Jalen worked quietly at his desk. The two young men in the cell had been quiet
as church mice. He hadn't heard a peep out of them
since he came back. He
glanced at the pair of them sitting on the bunk
quietly waiting. Once Dan
arrived they would sort things out. He began to
write on his most recent report
and thought about how he wanted to handle
things. Technically Brett had violated
his probation. Since there were no
injuries or formal complaint signed against
either young man Jalen supposed
he could just chalk it up to two young men
having a bit too much to drink and
not thinking through carefully what they were
doing. There were no formal
charges unless Jalen himself wanted to press
disturbing the peace, but then
he'd have to report it on Brett's next court
report and he didn't really want
to have to do that either. He sighed. He
decided to see how Brett handled
himself and what Dan was going to do with Cole.
Fairmont made his way over to the Sheriff's office. He realized Cole
have much experience with young men near or of his own age. With their
life style it prevented anyone from getting to know them too well and
their special relationship, but it also had a drawback of his young
even himself not having others to interact with and the first
time there was it
made sense these things would happen. Well he knew Cole
knew the rules they set
out and which ones he had broken. He'd have to take
either the hairbrush or the
little paddle to his backside. He'd have to hear
the whole thing before he
decided how to proceed. He had promised Cole early
on that he would never use a
piece of leather on him. Cole had been fearful
of that and they had discussed it
at length and had mutually agreed it would
not be in the implements of
correction, but writing lines, the hair brush or
the little paddle were indeed
Daniel opened the
door to the Sheriff's office and the jail.
Jalen stood up to greet him.
"Good of you to come Dan. We need to discuss how
we're going to handle these
Daniel shook his head as he looked at how miserable Cole looked and
didn't look much better.
Jalen shook hands with Daniel and
he invited him to take a seat next to his
Dan took a seat and
looked at Jalen. He was a little surprised to see him
looking almost as
miserable as the boys. "You don't look very happy." Dan said
"That obvious huh? I don't know what to do…I'm feeling quite a bit
Dan nodded. "I can understand that…Jalen,
it's difficult when you love the
person you need to make decisions
Jalen looked at Dan. "What do you mean?"
Dan said quietly,
"Cole and me…well we have a special relationship. We love each
the manner of brothers…it's much more than that."
Jalen's green eyes
widened momentarily as Dan's meaning registered and he
discovered that what
Dan was telling him was that he and Cole had the same kind
that he and Brett had and…that Dallas had had with him as well.
uhm Cole love each other in a special way?" He asked hedging a bit
Dan grinned. "Yes and you and Brett?"
"Yes…I also had a similar relationship before comin' here with a
named Dallas Kincaid."
Dan smiled. "So you've had a bit of teaching then.
I suspected you and Brett had
a special relationship when we went tree
huntin'. Cole and me, well we learned
by trial and error. You know we've been
together for six years now."
Jalen nodded. "I knew you two were partners
and traveled together, I suspected
there might have been somethin' more there
when I saw the two of you this time,
, but I really didn't know you had that
special relationship for sure. When you
and Cole were with Brett and me tree
huntin' and didn't act shocked by us, it
sort of confirmed things for me. I'm
glad to know for sure now."
Dan nodded "It doesn't surprise me you didn't
know. It's why I never stayed long
in one place so most people wouldn't
suspect that we had our special
Jalen nodded. "I can
understand that…but now that we know…we can sort of be
there for each
other…that is if you decide to stick around."
Dan smiled at Jalen. "I've
been thinking about it, but I'm not sure."
Jalen nodded. "Diamond Springs
is a pretty nice town though."
Dan nodded. "As long as we keep our
special relationship quiet."
Jalen nodded. "Yes, you're
Cole watched Dan and Jalen talking. He had looked up
when he had heard the door
open and then his stomach did those not so good
flip flops knowing Dan wasn't
going to be very happy with him.
had looked up, but went back to contemplating the floor as he saw it
Cole asked Brett quietly, "What do you think they're talkin'
Brett shrugged. "Don't know. Maybe when the next train leaves and
putting me on
Cole shook his head. "Stop thinkin' like that.
Jalen really likes you and I
don't think he'll send you away."
said just as quietly, "He may have no choice."
Brett explained to Cole the probation program and the rules and
how he had
Cole studied Brett and then he said, "Ain't
goin' to happen."
Brett looked at Cole and asked, "How do you
Cole said, "I think you and the Sheriff have the same kind of
relationship like me and Dan. Dan ain't never goin' to throw me out
on my own.
Only if I choose to leave."
Brett thought about Cole's
words and realized he was right. Jalen had never
threatened to send him away.
He had always made it his choice to take the
consequences or be sent away. He
decided he wanted to stay and would take
whatever consequences Jalen
"I know you're right Cole. I care about Jalen a lot. We got a
Cole grinned. "Yeah, just like me and
Brett asked, "You do?"
Cole nodded. "Yes, we love each
Brett bit his lip and then asked, "In a very special
Cole nodded. "Yes, for six years now."
Brett said, "It's
only been a few months for Jalen and me, about 5 months now."
smiled. "I'm glad. You two are nice and deserve each other."
Cole a little smile. "Jalen used to have this guy Dallas who sort of
him and taught him things…about men who aren't attracted to women."
grinned. "Good, then he'll know what he's doin'."
Brett looked at Cole
puzzled, but nodded. "I think Jalen knows what he's
Hearing the soft voices of the boys Dan and Jalen
smiled at each other and Jalen
asked Dan, "What are you goin' to
Dan said, "Hold him accountable of course. He knows better than to
without tellin' anyone, to leave a job he's supposed to complete, not
when I'm not there to give him permission or to discharge his pistol
Jalen nodded. "Brett and me are continuing to
work on the rules. There are the
basic rules of probation like I'm to either
accompany him or know his
whereabouts at all times, he's not to associate
with any criminals, not to carry
or use a firearm without permission, not to
drink without my bein' with him to
supervise, and our own rules like
completein' chores, bein' honest, showin'
respect, obey any other rules I
deem necessary, including tasks assigned to him
like his schoolwork and
chores, not do dangerous things and to curb his temper
Dan listened and nodded. "Yes, it sounds like you're buildin'
Jalen looked at the two miscreants still sitting
in the cell. "I'm goin' to make
my rounds and then head home…if you like you
can come to my place with Cole.
It's pretty private." He said
Dan considered the offer and then nodded. "All right. I'll
just let Gabe know…is
it all right if we spend the night?"
nodded. "Sure, that's fine. I have an extra guest room you can use."
smiled. "Sounds perfect."
Jalen walked over to the cell with
Dan at his side. "I'm goin' to make my rounds
and Dan is goin' to take care
of a few things. You boys will be comin' home with
looked up, wonder in his blue eyes. "You're not sendin' me to
Jalen opened the cell door and went in and pulled Brett into his
arms. "No, I'm
not my young outlaw. I told you I'm not sendin' you anywhere.
The only way
you'll go to prison on my watch is if it's your choice to do
Brett snuggled into Jalen's arms. "'Kay, I don't want to go to
prison. I want to
stay with you and I want to go home."
asked, "Even if it means that you'll be held accountable for the
The young outlaw nodded and snuggled as close as he could get
to Jalen. "Yes
Sir." He said quietly."
Jalen smiled down at him. "All
right. You two stay in here and Dan and me will
pouted. "Do I have to? Can't I come with you?"
The older man studied the
younger man's eyes and then nodded. "Yes, you may.
Come on." He squeezed
Brett tight and then gave him a swat, a prelude as to what
The young outlaw jumped at the swat, but went with
Dan went over to Cole and put an arm around the
younger man. "We're goin' to
spend the night with the Sheriff. It will give
us enough privacy tonight to take
care of business and also an opportunity
for the four of us to talk more in
private surroundings. I don't mind Gabe
knowin' what's goin' on between us, you
know he understands, but I don't want
or need the whole town of Diamond Springs
in on our special
Cole nodded. "Yes Sir, I'm sorry Dan." He apologized as he
snuggled close to
"I know you are my wild one. I still love
you and wouldn't give you up for
anythin' in the world. Besides you know it
isn't the end of the world. You've
done some pretty foolish things in the
time we've been together and we've
survived every one of them."
said, "I don't want Brett to go to prison on account of me…I made him
Dan said, "I don't believe the Sheriff will do
that. You were both behavin' in a
way many young men do when they've had a
bit too much to drink. We'll take care
of things and all will be right with
the world again. I promise." Dan told Cole.
"I'm going over to Gabe's, I need
to tell him where we'll be and pack a few
things for overnight. I'll hire a
sleigh for us. I don't think you'll be wantin'
to sit a saddle tomorrow and
at least this way you can have a pillow." Dan said
quietly so only Cole could
Cole gave him a sour look. "You would have to say that." He
Dan arched an eyebrow. "We could forgo the cushion."
hastened to object. "No…that's all right."
Dan nodded. "I thought you'd
see things my way."
Cole blushed and Dan hugged him tight. "You stay put
now I'll be back as soon as
Seeing Brett going with Jalen he
asked, "Can't I come with you?"
Dan seeing the other young man was going
to leave with the Sheriff smiled at
Cole. "Sure, come on." He turned to
Jalen. "Sheriff we'll meet you back here
when you've finished your
Jalen nodded. "All right Dan, we won't be too long."
nodded. "Okay." He and Cole headed toward the Diamond Dust while Jalen
Brett went to do the Sheriff's rounds.
Dan watched as
he followed Jalen and Brett in the sleigh with Cole cuddled
warmly up to his
side. He somehow preferred the coziness of having his partner
snuggled up to
him this way instead of them each riding their own horse. They
in warm blankets and hot bricks were at their feet. Their overnight
on the floor and the horses were very responsive. He smiled as he heard
jingling of the bells on the harness. Jack had told him he had them for
the harnesses for his sleighs. It made things a bit more
Cole snuggled up to Dan. He was glad the older man
had rented the sleigh. He
liked cozying up to Dan's warm body. He knew he was
still in trouble, but the
ride calmed him and made him feel more
Jalen smiled over at Brett riding alongside him.
"It's a beautiful time of year.
The air is crisp and the trees smell so much
more strongly than in the warmer
months for some reason." He
Brett nodded. "It does seem that way doesn't it?"
agreed. "Yes, I like it and I'm so very glad you came alon' so now I can
a home of my own and enjoy this beauty. I'd forgotten how nice it is
lived in town all that time."
Brett smiled back. "I like it
that we have our own place outside of town to come
to. We can be private
here." He looked at Jalen. "Uhm…will I need to sleep in
the room that is for
me to go to when we have guests?" He asked, remembering
what Jalen had told
him about that.
Jalen shook his head. "With Dan and Cole it won't be
necessary. I'm thinking
they'll be wantin' to stay together and I see no
reason why we shouldn't do the
Brett nodded. "Cole and me,
well, we were talkin' and we discovered that all
four of us have the same
kind of special relationship, so I was hopin' we
wouldn't have to sleep
Jalen smiled. "Yes, I know. Dan and I talked too and it's
nice we all share the
same feelings and that discipline is part of both our
Brett bit his lip, at the mention of discipline, but
nodded. "Yes, I suppose
it's nice to know there are others like
Jalen smiled. "Yes, it is."
They soon found
themselves riding up into the yard and Jalen turned and greeted
men. "Welcome to my ranch. There's plenty of room in the barn for the
and the sleigh. I'm sure there's a harness rack in the tack room
Dan jumped down and so did Cole. "Thanks Sheriff." He began to lead
into the barn.
They all took care of the horses they had come
in with and Dan and Cole pitched
in to help with the other horses stabled in
the barn. Jalen had milked and fed
the cow and Brett fed the chickens. Every
animal had been watered. Jalen had
tried to make it so Ice wouldn't form on
the water troughs. When he and Brett
had made the repairs to the barn they
had worked very carefully to plug up any
chinks or drafts. They tried to keep
out as much of the cold as they could. When
they were home he checked
regularly to make sure the water wasn't frozen over
and broke the ice when it
Dan and Cole were impressed with the barn and how it had been
to and how clean everything was and how well all the animals
in there were cared
Once all was in order Jalen said, "Well
gentlemen, andlet's see what grub I can
rustle up for us."
grinned. He had discovered that the Sheriff was a pretty fair cook and
glad. He couldn't cook much. He could cook some fish or small game on a
over the campfire, but that was the extent of his cooking
As they entered they hung their coats and hats on pegs near the
Sheriff went over to the stove and stirred the embers that had been
fed it wood and soon had a good fire going. He also stirred up the
fire in the
fireplace in the large living room and laid a couple of logs on
it and soon the
room was becoming warm with the heat from the burning
Jalen had started a stew cooking on the stove before he'd left that
he stirred it and added more vegetables to stretch the meal. He
ingredients to make some dumplings and put them in the stew as well
began to bubble. He made biscuits too and the other three men helped
vegetables and cutting out the biscuits.
Dan asked, "Where
did you learn to cook so well Sheriff?"
Jalen smiled. "Call me Jalen and
when I was living with Dallas Kincaid his cook,
Cookie taught me. Told me a
man on his own without a woman to cook for him would
starve to death so I'd
better learn to cook if I didn't want to be one hungry
and the other two young men laughed at that.
"It has some truth to it
though." Dan said. "Traveling from place to place like
Cole and me, well, we
mostly rely on the local boarding house for our meals.
Sometimes they were
good and sometimes…well they had a lot to be desired."
Cole chuckled. "I
always found it interestin' how the woman who ran the boardin'
gave us a bed board to put between us when she found we wanted to
Dan chuckled. "Little did they realize we never used
Jalen and Brett laughed.
The four men enjoyed
their impromptu meal. The younger boys had made a face at
the number of
vegetables they found in their bowls, but said nothing as it was
all they had
to eat. They couldn't be too picky.
After the meal Dan went to his
belongings and brought out an apple pie he had
secured from the bakery before
leaving town as a surprise. Even Cole hadn't
known he'd bought it. "Dessert
Gentlemen…dig in." He announced.
Brett and Cole's faces lit up at the
savory treat and Jalen grinned at Dan and
shook his head. "It wasn't
necessary, but thank you Dan.
Dan said, "Well I was taught a good guest
didn't go to a person's home empty
handed. It's funny how those things your
Mama tells you all your life stick even
when you're out on your own isn't
Jalen said, "Well, not all my life, but my mentor Dallas told me it
manners. I'll go ahead and cut the pie and we'll dish it up. Why
don't we take
it into the livin' room? We can relax and talk in
Dan agreed. "That sounds fine."
Brett nodded. "Come on
Cole, I'll show you the most comfortable chair." He
Once all the men were settled they began to talk. They
shared a bit about
themselves and their lives and their special
Dan said, "It feels very good to be able to talk openly
with another couple who
have the same kind of special relationship as Cole
Jalen nodded. "I agree. It's nice to know you're not alone in
Brett said, "You were lucky Jalen, You had Dallas Kincaid to
Dan nodded. "Brett's right. Cole and me had to figure things
out as we went."
Cole smiled. "But we've had lots of fun figurin' them
out haven't we?"
Dan, who was sitting near Cole reached out and ruffled
the younger man's hair.
"Yes it has and challenging at times as
Jalen nodded. "Dallas and me had our times as well. I try to think
he's taught me before I deal with Brett. I wouldn't want to hurt
him for the
Dan nodded. "It's the same for me. I wouldn't want
to truly harm Cole in any
Brett said, "Jalen's real careful with
me. I know I'm loved and it feels good."
Cole nodded. It's the same for
Dan and me. I know I'm loved, it's just the
uhm…well the other part that's
Brett nodded. "Yes, but it's kinda odd how it sorta
settles me down and I feel
cared for afterward and mostly forgiven. I have
always felt better inside
afterward when Jalen has had cause to…uhm..." He
Cole nodded. "Yes, I know exactly what you mean. It's like that with
me. I had lots of anger inside and so I'd do mean things to try to
get rid of
it. Dan's helped me so I don't have to do that so much
Brett nodded. "I don't always like the way Jalen helps me, but
it seems to work
Cole grinned. "The same goes for me.
Even though I don't like it, it seems to
work for us."
The Sheriff and
Dan smiled at each other hearing their young
Jalen glanced over at Brett once it seemed the
younger man had finished the
discussion with Cole.
"I'm going to clean
up these dessert dishes and then Brett you and I need to
have a talk about
what happened this afternoon." Jalen said quietly.
Brett cringed and bit
his lip. "Yes Sir."
Dan eyed Cole. "I'm going to help the Sheriff. You
stay out of trouble while I'm
Both young men exchanged glances
and nodded their understanding.
Dan helped Jalen with the
dishes. He said casually, "I think Cole's offenses
today deserve a paddlin'.
What do you think about Brett?"
Jalen squirmed. "I think he deserves a
good sound spankin'."
Dan arched an eyebrow. "No implement?"
flushed. "Uhm…no. I…uhm…I've never used one before." He admitted
"Brett's the first person I ever even spanked with my hand." He
to Dan. "I thought about it, but first, I don't have a
paddle, although I could
use a hair brush, but secondly…well, I haven't
talked it over with Brett and I
don't exactly think it's fair to drop
something new on him unexpectedly. I think
it's important to talk about using
an implement together and agree on when it
should be used. I know he's been
spanked with them before by his parents, even
switched, but I don't think I'm
ready for any of that and I'd feel better about
it if I talk to Brett
Dan put an arm around Jalen's shoulders. "It's all right. You do
what you feel
comfortable with and what works for you and Brett. If you ever
feel a need to
take a step or two up then talk to me. I'll try to
Jalen looked up into the violet eyes and smiled. "Thanks
"You're welcome Sheriff."
Jalen said, "You can call me Jalen
Dan smiled. "Yes, you told me that earlier. I like callin' you
Jalen is good too."
The Sheriff grinned and said, "All
Dan chuckled at Jalen's teasing about being too formal.
"All right. Jalen." He
said with a smile in surrender.
The other man returned with a grin.
Dan smiled. "You're welcome. What
about logistics? Where shall we go?"
Jalen asked, "Which do you prefer?
The woodshed or the barn?"
Daniel considered and then said, "The
The Sheriff nodded. "I'll take the barn then. Your room is at
the top of the
stairs, second room on the right."
Dan nodded. "All
right. Thank you."
Jalen said, "It's already made up. Mrs. Hawkins keeps
house for us and takes
care of everything."
Daniel nodded once more.
The Sheriff sighed. "This is the part of our relationship I don't
Dan nodded. "Yes, I understand. It's not exactly my favorite part
it's necessary if we're goin' to keep our partners with us,
secure and safe."
Jalen nodded in return. "I know you're right. We'd
better go back and let them
know of our plans."
Daniel put an arm
around the other man's shoulders in support and gave him a
get through this. It's not the first time they've each been in a
what you've shared about Brett."
Jalen nodded "It definitely doesn't
sound like the first time for Cole either."
Dan gave Jalen a rueful
smile. "No, you're right about that."
The two men headed for the living
room their purpose in mind.
Brett looked at Cole. "What do
you suppose they're doin' in there?" He indicated
said, "Probably deciding our fate."
Brett said gloomily, "I already know
I'm going to be in trouble."
Cole nodded. "That goes for me too; I'm in
pretty big trouble for breakin' a
bunch of rules."
Brett cocked his
head and looked at Cole. "You have rules you have to follow
nodded. "Of course I do…did you think Dan doesn't take care of me?"
shook his head. "No, I didn't think that, I just thought because you're
than me you and Dan didn't do that anymore."
Cole laughed ruefully. "Not
a chance. Dan tells me I'll never be too old."
Brett's blue eyes widened
at this proclamation. "Never?"
"Nope, never." Cole said with a little
Brett bit his lip and glanced up as the two older men came back
into the room.
Dan said quietly, "Cole, you and I will borrow the
Jalen said, "Brett, we'll visit the
Brett and Cole exchanged glances and both young men nodded and
went with their