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Matthew carefully creased the towel he was folding and hung it on the towel bar of the stove. He smiled. The barn-red fabric looked nice against the white of the stove. He sniffed the air. The new candle he lit was filling the bottom of the house with its cinnamon-y smell. Perfect.

Matthew gathered the spare oven mitts, floor mat, and towels and took them to the laundry room. He looked at the tropical green patterns with a mournful sigh as he dumped them into a basket. Summer was over. Their Rottweiler had brought him the first yellow leaf to fall in their yard today, and thus it was undeniable that autumn was on its way.

Turning the house over for the season took two days, but Matthew enjoyed the busy work. All of the small linens – like the towels and pot holders – were swapped out four times a year: pink for spring, green for summer, red for fall, and blue for winter. Big things, like the dishes, welcome mats, curtains, and sheets were swapped out twice. Before he’d done the kitchen, Matthew had put the thicker flannel sheets and the down comforter on the Master bed upstairs. Good bye white linen sheets!

The houseboy had also gone through his Master’s clothes, adding thick socks to his underwear drawer and tucked cedar-scented sweaters in drawers underneath. Waterproof boots and slippers came out of storage and now waited by the garage door. Soon the canvas shoes and sandals would vanish until warmer weather.
About that time was also when the snowboard gear would come out of hiding. Matthew couldn’t wait for the season to start on the mountain!

There was also the actual house to work on too. Fall was when Matthew flushed the gunk out of the radiator, checked the dryer for clogged lint, and reversed the direction of the ceiling fans. Tomorrow, Matthew would be busy preparing their vegetable garden for winter – he was just waiting on a few more things to be ready to be picked. Gutters would have to be cleaned. The roof checked. While he was up there, Matthew would also note any breaking or sagging branches of the large elms and pines that flanked theier home. Last year there was a big one splitting off, and the arborist said it had maybe two weeks left on it.

There was also the cars…. Master’s sports car would be covered and the battery disconnected; out would come the larger and more snow-hardy jeep of which it was easier to wash off salt from the roads. And the back had to be packed with emergency gear in case of a road accent into a snowbank. So much to do, so much to do.

Fall was the best baking season though. Finally an excuse to use the kitchen all day long without breaking a sweat! Pies, Thanksgiving, Christmas cookies…. Matthew sighs softly. He can almost smell gingerbread. He opens the box of chai tea he put in the cupboard this morning and makes himself a cup. Master liked tropical fruit blends and light green teas in the warmer months. Now hojicha, chai, and black teas populated the shelf. Matthew preferred them anyway.

Matthew made his tea and tidied up. He stirred coconut milk into the steaming mug in his hands, nibbled banana bread, and surveyed the kitchen. It needed a few more decorations. Oh, he realized, he forgot to swap out his recipes. He shoved the bread into his mouth and set his tea on the counter to cool. He dug the box out from the pantry and sorted things out. Away went the recipes for zucchini, berries, stone fruit, and corn; and in their place went the recipes for squashes, root vegetables, oranges, pomegranates, and cranberries.

All in order, all in order. During his first years in this house, Matthew had to make a list to get everything done. Now he could do it from memory. He looked at the calendar on the wall. December would be their 5 year anniversary. Master was going to get a particularly nice Christmas gift this year – a trip to Beijing. Sir always wanted to see China.

Matthew smiled. Three years of saving. Worth it for what was surely going to be a great reaction. He hoped there’d be a 10th anniversary, then a 15th, a 25th, a 50th… god, he loved his Sir. He loved making his Sir happy and creating a proper home for him. Sir understood him, and knew what kind of environment Matthew needed to be happy. Matthew thought he was very lucky to have that.

He glanced at the clock on the wall again. Hm, if he hurried, he could make that brown sugar-glazed marshmallow sweet potato dish to go with tonight’s pork chop entree. The recipe was just out of finger’s reach now. Yes, Master would be very pleased with that. A content Master was often a horny Master too. What better reward would there be for his hard work than to christen those flannel sheets with lovemaking? Oh god, Master would taste like marshmallows and brown sugar too.

Matthew groaned and his cage felt tight. Yes, definitely making that for dessert.

Captions are fictional.


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