This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. A big thank-you to my editor, Michael, who finds the errors I miss, ensures clarity, and keeps me from straying too far from reality. Any remaining errors are my responsibility.
In the warm afternoon sun, the kid stood beside the river road with his thumb stuck out. His other hand rested on the top edge of an inflated truck inner tube nearly as tall as himself. Shaggy damp hair and wet cutoffs hanging low on his hips further confirmed what he'd been doing. He was probably fifteen, though his thin frame made him look younger. "Undernourished" came to Logan's mind. Sexy, though. He'd be fun in bed.
Logan pulled the forest service pickup to a stop. The kid tossed the inner tube into the back and climbed into the cab with a shy smile.
Actually, it was a problem. Logan was jeopardizing his summer job as the district recreation assistant with the forest service. Picking up hitchhikers in government vehicles was seriously frowned upon. Logan had never done it before, but something about the kid compelled him to stop.
For a while, they rode in silence, broken only by the sound of the engine and the tires on the gravel. Logan had no doubt about the kid's destination. He'd seen him at Beaver Creek campground, about six miles up the road, one of the four he was responsible for.
The kid had been there over a week now, presumably camping, although Logan had only seen him swimming in the river, sitting on a log looking bored, or more rarely talking with other campers his age. They'd waved at each other a couple of times, but that was the extent of their contact.
As if reading his mind, the kid smiled. "I've seen you at the campground."
There was an unspoken message which Logan understood:
**I like you and I want to be your friend.**
Logan smiled gently. "I've seen you too."
There was a silent message there as well:
**I want to be your friend too, buddy.**
Turning into the campground, Logan inquired. "Which campsite?"
That was the site with the best view of the river, where he'd frequently seen an older woman sitting in the shade, reading and sometimes smoking. They waved at each other each day when Logan arrived to maintain the campground. Most likely the kid's grandmother. As Logan pulled up in front of campsite ten, she was reading as usual. She stood and came to the pickup as the kid got out and retrieved his inner tube.
"Thanks for giving Terry a ride. I'm his neighbor, Hazel."
Now the kid had a name, and a known relationship with the woman.
Hazel had that hard-working, no-nonsense country look of someone who'd give you the shirt off their back if needed, but wouldn't hesitate to put you in your place if required. When she spoke, her voice had a raspy, heavy-smoker sound.
Logan smiled. "No problem."
"Would you like a soda?"
"Could I stop by in a half hour, after the trash is collected and the bathrooms cleaned?"
"Certainly. We'll see you then."
While Logan sat at the picnic table drinking his soda and talking with Hazel, Terry sat
next to him - as close as possible without touching. Whenever Logan set his drink down, Terry picked it up and took a sip. Logan grinned at him.
"I'm sure you could have your own."
Terry grinned happily. "Nope. I wanna share yours."
Logan rubbed Terry's back gently and then put an arm around his shoulders.
"I'm happy to share with you, buddy."
Terry moved closer, a contented smile on his face. Had Terry been a cat, he'd have purred. Hazel watched the interaction with amusement - and obvious affection for Terry.
Logan learned that Hazel was the county director of social services. Her husband, Harvey, was a log truck driver. Hazel was on vacation, and the three of them were camping near Harvey's current work site. That explained why the empty log truck, its trailer perched on the back, was parked in a turnout area near the campground in the evening.
It also explained the two tents, the second back in the trees, technically off the campsite. Logan was supposed to discourage that practice, but he seldom did and wasn't about to now. If Terry wanted a little privacy for wanking, fine.
Logan finished his soda and stood. "I gotta get on with the other campgrounds. Thanks a lot for the drink."
Hazel smiled. "Thanks again for giving Terry a ride. Would you like to join us for dinner tonight?"
Logan was used to these invitations which separated the locals from the tourists.
"Thanks, I'd like that."
"Great. Would six o'clock work?"
"That'd be perfect, thank you."
"Okay, see you then."
At five o'clock, Logan pulled into the work center, which served as the summer home for the fire and trail crews, and other seasonal personnel like himself. He parked his government pickup, logged his mileage, and then stopped briefly at the dining hall.
"I won't be here for dinner tonight, Mary."
Mary put her hands on her hips. "Something wrong with my cooking?"
Logan smiled. "You know better than that. I have an invitation from some campers."
She smiled back. "Have a good time."
After changing out of his forest service uniform, Logan got into his aging Chevy pickup and drove the three miles to the campground. Terry was anxiously waiting for him and greeted him with a big smile. Hazel introduced Logan to Harvey, and then took him aside.
"Terry would like to float the river with you tomorrow. He's too shy to ask. He says Tuesday and Wednesday are your days off. Is that right?"
Logan smiled. "Yes, that's right. And a float trip sounds like fun. I'll talk with him about the details. How did he know about my days off?"
"He said those were the days you weren't here last week."
Logan laughed. "He doesn't miss much, does he?"
Hazel smiled. "Where you're concerned, he doesn't miss a damn thing."
While Harvey grilled hamburgers and Hazel prepared the rest of the dinner, they all got better acquainted. Harvey was a self-made, hard-working logger who'd started by setting chokers and worked his way up. In time, he bought his truck and became his own boss.
Logan explained that he'd recently graduated from high school and would be going to college in the fall with a forestry degree in mind. Harvey smiled.
"When you graduate, work in private industry instead of being a government stooge."
Logan laughed. "That's four years away yet, and it's too early to make that decision. But I'll take your advice into consideration."
After dinner, Logan and Terry agreed on an afternoon float trip to take advantage of the warmer part of the day. Logan would show up at noon.
"Doing anything exciting today?"
The question came from Logan's roommate Carl, the fire crew leader, as they worked out before breakfast in the firefighters' weight room.
"Running this morning. This afternoon, I'm river tubing from Beaver Creek to The Rock with a fifteen-year-old kid."
"Cool. It's nice the recreation assistant gets to do some recreating himself. Or is this another free baby-sitting job for a mom who wants her city kid off her hands for a while?"
Logan winced. "Yeah, Clueless Clayton was a challenge. He was a loudmouth know-it-all who would have drowned without supervision. This time it's a local kid. I like him. I think it'll be fun. It's hard to find a recreation companion when you're this far out in the woods and your days off are in the middle of the week."
"I hear you. You take advantage of what comes along. Have a good time."
As Logan ran the twelve-mile round trip to Sunset Point and back, he smiled to himself about the day he'd spent with Clueless Clayton. Carl was right - you take advantage of what comes along, sometimes in more ways than one.
At noon, shirtless and dressed in cargo shorts, Logan stopped at the motor pool and inflated his own truck inner tube. Tossing it into the bed of his pickup, he drove to the campground. Hazel waved him down as he passed campsite ten.
"Terry's waiting for you at the day-use parking lot. He's excited about doing this. If you haven't figured it out yet, he likes you a lot. I plan to pick you up at The Rock. Would you join us for dinner again when you get back?"
"I'd be happy to join you for dinner again, thank you. But don't bother picking us up. I have no idea when we'll get there, and catching a ride back is easy."
"Okay, then I'll see you both when you get here."
Logan drove to the day use area and parked. Terry stood by the river waiting, a big grin on his face. Logan was barely out of his pickup before Terry was in the water, floating downstream. Logan quickly grabbed his tube and headed for the river.
"Hey, wait up, buddy! We've got all afternoon."
The river was cold, but the tube rode high enough to stay out of the water. The black color absorbed the heat too well, so the boys alternated riding on top and floating semi-submerged in the center of the tube.
Logan loved this summer activity - the sound of the water rushing over the rocks, the warmth of the sun contrasting with the cold of the water, the scent of pine trees warming in the sun, the sound of the ravens calling above. It was a sensory experience to be savored. He looked at Terry, who was watching him with a wide grin. Perhaps Terry enjoyed those things too, but what he obviously enjoyed most was being with Logan, if only for an afternoon.
As they entered a deep pool, Logan flipped Terry's inner tube, dumping him into the cold water. The friendly wrestling match which followed ended when they realized their tubes were about to leave the pool and float away in the fast current.
Terry got ahead and pulled off onto a small rocky island. By the time Logan arrived, he'd pulled a knife out of his pocket and was using it on the surface of a beached log.
"What are you doing?"
"Carving our initials."
"Why are you doing that?"
Terry grinned happily. "'Cause every time I come here again, I wanna look at it and remember today."
Logan smiled to himself. He'd become used to kids who wanted to follow the "ranger" around while he did his duties in the campgrounds, but this was different. A genuine friendship was developing. He liked this kid,
The afternoon went by quickly - and quietly - as a companionship that didn't require conversation evolved. These were two boys with something in common, and something which made them different from most. They both knew it, and understood each other.
The Rock was a large basalt outcropping which stood next to a deep pool in the river. Logan and Terry stepped out of the river and carried their tubes up the steep rocky embankment to the road. Climbing onto the rock where a few other teens stood around talking, they dove the thirty feet into the pool. Surfacing, they grinned at each other, now sharing the joy of a simple but exciting adrenaline rush.
Logan had a nodding acquaintance with a couple of the boys, having given them rides once or twice in his own truck. Being local, Terry must have known them, but there was no interaction. As Terry climbed to the edge to dive in again, Logan overheard one of the boys comment quietly.
It wasn't the time or place to start a fight, but Logan took note of the individual in question. The kid would look elsewhere for rides in the future.
When Terry had his fill of diving, the two stuck out their thumbs. It took about five minutes to get a ride. Any local with a pickup would stop for river tubers.
Back at the campground, the boys sat at the picnic table. Terry, his shyness gone, shared their adventure with Hazel. Logan listened in amused silence. Terry appreciated the same things he did, and Logan enjoyed how eloquently Terry told the tale. When Terry mentioned the carving of their initials, Hazel gave Logan an I-told-you-so smile.
Logan went to use the restroom, and when he returned, Hazel took him aside again.
"Terry would like you to spend the night here with him."
"That's okay with you and Harvey?"
"Very much so. We want to encourage him to make friendships like this."
"That'll be fun, but I'll have to go to the work center and get my sleeping bag."
"He has a double bag. You can share it with him if you like."
"That works for me if it will work for him."
She smiled. "I know it will work for him."
After dinner, the four of them played crazy eights. When darkness fell, Harvey lit a Coleman gas lantern, and they continued the game. Somewhere around ten, Harvey and Hazel said goodnight and headed for their tent. Harvey had to get up early for work. As they left, he handed the cards and their box to Logan.
"Please put these away for me, if you would. I'm having trouble getting them in."
Logan looked into the box. Something was stuck in the bottom. He shook the box, and a few plastic-foil, single-use lubricant packets fell out. He wondered which of the others had put them there. Pocketing them with a smile, he put the cards away.
Terry shut off the lamp. As the glow from the mantle slowly faded away, the two boys sat side by side in the darkness, looking at the river. Terry hesitantly took Logan's hand.
"I like to sit here and watch the river at night."
For a few moments, Logan listened to the sound of the river rushing by, and watched the reflection of the moonlight on the water. He squeezed Terry's hand.
"I can see why. It's a beautiful spot. I like it too."
Logan put an arm around Terry and pulled him close.
"Thanks for suggesting the float trip today. I loved every minute of it."
Terry rested his hand on Logan's leg, moving the tips of his fingers over it ever so lightly. For several minutes they watched the scene in silence. Terry sighed.
"I could stay here forever with you."
Logan gave Terry a gentle kiss. "Same here."
Terry paused for a few moments. "I like to sleep naked. Do you?"
The comment could have been casual. Or it could have been a subtle invitation. Logan wasn't sure which, but he went along with it as completely as possible.
"Yeah, I usually sleep naked. Would it make you happy if we did that together tonight?"
Terry smiled softly. "Yeah, it would."
Hand in hand, they walked to the tent in the woods. It was officially a four-person dome tent, which meant it was comfortable for two.
Crawling into the tent, they lay side by side on top of the sleeping bag, holding hands. Terry leaned up on one elbow and hesitantly touched Logan's chest with his other hand, doubt in his eyes. Logan pulled him close and kissed him, gently stroking his back.
"Don't be bashful, buddy. l won't break."
Grinning happily, Terry climbed on top of Logan and kissed him back, grinding his boner against Logan's hard abs and playfully pinning his arms over his head. Logan let the boy have his fun for a minute or so. Then, with a devilish grin, he easily reversed their positions. As a happily-squealing Terry struggled beneath him, Logan rubbed their trapped poles together and kissed him with increasing intensity.
Terry's hesitation was long gone. For several minutes, the boys twisted and squirmed together, their hands exploring each other's body, their arousal growing rapidly.
Sitting back on his heels, Logan broke one of the single-use packets. Easing a greased finger into Terry's hole, the older boy stimulated his P-spot, exciting him even more. As Terry moaned softly and squirmed with pleasure, Logan added another finger and twisted them around.
When Terry was fully aroused, Logan removed his fingers and dropped back on top of him. Spreading his legs apart, Terry looked up with a mischievous grin.
"Don't be bashful, buddy. I won't break."
Logan laughed out loud. "Smart ass."
Terry sucked in his breath and moaned softly as Logan penetrated him and slowly pushed inside. Logan leaned down and kissed him.
"Was that unbashful enough for you?"
Terry grinned. "Yeah, but don't stop now."
Logan grinned back. "Don't worry. I just got started. Have you done this before?"
"Nope. You're the first guy who's shown this much interest in me."
Logan gave him another kiss. "You deserve the interest, buddy."
Slowly, Logan pulled almost all the way out and then pushed back in. Terry's hands gripped the sleeping bag tightly as he squirmed with uncontrollable excitement.
Logan chuckled. "Yeah, that's what we're doing. Does it feel good?"
Logan slid in and out slowly a few times and then set up a steady rhythm, one he knew from experience he could maintain for a long time. Terry's breathing came in irregular gasps. Logan smiled.
"I'm Logan, not Jesus. I thought this was your first time."
"Now who's the smart ass?" Terry's body shivered with excitement. "How long can you do this?"
"Long enough to make both of us cum."
"How do you know that?"
"I've done it before."
As Logan continued with his steady rhythm, Terry's sexual excitement grew. Logan watched with a smile as Terry's gasps grew louder.
Logan felt Terry's jizz ricochet off his stomach. He grinned.
"How was that?"
"Oh, fuck! I never felt anything like it. Are you gonna cum now?"
It took a couple more minutes. When he was finished, he leaned over and gave Terry a tender kiss.
"How was that for your first time, buddy?"
"We can do it again later if you want to."
Terry grinned. "Oh, yeah! I want to!"
Logan pulled out and rolled over on his back. He found Terry's hand and squeezed it.
"Thanks, buddy. That was a hell of a lot of fun."
Terry leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.
"Thank you for making my first time so awesome." He paused for a few moments. "So, how long have you been having sex?"
"Four years. Since I was thirteen."
"How many guys have you screwed?"
Logan thought for a moment. "A half-dozen or so, I suppose. Over four years, not that many, really." He smiled. "Some of them keep coming back for more, though."
Terry smiled happily. "I know I will." He paused. "Is one of them your boyfriend?"
Logan grinned mischievously and repeated a quote he'd heard a little earlier.
"Nope. You're the first guy who's shown this much interest in me."
Terry laughed. "Smart ass. You're a lying piece of shit. I wish you meant it?"
Logan became serious. "Lots of guys have shown interest in me, but not the boyfriend kind of interest. You're the first one who matters."
"Do you really, honestly mean that?"
"Yes, buddy, I really, honestly mean that."
Logan crawled out of the tent and stretched. Then, realizing he was not only naked but also in full sight of Hazel, he reached into the tent and grabbed his shorts. Pulling them on, he wandered over to the picnic table where Hazel was drinking a cup of coffee. She smiled at him as he sat down across from her.
"Good morning, sunshine. Nice exhibition you put on there. I'd like a wall poster of what I saw. Want a cup of coffee?"
"I'd love a cup of coffee. Sorry about the show."
She chuckled. "You're not sorry at all."
She poured a cup from the percolator on the Coleman stove and set it in front of him.
"Bacon and eggs will be along shortly. I was waiting for you and Terry to wake up."
"I suppose Harvey left a long time ago."
"About six. They start early." She paused. "You two made a fair amount of noise, but probably not enough to disturb any other campers. I think Harvey slept through it. Not that he'd have cared any more than I did."
Logan looked up quickly. Hazel's grin and the twinkle in her eyes told him he wasn't in trouble. She continued.
"From the sounds I heard, I think Terry had a good time."
"Yeah, he did." He smiled. "I did too."
Hazel set down her cup. "We've known Terry for a long time. His home life isn't the best. His father died in an auto accident. His mom's an abusive alcoholic, and he has an older brother who's a homophobe. All that doesn't make for a good home life. We include him in our lives as much as possible. He's more of a grandson than a neighbor. We were pleased when he took a liking to you. He needs someone to show him that being gay is okay."
Logan paused to absorb what he'd been told. "Thanks for the background. He's a great kid - well, he's two years younger so I guess I can call him that. We had fun last night, but we had a lot of fun yesterday too. I like him a lot." He paused. "Can I take him hiking today? I thought we'd go up to Sunset Point. The view is fantastic from there."
"Sure. He'd love that."
The sound of the tent door announced Terry was up. He staggered to the table. Sitting down by Logan, he leaned his head on Logan's shoulder. Logan put an arm around him.
"You okay this morning, buddy?"
Terry smiled happily. "Very okay. Except it hurts to sit down."
Logan laughed. "Hazel knows what we did."
Terry responded without moving. "Of course she does. I told her what I hoped would happen if you stayed. I don't keep secrets from Hazel and Harvey."
Logan smiled. "Now that I think about it, we had a little encouragement dropped in a playing card box. Do either of you know anything about that?"
Hazel laughed. "The Lord works in mysterious ways." She smiled at Terry. "How was it?"
Terry had a dreamy look in his eyes. "It was perfect."
Logan ruffled his hair. "Hazel says we can go on a hike after breakfast if you want to."
Terry sat up straight. The smile turned into a broad grin. "I want to."
Logan's pickup was packed. He'd said his goodbyes to the cooks and the permanent staff at the work center. He'd enjoyed his summer job, but now he looked forward to a few days at home with his parents before heading to the university.
He had two stops to make. He pulled into Beaver Creek campground. After walking to the river for a final look, he returned to campsite ten and sat at the picnic table, reflecting.
It had been a special summer. He and Terry had spent a lot of time together - hiking, floating the river, and even a four-day backpack trip into the wilderness. All of it was unbelievably wonderful. He'd hoped it would never end. Now it had, and both of them needed to move on. He pulled out his phone and sent a text.
**I'll be there in an hour.**
The response was immediate.
**I'll be at home.**
Logan entered the small town which served as the county seat and pulled up in front of Hazel and Harvey's modest home. Terry sat on the porch steps waiting for him. He no longer looked undernourished. A couple months of Hazel's home cooking had filled him out nicely.
Several changes had come to Terry's life soon after Logan met him. First, his brother beat him up for being gay, and got two years of free room and board at the county jail. A few days later, his abusive mother went into an alcohol rehab program in the far corner of the state. Terry moved in with Hazel and Harvey under the foster care program.
That, however, was only the beginning. It had taken a lot of effort on Hazel's part, mostly convincing Terry's mother and the court it was the best thing to do, but in the end she'd prevailed. A month after his birthday, at the minimum legal age of eighteen, Logan held temporary guardianship of Terry. Hazel was working on emancipated minor status for him when he turned sixteen.
That all parties lived in the same state helped immensely, as did Hazel's professional contacts in the county where Logan's university was located. It also helped that Logan's parents approved of the plan enthusiastically and guaranteed financial support.
Sitting among his suitcases, a huge grin grew on Terry's face. Logan hopped out of his truck with a grin as wide as Terry's and gave him a big hug.
"Ready to go?"
"Yeah, except I'll miss Hazel and Harvey."
"They'll visit us, and we'll be back next summer. Now that I'm eighteen, I've been offered a firefighter position." He smiled. "And you'll be old enough to be the campground assistant."
"Cool! Hazel wants us to stop by her office. She has more paperwork for you to sign."
Logan gave Terry a kiss. "I couldn't leave without saying goodbye to Hazel." Grinning playfully, he put a hand on Terry's shoulder. "You realize I now officially own you."
Terry smiled. "Only until I'm emancipated. Then you gotta renegotiate the contract."
Logan laughed. "I doubt if that will be a problem."
The stop at the courthouse took only a few minutes. Logan signed the last of the paperwork and Hazel notarized it. Then she closed the door to her office.
"I can't say goodbye to my grandsons properly in public."
Tears in her eyes, she hugged them both, lingering longer with Terry. As they all wiped away their tears, Hazel looked directly at Logan.
"You take good care of him."
It was an order, and Logan knew there would be hell to pay if he didn't. He gave her another hug, and his voice broke as he replied.
"He's my life, Hazel. No one will ever hurt him again. I promise."
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