Castle Roland

Riding Lessons

by Andrew Todd


Chapter 24

Posted: N/A

"Faster, Oxy!! Faster, Zaky!!" Max cried as Zak and Dusty cantered Onyx and Phoenix through the woods.

Zak looked over to Dusty and the two grinned at each other enjoying the freedom of being on the trail and the joyful laughter coming from little Max.

As they approached the opening in the trail, both boys slowed their horses to a walk.

"Aww," sighed Max. "Wanna go fast."

Zak held tight to Max and laughed. "We need to let Onyx and Phoenix have a rest, Maxie. Plus, we're almost there."

The boys rode out of the woods and towards the lake and camp area. When they got to the tent, Dusty slid down from Phoenix and removed his hackamore. He walked over to Onyx and Zak handed Max down to him and then Zak slid off the black horse. Zak removed Onyx's bridle and they let the two horses wander off to graze.

Max was fascinated by the tent and the camp area the boys had set up. He ran around checking out the fire pit and logs that had been laid by it for seats. He peeked into the tent. Dusty and Zak grinned as they watched the three-year-old taking everything in.

"Hey, Maxie, you want to go out in the canoe?" Dusty asked.

"What's a c'noo?"

Dusty laughed, "It's that boat over there. We can row out on the lake."

Max looked over at the canoe by the lake and his eyes got big. He ran over and grabbed Dusty's hand and tried to drag him over.

"Let's go on the c'noo," he instructed.

Dusty grabbed Max and swung him up over his shoulder. "Hold on a minute," he laughed. "We need to get you a life vest."

Dusty tossed Max to Zak and went to grab a life vest and the canoe paddles.

Zak caught Max and started to tickle him to distract him. Max squirmed and laughed. "Stop," Max ordered. He reached over and grabbed Zak's cheeks in his hands. "I gonna pee," he threatened. Zak laughed and stopped tickling the boy and carried him over to where Dusty was waiting by the canoe.

Dusty dragged the canoe the foot or so to the lake edge. Zak put Max down and grabbed the life jacket from Dusty. He strapped the life jacket onto Max.

"Zaky, it's too big," complained Max.

Zak looked at the little boy standing there, the life jacket down to his knees. "Well, Maxie, this is the smallest one that Dusty has and you have to wear it. We'll go and get one in your size for the next time, Ok?"

"Okey," Max replied.

Zak picked Max up and placed him on the seat in the center of the canoe. Zak sat up in the front of the canoe and Dusty pushed them off and then took his seat in the rear of the canoe.

The canoe quietly glided across the lake. Dusty kept a close eye on Max who was sliding back and forth on his seat. The toddler would squeal with delight when he would see fish swimming to the surface of the lake. Zak pointed out a pair of deer drinking on the shore.

Zak and Dusty both chuckled as Maxie chattered away excitedly.

After rowing across the lake for close to an hour, Dusty brought the canoe to a stop near the center of the lake. Zak and Dusty were enjoying the gentle rocking of the canoe on the lake, when Max stood up and excitedly pointed to the shore.

"Maxie, you need to sit down," instructed Zak.

Max sat down and continued to point to shore. "Look, Zaky!!" he exclaimed. "It's 'Pin and Mattie!!"

Max waved excitedly. "Hi, 'Pin!! Hi, Mattie!!" he shouted. After a minute he looked dejectedly at Zak. "They not say 'Hi' to me."

Zak tried not to laugh. "Maxie, they can't hear you, they're too far away."

"Oh. Let's go back and see them."

Dusty and Zak looked at each other and grinned.

"Ok, Maxie, hold on," Dusty told him.

Max grabbed the bench tight with each hand and got a determined look on his face.

Dusty and Zak turned the canoe around and began paddling as hard as they could for shore. Max yelled out encouragement so they could get to the other boys.

As they got closer, Mattie, Spin, Nick and Noah heard Max's voice and all turned towards the lake. The four waved at Zak, Dusty and Max and rode their horses into the lake to meet the canoe.

When they were close enough, Mattie swam Ash alongside the canoe and reached in and grabbed Max and placed him on Ash's back.

"YAY!!" Max cheered. "Hi, Mattie!!" He waved to the other boys. "Hi, 'Pin!! Hi, Noer!! Hi, Nicky!!"

The four newcomers all greeted Max.

While Dusty and Zak rowed to shore and took care of the canoe, the four boys on horseback took turns giving a gleeful Max rides in the water and around the lake.

Dusty and Zak whistled and called for Phoenix and Onyx. When the horses came running, the boys mounted up and headed into the water with their friends.

The six older boys swam their horses around playing a game of 'keep away' with little Max as the ball. The boys would try to get close to whoever had Max and take him onto their horse. Max giggled and squirmed as he was moved from horse and rider to horse and rider. Max loved playing with all the boys, but as Zak was his favorite, he would 'help' Zak by making it easier for Zak to grab him and move him onto Onyx.

When they tired of the game, the boys spent the rest of the morning in and out of the water, sunning on the beach and playing with Max. They were starting to see why Joe was concerned that six teenagers would be outnumbered by one toddler. Max had a boundless reserve of energy. Luckily they could pass him from couple to couple so each pair of boys could have some private time.

As noontime approached, the expenditure of energy was finally catching up with Max. He was starting to drag and yawning more and more often.

Dusty announced it was time for lunch. He had pulled out some bread and cold cuts from one of the coolers and the boys made their own sandwiches.

When they had finished their lunch, the boys all considered how they wanted to spend the afternoon.

Nick and Noah asked if they could borrow the canoe and fishing poles so they could try their hand at fishing. Spin and Mattie decided they wanted to take a ride around the lake. Dusty and Zak said they would stay close to camp and maybe see if Max would take an 'N. A. P.'

"No, Dussy," Max protested. "No nap." He shook his head.

Dusty laughed. "Kid can't spell or read, but he knows 'nap'."

"Max, you don't have to take a nap," Zak told the little boy. "You can just hang out with me and Dusty. We're going to go and lay on the beach for a while and maybe we can go swimming later."

Max eyed Dusty suspiciously and went and sat next to Zak. "Ok, Zaky. We go swimming later." He grabbed Zak's hand and the two ventured off to the beach.

Spin looked at Dusty and laughed. "So, how does it feel to be the bad dad?"

Dusty rolled his eyes. "You know he's going to fall asleep on the beach anyways."

Noah nodded. "My little sister is the same way. If you mention the 'N' word, she will fight and cry and pitch a fit, but she will still end up falling asleep."

The five boys sat around joking for a while.

Eventually, Mattie and Spin went to find Ash and Revanche so they could take their ride around the lake.

Dusty went into the tent to get the fishing poles and walked Nick and Noah to the canoe. As they approached the beach, they saw Zak and Max sleeping on a blanket with Herc and Loki.

Noah chuckled. "See I told you."

Dusty got Nick and Noah all set up and gave them a shove off.

Dust walked over to the blanket and took in the peaceful sight. Zak lay on the blanket with Max snuggled up against him. Loki was curled up next to Max and Herc lay at Zak's feet. Dusty lay down behind Zak. As if sensing Dusty's presence, Zak slid back and melted into Dusty's form.

Mattie and Spin enjoyed a leisurely ride around the lake, or at least they tried to. The two were far too competitive to keep things at a slow pace. Every so often their eyes would meet and the unspoken challenge would be issued and answered and the two would kick Revanche and Ash into gear and race around the lake.

The two horses were very matched to their owners.

Ash was even-tempered and mellow like Mattie, with the same reserve of energy and determination that Mattie used to surprise those who underestimated him.

Revanche's throttle was always stuck open. Spin had to work just to keep him at a walk; he was always ready to run. The warm blood was a challenge for Spin after all his years with the mellow Marty. Revanche also had a playful personality to match Spin's. He was always chasing Spin around the paddock and nipping at his boy.

After their third race--the 'rubber' match as Spin liked to call it, was won by Mattie and Ash--the boys slowed the horses to a walk, or in Spin's case, tried to.

"Hey, Mattie, why aren't any of your siblings home this summer?" Spin asked. "They're all in college, right? Most college kids I know come home for the summer."

"Well, my oldest brother Pedro, we call him Pete, just finished his first year of Law School so he has moved out and relocated to California to be closer to school," Mattie answered. "My bitch sister, Natalia, has it in her head that she wants to be involved in high fashion, so a friend of my mom's got her an internship at a fashion magazine in New York. My other brother, Carlos, we call him Charlie; he's the one I miss most. He and I are very close. He goes to school in Florida. Usually he comes home for the summer, but this summer at the last minute he decided to stay down there and work."

"If he were up here, he would be riding with us every day. He and I are the most like my grandfather; we love horses and riding. In fact, Charlie wanted to get his degree in Equine Management so that he could own his own stables, but my parents forced him to get a business degree instead. They pretty much control all of us except Pete. We all have trust funds from my grandfather, but only Pete is old enough to get his money. Charlie gets his next month when he turns twenty-one. Then all bets are off about what he will do. He's very stubborn and determined, but I love him."

They continued riding until they found a quiet meadow tucked away in the woods and decided to dismount and have a rest.

They both slipped from their horses and removed their bridles so the horses could graze while the boys relaxed.

Spin took Mattie's hand and led him into the clearing. He turned and pushed Mattie against a large elm tree. He ran his hands under Mattie's t-shirt rubbing his abs and tweaking his nipples, while he leaned forwards and attached his lips to Mattie's.

The two stood and made out against the tree, their hands wandering over each other's bodies.

Spin grabbed the hem of Mattie's t-shirt and pulled it over his head. His head bobbed forwards as he latched his lips onto Mattie's hard brown nipple. Spin sucked and bit at the hard flesh making Mattie squirm in ecstasy.

Spin kept working his tongue over Mattie's chest while his fingers quickly untied the drawstring on Mattie's swimming trunks and they dropped to the ground leaving Mattie standing there in all his glory. Spin stepped back to admire the sight of his gorgeous boyfriend.

Mattie's large uncut penis was standing at full attention. Spin dropped to his knees and began to worship the turgid flesh.

Spin sucked, licked and nibbled at Mattie's hot cock.

Mattie pushed Spin off his dick and lifted his smaller boyfriend up to his feet. He yanked Spin's t-shirt over his head and roughly pulled his bathing suit down. He inhaled sharply as he gazed at Spin's pale flesh and lovely pink nipples. Mattie found Spin's fiery red pubic hair the sexiest feature of his boyfriend's many sexy features.

Mattie slid down onto his back and pulled Spin on top of him.

Since they were still exploring oral pleasures, the two had not yet become that experienced with sixty-nine and they were going to correct that oversight this afternoon.

Mattie pulled Spin to him and kissed his lips roughly, exploring Spin's mouth with his thick tongue. Both boys' hands roamed freely on the other.

No longer able to contain himself, Mattie grabbed Spin by the hips and lifted and spun him around 180 degrees so that Spin's hard pale cock with the angry red head was hanging just above his lips. Mattie opened his mouth wide as he lowered Spin and his cock into his mouth.

As Mattie took Spin's hard tool into his mouth, Spin was getting reacquainted with Mattie's large member.

Both boys did their best to deep throat the other. Mattie had an easier time of it since Spin's hard dick was relatively thin and quite a bit shorter than Mattie's monster. Spin loved Mattie's big cock. The only one he had seen up close that was bigger was Noah's. But Spin preferred Mattie's since it was attached to the boy he loved.

The boys were too far gone when they started their oral adventures. Within minutes they had driven each other to the heights of ecstasy. Both boys exploded simultaneously, each shooting stream after stream of warm jizz into the other's throat.

When their breathing returned to normal, Mattie and Spin both leaned back against the tree and snuggled in each other's arms.

Nick and Noah spent a while rowing around the lake. They would stop occasionally to fish. Within two hours they had enough fish to feed everyone for dinner.

Nick pointed out a small concealed shoal a good distance from their camp. They decided to row over to it and take a break.

They reached the hidden shore and pulled the canoe onto land.

Nick had thought to bring a blanket and grabbed it from the canoe and laid it down in the shade of a large oak tree.

Nick led Noah over to the blanket and both boys sat down.

Nick reached over and caressed Noah's cheek. He leaned in and lightly kissed Noah's lips.

Nick looked into Noah's blue eyes. "Are you upset about before?" he asked, the concern apparent in his voice.

Noah smiled. "No. It was a little embarrassing, but it's fine."

"Good," Nick said as he laid his hand on the bulge in Noah's pants. "I think Spin wants a swing on this big boy." He laughed.

Noah grinned. "That only belongs to you."

"And don't you forget it," Nick agreed, "or I'll have my name tattooed on it. Hell, it's big enough for my first, middle and last name on it."

Both boys laughed.

Noah moved in for a kiss and the two shared a passionate embrace.

Nick pushed Noah back onto the blanket.

Noah reached for Nick, but Nick batted his hand away. "Let me do this," Nick panted. "I've dreamed about this all summer and this may be our last chance to be together for a while."

Nick pulled Noah's t-shirt over his head and threw it aside. He pulled off Noah's bathing suit and tossed it on the t-shirt. He took off Noah's flip-flops and set them aside as well.

Noah lay back with his hands under his head and his eyes closed. Nick just drank in the view. Nick loved the rich bright color of the floppy red hair that covered Noah's head. He looked at Noah's angular face, pale in color with splashes of red on his cheeks. Noah hadn't shaved in a few days so there was a ring of very fine red stubble on his chin.

Nick's eyes moved down to the tufts of red hair that covered Noah's armpits. He drank in the view of Noah's pale chest, thin but not skinny. His eyes kept moving down. He gazed at the bright red pubes that topped his favorite part of Noah's anatomy. He watched it lie on Noah's thigh and continued his evaluation of Noah's beautiful body. When he reached the tips of Noah's toes, Nick decided it was time for action.

Nick picked up one of Noah's long feet. He stroked the sole; Noah grinned. Nick brought the foot up to his face and licked from the heel to ball. He then took each toe lovingly in his mouth, swirling his tongue around each one and gently sucking them. He repeated this on Noah's other foot.

Nick put the foot down and licked his way up one leg, covering it with kisses and saliva, and then licked his way down its twin. Nick crawled up next to Noah and leaned in to kiss and lick at his abdomen. He ran his tongue around Noah's outie and traced a line straight up his chest. Nick stopped to suckle at each of Noah's pert pale nipples.

Nick let his tongue trace the hollow of Noah's throat and run along his Adam's apple. He licked up Noah's neck to his chin and then plunged his tongue into Noah's mouth. The two tongue-wrestled for a few moments, before Nick withdrew and placed gentle kisses on Noah's nose and eyelids.

Nick rolled Noah over onto his stomach. He started at the base of Noah's neck and licked his way down Noah's back.

When he reached Noah's pale bubble butt, Nick sat back on his heels and admired the gorgeous glutes that looked like they had been sculptured out of marble.

Nick took a deep breath. He was beyond excited. Noah had always been the aggressor when they made love; Nick had never done this before, but he was ready now.

Nick spread Noah's legs apart and lay between them. He gently kissed each of Noah's perfect buns and then pulled them apart. The pale pink of Noah's rosebud nestled between his snowy-white ass cheeks was a sight that had Nick harder than he had ever been.

Nick tentatively licked at Noah's hole. It was sweet, just like his lover. Nick plunged his tongue into Noah as deep as it would go. He kissed and lapped at the hole while Noah squirmed and groaned.

Nick grabbed Noah's hips and directed him to flip back over onto his back.

Nick shoved Noah's legs up and plunged his face back into Noah's delicious ass. While his face was buried in Noah's ass, he watched as Noah's beautiful pink cock grew and grew. He watched it stretch and grow until the head was about two inches past Noah's navel.

Nick pulled his tongue out of Noah's ass and licked his way up Noah's perineum. He took each of Noah's balls in his mouth, gently sucking on them. He licked his way up the underside of Noah's shaft. When he reached the angry red head straining for release, Nick placed his mouth over it and closed his lips just under the head sucking and licking it.

Noah inhaled sharply. He writhed and moaned as Nick continued his assault on Noah's hard cock. Noah knew he wasn't going to last long at this rate.

Nick stopped his assault on Noah's raging dick just long enough to stick his middle finger in his mouth and get it sloppy wet. He went back to pleasuring Noah's hard-on, at the same time slipping his middle finger into Noah's hole. He rubbed and stroked the inside of Noah's ass while he continued to give him the blow job of his life.

Nick felt his finger graze the spot he was looking for. He knew he had hit it because Noah's moans increased and he began flooding Nick's mouth with pre-cum.

Nick continued to gently graze Noah's button while sucking lovingly on his hard dick. In seconds, Noah was beyond the point of no return. The redhead cried out and his cock pulsed in Nick's mouth as he shot stream after stream of hot cream down Nick's throat. Nick kept sucking on Noah's cockhead for all he was worth. Noah's orgasm finally subsided and he had to pull Nick off his now sensitive cock.

Noah pulled Nick up to him and kissed him deeply, his tongue rooting around Nick's mouth looking for the last vestiges of his seed.

Noah looked deep into Nick's blue eyes and grinned. He reached over to where his bathing suit lay and grabbed a small bottle of lube from the pocket.

Nick grinned. He started to take the lube and grab Noah's cock.

Noah pulled his hand back and shook his head. He opened the bottle of lube and reached for Nick's straining penis.

Nick just looked at Noah. "Are you sure?" he asked. Noah had until this point only ever been the 'top'.

"I'm positive, Noah answered, love, lust and passion all mixed in his voice.

Nick took the lube and squirted some into his hand. He rubbed it around Noah's hole and slowly put his lubed middle finger back in. After a few minutes, he added a second and eventually a third finger to the party.

Noah just lay back and moaned.

When he thought Noah was ready, Nick grabbed the lube and gently lubed his hard dick. He was so close, he was afraid that if he rubbed the lube on too hard he would explode.

Nick scooted up between Noah's knees and placed the head of his dick against Noah's hole.

Nick pushed forward gently. He felt the head of his dick pop into Noah's hole. Noah's hand shot up at the shock of the penetration and he placed his hand on Nick's knee to signal him to wait for a moment.

Once he was accustomed to the intrusion, Noah signaled Nick to continue. Nick tried to enter Noah gently, but sixteen years of waiting suddenly hit him and his cock slid right into Noah's ass.

Nick began to move his dick in and out of Noah's ass. Nick's dick was just long enough to graze Noah's prostate on every stroke.

Soon both boys were completely lost in ecstasy. Nick bent over Noah's prone body and licked at his pink nipple. Then he moved up and covered Noah's mouth with his own. He could feel Noah's now reawakened dick trapped between their bellies.

Suddenly, Noah groaned into Nick's mouth as his second orgasm hit him. He squirted his hot jism between their bodies.

Feeling Noah's ass rhythmically squeeze his dick finally pushed Nick over the edge and he shot his load so hard and so fast up Noah's chute that he thought he would pass out.

As the boys came down from their high, they lay on the blanket cuddling and kissing in the mid-afternoon sun.

Dusty stirred. He was still spooned up against the sleeping Zak. Dusty looked over Zak's side for Max; he was not there.

Dusty bolted upright, about to yell for Max, when he saw the boy's small sleeping form on the edge of the blanket. Max was still asleep wedged between Herc and Loki. Both dogs were awake and alert, watching over Max.

Dusty sat there, watching Max sleep and trying to get his heart to stop racing. Max was the closest thing he was ever getting to a little brother and he had been scared for a moment that something had happened to the little boy.

Zak reached out for Dusty in his sleep and woke up when he couldn't find him. He looked up to see Dusty watching Max and the dogs. Zak sat up and wrapped his arms around Dusty and laid his head on Dusty's shoulder.

"Do you want one?" Zak asked.

"Someday. You?"

Zak grinned up at Dusty. "More than one. I want a whole houseful."

Dusty smiled at Zak. He leaned down and kissed him. Their kissing soon became passionate. They were lost in each other when they heard giggling.

They pulled apart and looked over to see Max sitting between the two dogs grinning at them.

"You doing Mommy and Daddy kisses again," Max laughed.

Dusty replied, "I told you Max, Zak is my boyfriend, so we are allowed to do Mommy and Daddy kisses."

Max got a serious look on his face. "But I love you and I love Zaky. I not doing Mommy and Daddy kisses."

Zak put his arms out and Max strolled over and sat on Zak's lap. Zak hugged the little boy tight.

"We both love you, too, Maxie," he said gently. "But Dusty and I love each other like a Mommy and Daddy do. We love you like a brother or a friend."

Max stood up and walked over to Dusty. He wrapped his arms around Dusty's neck and kissed him on the cheek. "You my brother, Dussy. I love you," he declared. Then Max walked back to Zak and hugged and kissed him as well. "You my bestest friend, Zaky. I love you."

Zak grabbed Max in a hug and Dusty reached over and wrapped his arms around both boys.

"Maxie, do you want to get in a swim before we have to go back?" Dusty asked.

"Wanna swim, but wanna stay, Dussy."

"We can swim, but your daddy is coming to get you," Dusty told the little boy. "But, if you are good, then maybe he'll let you come out here again and we can camp overnight."

"Tonight?" Max asked hopefully.

Dusty shook his head. "No, not tonight. But soon, ok?"

"Ok," Max agreed.

"Dussy, I no have a bathing suit," Max declared.

"That's ok, Maxie. You can swim in your shorts."

"Can I swim in my unnerpants?"

"Sure, Maxie, whatever you want." Dusty grinned.

Dusty and Zak pulled off their t-shirts and toed off their sneakers. Max peeled off his shirt and dropped his shorts. Zak helped Max untie his sneakers and pulled his shoes and socks off.

The three walked into the lake followed by Herc and Loki. Max was between Zak and Dusty holding their hands. Max laughed as Dusty and Zak swung him between them, his toes just touching the water. Then, as if on cue, they both let go and Max found himself sitting waist deep in the water, both dogs on either side of him.

Dusty turned around and scanned the shore. He put his thumb and forefinger to his lips.

"Cover your ears, Maxie," Zak warned, right before Dusty let loose one of his whistles.

"Wow, Dussy. You teach me that?"

Zak rolled his eyes and Dusty laughed.

"Sure, Max," Dusty answered. "When you're older."

Zak heard the hoof beats coming towards them and grabbed Max in his arms right as Phoenix and Onyx came into view and galloped towards the lake.

"Oxy!! Finx!!" Max cried. "Yay!!"

Both horses came thundering into the lake. As Phoenix went by him, Dusty reached up and grabbed a handful of mane and swung himself up. He used his knees and voice to slow the horse down and go back to where Zak and Max waited.

Zak handed Max up to Dusty and Dusty sat the little boy in front of him. Dusty kissed at Phoenix and had him move forward into the water.

Onyx came up beside Zak. Knowing he couldn't jump up like Dusty, Zak walked with Onyx into the water until the horse was deep enough that Zak could float over to him and climb up on his back.

The three boys, two horses and two dogs played in the water for almost an hour. Eventually, they were joined by Mattie and Spin and then Nick and Noah.

Finally, everyone headed to shore.

"Hey, Nick, did you guys catch any fish?" Dusty asked.

"Yep, we caught enough for dinner," Nick replied.

"Great. Why don't you guys work out cooking and cleaning duty and Zak and I will bring Maxie back?"

"Sure," Nick agreed.

Nick, Noah, Mattie and Spin headed back to camp to get the fire started.

"Hey, Mattie!!" Zak called.

Mattie ran back to Zak and Dusty. "What's up?" he asked.

"Is it ok if we take Whisper? I'm gonna take Apollo and Phoenix is still wet and he's been in the water with us for a while."

"Sure, no problem, probably do him some good to get some exercise."

"Thanks, Bud," Zak replied.

Zak used his towel to dry off Max as best he could.

"Maxie, I think we'll just put your t-shirt and shoes on and bring your shorts so they don't get wet," Zak said. "I think you're a little young to go commando."

"I gonna ride horsey in my unnerpants?" Max asked.

"Sure," answered Dusty. "You'll be fine."

The three walked over to the fenced-off area that they rarely used. Whisper, Apollo and Revanche were in there since the boys were not yet sure that they would not wander off. Dusty grabbed the bridles for Whisper and Apollo that were hanging on the fence. He went in and bridled both horses and led them out.

"Where Oxy and Finx?" Max asked.

"They're tired, Maxie," Zak answered. "So we're gonna use Apollo and Whisper."

Maxie looked closely at the two new horses. "I ride 'Pollo," he declared.

"Ok, you'll go with me then," Zak said.

Dusty came over and gave Zak a leg up onto Apollo; he then handed Max up to Zak. Dusty then went over the Whisper and swung up on his back. Dusty had wanted to try the big Paint since they first met him at the rescue. Mattie had fallen in love with him, so Dusty had stuck to riding the Morgan, Storm. Storm was a great horse, but Dusty knew that Whisper was a fast S.O.B. and he and Mattie had already talked about training him for some speed events like barrel racing and pole bending. Technically, he would be Mattie's brother's horse, but until he graduated in December, Mattie's brother would not be around a lot.

Dusty and Zak had the horses start down the trail. He knew that Zak was as anxious to see what Apollo could do as he was to see the same from Whisper. But since both horses were new to these trails, they kept the horses at a walk, occasionally moving to a trot but no faster.

When they got back to the barnyard, Joe was waiting for them.

"Daddy!!" Max greeted his father excitedly.

Zak handed Max down to his father.

"Max, did you have a good time?" Joe asked.

Max nodded his head vigorously. "I had so much fun with Zaky and Dussy and 'Pin and Mattie and Nicky and Noer. We swimmed, rided. c'noo'd. I love Zaky and Dussy."

Dusty, Zak and Joe all laughed as Max jibber-jabbered about his day.

Joe looked at the two older boys. "How was he?" he asked tentatively.

Zak grinned. "He was awesome. We really did have a great time."

Dusty nodded his agreement. "He tired us out so much we had to take a nap."

Joe looked at Max. "You even took a nap?"

"Yes, Daddy. I din't wanna, but me and Zaky felled asleep with Yoki and Herky."

Joe looked back to Zak and Dusty. "Well, thank you guys for taking him. Megan and I enjoyed our day too."

"Anytime, Joe," Zak said. "We already told him he could come and camp out with us next time."

"Yes, Daddy," Max madly nodded his head. "Zaky says I can stay in tent with him and Dussy, soon."

"Well, that sounds like fun," Joe told his excited son. "But, I think we need to head home now. By, the way, where are your shorts?"

Dusty and Zak laughed.

"They're right here," answered Dusty. He didn't have a suit so he swam in his underwear and he was too wet to put his shorts back on and Zak didn't think he was old enough to go commando."

Joe chuckled. "Probably a good idea," he agreed. "Well, Max, what do you say to Zak and Dusty?" He put Max down and the little boy toddled over to his two idols.

Both boys knelt so they were on the same level as Max. Max kissed and hugged Zak and then Dusty. "Thank you," he said to both. "I had the funnest time."

"We're glad, Maxie," said Zak. "You be a good boy so that your dad will let you come and do it again."

"Ok, Zaky. I love you. You, too, Dussy."

"We love you, too, Maxie," Dusty said.

The two teens watched as Joe loaded Max into his truck and then drove off for home.

Dusty and Zak mounted back up and headed down the trail back to the lake.

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