1. The Weather Outside is Frightful
(Saturday, December 22, 1984)
It was Saturday evening. Colson had gotten home first from shopping, and was wrapping the gifts he had bought for Ellery and the girls. He was keeping things simple: one trip to the boot store for each of them, and the salesgirl there, remembering him from months before, said “Sheriff’s department, right?”
“How’d you remember that?” he said, blinking in astonishment.
She smiled and pointed at Colson’s boots. “I can’t forget a pair a boots – not ones as nice as those. Our best sellin style.”
“Oh,” he laughed a little. “They’re real good boots. I decided ta get some for each a my girls. If the size isn’t just right can we come back for a different size? I don’t want ta drag em in ta try em on if I don’t have to.”
“Sure, just make sure they try em on with socks so they stay good.”
“My girls are always real clean, no worry there,” he said, frowning.
For Ellery, he bought some slick-looking black alligator skin boots, hoping to divert him from wearing the garish blue ones he seemed to favor on nights when he came by the Red Stallion to substitute as bouncer, now that Colson was learning bartender duty from Lauren.
Colson’s hearing had improved with the healing of his fistula, but the doctor had warned him against doing any dangerous work that might cause him to get another blow to the head – and that meant his stint as Saturday night bouncer at the Red Stallion changed over to Saturday night bartender as he learned the ropes from Lauren. The weekend before Christmas was to be Lauren’s first Saturday night off since he had started working there a year before, and Ellery would be giving Dupree his Saturday night off as well, and Colson and Ellery took over the chief duties of the bar on its busiest night of the week. They were due at the bar as soon as they finished dinner, and Colson looked at his watch, wondering where Ellery could be.
The phone rang just as he was trying to make a bow on the top of one of the boot boxes, and the carefully looped ribbon collapsed as he reached for it.
“Ellery?” he said as he picked it up.
“No, this is the mother of your children, Colson.”
“Oh. Hello Laura. Merry Christmas.”
“It’s the 22nd, Colson.”
“I hope you wasn’t expectin me ta start payin child support again just because the girls are goin ta school startin January,” he said suspiciously.
“No, that ain’t what I am callin about. I am callin about them horses.”
“Horses? Pal and Socks? Socks’s been gettin treated for arthritis an Jess over here at the stables has been puttin her liniment on an I don’t want ta separate the two of em. They get ridden every day so I haven’t done anythin about movin em up there.”
“I ain’t talkin about Pal and Socks, Colson...” her voice rose a little at a time with tension, and he had no idea what the problem was.
“Well then I’m just gonna hang up then cause I haven’t got any idea what your talkin about, Laura. Girls still gonna come down tomorrow for lunch with Edna an Wes an us? I got em some nice gifts.”
“At the horse ranch,” she said.
“Yeah, the horse ranch. I work at a goddamn horse ranch. What the fuck is the problem?”
“I told you back before you got your little hearin problem, Colson, that if your rich fancy boyfriend is gonna get some rich fancy horses for my daughters that you had better tell me about it lickity split before they show up here an we got ta look after em.”
“His name is Ellery.”
“Fine then. Now what is with these horses you ain’t tellin me about that I told you was absolutely essential before you spring this all on us on the Christmas holiday when we got Steve’s relatives ta go see in Lake Havasu?”
“Yer goin ta Lake Havasu on Christmas day?”
“We are. All five of us in the stationwagon.”
“You are still lettin Pam come down with Katie Ann in the mornin I hope. They’ll be back on Christmas eve.”
“Yeah but I told you I ain’t callin about this. Now are they comin back with a horse trailer an a pair a red horses...”
“No Laura, goddammit, how many times have I got ta say it?”
“Well are ya gonna ask your fancy MAN whether he has bought them some new horses?”
“No he hasn’t gone out an bought no horses for em, cause I already got two horses an I ain’t gonna separate em right now until Pal starts improvin. What is with you, Laura?”
“You had better be tellin the truth, because I can’t be held responsible for what Steve might do if we end up with horses on our front doorstep on Christmas.”
“There ain’t nothin ta worry about, goddammit!” Colson said, and slammed down the phone.
Ellery came in the door stamping his feet. “Goddamn snow squall. Well, maybe this will keep the crowd light tonight.”
“It’s snowin?” Colson came to the door and Ellery slipped his arms around Colson’s waist, cold fingers burrowing down to where the shirt gave way to bare flesh, and Colson shuddered, pulling his fingers away from his ass and out of his pants.
“Jesus god, Ellery your hands are cold. Where are yer goddamn gloves?”
“Forgot em on the sofa,” Ellery nodded, letting go and rubbing his hands together. “Nice an toasty down the back a yer pants.”
“Yeah an I aim ta keep it that way,” Colson said. “I thought you was goin shoppin?”
“I did. I got stuff hidin in the car, gonna sneak it in when yer sleepin.”
“Come on,” Colson said. “I got yours all wrapped.”
“We’re gettin a tree tomorrow, ya know,” Ellery said. “You can put them gifts under it.”
“A tree?” Colson sighed.
“I got three thousand things ta put on it out in the shed, an haven’t had a tree up since... well... since Bill.”
“Maybe we ought ta just put it in the bar.”
“No way. Fire regulations.” Ellery took off his coat. “Whose turn is it ta cook dinner?”
“It’s my turn an I already got potatoes on. So I’ll just go in the kitchen an you can sneak in with your stuff. Oh by the way, Laura called.”
“Good Laura or Bad Laura?”
“Bad Laura like usual.”
“Uh oh.” Ellery went in the kitchen and saw the wrapped packages. “They all look suspiciously alike. Do I get ta guess?”
“No you do not.”
“I already know anyhow,” he said, turning down the boiling potatoes, then turning to Colson who followed in close behind and slipped his warm hands around Ellery from behind, tucking them into the front of his belt and sliding down past his navel, exploring as he pressed his crotch against Ellery’s ass and kissed his half-averted cheek.
“Oh ya do do ya?”
“Mmmm nice warm hands. Yeah I do. You know I wanted a pair a new boots, an so you went an used the discount at the boot store again.”
“Damn,” Colson said, his lips moving across Ellery’s cheek, one hand stroking through the close-knit curls and touching the stiffening smoothness of his cock. “Can’t keep a secret from you.”
“Are you gonna gimme a hand job or tell me what Bad Laura wanted?” Ellery said, turning his face so that he was in line for a kiss. Colson’s mouth connected and they kissed, Colson’s gently stroking fingers bringing Ellery to full erection as his own cock stirred.
“Don’t want ta talk about Bad Laura now, I want you boy,” he growled.