Saturday, December 26, 2015

On the twenty-sixth day of December my true love gave to me...
The Keeper of the House Finds His Wee One - Rescue for Hire West 3

Garrett followed Flyer to the kitchen but turned to the left and went down the hall toward his suite of rooms. The door across from his bedroom was open. Standing in the doorway, he observed the whirl of activities in the once vacant large room.

Rescue for Hire West’s medics, Reese and Parker, were on one side of the bed with big Jack on the other. They were all bent over the victim, arranging pillows under and along his casts and bandaged-covered limbs. Pip was setting a pitcher of water and a clear glass containing a straw on the table next to the bed.

As one, the three men around the bed straightened and took a step back, giving Garrett his first look at Tolliver Holiday.

Eyes. For a few seconds, that’s all Garrett saw. The blue color was made even more startling by the bright red surrounding them where the whites of the man’s eyes should be. Those broken blood vessels, along with the dark purples, greens, and morbid yellow bruises encircling the man’s neck told Garrett that Tolliver had been choked almost to the point of death. Garret’s gaze took in the black and blue bruises surrounding each eye, reminding him of a raccoon’s mask.

Tolliver’s nose was red and misshapen but didn’t lean to one side or the other. It was clearly broken, but from experience, Garrett could see it wouldn’t be lumpy or disfigured once it healed.

There wasn’t much of Tolliver’s face that wasn’t bruised and swollen, including his chin and cheekbones. Puffy lips covered in healing scabs showed where stitches had pieced the fragile skin back together. Garrett remembered Roman saying the victims had been hit with a bat during their capture. The painful looking deeply red lump running from Tolliver’s temple back into his light brown hair added to the picture of the violence inflicted on this man.

The rest of Tolliver’s body was covered with a sheet. Even with the pillows surrounding him, Tolliver wasn’t half as wide as most of the men in the room.

Curled up on the end of the bed was the cutest tiny dog Garrett had ever seen. Big brown eyes stared at him as a thin little tail moved tentatively.

Garrett couldn’t resist. Walking to the bed, he leaned over and held out the back of his hand for the dog to sniff. “Well hello, my tiny one. Aren’t you sweet?”

The little dog sniffed Garrett’s hand while its tail slapped the sheet. A soft pink tongue snuck out and licked Garrett, turning his heart to mush.

“His name is Bentley.”

Outwardly, Garrett didn’t react to the hoarse, croaking whisper. Inside, his mind was going over the contents of his pantry. He knew of several things that could help the small man in the bed feel more comfortable.

“Bentley it is then.” Garrett smiled, ready to give the little dog a bit more of attention.

Pausing, Garrett watched the man in the bed stare at him. That was when it happened. He didn’t know what Tolliver Holiday looked like under the bruises. He hadn’t said more than a few words to him. Hell, he didn’t even know if the man was gay. But as they continued to gaze into each other’s eyes, need filled Garrett’s being.

He needed to get to know Tolliver. He needed to protect him and keep him close. Needs Garret couldn’t comprehend were flooding through him until he was so swamped he struggled to breathe.

“Are you real, or are you a gift brought on by the drugs?” The faint whisper reached Garrett’s ears.

Relief eased the ball of emotions that had threatened to overwhelm Garrett. It seemed the man was also feeling this, something. Never before had this happened to him. Kneeling down on one knee next to the bed, Garrett put his hand on the blankets close to, but not touching, Tolliver. At this point he didn’t know of any place he could touch the man with causing him more pain.

“I’m real, wee one,” he answered. Garrett was smiling so hard his cheek muscles hurt. He had his answer on the gay issue. Again he became lost in Tolliver’s blue-eyed gaze.

Roman stepped up next to Garrett, breaking the moment. “Tolliver, I’d like you to meet my house manager, Garrett McKay. He’s also agreed to help you during your recovery.”

“Hi.” Tolliver grimaced when his arm moved under the sheet.

The attraction was still simmering between them, but now the need to help Tolliver was pressing Garrett into action. “Hello, Tolliver. Do you like tea?” Garrett had some licorice root tea in the pantry. It would soothe Tolliver’s throat and help with the swelling.

Tolliver’s eyelids lowered in a slow blink before he nodded. The drugs and the trip to Nevada were catching up to the poor man.

“How about you take a nap, and when you wake up, I’ll have a nice cup of tea waiting for you?” Garrett kept his tone light so Tolliver would stay relaxed enough to drift off.

Tolliver managed a nod before his eyes stayed closed and he seemed to wilt into the bed.

Garrett stood there and observed the bruised face made more grotesque by the cream-colored bed linens surrounding it. A soft touch brought his attention down to a wiggling tiny dog. Bentley’s large ears were lowered, and his tail was between his legs. His little body trembled, and big brown eyes were begging.

It didn’t take a scientist to know what the dog was asking. Scooping it up easily in one hand, Garrett looked into the dog’s eyes and said, “Bentley, my man, I have a patch of grass with your name on it.” He received a quick lick on the chin in return.

As he was leaving the room with one of his new charges, Garrett looked over at the men setting up medical equipment and supplies on a folding table Garrett had brought in earlier. In a quiet tone so Tolliver wouldn’t be disturbed, he said, “I know you want to get back up in the air to go home, but I have food set up in the kitchen. I know Flyer was heading that way. Hopefully there’s some left.”

After receiving nods, Garrett hurried out of the room and down the hall. The little mite cradled in his hand had started whimpering. Once outside Garrett walked to the side of the house and set the little dog down. Bentley didn’t hesitate and made quick work of thoroughly watering a small wrought-iron statue of a cowboy.

Garrett continued to wait as, in typical dog fashion, Bentley sniffed out interesting scents in the grass. Finally he got down to the big event Garrett had been waiting for. After he finished, he trotted over to Garrett looking chipper and pleased with himself.

“All right, my tiny one, you did well.” Garrett picked up the little dog while making a mental note to put a pooper-scooper on the shopping list. “Let’s get you back to your owner. We don’t want him to get upset if he wakes up and you aren’t there.”
Garrett walked over to where Roman was standing

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