A Magnificent Seven gen novel by Dawn Sunrise, set in the ATF Denver AU and with lots of hurt-comfort. NOTE! This story has appeared, or is currently available, on-line.
Vin ends up in the hands of a bad man, and pays a terrible price, but it's nothing compaired to what his recover will cost.
133 pages. $10 for PDF version with color cover.
Two things were obvious the minute Chris walked into the room: Vin was doing much better. And he was seriously pissed off.
Buck popped up from the chair next to the bed, practically tripping over his own feet in his eagerness. "Hey, there. We been waitin' on you, pard." His back to Vin, he grimaced and rolled his eyes.
"'Bout time you decided to show up." Vin glared at him, his barely-there voice and bloodshot eyes belying the strength of his anger. "Buck wouldn't tell me a damn thing until you got your sorry ass in here."
"Good morning to you, too."
Vin flushed at Chris' mild tone but didn't back down. "I know y'all mean well, but I can't stand bein' treated like a kid. I need to know what happened to me."
Chris motioned Buck to the chair. Lowering the side rail, he sat on the edge of the bed, careful not to jostle Vin. The mattress was slightly elevated and they'd propped his injured hand on a pillow. This close he could see fine lines of pain around Vin's eyes and mouth.
"You remember the Campanelli bust." He didn't make it a question; they'd already covered this ground.
"I remember being on the catwalk with Sean, holding off Campanelli's people. Ezra did a helluva job disarming the big guy before he could call for reinforcements."
"And after that?"
Vin didn't respond right away. He looked from Chris to Buck and back again as if hoping to read the answer in their faces. "I… Everything after that's a blank. At first I thought maybe I took a spill, but…" He gazed down at his splinted hand and gauze-wrapped wrists, tongued his split lip, and Chris saw a flicker of fear in his eyes. "Seems more like I went ten rounds with Ali."
Buck made a strangled sound, ducking his head and curling his hands into fists.
Vin looked at Chris. "You'd best level with me 'cause Bucklin's got a lousy poker face," he said calmly, but sweat beaded his upper lip.
"I can only tell you what we know, which isn't much."
Vin nodded for him to continue.
"The night of the bust we celebrated with Team Five at the Saloon. You and Donovan left the party about ten o'clock; you were going to give him a ride. When you didn't show up for work the next morning, we checked your apartment. It was pretty obvious you'd never made it home. We put out an APB and your Jeep turned up in a parking lot on the northeast side of town, wiped clean. No prints. No trace evidence. Nothing."
Vin gingerly rubbed his forehead, avoiding the bandage at his temple. "So how did you find me?"
"We got lucky. One of Ezra's informants found someone who saw you being pulled from your Jeep and bundled into a blue panel van. He even got a partial plate. We were able to narrow it down to three vehicles, one of which had been stolen a few days earlier. Eventually a uniformed cop spotted it and tailed it to the abandoned warehouse where they were holding you."
Vin frowned. "Eventually?"
Inwardly Chris winced. "The bust was on the fifth, Vin. Today's the tenth. You were missing for three days."
"Three days? I was…" He trailed off, obviously struggling to process everything he'd been told.
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