I let Cody out of the back of Dad's ute and walked up to the shearing sheds with Brad and Jake. I'd been helping out on this farm for almost four years now and had become so familiar with the family living there. It was sadly a tough time financially for them and the father had to let all of his employees go. I straight away had put my hand up as a volunteer to help him, once his son, Matthew who worked with me at Mcdonalds handed in his resignation because his father needed him to help run the property. Matty was a good looking kid, two years younger than me, he and his older brother Dillon were specimens of something else. A country breed of boy that came with, muscles moulded from farm work and tanned skin, courtesy of never ending work outside. And yet, while those boys were good friends, they were no Jake, they were no Brad and they were no Will. Introductions were made and the boys were given positions. Dillon and I were shearing, Matty was bringing up sheep, Jake and Brad were assigned the task of sweeping the excess wool up and taking it to the sorting table for Bob. Unfortunately the poor bloke had a bad back and I forced him to take the job of wool classer so he wouldn't be hunched over for the entire day. About fifteen minutes in Jake pulled me aside and leaned in so I could hear his heavenly voice over the sound of the clippers.

"So how long are we here for again?" he asked, "I forgot right after I saw your ass while you were shearing." I laughed and smacked him on the shoulder while my insides churned hoping no one heard him.

"We stay till this is done" I said, "And keep it in your pants would you?" Nothing could be heard but the sound of the clippers for almost half an hour until Bob called for a stop.

"We got rain coming in" he said grimly. Dillon and Matty kicked the floor and I palmed the wall and swore. Brad frowned.

"Is that a problem?" he said. I nodded.

"We can't shear wet sheep" I said and turned to Bob, "How long?"

"The radio said about half an hour" he replied.

"Can't we just towel dry them?" asked Brad. I rolled my eyes.

"So what do we do?" said Bob.

"Lemme think for a minute", I said shutting my eyes. For a moment nothing but the sound of the sheep rang out around the shed.

"Ok" I said, "How many do we have left to do?"

"Four hundred and ninety five" said Dillon looking at the tally board, "Your dragging behind by the way." I scoffed.

"I could shear double the sheep you could in one hour" I said.

"Prove it" he said sticking out his hand, I shook it and then got back on topic.

"Heres what we do, we can pen about forty in here, the we can put some in the feed shed, the machinery shed, the stable breeze way, how many does that leave out?"

"Oh I dunno bout fifty head I reckon", said Bob wiping his brow. I turned to Dillon with a smirk, ignoring the tank of a body his head sat on.

"When I have thirty sheep done in forty five minutes", I said, "you'll buy me a slab of beer, whatever I want."

"Deal", he said, "And when you don't have thirty sheep done in forty five minutes, you finish the clip under my organisation."

"We'll never get it done then", laughed Bob.

"Alright then", I said as we shook, "Dillon, you , Matty and Bob go muster the sheep, Jake you sweep, Brad go count of thirty sheep and have Bob help you bring them up inside through the chute out back."

"Why those two?" asked Dillon as I pushed through the gate into the holding pen, grabbed a ewe, wrestled her onto her back, gripped her two front legs and dragged her backwards through the gate to my shearing plant.

"Because they know nothing about shearing, so you know they won't have helped me clip any extras", I said, "Go on, out you go."

... ... ... ... ... ...

"Loo break", called Dillon sometime around 12:45. He pushed his clipped sheep through the gate behind him and it trotted out down into the holding pen with all the other clipped sheep standing out in the storming night. I growled as I dragged another ewe through the gate.

"That's the fourth time in two hours" , I said with irritation.

"Well what do you want from me?" he whined. I pushed the ewe up to him.

"Hold it!" I growled and went to grab one for myself. He grumbled and started up his hand piece again.

"How many more do we have to go?" yelled Bob from the sorting table.

"Two hundred and eighty eight", Jake replied as he added a stroke to the shearers tally board. beneath mine, Dillon's and Matts names, tally strokes in groups of five were drawn in chalk.

"Whose winning", said Matt looking up from his ewes back leg.

"Not important Mathew" Bob called back sternly.

"I just want to know", he yawned.

"Yeah, and I just wanna go to the toilet but do you see that happening?" said Dillon.

"Brendan's ahead by ninety seven", called Jake.

"Far out!" he yelled. I kept my eyes on my work as Bob spoke.

"Don't be surprised, he's been working non stop boys", their father admonished.

"I should be in bed", I don't know who muttered it, but it was one of his sons.

"Maybe if you didn't stop to take a drink a after every sheep, you wouldn't need to piss like a pregnant woman", I snapped, still not looking up, "And Matty, if you weren't stopping to keep score every five minutes, you'd probably be winning."

"Yeah yeah righto mum", said Dillon. Then I looked up.

"Well quit whinging and get on with- argh", I hissed as my break in focus caused the clippers to catch the top of my left wrist.

"Jake come hold the sheep" I yelled as I dropped them and walked over to pour some water on it. Brad followed. In a way that wasn't 'Brad' at all, he gently took my wrist in his and looked at it.

"Hold still" he murmured, "Sorry but this will hurt." he took the bandanna from around my neck, drenched it with water and wiped away the blood. I flinched, but only a little. his touch was so weird, soft and...kind. usually it's rough but with profound confidence. Or maybe it was just me.

"It's not bad at all", he said tying the bandanna around it like a bandage, "Just ease up on it a little." I nodded.

"Yeah cheers." I said getting up to go. He sat down next to me.

"Can I talk to you for a minute?" he said. I nodded and sat back down.

"What's up man?"

"Its really hard to say", he said looking at the ground. It was so weird.

"Brad, come on, talk to me" I said prodding his arm.

"Well it's just, I dunno, for a long time I haven't really been attracted to...and I guess I have been trying to deny it for the last couple of months...but then I came here today, and I saw you, you're really at ease around here, it's like you open up and you're being your real self. And I guess that made me want to be my real self, in a way." I frowned.

"Brad you're not about to tell me you're a super hero or something are you?"

"No god", he said. I decided to play around a bit.

"You're God?" I said in fake shock.

"Brendan."

"Wow, so I'm friends with God."

"Not funny."

"This is great I'm totally going to call in favours."

"I think I might be gay Brendan." That one hit me like a ton of bricks.

"What..?"

"I think I'm gay", he said not looking at me.

"We could use a hand here", called Dillon.

"Jake take a crack at shearing, Dillon give him some pointers", I said, "How long?"

"A few months before graduation", he said quietly.

"Why me, and...now?" I said.

"You're my best friend Brendan", he said, "Please don't hate me." I put my arm around him.

"I couldn't ever hate you Brad", I said, "Never, don't ever think that."

"Brendan, Mattys gonna beat you", called Jake.

"Two minutes", I replied, "Have you told your family?"

"I can never tell them", he said, "They'd...they wouldn't-"

"It's ok" I said cutting him off, "It's cool I get it believe me."

"What am I gonna do?" he said looking right at me.

"Brendan come on", called Bob. I lost it. I whipped my head around and let lose.

"I'M COMMING" I roared. that shut them up.

"If they find out, they'll kick me out", he said, "Our religion it...doesn't..."

"Listen to me very carefully", I said, "It doesn't matter if you like girls or boys or both or half and half, that doesn't change how I feel about you, and it shouldn't for anyone else. You're not a friend Brad you're a brother. And if god forbid, your family decides to shut you out. You have a home with me. You get that?" He hugged me tight and I felt his body silently shaking.

"Thank you", he said. I patted him on the back.

"Now let's get this shit done", I said, "And go home."

He nodded. I smirked as we walked back.

"I still can't believe I'm best friends with god", I joked, "This is gonna make getting concert tickets so much easier." He slapped the back of my head

... ... ... ... ... ...

"What kind of a truck driver is an hour late", I asked as we all chilled out, in the sun on the ground by the yards with cool water.

"Dunno", said Bob, "I'd rather him late than early, even if we finished ahead of schedule."

"Which reminds me", said Jake, as the sheep truck drove away down the drive with the last thirty two hours of work we had done, safely loaded on it, "Guess who won the shear off."

"We don't need to do that do we?" I said.

"Don't worry mate", Dillon grinned at me, "A slab of long necks will do." I rolled my eyes.

"Actually it was Brendan", smirked Jake. Dillon's grin disappeared.

"Don't worry mate" I laughed at him, "A slab of long necks will do." He cracked up.

"Dillon, Mathew, you boys take Jake and Brad, do a water run on the western border", said Bob, "I got some business to discuss with this'un." I frowned at their smiles and followed Bob back to the main house. He closed the door to the study and sat behind his desk.

"This", he said pulling a small piece of paper out of a desk drawer, "has been owed to you the minute you set foot in this place." I frowned taking it from him and read it. My stomach dropped.

"What is this", I said, grabbing onto the side of a chair and sitting down.

"That", he said, "Is every single head of cattle you've mustered, yarded, drenched and loaded. Every sheep you've clipped. Every run of fence you've fixed, the dam pumps you've repaired, the fires you've helped us save this place from, EVERYTHING you've done, has been remember Brendan, and that's you're thank you."

"Robert this is six hundred and fifty thousand dollars", I said looking back down at the cheque.

"You deserve more", he said.

"What am I supposed to do, with six hundred and fifty thousand dollars?" I asked.

"Whatever you want son", he said, "It's yours to spend. Truth is we both know, I'm not cut out for this...farming life, and the boys, well they could benefit from living closer to the city, and their mother."

"What are you saying?" I frowned.

"I'm selling the farm Brendan", he said, "And it's not a good valued property to anyone but a developer so I don't have much of a choice." I shook my head.

"Give me a blank cheque, one without your name on it", I said. He frowned but indulged me. I scribble on it with a pen and handed it back.

"What are you giving me two hundred thousand for?" he sighed. I held up my hand.

"Just listen..." I admonished.

One and a half years later...

"So I looked at the pasture in the top paddocks just out past the wildlife corridor", said Will as we trotted back and forth pushing the cattle into the cattle yards, "It's really rich, like deep green rich."

"Well that settles it", I said leaning down from my saddle and closing the gate with the snap hook, "The mob got nitrate poisoning."

"Remind me what that is again", he said as we turned around and made our way to the stable pens.

"When a big storm comes through, the lightening brings the nitrate in the ground to the surface", I explained, "It's what makes the grass real green, and you need to let it be for about four to five days, because if you let the stock onto it straight away, they're stomach isn't strong enough the handle it and it can kill them. Hence the two dead heifers we found yesterday." We dismounted and lead the horses over, tied them up, removed there saddles, brushed them and watered them.

"So you're sure it's not a notify able disease?"he said as we walked from the yards to the house.

"Well not a hundred percent, but the vet should confirm it when he comes out this afternoon", I said. We heard gravel crunching on the drive and both turned. As usual my stomach did a little back flip when I saw his car. Will pinched me and headed inside. I smiled and waved as the car stopped and he got out.

"Hey you", I smiled.

"Hey you back", said Brad as he came over and kissed me.

I'll explain it for those of you now confused. A lot can happen in eighteen months. I bought Bobs farm from him with the proviso that half the profits from the next two years of sales were to be sent to him. He moved with the boys into the city and after about a month or two, I moved onto Evergreen Range and took over. Everything was really good for a couple of months. Jake and I were blissfully happy. My parents had some difficulty accepting me moving out to become a farmer, but my mother's love of horses assisted in the transition. William left his home and moved into the overseers cottage and we began working on the place together. Unfortunately Brad was asked to leave his home, and I forced him to live in the cottage with Will. It was supposed to be until he could get his head on straight but he started working here too. about six months after we moved, the farm was fully functioning and we were slowly paying off the small overdraft to the bank. When I was visited at 3AM one morning by mum in tears, telling me dad had passed away while he was in hospital after a motor bike accident. after the funeral, mum decided she would be moving to Sydney, so our happy family home, now lays dormant and quiet, also mine. Understandably, it wasn't an easy time for me, my father had died, my mother had decided I wasn't enough for her to stick around and took off. I wasn't in the mood to indulge Jake's sexual appetite every night. He however decided I was too depressing and sought comfort in the arms of another. I never did find out who she was, just that he decided she was more his style. Angry and hurt, I told him he wasn't welcome back on my property and I haven't seen him since. Slowly over time, Brad and I, we grew, not just as people but, as a team and eventually, he moved into the main house with me. We haven't ever been as happy as we are now. But thing always have a habit of turning one way, when you think they'll go the other. I had no idea, but someone, I never expected, was just around the corner.

(Thank you for you patience, to those who have been reading. Allot has been happening here on Evergreen and it's delayed me a little. Stay tuned guys. And to those who were rooting for Jake. I was to, but yeah I guess we all make mistakes.

 

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