by Grasshopper

Chapter 7

Everything was just the same, but the entire world was different. When Jase opened his eyes, yawning in that drug-induced 'Let me sleep forever or at least until I can think' way, the first thing he did was reach for Cody. His hand, feeling nothing but the coolness of the sheets, stilled, and he forced his eyes open. Struggling to sit up, feeling the twinge of the stitches, the slight swimming in his head, his head fell back to the pillow.

Lying quietly, he thought about what he had said last night, the way he had opened his heart. The words he couldn't take back, didn't want to take back. He remembered telling Cody about Tommy, about Charity and Davy.....how he hadn't wanted that much, just to be happy with the boy he loved. He remembered Cody whispering, telling him to sleep....promising him tomorrow and tomorrow, if he would sleep.

Jase thought carefully. Was it Tommy? Was he looking at Cody through eyes that still wanted a long lost love? Grabbing the pillow that had held Cody's head last night, he tugged it to his chest. He and Tommy had loved each other in that way only first love can feel, not believing you can take a breath without the other right there. Jase knew now, ten years later, that there was more to love than that. What he and Tommy had might have grown as they would have grown, but they never got the chance.

Jase was being given another chance. This beautiful young man was promising him tomorrow. Was he brave enough to try? Was his heart mended enough to chance it? What if it broke again? What if..........

The sound of dishes clattering and a happy giggle fluttered down the hallway and into his ears. He could hear whispers, Cody shushing Davy and Davy trying to choke back more laughter as they neared his door.

"Shhhhhh. He needs the sleep."
" I'm trying, Cody."
" Peep in."

Jase kept his eyes closed as two dark-eyed, stealthily silent Indians peered at him from the doorway.

"See, he's sleep."
"Can I just go see?"

Jase heard the door closing and suddenly, he never wanted to be alone again. "I'm awake. No one could sleep through all that 'sneaking'." He put a frown on his face but his words held laughter.

Davy held back a bit, not sure of his dad, but Cody opened the door wide and his face was splashed with a smile that challenged the sunrise. "Mornin' Sunshine J," he said, his voice holding all the promise of the night before.

Cody's smile hit Jase square in the chest. It was for him, that smile. Those eyes, that heart.........it was for him.

"You ready for some breakfast, Cowboy?" Cody laughed.

"Yeah, Daddy," Davy bounced. "We're gonna serve you breakfast in bed. I helped Cody make waffles and we got oj and Cody even............."

"I'm up," Jase groaned. "I can't lie around in this bed." He heard Cody cough and raised his eyebrow. The laughter he saw dancing in those chocolate eyes made his body tingle.

"You are so gonna get it," he growled.

"Get what, Daddy? Can I get it for you?" Davy asked, trying to help.

Cody snorted back more choked laughter. "We better let your dad get dressed. He'll have to find 'it' later. Come on, Davy." Cody shot Jase a laugh-filled look over his shoulder as he pulled Davy from the room. "Breakfast is on the table."

Breakfast was full of Davy's total rehash of hitching the wagon and rescuing his dad. "I can't wait to tell Ty. This is the best."

Jase didn't have the heart to say it was just a wire cut. He'd let Davy have his adventure. Lord knew, Davy needed to feel important and Jase saw that now. He saw Cody looking at him across the table.

"What are you gonna do today?" he asked the younger man.

"I'm gonna start," Cody said softly.


"Finding the answers," Cody answered simply, as if the answers were right outside the door on "the answer tree".

"Answers to what?" Davy asked. "Can I help you look, Cody?"

Cody smiled at the happy child. "Yeah, you can help me look later, when you get home from school, okay? Which reminds me, get goin'."

"Everybody loved the cookies, Cody," Davy said by way of another thank you. "Maybe one day............."

Cody laughed. "Sure, Punkin. More cookies coming up."

"Mrs. Bailey loved them best of all. She ate three."

"Well, we wanna make sure Mrs. Bailey gets her cookies," Jase smiled. "It pays to keep the teacher happy, right Davy Boy?"

Davy headed for the door, stopped, turned and ran back to fling his arms around his daddy's neck. No words, just a fierce boy-hug. Jase hesitated and then hugged him back, looking over his shoulder at Cody. Yeah, the walls were crumbling fast.

Davy stood back, one hand still clutching his daddy's sleeve. "I'm glad I could help save you, Daddy," he said, quite seriously.

"You were the best," Jase answered gently. "I wouldn't have made it without you, Davy Boy."

"Bye Daddy. Bye Cody," Davy flung out as he ran for his bike. He wasn't sure how it had happened but his daddy loved him again. He couldn't wait to get home this afternoon and help Cody look.

"You're a good man, Jase." Cody picked up the dishes and walked toward the sink.

"I wasn't for a lot of years."

"Well, that's over now. He's building confidence. Just let him love you."

Jase got up and walked over to stand behind Cody, his arms sliding around the shorter man's arms to lace his fingers easily across his chest. Cody stood still for a second and then, with a soft sigh, leaned back into strong arms.

"What did you mean, you're gonna looking for answers?"

As much as his heart wanted him to turn around, to go fully into Jase's hard arms, to run his arms around this beautiful man, Cody stood still. He spoke quietly, his hands covering Jase's.

"We need to know where Tommy is. We need to know who killed Charity. There will never be peace in our house until we do."

Jase started to jerk back. All his old fear and anger surged through his mind; the old feelings surfacing. But suddenly, he realized that the words were different. It wasn't him alone anguishing over the loss of love; it was "WE". We need to know. We will find out. Our house. Plural, as in two people. Not Jase McBride, facing a lonely future, but "we", Cody beside him, closing one book and opening another. Finally!

Cody felt the withdrawl; could almost hear the wheels spinning in Jase's head. This was it. He'd either let Cody help or push him away. He waited.

"Turn around." Not a command, more like a plea.

Cody turned in Jase's arms and found what he needed in those hazel eyes. "May I kiss you, Cody Taylor?"

Looking up into Jase's face, he saw what he'd been missing. His arms snaking their way up around Jase's neck, his bare feet going up on tiptoe, he didn't answer with words. He answered with his lips, with his tongue, with the very breath he'd been holding.

The kiss began softly, tentatively, as if asking for permission, asking to love. Cody brushed Jase's bottom lip with his tongue and felt the pressure increase, heard a soft groan and felt Jase's body turn from hard sinew to gentle curves as he pressed into Cody's. There was no fight for supremacy; not alpha position. There was just Cody......just Jase. Opening, allowing, tasting..dipping into wells long locked.

Jase felt the back of Cody's hand against his cheek, the knuckles massaging. He felt Cody press into his body, slowly rubbing against him.

Cody felt Jase begin to suck on his tongue, trying to pull it into his own mouth, as if urging Cody to fill his lips with sweetness. Hard now, throbbing now, Cody pulled back. Sweat on both their faces, damp skin, glazed eyes, Cody wanted what Jase wanted and Jase wanted Cody.

Jase's words echoed Cody's thoughts. "I want you." His voice, full of drugged emotion and promises of passion, held a whisper of regret.

"Shhhh. I know," Cody sighed.

"It's just....,"

"Tell me."

Jase let go of Cody, his arms falling to his sides. Cody held on, wanting Jase to feel the security of his arms.

"There's a place," Jase's eyes flickered toward the window. "A place where Tommy and I would go........to be together."

"Out in the desert?"

Jase nodded, "Out at Wild Horse Ravine. It was 'our' place, secret and no one to bother us."

"Wild Horse Ravine...........Jase, isn't that where Charity........?"

Jase closed his eyes. "Yeah. She was killed there. Bastard shoved her jeep over the side. Charity was killed not a mile from where I always met Tommy."

"Do you need to go there; you need to be near Tommy? Will you show me?"

"I think I need to go there, yes, to talk about Tommy." He hung his head. "You think I'm a fool."

"No," Cody sighed, his arms still clinging, his hands clenching and unclenching gently on the tense muscles of Jase's back. "I think you loved so strongly that you can't let go. I want you to let go now. Whatever you need to do to find peace so I can love you, we'll do."

Jase felt Cody's words sink into his heart. 'So I can love you'. God, he wanted that.

"Are you upset?"

Cody smiled, that beautiful sunshine smile. "I was only upset when you locked me out. The door is open now. We can do this together." He stepped back and held out his hand. "Let's go talk to Tommy."

The morning air was full of the scent of jasmine and sage. The desert heat wasn't stifling the breeze yet and the dew had awakened the cactus blooms. Cody was overwhelmed by a sense of Déjà vu; of coming home. New York seemed a distant memory; Arizona his heart's home. Why he was so sure, Cody didn't know, but Jase Mcbride was part of this feeling of finding his heart's home too. He'd traveled away for a short while but he was home.

Both men in jeans, Cody was still citified enough to have pulled on an old faded NYU sweatshirt with the sleeves cut off. He'd pulled the tie out of his hair as they rode to feel the wind blow through his long silky black hair.

Jase, all cowboy, left the cuffs of his blue chambray work shirt unbuttoned as he peered out into the morning sun from under the rim of his Stetson. He rode slightly to the right and back of Cody so he could watch that amazing black hair flash in the sun.

Reining in Sazi and Callie, the two riders climbed down. Jase opened a bottle of water, offering it to Cody. Gulping a big swig, he handed it back to Jase who wet his throat and then poured the rest into a shallow bowl-shaped rock near the side of the path. The horses moved in to lap up the cool water.

Jase squared his shoulders and jerked his head toward a path that led upward into the rocks ahead of them. Starting out, he stopped and turned, "You're sure?"

Cody smiled. "If you mean can I climb? Yes. If you mean do I want to come? Yes. If you mean anything else, it's still Yes."

Jase looked into those chocolate eyes and knew that somehow everything was gonna be all right.

They climbed until they got to the crag of the rocks high above the ravine that stretched for a mile in any direction. Cody could see the highway off to the left and the silver guard rail that warned cars of the sharp drop.

"Is that....?"

"Yes," Jase said quietly. "Her car went over and burned down there." Cody's eyes moved downward, following the path that poor sweet Charity had traveled that dark night four years ago.

"Was she......burned?"

Jase flinched. "No, she wasn't in the car. They found her body over there on the rocks." He pointed toward a cluster of sharp jagged points.

"Oh God, Jase."


Jase shook his head as if the movement would throw off the memory burned in his mind. He gestured toward a shimmering cool slab of gray granite rock behind Cody. "This is where Tommy and I were.......together."

'Tell about Tommy, Jase. Here where you loved him, tell me. Tell me what you think happened." Cody held out his hand and they sat on a small formation of striated boulders facing Wild Horse Ravine.

Jase was quiet for so long that Cody was just about to speak. He stopped when he heard Jase clear his throat.

"Tommy came to Shiprock when we were in high school. He was quiet and made no friends. Charity changed him at least enough that he began to let us help him. He would laugh sometimes out of pure joy but mostly he was sober and reserved."

"When Charity and I decided to go to UNM on Albuquerque, he refused any scholarship or monetary help. He worked on the Double R and said that would be enough."

"Tommy was so full of hate sometimes. I tried to make him see. But he said that I was white. That I'd never understand. He said he'd been born with it, had grown up with it and would die with it. He wore his long hair and his sharp features and his heritage like a suit of armor."

"But you loved him in spite of all that?"

"Oh, yes. I could see the scared little boy underneath. I could see past the pain, past the heartache. He just wanted to be loved, accepted for who he was, not what he was."

Cody felt a stab of heartache as he remembered that that was exactly the way Jase had made him feel when they met. The difference, Cody knew, was that he was proud of his Indian blood. He had never wanted to be anyone except who he was.

"The one thing I thought I always knew," Jase continued, "Was that Tommy loved me. That's what hurts like hell when he disappeared. I just wanted to understand. I needed him to tell me."

"Did you ask Charity?"

Jase sighed. "I begged her to tell me. She never would. She always seemed afraid of what might happen if she did."

"What do you mean by that, Jase?" Cody inched closer and laid his hand on Jase's thigh, not asking for anything, just making contact.

"I'm not sure. I never was. It was just a feeling I had. That if she told me, I would never believe in anything ever again. Charity had her secrets, Cody."

"We all do, Jase, but these secrets need to find the light of day now. It's all over and it won't harm anyone to know the truth."

Binoculars pressed against his face, he watched the two men climb the craggy rocks up to that bed of gray granite that he knew so well. It was almost time. It would be a fitting end to kill them both right there where the Indian and the blonde whore had fucked away all the trust. Kill them both and all that would be left would be the boy. His boy.........his son. He would have his son.

"Do you think Tommy would have fuc...........slept with Charity and then run away, Jase?" Cody knew that was a terrible question but this whole thing was terrible.

"I would have bet my life that Tommy would never have done anything that dishonorable. He had his problems but I always believed him to be truthful."

"Then, we have to find him."

Jase said softly, "I don't think we ever will. I used to always 'feel' him when he came in a room or when he was hurting. I haven't 'felt' him in years."

"You saying you think Tommy is..........?"

Jase stood up, staring out into the hot desert sun. "My gut tells me that my sweet angry Quiet Water is dead."

"But how, Jase? Why?"

Jase turned his painfilled eyes down to Cody's. He didn't answer; just held out his arms and Cody slid into his embrace and they felt the heat of the summer sun, the soft breeze off the desert and the warmth of their bodies.

The ride back was quiet, each man deep in his own thoughts. The phone was blinking when they walked in the back door. Jase had to drive out to the Harrelson's to check the new calves. Cody watched him drive away, the cloud of dust swirling behind the truck. Throwing off his sweatshirt, he pulled on a decent shirt, tucked it in and ran to the old pickmeup. It better make it 180 miles. If he left right now, he could make it to Gallup and back by the time Davy got home from school.

Cody had learned from Googling that all the birth and death records, all the old microfilm newspaper loops were stored in Gallup. It was 90 miles to the south straight down SR666. He'd floor it and be there in an hour.

Rubbing his eyes, he wondered for the hundredth time why this wasn't all on discs. Peering at this antiqued monitor was giving him a monster headache.

He had asked for the Albuquerque newspaper articles for June/July 1994. Jase and Charity graduated on June 10th and Tommy disappeared. Maybe there'd be something. Scrolling down wearily, he read:

*Evans Park to Be Beautified

*Lake Meade Flood Gates Adjusted

*Large Anonymous Donation Made To Animal Shelters

*Juarez Circus Elephant Runs Amuck

*Four Local Track Stars Head to State

*Floral Arrangements Stolen From Cemetery

*NMSU Coed's Body Found

*LL Majors Battle On

*Regional Landfill in the Planning Stage

Cody stopped, ran his hands through his hair and pulled it back into a knot. It was stuffy, the air felt like it hadn't been circulating for the last 25 years and he felt stuffy headed. Just a few more loops and he was gonna have to go. He wanted to be home when Davy got there.

*School Hall of Fame Inducts New Members

*A Sure Way to Weight Loss

*National Guard Armory Looted

*What Grows In the Summer Heat

*Woman Claims Bones Are Long Lost Husband

*Praying Cleanses the Soul

*Soccer Team Goes.........................

Wait...........Hold on. Cody backed up. 'Woman Claims Bones Are Long Lost Husband'. Cody's mind began to spin. He clicked back and quickly skimmed the old article. Jumping up from the stiff old wooden chair, he gathered the loops and dropped them off at the front desk and ran for the door. He needs fresh air to think.

The article had told the tale of a woman searching for her husband. Everyone said he had run away and left her but she never accepted that. She had visited every morgue in New Mexico and Arizona and finally found an unidentified set of bones that had been found in the mountains by a pair of hikers. She identified her husband by the three breaks in his right femur.

Okay......Cody cranked up the old Chevy, his brain whirling. What if, all these years, Tommy had been within reach; Jase just hadn't known where to look?

Deciding not to tell Jase what he had discovered, Cody headed for home.

Davy and Ty tried to see who could stand up on his bike and let go of the handlebars longest.

"Look!!" Davy hollered. "I'm flyyyyyyyying." His arms outstretched, his legs locked to kept the bike straight, he stood tall, crowing in excitement.

Ty called, "Me too, Davy. Yahooooooo!"

Neither boy noticed the old nondescript tan truck parked along the side of the highway.

"Hey, Cody," Davy smiled as he and Ty ran into kitchen.

"You guys hungry?" Cody grinned, remembering being a bottomless pit at 10. "I made some salsa and there are guacamole chips in the cabinet."

Davy opened the fridge automatically like all boys do, peering inside. "What's for supper?"

Cody looked over at Ty. "Hiya."

Ty said shyly, "Hi."

Cody said softly, "Davy?"

"Oh, sorry, Cody. This is my friend, Ty Grayson. He goes to school with me. Ty, this is Cody. He's my ..... my.........."

Cody thought, 'Yeah, what am I?' "Hey, Ty. I'm a good friend of Davy's dad and Davy too."

Davy opened the freezer. "Did ya.......?"

"Yep. I made two. Don't eat too much. We're having enchiladas for supper. We have plenty if you want to stay, Ty."

Davy grabbed the two frozen honey & peanut butter sandwiches out of the freezer. "Thanks, Cody."

Cody laughed as he watched the two boys head back out the door for the barn where they ended up sitting on the hayloft edge, feet swinging.

"Cody's cool," Ty said, his mouth full of peanut butter.

"Yeah," Davy sighed. "I hope he stays forever."

Jase drove into the barnyard, an unfamiliar feeling tingling in his chest and traveling along all his nerve endings. He had always been happy to come home, to Charity, to Davy but he'd never been coming home to anyone who made his body sing. He didn't know what the future held but he did know one thing...he wanted Cody in it.

Walking in the screen door, he saw his two favorite men plus one huddled around the kitchen table. Cody was making a game out of times tables with pennies.

"I've won 29 cents, Daddy."

"I've got 21, Mr. McBride."

Cody laughed. "These two are competitive monsters, Jase."

"What ya playing?" he grinned.

"Cody gave us each 25 pennies and we have to pay each other every time we get a times right. Watch !! Call, Cody."

Cody winked at Jase. "K.........9x6."

Davy was first with 54. Ty shoved a penny across the table.


Ty yelled out, "64" and Davy flipped a penny towards him.

"We better stop now, guys. Your dad looks hungry."

"Nah," Jase smiled, ruffling Davy's hair, "I've gotta wash up. Go on. Are you staying for supper, Tyler?"

"Yes sir. I called Mama. Cody said he'd run me home after."

Dinner that night was all farts and giggles, two boys relaxing, knowing that they had the attention of two grownups. Davy, so happy with a daddy who made him proud and loved him. Cody watched, as Jase and Davy grew closer. Jase just let the warmth enfold him.

Cody tossed Ty's bike in the back of the old truck, saying he'd be back in 20. Jase ordered Davy to the bathtub, picking up his homework, spot checking the 36x4 problems. Finding one mistake, he marked the number and started washing the dishes.

Boy washed. Dishes washed. Jase waited for Cody. It was new, this waiting. He wasn't sure he liked it but he knew it came with this new territory.

Hearing the truck, he walked into Davy's room. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he pushed Davy's still damp hair back from his forehead. "You sleep good tonight."

"I will, Daddy. I was thinking..........."


Cody walked down the hall, his sneakers quiet.

"I don't think Cody will stay with us long if he has to sleep on the lumpy sofa."

"Well, this is your room, Davy Boy. I'm not gonna toss you out on your nose."

"Nah, I was thinkin'....." his voice trailed off.


Cody stood really still. He could almost feel Jase freezing.

"We could unlock Grandpa Taylor's old room and make it good for Cody, or...............................,"

"Or what, Davy?"

"Hecouldjustsleepinyourbedwithyoulikelastnight," he said in a huge rush.

Cody heard Jase make a slightly strangled sound and thought this might be a good time to rescue him.

"Hey guys," he said as he walked in and stood by the bed. "What's up?"

"Hey Cody. I was just telling Daddy that............,"

"We were just discussing where you should sleep if we don't want you to leave."

Cody thought to himself that he's happily sleep in a rattlesnake pit if it meant he could stay here forever. "And what did you decide?"

"Well, I'll show you the spare room but maybe for just tonight maybe you could just bunk in with me," Jase said, his deep voice actually breaking over the huge question he was asking.

"Sounds good to me," Cody smiled. "We'll check out the other room tomorrow. Thanks, Davy, for thinking about me." He kissed Davy's forehead, left father and son to say goodnight.

"Night, Daddy. I love you."

"Night, Davy Boy. I...I love you too."

Davy snuggled down into the pillow and pulled his old bunny close to his chest.

"God bless Mommy in Heaven.
God bless Daddy.
God bless Cody.
God bless me."

Jase walked out into the hall into a giggling Cody. "You sure it's okay if I 'bunk' with you tonight?"

"Shut up," Jase growled, not quite keeping the laughter out of his eyes.

Cody sat on the edge of the bed listening to Jase take a shower.

Jase lay frozen listening to Cody take a shower.

Cody turned the light out and slid into the cool sheets.

Jase decided he was not gonna sleep a wink.

Cody rolled on his side towards Jase. Jase could see his chocolate eyes shining in the semi darkness, could see the blanket of shimmery black hair spread over the pillows.

Jase took a deep breath and growled, "There is no way I can keep my hands off you, you know. I know I'm supposed to but there is no possible way."

Cody was so quiet Jase thought he had already fallen asleep. Then his voice, whispering softly, "I want you too."

Suddenly Jase realized something. In all his selfish whining and moaning, he had never asked, never even thought that Cody had a past.........a past that would make him hesitant. Oh dear lord........How could he have been so selfish?



"It's not just me, is it?"

The silence hung in the air. "No. I want to be what you want. I want to open my arms and hold you tight. I want to taste your body. I want you to taste mine. I want it all."


Cody whispered, "I've only had one person in my life. He hurt me."

Jase reached for him and then stopped. "Hurt you how?" afraid to know the answer.

Cody sighed. "Let's just say I wanted things to be romantic. He didn't."

Jase answered, a catch in his voice, "I've only had one person in my life. He hurt me."

"I guess we're even then."

"Looks like it."

"Maybe we were on a path towards here." Cody moved, his smaller body curling in to find Jase's stronger one. Jase rolled onto his side and they finally faced each other.

Jase waited. He wanted Cody to feel safe. Cody leaned in, letting his forehead rest against Jase's. "What do you want from me?"

Jase knew the answer was important. "Warmth. Friendship. Laughter. Hot Sex. Love..................all of that is love."

"And if I give all that to you?"

Jase smiled in the darkness. "I'll take it, cherish it and give it right back."

Hands, fingers, lips, tongues.............softly, gently, then stronger, with passion and laughter, joy and love.

"Oh God, Cody. Just there..........there!"

"Jase, with me........cum with me!"

"Yes, baby. God, my beautiful baby." His hands laced through Cody's long hair, Jase held on as Cody's mouth took him over the edge of night.

Lying together, hearts slowing, Cody's head nestled in the crook of Jase's arm, Cody's fingers playing a tiny game of count to five on his lover's belly, Cody asked shyly, "Was that good?"

Jase sighed, "Mmmmm."

"But was it enough?"

Jase stopped twisting Cody's hair around his fingers. "Enough for what? It was more than enough. It's all I want. You're all I want."

"Did you...................with Tommy?" Cody wanted to. He really wanted to but he knew he'd never be enough.

The light dawned. "Cody. Listen. You give what you want. Listen, baby, you're body belongs to you. You give what you want. I love just lying here. I know I said I couldn't keep my hands off you but I could. I promise I could. If it meant losing or keeping you, I swear I could."

"Okay, Jase." Cody snuggled closer, his mind tossing in several directions. He had to find Tommy. He couldn't rest until he did. Jase would never be totally his until they put Tommy to rest. His last thought before he drifted into sleep was 'He never answered me'.

Jase lay holding Cody for half the night. He had been so wound up in his own problems, so self-centered, he hadn't even seen this coming. He would make it up to Cody. He would go easy and let things flow. Tonight, when Cody had taken Jase into his mouth and made the stars shoot behind his eyes.......Jase had wanted to cry. He had tried to show Cody how he felt when he loved on him, tried with his mouth to give back and to take equally. He saw now that there was more, much more that he needed to do. As his eyes finally closed, he thought, "I did, but it wasn't you".

The next morning, Cody was up with the rooster and cooking a western omelet when Jase opened his eyes. 'God, does he ever sleep?' when the door burst open and Davy rushed to the side of the bed.

"Daddy. Get up. Cody is making the most scrumptiousest thing in the kitchen. It has eggs and ham and peppers and cheese and bacon and ..................." He ran out of steam. "Up Daddy, please. Cody says he's gonna eat it all if you don't come on."

Jase wandered into the kitchen after tugging on some faded jeans and a white t-shirt. He looked at Cody and Cody looked away quickly but not before Jase saw a shy grin on his face.

'Okay,' Jase decided, 'Now it's my turn to make things work."

"Morning, Davy Boy," he smiled and rumpled Davy's hair. "Morning, Cody," he said , his voice warm and gentle, as he leaned down and kissed the top of Cody's head.

"Oh, Daddy," Davy giggled. "You kissed Cody."

"Yep, I totally did."

Cody grinned and the grin just stayed plastered to his beautiful face until Davy got on his bike with his lunchbox and his homework and his fresh box of cookies for Mrs. Bailey.

"Bye Daddy. Bye Cody." A happy boy pedaled his way down the drive and out onto the highway.

Standing on the back porch watching Davy wave one last time from the highway, Jase slung his arm around Cody's slighter shoulders.

"He'll be okay with it?" Cody asked quietly. "No one can replace his Mama."

"No one will. That boy loves you more than he loves me," Jase grinned. "There's no way he's not happy as pie right now."

"Jase, I'm going to Albuquerque today."

"Oh? Wanna tell me why? Want me to go with you?"

"I have an idea about Tommy. I'm gonna just play a hunch. Nah, you go do your vet things. I'll be home by time to cook supper."

"Are you gonna tell me?"

"I will if it pans out. If not, it was a waste of time."

"You drive careful. Take your cell. Don't worry about Davy. I'll make sure to be here when he gets home and help with his homework. We'll have pizza tonight."

Cody was suddenly struck with what Jase was doing. He was letting him in, all the way in. They were family. He tiptoed up and slung his arms around Jase's neck and kissed him achingly hard.

"Oh lord.............can you go later?"

"Haha......no, it's now or it'll be too late today."

"K, call me when you're leaving Albuquerque. If you break down, I'll come straight away."

Jase walked out with Cody to the old pickmeup. "It's old but it runs good. Call if you have any trouble."

"Will do. You be safe today, Jase."

Jase looked at Cody, his braided hair falling over one shoulder of the turquoise shirt that was tucked into tight black jeans. "You're beautiful, Cody Taylor."

"Love you, Jase."

"Right back at ya, Baby."

Cody pulled into the merge lane on I40 and was totally unaware of the tan truck that blended into the steady stream of traffic headed for Albuquerque.

For those of you that like maps to follow stories, go here:


Find Shiprock in the upper lefthand corner. Go south on SR666.

Drifter is right above the road sign, Wild Horse Ravine is just below

it and Charity's school was almost to Gallup. Enjoy !!

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[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead