by Sevenstars

Eagle Bend
Nathan peeled off as soon as they reached the town limits, meaning to find the telegraph office and send a message to Mary in Four Corners asking how Ezra and Vin were doing. Chris, Josiah, and JD, their clothing and horses still steaming slightly in the returned sun, headed for the hotel, straight down the middle of the street, all abreast, looking neither left nor right; anyone who had to swing out to avoid them took one look at their faces and swallowed anything he'd been about to say.

A shout attracted their attention as they were dismounting, and they looked around to see Karlberg heading in their direction. "Take it you lost the trail," he observed as he came up to them.

"No, we didn't lose it," Chris retorted, his voice flat. "We just figured a different place it might start from." He tipped his head toward the building, silently asking a question and also daring the other man to try to stop them.

"I was just comin' down to see if I could find this Bentann you mentioned," the sheriff told him. "We didn't get in but about fifteen minutes ago."

"How is Blakemore?" Josiah inquired.

Karlberg shook his head. "He didn't make it. We lost him about five miles outside town. Reckon with all the blood he lost, and goin' untended all night, he just didn't have the strength to hang on." He studied the three grim faces. "Sometime when we ain't so fretted about a missing man," he said, "you'll have to buy me a drink and tell me just who this Bentann is and what grudge he's got against Buck. One thing, Chris. You don't kill him. Not in my town. And Josiah don't kill him, and Nathan don't, and JD don't. Is that agreed?"

"We won't kill him," Chris agreed. Then, his eyes feral: "He can't tell us where Buck is, if he's dead."

+ + + + + + +

The hotel clerk had bad news. Bentann and a man who fit Warren's description--the clerk knew him as "Mr. Freely"--had ridden out of town around ten o'clock. For a moment Josiah thought Chris might have an apoplexy. Then he turned toward the stairs and bit out, "Maybe he ain't here, but he could've left something in his room that'll give us an idea where to look. Let's search it."

The room was one of the best in the hotel. The four of them set to work rifling through drawers, luggage, and the contents of both, peering under furniture and the edges of the rug. After ten minutes or so Nathan arrived and lent a hand. He asked after Blakemore and in turn reported that Mary described Vin and Ezra as hurting but conscious, unfevered, and in as good a humor as anyone could reasonably expect.

Five minutes into the search someone demanded from the open door of the room, "What are you doing searching my uncle's things?"

The men paused and looked up to find a honey-haired young woman, not more than twenty and dressed in an expensive flowered amber silk, standing on the threshold. Karlberg clearly recognized her, and she him. "'Afternoon, Miss Lejeune. Sorry if we disturbed you. It's an official search. Where's your uncle at?"

"I don't really know," she admitted. "His secretary--you remember Jeremy, don't you?--wasn't in his room yesterday when we woke up. We supposed he'd rented a horse and gone for a ride before breakfast; he likes to do that, because so often his work keeps him indoors the rest of the day. But he never came back. This morning Uncle Marc sent Warren to ask you for help, but he said you'd led some men out to look for a missing stagecoach. So Warren and my uncle decided they'd do some searching on their own."

Karlberg squinted thoughtfully. "They got any notion which way he might've gone?"

"They didn't say. I suppose. They said they might have to be out overnight. I don't know that much about following missing people, Sheriff."

Unexpectedly, JD stepped forward. "Miss, I'm JD Dunne, sheriff out of Four Corners. These men here--" a nod toward his friends-- "are my posse. I don't like sayin' this, but we've got good reason to think your uncle's tied up with the abduction of a friend of ours. If you've got any notion at all where he might've gone to, it'd be best you'd tell us."

Chris, watching the girl narrowly, saw something change deep in her soft brown eyes. What he detected wasn't guilt or fear, but something else, something he couldn't properly define. "I'm sorry, Sheriff Dunne. I truly haven't a clue," she said, and he sensed it wasn't a lie. "But I hope you find your friend. I'll leave you to your searching."

She departed, and sometime later Josiah said, "I may have something." They all gathered around to find him holding a sheet of paper which he had found folded inside a clean shirt in one of the dresser drawers.

"Looks like a list of names," Nathan observed. " 'Young America...Southern Light...XYZ...Pacific...Crescent...Hornet... Ascension...Wall Street...Holy Moses...Seven-Thirty...Lord Peter...Iron Mask...' "

"There's check marks beside some of 'em, too," JD noted.

"Which?" Chris inquired quickly.

Nathan glanced back over the names he'd already read. "XYZ, Hornet, Wall Street..."

Chris and Karlberg traded looks. "That sound the same to you as it does to me, Earl?"

"If you're thinkin' abandoned mines, it damn sure does."

"Mines?" Josiah echoed.

"The Young America, the Southern Light, and the others without checks are all operating mines over west of here," his leader explained. "The XYZ and those are played out or flooded or whatever. It looks like Bentann's been findin' out about mineral properties hereabouts."

"Of course!" Josiah exclaimed. "What would make a better holding place for a prisoner than an abandoned mine? It would be isolated, not a place anybody'd be likely to visit, and if Buck were inside the drift, not even a casual passerby would be likely to see him."

"And Bentann and Freely must've headed for there, instead of searchin' for this Jeremy," JD guessed.

"Not only that," Chris told him. "Suppose Buck's abduction is somethin' Jeremy knew about, or suspected? Maybe he didn't go for a ride. Maybe he was taken out."

"If they used chloroform," Nathan said slowly, "they could've took him in his sleep. He'd be limp then, but they could dress him, so's nobody'd think it was strange a man'd go off ridin' in his nightshirt. Then throw him on a horse and get him out of town under cover of night."

"All right," said Karlberg, "we figure him and Buck are in one of these abandoned mines. But which? There are at least half a dozen of 'em on this list."

"And we could be running out of time," Josiah pointed out abruptly. "Do you all remember what our brother told us of the circumstances under which he parted from Bentann?"

"Oh, Jesus," Nathan whispered. "The man was gonna hang him."

"And that's probably just what he plans to do now," Chris added quietly.

"At sunup," Josiah supplied in a hushed voice. He pulled out his watch. "It's past two. We've got maybe five hours of sunlight. How in the Lord's dear name can we possibly check out all these abandoned mines in that length of time?"

"Look," said JD. "One of 'em's got a circle drawn around it."

He was right. The name was further down the list than Nathan had gotten in his reading, but a sprawling line had been scribed all around it. "The Lucky Friday," Chris read. Then his eyes came alive. "Damn. I know that one. I even sheltered in it once, when an early snow caught me out hunting. It's maybe four hours' ride from here. I can find it again, I'm sure I can."

"Horses are close to played out, Chris," Nathan mentioned.

"Then we'll get fresh ones. JD, go see to it."

The kid took off without a word. "You want help, Chris?" Karlberg inquired solemnly. "If them boys that took Buck are still up there, you could be some outgunned."

"We can't take the time for you to get another posse sworn in, Earl," the gunslinger answered. "We've got one thing in our favor. We know where we're goin', and I know how to get us there. If they expect us to find the Friday at all, they'll figure on us followin' the trail they left and walkin' right into their sights. They won't count on my knowin' other ways to approach it, or on our comin' in from this direction. If we leave now, we can make it up there close around sundown, and that'll give us the whole night to rest, scout around, and make a plan. But we need to go now, while we've still got enough daylight to get there. If we get caught by the dark up in them mountains, even I could get lost real quick."

Karlberg looked unhappy but nodded as he followed the gunslinger's reasoning. "I'll bring some boys along as fast as I can, but we likely won't catch up till sometime tomorrow. You take care, Chris, I don't want to be the one that tells them two pards of yours back in Four Corners and Travis and his pretty newspaper daughter-in-law that you've all went and got yourselves killed right along with Buck."

"Wouldn't want you to have to," said Chris with a tight grin. "Nathan, Josiah, let's go."

+ + + + + + +

Cora Lejeune might know little or nothing of the process of tracking a missing man, but she was neither naïve nor stupid. With the vague suspicions she already had of her uncle, and the slight confirmation of them she'd gotten from Jeremy Butterwick three days earlier, it didn't take her long to come to the same conclusion Chris had regarding his true fate. In fact, it was this realization that Chris had seen in her eyes, without knowing what it was.

She knew she couldn't go in search of him alone. Though she was a skilled rider and even knew something of trailcraft--enough at least to picket her horse and start a campfire--she had no idea where he might be. But if he was still alive, the likelihood was high that he would be wherever Sheriff Dunne's missing friend was; why maintain prisoners in two separate locations rather than one? And if the young lawman and his very dangerous-looking possemen were able to discover any clue among Uncle Marc's belongings that would suggest where their friend might be, she hadn't the slightest doubt they would go there. All she had to do was follow. She understood now that she'd used Jeremy badly, and she owed it to him to help rescue him, if she could.

So, while the search of Bentann's room continued, she returned to her own and quickly exchanged her silk dress for a smart pale-green riding costume, given dash by a bright yellow scarf furled gaily behind one shoulder, and a wide-brimmed, low-crowned straw hat. In the deep pocket of the skirt she placed the Merwin & Hulbert pocket revolver that Bentann always insisted she carry when riding, if only so she could signal for help should the need arise. Then she hurried down the stairs and to the livery stable. By the time JD arrived in search of fresh mounts for himself and his friends, she had already rented a sturdy, deep-chested black gelding and stationed herself in the alley across from the hotel, where she would be able to see the men from Four Corners no matter which way they went. She saw JD and the stableman bring the fresh horses up to the rack and begin switching the saddles from the tired animals waiting there, and then JD's "possemen" came out too and lent a hand. In ten minutes the job was done. The stableman took the played-out horses back to be rubbed down and given food and water, and the four peacekeepers reined away from the rail and headed out of town, west. Cora gave them a couple of minutes and idled casually in pursuit.

The Mine

The guard keeping watch over Jeremy and Buck had changed twice when the prisoners heard what sounded like new arrivals being hailed somewhere toward the entrance of the adit. They had already guessed that their captors had set up a camp near it, out of the weather, and once they had heard the sound of thunder and lightning. Buck didn't know whether Jeremy guessed what that would mean for their prospects of rescue, but he figured it was likely: the boy was no fool. Having no other way to pass the time, they had gotten to know each other pretty well since Buck first regained consciousness. Jeremy had told how he'd entered Bentann's household and what he'd discovered, including how the Pinkertons had learned Buck's whereabouts, something the gunslinger had wondered about. Buck had talked about his six friends and some of the spots they'd been in and out of since first getting together. Jeremy had admitted to his feelings for Cora, and her vague suspicions about her uncle. "Sounds like a smart little girl," Buck had said. "I'd like to meet her sometime."

"I'll be proud to introduce you to her, if we get out of this spot," Jeremy had told him, and Buck had realized he'd been right: the boy knew full well how much their chances had been cut by the storm.

They'd been supplied with all the water they wanted, but no food. Buck had at first wondered why Jeremy hadn't been tied up like himself, but a little thought suggested an answer to that question. He was wiry enough, and his mind was quick, but he was even greener than JD had been when he first arrived in Four Corners, and while he'd been in Wichita all of two years, they hadn't been years of active experience like the last five months had for JD. The guards had a look of harsh competence, they were always armed and alert, and they were far enough away that if Jeremy tried to make a rush on them, he'd be cut down before he could get three steps. And they clearly weren't likely to fall for the old sickness trick.

Buck hadn't lost faith that his friends would follow, but he also figured he should try to do anything he could to help himself. Unfortunately that wasn't much. His bonds were rawhide and couldn't be picked loose by hand; you'd need a knife, and Jeremy's captors had been careful to confiscate his. Neither of them had eaten in over twenty-four hours, and while Buck lacked Josiah's mass, he was still a big, tall man and needed a fair amount of fuel to function at his best. In addition, that one rib still stabbed him like a Bowie knife whenever he moved wrong; between the two, he'd be seriously handicapped in any attempt to move quickly or to fight. Apart from that, his all-important right arm was still on fire with pain, and the sprain had gone long enough untreated that he was sure he could feel the wrist swelling; certainly it felt feverish. Even then, he might have been willing to make the try if they'd given him any openings. Uncertain of whether or not Henneman and Blakemore had survived the wreck, he knew it might well be up to him alone to expose Bentann. But there was Jeremy to think about, another young man like JD who needed his help. That was enough to keep him cautious and keep him alive. No, he'd be ready to go if--when--Chris and the boys came for him, but on sober reflection he understood he had to leave the hard part of the job to them.

Footsteps scrunched on the earthen floor of the tunnel, and the prisoners looked up as Bentann and Warren Freely appeared around the bend and stopped near the guard's station. The ex-jayhawker was dressed much as he used to be in their days in Kansas together, the black whipcord pants tucked into high mirror-bright black boots, black hat, a fine cream-colored buckskin shirt and dashing blue bandanna of shimmering silk. "Hello, Buck," he said easily.

"Captain," Buck responded meagerly. He squinted curiously at the man accompanying his former chief, then barked laughter. "Damn! Warren, is that you? You look a little like life chewed you up and spat you out since I seen you last."

"At least I'm not the one lyin' in an abandoned mine waitin' to die, Buck," Freely retorted evenly. "And I'm not laid up in bed back in Four Corners like a couple of your friends, either."

Buck's shoulders tensed. "That your doin', Warren?"

"How do you figure I knew about it?" the one-eyed man responded. "I needed to make sure that tracker wouldn't be able to follow you here, so I took him out. Just a bullet through his leg, don't worry about him. I didn't have no reason to want him dead."

Vin. Damn. I'd counted on him leadin' Chris and the others here in time. "Who else?" was what he asked aloud.

"The fancy gambler, Standish. You might say I used him to distract Tanner. The man is too damn good to take chances with. He knew I was there on the road the other day. I couldn't risk him somehow guessing I was there and hitting cover before I could pink him."

At least they wasn't killed. Nathan can do amazin' things if the patient ain't dead. Buck turned his attention to Bentann. "So what happens now?"

"You know what I've made of myself, Buck. I can't risk a ghost out of my past appearing out of nowhere to spoil all that, or my run for the Senate. And as I recall, you and I have some unfinished business." He smiled thinly. "I sentenced you to hang twenty years ago, Buck. It took a while, but I'm still planning to carry out that sentence."

For a moment Buck didn't breathe at all. Then he let the stale air slither painfully out of his lungs and met the other man's eyes defiantly. "All right. I reckon I didn't expect no better. I can see how you don't dare let me walk out of here. But the boy here, he wasn't even in short pants yet when you and me was ridin' together. He can't give no evidence against you. Let him go."

Bentann chuckled. "Oh, Buck, you don't honestly believe you can sweet-talk me into that, do you? He may not have been there to see how I started, but he'd still be able to testify to my killing you." He looked at his former secretary. "Cora and anyone she's spoken to in Eagle Bend think you went off for a ride before breakfast yesterday. The consensus, if any, is that you've been in some sort of accident. And that's exactly what it will be. Warren and I will find you in a ravine, the tragic victim of a fall from your horse."

Jeremy was pale, but his spirit remained undaunted. "Eventually somebody will find out the truth, Bentann," he declared, his voice tight. "And I imagine it may well be Buck's friends from Four Corners. From what he's told me about them, they don't stop."

"Then they'll be stopped, just as the two of you will be," was Bentann's flat reply. Back to Buck: "It's getting late, and the sentence was set for sunup. You've got tonight. We'll see you in the morning, Buck."

On the Trail

The rented horses weren't anywhere near as good as the picked personal mounts the four men had left behind in Eagle Bend, but that wasn't really a factor. What they needed now wasn't all-around quality, but simply wind and good legs and endurance for the climb up into the rugged mountains that reared up not far outside the town. Chris led the way, his eyes darting from place to place, picking up familiar landmarks and fitting them into the three-year-old picture his mind held of this country which had been his home range for so long. The wagon road started west from the town limits, dividing at each ranch and becoming dimmer, until as it began winding its way up the steeper slopes it transformed into a trail, deeply gouged by the ruts left by ore wagons coming down from the mines, only two or three of which were large enough to boast their own stamp mills. Here it had been brushed through, but no effort had been made to clear off the timber on either side: no outlaw would try to hijack bulky raw ore. At intervals smaller trails branched off from it, some of them clearly still in regular use, others choked with second-growth timber and underbrush.

Josiah rode in silence, turning over the implications of Blakemore's death in his mind. What would this mean for Buck, supposing they could find him in time? His secret was out. Both the men who'd offered him amnesty, or at least immunity from prosecution, were dead. The next people to come after him would be bounty hunters or Federal marshals wanting to take him back to Kansas to hang. He might well have to leave Four Corners and be a fugitive the rest of his life. And what would that do to the Seven as a whole? Josiah could imagine Chris's guilt and anger driving him to some fatal rashness, JD and perhaps Vin insisting on accompanying their friend, the boy out of simple loyalty, Vin because he knew what it was to be wanted--and because, with a second of their company the focus of the law's attention, remaining in Four Corners might no longer be an option for him: if a hunter missed Buck, he might decide to try for the price on Vin instead.

JD was consumed with a mixture of apprehension and guilt. As early as last night, while he and the others rode through the dark to Eagle Bend, he had begun to regret his hostility toward Buck. He was loyal to Vin and Ezra, and they were wanted; how could he fail in loyalty to Buck, to whom he owed so much? At first he'd tried to rationalize the failure by telling himself that Vin had been framed and Ezra was, at worst, wanted for noncapital crimes. But gradually he'd begun to see that that was only one part of the picture. Yes, Buck had done bad things. But he regretted them now, and he was trying to mend his mistakes. It occurred to JD that it took real heroism for Buck, who so obviously was still suffering at the memories of his past, to tell his friends the story of his time with Bentann, knowing that he risked them turning their backs on him, and to do what was right. When he'd first fallen in with the Raysville Regulators, he'd thought they were fighting for justice. And they had, without any doubt, saved his life. As in a flash of white light the realization came to the youngest of the Seven: The same thing could've happened to me. Would I have done any different, if it had? And if I would, what right do I have to fault Buck for it?

Regret overcame him at the thought of how things had been between them when they parted. He understood in a vague way that, of all the things his bewildered mind had known needed to be said, "goodbye" was totally unacceptable, because it would keep him from saying the rest. But that didn't mean he couldn't have tried to say them. Not goodbye. Just..."so long, good luck, see you again soon." And "I'm sorry." And "I understand why you did it." Buck had needed that, to give him courage for the painful tests that lay before him. How must he have felt, to think that his mistakes had so thoroughly alienated JD? Would they ever have the chance to patch it up? And even if they did, could they ever go back to what they'd had before? Would Buck ever be able to look at him the same way again, or would the memory of that disloyalty tinge their relationship forever?

Chris knew he was keeping himself under control by sheer will. He couldn't afford to give in to his rage, because if he lost it he'd also lose his focus and what little objectivity he had left. But he also couldn't help thinking of how, while he had accepted without question that Buck had had good reasons for going with Bentann and that he had terminated their association as soon as he fully realized what it involved, he'd never tried (and now might never have the opportunity) to make up with Buck about the past they shared. It was perhaps one reason he had turned to Vin the way he'd done, because creating that new friendship, which wasn't encumbered with a lot of old baggage, was easier than trying to apologize to the older friend for the things he'd done and said while in the grip of his early grief over Sarah and Adam. And that made him angry, because it made it look as if he was a coward. The fact that Buck had never seemed to resent any of it, had never even so much as brought it up since their reunion five months ago, only exacerbated the self-blame that consumed him. Irrationally, he found it focusing on JD, who had also failed to heal his rift with Buck. When they paused at the edge of the mountains to rest the horses for the climb and water them at a small stream, it finally vented itself. JD was leading the horses back from the water and crossed directly in front of Chris, who exploded. The kid took it in silence, as if he thought it was no better than what he deserved, but his face got whiter and whiter as his leader ranted on, until Josiah physically intervened, stepping in between them. "Chris! That's enough!"

The gunfighter stopped in mid-word. Chris Larabee wasn't an easy man to intimidate, but he knew Josiah could break him in two, and he still had enough sense of self-preservation to want to avoid that. "What business is it of yours?" he demanded.

"Anything that affects all of us is the business of any of us," Josiah retorted evenly. "Listen to yourself a minute, Chris. Look at what you're doing, and who you're doing it to. I know it grates on you that JD failed Buck, or at least that it seems to you as if he did. But that's between them. It has nothing to do with what we're out here to accomplish. Projecting your own old guilts onto JD isn't going to help Buck; it's just going to create more and deeper rifts in this group, and we can't afford that now. We need to be able to work together, to know we can trust and count on one another just as we've done these last five months. You've never been a bully, Chris. Don't start now with your own company, and least of all with someone who looks up to you as everything he'd like to become. And remember, Buck wouldn't want JD treated this way. If he were standing where I am, you'd be lucky if all he did was punch you in the nose."

Chris was pale, his cold eyes alight with his fury, but as always Josiah's deep, quiet voice and carefully selected words were enough to stop him and make him do what he rarely did: reflect. He's right. This ain't the way to honor the guts it took for Buck to do what he did. "All right," he said, and walked away.

"Are you okay, son?" Josiah asked quietly, turning to JD. "If you want an apology, I'll bring him back."

"No." I don't deserve one. It's not that I think any of this is my fault; I know it's not. But I've failed Buck, and all the others, just as surely as Chris was doin'. "No, Josiah, I'm fine."

The big man knew what that meant, but he also knew that JD was possibly the most stubborn of all of them and not likely to admit to his emotional needs, particularly if he thought that being required to cater to them was liable to impair Chris's ability to lead them. He exchanged a glance with Nathan, the other nurturer of their group, and got a quick shrug in reply. With a light clap of his hand to JD's shoulder, he left the kid to the solitude he seemed to want.

Cora Lejeune hung back by a mile or so as long as the four men remained on the flats; she could pick out their moving shapes clearly in the crystal air. As they got up into the timber she closed in, listening for the footfalls of their horses and the jingle of their tack. She tried her best to keep well back, out of sight. If she could just prevent them from spotting her until they were too far from Eagle Bend to send her back, she was willing to take whatever kind of verbal abuse they might dish out. Her feelings didn't matter. Jeremy mattered.

After a time Chris checked and paused, looking around him, picking out marks. "Yeah," he said softly after a minute or two, "this--this is the place. Up ahead about another two miles is the old wagon road up to the Friday. We'd better cut off here and take to the brush."

No one argued. He took the lead again and plunged into the heavy growth, sometimes ducking to avoid a low-hanging branch. His horse was strong and willing and went where he urged it, hesitating occasionally at a particularly narrow place but trusting to its rider to get them both through.

They'd been off the main trail and climbing for about half an hour when they paused in a natural glade to let the horses breathe and Chris make sure of where he was. Josiah drifted up to the leader's side and spoke in a gentle rumble. "Somebody's following us, Brother Chris."

The gunfighter's pale eyes sharpened, darted quickly past the big man's shoulder toward the slope they'd just climbed, then returned to his face. "You're sure." Not a question.

"I'm sure. I don't know how far back they are, but it's not too much. A mile, maybe; they're having to follow the trail we break. Shall I go back?"

Chris knew that for all his size Josiah was a ghost on his feet when he wanted to be. "Take JD. That way you can cover both sides of our trail."

The ex-preacher nodded, swung out of his saddle and went back to speak to the kid. JD had been riding in his shirtsleeves until they got into the thicker shade, then had untied his suit jacket from behind the cantle and put it back on. He came alert at the news, slithered down off his horse and tied it (you couldn't always trust livery hacks not to take off if they weren't fastened to something), checked his Colt Lightnings, jammed his bowler firmly into place on his head, and disappeared into the foliage on the north side of the trail while Josiah took the south. Nathan and Chris got down to ease their horses and stretch, and in case gunfire erupted: their own mounts were trained to deal with it, but they couldn't be sure about these. Nathan took a moment to loosen his knives in their sheaths and check the loads in his Remington Model 1875 .44.

After about ten minutes they heard a crash, the whinny of a startled horse, and voices, Josiah's deep one almost drowning out the reply--but not so thoroughly that healer and gunslinger didn't exchange unbelieving looks. Shortly their two friends appeared, JD leading a black gelding on which rode the girl from the hotel, the one who'd identified herself as Bentann's niece. She wore a pale-green riding costume with a bright yellow scarf, and a wide-brimmed straw hat which had fallen or been pushed back to hang down behind by the throat strap. Her honey hair was braided tightly around her head, a few elflocks showing where protruding branches had grabbed at it.

"What the hell," said Chris. He strode forward as JD halted. "What are you doin' up here?" he demanded, his voice harsh. "I figured you didn't know where your uncle was, but if you thought you could ambush us--"

"Chris!" Nathan exclaimed. "She's just a girl!"

"Casey's a girl," JD observed grimly, "and I bet she could ambush a man if she put her mind to it." The stress was beginning to show on him, in his pale complexion and the dark smudges under his hazel eyes, but even more in the tautness of his body and his voice.

"I've got no such intention, Sheriff Dunne," the girl told him. "You're looking for your friend. I'm looking for one too. I think my uncle may be involved in both their disappearances."

The men greeted this with a momentary silence. "Get down," Chris ordered. "I want to hear all of this."


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