A continuation of Secrets
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"Chris? You down here?" yelled Buck Wilmington as he walked toward the barn. He had already checked the house for his friend and figured Chris must be taking care of the horses for the night.
He grew concerned and quickened his pace, as there was no answer. He did not know whether to be relieved or more concerned when he stepped inside the barn and found Chris sitting forlornly on the floor in the back. Chris' head was leaned back to rest against the wall, his eyes shut. There was tenseness in him that had not been there last night. Buck figured it had something to do with Vin. He frowned when he thought of the deep dark mood the young sharpshooter had been in over the last several days and had capped off that mood last night with a drunken binge. Chris had taken him home and spent the night. Buck knew that Chris had been hoping that once Vin had sobered up he would confide what was bothering him.
"Chris?" he repeated gently.
Buck cringed when he saw the intense look of pain in Chris' eyes. He walked over and sat beside his friend. "JD said he thought something was wrong when you and Vin came by the apartment to pick up the jeep. I can see he was right. I'm sorry I wasn't there. What can I do?"
Chris laughed but his voice held no humor. "All of you tease about that so-called connection Vin and I have. The only trouble is it's true. We know what the other is feeling and can finish each other's thoughts. You know how hard it was for me today to try to hide my feelings from him? I guess the only good thing is that he was too preoccupied to notice."
"Why would you have to hide your feelings from Vin?" asked Buck.
"Cause it was better than flat out lying to him by telling him I was fine. But then again, maybe all the crap I fed him was a lie. Hell, I don't know."
"I'm not following you, pard. Tell me what's going on."
Once again, Chris leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes. He tried to group his thoughts together before speaking.
"Buck, do you remember Juan Santiago?"
Buck thought for a moment then said, "Didn't he trade weapons for girls that he could sell into prostitution?"
"Yeah, he's the one. Five years ago, I assisted the FBI in an assignment to bring down Santiago. I went in undercover pretending I wanted to join his outfit. I have to give the man credit, he was careful in his operations. He never had a slip-of-the-tongue nor left anything lying around that would incriminate him. By all rights, he looked like a normal everyday businessman. I started spending time with his girlfriend, Macy Reed. Buck, she was young and beautiful, and I forgot my boundaries. There was a thin line between being an undercover agent and being a lonely man. I lost that line. I'm not saying I began a steady relationship with her, I didn't. Things just went farther physically than they should have. Anyway, it didn't take long to get the information needed to put Santiago out of business. Macy was not charged and she agreed to testify. It was decided that she would testify behind closed doors unbeknownst to Santiago so there would be no fear of retaliation."
"How did she take it when she found out the truth about you?" Buck asked.
"How do you think she took it? She felt extremely hurt and betrayed."
"It sounds like you felt more for her than you're telling me, Chris. Were you falling in love?"
Chris' eyes held a faraway look. "It wouldn't have taken much longer to do so," he answered quietly.
"We need to talk more about this, for your sake, Chris. But, right now, I have to ask you what any of this has to do with Vin."
Chris sighed deeply. He felt unaccustomed tears well in his eyes as he thought of the sharpshooter.
"Do you remember a couple of years ago a very beautiful woman coming over to the office to see me? I talked with her for awhile and afterwards, took a couple of personal days."
Buck nodded his affirmation.
"That was Macy. After everything had been wrapped up, she traveled for awhile but had been back in Denver for over a year. She said she had changed her name to Lisa Sanders and was about to get married. She said that even though this man did not know about what had happened, his quiet strength instilled peace in her. She began to cry when I told her I was happy she had found someone to love. She finally confessed that this man was beyond good to her and she had no doubt he would take care of her until his dying day, but she did not love him. She cared a great deal for him but she loved me. I started to tell her I loved her but she cut me off before the words came out. She said she thought it would be better for her to leave Denver permanently and had come by to say goodbye. She left without another word and I let her go. I wondered if she said goodbye to the man was to marry; but I never knew, until today."
"What has today got to do with anything?" Buck asked.
Chris stood up and raised his face toward the ceiling. He then looked down at Buck and rubbed his eyes harshly. He then started pacing.
"I found out today that Vin had been engaged to a woman who left town the day before their wedding. A woman named Lisa Sanders. He got drunk last night hoping he would be in oblivion today. Why? Because today should have been his second wedding anniversary. The problem with Vin over the last few days is that his heart has been broken and is still breaking."
Buck could not believe what he was hearing. This was a joke of the cruelest kind played on two of his closest friends.
He raised up to stand in front of Chris. "Oh God, Chris. How much of this does Vin know?"
Chris felt the tears start to fall from his eyes. "Nothing about Macy or me. I spent all afternoon telling him he needs to try to forget and please just let it go. I told him that the girl was a fool for leaving him. I couldn't tell him the truth. My God, I thought I was gonna pass out when he said her name was Lisa Sanders. What am I supposed to do...walk up to him and say 'Hey buddy, by the way, you know that girl you told me about? Well, she didn't love you after all. She loved me and I knew her first.' Buck, how the hell do I tell him that I screwed him over before I ever knew him?"
Buck had no answer, however, the soft emotion-filled voice behind him did.
"You just did, Chris."
Neither Buck nor Chris had heard Vin's arrival. They spun around facing the barn's entrance and saw the younger man standing there.
"Vin, what can I..." Chris started as he hesitantly walked over to the sharpshooter.
Vin interrupted by saying, "I was sitting there in my own self pity and realized something was wrong with you. I called a couple of times and got worried when you didn't answer. I wanted to come check on you."
"Please, can you ever forgive me?" Chris whispered.
Vin turned his back to Chris. He didn't speak for long moments. Finally, his voice rough with emotion, he said, "Don't ask me that. I don't know what I'm feeling right now. I need time Chris. I...I have to go. Don't expect to see me for awhile." He started to leave the barn when Buck grabbed his arm.
"I won't let you quit or run away. You have to stay and let's work this out. The three of us, hell, the seven of us if it takes it. Vin, we're family."
Vin's eyes were anguished as he looked at Buck. "Family," he whispered softly. "I'm not quitting but I need to be alone to think. Take care of Chris. I'll call you in a day or two, Buck."
Buck pulled the younger man into a tight embrace.
"Promise?" he asked when he let go.
As Vin walked out the door, Chris called out, "Vin."
There was no answer.
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