Growing Josh Ch. 08byreddirtwriter©
There are scenes of unprotected sex depicted in this story. In all cases it was between the main characters, who are in a committed, monogamous relationships and were tested. If you aren't in the same kind of relationship, then you should always protect yourself and wear a condom.
Darrin shaded his eyes with his hand, wondering who was creating the boiling dust cloud he could see coming down the road. As it slowed to turn into the ranch, he could see the familiar insignia of the county sheriff.
"Hey Mitch, Jim is coming."
Mitch leaned the pitchfork against the stall he was cleaning and walked out into the sun, enjoying the warmth of the Indian summer day. He pulled off the worn leather gloves and shoved them into his back pocket. "Wonder why he's coming for a visit..."
Neither of them could be sure whether this was a pleasant visit, or one that would send their again peaceful world into upheaval. The sheriff had brought both Josh and Trent to the ranch, but now the two were married, well as married as two men could be in Oklahoma. He and Mitch had been enjoying the drama free weeks since the pair had returned from Alaska. They walked over as the car rolled to a stop.
"Hey Jim. Nice day to be out."
Jim White Cloud pulled off his grey cowboy hat and ran his fingers through his iron and steel colored hair. He slid the hat on and cocked it to the back and smiled at the pair.
"Don't worry. I'm not here on official business. Well, not official county business anyway."
Mitch lifted his eyebrows. "Oh?"
"You know how gossip spreads around here. Nanna heard about the boys Haida wedding. It didn't set to well for some northwestern tribes to be stealing 'her' Two-Spirits."
Mitch started chuckling. "Well have her ream those two then. Darrin would probably help." The scowl Darrin shot his direction only increased the volume of his laughter.
Jim grinned at Mitch and slowed his laughter. "Oh, she's going to talk to them too. But since you two are members of the tribe, she wanted you to have a traditional wedding."
Mitch glanced at Darrin and lifted his eyebrows, looking back to the sheriff. "Traditional wedding?"
"Yes, we are a sovereign nation. I'm not exactly sure what that means to the state government, but it means quite a bit to us." He paused and grinned at the pair. "Don't worry. You'll have a good time."
Mitch nodded weakly, conflicting emotions swirling inside him. Sheriff White Cloud walked back to his car, chuckling as he went. Once he was inside, he rolled down the window, and with a huge grin across his face asked, "By the way, how do you boys like breechcloths and leggings?"
Mitch snapped his head toward Darrin and the two locked panicked eyes while the sheriff drove off roaring with laughter.
Josh slowly walked to the porch of the low-slung white house. The grass giving a typical late summer crunch of dormancy under each footstep as they walked closer to the figures sitting quietly on the porch. As they entered the shade, Josh was relieved to have entered the tiny oasis typical of every country home on the Great Plains. He looked back to see Trent lagging behind, looking like a truant school boy being taken to the principals office. Josh understood the feeling, he hadn't been able to shake the fear that they were in trouble since Sheriff White Cloud had told them his grandmother wanted to talk with them.
Trent had been fine, until Josh had explained she was a Kiowa elder, and kind of spooky perceptive about stuff. But even if they weren't both a little afraid of her, which they were, they would have still came to see her just because the sheriff had asked. Josh looked back and motioned Trent forward.
"Come on," Josh said under his breath, "They're waiting."
Trent nodded in acknowledgement, but if anything slowed his pace. After a few more steps, Josh circled back, grabbed his arm and pulled him to the porch.
"Hello, youngsters. Come. Sit." Josh lifted his head to see the smiling face of Nanna White Cloud. He admired and respected this woman, and she was always so kind and supportive. It was impossible to not enjoy talking with her. It was like visiting the repository of ancient knowledge about how a people could live in this god-forsaken region of the country without drying up and blowing away. In fact, the tribe seemed to be grounded in the bedrock of the region and could face almost anything and survive. They had been some of the first people to show up after the tornado hit the ranch headquarters. The couple stepped onto the porch and was greeted by the dull thud of a boot on hollow wood as the three people on the porch rearranged the chairs and pulled two more over for the guys.
"Hello, Mrs. White Cloud. Looks like it's gonna be a hot one." Josh tipped his cap onto the back of his head and smiled as he looked at the other people.
"Hello, Joshua. I believe you're right. Going to be pretty hot. An Oklahoma scorcher." Nanna smile at both men and then motioned to the other two people with her. "This is Jim Horse Thief and Emma Carson. They're friends of mine, us old folks like to sit and chew the fat ya know."
Josh and Trent nodded, their apprehension built with each tick of the clock. "Please, boys. Have a seat. We just wanted to talk."
They moved slowly, looking like scared fawns that were ready to scramble for cover at the first sign of a threat. They settled into the padded chairs and then took the drinks Nanna offered. Trent took a drink from his glass and smiled at the refreshing chill of iced tea down his throat. Settling his glass on his knee, he focused on the three older people.
"Well, how have you boys been doing?" Nanna took a sip of her tea.
Trent exchanged a glance with Josh. "Good, Ma'am. Keeping busy."
"Yes, young people need something to use up all that energy that's wasted on them." Nanna wiped her forehead with a cloth she had been fanning herself with. "I hear you boys been up to Alaska."
"Yes, Ma'am. We went up to see my father's people."
"Yes..." Trent's internal warning lights flashed impending disaster signals, but he couldn't figure out how to avoid the plunge off the cliff. "We had a nice visit."
"We hear you got married, traditional Haida ceremony." This time the other two elders leaned forward for Trent's response.
"Yes, best as they could figure out. No one remembers ever having a two-spirit wedding before." Trent broke into a grin. "Josh got the girls part."
Josh shot Trent a stern look and his face colored deep red. All three of the elders chuckled and bobbed their heads. "Yes, the Kiowa have wedding traditions too." A mischievous glint came to Nanna eyes. "We steal our wives."
Trent and Josh exchanged glances while the three chuckled over some inside joke. After a few minutes where the air filled with sophomoric laughter, Trent cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, Ma'am. But I don't think we understand what you mean."
"Please, youngster, call me Nanna. Everyone else does. And I think we've had enough fun at your expense, so we should explain."
"Yes, ma'am...Nanna." Trent got a nod and a smile. "We are a little confused."
"Well, you know two-spirits mark good things for the tribe. Until Darrin and Mitch moved in, we hadn't had anyone in a long time." She glanced at her other guests. "At least not brave enough to tell anyone. Certainly not a couple." She beamed at Josh and Trent. "But now we have two couples. Unbelievably good for the tribe. But one of them snuck off and got married under another tribes traditions..."
Trent's lips formed an O as he took in the information. "So you want us to do a traditional Kiowa wedding? You want me to—steal—Josh?" Trent couldn't suppress the chortle that came out. He turned to Josh with his lips pressed hard against each other.
"How do you feel about being stolen?"
Emma chimed in, "Or buy him with horses. That'd work too."
Laughter spewed from Trent. Josh's lips were twisted up like a baler had gotten to them.
Trent lifted the dress pants from the rack and let them fall back in place. He turned to look at Josh and the corner of his mouth quirked.
"You really aren't thinking this is what we are going to wear for the wedding. Somehow I don't see us wearing a three-piece suit to the wedding where you get stolen."
Josh took a deep breath and let it out. "Yeah, I know. I just don't want to look stupid. I think that'd embarrass Darrin, and he's been kinda pissy ever since we got back from Alaska."
Trent chuckled. "Yeah, I finally asked Mitch what was up. He said not to worry about it. Said they had some stuff in the works that would fix everything." He shrugged and started flipping through the shirts. "And no, he didn't tell me what. Just that they had some stuff going down that would fix it."
Josh had the sensation of someone watching them. When he turned, he saw a big guy going through jackets a few rows over, but nothing else. Turning back to Trent he nodded. "Ok, then I'll try not to worry about it. I guess we can go look for some new Wranglers and some dressier shirts."
"The western store is just down the street. Let's go see what they have."
Josh followed Trent to the door and into the warm early autumn sunshine. They covered the distance when Josh felt prickles along his spine. "Hey, is there a guy following us? Big redheaded guy with a John Deere cap?"
Trent looked over his shoulder to the largely vacant sidewalk. "Nah, I don't see anything. Just a couple a blue-hairs shopping."
Josh tried to relax, but kept feeling like they were being followed. He stopped to look in the window they passed, and had to agree with Trent, he didn't see the guy again. He relaxed measurably. Josh followed Trent into the western store and lost themselves in trying to decide on the perfect clothing for them to wear to the wedding. They'd finished up and were standing on the sidewalk when Trent got a grin on his face when he spotted a coffee shop. He turned and grinned at Josh. "I want a chai tea."
Josh's face screwed into a scowl. "Ick! I don't see what you get out of that." He let out a low chuckle. "But while you're there, I wouldn't mind a latte."
"Yeah, make fun of my tea, country boy." Trent chuckled and bumped against his husband. "No problem, weanie. I'll get your latte."
"Meet ya back at the truck." Josh smiled as Trent headed to the coffee shop. Josh turned to take their purchases to the pickup. He arrived to find a huge dually pickup parked so close he could just get the door open. Dumbass! Parking so close.
Josh spun to find a huge guy standing at the other end of the pickup, blocking him in and too close for Josh to close the door and escape the other direction. All the pieces flowed together as he recognized the hulking presence he'd been feeling all day. I thought we were safe. I thought it wouldn't come to this. But this guy looks crazy.
Josh's pulse raced, steeling himself for a fight because he wasn't going down without one. "Hey. Can I help you with something?"
The brute stepped closer, starting to raise his arms. "You Josh Edwards? That gay guy from high school."
Josh tried to figure how would be the best defense. He knew he couldn't get into the pickup before Sasquatch caught him. Damn. He has to outweigh me by a hundred pounds.
"I'm Josh, and I'm gay. So I guess yeah I'm who you're looking for..."
The bulking man suddenly rushed at Josh, grabbing him around the chest. Josh started to struggle, realizing he'd let his arms get pinned. Shit! Shit! Shit! He started to struggle, knowing he needed to be screaming his head off for help. As he filled his lungs with air...
What? What the fuck! Did he just say thanks? Josh stopped, trying to make sense. Suddenly the grappling hold seemed more like an enthusiastic hug. "Thanks? For what? Do I know you?"
The large man released Josh and moved back an arm's length. "Probably not. I was a sophomore when you were a senior. Just a skinny redheaded kid."
"Well, what are you thinking me for then?"
"Your speech, at graduation."
"Well. This sounds corny, but it saved my life. I knew I was gay, and couldn't take the guilt. I had everything planned to kill myself, and then I heard you talk. I decided there was at least a little hope. I'm Matt by the way."
Josh's mouth dropped open as he tried to recall that tirade he delivered to most of the town. Josh was shocked to realize he couldn't even recall the details of the speech. He looked at the freckled face with the mass of red curls exploding from under a green cap, trying to imagine how he'd had this kind of impact on someone he'd never known until now. Suddenly a question came to Josh. "Why were you stalking me then? Why didn't you just talk to me?"
Matt's face turned deep red at the question. "I was embarrassed. I am afraid you'd think I was weird."
Josh started laughing as Matt's face got even redder. He shook his head and noticed Trent walking slowly up to them. He motioned him closer. "Hey Trent, come meet a friend of mine."
Darrin urged Lady forward through the sand plum thicket. The trail so narrow through the dark skinned bushes that his chaps were scraping through their almost thorny branches. The fruit long gone, the low-slung trees still were used for shelter by a lot of animals. He was hoping one of the animals needing shelter was their missing cow.
Mitch stood in his stirrups and called across the thicket to Darrin. "Hey! You find anything yet?"
"Nothing. You sure she's missing?"
Mitch shot Darrin a scowl. "Yes, I can count that high."
"Don't be bitchy, I was just asking."
Mitch started muttering. "You want bitchy? I can show you bitchy. Make you think bitchy. Ass. Hole."
Darrin chuckled but didn't reply. He knew how much it frustrated Mitch to have an animal missing, and they'd been looking for two days now. Darrin was afraid that they were going to find the remains instead of the cow. Although between the brush and the cedars, you could hide an army in here and we'd never know it. Darrin yanked back on Lady's reins, forcing the mare back a step or two.
"Hey Mitch! I think I heard something."
"What's going on?"
"I heard something, and no it's not mice across the dead leaves."
Suddenly the world whipped into a maelstrom of events too fast to differentiate. Lady let out a squeal and bolted as the foliage around them exploded. Mitch fought with Storm, who reared when the mahogany demon jumped between them. Darrin's feet slipped from the stirrups and time slowed as he pitched backward from the startled horse. His impact on the unforgiving ground knocked the air out of him and left him stunned.
Darrin watched through dazed eyes as the struggle played out between Mitch and what ended up being one of their bulls. I told Mitch that son of a bitch had crazy eyes. But with that thought the bull turned and let out a deep snort as he looked at Darrin sitting on the ground between the huge cedar trees. Darrin began to crawdad as he realized the bull was targeting him and the metallic taste of fear as Deja vu flooded his body.
Just as the bull charged, a red and white streak shot across Darrin's field of vision. The streak erupted into a snarling, barking tornado as Max threw himself at the bull. Not questioning his luck, Darrin struggled to his feet and looked around in time for a shadow to fall across him. He looked up and found Trent with a hand extended.
"Come on! Lady is half-way back to the house."
Darrin grabbed Trent's hand and jumped as he heard a loud snort from the frustrated bull with the quick annoyance Max was becoming. Darrin landed with a thud on Whitey and grabbed onto Trent like a lifeline. His grip was iron clad as Mitch and Storm thundered back into the tableau playing out before Darrin's horrified eyes.
"Come on! Let's get out of here!"
Trent touched his heels to his horse's flanks and they were off with a lurch. Darrin calmed his adrenaline filled system with each length they were away from the crazed bull. He looked back to see Storm nudging a cow and calf into the opening to have the trio take off at a run.
With a piercing whistle, Trent called Max back to them. A grin covered his face as he glanced back to Darrin. "That was close! You're lucky Max and I were coming out to help you look for the cow."
Darrin flashed back to the near miss that got him and Mitch together and started to shake. Sweat beaded on his lip when Storm came to a bounding stop beside them. He looked at Mitch with a faint smile. "We have to stop meeting this way."
A smile erupted on Mitch's face. "Yeah, I think twice in a lifetime is plenty to have your butt saved from some bull or another."
Trent raised an eyebrow and looked from one man to the other. Focusing on Darrin he asked. "So getting rescued by the handsome cowboy is some habit of yours?"
Mitch leaned over and patted Darrin on the back. "It's kind of how we met. But that bull was trying to hurt someone. This one was protecting his cow. They're gone."
Darrin twisted and looked back at the now quietly grazing animals. He shook his head and turned back to Mitch. "He's gone. I don't want to worry about getting to close to whatever cow he's decided to protect."
A thoughtful look crossed Mitch's face. "I have an idea."
Josh spun toward Trent, his face a twisted mass of conflicting emotions. "You sure this is going to work? I don't think this is such a good idea."
"No, for the one-hundredth time. She may tell us no way. Probably will. It's not like this is a reasonable thing we're asking."
"I know, I know. It's not reasonable, it's actually pretty crazy. But it is Darrin's sister, so she might understand."
Trent glanced over at his husband. "What did Darrin say?"
"He didn't say much, other than he couldn't guess what she'd say." A grin appeared on Josh's face. "He did say there's no one worse than a convert."
"What the hell does that mean?"
Josh shrugged. "I dunno."
They drove for a few miles in silence, each wrapped in their own concerns and worries. They both knew their chance of success was microscopic. Even if Darrin's sister agreed to their wild scheme, the costs were going to be astronomical. The white frame house in the cluster of trees they were barreling toward was getting larger.
"That's it, I think."
"Yeah, just exactly how Darrin described it." Josh took a deep breath and exhaled noisily. "Well, here goes nothing."
A thought suddenly occurred to Trent. "Why at her mother's house? Why didn't we meet her at her own house?"
Josh's eyebrows arched across his forehead. "Oh shit! I never thought of that."
Trent let out a chuckle as they turned into the gravel driveway. "Well I don't know either, but remember what Darrin said about his family."
"I know, I know. No cussing, and don't be surprised by some of the things they say."
They rolled to a stop in front of the house and sat in the pickup for a few moments. They looked at each other and with similar expressions of 'what the hell were we thinking?' etched across their faces. But they couldn't just not show up now. They were expected, and Darrin had kind of stuck his neck out to make things easier too. But they were asking—a lot.
Trent smacked him on the shoulder. "Come on, this isn't going to go away just because we suddenly became chicken shits. We got to at least ask, and hope something bad doesn't happen."
Josh nodded in agreement and their doors opened with synchronized precision. The walk to the front door was interminable, and once they arrived they stood for several minutes before Josh reached up and knocked. The door flew open and Darrin's mother appeared in the open doorway.
"Come in! Come in! I wondered when you boys were gonna show up. I've got iced tea already fixed and in the icebox. Ya'll sit in the living room and I'll bring us all a glass of tea."