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Chapter Fifty-Five

- Will -

The guy on the TV had called it an `Indian Spring'. Temperatures in late March weren't supposed to be this warm. Ryan had pulled the top off the Jeep that morning and I had us headed west on Route 460. We'd be home in two hours.

"You ever gonna get comfortable driving this stretch of the road?" I asked.

"Give it time," he replied. "I'm sure I will. But you gotta admit it hasn't been that long since the accident."

"True," I admitted. "You ready for the excitement of the week ahead?"

"I don't know if I am or not, but I'll get through it. I'm prepared for a lot of fun. This doesn't stress me out the way the last visit did."

"I can understand that - stress over meeting your brother for the first time. Now that's done. I'm nervous about meeting him for the first time."

"WHY?" Ryan sounded truly surprised.

"Will I be good enough for his big brother? Will he like me or resent me?"

"Don't worry about it. I'm sure he's gonna like you a lot. He's been very upbeat about meeting you in his e-mails. Plus, I'm not too worried about him liking you. I'm more worried about him questioning you to death!"

"Yeah, there is that," I agreed.

"What time do we have to leave for the airport in the morning?" I asked.

"Their flight arrives a few minutes after ten, so I'd say eight-ish."

"That must be some hellish kinda flight considering they are two hours behind us. Are they leaving at nine p.m. and flying all night?"

"Actually, I think they've left already, if I have my time zone stuff right. They get to Denver, have a couple hours layover, then fly to Charlotte, have another couple hours layover, then fly to TriCities. Hopefully they can sleep on the flights; otherwise, they'll be exhausted when they arrive."

"I think they will be exhausted regardless," I replied.


We went by Bluefield and I asked, "Do you want to drive now?"

"No, Dude. I'm fine with you driving. I kinda like being in the passenger's seat. I get to enjoy the scenery."

"I woulda figured you'd seen all the scenery along this stretch of road by now."

"Funny. Very funny."

I dropped it, not wanting to push my luck with Ryan at the start of spring break. We drove in silence for a while. I did have to agree with Ryan that the scenery was pretty. We were heading south on the Trail of the Lonesome Pine towards Tazewell skirting along the northern edge of the Jefferson National Forest. The trees were just budding and shortly the area would be vibrant green. Wondering what to say next, I looked over and saw that Ryan was asleep.

As we approached Claypool Hill Ryan finally stirred.

"Man, I needed that catnap. Hey. Can you pull into the Walmart? I want to pick up a few things in the grocery section."

"How about I go to Food City? Can you get what you want there? I doubt it will be as crowded and I don't want to deal with Walmart's parking lot."

"Sure. I was thinking about a couple meals I could teach Christian to make. I doubt Tracer has all the ingredients."

"What if we just go home first. Check to see what you need and get them on our way to Bristol. You'll have better options down there."

"Smart boy!" He agreed. "That will work fine."

"Cool." I was glad he'd accepted my offer. I really just wanted to get home!

We got to the farm about seven p.m. and pulled into an empty space between Tracer's truck and the big dualie that we used to pull trailers. The thing that struck me was that Erik's truck was missing from the line up.

"Wonder where Dad is," Ryan said, before I could get the same question out.

"We'll find out once we get inside, I guess," I said lamely.

We grabbed our bags out of the back and went into the house.

"Welcome home!" Erik said from behind the island.

"Tracer got your truck?" Ryan asked.

"Nope. It's in the shop. A guy backed into me the other day in the parking lot at Walmart."

"Much damage?" I asked.

"His bumper smashed the back door and the entire rear side panel," Erik explained. "The estimate is about fifteen hundred."

"Is it worth fixing that truck," I asked.

"Since I'm not paying for it, sure," Erik responded enthusiastically. "A twelve year old, beat up, work truck doesn't have a lot of value left. But I don't want to buy a new one right now. There are other priorities at the moment."

"Like expanding the stables," Tracer interjected, as he came in from the den.

Dad rolled his eyes and gave Tracer a look.

Before Erik could formulate a response, Ryan stepped in. "Agreed. That's one of the items the four of us need to discuss,"

"Why don't we discuss it later," Erik replied.

"After dinner works," I put in. That earned me a look from Erik. It was becoming obvious he wasn't ready to support the expansion.

"We have company coming tomorrow and staying until Ryan and I leave," I continued. "Better to deal with it tonight and go over everything than to delay it again."

"OK," Erik relented.

Ryan and I carried our stuff upstairs. I slipped into the bathroom to wash up. Ryan came in a moment later.

"I wonder what Dad's deal is about expanding the stables?" he asked.

"I guess we'll find out after dinner. But I would bet it relates to the farm's finances."

"Tracer does a lot of the budget work," Ryan reminded me. "I would think he knows whether we can afford it or not."

"Didn't you once say your Dad didn't like having to take out a loan to buy the Pittson land? Maybe he's uncomfortable saddling the farm with more debt if we borrow to build the addition."

"That's a thought. But I really think we need it."

"Well, maybe we need to approach this carefully," I suggested.

"Yeah. I could tell from Dad's face that it isn't going to be an easy discussion. One of us needs to see if we can talk to Tracer before hand and see if our assumptions are correct."

"Good idea," I agreed.

We went back downstairs and offered our help with dinner. Tracer had things well in hand and quickly had a hearty meal on the table. As we finished up the last few bites, Erik started the conversation.

"OK." Erik grumbled. "Beat up on me."

"Dad," Ryan answered calmly. "We're not beating up on you. We just want to discuss the option of expanding the stable. You made the three of us co-owners of the farm. That's something you're not used to I'll admit, but it's something you're going to have to get used to."

"Have I been that bad?" Erik asked.

"Not at all," I replied. "But you made it clear that you don't like the idea. We just want to explore, understand your position and then we'll all make a decision."

You could actually see Erik's shoulders soften and the scowl start to disappear from his face.

"So, what's wrong with expanding the stable?" Ryan asked.

I looked over at Tracer trying to figure out why he was silent. He gave me a quick, sharp glance and I let it drop.

"I don't think we need it," Erik said.

"Every stall in the stable is full," Ryan replied. "Where would you put another horse if we get a new boarder?"

"That's the thing. I don't think we're going to be getting any new borders for a while. With the economy as it is, folks aren't going to be buying horses."

"True, but what about breeding. Both Swirly and Delta are due in May. Where do we put their foals?"

"They won't be on the farm long enough to worry about it," Erik answered.

"Erik, what's the real reason you don't want to expand the stable?" I asked.


"Dad, are you worried about taking out a loan?"

"For all the years since I got this farm from Uncle Phil I never had any debt. I just remember how hard it was to pay the mortgage on my first house. It's a comfort thing. We have a huge loan from buying the Pittson land. I'd just like to clear more of that before we add more debt."

"Tracer, how are the farm's finances?" I asked. "You work with Janet on the books mostly."

"They're fine. A little tighter at the moment than I'd like, but there's still some flexibility. When I talked to Janet, she thought we could swing a separate loan, or even refinance the Pittston land at a lower rate and take out some money to expand the stable," Tracer explained.

"How would that work?" I asked.

"I did my research with Janet. The loan was eight and a quarter on a thirty year fixed note. The monthly cost is about seventy-five hundred."

"Holy SHIT!" I blurted out. "How much did the farm cost?"

"It was around a million dollars," Erik explained "We did buy over one hundred acres."

"So how would this work?" Ryan asked.

"First off, we've been paying about eight thousand a month. Paying down the principal in advance helps. We owe about nine hundred twenty thousand at the moment. If we refinance for nine hundred fifty at the new rate of five and a quarter; the new monthly payment is only fifty-two hundred a month. Oddly enough, if we do this and pay at our current rate we'll pay off the land AND the new stable addition four years earlier than the old note."

"That is if the land will appraise high enough to cover the new loan amount," Erik interjected.

"There is that. But land prices haven't really fallen of late. I don't think it's a big issue," Tracer explained.

I looked at Erik. His face was an amazing study of confusion, fear and amazement.

"So the three percent interest rate drop helps," Erik quietly stated.

"A lot," Ryan broke in. "Lower monthly payments - that would be a lot easier to handle! Any objections left?"

"If we move forward, we need to get an estimate on how much to build the new wing." Erik's comment had a heavy emphasis on the `If'.

"Burt said it would cost about $25,000 to put up the structure, wire, and plumb it. He didn't include building the stalls as I figured we could configure them as needed."

"You've been doing a lot of homework," Erik admitted.

"Well, you've been so dead set against this. I figured I needed every fact and figure ready to present to you," Tracer said.

His voice was a bit icy. I wondered if he and Erik had been fighting about this.

"Your presentation makes it a lot easier to accept," Erik admitted.

"So you agree we should move forward?" Ryan asked.


"Cool!" Ryan cheered.

We moved on to other issues involved with running the farm. We discussed general policy and future plans - leaving the day-to-day operations to Tracer and Erik. At least for now.

Later that evening, I snuggled up to Ryan in bed.

"Nervous?" he asked.

"Uh huh. I told you earlier, I'm concerned, worried, nervous about meeting Christian."

"Dude, get over it. He'll love you! And even if he doesn't, it won't change a thing between you and me."


"Still, nothing. I said get over it."

He put his hand on my shoulder.

"Damn, you're tense!"

"Yeah. I guess the stress did it to me."

"Roll over onto your stomach," he encouraged. "I'll give you a back rub."

I followed his order and he straddled my ass. I felt his hands run lightly up my spine and then really dig into my neck and shoulder muscles. His long, deep strokes felt wonderful."

"Hold on a second," he muttered.

With that, he climbed off, got out of bed and padded into the bathroom. He returned a moment later with lotion. With the cream, Ryan's massage went from wonderful to blissful. It didn't take many minutes for the knots in my shoulders to melt away.

"Mmmm... feels wonderful," I sighed.

Ryan didn't reply as he let his hands work their way down either side of my spine. As he ran his hands up my body, he leaned into me a bit more - allowing me to notice his hard dick. In fact, his dick rubbed up and down my asscrack as he continued the rub down.

"I'm not the only one enjoying this," I cracked.

"Damn right."

"Want me to rub your back for a while?"

"Yeah. Then you can fuck me good!"

"That's an offer I can't refuse," I replied.

Ryan climbed off me and lay down next to me. I got up and straddled him much the way he'd done me. I grabbed the lotion and slathered my hands with it. I put the heel of each hand on either side of his spine and pressed down. I let my hands slowly work their way up his spine, keeping a constant pressure as I moved.

"Awww...." he groaned. "That feels so good."

Once I had my hands at the top of his shoulders, I worked them around a bit ensuring that I pampered his neck and shoulder muscles. I used long, flowing strokes to release any tension he might have built up.

"Damn!" he exclaimed. "If I knew you could give massages like this I'd have had you doing it for a long time."

"I didn't know I could do it myself," I admitted. "Just doing things that I think would feel good and things I heard or read about."

"You could be a pro."

"Well, I don't ever expect to get paid for my rubdowns, so I won't ever be a pro. The only one I want to rub down is you."

"That's sweet. Thanks!"

I kept up my ministrations. Trying to make his body feel as good as he'd made mine.

"You're gonna put me to sleep," he warned.

"Don't wanna do that just yet."

With his warning I let my hand continue the down stroke over the base of his ass and down his asscrack. I let my fingers tickle him lightly as I did.

I lifted up and slid down his legs a bit so I could focus my efforts on the small of his back and asscheeks. The therapeutic portion of the massage was officially over as I was now doing my best to arouse him with strokes that centered on his ass and sometimes strayed down to tease his prick that was now hard and throbbing between his slightly spread legs.

"Dude, you need to fuck me!" Ryan urged.

I wasn't going to let Ryan set the pace, but I did increase my attention on his crack. I hawked up some spit and let it drop right onto the bulls eye. Once there I used two fingers to work it deep into his hole.

"That's it, Baby," he encouraged.

I kept the massage of his asscheeks and back going, while using my two fingers to loosen his hole up good. I guess Ryan thought I was teasing him, as he started thrusting up on my fingers.

"FUCK me!" he pleaded.

"I'm gonna. I just wanted to get you good and ready!"

"I'm ready! I'm READY!"

I hawked up more spit and worked it into his hole.

"Dude, I need your cock in me!"

I pulled my fingers out of his ass and put the head of my dick at his hole. I let it slip in slowly.

"Come on!" he urged again.

I pushed a lot harder and felt my pubic hair crash into his asscheeks.

"FUCK, YEAH!" he moaned.

I pulled my cock back until only the head remained inside him. Then I pushed forward burying myself back in his ass. I kept using long strokes to really fuck his ass well. It felt good, but I wasn't getting the angle I wanted. I put my hands on his hips and pulled him up so his head was still buried in the pillows, but his ass was up in the air. With him up like this I was able to get a good fuck rhythm going and started to pound his hole hard and deep.

"OH!" he groaned. "That's the way to fuck me!"

I kept the long, hard strokes going as I really opened him up. Ryan started using his ass muscles to clamp down on my cock as it pushed in; releasing his muscles on my out strokes.

"Damn, Boy. That's one talented ass," I complimented. "It really knows how to take a fuck."

"After the years of fucking you've given me, it's had lots of practice."

I started picking up my pace a bit, shortening the strokes as I got leverage on his hole. But I didn't want to cum yet. I wanted this to be a fuck for Ryan to remember. I pulled out of his ass and he let out a groan of disappointment.

"Flip over," I told him.

Ryan quickly flipped onto his back. I grabbed his ankles, pushing them towards his chest. With his ass exposed, I plunged my dick back into him. I looked down and saw that his rigid cock was drooling on his stomach. He reached to grab hold of it, but I pushed his hand away.

"No you don't. Not yet, at least," I warned.

"Aw. I wanna cum!"

"In time."

I pushed his ass up a bit more so that I was driving down into it as I fucked. I must have been hitting his prostate as his cock dripped a bit of precum each time I pushed in deep. I let my hands start rubbing up and down Ryan's chest as I fucked him harder and harder.

"Dude, I'm gonna cum," he warned. With his words, he reached for his dick once again, and once again I smacked his hand away. "Please!"

"Not yet!"

I picked up my pace and fucked his hole faster and faster. My strokes were on target, hitting his prostate each time and causing him to emit little grunts. Suddenly, Ryan just let out a yell.

"FUCK! Cumming..."

His ass clamped down on my cock and twitched constantly as I watched shot after shot of cum spurt from his prick onto his chest and abs.

The tightness of his hole triggered me to flood him with cum. I buried myself in him and just cut loose. I bent over and started kissing him deeply as we both finished shooting. I let myself collapse on top of him sticking us together with his cum.

"That was great," he cooed in my ear as I continued to lie there.

"That it was!"

"Ready for round two?" he asked.

"I think that might be a while," I admitted.

"How about a bath and then we get some sleep instead."

"Sounds more practical. We do have to drive to the airport in the morning."

"You're gonna have to get off me if we're going to do this."

"I will... I will. I just need a bit more time to recover," I admitted.

"Uh huh."

We took a long hot soak together. Scrubbing each other's backs led to more touching, kissing, and a lot less sleep than I'd planned.

Saturday morning I was yawning as Ryan drove us down the Trail of the Lonesome Pine.

"So, still nervous?" Ryan asked.

"I guess not. Well, maybe a little."

"I've got a lot of plans for the week. I'm sure once you've had time to interact, the two of you will become great friends."

"It's gonna be funny being at the farm and not working," I said.

"You can work all you want, but I'm not gonna worry about it."

"It's funny to hear you say that."


"You're the one that doesn't want to be away from the farm. You're the one that had a fit when Erik laid us off for the last few weeks of our senior year. You're the one that went manic when you couldn't work while we were recovering from the accident."

"OK... OK... OK. I admit it. I like working on the farm. But it's not in the cards for this week. At least I'll get to ride, and I'm sure I'll find time to do chores in the morning. You have to admit I come by it honest. I've been on the farm since I was five. I started working on the farm as soon as I could."


"I would rake the yard, pull bales of hay - you name it. The guys laughed I'm sure, but they let me do what I could to help out. I might have been six or seven when I really started to pitch in."

"You've never told me that."

"Will, I'm sure there's lots I've never told you. We've spent over five years getting to know each other, but I'm sure there are lots of things you've never told me, too."

"Well, yeah. True."

We spent the rest of the trip trying to tell each other things we'd never discussed before. Of course, I'm sure there were many secrets he didn't tell me and several I didn't tell him.

We arrived at the airport, parked in the short-term lot and headed to the baggage claim area.

"You said they're on United?" I asked. I'm sure Ryan saw the puzzled look on my face as we looked around the baggage area. There were no United markings.

"Well, the tickets say United. Just like Dad's and mine when we flew out. They're flying in on US Airways Express from Charlotte. I think the first leg is United Express, then United, then US Airways Express."


I found the flight status board. "US Airways from Charlotte just landed."

"Then they should be here any minute. It's only a fifty-seater as I recall."


We stood near the US Airways luggage carrousel for a few minutes until we noticed a crowd of people headed our direction. I was trying to see if I recognized anyone based on the pictures I'd seen.

"There they are," Ryan announced. He was pointing at the crowd, but I hadn't picked Christian out yet.

Finally, I spotted Jackson - based on pictures I'd seen. The first thing that struck me was how much like Erik he looked. He was as tall or maybe even taller than Erik, towering over the back of the crowd. But it wasn't just his height that made him look similar. As he approached, I noticed that his hair color, eye color, facial structure and even his goatee made him look like Erik.

I was so intent on Jackson, that I didn't really notice Christian until they were almost to us. Christian was gonna be a handsome man when he grew up and I was sure, just looking at him, that the girls were already chasing after him. He seemed tall for his age to me - maybe five-four or five-five.

I started looking at him more closely and noticed the strong resemblance to Ryan. Brown hair, blue eyes, and the same facial features. I made a note to myself to dig up some old pictures of Ryan - from when he was thirteen to see if they really looked as alike as I thought.

"You must be Will," Christian said to me, with more energy than I'd expected.

"That I am. It's good to meet you, Christian."

"It's great to finally meet you. This is my dad."

"Jackson, it's nice to meet you as well," I added.

"Good to meet you," Jackson replied.

We completed the hellos, grabbed their luggage off the conveyor and walked them out to the Jeep.

"I wasn't expecting it to be this warm," Jackson commented.

"It's very abnormal for this time of year," Ryan replied. "Getting summer temperatures in late-March is unheard of for us. But it's supposed to end in the next day or two. Then we go back to our normal cold spring forecast. Heck, we may get a dusting of snow while you're here."

"Snow in March is something we're more used to," Christian admitted.

I was a bit surprised that Christian hadn't started asking me a slew of questions as Ryan put us on the highway north. I guess my timing was just a bit off, as they started about the time Ryan exited onto I-81 north.

"So, I've heard a lot about you, Will," he started.

"I've heard quite a bit about you as well," I responded.

"What are you majoring in at Virginia Tech?" he asked.

"Agriculture and applied economics," I explained.

Before I could finish the description, Christian blurted out, "That's the same as Ryan."

"Close but not quite," Ryan corrected. "He's doing agri-finance and I'm doing agri-management. We'll have the farm thing completely covered once we graduate."

"Have you always ridden horses?" Christian returned to his questions.

"Actually, I didn't ride a horse until the first time I visited the farm."

"Do you enjoy it?"

"Most definitely. Riding is relaxing and enjoyable. I can't think of many things I like doing more."

"Do you have a favorite horse?"

"I ride Cotton-Eyed Joe most of the time," I explained.

"That's a funny name," Christian commented.

"He's named after a folk song that has a dance associated with it as well," Ryan responded. "The dance got popular after being in Urban Cowboy and then again when the Moody Blues won a Grammy for a version of the song in 1985. Joe was born in 86 and was named after the song."


Throughout the drive, I was sitting in the front passenger's seat with Jackson directly behind me and Christian behind Ryan. I'd turned slightly in the seat allowing me to talk to them easier. I was glad Ryan and I'd taken the time to put the top back on the Jeep so we could talk more easily.

Erik and Ryan described Christian as intense. Yes, he asked questions, and there were a lot of them over the two hour drive. But I would call him inquisitive, not intense.

When we arrived at the farm, Ryan and I introduced Jackson and Christian to Tracer in the office. By the time we had their bags in the house and shown them their room, Erik had gotten back from the feed store.

"How exhausted are you two?" Erik asked.

"I don't know about Christian, but I'm fairly tired at this point," Jackson admitted.

"I'm not too tired. I was able to sleep on the main flight," Christian explained.

"I was thinking that since the weather's nice, it would be a great day for a ride after lunch," Erik said.

"That's a great idea," Christian enthused.

"Sounds fine with me," Jackson said, sounding very reluctant. "Maybe I can grab a nap afterwards."

"You could grab one now if you like," Ryan said. "We can postpone the ride till you wake up."

"I don't want to miss the ride in both daylight and good weather," Jackson explained. "So let's stick with ride, then nap."

"Deal," Ryan agreed.

Ryan and I pulled together a quick lunch while Jackson and Christian started unpacking. Once we had the dishes in the dishwasher, Ryan told everyone to get ready to ride. For me it was easy; I switched from shoes to boots - otherwise I left my jeans and shirt the same.

I saddled Cotton-Eyed Joe while Ryan got Lucky Lady ready. We hitched them and then came back to help Jackson and Christian saddle their horses. While we did, Tracer showed up with Night Dancer and Erik with Shadow Dancer.

The six of us led our mounts out of the stables and climbed aboard. Erik and Tracer led the way, Christian and Ryan in the middle, and I rode beside Jackson at the end of the group. We got onto the outer trail making our way slowly through the woods.

"This is very nice," Jackson commented.

"We do a lot of maintenance to keep the trails in good order," I explained. "This part of the trails is still in great shape, but once we get over the crest of that hill you'll start seeing areas of damage."

"Problems?" he asked.

"We had extensive flooding last spring which damaged the trails and bridges along Sugar Run."

"Big river?"

"Not really. It's usually a quiet little creek. You know, lots of rocks, ankle-deep water running through. But last May we had a storm front become stationary over the area. The damage around here was extreme. All the bridges over the Run were destroyed and we spent a long time cleaning up the trails."

"One of the hassles and heartaches of nature I guess."

"That it is."

By this point, we had crested the hill and were headed down into the valley where Sugar Run went through.

"This is gorgeous," Jackson said.

"Maybe you can come back one time when the rhododendron are in bloom. That's the ultimate. This area gets a lot of tourists from that. There are wild hedgerows that run through the woods."

"Point them out to me if you would," he asked.

"See that line of bushes?" I asked, pointing to my left.


"That's what I'm talking about," I explained.

"That's huge! It's what, six maybe seven feet tall and thirty feet long?"

"And at least five or six feet deep," I added. "In the late spring, that will be completely covered in deep pink blossoms."

"That must be beautiful."

"It really is," I agreed.

We crossed over Sugar Run and followed the trail towards the back of the property.

"How big is this place?" Jackson asked.

"Somewhere around two-hundred and seventy-seven acres," I explained.

"And I complain about mowing my acre and a half."

"Well, I doubt you have a staff that keeps up with everything."

"Just me and Christian now," Jackson replied. I caught a hint of a catch in his voice.

"You OK?" I asked.

"Fine. I just get a little misty at times. It's only been seven months since Kaitlynn died," he admitted.

"I'm sure it's been very hard on you... and Christian."

"That it has. It's funny. While Ryan and Erik were visiting, I don't think Ryan ever said one word about her. Christian didn't say anything either, not wanting to upset Ryan. But he did want to talk about his mother. In fact, I only talked to Erik about her for one short time. I had never thought about how hurt Ryan would be. My only thoughts were about Christian. Does Ryan ever talk to you about Kaitlynn?"

"It's funny you ask. I've never even known her name till you mentioned it. From Ryan's perspective it's always been `her' or `she'. Nothing more."

"Damn. She was such a sweet woman, wonderful wife and fantastic mother. It's hard for me to believe anyone could ever hate her."

"For you and Christian it sounds like she really was. For Erik, she's the woman that abandoned him and his son. In fact, from what I've heard she didn't even participate in raising Ryan the four years of his life she was around."

"I'd love to know what changed. What happened in her life to transform her from what Ryan knew to what Christian knew."

"I'm sure if Christian talks about her, Ryan will be polite. But I don't know how much he'll interact."

"Changing the subject a bit, how did you and Ryan get together? I mean I know your brother and Erik are partners, but..."

"But how do you go from being the brother of Erik's lover to the lover of Erik's son?"

"Yeah. Sounds odd."

"I guess it is."

While we rode along the back fence line and then veered into the property to come out by the picnic grounds, I gave Jackson the condensed version of Ryan's and my life together. While Christian may have been able to compile an encyclopedia about Ryan, it was obvious that Jackson had not memorized every detail.

Once we broke into the open by the picnic tables, the six of us moved up abreast each other. We showed them around the area and then headed back into the woods on the inner trail. As we did, the pairings got changed around and I ended up with Christian leading the group. I looked back figuring Ryan would be with Jackson, but instead he was with Tracer - Jackson was beside Erik.

"What do you think of the farm?" I asked.

"It's great," he replied. "I didn't imagine it being so large!"

"I was talking to your dad about that."

"Ryan said that the four of you co-own the place?"

"Yup. Erik deeded half of the farm to Ryan and I, and split his half with Tracer."

"Wow. I can't imagine owning all of this in a few years."

"It's taking a lot of getting used to," I admitted. "I don't think it has fully sunk in, since Ryan and I are at school most of the time. After we graduate and work here full time I'm sure it will sink in."

"How do you like school?"

"It's OK. I'll be glad when I'm done. Sixteen years of school and I'm ready for it to be over."

"I've got five years of school before I get to go to college. Then four years of that."

"Starting to think about what you want to major in at college?"

"Not really. Dad seems to want me to follow in his footsteps and be an engineer. But I think I have time to decide."

"That you do," I agreed.

"How did you know that you loved Ryan?" he asked.

I figure my jaw dropped at that one, because he laughed a little.

"Sorry," he continued. "I didn't mean to ask something bad."

"Nothing wrong with the question. I was just surprised when the conversation changed so abruptly."

"Dad says I ask way too many questions," Christian admitted.

"Not in the least. It's a great way to learn. Hmm... how did I know I loved Ryan. Well, I guess it started the summer after we met. He made me happy - you know being around him. I wanted to spend all my time with him. Then when I had to go back to Tennessee, I thought my world had ended. I wasn't going to get to see him, be with him, hug him, kiss him. I was miserable. Then my Mom and Erik were able to work things out so that we could be together and I was the happiest boy in the world. I've been very happy ever since."


"That's a good way to put it. `Wow!'"

We rode back to the stable and got the horses back into their stalls.

"Nap time?" Ryan asked.

"Definitely for me," Jackson replied.

"I could use a few minutes of sleep too," Christian admitted while yawning.

"We'll wake you up in time for dinner, if you don't come downstairs before then," I explained.

"That sounds good," Jackson agreed. "Thanks."

"See y'all in a bit," Ryan replied. After they went upstairs he turned to me. "What would you like to do?"

"A nap actually sounds good to me," I said.

"That's fine. Let's go snuggle up and get a bit of rest. It's going to be a busy week."

Copyright 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 BndgDawg ( Do not reproduce or distribute this story without the author's permission.

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This is Chapter Fifty-Five of Double Trails. I attempt to respond to all feedback. Contact me at:

Chael and Rock deserve a lot of credit for all the assistance they provide. Their feedback leads to a much more readable story! Thanks as always to both of them.