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Chris rolled over on the bunk and sat up. The deputy opened the cell and
handed him the bag of food and the thermos. He had already checked it and
knew that it held only plastic utensils. He knew that Libby would know what
to put in the bag when they had a prisoner in the jail.
The food was good and hot. The coffee was strong and black and he sipped
it as if it were nectar from the gods. In a separate container was a baked
apple dish that put him in mind of Vin. It was wickedly sweet and he savored
it after he finished the rest of the food.
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The team returned to the motel to get a change of clothes for Chris and to
await the arrival of the special carry permits so that they could reclaim
Vins gun. The courier knocked on the door of the room and handed them
a thick envelope of papers and collected a signature. In the envelope was
a sheaf of paper for each of them bearing the seal of the state. Tucking
them into their jackets, the team set out for the jail.
Sheriff Wilhelm stepped out of his patrol car just as the big suburban pulled
into the parking lot. The men left the vehicle and headed for the door.
Where do you gentlemen think youre going?
Buck turned to face the sheriff who stood with his thumbs tucked into his
gun belt. The hard blue eyes drilled into the tin god who challenged him
and he took a step forward. Nathan and Josiah held him back.
JD stepped forward.
Sheriff Wilhelm? He read the name on the mans shirt pocket.
Were friends of Chris Larabee and we brought him a change of
clothes. Wed like to see him. We also wanted you to know that we have
special carry orders for our firearms. We dont want to make any
The earnest look on the young agents face was enough to pacify the
hardened man for the moment. He nodded and held out his hand. JD surrendered
the sheaf of papers with one hand and the bag of clothes for Chris with the
other. The sheriff took only the papers and opened them. After scanning the
order, he handed the paper back with a curt nod.
Ill allow you a brief visit. Ill have to ask that you not
approach the cell.
The team followed the sheriff into the jail. Chris came immediately to his
feet. Nathan and Josiah moved to restrain Vin and Buck as they headed for
the bars. A long, awkward silence followed as the team stared at their leader
in the cell. Larabee looked rough. It was obvious that he had not slept well
the past two nights.
Are you all right? The hazel eyes were locked on the pale blue
ones. Vin nodded.
Just worried about you, cowboy. How have you been?
Ive been better. What does the judge say?
Hes arranged for a lawyer for you. As soon as youre arraigned,
They did that yesterday afternoon. Their judge ordered me held without
bail. They set a court date for three weeks from now.
Three weeks! JDs voice was strident and tinged with rage.
Nathans hand rested on the young agents shoulder, a reminder
to remain calm.
Chris tried to turn the conversation around by inquiring about the assignment
they had just finished. Buck gave stilted responses as he continued to glare
over his shoulder at the two lawmen that were eavesdropping on their
We brought you some clean clothes and your shaving kit. JD offered.
The sheriff cleared his throat. I think you need to go now, gentlemen.
You can come back for an hour this evening.
Vin whipped the sheaf of papers out of his pocket and handed it to the deputy.
I want my gun back, now. Hostility dripped from his words.
Vin! That isnt helping! Theyre just doing their job.
Dont make it any harder that it has to be. We may be together for a
The chastised Texan accepted the gun and shoved it into his holster.
Im sorry, Sheriff.
As Vin left the jail, the others followed him. They piled into the suburban
and sat quietly for a moment. The pent up frustration was thick as they tried
to figure out what to do.
Where was that bar you went to that night? Maybe someone there will
remember something that could help. Josiah suggested.
Until we know what the evidence is that they have against him, we
dont even know what questions to ask. Nathan volunteered.
How about where they found the car? Do you know where they were
found? Buck asked.
Vin clenched his fists against his head. I dont know! They took
me up some gravel road. They wouldnt tell me anything! He left me at
the motel and went back to the bar for that girl. I shouldnt have let
him go back! This is all my fault!
Josiah reached around the seat and placed his arm across Vins chest.
He could feel the rapid heartbeat and breathing, he knew that the young man
was deeply stressed. They drove back to the motel and filed into one room
together, drawing support from each other.
Perry went thru the bag of clothing and checked everything before giving
it to Chris. He also gave him the deck of cards that one Larabees men
had pressed into his hand on their way out. The blond chuckled at the cards.
Ezra. Bless his heart. At least he could play solitaire on the
The lawyer sent by Judge Travis, Charles Wayman, arrived just before lunchtime.
He went directly to the jail and demanded to speak with his client in private.
Deputy Davis directed the man to the interrogation room and told him to wait
there. He returned to the cell and pulled out his handcuffs.
Is that really necessary? Im not going to give you any
Just doing my job. Sheriff Wilhelm would have my ass if I transfer
you without them.
Resignedly, Chris put his hands thru the bars and accepted the shackles.
They were not overly tight and Davis was not unnecessarily rough. The cell
was opened and Larabee was escorted back to the little room where he had
started out. The cuffs were removed in the room and the door closed behind
Mr. Larabee, Charles Wayman, Leftler, Wayman and Stern, your boss is
my sons Godfather. Would you sit down and tell me as much as you remember
about the night the young woman was killed?
We were at the bar. I had a few beers. I took Vin back to the motel
and came back to pick her up. We went for a drive.
The images swirled in his head. Dancing with her, kissing her, the smell
of her, making love to her, he shuddered as it all came crashing back onto
We made love in the car.
Consensually? You didnt force her?
God no! I would never! She was, I mean we, no, I didnt force
Wayman drew out the folder he had gotten from Smalls. Drawing a deep breath,
he began to lay out the photos and slide them over to him.
This is the body of their evidence.
Chris shuddered as he was confronted again with the pictures. The car, the
trunk, her body, a close up of the bruises on her neck, close ups of other
bruises, pictures of himself looking dazed as he sat in the cruiser. Only
one picture was in color, a picture of Wyn that had been taken by a professional
My God! Sarah! What have I done? The blond dissolved into gut
wrenching sobs and lowered his head to the table.
Two hours later, Wayman knocked on the door to the motel room. Josiah invited
him in and JD jumped up to give him the chair nearest the table. Six pairs
of eyes waited expectantly for the man to begin.
Have they told you anything at all about the case against Agent
Larabee? All heads indicated no. Then you havent
seen the crime scene pictures? Again no. These
arent easy to look at.
The pictures were passed around the room. Vin and JD showed the strongest
reactions to the black and white photos. The color picture didnt appear
to faze them but it caused Buck to gasp and jump to his feet.
This is the woman? This is the one they say he killed? Its not
possible, he couldnt have hurt her.
What makes you say that, Agent
Wilmington. He couldnt have killed this woman because she looks
just like his wife.
Would that be Sarah?
Yes, how do you know about Sarah?
He cried her name before he went all to pieces on me. I couldnt
get any useful information out of him after that.
Josiah took the picture from Bucks hand and studied the beautiful woman.
Nathan looked over his shoulder and his heart ached for Chris. To have found
a woman who looked so much like the love he had lost only to lose her and
be blamed for her death must be horrible. Ezra accepted the picture when
it was handed off and studied the face.
What about his gun? He didnt mention getting it from the
There was no report of a gun found at the scene. I will go back later
this afternoon and try to get more information from him after he has eaten
and rested. Is there anything you can remember, Agent Tanner?
I was shooting pool with one of the locals. She was at the jukebox.
They danced. Wait, there is something I remember. Willy told me to warn Chris
to be careful because he was dancing with the deputy sheriffs girl.
As in Deputy Davis? The guy from the diner this morning? Buck
asked as he came to his feet. The urge to do something was building in his
Maybe they have more than one deputy. JD offered.
They never read me my rights. They wouldnt let me make a phone
call until after I gave a statement. They questioned Chris without anyone
present, even after I told them not to question him. What if they didnt
read him his rights? Cant you at least make them release him on bail
until the trial?
I can try. I will request another bail hearing. Maybe Judge Travis
can put some pressure on this Judge Cross and get him to reconsider bail.
Since they arent using a confession to hold him, I dont know
what I can make from denying his Miranda rights. Ill look into it and
get back to you this evening.
Chris lay on the bunk wallowing in despair. Wyn had looked so much like Sarah
that it made his heart ache. That she was dead only served to make him feel
worse. The feel of her and the smell of her were burned onto his brain and
he wanted to reach inside and rip it out, if only to remove the guilt he
felt over being unfaithful to his beloved wife.
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Johnny hefted the gun and pointed it at the beer bottles lined up on the
fence. He pulled the trigger and the bottle exploded, spraying beer all over
the place. Grinning like a fool, he shoved the weapon into his pants and
pulled the stocking cap from his pocket. He even had the place picked out,
a little gas station in Altamont.
Seth Fielder fired the gun at the target and pulled the trigger three times
in succession. He walked down to the hay bale and looked at the paper target,
all three shots only tore a hole the size of a quarter in the paper. He smiled
in satisfaction as he shoved the gun into his boot.
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The lawyer showed up at the jail again that afternoon.
Before I speak with my client, can I ask you a couple of questions,
Deputy Davis? When Perry nodded, he guided him away from the cell and
out of earshot of Larabee. Ive been told that the dead girl may
have been dating the deputy sheriff, would that have been you by any
Perry laughed and shook his head. Oh yeah, we dated, in high school.
Her brother Johnny said that to people who showed an interest in his sister.
It pissed her off and gave him the jollies. She wasnt seeing anyone
recently that I know of.
So her brother Johnny was at the bar when she was dancing with my
Yeah, I guess so.
Thanks, Deputy. Can you bring him over here so we can talk again?
Chris sat down at the table and stared at Wayman.
Did you remember anything else? Do you remember if they read you your
rights when they arrested you? When did you see your sidearm last?
I didnt kill her. We made love in the backseat and I passed out.
I took off my holster and put it on the front seat before we started. I
dont even remember being arrested. The first thing I remember is this
room. I woke up with a horrific headache. Did the guys see the pictures?
Are they all right?
Theyre worried about you. They saw the pictures. Buck said she
My wife, Sarah. Thats what drew me to her. She looked just like
Sarah did when we started dating.
That could be a problem. How long ago did your wife die?
Three years ago. How is that a problem? I would never have harmed Sarah
or Wyn because she resembled Sarah.
Have you ever had black outs from drinking? Have you ever gotten into
a fight in a bar while drunk? Have you ever been arrested for problems arising
from your drinking?
All of them. After my family died I kind of crawled into a bottle for
a while. I got drunk and picked fights. I would wake up in my car or in a
hotel room or in my bed and not remember how I got there. Buck picked me
up off the floor of every bar and tavern in Denver for a few months. I
havent been that drunk since the time I put him in the hospital with
The team showed up at the jail just before suppertime. Sheriff Wilhelm reminded
them not to approach the bars and then he retreated to the farthest corner
of the room where he could still watch them. Snatching chairs from the nearby
desks, Josiah and Buck sat down. JD and Vin sat against the wall as close
as they could be to the bars without being able to touch them. Nathan and
Ezra leaned against the desks.
How are you doing, cowboy? Vins sharp eyes took in every
worry line as well as the dark circles under Chriss eyes.
Ive been better. Are you all right? I dont want you blaming
yourself for this. You took me back to the motel, I left on my own.
I should have let you drive thru without stopping.
Gentlemen, attempting to place blame at this junction is futile. What
is important now is that we focus on finding the cretin or cretins responsible
for the young womans death. We need facts and names, not guilt and
Brother Ezra is right. We need to find the person who killed the girl.
Have you remembered anything else that might help us in our investigation?
Josiahs calm voice eased the tension in the group.
Buck, theyre probably going to call you as a witness. Chris
said as he sank back onto the bunk.
I was in Denver when she was killed!
Not the defense, Buck, the prosecutor. They know about the drinking
bout I had after Sarah and Adam died and theyre using it to make me
The mustached man hissed angrily. It was bad enough that Chris was being
accused of murder, but to have his drinking brought up again was opening
an older, deeper wound. He remembered all too clearly the last time hed
tried to pull his drunken friend out of a bar.
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It had been months since the funeral and Larabee was still so sodden most
of the time that he couldnt find his ass with both hands. All the
bartenders in the area had Bucks cell phone number on speed dial. They
had all learned to read the warning signs. Somehow it never failed that some
young hothead would have to challenge Chris in some way and a fight would
It was a snowy, miserable Monday evening. The blond had been at the tavern
since noon and was several sheets in the wind as he sat in the corner booth,
alone. If the truck driver had known that Chris could barely see beyond the
edge of his table, he might have ignored the angry scowl, but he decided
to challenge it and the trouble began.
Buck had just finished the report on a multi-car accident and was preparing
to go back into service when his cell phone rang. It was Mike from the Tip
Top Tavern, Chris was scowling at a trucker and things were getting nasty.
He flipped on the lights and siren and rushed to try to prevent the brawl
he knew was brewing.
A gleam came off of the big belt buckle that appeared at the edge of his
vision. Why would anyone need a buckle that big? Chris pulled
the beer bottle toward him and took a big swig. His eyes narrowed as he sought
to eliminate the annoying point of light.
I asked you a question, mister. What in the hell are you looking at?
Are you stupid or something? Answer me!
The trucker reached out and grabbed the man from the booth and jerked him
to his feet. It took a couple of tries for the drunken man to get his legs
under him. He smelled like a distillery and carried several days growth
of beard on his face. The hazel eyes were unfocused and the man seemed to
have little coordination left.
Buck slid the car right up to the door and barreled out. Racing into the
tavern, he immediately spotted the trouble. He wasnt quick enough to
prevent the first blow delivered to Larabees jaw. The blond crashed
into the wall. The jarring seemed to clear his head and he charged the trucker
with a cry of rage. Wilmington managed to get between them and tried to hold
Chris back. The trucker, seeing the badge and gun, immediately backed down
and slunk out of the tavern.
Even before he knew what had hit him, Chris slammed his fist into his
friends jaw. Buck saw stars for a moment before he realized that the
blond mans rage was now turned on him. Holding his hands up in front
of him in a placating gesture, Wilmington tried to coax his friend into a
Come on now, Chris. Its over! Hes gone. Let me take you
home, okay? Youve had enough to drink for one night, let me take you
Leave me alone, Buck! You arent my father! Im a big boy
and I dont need you looking after me all the time! Just leave me
The last four words were punctuated by a hard flung right fist. Larabee exploded
into a hitting frenzy. Buck felt himself bodily slammed into the wall and
then the hard edge of a table drilled into his kidneys. A chair entered his
field of vision just before it struck his shoulder. Thru the haze in his
mind, Wilmington could hear Chris raging against the universe.
let them die like that? I loved them! My son, my little boy!
He was just a kid! Why? Why them and not me?
Chris, calm down. I dont have any answers for you. Let me take
A pair of fists closed on Bucks shirt and he was flung into the jukebox.
The shattering of glass penetrated his mind as the pain in his back increased
tenfold. He was barely conscious and fading fast. The last thing he remembered
was the pained and enraged hazel eyes just before the fist connected with
his jaw again sending him into a table and then darkness.
He awoke in the hospital two days later. A concussion was the least of his
injuries. His kidneys were badly bruised and he had deep cuts on his back
from the jukebox. His jaw was fractured, as were several of his ribs.
He refused to press charges and the owner of the tavern refused to press
charges after Buck paid to replace the damaged jukebox. Chris sat in jail
for a week until Wilmington was released from the hospital. Larabee had dried
out during that time and had done some serious soul searching.
They drove out to the cemetery where Sarah and Adam were buried and Chris
made a promise to the three of them that he would never allow himself to
get so out of control again. He turned a corner and began to pull his life
+ + + + + + +
Buck? Josiah laid his hand on Wilmingtons shoulder. They
had been talking to him for the past few minutes without getting any response.
Sorry, I was lost in thought. I wont let them use Sarah and Adam
against you like that, Chris. You have my word on that.
I know, Buck, I know. Chris had seen the unfocused gaze and knew
what his friend was remembering.
The hour passed too quickly as the deputy brought supper and told them they
had to leave. As a group, they stood, staring at their leader before turning
reluctantly to go. Vin hung back a minute longer, staring at Chris with longing
in his eyes. After getting a nod from the blond head, he finally followed
The diner was nearly deserted when they arrived. Libby had already pushed
the tables together and rearranged the chairs. A pitcher of tea and glasses
of ice was waiting on the table. She called out to them as they came in.
Have a seat, Ive got everything ready. Do any of you want
She set the food out family style on the table. A large platter of fried
chicken, a bowl of mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots and a basket
of fresh-baked bread arrived before them. Leaning close to Vin, Libby whispered.
I have some more of the baked apples for dessert.
The food was good and the men made short work of consuming it. Another pitcher
of tea and a carafe of coffee disappeared. There was very little conversation
at the table, each man lost in thought. When Libby put the bowl of hot, baked
apples on the table, mouths watered.
Gentle smiles broke out on the faces of the other men as Vin dug into the
dessert. The young man had a vicious sweet tooth and was definitely enjoying
the comfort food the waitress brought to the table. When they
had finished eating, Libby approached the table again.
Is there anything your friend likes in particular to eat? She
had rested a hand on Vins shoulder as she spoke and he smiled up at
Chicken and dumplings. His wife used to make them on Sunday.
The Texans voice was soft as he offered the suggestion.
Buck felt the bitter tears burn in his eyes and yanked his napkin from his
lap to wipe them away. The kindness the woman was showing them was tearing
down the wall of anger he had been struggling to keep around his emotions.
Josiah paid for the meal and they came to their feet to leave. He couldnt
suppress the smile that split his face when Vin and then JD hugged the matronly
woman. They went back to the motel to clean up and tried to watch television.
Buck called the judge to find out what was happening from his end.
Im sorry, Buck. Apparently, this Judge Cross in one inflexible
son of a cuss. He wont budge an inch on anything. I have requested
a hearing of the superior court but it will take a couple of weeks to get
in before them. I also wanted to warn you that their prosecutor had gotten
hold of the records of Larabees arrests following the deaths of his
family. I have a feeling theyre going to use them against him.
We know. Theyve already hinted at that. We have to try to find
out what happened to his gun. Whoever took the gun is probably the same person
who killed the girl.
His gun is missing? Why wasnt I informed of that?
We only found out today.
Damn! If anyone is killed with that gun it will be very bad for Larabee
and for the ATF. You have to find that gun! See if the car was dusted for
prints. Ill send you what little they have released on the investigation.
They arent looking very hard.
Why should they? They have Chris.
How are the others holding up?
Were okay. Theyre letting us see him a couple of times
a day. He looks tired.
Just be strong. Well get thru this.
After hanging up the phone, they watched some banal program for a while before
retiring to bed. Vin seemed to rest easier thru the night. Ezra slipped out
of the other room and drove up to the bar where the whole mess started. He
had a couple of drinks while he watched the patrons shooting pool and throwing
down beer. They ignored the well-dressed man for the most part.
The next few days passed much the same as the first. The team visited with
Chris for an hour in the morning and afternoon. The lawyer didnt return.
He was trying to ply the higher court for a re-hearing of the bail situation.
A courier or Fed-Ex brought a package nearly every day filled with the
information that the prosecutor was gathering to use against Larabee.
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Johnny leaned back in the seat of his car, smiling broadly. He had hit two
gas stations in Sparta and a liquor store in Crossville. It was easy. He
just waived the gun in the cashiers face and they handed over the money
and cartons of cigarettes that he demanded.
+ + + + + + +
Buck and JD had made an appearance at the bar two nights in a row. They shot
a game of pool and had a couple of beers and watched people. They were being
stymied by the lack of cooperation from the sheriff. The rental car had been
released to the rental company and it had been sent out before it could be
dusted for prints.
Seth and his friends were playing pool on one of the tables when Buck and
Vin came in the next night. They scowled at the strangers when they approached
the other table and began to rack up the balls. Randy and Jeff made a point
of bumping the Texan as he was setting up for his shot. Tanner took a deep
breath and waited for the men to move away before taking his shot. Glares
and barely veiled threats were traded between the two tables as the games
continued. Jeffs brother Gill showed up a few minutes later and joined
Buck moved between the tables to make his shot. Randy and Gill were standing
between the tables watching Seth make his shot.
Excuse me, son, would you mind moving over a smidge so I can make a
Randy sneered at him. The tension escalated until Vin accidentally jabbed
Seth with the pool cue as he was breaking the rack.
The bartender had been watching the trouble building between the strangers
and Seth and his gang. He saw Seth deliberately move to accept the jab of
the young strangers cue. Picking up the phone, he called the jail and
asked for help.
The fight broke out with ferocious intensity. Seth grabbed Vin by the back
of his jacket and pulled him away from the table with one hand while punching
him in the face with the other. Buck immediately tried to come to his defense
only to be blocked by Randy and Gill.
Jeff caught Vin and held him while Seth let loose a hard left to the
Texans midsection. As the air was driven from his lungs, Tanner lashed
out with his foot, striking his attacker on the thigh. Throwing his weight
back against the man holding him, Vin hoped to gain the freedom of his arms.
Buck felt the pool cue slash across his back as he tried to get to Vin. He
stumbled, falling into Gills arms and was immediately shoved away before
getting a right cross to his chin. Randy rabbit punched Wilmington in the
kidneys, propelling him back toward the other man who drove an uppercut into
Sheriff Wilhelm pulled his pistol and fired it into the air. All six combatants
froze, Buck sliding to his knees gasping for air and Vin bracing himself
on the edge of the pool table as his vision darkened dangerously.
Although he had never had the need for them, the sheriff had a gross of the
new, plastic restraints that were used in riot control situations. He had
shoved a handful into his coat pocket before leaving the jail.
Up against the wall, all of you! Move! NOW! He kept his gun trained
on the men.
Slowly, reluctantly, all four of the locals moved to the wall where the pool
cues were kept. The two strangers were not moving, they remained close to
the pool tables. Knowing that they were carrying guns, he called again.
You two, against the wall! MOVE!
Finally, the younger man moved to help the older man to his feet and they
moved to the far wall, away from the other four. The door behind the sheriff
opened and the deputy ran in.
I got here as quick as I could. What happened?
The bartender answered, loudly. It was Seth and his crew. The strangers
didnt start it. They were just shooting pool and Seth got in the
Wilhelm handed Davis the plastic cuffs.
Ill cover you. Secure all of them and well straighten it
out at the jail.
The deputy moved to quickly secure Seth and his friends before moving to
the two ATF agents. He could tell that the older man was more angry than
hurt by the tension in his shoulders.
Just take it easy. Im going to secure your hands and then Ill
take your weapon. Dont make this any harder than it has to be. The
bartender vouched for you so youll be released in short order.
Perry had kept his voice low so the others would not hear as he eased
Bucks hands into the plastic cuffs. He could tell that Vin was in worse
shape by the way he held his arm protectively over his ribs as he leaned
against the wall for support.
Take it easy, kid. Just let me do this and well be done.
He reached around for the young mans arm and heard the sharply indrawn
breath. Perry turned the man and pressed him against the wall. He eased the
9mm from the shoulder holster and shoved it in the back of his pants before
securing Vins hands in front of his body. Turning the other agent,
he took the second gun and stepped back.
Okay, lets get them over to the jail.
Seth and his friends tossed hateful grins over their shoulders at the ATF
agents before Wilhelm shoved them toward the door. Perry steadied Vin as
he moved them toward the door. The sheriff put all except Seth into his cruiser.
He shoved the ringleader into the front of the deputys car and slammed
Vin groaned weakly as he sat in the car, it hurt to try to lift his feet
off the ground. Perry gently lifted the booted feet and set them into the
car. Buck glared hard at the young man in the front seat as soon as he was
put in the car. Davis noticed in the mirror that the younger agent was still
clutching his ribs as he slid down so he could lean his head against the
The sheriff got out of his car and walked over to the other car. He jerked
the front passenger door open and pulled Seth out of the seat roughly.
Take them to their motel. Drive someone over to the bar to pick up
the vehicle and get back here. Ill take care of things until you get
Nathan and the others stepped out of the room as soon as they saw the police
cruiser outside of their window. The deputy opened the rear door and lifted
Vins feet out of the car. He took hold of the plastic restraint and
popped it with his pocketknife.
Youll want to help him out of the car.
As the deputy moved to the other side, Nathan ran to Vins side. He
could tell that the Texan was in considerable pain. The arm guarding the
ribs was a dead giveaway that he was having trouble breathing.
Bad break on the pool table. I hurt, Nathan.
As Perry popped the restraints from Bucks wrists, he felt the big man
tense. The deputy all but jumped away as Wilmington exploded out of the car
and held out his hand. There was no mistaking what he wanted. Davis reached
around and pulled both weapons from his pants and offered them to the angry
Buck glared hard at the man before moving around the car to help the younger
man into the motel room. Josiah felt the keys strike his stomach and caught
them by reflex. Perry motioned toward the front seat as he closed the rear
door and moved around to get into the car.
Seth Fielder and his crew picked a fight with your men. The bartender
said they started it and your men werent at fault. I have to get back
to the jail to help straighten this out so Ill just drop you at the
bar and be on my way.
+ + + + + + +
Wilhelm shoved Seth into the interrogation room before going back for the
others. He pulled Randy from the front seat and put him in the cell with
the ATF agent. Shoving Gill and Jeff into the other cell, he reached thru
the bars and released their hands. He then released Randys hands and
left them to go to Seth.
A wicked grin lit Randys face as he looked at the older man in his
Youre the one who killed Wyn. How did it feel to choke the life
out of her? Did she beg for her life?
I didnt kill her.
That isnt what we heard. I wonder how you would like it if someone
beat and strangled you? Will you beg for your miserable life?
Chris came to his feet to defend himself. The young man sprang at him and
they grappled. He felt the hands that reached thru the bars and strained
to push away from the other cell. The kid was shorter than Larabee but he
was wiry and strong. Suddenly, his back touched the bars and he felt a meaty
arm around his neck.
Gill tightened his grip on the older man as his brother reached thru and
caught the mans right arm. Pulling it thru the bars, he twisted the
arm until the man cried out. Randy used his fists to pepper Chriss
chest and stomach with blows.
The sheriff glared at the arrogant young man sitting at the table. Seth Fielder
was a troublemaker. His father owned the factory where most of the people
in the county worked. The boy had never worked a day in his miserable life.
He was an ugly bully who beat up his girlfriends and threatened anyone who
got in his way.
What happened out there, Seth?
They were shoving us around! We were there first! We were just playing
a little pool.
Thats not the way I heard it. The bartender says you started
Those feds got you whipped, sheriff? I thought you had more balls than
Perry pulled into the parking lot and got out of the cruiser. He had only
just glanced thru the window and his blood ran cold. The Franklin boys were
holding the ATF agent while Randy bludgeoned him with his fists. He
couldnt get into the jail fast enough.
Sheriff Wilhelm! Get out here! Theyll kill him!
The sheriff looked up at the cry from the deputy. As he came to his feet,
Seth jumped up and slammed into him. He bounced off of the wall and fell.
The kid kicked him in the gut and he rolled to protect himself.
Seth waited for the sheriff to try to get up again. He knew what the others
were doing and he intended for it to go on for as long as possible. His dad
would bail them out and they would get off, they always did. He kicked the
sheriff in the ribs as he got to his hands and knees.
Perry pulled his gun and shouted for Randy to stop but the three young ruffians
only laughed and went on with their brutal attack. He looked for the sheriff
to come out and help him but he couldnt see what was happening in the
interrogation room. Davis had just made up his mind to go into the cell when
the door opened behind him.
+ + + + + + +
Josiah wanted to talk to the sheriff and deputy again about what had happened
at the bar. He was troubled that his friends had been treated so poorly if
they were not the antagonists. As he entered the jail, his heart leapt into
his throat. Three young men had Chris against the bars and were beating him
while the deputy looked on.
Pulling his gun, Josiah shouted at the deputy.
Dont just stand there! Stop them!
Davis put his gun on the desk and grabbed the keys to the cell. He unlocked
the door and was shoved out of the way as the graying man moved into the
cell. Grabbing Randy by the back of his shirt, the big man slammed him into
the brick wall and watched in satisfaction as the boy slid limply down to
Spinning back to the bars, Josiah grabbed the arm that was choking Chris
and twisted it cruelly. Gill screamed as the pain ripped into his shoulder.
Josiah smiled as he heard the telltale pop as the arm was dislocated.
Only then did he release the arm and shove the kid away. Jeff had immediately
backed away from the bars and was cowering in the corner.
Josiah caught Chris as he slumped, unconscious, against his chest. He eased
the blond man onto the bunk and turned on the prone form of the other person
in the cell. He grabbed Randy up by his shirt and stepped out of the cell
Open the other door! Do it now!
The loud, angry bass voice shook the deputy out of his reverie and he opened
the other cell door. Josiah dropped the unconscious boy onto the concrete
floor and smiled again as his head seemed to bounce before settling.
Returning to Chris, he began check him for injuries. His hands carefully
unbuttoned the shirt and laid the material aside. With a knowing touch, he
checked the ribs and found none broken, thankfully. He would be badly bruised
but that would pass in a few days. Larabees face was swollen from the
blows to the head.
+ + + + + + +
Nathans temper boiled over as he tended to Vin. At least two of his
ribs were cracked, judging from the guarding that the young man was doing
during the exam. He didnt have anything to use for bandages because
he hadnt thought to bring his first aid kit. Josiah had gone for their
vehicle and hadnt gotten back yet. JD had brought a bottle of Tylenol
and Jackson pressed four of them into Tanners hand.
Buck had a couple of nasty bruises on his back as well as several fist-sized
bruises on his chest and stomach. He didnt appear to have anything
broken, though. JD and Ezra fussed over him on the other bed while Nathan
tended to Vin.
+ + + + + + +
Perry went to check on the sheriff. When he entered the interrogation room,
his heart pounded furiously. Wilhelm was on the floor and Seth was kicking
him in the side as the sheriff tried to protect himself. Davis grabbed the
kid and slammed him into the wall before dragging him out of the room and
toward the cells. Taking his handcuffs, he clipped one to Seths wrist
and the other to the bars outside of the cell his friends were in. He then
ran back to tend to the sheriff.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra slipped out of the motel and jogged down to the pharmacy he had noticed
tucked up next to the grocery store. He picked up the things he thought Nathan
would need and dumped them on the counter. He glared at the woman at the
register until she looked embarrassed under the scrutiny.
Is there a doctor in town?
Doctor Flowers lives just up the street. Theres a sign on his
Thank you. He added a flashlight to the items on the counter
and paid for everything.
After dropping the supplies at the motel, he went in search of the doctor.
He saw the sign just as the man dashed out of the door and toward a car.
Excuse me, are you the doctor?
The doctor looked up in fright at the man jogging toward him in the darkness.
Yes. Can I help you?
I have a friend at the motel who needs attention. Would you be willing
to come and see to him? We will be glad to remunerate you for your time.
Im on my way to the jail. The sheriff and one of his prisoners
have been injured. As soon as I finish up there I will stop at the motel.
Which prisoner, do you know who was injured at the jail? One of the
men the sheriff is detaining is a friend of mine.
Youre one of the ATF agents? When he saw the man nod, the
doctor gestured. Hop in. I may need a few more hands when we get
With the things that Ezra brought back, Nathan was able to tape Vins
ribs to protect and support them. The Tylenol had taken the edge off of the
pain and the Texan was dozing lightly. Buck was too angry to rest; he just
sat, scowling at the television.
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