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Chris and Buck sat on one bench inside the station as Nathan and Josiah sat on another across from them. The four boys had met and caught up with each other as Ezra, Vin and J.D. were giving their statements. After a bit of a discussion regarding their three younger friends, the four boys had sat down and waited.
Buck slapped his knees loudly before stretching out and throwing his head back against the bench´s back rest. This sure ain´t the way I was planning for this evening to end!
Chris smirked and shook his head. Buck, the way I see it, you´re probably better off this way.
Hey! My date wasn´t going that bad. I really like Inez.
Question is, how does she feel about you, Chris pointed out.
The junior nodded. Yeah that is the question. She´s not like other girls I´ve gone out with. She never gave me a clear sign, but she´s definitely worth pursuing.
The best ones are, Chris agreed with a brief and knowing smile.
The two boys sat in silence for a little while, then Buck broached the subject of Chris´ date. So what about you and Maria? What was going on there?
I got a couple of clear signs, the senior boasted teasingly.
Do tell, Buck prompted eagerly, turning in the bench so that he now faced Chris.
Let´s just say that we´ll go out again, but just the two of us, the senior responded evasively.
Sounds promising, Buck said almost wistfully as he hoped that Inez would indeed meet him for another date.
Their conversation was interrupted as a woman entered the waiting area. Her eyes swept over the four of them then seemed to search the room as if expecting to see more people in it.
How are you doing, ma´am? Buck asked, standing up with a grin.
Chris shook his head and pulled Buck back down into the bench. You´re in over your head with her, he warned.
Why? the junior asked, Just cause she´s an older woman or cause she´s a redhead? I like the experienced and feisty ones.
The blond rolled his eyes. Chris knew that flirting was as natural as breathing to Buck, it was just who the quarterback was. No, I mean cause my dad might have something to say about that.
That´s Cynthia? Buck´s amazement raised the volume of his voice, drawing laughter from the woman in question. She had heard enough about Buck to guess what he and Chris were discussing.
Chris nodded as he stood up and greeted her. Buck watched as the two talked briefly. A slow smile spread across the junior´s face. He just could not wait to tell his mother that he got to meet Clint´s elusive girlfriend before she did. The smile quickly dropped from his face as he realized that would require him telling her everything that led up to the meeting.
Your dad´s just arrived and he´ll be back here shortly, Cynthia told Chris after they had exchanged pleasantries. You know he and I were supposed to go out after our shift this morning, she teased.
Hey, don´t let us stop you, Chris laughed. Just cause my date got cut short doesn´t mean that you should miss out on yours. In fact, it might be better if you keep Dad out tonight.
Cynthia laughed a rich, infectious laugh that brought a smile to Chris´ face just as it always managed to do with Clint. Well if I can convince him, you´ll owe me one.
Chris nodded his agreement. He had gotten to know Cynthia and while he was still a bit wary of her presence in his father´s life and what it meant for both father and son, he did not have any doubts that she was a special woman. And Chris knew his dad deserved to have someone like her in his life.
The senior was just finishing introducing Cynthia to the other three when Ezra, Vin, and J.D. were escorted back out to them. The dispatcher smiled as she saw them, Well I was hoping to get to meet all of the Magnificent Seven´. Clint always has so much to say about all of you.
Surely a woman in your position is discerning enough to not believe everything that a police officer tells you, Ezra stated after being introduced.
Believe me, I know better than to believe half of what these cops say, she quickly agreed. But I also know when I see a bad element. And I can tell with just one look that you seven boys are trouble.
The reunion of the seven boys was interrupted as Clint entered. The glare and scowl affixed on his face disappeared only briefly as he greeted Cynthia but was quickly replaced as he faced the seven teens. Seeing her cue to exit the dispatcher told them, Breaks over for me. Good luck, boys.
Clint waited until she had left before giving all seven boys his full attention. Well boys, we´ve contacted the school. He paused to enjoy fully the loud groans that issued from the teens. They are incredibly curious to know how the three of you got off campus. His attention was focused solely on Ezra but the southerner adopted and maintained an impassive façade. Oh don´t worry, even if they don´t learn that particular secret, I´m sure there will be sufficient disciplinary action taken. Which also reminds me that each of your parents have been notified as well. More groans met his ears at that statement. Turning to the oldest of them Clint continued, Josiah, you get the wonderful task of getting everyone back to the school. Dean Parker will meet you there.
Receiving a reluctant nod from the senior, Clint turned to his son. Since you and Buck actually had permission to be off campus, you are not in trouble at the school. Buck shifted uneasily as the cop´s emphasis on at the school.´ There was no way that Clint was going to let them off easy. So you boys can head over to my place as planned. Your mom didn´t sound too happy when I talked to her, Buck. In fact she said something about coming to see you the first thing when she got back into town.
The junior´s head dropped in dismay at that news. You´re free to go then, Clint finished. Just be sure to go straight back to the school.
Josiah nodded as he and Nathan began herding the three younger boys out of the police station. You can count on us, sir, the oldest teen said. Nathan and I aren´t in the mood for any more adventures. And we´re not letting these three out of our sight for a long time.
I don´t need watching over, Ezra complained as they all said their goodbyes to Clint, Chris, and Buck. I had nothing to do with tonight´s events
Josiah cut off Ezra´s protestations by asking as they walked to the door, And just where did you get this cell phone?
You found my phone? the eagerness in the southerner´s voice was quite clear.
Clint shook his head as Josiah reprimanded the sophomore for having a cell phone with internet capability. The cop knew that Ezra would not be getting that phone back anytime soon, at least not until Josiah cleared it with the school and found out where he got it from. Seeing Vin about to follow the others out, Clint called to him.
The Texan stopped and waited as the cop stepped over to him for a bit of privacy. You handled yourself very well out there, Vin. Both Ezra and J.D. have said repeatedly that they don´t know what they would have done if you had not been there.
The sophomore tried to hide his surprise at the information the cop was relaying. I just did what had to be done to protect us, he stated modestly.
You did more than that. That makes you a damn good man, Clint reiterated.
Vin´s blue eyes met Clint´s green as the Texan could not hide his pride at the cop´s words. By calling him a man, Clint was offering Vin some of the highest praise he had ever received. Thank you, sir, he responded sincerely.
It´s the truth, Vin. But that doesn´t mean that you three can go running off whenever you want. You´ve got to follow the rules just like everyone else.
A mischievous twinkle lit the sparkling blue eyes. You mean like you do?
Clint rolled his eyes. We´ve got to get you a new roommate. That damn southerner´s rubbing off on you. With that he waved for Vin to go and join his friends.
Chris walked over to his father after the other boys had left and said, Buck and I are gonna go, too.
That´s a good idea, Clint nodded. Just go straight home.
Sure thing, Buck stated eagerly. He was anxious to get out of trouble with Clint and, of course, his mother. He had a feeling that he knew exactly what kind of punishment Beatrice Wilmington might try to inflict on him. She would take away his car for at least a month if he did not get her to see that he had not really been in the wrong. And Buck knew that a big part of that would be getting Clint back on his side. But from the look in Clint´s eyes right now, Buck knew that he would have to work very hard to get that to happen.
After saying goodbye to his son, Clint turned only to see Cynthia waiting for him in the doorway. He shook his head at her, but she only smiled in return. And what do you have to say about all this?
Oh nothing much, she teased, except that I know one police officer who is up for a bit of a reprimand himself. And I´m not just talking about an official one either. She frowned at him, concern reflecting in her eyes. Just what were you thinking when you went into that warehouse alone?
I was thinking that I had to do something to get those two boys out of a dangerous situation.
Uh huh, Cynthia was completely unconvinced. And so you just dove right in. And yet you want to turn around and punish the boys for following the same instincts you do.
It ain´t the same. I´m trained for this kind of thing, he protested further.
Your TRAINING calls for you to wait for backup, she pointed out, folding her arms across her chest. Face it, Clint Larabee, you´re a cowboy. But this isn´t the 1800´s and we´re not in the Wild West. You can´t always handle things your way.
An almost dangerous glint touched his green eyes. I can handle some things my way, he stated suggestively.
Despite herself Cynthia felt her resolve melting. This was a war that she knew she could not win. Still, though, she knew that she had won this particular battle since Clint would not back out of their getting together after their shift ended. She had won the seven boys a bit of reprieve and earned herself some time with the man she had come to care a great deal about.
She had never had any intentions of falling for Clint Larabee. They had known each other for quite some time, working together as they did. Cynthia respected Clint and all that he did. And it was as a friend that she reached out to him when she saw him tearing himself apart over the deaths of his wife and daughter. She only wanted to help him as best as she could. In fact she had been extremely wary when after time, Clint seemed to be looking to pursue something more than their friendship. She knew it would be a hard road for them to travel together, but so far she had to admit that it was well worth the journey. She did not know if they had a long-term relationship building, but for right now both of them were quite happy with what they both had.
J.D. watched from the first floor of the school residences as Buck, Chris, Nathan and Josiah drove off campus in three separate cars. Chris had arranged another date with Maria and whilst Buck didn´t have a firm commitment from Inez the junior was visiting her at her home anyway. Josiah and Nathan were heading into town where they were meeting up with another group of friends.
I can´t believe they´re leaving us alone J.D. said aloud.
Behind him Ezra lay stretched out on his bed as he operated J.D´s palm pilot. At J.D´s words he looked up and sent a smug smile towards Vin. It had been a long week since the three boys had run into trouble on their clandestine excursion off campus. A week of lectures, admonishments and constant monitoring of their movements not only from their friends but from Dean Parker and his staff. Ezra, for one, intended to enjoy his night of freedom.
Not quite alone, a voice announced from the doorway.
Ezra recognized the voice and surreptitiously pocketed the palm pilot before he donned his most innocent expression and turned to face Dean Parker. Whilst Vin got to his feet at the Dean´s entrance into their room and J.D. nervously moved next to him, Ezra continued to lay sprawled across the bed. The Dean raised an eyebrow and Ezra sighed for effect before he pulled himself to his feet reluctantly.
The Dean smiled pleasantly as he waited until Ezra stood and he had all three boys´ complete attention.
I shall be supervising your activities tonight, he told them. And I think the evening would be best served if you three boys are kept busy.
The Dean paused and savored the unimpressed looks than touched the visages of Standish and Tanner. Subsequently, I have assigned various tasks and chores on campus for each of you.
"Since when did the school curriculum include menial labor?" Ezra drawled.
Since all your parents signed letters agreeing to the school administering the appropriate punishment for your escapade, Dean Parker replied.
Ezra let out a soft groan and the dean´s eyes fixed on him. Do you have something else to say Mr Standish?
No, Ezra replied.
Again a firm look was sent his way.
No, Dean Parker, Ezra corrected.
Anyone else? Dean Parker asked the other two and the both softly shook their heads.
Excellent! the Dean boomed. This way, gentlemen.
You cannot be serious, Miss Jameson, Ezra exclaimed to the often surly cook who ran the school´s cafeteria.
It´s health regulations. You have to wear them when preparing and serving food, she replied. Both of you, she added as Vin began to look smug.
Ezra looked down in disgust at the hairnet Miss Jameson held out to him. Dean Parker had delivered himself and Vin to the cafeteria moments earlier with instructions that he and Vin had to work in the kitchen and then serve the cafeteria´s evening meal. Ezra could still see the dean´s most satisfied expression before he almost bounced gleefully out of the room, taking J.D. with him.
It´s not that bad, Miss Jameson chided as she moved deftly and tucked the southerner´s unruly locks into the hairnet. Ezra´s scowl turned to embarrassment when Miss Jameson winked and pinched his cheek before she moved back into the kitchen.
Ezra narrowed his eyes and glared at Vin as the Texan sniggered. You tell, you´ll pay dearly, he snapped.
Vin gave him a look of mock dismay followed by a short laugh.
Put your hairnet on, Ezra growled irritably.
Many hours later, Vin and Ezra were finally released from their duties. Vin kept glancing sideways at Ezra as they walked back to their dormitory. He had lost count of the number of insults, teases and ridicules they had received when serving meals in the cafeteria earlier that evening. But as he watched Ezra´s many facial expressions he knew his roommate´s agile and clever mind was working overtime, formulating all kinds of methods of exacting revenge. Vin smiled. There were some fellow students Vin would happily work with Ezra to get back at and past experience had proven they worked very well together in that particular pursuit.
Reaching the dormitory they searched for J.D. to ascertain how the freshman had fared that night. They found him alone in his room as J.D´s roomate, Jeremy was absent on a weekend pass with his parents. Their entrance into the room startled their young friend.
Hi, guys, J.D. greeted quickly.
Hey, J.D, Vin replied.
Ezra threw him an acknowledging nod before he tossed himself onto the bed then cradled his head with his hand, as he looked at J.D. speculatively.
Well? he prompted when J.D. remained silent.
Ezra did a half eye roll. What manner of restitution did our illustrious Dean have you perform?
Oh that, J.D. replied, nodding. I got another lecture about curtailing my friendship with the two of you´, J.D. added trying to mimic Dean Parker´s tone.
And then? Ezra asked pointedly already suspicious of J.D´s fidgety movements.
J.D. glanced at Vin before replying. Not much. Just some work in the library.
Such as? Ezra persisted.
J.D. sighed and his shoulders drooped defeatedly as he realized he wasn´t going to be able to avoid answering. I installed new software on the library computers, he admitted.
Ezra let out an aggrieved gasp. No wonder Dean Parker has such a difficult time maintaining control of the school since he can't properly allocate tasks to those best suited to them. Why I could have had that software installed... What software was it, anyway? Did you make a copy of it?"
Vin did not even try to control his laugher at Ezra´s indignation as J.D. tried to earn his way back into favor.
It´s not my fault Ezra, J.D. protested. I would have helped you guys.
Vin shot Ezra a look telling him to hold back. Ezra held the look then sighed, forcing himself to relax.
Did you make copies of the software for our own use, Ezra repeated.
I didn´t have a lot of time . and Dean Parker kept coming back and checking on me, J.D. explained hastily.
Ezra looked at him in clear disbelief before he turned to Vin. What´s the name of that girl?
What girl? Vin queried even though he guessed where Ezra leading.
The one J.D. is infatuated with. The girl J.D. begged us not to tell Buck about, Ezra replied smoothly.
You mean the girl in the Cougars cheerleading squad? Vin grinned.
Ezra nodded. Yes. Now what is her name? he replied, snapping his fingers as his face twisted into recollection.
J.D. paled and his eyes widened as he looked from one friend to the other. You can´t tell Buck, J.D. pleaded.
Laura? Ezra questioned of Vin.
Lisa, Vin told him as he grinned.
Ezra slapped his hand on the bed. That´s it. Lisa, he pronounced.
Alright! Alright! J.D. cried out. I made copies.
You´re learning, Ezra praised him as Vin shook his head.
The Texan took the spot Ezra vacated as the southerner pulled a chair next to J.D. and began taking over the freshman´s computer despite protests from the younger teen. As he watched Ezra and J.D. become immersed in computer talk, Vin´s thoughts strayed back to the last week. They had faced a stern and serious Clint Larabee, their respective parents, numerous lectures by Chris, Buck and Nathan, the school counselor and the ever watchful Dean Parker and had come through remarkably unscathed. Everyone had stressed to them how lucky they were to have walked away unharmed from such a potentially dangerous situation. However, all the time he, Ezra and J.D. were cut off from the others, they never felt they were really alone. They knew the others would not stop looking for them until they were all safe.
Just as he pondered how well they all worked together and got along, just like a large family, his thoughts were broken by J.D.´s loud statement.
You can´t do that!
Why not? was Ezra´s amazed reply
Because you can´t that´s why! J.D. retorted in frustration.
Watch me, Ezra said determinedly and pulled J.D.´s laptop closer to him. The freshman retaliated by trying to prevent the southerner from his task.
Vin sighed as he slowly got up and prepared to referee his friends. For a moment he paused and considered simply slipping out unnoticed. It would not be difficult with the two other teens engaged in an argument involving computers. But then the Texan got a flash of inspiration. Chris, Buck, Josiah, and Nathan had left the three of them behind to Dean Parker´s punishment without warning. Vin figured that meant that there should be a little retribution waiting for the four boys when they returned to their dorm rooms and he knew it would not take much convincing to get Ezra and J.D. to agree with him. All that would be left would be deciding what would be the best prank to pull on the upperclassmen.
Moving towards Ezra and J.D, Vin firmly pushed his way between the two arguing boys. Dual frowns and protests died on their lips when they saw the unmistakable grin of a mischief making Texan.
I got an idea, Vin told them.
Continues in Guys Gone Wild
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