. I always found it comforting to sleep like my ancestors did. It's like being back on the ranch, it makes me feel more connected to them.”

As soon as Maria entered the house she ran to the kitchen to find Rosarita. She had a lot to share and she wanted to hang her baby brother’s name on the frig. Sam and Dave went off to check in with Fred. That left Jeff and Paul to their own devices.

Paul was amazed by the variety of emotions that filled his heart whenever he just relaxed and considered his new found friend, his lover, his soul mate.

Jeff seemed oblivious to Paul's internal musings. “Come on. Let's look at the one part of the house I haven't shown you yet.” Jeff guided Paul down the hall to the one door they had yet to enter.

Paul wasn't sure what he had expected, but he was definitely impressed with this bedroom. It was spacious, and at the same time warm and inviting. The first thing that grabbed his attention was the bed against the wall to his left, it was massive. It had distressed planking on the headboard and footboard. That distressed planking was evident in the matching nightstands as well. There was a sturdy leather covered bench at the foot of the bed. Paul could see himself sitting there, pulling off his boots and staging them beneath the bench. On either side of the bed were open doors apparently leading to his and her walk-in closets.

To his immediate right was an opened door leading to the ensuite. Centered on that same wall was a massive fieldstone hearth and chimney, with a gas fed fireplace. The hand-carved, and obviously distressed, mantel suggested the fireplace may have been built about the time of the original structure. The sheepskin rug before the hearth held his imagination, and for a moment, sparked his libido.

Maria's presence in his life made Paul aware of feminine influences in clothing and in decorating. Looking around he saw this room as warm, welcoming, but definitely of a masculine design. The aged, red leather loveseat and two massive matching armchairs loosely centered around the rug told Paul, someone wanted the spirit of the old time cowboys to feel right at home here. If there was anything feminine about this room, Paul couldn't see it.

The numerous paintings were obviously old and of western settings. The larger paintings featured sunrises or sunsets, both quiet times of the day. If there were people depicted, they were all male and all sitting or reclining, there was no one working or in motion. Even the animals were depicted as quietly grazing.

A painting on the right side of the mantel caught Paul's eye. It was of two cowboys in their early to mid-twenties. One seated upon a porch railing with his hat pushed back on his head. He had an open, honest, handsome, smiling face. To the precariously seated man's left was a taller cowboy. He was leaning against the railing with his legs crossed at the ankles. Each man held a tin cup and each stared fixedly into the other’s eyes.

For a moment, Paul thought he should look away. He felt like he had just barged in on a private and very personal conversation. As if compelled, he drew closer. It was the eyes of the taller cowboy that caught Paul’s attention. They were the same striking green as Jeff’s.

Unconsciously, he began to absorb the details. Both wore spurred boots and jeans. The smaller man sported a four pocket leather vest over a collarless creamy brown shirt. A large red bandanna was tied jauntily around his neck. The taller wore a tan colored, bib front shirt. The vee of the bib accented the man's broad shoulders and slim waist.The top two buttons on the right were unbuttoned and left on display his dark, curly chest hair. Paul noticed both men wore galluses to hold up their jeans. The taller man's galluses were almost the same tan color as his shirt. He wondered if that was coincidental or a fashion statement? Both men wore creased cowboy hats that would not look out of place today. The taller man's hat was not pushed back like his companion’s. Instead, Paul had the impression that that hat was always worn as if permanently attached to the wearer’s head and always ready for a hard ride. Paul would bet money the taller cowboy would never casually push that hat back on his head. Paul snickered as it occurred to him that the last article of clothing the taller cowboy removed at night, was most likely, his hat. And those tan galluses? Definitely a coincidence.

While Paul had been studying the painting, Jeff had been exploring. “Uncle Joe and Aunt Mellie cleared out everything that marked this room as belonging to my parents. It's almost like they were never here. I don't know whether to be grateful or upset. As much as I was apprehensive about going through their personal things, I was almost looking forward to remembering our times together.”

“Well, knowing Joe and Mellie, they didn't just discard everything. I’m sure it's all carefully stowed away somewhere, just waiting for you to be ready to go through it. If you're concerned about it, call them now.”

“No. I’m sure you're right. I’ll ask Uncle Joe tomorrow. In the meantime, how about we go back to my old room and take a nap or something.”

Paul wasn't quite sure how it happened. They were standing there talking one minute and, suddenly, he was wrapped up in Jeff's arms, from behind. That sensitive spot at the base of his neck was getting an overload of stimulation with kissing, licking and nibbling. His lover's fingertips sought and found his nipples. Between his neck, nipples and Jeff's massive hardon rubbing against his ass, Paul was soon in sensory overload.

Just when he was about to melt into his boots, Jeff released him, stepped back and broke all contact. Paul was stupefied by the sudden absence of all stimulation.

Emphatically Jeff stated, “If we don't stop now, I’ll cum in my jeans. Let's go to my old room and get nekkid.”

For a moment, Paul considered smacking him upside his head for stopping everything so harshly. Then he realized his lover had been even more turned on than he had been. He’d had to use some real self-restraint to stop before cumming.

Paul's brown eyes flared with sudden insight. He moved quickly to the door and locked it. With determination, he began removing his shirt. Now, it was Jeff’s turned to be stupefied. After a moment, Jeff regained his senses, “Paul, I don't think I’m ready to make love with you in my parents' bed.”

Paul came to him and silently took his face in his hands and gave him a lush kiss that sent a ball of flaming passion from his brain, straight to his cock. “First off, who said anything about getting in the bed. Besides, that's your ancestor’s bed, that your parents also slept in. Just like your Daddy's, Daddy’s, Daddy did. They all got over it and you will too. It’s our bed now, and we’ll claim it soon enough. Right now, I got a big dicked cowboy and a sheepskin rug on my mind.” With that, his lips captured his lover's in a wet, probing kiss.

Jeff immediately forgot about his parents and the bed. Everything else just slipped away, except that kiss and his throbbing hardon. Paul broke the kiss and took a half step back. With a single jerking motion, he ripped Jeff's shirt open. Buttons flew across the room. Using his shirt as a handle he Pulled Jeff to the bench at the foot of the bed. “We’re not gonna use the bed this time lover. Now git nekkid ratchere! ratnow!” With that, Paul sat on the bench and pulled off his boots. Jeff, without question, followed suit. Paul, just as he had imagined only minutes before, staged his boots under the bench. Jeff, again, followed his lead. Before another word was spoken they were both naked as at birth.

Paul took his lover's hand and led him to the sheepskin rug. The feel of his feet on the rug gave the promise of how sensual it would feel on his naked skin and Paul shivered. Jeff, thinking his lover was cold stepped to the fireplace and with the flip of a switch, lit a roaring fire amongst logs that would not be consumed. Paul left his lover and went over and turned out the lights. The heavy drapes blocked out any outside light and the room was illuminated only by the flickering firelight. This time, as they came together there was no urgency in their touch. Paul knew exactly what he wanted. No, what he needed to have happen.

Slowly he lowered himself until he was sitting at Jeff's feet, on the goatskin rug. As he moved down, his fingernails silhouetted his lover’s well-defined torso. The sensation made Jeff hiss an intake of breath and bite his lower lip. His cock throbbed in appreciation. Paul held Jeff's gaze as he stuck out his tongue, displaying it as a tool he was about to use.

Jeff, mesmerized, could only watch as spit dripped off that overly long appendage, making his cock drool precum. Paul didn't wiggle or curl his tongue, he simply brought it to rest at the juncture of thigh and torso. Slowly, sensuously, he drug his tongue along skin that Jeff had never before considered sensitive. Yet, here he was, clenching his fists at his side to keep from grabbing Paul's head, and raping his mouth. He had never felt such wet, electrified, skin tingling sensations. He wanted it to never stop and yet, at the same time he so desperately needed to cum. Paul was now using his tongue to wash the side of his throbbing cock, from base to tip. Jeff knew at any moment he would feel that delicious wetness completely engulf his manhood. He relaxed and moved his hands to caress, not control Paul's head.

Paul grabbed both of Jeff's wrists and simply said, “No.” it was not a command it was a statement of desire. Without wanting to, Jeff's hands moved away from Paul's head and back to his side.

Jeff clearly understood why a cock was sometimes referred to as a “manroot”. At this moment, it was like his cock was some demanding alien entity rooted deep within his flesh, but separate and above almost all reason. He would hardly be surprised if it tore itself free from his body and surged forward, desperately seeking the wet warmth of Paul's mouth.

Paul was busy washing Jeff's cock. Using his tongue like a washcloth in a shower, only slower and more methodically. Once he was satisfied that Jeff’s cock was wet and shiny, only then did he allow his tongue to recede.

Jeff watched as, again, Paul's tongue extended to catch a drop of precum and to probe Jeff’s piss slit. All the while maintaining eye contact with his victim. That's how Jeff saw himself… A victim. Like a fly in a spiders web, caught up and at the mercy of his lover. He wasn't sure victim was the right word since there was no other place he would rather be… no other place he could be, but right here, right now at the mercy of his lover and his own manroot. Maybe victim was the right word.

Without breaking eye contact and giving no warning, Paul impaled himself on Jeff's cock. In one fell swoop, he swallowed it, balls deep. Choking and gagging he still worked that cock like a dervish. Teary-eyed, but smiling, he spat a fist full of slimy mucous into his hand and worked it into his own ass. When he had slime-lubed his hole with three fingers comfortably, he simply got on his hands and knees and commanded, “Take me.”

Jeff's manroot needed no more incentive. Like an automaton, he moved behind, knelt and aligned his cock. He pushed down on Paul's shoulders until his pert behind was perched just so. Paul rested on his crossed forearms against the wickedly soft rug. Without preamble, Jeff pulled back his foreskin and pushed his hips forward just until his corona was captured by Paul's sphincter. In spite of the three-fingered lube job, Paul's asshole bit into Jeff's cock as if determined to devour the head of the invading monster. The torture was exquisite! Jeff savored the sensation.

Without intention, this gave some respite to Paul's defeated rectum. Again, Jeff pushed inward seeking to enhance the already unbearable pleasures his manroot was experiencing.

Paul was lost somewhere on the road from Nirvana to Valhalla, but with a fading memory of having spent time in Hades. The burning sensation was lessening, but the feeling of being stretched and filled was growing. Just when he felt heaven was slipping from his vision, Jeff’s cock smacked head-on against his prostate. The gates of Valhalla opened and with flashing lights, fireworks and screams of ecstasy, another deserving warrior was welcomed home.

Stretching and filling be damned! Paul writhed, pushed and humped against Jeff's invader.

Hearing Paul's cries of, “FUCK ME!” and “MORE, OH GOD, MORE!” Jeff began slamming into his lover's ass without care or compassion. Just a driving, burning, balls aching need to FUCK!

His cock had never felt so big. The sensations were not only coming from his cock. The feeling was being pulled from every part of his body. His whole sense of being was focused and driven toward a final cataclysmic explosion that was to be nebulously centered around his cock and balls. When it began, God himself could have neither prevented nor forestalled this most intimate equivalent of the Big Bang.

In the throes of his own turmoil of ecstasy, Paul was only vaguely aware of reaching for his own manroot. It was not to jack off, it was too late to help that along. Instead, he was cupping his hand around his cockhead trying to keep his eruption from overflowing onto, what was now, his all-time favorite rug. It was a valiant effort, especially considering the concentration required to even make the attempt. Overall, it was about as effective as a Dutch Boy’s finger against a tsunami.

Jeff, who had been absolutely mindless and uncaring shortly after they’d got ‘nekkid’, was suddenly cognizant of his dead weight pressing down on his partner. At some point, moments, seconds, minutes, maybe even hours ago, he had completely collapsed onto his lover. Carefully he extracted his body and his cock from atop and within, respectively. “I, uh, I’m sorry. Did I hurt you, Babe?” He carefully caressed the most perfect backside he’d ever seen. Unable to resist. Yet, at the same time, afraid his touch might set off the anger Paul must surely be feeling toward such a selfish and thoughtless lover.

Paul grunted and groaned, finally rolling over while protecting his collected ejaculate. Displaying an impressive load that, having filled his palm was dripping over and onto the rug. “Does this look like I was in pain?” Chuckling, he continued, “That was.. amazing, stupendous, Guinness record book worthy sex, and you ask if you hurt me? Ha! Cowboy. You can hurt me like that anytime.” Looking down at his handful of cum, “Ugh! Let me get rid of this. Are there any towels in the bathroom"?

Jeff’s sincere look of concern faded quickly into what his Daddy would have described as a “shit eatin’ grin”. Before Paul could make a move to stand, Jeff, captured his wrist, while maintaining eye contact he proceeded to suck, slurp and lick every drop of cum from Paul's hand. When finished he loudly smacked his lips, and carefully examined Paul's hand. Once he was certain no trace of cum remained, he released it.

The look of wonder in his lover's eyes made Jeff pause. The memory of mind-blowing sex and subsequent afterglow faded in the face of the unconditional love he saw in Paul's eyes. Feeling the words completely inadequate and with tears shining in his eyes, Jeff humbly offered, “I love you, Babe!”

Paul leaned toward Jeff until their lips softly touched. Each syllable seemed to caress Jeff's soul, as Paul softly whispered, “I love you too, cowboy”.

As if any sudden movement or sound might shatter their universe, both men quietly got dressed.

Paul looked up as he pulled on his last piece of clothing, a boot of course. At first, he was confused then simply disbelieving. Why would anyone hang two identical paintings in the same room and on the same wall? As he moved closer, he ignored everything except the paintings. His eyes were only allowed to shift between the two paintings, comparing and contrasting, cataloging the differences as well as the shared elements. Once he could see both paintings equally well, he stopped. The painting he had first noted was probably completed when both men were in their twenties. The second was most likely thirty or even forty years later. The talent for detail in both paintings was amazing, certainly museum quality, if only for the captured expressions.

The clothes were slightly different, still spurred boots and jeans though belts replaced galluses. While the green-eyed taller cowboy still favored bib front shirts his, um, companion, sported his now worn leather vest and red bandanna, but this time his creamy brown shirt sported an actual collar.

Both faces showed wrinkles and laugh lines. Both men sported some greying. Overall, time had been kind to both men. The way they looked into each other's eyes was just as intense as in their youth. Paul noted that the tin cups seemed the same, but the later background featured barns, outbuildings, corrals and fenced in pastures.

Jeff stepped up beside his partner, “I used to come in here and make up stories about those two. We rode off on some great adventures together. They were my heroes, circling stampeding cattle, tracking down rustlers, fighting off Indian attacks. I figured they were drinking whisky. I shared my first taste with them, I was twelve, maybe thirteen. Later, I used to imagine they were gay lovers. I jerked off more than a few times thinking about them.

“Truth is they started out as partners in the cattle business. The one on the left was John Grant, the taller, more handsome of course, is my great, great, grandfather, I think. His name was Winston Adams. Winston was practicing law in Boston. He gave it up to come out west. He partnered with John Grant and together they built up one of the largest ranches in the territory. They lived together until Winston married. They remained close friends throughout their lives. After John’s wife died he moved back here with the already widowed Winston and together they raised their children and amassed quite a fortune in cattle and banking. Up until a couple of years back, there were still descendants of John Grant living around here. The last one owned the John Deere dealership and even built the house T.R. and David live in now. The latest John Grant is an absentee owner of a large ranch not far from here. It's a family tradition that the first male child of each generation bears the middle name “Grant”. I always figured if I became famous I would like to be known as “Grant Adams”. Thought that was sexy, kind of like James Bond.

“Anyway, Dad told me there was a journal those two wrote in for most of their lives. Our copy is the original and is kept in a safe deposit box in Dallas. Members of the family only have access, once they reach thirty. They have to sign an oath to maintain the integrity of the original document and to never reveal its contents, if they fail to abide by the signed oath, they forfeit their inheritance. Of course, I haven't seen it yet, but it's something I very much look forward to.”

Paul spoke without looking away from the painting. “I would very much like an insight into the look those two share. Do you think they were lovers? I know they fathered children, but they lived together as young men and then later on in life. I’d like to think that their look represents an expression of deep, abiding and passionate love.

“Out of curiosity, where were they when these paintings were done? It doesn't look anything like your front porch. Is the house still standing? I’d love to see where they lived.”

Jeff didn't answer, but moved to the drape covered wall and pressed a hidden button. “I think that can be arranged.” The massive drapes began to slide apart. The drapes revealed large picture windows on either side of French doors. Opening both doors, Jeff offered with a flourishing gesture, “Your front porch awaits”. Then he added, “This bedroom was originally their living room.”

Like Dorothy’s first tentative steps into Oz, Paul walked through the bedroom doors onto the front porch. It was larger than he would have expected. There were benches and a couple of rocking chairs. The porch railing looked just as rugged and sturdy as it did in the paintings. The porch was large enough so the artist wouldn't have had to set his easel in the doorway. The barns and outbuildings may have been the same or modern replacements. Paul wasn't sure and didn't care. What he did care about was a very real sense of personal history and… love. He imagined the two positioned just as in the paintings. The winter chill made him shiver as if someone stepped on his grave. He searched Jeff’s face. The look he found there told him they too could have their portraits painted on this porch soon, and again in another thirty or forty years.

Silently they moved back inside. Jeff closed the doors and the drapes and joined Paul to stand together in front of the fire. He pulled Paul into his side. “I think we should sleep in here tonight, in their bed and make it our bed.”

The warmth and flickering firelight touched Paul's soul, “I feel as though I have been on a very long journey where no one understood me and now, at last, I’m home.” Jeff just pulled him closer still.

🎼Christmas is coming 🎼 definitely next chapter.

please let me know what you think by leaving a "comment" or a "like".



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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Chapter Comments

This just gets better and better with each new chapter!!! Hooked and looking forward to see what happens next.

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I have heard the phrase 'Randy old goat' but never heard of a goat skin rug...just bear rugs.  In fact most goats are fairly small and the skin would make a small rug.  I suspect Jeffrey' s several great grandfather and his partner were just as intimate as their looks depicted.

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Another wonderful chapter. Maria is one old soul. Wise beyond her years with big eyes and an endless amount of innocence. 
 I am looking forward to the downfall of that fat homophobic ass born of incest! 

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So enjoyed everything about this chapter; but especially Maria...  You have just created a truly unforgettable character in her.  Like the others, I can't wait for the Fire Chief to get his just rewards... 


Maybe the journal could be a whole new book in this series all by itself...

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What a beautiful, romantic end to this chapter. You must be a salesman, sir. I have never wanted to buy a goat hide rug so badly in my life. ?. A baby on the way! What do you get for a baby that will want for nothing? Bumpkiss is going down, and once he goes to prison, he'll be going down nightly. Karma, fate, and Santa intervention. Police chief, Fire chief, Mayor, and don't forget Evil Preacher. Thank you for for making me feel warm and happy on this rainy, cold day. -Brian 

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7 hours ago, ott said:

WOW!!!  What a chapter!  Going from all of us wanting to kill "Country" Bumpkin (for his actions and comments) to sleeping (well not sleeping on that rug!!!)  in the parent bedroom--which was Grant and Winton's love "NEST".  Maria is one of the best of the best.............................

Thanks, ott

Thank you so much! I am considering writing Winston and John's story at some time in the future. I had a flocati sheepskin rug I bought in Greece. After a military move or two, it got lost. Looking back, I think my then wife just threw it out. She was never very sensual. But, I enjoyed that rug while we had it. Should have lost her before I lost the rug.

Thanks Ott, for the comment and the memory.


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Great story, look forward to seeing the bad guys get what they deserve.  Great love scenes described in details that make you feel the love they have for each other.  Impatiently waiting for the next chapter.


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6 hours ago, Wesley8890 said:

You do not want to get on the princess's bad sad. I totally got the whole Liam Neeson vibe from Jeff. I love how quickly everybody manages to censure themselves around Maria

Children, at times, really can be fearless. Maria certainly can be.

Yeah, I actually wrote that scene before I realized it was a movie quote. Then I just had to have Jeff called out on it.

I was very careful about fowl language around my boys. I taught them that using bad language simply relects a poorly developed vocabulary. To this day, my youngest will not cuss. I will admit my word usage after they were "grown up" could, did and still will get quite colorful. My youngest insists on using euphemisms, which he knows... just plain irritates the hell out of me.

Thanks, I am thankful you took your time, again, to post your comments.


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5 hours ago, mikedup said:

Looks good let's hope bumpkis sees his butt onthe sidewalk and I'm glad that Paul and Jeff are moving along really great . Can't wait for more. Cheers

I believe that love can be calm and soothing or loud and passionate. It's just really hard to contain with words.

As for Bumpkis... I suspect he is considering how to get his revenge, even as we read. Bwaahaha.. choke, gasp. (Shades of "Blazing Saddles" here.



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5 hours ago, phoenix_0826 said:

Another fantastic chapter! Now, where oh where can I find a goat skin rug????

Trust me. I have some very fond memories of, what I just was reminded was actually a "sheep skin" rug. Thanks to google.

I highly recommend it.

And Thank you for posting your comment.


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5 hours ago, Hlasota said:

Exactly, what a chapter. :) 

I am especially grateful for comments like yours and Ott's. I was more than a little concerned about this particular chapter. I massaged it for days after I wrote it. It was "finished" when I posted 19. I can't tell you how many times I went back over it just to get to the point where I could post it with some sense of satisfaction.


Thanks again,


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5 hours ago, Daveh said:

This just gets better and better with each new chapter!!! Hooked and looking forward to see what happens next.

Now, I'm gonna have to work especially hard on the next chapter.

Thanks for the encouraging comment.


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4 hours ago, Daddydavek said:

I have heard the phrase 'Randy old goat' but never heard of a goat skin rug...just bear rugs.  In fact most goats are fairly small and the skin would make a small rug.  I suspect Jeffrey' s several great grandfather and his partner were just as intimate as their looks depicted.

I think I already explained, much to my embarrassment, the rug from my memory was actually a flocati "sheepskin" rug. I only remembered the sensuous feeling on my naked skin. I will go back and edit that part.

Thanks for posting your comments and for keeping me on my toes.


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4 hours ago, Daddydavek said:

I have heard the phrase 'Randy old goat' but never heard of a goat skin rug...just bear rugs.  In fact most goats are fairly small and the skin would make a small rug.  I suspect Jeffrey' s several great grandfather and his partner were just as intimate as their looks depicted.

I have made the change, so it will be our little secret.?

Thanks again,


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4 hours ago, BlindAmbition said:

Another wonderful chapter. Maria is one old soul. Wise beyond her years with big eyes and an endless amount of innocence. 
 I am looking forward to the downfall of that fat homophobic ass born of incest! 

Wow! I couldn't have said it better.

Thanks for that and all your other encouraging comments.


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3 hours ago, centexhairysub said:

So enjoyed everything about this chapter; but especially Maria...  You have just created a truly unforgettable character in her.  Like the others, I can't wait for the Fire Chief to get his just rewards... 


Maybe the journal could be a whole new book in this series all by itself...

Thanks, as always, your comments are insightful. There is a little bit of my own children in Maria. As to the journal, rumors as to it's existence first surfaced in my first story, "Gordy Comes Home". Eventually, I am sure, we will read their journal. 

Thanks again,


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1 hour ago, Tazzle001 said:

What a beautiful, romantic end to this chapter. You must be a salesman, sir. I have never wanted to buy a goat hide rug so badly in my life. ?. A baby on the way! What do you get for a baby that will want for nothing? Bumpkiss is going down, and once he goes to prison, he'll be going down nightly. Karma, fate, and Santa intervention. Police chief, Fire chief, Mayor, and don't forget Evil Preacher. Thank you for for making me feel warm and happy on this rainy, cold day. -Brian 

Brian, I assure you, it is I who is made happy by your post. I don't think the bad guys will go down without a fight. (pretty sure no guns will be drawn.) I like the idea that someone might be enjoying my story on an otherwise dreary day.




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1 hour ago, jtpawlik said:

Awesome awesome awesome 

Why, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

I said it before, comments like yours keep me motivated.

Seriously, Thank you,


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1 hour ago, RayC said:

Great story, look forward to seeing the bad guys get what they deserve.  Great love scenes described in details that make you feel the love they have for each other.  Impatiently waiting for the next chapter.


Could there be a nicer complement?

Thank you, you've literally brought a smile to my face and that keeps me motivated.




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