“What did I tell you before about filing all of these orders? They aren’t supposed to be left in various places around the office. They need to be dropped in the corresponding folder I hung on the wall by the door. It’s the metal thingie you can’t miss hanging from the wall. Got it? They’re multiple, bright colors. Look. See? The paper goes in the folder. Once it goes there, I’ll get it paid,” one man told another in a slow, teasing fashion.
Having entered the hotel to speak with the co-owners about his plans to begin the tear-down, Sullivan ‘Sully’ Tarleton decided it was better to stay in the hallway, out of sight from the combatants. Bracing a shoulder against the nearest wall, he stifled his chuckles with a fist. He listened as Samuel Ashford harassed and teased his partner, Dakota Mitchell. The men were new when it came to being lovers and partners, but were also co-owners of the run-down, but graceful Southern Charm, a B&B set in a small town on the Florida Panhandle coast below Pensacola.
“Yes, Mr. Straitlaced New Yorker who knows all and sees all. I’ll put the little piece of paper in the folder,” Dakota said.
Sully would throw everything in the pot with a bet that Dakota had rolled his eyes with the comment.
“It’ll be worse when Chandler arrives. You think I’m bad, I’m nothing compared to him. He’s ten times more rigid on control. He’s almost hyper-vigilant when it comes to paperwork and details.”
“So you keep warning. Not gonna work, my Yankee boy, I’m stuck in my ways.”
“Your old ways got us in this paperwork mess. So change them or sleep on the sofa.”
“You wouldn’t dare kick me out.”
Sully’s cock responded when he heard the usual reaction to the men’s teasing of one another. He heard the passionate kissing and before it could go further, he leaned over and banged a fist against the opened door to announce his presence.
“Extra man on the floor,” he announced and stepped into view within the doorway.
Instead of the men popping apart, Dakota lifted his head in a lazy fashion from his lover and raised an eyebrow. “What do you want?”
“I’m here to begin the tear-down on the front porch.”
“Why are you starting there?”
“I checked it out with an engineer and it’s about to fall down if we leave it alone. One bad storm could pass through and it’ll be gone.”
“Is it that bad?” Samuel pushed Dakota away to speak with Sully.
“Yeah, if it was anyone other than my friend, you would have been red-flagged and closed until it was fixed. Since the engineer knows me, we got off with a warning, but he wants to inspect the finished product and everything else from here on. I agreed with his decision.”
“No one can live here, even though there’s another entrance which is safe, people could still walk out by accident. As I said earlier, if we had a wicked storm off the gulf with a harsh gust of wind in the wrong direction, your porch wouldn’t be there.”
“How did we not know this?”
“The support structure was going. The boards were warped and not connected by code to the foundation with specialised deck screws. I want to avoid such a catastrophe and tear the thing down. We’ll place signs to direct people. The back section is good and I’ll match it by wrapping it around the front.”
“Are you going to use the same composite boards on top?” Dakota asked.
“Yes and pressure-treated pine for the structure.”
“Sounds solid and steady,” Dakota said.
“Glad you approve, though you don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sully said, a teasing grin on his lips.
Samuel elbowed Dakota in his ribs to push him away from Sully. “How are you this morning, Sully?”
“Picked up coffee in the kitchen so I’m good,” Sully said, lifting his silver travel mug with a nod.
“Did you grab breakfast too?” the chef asked.
“Yes, along with the rest of the crew. I deposited some money in my account for it.” Sully waved his hand to stop Dakota’s possible argument. “Shut it, no arguments.” He headed farther inside. “I wanted to give both of you the plan of action. If you two want to continue kissing each other, I can always return at a later time with my crew.”
“No, no, we need you to stay and work,” Samuel said.
“Yeah, stay here. You’re already here and ready to work,” Dakota said, his tone teasing.
“I guess I’ll stay.” Sully laughed with the others. “Can I give you the details?”
“Fire away,” Dakota said.
“Thank you, oh chef.” Sully graced him with a flippant bow. “My crew will tear down the existing front structure, dig new footers, and pour the concrete. I need to pick up some supplies and permits I ordered in Pensacola.” He set the cup on the desk and opened his hardcase file. He pulled out a folder and handed it to Samuel. “Here’s the copy of our signed contract and bid. You’ll get copies of the permits after I pick them up. I get permits and inspections for every step they’re needed to verify all work is completed and accurate. I have a board near the front where they’ll be displayed throughout the job for our protection and the inspectors.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Samuel took the folder and flipped through the contracts. “Do you need a down payment?”
“Not yet. Give me a week to move through things and we’ll take care of the first payment. I have enough to cover the tear-down and early build.”
Before the conversation could continue, Samuel’s phone started a loud annoying ring. Samuel glared at Dakota. “Did you change this?”
“What? Who? Me? I got gumbo cooking,” Dakota said with a grin then walked away from the office.
“Jerk.” There was no heat to Samuel’s teasing. He picked up the phone and swiped his finger across the screen. “This is Samuel. Oh, hey, Chandler. When is your flight?”
Sully went to gather his coffee and leave, but stopped when Samuel waved a hand at him.
“What? You’re landing in two hours. Okay. Umm. You rented a car, right? It’s a short drive over the bridge. Okay. Okay. Calm down, Chandler.” Samuel massaged his temples. “No. No. I know you don’t like driving at all. No, there isn’t a car service. I can’t leave. I’m swamped with getting things cleaned up around here. I told you.”
Sully listened and wiggled his fingers.
“Hold on a moment, Chan. Give me one minute.” Samuel lowered the phone.
“Where is he landing?”
“Pensacola International on…” Samuel lifted the phone. “What airline are you flying?” Getting the answer, he told Sully the airline.
“Text me the info, his name, and what he looks like. I’ll pick him up down on the baggage area.”
“Are you sure? He’s particular about things.”
“We’ll be fine. Let him know someone will be there with a sign with his name on to pick him up. I need to go into Pensacola anyway, so I’ll leave now to get my stuff done and swing by the airport.”
“Thank you, Sully,” Samuel said. “Dakota owes you dinner for a week.”
Sully chuckled. “Text me when you’re done. I’m heading out.”
Samuel returned to his phone call as Sully walked out. “Hey, Chan, I got you a ride. Yeah, yeah, his name is Sully. He’ll be down in the baggage area holding a sign with your name on. He’ll help you with your bags and get you to the Charm. Give me your info.”
Hearing those last few words, Sully headed to the kitchen and knocked his cup on the wall. “Hey. I’m gonna get this Chandler fella at the airport along with my duties. Need a refill.” He held out his cup when Dakota walked over.
“Why are you picking up Chandler? I thought he was driving.”
“Nope, he can’t drive and lands in two hours. I offered my help to Samuel. I’m already going into Pensacola. He can be another stop on my to-do list. I don’t mind.”
“Thanks, pal.” Dakota finished with the cup, wrapped up a few fresh scones, and handed everything to Sully. “Here’s a snack for the drive.”
“Ooh. Good, I like scones. I like the apricot and honey mix.”
“I’m experimenting with the basic mix. These are cherry vanilla ones.”
“See you later with your newest Yankee fella. We’re getting overrun with northerners around here.”
“Samuel mentioned he’s a little screwy,” Dakota warned.
“I keep hearing that, but don’t believe the hype,” Sully called back as he disappeared back outside.