MCAT: Turbulent Transition #4
Edited by: Tonny - Thanks!
Characters: Chris, Vin, The rest of the seven- Orrin Travis- OC’S
Rating FR-17, Profanity
Disclaimer: This is entirely a work of fiction for entertainment only, based on the characters from “The Magnificent Seven.” I don’t own them, but if I did I would run away with ‘m and never be seen again. CBS and Co., Trilogy Entertainment, and MGM had ‘em first and do not want to give ‘m away. I only do this for fun and do not make any money doing it. No infringement of any copyrights is intended.
MCAT AU: MCAT (Major Crimes and Acts of Terrorism) is under the leadership of Commander Chris Larabee has just past the six-month mark. The unit that started out as an experiment is now firmly entrenched as an essential tool for aggressively fighting crime and terrorist threats, Chris Larabee is proud of his unit. In his personal life, he had found contentment with his extended family of brothers on their ranch, Larabee 7 and new love, Linda Dubois
This series of seven stories will establish relationships and provide background for the characters in this AU. Past Transgressions is fourth in a series of seven.
#4 Past Transgressions, this story deals with two pasts, one lost and one found.
A personal challenge for Chris-his past is racing to catch up with him and it is on a collision course with his newly found happiness. An old enemy blames Chris for a long-ago action that resulted in tragedy and the plans for revenge could destroy him and the people that he loves. The consequences of that reckoning send him spiraling into a raging river of guilt. He must sort things out before the price of his transgressions becomes too high to pay.
While Vin must find a way to help Kelli deal with her past. A trip to Texas answers the questions that have plagued her for a lifetime; their future together is in jeopardy after a confrontation with her birth family.
Acknowledgments: My thanks go to Wendy for her beta work and her great advice. Tonny, thanks for reading, listening to the ravings of my silly muse and giving me valuable feedback. My thanks also go to the gracious readers that took the time to send me feedback for “Transitions” and “Decisions”. A special thank you goes to Barb and Jan, your feedback and encouragement is greatly appreciated.
Notes: The basic premise for this story was inspired by a stray plot bunny thrown out as a challenge to any writer and my muse insisted that I pick it up and run with it. Tonny I appreciate your encouragement to listen to my muse and stay the course. Any mistakes are mine, as are the original characters I have created for this series. You are welcome and encouraged to play in this AU, but no slash parings please.
Background from Parts One, Two and Three: For those who would like to have some information about this new AU at hand, here is a brief description:
MCAT is set after the wonderful ATF AU that Mog created. Team seven is disbanded and Chris Larabee is asked to lead a whole new type of law enforcement unit, MCAT (Major Crimes and Acts of Terrorism), a totally independent unit that has the authority to act outside the existing boundaries within law enforcement and politics, their authority also overrules these other agencies. He accepts, and t members of team seven decide to become a part of this unit as well. Chris, as the unit commander, only has to answer to Orrin Travis; Vin is his squad captain and Buck is his number three man.
Characters from the first three parts of this series:
Pamela Walton, Native American, computer genius who worked for the Justice Department, 30 years old.
Kelli Coulter, Caucasian, from Texas, degree in criminology/criminal justice, worked New Orleans PD, State of Texas Criminal Task Force and the DEA, 27 years old.
Justin Michaels, Caucasian, former homicide detective with Denver PD and then worked with the State Police investigations in Colorado, 43 years old.
Mark Westin, Caucasian, excelled at the Police Academy, worked LAPD and California Highway Patrols, 26 years old.
Paul Roberts, African American, worked Atlanta Metro police departments with excellent records, 31 years old.
Ross Anderson, African American, Detroit Metro police departments, career until then focused on inner city crime, 34 years old.
Raphael Cordova, Mexican American, DEA fifteen years, military veteran, pilot, age 43.
Judy Mullins is not an agent, Data typist/computer assistant, 21 years old.
CASSIE is (Collaborative Analysis System for Sensitive Information Engineering). State of the art computer and is a valuable team member to the unit.
Dr. Robert (Bones) Metfield, Chief of Forensics, Caucasian, medical examiner, born Dumas, Texas ME Tarrant County twenty-five years, 10 year Chief Me six county area Amarillo 62 years old
Greg Ramsey, forensic investigator, Native of New York, 37 years old
Katrina Santos, Latin American, certified medic, forensics investigator, coming from the Taos Police Department and the DEA, 31 years old.
Family life has changed for the seven, as well. Josiah has married Mallory, 43 years old, former leader of ATF team six. When their old ATF teams disbanded and MCAT formed, she was pregnant with their second child and decided to quit working. They have a three year old, Joanne and at the end of Transitions, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Adam.
Buck and Inez are married and have two lovely daughters, Sarah (3) and Maria (1). Nathan and Rain are married as well, Rain finished medical school, works at the Jewell Ave Clinic (in Purgatory area of Denver) and is pregnant with their first child. JD and Casey are married, Casey is pregnant and they live with Nettie Wells on her ranch. The seven and their spouses have formed a real family now They have pooled their resources, and become partners in the horse ranch, Larabee 7, hoping that one day, when law enforcement becomes too much, this ranch will provide their income. Chris still lives in the ranch house, the gathering point of the whole family, while Vin lives there in a smaller house built nearby. Ezra passed the bar and his legal expertise is something the whole family gratefully uses. He still has his townhouse in the city and owns the Standish Tavern where Inez works part-time.
Chris is in love with new neighbor Linda Dubois who, along with her brothers, owns the Southern Breeze horse ranch, which borders Larabee 7 land. She comes from a family with old money, well known for the racehorses they breed. In Transitions Vin married colleague Kelli Coulter and the two Texans live in his house on Larabee 7. The Wilmingtons and The Jacksons have built homes there, also. Josiah and Mallory live in their home on adjoining property.
Size: Approx. 425 K
Chapter 1 - 2 |
Chapter 3 - 5 |
Chapter 6 - 8 |
Chapter 9 - 11
Chapter 12 - 14 | Chapter 15 - 18 | Chapter 19 - Epilogue
I see from my last entry that it has been another two weeks since I took the time to write here. So much has been going on it has been hard to stop for those quiet moments needed to reflect, but I will give it a go this morning. Where do I start? I suppose with the kids. Since Sarah has had her birthday, she thinks she is all grown up and Lord, she is a bossy bit of goods! Maria has her birthday coming up soon and I am glad that she is an assertive child that seems to be able to handle her big sister with no problem. Adam is growing like crazy. He has such a quiet nature and studies everyone that he encounters; he is so much like Josiah. Joanne on the other hand is her mother’s daughter, like Mallory she is self-assured and …well not always quiet. She has had difficulty adjusting to the fact that she is no longer an only child and as she approaches her fourth birthday, it is already clear she will be a leader, not a follower. Josiah has completely healed from the attack that landed him in the hospital a few months ago and he is getting a well-deserved reputation as one of the best profilers in the country
Nathan and JD are anxiously awaiting the births of their firstborns. As we approach the first part of November, both Rain and Casey are due to deliver within the next three to four weeks. Nathan is reading books about parenting and JD just worries about doing it right and adjusting to the idea of twins. Buck and Inez are still trying to decide if they want to add to the two they have. Since Inez is working part-time, she is enjoying her ‘grown-up’ time more and more. Admittedly, Sarah and Maria are more than a handful, but when you add Buck to the mix, it is like having three children at home most of the time. Buck is busy at work training our younger agents and I am proud to say doing a damn good job of it.
Ezra is still single, but I have been watching him. I see the look on his face when he thinks that no one is watching him. I believe our southerner is considering how having a family can enrich his life. All he needs to do now is find the right woman to share his future with and I feel it is only a matter of time before he finds her. I did pair him up at work with Kel and I tell you, the two of them working together is an experience. What one does not think of the other one will. They do make an effective pair, but their methods are exasperating, both tend to walk close to the edge of the rulebook. On the other hand, I guess that I should be used to that by now; after all, I have had enough damn experience dealing with that type of behavior from some other edge-walkers that I know and love.
Vin and Kelli are good together, just as I suspected they would be. Vin has recovered from the most recent attempt on his life and observing the way they handled it I believe they balance each other very well. He gives her stability and a safe haven to free her emotions, two things that were missing in her life. She sooths his restlessness and gives him that inner calm that he was always seeking and could never quite find without having to go off alone. Now they find those things in each other, along with a lot of love. Buck says they are one of the most physical couples he has ever known and coming from Buck that says it all.
I have found a new direction for my life, too. Linda is what I needed; I just did not know it until she came along. Loving her is sometimes like being inside a tornado, but I would not change what she has brought back into my life. When that crazy killer shot Josiah and abducted me, I was afraid that Linda and I would not get the chance to be happy. Thank God, I was wrong and that is all behind us now.
Larabee looked at his watch and closed his journal; it is time to go to work.
The Past Returns
Larabee was waiting patiently for Kelli to find her shoes. It was only six and they still had plenty of time to make it to work on schedule. He watched as she hurried out the door and smiled at the woman, who was the wife of his chosen brother and best friend, Vin Tanner. They married almost six months ago, but she had quickly established a place for herself with the ‘wild bunch’ Chris called family. He had promised his brother he would keep an eye on his young wife while he was gone. Tanner, Standish and Dunne had left a few days earlier on an out of town assignment that would take them several more days to finish. This separation was probably going to result in two hard to get along with Tanners.
“Slow down, we don’t have to hurry. The federal building is not going to disappear and besides I will square it with your boss if you are late.” Chris grinned at the barefooted redhead.
“Considering you are my boss, I would hope so.” She shot him a smile. When she had applied for the MCAT team, she had no idea her life would change so much. She had met Vin and they were married in less than six weeks. She also gained something she had never had, a family. Chris Larabee was the head of that family and treated her like a younger sister. In addition, he was often her partner on a case and her boss. They managed to have a good rapport, both personally and professionally
“It’s too cold to go barefooted.” Chris commented knowing how much she hated wearing shoes. “You gonna put on those shoes or carry them around all day?”
“You are beginning to sound like Tanner,” she laughed. “I’ll get them on, eventually.”
“Let’s go, I get to make the coffee instead of Vin and I plan to enjoy it.” Chris knew that statement would get a reaction from her and he was not disappointed.
“You call what you make coffee? I call it colored water.” This was an argument they now had on a regular basis.
“Lord, Tanner has finally corrupted you, that stuff you two pass off for coffee should be outlawed.”
“Just shut up and drive Larabee.”
When they reached the office it was empty, but soon it would fill with a dozen agents. Chris was satisfied that he had managed to keep Kelli’s mind off the fact that Tanner was gone and she had only mentioned his named a dozen times. *Actually more like twenty times, Larabee, but who’s counting.*
“Good Morning.” Josiah had a huge grin across his face. “Beautiful day,”
A smiling Nathan followed behind and said, “Let me guess, Adam got over his cold and you got to sleep all night.”
“You are right brother and I feel like a new man.” Sanchez was in an exceptional mood. “How’s Rain?”
“Tired of being pregnant, thankfully we only have a few weeks to go, but she is still overseeing the rebuilding of the clinic” Nathan added, “Before Thanksgiving there will be three of us.”
“She is going to continue working at the clinic in Purgatory after the baby comes, right? We need good doctors like her down there.” Until just now Josiah had not considered the possibility of her not working.
“Don’t worry, Josiah, wild horses couldn’t drag her away from there. She might have to cut back her hours a little, but she won’t even think about working somewhere else.” Nathan assured him.
Buck walked in with Mark Westin right behind him. Wilmington headed straight for Kelli with a smile on his face.” I have something that I believe belongs to you.”
“You gonna stand there all day or tell me what it is?”
“This was put in our mailbox instead of yours and I picked it up on my way in this morning.” Buck handed a letter to Kelli and waited to see if she would tell him what it was.
“Thanks, Buck, it’s probably junk mail.” She looked at it and gave no sign of recognizing the name on the return address. “Appreciate it anyway.”
Kelli sat at her desk and looked at the postmark on the letter. *Damn, of all the ones it could have been, why did Buck have to see this one?* Only Vin and Chris knew about her background and she did not want Buck or anyone else speculating about the reason she was receiving mail from Texas. She set it aside, until she had a chance to read it in private.
Her chance came sooner than she expected when Chris stepped out of his office and motioned to her. When she got up to see what he wanted, she stuck the letter in her pocket.
“If you want to talk to Tanner, he’s on the phone, use his office for some privacy,” Chris smiled and said, “Line 2”
“Thanks.” Kelli quickly made her way to Vin’s office and they talked for twenty minutes before he had to go. She loved to listen to his sexy drawl and missed the sound of his voice here and at home. Now she was not sure if she felt better or worse having talked to him *Lord, Kel, he has only been gone a few days. Your problem is that Vin has spoiled you and now you’re addicted to his presence. Do you think you are going to make it without him for a whole week or more?*
She decided to take the opportunity and read her letter while she had the privacy. Kelli had been corresponding with Walter for the last four months and felt as if she knew him. Walter Andrews was one of the officers who were there, when she was found in San Antonio so many years ago and had never given up on her case, even after retirement. Information that Chris received from him gave her some answers to questions that had haunted her for years. She wrote to thank the detective for not forgetting her and they soon were writing on a regular basis. Their letters went from a thank you, to how are you and then a strange sort of friendship developed. Vin knew about it, but never asked to read the letters because he recognized that Walter was a surrogate therapist for her, someone safe that she could talk freely to, about her past.
Three times, she read it and yet she could not believe the words. Could it be? No, it could not be this easy. After all this time, all the dead ends, all the questions, was it possible? *What do you do now, Kel? You are a grown woman, a federal agent and you can handle this, by yourself. Think!*
She picked up the phone and dialed, “Linda … Can you meet me for lunch?”
At the restaurant
Kelli watched her friend as she walked across the room, concerned about her appearance, but waited until she sat down to ask.
“Linda, you look like hell. Are you okay?”
“It’s nothing, a twenty-four hour thing, and I’m on the twenty-fifth hour of it.”
“Maybe this was not such a good idea, you should be home in bed, not here with me.”
“You said you needed my help, so let me help. What do you need?
“I…” Kelli hesitated. “Forget it this was not one of my better ideas.”
“I will not! You hardly ever ask me for anything, Lord knows I have tried to get you to time and again. Whatever it is it’s yours just tell me.” Linda may not be at her best, but she was not going to let Kelli back out of asking for her help.
“No, I just realized, if you do this for me you’d have to be untruthful to Chris and I won’t let you do that.”
“Kelli Coulter Tanner, you let me decide what I will or won’t do! Now tell me, you know I don’t need an explanation.”
“I need to get away for a few days, but with Vin gone, Chris is keepin’ a very close watch on me. I would have to give him details that I do not want to give. If he thought I was helpin’ you with somethin’, he might give me the time off and not question where I was going.”
“You need me to cover for you. This is a switch because usually you are the one covering for me.” Linda laughed. “You leave it to me, how long do you need?”
“Two maybe three days, I’m not sure,”
“Consider it done, now let’s have lunch, suddenly I’m hungry.”
Coulter had been back at the office for over two hours not really concentrating on her work. She sent an e-mail to Walter giving him her answer so he could start making plans and now she just needed to work out things from this end. It was three when Chris called her into his office.
“Kel, I will get straight to the point, I need a favor,” Chris was not comfortable with this, but he had made up his mind to try. “Linda has been down with some kind of bug and is just now starting to feel better. Her brother called and said he needs some help for a few days and I just do not think she is up to it. She told me you could go in her place, if I could spare you. You would have to use some personal days, but it’s up to you.”
“Of course I’ll do it for her, if you can do without me. To be honest sittin’ in there lookin’ at Vin’s empty office is very distractin’ for me.” Kelli forced a smile, feeling a twinge of guilt and said, “Besides I doubt Linda would agree for anyone else to stand in for her.”
“I can spare you, but not for long. Take my truck and you can leave now to get with Linda. She said she would make all the arrangements and fill you in. I’ll ride home with Buck.” Chris grinned and added, “Just be sure to keep your cell on so Tanner can find you or he might get a bit cranky.”
“You’re not afraid of a cranky Vin are you?” She teased. * I owe you Linda.*
“Hell, no, but just the same make sure you stay in touch.” Chris added, “Just watch your back and stay safe.”
An hour later Kelli was home packing, She called the airline and booked a flight out at six and then called Linda to make sure she knew where was supposed to be, if anyone asked. One more call to Walter with her flight number and she was ready to leave. She looked around to make sure she had not forgotten anything and suddenly felt a chill down her spine. *Just nerves, Kel.* With the door locked she put her bag in her truck, finding an ‘I miss you’ note from Vin on the front seat. After reading it, she made a quick check on her horses and the left for the airport. If things went as they should she would be in Dallas by eight-thirty.
Walter met her at the airport and since they had exchanged pictures, it was easy for her to find him in the crowd. *For better or worse, Kel maybe this will finally be the time to put the past where it belongs, once and for all.* She put on her best smile and went to meet the man that waited for her.
“Kelli? I’m Walter and it is a pleasure to see you in person, I feel like I have known you for a lifetime.”
“Walter, it’s good to finally see you face to face, thanks for meetin’ me.” She shook his hand, “I suppose you have known me for a lifetime, for most of my mine, anyway.”
“Let’s get your bags and then I will treat you to a late supper, we have a lot to discuss.”
Walter took her to a country style restaurant that had great food. They ate and made small talk before discussing why she really came here.
“That was a great meal. Walter, I didn’t realize how much I missed good Texas cookin’.” Now that it was time to discuss this, Kelli was beginning to get nervous. *God, I wish Vin was here.*
“I guess the best place to start is to tell you the meetin’ is set for tomorrow noon. However, I did take the liberty of settin’ certain conditions for you. There is no easy way to say this so ‘m just gonna say it. I don’t want you to be blindsided by this woman. This will not be a cozy, comfortable reunion for you. This woman may look like you, but that is where the similarity ends, she is a cold calculatin’ bitch, excuse my language. She only came lookin’ for you because she wants somethin’, but I made sure she will have to pay up first.” Walter picked up his glass for some water.
“Walter, you told me that in your letter, I do appreciate the warnin’ and everythin’ else you did. The fact that you had the DNA tested and confirmed before you told me shows your heart is in the right place. So whatever else I need to know just tell me, I can handle it.” She placed her hand over his and squeezed.
“I told her you would hear what she had to say, but first she has to produce a birth certificate and family medical history…” He hesitated, “I also told her she had to prove who your father was and bring all that with her, along with a damned good explanation. She agreed to tell you everythin’ and all you have to do is listen to what she wants. I’ll be close by, but she wants your talk to be just you and her.” Walter was just glad to have it all out in the open.
“Okay, it sounds like a small price to pay for all that. If that’s it, I need to get to my hotel, my husband will be callin’ soon and I would prefer to be settled in before he does.”
Walter took her to her hotel and waited until she had a room key before he left her, they agreed he would pick her up at eleven. She had only been in her room for ten minutes when Vin called and they spent the next hour heating up the phone line, describing in detail to one another the loving they planned for his homecoming.
She failed to mention that she was in Texas instead of Louisiana because he had enough to concern him with the case they were working. He did not need to worry about her, too.
*Okay, Kel you can handle whatever happens and by this time tomorrow, you will have all your answers and be on your way home. All you have to do is meet this woman, it could not be that bad, after all… she is your mother.*
*Almost complete, that Marissa bitch will start the chain of events that will finally destroy Larabee. She will serve me well and is worth every dime that she coerced for her part in my plan. What a stroke of luck to come across this woman .Larabee’s best friend will pay along with his personal whore and both will suffer the torment of betrayal. Once Tanner leaves, I will start on the next one until Christopher is finally alone. He will watch helplessly as one by one his precious family members pay for his interference in my life. I will let Larabee wallow in his guilt first and then, I will destroy his future.
Christopher will not be so high and mighty when I finish with him.*
One thing alone not even God can do,
To make undone whatever hath been done.
She was ready by ten-thirty and pacing her room. Hell, she was ready before dawn because sleep was hard to come by last night. The only thing that made her morning good was a call from Vin, telling her they would be finished by Friday. That meant he would be home for the weekend and they talked about going to their cabin for a couple of days for some private time. The phone rang again and this time it was Walter, telling her he was in the lobby waiting for her, whenever she was ready.
An outdoor restaurant was chosen for the meet and when Kelli arrived she was fifteen minutes early. Walter gave her a chance to back out if she wanted.
“If you are sure you still wanna do this, I’ll wait down the block, but if you’re not we can leave and forget the whole damn thing.” He waited for her to consider his offer because he had a bad feeling about this and did not want to see her get hurt.
“I appreciate your concern, but I want to get this over with. I’ll see you when we finish.” Kelli waited for him to leave and then put her mind back to where she was. Pulling up her old defenses, the ones that Vin had not totally demolished, she hoped she was ready for whatever was about to happen. She did not have to wait long.
“Well, I am glad to see that you are prompt. I really am not hungry so why don’t we get down to business?” The woman that swept in and sat down was an attractive redhead in her early forties, she had blue eyes that held no warmth and manicured hands that had seen little work. “I do hope that wretched man explained to you this is strictly confidential, I do not want a relationship and my family is not to know about you. When we finish our dealings, we can both pretend this meeting never took place. Are we clear?
“Crystal. Did you bring me the information I requested?” Kelli forced herself to fall back on old patterns in order to stay seated. To anyone watching they would indeed believe this was a business meeting.*You have been here before, Kel.*
“Everything you wanted to know is in this folder along with the proof you asked for. I really see no need in telling you when you can read it for yourself.” The woman seemed to be hurried, cold and indifferent.
“I think you need to tell me, you owe me a least that much.” Kelli was not going to make it easy for this woman to dismiss her.
“Very well, to make a long story short, I screwed a guy that turned out to be a bastard. I got pregnant, left school and went home. My father made all the arrangements and once the baby… you were born, he found a way to get you out of the picture and I went back to my life. Of course, I had to go to another school but then I met my first husband and that worked out okay because he turned out to be loaded. It is all there, even the information about where he sent you. I did not look at it so you will have to read about that part yourself. Once you were gone, I never gave it second thought, until I got sick, then I hired detectives to look for you and they found Walter, I never asked how.”
“What happened when you told my father you were pregnant?”
“I never told that SOB anything and I never spoke to him again. Now if we could…”
“Not so fast, I think I would like to see what you have in the folder first.” Kelli took the file and opened it. It did appear she had everything, including an original birth certificate and then she saw a name she wished she had not. Taking a deep breath and calling on ever ounce of strength she had, she asked her next question. “You are positive this is all correct?” *God, please tell me she is a liar, too.*
“Of course I am positive, now if we could continue, I need a kidney transplant. My other children do not match as donors and if you do, I will make sure to compensate you, for your trouble. The test will only take…” She never had a chance to finish.
“You found me so you can buy one of my kidneys! That is the reason you finally acknowledged the fact you have an illegitimate daughter!’ Kelli’s temper took over her part of the conversation.
“Will you keep your voice down, please? Yes, why else would I look for you, I do not even know you. Name your price, after four husbands I can afford whatever amount you ask for and I did keep my end of this. I gave you what you wanted.”
Kelli was too angry to stay here and got up to leave. Not only did this person not have any interest in her, she just gave her information that was sure to destroy her marriage, her career and her own peace of mind. “No… no… you could never give me what I wanted…you would have to be human to do that … and you do not even come close to being that.”
Somehow, she managed to keep herself controlled and walked down the block to meet Walter. He took one look at her face and decided not to ask any questions, He had been a police detective for over twenty-five years and knew now was not the time for a discussion, instead he just drove around until Kelli was ready to say something. It was almost an hour before she said a word.
“Walter, you still have some connections. If I gave you two DNA files to have compared, how long would it take and how much would it cost to have no names involved?”
“I assume you want paternity results. Time- wise, if the files are complete, twenty-four hours or less. Money- wise would depend on how complicated it is to get the records and how secret you want the results.”
“I can get the information and I do not want any names attached. What would five thousand dollars buy me?”
“I have to go to the bank and then I could do with access to a computer.”
Once the DNA files were in Walter’s hands she had him take her back to the hotel. She made it to her room, locked the door, turned off her phone, stripped and got into the shower. Only then did she give into the gut wrenching pain and tears she had held back. In her heart, she already knew what the test results would confirm. Circumstances, she could not control had set her life on a path through hell, before she was born. She had overcome many difficult challenges to make her way to a place that she finally found love and thought she had a place to belong. Now all of that was shattered and she was alone with the possibility of no husband, family or home that she could go back to again.
* Kel, what about Vin? How do you protect him? You just got past the scare of almost losing him when that car struck him. What makes you think that you can you let him go and still survive?*
Larabee 7 evening
Linda was staying with Chris, at his insistence until she felt better. She knew Chris and Buck had business to discuss, so she curled up in a chair and read while they worked. About eight the phone rang and being the closest Buck answered.
“Larabee7 … Vin, how are things in Seattle? … No, I have not … I’m sure Chris knows... Hang on…Chris you need to talk to him.” Buck handed the phone to Larabee.
“Vin I … No...I…Dammit! ... I am sure there are good reasons…She’s here, hang on …Linda what is your brother’s phone number?”
“You mean Matthew? Why do you need his number?”*What now?*
“I don’t Vin does, something must be wrong with Kel’s phone and he wants to call her, so …” Chris waited still holding the phone.
“I … offhand I don’t remember. Tell him you’ll call him back and I’ll… get it.” Linda stumbled for an answer.*Damn! Damn! Damn!*
“Vin, let me call you back in a few minutes…I promise, just relax ...okay.” Chris hung up and turned to face Linda.
“You want to tell me what is going on?” Larabee was almost afraid to hear her answer.
Linda sighed, “I don’t know really. Kel just said she needed some time away without a lot of questions and I did not ask. I never thought that she would not tell Vin where she was going.” *Kelli, I do not know what you are doing, but it had better be worth this.*
“You just let her go, no questions asked? You made up the story about your brother?” Chris ran his fingers through his short hair and paced, “Christ …Vin! ...What in the hell do I say to him? Oh, by the way I lost your wife!”
“You tell him she is a grown woman and if she wants to talk to him she will do it. If she doesn’t there is nothing you or I can do about it.” Linda did not like where this was leading.
“That is assuming she is able to make those decisions or did you forget the work we do? We do make enemies! I am sure you remember our serial killer with the hunting knife, don’t you? Chris snapped at Buck. “Page Kel, now on the MCAT pager, she is supposed to have it with her!”
“Chris, I am certain that you are overreacting…” Linda started to speak.
“I have seen agents die because of inaction by their superiors, and I have seen enough homicides to know young, attractive females are prime targets. Agents families get killed because…” He stopped for a moment. “Kel is my agent and part of this family, dammit. You know as well as I do she would talk to Vin if she could.” Chris continued to pace and when the phone rang he prayed it was Kelli returning her page, but it was Tanner instead. He told him what he could and where she was not, but it was not enough. The Texan needed to know where she was.
“I don’t know Vin, but I will find out, maybe her phone battery crashed and she can’t get another one until morning.... Don’t worry … No, you stay put for now …If we don’t hear from her by morning … then… we’ll go from there….Vin …I know that! Hell, stop yelling and put Ez on the phone. Chris waited and heard the curses over the phone line. “Standish, you make sure that hard headed Texan doesn’t do something stupid…. I know I was supposed to keep an eye on her… Dammit Ez, one of you needs to stay calm …I will …Watch out for him, in the frame of mind he’s in now he could do anything” Larabee’s voice softened, “Yeah, I do know how he feels.”
Linda suddenly realized how this brought back old memories for Chris. He had lost his wife and child because of the job and here he was reliving those fears again.*God, Linda, what have you done?*
Kelli waited in the lobby for Walter; he said he would be here in thirty minutes when he called. She had already checked out of the hotel and was ready to leave. The cell phone in her hand had thirty-two unanswered calls and five pages. Some of the calls were from, Linda, and Chris, but the rest were from Vin.
*Not yet, Kel, get your head together first, Vin would know immediately something was wrong. What could you tell him? Sorry baby, you need to make a choice your family or me because they would never accept the truth. Right, like you would ask him to do that. Even if you did and he chose you, Kel, he would resent it and you before too long. Your anger or his would destroy both of you. So, you take the cowards ways out and say nothing, but you have come this far you might as well see it all the way through. Hell, you were probably the one meant to do this anyway. Then…maybe…hell! Maybe what? Maybe you don’t stay angry, maybe you lie and say it doesn’t matter maybe…*
“Kelli? ... Kelli! ...” Walter was trying to get her attention.
“Sorry. Do you have it?”
“Yeah I do, but are you gonna be okay? Why don’t you let me call Vin and…”
“No! Walter I appreciate what you have done and I am grateful that you never gave up. However, the rest of this is somethin’ I need to do own my own and right now, I cannot talk to Vin or anyone else about it. I didn’t try to hide my trail here to Dallas, so sometime within the next day or two, you will probably be hearin’ from my husband. Don’t lie to him, tell him the truth.” Kelli fought back tears and stopped to compose herself.
“Aren’t you even going to see the results before you make a decision? Please tell me where you are going so at least …”
“I will look at it, but I already know what it says and I will not tell you where I am going. You cannot give information about somethin’ you don’t know. I do promise though that I will contact you within a week, okay.” She gave him a hug, “Now go home, please.” She watched as Walter reluctantly left and then she headed for the sedan she had rented. Once safely inside the car she opened the envelope, Walter had given her. It only confirmed that this nightmare was real and that her mother may be many things but she…was not a liar, about her parentage.
*Another trip into hell, Kelli, but then you have been there before.*
Chris Larabee had Orrin Travis on the phone by six and his team in the office by seven, on standby status. Normally a missing persons report, for an adult could not go out until after twenty-four hours, but this was not just any person. Kelli Coulter was a federal agent that was not responding to her work pages and more importantly, as Kelli Coulter Tanner she was family. The part that Chris hated was that once they launched a team search, her life and Vin’s would be an open book. People that really had no business knowing those things would invade their bank records, credit cards, martial details and both of their pasts.
“Chris, maybe we should keep this in the family, at least until Vin gets here and we talk to him.” Buck was concerned about the same invasion of privacy that Chris was.
“Just what in the hell do you think we should do, Buck?” Chris snapped. “Wait until we get a call to identify a body? What would that do to Vin.”
“We don’t know that she is in trouble, maybe she and Vin had a argument, maybe she really did just want a few days away.” Buck tried to reason with Chris. He knew his old friend was taking this too personally. This was not the same as it was with Sarah and Adam, but right now, all Chris could see was a bad outcome. “Josiah, Nathan and I can check on some things quietly and then, if we need help we will ask for it.”
“Buck …I…Alright, but only until Tanner gets here and I‘d bet the ranch he will be here before noon.” Chris was still anxious because he did not want Vin to go through what he did when he lost Sarah. “Do what you can, I’m going to make some phone calls and see what I can come up with.”
Ten minutes until twelve Vin, Ezra and JD rushed in the door. The Texan strode angrily to Chris’ office expecting some answers. One look at Larabee told him there was nothing new. Tanner threw a folder on Chris’ desk. “The details of the Seattle case are in there, we did our job!” Before he could say more all of the brothers came in to join them.
“Vin, sit down and let us tell you what we know.” Chris explained why he gave her the days off. “We decided to wait until you were here to decide about making this a team case or keep it in the family.”
“We did some checking. Kelli made reservations for a flight to Dallas Monday night she traveled under the Tanner name so it was probably personal and not business related. She stayed two days at the Marriott and checked out late Wednesday night, but did not book a return flight. As of yet, we do not know what she did from there. We requested the phone records from you home to see who she might have talked to before she left and should have them within the hour.” Buck hoped Vin could tell them more. “I hate to even ask, but is there maybe an old boyfriend or…”
“Dammit Buck, there is no ex anything or anybody! What in the hell are you thinking?” Vin knew for fact that there were no ex’s hanging around, and resented the implication of the question. “Buck…”
“Sorry, Vin, but you know that’s a question I had to ask.” Wilmington felt bad and wanted to help, but did not know how to ease his brother’s worry.
“Brother, any problems between you two in the last few weeks? Did you maybe have a misunderstanding or any harsh words the last time you spoke to her? It has happened to all of us a one time or another. Maybe…” Josiah stopped.
“No! Even if we did Kelli wouldn’t run off because of it, she’d be here givin’ me hell about it! No, this is somethin’ else.” Vin jumped up and tried to pace the small room.
“Has she had any illness, we don’t know about? Is there a possibility she might be pregnant? Pregnant ladies do some strange things sometimes.” Nathan had learned firsthand about that.
“She hasn’t been sick and she’s not pregnant.” Vin saw Nathan’s raised brow. ”Yeah, Nate I know that for sure,” Vin sighed. “If she went to Dallas that gives me a place to start, Chris ‘m taking time off, I won’t be back until I find her.” The Texan started for the door.
“Vin! Wait. The last I heard Texas was a big state, it might take all of us to cover it.” Chris stopped him, “We can do it as a team or we can do it as family, your call.”
“Texas! Damn why didn’t I remember? She got a letter from there Monday from…hell I don’t know from who, but I know it was postmarked from somewhere in Texas.” Buck mentally kicked himself for not thinking of it earlier.
“The only person that would…” Vin and Chris thought of Walter at the same time. *Chris?*
*Yeah, I have it.*
Buck may not know what they were saying, but he knew enough to clear the room and give them some privacy. He herded everyone out and Chris found Walter’s number. Tanner called and got him on the second ring, surprised to find out he had been waiting for Vin’s call. Twenty minutes later had arrangements completed for Walter to meet the Texan at the Dallas airport.
“Well, I may not know where she is, but I at least know what she is doing,” Vin sighed. “Damn, this never ends for her! She met her mother, but accordin’ to Walter It didn’t go well … not well at all. I don’t understand how we could have missed this in our investigation, but we did. My best guess is now she is tryin’ to track down her father. Andrews did say she found out that much.”
“I hope that if she finds him, the sonofabitch has a damned good explanation for her. What did her mother tell her?” Chris was angry on Kelli’s behalf.
“I won’t know til I get to Dallas, and I still don’t know why she won’t talk to me.” Vin was tired and concerned about his wife. All of the boys came back into the office to see what they could do for their brother.
“I’ll go with you, Vin, you don’t have to do this alone.” Chris was prepared to go and keep watch on his best friend.
“Chris, the team needs you here, I’ll go. I may not know what’s going on, but I do know how to take care of a stubborn Tanner.” Buck grinned as one by one all of the brothers made their case to go with Tanner.
“Nonsense, you all have families to take care of I don’t, so I’ll go.” Ezra had already made up his mind to go with his friend and brother. Vin didn’t need Larabee or Wilmington hovering over him. Besides, whatever they had to do might not follow the rulebook and Standish was the best at breaking the rules. “Vin, let me help, my … special talents may be required.”
Vin looked at his brothers all so eager to help and he knew any one of them would do it. He also knew Chris would not hear of him going off alone. When he thought about what he might need to do, he considered Ezra to be the logical choice and Standish knew how to keep things confidential. “Chris, you do need to be here for the unit and while I appreciated y’all for offerin’, I think Ez and I can handle whatever needs to be done.”
“Vin …. I.” Chris sighed, “Watch your back and bring her home where she belongs.”