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Boundary Line

Painted Hearts Publishing

Heat Rating: SCORCHING
Word Count: 46,976
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Roan has his hands full when he invites Tanner, a young college kid, into his secluded mountain cabin to ride out the severe winter storm that has stranded him in the mountains for the weekend. They take up a fast-paced, but intermittent relationship as the snow and ice melt, each struggling with the distance between Tanner’s college and the remote location of Roan’s cabin.

Roan has been here before, or course, as the alpha-guy in a previous relationship that kept his interest and bed occupied. But that ended badly, and left Roan to heal the internal wounds alone, tucked away in his cabin at the edge of the forest. Tanner has other plans, as the sexy, cute youngster, who continues to push Roan out of his comfort zones and break all the rules of the dating game. He likes the idea of having an older, take-charge kind of guy as a boyfriend.

While they fall in love fast and hard, they also know the relationship has an expiration date. Tanner will graduate in May and move to the big city to take on a job in his chosen field. Can each of them give ground when needed and support one another, without blowing the relationship apart prematurely?

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When they arrived at the sauna, Roan set the five-gallon jug outside the door, and went inside to grab a half barrel and scrub brush, which he set outside in the snow. He poured water into the barrel, and set the brush into it.
“When the ice is off the lake we jump into it to cool off,” Roan said. “Sometimes I’ll use an ax to bust a dipping hole into the lake, but this tub works well for the time being. If you get too hot, you can come out here, splash water on your head, use the brush to splash and scrub over your body as needed.”
“Nice,” Tanner said. “I’m ready to get in there. Let’s go.”
They stepped inside the entry room, where they had stacked all the wood, and proceeded to take off their boots and strip out of their union suits. They each had a towel to wrap around their waists before heading into the sauna. The small space inside the main room of the sauna was toasty hot as they stepped into it. Roan fed a couple more pieces of wood into the woodstove while Tanner found a good place on the bench.
Roan took a small wooden bucket from the sauna outside, and soon returned with it full of water. The bucket had a small wooden ladle in it, which Roan used to pour water over the rocks on top of the stove. Steam erupted off the stove, filling the cedar-lined interior, punching both the men with a heat wave. They sighed and settled into the sauna and the relaxation coming their way.
They sat in the sauna for a long time, soaking in the heat until it was too much, taking turns going out into the snow to splash cold water from the barrel onto heads and torsos. On one of his returns, Roan held a leather flog in one hand.
“If you trust me, then lay down across the bench on your stomach,” Roan told Tanner. “This is a leather flog, not the right tool, but close enough to the real thing to release your pores even more.”
Tanner looked at him skeptically, not moving.
“Trust me,” Roan said. “Russians use soaked birch branches to gently hit the back and shoulders of bathers in their banya saunas all the time. It opens the pores even further and drives all the crap out of the skin. I don’t have any pre-soaked birch branches, and use this instead. It’s the same idea, only this is supple leather. I don’t sauna with others much, so don’t get the chance to do it often. It feels great.”
“Then maybe I should do it to you first,” Tanner said, still skeptical.
“Fair enough,” Roan agreed. “In that case, out of my way.”
He handed Tanner the flog as they traded places. Roan unwrapped the towel hanging off his hips and laid it out on the bench. He lay face down and rested his head on a forearm.
“Lightly flog my back and shoulders, even my butt and legs,” Roan instructed. “You don’t have to hit hard. It’s more of a brushing feel, just enough to agitate the skin, to cause blood to flow up to the surface. You can also swirl the ends across the skin’s surface from time to time. It provides a good sensation.”
Tanner swung the flog, bringing it down on Roan’s broad back and shoulders time and time again. After the first few strikes, he could see the skin reddening as blood flowed to the surface. Roan moaned softly, enjoying the feeling, telling Tanner he could hit just a bit harder if he wanted to. Tanner put a bit more heat into the swings, traveling from his back, across his butt, and onto his muscular legs.
As Tanner flogged Roan’s back, he gained an appreciation for the muscular build of the ranger. He was tall and lean, with well-defined muscles all over his body. The guy must work out and be active all the time to maintain such a great body in his late thirties. It was pure luck that Roan told Tanner to stop. He sighed, keeping his eyes closed for the time being, resting on the bench. Tanner took a quick exit out of the sauna to cool off, and to cool the swelling erection he was sprouting under his towel. He found the sauna flogging to be an incredibly erotic experience.
After Tanner splashed cool water on his face and settled his libido a bit, he reentered the sauna, finding Roan in a sitting position, with the flog lying beside him. Your turn, he was told. Tanner laid his towel and himself out the same way Roan had, and asked Roan to go easy on him. Roan just chuckled, and slashed the flog through the air several times quickly, making a loud whooshing sound, before bringing it down lightly onto Tanner’s back. Roan continued to flog Tanner’s back lightly, watching him relax into the attention.
After they were both satisfied with the switching, they continued to lounge in the heat and sweat out the salts and accumulated toxins of daily life, slowly sipping water to rehydrate. When they both had had enough, they closed down the fire in the sauna, slipped on their boots and clothing, and walked back up to the cabin.
Once in the cabin, Roan found a bath towel for Tanner to use, pointing him toward the shower. Roan followed suit after Tanner finished, and soon enough they were back in the living room, in their union suits, napping through the afternoon.
After they woke, they opened fresh beers and decided to start working on a puzzle Tanner found on one of Roan’s shelves. The puzzle carried their attention through part of the afternoon, occupying time on an otherwise quiet day. When they lost interest in it, they shifted to reading books and making small talk about life.
Afternoon had faded into evening when they congregated around the kitchen, warming leftover stew, pulling together a quick salad, and opening a bottle of wine to share.
After dinner, Roan broke out a deck of cards, a cribbage board, and two thick glasses. He dropped large ice cubes into each glass, then poured two fingers of Irish whiskey over the ice.
“Might as well settle into the night and enjoy some good whiskey,” Roan said. “A friend got me hooked on this. It’s smooth, not smoky or peaty, like some of them can be.”
Tanner took a sip, letting the first burn slip down his throat as a big smile crossed his face. “Glad I’m staying here again tonight. This is the perfect way to settle into the evening. I wouldn’t want to leave, even if I could.”
The two shared the couch and played cribbage, completing several games, and polishing off a couple glasses of the whiskey, enjoying each other’s company. Roan probably should’ve kept better tabs on his guest for the evening. Roan could put away alcohol with relative ease, he was a big guy, and had been sure to drink a lot of water throughout the day to counteract the effects of the sauna. Tanner, however, was in a rough state by the fourth game of cribbage. He was having a great time, and enjoyed the whiskey quite a bit.
At the end of the fourth game, Tanner headed off to the bathroom to relieve himself. Roan set up the board and cards for one last game. They never got to the last round. Tanner staggered back into the living room and flopped down onto the couch beside Roan. He was visibly drunk and sleepy as he sat down. He lay his head back and sighed heavily, sprawling out on the couch, mumbling something to himself.
Roan watched him for a second, realizing the situation. “Whoa, bud. Someone has had way too many drinks in his dehydrated state. I’ll get you some water.” He stood up, grabbed the two glasses of whiskey, and took them to the kitchen. He returned with a tall glass of water for Tanner. But Tanner seemed gone, passed out, ready to start snoring.
Roan set the glass on the coffee table and massaged Tanner’s chest with his hand, rubbing in small circles. “Wow, you’re a goner,” Roan said, Tanner unresponsive to his touch. He looked down Tanner’s long, lean frame, realizing, yes indeed, he was gone; he hadn’t finished buttoning his union suit up after taking a leak, and his cock was falling out of the open seam. Roan chuckled as he reached over, tucking Tanner’s cock back inside, buttoning it up for him.
Tanner rolled his head over and started leaning his way toward Roan, mumbling, “You are interested in playing with me then. So nice. I thought you were gay. Couldn’t tell for sure.” His eyes still closed, he pretty much fell forward, head landing on Roan’s chest.
“Oh, Tanner,” Roan said. “I wasn’t trying to play with your...” The rest of his statement was cut off as Tanner brought both hands up and wrapped Roan in a big hug, pushing him back into the corner of the couch.
“Your body is so strong,” Tanner continued to mumble, resting his head on Roan’s chest, rubbing his face against his pecs. “Hoped you were gay in the sauna. And your cock is so-.” Whatever Tanner was mumbling was lost as he buried his head in Roan’s chest, and fell asleep.
Holy shit, Roan thought. The kid just came out and came onto Roan, and was now laying on top of him on the couch, cuddled up, asleep. Roan rubbed a hand through his hair, then pulled him into a hug, settling the now asleep Tanner further on top of him.
So, holy hell, Tanner was gay, and totally hot and horny for him. And passed out on top of him on the couch. Roan could definitely tell the young man was all hot and horny, he felt the young man’s cock swelling, pressing against his thigh. Luckily, the kid was asleep and couldn’t feel Roan’s now erect penis jabbing him in the ribs.
Roan lay with the young man for a while, feeling the warmth of his body, cuddling with him on the couch. It had been years since he last held a man in his arms. Scott died a couple of years ago, while deployed on active duty in Iraq. That was the last man Roan had hugged so intimately, almost exactly like this, on this very couch, just before he shipped out for the tour of duty. His last tour.
Roan lay on the couch, holding a sleeping Tanner, as a wave of emotion and remorse washed over him. He had thought he was past the emotional part of his relationship with Scott and had come to acceptance of his loss. Why did these emotions surface now? Because of his proximity to another guy? Tanner was nowhere near the same guy Scott was. Tanner was still a kid, a pup. A sexy, cute, and smart little guy, but still, just a kid.
He lost track of time sitting on the couch as his thoughts rambled, letting Tanner fall into a deep sleep. Eventually, he slowly and carefully crawled out from underneath Tanner, who was gone and dead to the world, before getting a blanket to throw over the top of the poor kid. The youngster was going to have a screaming headache in the morning. Then Roan went up to his own bed to drift off to sleep, alone.

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