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    Valkyrie
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The Hollow Hills - 6. Chapter 6

"The Roger Resolution"

Galen

I stood in the entrance to the barn, watching Josh as he talked to a tall brunette woman tacking up a horse. He looked at me in surprise.

“Hi, Galen. I thought your lesson was Saturday.”

“It is. I was hoping we could talk.” I stuffed my hands in the pockets of my black peacoat and looked at the ground.

He looked at me skeptically. “I have a lesson starting in a few minutes.”

“It won’t take long, I promise.”

“Ok. We can talk in the office.” He led me through the observation lounge that overlooked the large indoor arena, to a small room containing a desk and a couple of chairs. The walls were covered in colorful ribbons and pictures of horses jumping over very big fences.

Josh sat on the edge of his desk and I uncomfortably stood by the wall.

“Josh, I think it’s pretty obvious that I really like you.”

He smiled. His cheeks were red, but I wasn’t sure if it was from me or the cold.

“But we can’t go on the way we have been. It’s not fair to either of us,” I paused. “Or to Roger.”

Josh frowned slightly and looked away from me.

“I won’t be the other man, Josh. Jamie put me through hell with all his cheating and I won’t do it to someone else, no matter how much I want to.”

Josh sighed. “I don’t expect you to be the other man, Galen. I feel pretty guilty for going behind Roger’s back like this. I’ve never cheated on anyone before.”

“I really didn’t intend to do this and I’m so sorry to put you in this position, but I have to ask…”

“You want me to choose.”

I nodded, afraid of his answer.

“Galen, I’m very sorry but I’ve been with Roger for eight years. I can’t just throw that away. He needs me.”

His answer wasn’t unexpected, but it still hurt like hell. “I’d never treat you like he does.”

Josh stiffened and narrowed his eyes. “You’ve been talking with Liam and Alannah. Don’t believe everything that they tell you. They don’t know Roger like I do.”

“I’m sorry, Josh. I didn’t mean to offend you. I understand. I really do. I can’t say that I would make a different decision if I were in your shoes. I won’t say I’m not disappointed, but I still want to be your friend.”

He smiled and held his hand out. I shook his hand, grateful he was wearing gloves so I didn’t feel the electric shock that usually passed through me at our contact. “I’d like that.”

I turned to leave the office. “Goodbye, Josh.”

“See you Saturday, Galen.”

I left the barn without stopping to visit Pal or Charlie. I didn’t want them to see my tears.

 

I felt like a fool. I stopped at my favorite bakery on my way home from the farm and picked up a slice of cheesecake. I intended to have a day full of depressing movies, cheesecake, and ice cream. I pulled into the parking lot of my apartment complex and walked toward the door, lost in my thoughts. I stopped when I heard a sharp cry. I looked around, trying to identify the source of the sound, when I heard it again. I set my bag on the sidewalk and crouched down, peering into the snow-covered bushes that lined the walkway. A pair of bright yellow eyes peered back at me.

“Well, hello there,” I said softly. I held my hand out so the cat could sniff it. The animal sniffed my hand tentatively, then shoved his head under my fingers so I would pet him. I laughed and ran my hand along the kitten’s head and back. He purred happily. I straightened up and grabbed the bag with my cheesecake. The kitten emerged from the bushes and I got a better look at him. He was an orange tiger cat who looked like he’d seen better days. He was skinny and dirty. He followed me to the door and sat at my feet like a dog while I fished my key out of my pocket and opened the door. He trotted in ahead of me like it was something he did every day.

I opened my mail slot and retrieved the bills that were there. I hesitated before going up the stairs. I wasn’t sure what to do with the little orange cat. The front door opened and my landlord entered the building.

“Hi, Galen.” He spied the cat and looked at me disapprovingly. “Is that your cat?”

“No, sir. He just followed me in here. I’m not sure what to do with him. He looks like he’s seen better days.”

My landlord looked relieved. “He’s been hanging around here the past couple of weeks, but wouldn’t let me get near him. I guess he likes you.” He paused. “I’m glad you’re not the one who let him get in that condition, because otherwise I’d have to rethink your lease.”

“I would never allow that to happen to an animal. Is there a good vet nearby? I think he should be checked out.”

“C’mon. I’ll have Martha give you the number of our vet. I don’t know if you paid attention to the pets’ clause on the lease or not, but pets are welcome here.”

I smiled. “Good to know.”

The cat followed us upstairs as I went to my door and the landlord went down the hall to his apartment. He walked into my apartment ahead of me like he owned the place. He explored every nook and cranny. A couple minutes later there was a knock on my door. My landlord handed me a business card of a local vet practice and gave me directions. I thanked him and called the number on the card. I lucked out and they were able to fit me in right away. The newly dubbed Tigger received a clean bill of health. I wasn’t sure if ‘first kid syndrome’ was a thing when it came to pets, but I bought enough toys, food, and litter to take care of an army of cats.

Tigger was an absolute joy to have around. There was no doubt in his mind that my apartment was his home. I learned very quickly that everything I owned now belonged to the cat. I had to make sure I left the counters bare and I kept the toilet paper under the sink, otherwise it ended up in shreds.

I took some pictures of Tigger and posted them around the area in case someone had lost him. He was such a friendly cat that I figured he had to belong to someone. My landlord was convinced that someone had dumped him and he must have been right since no one ever responded to my ads. My apartment was much less lonely now and I was thrilled to have my first pet. Taking care of Tigger was a welcome distraction from thinking about Josh and the sting of his rejection.

A couple of days after I found Tigger, I was feeling a bit cooped up so I decided to walk down to the coffee shop on the corner. I got my coffee to go and was walking down the street deep in thought when I heard someone call my name. I turned around and my coffee cup tumbled to the ground, spilling hot coffee all over my shoes. I didn’t notice, however, as I stood there in open-mouthed shock.

“Galen MacLeod?”

“Jody?” A grin spread across my face as I beheld the stocky black-haired man standing a few feet away. “Jody Williams?”

“Yeah, babe. It’s me.” He opened his arms wide and I ran the short distance between us, jumping into his arms and wrapping my legs around his waist.

He grunted and took a step backward. I placed my forehead against his and looked deep into his brown eyes. “I can’t believe it’s you!” I said, then kissed him full on the mouth, flicking my tongue along his lower lip.

He sputtered and shook his head. “What have I told you about that?”

“No tongue.” I smirked. “Don’t tell me you don’t like it, closet case.”

He laughed. “Oh hell, no. Ladies only, here.”

I leaned away from his chest, resting my hands on either side of his neck. Since I saw him last, he’d acquired tribal tattoos that ran up either side of his neck. “Then why are your hands on my ass?”

He let go of me and I dropped lightly to the sidewalk, grinning and bouncing around him. His companion stared at us, his mouth hanging open.

“What are you doing here, Galen? Last I heard you were in Texas.”

“I just moved here. What about you?”

“No way! I’ve been here for a few years now—“

“Uh, J? As much as I hate to break up your little reunion,” his companion said, staring at me, “we gotta go. If we’re late they’ll throw us out.”

Jody looked at his watch. “Shit. I gotta go, babe. E, close your mouth. You’re drooling.”

Jody’s friend closed his mouth and wiped his chin, mortified. They started walking away and I trotted after them. “What’s your number?”

He yelled out his phone number and I entered it into my cell phone.

“I’m having the guys over for the game on Sunday. C’mon over. We need to catch up!”

I grinned. “I’ll be there!”

*****

I was nervous about my riding lesson. I wasn’t nervous to ride. I had a great time on Pal, even if trotting was painful. It was my first time seeing Josh since our chat and I was doing my best to think of him as off limits and just a friend.

When I arrived at the barn, Josh was grooming a beige colored horse. My heart leapt upon seeing him, but I quickly squashed the feeling. “Hey, Josh.”

“Hi, Galen. This is Buck. He got pretty muddy when he was turned out so I figured I’d get a head start on grooming him for you.”

“Oh. I assumed I’d be riding Pal again.”

“Don’t worry. Buck is a great beginner horse. He’s named that because of his color, not because he likes to act up. This old boy is as steady as they come.”

I petted Buck and he nosed in my pockets, looking for carrots. “What’s his color?”

“Buckskin. It’s a tan color with black points. That means black on his legs, ears, mane, and tail.”

“Cool.”

He handed me a curry comb and brush. “You can groom his other side. Do you remember what Liam taught you?”

“Yeah. Rub in circles and then flick the dirt away.”

We groomed Buck in silence and I now knew why Liam told me I should buy barn clothes. It wasn’t long before I was as dirty as Buck. I’d have to take my coat to get cleaned.

Josh showed me how to tack up English and taught me some of the parts of the horse and the tack. I learned that the bump on their back was called their withers and the front of the saddle was called the pommel.

Buck was much more agreeable than Pal. He didn’t drag me into the middle of the ring and was very tolerant of my beginner mistakes. I learned that trotting was much easier when you posted – rose up and down in the saddle in time to the trot. My rhythm wasn’t spot on, but I was getting the hang of it and it was much less painful than last time. I managed to stay on my feet this time when I dismounted.

Having Josh teach me how to ride was the best thing I could have done for our friendship. I was focusing so much on what I was doing that I didn’t have time to focus on him.

Josh had dinner already prepped, so he slid it into the oven while I changed my clothes. He had a cup of hot cocoa ready for me when I returned. Alannah was in the barn preparing to leave for a series of shows in Florida. She was trying to qualify for the World Championships that were taking place later in the year.

Liam was just finishing a call and said he’d be on his way shortly. So that left me and Josh to ourselves. I bounced my leg as I drank the cocoa. “This is really good, Josh. What brand is it?”

He grimaced. “I thought you knew me well enough to know that I don’t buy that premade crap. I made that with some cocoa powder, sugar, and cinnamon.”

“Sorry. I should have guessed. I wondered what that spicy taste was. It’s delicious.”

“I can give you the recipe. It’s really very simple.”

I smiled. “I like the Swiss Miss packets with the little marshmallows in them.” I took another sip of cocoa. “Do you make everything you eat from scratch? Aren’t there times when you just don’t feel like cooking and want something quick?”

“It’s rare, but yeah, sometimes I feel that way. Then I usually get take-out. I know all the best places in town.”

“I bet. I found a bakery that makes great cheesecake. It’s over on Fifth and Main, not too far from my apartment. It’s called The Bake Shop.”

“I’m familiar with them. They’re very good. Do you want some more?”

I held out my cup and he poured more cocoa into each of our cups.

“You like sweets, don’t you?” he asked, but it was more of a statement than a question.

“Yeah. I like cheesecake and ice cream. It’s a good thing that I don’t eat much otherwise I’d weigh like three hundred pounds.” I laughed.

“Don’t eat much? Your appetite seems pretty good to me.”

I blushed. “Well, that’s because of your cooking. Liam always tells me I need to eat more.”

He smiled and I felt a warmth that wasn’t from the cocoa. “I’m glad you like my cooking so much.”

I played with my cup and finished off the cocoa. I didn’t trust myself to keep looking at him.

“I hope dinner’s almost ready. I’m starving!” Alannah stepped into the kitchen rubbing her hands together.

“About a half hour.” Josh said.

“Perfect. Just enough time to shower and change.” She headed upstairs.

I helped Josh set the table and prepare the salads. I was feeling pretty confident in my salad-making skills. By the time we finished, Liam had arrived and Alannah had finished her shower. We sat down to a meal of stuffed pork chops, mashed potatoes, and shaved Brussels sprouts with bacon. I never liked Brussels sprouts before, but I had a feeling that I would like anything that Josh cooked.

“Liam, you’ll never guess who I ran into the other day!” I gushed.

“You’re right. I won’t, so why don’t you just tell me.”

“Jody.”

He set his fork down and sat upright. “No way! Where did you see him? What’s the old bastard up to?”

“We didn’t have much of a chance to talk, but he lives here. He’s having some people over for ‘the game’ tomorrow and invited me. You should come. I know he’d love to see you.”

“No shit? Damn. I had no idea he lived in this area. Man, I’d love to go, but I’m on duty tomorrow.”

“Who’s Jody?” Josh asked.

“He was my best friend in high school and college. We lost touch after I moved to Texas.”

“I met Jody when we were in kindergarten. Man, we had some good times,” Liam said.

I smiled. “Yeah, we sure did. I didn’t realize how much I missed him until I saw him standing there.”

“I bet. You two were always so close.”

“Yeah.” I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the rest of the evening. I had Tigger to come home to, I found new hobbies with both riding and cooking, and now I had my best friend back. Strange as it sounds, seeing Jody took away some of the pain of Josh’s rejection. I had such a great time during my lesson and helping with dinner, that I realized it was possible to be Josh’s friend. Life was looking up for the first time in months.

Well we have a resolution...of sorts.  :unsure: Please don't hate me too much. This is just the beginning of the story.  There's plenty more to come!  I'd love to hear your thoughts in a review or in the discussion forum.  A huge thank you to Cole and Lisa for their input with this story.  It's so much better because of them. 

Copyright © 2018 Valkyrie; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

I liked the chapter because Galen is happier and is figuring out his life. I also liked that he put his foot down about not wanting to be the other man. I must say though, it's not so much a "Roger Resolution" as it is a Galen solution. :P. Still waiting to kick Roger to the curb...THAT is my Roger Resolution. :)

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On 03/27/2015 03:03 AM, LitLover said:
I liked the chapter because Galen is happier and is figuring out his life. I also liked that he put his foot down about not wanting to be the other man. I must say though, it's not so much a "Roger Resolution" as it is a Galen solution. :P. Still waiting to kick Roger to the curb...THAT is my Roger Resolution. :)
I'm glad you liked the chapter. Yes, the Roger situation is still not resolved, but at least the situation between Josh and Galen is. For now, anyway. ;) There will be a "Roger Resolution" part 2, but I won't say when it will happen. Thanks for the review!
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Well, apart from a total blowout between Josh and Roger, this is the kind of resolution you could expect in real life. You don't throw away 8 years just like that. It needs something more. I think Roger will fuck up big time somewhere along the line, causing Josh to see that they have a convenient relationship, not a loving one. It's a good thing Galen is moving towards a happier stage in life. That way he might be ready for a relationship with Josh when the time comes.

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On 03/27/2015 06:55 AM, Puppilull said:
Well, apart from a total blowout between Josh and Roger, this is the kind of resolution you could expect in real life. You don't throw away 8 years just like that. It needs something more. I think Roger will fuck up big time somewhere along the line, causing Josh to see that they have a convenient relationship, not a loving one. It's a good thing Galen is moving towards a happier stage in life. That way he might be ready for a relationship with Josh when the time comes.
Thanks for the great review, Puppilull. Things couldn't continue the way they were. We'll see what the future has in store for all three men.
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I am also thrilled that Galen has something to look forward to.

 

I love Jody already!! I can tell they have a terrific relationship and I'm so happy Galen has someone else besides Liam to support him. :)

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On 03/28/2015 02:06 PM, Lisa said:
I am also thrilled that Galen has something to look forward to.

 

I love Jody already!! I can tell they have a terrific relationship and I'm so happy Galen has someone else besides Liam to support him. :)

Thanks, Lisa. :) Jody is awesome. He's exactly what Galen needs right now. :)
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Okay, you justified my trust in you, Val. I am so pleased that Galen finally took the high road. If Josh had made Galen his choice right then, it would have been a mistake. It can't be Galen that breaks up Josh and Roger... it has to be Josh alone... otherwise that would hand over them. So kudos for the mini resolution. Why do I get the feeling that a new love interest, competition for Josh, is on the way :huh:-_- . Loved this chapter... I just hope Galen stays strong and true to himself... when all is said and done we have to hold our heads up high and be happy with ourselves as people... well done...Cheers...Gary

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On 04/03/2015 01:21 AM, Headstall said:
Okay, you justified my trust in you, Val. I am so pleased that Galen finally took the high road. If Josh had made Galen his choice right then, it would have been a mistake. It can't be Galen that breaks up Josh and Roger... it has to be Josh alone... otherwise that would hand over them. So kudos for the mini resolution. Why do I get the feeling that a new love interest, competition for Josh, is on the way :huh:-_- . Loved this chapter... I just hope Galen stays strong and true to himself... when all is said and done we have to hold our heads up high and be happy with ourselves as people... well done...Cheers...Gary
I'm glad you liked the chapter. Things couldn't continue the way they were with Josh and Galen. You are right that it would have been a mistake for Josh to pick Galen over Roger right now. There's a lot more to come before the "Roger Resolution Part 2" ;) As for the rest... you'll have to wait and see. :X Thanks for the great review! :hug:
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The saddest lines in the whole book so far: "I left the barn without stopping to visit Pal or Charlie. I didn’t want them to see my tears." Galen must really be upset to walk past the horses without a stroke or two…

 

I hope I'm not being too critical here…but the adopt-a-cat portion needed some more details, like how can Galen get the cat to the vet without a cat carrier..? No doctor's office accepts un-protected felines in the waiting room. Also, did he pick up all the stuff Tiger needs..? Litter, food, food bowl, lol? Anyway, just details, I know.

 

As for Josh, I suppose his decision is the predicable one, if only for expedience's sake. What he sees in Roger is unknown to the readers (or to Galen, Liam – or anyone else for that matter!), but commitment means something, and eight years is a long time. Josh still seems unhappy to me, though.

 

And on Jody, I've never heard a straight guy call any guy 'babe' – 'baby' yes, but babe seems reserved for the world of boyfriend/girlfriend. Baby can be jocular, like "Look at me now, baby!" Anyway, another detail.

 

Great chapter!

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On 04/13/2015 03:03 PM, AC Benus said:
The saddest lines in the whole book so far: "I left the barn without stopping to visit Pal or Charlie. I didn’t want them to see my tears." Galen must really be upset to walk past the horses without a stroke or two…

 

I hope I'm not being too critical here…but the adopt-a-cat portion needed some more details, like how can Galen get the cat to the vet without a cat carrier..? No doctor's office accepts un-protected felines in the waiting room. Also, did he pick up all the stuff Tiger needs..? Litter, food, food bowl, lol? Anyway, just details, I know.

 

As for Josh, I suppose his decision is the predicable one, if only for expedience's sake. What he sees in Roger is unknown to the readers (or to Galen, Liam – or anyone else for that matter!), but commitment means something, and eight years is a long time. Josh still seems unhappy to me, though.

 

And on Jody, I've never heard a straight guy call any guy 'babe' – 'baby' yes, but babe seems reserved for the world of boyfriend/girlfriend. Baby can be jocular, like "Look at me now, baby!" Anyway, another detail.

 

Great chapter!

Yes, Galen was very upset by Josh's rejection, even if he was expecting it. I think it had to happen, though. If Galen and Josh got together at this point, it would not be from a very good starting point. More will be revealed at some point about Josh and Roger's relationship and how it began. I think that will give some good insight into Josh's motivation to stay.

 

That's funny that you say that about the vet visit. I actually did have a lot more detail when I originally wrote the chapter, but took it out because I thought I was getting too bogged down in details. :/ I guess I should have left them in!

 

Jody and Galen have a very unique relationship. Galen is the only guy that Jody calls "babe". Thanks for such a thoughtful review. :)

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So Galen decided to be brave and tell Josh 'no.' Wise, but it must have hurt so very badly. A new cat! Purrrrr. And then this old friend Jody...hmmm. What weather that will bring over the ridge....

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On 12/08/2015 09:00 AM, Parker Owens said:

So Galen decided to be brave and tell Josh 'no.' Wise, but it must have hurt so very badly. A new cat! Purrrrr. And then this old friend Jody...hmmm. What weather that will bring over the ridge....

It wasn't easy for Galen to confront Josh, but it needed to be done. You'll get to meet Jody again. Jody is pretty awesome. :) Thanks again for all the reviews. :)

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Glad Galen has more friends around him. It's a good thing. Ok seriously Josh can't be so stupid or have so little self-confidence he'd put up with that for 8 years! ...

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On 04/27/2016 12:49 PM, Mikiesboy said:

Glad Galen has more friends around him. It's a good thing. Ok seriously Josh can't be so stupid or have so little self-confidence he'd put up with that for 8 years! ...

You'll learn more about Josh and Roger's relationship in upcoming chapters. Jody is awesome. You'll get to know him better, too. :) Thanks again for all the reviews!

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This is pure torture watching them going though this Song and Dance lol. Killer. Great chapter I want more lol. Lets start a movement its the Kick Roger to the curb.

Edited by Albert1434
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3 minutes ago, Albert1434 said:

This is pure torture watching them going though this Song and Dance lol. Killer. Great chapter I want more lol. Lets start a movement its the Kick Roger to the curb.

:rofl: :great:

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The more I read, the more I like Galen.  He is finally showing some real maturity in dealing with Josh, and I think it's good for him that he is picking up more hobbies and friends.  Of course, I doubt that fragile friendship is going to last forever. :P   

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We'll see what the future has in store for them. ;)  Thanks for reading and commenting! :D 

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“But we can’t go on the way we have been. It’s not fair to either of us.... Duh!

 

“Who’s Jody?” Josh asked. *snicker*

Tigger it is. Forget all other guys. Wait... resolution? What resolution?

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6 minutes ago, aditus said:

“But we can’t go on the way we have been. It’s not fair to either of us.... Duh!

 

“Who’s Jody?” Josh asked. *snicker*

Tigger it is. Forget all other guys. Wait... resolution? What resolution?

I should have added "of sorts" after "The Roger Resolution".  I think it was Robert Rex who used that phrase in the discussion thread following lots of ranting about Roger.  

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Oh boy!  Things are getting nicely complicated.  Galen did a good job of dealing with the mutual attraction between him and Josh, and we know that's not the end of that story, but there are so many lovely ways things could work out.  I'm not invested in getting the two of them together, but I do want Galen to have a happy ending, whatever it may be.  Josh hasn't completely won me over, yet.

I'm really glad there are plenty more chapters till the end.  Can't wait to see how you tied it all together, @Valkyrie.

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53 minutes ago, BigBen said:

Oh boy!  Things are getting nicely complicated.  Galen did a good job of dealing with the mutual attraction between him and Josh, and we know that's not the end of that story, but there are so many lovely ways things could work out.  I'm not invested in getting the two of them together, but I do want Galen to have a happy ending, whatever it may be.  Josh hasn't completely won me over, yet.

I'm really glad there are plenty more chapters till the end.  Can't wait to see how you tied it all together, @Valkyrie.

Complicated is the perfect word for these guys.  This is just the beginning...  hold on, because you're in for quite the ride ;)  

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