In Floods and Drought, it is hinted that there is history between Tim Conroy and Gable Sutton.
This is how it started.
“Morning, Mr. Sutton,” Tim said, sticking his head inside the modest house where Gable lived. Gable ran his ranch by himself and occasionally asked his neighbors for help. Tim was always the first one to volunteer. He loved going to Gable’s ranch, because there he wasn’t just the foreman’s kid. Gable always treated him like a grown-up and gave him responsibility he usually didn’t get at the Blue River Ranch.
“How old are you now, Tim?”
“Seventeen, sir,” Tim lied.
Gable threw him a look that told Tim he wasn’t buying it. “Isn’t it about time you started calling me Gable?”
“My dad would have my hide.”
Gable chuckled as he finished his last gulp of coffee, put the cup in the sink, and turned to Tim. “Your dad’s not here. I think you’re old enough to call me by my first name, don’t you?”
Gable walked past him, grabbing him by the shoulder as he led him outside. “Let’s go round up some horses.”
The weather was glorious and they worked up a sweat, but by the time they’d gathered all the horses Gable was intent on selling, it had started to drizzle, and while they rubbed down their horses and fed and watered them, a thunderclap announced the start of a real torrent. Pretty soon, Tim couldn’t hear himself think anymore. And maybe that wasn’t a bad thing, since his thoughts were all over the place. He couldn’t keep his eyes off the shirt clinging to Gable’s lean body and felt his hands starting to itch and his jeans grow tight. Damn, Gable couldn’t see him like this.
“We’ll have to make a run for it, but why don’t you come to the house with me so I can pay you for today?”
Gable disappeared outside and Tim hesitated. What would happen if he followed Gable inside? They’d both be wet by the time they’d run across the courtyard to the house. Would Gable take his shirt off? Would be ask Tim to do the same? Certainly, Gable wouldn’t let him go home looking like a drowned rat.
Tim stopped dead in the middle of the open plain between the barn and the house. Rain was streaming down, but other than providing him with some necessary coolness, he barely noticed. He couldn’t go into the house. He’d dreamed about this. Night after night he’d woken up sweaty and sticky after blistering hot images of Gable’s hands on him, of Gable kissing him and taking him to his bed. This feeling wasn’t new. He’d always known he wasn’t into girls. It wasn’t until he’d realized Gable was just like him that the dreams had started. He wasn’t alone. He wasn’t some sort of freak. Or at least he wasn’t the only freak. Gable could make him feel better.
“What’s wrong, Timmy? Did you hurt yourself?” Gable was shouting.
Tim looked up and saw Gable standing on his porch, rubbing his hair with a towel. He was smiling slightly and all of a sudden, the rain felt warm. All Tim could do was shake his head. Gable’s smile disappeared, and leaving his towel on the porch, he ran over to where Tim was standing.
“What’s wrong, Timmy? Did a snake bite you? Did you twist your ankle or something?” Gable put his hand on Tim’s shoulder, and Tim thought it would burn right through his shirt.
“What’s wrong, then?”
Tim didn’t want Gable’s compassion. He wanted to kiss him.
“I can’t tell anyone,” Tim managed to utter.
“Can’t tell anyone what? What’s wrong, Timmy? You can tell me.”
“I want….” The words got stuck in Tim’s throat and he couldn’t look Gable in the eye. Gable’s hand moved to the side of his neck and then wiped the water off his face. It was such a tender gesture that Tim thought his knees were going to buckle. He knew he’d never get this chance again, so he grabbed Gable’s face between his hands and pulled him closer until their lips touched. Tim didn’t know what to do next. He’d never kissed a man before; in fact, he’d never kissed anyone and the longer they stood like that, the more the panic rose inside him. But he couldn’t pull away.
And then Gable’s lips spread just a little and enveloped Tim’s lower lip. Almost out of reflex, and because Tim was afraid Gable would pull away, he grabbed him tighter, crushing their lips together. He still didn’t know what he was doing, but he knew Gable was kissing him back and it gave him courage. Opening his mouth a little, he dared to taste Gable’s lips.
And then Gable pulled his mouth away from Tim’s. He didn’t let go of Tim’s neck, though. For the first time since he’d left the barn, Tim could feel the rain streaming down on them.
“You’re too young, Tim.”
“What?” The rain was only partially to blame for Tim not being sure he’d heard Gable right. Gable couldn’t do this to him. He couldn’t turn him down now!
Gable pulled him closer again until their foreheads were touching. It felt incredibly intimate, and Tim didn’t want it to end. He wanted Gable to take him inside, but he couldn’t move. Despite the rain washing away everything, Tim could still feel and taste Gable’s lips and he wanted them again.
Gable moved his face next to Tim’s so he could speak into his ear. “You need a guy your own age, Timmy. Someone who’s worthy to be with you. Don’t rush it. Take your time.”
Tim moved back just a little so he could look Gable in the eye. “But I don’t want anyone else! I want you!”
Gable nodded, telling Tim he understood, but at the same time, Tim knew Gable’s mind was made up.
Gable let go of Tim and walked toward the house. Just moments later he returned to where Tim was still standing. He pushed some notes into Tim’s hand and turned around. Tim didn’t want to take the money he’d earned that day, but he needed it.
“Gable?” Tim shouted over the torrent still streaming down.
When Gable turned back, Tim saw the sadness in the man’s eyes just before Gable kissed him again. He tried to enjoy it, knowing this wouldn’t happen again anytime soon. “Don’t give it away to just anyone, Timmy.”
Tim watched Gable walk inside his house without looking back. He waited, hoping against hope that Gable would return once again, but he didn’t. Tim was cold and wet to the bone. Eventually he returned to the old truck he was allowed to use from time to time now he’d gotten his driver’s license. Once inside he wiped his face, glad that the rain had masked his tears.
I know this is a bit of a sad story, but after reading Floods and Drought you’ll know that Tim has nothing but good memories about that time and the things that happened after this. He still has a strong friendship with Gable in the years that follow.