by Randy Williams

Tony always did think that Flame was a smart horse. Today, she clearly thought he was plum out of his mind.

The cold wind of the west Texas plain slammed into them. This was not the Marlboro Man's winterscape; this was blowing a half gale. Tony pushed his hat down firmly on his head and pulled his muffler around his lower face. Flame sidestepped again, wincing as the wind blew right at them, head-on. Nothing to stop this damn wind from Canada but a few dadburn cows. Still, chores had to be done and he had to be out here.

Thankfully, there was not much to do around this part of the ranch. It was in the small valleys where the cows stayed. Still, they had to get there. Pack tethered behind, Flame snorted and Tony was sure the horses were thinking they needed someone smart to come to his senses. There was a warm barn back at home. Still, Tony stood in his stirrups. There was the valley, he marked in his mind. Once they were down the side, the wind calmed down and both the horses perked right up. Here, there was snow – not the blowing grit of the plains. Tony started to hunt.

~ * ~

Mark was in a foul mood. He slammed the barn door and latched it as he sneezed, twice. Bess, their milk cow, snorted and the two cows there that were barbed wire cut started at the sudden sound. Mark had been under the weather for two days now and he was frankly sick of it. He mopped his streaming eyes and blew his nose again. He knew he should be in bed with a warm whiskey and water at his elbow and the fire stoked high, but there was work to do. He kicked at the bale of straw.

He was in charge. This was their ranch. He knew ranchin' and so did Tony, but that was no reason for that man to tell him – TELL HIM – to stay in bed. That man is getting above himself, thought Mark. Yet, he knew the LOOK Tony aimed at him when he'd tried to get out from under the covers that morning...

"You get that hot butt under the covers and stay in bed!” Tony barked.

Mark tried to give him that LOOK back. He was a man and there were chores. Then Tony, moving like lightning, gave him a series of smacks on his ass until he sat down. Damn, he was strong. Then very calmly, Tony went to the dresser and picked up the huge wooden-backed hairbrush and pointedly set it on his nightstand. Then snapped his fingers.

"Bed, or bed with a sore butt! Your choice,” he snapped. "I am not nursing you through the damn flu. If you rest now, we can stop it. You get sicker by trying to do chores, you are going to be over my knee, my boy!” he said, in a near perfect mimic of Mark's Top growl.

~ ~ ~

Mark rubbed at his still warm butt with his hand. He sneezed again and pulled out the milking stool and went to Bess's stall. Leaning his fevered head against the warm flank of the cow, he began to milk her. Once that was done, he cleaned out her stall and then the stalls of the horses and the two injured cows. Horse nickered at him and bumped his head against Mark's chest. The bump was a friendly greeting but Mark, feeling ill, was almost knocked off his feet. They spent a few minutes together, Mark rubbing and brushing his horse then feeding the stock. He grabbed the full wheelbarrow of dirty straw and stable dirt and made it to the door. He turned around pulling the barrow, using his back and butt to open the door. That damn Texas wind grabbed the door and it slammed into the wall. Even here in the shelter of the ranch yard it was still blowin' hard. His gloves were in his pocket since he took them off to milk. Bess didn't like cold fingers anymore than he did. His hands were numb and he was panting by the time he emptied the waste and headed back. Then he scattered the chicken feed in the chicken house, finding a few missed eggs from early morning.

He checked the woodpile and then setting the eggs down, he took the ax and started to chop some more wood. This took a lot longer than he usually took. He had to stop quite a few times, breathing hard and wiping at his eyes and blowing his nose. Still, he had a good cord done. He filled the woodbox and stoke up the fire. Then brought in more wood to refill the woodbox and brought more up to the porch.

The outside chores done, he went back inside the house and went to the small door at the side of the fireplace. He grinned at this. When they'd added this little room, they'd taken a lot of time in the summer to lay clay pipes under the floor of the cabin. And in this little room, they arranged a damper that could be opened and closed to let more heat from the fire in to warm the small place and to keep it comfortable. This was where they and built the bathing room. The warmth from the fireplace warmed the one solid wall and the clay pipes channeled the heated air under the huge galvanized tub. Tony had read about this from one of his books. This made the room warm and even kept the water tanks warm, with an added fire under the copper so they could have hot baths and the water stayed warmer than a small tub sitting in front of the fireplace. Mark lit the fire and started to carry water. Once the copper was full, he carried two more to the sink to do the morning dishes.

Taking a wicker basket, he thought for a minute about putting on his coat and gloves, but he just made a dash to the barn. Damn, it was even colder, he thought as he entered the barn and then to the storeroom. He wasn't feeling hungry but Tony would be. He chose a hunk of the cold, raw bison meat. And then he added some potatoes and carrots from the garden, still fresh and sound. He grabbed an onion from the string hanging over his head, then backed out of the storeroom.

As he pulled the door shut, he stepped back right into the arms of Tony. With a yelp, he dropped the basket as Tony's arms tightened around his waist.

"Just what part of 'stay in bed' didn't you understand, boy? Where in hell is your coat?" Tony said, steadying his lover in his arms.

"Damn, I didn't hear you... you scared the sick right out of me!" Mark gasped.

"I thought I'd get some dinner started is all, Tony. That's all. I just dashed out here to get the meat and the vegetables!" Then he sneezed three times running.

Tony sighed, cocking his hat on his head and said, "The clean barn? Santa's elves?" He growled as he removed his leather duster and began to roll up his shirt sleeves. Then Tony's hand dropped to his waist and began to pull his belt out of its keepers. "Mark, you need to listen. I am not gonna have you work yourself into the flu. I don't care if you are a Top or not, you are behavin' like a brat and it is time for you to get that message!"

His strong arm pulled Mark over to the two bales and pushed him over them.

"Tony! I'm sick. You can't do this when I'm sick," Mark complained as he felt his lover loosen his belt and open his jeans.

Tony folded the belt double and held Mark down over the bales. "Well I am doing it, boy !" he barked as he brought the leather down hard across Mark's bared butt with a solid crack. "I will whup you as needed, boy!" The belt cracked again and again.

Tony went to work and landed a good even dozen licks across his lover's bare butt. Each one carried his displeasure at Mark's failing to care for his health and making Tony worry

Mark's fine male ass went from its natural state to a glowing red!

"Now, get that butt in the house, boy, before I find a switch!” he barked, rethreading his now warm belt in his pant loops and helping Mark to his feet. "March!" he commanded as his hand cracked across the firm jean clad butt.

Mark marched.

Tony rubbed down and took care of Flame and Pack. He had set the Christmas tree on the porch. Then he entered the warm cabin

Mark was waiting, and then they both went into the bathing room. Stripping off their clothing, they were able to both get into the huge tub of hot water. Mark, for what might have been the first time, experienced what a well-strapped butt feels like when it encounters hot water. They lay together, soaking up the heat and each other, for a time.

Later, they both climbed out and Mark bent to pull the plug in the tub. As he did that, Tony's hand ghosted up and down his spanked butt, and then Tony began to dry Mark's body. Mark pulled Tony and they both finished drying by the fire in the cabin.

Mark was drying his hair and the towel was over his head as he began to grump. "I think you are getting way too good at that," he said, as his hand rubbed his still stinging bare butt. "I am the Top around here, boy. You are getting just a little too full of yourself."

His grumbling was cut off suddenly when, with a crack, that hairbrush landed on his left cheek. Mark jerked and roared but that was just the time Tony needed. And in a second, Mark was bent naked over Tony's naked body as the hairbrush spanked his damp, bare butt, driving home the messages of Tony's displeasure.

"I will warm this butt anytime you are going to ignore taking care of your health, Mark and don't you forget it. I told you you had a choice," he added as the hairbrush cracked down across those muscular butt cheeks. "Stay in bed or deal with this hairbrush, and I am going to drive home that point!" Tony said as he landed the hairbrush across the bent over cheeks of his Top and his lover. "You are mine, and you are not going to be doing silly things, if I have to reteach you just who is the Top around here. Now get in that bed and stay there!" Tony punctuated the last sentence with a lick for every word.

Mark was shocked at the sheer sting of that brush. He had used it before on Tony, and they both liked to play with leather and spanking, but the brush was for correction.

Trying hard to keep some sort of Topness, he barely restrained a flop on the bed. He hugged the pillow and he felt the bed sink as Tony got on the bed. Tony held a small clay pot of salve and he slowly began rubbing it over Mark's strong, wide shoulders and down to his lower back, avoiding the glowing red-hot butt. Tony continued to massage Mark's legs and feet, then rolled him over. Manfully, Mark suppressed a yelp when his well-spanked butt came in contact with the mattress. Then Tony began on his chest and lower down; his strong hands were firm but gentle. The salve had a fresh scent and there was a slight warming feeling.

Once that was done, Tony got back up and washed his hands well. Then he held out a clean, warm nightshirt, put the nightshirt on Mark, and pulled back the sheets. The bath and the massage with the relaxing salve was working and Mark was beginning to doze. Tony snuggled up against his back. He chuckled as his groin pressed up against Mark's still hot butt. He nibbled at Marks ear, grinding his hips into the heated butt.

"I could get to like going to bed like this," Tony said in a low voice.

Holding his partner/Top/lover in his arms, they both drifted off to sleep as the cold winter wind continued to sweep across the Texas countryside.

The End