Maple Leaf Red: Sugaring Off
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by Vic Winter
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: Jacques Duchamps lives and works the Canadian sugar bush where he grew up with his grandfather. It's a lonely existence, but he wouldn't give it up for the world: sugaring off is in his blood. One late fall day, he encounters a wounded wolf, who follows him home. Both Jacques and the wolf are cautious, but eventually come to trust each other. Could the wolf be more than he appears to be? And will Jacques be able to accept the impossible and discover his soul mate?
eBook Publisher: Torquere Press/Color Box, 2012 www.torquerepress.com
eBookwise Release Date: March 2012
10 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [47 KB]
Reading time: 30-42 min.
Jacques closed his eyes and put his head back, enjoying the sensation of the late autumn sun on his face. The breeze that blew was cold, the sound of the leaves rustling on the ground like bones in a graveyard. Winter was coming, he could feel it in that wind, and it was promising to be both long and harsh.
Which meant the sap would be plentiful when it started running in the spring. Until then, he'd have to keep warm and make sure that what he had lasted until he got next year's batch of maple syrup to Montreal and with it, a new windfall of cash to buy supplies with.
A cloud passed over the sun, and Jacques shivered at the sudden lack of warmth. He pulled his coat tighter and continued with his inspection. He was checking the trees today, making sure last night's storm hadn't damaged any of them too badly. So far there had been one that had lost a large branch. He'd cut it off properly and put pine sap over the fresh wood to seal it off. If he didn't, that particular tree wouldn't produce come spring. Given that it took forty liters of sap to produce a single liter of maple syrup, every drop counted.
If next year was as good a year as it promised to be, he might be able to get several acres worth of trees tapped on a line next fall, instead of into the usual pails. The old-fashioned way certainly worked, but work was the operative word. The lines could bring the sap directly into the boiling house, saving him hours of work collecting every day. That would be more time he could devote to his carvings.
Of course Grandpere would ask what he needed that newfangled crap for. He had two perfectly good legs, didn't he? And if he didn't have to go collect the sap, then what would he do all day? The devil made use of idle hands, after all, and art was not a business. But then, if Grandpere were still alive, he would think Jacques was the very devil in question, given his desires...
Jacques shook his head and trudged around toward the back of his property, where it edged onto the provincial park. His parents had been killed in a car crash when he'd been very young, and Grandpere had been the one to bring him up. It was a hard life, farming the maple trees for their sweet nectar, but it was rewarding, and Grandpere had been a hard man, but had never taken a switch to him like so many of the old man's generation had with their kids, and Jacques had never felt a lack of love.
He'd been on his own for three years now and he missed the old man every day, but especially on days like today, when the wind made that lonely sound while he walked the property. It didn't have to be a lonely life, but this property was well off the beaten track and, honestly, Jacques actually enjoyed the peace and solitude much of the time. He'd never found anyone he wanted to share that with; of course he rarely went looking, either, so it was a catch twenty-two, really.
A sound from the trees beyond his property line brought him up short. There was no fence separating his trees from the province's, so there was nothing to keep animals from coming to him, and the park boasted all manner of wildlife. He'd even seen a moose one year, and more than one bear had stolen sap from his buckets in the spring after a long winter of hibernating, so the noise could be any animal, big or small, dangerous or not.
Jacques stood, head cocked, holding his breath, as he waited to see if the sound manifested into an animal. He stayed like that until he couldn't hold his breath any longer and then shrugged and continued along the line of trees, inspecting for damage. He hit the little hut at the far east corner and unlocked it, made sure that his equipment was all there -- the taps, the buckets, the rubber mallet. He had a similar hut near the house, making it easier to cover the entire swath of land.
It was all there, all good, and he put the lock back on the door and pocketed the key. He'd cut back through the middle of his property as a random inspection. It was getting late into the day, and he wasn't going to have the sun with him all the way home. Luckily, if he cut through the woods, he'd only have a kilometer or so left to go by the time it was truly dark. The moon wasn't full, and it wouldn't illuminate very much through the trees.
As he made his way through the woods, he thought he heard another sound, but he brushed it off as his imagination or the wind playing with the branches of the trees. When it came again, he stopped. An uncanny feeling hit him, like he was being watched.
Holding back a shiver, Jacques turned very slowly.
There, only about twenty meters behind him was a wolf. Jacques stared, and the beast stared right back at him.