The door closed behind him with a loud bang causing him to jump. The sound was so final, yet he knew all he need do was turn the knob and walk back in to the room where his family waited, but was he prepared to do that just yet? A swirl of emotions fought for prominence as he thought back to the words he had spoken, and the subsequent reaction prior to his swift departure.
Vin returned from lunch to a tension filled room, five of his friends throwing concerned looks at the closed conference room door. When he was able to move to his own desk unnoticed Vin knew it must be serious.
"What's going on" Vin queried.
"Travis waltzed in with two suits and another dude, and headed straight to the conference room. He told Chris to follow them," Buck stated, staring at the closed door.
"Ok, but why ya acting like a bomb's about to blow"
"Perhaps due to the serious aura of the two gentlemen from some as yet unknown agency, or the searching look in the eyes of the third as he passed by. However, it was the worried appearance of our own Director that has us on edge. It was a look which we all agree has never crossed the countenance of the man to our knowledge," Ezra explained.
Vin turned toward the closed door as a feeling of foreboding closing in on him.. As he watched the door opened and Chris stepped out, their eyes meeting.. Vin knew at that moment that whatever was going on it concerned him.
"Vin." Chris's tone held both anger and concern.
Taking a step toward the door, Vin found himself surrounded by his five friends who made it clear that Vin would not be going in alone.
"Don't you worry, Junior, we've got your back," Buck said as he looked to where Chris stood now joined by one of the unknown agents.
"Yes, Mr. Tanner, as Mr. Wilmington has stated we shall accompany you in an attempt to protect your rights." Standish locked eyes with the man beside Larabee.
"This is none of your concern," the unknown man stated. "You will remain where you are."
"That is where you are wrong. What ever concerns our young brother, concerns us," Josiah's deep voice replied.
"Larabee, order your men to stay where they belong."
"They are where they belong." Chris glared at the man.
"Agent Hogan, let them pass. If Agent Tanner wants them here, you have no say in the matter," Travis stated.
"Yes, I do."
"No, you don't." Chris growled as he followed his team into the room.
Vin felt the support of his friends as he stopped midway into the room. Surveying the strangers he found his eyes drawn to one in particular. Meeting the man's gaze Vin felt his chest tighten with dread.
"Please, gentlemen, take a seat," Travis requested.
"No thanks sir, if ya don't mind I'd just as soon stand," Vin expressed.
"Just like your father, straight and to the point," the stranger said with a smile.
"You knew my father? Who are you?" Vin frowned in confusion as he studied the man again.
"Yes, I knew him well. My name is Roger King. He was my cousin. Michael was a good man, honorable, decent, probably too much so; it's what got him killed."
"Senator Roger King?!" Ezra exclaimed. "Then these gentlemen would be Secret Service."
Chris's hand came to rest on Vin's tense shoulder. Knowing he had his friends' support Vin asked, "If you knew my pa, then you knew about my ma and me. Why didn't his family help or even let her know he was dead?"
"It's a long story, son."
"I got time."
Roger King glanced at the men surrounding Vin.
"Got nothing to hide from them."
"Your father was vice president of the King's Textile Import/Export. Our Uncle was president, having taken Michael's father's place when he died in a car accident. Uncle Charles had sent Michael to oversee the company's expansion in Texas. While there he met your mother, Katie. It was clear she would never be accepted into the family, but he refused to stop seeing her and transferred his office to the new facility. I went to Katie and tried to explain that she needed to let Michael go, to say she didn't want to see him anymore. Uncle Charles was already upset over Michael causing trouble due to some new acquisitions. He said it was because he wasn't where he should be and who he was with."
"Are you saying my ma wasn't good enough for your family?"
"You have to understand, she was from a rural background and she was influencing Michael. Instead of being the businessman he could be, he became more concerned with the employees and what was being shipped in and out. She did try to tell him that they weren't suited, but Michael knew some one had spoken to her. He returned home and told Uncle Charles that he intended to marry your mother, and that he planned to contact the authorities and tell them what he suspected was being shipped into the Texas's ports. I was asked to leave so they could talk privately and I did. Uncle Charles told me later that evening that Michael had come to his senses and would be returning to the main office there at home. He was killed when the company plane's landing gear didn't engage and crashed on the landing."
"Why didn't my mom ever tell me?" Vin's emotions were reeling, yet his voice remained neutral.
"She never knew. We saw no reason to contact her. I heard from an associate that you had been born, and have kept tabs on you since."
"You knew his mother had passed and he was put in foster care?" Buck's voice was laced with shock.
"Yes, but he had Katie's last name, not Michael's. There was never proof of parentage."
"Why now?" Vin asked softly.
"Why are you here? If you didn't want to know me then, why now?"
"Because after me, you are the sole heir to King's Textiles. There are others, but no male heirs except you. When you had your last surgery I had the hospital check and your DNA is a close enough match to mine to be related. It's time you take your place in the family and prepare to take over the family business."
Vin stared at the man, then all the years of loneliness and hurt came boiling to the surface. "Family? Family! You don't have a damn clue what family is. You left a 5-year-old kid alone to fend for himself, because you didn't want to have to explain me to your rich friends. To hell with you, you're not my family! My only family is buried back in Texas."
Vin stood looking at the closed door, his mind racing. Taking a deep breath, Vin opened the door and stepped back into the room and came to a stop in front of the Senator. "I'm sorry, I was wrong before. I do have family."
"It's a perfectly understandable reaction to finding out who you are, who your family is," Roger said.
"You're wrong, I'm Vin Tanner, and these six men that I trust with my life ain't just my friends they're my brothers. They're men I know my ma would be proud to claim. I don't know you and from what I've heard I don't want to." Vin turned to face his six brothers and gave them a nod of thanks as he left the room once more, his head held high.
"He can't just walk out, I demand you bring him back in here," the senator yelled.
Josiah stepped forward menacingly, "Yes he can, and if you try to do anything to hurt him in any way you'll have to deal with us, Senator." He turned and went to check on Vin, knowing the others would deal with the Senator.
"That man just threaten me," Roger King exclaimed.
"That sir was no threat, but a promise which could prove most disturbing both mentally and physically. I believe the media would be intrigued to find that a man of such stature abandoned a young child in dire straights because of how it might affect his image. Then there is the sudden death of your relative after his threat to go to the authorities with knowledge of illegal acts within the company. I'm sure the press would be happy to investigate further," Ezra explained.
"To make it crystal clear, stay away from Vin Tanner.." Chris's deadly tone left little room for doubt.
The Senator signaled the Secret Service agents and the three men quickly exited the conference room and the office, followed by Travis who stopped to look back into the room to where his top ATF team now stood.
"You alright, Vin?" Buck asked.
Vin looked into the faces of his friends, at the concern that shown in their eyes, an felt the last of the hurt drain from him. What he had told the Senator was the truth, this was where he belonged. In these six men he had everything he had dreamed of as a boy, he had family.
"Yeah, Bucklin, I am now."
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