A Magnificent Seven slash novel by SueN, set in the ATF Denver AU and with lots of hurt-comfort. NOTE! This story has appeared, or is currently available, on-line.
Nettie discovers Vin's secret, but before she can determine what Larabee's intentions are toward "her boy," Vin is caught in the middle of a mugging in Purgatory and nearly killed. But how will the older woman react to the relationship that has already been established between the two men?
Vin closed the lid and started the machine, then leaned on it and slowly drummed the fingers of one hand against its top, his mind working furiously at the riddle of Chris' behavior. It wasn't like Larabee had never taken a meal with the woman before; she'd fed them all on numerous occasions. True, the rest of the team had always been there, too, but. . .
Vin's fingers abruptly stilled and he straightened, hitching his thumbs into the waistband of his jeans and cocking his head slightly to one side. Was that it? Was it that this time it would just be the two of them with her? That, with no others around to distract them, they might somehow drop their guard and let slip some hint of their true relationship?
He chewed on that for several moments, turning the possibilities and implications over carefully in his mind. For a number of reasons, chief among them that they were both deeply and fiercely private men, he and Chris had mutually decided not to advertise their relationship. They had the delicate balance of the team, the five other men who had become their family, to consider, as well as the whole thorny supervisor-subordinate issue. It was difficult, and sometimes painful, but, so far, they seemed to have successfully concealed the fact that they were lovers.
Was Chris worried that Nettie would see what others had missed? He narrowed his eyes and chewed his lower lip. Was it possible that she had?
Oh, hell, yeah. He sighed and winced. It was more than possible! Nettie knew him better than anyone else, except Chris. From the first moment all those years ago when he'd slipped into her class at the community center, she'd looked at him, looked into him, had taken in the whole of him in one sharp, shrewd, measuring gaze and seen him as no one else had ever bothered to try doing. A wary street kid who'd learned it was infinitely safer to avoid attention, he'd done all he could to make himself invisible, but Nettie Wells had looked right at him that night and hadn't looked away since. She knew him in the same instinctive way Chris did, knew his mind, heart and soul in their entirety, knew his light and darknesses, knew his brokenness and his strength. There was nothing in him that she couldn't see.
And God knew Chris Larabee lived and breathed in every part of him.
He turned around and slid slowly down the washer to the floor, all the wind gone out of him. He'd never told Nettie he was gay, hadn't been able to face the prospect of her turning on him, and turning him away, in disgust. He could take it from others, had taken it from others; from her it would kill him. So all these years he'd said nothing, deciding that a life of shadows and lies was a small price to pay for her continued love.
But what if she'd seen through him in this, as she had in all other things? What if she'd figured out that Chris was more – God, so much more! – than just a friend? Was that what tonight was about? Had she invited them to supper so she could watch them together and confirm her suspicions?
And if she did see what she expected to, what would she do about it?
He wrapped his arms around himself and dropped his head onto his knees, shivering as a sudden chill raced through him.
Oh, God, God. What if having Chris' love cost him Nettie's?
114 pages. $10 for PDF version with color cover.
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