The Magnificent Seven belong to MGM/Trilogy/Mirisch. No copyright infringement is intended. No profit will be made.
Comments: This takes place approximately one year after the beginning of Secrets and is for the wonderful people who asked for just one more. I hope I've done it justice for you.
Chris Larabee closed his eyes and tried to banish the images that flashed through his mind as he listened to the voice mail message on his phone. The soft mellifluous voice speaking to him belonged to a person Chris never thought he would hear from again and after the events of a year ago, a person he had almost hoped to never hear from again.
'Chris, I'm in Denver. I need to see you. Will you meet me at O'Reilly's tonight around 6:00?'
He deleted the message and hung up the phone. In his head he debated ignoring the request, however, in his heart he knew he could not. He sighed deeply and massaged his temples as old feelings of betrayal and the onslaught of a headache hit him at the same time. He glanced at his watch and saw that it was nearly 5:30. He gathered the things he needed to take home for the weekend then closed the door behind him as he left his office. When he entered the parking garage he climbed into his truck and just sat there. After a few minutes, he started up and pulled out onto the street. As he drove along, he wondered not only about the purpose of the meeting but also what it would cost him.
What do you want, Macy?
+ + + + + + +
Thirty minutes later, Chris walked into the small restaurant and scanned over the patrons inside. His eyes stopped searching as they came to rest on a figure sitting in a darkened corner of the main area. He took in the petite form and the long auburn hair. His breath caught in his throat as she looked up and the sky-blue eyes made contact with his. He felt the events of the previous year's melt away as long hidden emotions filled his entire being. Walk out of here, Larabee. You're about to make the biggest mistake of your life. He walked over to her table and sat down.
"Hello Chris," she greeted.
He looked at her for a long moment before responding. Finally, he said, "Macy, or is it still Lisa?"
She smiled slightly. "Call me Lisa. I'm comfortable with it now. Macy is a part of my life I'd rather forget." She lowered her eyes and studied the napkin in front of her. She looked back up to meet Chris' eyes and said softly; "I wasn't sure whether or not you would come."
"Not showing crossed my mind. Why did you call me?"
Taking a deep breath, Lisa said, "Since leaving Denver, I've traveled around. I haven't been able to settle down in any one place. There has always been something missing." She closed her eyes. When she opened them again, they glistened with unshed tears. She reached over to take Chris' hand. "I realized I was missing the best part of myself. The best part of me is you, Chris. I told you before I left that I loved you. The only thing that has changed is that I love you more now than I did then. I know you felt the same for me. Tell me you forgive me for leaving. Tell me you love me."
Chris gently extracted his hand then rubbed both over his face. "I can't...don't do this to me. You have no idea what you're asking." His mind was whirling with confusion.
"I'm asking for a chance. A chance I realize I never gave you. Is that so bad or wrong?"
Chris sighed deeply. This can't be happening now. "Tell me something. Before you left Denver, you were supposed to marry..."
Lisa cut him off. "Yes, I was supposed to get married, but I couldn't go through with it. I didn't love him."
"Did you say good-bye to him?" Chris asked.
Lisa's eyes grew sad and troubled. "No, Chris. I did care for him; however, his love for me was much stronger than what I felt for him. I didn't want to see the hurt I knew would be in his eyes." She laughed softly. "Unless he's changed, anyone can see every one of his feelings just by looking at him. His eyes are that expressive."
"Yes, they are," Chris agreed, "and no, he hasn't changed."
Lisa looked at Chris sharply. Her voice was puzzled as she asked, "How do you know about him?"
"His name is Vin Tanner. He joined my team a little over two years ago. He's not only my co-worker but also my best friend. Last year, he told me about you and him. God, I couldn't believe the coincidence. I didn't have the guts to tell him about us. Later, Vin overheard me telling another friend the whole story. You and I being together didn't hurt him, but my dishonesty and his own demons did. Lisa, I nearly lost him. I was able to get him back only because of his trust."
Lisa stared at Chris. Finally, she said, "I don't believe this. You and Vin didn't know each other prior to my leaving?" When Chris shook his head no, she muttered again, "I don't believe it."
"I can't hurt him," Chris said softly.
"Chris," Lisa began softly, "Vin is an adult. He'll understand. I love you and I know you had feelings for me before. Will you give us a chance, please? Haven't you ever wondered what it might have been like? I have ever since the day I walked out of your office. Chris, we'll talk to Vin together. If he's as good a friend as you claim, he'll only want what's best for you." Lisa reached across the table and cupped Chris' face in her hands. His green eyes flooded with an emotion he thought he no longer possessed. She raised up to lean over closer to him then kissed his lips gently. "Would he stand in the way of your happiness?"
Chris could feel his resistance waning as he placed his hands over the ones touching his face and shook his head slowly. He nuzzled his face into one hand, kissing the palm, "No, he wouldn't," he breathed. He started to say something more when his cellular phone rang, startling him.
"Chris, where are you? You're late."
Chris drew in a sharp intake of breath when he heard the voice on the other end of the phone. For not the first time, he believed his voice of conscious was a soft Texas drawl.
"Oh, damn. Sorry, Cowboy, the time's gotten away from me," Chris stammered.
"You're still at work? You sound strange. Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, I'm still here. Everything's fine, I'm just a little preoccupied right now. I'm in the middle of a report I thought I had completed. I need to finish it before I leave. I'm sorry, I should have called."
"It's okay, Chris. Don't worry about it. We still on for the game tomorrow?"
Looking over at Lisa, Chris made a decision. "It might be best if you boys don't count on me this weekend, Vin. I think I need to spend some time with my files to make sure I'm not further behind than I thought."
"Okay, Chris. Don't stay at work too late. Have a good weekend."
"I won't. You have a good weekend, too, Cowboy. I'll see you on Monday."
Vin hung up the phone and stared at it for a moment; He then walked out of Chris' office, turning off the light behind him.
Chris smiled softly at Lisa. "Let's go out to my ranch."
Monday morning, Chris strode through the federal building that housed the ATF department. He rode the elevator to the fourth floor and then walked down the short hallway that led to his team's office space. He made his way passed his co-workers desks and headed toward his own office. An hour later, he was trying to focus on the paperwork in front of him but found his mind drifting back to the events of the weekend. He smiled as he remembered the quiet time he and Lisa had spent together as they walked and talked. The pure joy on her face had been priceless as they rode horses through the field. His eyes glazed as he recalled the pent-up passion in both of them as they had made love. He was so lost in thought that he failed to hear the elevator ding announcing the arrival of one of his teammates.
"Morning, Chris," said the voice of JD Dunne. It never ceased to amaze and often irritate Chris how JD could be so bright and cheerful first thing in the morning, especially Monday mornings.
Buck Wilmington walked into Chris' office. He sat down in the chair opposite Chris' desk and propped his feet on the desk. He shook his head and rolled his eyes. "That kid is enough to drive anyone to drink. He's all happy while I'm still debating whether or not I'm gonna open my eyes."
Chris laughed and said, "Tell me about it. There should be a crime against cheerfulness so early in the morning."
Buck eyed Chris suspiciously. "What time did you get out of here Friday?"
"Late, why?" Chris asked.
"Well, I just wondered if you got caught up on all the back log of paperwork you had."
"Some of it. You got something to say, Buck, why don't you spit it out?" Chris growled.
"When you didn't show up at the bar, Vin got worried."
"I know. He called me," Chris answered testily.
"Did you know he came back here to see what was keeping you?" Buck asked.
"Vin came back here?" Chris avoided Buck's eyes. Oh hell, Vin was here when he called.
"Yep. Needless to say, he's a little confused as to why you lied to him. Although, I think he'll forgive you after he finds out about what you were up to."
Chris felt his breath constricting in his throat. What have I done? What was I thinking? That's just it, I wasn't thinking. Not with my head anyway.
"I don't know what you're talking about, Buck."
The mustached man grinned slyly and nodded his head toward Chris. "Hate to tell you, pard, but those marks on your neck are a dead give-away. Anyone I know?"
Chris' face flushed deep red. "No. Don't you have work to do, Agent Wilmington?"
"Not at the moment. Spill it, Chris. Who is she?"
Chris closed his eyes and fought back a surge of frustration. The cold harsh reality of his actions began to seep into his mind and wave of guilt assaulted him. "Not now, Buck," he said forcefully through clenched teeth.
Buck raised his hands, palms facing outward in surrender. "Take it easy, buddy. I was just funning with you." Before Buck could say anything else, Chris arose and stormed out of his office. Have to leave, get out before he gets here.
Without a backward glance, Chris said, "Tell everyone I'm taking the day off, Buck."
Buck watched Chris' retreating form. "What the hell?"
Two hours later, Chris sat in his truck at the entrance to the park. He had called Lisa at her hotel and asked her to join him there. He watched as a cab pulled up and the lone passenger stepped out. God, she's beautiful. How am I going to do this? Chris exited his truck and walked toward the woman, meeting her halfway. Neither spoke, but joined together in a brief but meaningful kiss.
Lisa looked up into green eyes that were deeply troubled. She knew in her heart what was coming but felt she had to voice the question anyway.
"What is it, Chris?"
"Let's take a walk, okay? We need to talk."
They joined hands and started down the park's walking path. Chris' silence was disconcerting, however, Lisa knew he must come to grip with his feelings before he could share anything with her.
Finally, after a few minutes, Lisa decided to prod him along a bit. "We aren't going to work are we, Chris?" she asked gently.
Chris turned to face Lisa and placed his hands on her upper arms, gripping firmly. When he spoke, his voice was full of emotion.
"You don't know how badly I felt for Vin when he told me about you and him. I won't go into detail about the things he has confided in me though I will say he deserves a better life than what he's had. Your leaving hurt him terribly. His own strength and the trust he has in our friendship have brought him through the loss he felt after you left. He's too young to hurt as much as he has. Lisa, I can't be another source of pain to him."
Lisa felt a wave of anger wash over her. Her voice was harsh and cold as she spoke. "So you're telling me, you won't be with me because of Vin. I can't believe you, Chris. We have a chance of being happy after all this time and you intend to throw it away because of Vin. I told you we would work it out with him."
In his mind, Chris was willing Lisa to understand though he knew she did not. "I felt so good this morning when I arrived at work. I thought I could face anything. Then I found out that when Vin called me Friday, he called from the federal building. He was worried about me enough to drive back across town to check on me. I don't know why, but it tore me apart knowing that he knew I lied to him about being at work. How do you think he'll feel when he finds out about us? I can't do that to him."
"Doesn't it tear you apart knowing you're throwing away your chance at happiness?" Lisa asked quietly.
"Yeah, it does."
"And you're still willing to give up on us?"
With his heart in his eyes, Chris answered, "yes."
Lisa nodded her head once. "Well, I guess that's it then. I'm not going to say I understand because I don't. Good-bye Chris."
Lisa quickly walked away, only going a few yards before hearing a loud voice behind her. She turned sharply at the noise, her eyes growing wide with fear at the sight. "Oh my God, Chris," she screamed.
Chris Larabee was falling to his knees while clutching his side, blood drenching his shirt.
The emergency room nurse looked up and sighed as she saw the six ATF agents rush through the automatic doors. She had known it would only be a matter of minutes before they arrived after receiving word of Mr. Larabee's admittance.
The mustached man surged forward. "Where's Chris Larabee?" he demanded.
The nurse spoke patiently. "Gentlemen, Mr. Larabee is being treated now for a stab wound to the side. There is no information as yet of his condition. Please have a seat while I notify the doctor that you have arrived. Perhaps the young lady in the waiting area will be able to tell you what happened. Mr. Tanner, I trust that you still are up-to-date on Mr. Larabee's medical history?"
"Yes, ma'am," replied the Texan.
"Will you be so kind as to remain here and fill out the necessary forms for him?"
"Sure. I'll be there in a minute, guys."
The other five agents made their way to the emergency waiting room.
"Excuse me," Buck addressed the crowded room, "who came in with Chris Larabee?"
None of the men recognized the young woman that stepped forward.
"I did," she answered shakily.
"Ma'am, my name is Buck Wilmington. We work with Chris. Can you tell us what happened?"
"My name is Lisa Sanders." Lisa did not miss the sharp intake of breath the mustached man drew. "We were in the walking in the park. I was leaving when I heard a shout. I turned and saw Chris falling to the ground after a man pushed away from him. I didn't know what was wrong at first until I saw the blood. I guess my scream attracted some joggers because a couple of them ran toward Chris and one tackled the man running away. Someone called 911. Chris was conscious for awhile. He said the guy tried to grab his wallet and thought he was stabbed when the guy saw his gun." Lisa's voice wavered noticeably. "Everything happened so fast."
"Lisa?" asked a quiet voice.
Lisa closed her eyes for a moment then turned to face the man behind her. Tears began streaming down her face as she rushed over to him and threw herself into his arms.
"Vin. Oh God, it was awful," she cried.
Vin wrapped his arms around her and stroked her back gently. "Take it easy. Everything will be all right. Chris'll be just fine."
Vin addressed the other five agents; "Lisa and I are going to talk privately for a minute, okay? We'll be right back." With his arm still wrapped around the frightened woman, Vin led them from the room.
"What is all this about?" asked Nathan once Vin and Lisa were out of earshot.
Buck replied, "You all remember the trouble Vin had last year and when he left?"
The other four nodded that they did indeed remember. How could they not?
"Well," Buck continued, "that lady is the reason for the whole problem. I can't tell you anymore. That will be up to Chris and Vin to share."
"Very well, Mr. Wilmington," Ezra stated, "We will respect what you have and have not told us. We will not question you."
+ + + + + + +
"You came back for Chris, didn't you?" Vin asked.
"I love him. Vin, I know I hurt you and I'm so sorry. I wish I could say I didn't know what I was doing but we both know I did."
Vin shook his head. "It doesn't matter now. All that counts is helping Chris get well."
"Lisa, I don't want to talk about us. You'll be here for him won't you?"
Lisa smiled slightly. "No. I've already given my statement to the police. I'm leaving for good."
"What? No, you can't do that. You said you love him. He loves you, too." Vin started pacing the hall. "Lisa, for God's sake, don't do this to him."
Lisa walked over to Vin and took his hand into hers. "I'm not doing anything to Chris. I'm doing this for him, Vin. I want to tell you something. I called him Friday and we got together. I was with him the whole weekend. He called me this morning to meet him at the park. As soon as I saw his face..." her voice broke. "He value's your friendship more than being with me. He told me he wouldn't hurt you by staying with me. Vin, in the ambulance, he kept asking for you. He was begging me to find you and to tell you he was sorry. Sometimes he thought he was with you. Chris loves me, yes. But, he loves and needs you more. You're the brother and family he wants. I admit I was angry at first but listening to him pleading for you broke my heart."
Lisa raised up and kissed Vin's cheek. "Don't be angry with him, Vin. He chose you," she whispered in his ear.
+ + + + + + +
A short while later, Vin rejoined his friends in the waiting area. Buck put an arm over his shoulder as he sat down.
"You okay, pard?"
"I'm fine, Buck," came the quiet reply. "Any word about Chris?"
"Not yet. Where's Lisa?"
"She left. Said that's what she and Chris wanted."
"Is that what you want?"
"I want Chris to be happy."
The ladies man grinned broadly. "Hey, with friends like us, how could he not be happy? We're his favorite pains in the ass."
Several hours later, Chris began to awaken. The report had been good. Nothing vital had been hit nor had there been any major damage done to his side. He would just be in a lot of pain for awhile. As he became more alert, he realized his whole body felt like it was on fire. He felt pressure on his hand that immediately tightened as he groaned. Through the haze of pain, he heard a soft voice. The one voice always provided a beacon for his soul.
"Easy, Chris. Don't try to move."
"Vin?" he rasped.
"I'm here. Just rest, okay. The others are waiting outside. You want me to get them?"
"No. Need to talk to you. Vin, listen to me. Lisa..."
"I'm not going to lie to you," Vin interrupted, "she's gone. I'm sorry, Chris."
"Don't be...my choice. Vin, I lied to you."
Chris felt a gentle hand on his face. "Forget it. It's over now," Vin soothed.
Chris' green eyes cleared and bore into Vin's blue ones. "I need to be sure. Are we okay, Vin?"
"We're okay, Cowboy. You rest now. I'll be here when you wake up."
"You won't leave?"
"How could I leave my best friend?" Vin asked smiling.
"No, Chris. I won't leave. I'll always be here for you."
With the knowledge that his friends were outside and his brother was keeping watch, Chris slept peacefully.
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