A Magnificent Seven gen novel by Joan Curtin, set in the ATF Denver AU and with lots of hurt-comfort. NOTE! This story has appeared, or is currently available, on-line.
Ezra and Vin are undercover on an assignment that goes terribly wrong. Finding themselves on their own, the bad guys closing in on them, they have to trust each other and the rest of the team to protect them – if that's even possible any more.
240 pages. $10 for PDF version with color cover.
The drive was tense and nearly silent. Chris focused on driving, Vin on trying to reach Ezra. Still no answer.
They swung into Ezra's condo development, Vin half-expecting to see police vehicles or fire engines in the lot. All was quiet.
Chris pulled into a parking space and Vin was out the door, loping toward the garage where Ezra parked his car. He looked through the glass. The car was there. He reached up, took something down from the overhang, then drew his gun from his ankle holster and returned to the Ram where Chris was waiting, his own gun drawn.
"Ezra's car is in the garage." He didn't have to say that it was a bad sign.
Chris swore softly. "Let's move in."
They did, trying to be inconspicuous in that suburban development where guns and violence were something most residents only saw on TV. Chris took hold of the door handle and thumbed the latch. Locked, of course. He made a frustrated sound in his throat and Vin caught his arm.
"Got a key," Tanner said and opened his hand. "Ezra keeps it under the garage overhang," he explained.
"Just another ace," Chris said as he slid the key into the bolt and turned it. At first he noticed the quiet, then something else rotten eggs. Gas, he thought, and then couldn't think as his eyes began burning and watering.
"Back. Back!" Vin grabbed hold of him, impelled him off the steps. "Call 911! And see if ya cain't find the cut-off." Leaving Chris, he ran to a neighbor's yard, soaked his handkerchief in the ornamental fountain on the front lawn and, holding it over his nose and mouth, plunged into the condo.
He found Ezra in the kitchen, slumped over the table. He grabbed the man under the arms, dragging him from the chair. His lungs were burning and he was getting dizzy from exertion and fumes. Ezra was dead weight, lax and unresponsive.
Vin wrestled him to the sliding doors leading from the kitchen to the deck, tugged the doors open, and with the last of his strength, forced their way through into the fresh air before he collapsed to his knees, gasping and hurting. His side felt like pokers were running through his ribs and he remembered for the first time that he'd been injured and might have well torn something inside that would cause him grief.
He felt hands on his shoulders, setting him aside, and Chris rolled Ezra onto his back and started CPR. Vin lay down, hands clasped to his side, curled up tightly. He heard Chris give a small, triumphant sound as Ezra began coughing and moaning.
Vin closed his eyes in gratitude. Alive. Ezra was alive. Sirens blared, then whined to silence as the fire department arrived. He felt Chris take his hand, then nothing, as darkness overwhelmed him.
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