Thomas woke at 5:30, as was his custom, regardless of the time zone in which he found himself. It was a habit he never managed to break. As a result he got very little sleep that night but what there was of it was very restful. The sun had not even yet peaked over the horizon when he lifted his head from his pillow and eased out of bed. He was careful as always to put his left foot down first. An old injury from a car accident had left him with a slight limp and a constant; though dull pain in his right leg.
Thomas left the door slightly ajar when he went into the bathroom. He didnt want the steam from the shower to fog the mirror up too badly as he would need to shave when he got out. He did however want to be courteous and not wake Tyler too early. It was halfway through his shower when Thomas thought he heard the toilet flush.
When Thomas stepped out of the shower, he did note that the door was still ajar, but slightly more open than he had left it. Tylers toothbrush was lying on the counter in a small puddle of water. A hand towel was again lying on the floor. Thomas shook his head, picked up the towel and wiped the counter with it. When hed finished shaving, Thomas wrapped a towel around his waist and walked out of the bathroom. Tyler was sitting up on the bed in his boxers watching cartoons on television. His legs were crossed and his hands were clasped behind his head. He glanced over at Thomas smart phone, lying on the nightstand between the two beds. Your phone keeps buzzing, he stated flatly, and just as he did, the phone vibrated and the screen lit up indicating an e-mail message had just arrived.
Thomas walked over and picked up the phone. His security system had been sending more pictures from the motion activated cameras in his backyard. He couldnt help but chuckle at one picture. Tyler had a quizzical look on his face. Thomas selected a rather innocuous picture of Kevin, his friend and the dog in the swimming pool and handed the phone to Tyler. My home security system sends me pictures from motion activated cameras in the backyard, he explained. It seems my house sitter decided to have a friend over, and my dog joined them in the pool.
Isnt it a little early for them to be up and in the pool? Tyler asked, considering that dawn was just now breaking outside.
Well, that one is from yesterday actually, Thomas explained. Not all of them are quite as innocent as that one.
Tyler scrutinized the picture on the phones screen more closely, wrinkling his nose a little as he did. Then he dragged his fingers across the screen to zoom in. Looks like theyre naked, he stated.
Your eyes must be better than mine, Thomas countered.
Then Tyler swiped a finger across the screen to browse through some of the other pictures that had been sent from the security cameras. He stopped when he got to the hot tub pictures. Dude, they are naked! Do these guys know theyre starring in a porn video? he asked as he looked at some of the more risqu photos.
Thomas took the phone from Tyler and closed the photo viewer application. First of all, it isnt a video the cameras snap still shots every minute when theres movement in the backyard, he began. Secondly, he continued, no one else is ever going to see those pictures. And on top of that, theyre going to be deleted from the server as soon as we get home.
Dude, dont get so defensive, Tyler replied. I didnt mean anything by that I wasnt like, calling you a perv or something.
Thomas tossed the phone down on his bed. Go take a shower and make sure its a cold one, he said with a wry grin. Tyler had the good grace to shake his head and give a little snorting chuckle.
When Tyler came out of the bathroom he smelled breakfast foods in particular, bacon. Since having resuming eating meat, this was one of his favorite foods. Tyler dropped the damp towel he had wrapped around his waist on the floor and pulled a fresh pair of boxers out of his bag and stepped into them.
When Tyler walked into the sitting room, there was a large cart with several covered trays, a pitcher of orange juice and a pot of coffee. Place settings had been laid out on a small table next the cart. Thomas was sitting on the sofa dressed in cargo shorts and a t-shirt with a picture of Henry VIII shooting a bird and the caption Fuck Ye! His legs were crossed at the ankles and his bare feet were rested on the small table in front of the couch. His hands cradled a mug of coffee that was sitting in his lap.
Tyler laughed when he saw the shirt. Dude, that shirt just made my day, he quipped as he headed toward the breakfast cart.
Thomas got up and joined him at the cart. They both started removing the metal room service covers to reveal the still steaming breakfast foods. There was a large platter of scrambled eggs, a plate of thick sliced bacon, another held sausages both links and patties and finally, another with a gooey looking substance that Thomas told Tyler were grits. All these surrounded a bowl of fruit salad with cellophane wrap over it.
They both fixed plates and sat down to eat. Thomas avoided the grits, but Tyler took a spoonful and glopped it onto his plate. Both bypassed the sausages and split the bacon between them. Tyler wolfed down two pieces of bacon before digging into his eggs. Thomas started on his eggs and munched on bacon between bites.
When Tyler finally tried a small spoon of the grits, he screwed up his face and reluctantly swallowed before taking a large swig of the orange juice. Thomas couldnt help but laugh.
Those are nasty! Tyler exclaimed.
Sorry, I should have warned you, Thomas said. Its hard to get breakfast in the south without them giving those to you automatically. I cant stand the stuff myself.
I cant either. I never want to have them again, Tyler replied.
Just remember to ask specifically not to have them on your plate then. Even then it doesnt always work, Thomas informed him.
It was two hours later when Thomas called for the porter to collect their bags to be taken down and the valet to have his car brought around so they could head to the mountains for the rest of their long weekend. When they got to the lobby, the porter and the valet were loading the luggage into the trunk of Thomas car. Thomas stopped at the front desk to drop off the key cards hed been issued at check-in before joining Tyler on the front walk next to the car.
Cool car, Tyler said to Thomas as he joined him at the curb as he eyed the sleek, black Cadillac.
Eh, its transportation, Thomas shrugged as he opened the passenger door for Tyler to get in.
Such a gentleman, opening the door for your date, Tyler joked as he sat down in the front seat of the car.
Thomas gave a scowl and shut the car door. After tipping the valet and the porter, Thomas walked around to the drivers door and sat behind the wheel of the car. Date? he said sarcastically as he looked over at Tyler.
Lighten up, Tyler replied, smiling back at him. I was just having some fun.
Thomas shook his head and pushed the button on the dash to start the car.
Tyler began texting almost immediately when they left the hotel. Several messages were sent between Tyler and someone before Thomas bothered to ask who he was exchanging messages with.
Tyler looked over at him and grinned. Jayson, he replied before looking back at the phone as his thumbs flew across the iPhones virtual keyboard to enter another message.
Thomas considered making another new boyfriend comment, but thought better of it and kept quiet.
Less than two hours later they were off the highway and winding their way through narrow mountain roads following instructions provided by the GPS system sitting on the cars dashboard. They passed through a few small towns, but made no stops until they reached the small, picturesque town of Dillard. When they got to the Dillard House hotel and restaurant it was just past what Thomas considered to be lunch time. Thomas turned into the parking lot, parked the car in front of the restaurant and switched off the engine. Come on, well get some lunch before we check in, Thomas said.
Is this where were staying? Tyler asked. I thought we were getting a cabin.
This is where were eating, Thomas replied. Youll see where were staying in a little while.
When they got to the door, Thomas held it open for Tyler to enter. Tyler looked back and started to say something but Thomas stopped him. Dont even say it youve already done that joke, he admonished.
Tyler looked a little disappointed that Thomas had stolen his thunder, but went inside. The design on Thomas t-shirt drew more than a few disapproving looks as they were shown to their table.
When they sat down at the table and picked up the menus, Thomas asked Tyler if hed ever had a real southern meal. Tyler shrugged in reply. After he took a moment to scan the menu, Tyler commented There sure is a lot of fried stuff on here.
Youre in the south thats the way things are done down here, Thomas told him. Try the fried okra thats a delicacy here when its done right, and if any place knows how to cook the stuff, this will be it.
Not being familiar with some of the items on the menu, Tyler followed Thomas lead on what to order. The fried chicken seemed perfect to Thomas, but Tyler complained that it was too greasy. He did like the green beans, corn on the cob and fried okra though, but nothing as well as the sweet cornbread.
When they finished eating and the waitress gave Thomas the check, they went to the cash register to pay the bill. Thomas tossed his keys to Tyler. Go get the car started, he said. Ill be along in a couple minutes.
Tyler looked at the keys there was no car key on the ring, just a small token with a Cadillac emblazoned emblem on it and what were obviously house keys. Tyler studied it for a moment before giving Thomas a puzzled look.
The fob is a proximity detector, Thomas explained. You have that with you, the doors unlock when you want to open them. You get inside with it and it lets you start the car.
Tyler nodded and went outside. When Thomas came out, the car was running and Tyler was sitting in the passenger seat. Thomas got into the car and looked over at Tyler. I had actually planned on letting you drive the rest of the way.
Tylers eyes brightened. Me? Youre going to let me drive this car?
Well, you do have to promise not to bump it into anything, Thomas replied, grinning as he got back out of the car. They switched places Tyler driving while Thomas pulled a scrap of paper from his pocket and programmed a new address into the GPS system. Tyler followed the directions the computerized voice gave and ten minutes later they were pulling into the driveway of one of the Dillard House chalets a few miles from the restaurant where they had stopped for lunch.
The look on Tylers face as he gazed at the house was one of awe. Damn, this place is huge! he exclaimed.
Thomas shrugged. Yeah, its really probably a lot more than we need, but I did promise you a Jacuzzi and this is the only one they had with that and two proper bedrooms.
This thing looks like it has a lot more than two bedrooms, Tyler remarked.
It does. Theres a bunkroom thats supposed to sleep about ten, but I dont think well be using that not unless you go out trolling for hot boys, and the way mountain people are, I dont think youll find any takers, even if some are interested.
Tyler grinned. Well, I did tell you I was going to find you a boyfriend, he quipped.
Thomas frowned. And I told you I didnt want you trying to play match-maker. Im quite happy with the single life Ive been living.
Youre no fun! Tyler retorted, shifting the car into park and turning off the engine. Before Thomas had even managed to get his seatbelt off and get out of the car, Tyler had already run a circle around the house. This place is even bigger than I thought! he exclaimed excitedly as he ran back up to Thomas, who was now just starting to pull their luggage from the trunk of the car.
Yeah, it is, Thomas agreed. Now how about making yourself useful and helping with the bags?
Tyler assumed a sheepish look and came over to the back of the car to assist with the luggage. When they reached the front door, Thomas pulled a key from his pocket and opened the house. They entered into a large, open kitchen with a breakfast bar. Past that was a large living room and dining area with a stone masonry fireplace. Beyond there was a screened deck where the Jacuzzi was located, as well as an open deck with a grill, table and chairs. Thomas rolled his bag into the master bedroom and pointed out to Tyler where the bedroom he would be occupying was located. Get your stuff unpacked, Thomas told Tyler. Then well go get some groceries. I really want a good steak for dinner tonight.
Thomas was unpacking his own things a few moments later when Tyler came into the room looking at his phone. Im not getting any reception, he complained.
Trying to text your new beau again? Thomas asked.
My new what? Tyler asked, confused.
Beau, thats southern for boyfriend, Thomas explained.
I dont have a new boyfriend, Tyler groused.
Okay, whatever you say, Thomas said, grinning. So who is so important that you need to call now?
My mom, I promised I would call to let her know we got to the cabin okay, but thanks for asking, Tyler replied, a little sarcastically.
Just use the landline, Thomas told him. Cell phones dont tend to get very good reception up here. There arent very many cell towers in the mountains, and the ones that are up here arent always easy to hit because of the varying elevations.
When Thomas came out of the bedroom, Tyler was sitting on the sofa finishing his phone call. Okay Mom, I will Love you too! was the only part of the conversation Thomas heard before Tyler hung up the phone. Tyler had a huge grin on his face.
I take it that everything is okay? Thomas commented when Tyler had hung up the phone.
Oh yeah, Tyler replied. She was happy I remembered to call better than I did last night at the airport when the plane got in.
Good, lets go get some groceries.
Cant we go in the hot tub first? Tyler pleaded.
Nope groceries first, fun later, Thomas replied. Business always comes first. We need food and other supplies for the weekend.
Tyler pulled a face, but got up and followed Thomas out. Thomas locked the door house door behind them and walked toward the passenger side of the car. Im driving again? Tyler asked.
Unless you dont want to
Tyler went eagerly to the drivers door and got into the car. He pressed the start button, but nothing happened. Thomas opened the passenger door and sat down. Its not starting, Tyler complained.
The fob is in my pocket and I wasnt in the car, Thomas replied. Try it again.
Tyler pressed the button again. This time the cars engine fired right up. Tyler shifted the car into reverse and backed out of the driveway.
An hour and a half later they were back at the cabin with enough provisions from the local Piggly Wiggly supermarket to last them the long weekend. Tyler was still excited about getting into the hot tub, which he had apparently never done before, so Thomas told him to go ahead while he put away the groceries. When Thomas came out onto the screened porch with a couple steaks on a tray, Tyler was already relaxing in the hot tub, his arms extended along the rim holding him far enough out of the water that his bare chest was exposed. A towel was casually tossed over the back of a chair a couple feet away.
Thomas stopped just long enough to set the tray down on a table and ask Tyler if he was enjoying himself before stepping out of the screened area and onto the open back porch where the grill was located. Thomas opened the top of the grill and started the charcoal burning to warm up the cooking surface. Once the grill was finally hot, he wadded up some newsprint and started to clean the cooking surface.
Tyler called out to him, Why are you using a newspaper for that? They have a cleaning thing hanging right there on the side of the grill.
Because Lord only knows what else it might have been used to clean. This way Im not going to have to worry about that.
Why didnt you just get a new grill cleaner when we went to that store then? Tyler queried.
Im thrifty, Thomas answered. I learned this from my father. The paper is only fifty cents. A grill pad is seven ninety-five, and this works just as well or better.
You going to get in the hot tub? Tyler asked.
Not just yet I still have to cook the steaks. Cooking on this grill going to be hot enough for the time being I think. Ill probably wait until this evening when the weather cools off some, he replied.
Youre no fun! Tyler chided once again.
Im old, deal with it, was the response from Thomas.
You arent old, Tyler rebuked. How many times to I have to tell you that?
Probably as many times as it takes until we find the Fountain of Youth, Thomas replied. Im old, like it or not.
You arent old! Tyler scolded one more time. This time Thomas didnt respond. He just continued cleaning the grill.
Once Thomas was satisfied that the grilling surface was adequately sanitary, he came back into the screened porch where Tyler was still relaxing in the tub to retrieve the tray with the steaks. How do you want your steak cooked? he asked as he walked back out to the grill.
I dont know, Tyler answered, lifting his head up for a moment. Just cook mine the way you like yours.
Okay, medium-rare it is, Thomas stated as he picked up the steaks with a pair of tongs and placed them on the grill one at a time. Keep an eye on them for a couple minutes, he reminded Tyler as he passed back through the screened porch on his way to the kitchen. I need to get the vegetables going.
Why, are they going to do tricks? Tyler asked.
Very funny, Thomas stated wryly. Just make sure they dont catch fire.
Thomas spent a several minutes in the kitchen getting the green beans ready, then peeled a couple ears of corn and wrapped them in aluminum foil. When he looked up, Tyler was standing on the exposed deck in front for the grill turning the steaks and he was stark naked.
At first Thomas smiled and shook his head. He knew from things they had talked about previously Tyler wasnt exactly body shy, but this was completely unexpected. Then he had another thought while this cabin was relatively secluded, there were still others that may have a view of their porch if anyone happened to be looking. Tyler! he called out. For Christs sake, put some fucking pants on please!
Tyler turned, Whats the problem? he asked.
The other cabins might be rented out too people could see you.
Tyler shrugged. So, we rented this one didnt we?
Yes, we did, but Id rather the police werent summoned because youre running around outside naked, Thomas answered. This is a small town in north Georgia; you just cant do that here. Some folks will take offense.
Tyler had come back inside the house as their exchange progressed and now stood in the living room of the cabin, hands on his hips. But you dont care? he asked.
No, it doesnt bother me, Hell; I really dont see the point in going into a Jacuzzi with clothes on to tell you the truth but I dont want to have to bail you out of jail on an indecent exposure charge because youre out on the deck with no clothes on.
Tyler gave Thomas a sad, puppy dog look but was still shooed away to put on a pair of shorts. He came back a few minutes later wearing a pair of board shorts. That better? he asked.
Well, it will keep you out of jail if you go outside, so I suppose it is.
They ate on a set of wrought iron patio furniture next to the grill. Despite Thomas insistence that he knew nothing about cooking, their meal turned out fine.
After dinner, Tyler helped Thomas clean up the kitchen and put all the plates, glasses and utensils into the dishwasher. Once the dishwasher was running, Tyler started back toward the screened deck and the hot tub. Just before he went out to the screened porch he turned and asked, Are you coming in this time?
Yeah, I am, Thomas answered as he flipped a couple light switches. Floodlights illuminated the backyard of the cabin.
I thought you were worried about people being able to see us
I am, Thomas answered. Thats the point of the floodlights. Theyre pointed away from the house into the backyard. Were on this side of them, so it keeps people from being able to see us now that its getting dark outside.
Ah, I see Very wise indeed, Tyler quipped.
Yeah, thats a side effect of being old.
Stop saying that! You arent old! Tyler rebuked once again.
Old enough, Im about twenty years older than you, Thomas sighed as he headed back to his bedroom to get a towel.
Fuck! That means Ill be old soon, so you cant possibly be old yet! Tyler retorted.
Thomas looked over his shoulder and called back, Hey, it happens to everyone, you better get used to the idea. Youll be there before you know it.
Thank you, Voice of Doom! Tyler called back, using one of Thomas favorite expressions.
A few minutes later, Thomas returned with a large bath towel wrapped around his waist. He sat on the edge of the hot tub for a moment and put a hand into the water to gauge the temperature. Well, arent you getting in? Tyler asked.
Not before I test the water to see how hot it is, Thomas answered.
Im not over heating; it cant be that bad
Yeah, and youre the one that told me youre always cold.
That was in Canada, Tyler retorted. Its a Hell of a lot different down here.
Thomas stood, slipped the towel off his waist and stepped into the tub. He sat in the opposite corner from Tyler so they were facing each other. They relaxed in the water for a long time and talked. Even though they had known each other for a long time from online and telephone conversations, this was their first chance to really sit and talk face to face.
Tyler had more questions for Thomas than Thomas had for Tyler. Tyler wanted to know what the home they would be going to when they left the mountains was like; if there were many cute boys in the neighborhood, whether or not Thomas knew anything about the college he would be enrolling in, and a multitude of other questions.
Thomas answered them all as best he could, but he really didnt know very much about the local college campus, so he wasnt able to provide Tyler much information about that. To answer the question about cute boys in the neighborhood, Thomas reminded Tyler of the pictures his home security system had been sending to his phone that Tyler had seen.
Yeah, they are kinda hot, Tyler mused. But it seems like theyre both already taken
There are others, Thomas told him, thinking about the teen nights at the local gay bar where he and Kevin had found out about each other. But really, I thought you were already smitten with Jayson, so why worry about them?
Would you stop? Tyler complained, splashing water at Thomas. Im the one thats supposed to be finding you a boyfriend!
And I told you that I didnt want you to play matchmaker, Thomas reminded him, splashing him back.
Well, isnt that what youre doing with me and Jayson? Tyler countered.
Not at all, just like his grandmother, Im simply pointing out the obvious; you two make a cute couple, Thomas reminded him.
I need something to drink, Tyler said, changing the subject as he got up and stepped out of the tub. You want anything?
Yeah, how about bringing me a bottle of cider out of the refrigerator? As Tyler started to walk into the house, Thomas added, And how about drying off before you go inside?
Tyler turned and frowned at him, but stopped and toweled off before he went inside. A few minutes later, Tyler returned with two bottles of hard cider and handed one to Thomas before stepping back into the tub. This stuff isnt too bad, Tyler observed, after taking a long swig.
Yeah, I dont really care too much for the taste of beer, and sometimes hard liquor just doesnt cut it for me.
They talked for a while longer, exploring each others interests and getting to know each other better. Finally, Thomas said he needed to go to bed he had been yawning for quite a while already. Tyler agreed that he too was tired and it was time to get some sleep. They pulled themselves out of the tub at the same time and dried off before going into the house. Thomas rewrapped the towel around his waist once he was dry Tyler did not.
When they got to the point in the hallway where the door to Tylers room was they stopped and had a goodnight hug. Then Thomas pushed Tylers bangs out of the way, kissed him on the forehead and wished him a good night and sweet dreams.
When Tyler went into his room to go to bed, he dropped his towel on the floor next to the bed and crawled between the covers. Thomas went into the bathroom, hung his on the rack to dry and slipped on a pair of boxers before getting into bed.
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