Roy took a deep breath of fresh mountain air before continuing the slow trek along the snow-dusted ridge. Ahead of him, his guide was pointing out sights and photo opportunities to the other two people in the party, a husband and wife. In another month, this trail would be far harder to traverse, though not impossible, as the temperature dropped and the winter snows covered even the lower slopes. No matter what time of year, South Sister was the easiest of the three sisters; long and steep but not requiring anything more than reasonable fitness, and Roy was reasonably fit. Still, he was glad he had come before the winter set in even though he had always loved the mountains in winter, when the tourist season ended and the mountains were left for just the animals and for those people who lived and worked in them.
While the Pattersons took their photos, Brick McKenna wandered back to join Roy, gracing him with a wide smile.
"So, how are you liking this part of the Cascades?"
"It's all beautiful," he replied softly, though he couldn't help trying to compare this place to the pine covered slopes in the Northern Cascades National Park. He'd mentioned that he'd come from further north in the Cascades but not that he was a head ranger stationed near Wainwright. He hadn't wanted Brick to think he had competition for his knowledge of the mountains and its wildlife. Roy was here simply for a rest after a bad year; losing his brother in a ski accident and gaining his nephew as a house guest for several months after the funeral, before Jesse decided to join his mother in Seattle. His boss had mentioned trying a complete change of scenery - like Florida - but Roy had never been able to resist the allure of the mountains and had wanted to see how the Cascades differed further south.
They reached Teardrop Pool late in the afternoon. In full winter, the pool would freeze over but, for now, the water was simply ice cold. The views from the caldera of South Sister were breathtaking, though Roy had to admit that even the blue of the lake paled against the brilliance of Brick's smiling eyes; he smiled back.
They spent only thirty minutes at the summit, keenly aware that it could take a couple of hours to get back to the trail head but at least gravity would be on their side for the journey back down to Green Lakes.
Brick fell back to walk beside Roy on one of the straight stretches, leaving the Pattersons in front. They were making great time and would easily make it back to the truck before dusk.
"So, where're you staying?"
"Hotel in Bend."
"Had a chance to sample the nightlife?"
Roy glanced at him, smiling softly. "Not really my scene."
"Wanna go for a beer later, after I drop the Pattersons back at McKenna's?"
This time Roy looked a little harder, reading between the lines to the interest in those eyes that went beyond grabbing a beer. He was propositioned quite a lot by men as well as women, mostly tourists looking for some extra fun, but it had been a long time since he'd accepted any offers from either gender. It hadn't seemed right while he was in uniform but he had left the uniform, and the official role it represented, back in the Northern Cascades.
Roy took a booth at the back of the bar-restaurant attached to his hotel, one that offered privacy yet gave him a clear view of anyone entering. He held up a hand when he saw Brick, smiling faintly as the younger man slipped into the seat opposite. The server brought over two beers and Roy sipped appreciatively as he eyed his good looking companion. There had to be the best part of a decade between their ages but a mutual love of the Cascades gave them plenty to talk about as the evening wore on. They ordered food and another beer.
"So what do you do in the Northern Cascades?"
Roy could have lied quite easily, pretending he was a rancher or a logger. He knew more than enough about all the work carried out around the park to bluff his way through but he had a feeling that Brick wasn't going to get uptight knowing the truth.
"I'm a park ranger."
Brick grinned. "Thought so." Roy raised both eyebrows questioningly and Brick obliged with a response. "You get a feeling about people after you shown enough of them around, and you struck me as someone who was at ease with the mountains and forests. Why didn't you say something?"
Roy shrugged. "I'm on vacation."
Brick soft laugh made him smile wider. "Yeah. Home from home."
When Roy invited Brick back to his room, he wasn't sure if he might be overstepping the mark even though Brick had laid all the groundwork for a more intimate evening. There was always the chance that he had misread the signals. He needn't have worried because Brick made himself at home right away, dropping onto the bed that dominated the single room and taking off his hiking boots. He shoved them aside with his socked feet before giving Roy a look that left nothing to the imagination; pure heat and want.
Roy watched as Brick peeled out of his jeans, raising his hips from the bed as they slid down well toned thighs. The bulge of his erection strained against the thin cotton of his boxers, and Brick pressed a palm against it, rubbing rhythmically. He held Roy's eyes, a smile playing about his lips as he pulled down the boxers and wrapped his hand around his hard cock.
"You want some of this?" Brick asked, and Roy felt his mouth go dry.
Pulling off his clothing, Roy joined him on the bed, leaning up on one elbow so he could watch the strong fingers bringing Brick closer to his climax. When he realized Brick was getting too close, he batted away the busy fingers.
"More fun playing with two," he murmured softly and leaned over, hand wrapping around the base and lapping along the shaft from root to tip, tasting the bittersweet precome before opening his mouth wider and sucking on the head. A small jerk of hips and a low moan was the only response Brick could manage as Roy sucked and licked. Roy wrapped his other hand around his own erection, matching the rhythm as he brought Brick back to the edge, teasing with him until he was hovering on the edge of his own climax. Quickly, he brought Brick over the edge, his hand moving faster and faster, jacking himself hard until he was coming too, almost choking on the thick juices filling his mouth.
"Oh yeah," Brick breathed, chest heaving as if he'd been climbing a mountain rather than simply lying there while Roy blew him.
Roy was surprised when Brick slid a hand through the mess on Roy's stomach and brought it to his lips, sucking on the fingers before leveling Roy with a wicked grin.
"Guess it's my turn to return the favor...later."
Roy relaxed back against the sheets and grinned. Looked like they had all night, and maybe every night until he headed home. If things worked out then maybe he'd arrange another short vacation, and not just to see those mountains in winter.