Guarded

Chapter 1 - Guarded

Corbin got out of the old pick-up and looked around. He shut the truck door and it protested with a squeal of metal. But there was no one around to disturb. He was six miles west of Hailey Idaho, and he may have found the object of his search.

The mid-day sun was welcome and pushed back on the chill carried by the wind. April in Hailey was not known for its warmth, and he was thankful he had done his research on the weather there. He pulled the collar up on his thick coat against the biting wind, then turned to gaze at what he had come to see. His blue eyes looked critically at the building. The small house was built of rough timber - almost a log cabin but made of wood that was squared into beams. It was also chinked with mortar between the courses. It looked simple but also sturdy and well kept.

He looked up at the solar array. It was on the roof, and thanks to the realtor information he already knew that the panels were the 200-watt variety. There were five of them, totaling up to a 1000W system. He frowned. That’s a lot of power for a cabin. But he also knew the folks who lived here before used it as their home, and not as a vacation property - just as he himself planned to. Once settled, he’d have to total up the usage of the appliances in the house and figure out if he needed all of the panels or not. He also noticed a solar hot water heater on the roof next to the panels. Information from the realtor said there’s an electric, on-demand tankless hot water heater that worked in tandem with it as well. He reminded himself to test it on this trip.

He knew next to nothing about solar electrical systems. But his research told him they needed an inverter to convert power gathered from the solar panels to AC current, which is the power used in homes. He already decided he would splurge on a Tesla Powerwall battery once he owned the house. The Powerwall included everything needed for the power conversion, and he’d not need to mess with it once it was hooked up - or at least the expertise required of him would be minimal.

Off a way, about 150’ from the house there was a small cinder block building. He knew from the realtor that it was the pumphouse, and it contained the above ground pump for the property. It was a very deep well. The figure wasn’t verified, but it was at least 110’ deep. He was told it was very dependable, and the water was very good. It was connected to the power through an underground wire, and the water pipes were buried deep to avoid freezing in the winter. Power and water were both handled. There was also a septic tank buried on the land for waste. He was informed it had been emptied last only a couple of years ago. He wouldn’t have to worry about that for a long time.

He turned and looked carefully at the placement of the house related to the highway. It was well away from the pavement. He had to take a long and winding gravel road to get here through scrub and trees. He could see the highway, but it took a few minutes to get to the house from the turnoff. He'd easily see anyone driving the mile-long gravel road long before they arrived. And this house was the only one on the road.

He turned back to the house. The blonde man fished in his pocket and pulled out the keys he had picked up from the realtor in Hailey. He unlocked then opened the door and noticed it was heavy, made of solid oak, not plywood or some other flimsy material. He also estimated how thick the wall beams were. They looked to his eye to be a full 10". He nodded in approval. Everything about the place screamed "fortress". He entered, flipped on the lights and shut the door.

The entry was a simple affair and led directly into the living room. There was a beautiful, handmade stone fireplace against one wall, and he could see into the kitchen over a bar counter that split the two rooms. To his left, a hallway led deeper into the house past the fireplace.

He checked the kitchen. There were both an old but functional fridge and a fairly new liquid propane range with oven. There were wooden countertops, with odd insets of haphazard but strangely pleasing tilework. The tile was mostly white, but here and there were spots of cerulean blue tiles. He ran his hand over them, and a perplexed smile pulled at his lips. He shook his head and shrugged.

There was a cast-iron, enameled single kitchen sink. He turned on the water, frowned, and remembered he had to turn on the supply. He rummaged in the under-sink cabinet and turned on the feed to the taps. The water began to run. Both the hot and the cold worked. He nodded again to himself. The space was fine. Functional.

There was a small room off of the kitchen. A backdoor in that space led outside, and the shelves of a pantry lined the wall. An energy efficient washer and dryer also sat in the room. He tested them, and they both came to life at the push of a button. Another check on his mental list.

Next, he walked down the short hallway. At the end, it opened into two bedrooms. They were small and plain, but good enough. In the middle of the hall, another doorway led to the bathroom. It had a clawfoot tub with shower, an antique looking vanity, toilet, and medicine cabinet. Nothing special, but again, functional.

Throughout the entire house was hardwood flooring. It looked to be treated with some sort of stain or oil, and it was a little darker than the walls. The entire house smelled faintly of cedar wood. Corbin stood in the opening of the hall and looked over the living room. He slowly nodded to himself.

"Okay. This will work." He pulled out his cell phone and saw that he had two bars of service out here. He hoped it’d be enough to complete a call, and dialed the realtor.

She picked up. "Hello, Robin." He walked to the door and looked out the window in the living room, out toward the road. He had a clear view of the only way to the cabin, and he smiled. "I’d like to put in the offer. Asking price. Yes, immediately. No, I’m not preapproved for a loan. I’ll be paying with a check." He waited while she stuttered and stammered a little. She recovered and he continued. "I’ll meet you at your office this afternoon. Thank you for your help."

He hung up and looked at the space one more time. Since he was essentially paying with cash there was a significantly shorter period of time before everything transferred over to his name and not the typical 30 days of escrow. This way he only had to wait for the paperwork to make its way through the county office, then the place was his. The faster his realtor and county worked the faster he would move in.

He turned the water off again, left the house and ensured it was locked. Then he got into his truck. He drove slowly on the gravel road, then turned onto the highway. Hailey was a short drive from the cabin. Handy enough for supplies, but far enough for privacy. As far as he was concerned that was another point in this place’s favor.

He drove into town and stopped at the bank. He had already prepared the local branch for the massive withdraw that was coming. He had to meet the branch manager, and they went over all of this identifying documents carefully. He was a little nervous about that, but they passed with flying colors. ‘Gotta love small towns.’ he thought wryly. Once they were satisfied he went directly to the realtor’s office.

Business there was concluded quickly. Cash lubricates every transaction and simplifies the process of purchasing a home. He hated the attention of both the bank and the realtor though. He knew word would get out about the purchase, and there would be talk and speculation about a 23-year-old guy laying down almost a ½ million bucks for the property. But there wasn’t much he could do about that.

"I’m going to get this started right away Mr. Blackwell," Robin said. Her green eyes betrayed her excitement, but he was fine with that. So long as it meant things happened quickly. "I've already confirmed with the bank that there will be no problem with your check clearing. So this is as good as cash, and a lot less dangerous to carry around."

He nodded. "How long do you think it’ll be?" He was anxious to get started outfitting and setting up his new home. "A week?"

"Oh no!" Robin looked appalled. "If I don’t have the title in hand by tomorrow, then I’m doing something wrong!" She laughed. "Or everyone at the county is on vacation!"

He was happily surprised. "Well, that’s great news. Thank you." He stood. "I’ve got some shopping to do." He allowed himself a slight smile. "Furniture."

Robin grinned and stuck out her hand. "Yes indeed. Congratulations on your purchase Mr. Blackwell. It has been great to meet you. I’ll call when it’s all arranged."

Corbin shook the woman’s hand, then he left the realtor office. He sat in the truck out in the parking lot for a bit and pulled up a list of all of the thrift stores in Hailey on his phone. He would purchase all the furniture he could from them, and he absolutely did not mind being seen shopping at the local thrift shops.

Plus, regardless of his ability to outright purchase the home, he was not made of money. His account was now limited to about $125,000, and he knew it would last a maximum of a few years if he didn’t supplement it with additional funds. He was in this for the long haul, so thrift stores worked for him in a number of ways.

He spent the next few hours shopping and checking off his list of furniture, appliances, and sundry other home supplies he would need. He paid for the furniture and appliances, but he requested they be held for him until he could come pick them up. That was happily arranged by the accommodating workers, and "sold" stickers appeared on his items before he left the store.

He stored the rest of his purchases in boxes the bed of his truck - silverware, plates, a toaster, cups, ceramic mugs, etc. NOTHING matched. Luckily he didn’t really care about that.

Next stop was the Family Dollar store. There he loaded up on all the oddball necessities - bathroom stuff, laundry and dish soap, cleaning supplies, sheets, towels, dishcloths, a dish drainer, a plastic bucket, batteries, a small AM/FM radio, and even a solar-powered lamp. He also picked up pencils and a few notepads. He had the feeling he’d need to be able to keep himself entertained with very simple tools, and pencil and paper fit that bill.

Tomorrow, after he got the keys he’d hit the local grocery store. He remembered seeing Albertson’s on the main drag of town, so that’d be easy enough.

He sat in his truck in the parking lot of Family Dollar and mentally went through his list again. He had everything he could think to purchase ahead of time already. It was now getting dark, and he was tired. He pulled onto the road and made his way to the Wood River Inn, where he had a room booked.

Though tired, he was also hungry, and that took priority. He dropped off the boxes he accumulated in his hotel room, then he went back outside. From the hotel, it was a chilly but quick walk to a place called Power House. It was a strange joint - a bicycle shop that also served food. But they did serve good food.

He seated himself at a small table, and shortly after the server appeared. He was a young guy, maybe 19 or 20 years old. He reported his name as Bruce in the friendly, focused manner that all good servers share. Black hair, brown eyes, pale skin, and freckles. Nice features and he sported the thin build of a young, active person. Corbin made himself avoid staring as the young man waited on another table.

There were a few other patrons in the place in addition to himself, though it wasn’t extremely busy. It was Tuesday night after all. There was music playing through the sound system, it was warm, and the muted sound of happy conversation and eating permeated the room.

His server returned, and Corbin made his choice. "Idaho Nachos. And a pale ale." He quickly gave the menu to Bruce. As he walked away Corbin looked up, and surreptitiously tracked him as he crossed the room. ‘Fuck, he’s got a nice ass.’ He took a deep breath, then reached down and adjusted himself under the table. It had been too long since he had been with anyone. And now that he was here, in a town of less than 8,000, he didn’t really think that was going to change anytime soon.

‘That’s for the best too.’ He nodded slightly as he thought. Despite Harris' advice, Corbin felt he had to avoid entanglements. Everything depended on his remaining disconnected, unattached and as anonymous as possible. Though that didn’t help with his problem below the waist. He already knew that he would take care of that himself when he got back to his room.

Bruce returned with his beer, and Corbin couldn’t help but notice that the front of him looked pretty nice too. He sat the beer on the table, and Corbin stared down at the beverage, annoyed with himself. "Your food will be right up." He said, his tone light and friendly. Corbin only nodded and didn’t look up until the young man left the table.

Corbin sighed and picked up the beer. He sipped it slowly, and appreciated the liquid, savoring it as long as possible. He was only ¼ of the way through when his nachos showed up. The Idaho Nachos are hand cut fries (of course) covered in chili, goat cheese, sour cream, cheddar, and onion. Corbin found them absolutely delicious. Though they were definitely a treat - he didn’t eat this way all the time.

His very attentive server returned twice more, and Corbin ordered another pale ale. He knew he had to stop at the second one. He only weighed 155 lbs, and he wasn’t a big drinker. He was amused to admit to himself that he already felt the first one. Bruce returned with his second beer. Corbin was almost finished with his nachos, but he made himself stop eating. He’d have the rest for his breakfast tomorrow.

"I’ll box that up for you sir." He smiled easily at Corbin.

‘Definitely easy on the eyes.’ Despite himself, he smiled back. "Thanks, Bruce." He caught what he did, and forced the smile off his face and then focused on his beer. Bruce left with his plate.

‘Fucking watch it.’ He knew what he did could be taken as flirting. He CANNOT be known as a gay man named Corbin, new to this town. That’d be a beacon. The thought circled in his mind, and he felt his throat tighten up in fear.

Bruce returned, still smiley and still friendly. Corbin took the box, stood up and put $30 down on the table. "Keep the change." He turned to leave.

"Uh, sir? Did you want the rest of your beer?" He looked over his shoulder, and the pale ale Bruce just delivered to him only a few minutes ago sat on the table edge, and was still almost full. Corbin frowned at the waste.

"I sure do." He took the beer and chugged it in one long draught. It felt amazing both on the way down, and as it sluiced around in his belly. He grinned at Bruce. "Thanks!"

The young man grinned back. "You’re welcome." He licked his lips. "Ah, hope to see you back again sometime." His eyes locked on to Corbin’s.

‘Shit.’ Corbin’s face fell. This guy flirted with HIM. "Uh, maybe. Yeah. Have a good night." He turned and almost ran out the door. Bruce stood there and frowned as he left.

He fast-walked through the chilly night to his hotel room and entered. He shut the door, then leaned against it, his back against the solid wood. His eyes were closed, and he breathed deeply - in and out.

After about a minute he shook his head. "I don’t know if I can do this." He whispered. The second beer began to hit him, and the alcohol started to fuel his emotions. "I can’t even go eat without hitting on guys … or getting hit on. I don’t know if I can do this."

He took another few breaths, and over time he felt a little calmer. ‘It’ll be better when you’re out there alone.’ He nodded to himself at the thought. "Yeah." He knew it was very important. He could not fuck this up. He couldn’t. He had this single shot at starting again, and he’d not get another one.

Finally, he pushed off of the door. He still needed to take care of some physical business, then he had to sleep.

At this point, he forced his worry aside, and once he did he felt pretty good thanks to the beers. He wasn’t drunk but buzzed, tingly and warm. He stripped down to his boxers then climbed onto the bed and lay down. Corbin rubbed one hand down his flat belly, and the other lightly flicked a nipple. A low groan started in the back of his throat, and then he gripped his cock through the thin material of the boxers.

He rubbed himself through the shorts and continued to gently tweak his nipple. His mind landed on Bruce, and he imagined that it was Bruce’s hand on his cock instead of his own. His mouth opened and his breathing picked up. He actually liked the friction of the material and he kept rubbing himself. It was less of a stroke and more of a massage for his dick. Regardless it felt nice.

He looked down and watched as a wet spot began to bloom on his boxers. Precome had started to flow, and Corbin worked his jaw. His chest fell up and down and he rolled his head on the pillow.

He felt it begin, deep inside himself. Then he groaned, and the first volley of his load shot from his cock into the material of his underwear. He kept rubbing, and his other hand gripped his nipple until it was nearly painful. His legs twitched and moved as he did.

His orgasm subsided with a shudder. He lay there and smiled to himself at the warm, wet sensation on his groin. ‘Everything is better after an orgasm.’ He relaxed a moment and fully intended to get up, clean himself and put on clean boxers. But the best-laid plans often go awry, and they did for Corbin. He quickly dropped off to sleep, his hand on his crotch, his cock still hard and sticky in his shorts.

He slept like a dead thing. The hours rolled by, and far too early for his taste, he was awakened by his alarm. He sat up and looked blearily around. His phone was down on the floor still in the pocket of his jeans. He got up, registered his still damp crotch, and he snorted at himself. "Nice Corbin." He grabbed his jeans and dug out the phone, then shut off the alarm.

He peeled off the boxers and put them into his bag allotted for dirty clothes. He yawned mightily, stretched, and got into the shower.

After the shower, and freshly cleaned he felt a little more awake. He took his leftovers and microwaved them while he dressed. Then he flipped on the television and watched the local news for a bit. Apparently, there was some weather on the way. He ate while he stared at the screen.

"Snow? Really?" He frowned at the TV. He knew it snowed in April pretty regularly in and around Hailey. But it was such a change for him. That’d take getting used to. "Shit." He couldn’t remember seeing any wood at the house. Yeah, there were downed trees nearby, but there was none chopped and ready to use. He would have to get a bit of wood too before he left town. There were plenty of local folks selling it so it shouldn’t be a problem.

He prepared to leave his room. It was just after 7 AM, and the air definitely had a bite to it as he stepped outside. He put all of his boxes back into the bed of the truck, and sure enough, he noticed a few flurries falling from the sky. ‘Definitely, need to get some wood.’ The fireplace was the only heat for the house, so that was a priority.

He gathered all of his belongings, including his copy of the paperwork from the realtor. Corbin checked his room one more time, then he dropped off his key at the front desk.

He knew the realtor opened at 9, and he planned to be there when the door was unlocked. That left him almost two hours to kill. He used it to hunt down some wood. While driving down Main street he found a local guy peddling some out of the back of his truck. He only had room for ½ of it, and the man was happy enough to sell him what he would take. The wood was heavy, but his truck was made to handle large loads, and he stacked it carefully in the bed next to his boxes of supplies.

He still had well over an hour. He drove around a bit and found Hailey Coffee Company on Main Street. His eyes lit up as he pulled into the parking lot. He needed caffeine, that was a certainty.

He entered and immediately liked the shop. There were tan walls, a dark floor, and nice tables and chairs. And of course, the smell of coffee permeated the space. There were a couple of groups of patrons, and they sat and chatted at the few tables in the room.

A cheerful young woman greeted him as he stepped up to the counter. "Hi, there! What can I get for you?" He immediately noticed that her teeth were very white. She had blonde hair, green eyes, and copper earrings that dangled from her ears. She was pretty. She didn’t get his motor running, but even Corbin noticed her beauty.

"Hi. I’d like a latte please." He took out a $5 bill and waited while she made his drink. As she did she bopped around to some internal soundtrack and he found himself amused and envious of her good mood. Soon he had the coffee in hand. He took a sip and he sighed. "Mmmmm …" he said unconsciously. "Thank you." He smiled at the happy lady behind the counter and turned to find a seat.

He had brought in a pad of paper and a pencil, and he sat at a small table next to the window that looked out over Main Street. It was a Wednesday morning, and things were waking up in Hailey on this cold, wintery day. He stared out the window, put his supplies down on the table and held the cup in both hands. He let it warm him, both outside and in.

Maybe it was his interaction with the barista or maybe it was the coffee, but he felt more optimistic today. ‘I can do this.’ He took another sip. ‘I just need to be careful, watch what I say and do … and if I REALLY need to dip my wick, I’m going to have to go out of town.’

He thought about Grindr, the gay hook-up app, but immediately rejected it. That just wasn’t him. Plus, that would leave a trail. If he was ever found out, there’d be a constant update of his exact location available out there. He sighed. ‘So … I’ll just masturbate a lot. Not like that changes much.’

He finished about half of his coffee, then took his supplies and began to draw the layout of the house, the outbuildings, the road, the small stream on the land, and where he approximated the property lines to be. He tapped the eraser on those lines. He needed to walk the perimeter. He could see some fencing from the house when he was there, but he wasn’t sure if it were completely fenced or not.

He went back to his coffee and drank the last of it with a satisfied grunt. He stood, put his mug on a tray for dirty dishes and waved goodbye to the barista. She noticed. "Goodbye! Come again!" He couldn’t help but smile at her. She was so bubbly.

Corbin checked his phone. Just before 9 AM. He got into his truck and drove to the realtor. His timing was impeccable, and Robin was at the door with her key. She smiled at him. "Mr. Blackwell! Good morning!" She opened the door and ushered him inside. By this point, it was doing more than snowing flurries. It was really starting to come down, and it was sticking.

Robin shivered and pulled off her gloves. "I’ll be right back." She walked down a hallway that led deeper into the building and he waited in the lobby of the small office. She quickly returned with a folder and a smile. "I’ve already been to the county. Everything’s done! I planned to call you as soon as I got here."

He grinned, genuinely happy. "That’s great news."

Within a half hour, he had his papers for the house and land and the keys in hand. He thanked Robin, and then he was out the door.

On the way out of town, he stopped at the grocery store. He loaded up with staples like flour, sugar, butter, beans, and rice. He got quite a bit of canned food as well since it stored so well. Then he also purchased some fresh food. He already decided he’d likely do most of his meals in bulk, freeze them, and then he’d have them available whenever he wanted.

Soon he was on the highway again. At 11 AM he had turned down the gravel drive, and he made the mile-long trip to the house.

‘My house.’ He grinned at the thought. Yeah, things were gonna be okay.

He unloaded all of his items and groceries. After the perishables were stored in the fridge he unloaded the wood into a careful pile on the porch where it’d be easy for him to grab it for the fireplace. Then he jumped back into the truck. He still had to pick up all his furniture and appliances from the thrift stores.

They offered to deliver, but he didn’t want anyone out there that didn’t absolutely need to be. So he rented a flatbed trailer he could tow. He drove into town, picked up the trailer, and then it was a short trip to the first thrift store. As his chest of drawers was being loaded by a couple of burly fellows, he suddenly realized the flaw in his plan.

‘I’m not gonna be able to unload this by myself.’ He frowned as he watched the items fill up the bed. The men cheerfully bid him a good day after they were done, and he strapped down the furniture so it wouldn’t move. Then it was on to the next store. Rinse and repeat two more times. Snow continued to fall, and now there was about an inch of the fluffy stuff that had accumulated on the ground. He was glad he left the snow tires on his truck. At least he had that going for him.

He drove back slowly and carefully with his loaded trailer. He had little experience driving in snow, and he took no risks on the trip. He made it home without incident and pulled as close to the house as he could. He spent the next couple of hours moving what he could by himself indoors.

When he decided he could move nothing else alone safely he sat on the cold wooden floor in what he had picked as his master bedroom. That experience decided him on the need for rugs in most of the spaces as a layer between the wood and bare feet in the mornings. He also thought about his furniture issue while he was in the process of assembling his bed frame. He had a few things in mind, but he’d have to get creative.

Corbin’s head suddenly jerked up.

He stared out the bedroom doorway. He thought for certain he had heard something. He slowly stood, his senses tingling. Very carefully he peeked around the doorframe and looked down the hallway. The view was a straight shot to the front of the house, and he could see the front door was still closed. He crept down the hall to the door, then he peered out one of the windows that looked out into his front yard. His eyes widened in surprise.

A tall man bundled from the cold, with a rifle slung over his shoulder stood with his back to the house. He looked at the still mostly-loaded flatbed trailer. His breath plumed from him in the cold air, as if he had just undertaken some physical effort. Other than his own truck, Corbin didn’t see any other automobile. This fellow hadn’t driven in. Or if he had, he must have parked some ways away and walked. There had certainly been no engine sounds. The man started to turn, and Corbin pulled away from the window so he couldn’t be seen. He heard a few steps on the flagstone path, then boots on wood as the man walked onto the porch.

A knock echoed through his cabin.

Corbin stood to the side of the door. He reached into his jacket and made certain his holster was still against his side. The .38 was there and he unsnapped the holster to ensure he could draw it easily.

He took a breath.

Then he opened the door.


Author's Note: Please let me know your thoughts about the chapter at the following email address link.   Wayne Gray

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