Discovery - Chapter 2

As Gabe entered the Diamond Dust he grinned at the young man behind the bar and
the Sheriff standing nearby. "Brett, looks like you've been doin' a good job
holdin' down the fort while I was gone." Gabe teased.

"Thank you Mr. Gabe. It wasn't too busy. I did sell a beer though." He said with
a grin and a glance at Jalen.

Gabe chuckled. "Looks like you cleaned the glasses and took good care of the bar
area too."

The young outlaw nodded. "Yes Sir."

Gabe opened his purse and handed Brett the promised silver dollar and a quarter.
"I'm givin' you an extra quarter for cleanin' up because that wasn't part of the
deal and you did it on your own without me askin' so I think you should be
rewarded for that."

The younger man's face split into a huge grin. "Thank you Sir…Thank you very
much!" he said with delight evident on his young face.

Gabe then turned to Daniel and Cole. "Brett Montgomery, I'd like you to meet my
brother Daniel Fairmont and his young partner Cole Tucker."

Brett smiled and shook hands with each man and said, "It's a pleasure to meet

Jalen stepped up and shook Daniel's hand and said, "It's good to see you too
Dan." Then he did the same to Cole.

Dan said, "It's good to see you too Sheriff."

Cole also gave Jalen his greetings.

Dan said, "I hear you got your own place now Sheriff?"

Jalen grinned, "Yes I do have to keep an eye on this one here and what better
way then to have my own place?" He put an arm around his young outlaw's

Brett smiled up into Jalen's green eyes with his blue ones.


Daniel watched the older and younger man and smiled to himself. If he didn't
know better the Sheriff and his young probationer were as close as he and Cole.


Jalen watched Daniel and Cole and wondered why he hadn't seen how close the two
were before. He watched the looks they exchanged and the subtle cues Dan gave
Cole as to what was expected of his behavior.


Cole paid attention to Daniel and behaved the way he was expected to. He knew
the consequences full well now of ignoring his cues. He watched the Sheriff and
the young man at his side and smiled. Brett looked like someone he could have
some fun with. He looked to be about his own age and that should make things
interesting. The young man seemed friendly enough and perhaps they could strike
up a friendship. That would be nice since he had no friends near his own age.


Brett watched Daniel and Cole. He thought Cole might be close to his own age.
Maybe they could have some fun together. He hadn't had anyone of his own age
around since leaving home and on the trail with the wagon train.


Jalen called to Bret, "Come on Brett, let's get our wagon and get Daniel and
Cole's luggage for them and bring it over to the saloon."

Brett nodded. "Yes Sir." He responded and went with the Sheriff.


The Sheriff and the young outlaw got their wagon and brought Dan and Cole's
luggage over to the saloon. After they had eaten supper they returned and spent
some time visiting with Daniel, Gabe and Cole.

The evening promised to be interesting. The four men sat at a table together and
sang and drank beer and enjoyed their company while Gabe ran the saloon. At the
night's end they grinned at each other and Daniel said, "I'm glad we had this
chance to get to know each other a bit better Sheriff. The company tonight was
very enjoyable." Daniel said with a smile.

Jalen returned the grin. "Likewise. Brett and I had a good time."

Brett smiled at the other two men. "Yes, I did. Jalen and me do this once in a
while together and it's always fun." He told the other men.

Cole smiled. "Daniel and I don't do this kind of thing often enough and I have
to admit I had fun and wasn't bored at all, all night."

Daniel chuckled at Cole and placed an arm around the younger man's shoulders and
squeezed. "Well I think it's time for us to find our beds."

Jalen nodded. "Yes, us too. We'll need to get together again very soon. As the
Christmas holiday grows closer if you're of a mind to stay through the holiday
perhaps we can go Christmas tree hunting together." Jalen suggested.

Daniel grinned. "Now that sounds like fun. I haven't done somethin' like that in
years and old Gabe here could use a nice tree to spruce up this place." Dan said
with a wink at his younger brother.

Gabe, knowing his brother was teasing him just grinned and shook his head.

"Well, I'll let you know when we decide to go." Jalen told Dan.

"All right. It sounds like it will be a good time." Dan replied.


The two younger men looked at each other as the older men talked about an outing

Brett said, "Sounds like fun. I haven't done that since I was a kid."

Cole chuckled. "Neither have I, but Dan would say I was still a kid."

Brett grinned in return. "Jalen would say the same about me. In fact he calls me
kid sometimes. I resented it at first, but now I rather like it."

Cole smiled. "I know what you mean. Dan's been real good to me and I'd do
anythin' for him."

Brett nodded. "Yeah and Jalen's been real good to me too. Maybe we can do
somethin' real nice for them for Christmas." Brett suggested.

Cole got a big grin. "Yeah…that would be lots of fun. We'll need to try to get
together and talk about what we can do."

Brett returned the grin. "Yeah…I'll let you know when I can get away."

Cole grinned back. "I'll be sure to try to get away from Dan too and we can go
off together and have fun doin' somethin' nice for them."


Jalen smiled at Dan, seeing the two younger men talking and smiling. "I hope
they're not concocting some sort of mischief."

Dan said, "Cole knows better." He didn't go any further with the comment.

Jalen nodded. "Yes, Brett knows better too. He's well aware of the consequences
of breaking the rules and his probation. That young man doesn't want to go to

Dan nodded. "I'm sure he doesn't."

Jalen shook hands with Daniel and smiled as the men said their final farewells
and went off with their young partners.


Gabe smiled to himself as he wiped down the bar, put the chairs up on the tables
and mopped the floor. He prided himself on a clean establishment. He knew most
saloons were dirty places, but he couldn't abide filth being in his own
establishment. He wanted it to be a pleasant place for all who visited. After
all he didn't name it Diamond Dust for nothing. He still wanted it to shine like
a diamond and he knew it would always draw the better sort of clientele as well
if it were clean. As he closed up for the night, he thought about how his
brother and his young partner had gotten along so well with the Sheriff and his
young probationer. It made him smile. Perhaps when he presented Dan with the
idea of taking over the saddlery here in town he'd take him up on it and stay
put for once. He worried about his brother while he was traveling from place to
place. He knew Dan was his older brother, but he loved him and they only had
each other now with their parents both deceased. They were family and should
stick together. Daniel had been the wandering type from the time he had left
school. He had always returned home, but Mama and Papa had worried about him the
whole time he was gone. Gabe had stayed to take care of them, but once they had
gone had sold the farm and moved here to Diamond Springs and opened up the
Diamond Dust. He enjoyed the work and he made a good business, even with
competition growing.

After his parent's death, he had been able to track Daniel down. When he found
he had taken on a young partner to travel with him as he made and sold his
leather goods, it made him feel a bit better that Dan wasn't traveling around
alone anymore, but Gabe still longed for Dan to stay put for a while. To put
down roots somewhere and no longer wander the country. He knew Daniel had a
regular clientele too, but he found himself still being concerned with his
brother doing all that traveling. He heard stories of train wrecks and robberies
and such. It frightened him and he didn't want to lose Daniel.


Daniel smiled at Cole as they readied for bed. "I never knew the Sheriff could
be such good company and I rather like his young probationer. Apparently Jalen
wants to groom him to be a deputy."

Cole smiled. "I like them both too. The last time we were here the Sheriff
seemed a bit standoffish."

Dan nodded. "Yes, he did, pretty much kept to himself. He seems a lot more
relaxed and even happy with his young man to look after."

Cole looked at Daniel. "Do you think they have a similar sort of relationship
like we do?"

Daniel shrugged. "Hard to say. He does have to keep a sharp eye on him because
he's his probation officer, I suppose in some ways the relationship might be
similar, but I'm not entirely sure." He pulled Cole to him and kissed him and
hugged him tight. "I happen to think what we have together is somethin'

Cole grinned, returning the kiss in kind. "Me too except for the other part."

Daniel grinned, "You mean the part where I take you over my lap and heat your

Cole colored a bit. "Yes."

"Well, it works for us and that's all that's important. We won't worry about
what others do or don't do."

Cole nodded and snuggled into the older man's strong arms.

Daniel held Cole for a long time, then finally broke the embrace and said, "It's
been a long day. I need some sleep."

Cole smiled. "I know a way to help you sleep real well." He grinned.

Dan laughed softly. "Come on my wild one." He began to undress Cole.


Jalen watched Brett as they rode along toward their home. He knew Brett had been
able to relax and have fun with Cole and Dan.

"I like them." Brett said aloud. Dan isn't stuffy at all."

Jalen grinned. "They are very nice men and rather fun to be with." He commented.

Brett looked at Jalen. "Did you really mean it when you said we'd hunt for the
perfect Christmas tree?"

Jalen grinned. "Yes, since when have you known me to say somethin' I didn't

Brett grinned. "Never. You say what you mean and mean what you say."

Jalen nodded. "That's right."

"It will be fun to go with Dan and Cole. Maybe Cole and I can gather some holly
and make a couple of wreaths if we can find enough greenery." He commented.

The sheriff looked at his outlaw. "Do you know how to do that?"

Brett grinned "Uh huh Papa and I used to do it for Mama and we'd always go out
and find some mistletoe too. It was fun to watch Mama or Papa maneuver the other
under the mistletoe to steal a kiss." Brett grinned.


Jalen was brought back to another place and another time by his young outlaw's
words. Christmases he and Dallas had spent together…him and Dallas inventing any
excuse to be under the mistletoe that had been hung inside the house to steal a
kiss. Jalen remembered the large, full beautiful Christmas tree he and Dallas
went out together to choose, chop down and bring to the house. How on Christmas
Eve they'd have all the hands come in and help decorate it and then lighting the
candles, having hot chocolate and cookies and the singing of Christmas carols.
Dallas would then read the Christmas story from the Bible and afterward everyone
would go to bed. Then he and Dallas would put all the presents under the tree
they had for all the men and for each other. They hung stockings for everyone on
the mantel over the great fireplace and after chores on Christmas morning they'd
all come in and take down their stockings and then open presents. Cookie would
cook a huge breakfast and they'd all eat in the living room, picking up plates
of food in the kitchen. Later that afternoon they'd have a Christmas feast with
wild turkey and venison. Those days were some of the happiest days in his life.
Jalen thought.

Giving himself a mental shake, he came back to the present smiling, "I'm glad
your parents were a lovin' couple. He told his young outlaw.


Brett had been watching Jalen and he could tell he was going back in time. He
had that sort of far away look in his green eyes when he did that. Once Brett
had asked him about it when he saw it as he noticed Jalen did that at times when
he seemed upset with him and Jalen had told his young outlaw it was when he was
thinking of things Dallas had taught him. He nodded a bit wistfully in response
to the Sheriff's comment. "Me too…I really miss them sometimes."

Jalen glanced over at Brett. "I can see you do and I'm sorry I can't make that
up to you." He said sincerely.

Brett smiled at the Sheriff. "It's okay. You don't have to. Things are good just
the way they are. You're sort of like Papa a bit and I like that." He told the

Jalen smiled with pride. "I'm glad. That's quite an honor to be compared to

Brett smiled. "Well you deserve it. Especially when you take me to task." The
younger man blushed.

The Sheriff smiled. "Well, it seems that part of things works well for us."

Brett nodded. "It does, although I don't quite understand why."

The older man smiled. "I'm not sure I understand it either. All I know is that
it works for us and that's all that's important."

The younger man nodded and Jalen reached out his arms to hug his probationer and
his young outlaw came to him and snuggled into the hug.


The two men rode up into their yard and after untacking their mounts and
settleing the barn animals went to the house and crawled into the bed they
shared with each other when they were alone and were glad that it was built as
strongly as it was to accommodate their youthful bedtime activity.

Jalen walked over to the livery and called, "Jack?"

Jack Hillyard, the owner of the Diamond Springs livery popped his head out of
his office at the familiar call. "In here Sheriff! What can I do for you?"

Jalen went inside the livery and saw Jack in his office. "I need a sledge or
sleigh. I want to hunt down a couple of Christmas trees." He said with a grin.

Jack chuckled. "Well with the recent snow tracking one shouldn't be too hard."
He teased.

The Sheriff grinned back. "You're right. It should be an easy hunt, but with a
young inexperienced tree hunter…in fact I'll have three inexperienced tree
hunters with me…it might just slow me down."

Jack quirked an eyebrow. "Three?"

Jalen grinned. "Yes, I'm not only taking Brett with me, but Gabe's brother
Daniel and his business partner."

Jack smiled. "Well Daniel seems a nice enough fella and his young sidekick seems
to be a good kid. Just watch that the two young scalawags don't get into

The Sheriff laughed. "I'll be sure to keep a sharp eye on them Jack."

The livery owner smiled. "I'll find something for you. You might need to invest
in a sledge, sleigh or both."

Jalen nodded. "Yes, I'll think about it."

Jack went into the back lot to see what he had that would be suitable for
Jalen's needs. He saw a midsized sledge that probably would carry two good sized
Christmas trees easily. He went back into the livery. "I think I have something
that will do, come with me and see what you think."

The Sheriff went with the livery owner and smiled when he saw the sledge that
Jack pointed to. "You should be able to haul that with only one horse if the
snow isn't too deep, use both if you're not sure."

Jalen nodded. "I will. I've used one of these before. It's been some time, but,
yes, it will do nicely. He glanced over at a small sleigh and asked, "Has anyone
wanted that little sleigh over there? I'd like to rent it for the winter
perhaps. I know it will be some time if I order one of my own. I'd like it in
time for Christmas."

Jack glanced over at Jalen and then nodded. "No one's spoken up for it and first
come first served. I'll work out a rental agreement for the winter and let you
know what it would be."

The Sheriff smiled. It would be nice for just Brett and him to use to go on a
sleigh ride just for fun. There were some nice areas around Diamond Springs and
it would be a fun way to show his young outlaw the area.

He glanced over at Jack. "I'll be back for the sledge and when I bring the
sledge back I'll pick up the sleigh."

Jack smiled. "Okay, that sounds just fine."

The next day Brett's blue eyes sparkled as he and Jalen rode into town leading
their draft horses Oak and Ash. There had been more snow overnight and Brett was
very excited about being able to go into the woods with Jalen, Daniel and Cole
to hunt down the Christmas trees. It was also going to be fun finding the
greenery needed to fashion the wreathes and to find the mistletoe.

Brett glanced over at the excited young man and grinned. "I'm glad you're havin'
fun kid."

Brett grinned back. "Me too."


The sheriff hitched up the horses and Jack had told him he'd keep their mounts
and then when he came to pick up the sleigh he could hook one of the draft
horses to it and they could tie the others behind and ride home.

Brett had been excited at the prospect of a sleigh.

Jalen grinned and said, "Well we'll take the sledge for now and then come back
for our mounts and the sleigh."

Jack grinned. "All right."

The Sheriff hitched up Oak and Ash to the sledge and with Brett by his side
pulled up to the Diamond Dust where Daniel and Cole were waiting. The two
younger men crawled in the back and Daniel joined Jalen on the seat of the
sledge. The Sheriff got the team going and headed to a spot outside of town
where they might find just what they were looking for. Jalen had stopped at the
café before picking up the other men and picked up a picnic lunch for them and
the basket sat in the sledge with the younger men.


Cole tried to peek into the picnic basket as they glided over the snow. "Wonder
what's in here?" He asked, looking at Brett.

"Food, of course." The young outlaw said smugly.

The other young man rolled his eyes. "I know that…what kind of food?"

Brett shook his head. "I'm not sure, but it'll be good whatever it is. Jalen
always selects things we both like."

Cole nodded. "I'm glad."


Daniel grinned at the Sheriff. "Sounds like our young ones are into the picnic

Jalen grinned and called back, "You two stay out of the food. We'll have it soon

Two heads popped up. One dark with curls and the other with reddish tints and

Daniel chuckled. "Yes, we knew you were into the basket."

Jalen said, "I have a couple of jugs of hot chocolate up here too."

Brett grinned at Cole. "Mmm…"

The Sheriff chuckled hearing his young outlaw's reaction. "I thought it would be
a nice treat and a change from coffee."

Brett grinned. "Yes, it sounds good."


The Sheriff guided the sledge toward a large stand of trees, Pine, Blue Spruce
and Fir. "I think we might find something nice here."

Dan nodded. "It looks promisin'."

Jalen smiled at the other man.


Brett smiled at Cole as he saw them heading toward a mixed stand of evergreen

Cole grinned as well. "We might even find some mistletoe in there." He said
quietly to Brett.

Brett nodded. "We sure might." He said quietly back.

Jalen brought the sledge to a halt and climbed down. Daniel followed him and the
two younger men were at their side in short order. The Sheriff smiled. "Well I
think this is a good place for us to hunt for a couple of Christmas trees." He
pulled out four strips of red cloth. "We can each hunt down a tree. Mark it with
this red strip by tying it on the tree. We'll then go back and look at each one
and decide which ones are what we are lookin' for. Remember, they're goin'
inside and so shouldn't be too much taller than me or Daniel." He grinned at the
other man who was almost as tall as Jalen who topped out at six foot three

Brett looked at Cole and the two young men grinned at each other. "All right, us
younger men against you older men and we'll see who gets the best tree!" Cole
cried with a grin that made his hazel eyes sparkle.

Daniel chuckled at his young partner's exuberance and turned to Jalen. "You on

The other man grinned. "Sounds like a good challenge."

The two young men went in one direction and the two older ones the other, each
team bent on finding the best Christmas tree.


As the men approached the stand of trees the pungent scent of Pine, Fir, Cedar
and Blue Spruce mingled with the scent of newly fallen snow and the sent of the
ground under the snow. Small birds flit from branch to branch at times
dislodging some of the snow on the branches where they lit. The sky was the
light shade of blue in winter and puffy white clouds dotted the horizon. Sun
filtered down through the trees sending shafts of light that alternately lit up
the men and cast them into shadow as they walked around the trees.

Brett took a deep breath and grinned at Cole. "This is my favorite time of year.
It's so beautiful."

Cole returned the smile. "It's become a nice time now that I'm with Daniel. Mama
tried to make it as nice as possible, but Dan's made it special." He told Brett.

Brett looked at Cole. "How?"

Cole said, "No matter where we are when it gets close to Christmas we always
come here to spend it with Gabe."

Brett nodded. "He's a real nice man."

Cole grinned. "Yeah, that he is, guess `cause him and Dan are brothers. I'm glad
they care a lot about each other and Gabe likes me and accepts me as a little
brother." Cole shared.

Brett smiled. "I'm glad. It's good to have someone who's like family, especially
around this time of year." He stopped and examined a straight Pine tree that was
pretty full and about a foot or so taller than the Sheriff. "I think this one's
the one I'm gonna choose." He told Cole with a grin.

Cole examined the tree critically and nodded. "It's a nice one."

Brett tied the red strip to it and he and Cole continued along looking at tree
after tree.


Jalen grinned at Dan as they walked in the stand of trees. "There are so many to
choose from. I thought tree hunting would be easier than this." He teased.

Dan chuckled. "Oh no…it's a lot harder than that Sheriff. See you're used to
trackin' down bad guys, not trees that don't leave a trail to follow."

Jalen laughed. "That is so true."

The Sheriff and Dan continued to tromp through the woods hunting the perfect


Cole went through the woods with Brett and when they came upon a beautiful Cedar
tree Cole said, "Look at this Brett, I think I'll choose this one."

The young outlaw grinned. "Yeah, this one's a beauty too and Cedar smells so

Cole nodded "Uh huh get rid of that smoky smell in the Diamond Dust."

Brett grinned. "Uh huh…it does smell good enough to chase that smoky smell

Cole tied the red cloth around it and said, "we better head back toward the
sledge and see how the old men are doin'." He said with a grin.

The other young man grinned back. "Yep."

The two younger men walked back toward the sledge.


Dan spotted a nice Fir tree. "Jalen…what do you think about this one?"

The Sheriff stepped up to it and grinned. "I like it. It's tall enough and has
symmetry." Dan nodded. "Yes, and it's straight which is a plus." He grinned.

Jalen grinned in return. "Yes, that's always a plus."

Dan tied the red cloth around the tree to mark it.

Not too much further Jalen saw a nice Blue Spruce and marked it as well. "We
better get back and see what our two youngsters are up to. Knowin' them, they're
probably itchin' to get into that picnic basket."

Dan grinned. "I don't blame them. Huntin' Christmas trees down is hungry work."
He winked at the Sheriff and he laughed.

The older men headed for the sledge as well.


Brett grinned as he saw Jalen coming back from the stand of trees with Daniel.
"Here come the old men." He teased.

Jalen came up to him and hugging him asked, "Who you callin' old kid?"

Brett looked up into the green eyes and grinned mischievously. "You."

Jalen pretended to be mad, growling deep in his throat and tossing Brett over
his shoulder and smacking the seat of his jeans. Not enough to count as a real
spanking, but enough for his young outlaw to feel it.

Brett squeaked in surprise and then laughed and begged to be let go, apologizing
in between his breaths of laughter.


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