My 5th Nifty story and as always I welcome your emails, comments, critiques. You can read my other stories by looking me up (JJ) under prolific authors. Enjoy! And Support Nifty. -JJ jj.writer76@yahoo.com

 

 


What Grows in Winter

Chapter Two: Hurt and Healing

 

Jacob had an internal alarm clock that always woke him up at 6:00am regardless of what time he went to bed or how he slept. It was Darwinian: an evolutionary trait which generations of farmers passed down to their offspring. The sun had not yet shone its face when Jacob stirred, and TJ's heavy breaths indicated his internal alarm clock was had hit the perpetual snooze button. He sat up and looked at the sleeping giant appreciating his manly assertive face and rugged features which seemed to contradict the calm and sweetness of his sleep. Jacob wanted to caress and kiss him, but decided not to ruin his slumber and instead got out of bed. He showered quickly washing several loads of his and TJ's dry cum from his body. While brushing his teeth he determined he liked his hair this length. It wasn't too long to look like a hipster, but it was long enough to cover the scar. As he poked at the long seam he thought about what to fix his guests for breakfast.

Jacob was certain both men would be hungry: TJ because he's huge and always hungry, and Eddie because he probably had not eaten in a long time. If there's one thing every farm kid knows it's the importance of a good breakfast, and how to make it. Twenty minutes later coffee was brewing, bacon was sizzling, eggs were frying and grits were bubbling away on the stove while drop biscuits browned in the oven. The kitchen smelled like morning and love. Buckley stood patiently by the stove waiting for a piece of bacon to fall to the floor.

The heavy footsteps overhead were an indication TJ was awake. Food usually got him out of bed. Food gets him out of bed... sex gets him in bed... those are the simple things about TJ which made him so lovable. He was uncomplicated, straightforward and authentic. Sure, a little mystery in a man can be fun. But it can also mean dishonesty or a propensity towards secrets. With TJ what you see is what you get.

"It's cold!" he said entering the kitchen wearing only boxers and a tee shirt.

"Put some clothes on!" Jacob said pouring him coffee.

"All I have is my uniform. I can't fit into any of your stuff" he said giving Jacob a peck on the lips. "I guess I could leave a few things here."

Jacob looked at him and smiled. He was tempted to speak, to ask him to elaborate, but he caught himself. Sometimes it was best just to take TJ's simple words and not overcomplicate them, so he stuck with a smile and silence. Inside he was excited. He felt like that was a step.

"You going to wake our little convict?"

"Yeah in a bit. I want him to sleep more. But you should eat" Jacob said pointing to a place setting at the counter.

TJ grinned. "Don't have to ask me twice" he said sitting at the bar as Jacob piled food around him. He poured his cop orange juice and put an array of food out treating him like he was his husband, eager to show him what good care he wanted to take of him. He put out butter and honey and maple syrup for the grits, three kinds of jelly for the biscuits, ketchup and hot sauce for the eggs. He watched TJ eat and enjoy, and it felt very good. TJ had spent the night before, but he hadn't ever lingered. Today was special. It was like they were... a couple.

The food gave TJ energy. "You know what you did last night" he said putting his dish in the sink and grabbing Jacob from behind "in bed? That was so hot."

"Yeah?"

"I've never been turned on that much ever." He kissed Jacob on his neck, under his ear, and licked along the length of his jaw. Jacob felt weak in the knees. He turned to face him and kiss him fully on the mouth. "What can I do to you?"

"You did it last night" Jacob whispered between kisses.

"What was it?" TJ asked sliding his hands under the elastic waist of Jacob's black running pants grabbing a palm full of ass in each hand, friskily feeling his way into morning sex, hoping to warm up a willing partner.

Jacob looked at him square in the eyes. "You spent the night. And that's the hottest thing you can do. It means a lot to me."

TJ smiled. "You're such a sap." He tried to kiss him but Jacob kept talking.

"No, I'm serious. Spending the night with you is special for me."

TJ effortlessly lifted Jacob up from under his arms and sat him down on the counter. Jacob wrapped his legs around him while he leaned in closer. TJ grabbed Jacob's face and held it firmly and kissed him deeply, softly, letting his tongue inside and sharing as much heat and breath and life possible. Then he rested his forehead against Jacob's and whispered "I like you Jacob. A whole lot. I guess I'm just nervous about dating because I've never done it before. As comfortable as I am being gay I'm still figuring it out."

"I know but..."

"Let me finish" he said firmly. "So if you will be patient with a guy who's never called anyone his boyfriend, then I'd like you to be my first. And only. Just you. Just me."

"I can do that" Jacob whispered gently scratching TJ's massive back.

"And you need to share things with me, too. I'm new to this, I admit it, but you've got to be honest too."

"I will be."

"And tell me things."

"I'll tell you everything, Teej. No secrets."

TJ inhaled and paused. "So you'll tell me why you won't let me make love to you?" He could hear Jacob thinking, and knew he was searching for the right words in what was a big secret. TJ helped him along. "I want you to be able to tell me everything."

"I will. But that's a tough one and now is not the time. Is that OK?" he whispered.

"It is. For now." They kissed again and TJ ran his fingers through Jacob's hair scratching the back of his neck gently. "So. Boyfriends?"

"Boyfriends." As he hugged his boyfriend Jacob marveled that he could barely get his arms around TJ's back. He rested his head on TJ's shoulder and held him close happy that something "official" had happened to them. A relationship... finally. He had just started to lift off TJ's tee shirt when he heard a noise. Looking up he saw Eddie timidly standing in the doorway fully dressed in his dirty clothes.

"We have a guest, TJ" Jacob said with a laugh. Turning around TJ locked eyes with the young run away whose expression was one of fascination and shock. The cop... the hot cop... was gay. And here. And almost naked. And HARD!

TJ followed Eddie's eyes divert from his face to his groin, and he realized his manhood was standing at attention. "Well that's twice now you have bad timing, kid. You sleep OK?" he said ducking behind the kitchen island away from Eddie's gaze.

Eddie nodded too stunned to speak. He stood in the doorway eyes darting back and forth between the two men who last night pointed guns at him and this morning had loaded weapons of another sort pointed at each other. Jacob played it cool. "I told you to stay in bed, Eddie. You should stay off those wounds for a bit longer."

"I need to get going."

"Where you off to, kid?" TJ asked.

"I... don't really know, Officer."

"TJ", TJ said.

"Officer TJ."

"No, just TJ."

Eddie smiled and nodded. He was glad to be on a first name basis with the hot cop. Jacob sat on the counter and watched their exchange. It was the first real smile he saw from Eddie who clearly had crushed on his boyfriend. Boyfriend! HA! It made Jacob smile just to think about it.

"Babe I gotta jump in the shower and get to work" TJ said giving Jacob a kiss. Eddie stepped aside to let him pass but TJ stopped in front of him and looked deep into his eyes. For a moment of awkward silence they stared at one another, and TJ had so many things he wanted to say he didn't know how. Eddie was the first gay runaway case he had ever seen this early. He could bring assault charges against his father...but that never happens in domestic violence. What was more likely would be Eddie turning to crime or even prostitution. And meth. THOSE cases TJ had seen before, but usually once the youths are too far gone to help or already dead. But a gay run away just starting out... the paths his life could take are multiple and usually all of them suck in rural Kansas. TJ was worried for him. He learned that level of compassion from his boyfriend. Staring into his deep black eyes, seeing the swelling and the disfiguration from his father's abusive hand, all TJ could muster was "It gets better Eddie. Let people help you."

For a few moments Jacob was still and let those words sink into the young man hoping they would mean something. Eddie stood quietly not knowing what to do or say. He looked afraid, weak, confused. Jacob had grown fond of the quiet stranger. "Come sit and have some breakfast. Then we're going to go change those bandages again. And then you are going to spend the day off your feet and after dinner we'll figure out what to do."

Eddie shook his head. "I can't... I can't accept all that. No."

"Well you're going to have to because this is my house and my rules. Now sit down and eat" he said in the best imitation of his father. It worked, and the young man sat at a stool while Jacob piled food onto his plate. He knew his hunch about Eddie' hunger was right when he watched the young man down a third bowl of grits with more butter and syrup than the body should consume in a month. "Just leave them" Jacob said when Eddie tried to clear the dishes. "Marie gets here at 9 and will do all that." Eddie knew some people had cleaning ladies. He just didn't know who those people were... till now.

TJ entered the kitchen freshly showered and back in his uniform. Jacob smiled. "Boyfriend" he kept thinking. That made him happy! TJ just nodded at Eddie and gave Jacob on affection hug and kiss. "I'll see you later?"

"You bet. Have a good day. Stay safe."

"Remember what I said, kid" he said to Eddie with a nod.

"Thanks TJ" the young man smiled shyly. Yup, he was crushing on TJ. It was sweet.

Back upstairs Jacob had Eddie shower again as his dirty clothes had gotten the wounds dirty again, and he was mad Eddie hadn't listened to his orders. All that time to clean those wounds... He put Eddie's clothes in a bag and dropped them down the laundry chute. Back in the same position as last night, Eddie naked, face down on the bed with a towel modestly covering his rear, Jacob redressed the bandages.

"Can I ask you something?" the young run away asked.

"Sure."

"Are you and TJ married?"

"No, just dating."

There was a long pause before Eddie confessed something. "I don't know a lot of gay guys."

"Well you know two now. Is it something you want to talk about?"

"Being gay?"

"Yeah, and how you are doing with it."

"Can of worms."

"You dating anyone?"

"No."

"Anyone you like? Other than TJ?"

Eddie chuckled nervously. Was he that obvious? "No, not really."

Jacob cut some more gauze and applied some ointment to the sterile surface. "Well, I'm just guessing you've had some experiences with other guys. Correct?"

"You mean sex?"

"Doesn't have to be sex. Just connecting on a certain level that is more intimate that just friends."

"Some, yeah. Not a lot. Was it hard for you to come out?"

"Not as hard as it was for you, I bet. But it's hard for everyone to a certain extent. It's always a minority position. It's assumed you're straight and the exception is being gay. So everyone has their challenges."

"You've got TJ to protect you."

"Well now so do you" Jacob replied with a pat on the leg. "And me."

"You mean that?"

"Of course. That's why I've asked you to stick around. When did you get all these bruises?"

"Two days ago. I had to wait a little bit before I could leave, but once I could walk good enough I split."

"And your dad doesn't know where you went?"

"Doesn't know and doesn't care."

"What about your mom?"

"She died when I was a kid."

"Brothers or sisters?"

"I got an older brother in jail. That's it. Some aunts and cousins but no one worth mentioning."

"Wow so you are kind of alone in the world."

"I guess."

"Well let's get you at least healed before you take off again. I'm not going to pry into your world if you don't want to talk about it. But I'll just tell you I've had some experiences, some really bad, too, and from one pretty young gay guy to one really young gay guy, if I can help just let me know. This isn't the easiest place in the world to be gay. That's why most leave for San Fran or New York so they can blend in. But if you want to stick around here then, like TJ said, let people help you. Deal?"

"I never met someone like you and TJ before. My dad had me believing that all gay guys were... bad."

"We are. This is all a ploy" Jacob said mussing up Eddie's long hair. He hadn't realized Eddie began to cry.

"Oh, shit. I'm sorry Eddie."

"No, it's me, I'm just..." Jacob patted his head and watched Eddie cry into the pillow. For about a minute he sat with the suffering kid in silence. "Sorry" he finally muttered with a sniffle trying to gain his composure.

"Don't apologize. You're fine. And here you're safe and you can figure stuff out and if you want advice or need help TJ and I are here too. For now stay in bed, preferably on your stomach and I'll come get you around noon for lunch. Here's the TV remote. Try to rest, OK?"

"OK."

"Good. Hang in there, Eddie. TJ was right: it does get better. You'll see." As Jacob turned to leave the room Eddie called out.

"Hey Jacob?" He still had tears in his black, coal-like eyes. "I don't know how to thank you for all this."

Jacob didn't know how to respond to such heartfelt gratitude and such obvious misery. He could only smile and say "Get some rest." Alone in his beautiful guest room, his eye not stinging as much, his lip not throbbing as acutely, his stomach full, his wounds soothed, his heart comforted, Eddie hated his dad even more. If his dad could see this... if he could see that this kindness and charity... this was all from gay people... maybe he wouldn't be so quick to judge and hurt. In only 12 hours he had received more compassion from gay strangers than he ever did at home.

----------------------------------------------

Every day on the farm is crazy, and managing several dozen employees was always a trick. Not everyone was a hard worker, not everyone was honest, and not everyone liked taking orders from a 26 year old gay college kid. Still, Jacob was the boss and he had an obligation to make the place run well.

About 10 years ago Jacob's father had an extension built onto the house for proper offices. Mrs. Tucker was tired of the dining room and den being littered with papers and forms, and when Mr. Tucker wanted to put filing cabinets in the hall closet she drew the line. A new wing was added giving Jacob's parents an enormous master suite on the second floor and in the new basement area Jacob convinced his father to add a home gym, sauna and game room. These were luxuries on top of the already sprawling 6000 square foot home. But the first floor of this new wing was a necessity. The office had direct outside access so the staff no longer had to come into the house. It had one large private office, a conference room where various vendors could pitch their wares and an open work space with several desks for the part time staff (the ladies) that came in a few hours a week to help manage paperwork and answer calls.

When Jacob entered the office at 8:00 it was already in full swing.

"Mac's been looking for you" Debbie said.

"Good morning, Debbie."

She ignored the suggestion to be polite to the boss. "He said the John Deere's out again. Wants to get it looked at."

"I'll call him. Morning Tina." Tina smiled as she continued to collate stacks of papers on her desk.

Jacob did some paperwork until 10am then headed out to do the rounds. Most of the cattle were being corralled into smaller areas close to the barns in preparation for winter and the final, crucial inventory of feed was being tallied. No farmer wants to run short of food in the winter as it cost four or five times the price. Winter was a time to plan, fix, and prepare. It was not as busy as spring, but it was probably more important. Without a well-planned winter there would be no success in spring.

Before jumping into his truck he stopped by the house to tell Marie about his house guest.

"Good thing you said something!" she laughed imagining her shock had she discovered a naked man in bed upstairs. Jacob told her discreetly about his bruises, that he "had been jumped in Dodge City" and "was a friend of a friend" who "needed a break and someone to help him out", but nothing about discovering him in the car barn or his father's abuse or being gay. Eddie deserved his privacy.

The morning rounds went well enough, and Jacob put out the necessary fires and office squabbles that happen even when the office is a farm. A little before noon he returned to the house to check up on Eddie who appeared to have not moved at all in 5 hours and was watching The History Channel.

"You like ancient Rome?" Jacob asked entering the room.

"Yeah, I like ancient civilizations. I feel connected to them."

"I guess being Native American that makes sense because you are part of an ancient people" Jacob said sitting on the bed looking at his wounds. "How do they feel?"

"Tight. And itchy."

"There's a lot of scar tissue that needs to form so the itching is natural."

"How'd you know I was Native American?"

"Did you see yourself in the mirror? It's written all over your face."

"Even all banged up?"

"Even all banged up. I know a lot of the Native tribes aren't too keen on being gay."

Eddie got quiet. "No" was all he whispered. Jacob decided not to push it.

"Come on, let's go down and have lunch. You can put these on for now" he said handing Eddie some sweat pants and a long sleeve tee shirt. "I told Marie that you were a friend of a friend and you were jumped, so no need to go into any details about what happened. She'll be sympathetic and if you play your cards right she'll bake you something."

Marie was a chubby older woman who had cooked and cleaned for the Tuckers for most of Jacob's life. She was part of the family by now, and Jacob didn't consider her staff like the farm crew. She hugged Eddie and told him how sorry she was for his injury and ranted a little about "the monsters that live in the city and prey upon God's children". Eddie smiled sweetly trying not to engage in conversation too much while she cut his roast beef sandwich in half and gave him a bowl of chicken soup. "I'm going to make you brownies young man. You deserve something sweet." Eddie looked at Jacob who winked at him slyly.

Mac came in. "Sorry to bother you during lunch, Jacob but we gotta figure out what to do with that John Deere. It's the third tractor that needs work and we are running behind on moving the steers."

Jacob sighed. Those tractors had been serviced too many times to be breaking down so much. "Alright Mac I'll call in another mechanic."

"What's wrong with it?" Eddie asked. Jacob seemed surprised.

"Mac, this a family friend Eddie Lightfoot. Eddie, Mac is the foreman."

Mac extended his hand and noted all of Eddie's bruises. "I'd hate to see what the other guy looks like" he quipped.

Eddie smiled. "What's wrong with the tractor?"

"Won't turn over but the battery registers full again. I'm guessing a short somewhere."

"What year is it?"

"2004."

"The 2004's have lousy starters. They switched to an aluminum alloy for a while to save money but the metal is weak and they wear flat. So if your mechanic didn't replace the starter, then it's because he wants you to keep calling him back for expensive house calls."

Jacob was stunned. He and Mac looked at each other while Eddie returned to his soup.

"How do you know that?" he finally asked.

"I've been working on engines my whole life. Dad's a mechanic."

"You know how to replace the starter on a 2004 John Deere M-230?" Mac asked.

"Yes, sir."

"Well I'll be damned. Can I take your friend here Jacob and get some supplies in town?"

Eddie looked enthusiastic. He had been cooped up in the house long enough and was eager to do something for Jacob who had done a lot for him. But, it would have to wait until tomorrow. Jacob insisted Eddie spent another day in bed "because he's just getting over a cold and needs to rest."

Still it gave Jacob an idea that he discussed that night with TJ. His boyfriend.

"Tell me if it's crazy" Jacob said rubbing his thumbs deep into the arches of TJ's right foot. TJ lay flat on the couch with his head propped up on the arm and Jacob sat at the opposite end holding the weary size 13s in his lap. TJ was so comfortable it was hard to think straight about such a serious proposal. Plus the foreplay was giving him an erection.

"It's generous."

"There's no guarantee he'll say yes."

"But what other prospects does he have?"

"Exactly. I'm going to ask him to consider at least 1 month. See if we can't heal those physical and maybe emotion scars."

"We?"

"Yeah, baby. We."

"Cop turned social worker."

"You are a good role model for him. A man of the law, a tough guy who is gay? You're no stereotype. You will be a good influence for him."

"What about you?"

"Nah- I'm your typical gay: good looking, rich, carefree" Jacob said sarcastically. "You are more out of the mainstream. He needs that."

"I feel like we are talking about him like he's our son."

Jacob looked him in the eye trying to get a reading. "Is that good or bad?"

TJ smiled. "It's good. You wouldn't be my boyfriend if I didn't think you'd make a great dad."

Jacob blushed. TJ could be charming! He smiled at his boyfriend, and lifted his foot closer to his mouth and gently kissed the tips of his toes. He let his tongue work its way in between a few toes and then gradually sucked on his big toe holding his foot lovingly with both hands. TJ watched him lick the soles of his foot, then the top while he rubbed his ankle. He seemed so focused, concentrating on being as pleasurable and seductive as possible. He held the foot against his cheek, rubbing it tenderly and running his hand up TJ's hairy shin.

"Come here" TJ whispered. Jacob laid himself on top of him and they kissed, TJ holding him close against his chest. Jacob rested his head against TJ's strong pecs. "I could stay like this" he whispered stroking Jacob's hair. "Just me and my boyfriend." Several peaceful, silent minutes were interrupted by an honest Jacob and his promise to share.

"I was abused when I was in college."

The words his TJ like a truck and all the sexy vibe was sucked from the room. "You want to talk about it?" he asked trying not to sound alarmed or emotional.

"I want to tell you everything" he said without lifting his head. TJ found Jacob's hand, the one that dangled over the edge of the couch, and he held it in his own giving Jacob a sense of comfort to speak openly. He continued to gently rub the small of Jacob's back.

"OK. Tell me."

Eddie listened at the top of the staircase sitting quietly on the floor. He knew he shouldn't be listening to Jacob and TJ get it on... but he was horny, and they were good looking, and honestly he was a little bit jealous of their relationship yet hopeful he could one day have a similar one. They were good men, they had taken care of him when he was an outcast and a stranger, and they knew what he was dealing with much more than anyone else. It was innocent luck to be able to listen to their sex noises, and he began stroking his cock almost unconsciously. But when the conversation turned serious he stayed put and listened to Jacob's story.

Jacob's story hurt him more than any pain his father ever inflicted.