Part of the Larabee Family series.
Summary: Ella Gaines appears to wreak havoc on the brothers Larabee. Will the family ever be the same?
Warnings: M/F sex not graphic. Mild violence, language.
Chris was working late trying to get a report finished for Travis. It was Friday and he was looking forward to the weekend.
Vin had found a mare he thought would be a good buy for the ranch and wanted his brother's opinion. So tonight they would start out for a small ranch in southwest Colorado to look at the mare.
Vin was looking forward to it. They were going to stay at a hotel Friday night and get to the ranch early Saturday morning. Saturday night they would stay at another hotel instead of trying to drive all the way home. Saturday afternoon they planned on going four wheeling in Brown Canyon. Vin was excited about it. Of course anytime he could do something with his brother he was thrilled about it. In his opinion his big brother just worked do damn hard.
Thanksgiving was only a month away and Vin was already full of plans on what to have for the holiday. This would be the first Thanksgiving he would spend with his newfound family.
Vin had promised to shoot the biggest turkey he could find.
Of course the guys would all be there with their loved ones, it wouldn't be a holiday without the whole gang at the ranch.
Chris heard the knock at the door and ignored it. Hopefully whoever it was would go away.
Unfortunately they knocked again.
"Come in," Chris yelled fuming at the interruption.
Chris looked up ready to ream the person a new hole. The breath was caught in his lungs when he saw who was standing there.
A vision from his past, a lady he had cared about before Sarah had entered the scene. A lady he had seriously thought about settling down with until his beloved Sarah had caught his eye.
Ella Gaines was standing in the doorway giving him her impish flirting smile.
"Hello Chris. It is so nice to see you again."
Chris stood up and hurried over to her.
"My gosh Ella, you look great. How long has it been?" Chris said as he hugged the woman giving her a quick kiss on the cheek.
"Too long. I have missed you, so when business brought me to Denver I thought I would stop and say hello," Ella confided in the only man she had ever loved.
The only man she had been and was secretly obsessed with.
Chris led her over to the sofa and then sat down next to her.
"It is so good to see you."
"You haven't changed Chris. Still as good looking as ever," Ella gushed, as she looked the blond up and down.
"Thank you. Like I said you look great," Chris returned the compliment.
Ella paused and then laid one small hand on Chris's arm.
"I am so sorry about your family. . .I well I was out of the country tending my husband and his son. I didn't even know about their deaths until a few months after it happened. You did get my sympathy card I hope," Ella softly said putting her hand on Chris's arm.
Chris felt the sorrow rush through him at the thought of his beloved wife and son.
"Yes I did thank you. I also appreciate the donation you sent to Sarah's church."
"It was the least I could do since I couldn't be by your side in your time of need," Ella said tears trembling on the tips of her eyelashes.
"At least you were thinking about me. I mean you had your own family to worry about. Buck was here and I don't think he left me my side for months," Chris ruefully said.
For a brief second a hint of hardness clouded Ella's eyes but it was gone so fast that Chris' couldn't even be sure it had ever been there.
"Buck. My gosh is he still around? I would have thought some lucky girl would have him snatched up by now," Ella said lying through her perfect set of white teeth.
Chris laughed, "You know Buck. He likes to play the field, I don't know if he will ever settle down."
"Well I am glad he was here for you. You know Chris I am going to be in town for a few days. How about we go out for old times sake. I am contemplating buying some land north of Denver. We could go look it over tomorrow, have dinner tonight and see what happens," Ella suggested her voice getting husky.
It was very clear what she wanted to happen. Chris felt a tingle in his groin, after all Ella was a hellcat in bed and it had been a while since he had satisfied that particular itch.
Chris smiled, "I like the way your mind thinks. . .oh shit. . .I forgot about Vin."
Ella's forehead puckered up in confusion. She knew perfectly well who Vin was but there was no way she was going to let Chris know that.
"Who is Vin?"
Ella felt her claws just itching to come out as the expression of affection crossed the blonds face. Obviously Vin was going to be just as much trouble as she thought he would be.
"My kid brother," Chris replied then he spent the next thirty minutes telling her about Vin, how they found out they were brothers and the future they had planned out for the horse ranch.
"Sounds like Vin is one lucky young man that he has you as a brother," Ella commented.
Chris admitted, "No I'm the lucky one but Vin is due to have some happy times in his life. I aim to make sure he has them."
With Ella's true feelings hidden beneath the honey sweet exterior of a woman who genuinely acted like she cared about a man she didn't even know as Chris told her about Vin's childhood.
When Chris realized what he had said he extracted her promise not to let Vin know he had babbled on. Vin was a very private person and didn't like to be talked about.
"I won't breathe a word to him, Chris. I wouldn't hurt that boy for any amount of money. If he makes you happy then I already love him," Ella softly said.
"I'll give Vin a call, I'm sure he won't mind if I go with you. He just wanted to check out a horse for the ranch," Chris said.
Ella stood up.
"I think I'll just use the little girls room. Oh and Chris how about you stay in town tonight. We could really get reacquainted with each other," Ella said as she pressed herself up against Chris and kissed him.
Ella then moved away and blew the blond a kiss at the doorway.
Chris sighed and had to adjust his suddenly to tight pants.
Damn but that woman was hot.
Chris picked up the phone and dialed the ranch.
"Hi Vin. . .how are things going? Good. . .ah. . .listen I have bad news something has come up and I won't be able to go tomorrow. In fact I will be staying in town tonight. No. . .no nothing dangerous. . .yeah I know work can be a pain. I will see you and Dad on Sunday. I should be able to go next weekend to look at that horse. . . no I don't want you to go alone. . .Yeah I know I'm a worry wart but four wheeling isn't without danger. I will have my cell phone if you need to get in touch with me. Love ya brother. Bye!"
Chris hung up the phone feeling guilty. Why had he let Vin assume it was work that was keeping him busy? He should not have lied to Vin for that was exactly what he did by not telling his brother why he wasn't able to go look at the mare.
Ella standing outside the office listening in smiled. She had won the first battle and she would win the war. This time Chris would be hers and no bastard brother would stand in her way.
Ella plastered a sweet smile on her face. She sailed into the office to collect her date for the night and her husband of the future.
Meanwhile Vin was hanging up the phone wondering if he should go on down and look at the horse or wait another weekend.
James had been gone a couple of days and was due back Saturday evening so he wouldn't be able to go down to look at the horse. Vin really didn't want to go alone. After spending so much of his life alone he didn't like to do it anymore.
Vin sighed; damn he really wanted to get that mare.
Vin then jumped as a strong arm went around his waist and another arm went around his neck.
Fuck he had been away from the ATF to long. He was getting sloppy letting someone sneak up on him like that.
"Gotcha Junior. You know you should keep your front door locked. Never know what kind of unsavory people might wander in," Buck Wilmington chuckled.
Then to Vin's disgust Buck planted a kiss on the side of his head and let go.
Scrubbing at his hair Vin pulled away and glared at his friend.
"Fuck it all Bucklin. You scared the shit out of me. What the hell is with the kiss? Your women wise up and give you the brush off," Vin grouched.
Buck just smiled at Vin's outburst. He just loved to rile the boy up.
"Nope just decided to leave the weekend free. Chris mentioned going down and looking at some mare you wanted to see. I figured to go with you guys especially since you plan on going four wheeling. The kiss, well hell boy your hair is just so pretty and silky soft I just couldn't resist," Buck teased.
Vin's blue eyes clouded with disappointment. The trip would have been fun. Buck always livened things up.
Buck saw the shadow in his friend's eyes.
"What up Junior?"
"Chris just called, he won't be able to make it. Something came up. Do you know what is keeping him at the office? I mean he is planning on staying in town until Sunday which is strange," Vin asked.
"Nope. I do know that he was diligently working on some report for Travis when the rest of us left. Who knows what Travis needed? What's to keep us from going on? We can have some fun and be back early Sunday."
Vin grinned while he would miss Chris not being there Buck was a good friend and they would have fun.
"Okay. Let me throw a couple of things in an overnight bag and I'll be ready. But did you bring some extra clothes Buck?" Vin pointed out.
Buck waggled his eyebrows.
"I always carry an overnight case with me. Never know when I won't spend the night in my bed and need some fresh clothes."
Vin groaned as he walked down the hallway.
"To much information, Bucklin. . .to much information. And leave my fucking hair alone."
Buck laughed as he wandered into the kitchen to pack a few provisions for the trip. I mean you had to have plenty of soda pop, cupcakes, chips, cheese and crackers. They were just necessities of life.
Vin wrote out a quick note for his dad, called the neighbor to come over to feed the horses. Vin tossed his bag in the back of the truck with Buck's.
As they drove down the road Vin tried to call Chris to let him know that he was going with Buck but there was no answer. Vin quickly left a message letting his brother know that he was going to head on down to see the mare and that Buck was with him.
Glancing at Buck Vin shrugged his shoulders, "Must be at a meeting or something. I'll try later."
Then Vin settled back as Buck began to discuss his latest conquest.
+ + + + + + +
In town Chris had excused himself to go to the restroom. While he was gone his cell phone had gone off. Ella picked it up off the table and saw who it was. Smiling she calmly waited, deleted the message and turned the cell phone off.
Earlier when she had gone to the restroom she had made her own phone call.
If Chris had heard the phone conversation he would have shot the bitch right then and there.
Ella made sure no one was in the bathroom then dialed her phone.
"It's Ella. Listen carefully. I will have Chris occupied until Sunday. You need to take care of the brother before then. He is the only obstacle in my path to having Chris to myself. I handled Buck Wilmington before I can handle him again. Chris's father won't be an issue. Make it look like an accident," Ella hissed.
"Don't worry. I'll take care of it," Cletus promised.
"Good and don't call me. You know your job; you know what Vin looks like. Deal with the bastard," Ella hissed her voice filled with venom.
The evening passed pleasantly as Ella was a fun smart lady. It had been quite some time since Chris had spent so much time with a woman. Chris vowed that come Sunday he would admit to Vin why he wasn't able to go see the mare with him. Vin would understand and forgive Chris the small lie.
With that thought Chris banished his family from his mind and concentrated on Ella.
Ella was anticipating the night ahead. Let Chris drink just enough to lower any inhibitions he might have and tumble the man into bed. The kid brother was well on his way to being a non-issue. When Ella had found out about Chris's brother she had been livid. After arranging for the deaths of Chris's family she had waited until she was sure Chris would welcome her as the next Mrs. Larabee. She was not going to let some base born bastard take that away from her. From all indications Chris thought the sun rose and set on the young man. Ella was not going to share the blonde with anyone.
So Vin had to die. Ella would make sure to comfort the grieving brother.
Meanwhile Vin and Buck were heading to southern Colorado. The ranch was around Durango. Vin figured it would take about seven to eight hours to get there.
Cletus was watching the ranch from a nearby wooded hillside. When he saw Vin and Buck leave he smiled. Damn if he could kill them both Ella would be real pleased with him. He would wait until Saturday to make his move. Might as well let the men have one more night before they died?
The next morning Vin and Buck arrived at the ranch to look over the mare. They had stayed at a hotel the night before about two hours from the ranch. That of course meant Buck had to forgo finding a woman to share his bed. Of course that didn't mean he didn't try. At the local bar and grill both men had their share of women eyeing them. At Buck's suggestion of separate rooms Vin had just looked at his friend and reminded him that they were not spending extra money just so he could get laid.
Buck started to comment that it wasn't like Vin was a pauper but paused. Chris had commented to him that Vin was working real hard at the ranch but fretted about the fact that it wasn't turning much of a profit yet. Vin was uncomfortable about the fact that Chris was working full time and paying the bills. So Buck being the friend he was bit his tongue and kept his comments to himself.
Vin was real sensitive when it came to his family and anything pertaining to his family.
The mare was just what Vin was looking for. After negotiating a price Vin insisted on the local vet coming doing some more tests. If the tests came back fine then Vin would make arrangements to come back and pick the mare up.
The owner was very agreeable. In fact the two men were treated to a tour of the ranch.
As they drove away from the ranch Buck just had to tease Vin.
"Damn Junior you had the owner eating right out of your hand. I mean hell she even fed us an early lunch," Buck teased.
Vin blushed but turned a glare onto his friend.
"She was a nice lady. The deal is good for both of us," Vin replied.
"Hey I know the deal was good. You couldn't cheat anyone if you tried. Besides she had to be around sixty and you do have a way with the older ladies. I think they all want to adopt you," Buck persisted a glint of amusement in his eyes.
Vin slid Buck a glance out of the corner of his eye.
In a slow Texas drawl Vin replied, "You know Bucklin. I'm sure Chris would be real interested in knowing that you tried to make his kid brother stay out of the hotel room so you could make it with a woman. Then there is the fact that you tried to fix his kid brother up with a woman for a one-night stand. I mean Wanda looked nice but nowadays you just never know. A one night stand could be real dangerous with all the sexually transmitted diseases out there."
Buck blanched at the thought of what Chris would have to say but he tried to bluster his way out of it.
"Hey now Vin. You're a big boy. Chris would understand that you needed to get your rocks off. I mean. . .well. . ."
Here Buck stopped talking.
Looking over at Vin Buck saw a slight smile on the younger man's face as Vin stared straight ahead.
"Damn it Vin. That's just not fair. Shit Chris would stare a hole right through me if he found out about last night. Hell it doesn't matter that you're an adult he still hovers like a mother grizzly bear. Fine, I won't tease you anymore about the older ladies loving you."
"Good idea. I won't tell Chris how you tried to corrupt his brother. Of course you are right a person does need to get their rocks off now and then. Last night when I went to get us some ice at the hotel. . .well lets just say Wanda was waiting and damn but that woman does have a nice mouth and she knows how to use it," Vin sighed.
Buck gaped at his friend. Thinking rapidly he remembered that Vin had been gone longer than usual. Vin had told him that he had to hunt down an ice machine that was working.
The little shit.
"Vin. . .you and Wanda. You're pulling my leg. No way would you. . .hell Vin that's just not fair," Buck growled then he frowned as Vin busted out laughing.
"Damn Bucklin I can't believe you fell for that one."
"If I wasn't driving Junior you would be in a whole world of hurt right now," Buck threatened.
Vin grinned at his friend.
"I am so scared."
Buck had to smile back. No one was as good as Vin at pulling one over on people.
"Yeah well paybacks are hell Vin. Just remember that."
It didn't take long to reach the rental place where they were going four wheeling.
Vin was having the time of his life. It would have been perfect if Chris had been there but Buck was loads of fun.
Up on a hill Cletus hid behind a tree and waited for his moment. As the two men came up over the hill racing each other he raised his rifle aiming right for Vin's chest. He would have preferred a headshot but with the helmet he wasn't sure he could get the kill.
Buck Wilmington was out in front a much easier shot but Cletus wanted to make sure Vin died first.
As Cletus slowly pulled the trigger he heard some people coming up the hill behind him. The shot went wild hitting the tire on Vin's four-wheeler.
As Cletus took off away from the hikers he glanced back in time to see the four-wheeler tumble over tossing Vin to the ground.
Buck watched in horror as Vin was thrown to the ground the four-wheeler just missing him as it tumbled down the hill.
Scrambling to Vin's side Buck pressed his hand to Vin's shoulder. Vin was trying to get up which in Buck's opinion was not a good idea.
"Stay still Junior. Let me check you over. Where do you hurt?" Buck gasped.
Vin groaned as Buck checked his ribs. Damn but that hurt.
"I hurt just about everywhere, but I don't think anything is broken," Vin replied.
Buck didn't feel any broken bones but he was determined that Vin was going to be checked by a doctor.
"Let me help you up then we are going to see a doctor. . .no fucking arguments Vin. Chris is going to kill us both when he sees that you are hurt," Buck hissed wincing as he envisioned the fury that was going to be Chris Larabee when he saw his brother.
Vin had confided that Chris wanted him to wait for a week and hadn't been thrilled about Vin four wheeling without him.
Personally Buck thought that was taking big brother protective mode a little to far but he wasn't about to say that to Chris or Vin.
Buck had to admit that most of the time Vin seemed to thrive on the protectiveness that his brother showered on him. He had to figure it stemmed from the fact that Vin had never had that growing up. Also Buck figured that Chris still felt guilty about Vin growing up the way he did. After all if Chris had not driven Vin's mother away then Vin would have grown up in a safe happy household.
So now Chris overdid the protective mode. It was like the blond totally forgot that Vin had been an Army Ranger sniper, a US Marshall and a sharpshooter for the ATF. Vin had become his little brother, his responsibility and the center of his universe.
Buck thought all that, as he took in Vin's bruised scratched forehead, the pinched look of pain in the blue eyes and knew he was dead meat.
Chris was going to take one look at Vin and totally loose it. Not only did Vin go on the trip without him but also he had gotten hurt. That was just not acceptable in Chris Larabee's world.
However Buck was sure that he would take the brunt of Chris's anger. After all he was the oldest and in the blonds opinion he should have taken better care of Vin.
Yep Buck thought he was totally dead.
Vin hissed in pain as he was helped to his feet, his hand going to his back.
"Damn Vin. You won't be able to move come tomorrow. Let me help you over to the other four wheeler and then we can get to a doctor," Buck insisted.
Gently he helped Vin and when they were both on the four-wheeler he took off going slow. Even so he heard the hiss of pain from the younger man. The terrain was rough and it was going to be painful for Vin.
Back at the rental place, Buck told the owner what had happened. Luckily for Cletus they thought a tire had blown. The roar of the motors and the helmets muffled the gunshot.
The owner was aghast that such an accident had occurred and promised to check to see why the tire blew.
Getting directions Buck took Vin to the nearby clinic where he was checked out.
Soon they were on their way home. Vin was dozing in the passenger seat, the pain pills having knocked him out.
Buck spied Vin's cell phone on the seat and grabbed it up. Might as well call Chris and let him know what happened. Buck planned on stopping earlier than they had planned. Vin needed to rest on a flat non-moving bed not in a truck.
Buck found that Vin's cell phone was dead. That wasn't surprising as Vin never remembered to keep it charged. It was something that drove Chris crazy.
Buck dug his own phone out of his pocket and dialed Chris's number. To his surprise Chris didn't answer the phone. Buck left a message saying that they would be back home early Sunday afternoon. Briefly he explained that Vin had taken a tumble but was fine.
That was stretching the truth a little. The doctor said that Vin would be black and blue come morning. In addition to the bruises and scratches he had wrenched his back.
That was what bothered Buck. The whole team knew about Vin's back problems. Chris had been devastated when he had realized that Vin had not had corrective surgery when he was a kid because the welfare system didn't have the money to help orphans with medical problems like that. Now that Vin was an adult the surgery would have been very hard on him and there was no guarantee it would fix the problem. Vin decided to not go through with it.
Vin rested for a couple of hours then woke up when they reached the hotel for the night. They were about halfway to Denver.
The hotel was small but run by a nice older couple. The rooms were clean and neat. When they saw how much pain Vin was in they insisted on providing the two men with a hot home cooked meal delivered to the room.
The two men protested but it was useless. When the food was delivered the woman fussed around Vin before they left. Buck had just slanted a look at Vin as though saying 'see another older woman bites the dust'.
Vin just ignored his friend sweetly thanking the couple.
Buck handed Vin some more pills insisting he take them for a good nights rest. After they ate Vin turned in and was sound asleep in seconds. Buck stayed up to watch some TV.
Buck tried to call Chris again but got no answer. He called the ranch and got hold of James who had arrived back home.
James was concerned about Vin but Buck assured him that Vin would be fine. James promised to let Chris know.
In the meantime Chris was having the time of his life. Friday night Chris had the wildest sex with Ella. It felt good to let go. It brought back memories of his life before his beloved family had died. Now today they had checked out the property. Chris had been impressed and told Ella so. It would be good for ranching. Ella told him that her husband had left her a sizeable fortune and she wanted to buy up some land as a future investment.
Ella continued her ploy to draw Chris into her web and she was succeeding. Chris was flattered that she came to him for advice.
Ella's luck continued with the cell phone. While Chris was off talking to the realtor about price she checked his cell phone. Since she had put the moves on him in the truck waiting for the realtor it was easy to get the phone off him and put it on the floor.
Noticing that Buck had called twice she deleted the messages then decided to turn it back on. She didn't want to press her luck.
Now they were headed back to Denver for a quiet dinner. Ella had every intention of pleasing Chris so much in bed that night that he would forget Sarah ever existed.
They reached her hotel. Chris ordered room service while she went in to slip on something more comfortable.
While she was changing Chris's phone rang. Ella heard it and stood by the door eavesdropping.
"Hello Dad. You're back. How is it going. . .what the hell do you mean Vin got hurt four wheeling? I told him that I didn't feel comfortable him going alone. . .what Buck went with him. . .damn it I told him that I would go next weekend. . .so what if that damn horse was gone. . .now he's hurt and. . .I know he is a fucking adult but he needs to take more care. Why in the hell didn't he call me when he decided to leave and why didn't they call me when Vin got hurt instead of having you call. . .bullshit dad. I haven't gotten a call or a message. So they are just saying that to get out of trouble. . .hell yes I'm pissed and I plan on letting them both have it tomorrow. . .no I'm not calling them I will see them tomorrow."
Ella gritted her teeth. Fuck the damn brother was still alive. Whirling around she went to the bathroom and made a quick call. Cletus assured her that the two men would be dead before morning.
Ella hung up and headed back out to the angry blond.
Chris had shut the phone and tossed it on the coffee table. Walking across the room he fixed a strong Jack and coke and drank it down.
Ella slipped out of the bedroom, her negligee was made of the finest silk and the soft peach color complimented her perfectly.
Gliding over to Chris she gently stroked the angry man's arm.
"What wrong Chris baby?"
"Vin went to see that damn horse. Buck went with him. Vin got hurt four wheeling. Neither one of them called me; hell Vin didn't call me to let me know he had decided to go. Shit that really pisses me off," Chris ranted.
Ellis slipped her arms around Chris and leaned up to kiss his cheek.
"Don't let them ruin our night. Vin just sounds like a headstrong young man and you know Buck. I don't think he has a responsible bone in his body. You can deal with them tomorrow. Tonight you have to take care of me," Ella purred as she nipped sharply at Chris's lips.
Chris groaned, his cock filled with heat as her perfume wafted over him. Damn Vin and Buck, but Ella was right. He would deal with them tomorrow.
Chris lifted her into his arms and headed for the bedroom. Ella was made for sex and that was exactly what he needed.
While Chris was enjoying Ella's charms Buck was turning off the TV and turning in for the night.
It made him uncomfortable that he couldn't get hold of Chris but figured the blond must be really busy not to try to call Vin and check in. I mean he had to have gotten the message that Vin had gone west to check on the horse.
Late that night Buck woke up to loud alarms going off, people screaming and smoke filled the air.
Jumping out of bed Buck saw Vin slowly sitting up. The pain meds were still circulating in his system making him slow.
"What the hell. . .is. . .is all the noise?" Vin inquired as he yawned.
Buck put his hand against the door. It was hot to the touch.
"Fuck. . .come on Vin. The place is on fire. We have to get out of here," Buck ordered.
Vin stumbled as he got to his feet. The pills were making his mind muddled.
Damn how he hated those things.
Thankfully Vin had fallen asleep with his jeans on. Buck only had his boxers on so he tossed on a pair of jeans. Tennis shoes were hurriedly put on. They had to get out of the hotel. At least their room was on the ground floor and opened right onto the parking lot. They just had to get out the front door, other than a small window in the bathroom that was the only way out.
Buck started the shower up and got them both good and wet. Wetting down two blankets he tossed them over their heads and then headed to the front door.
Buck tucked Vin in tight to his side, got a death grip on the slender waist and took a deep breath.
"Now I am going to kick out the door then we run through the flames. It will only be a few feet. Just hang on to me tight Vin," Buck ordered.
Vin yawned again his eyes half closed.
Buck sent a silent prayer upwards for any help to get them out of this mess. Buck also prayed the flames wouldn't just roar into the room engulfing them both. However there was no other choice.
Vin wrapped his arm around Buck's waist and held on tight.
Buck had to grit his teeth as he heard Vin hiss in pain as he tightened his grip. However he had to hold Vin to him tightly, no way was he going to loose the younger man.
Buck raised his leg and kicked the door slamming it out of his way.
In the next second Buck was dashing through the smoke and flames. Vin was doing his best to stay on his feet.
Then a strong stream of water hit them. Buck lost his footing and fell bringing Vin down with him.
Vin cried out in pain, he lost his grip on Buck. A spray of water hit him in the face blinding him.
Buck heard Vin cry out and reached for the young man. Buck's eyes were burning but he felt for Vin and found him. Buck pushed Vin's face into his chest.
In the next second hard rough hands had grabbed them both and were dragging them away.
As Buck began to struggle he heard a firm voice say, "Relax buddy. We're the fire department. Just taking you over to the ambulance."
Buck gasped out, "Vin. . .where's Vin?"
"The young man you were with is already at the ambulance."
Buck calmed down then. Soon he was sitting on the back of the ambulance next to Vin being checked over.
Both men had oxygen masks on. Vin was leaning to the side. One of the EMT's glanced at Buck.
"Your buddy acts like he is drunk or drugged?"
Buck quickly explained about the accident and that Vin had taken pain pills before he had gone to sleep.
"I really think you both need to go to the clinic and have Doc check you over real quick," The EMT said.
Buck knew Vin wouldn't go if he didn't so he agreed.
At the clinic they found out that the elderly couple was fine. The fire was put out before it reached their tiny apartment. The fire was worse at the room the ATF agents were staying in.
The doctor checked them over. The doctor was about the same age as Josiah.
The doctor insisted they both stay the night. Buck glanced at Vin who was sound asleep.
"How is he?"
"Vin has a bad burn on his right arm, it looks like some falling debris hit it. Luckily he didn't break it. The smoke he inhaled is causing some breathing problems but that is to be expected. Of course it won't make those bruised ribs and back feel any better. But he will be fine. You have smoke inhalation so keep the oxygen on for the night."
"Okay Doc. Thanks. I need to use your phone. I'm afraid mine got burned up in the fire."
Buck didn't even try to call Chris this time he called James. It was late at night so he knew the man was asleep but he figured a dad deserved to know that his kid had almost been burned alive.
James was understandably upset when he heard the news. Buck explained that he didn't call Chris because they had not been able to get a hold of him.
James very quickly told Buck that he had talked to Chris. Buck better be prepared because Chris was pissed and didn't get any messages.
Buck's own temper flared as he hissed, "Well Vin tried to call and I called leaving messages. So you tell Chris that he best get off his high horse."
The two men hung up. The doctor gave Buck something to sleep as he was so pissed off at his old friend.
James hesitated. Should he call Chris or not?
James then figured if he didn't Chris would really be upset with all of them.
Dialing the phone James waited and waited. Chris never picked up the phone. Totally exasperated James left a terse message letting Chris know what had happened. He made sure his son knew that Vin and Buck were fine.
As the phone rang in the hotel room Chris groaned in irritation. Ella was straddling him riding him hard.
As Chris went to say he needed to answer the phone she raked her fingernails down his chest to sharply pinch at his nipples. Chris arched up shoving inside Ella deeper.
"Leave it lover," Ella growled. Ella tightened her muscles clamping down on Chris. Leaning down she claimed Chris's mouth with hers driving all thought from his brain but the need for sexual release.
Chris cried out flipping their position until he was driving hard inside the hot body.
Ella watched as Chris found his release then collapsed on top of her. Wrapping her arms around the exhausted man who went to sleep while lying on top of her Ella was satisfied.
Kissing the side of Chris's head she whispered, "You are mine Chris. Tomorrow I will hold you close when you hear the sad news about your brother. Then soon I will be Mrs. Chris Larabee."
Vin was moving like an old man in the morning but at least he was moving. The local police had brought their truck to them; thankfully it had not been damaged in the fire being far enough away in the parking lot.
Unfortunately their bags had burned up in the fire. The doctor had a closet filled with clothes donated by the local people for stranded travelers. In winter a lot of people were trapped by the snow and ice for several days.
Buck found something to fit but Vin wasn't so lucky.
"Damn Junior, if you weren't so scrawny you'd find jeans to stay on that butt of yours," Buck teased.
Vin just glowered at his friend. He felt like shit though the doctor said his lungs looked fine. Vin felt like one massive bruise and he ached all over.
Finally Buck located the smallest jeans he could find but they just hung on Vin. A belt helped keep them up on the young man's hips. Seeing Vin shiver Buck located a flannel shirt and made him put it on then topped it with a nice heavy sweatshirt.
It was a cold out and Vin got chilled easily. Chris had always teased him that it was that thin Texas blood. After the shit that had happened in the last twenty-four hours they sure as hell didn't need him coming down with pneumonia.
Buck called James from the clinic phone and filled him in. He told the worried father that they would probably get in a little after noon. James informed him that Chris had not called yet. A fact that not only worried the two men but pissed them off too.
The doctor told Buck that they would need to stop several times so Vin could walk around. The long drive would make him stiffen up.
The doctor had given them some more pain meds and put Vin's right arm in a sling. The burn would be very painful for several days. Like the doctor said Vin was lucky the arm didn't get broke but it was bruised bone deep.
About an hour into the drive Vin quietly asked, "Did you talk to Chris?"
Buck mentally cursed his old friend. There was no doubt Vin was worried about what his older brother was going to say when they got home. Chris had not wanted Vin to go without him and wouldn't be happy at the shape Vin was in.
Then there was the fact that Chris had not bothered to call his brother. Buck was sure Chris would have called after hearing from James but there had been no call. Buck had left the number of the clinic with Vin's dad.
"Chris didn't answer his phone. Either he didn't charge it or left it at the office. I told James what happened. He promised to get hold of Chris," Buck soothed.
"Chris is probably real pissed I went without him."
"Vin, you can do as you damn well please. You don't work for Chris you are his kid brother. Furthermore just because you are the youngest doesn't give him the right to dictate to you," Buck said.
"I know all that Bucklin. Most of the time I like it when dad and Chris worry over me. Sure I know they treat me like I'm a lot younger than I am. But you know what I never had any of that when I was REALLY younger so I want to enjoy it. Chris didn't order me not to go he just worries."
"Okay, but I'm telling you Junior don't let Chris ride roughshod over you. Chris loves you but he likes to be in control," Buck warned.
Vin laughed, "I know that. Just remember that I have the Larabee temper and stubbornness too."
Buck noticed that the closer they got to home the more tense Vin became. With Vin's phone dead and Buck's burned up they didn't call ahead. Sure they could have stopped but Vin refused saying that Chris wouldn't answer his fucking phone anyway.
If Buck had known how pissed off Chris was at that second he would have been glad they didn't have working phones.
Ella had kept Chris from thinking about the phone call by coaxing him into the bathroom. There he was treated to a personal massage and bath. Then she made sure to pleasure him until he was almost boneless in the shower.
Unfortunately as she was settling him back in bed for one last romp before he went home the cell phone rang.
Chris this time answered the phone despite her pleas to the contrary.
"Larabee," Chris snapped into the phone.
"About damn time you answered the phone Chris," James snapped right back.
"I've been busy dad."
"Well I tried to get you during the night. It was a damn good thing your brother and Buck didn't die and interrupt your important business," James hissed his temper flaring.
Chris calmed down. Damn his father was really pissed and what the hell was he talking about.
"You told me Vin was just bruised from the four wheeler accident," Chris accused his mind whirling about what could have happened.
"He was just bruised from the accident. Your brother and Buck were staying in a small hotel for the night. There was a fire. . ."
Chris interrupted with a pained hiss of "Fire, my God are they alright?"
"Shut up and listen," James ordered.
When there was silence on the other end of the line James proceeded to fill him in on Buck had told him.
Chris exploded, "I fucking told him not to go. Maybe next time Vin will listen to me. Buck should have known better than to go with Vin. The two of them together is just asking for trouble. Furthermore. . ."
James then raised his voice and hissed, "You shut up Christopher Larabee. Vin is your brother not an employee or someone to young to make up their own mind. Vin is an adult, the mare was going to be sold out from under him, and he wanted the horse for the ranch. Perhaps if you had made the time and gone with him this wouldn't have happened. Quite frankly I think it would have happened regardless. Accidents happen. Don't you dare come home and ream that boy. Buck said Vin is in pain and worried about your reaction. So you deal with your temper before they get home. They should be getting in a little after noon. Understood?"
Chris reined in his temper but it was hard. The thought that Vin was hurt worried him. The fact that Vin was worried about his reaction hurt him. Vin's health and welfare were always the most important things to him.
"Fine dad. I will be there in a couple of hours."
Chris hung up the phone and turned to Ella. The woman had been frowning as she realized Vin was still alive. Now she put on a worried face.
"What's wrong with your brother?"
"Damn fool can't just be happy with almost breaking his neck on the four wheeler, he has to almost burn up in a fire."
Ella put her hand on her cheek as though in shock.
"Oh my gosh! Are they okay?"
"Yeah, Vin's burned a bit and hurt his arm. This on top of the bumps and bruises he got from the four-wheeler. They both inhaled some smoke."
"I wish they would be more careful. I don't like them worrying you like this," Ella commented watching as Chris began to get dressed.
Chris frowned at her.
"It's not like they did it on purpose. Vin is headstrong but generally very careful," Chris stuck up for his brother. It was one thing for him or dad to jump on his brother but Ella was an outsider.
Ella smiled sweetly though inside she was seething.
"I didn't mean to criticize Chris. I just don't like to see you fretting over him like this."
Chris walked over to her and hugged her tightly.
"Thanks for worrying about me. I'm fine. I thought we could get breakfast before I headed home."
Ella said, "That sounds wonderful. How about I come to the ranch with you. I would love to meet your brother. It has been so long since I have seen your dad and dear Buck."
Chris his mind on Vin replied, "Sure. I think you'd like Vin."
Ella smiled as she headed to the bathroom. She was doing some heavy-duty thinking.
Poor Chris totally forgot he had lied to his precious brother about his weekend. Well she would just have to slip and let the brother know that Chris had been with her all weekend. That should put the bastard back in his place. Damn Cletus, the idiot had fucked up again. Well Vin would die eventually even if she had to do it herself. She was not sharing Chris with anyone.
When Chris arrived at the ranch his father met them at the door. To say James was surprised to see Ella was an understatement. He had never cared for the woman and was glad when Chris had met Sarah.
Then James realized that Chris had been with her all weekend.
James in a neutral voice said, "So Ella. You were Chris's work this weekend. We thought he had to work at the ATF for Travis."
Chris flushed as his guilt assailed him.
"Sorry about that dad. Ella needed some help. I figured Vin would wait a week to see that horse."
"Guess you figured wrong. I really think if you had told the TRUTH to your brother he would have understood," James commented.
Chris felt his anger rise right along with his guilt.
"Fine dad. I shouldn't have lied. I felt guilty going with Ella when I had made plans with Vin. I will apologize. Happy?"
James calmly said, "Not really but I guess it will have to do. Now if you will excuse me I want to get some homemade soup going. I am sure the boys will be ravenous when they get here. I want Vin eating something nutritious."
Ella lightly placed her hand on Chris's tense shoulder.
"Maybe I should just go. I don't want to come between you and your family."
"You won't. Dad will just have to get over it. I will apologize to Vin and we can just forget it."
Taking a deep breath Chris smiled and took Ella's hand.
"How about I show you around the house."
"That sounds wonderful."
Ella hid her anger and disgust whenever she would see a picture of Sarah and Adam. But the threat they possessed was long gone, she had seen to that. It was Vin who was the threat now. From the pictures she saw it was very apparent that the brothers were close.
That would be changing soon.
Early that afternoon Buck and Vin pulled up to the house.
Buck saw Chris's truck parked out front. Well it looked like it was time to face the music.
Vin was dozing in the passenger seat. At their last stop Buck had bought some snacks out of a machine. Vin didn't want to eat them but Buck insisted. Then when Vin was finished Buck tried to get him to take a pain pill. Vin refused hating the things.
Buck wasn't happy with his friend's response but let it go. Vin had a pinched white look around his eyes that told how much pain the younger man was in but Buck couldn't force the pill down his throat.
James must have been waiting and watching because he was at the front door when the two men reached it.
Buck had his arm around Vin's waist steadying him.
James cupped Vin's face in his hands. Searching his son's face he saw a pain filled yet worried look in the blue eyes. James took in the bruises and the scratches on his youngest son's face.
"Come on son lets get you sitting down on the sofa."
Before they reached the sofa Chris walked in with Ella following him.
Buck saw Ella and caught his breath. He had never liked the woman there had always just been something about her that rubbed him the wrong way. Chris had always teased him that it was because she liked him more she liked Buck.
Buck was watching the woman carefully and saw the brief flash of some emotion cross her face as she saw them. Unfortunately he was to far away to tell what emotion it was.
Chris had his eyes on Vin and two emotions vied for control. Worry over his brother and white-hot rage at Vin and Buck.
Vin because Chris had told him to wait to go on the trip, Buck because he should have kept a better eye on his brother.
Ella whispered for Chris's ears only.
"If he had only listened to you, he wouldn't be hurt now."
Out loud Ella said, "Oh you poor boy. You look terrible."
Vin felt his skin crawl as he looked at the strange woman. For some reason he didn't like her.
Chris stalked across the room to stand in front of his brother. Vin warily looked at him.
"If you had listened to me you wouldn't be hurt now. Why the fuck are you so stubborn?" Chris hissed.
Vin's own temper flashed. He might be in pain but Chris was way out of line.
"I'll be fine. Thanks for asking BIG BROTHER," Vin said sarcasm dripping from his voice.
"I left you a message that I was going with Buck. I am quite capable of driving a few hours and buying a horse without your supervision," Vin added.
"I didn't get your so called message," Chris growled. The inference that Vin was lying about the message hung in the air between the brothers.
Vin flinched at the unvoiced accusation. Chris winced as he wished he could recall his hasty words.
Ella figured it was time to make her move.
In a very sweet conciliatory voice she said, "Oh Vin. This is my entire fault. I needed Chris's help this weekend. That is why he couldn't go with you to see the horse. I am so sorry."
Buck and Vin both gasped as they realized Chris had lied as to where he was going to be for the weekend.
Vin turned stricken eyes to his brother. Chris lied to him. It wasn't the fact that his brother was with this woman; it was the fact that Chris had just flat out lied to him.
In a tense voice Vin said, "If you didn't want to go with me. You should have just said so. I didn't realize that I was so difficult to talk to that you had to lie."
Chris turned and leveled a lethal glare at Ella. Of course she immediately put on the wounded front.
"What. . .did I say something wrong. I am so sorry. I seem to be making things worse instead of better," she gushed.
Chris reached out to take Vin's uninjured arm to lead him to the sofa. They needed to talk.
Vin jerked back out before Chris could touch him. The sudden movement sent pain radiating up his arm, his ribs pulled at the quick motion.
Vin hissed in pain, the blue eyes slamming shut as he worked to control it.
Chris reached for Vin again as it looked like his brother's legs were about to buckle. But Vin was made of stronger stuff.
Vin clenched his jaw, opened pain filled eyes and turned his own lethal glare on his guilt-ridden brother.
"Don't fucking touch me. . .excuse my language ma'am. . .dad I'd really like to lay down right now," Vin said his drawl thick.
Chris stepped back his stomach was churning and his head was starting to throb.
Vin's drawl only got that thick when his emotions were all over the place. He knew his kid brother. Vin was hurt, he was upset and he was pissed as hell.
Chris acknowledged that Vin had a right to be upset. If there was one thing they had never done that was to lie to each other. He had crossed that line and he had to figure out how to explain to Vin why he had lied.
A feat that was going to be difficult since he didn't know why he had lied over something that Vin would have understood.
James took Vin's uninjured arm; slanting a glare at his oldest son he slowly led Vin to his bedroom.
Buck looked at Chris sent a look of disgust at Ella and snarled, "Good job stud. Guess I know where your mind was at this weekend, down between your legs."
Chris snarled back, "Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?"
Buck started to head towards Vin's room to help get his friend in bed.
Pausing he said, "I know I like the ladies. However I have never and would never put one above my friends especially when that friend is also my brother."
Chris sighed walked over and slumped down on the sofa.
Fuck Buck was right. The big man loved the ladies but he loved his friends more. Chris could never envision Buck doing to JD what he had done to Vin.
Ella sat down next to the brooding blond. Now was the time to ease back. Be the loving supportive little woman.
"I am so sorry Chris for causing all these problems. It would be best if I just left. I'll call a cab. Give Vin my best," Ella softly said resting her hand on Chris's thigh.
Chris smiled at her. It wasn't Ella's fault that Chris had behaved like an ass. That was on his shoulders.
Chris pressed a light kiss to her lips.
"It's not your fault. I made this mess all by myself. I'll have to clean it up. I will tell Vin what you said, that is if he will even listen to me. It probably would be best if you called a cab. I need to stay close by."
Ella hid her annoyance well. She fully expected Chris to take her home where she had plans on how to keep him with her. It looked like the brother had his claws into her future husband deeper than she thought.
"If you could call me a cab I would appreciate it. I really don't think Buck would want to give me a ride back to town. I didn't realize he hated me so much," Ella commented making sure Chris didn't know how irritated she was.
"I don't think Buck hates you. You just got caught in the fall out. Buck protects his friends fiercely. However you are right I doubt Buck would take you back to town. I figure he is going to hang around to check on Vin."
"If you don't mind I think I will freshen up," Ella said her eyes conveying how sad she was at the turmoil in the Larabee house.
Chris sighed, "I don't mind at all. Thanks Ella for being so understanding. I will give you a call in the next couple of days. How's that?"
Secretly Ella seethed with fury. THAT was NOT all right but she had to keep the pretense up.
"That's fine Chris. I just hope you can work things out with your brother. If I can help you just let me know."
"Thanks I really appreciate the offer. You know where the bathroom is."
Ella went to the restroom keeping the door cracked a bit so she could hear what was going on.
Chris was heading to Vin's room when Buck stopped him in the hallway.
"Your dad is with Vin. The boy is exhausted. He is in pain and not only from his injuries," Buck hissed.
Chris tried to side step Buck but the big man blocked him.
"Damn it Buck. Get out of my way so I can see Vin."
"NO! Vin just took a pain pill and will be out for hours. I would suggest you just back off because right now it is a toss up whether your dad or me will take your fucking head off."
"You and dad have nothing to do with this. This is between Vin and I. I will talk it over with my brother," Chris growled.
James came out of Vin's room shutting the door until it was only opened a crack.
"This became our issue when Vin was hurt. Hell Chris what were you thinking when you lied to him. As far as talking it over with Vin, yeah you do that. We all know that Vin will forgive you because he is so starved for the affection of his family," James commented knowing what words to use to nail his son in the heart.
Chris flinched. What his father said was true. Vin had gone without love for so long he would bend over backwards and accept a lot of shit from someone he loved.
There was no doubt that Chris was the person he admired and loved above all others. That was what made the betrayal so much worse.
For some it would be a simple little lie, a quick apology would suffice for Vin it went deeper.
"It became my issue when I saw how upset that boy was on the way home. Worried that you were going to be pissed because he didn't stay at home. Then to find out you didn't have to work. Hell Chris if you just wanted some pussy I could have fixed you up," Buck said making sure his old friend knew exactly what he thought.
Ella's eyes glittered with rage. Buck Wilmington would have to die with Vin. No man talked about her that way.
Chris wanted to snap back at his old friend but the insidious little voice at the back of his brain was hammering at him. He had to acknowledge that hitting the sack with Ella had been on his mind. It brought back the good times before he had married and lost his beloved family. However there was no way he was going to let Ella take the blame.
"Ella is not to blame here Buck. I am. So leave her out of it."
"You just fix this Chris."
James then piped up, "But not now. Vin is asleep and that is the best thing for him. Buck I got some soup on how about a bowl."
Buck and James headed down the hallway to the kitchen.
Chris watched them go and then slipped into Vin's room.
Vin was lying on his back, which was unusual. The Texas usually slept on his side all curled up. Chris figured his brother's ribs and the burned arm were keeping Vin from his usual sleeping position.
Chris sat on the edge of the bed just staring at his brother.
Even in sleep Vin had the white pinched look of pain about him.
Chris brushed the tangled curls back off his brother's face.
Tears pricked his eyes. With God as his witness he never meant to hurt Vin. Hell Vin was his whole life, his reason for getting up in the morning. What had he been thinking? Shit he hadn't been thinking that was his problem. No that wasn't true either he had been thinking but with the wrong part of his body.
Ella heard the men still in the kitchen so she crept to the bedroom door and listened in.
Chris said, "I am so sorry cowboy. I fucked up and you got hurt and I'm not talking about your physical injuries. I will make it up to you. I promise."
Chris leaned down and pressed a kiss to Vin's forehead. Thankfully the sleeping man didn't flinch away from him, but he wouldn't have blamed Vin if he had.
Making sure the blankets were tucked in around the slumbering body Chris then left the room.
Ella had scurried back to the bathroom. When she saw Chris walk towards the kitchen she slipped in to Vin's room.
A look of pure hatred on her face she crossed over to stand over the vulnerable man.
Like a viper she hovered over Vin waiting for the moment to strike. It wasn't at hand yet but it would be. Then Chris would be hers.
Spying Vin's wrapped arm where he had been burned she reached down. Squeezing the bandaged arm she smiled as Vin whimpered in pain and tried to move away from her.
Vin was deep in the drugged sleep and only knew his arm hurt.
Ella let go and looked at the bandage. The bandage was damp seeping fluid from the burn and a little blood. Good the more pain she could inflict on the man who stood between her and Chris the better.
Ella smoothed the bandage; anyone looking at it would think it had started oozing without any outside help. Tucking the arm under the blanket she began to plan different scenarios on how to kill Vin.
Hearing someone coming down the hallway she quickly reached out and patted Vin on the shoulder like she was soothing him.
"What are you doing in here?" Buck quietly snapped as he walked into the room.
"I heard him make a noise and thought I would check on the poor boy," Ella replied.
Buck stalked across the room. Vin was still asleep.
Ella glided to the door.
Stopping at the door she said, "You know Buck. I'm not the enemy, never was. I just stopped by to see Chris and renew my acquaintance."
Buck sighed. While he had never liked Ella it was nothing but a feeling and one he seldom had concerning a woman.
"Fine Ella. I'm just worried about Junior. When the boy is in pain it affects a lot of people. Keep in mind Chris's world now revolves on Vin, not you."
Ella smiled though it didn't reach her eyes.
"I know how much Vin means to Chris. I hope to get to know Vin better. But you know Buck. Chris does have a right to his own life."
With that last comment she left the room.
Buck sat down in a large chair so he could watch over his young friend. The fire had come to damn close to taking Vin from them.
Meanwhile Ella left. Chris had escorted her to the cab thanking her for understanding.
Ella pulled Chris into a long passionate kiss that left him breathless and wanting more.
"I will call you," he promised.
"I'll hold you to that," she whispered seductively.
Chris watched the car disappear into the distance. Damn it was amazing how fast that woman could his blood racing.
Chris went back to the kitchen. James was doing the dishes totally ignoring his oldest son.
Sighing deeply Chris went and got Buck. Then over coffee Chris told his dad and best friend everything. Of course he didn't go into detail about what he and Ella had gotten up to.
"Son, we understand you need to go out, we know you need to have a life away from the ranch. The bottom line is you lied to someone who didn't deserve it. Vin holds honesty in high regard and you threw it in his face," James explained.
"I know dad. I will talk with him. I hope he will understand," Chris admitted.
"And Buck. Like I said before it is not Ella's fault."
"Fine Chris. I won't be rude to her. You know I have never cared for her, but I will give her a chance."
Chris smiled in relief. However he knew that he would only be in their good graces if Vin forgave him for his major lapse of judgment.
The three men talked quite a bit. Buck then decided it was time to leave. He stopped in to check on Vin one more time.
A stain on the blanket got his attention.
Buck frowned as he pulled the blanket back and saw the bandage was discolored. The doctor said the burn might ooze but he didn't think it would be this bad.
Buck hurried to the kitchen. With Vin still sleeping deeply they cut the bandage off.
James and Chris saw the burn and gasped. It was bigger than they had thought covering most of Vin's forearm. The doctor had given them some salve to put on the burn, which they now did. When it was re-bandaged Vin was tucked in again.
Chris put his hand to Vin's forehead feeling for a temperature.
"The doctor said that Junior might run a low grade temperature. He said if it got high to take him to his own doctor or the ER that meant the wound was infected," Buck explained.
"He feels a little warm. I'll sit up with him for a bit and keep an eye on it. What about scarring?" Chris asked.
"Doc said if we keep the salve on it the scarring will be kept to a minimum. If we are real lucky there won't be any at all," Buck replied.
"How the hell did that fire start anyway?" Chris demanded just now thinking of it.
"The sheriff said he would call and let me know. When he does I will let you know. I will check in tomorrow on Junior," Buck replied as he left.
Chris pulled up a chair and sat down.
"Go ahead and go to bed dad. I will stay up for a bit with him."
Chris stayed with his brother for a couple of hours. Vin never stirred so Chris felt safe leaving him. Before he left the room Chris leaned down kissing Vin's cheek.
"I'm sorry little brother. I'll make it up to you. I promise," Chris whispered.
However it was several days before Chris could follow through with his promise.
Vin was still sleeping when Chris left the next morning. Chris had to stay late at work for the next few days. By the time he got home Vin was already in bed. When he would get up and go to work Vin was still sleeping or had left to do some work away from the ranch?
It was very apparent to James and Chris that Vin was avoiding his brother.
One morning over breakfast with Vin already gone from the ranch the two men talked.
"Chris you're going have to corner to the boy. You both look like shit. Hell I'm afraid he is doing to much with that bum arm, but you can't tell the stubborn brat a thing," James groused.
"I am going to leave work early today. I will surprise him and we will talk if I have to tie him to a chair," Chris promised.
Unfortunately when Chris got home early that afternoon Vin wasn't at the ranch. James told his son that Vin had taken Peso out for a ride before lunch and hadn't been back yet.
"Did he say when he would be back?"
"No just that he needed to get away so he could do some thinking," James admitted.
Chris didn't like the sound of that at all. If his brother were thinking of leaving the ranch he would have a fight on his hands. No way was Chris letting Vin leave because of the stupid thing he had done.
"I think I know where he went. There is a spot overlooking the valley that he told me a couple of years ago was so quiet and peaceful he could live there."
James grabbed Chris's arm.
"You bring your brother home. This has gone on long enough. Settle it," James ordered.
Chris hugged his dad.
"Don't worry dad. I'll bring him home. This whole thing is my fault. I will apologize and try to explain my actions."
James watched as his son rode off. He prayed that his sons would be able to resolve their differences.
Brothers Broken Apart II