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The Long Way Home: Chapter 1 - tcreader — LiveJournal
The Long Way Home: Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Laying Low
(Wednesday, September 19, 1984)

Ellery woke in the roomy bed, a grey light filtering through the curtains from the window overlooking the Little Colorado, as Colson came in the door of the cottage, beating his hat against his thigh and flinging raindrops around him.

“I take it that sky an yer wet hat means it didn’t blow through.”

Colson shook his head. “Nope. Changed ta rain everywhere now, must be a mess in high country. Got the horses fed though.”

“I guess I’m tellin ol Steve Randolph we’ll be occupyin the Honeymoon Cottage for another day or two.”

Colson stripped off his jacket and hung it on the peg behind the door. “Yeah.. don’t think I want ta find out how muddy it is on the trail.”

Ellery reached for the phone. “I’ll tell em at least tonight then.”

“Sure enough,” Colson said, hanging up the jacket on a hanger in the closet. “Soaked through. So much for that shirt.” He took his shirt off as well, and put it on a separate hanger, as Ellery connected with the office.

“We’re gonna be needin ta stay for at least one more night here, cause a the weather still lookin bad up-country. Sure. Oh an maybe can we pick up some towels when we come out fer breakfast? Thanks a bunch. Yeah... you can charge my card for tonight, sure.” Ellery hung up the phone. “Say, maybe it’d be a good idea ta call yer daughter an let her know you ain’t huddlin in a tent out in the weather.”

“Good idea,” Colson said, patting the shoulders of his t-shirt. “This feel wet ta you? My hands are so cold I can’t tell.” He came over and sat, and Ellery put a hand up on his shoulder. “Damp, but it’s so warm in here you’ll dry it off.”

Colson picked up the phone and dialed Katie Ann’s phone number, and listened to it ring, then looked at his watch. “She’s already at work I’ll bet, it’s nearly eight. Poor girl’s got ta walk ta work now.”

“Ya know we could get her a car.”

Colson set the receiver down. “I am worried about her, Ellery. Ya know I don’t like ta just take money bein handed ta me but... when it comes ta Katie Ann... I am tempted.”

“I got enough money ta get her a car if she needs one, Colson, ya know that. No strings attached. If ya don’t want me ta be fancy about it we could go down the used car lot an pick out a reliable one that’s four-five years old, somethin like what Edna drives.”

“As long as it’s got a good heater an won’t be prone ta breakin down,” Colson said.

“Or... I could give her the Monte Carlo an get a new car. I was thinkin of it but puttin it off cause I didn’t want ta let it slip I had money burnin a hole in my pocket.”

“That’s an idea. That’d be a better bet than the used car lot.”

Ellery nodded. “I could make a couple a calls an see if I can get it driven up ta Prescott if ya want.”

Colson shook his head, doubtful. “Maybe we ought ta wait an talk to her about it. Things move too quick, her momma might start havin fits. Besides, there shouldn’t be any problem with Steve stoppin by ta pick her up for work since she’s in straits now.”

“Good point.”

“I should call Laura an tell her I’d like her ta ask Steve ta help out an give her a ride.”

Ellery gave Colson a doubtful look. “You sure you want ta stick yer nose in that far? Weren’t you the one who said Katie Ann could manage her momma bettern you could?”

Colson looked longingly at the phone, then sighed. “Yeah. Yer right. You ready ta get yer ass out a bed an eat somethin? I could smell sausages cookin clear across the parkin lot.”

“Good idea. You gonna gimme time for one a your five minute showers?”

“If we ain’t doin yer hair again, Rapunzel,” Colson smirked.

Ellery hurried through showering and dressing, and they spent a leisurely hour at breakfast, sipping coffee and chatting. The dining room was nearly empty except for a middle aged couple and a quiet family with a pair of well groomed teenagers halfway across the room from them.

“We look funny ta anybody?”

Ellery chuckled. “The only thing anybody is seein is that the skinny guy in the black hat is one a them law enforcement heroes who’s up in the White Mountains for vacation after shootin a bad guy. I thought the motel manager was gonna ask for an autograph,” he said.

“Oh,” said Colson. “I guess I better act like I’m havin breakfast with a celebrity then.”

“So what a ya want ta do after breakfast, Colson? It’s rainin down cats an dogs, we got a honeymoon cottage, the horses are snug an dry, an we got nothin ta do an nowhere ta go an our bellies are full a sausages an pancakes.”

“Well if it weren’t rainin so bad I’d say let’s take a hike but my coat’s already soaked an I’m gonna have ta break out the rain slickers if it gets any worse out there.”

“We could watch TV an sit in front a the fire..” Ellery leaned forward... “and cuddle some,” he added softly.

Colson blushed. “Yeah. That don’t sound too bad. Been months since we just sat an... watched... tv.”

“An they got movies on the cable channel too, maybe we can find a Western, a John Ford or somethin. Since we’re in the John Wayne cottage an all.”

Ellery signed the check for breakfast on their room, and they dashed back to the cottage through near-torrential rain, pulling their jackets off when they got back inside. Colson poked up the embers in the fireplace, adding new kindling. “Time we got a fire goin here again,” he said, occupying himself as Ellery flipped through channels on the television, trying to figure out the remote control and finally found a movie playing on Showtime.

“Well lookie there, it’s “Stagecoach. This ya got ta see. John Carradine at his snaky slithery best, Colson.”

“I think I seen that one.”

“Well let’s see it again, hurry up with the fire.”

They settled down together on the sofa, watched first “Stagecoach” and then a forgettable comedy starting an actor Colson vaguely remembered Katie Ann mentioning from several years previous as being one of her “dreamboats.” As the channel announced the upcoming next feature, Colson felt Ellery’s hand slide up his thigh, and he covered the hand with his own.

“You gettin fresh?”

“Yeah,” Ellery said, his voice dropping to a whisper. “Somethin about badly written teenage comedies gets me goin an I don’t know why.”

Colson slid his arm around Ellery’s shoulder and leaned in for a kiss, and as he did, Ellery’s free hand grasped the remote control and pressed the red control button to “off,” leaving the room silent but for the crackle of burning logs in the fireplace, and the sound of their panting breaths.

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