Chapter 1 - 2 |
Chapter 3 - 5 |
Chapter 6 - 8 |
Chapter 9 - 11
Chapter 12 - 14 | Chapter 15 - 18 | Chapter 19 - Epilogue
Friday 6:30 am.
“Chris, I will supervise the clean up, you might want to see Ms. Dubois before she comes looking for you.” Ezra suggested.
“He’s right and unless you want her to see all of this, you best go to her.” Vin agreed. “I’ll come back and pick up Kel, but first ‘m gonna check on Hunter and set up some more safety measures for the other horses. Have you warned Ben to add extra security at Linda’s ranch?”
“Yeah, I called him and he said he would take care of it. Put Rodney in charge here until…George is able to come back.” Chris ran his fingers through his hair and sighed, “You want me to tell Kel about the bay?”
“No, I’ll do it, Midnight’s with his mama, ‘m gonna put Bri, Sandy and the foals in with them, while the others are taken out.” Vin hesitated, “I just can’t believe the others are…”
“Vin, let me take care of them for you. It is not necessary for you to oversee that, too.” Ezra knew how hard it would be on Tanner to see the slain horses taken away.
“Thanks Ez, I appreciate it.” Tanner went to see to Hunter and Chris went to see to Linda.
Chris was unmovable. “Linda, this is how it will be, you will stay with Mallory and Casey until this is over!”
“Look Larabee, you don’t have the right to tell me where I can and can’t go! I don’t see you ordering Kel to hide!” Linda was adamant.
“Fine, as of now you are in protective custody. You want me to handcuff you or do you go willingly?” Chris was not going to play games with her life.
Linda was stunned. “You would do that?”
“Damn straight I would I do not have time to argue with you, Linda, you either trust me or you don’t!”
“Is it that serious? “ She was now more scared than stunned, not for herself, but for Chris.
“Yes and I need to know you are safe.” His voice was just above a whisper.
“Okay, but I have a list of things Inez needs and …”
“Vin will take care of that.” Chris pulled her close for a hug. “Everything will be fine, just trust me.” Together they gathered her some clothes and he took her to stay with Mallory.
MCAT Office Noon-Friday
Larabee had a meeting with Travis at eleven, while The Tanners went to the hospital to take essentials for Buck and Inez. The U.S. Marshal’s office provided extra officers for the protection of the team members’ immediate families and at the hospital.
“Justin! My office now!” The Larabee bellow rang across the entire twelfth floor.
All eyes went to Michaels who only shrugged his shoulder and then went into Chris’ office. “Sir.”
“It’s Chris and you can sit down. The last six months have taught us a few things about the needs of this unit. The last twenty-four have shown the need for alternative leadership.” Chris looked Justin in the eye. “I would like to think that either Tanner or Wilmington would be available if I was… incapacitated or unavailable for any reason, however, last night proved how easily that can happen. Buck will be out for at least eight weeks. I want you to take the number three position on the teams until he returns.”
“Sir…Chris, I am more than willing to do what I can, but Coulter handled things well and there are other …”He stopped when Larabee raised his hand in a halting motion.
“I agree and Kelli did do well, but you have seniority over her. I need, JD on CASSIE, Sanchez as profiler and Jackson as our team medic. Standish…well let’s just say Ezra has special talents that are needed on other areas. You are the next senior agent, you want the position it’s yours.”
“Thank you for your confidence. What do you need first?” Justin was ready.
“Captain Tanner will walk you through what is needed. I will make the announcement at the team meeting in…ten minutes.” Chris dismissed him
They filed in the room quietly, no jokes, no banter and all tired. On each of their faces, Chris saw different emotions ranging from anger to fear.
“First off, the report on Agent Wilmington is encouraging and the Doctors are starting to wean him off of the breathing machines. He is facing a long recovery, but his prognosis is good. Second, until he returns Agent Michaels will take over his duties, if you need assistance and either Captain Tanner or I are unavailable go to Justin.
Now, concerning yesterday, we had a breakdown on certain levels that we need to address. We are replacing our pagers/phones with ones that have text communication features that we can use even in hospitals, added alert levels, and installed GPS tracking. JD will have those ready for us in a few days. Let me add that all of you did an excellent job last night. You moved as a unit and did what was necessary without waiting for direction. While I would never encourage cowboy tactics, I appreciate seeing this unit operate in such an efficient manner and thanks go to Agent Coulter for securing the scene for MCAT.”
“Chris, I know the Marshal’s are at the hospital, but shouldn’t one of us be there?” JD was worried about Buck.
“We do have someone there; Orrin Travis is in the room with Buck and is prepared to stay a while. He felt we should work on this as a unit and I am confident no one will get past him. Nathan, I want you there also, Inez is not to be alone and I am concerned about Rain.”
“We have already decided to stay close to the hospital with her due date only three days from now. I’ll make sure Travis doesn’t overdo either.” Nathan assured before he left.
“Paul, I want you there as backup and remember no one gets to Wilmington.” Chris moved to the next assignment. “Josiah I’d like your input as a profiler, but I will understand if you feel the need to be with Mallory and the kids”
“Mallory is a very capable woman and the Marshal’s are there too. I can be more help here,” Josiah answered. “I can already tell you from what I have seen that whoever this is has a dangerous mentality, is imbalanced and obsessed with blaming you for all the wrong in his or her life. It is personal, but I believe it stems from some case you have worked on, not something you personally have done outside of work.”
“Pam and I will start pulling old cases and running them thru CASSIE.” JD stated
“How many are we talking about?” Mark asked
“If you count those cases before MCAT, I would guess between the ATF and eleven years with the DPD, several hundred.” JD answered, not missing the look of awe on Mark’s face.
“What about the video from the parking garage and the stables?’ Chris hoped one or the other would produce something.
“Sorry, nothing yet, Chris.” Pam answered.
“Chris, we cannot ignore the pictures, we know what happened to Buck, but the ones of Vin and Kelli must mean something.” Josiah hesitated, “It might have some connection to the hell of the last few weeks.”
“I know, I have already thought about that I just did not want all the details public knowledge.” Chris looked to Kelli and knew she realized they had no choice, but to assume a connection. He just hoped they could keep information away from nosy reporters.
Justin looked up, “Is this something that has to do with this case?”
Kelli hesitated briefly and then answered. “I have not been on vacation the last few weeks. When I was in Texas, I met, for the first time, with my birth mother and received some unexpected information about my natural family. It was a disturbin’ experience and I took personal time off to deal with it. However, I was able to confirm that Commander Larabee and I are related. How that connects to this, I have no idea.”
“If we discover a connection then we will explain in more detail. For now, Kat you and Ramsey stay on top of forensics, Justin you take Mark and show him what to look for in the old case files. Ezra and JD stay, I want to talk to you both. The rest of you, go dig.” Chris put his hand on Kelli’s shoulder indicating she stay. A nod to Josiah said the same thing and after the rest of the team, left Tanner closed the door.
“Kel, I hate to drag this up. I know what was in the papers Marissa gave you and what she told Vin and Ezra, but I need to know what else she told you. What reason did she give for wanting to find you?’” Chris needed the whole story to decide if it had anything to do with the message.
“Do you really think that is necessary?” She looked around the room at the men that were now her family. Then she felt Vin’s hands on her shoulders. She did not want to reopen the scars that were now healing, but knew that she had no choice. “She basically repeated what was in the folder only with more colorful adjectives,” she sighed. “Said I was not to contact her family that this was a one time meetin’ and she had a business proposition for me. The only reason she had detectives look for me was to …Supposedly she is sick and needs a kidney transplant… She offered to pay me for one of my kidneys if I was a match… none of her other children were and she said I could name my price. All I had to do was take some damn test … Said this way we both would get somethin’ we wanted. I got angry and told her off and then left.” Kelli played with the pen in her hands and did not look up.
Josiah noted the reactions around the room. While JD was mad, Chris and Vin were angry. Ezra however wore a puzzled look. “Brother Standish, something on your mind?”
“You said kidney transplant, yet when we saw her she was drinking and did not look ill. I may not have maximum knowledge in the medical field, but I do not believe dialysis patients are permitted to partake in the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Furthermore, wouldn’t she be on some kind of waiting list?”
JD hit the computer terminal and began a search. “If Marissa Lyons is on a list we will know in a matter of…” everyone waited until he turned and answered. “Nope, she’s not, at least not anywhere in Texas or on the National database.”
“I don’t understand, if she was lyin’ what could she accomplish? The only other thing she did was give me proof about Chris and how would that serve her interest?” Kelli thought for a moment, “JD how did you know her name?”
JD was busy entering searches and took a few minute to answer. “It might be coincidence but Ms. Lyons made a bank deposit the morning that you met her, for $500,000 and another one two days later for another $200,000. As to how I know…I made a few inquiries and found it in some open files.”
“Can you find out who else dug through those other files before you blocked ‘em?” Vin instincts said those files were connected to this somehow.
”It may take a while, but yeah.” JD started another search.
Josiah spoke to Kelli, “Someone knows who you are and that you are married to Chris’ best friend. If that someone knows Chris, they would be able to predict his reaction. He does not hide his feelings about family as well as he might think. They wanted him to suffer and unfortunately you became a part of it.”
“You mean all of the last few weeks were set up just to make Chris feel guilty about somethin’ he never knew. She never wanted… It was all about money! She lied about the transplant and we went through all that pain, anger and torment just so some sick bastard…I almost walked away… I…” Kelli looked at Vin. “I could have lost everythin’ I care about…”
The Texan now had her facing him. “But you didn’t and we made it through all the rest, let it go, Kel. We’re okay and we are gonna stay that way.”
Chris spoke softly, but his voice carried throughout the room. “I want this bastard.”
There was a knock on the conference room door and Justin came in with a message. “Paul just called and Nathan is in the ER, someone shot at them in the hospital parking lot and Jackson was hit.”
Emergency Room Friday 1:30pm.
Chris grumbled, “As much time as we spend here they ought to give us our own room to wait in.” He walked the length of the room and back again. “Damn! We knew and this still happened!”
Josiah stood in front of Larabee. “We can’t cover every possibility, you know that.”
“I know, but maybe we should double the guard on Mal and the kids.” Chris thought about a pregnant Linda and Casey, too.
Vin tried to give him some comfort. “Chris, Mallory was an ATF team leader and Linda spent a year on the police force, with both of them armed I don’t think there is much to worry about there. Between them and the Marshals a man would be a fool to try anythin’.”
A slow smile began on Larabee’s face, “You’re probably right, they can be a might strong at times.”
Josiah smiled at the thought. “Yep, God help anyone that tries to get to those kids.”
Dr. Landers came down the hall with Orrin Travis. “Chris let’s go to a private area.” Travis instructed and led the way to a smaller room. “Close the door JD. First of all Nathan is fine, it was a flesh wound, however, we are listing him in critical condition. The doctor is moving Buck to another room and Jackson will be there with him. The less the outside world knows the better.”
“Mr. Wilmington is doing better and can be moved out of ICU, no status reports will be given on either patient.” The Doctor explained. “By tomorrow you will be able to talk to him, but tonight he needs rest. Of course, this keeps up and I will know your entire team personally.” Dr Landers smiled.
Chris nodded. “I was going to Dallas to question Marissa Lyons, since she is the only lead we have at the moment.”
“Let’s get her here instead. I will have a warrant issued for her arrest as a material witness. The Marshals can bring her to you.” Orrin offered
“Tell them to make it quick, I don’t want any more of my team in here, no offense doc.” Chris was ready to find some answers.
“‘M gonna go find Ezra and Kel, they went to see Inez.” Vin was out the door.
“JD, go with him, no one goes anywhere alone.” Larabee ordered.
Larabee, Travis and Sanchez walked back into the hall and ran into Justin, “I was looking for you, Chris, we found where the shooter waited and the lab is already working on the evidence we collected. I have Westin and Cordova here to stay with The Wilmington’s and Mrs. Jackson. Pam says she found something you might want to see that CASSIE came up with and I made a check on Mrs. Sanchez. Everything is fine out that way.”
“Thanks, Justin. We are heading back to the office, now. Make sure everyone moves in pairs, I do not want anyone solo until we find this bastard. Josiah go with him, I’ll see you at the office.”
Travis put his hand on Chris’ shoulder, “Hang in there, we have the best on this and we will find the sonofabitch. I will make the call on that warrant and then I am spending the rest of the day and night with a couple of friends upstairs.”
MCAT Office Friday 3:00p.m.
“Whatever you have Pam bring it to the war room.” Chris did not slow down as he marched through the office.
Once they were there Pam started.” I finished running the program JD started and found two hits on the information about Kel. One was from a man in Texas by the name of Jacobs.”
“I know who that is and he’s a friend of mine that was helpin’ me. Who else?” Vin accounted for that name and realized that whoever this was must have found out about Marissa after Jacobs did his search.
“The other one traces back to Deveraux Communications. I cross-referenced that name against your past cases and came up with this from over seven years ago. Clayton Deveraux and his two sons were involved with the sale of illegal weapons here in Denver. Chris, you and your team were the lead investigators on that case.” Pam waited for Larabee to think about it.
“Deveraux… He and his sons died in a warehouse explosion didn’t they?” Chris vaguely remembered the details.
“Yes, but he was survived by his wife and one brother, Rachel and Phillip” Pam read the names.
“Phillip was an imbecile, but also very sadistic.” Ezra recalled, “That man is not smart enough to orchestrate this.”
“What about his widow?” Josiah asked, “What do we know about her?”
“Not much, yet, but let me get CASSIE on it.” Pam hesitated. “I did make one mistake” She looked at Kelli. “I accidentally deleted the original files concerning Kel and there is no way to restore them. I guess I was in too much of a hurry.”
Kelli gave her friend a look of gratitude “Accidents happen to all of us, don’t worry about it, it wasn’t that important anyway.”
Chris scanned through the case file reacquainting himself with the details. The phone rang and Vin answered it, after listening for a moment he said, “That’s good, have them come straight through and we’ll be here waitin’.” Turning to the others he explained, “The Dallas Marshals have Marissa in custody and are on their way here as we speak, they should be here by seven.”
“I bet she’s thrilled about it.” Kelli remarked.
“She might not be, but I am looking forward to it.” Chris said in a low voice. “It’s past time for a class reunion.”
“You are sure Jackson is critical? Good work, now I think act three is ready. Bring me the women. Larabee will have a ringside seat to watch both his children die.”
*Christopher I have waited over seven years for this and now you will experience my hell.*
But man is not made for defeat.
“What do you mean they have Marissa in custody? You should have killed that bitch when you had the chance, Phillip. You never could do anything right! You told her too much and she knows what you look like. How long do you think it will take them to find out who you are? I have waited long too long to have this fucked up now! Larabee will try to protect his whores, but you will find out how. I do not care how much it costs or who you have to pay off or kill. Find them and bring them here tonight! Tomorrow they will both die and Larabee will serve out his life sentence in hell”.
Marissa Lyons was not a happy woman; in fact, she had not stopped complaining since they left Dallas. The two U.S. Marshals assigned to her were more than glad to turn her over to Commander Larabee. Chris refused to let Kelli confront her and Vin insisted he was going to be in the room during her questioning. A lively disagreement resulted.
“I should be the one to confront her.” Kelli pled her case. “I let her get by with lying to me once and as a result started a helluva lot of trouble. I won’t let it happen again.”
“Kel, you are not going near that woman.” Vin argued ardently, as far as he was concerned that woman had done enough damage.
“Agent Coulter you have your orders, you will stay out here and not interfere. Are we clear?” Chris snapped.
“Oh, Agent Coulter hears you, but I’ll warn you, Kelli Tanner will give you both hell if you let that woman attack either of you! Are we clear?” She snapped right back.
Josiah and Ezra suppressed smiles, but JD could not resist a comment. “Damn, I never realized before just how much you two are alike. It’s a good thing Vin is a patient man.” Larabee and Tanner both shot him a scorching glare.
Kelli ignored that remark, “You should let me try first, you owe me that much Chris, and Vin, I am not made of glass, I won’t break! I need to do this because facing her is the best way to prove that she has no power over me.”
Josiah had watched all the participants of this argument and decided to inject his opinion. “What would it hurt to let Kel try first to get some answers? Isn’t that what we all want?”
Tanner gave in to her argument, but made his position clear. “If she starts saying what she did before nobody will stop me this time.”
Ezra also saw a crack in Larabee’s armor and seized the opportunity. “Gentlemen, we will only need ten minutes, if we are not successful then we will relinquish the interrogation to you both.”
Chris gave in to Kelli’s argument. Maybe doing this would be the best way for her to get past what Marissa had done. “Ten minutes, but I will have my say to her before she leaves here, understood?”
Ezra grabbed the folder from Chris and pushed Kel in front of him to the interrogation room. In a low voice he whispered, “I hope you have a plan or else we both will be working in the file room for weeks.”
“Plan? I thought you had a plan.” She smiled. “Just improvise, okay?”
Once they entered the room, two professional agents emerged.
Standish started, “We meet again, Ms. Lyons.” Marissa whirled around ready with a verbally assault for the man who spoke. When she saw Kelli, her harsh words die before she spoke them.
“You! What are you doing here?” Marissa was surprised to see Kelli.
“I work here.” Kelli pulled her ID, “You on the other hand might be livin’ here for a while unless you decide to be truthful for a change.”
“This is absurd. I did nothin to be treated like a common criminal!” Marissa yelled.
“On the contrary, Ms. Lyons, conspiracy to commit fraud is a criminal act.” Ezra stated casually.
“I want a lawyer! I know my rights!”
Kelli slipped up close to the woman and whispered low enough that only Marissa could hear her. “A lawyer might get you out of jail in a week or two, but he won’t protect you from two men who would like to see you suffer. My husband and my father are both Federal agents and are anxious to come in here to have a talk with you. They would like nothin’ more than to see that you are stripped searched and thrown into the drunk tank for a few days. Of course, that would make for good conversation at your next bridge club meetin’.” She stepped back and waited.
Marissa squared her shoulders, gave Kelli a haughty look and sighed. “Forget the lawyer. What do you want to know?”
“You lied to me and now I want to hear the truth.” Coulter asked. “Why did you need to see me and who paid you to do it?”
“A man came to me and offered me some money to get you to Dallas. He already knew who you were…” Coulter cut her off.
“That is a load of bull! I said I want the truth. You wanna start over?”
Marissa hesitated briefly, weighing her options and decided to talk. “Fine! I was having an affair with a man and Larabee’s name came up. I said I knew him in college and foolishly told him about you. I thought from what he said he hated Larabee as much as I did. The next time we met, he told me what he wanted me to do and offered me money to do it. A lot of money and all I had to do was get you to come to Dallas and make sure you had proof about who your father was. He said it was important that the bastard knew he had a child still alive for now and I did not ask why. He gave me Walter’s number and said for me to contact him, he even told me what to say.”
Ezra spread some pictures on the table. “Recognized any of these men?”
Marissa looked at them and picked out one. “That’s him.”
“One more thing, “You said and I quote ‘he told me it was important for the bastard to know he still had a child alive for now’ is that correct?” Standish wanted to be positive.
“Yes! Can I go home now?
Kelli smiled saying, “Sorry you have to remain in custody as a material witness and Commander Larabee still wants to talk to you. Your interview is on tape and someone will be in soon for you to sign a written transcript of your statement.” With that, she and Ezra walked out leaving Marissa to worry about her confrontation with Chris.
Standish handed the picture to Chris. “Phillip Deveraux.”
Tanner exchanged a look with Larabee and then told her, “Kel consider yourself in protective custody as of now.”
Josiah saw a battle coming on and tried to quell it. “It appears that someone wanted Chris to know he still had a child so when you die he will experience the anguish of another loss.
“Now wait a minute, I don’t need protective anythin’!” She protested, “I certainly will not consent to protective custody!”
“Yes you will and that Agent Coulter- Larabee-Tanner is non-negotiable!” Chris gave the picture another look and softly whispered, “I will not bury another child.”
“You want me in custody fine, maybe Linda and I can have adjoining cells! Go! Extract your pound of flesh from that woman and then when you decide where to put me, let me know!” Kelli was past anger.
“Kel, I think you may be over reacting just a bit.” Vin was trying to soften the situation. “You just need to calm down.”
“Don’t think so Tanner and since ’m in custody, ‘m off work. That means you’re not my boss and I don’t need you to tell me what to do!” She snapped. “I told you before we were married that I don’t want to be ‘put’ somewhere safe. I meant it then and I mean it now!
“Somebody wants to see you dead and you are not going to give them a target!” Vin’s own anger met hers. “If puttin’ you somewhere safe keeps you alive, then get mad all you want to, but it won’t change anythin’!”
“What are you gonna do if I refuse to go, Vin? Send me to my room! Kelli shot back.
Chris had heard enough. “You don’t have a choice, that decision has been made!” He gave her the look that sent most agents running for cover. It did not work on the furious redhead.
“There is always a choice Lar’bee! Just sometimes men make some damn stupid ones! One thing I learned early in my career is to be proactive not reactive. Evidentially you and Tanner skipped that lesson because both of you are reacting like old mother hens!
“I will not see you hurt because of me!” Chris growled.
“Then I guess you and I are back where we started from, Lar’bee, because I refuse to carry your guilt or take on your fears! Of course, you do a damn fine job of it all by yourself! Do you ever intend to let go of it or are you going to try to burden your next child with it too?”
“You and Linda are both going to a safe house and will have U.S. Marshal Protection until this is over!” Chris was firm. “Ezra make the arrangements!”
“Chris, I understand why you want Kelli there, but why Linda? She is safe enough at our house.” Josiah asked.
“I guess you will all know soon enough, Linda is pregnant.”
JD enthusiastically offered Chris congratulations, while Ezra and Josiah exchanged a look that said that they were not sure just what to say. Chris ignored them all and entered the interrogation room to confront Marissa Lyons.
The Texan left Kelli in his office to wait, while he grabbed their share of the food that Justin brought from the Deli. He knew she was mad, hell probably angrier than he had ever seen her. However, he was not willing to compromise on her safety. A team of Marshals was on their way in with Linda, and Tanner was thinking about his angry redhead.
*You really did it this time, Vin, she’ll barely even talk to you. She believes you don’t think she’s competent to handle herself. Dammit, how would you react, Tanner, if she tried to do this to you? I’ll tell you what you would do, you would be madder than hell and looking for a fight.*
“Brought you some food, you probably should eat somethin’.” Vin set the food on the desk when he saw she wasn’t going to take it. ”Look baby, I know you are angry with me, but this bastard wants to kill you and that is unacceptable.
She turned around and looked at him. “Vin, I have come to expect that Lar’bee thinks he can control everythin’, but I thought you knew better. We have always been stronger as one and respected each other. Just like you and me, this team works better together and I trust them to find Deveraux first.”
“All I can think about is what that sadistic bastard did to George and the horses. I can live with you being angry with me, but I couldn’t live with somethin’ like that happenin’ to you.” Vin reached out for her and she responded. “If you want to tell me ‘m actin’ like an overprotective sonofabitch go ahead, but I won’t apologize for it.”
She sighed, realizing that Vin was going to stay stubborn about this and with a great deal of reluctance gave in. “I’ll go to your damn safe house, I don’t agree with it, but I don’t want to argue with you anymore. Just for the record, you are actin’ like an overprotective sonofabitch, but nobody else better say that.” She looked up at him, “I love you Tanner, even when I’d like to throw somethin’ at you.”
“Throw away, baby, I can take it.” Vin then drew her closer and boldly claimed what was his. Giving no thought to where they were or who was there the Texan wanted only to reassure himself that they were okay. That quickly changed when Kelli began a sensual assault of her own. “Damn, it’s getting’ hot in here.” Vin grumbled and pulled back, unsure of just when he had stopped being the aggressor here.
“Heat hot or hot and bothered type hot?” Kelli smiled mischievously, ran her fingers through his hair and grabbed a handful of shirt to draw him closer. She nuzzled his neck and spoke softly in his ear, “Hot and bothered, I can take care of, Tanner.” When she saw the signs of surrender in his eyes, she knew their argument was history and that everything between them was okay. Sometimes losing an argument could be fun and rewarding.
“You don’t play fair, Kel.” His voice was a barely controlled whisper.
“I had a good teacher, Vin.”
The Texan’s growled response was impossible to hear, but his hands made his meaning clear as he began a sensual assault of his own. There was a knock on the door and it opened, Tanner immediately turned to shield his half-dressed wife from prying eyes.
“Sorry, Chris wanted you to know the Marshals are twenty minutes out.” Ezra started to back out the door and heard soft laughter.
“Ez lock the door behind you, Tanner and I have some unfinished business to discuss.”
“Take thou time, fair maiden, for Sir Standish will stand thy guard at yon portal.” Ezra bowed and shut the door.
“Now, where were we, woman?
Chris was thinking about his confrontation with Marissa. It was ugly and pointless; however, she was shocked to see Chris face to face. Ezra was right though, there was nothing to gain from it, and the woman had no remorse at all, for what she had done. She was only interested in herself, but at least he made clear that she was to stay away from Kelli.
In contrast, there was the conversation with Linda. She told him in very plain English and in two other languages, how she felt about a safe house. *Damn Larabee you seem to have a knack for setting off the women in your life. It does not matter Chris, their safety is more important. Then why do you feel so badly about it?*
No one had to tell Larabee when she arrived; he heard his blond long before her saw her. Evidently, Linda had not cooled off since they spoke on the phone, if anything she was madder now that she was then. The Marshals wished him well and explained that another team would be here shortly to pick up the two women. Chris took her into his office to wait.
“Well, Chris, it’s time to explain because if you think I’m willingly going through this again without a damned good reason, you are wrong.” Linda refused to sit down.
“Bluntly speaking, someone wants to kill you and our child.”
Linda decided to sit after all. “Why?”
“It’s a long story, but I’m sure you and Kel will have plenty of time to talk it over.” He sat with her on the couch. “She’s going, too.”
“How do I know you will be alright? Linda was thinking about the last time they had gone through this.
Chris gave her his best grin. “I am too ornery to get hurt again and you should know that. Besides, it will only be for a few days and all of this will be over. Then we can plan our wedding and live happily ever after.”
“Now you are really scaring me, when Chris Larabee starts quoting fairy tales it must be bad.”
“Just trust me to make this right, I promise it will be okay. I love you and we will have one of the most spoiled babies you have ever seen.” Chris pulled her close and tried to kiss away all her bad thoughts.
A knock on his office door told him their time was up. Josiah let him know the Marshals were on their way up from downstairs. Within five minutes, they were in his office.
“Sir, I’m Marshal Davis and this is Marshal Sorenson, we’re here to pick up two ladies and escort them to a safe house.” He passed his paperwork to Larabee as Vin and Kelli came in he room.
“Don’t you worry we’ll take good care of these little fillies for you.” Sorenson smiled at Linda and Kelli, “You two don’t worry your pretty heads about a thing, not with me and Davis on the Job.”
“Excuse me, Marshal Sorenson, but that would be Ms. Dubois and Mrs. Tanner to you. You can keep those other descriptive phrases to yourself, if you know what’s good for you.” Linda was not smiling.
Kelli felt a cold chill down her spine and suddenly wanted her gun that was now locked in Vin’s desk. Better yet just, forget the entire thing. She whispered to Vin, “I don’t trust them, I want my gun back.”
“I am sure the Marshals will extend the utmost courtesy to these ladies,” Chris glared at Sorenson until he turned away. “Your paperwork is in order and you had better make sure your attitude is, too”
“Of course, I assure you Commander Larabee their safety is our first priority. However, I must insist that procedures are followed and both women be searched for weapons. You know the policy, sir.”
“They have no weapons and you won’t be searchin’ either of them.” Vin stated in a flat cold voice.
“Well…I suppose we can trust the word of a fellow lawman. Are we ready to go?” Marshal Davis picked up the two bags the women had ready.
“Hang on, Kel needs her jacket, it’s in my office.” Vin went to retrieve her jacket and they all walked into the outer area.
*What are you up to Vin?*
*Trust me, Cowboy, just to make Kel feel better.*
While waiting on Vin, Chris said his own goodbye to Linda and Kelli. For a reason that he could not explain, he did not want these Marshalls to know how important the two women were to him. A simple nod and, “Take care,” was all they got. *Relax, Larabee, they will be fine.*
Vin came back and insisted on helping Kelli put on her jacket. What he did next surprised some because it was so out of character for their Captain’s office behavior, but all were pleased to see him send a clear message to the Marshals. In full view of the entire office, he wrapped his arms around his wife and zealously kissed her. She felt the piece of cold metal he slipped into the waistband of her jeans and wholeheartedly kissed him back.
“You take good care with my wife or you answer to me,” Vin made sure his message was received. Tanner watched them leave, but for some reason he did not feel as reassured about Kelli’s safety, as he had believed he would be.
After they left Larabee addressed the rest of the team. “It is eleven o’clock; any of you that want to go home or sleep in the lounge get to it. We meet here at seven in the morning, to work on this case. Josiah, Ezra, JD, the war room we have files to go over. Chris watched and not one agent made a move to leave.
Justine spoke for them all, “Chris we’re all staying and we’ll take turns resting in the lounge, but we want to get Agent Coulter and Ms. Dubois out of protective custody as quickly as possible and we think we can do that better from here.”
Chris nodded and went to work.
“The fact that children are involved leads me to believe that Rachael Deveraux is behind this. She lost her husband and two sons in that explosion.” Josiah commented. “If that is the case, she has lost touch with reality and is capable of just about anything. I also know she will want you their as a witness, Chris.
“We’re checking now to get a list of properties that the Deveraux family owns in and around Denver. An APB is out on Phillip Deveraux; his picture has gone out over the wire and faxed to every law enforcement office within two hundred miles. This is the information we have so far on Rachael Deveraux.” JD gave a folder to them all.
“Chris, Pam has helped me on something special that we have for you to consider.” JD waited for Larabee’s attention before continuing and laid a small device on the table. “This has been used for several years in many covert operations, but not widely known to be in use here until recently. It’s a miniature digital transceiver. It is implantable and can send and receive data while being continually tracked by GPS or Global Positioning Satellite technology. The transceiver's power supply and actuation system are unlike anything ever created. When implanted within a body, the device is powered electromechanically through the movement of muscles, and it can be activated either by the ‘wearer’ or by the monitoring facility.”
“Are you asking me to have that device put inside me, JD?” Chris was not sure if this was something he wanted to do. After what Cleaver did a few months ago, he did not like the idea of cutting any part of his skin.
“It’s not hard to do, Kat can do it here in the office, but it would make you easier to find if…”JD asked, “Would you at least think about it?”
“I will think on it, okay” Chris addressed the others, “It almost two and some of you need to get some sleep…” Tanner’s string of curses stopped him in mid-sentence.
Pulling a fax off the machine, Tanner read it and roared, “FUCKING BASTARDS! How could we be so DAMN Stupid! Those men were not Marshals they were fuckin’ cop killers! Now that sick sonofabitch has Kel and Linda! The Texan grabbed the fax machine and sent it flying across the room, before he gained control of his rage.
”Vin! Maybe there has been a misunderstanding. Calm down and let’s make sure of the facts!” Assured that Vin was okay, Ezra picked up the fax and read aloud.” The bodies of two U.S. Marshals, discovered early yesterday evening were identified as U.S. Marshal Don Davis and Marshal Michael Sorenson. Both were killed execution style, by a single gunshot to the head. Dear God in heaven! We handed them over to that bastard!”
MCAT Office- Saturday 2:00 am.
A primal scream of rage echoed through the room as a chair sailed through the air with the legs embedding into the wall. Josiah wrapped his arms around an out of control Larabee to prevent him from injuring himself.
“Chris! Listen to me! He will not kill them unless you are there to watch! Chris! We will find them before that can happen, but you need to get control.” Josiah softened his voice when he felt some of the fury drain from Chris. “We have work to do so we can bring them home. You need to be in command and we need a plan.” Sanchez watched the transformation in Larabee happen before his eyes, from primitive rage to a cold, lethal strength of mind.
Larabee shook off Sanchez and his potent green eyes met Tanner’s intense blues. He saw the same deadly blaze that he was sure matched his own. “Josiah, get Metfield on those bodies, I want to know how long they had those orders in hand before they died. JD, get on that damn machine and find me a trail in the Marshals office! I want the name of anyone who came within fifty feet of those transfer orders! Justin, replace the security for the kids and Buck now! Pam, get Kat in here to put in that damn implant. Raphael, you have that bird on standby. Ezra, tell Travis what is going on and tell him to wake up the AG to warn him. Deveraux just declared war and I am going to give him one!
“Are you okay? Dammit Kel, answer me!” Linda pulled on her restraints to try to reach Kelli. Deveraux had been rough with both of them, but for some reason preferred her friend as a target for his anger. She shivered when she recalled how that bastard laughed as he murdered the two phony Marshals and the evil she saw in his eyes when he repeatedly struck her oldest friend. “Kel!” She was relieved when she heard coughing and knew the redhead was still alive.
“Linda? Ouch! … Damn that hurts… Linda where are you?
“Over here, are you okay?”
Kelli tried to focus on Linda’s voice because it was too dark to see. “I’ve been better.” She moved. “Sonofabitch...I could use some of Tanner’s coffee about now, at least it would clear my head. What about you?”
“I’m pretty much alright, he apparently took an immediate dislike to you though,” Linda sighed. “I hate to mention this friend but I think we might be in some deep shit about now.”
“Okay, we are, but you don’t have to be a smart ass about it. We need to do something before that bastard gets Chris here though.” All Linda heard was silence. “Kel, are you still with me?”
“Yeah ‘m just thinkin’.” Every time that bastard hit her, he said it was for Marissa, but she was damned sure Marissa was not feeling the results. Kelli shifted and felt under her jacket; relieved to find the small pistol Vin had slipped to her. It was not her Glock, but it would have to do, counting the bullets, she knew it was not enough, but it would only take one to kill Deveraux. She said a silent prayer that she would get that opportunity. “Right now we listen and see what happens next.” They did not have to wait long.
The door opened and Rachael Deveraux swept into the room, flipping on the light, admonishing her brother-in-law. “Is this any way to treat our guests? Ladies, I apologize, Phillip has not learned the proper way to care for visitors.” She sighed, “Of course our callers are few and far between these days, but at one time…never mind. Let’s see about giving you a tour of my home, there are several rooms I think you will find of interest.”
“Chris, the kids and Buck are fine, I have Paul and Ross with Mrs. Sanchez and the children. Mrs. Wilmington now has a bed in Buck’s room. Nathan and Director Travis are with them and all the Marshals have been sent packing.” Justin reported.
“The transfer orders were issued at 8:00p.m and given to Marshal Davis at 8:20pm., his last check in by radio was at 8:50pm., after that…” Pam gave him a time line and JD wrote it on the board.
“I made the call at 7:40 pm. to Marshal Wade Cummings and then who typed the paperwork?” Ezra helped by pinpointing the time he initiated the request.
“His clerk Mark Amos, I’m running data on all of them now.” JD responded.
“Josiah, you’re sure that I have to be there before...” Chris stumbled over his own thoughts.
”I am sure Chris, too much time and effort has gone into this, the attention to details indicates planning. The set up for you to learn about Kelli was elaborate, but I would bet that it was found out by accident and then used to make it worse for you.” Josiah explained.
“Fuck! That bitch had better make her next move soon.” Chris barked.
“Where is Vin?” Ezra asked.
“He went with forensics to the scene of the murders. He hoped to find something that leads to a trail we could backtrack on.” Chris ran his fingers through his short hair. “He had to stay busy or go insane with worry. Damn, I hate waiting!”
“Chris, it almost daybreak, why don’t you rest for a couple of hours, I promise to let you know if we find anything.”
“No! I will rest when that bastard is dead and not before.” Larabee missed the silent exchange between Josiah and Ezra. They were just as worried for Chris and Vin as they were for the women. Both were praying for a good outcome for them all.
Rachael led both women into her favorite room. ‘The Larabee room’ she called it. On every wall from floor to ceiling were pictures and articles of Chris or a member of his family.
“You see I have done my research, starting with Christopher’s childhood until today. This side of the room represents his early life, home, elementary school, high school and college. Did you know Mrs. Tanner that he met your mother here at this football stadium?” She stopped and pointed out a picture. “I would guess you were conceived underneath those very bleachers.” Rachael laughed and said, “When Phillip accidentally found Marissa I knew God was helping me in my plans. That bitch hates Larabee as much as I do and she was more than willing to share details about him. I am just sorry Phillip did not kill her, too. Unfortunately, he let his sexual needs override good sense. I did promise him a chance to test you out, although he must wait until Christopher is here to watch. Don’t you think he will enjoy seeing you ravished by dear Phillip?”
Kelli only glared at the women and did not allow her the pleasure of seeing her disgust at the thought of what she planned.
“Ms. Dubois, this wall will interest you I am sure. Christopher was in the Navy and I must confess he was handsome in that uniform. Wouldn’t you agree?” Receiving no answer, she moved on. “These are some of my favorites, see that woman that is his bitch Sarah and their child, too bad they are already dead, it would have been nice for them to join our party, but then you would not be here and I do know you are carrying another whelp for the bastard.”
Linda took a good look at the beautiful woman that was Chris’ first wife and silently made her a promise to find a way to help Chris survive this woman’s schemes.
“Last, but not least is the family wall, all those so called brothers and their brats. Although I must admit, things did get interesting about six months ago. Both of you are very photogenic and these photos have given me hours of…pleasure. This one, I believe was taken at your ranch Ms. Dubois and though I still believe him to be an evil bastard; I will say that your Chris is a fine specimen of a man, especially here.” She pointed to a picture of Chris and Linda in the act of making love. Rachael was pleased to see a reaction from the blond bitch.
“You are a sick woman! How did you get theses?” Linda was angry about the invasion of their privacy.
Rachael laughed, “You of all people, Ms. Dubois, should know that enough money will buy anything. I got them the same way I got these. She stepped aside to reveal similar pictures of Kelli with Vin. “You do know Mrs. Tanner that a prize stallion like that will have no problem replacing you after your death. Maybe I will even be tempted to try him out myself. It does appear he is capable of delivering immense pleasure. You know the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words’, but then with a body like that words are not necessary. Are they?”
Kelli still said nothing, but she felt the cold metal against her skin and was tempted to kill the woman immediately. The only thing that stopped her was the knowledge that they still had no way out of here if she did. There was too much security and too many guns.
“No comment? Perhaps the next room will entice you to talk. There is someone I think you both should meet.” Rachael led them down the hall to a smaller room. “Ms. Dubois, Mrs. Tanner allow me to introduce you to my husband, Clayton Deveraux.” There in a hospital bed was the decaying corpse of a man hooked up to machines meant to keep someone alive. Clayton Deveraux did not fall into that category at all. In fact, he looked as if he had been dead for a very long time.
“Clayton, I brought some guests to meet you, darling. These women are Larabee’s whores that I told you about yesterday. I wanted them to see what a lovely room you had and where Christopher will be spending his life sentence in hell. You will not be alone much longer dear because he will be here soon to share with you.” She turned to the women and pointed across the room. “Ladies, I wanted you to see where Christopher will spend eternity.” Another bed was waiting with machines attached, waiting only for a body to fill it.
Linda blanched and Kelli felt sick, next to the bed was a picture of Chris covered in dried blood.
“You can see I have everything ready and by midnight Christopher will be here and with these monitors he will watch you both die slowly and then he will see it replayed over and over while the blood is drained from his body. Don’t worry he will not die, I want him to live just like Clayton with his last memory being that of seeing his children dying before his eyes..
“He won’t come.” Kelli finally spoke.
“Oh, but I think he will.” Rachael motioned for the two guards that had followed them on this tour. “Take them to the video room; we have a movie to make.”
MCAT- Saturday 11:00am.
Reports were coming in but nothing that would help locate Kelli and Linda. Chris was pacing. *You did it again Larabee, failed to protect your family. What are you going to do Chris? Blame yourself and flounder in guilt? Linda would have a fit hearing that and you would not hear the end of it. Can’t you just see her giving you a piece of her mind? Then there is Kelli and her temper; she would definitively give you hell, if she heard you. Stop feeling guilty and find them!
Tanner was back and stood just staring at the board.*I will find you Kel, ‘m not ready to live only with memories, we need time to make more. You’re not alone, baby, I’m there with you, use that strength I know you have and hang on, somehow I will find a way to get you home safe.*
“The most likely person to leak information is the clerk Mark Ramos; he is a civilian and has only worked there for six months. I ran a check on him and it seems Mr. Ramos has a gambling problem and is in debt up to his ears. Justin is on his way in with him now.” JD waited to see if Chris had any questions.
When Chris said nothing Katrina gave a rundown on the murder scene. “The officers appeared to have been killed just after their last radio check. Dr. Metfied put the time of death at approximately 9:30pm. Given time to dump the bodies where they were found and an hour travel time to here it fits.”
“Screw this! We know who has ‘em and it don’t matter who leaked what. We need to find where they are now!” Tanner exploded. “This is all useless shit that means nothin’!
“Brother Vin…” Josiah started.
“Don’t! I do not wanna hear any fuckin’ comfort words, Josiah. I want to find Kel and then I want to see that bastard dead, along with the bitch that planned this. If you cannot give me that then just shut the hell up!” Vin’s pent up rage was breaking loose.
The phone rang, “Larabee! … Hold that courier! “Chris threw the phone, “Let’s go Vin, a man downstairs has a package for us.”
Deveraux pushed the two women in the room and then closed and locked the door. Linda went immediately to Kelli to tend to her. Phillip had done some damage to her convincing Linda to deliver their message.
“Kel, I’m sorry I just could not let him keep on. Chris is smart man and he will work out a way to get us out of here.” She had given in and delivered the instructions only after seeing Kelli hurt more than Linda could stand. She started to remove her friend’s boot to check for injuries.
“No! If you take off my boot, it will only swell more. I’m sure the ankle is broken, but the boot at least keeps pressure on it.” She tried to move, “Damn, he had to hit the same shoulder I hurt before, bet he knew it, too. Linda look for a camera, see if they are watchin’” Kelli instructed, she knew that steel bar had broken more than her ankle, but tried not to let Linda know. She figured her hand took some damage and at least one or two ribs would take a while to heal, not to mention the intense pain in her back and leg.
Linda checked over the room, “I can’t find one, doesn’t mean they aren’t listening though.” She did find a washcloth and some water and took it back to her friend “I know you’re hurt worse than you are telling me, let me see.” She tried to find the source of the blood on Kelli’s shoulder, but she brushed her off.
‘No.” Kelli got Linda close enough to hear her whisper, “Linda, if you get the chance I want you to leave.” Linda protested, “Shut up Dubois, I can’t run with this ankle, use your head, not your heart, one of us has to get out and right now ‘m bettin’ on you.”
“Kel, I will not leave without you and you know that.” Linda protested again. “I never have left my sister in need and I won’t start now.”
“You have never been pregnant before either and you will put that baby first, you hear me.” Kelli gave her a ‘don’t argue with me look’ that Linda knew well.
“Fine, I get the chance, I’ll take it, but we leave together.”
Security-Main floor Federal building
Five determined men descended on one terrified courier. The angry blonde one reached him first and demanded to know where the package came from.
“A man came in our office and paid five hundred in cash to have it here before noon. I … have no idea who he was.” The courier was scared, “Call my office …they can vouch for me.”
“Commander, we checked his story and evidently he is telling the truth. We also x-rayed it and it contains a video, sir.” The security supervisor spoke up. “It is addressed specifically to C. Larabee and V. Tanner.”
“Let’s take this back to the office and have Ramsey from forensics met us there as well.” Josiah suggested, afraid to see what it contained.
Ezra grasped Vin’s arm and urged him to the elevator while Josiah did the same with Chris. JD followed with the package. Together they made the trip back to the twelfth floor and the war room. Greg Ramsey was waiting for them and he insisted they all pull on gloves before opening the parcel and placing the contenst on a sterilized surface.
The first things to slide out were pictures of both women with the inflicted bruises and that got an immediate reaction from all the men in the room, two more ferociously.
“Fuck!” Larabee bellowed and Josiah stayed close.
“Bastard!” Tanner roared as Ezra and JD flanked the Texan.
A single video lay on the table with the pictures. Ramsey picked it up and waited for permission to play it.
“You two listen to me, I know this is not easy, but we need to get through this, if you can’t control yourselves leave the room and we’ll do it for you.” Josiah said sternly. “Neither of you have to do this alone, we are all here for you.”
“’Not a chance in hell, you’ll get rid on me, ‘m staying.” Tanner did not budge.
“Me too.” Chris was not moving either.
The video began with a striking Rachel Deveraux, welcoming them into her home, apologizing for not showing the exterior, but was sure they would understand why she was reluctant to give away her location. Then she moved to ‘The Larabee room’. At that point, the video changed and they saw her giving Linda and Kelli the tour she had taken them on earlier. Every remark, every taunt, every description, they heard word for word.
Chris flinched when they got to the pictures of Sarah and Adam, while Vin hurt for the awful bruises shown on Kelli’s face and the slow way she moved told him there were more he couldn’t see. Both were heartened to see that Rachel was having a hard time getting a reaction from the women. They both tried to do the same thing and succeeded until they got to the part that showed the family wall. The blatant invasion of their privacy was more than they could tolerate and two new holes in the already damaged wall was the result.
The last part of the video had Linda on screen and she was supposed to read a message to Chris. Her reluctance showed and she kept watching something that was happening off-camera. “Chris I am supposed to give you instructions to follow, but… I ...” Linda started to cry and the tears slipped down her cheeks. “I… You are …Stop! Dammit, that is enough! I will do it just…stop, no more, please. God, I have to do it, I am so sorry.” Linda cried harder and delivered the prepared message. “Christopher, you are to have someone take you out highway 70 to Ward Road Pond west of Denver and leave you there on the north side of the service road, wait there and once we are sure you are alone someone will contact you. If there are, any signs of you not being alone or any other law enforcement … one of the women will die immediately. Be there at 4:00pm. and do not be late. Chris, I love you and Vin I’ll take care of Kel I…” That was the end of the video.
No one in the room was willing to break the shroud of silence that had descended with the end of the message.
Finally Vin did, “That bastard is mine.” The lethal tone in his voice had his bothers concerned.
*The bitch is mine Tanner.*
“JD, how long will it take to find me with this thing?” Chris needed to know how long he had to stall once he got there.
“We can track you immediately, but to be unseen we might be ten to fifteen minutes behind you depending on where they take you.” JD explained.
“You’re positive that nothin’ will block the signal and the implant won’t be detected?” Tanner asked.
“I am sure, and the only unknown is how close we can get without being spotted.” JD assured,” Raphael will be there with the chopper, too.”
The war room door opened and Nathan walked in.
“What are you doing here?” Chris asked, “You are supposed to be in the hospital and close to your wife remember?”
“I’m fine and I’ve kept in touch enough to know you might need me on this one, Rain and I talked about it. She is in the right place if she goes into labor and she will whether I am there or not have our boy. Linda or Kelli might need medical attention or you and I plan to be the one to do it til more help gets there. No arguments.” Nathan dared them to refuse. “Buck would be here, too if he could figure out how to get past Inez. He said to tell you and Vin, to hang tight.”
“Thanks Nate.” Vin said in a low whisper.
“Alright, let’s go over this on more time.” Chris walked them through the plan.
“Will you quit pacin’ and try to relax. I reckon we are okay til at least four or five. They don’t want to kill us til Lar’bee gets here.” Kelli was tired of watching Linda wind herself up more.
“Relax she says. How in the hell am I supposed to relax when Dr. Death is running around with the wicked witch of the west?” Linda snipped, “Besides, you don’t have room to talk, you pull one more thread out of that jacket and it will fall apart.”
“Well it sure as hell beats wearing a hole in the floor. You ought to save your energy, you might need it later.” Kelli groaned when she tried to move.
“See, if you were not so damn stubborn, I could be helping you instead of pacing.” Linda huffed, “But no, you have to hurt all by yourself.
“Just what would you do nurse Dubois, snap your fingers and produced a pain pill and some bandages with tape?” Kelli shot back at her. “Maybe you could put it on one of your fifty or so charge cards. You think they take Visa or MasterCard around this place?”
“You do not have to resort to sarcasm, I get your point.” Linda conceded and sat down.
“Thank God, you were makin’ me tired just watchin’ you.” Kelli shifted her position and tried to get comfortable.
“Kel, you think we are going to get out of here alive? “Linda was starting to get scared.
Kelli hesitated before she answered. “Tanner and Lar’bee will move heaven and earth to get us out, the only way they won’t is if they are dead and in that case…if Vin is gone, I guess it wouldn’t matter, I’d just as soon die, too.”
“I haven’t been here for a while, but I want you to know that it is almost time for that bastard to pay the ultimate price. Of course, that idiot brother of yours is not making this easy. You were always the one that made everything work right and nothing has been the same since…
Christopher will know how much you suffered and will feel the pain of loss the way I have. I am making him pay for our boys’ death and he will see his children die the way we did in a blazing hell. Then he will feel his own flesh begin to wither away while trapped in a myriad of machines as you have. I promised you he would pay and I am keeping my promise, love. Soon, he will be in that empty bed, across the room and you will never be alone again.”