Magnificent Seven ATF Universe
An Unforeseen Situation

by Freespirit

Ethan Surrals, aka Ezra Standish, has been in the employment of one Sebastien Terrell for the past four weeks. Terrell was currently in his home land of Paris France. He was due back this afternoon. He informed Ethan he had a pleasant surprise for everyone. When Ethan asked what that surprise was, the man laughed and said it wouldn't be a surprise if I told you, now would it.

Ezra hated surprises when he was undercover. They never bode well for him. He feared this time was no exception. He didn't think his cover was blown because the man laughed and the surprise was for everyone. But all in all, the feeling in the pit of his stomach kept telling him to get the hell out of there. Ethan's job was to watch over Sebastien's finances. He was doing just that when Ives, one of the guards, who was as big as Josiah, stood in the doorway of the office and informed Ethan Sebastien's helicopter had just landed.

"Fine, I'll be there in a moment," Ezra said. Yves nodded and left.

When Yves left, Ezra pocketed the flash drive he was using to gain information to bring the international arms dealer down. The man had military grade assault rifles stashed in various warehouses throughout the city. It took three weeks for Terrell to feel at ease enough to let Ethan Surrals to his own devices without one of four trusted men. Ezra was thankful this case was almost to an end. All he had left was to get the flash drive to the others and he was out. He was going to miss the late night poker games with the four men. Ezra decided if it wasn't for the fact that Sebastien Terrell was a criminal, Ezra would have enjoyed working for the man. Ezra stood up and left the office to go to the helipad located on the side lawn. If he had only took a look out the office window, he could have avoided the upcoming disaster.

Sebastien greeted his four men. "Where's Ethan?"

Ezra heard the question as he rounded the corner. "I am right here Mr. Terrell."

Ezra stopped dead in his tracks as he came face to face with Sebastien's surprise. The one and only woman who could blow his cover faster than Mr. Tanner could in hail a big mac with one word. His name.

"Ethan, I'd like you to meet Maude Sanders," Sebastien said as he looked down into the woman's eyes.

Maude looked up at the new comer. "Ezra, Darlin'."

Ezra had to do some quick thinking. "Ma'am? You have me mistaken for someone else. My name is Surrals, Ethan Surrals," Ezra said and took the offered hand and raised it to his lips and kissed the back of the knuckles.

Maude's other hand went to her throat as she realized what she had done. "Oh, I am so sorry, Mr. Surrals. I can see that now and please except my apologies."

Ezra smiled at his mother when he released her hand. "Of course, apology accepted."

Maude smiled at her son, hoping she didn't get him killed. She turned her gaze toward Sebastien. "Now, did I hear you say something about a tour of the place?"

Sebastien smiled and laughed. "Yes I did." Sebastien looked to the five men. "Kevin, Yves. Would you please do the honor of escorting Ms. Sanders?"

"Yes Boss." Maude laced her arms in the crook of each man's elbow and let them escort her to the main house.

Sebastien watched them leave before he turned toward the trio. "So, what's been happening here while I was gone?"

Ezra sighed and smiled and started to inform Sebastien of the going-ons as the two walked toward the house. Neither Claude nor Romain believed Maude had mistaken Ethan for this other person. But, then again she could have. They would wait and buy their time. If he was this Ezra person, he would slip up.

Ezra showed the man the mistakes in his finances. Sebastien was pleased with the man he knew as Ethan Surrals.

"If you wish and would allow me to take care of this in town..."

"Yes, yes. Of course. Take Maude with you so she can do a little shopping," Sebastien said and handed Ezra his credit card.

Ezra smiled. "It would be my honor, Sir." Ezra took the card and as he left, he hoped his luck would hold out. For him and Maude.

Maude met up with Ezra. "Ms. Sanders? Sebastian has asked me to take you into town so that you may do a little shopping."

"How nice of him." Maude smiled up at her son.

When they were outside, Ezra whispered. "Mother, if I do not get out of here, you must take this to Mr. Larabee." Ezra slipped Maude the flash drive.

Maude looked down at the flash drive in her hand then clutched it in a fist. Like her son, Maude had a bad feeling that her mistaken identity wasn't believed by Sebastien's men.

A Lincoln town car pulled up in front of them and the Chauffeur got out of the car and went around to open the door but he stopped when he saw Claude and Romain coming toward the couple and him.

"Ezra!" Claude shouted.

"GO!" Ezra yelled at Maude.

Maude didn't waste no time as she ran around the front of the car and got in the driver's seat. Ezra was waved her on when Maude looked over at the passenger door. "Mother, get the hell out of here!"

Maude did as her son demanded. The front gate was closing when Maude crashed through it. She pushed down on the accelerator and sped up when she looked in the rearview mirror and saw the two men, Kevin and Yves get into a car to follow her. She was frightened at what will become of her son. She knew she had to get to her son's friends and team mates. Without looking down at her purse, Maude unsnapped the side pocket that held her cell and pulled it out and called 911. When the dispatcher came on, Maude told the woman to connect her to Chris Larabee at the ATF building.

+ + + + + + +

Chris was waiting for Ezra to check in any time. He was sitting on the corner of Vin's desk when the phone rang. Chris looked down at his watch and saw it was early for Ez to check in.

Buck hit the speaker button. "ATF, Wilmington here."

"This is the 911 dispatcher. I have a woman who demands to speak with Agent Chris Larabee. Is he available?"

"I'm right here, Officer."

"I'll patch the woman through, Sir."

A few seconds later, a hysterical scream was heard along with gun shots.

"Who are you, Ma'am?" Chris asked into the speaker.

"Mr. Larabee, I am in need of some assistance."

"Maude? Where are you?" Chris couldn't believe he was talking to a hysterical Maude Standish."

"I just left the Terrell Estate," Maude yelled over more gun shots.

"FUCK!" Chris yelled and ran out of the office.

"Josiah, stay on the line with Maude," Vin ordered. "Call my cell when ya get more out of her. Buck, JD follow us. Nate, you come with Chris and me. We may need ya."

+ + + + + + +

Ezra made sure his mother was out of the estate gates then turned to face Claude and Romain. Claude ordered Kevin and Yves to go after Maude. Sebastien came up and stood between Claude and Romain and looked down at Ezra with hatred in his eyes. "Bring him inside, boys."

Ezra hoped his mother could get to Chris in time to save his sorry hide from certain death, if not, then he would go to the other side knowing he had a hand in bringing down this man and putting a halt to his overseas trafficking of military grade rifles.

Ezra was thrown down a flight of stairs into the basement. He rolled to a stop a few feet from the stairs. He made it to his hands and knees and took in a deep breath. Claude came down the stairs and made his war over to Ezra. He brought his leg back to kick Ezra in the side. Ezra caught the leg, and with one swift move, he brought up an elbow and elbowed the man in the groin and forced the man down on hands and knees. Romain came up behind Ezra and grabbed Ezra by the neck and started to squeeze.

Claude regained his composure. "Oh, I'm going to enjoy this."

Ezra reached up and pulled Romain down over his shoulder and power drove his elbow into the man's chest. He then jumped up in time to block Claude's right arm and came up with his own right hook and connected with Claude's chin. Which only pissed the man off more. Claude wiped the blood from his busted lip with his thumb then sucked it off.

Claude smiled, then took out a pair of brass knuckles. "You've got some moves, little Man."

Romain rolled to his stomach the stood up. He started toward Ezra.

"Romain? He's mine."

Ezra gave as good as he got, but he was no match for the bigger man with the brass knuckles. With one final blow to his right temple, Ezra crumpled to the floor, unconscious. Claude leaned against the cinder blocked wall, blood running from a broken nose.

Romain came to stand next to him. "I thought he had you there for a few minutes."

Claude looked down at his opponent. "Me too, Rome. Me too."

The two men left Ezra bleeding on the basement floor and went back upstairs.

+ + + + + + +

Maude told Josiah what kind of car she was driving as she ran a red light. The two men in the car behind her ran the light causing other drivers to swerve to not hit them and others to come to a screeching halt with horns blaring. The two men shot out the back window.

"Maude! Are you okay?" Josiah asked when he heard the blast, Maude's scream and the breaking of the back window.

Chris was coming up fast to the intersection that Maude ran through with lights flashing. Buck was right behind him. Amazingly, neither truck hit a vehicle as they rounded the corner through the light and zig zagged through the cars and pull in behind the car chasing Maude. Nathan grabbed onto Vin's legs as Vin leaned out the passenger's window and started to shoot at the car ahead of them. The first shot took out the back window and the passenger. It took three more shots to take out the driver. The car veered off into a concrete wall and exploded. Chris and Buck raced around it and chased after Maude.

Maude glanced in the rearview mirror and saw Chris's black ram come up behind the car chasing her and sighed with relief. The next time she looked into the mirror, the car behind her exploded. Maude let up off the accelerator and applied the brake as she cranked the steering wheel and was now facing Chris's truck. Chris came to a screeching halt as he watched Maude do a one-eighty with the Lincoln and stop. Chris got out of the truck as soon as he stopped. Maude jumped out of the Lincoln and ran to Chris.  Buck stopped alongside of Chris. Buck and JD jumped out of the Chevy as Maude got to Chris.

"Mr. Larabee, Ezra's back there. He handed this to me and told me I had to get it to you. He refused to get into the car," Maude said through tears.

Chris handed the flash drive to JD. JD ran to Buck's Chevy and yanked open the passenger door and grabbed his laptop from its case on the bench seat. He then plugged it into the lighter socket and booted up. He then slid the flash drive into the port on the side of the lap top and brought up the files from it. He stepped aside so Chris could see the files. As Chris was looking over the files, Josiah joined them.

"That SOB got it all." Chris grinned. "Let's go get him."

Josiah parked his suburban and joined Nathan in the back of Chris's king cab. Buck climbed back behind the wheel of his Chevy as JD climbed up into the passenger seat. Buck backed up and waited for Chris to take the lead. Then both trucks took off in the direction of the Terrell estate.

+ + + + + + +

"Claude? You take care of the problem?" Sebastien asked, then looked at his man.

"Yeah, it's done," Claude answered.

"Looks like to me, he got in a few good shots himself."

"Yeah, the little shit could fight. That's for damn sure." Claude rubbed his jaw.

"We had better get out of here. I'm sure whatever federal agency he's from will be here too soon and I want to move the guns before we lose them."

Both men nodded. "You got it Boss."

Sebastien gathered up the cash he had in his wall safe and put it in a brief case. He threw all and any incriminating evidence in the fire place to burn. He then turned and left with Claude and Romain. They were almost to the helipad when they heard a roaring motor from the front gate. They turned to see a menace looking black Dodge Ram come crashing through the gate with a Chevy Silverado right behind it. Terrell ran the rest of the way to the helipad. "Take care of it Claude."

Claude and Romain went to greet the new comers. Other guards started shooting at the six men. Claude and Romain pulled out their weapons and joined in the fight.

Josiah saw the two men coming from around the house firing at them. The six ATF agents advanced on the house, picking guards off as they went.

"Josiah, Nathan, go find Ezra. We'll cover you," Chris shouted.

Josiah and Nathan ran toward the house with their guns a blazing and the rest of his team giving them cover. They burst through the front door and was greeted by guards. They shot a few and the others just gave up.

"Where is the Federal Agent?" Josiah demanded.

"The basement," one of the guards said and point out the way. Josiah and Nathan ran toward the basement door and found it to be locked. Josiah gently pushed Nathan to the side and took a step back. He then lifted up a leg and kicked the door in. The door gave with a shower of splintered wood. The two men ran down the stairs to the basement. They found Ezra in a pool of his own blood. Both men feared the worst. Cautiously, Nathan knelt down and felt for a pales. It was weak, but it was there. Nathan rolled Ezra over gently on to his back and started to examine him. Nathan ripped open the front of the shirt and both men gasped at the sight.

"What the hell did they use on him?" Nathan asked.

"Brass knuckles," Josiah answered through clenched teeth.

"Is that what they used on his face to?" Nathan asked as he gently moved Ezra's head to the side to get a better look.

"He's got a skull fracture for sure," Josiah stated when he saw the right side of Ezra's face.

"We need to get him to the hospital. An ambulance will take too long. They're going to need to air vac him out," Nathan said and dialed 911 and informed them of the emergency and that an air vac was needed.

Josiah turned and strode up the stairs and out the front door.

What guards were not dead, were lying on their stomachs with their hands tied behind their backs. Claude and Romain were sitting cross legged in the drive way with their hands tied behind their backs. Buck and Vin were guarding them. Chris was standing in front of them, trying to get them to talk. All they did was grin up at them. Josiah strode over to the two men sitting on the ground.

Josiah squatted down in front of Claude and examined his cloths then looked the man in the face. "You the one who beat on my brother?"

Claude smiled. "Yeah, I did. The little shit put up a hell of a fight to. I had a hard time putting him down."

Josiah grabbed the man by his shirt front and dragged him to his feet and slammed him against Chris's truck. Buck laid a hand on Josiah's shoulder. "Josiah, he'll pay for what he did."

"He left him for dead down in the basement after he beat him with brass knuckles, Buck," Josiah said without taking his eyes or hands from Claude.

"Ezra's dead?" JD asked barely above a whisper.

Josiah looked to JD. "Not yet, son."

They could all hear the air vac in the distance.

Josiah gave the man one last shove against the truck and walked away.

Claude laughed at Josiah's retreating back. "To bad. But hey, you're a Fed and have rules you have to obey."

Josiah turned toward the man. "You want a piece of me?"

"Yeah I do. So, you going to hide behind that badge?" Claude smiled. "And to be fair about it, I won't even use the knuckles."

Josiah got in the man's face. "Oh, I dare you to use them," Josiah said as he handed Chris his badge and guns.

Buck removed the handcuffs. "It's your funeral. Ezra's like a son to him, so I hope you got your affairs in order." Then he handed the man back his knuckles.

The air vac sat down on the helipad and two EMTs ran from the helicopter to the house. They stopped to stare at the two men squaring off.

"Hey, Larabee? Is that Sanchez?"

Chris turned when he heard his name. "Yeah, it is."

"We'll send the Coroner when we get back with Standish. That man's going to need one for taking on a pissed off Sanchez in hand to hand combat," one of the EMTs said then went into the house.

Claude took the first swing, Josiah blocked it and came back with a right hook and knocked Claude to the ground on his hands and knees. Josiah hit hard enough, he knocked a tooth loose. Claude spit it out and stood back up. "So you’re the one who taught that little shit to fight."

"I'm not the only one," Josiah said.

Claude took another swing and missed again but he was ready for Josiah's come back swing and dodged it.

Meanwhile, down in the basement.

"Hey there Nate, how's Stand...," the EMT started to say then saw the scene. "Shit. We got him Nathan."

Nathan looked up into the eyes of the EMT as he counted chest impressions. Nathan stepped aside to let the EMTs do their work.

"I'm assuming the guy Josiah's in a boxing match is the cause of this."

"More than likely, Brad," Nathan answered.

"You riding with us?"

"Yes, Doug, I am," Nathan confirmed.

"I hope Josiah wipes the ground with that piece of shit," Brad said.

Upstairs, out in the drive, Josiah was releasing some pent up anger on his opponent. Claude was bleeding from the mouth and nose. He barely laid a brass knuckled fist on Josiah.

Nathan came out of the house and ran to Chris. "I'm going with them."

"How is he?"

"Not good, Chris. Not good at all. We found him lying in a pool of his own blood. I hope I didn't puncture any ribs when I had to do CPR on him."

"Jackson? Let's go," Doug shouted as he and Brad carried Ezra to the helicopter.

Nathan looked down at the scene as the helicopter took off. "Give him hell Josiah."

Claude fell to the ground again. "If you're smart, you'd stay down," Chris said, standing above the man.

Claude just laughed and stood back up. "I guess I ain't smart," Claude said as he staggered.

Buck shook his head.

Josiah hit Claude one more time. Claude hit the ground. He tried to get up, but collapsed back down, out cold.

"About damn time you knocked that bastard out, Josiah," Buck said.

Chris walked over and checked Josiah out and found him to be good. "Feel any better?" Chris grinned.

Josiah thought about the question. A smile slowly spread across his face. "Actually, yes I do."

A state patrol car pulled up behind the trucks. The Officer got out and wondered over to Chris and Josiah. "What the hell went on here?

"Hey there, Lonnie. Ezra's cover got blown," Chris answered.

"Is he okay?"

"No, he's not," Josiah answered. "That piece of crap on the ground beat him up pretty bad with knuckles."

Lonnie looked down at the prone body. "Resisted arrest did he?" Lonnie stated more than asked.

"Yeah," Buck smiled. "He then decided to pick a fight with Josiah."

Lonnie squatted down next to the body and checked for a pales. "He ain't dead." Lonnie then walked back to Chris and Josiah. "You pulled your punches, big guy." Lonnie then looked to Chris. "I'll get a clean-up crew in here. It wouldn't be a good idea for either of you," Lonnie indicated the whole team. "were here when the shit starts flying. You have an arms dealer that needs taken down and if I'm not mistaken, this is his place."

Chris started to say something but Lonnie raised a hand. "The less I know, better off you and your team will be. Now get the hell out of here so I can do my job. I hope Standish will be okay. He's a good man in spite of the FBI."

"Thanks," Chris said and clapped the man on the back as he passed.

Chris, Vin and Josiah climbed into Chris truck. Buck and JD climbed in Buck's truck. Buck let Chris take the lead then they headed for the hospital. Josiah called Maude and told her to meet them at the hospital.

+ + + + + + +

Nathan was waiting for them in the waiting room. Chris sat down next to Nathan.

"Before you even ask, no, I don't know anything yet. I can only tell you what I think are his injuries. He's got some busted ribs. From what I felt, there's a good possibility he has internal injuries," Nathan sighed. "There is trauma to his right temporal area." Nathan looked over at Josiah. "So, does the bastard need a Coroner?"

Josiah smiled and shook his head no. "I won't lie to ya, Nate. I was tempted. If we lose Ezra, that bastard still may need one."

"So he's still alive then?" Maude asked when she entered the waiting room.

"Yes Maude, he is," Chris said. "Can you tell me what the hell happened?"

Maude sat across from Chris, hands trembling. "I didn't know Ezra was working undercover when Sebastian brought me to his estate. I swear, I didn't. If I had, I would not have approached him in Paris. So, when I saw my son, without thinking..."

"You called him by his name," Chris finished.

"Yes. Ezra was quickly to say I had mistaken him for someone else and realizing he was undercover I agreed I was mistaking him for someone else. I had hope we were successful, but I see now we were not. I am so sorry Mr. Larabee."

Chris leaned forward and took Maude's hands in his. "I know you are. I have to ask this, do you know anything about Terrell's business?"

Maude looked up at Chris and smiled. "Some. Why?"

"What do you know?"

"I know how he's getting his guns into the country." Maude leaned forward and looked Chris in the eyes. "He has a shipment of antiques in a ware house waiting to be shipped to his antique stores where there are special customers waiting for them. Check his stores."

"Thanks Maude."

"No thanks are necessary, Mr. Larabee. My son thinks the world of this team. He has told me you and the rest of this team has had his back so many times. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you for watching out for him and giving him a second chance."

"I'll call Ryan Kelly and let him know," Buck said then got up to go outside to call the leader of team nine.

A few minutes later Buck returned. He told everyone team nine is on it and he had called Travis to let him know what went down and what he could expect. Travis wanted to be kept informed of Standish's progress.

Maude noticed the blood on Josiah's hands. "Do you need your hands looked at, Josiah?"

Josiah looked down at his hands and smiled. "Nope."

"Naw, Ma'am. He just showed the bastard that hurt Ez what an eye fer an eye means." Vin smiled at Maude and wagged an eyebrow.

"Do you think you will be having to reinforce the lesson, Mr. Sanchez? Because if so, I would like to sit in. Only as an observer mind you."

"Of course," Josiah nodded.

It was a couple more hours before anyone heard a thing. A Nurse came out to the waiting room. "Chris? Daddy should be out in a bit. He's just finishing up, and before you ask, he said he'd tell you everything. What I can tell you is there was a lot of damage done to his abdominal region and his face. He was beaten with knuckles wasn't he?" The men indicated he had been. The nurse dropped down in one of the chairs. "Did you know that nineteen countries has a band on them. Here in the US, they're not regulated. I'm sorry, but when I see the damage they do on a body, I get enraged. It pisses me off." The nurse noticed Maude and smiled at her.

Buck saw the look on the nurse's face. "Shelly Monroe, this is Maude Standish. She's Ezra's mom." Buck made the introductions.

The two women shook hands. "It's nice to meet Mrs. Standish. I wish it were under different circumstances."

"Same here, Miss Monroe."

"Call me Shelly. They do." Shelly indicated the men of Team Seven.

"Dr. Monroe?" Chris said when the doctor entered the waiting room.

"Agent Larabee," the Doctor greeted.

Shelly stood up to leave. She stopped beside Buck. "Hey, how about I give you a raincheck for tonight? I think you’re more needed here than out on a date with me."

Buck smiled up at her. "Thanks."

"I'll see you later dad," Shelly said and left the waiting room.

"Dr. Monroe, this is Maude Standish, Ezra's mother," Chris said.

"Mrs. Standish," Dr. Monroe greeted. He then sat down in one of the chairs face the group. "Ezra's in recovery. He has suffered blunt force trauma to his abdominal organs. Getting punched repeatedly with brass knuckles will do that. I have stopped the bleeding. He also has head trauma and is in shock. The shock and head trauma have me worried the most. Either one could put him into a coma. As it stands, only time will tell." Dr. Monroe smiled at the group. "I've seen miracles happen with the seven of you these past two and a half years I've been here than in my twenty odd some years of practice. The words 'What God has brought together, let no man put it under.' Besides, seven is God's number." Dr. Monroe stood up. "I'll have Shelly let you know when you can see him."

"Thanks Dr. Monroe," Josiah said.

"He's right ya know," Vin said.

Maude was the first to enter Ezra's room in the ICU wing of the hospital. She gingerly touched the back of Ezra's hand with one of her own and with the other, just as gingerly, brushed the hair away from his face. "I am so sorry, Darlin'. I got the computer thing to Mr. Larabee like you said for me to do. You are so much like your father. He would be so proud of you if he were here. Did you know, he wanted to be a Federal Officer?"

Chris stood in the door way. "He never mentioned it."

Maude turned toward Chris. "Well, Patrick did." Maude looked back at Ezra. "I see so much of Patrick in him Mr. Larabee. I think that's why I can't stand to see him doing the work he does. Because in my heart, I know I'm going to lose him to the job just like I did his father." Maude looked up to Chris. "I love the American flag, but I don't need two of them."

Chris didn't know what to say to Maude. He finally understood what drove Maude Standish. He wondered if Ezra knew.

Maude looked down at her son. "When I found out I was pregnant, Patrick had went and bought a book of baby names. He read that book from cover to cover. After he wrote down quite a few names for both a boy and a girl, he chose the name Ezra. I remember telling him it's to old fashion for the twentieth and twenty first centuries. He didn't care. He didn't want his boy to be a junior and have to live up to him or in his shadow. I lost Patrick before Ezra was born. To honor my husband, I named our son Ezra Patrick Standish. The funny thing is, my son has already lived up to his father and stands in no one’s shadow."

Chris watched Maude wipe away her tears. "I can leave."

"No, don't. You belong here as much as I do. Besides, I can use someone to talk to. That is if you do not mind an old woman her meanderings."

"I don't think of you as old, Maude. And no I don't mind your meanderings."

"Thank you. Every time you called me to tell me about Ezra's latest trip to the hospital, I think, not this again. It's like seeing my Patrick lying in that hospital bed, not Ezra."

"Ezra resembles his father?"

Maude chuckled. "You might say that." Maude opened her purse and took out her wallet. She opened it and took out a worn photograph and handed it to Chris.

Chris took the photograph and looked down in the eyes of a very young and very pregnant Maude Standish and a man that looked like Ezra standing behind her with his arms wrapped lovingly around her. He was wearing a beat cop's uniform. "Ez does look a lot like his father." Chris handed the photograph back to Maude.

"Yes he does. Patrick was a very handsome man. Of course, he never thought he was. He sure could turn heads." Maude put the photograph away.

Chris left so one of the others could enter. Maude didn't leave until visiting hours were over. The six men discussed who was staying and who was leaving. It was settled they would take eight hour shifts with two of them on a shift at a time. That way while one of them sat in the room, the other would go and get whatever was needed and Ezra wouldn't be left to wake up alone.

Maude smiled as she listened to the conversation. She looked down at her son. "Even injured, they watch your back. Visiting hours are over with Ezra. I'll be back in the morning." Maude bent over and kissed Ezra on the forehead and whispered. "It's not your time." She straightened and left.

After Maude left, the six men came in. Four of them said good night and left Chris and Josiah to watch over Ezra.

+ + + + + + +

Maude stuck around till Ezra was out of the woods. She gave him a kiss on the forehead and left her son in the capable hands of his team mates. She had some affairs overseas that needed attending and that she would be in touch.

Chris knew why Maude left and it wasn't some affair overseas either. That's what she wanted Ezra to believe. Chris didn't think Ez did but he let her go. Ezra spent a few more weeks in the hospital after his mother left. He was still healing but he couldn't stand to stay another minute in the hospital. So, he was released into Chris's custody. Before Maude left, she had the very best plastic surgeon brought in to fix the scars the brass knuckles left behind on Ezra's face. After all, appearances are everything she reminded her son. The five remaining men were out at Chris's when Chris arrived at home with Ezra.

Ezra found a comfortable place to sit on the couch. He was handed a bottle of cola instead of beer. The TV was on the news and turned down.

"Hey, that's Sebastian Terrell isn't it?" JD asked.

Every stared at the photo insert on the TV screen.

"Turn it up, Chris," Josiah said.

Chris turned up the volume. The anchorman was talking about Terrell's overseas business going bankrupt and he was found beaten in his home in Paris. He reported the man was still alive but in critical condition. Chris turned the TV back down when the man started to report on something else. Six pairs of eyes looked to Ezra.

Ezra looked at them. "I had nothing to do with that."

Chris smiled. "Maude might have. He ordered your death. She took it personally."

Josiah laughed. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, or in this case, a mother scorned."

"Better yet, Josiah," Chris said. "Revenge is a dish best served cold."

"Mother does have, shall we say, connections in high places." Ezra smiled.

"Never thought I would say this about the woman," Nathan started. "But here's to Maude Standish," Nathan toasted with his bottle of beer. The others joined in on the toast.

The End

Feedback to: