Mary did not give Ecstasy to Vin that night. She was well aware that the drug could be deadly and cause a variety of mental and physical problems. She needed her stud healthy.
That night Vin performed making sure that Mary was satisfied even if it wasnt as wild as their first coupling. A coupling that he only had hazy memories of. Mary didnt need that wildness though, the session with Ron had calmed her and she wanted Vins sweetness and gentleness.
It was obvious that Vin remembered very little about having sex with her earlier. She only told him briefly that he was wonderful and while he was pissed that she had drugged him he didnt dare complain.
The whole time they were eating she had freeze framed the picture of Chris in that damn room in that damn chair on the TV, but at least he wasnt being beaten and as long as Vin pleased the bitch Chris was safe.
The next several days followed the same pattern. Mary would spend meals with Vin then they would fall into bed. At times she would slip him an enhancement drug used for impotence. Vin hated when she did that. All it took was a few strokes of her hand and a few kisses and he was hard as a rock. Taking the bitch once wasnt enough he had to do it again and again until she was satisfied, but at least he got some relief with the act?
Vin had no way of knowing that it had been almost a week since he had been kidnapped, his entire existence was the bedroom and bathroom he was locked into.
But while Vin was in his own hell, Chris Larabee was not only in hell he was dying inside and if they didnt find Vin he knew his life wouldnt be worth living.
Chris had not been able to get out of the ropes that tied him to the bed; his wrists were bleeding from trying to get away.
Several times he had heard the phone ring and the answering machine pick up, but he didnt hear whom it was who called.
Lying there in the bed for hours he could only imagine what Vin was going through. He couldnt fathom how Vin was going to be able to have sex with Mary, which meant that Vin was going to be shown that video of him being beaten, or he would be drugged until he could perform.
Chris blinked back tears of anger and self-hatred, it was his entire fault. He had brought Vin into Marys life; he should have seen the woman was crazy; he should have killed her that day of the picnic when she had tried to get Vin to jump out of the barn loft.
Thankfully Buck had decided to show up Sunday afternoon. He had tried to get a hold of Chris and Vin to see if they needed any help for the New Years Eve bash.
When he got no answer he didnt worry, but at time went on and no one answered his messages he worried and headed out to the ranch.
Entering the ranch he paused his instincts on alert as he just felt that something was not right. The groceries that Chris had carried into the kitchen were still sitting on the table in the sacks. Not a good sign.
Buck drew his gun and stealthily made his way down the hallway.
Peering into each room he finally saw Chris tied to the bed. Glancing around, making sure there was no one in the room, he hurried over to his old friend.
Chris had fallen into a fitful sleep, dreaming of Vin and all the horrors his brother must be facing.
When Buck touched his arm, Chris jerked away gasping.
Damn, stud. Are you okay? What the hell happened?
Buck had Chris released and helped him off the bed.
Chris promptly collapsed; his legs didnt want to hold him.
Bathroom, Chris managed to mutter.
Buck helped the blond to the bathroom. Chris was so weak from lying on his back for so many hours without water or food that Buck had to support him on the toilet.
Buck handed Chris a glass of water and watched as it was greedily swallowed followed by two more.
Buck then realized that someone was missing.
Wheres Vin? Chris, where the hell is Junior?
Marys got him. Got us both Friday night. Fuck it to hell, Buck. I...just get the others out here. I only want to explain this once and then we find them. This time I want her dead.
Buck using his cell phone called the team who assured him they would head to the ranch immediately.
Chris was steadier on his feet and insisted he was taking a shower.
Buck left the bathroom door open and went back to the bedroom. Buck stripped the bed, the sheets, comforter and blankets would need to be washed, something that he would just take care of for his hurting friend.
Chris stood under the hot water and while he cleaned up he cried. He cried for Vin and for what he was afraid the younger man was dealing with. Vin was submitting to that bitch to save his brother, a brother who unbeknownst to him was safe and sound. Vin was so shy, what he was being forced to do would be so humiliating to the younger man.
As he stepped out of the shower Chris straightened his shoulders and dried his tears.
Vin needed him and there would be no more tears until he had Vin safely in his arms.
For the next week Chris presented a solid front to his men. They searched high and low for Vin.
But they could find no sign of their missing friend.
That Friday a package was delivered to the Larabee ranch and was waiting when Chris arrived to the lonely dark house.
Chris was not alone; Ezra, Buck and Nathan were with him.
Josiah and JD were following up a lead in northern Colorado. Mary had some friends that had moved up there and they were going to go talk to them.
Spying the package on the doorstep, Chris snatched it up.
A few minutes later the tape was playing.
The men gasped as they saw Vin having feverish sex with Mary. Then they heard what the bitch said about keeping Vin.
Chris growled deep in his throat. He wanted to throw up, but knew that would not help Vin.
Ez see where the package came from and see if it can be traced? Ez...Ezra?
Chris turned when he got no response from the undercover agent.
Ez had gone pale; Nathan reached out and touched his arm.
Ezra, you okay?
I am fine. Chris that smell you told us about, could it have been magnolias?
Chris gasped and whispered, That was it. I just could not place it. Now where...
Ez just looked at Chris. He thought he knew where Vin was, but he was afraid to say it.
Then the blond looked over at him, the realization of where Vin was and had always been all but crippling him. Why the hell hadnt he thought of it, it was so fucking obvious?
At the same time they said, Orrin Traviss mansion.
Chris went to his gun cabinet and started passing out extra guns and ammo.
Are you sure, stud? Buck asked.
Fuck, yes Im sure. Remember how Travis always complained about the fact that his wife only liked magnolia scented candles and air freshener, it reminded her of home. That was what I smelled. Mary led me to believe that she was taking Vin away from Denver, I never thought she would stay in the city and in her former in-laws house.
Ezra commented, It was perfect. What better hiding place than right under our nose, a subtle slap in the face, taunting us by keeping Vin close by.
As the men hurried out of the house, Bucks phone rang. It was Josiah; they had just gotten back and were reporting in. Chris ordered them to the Travis mansion but to stay out of sight.
Chris only wanted his team to affect the rescue. God only knew what kind of mental state Vin was going to be in, and he wanted to protect Vin from as much unpleasantness as possible. After all he had already been the cause of all Vins suffering at the hands of the psycho bitch well it ended now.
Pulling up a few doors down from the Travis mansion, Chris coordinated his team and they headed to the mansion their only thought was to rescue Vin then they would take care of unfinished business.
Chris, Buck and Nathan went in the front, while the others went in through the back.
There were several gunshots from upstairs forcing the ATF agents to move quicker.
Screaming could be heard.
I killed Clyde and Rudy the idiot brothers, bitch. Now Im going to kill your pretty boy lover. Then we are leaving and I will show you who the boss is in this relationship.
Another shot rang out.
Chris heard Vin cry out in pain and then heard the woman who had started the nightmare.
NO Ron. You leave the house, but just dont hurt us. Im pregnant with Vins baby.
Ron screamed, Thats a lie!
No, its not, she took a pregnancy test earlier and showed it to me. I was there when she took the test, she couldnt fake it, Vin yelled.
Chris could detect the pain in his brothers voice but thank God he was alive.
Chris then felt his heart sink; the bitch was pregnant and it could be his brothers child. Damn this just got so much worse. Now they had not only had to save Vin, but the bitch so that the baby was okay.
Then you get to die with your stud. I wont raise another mans bastard child.
Several things happened in the next few minutes.
Chris, Nathan and Buck dashed into the bedroom. They were too late to stop Ron from firing his gun though the man was shot dead in the next second as his body was riddled with bullets.
Mary screamed as Vin shoved her out of the way of the bullet. They both landed on the floor.
Chris whirled around and saw Mary sitting on the floor with Vins head on her lap. There was blood staining Vins shirt and on the floor.
Chris yelled at Nathan, both men ran over to their wounded partner.
Buck went to make sure that Ron was dead.
The rest of the team ran into the room.
Found two bodies downstairs, Josiah reported.
Chris pushed Mary away from Vin and gathered his brother up into his arms.
Nathan tore the shirt away from the slender body.
Got a bullet graze on his arm, other one went in and out of his side. I dont think it hit anything vital, but weve got to get the bleeding stopped.
While Nathan went about stopping the bleeding, JD and Buck went to find bandages.
Chris glanced at Mary who was just sitting on the floor humming to herself looking at Vin with a soft expression on her face.
Mary looked at Chris and smiled. It was apparent that she had slipped into another fantasy world. There was no hatred in her expression when she looked at the blond, just a dreamy, vague look on her face.
Mary looked down at her stomach and wrapped her arms around her middle.
I am having Vins baby. Take good care of him. I need my husband, Mary said then she just rocked back and forth singing under her breath.
Josiah, when JD gets back the two of you take her back to the sanitarium. Tell them she is pregnant and could be a danger to the child. I want her restrained and they best take care of her and the child. Remind them that the last time they failed in keeping an eye on her, she escaped and people have died because of their incompetence.
JD and Buck hurried back in. Nathan began bandaging the wounded man.
As Mary was led away, she pulled away from Josiah and knelt down next to Vin.
Chris pulled Vin closer but made no move towards the woman. He was afraid if he did he would hit her and he was not about to do anything that would harm the child.
Mary kissed the tip of her finger and placed it on Vins lips, then allowed herself to be pulled to her feet and guided to the door.
Pausing at the doorway she said, You tell Vin that I will take good care of our baby.
Nathan took Vin from Chris and strode from the room. They were taking the sharpshooter to the hospital.
Buck, I want you and Ez to handle everything here. I want all evidence that Vin was here eliminated. Make sure there are no tapes.
What do we tell the cops? Ez asked.
Tell them we got an anonymous tip that Mary was here, the Judge asked us to check it out. When we got here the two people downstairs was already dead and we got up stairs in time to save Mary from Ron.
Good idea, basically the truth just leaving Vin out of it.
We will handle it, Mr. Larabee. You take care of Vin, Ez said.
Chris smiled his thanks then hurried out of the room.
Over the next few hours the whole team did their jobs and did them well.
Josiah and JD got Mary back to the sanitarium. The woman was taken to a padded isolation room where she would be watched 24\7.
The two men then headed to the hospital.
Buck and Ez got the police on the scene and filled them in. Anything pertaining to Vin was put in their car before the cops got to the scene. Denver PD found their story plausible and truly had no reason not to believe two ATF agents.
Chris drove like a bat out of hell leaving his brother to Nathans tender care in the back seat. Using his hands free cell phone the ATF leader called Travis to make sure the older man knew what was going on and he would back the story that Chris had come up with. Travis was more than happy to comply with Chriss wishes.
At the hospital Vin was whisked to a room, leaving Chris to pace the waiting room and Nathan trying to calm his boss.
Nathan finally got Chris to sit down. Sitting next to the upset blond, Nathan thought about the future, there was no doubt it was going to be hard on the whole team. But that was nothing compared to what Vin was going to go through, and if Vin was going through hell then so was Chris.
Hes going to be fine, Chris. I got the bleeding stopped and it didnt touch anything vital.
Thats not the only thing bothering me. What about his mental state? That bitch drugged him and now she is pregnant. What the fuck are we going to do about that?
Nathan knew his answer was not going to please his boss but he said it anyway.
That isnt up to us. If the baby is Vins, then the decision is up to him.
Sure enough Chris jerked his head up and glared at Nathan. That was not the answer he wanted to hear. He was the older brother, it was up to him to take care of Vin, try to make sure no nastiness got close to the younger man. And since he had failed to do that recently the need was much stronger now.
Nathan raised his hand.
Calm down, Chris. You know Im right. If...and that is a big if, the baby is Vins no one can make the decision for him. Sure we can give advice if he asks for it, but we just need to stand by him.
You think I wont be there for my brother, Chris snarled his emotions to close to the surface for him to be thinking straight.
I know you will be, but dont be standing so close to him that he cant think on his own. Vin listens to you like he listens to no one else. Dont let your hatred of Mary Travis overcome your common sense. Give Vin advice, but remember if you talk to him until you sway him to your way of thinking there may be two outcomes you arent thinking about.
Chris swallowed heavily and forced himself to take a deep breath.
Nathan was right; he was so close to the situation. He wanted Vin to come home, he wanted to erase all the horrible things that had happened to his brother but since he couldnt do that he wanted to protect his brother in other ways.
Chris wanted Mary buried so deep in that sanitarium that she would never see the light of day. He prayed the baby was not Vins so his brother would not have to decide what to do. But deep down he knew the baby was his brothers and he knew that Vin would never let the child go. Vin never knew his father and barely remembered his mother, there was no way he would let a child of his to be raised by others.
Nathan let Chris think for a minute then he continued, One, if you convince him to give the child up, he will come to resent you as he goes through the years wondering how the child is and what it looks like. Two, he keeps the baby, but knowing that you resent the child he will pull away from you. You will lose not only your brother but also your brothers child. If I know Vin he is going to want to keep that baby. Are you willing to take either one of those chances?
Nathan there are times that you make so much sense I want to just shoot you.
Nathan laughed and just patted his friend on the back.
Eventually Vin had been taken to surgery and was now in his own room.
The doctor told the worried blond and Nathan that Vin would be fine. Nathan was right the bullet had not hit anything vital, even though the young sharpshooter had lost a lot of blood. The bullet graze to the arm had been bandaged and they were just waiting for Vin to wake up from the anesthetic.
Nathan had mentioned to the doctor who was a friend about Vin being slipped ecstasy. The doctor ordered a full battery of lab work.
When the rest of team arrived they were not surprised to see Chris pacing like a caged lion. Even though he heard from the doctor that Vin would fine, he wanted to see his brother for himself.
Much to the relief of team 7 and the hospital staff Chris was sitting next to Vin as soon as humanly possible holding onto the one hand that did not have an IV attached.
The rest of the team took up positions around the bed watching as Vin slept unaware that he was the focus of so many people.
Ez cleared his voice to get everyones attention.
On the way over here, Mr. Wilmington and I talked about what to tell Mr. Tanner. I think the less he knows the better.
When Nathan went to disagree, Buck said, I dont think Junior needs to know about that tape. There is no reason for him to see it or even know of its existence.
What tape? Josiah said.
Chris remembered that Josiah and JD had been gone when the tape had been delivered. Things had been happening so fast that there had been no time to fill them in.
Quickly he briefly told them that the tape was one Mary made of her and Vin without Vins knowledge. It was delivered to Chris with the sole intention of hurting him and letting him know that he would never see Vin again.
Josiah wisely did not ask for details of the tape, it was apparent what had been on it.
JD opened his mouth to ask a question, but a swift kick to his shin from Buck shut his mouth quick.
Finally it was agreed. They would stick with the story that Buck and Ez had told the police with just a little more information for Vin.
Chris would let Vin know that he remembered the smell of magnolias from the mansion as belonging to the Travises. At the same time the anonymous caller let them know where Vin was being held. Since they did not want the local cops involved they took out the bad guys and removed all traces of their teammate from the premises.
Everyone agreed that Vin would not gain a thing from knowing about the tape and knowing that his teammates had seen him so out of control. Vin would be mortified if he knew they had seen him stark naked and having sex. So the story was agreed upon and all the men vowed that Vin would never know about the tape, they would go to their graves with that secret.
Buck was given the job of burning the tape before Vin got home.
Chris eventually sent the rest of the men home; he said he was not leaving until Vin woke up.
After the men left Chris checked and finding Vin still sound asleep he got on his digital cell phone and talked to Travis.
Hanging up from the judge he smiled. In the next twenty-four hours Mary Travis would be moved to a sanitarium about four hours from Denver. When the time was right a DNA test would be done to make sure the child was Vins. If the baby was Vins then when the child was born Marys parental rights would be severed immediately and whatever Vin had decided would be done.
A low moan from the bed caught his attention and he hurried back to the bed in time to grab a plastic basin and support Vin as the sharpshooter threw up.
Vin had never been able to tolerate medicine or anesthetic and this was generally what happened when he had been under anesthesia.
When Vin was done Chris set the basin down and helped his shaking brother lay back on the bed.
Vin stared up at him, the blue eyes a little dazed and confused.
Chris fed Vin some ice chips and watched as a little more awareness flooded the expressive face.
When Vin reached up to touch his face, Chris grabbed the flailing hand and grasped it tightly.
Hey, cowboy, Glad to see those baby blues. I have to tell you that this time you really had me worried, Chris lightly teased.
Vin blinked until the face came in clearer. When he saw Chris looking down at him and the fading bruises still on the handsome face his memories came back even though they were all jumbled up.
Vin gasped, his breath caught in his throat, he couldnt think. Was Mary mad at him, was Chris here because she was going to kill the blond because Vin wouldnt do what she ordered.
Tears filled the expressive eyes as Vin sobbed.
Im sorry, Chris. I...I tried to do what she said. I shouldnt have talked back...back to her that time...I,
Chris sat on the edge of the bed and pulled the distraught man into his arms.
Rocking back and forth he held Vin close and stroked his fingers through the tangled hair as he murmured soothingly.
Sh..sh...Vin. Youre in the hospital. Were both safe. Come on, cowboy, if you make yourself sick theyre going to kick my ass right out of this hospital.
Chris cursed under his breath when he felt the slender body in his arms stiffen up at the thought that the blond might be banned from his room.
But you know what, theyd have a hell of a time getting me out of this room, Chris whispered smiling softly as Vin slowly relaxed.
Vin was laid gently back on the pillow. Vin stared intently at Chris.
Vin was very quiet as he calmed down and let his thoughts settle.
Reaching up Vin carefully touched the bruised face.
Again Chris grasped the trembling hand holding it with both of his. He had some explaining to do and he needed to do it before Vin drowned in unnecessary guilt.
Vin, you didnt cause these bruises.
When Vin went to argue Chris put one finger over his brothers lips.
Just listen to me for a few minutes.
Vin nodded and settled back to listen to what Chris had to say.
After they took you away from me, video equipment was brought in. They beat me and taped it then I was taken home and tied to the bed. Buck found me on Sunday. When you saw me getting beaten up because you wouldnt follow instructions that was on tape. There was no way you could have stopped it. You are in no way to blame for these bruises.
Vin watched his brother carefully for any sign that Chris was lying to make him feel better.
Vin sighed in relief, he believed his brother. Thank God he was not to blame for his brother getting beaten up.
Then another thought hit him.
When Vin started to sit up, Chris grasped him by the shoulder and kept him flat on the bed.
Whoa, youre not going anywhere.
But, Chris...Mary...she...shes pregnant, Vin muttered turning a bright red.
Chris saw the embarrassed look and silently cursed the woman who had made such a special man go through this nightmare.
I know. We were outside the door and heard the argument. I just wish we could have gotten to you before you got shot. Mary is back at the sanitarium, in isolation and watched constantly to make sure she doesnt harm the child.
Chris watched as Vin sighed, relived to find out that the woman was safe and sound therefore the baby was safe.
The blond was again amazed at Vins capacity to worry about others, even those who didnt deserve it.
I know you think its weird that Im worried about her. Hell, Chris I know she is vicious and tried to kill me, but if the baby is mine then I want it, Vin said as he looked steadily at the blond.
Nathan said you would want to keep the baby. I will back you whatever you decide. In fact I hope you wont be mad, but I told the sanitarium that a DNA test needed to be done as soon as it would be feasible. We can redo the spare bedroom into a nursery and then... Chris paused taking in the shocked look on Vins face.
Icy fingers of dread went down his spine as fear filled him. What was wrong with Vin, was there something else that he wasnt aware of.
Vin saw the look on Chriss face and hurriedly spoke up.
I didnt...know how you would feel about having her baby in the house and I didnt want to bring back memories of your son. I...I just figured Id have to find my own place to live.
Chris reached out and grasped Vins chin and slightly shook the tousled head.
That baby would be yours, not just Marys. I would love the baby because he is a part of my kid brother...my family. As far as memories, its time that the house had the patter of little feet and a childs laughter filling it again. My ranch became your home when you moved in, actually even before then. I dont want you to move out; my life would be so empty without my family filling those rooms.
Chris paused and had to look away as tears of emotion filled his eyes.
Vin smiled as his own eyes filled up, his life had taken a turn for the better the second he had laid eyes on his green-eyed brother.
Then it looks like well be sharing nightly bottle duty, Vin teased trying to lighten the atmosphere.
Chris looked down at his soul brother and smirked.
You are so full of it. I do not remember saying that I would share in bottle duty and you can definitely forget about diaper duty.
Vin chuckled and wrinkled his nose at the thought of diaper duty. For the next several minutes the two brothers teased and insulted each other just thankful that they were back together.
As Chris watched Vins eyes grew heavy. When Vin yawned, Chris smiled the love he felt for the young man in bed clear for anyone to see.
Go to sleep Vin. Ill be here when you wake up.
Vin felt a little guilty.
You go home, cowboy. You need to rest.
Chris knew Vin wanted him to get some sleep but he also heard the fear in Vins voice. Vin really didnt want him to leave but he didnt want to say it.
You go to sleep. Im going to get some coffee and I will be right back.
Vin yawned again and then the blue eyes shut and the breathing evened out.
Chris brushed hair back off Vins face and then quietly left the room.
The blond almost ran into Buck who had been standing right outside the door.
Chris just stared at his old friend and walked down the hallway.
I knew you would be close by, Buck.
I just wanted to make sure that everything was okay with Junior, Buck said.
Unspoken were the words and you.
Chris shook his head. Buck would never change he worried and fretted over all his friends and Chris wouldnt have him any other way.
I think everything will be fine, Buck. The next big hurdle is finding out if the baby is Vins or not, then getting the nursery ready at the ranch. I want to put the baby in Adams room. I think it is time to move on.
Buck was glad to hear that the room at the ranch was finally going to be redone. It had remained exactly like Adam had left it on the day the little boy had died with his mother.
To Bucks way of thinking it was the last hurdle for Chris to get past and again it was all due to Vin.
The two old friends shared a cup of coffee and before Chris went back to Vins room plans were being made for the renovation of the bedroom into a nursery.
Buck also assured Chris again that Vin would in no way be tied to what happened at the Travis mansion. When Buck left the hospital he was going to the ranch and getting rid of the tape as they figured Vin would be going home in a couple of days.
The next few months passed quickly. To the relief of everyone there was no sign of drugs in Vins system so he was given a clean bill of health and went back to work as soon as he could.
As soon as the DNA test could be conducted it was and it was confirmed that the baby was Vins. The surprise came from the sonogram as it was revealed that Mary was carrying twins, a boy and a girl.
When Vin was told that, he had become ashen and his friends had been afraid he was going to pass out. But Vin was made of steel and with Chris at his side he said that twins were just double the joy and pleasure and they would deal with it.
Chris had smiled at that. Vin had said they would deal with it not me. From the moment the blond had heard the babies were Vins he had thrown himself into all the preparations for the births.
When he saw that Vin was secretly worried about how he was going to deal with one baby let alone two, the blond had gone and had a long talk with Nettie.
The older woman had always thought of Vin as her own son. Casey and JD had recently married and moved out to her ranch. Nettie was feeling like a third wheel and utterly useless as the two younger people didnt think she should be out doing any work at all on her ranch.
Nettie was not going to just sit in a chair watching soap operas all day long so she jumped at Chriss suggestion.
Vin was flabbergasted when Nettie and Chris informed him that the ranch was going to have more remodeling done. Adams room was being redone for one baby and the spare bedroom was being redone for the second baby. Not only was there going to be a playroom built but Nettie was moving in and two rooms were going to be built for her. The woman was going to have not only her own bedroom and bath but also a sitting room.
Nettie was giving the ranch to Casey and JD as a wedding present because she was moving in with Vin and Chris to help care for the babies. Vins worry that it might be too much for her caused everyone to receive a very stern tongue-lashing. Nettie informed everyone that she was quite capable of taking care of two babies and two men.
Indeed she seemed to thrive on the thought of having someone who really needed her.
Secretly Vin was relieved that his surrogate mother was going to be around.
The only thing to mar the time was that Vin insisted on visiting Mary every weekend.
This was one thing that the two men had argued about. Chris refused to go with him for several months, he just couldnt get past the fact that the woman had tried to kill Vin and then forced him into sex. Of course he didnt tell Vin all that, he just said he didnt feel comfortable seeing the woman.
Vin knowing exactly what his brother was thinking didnt push the issue after the initial argument.
When Vin would come home he would tell Chris a few little things about the woman and Chris eventually came to realize that while he could never forget what Mary had done, it was not her fault that she suffered from mental illness. Besides he refused to let his distrust and hatred of the woman come between them. According to Vin Mary had blanked her whole past out. The only reality the woman had was that Vin was her husband and she was carrying his babies.
So came the day that Chris went with Vin to the sanitarium. Chris refused to go into the room with Vin but he watched from the observation room.
What he saw floored him. Mary was like another person with Vin. Her face brightened up when he walked into the room and she shyly walked over to him when he came in. Vin leaned down and accepted a kiss on the cheek from her. Then they both sat on the edge of her bed where she proceeded to tell him in a soft voice everything she had done that week including every little thing she ate. Mary looked at the younger man with adoration shining out of her eyes.
By now Mary was late in her pregnancy. According to her doctors she ate everything put in front of her and would ramble on about her husband Vin and the baby she was having. Mary spent a lot of her time sitting on the bed rocking back and forth humming and patting her stomach.
At times she would take Vins hand and place it on her stomach. Chris could tell from the look on Vins face that the babies were moving. Chris felt a pang in his stomach, he remembered when Sarah was carrying Adam how he loved to feel the baby moving.
Chris realized that he would really like to feel his brothers babies move. Thinking back Chris now realized that Vin had never mentioned feeling the babies move. Chris knew that Vin was very careful of his feelings, not wanting to upset the blond by reminding him of everything he had lost when his family had been murdered.
Chris knew that he had been a little selfish, but he was now changing that.
Chris slipped into the room, causing the two occupants to look up. Vin was surprised, while Mary only looked at him in confusion.
Vin introduced him as his brother; Mary smiled and shook his hand showing no recognition of the blond.
The next time the baby kicked Vin took a chance and placed Chriss hand on Marys belly.
The blond felt his throat tighten with unshed tears as he felt a little foot kick his hand.
Knowing Chris was close to tears Vin took his leave of Mary, promising to return as soon as he could.
On the front steps of the sanitarium Chris threw his arms around Vin and hugged him tight.
Thanks for sharing this with me. It brings back wonderful memories for me, memories that I have kept buried for to many years, Chris whispered.
Youre welcome, cowboy. Im glad you came with me today, it meant a lot to have you by my side, Vin replied.
Chris made sure to go with Vin when he visited Mary. While he didnt go in to her room every time he was there for his brother.
Not surprisingly with twins Mary went into labor a month early, both babies were fine. Sure they were a little underweight but nothing to cause anybody any concern.
Mary delivered them so fast that by the time Vin, Chris and the rest of the guys got there the babies had already been cleaned up and wrapped up in blankets.
Before Vin saw the babies the doctors ushered him in to see Mary. There had been complications from the birth and while the babies were fine, Mary was dying.
Vin stood by her bed and held her hand; Chris was right behind him his hands on Vins shoulders giving him much needed support.
While Vin did not love Mary, he had come to care about her as the mother of his children.
The rest of the team had a hard time coming around to understanding how Vin could stand to be in the same room with the woman, but they werent dumb.
Chris had told them to drop the subject and not to harass Vin about it. Since the order was accompanied by the Larabee glare they dropped the subject.
Mary held tight to Vins hand and smiled up at him.
Take care of our babies, Vin. I lo... Mary sighed, shut her eyes and peacefully died.
Vin caught his breath in a sob, Chris turned him around and held Vin close as his brother cried for the woman who had carried his babies, for the woman Mary Travis had been and for the woman she could have been if mental illness had not taken over.
Chris then led Vin from the room where the rest of the team consoled their young teammate.
Then Vin was led into another room to see his children.
Ezra had arranged for a helicopter to pick up the babies, Vin and Chris and take them back to Denver to the local hospital.
Before the helicopter got there Vin was introduced to his children.
Josiah shoved a camera in Chriss hand as the two men went into the room. The rest of the team stood in the doorway and just stared at the newborns.
Vin sat down and the babies were put in his arms.
Chris took pictures and then handed the camera back to Josiah who took pictures of his two teammates and the babies.
Vin had tears rolling down his cheeks as he stared down at the babies. Both babies were staring up at him, neither one crying just staring at him.
Chris knelt next to the chair and thought that next to Adam he had never seen more beautiful babies.
He said so to Vin.
Vin held the little boy out to Chris and whispered.
You want to hold Ethan Christopher Tanner, Uncle Chris?
Chriss mouth fell open. Vin had refused to tell anyone what he was naming the babies.
Chris was trembling slightly as he reached out and took the small bundle into his arms.
Tears filled the green eyes and Chris had to laugh to himself. Shit he was getting way too emotional; he had to quit this tearing up at everything after all he had a hard ass reputation to maintain.
But then one little fist grabbed his finger and held on for dear life. The tears fell as he remembered another little boy who had grabbed his finger years before and had held on tightly.
The rest of the guys felt their own eyes tear up even as they tried to pretend that they were tough men and babies didnt affect them any.
Ez called out, What is the little girls name?
Vin hesitated, swallowed nervously and said, Sarah Rebecca Tanner.
When Chris turned shocked eyes on him, Vin hurriedly said, That is if its okay with you, Chris. I thought Id name her after the most important women in our lives. You wife and my mother.
That little bit of wall that Chris still maintained around his life with his deceased family shattered in that instant.
The only men who saw it happen were Vin and Buck. The two men shared a long look of deep satisfaction and the knowledge that a new life was opening up for not only Vin but for Chris and even the rest of the team.
Chris choked back a sob and came to stand by Vin. He wrapped his free arm around Vins shoulders and then kissed the side of Vins head.
Vin ducked his head turning red as he cast a quick glance at his teammates.
They were not about to tease either man about the gesture of affection from the normally stoic blond.
But Chris was stoic around everyone but Vin, so the gesture should not have been a surprise.
I think its a perfect name, Vin. I love both of them.
Vin sighed in relief.
All was now wonderful in the Larabee and Tanner world.
The Larabee-Tanner ranch was crawling with people.
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in late June and the people were there for a BBQ and party celebrating the retirement of Chris Larabee from the ATF.
It had been two years since the twins had been born and needless to say they ruled the house at least until Grandma Nettie put her foot down.
Vin had taken three months off with the babies and then went back to work leaving his beloved kids with their Grandma Nettie. Luckily a middle-aged neighbor lady who had recently lost her policeman husband and needed some extra cash came over Monday through Friday and helped Nettie with the house and the kids. It was a perfect arrangement for everyone except Vin.
Vin called home several times a day, he so missed his babies and he was miserable. The rest of the team knew that Vin wanted to be at home. Chris wanted his brother happy and he came up with the perfect plan.
One night at the ranch after the babies were sleeping, the two men had a heart to heart talk.
Chris did not want Vin to miss out on any part of the babies lives. He told his brother that life was to short and he needed to get as much out of it as he could.
Vin agreed but made it clear that he would not be a dead weight, he had to pull his load around the ranch.
The two men decided that the breeding ranch they had talked about starting when Chris retired was going to get started earlier and Vin would be in charge.
With just a little persuasion Vin agreed but only if he put money in on the project. Vin had saved up some money during his bounty hunting days and Chris had helped him to invest it. In a short while the stallion was bought and Vin turned in his notice at the AFT.
Nettie and the neighbor woman continued watching the babies, but Vin was there when they woke up, when they ate, took their first step and when they smiled up at him and said, DA DA.
Chris stayed until his time was in at the agency and he got full retirement benefits and then he gave his notice. That was two weeks ago and now it was time to celebrate.
Chris watched as his family and friends had a good time.
Nettie was sitting next to a very pregnant Casey who was being hovered over by a nervous JD. Nettie was moving back to live with her niece now that the twins were older and both men would be at home. The neighbor lady would continue to come over everyday to watch the toddlers and take care of meals and the house.
Ezra had a rapt audience of kids watching his every move as he showed them card tricks giving their parents some much needed time to themselves in the pool or just chatting with other adults.
Nathan and Rain were walking hand in hand deep in conversation. They were expecting their first child in just a few months.
Josiah had Ezras mother Maude enthralled with his conversation about his travels around the world. The woman was seriously thinking that this might be the man she had been waiting for.
Judge Travis, Evie and Billy had come back to Denver to stay. Billy was getting to know his half siblings.
Mary had been laid to rest next to Stephen Travis. It had been decided that was the right thing to do for all concerned.
When asked about what he would tell his kids about their mother, Vin had simply answered.
Ill tell them the truth, she loved them with all her heart and soul, but she was sick and God called her home.
No one could find any fault with that explanation.
Vin was holding Sarah as he cleaned her up after her dessert of cake and ice cream.
Ethan seeing his daddy was occupied with his sister began searching for his Uncle Chris. Uncle Chris would help him he was sure of it.
Chris and Buck were standing together at the corner of the house just watching everyone.
Buck had come out with his current girlfriend and was trying to convince Chris to double date with him that weekend.
No, Buck. I dont need to date, I am not looking for a wife and not all of us have your sexual drive.
Buck puffed up his chest and smiled.
You got that right stud. Buck Wilmington is one of a kind.
Then seriously Buck said, But, Chris youre still young and what if Vin finds someone to marry, you will be alone again.
Chris just smiled.
Buck, I will never love another woman like I loved Sarah and it would not be fair to a woman to take a back seat in my life and in my heart.
Back seat? Buck asked confused.
I would always compare her to Sarah and she would never measure up. If we had kids yes I would love them, but I have Adam in my heart and that is enough. Vin and the kids fill my days with love and happiness. I have you my oldest friend and the rest of the guys. I dont need anyone else. As far as Vin marrying, I just dont think that will happen. You know he is real shy around woman and even though he forgave Mary, the experience I think has left him even more gun shy. Besides he said his life is full with the kids and the ranch and keeping me in line, Chris laughed.
Yeah, but... Buck started to say.
Drop it Bucklin. I have my family, I have everything I need and here comes one of them now.
Chris nodded as Ethan came hurtling across the lawn, his sister following in his wake.
The two toddlers were two of the most beautiful children and it wasnt only their doting family who thought that. Vin had been approached by a child-modeling agency that had seen the kids at a restaurant; needless to say he turned them down.
Ethan had a head of tousled golden brown hair just like his dad while Sarah had a head full of golden blond curls. The kids both had their fathers vivid blue eyes, sinfully long eyelashes and crooked little smile.
Grandma Nettie said they looked like little angels and like their father could be little demons.
Vin had just puffed out his chest and proudly acknowledged her comment.
Vin slowly headed their way shaking his head at the antics of his kids.
Chris knelt down and caught the running little boy in his arms, while Buck picked Sarah up tossing her up on his broad shoulders much to her delight.
Uncle Chris, Daddy says I have to eat spinach or I wont get cake. That green stuff is nasty, Ethan confided wrinkling up his nose.
Its good for you, Sarah said blue eyes flashing as she repeated what she had heard her Grandma Nettie say about the food.
Buck was amazed at how grownup the kids were, but the kids were around adults all the time and no one talked down to them so they caught on quickly.
Vin strode up right then and glared at his son, hands on his hips.
Ethan Christopher Tanner, I want you to go back and eat at least two bites of that spinach salad that Grandma Nettie made, he ordered.
Ethan pushed his lower lip out in a perfect stubborn pout just like his dad.
Buck busted out laughing, he couldnt help it, Vin wouldnt touch anything green if his life depended on it and here he was trying to get Ethan to eat spinach.
Vin and Chris both turned to look at him, with identical glares on their faces.
Buck sobered up immediately although the smile didnt leave his face.
Sarah leaned around to peer into Bucks face.
I think you are in trouble Uncle Buck, but I love you anyway, she confided in a loud whisper.
Buck just growled and grabbed her around the waist flipping her over his head and settling her against his shoulder.
Sarah laughed in delight; both kids loved the way their Uncle Buck liked to rough house with them.
Buck just looked at the angel in his arms and said, Little girl you are going to break a lot of hearts.
The big man looked over at Chris and knew his old friend was telling the truth. Chris was perfectly happy and he decided to quit meddling when it wasnt wanted.
While Buck watched Ethan laid his head on Chriss shoulder. The little boy wrapped his arm around his Uncle Chriss neck and looked at his father through long eyelashes. It was the same look that Vin would get when he was going to try to get around Chris for some reason and wanted his own way.
Ethan figured his sister had a good idea so he whispered, I love you Uncle Chris. Then the little boy ruined it when he said, Now do I have to eat that green stuff?
The three men laughed even Vin couldnt help it.
Yes, Ethan. You heard your dad, and you know that what your dad says goes. Now Ill go with you and Ill eat some of that green stuff with you.
Ethan sighed deeply acting like he was really put upon.
Ethan thought about it just like his dad always thought before he spoke.
Okay, Uncle Chris.
Chris laughed as he carried the little boy across the yard to the table laden with food.
Buck followed with a giggling Sarah who he was tickling.
Vin shook his head smiling as he watched his family.
Life couldnt get any better. The breeding business was booming, now his brother would be around every day. The kids were healthy and happy and smart as whips.
Vin looked across the yard and met green eyes, eyes that had looked into his soul from the very second they had met his blue eyes years ago.
Out of a nightmare had come his heaven and it looked like it was going to continue for a long time. Because his future was running across the yard-yelling Daddy, his two angels sent down to make his life and his brothers life complete.