Chapter 15: A Thousand Words
Caleb's eyes were open, gathering the little bit of early morning light that filtered through the open canvas window of their tent. It was now the third week of May. Their crops were coming along, four young calves were recent additions to their herd, and they only had a bit left to do on the foundation of what would be Wren's house.
Caleb's arm lay over Wren and he pulled until they pressed together, as much skin as possible in contact. Wren made a satisfied sound in his sleep and wiggled a tiny bit. Caleb smiled against the back of Wren's neck, and he breathed the scent of Wren's body, along with the faint but still-present smell of their love-making the night prior.
He allowed his hand to trail lightly over Wren's belly, down to his groin. Caleb found the base of Wren's penis and gently moved his fingertips around it. He didn't grip Wren. Caleb simply let himself explore, and he grinned at Wren's reaction to the soft, persistent touching.
Wren wet his lips and made a breathy sound. He wasn't awake, but his body had figured out that Caleb was touching him. Wren's lover kissed the back of his neck, then he rolled and grabbed the lotion beside the cot.
For the last few weeks, Caleb had watched with wonder and fascination when he and Wren had sex. Wren's expressions, sounds, words, and impressive orgasms all said that he genuinely enjoyed Caleb inside him. Frankly, Caleb was curious, and he wanted to try everything there was to try with Wren.
Caleb put some of the lotion on himself. In secret, he had already played a bit with one of Wren's toys. Caleb hadn't been sure he'd like having anything inside him and at first he hadn't. It had been hard going, uncomfortable, and a little painful. But Caleb Shaw was not a quitter, and he had persisted. Once he got the dildo inside and positioned himself so that he could reach it and his cock, he realized that it was pleasant enough. Then he was surprised by the sudden and powerful orgasm he had as a result from stimulation from both his hand and the toy.
He carefully reached below the light blanket. He had a dollop of lotion in his palm, and the warm, slick lubricant made gripping Wren's now-erect dick even more fun. Caleb stroked him and rubbed his face against the nape of Wren's neck.
Wren came awake with a grin. "Mmmm. Good morning." He wriggled his rear against Caleb. Caleb knew Wren expected to be screwed, but he had other plans.
"Good morning." Caleb kissed the side of Wren's face, stroked him a few more times, then pulled his hand away.
Wren made a noise of protest as Caleb turned onto his side to face away from him. "No. You can't do that." Wren rolled and scooted up against Caleb. "You can't leave me hanging like this." Wren's hard, slippery cock pressed against Caleb's rear. "As you can probably feel, thanks to you, I have something that needs attention."
Caleb didn't answer. He moved his ass against Wren's groin. Wren's member slid up and down Caleb's crack, and Wren swallowed behind him. "Oh, you shouldn't tempt me." Wren's hand gripped Caleb's hip. "You really shouldn't."
"Maybe I want to tempt you." The pressure of Wren behind him was pleasurable, and Caleb liked how Wren's arm slid around to press tight against his chest to hold him in position.
Wren's breath was warm against the skin of Caleb's neck. "If you don't like it, you say so, and we'll stop."
Caleb nodded. Wren's hand ran down his belly and rewarded Caleb with a firm grip on his hard dick. He continued to grind against Caleb and started to position himself. Caleb wet his lips and prepared for Wren's entry. Then Wren stopped.
"What?" Caleb looked over his shoulder. "What is it?" Caleb immediately thought there must be a problem. 'Is he not into it?'
"I… I don't want to do it this way." Wren leaned forward to kiss under Caleb's ear, and his voice dropped to a whisper. "I wanna see your face."
Caleb rolled on his back, and Wren smiled as he shifted until he knelt between Caleb's legs. He bent to kiss Caleb and pulled the bigger man into position.
He slowly increased pressure on Caleb. Wren leaned back and looked over his features, those green eyes for all the world reminding Caleb of the spring grass.
Caleb let his head relax back. Wren pushed a little more and Caleb grunted as the initial entry happened. "Doing all right?" Wren said, concern, affection, and lust all mixed and swirling in that tone.
Caleb nodded, determined to have this experience, no matter what. Wren seemed to know what he felt and he waited, motionless, while Caleb adjusted. "We'll go slow, Caleb." Wren kissed the exposed skin of Caleb's Adam's apple. "I'm not going to hurt you." After a few moments, Wren allowed his pelvis to move just slightly. "I'm never going to hurt you," Wren said the words with a profound reverence, and Caleb reached for him.
They kissed with no rush. Wren continued to slip into his lover, and Caleb groaned around Wren's lips as Wren's cock gently slid into his prostate. Wren smiled in the kiss, and then he pulled back to watch Caleb.
The two men locked eyes and Wren moved in a purposeful, languid rhythm. Caleb gasped and lay back. He let Wren control everything; Caleb trusted Wren as he had never trusted anyone before.
Wren's warm hand stroked Caleb in time with the movements of rest of his body. Wren continued to watch him. That impossible gaze roamed and moved, taking in every feature and movement of Caleb's face.
The sensation began to build. Wren had kept his pace and that made things last a little longer, but Caleb couldn't hold out. Wren seemed to know, and his thrusts picked up. Caleb's jaw dropped. "Wren." Caleb's eyes held a mercurial mix of pleasure and surprise. "Ah, god."
Caleb came in a wild release, and Wren grinned as he shot up and onto his own neck. Caleb moaned and continued to empty onto his belly. Just as he finished, Wren closed his eyes and held his hips forward, as deep in Caleb's body as he could get. Wren grunted, then he resumed his piston-like motion.
Caleb pulled him down and kissed Wren as the moment drew on. Wren came to a stop, but the men continued to exchange gentle, searching kisses.
Wren breathed heavily, and lay his face against Caleb's neck. Caleb remained still, his arms around Wren, and enjoyed the way Wren slowly wound down and how connected and natural it felt to be with Wren in this way.
Finally, Wren pushed himself up on his hands and looked down at Caleb. There was a strange frown on his face - something that didn't quite fit with the way his eyes sparked with both wonder and confusion.
"Hey." Caleb stared up at him. "You okay?"
Wren's furrowed brows moved as he struggled. "I don't know when this happened." He held Caleb's face in his hands, and his thumbs moved lightly over Caleb's eyebrows. "I didn't feel it happen. It's like it has always been this way."
Wren's touch and closeness were things Caleb would never willingly give up, so he stayed right where he was. Caleb shook his head slightly. "What do you mean? What happened?"
Wren took a long breath, then let it out. He nodded once to himself and smiled. "Somewhere along the way, somehow," Wren swallowed and forced himself to say the words, "I fell in love with you."
A few hours had passed and it was now a cloudy but bright mid-morning. Kyle drove his truck up and parked beside the mess tent. Caleb and Wren had walked out to meet him, bemusement on both of their faces. They were dressed for work, in worn denim shirts, stained jeans, and boots, and Kyle saw the tell-tale signs of concrete dust smeared on each of them.
Kyle got out. He wasn't sure why, but he had felt he had to put on his nice clothes. His dark green pearl-snap button-up shirt looked good against his new, black jeans. His boots were brushed to a low shine, and he turned, a bit nervously, to the boys.
"Howdy, fellas." Kyle smiled, though it came out as something of a grimace, thanks to how his belly fluttered around.
"Kyle?" Wren looked from Kyle to the new, forest green Ford pick-up he had arrived in. "You got a new truck?"
Kyle had forgotten that they didn't know about the vehicle. "Oh." He rubbed his head. "Yeah." He had driven white Dodges, just like his brothers, for decades, though it just occurred to him that it might be a shock to others. He shrugged. "I like green."
After a short silence, Caleb nodded. "Uh, yeah. It suits you." Caleb and Wren glanced at one another. Kyle saw it but wasn't sure what that look meant. Caleb refocused on Kyle and cocked his head. "So, what can we do for ya, Kyle?"
"Oh. Yeah. Sorry." Kyle put down the tailgate of his truck. Wren and Caleb stepped around, and Kyle heard them both gasp. Beecher's old, treasured toolbox was there. Kyle had spent his free hours sanding, painting, then oiling it until the equipment was nearly as good as new. It was now a flat gray, painted inside and out to protect it from rust.
Wren rubbed his mouth. "Wow." He stared at the toolbox. "What… where did you-"
"Wade told me ta leave it at yer turn off. Said you'd be able ta prosecute me if ya knew I took it." Kyle sighed, then shrugged. "I just didn't want nobody to take it. So, I reckon, if that's what ya want, then we can call Roseberry an' get things settled."
Wren was quiet so long that Kyle frowned at his silent nephew. Finally, Wren smiled. "Uncle Kyle," he stepped forward and put a hand on Kyle's shoulder, "thanks for taking papaw's box, and for fixing it up for us." Wren squeezed his shoulder just a little. "That was a real nice surprise, wasn't it Caleb?"
Caleb nodded, and he too wore a smile. "Yep. Thanks, Kyle."
They weren't getting it. "No." He shook his head. "I stole…"
"Kyle." Wren put a hand on his other shoulder. He gently shook him. "It's okay."
What they were doing dawned on him. "Ohhh." Kyle glanced at the box. "Yeah." He nodded. "Yeah, I was just fixin' it up fer y'all."
"And we appreciate it." Wren looked over his shoulder at Caleb. "We got any more coffee?"
Caleb smiled broadly. "No, but we can make some."
"Oh, don't y'all go through any trouble," Kyle said, but only because it was expected of him.
Wren shook his head. "It's no trouble, Uncle Kyle."
The men ambled over to the fire ring, and soon they had water heating. It wasn't long before Kyle had parked himself in a camp chair, and he sipped the strong, pour-over coffee though he had an eye on that strange foundation the boys were building. "What's goin' on with that?"
"Oh, it's some big, bright idea of Wren's." Caleb looked over his shoulder at the footprint of the future home. "Something he learned in California. 'Rubble-Trench foundation' is what it's called."
"Huh." Kyle considered. "Don't look like much concrete went into it."
"Yeah!" His nephew seemed excited. "That's the whole point, to save on concrete. Well, and to provide drainage too." Wren began to explain the nuances of the foundation. Kyle didn't understand much apart from the physical descriptions of technique, but he didn't really have the heart to stop him.
'Let 'im talk.' Kyle smiled behind his mug as Wren continued. 'He's happy, so let 'im talk.'
The week passed, and it was early on the last day of May. Casey Keen slowly came to his senses. He blinked, looking up at the unfamiliar ceiling and for a moment he was confused. Then he turned his head to look beside him and the night before came crashing back into his memory.
Rachel lay facing him, asleep. Her long, black hair cascaded over half of her face and Keen stared at her understated beauty. That close, he could now see little lines had begun to form at the corners of her eyes and near her mouth. The toll of age was starting to show on her otherwise smooth skin, and silver glittered here and there in her dark hair.
Casey smiled. He could tell that Rachel would bear the changes of time well. He couldn't imagine not finding her attractive, no matter how many wrinkles or the amount of gray. He knew that she would always have that spark - the fire that had always drawn him near.
She must have sensed his attention. Rachel's eyes opened and she looked at Casey. She grinned at him, tried to say something, but was interrupted when she yawned. Casey laughed as the autonomic bodily function carried on. Finally, Rachel finished and joined him with a giggle. "Well, good mornin', sheriff."
"It sure is." Casey reached and pushed her hair back out of her face. She smiled at his touch and his heart thudded along at a strong, rapid pace.
Rachel's face shifted, and she sat up. "Casey, before we do much else, I need ta talk to ya, an' let you know where I stand on a few things."
Keen sat up with her. "Okay." He nodded. "Yeah, let's talk." He swallowed a little nervously at her seriousness.
Rachel kept her eyes focused on his the whole while. "It's about Wren." Her jaw clenched. "I like ye, but if you can't accept what I'm about ta tell ya, then we'll just need to be acquaintances from here on."
She definitely had his full attention. "Okay." He turned so that he faced her, the sheet draped over his lap. "What is it?"
"Ya heard me." Wade's voice hardened, at odds with his smile. He already knew the outcome of the exchange over the phone with the developer. "I'm increasin' the cost of all the properties in the parcel. Ya can take the new prices or ya can leave 'em."
The conversation was a short one. The man hung up, and Wade nodded in satisfaction. Over the last decade, Wade had slowly purchased the properties on the edge of Grayson, the nearby town. Then, when times were right, he sold them at a small profit to a contact of his who was an aggressive developer.
The result was Casey Keen's property was incrementally surrounded by a strip mall, gas stations, and convenience stores. Wade had spent the last decade despising the man - so sure that he was the one to start the Federal investigation on him and his brothers. Now that he knew the truth of things, Wade worked to undo the long-game revenge he had set himself on. He knew that, without the artificially low prices the developer enjoyed through him, there would be nothing new constructed there.
It also meant Keen's property would climb in value. Soon, Casey would have a chunk of land the developer would pay a fair amount for - now that his low-cost connection had dried up.
Wade took a satisfied breath and gazed out over his fields from where he stood on his porch. It was bright, sunny, and his tobacco plants in the plots that could still support them struggled. Wade knew this was the last year he could rely on those plots. No matter how much fertilizer he used, there was only so much the earth could give. He sighed. The constant struggle to stay ahead wore him down and he was out of cheap properties he could snap up.
Still, he had another task to handle before his day was done. Wade took a seat on the porch swing and made another call.
"Uh, well, yeah, we can come by, Wade." Wren scratched his head and looked at Caleb.
Caleb watched Wren's expression as he spoke on the phone. Wren shrugged at Caleb and continued the call. "Yep, now is fine. We'll see you soon."
Wren hung up. Caleb put a hand on his shoulder and smiled at him. "Everythin' all right?"
Wren nodded. "I think so. Wade just wants to talk. Said he has somethin' for us."
They climbed into the truck and soon they were off. It wasn't long before they pulled up in front of Wade's house. Wren's potbellied uncle sat on his porch swing, and he nodded in greeting.
Wren led the way through the gate. Wade's two hounds came running around the side of the house, ready to bark up a storm. "You two, don't start!" Wade's voice snapped across the yard, and they hunkered down. Wade shook his head. "I think I like yer way of dealing with company better, Wren."
Caleb knew he meant the cameras, and he chuckled along with Wren. They closed the gate and the two young men stepped up onto the porch.
"Howdy, Wade." Wren smiled at his uncle.
"Hey, Wade." Caleb followed Wren to stand nearby and under the shade of the porch. It had turned into a beautiful, warm day, so the shade was welcome.
Wade nodded at them both. "Howdy. Thanks, fer comin', boys." Wade took a manila envelope that lay beside him on the swing. "I got somethin' for ya." He handed the envelope to Wren, then he sat back to observe him.
Wren frowned. "Okay." He undid the metal clasp that held the envelope closed. Caleb saw glossy photos slide out and Wren took a sharp breath.
Wade smiled slightly. "These are the only copies. An' I've already deleted the originals off Jason's beast of a camera."
Caleb stepped behind Wren so that he could see over his shoulder. The picture showed them next to the foundation. Caleb had his arms around Wren from behind, and in the picture, he clearly nuzzled Wren's neck. The others were similar; all depicted them in clothed but intimate moments together.
Wade continued to watch them. "We, ah… we were gonna use 'em to make sure Ragan didn't want anythin' to do with y'all. So ya couldn't sell yer crops." Wade sighed. "I ain't proud of it." He waved a hand at the photos. "Anyhow, you ain't got nothin' to worry over now."
Wren slowly looked through the dozen photos. Once he was done, Wren slid them back into the envelope and handed it to Caleb. Wren's eyes had both a question and a measure of fear. "How, ah, how long have you known?"
Wade shrugged. "Didn't fer sure, till Jason snapped these, a week before..." He scratched his head. "Ah, a week before the walnut tree."
"But, you suspected." Caleb put the envelope with the pictures under his arm.
Wade slowly nodded. "Yup." He eyed the two of them. "Y'all are awful close. It ain't hard ta see." He worked his jaw, debated what he was about to say, and then plunged in. "Besides, yer uncle Kyle was pretty sure, even before the pictures."
"Kyle?" Wren's tone showed he was not happy to hear this information. "He knows too?"
"Yeah." Wade laughed, a bit uncomfortably. "He, uh… well, he suspected, an' that's why Jason made it a point ta get up on the ridge to get those shots of y'all." Wade chuckled. "There's a reason Kyle can tell."
At first, Caleb didn't know what that meant. Then he made a noise of realization. "What?" He and Wren looked at one another, then Caleb turned back to Wade. "Kyle?"
Wade waved a hand. "I don't wanna talk about it. I'm just sayin' Kyle can tell."
Wren shook his head. "Wow. Well, all right." Wren shuffled his feet on the wooden boards of the porch. "Thanks, Uncle Wade."
Wade nodded. "It don't mean I still ain't gonna get daddy's land." He grinned, and his stained teeth were on display. "But, when I do, it'll be fair an' square."
Both Caleb and Wren smiled. "We'll see." Caleb laughed. Then he looked out over Wade's property. Only one field had tobacco growing, while the other two in sight lay fallow. Even weeds struggled to grow in the chemical-laden, drained land.
Wade followed his gaze. "Yeah. I was lookin' at that earlier." He stood and walked over to the supporting post of the porch and leaned against it. Wade squinted in the brightness of the day. "Not gonna have a choice but ta pay more fer less land soon."
Caleb cleared his throat. "Well, maybe I could help."
Wade turned and looked at him. "How?" He nodded at the field nearest to them. "I figure that one has another five years before I can grow more." He shrugged. "Just gotta wait fer it to shed the nitrate."
Caleb couldn't help but smile. "Why not grow alfalfa? It'd pull the worst of the fertilizer out of the dirt, and more important, put bioavailable nitrogen into the soil, along with all the microbiota you lost from overfertilization." Caleb’s tone gained confidence as he spoke. “Alfalfa will grow where even weeds can’t.”
Wade frowned at him. “Well, I have no idea half of what ya just said. But what am I supposed to do with a mess of alfalfa?”
Caleb’s mind churned with possibilities. “Alfalfa hay is really good stuff. Charles would buy it for his cattle.”
“Hell, we could use it too,” Wren said as his brow furrowed in thought.
Wade scratched his head under his cap. “Only thing I know ta grow is tobacco.” He sighed. “Wouldn’t know where to start.”
“Well, I know how it’s done.” Caleb ran his tongue over his teeth. “If you let me use your fallow fields for alfalfa this year, they’ll be ready for tobacco the next.”
Wade had an incredulous expression. “One year? I’ll be able ta grow tobacco next year?”
Caleb nodded. “I have enough time to get a crop grown. You let me harvest the alfalfa, that’ll be my payment for the work.”
Wade eyed Caleb. He straightened. “I get half yer take on the hay ya sell.”
Caleb laughed. He crossed his arms over his chest. “A quarter.” Caleb smirked. “You’re gettin’ paid for nothin’, Wade.” He shook his head. “Take it or leave it.”
Wade’s jaw moved. Caleb watched as the man considered. Finally, Wade nodded. He stuck out a brown hand. “Deal.” The two shook, and Wade grinned. “I’m gettin’ paid fer you fixin’ my fields.”
Caleb and Wren both laughed. “That hasn’t escaped me.” Caleb shook his head at Wade's satisfied smirk.
After a few minutes, the men bid their goodbyes. Caleb and Wren were soon in the truck and started on the drive back home.
Caleb glanced over at Wren. There was a bemused expression on Wren’s face, and he turned to Caleb. “Are-” He frowned and rubbed his face. He threw a hand in the air. “Are we really in business with my uncle?” He made a sound of disbelief. “The same uncle who handed over pictures of us kissing?”
Caleb sucked air between his teeth. “Yup.”
Wren blinked, then faced forward. They were both quiet on the remainder of the trip.
Caleb pulled into their spot and parked. They got out and he followed Wren over to the completed foundation. Wren stared out over the footprint of the house. Caleb watched as he frowned. "Did," Wren chuckled, tinged with a tiny bit of mania, "did he sorta tell us that Uncle Kyle is gay?"
"He didn't come right out and say it, but yeah, he sorta did." Caleb put an arm around Wren's shoulders.
Wren closed his eyes as Caleb held him there in the stillness and warmth of the mid-day sun. "I don't know how to feel about all of this."
Caleb turned him so that they stood face to face. "Well, I'm gonna be here." He smiled at Wren and held him close. "Let's just take it as it comes."
Wren gazed up at Caleb and nodded. "Yeah." He put a hand on the back of Caleb's neck. "No matter what, if you're with me, I think it'll be all right."
"Then it'll be all right, Wren," Caleb said. He gazed fondly at his lover, then Caleb let Wren pull him down. Caleb's skin and lips tingled as he kissed the man that he loved out in the Kentucky sunshine.
Author's Note: Please let me know your thoughts about the chapter at the following email address link. Wayne Gray
And thank you for reading!
If you'd like to be on a list specifically for notification of updates to my stories onThe Story Lover's Home, email and let me know. I'll add you on. Click on the following link Update List.