In Dreams

by Kim Maddox

Chapter 32
The situation was becoming too hot for Buck´s liking. The anxious agent saw Jimmy step out of the cabin and slam his fist into a tree trunk in anger. If the anger he was expressing had also been taken out on Chris and Vin there was no telling what kind of shape the two men were in. Jimmy seemed to be coming apart at the seams. The anger and frustration were evident in the young man´s actions. Buck had to emotionally restrain himself from going in, guns blazing, and taking Chris and Vin out of there. He felt like walking over Rachel and her flunky, but realistically he knew that he had to defuse the powder keg that was waiting to blow up in their faces first.

Buck´s anxiety turned to pure unadulterated fear, as Jimmy spun and stormed back into the cabin. From his vantage point above he could hear raised and angry voices emanating from the small cabin. The words were unintelligible but the heat coming off of them was all too clearly understood. Jimmy and Rachel were in the middle of a lovers quarrel and Chris and Vin were right in the path of the storm.

Chris leaned over trying to put pressure on his thigh. The bleeding hadn´t slowed down and he was starting to feel the effects. He was going into shock. He was cold and his skin was clammy. He was dizzy, nauseous, and weak, and he was becoming more anxious and nervous every minute. Vin sensed his anxiety and struggled harder against the bonds restraining his hands and feet. He managed to get close enough to Chris to ease him back against the side of the bed and attempt to see how badly he was injured. From the amount of blood soaking Chris´ jeans and shirt and the floor around him, it looked bad. Vin looked up into his friends pale face and realized that Chris was about to go out. “Chris!” Vin called to his injured partner. “Come on Larabee, stay awake. You gotta stay awake. If you go to sleep you might not wake up. Come on now. Talk to me,” Vin ordered urgently. He could feel Chris slipping further into unconsciousness and he was desperate to stop the descent. The lithe sharpshooter inched around until he was facing away from Chris and leaned over until his forearm came into contact with Chris´ injured leg. He leaned back and put all his weight on it, effectively applying pressure on the freely bleeding wound.

Chris came to with a cry of pain and surprise. His head came up and made a sharp contact with Vin´s. “Damn Vin, quit that,” Chris ordered through clenched teeth.

“Can´t Pard, we gotta keep pressure on that hole in your leg or you´re gonna bleed out. That knife must have hit an artery. Blood pumps out every time your heart beats,” Vin replied calmly. “Just lie there and take it easy,” Vin continued in a soothing voice.

Chris struggled to keep his eyes open once he got accustomed to Vin´s arm pressing into his leg. The extra pressure receded into the dull throbbing ache he felt before. Every time Vin felt the tension leave Chris´ body he shifted position. Chris always came to swearing. Vin hated hurting him anymore but it was necessary to keep him awake.

Vin heard footsteps outside the door and immediately maneuvered into a more defensive position, placing himself between Chris and the threat from the other side of the door. The crash almost splintered the door as Jimmy swung it open. The enraged man looked around the room. “Where the hell is she?” he asked angrily.

Vin looked at him in surprise. ‘Had Rachel left?´ “I don´t know where she went, maybe she left. She probably left you to take the heat by yourself,” Vin said in good cop mode. “If you´ll let me get help for my partner, I promise I´ll talk to the DA, see that you get a break,” Vin continued feeling a ray of hope arising.

The hope was extinguished when Jimmy drew back a booted foot and kicked Vin, hitting him under the chin to pop his head back. Vin saw stars and tasted blood when he bit the inside of his mouth. “Shut up,” roared Jimmy. “You don´t know anything. Rachel would never leave me. Not after everything I´ve done for her…” Jimmy stopped mid-rant, as if he knew he had said too much. He turned on one heel and stomped out of the room swinging the abused door closed behind him. Closed, but not locked! Vin´s hope surged again. If Jimmy had left the cabin and Rachel was gone as well he could possibly find a way to get loose and get something to use as a weapon, his Glock and Chris´ Sig were somewhere.

Tanner inched toward the door. He pushed against it, levering himself from the floor. He turned around and deftly grabbed hold of the doorknob. Tanner breathed a sigh of relief as it turned in his hands. The sharpshooter took a quick look at Chris and knew he would have to make good on this opportunity. Chris had already passed out and his labored breathing told Vin that time was of the essence.

Vin crouched low and peeked through the small crack in the door. He spotted Rachel coming up through a trap door in the floor. ‘What´s down there?´ he queried to himself.

Buck had watched Jimmy stomp in and out of the cabin for the last half hour. The young bespectacled man was getting more and more enraged by the minute. Buck was fighting to keep his fear and anxiety in check. He had to keep a cool head. He was in charge. Suddenly he felt very alone; even though he knew he had backup close by. Nathan was on the west side of the cabin and Josiah covered the east side. Ezra was hidden from view taking care of business on the north side and JD was right beside him, helping cover the south. All bases were covered yet he felt very ill at ease. Jimmy was a loose cannon and he just hoped that neither Chris nor Vin did anything to provide a catalyst for the battle to begin.

Vin ducked lower as he saw Jimmy come back in, cross the floor and angrily grab Rachel by the arm. “We´ve got to get out of here. That guy´s still out there watching this place. He´s gonna call out the National Guard and they´re gonna roll over us. Rach, we´ve got to leave now.”

“I´ve come too far to go back Jimmy. Now either shut up and do as you´re told or get out,” Rachel screamed at the furious man standing in front of her. Rachel pulled her arm out of his grasp and started toward the bedroom where Chris and Vin were being held.

Vin scrambled away from the door and steeled himself for attack. Rachel rushed through the doorway and stopped short. Vin saw her eyes widen and she gasped, “Chris, oh my God, darlin what happened?”

Chris raised his head and struggled to open his eyes and speak. “Sarah,” he whispered.

Tears ran down Rachel´s face as she crossed the room to gather Chris into her arms. “Chris, what did she do? You´re bleeding,” she stopped and then panic set in, “Oh God, Chris you´re bleeding, you´re bleeding,” she repeated over and again as she frantically tried to staunch the flow using her hands. She brushed the hair away from her face and left a smear of red on her forehead. “Chris, Chris, talk to me Sugar.”

Chris who had been shaking from the effects of shock began to shiver violently and his white face changed to an even whiter shade of pale. He was bleeding to death. He opened his eyes and managed to smile at Rachel.

Vin became even more concerned. Chris was out of it. He believed he was seeing Sarah. He was no longer acting, he was believing. The shivering meant that shock was indeed setting in, the body´s defense mechanism. Vin decided to take the chance that was presenting itself. “Sarah,” he spoke clearly to her. “Sarah!” he said again, louder this time.

Rachel raised her tear-streaked face and caught a glimpse of Vin. “Who are you?” she asked in a strangled sob.

“I´m a friend Sarah. I´m here to help you. Sarah, help me get loose. Come on hurry, we´ve got to get Chris out of here. He´s hurt real bad Sarah. He´s gonna die if we don´t get him to a doctor. He´s got a cut on his leg. It´s bleeding bad. Come on Sarah, find the keys to the handcuffs and take them off,” Vin cajoled the sobbing woman.

Rachel wavered. She only saw Chris, bleeding, dying, and looking up at her with trust in his eyes. Rachel gently laid Chris´ head on the floor, got up and went to the dresser drawer. She pulled out a ring of keys, frantically searching for the key to free Vin´s hands.

“Hurry Sarah,” Vin urged. Sarah dropped the keys; which fell to the floor with a loud crash. Rachel looked up in panic as footsteps sounded outside the door. Jimmy swung the door open wide and dove for the key ring lying at Rachel´s feet.

“What the hell are you doing?” Jimmy bellowed.

Rachel flew at Jimmy screeching and clawing, trying to get the keys that would release Chris from his bonds. Jimmy struggled with the woman who had turned into a scratching, spitting wildcat. “You were gonna let him go! What happened to the plan you were so dead set to carry out? What happened to the ransom demands Rachel? Why haven´t we already contacted someone about a ransom?” Jimmy screamed at Rachel. Realization struck just seconds later as he saw his partner in crime sneak a worried glance at their captive. “You weren´t ever gonna ransom him were you? You´re still in love with him,” the angry man accused.

Rachel saw the rage in her young lover. She knew he realized that she had used him. Rachel sidled up to him and ran her finger across his lips and smiled seductively, “Now Sugar, you know you´re the only one for me. I´m just having a little fun with him… and that one,” she said pointing at Vin, who had backed into the corner of the room.

“Fun! What kind of fun have you been having with them Rachel? They´re only here for us to use to get the money to get out of the country. Things are too hot here Rachel. It won´t be long before the FBI is on our tail. We need that ransom money and I say we get it now,” Jimmy seethed, “or we get rid of them and see if we can get the hell out of here before it´s too late. Either way, we´ve got to take care of these guys…” his voice dropped off as he pulled a gun from the waistband of his jeans.

Vin´s heart stopped beating for what seemed like an eternity when Jimmy leveled Chris´ Sig Sauer at the unconscious man. Rachel screamed, “No! Stop!” and once again flung herself at Jimmy, fighting to gain control of the gun. Vin tried to make himself the smallest target possible by lying down flat on the floor. He just prayed that Chris wouldn´t be hit if the gun fired.

Rachel was fighting for Chris´ life, or rather Sarah was. Sarah was firmly planted in Rachel´s psyche at the moment. The gun was between her body and Jimmy´s. Jimmy was attempting to dislodge himself from the woman´s grasp, all the while yelling, “After everything I did for you. Damn you! I built a bomb for you; I planted it in a truck for you. Damn it, I killed for you. You made me a murderer! I kept that kid while you were in the nut house. I did everything you ever asked. Why are you doing this to me?”

“Because I love him!” Rachel screamed and struggled even harder.

“You Bitch, you lying whore,” Jimmy raged and pulled the gun up higher between them. The struggle went on for what seemed like an hour to Vin and then a loud sharp “CRACK!”

High above the cabin Buck heard the report of a handgun. He froze and his blood ran cold. He hesitated only a split second then speaking into his headset ordered sharply, “Move in, watch your backs, shots fired.”

Chapter 33

Buck and JD tore down the hillside, weapons drawn, eyes alert for any movement. The other agents did likewise at once glad the ordeal was coming to an end and terrified at what they would find inside the cabin.

The five agents converged on the cabin. Nathan kicked the door in and Ezra scanned the room, giving the “Clear” signal before entering. The bedroom door and bathroom door were the only possibilities and while Josiah and Nathan cleared the bathroom, Ezra and Buck stood poised to enter the bedroom. The agents steeled themselves for what they could encounter and taking a collective breath, they stormed the bedroom. Buck kicked the door in and five men pointed five weapons at the suspects holding their friends.

Jimmy lay on the floor; a massive chest wound claiming his life. Vin was handcuffed but still managing to get to his knees and crawl toward Chris. Larabee was lying in a pool of blood; a deep wound in his thigh pumping blood out of his body with every beat of his heart. The blond head was in the lap of Rachel Connelly. She was staring straight ahead as she rocked Chris gently in her arms. She brushed absently at his hair and hummed a nameless tune.

Buck stopped short, his breath catching in his throat as he stared at the young woman who had so clearly gone totally insane. “God Almighty,” he whispered.

Whether Buck´s whispered plea to the deity was for Chris or the tragic figure holding him, Nathan wasn´t sure, all he knew for sure was that Chris was in dire need of medical attention, and the gun was lying beside the injured man within reach of Rachel. “We got to get that gun away from her Buck.”

“I´ll do it Nathan,” Buck whispered.

The tall agent smiled at Rachel and eased toward her. He reached out to touch Chris´ leg to see if there was any response. The only response he got was from Rachel. She looked at Buck and snarled, “Don´t touch him.”

“Now Rachel, you need to let us see to him ok. He´s hurt. You don´t want him to hurt, do you?” Buck spoke to Rachel as gently as he would a child but Vin sensed there was something that Rachel found threatening about his tone, or maybe… then it hit him.

“Sarah. Buck this is Sarah,” he corrected Wilmington. Buck looked at him like he had lost his mind. “Buck, I know Sarah wants help for her husband. Don´t you Sarah? Let Nathan help him. Nathan´s a good friend. He´ll fix Chris right up and give him back to you. Please Sarah,” Vin pleaded with the obviously confused woman.

Rachel looked down at Chris and for the first time really seemed to notice how precarious his condition was. She looked at Vin and nodded her head. Nathan rushed to Chris´ side and began checking his vitals. While Nathan had Rachel distracted, Josiah grabbed the gun at Rachel´s side and JD located the handcuff keys and unlocked first Chris´ cuffs and then Vin´s.

Vin stood and started for the door only to fall to the floor. Nathan ordered him to stay where he was till he could check him out.

“The basement,” Vin gasped out between breaths.

“What basement?” Buck asked.

“There´s a trapdoor in the floor in the big room. She kept going down there. Gotta find out what´s down there,” Vin replied, struggling to get his breathing under control and fight the nausea that was building.

Rachel heard Vin talking about the basement and bolted for the door. Buck tackled her and she retaliated with a kick to the head. Wilmington saw stars but kept his hold on her. Rachel began to scream, kick, bite, and scratch at Buck´s eyes trying to get away. Buck totally lost it and drew back to slap the woman.

“No! Buck don´t hurt her,” came a weak plea from Chris who had regained consciousness. “She´s Sarah´s sister Buck, please don´t hurt her. She´s sick.”

Buck dropped his hand to his side. ‘What was I thinking? I´ve never hit a woman before, even a crazy one.´ In the moment it took Buck to recover from the shock of what he was doing, Rachel pulled out of his grasp and made a run for the door. She pulled the rug away that was covering the trapdoor that led to the underground room. She climbed down the ladder and into the small sub-floor space. Buck and JD chased her down the ladder and into the dimly lit room. Rachel´s back was to them and she turned abruptly. She had the second of the agent´s confiscated weapons and she pointed it at the two men.

“He lied to me. He won´t give Chris back to me. Chris was supposed to come with me. We were supposed to be a family again. Chris, and me, and CJ. It was going to be perfect. Now you have all ruined it. Well, make no mistake, I will be back for him. I won´t let him go that easily. He wants to be with us. Now that he knows that Sarah is alive, he won´t let Carly hurt us anymore. He´ll come for Sarah and CJ and me,” the woman rambled frantically as she pulled at a blanket covering two chairs. “Come on CJ, we´re going now.” She yanked the blanket off the chairs and Buck let out a strangled cry. JD looked to his partner and saw tears in his eyes and knew that the child standing beside Rachel Connelly had to be Adam Larabee.

“Back up Buck, get out of my way. I don´t want to have to shoot you. Move CJ, get on up the ladder. We´re getting out of here.”

The blond haired, green-eyed miniature version of Chris Larabee did as he was told. He started to pick up some papers and pencils and crayons but Rachel screamed at him, “Leave that, we don´t have time to mess with that junk. Move!” The child dropped everything except one piece of paper and obeyed Rachel without question.

As Adam moved past Buck it was all he could do to keep from reaching out and snagging the child. He almost did it but JD, sensing Buck´s anguish placed a restraining hand on Buck´s arm. He knew Rachel was too unstable to risk reaching out to the child; JD had avoided a possibly volatile confrontation. Buck was grateful for the Kid´s cool head.

Josiah was waiting at the top of the ladder and shoved a blond child out of the way before Rachel came up. A uniformed police officer grabbed the boy and whisked him into the bathroom, slamming the door and locking it behind them. Josiah then grabbed Rachel as she came up through the trapdoor.

Rachel screamed, kicked, punched, and bit trying to get herself free from Josiah´s vice like grip, but Josiah´s strength was fueled by rage and he blocked out any pain she was inflicting. Two uniformed officers tried to take her off his hands, but he refused to let go. One of the paramedics tore himself away from Chris long enough to help subdue her with restraints.

Rachel snarled threats to everyone in the room, promising plagues of locusts and terrible deaths to all involved in her downfall. She threatened to emasculate Buck in a most dreadful manner and cursed Josiah´s future generations with the specter of demon possession. It took all the control Josiah could muster to restrain himself from taking her head off at the shoulders.

In the next instant everything changed. The ambulance attendants wheeled Chris out of the bedroom on the stretcher. He was very pale and still. The paramedics had put him on oxygen to assist his breathing and had two IV´s started, one in each arm. His appearance was terrifying to everyone in the room, including Rachel. She pushed through the throng of friends and medical personnel and dropped to her knees beside the man she loved more than she had ever loved anyone in her life.

“Chris, oh God, somebody help him. What happened to him?” Rachel turned accusing eyes on Ezra. “What did you do to my husband?”

“Come on Sarah, Chris is gonna be fine. They´re taking him to the hospital. Come over here and sit down,” Vin spoke gently to the troubled woman. Buck was surprised that Vin had it in him. It was personally taking everything he had ever learned about handling the gentler sex to keep him from throttling Rachel and daring her to ever attempt to fill Sarah´s shoes again.

Buck was brought out of his dark thoughts by a weak hand frantically clutching his arm. “Buck… Buck…damn it Buck, don´t let them hurt her. She can´t help what she´s done. Something happened to her Buck. See that she gets help. Please.” The pleading in Chris´ voice stabbed Buck´s conscience. “Would one of you guys mind checking her over and making sure that she is ok?” Buck asked the paramedics.

It was the moment Rachel was waiting for. As the EMT loosened her restraints to check her pulse, Rachel surged to her feet and fled out the open door. She ran past the stretcher, glancing down at the man lying on it, and feeling the same despair she felt the day she took the life of her sister.

The temporarily stunned throng of agents regained their composure and ran for the door. The ambulance attendants placed themselves between Chris, Vin, and the deranged woman charging past them. They hurriedly placed the two wounded agents in the back of the ambulance. Buck slapped Nathan on the back and nodded his head in the direction of the waiting vehicle. The medic nodded back and boarded the conveyance and Wilmington watched as the ambulance sped down the dirt road out of sight.

JD, Ezra, and Josiah returned to the cabin with three uniformed police officers. They all looked grim. Buck looked to his partner. JD just looked him in the eye and shook his head. “What? JD, tell me,” Wilmington demanded.

Ezra replied to the demand, much to JD´s relief, “Ms. Connelly has met with a most unfortunate accident Mr. Wilmington.”

“What kind of accident Ezra?” Buck asked with a sense of dread.

“She took a fall Buck,” Josiah answered.

“Oh my God! I promised Chris I would look after her, get her some help. How and where did she fall?”

“She fell a long way Buck. We saw her lying at the bottom of the ravine out past the creek. She didn´t move,” JD said quietly. “There weren´t nothing you could have done Buck. She was crazy. She was acting crazy.”

“I know Kid, but Chris is gonna be real upset when he hears this. I told him I would keep her safe.”

“Mr. Wilmington, no one is going to hold you responsible for Rachel´s actions most especially Mr. Larabee. He was just in a very emotional state. It had to be very distressing to realize that someone you treated like family had such an evil side. Mr. Larabee will realize that there was nothing you could do to save her when she attempted such a desperate act,” Ezra consoled Buck.

“Yeah I know, I just hate to let him down. I want him to get over this thing as soon as…” Buck´s voice dropped off as he turned and dashed to the cabin. JD yelled out “Hey, where you goin´?”

“Adam,” was the yelled reply as Buck ran across the creaking groaning porch of the cabin. JD, Josiah, and Ezra followed, all shamed that they had forgotten about the child.

Buck knocked on the door of the small bathroom, identifying himself to the uniformed officer guarding Adam. When the door opened a crack, Buck showed the officer his shield. The officer came out of the bathroom, leading Adam. Buck started to rush to him, only to have him back away and hide behind the police officer.

“Adam, it´s me, Uncle Buck. Come here slugger,” Buck urged.

“Buck, hold off a minute,” Josiah whispered. “I don´t think he´s ready for this. We don´t know what has happened to this boy in the last four years, we have got to go slow with him.”

“You´re right Josiah, see if you can get through to him,” Buck conceded.

“Adam, my name is Josiah. I´m a friend. I´m not going to hurt you. Are you hungry, thirsty? Would you like something to drink? JD get our young friend here something to drink.”

“Sure thing. How about a Coke, Adam? Will that be alright?” JD asked, smiling at the child.

Adam sat stock still on the chair that Josiah had led him to. He had yet to speak. The only time the miniature version of Chris Larabee even moved was for his eyes to dart nervously around the room, looking at the sea of stranger´s faces and twisting his own into an even deeper scowl.

“Looks like somebody´s mad, don´t it?” JD asked Ezra.

“Yes indeed Mr. Dunne. Yet one can hardly blame the lad. He has been ripped away from the only family he has known for the last four years. I know a little of what he is feeling myself. Betrayal, distrust, anger, terror, every emotion in the book all laid open at once. The child has to be utterly overwhelmed,” Ezra analyzed.

“You mean he´s scared Ezra?” JD asked, rolling his eyes at Ezra´s use of ten-dollar words.

“Exactly, Mr. Dunne.”

The remaining EMT unit was attempting to examine Adam to make sure he was not injured. The small boy was fighting them at every turn. They were trying to get his vital signs and he fought like a child possessed. The police officer finally agreed to transport Adam and Josiah to the local hospital himself.

Josiah and Adam left with the officer and the remaining agents gathered up everything they would need for the case. The search and rescue team had been brought in to locate and retrieve Rachel´s body from the ravine. Jake was aiding in the search and waiting to find out what if any charges he would have to answer to. Buck had told him that he was going to leave it up to Chris. Whatever he decided Buck would abide by.

Buck figured that Chris would choose just to sweep the whole thing under the rug. He knew how Chris felt about family, and Jake had once been a part of his family.

Finally the agents made their way to the hospital. They were anxious to see if Chris and Vin were ok. They met Nathan in the waiting room in the ER. “Nate, they ok?” Buck asked in a straightforward tone.

“They´re both gonna be fine. Vin´s a little woozy, but it was just a minor concussion. Chris is in surgery. They´re going to have to repair an artery and stitch up his leg. He won´t be happy for a while but they think he will heal fine.”

“That´s real good news,” Buck said as he visibly relaxed. “Have you heard anything about Adam? He came in with Josiah.”

“Nah, I been down here the whole time. Chris is kind of out of it and he wasn´t wanting to cooperate. How is the kid?”

“It´s a bad scene Nathan. He won´t let anyone touch him. He won´t talk, he won´t hardly move. It´s tearing my heart out to see him like that. It´s gonna kill Chris.”

“Yeah, well I don´t know if Chris is ready for it right this minute. They´ve given him a unit of blood, a bunch of antibiotics, and a lot of pain meds. He´s gonna be gone for several hours. That knife just about took his leg. It nicked the main artery. If Vin hadn´t had the sense to lean over on his leg and slow the blood flow, Chris would have probably bled out.”

“That close huh?” Buck responded.

“Yep,” Nathan replied.

“Damn,” Buck muttered.

Down the hall Josiah was still having no luck getting Adam to talk to him. The boy had found a piece of paper and confiscated a pen from somewhere and was diligently drawing till every inch of the paper was filled with figures. Josiah was interested in seeing what the boy was drawing. The psychologist in him coming out he supposed.

The ER doctor came in and Adam looked up fixing the man with his best Chris Larabee glare. In other less serious circumstances Josiah thought it would have been terribly funny, but now he just didn´t feel like laughing. The young intern finally convinced Adam that he wasn´t going to hurt him and the child relaxed slightly when the doctor gave him a prescription pad and allowed him to use the pen and draw as much as he liked.

The doctor checked vital signs and tested the boy´s reflexes. He ran his hand over Adam´s back and drew his hand back in surprise. He pulled the shirt over the child´s head and both he and Josiah drew a deep breath. The boy was skin and bones. Every rib was visible through his almost transparent skin. In addition to the apparent malnutrition was the underlying evidence of abuse and neglect. There were fairly new bruises and some scars. There were round scars, consistent with cigarette burns as well as scratch marks. Josiah´s blood began to boil. The physician was incensed. He ordered further examinations and a full set of x-rays. He had been filled in on the situation before the exam so he knew that an abductor and not the boy´s parents had committed the abuse, so there was no need to report the parents to social services, besides social services had already been notified. The doctor finished his examination and waited for the nurse to carry the child to x-ray before he began to speak to Josiah.

“We are waiting for a consultation with child psych. Physically, besides the obvious malnutrition, there is evidence of child abuse. Psychologically, we don´t know what we could be looking at. There is a good chance that this child has been abused mentally as well as physically. Thank God there was no sign of sexual abuse. I guess there is a limit as to how far some folks will go. I know that you´re aware that Social Services will be here \ sometime in the next hour?”

“I know that I should have guessed that they would be called. I was just hoping that they would let the boy go with Chris,” Josiah replied sadly. “I´m going to have a hard time explaining this to those men standing out there. They want Chris to have his son back.”

“He will get him back Mr. Sanchez. It´s just going to take a while. This child isn´t ready to be placed in a regular home. He is going to need time to adjust to living a normal life, not that his life is ever going to be normal. He will probably carry around scars from this for the rest of his life, and of course he is going to be in the hospital for a few days, get his malnutrition taken care of and check closer for any injuries he may have sustained,” Dr. Page replied. “I hope Mr. Larabee is ready for this. It´s going to be a struggle.”

“Chris will be ok. He loves this boy. This is what he has dreamed of for four years,” Josiah stated.

Chapter 34

Chris was aware of bright light, thirst, and the sound of snoring. He turned his head to the right and was rewarded with the sight of Buck. His head was hanging back over the chair back, his eyes were closed and he was snoring to raise the dead. If Chris had known why they were both there it might have been amusing, but he couldn´t for the life of him figure out why he was in a bed and Buck was sitting up snoring. Then Chris became aware of pain. Pain, shooting through his leg and out the top of his head it seemed. “Aw damn,” came his muttered curse.

“Hey Cowboy, you ok there?”

Chris turned his head to the left and saw Vin sitting in another chair, grinning. “I don´t know. Am I alive?”

“Yeah, I reckon you´re still in the land of the living.”

“Good, I´d hate to know I was dead and feeling this bad,” Chris looked back to Buck. “What´s with him?”

Vin stood and walked to the other side of the bed. “He´s been up for several hours. You had us all kinda worried Cowboy. You been out for the better part of two days. Ol´ Buck was just taking a little nap. Weren´t you Pard?” Vin reached over and clamped his hand around Buck´s nose, cutting off his air supply.

Buck jerked awake. His bewildered cry of “What?” echoed throughout the room. His eyes immediately flew to Chris. “Chris! You´re awake. Don´t you ever do that to me again you son of a bitch. You took 10 years off of my life with that shit you pulled.”

“Sorry Buck, I don´t know if you can afford 10 years,” Chris replied grinning for the first time in a long time. “Now, I need somebody to clue me in to what has been going on. I can´t seem to wrap my brain around anything,” he paused waiting for details that didn´t seem to be forthcoming. “Well? Anybody gonna tell me something?”

The silence in the room was palpable. Chris waited for a moment before he asked the question again. The two men´s postures told him that there was definitely something wrong. “Tell me,” Chris said seriously.

“Ah Chris, everything is all right. Just get better, and then we´ll run this case by you. OK? Right now I don´t think your doctor would appreciate us getting you all worked up. Just rest, get your strength back. Work will come calling soon enough as it is,” Buck pleaded with Larabee.

Chris, knowing they were keeping something from him, narrowed his green eyes to slits. “You have an hour to come up with a better story than you just told me. After that I´ll find out myself.”

The two men knowing he meant what he said nodded their heads in agreement. Even in a confused, concussed state they couldn´t pull the wool over Larabee´s eyes. They had to figure out how to tell Chris that his life was about to change.


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