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'Thank you' to those who have written with words of encouragement. Here is an another chapter.
When Rusty awakened he found that the others were already up and having breakfast. Dressed for travel, just waiting for him to awaken.
At first he was upset with Jim for letting him sleep so far into the morning, but he soon realized the it was their way of showing him that they understood and cared. A few hours more or less, would not detract from their journey, but the few minutes of sleep that he gained could mean the difference between getting there at all, and being lost in the vastness of the prairie before them.
Jed teased, "You goin' to sleep all day?"
"Seems like," Mel laughed.
Jim patted him on the back as he stood up and stretched.
"You'd better put that away," he touched Rusty's nearly erect sex which had found its way out of his drawers and now waved shamelessly in the cool air of the morning.
"'Course we could dally here a bit," Jed smiled.
Seeing that they were all in good humor, lifted Rusty's spirits, and he quickly stuffed it inside out of sight. He pulled on his jeans and boots. A cup of steaming coffee was poured for him, and he munched a dried biscuit while the others continued preparation for the day's ride.
The day was long and hot. Dust caked their jeans and boots, and coated their faces as perspiration made dark rivers down into their neckerchiefs that kept the dust from gaining entrance to the necks of their shirts.
As the sun began its journey into the hills, they hurried to find a suitable camp for the night. A small stream crossed their path on its way to the river a mile or so away. The sight of the refreshing water beckoned even the horses, and an outgrowth of trees and shrubs invited them to stay awhile.
Soon a fire was going, and a pot of stew bubbled. The stiff, dust covered clothing removed; they played in the stream like so many children. Jed checked his corn bread often, and when it was ready called them out of the water.
They sat cross-legged on blankets, still naked, eating their meager, but hearty meal. A lark called to it mate, and the sliver of moon rose from the hills, as they settled in for the night. With the mood changed, sleep came easily for them all. Snuggled two by two covered only by a common blanket; the camp was quiet, save for the occasional snap of the dying ember, and mournful call of an owl.
On the sixth day after leaving Helena, they came upon a lone rider herding a small group of cattle.
"This here's private land," he said in false bravado, "You'd best be movin' on." His hand lay uncomfortably on his revolver butt.
"We're not up to anything," Rusty smiled, "We're lookin' for Seth Carson's ranch. Is it in the area?"
The man smiled back, "You've no doubt been on it for a day now. What business do you have with Carson?"
"Looking for jobs," Rusty said delighted that the journey was nearly at an end.
"The four of ya?" the man gestured.
"Yep," Rusty answered.
"Well, well," the man laughed, "I expect that Carson will be glad to hear it."
The man, whose name was Ralph Carter, and second in command of the ranch after the foreman, Jesse Carson, Seth's son, soon explained the situation on the ranch. The past winter had been so fierce that more than half of the men who normally worked it, left when the spring thaws came, leaving Seth with a very small crew, barely enough to keep the herds together. It was the same with all the ranches in the area, and it seemed that no one was able to find replacement cowhands, except for the occasional strays like themselves.
"We're only a few hours ride from the ranch house now," Ralph said, "And if we hurry a little, we can be there by suppertime. I've been out for two days now, and I intend to make it, you can bet on it!" He shouted at the cattle and hurried them along the dusty trail, now aided by the four eager young men.
Just as the sun disappeared below the horizon in the West, a small wisp of smoke appeared rising from behind the same hill. "There she is!" Ralph pointed, "The Double-C." The neat, but unpainted buildings rose to their sight, as they crested the hill. The cattle moved on toward the corral and the horses smelling the fresh water, hurried too.
With introductions all around to the rather short and stocky Seth Carson completed, the quartet was shown to the now sparsely occupied bunkhouse. Ralph Carter had the only private room, as he was the highest-ranking member of the ranch hands. Jesse Carson, the foreman lived in the ranch house with his father and younger sisters Diana and Cynthia. Their mother had died in childbirth, as did the child, fifteen years ago. The four family members, and new hands were invited to the ranch house for dinner, despite Jed's color. Ralph also was invited making a large group at the family dining-room table. The two girls assisted the cook an elderly Chinese woman, and the dinner was not elegant but very ample.
Mel and Jed eagerly helped with the serving and clearing of the dishes afterward. Mel and Cynthia were nearly the same age. They giggled and laughed in the kitchen as they worked together.
After the meal Seth invited Rusty, Jim, and Ralph to join Jesse and him in the parlor for brandy and smokes. Jesse was a handsome young man; having gotten his good looks and build from his mother's side of the family. Though he was shorter than Rusty, he was still slender and well built. His curly dark hair and evenly tanned skin color was in contract to Rusty's light skin and reddish hair.
Rusty found him attractive. And he gathered from the looks that Jesse was giving him, that the feeling was mutual. Jim could hardly help but notice, and was not pleased with the situation and was quickly becoming irritable. Mel was delighted with the young girl who had so quickly been taken with him. Jed found their affinity delightful, knowing that Mel was quite young and still flexible. He found no reason that he should be worried; he was certain that once away from her, Mel would once again come back to him.
Jim pleaded tiredness from the day, and excused himself from the group. He left the house and stood for a moment on the steps outside. The starry sky was clear and the air fresh and pleasant. He tried to calm himself, and breathed deeply as he made his way back toward the bunkhouse.
He had nearly reached the doorway when the short, and impish Calvin greeted him. He'd noticed him when they were introduced earlier. Calvin was shirtless and shoeless, and the tight jeans that he wore, left no doubt as to his sexual prowess, as the long thick organ hung down his left pant leg, tightly restrained by the heavy fabric. Despite the coarseness of the jeans, the outline of the bulbous head was clearly visible even in the comparative darkness of the night. Jim had no doubt that he was on the prowl.
"You look upset," Calvin stated flatly.
"Some, I guess," Jim answered slightly distracted.
"You shouldn't be you know," Calvin was being diplomatically aggressive.
Jim was surprised by his frankness and blatant openness.
"What are you talking about?" he asked pleading ignorance.
"Hey," Calvin said softly, "I may be rough around the edges, but I can see the way you two are."
"I'm sorry," Jim said casting his eyes down and started continue on toward the bunkhouse.
"Don't go in just yet," Calvin solicited, "I didn't mean to get into your business. Just because he looks doesn't mean he's going to buy."
"I know," Jim stated remotely.
"Come," Calvin coaxed, "Let's go for a walk. I'll show you around." He put his strong arm around Jim's shoulder. Though he was shorter than Jim, he was strong and decisive. Jim couldn't resist the touch of this very attractive young man.
They followed the dusty trail through the grove of pine and elder which skirted the ranch buildings and led to the small stream which had its course at the edge of clearing on which the collection buildings lay. Jim could hear the sound of the water running before he could see the brook itself. They were well out of the sight of the buildings. The night sounds and that of the stream calmed him and he began to relax. Calvin stopped beneath a tall Ponderosa and lean against it. He took a package of papers and pouch of tobacco from his pocket and began rolling a cigarette. Jim watched as his fingers deftly completed the task. Calvin licked the paper edge quickly and sealed the thin smoke. He handed it to Jim and began a second for himself.
"Thanks," Jim said as Calvin struck a match against his belt buckle and held it against the cigarette Jim had placed between his lips, and then moved it to light his own.
Jim caught the faint twinkle in Calvin's eyes as the match momentarily light up his face.
After a moment Calvin said, "You're a very handsome man. If it was me, I wouldn't let you go walking alone at night with me."
Jim could think of nothing to say, and waited for Calvin to make the next move. His heart pounded in his chest in anticipation. The tingling in his groin began to grow as he waited. He turned slightly away from Calvin's gaze and looked into the sky.
"I want you," he heard the soft breathy voice next to him. Then he felt the touch of the strong but gentle hand on his crotch that by now was throbbing with desire. He turned back toward Calvin and was suddenly in his arms. Their lips joined in passionate kisses, their bodies touched. The feeling of Calvin's warm, bare skin on his hands excited him even further, and he could feel the hardness of his cock against his thigh.
Rusty and Jesse stood on the front porch of the ranch house. Jed and Mel had already left to go back to the bunkhouse with Ralph. Seth and the girls had climbed the stairs to their bedrooms. The two tall, slender young men were suddenly silent, each holding their thoughts. They could feel their own pulse racing, unsure of what was to come next. Jesse had never been so attracted to anyone. Rusty was so different from the unsubtle Calvin who was the only other man to get him such a state before. But he had sensed earlier as they were eating that Rusty and Jim were a pair, and he didn't want to do anything that would cause a problem for them. On the other hand, he felt a strong desire to be with Rusty no matter what the cost.
Rusty also sensed what Jesse was feeling, and had seen in Jim's eyes the jealousy that he knew was the cause of his early retirement. It was a dilemma in which he had never found himself before. He was uncertain of how to deal with it.
"I had better go," Rusty said at last. There was tightness in his throat that caused his voice to falter.
"I wish you didn't have to," Jesse sighed.
"I know," Rusty said hesitating, wanting to give him hope, and to give himself a reason to believe that there would be other times, "I'll be here a good long time." He smiled and reached out to touch Jesse's arm.
On an impulse, Jesse grabbed Rusty and pulled him close to himself. It was a foolish thing to do, he thought, but he couldn't help himself. Their lips met in a quick kiss.
"Good night, Rusty," he said quickly. Then he released him and turned to go inside.
"Good night, Jesse," Rusty sighed, "I'll see you tomorrow."
Rusty lay quietly on his bunk, reflecting on the events of the evening. The bunk next to him was empty, the one in which Jim would be sleeping. Further down the room Jed and Mel lay asleep, each in their on bunks. The other men in the small bunkhouse were asleep as well. There were several other empty bunks, but only one that was made up indicating that someone slept there, it was on the other side next him. Not being able to see who was already asleep and not being able to remember whose bunk it was, didn't know that it belonged to Calvin.
Gradually his eyes slipped closed and he slept.
When Rusty woke, he head was aching. He remembered that he had drunk several brandies, something he wasn't used to, and which had probably accounted for the way he had acted with Jesse on the porch. He looked over at Jim's sleeping form. Only partially covered, the sight his body aroused desire in Rusty's groin. He suddenly wished that they were alone. He looked around, everyone else was still asleep. He looked at the man sleeping in the bunk on the other side of him. Like most of the younger men, Calvin slept nude, and he now lay on his back with the blanket that was meant to cover him nearly on the floor. Rusty's desire rose even further as he gazed on the youthful figure and imposing sex which although not entirely rigid, was firm and lying up across his stomach.
Rusty lay back and closed his eyes, trying to block out the sight of these two men sleeping next to him. His head ached, and his now rock hard cock tormented him. He touched himself and rolled onto his stomach. For a moment he felt as though he were being watched, but when he looked around, everyone was still asleep. Only Calvin had moved, he was now covered and lay facing toward him.
Ralph showed the four new men around the ranch during the next days. It wasn't a large ranch by Texas standards, nor even really large by Montana standards, covering only about sixty-five hundred acres. But the Double-C had some of the finest grazing in that part of the territory. The two small rivers that ran along two of its borders gave it a lush green look most of the year. Two high ridges and several velvety valleys supported the herd of cattle which numbered nearly eleven hundred at this time, only half of which were young stock destined to be sold the following year. Almost three hundred calves two years from market tagged along with their mothers nursing when they had a chance. Besides these that had come down to the winter range on their own accord, there were others that still lingered in the high country. Their number wouldn't be known until they were driven down in the roundup to come.
A small band of horses mingled with the cattle along one edge of the herd. Many of them were yearlings nearly ready for breaking. As Ralph explained, there was plenty of work to be done, and precious little time in which to do it.
Neither Rusty nor Jim had time to dwell on the events of that first evening at the ranch. They barely had time for a quick kiss in passing, though each had reservations about the other's actions that night.
Calvin was acutely aware of the developing rift between the two, and was determined to try to make them see that there was no need for it. He knew that they could all be friends and more, if they still wanted it. But with all that was going on in the work area, he was a loss to find a way to bring them together for a discussion about the problem.
Suddenly and without warning, it was Ralph who provided the chance for such a meeting.
"Calvin," he said the following morning, "You take Jim and Rusty up into the high country to the north and show them the emergency winter camp there. You can bring in any strays you find as well."
"Yes, Sir," Calvin smiled to himself. It was just the chance he was looking for.
Since Jim and Rusty were standing with them at the time getting ready for the day's ride, they had no alternative but to follow instructions.
"You'd better get your supplies together and head out this morning," Ralph said.
Within the hour the three men were packed up and riding out across the valley headed north. As usual an extra horse packed with the supplies was taken. It trotted along side of Calvin, tethered to his saddle horn by a short rope.
Calvin did his best to keep the small group cheerful by talking constantly and telling stories. Rusty and Jim were being ill tempered toward each other, but he kept his peace until they stopped for lunch at noon.
As they sat smoking after they had eaten Calvin finally spoke up.
"You two are getting on my nerves," he started. "You think I don't know what's going on? Well, I do. You, Jim, you're still pissed because Rusty and Jesse got along so well at dinner, even though you and I carried on that same evening."
Jim was shocked that he would bring it up, and he quickly got up and started to walk away.
"Don't leave," Calvin order, "And you, Rusty, you're upset because Jim left the dinner early, even though you knew that he was jealous of the attention that you were paying to Jesse. And even though nothing happened between you, it could have."
It was Rusty's turn to be annoyed and he stood up as well. Calvin got up and walked between them to prevent what he felt might be going to happen.
"Now there's no need for you two to get so worked up," he said, "We're all going to be working together, and so we should all be friends. There's precious little time for relaxation during this time of the year, so we shouldn't argue and be pissed about who sleeps with whom," he stopped for a moment, "What you two feel for each other is great, or it could be. What I feel for both of you makes me horny as a toad, when I have time to think about it. You're two gorgeous hunks, and I don't see any reason to be so jealous of each other. Sure, Jim and I had sex that night. But if it had been you, Rusty instead, you and I would have too. I've seen the way you look at my basket when you think I'm not looking.
"So what do you say? Let's forget about this jealousy nonsense, and make up." He stopped talking and waited for either of them to speak.
There was a sudden recognition of their folly in the two friends, a realization that they had been being foolish in their anger with each other. The impact of that fact caused a reaction that Calvin could hardly have expected. Their eyes sparkled as they grabbed him and hauled him kicking and screaming to the small creek beside which they'd stopped for lunch and threw him into the icy water, laughing all the while.
"You bastards!" he shouted as he struggled to right himself, "You silly assholes!"
At last, regaining his composure, he held out his hands to them. They reached down to help him out of the water. With a sudden jerk just as they joined hands, he pulled them into the water with him. The three of them lay sprawled in the cold water laughing and crying at the same time.
Jim and Rusty climbed out of the water, hoisting Calvin up with them, and dripping with water walked back to the spot where they had eaten their lunch. There they lay down on the grass and embraced, assuaging their pent-up feelings for each other. After a moment they stripped their wet clothing, placing them in the sun to dry. Then with renew passion they made love with Calvin joining in until the afternoon was spent, and then exhausted they lay basking in what remained of the waning sunlight.
That night the three of them snuggled between the blankets beneath the starry sky. The tranquility of feeling between them left little need for sex, and sleep overtook them leaving the night for the cougar to prowl for food and the owls to swoop and soar and swoop again collecting field mice for their young. In the early light of new day the newly discovered love that bound them, the three young men woke to find themselves once again aroused and ready for another round of boisterous sex. Calvin became inexplicably bound to them by his act of courage and passion for them both.
At the end of their trip they returned to the ranch house with a sense of fondness for each other which everyone noticed, about which no one dared comment.
To be continuedIf you have any comments or suggestions, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org