~The Binding~

Chapter 51

"Suz, something is really wrong." Bron sat in the van with the motor idling in the driveway. The rain had slowed to a slight drizzle now.

"The house is too dark." Bron tapped the high beams on. The headlights showed brightly down on the two barns as Bron searched the dark for what seemed off. Bron turned the truck off and shoved the driver door open. "Something isn't right."

"Kevin probably took the kids to his Mom's. We've been gone almost all day." Suzie grabbed her purse.

"Kevin would have called and told us to meet him there." Bron made her way to the front door. "He knows we went shopping and that I ditched Jake this morning."

"Mc's truck is here. Maybe they went over to Scouts to get something to eat." Suzie followed behind her.

"I don't think so." Bron pushed the front door open. The alarm wasn't set nor was the door locked. "Hey, I'm home," Bron called out as she walked in the house without hesitation. She stopped in the foyer. No kids, no adults, nor dogs came to greet her. Bron waited a few seconds and then briskly walked to the kitchen. Suzie reached for the light switch on the kitchen wall. Bron stopped her with her hand. "Don't something is off. My dogs aren't here."

"Shit, you're right. Where the hell is the spit brigade?" Suzie was wide-eyed in the dark. "Not that I missed being slimed as a welcome home gesture."

Bron grabbed the phone and began to trail through the dark rooms on the first floor. Twice Suzie bumped into her. "Would you stop it?" Bron looked over her shoulder. "Stop following so close."

"I didn't mean too, my belly is getting in the way." Suzie took two steps back. "Just because you've lost weight and don't have a belly."

"Trust me, I have one; you just can't see it. Let's try not to trip over each other and both of us end up having an accident." Bron headed up the stairs. Moonlight streaming through the two story Palladian window provided the only light to see by on the staircase.

Bron went into each room on the second and third floors, there was nothing. Nobody was home and no dogs were around. Very few lights were on. She dialed the phone for the office on her cell and it rang on Suzie's desk as they stood next to it. "The phones weren't turned over to the service."

Bron tapped her fingers on the desk. Her nails click-click-clicking as she drummed her fingers on the oak desktop was the only sound heard in the dark. "Come on," Bron rushed out of the office and down the office stairs two at a time.

"What the hell is the matter with you!" Suzie was yelling since there was no way she could keep up with Bron.

"You really wouldn't think a damn month would make a difference." Suzie huffed as she finally joined Bron in the kitchen. "But it does."

Bron came out of the pantry with a flashlight and shined it in Suzie's face. "Stay here." Bron took off through for the dining room. Suzie heard the door slam that led to the entertainment room downstairs.

"Dammit!" Suzie heard loud enough that she thought the floorboards were going to pop up in the dining room. Then she heard the door slam again.

"That motherfucker!" Bron huffed as she tossed a sheet of paper at Suzie. Bron flicked the light on as she reached the kitchen doorway.

"Geez," Suzie squinted as her eyes adjusted from no light to four four-hundred watt bulbs blinding her.

Bron ripped the paper from her hands and read the note aloud for her. "Use your silent mouth to call them. Look and look hard."

"This is Mc's handwriting. Why the hell would Mc leave a note like this? It's too cryptic." Suzie stared at the note that Bron had flung on the counter.

"It's cryptic for a reason. Follow me and bring the flashlight." Bron split out the backdoor after snagging an object from key holder that Kevin had nailed to the wall weeks ago since he was sick of hunting for keys or asking Jake for them.

Suzie followed, uncomfortable in the dark and feeling vulnerable. "Please tell me what is going on Bron."

Bron went to her own truck and pulled a crowbar out of the back. She went to the back of Mc's truck with it in hand.

Suzie cast a suspicious brow. Bron looked at her, "Hey, it's legal. It's on my property." Bron stuck the end of the bar into the top seam of the tool box and pulled down with all her might. It didn't budge the first time, the second time she bent the metal all the way around the lock as she pried the lid off.

"Remind me not to piss you off when you have one of those." Suzie ambled up to her.

"Gimmie," Bron fingers groped for the flashlight. She moved things around. "Bingo!" Bron pulled on a chunk of black fabric with both hands.

"What the hell is that?" Suzie watched Bron struggle with it.

"Vest," Bron pulled it out of the bin with both hands and let it drop to the ground. She couldn't get a good grip on it since she was perched on the bumper. She dug around some more and came out with two slim black cases.

"What are those?"

"Bullets." Bron reached down for the vest. She held it up and turned it around. She placed her arms through the holes. The weight almost caused her to fall.

"What the hell are you doing? Are you crazy? Call the cops Bron… What the hell is going on?"

"I can't call the cops. Stevie has been here; he has my kids or my husband or both. I know he has Mc for sure." Bron ended up taking the vest off. It was too heavy and cumbersome. "The dogs are searching too. Mc left them behind for a reason."

"You're kidding. No. No. No. You need to stop. You stop right now. You need to go in the house and call the cops, let them handle this." Suzie started to walk away from her.

"Sorry Suz, I can't do that." Bron walked back to her truck, reached under her seat and pulled out her revolver. She smiled as Suzie's mouth slowly fell to the ground. "Oh shut up. For weeks we've been tooling around town with this. I always have it on me and you didn't even know it. Hell, we've been shopping with my insurance all day." Bron broke the gun down where she stood and check the chamber.

Suzie crossed her arms and shot her friend a murderous look. "I bet Kevin doesn't know you have it."

Bron chuckled back at her. "Oohhhh. I bet you're right on that one. I'm sure he'll ground me when this is done and over with too." She put it back together and looked at Suzie. Bron jammed the magazine into the gun after counting how many bullets were in it. She double checked the second magazine. "I want you to go in the house and call Pete. Wait for him. Lock the doors, set the alarm and keep your cell on."

Suzie pursed her lips at her, "You don't know where they're at."

"They're here on the property. Stevie won't go far from me. He's probably been here the whole time watching me. Most likely since we cut Kaylin's phone off. I got another letter." Suzie's reaction was exactly what Bron thought it would be one of pure shock. Bron reached into her jeans pocket and pulled out a button sized object as she walked to the porch. She went in and flicked the switch to the porch light on and waited. "Go inside now." Bron waited patiently for Suzie to go inside. Suzie didn't budge. "Please."

"No! You come in too." Suzie crossed her arms and settled them on her stomach.

"I can't do that." Bron placed the disc in her mouth and blew. She waited thirty seconds and blew three short breaths. Bron heard him as he came closer. He flew across the yard and tried to stop. He banged into Bron trying to stop his locomotion. Brit came twenty seconds behind him. "Sguir." Brit stopped dead in front of her. She spit an object out of her mouth. "Okay I used my silent mouth. Good girl." Bron patted the dog's head. Bron reached down and picked up the object. She stared at the fabric as she rubbed it between her fingertips. "It's a piece of Cooper's blanket," Bron whispered. She blinked back the tears at the confirmation that her kids weren't too far from her and that something was wrong.

Suzie saw the dirty and torn scrap of fabric Bron rubbed between her fingers. "Oh my God Bron! Please, let's go inside and call Pete." The hysterics began to hit her full force. She grabbed onto the porch rail. "Please come inside. He's crazy."

Bron tucked the two spare magazines down in her boot. Bron looked her two loyal companions in the face. She was counting on them to reunite her family. She ducked inside and brought a water bowl out. They both drank. "I know he wants me Suzie. I'm ready for this. He's going to get me but not how he planned. I've been preparing for this since we came back here."

"You're talking like a crazy woman!" Suzie yelled at her.

Bron chuckled. "I've been there too." The dogs drank their fill and sat down in the dirt staring at her. Their tails making a splashing sound on the wet earth. Bron looked at the dogs. "He has them and you know where they are. That's where you were or you were tracking them." Bron bent down and held the blanket scrap out to each dog and let them sniff the fabric. "Gheibh… Sàbhail…" The Dogs pulled their strong bodies from the ground as Bron watched them. They turned and began a fast pace towards the barn. Bron followed them to the barn. She took one long look back to Suzie, "Go inside and make that call. You are my best chance right now. I need Pete here."

Closing her eyes tightly she struggled to keep her sanity together as the dogs went out the back barn door. She couldn't figure out how she would keep up with them. They sat at the door and waited patiently for her.

Bron's eyes tracked through the barn as she dismissed everything that would make noise. Her eye settled on Fuzzy the horse. Having the surgery and then going horseback riding was probably on her don't list right now. "I'll walk." Bron shut the flashlight off and followed the dogs. She didn't want the light to give away her location. Even though the evening was miserable, she still had the moonlight some of the time.

The dogs weren't outright running but they were moving briskly. She trailed after them as silent as she could. The dogs would stop and sniff the air. Bron began to panic as the sounds of the night began to play on her mind. Jus would come back and walk next to her or Brit would and then they would switch leads. Neither of them would leave her alone too long. Bron heard the night sounds of bullfrogs, crickets, and somewhere off in the distance an owl screeched. Clouds rolled over the moon covering it at times as the spring storm continued to rolling in. The clouds seemed to boil in the sky.

She was tired and out of shape from the damn bed rest she had been put on. Not only that, Bron was lost in the woods near her home. "I should've never bought that asshole this mountain. Hell, I don't even know if I'm on my own property." Bron stopped and braced her arm on a tree. "I'm insane; who the hell am I fooling? I'm lost."

Bron huffed and puffed and pulled herself back to walking after her little meltdown. She figured she had trekked at least four miles up the mountain. She walked a little further and stopped. "I have to stop guys. I'm sorry I need a break. It's been a long time since I did a seven minute mile. Like seventh grade," she chuckled softly.

Headlights glowed down the trail from where she had just come. Bron whistled for the dogs using the dog whistle and tucked herself behind a huge Tulip tree. The dogs stood on either side of her. The truck stopped right in front the tree. Bron sighed when the only person getting out of the truck was the driver, who happened to be Suzie.

Bron stepped out from behind the tree. Suzie turned and pointed a flashlight in her face.
Suzie spoke as she trained the flashlight on each dog. "You are insane."

"Get in the damn truck!"

Bron looked at the passenger who had barked orders at her.

"I don't want to know why she would call you of all people. I told her to call Pete." Bron frowned at Suzie after speaking to the person along for the ride.

"She did call Pete… He didn't answer. Then she called Tim and Jerald. Tim's not home but I answered the phone at Jerald's because he left a little while ago when Tim called. She told me what was going on. You are an idiot and Kevin is going to kill you. You know the kind of temper he has."

"Oh and like you don't know Kevin Scott Richardson has a bad ass temper. I've seen the way you two look at each other. Shit has gone down between you two, you just don't talk about it or he won." Bron wasn't going to defend her actions to anyone nor would she let this person change her mind.

Suzie's head bobbed from one female to the other.

"He didn't win every time," the woman snapped at her.

"I'm sorry Kristen but you should've stayed home." Bron held the door open as both dogs jumped in the truck. Bron decided riding for a bit wouldn't be such a bad idea. Especially since the other two were driving her truck.

Suzie shook the other end of the flashlight at Bron. "You better shut up right now. Because of her, we think we know where they are."

"Right, Kris knows where Stevie has my kids, my business partner, my best friend, and possibly my husband. I have no freaking clue where Andrew is either."

Kris turned around in the front seat and glared back at her. "Yes I do. You know that little special place Kevin took you on your honeymoon."

"The campsite?" Bron's lips pursed together. Her head tilted to the side and then snapped straight. "No way, that place is hours away."

Suzie and Kris high-fived each other in the front seat and started laughing.

"What the hell is so funny?" Bron reached for the door handle. Something wasn't right with these two. Bron saw Suzie tilt the rear-view mirror at her.

"Park it Girlfriend. It's only hours away when he takes you to the other side of this freaking mountain to get there." Suzie shot her a cheesy grin. "All that time you were camping you never left your property."

"You're so full of shit." Bron's eyes narrowed to slits when Kris turned around again to face.

"There's a huge Coffee tree there right by the stream. There's a big gray boulder that Kevin likes to use as a diving board. The tree that he swings from has a knotted rope-"

"That bastard," Bron growled from the backseat.

"I've been there-"

"I don't give a shit where you've been with him."

"Liar, liar, pants on fire…" Suzie sang from the front seat.

"Shut up Suz!" Bron snapped and then dogs barked since Bron had become upset.

"Ohhhkay." Suzie fixed the mirror and looked straight ahead.

Bron's head popped between the seats. Her head flanked by two huge dog heads with wrinkles and spit. "I don't really care where Kris has been with Kevin. They were together for ten years. I know they had sex, we've talked about it." Bron shined her flashlight in Kris's face. "Just get me to my family."

Kris nodded and pointed straight ahead. "Let's get going. I'm sure Tim and Jerald are there. We can only go so far in the truck anyway. We'll hike the rest of the way in."

"No you'll park your asses in this truck and the dogs and I will hike the rest of the way in."



"Suzie. We're all here." Suzie turned the key in the ignition. Suzie rolled her eyes at the two women who by all rights should be bitter enemies but weren't.

Bron jammed her body back in the seat and started to pout. "I won't bitch, I'm glad you came. I was getting lost and tired."

"You're going to have a baby in a few months and you just hiked six miles. I think anybody would be tired." Suzie maneuvered the vehicle over the bumpy landscape.

Bron sat back and patted Brit's head. "That's pretty good. I figured four miles. I'm shooting for a seven minute mile." Bron snorted.

Suzie wrinkled up her nose; Bron saw the reflection in the mirror. "Not for someone who is on bed rest."

"What!" Kris looked to Suzie for confirmation.

"Obviously Jer left some things out. I would've told you but I didn't have time. They sewed her cervix closed, she was dilating early." Suzie's head moved from side to side as she spoke.

"Eww," Kris frowned. "Now he's really going to kill us for sure."

Kristen's voice had gone up three octaves right into a whine. Bron laughed, she had to, and Kevin was really going to kill them over this.

They sat silently as Suzie drove bit by bit over the rough terrain. Finally the truck wouldn't take any more.

"Stop," Kris called to her. Kris exited the truck and shined her flashlight on the tree. The mark of an arrow showed on it.

"Dammit," Bron hissed as she recognized the arrow. She leaned closer to the door. "Kris is this really our property?"

"No, this is the part that borders back up against yours. This is old man Bailey's place. Kevin wanted his place so bad it nearly killed him. Bailey couldn't stand him and wouldn't sell it to him. This marks the border between the two plots." Kris answered her.

Bron's hands went to her head and she squeezed. "ERR, I bought Bailey's place for that jerk."

Suzie started to laugh, "Then I guess it is your property."

"I hope you puke the next time you're on Nick's boat." Bron hopped out and the dogs followed. "You two are going to stay here." Bron leaned over the top of Justin and spoke to Brit after grabbing the dog by the flews. She stared into the huge animals eyes. "Uaireadóir… Gardáil… Cha tihg an deidh… Stad iadsan."

Suzie quirked her head to the left listening to Bron speak an ancient language. Kris stood next. Brit went and sat in front of Suzie and Kris. The dog's tails thumped wildly on the ground. "Good girl," Bron winked at her.

Bron bent at the waist with the tattered piece of blanket. She held it out to Justin who sniffed and then danced. Bron held her finger up to her mouth. "Sssh…. Gheibh… Sàbhail…" Bron took off at a pace that she wasn't sure she could keep up.

Kris moved forward. Suzie held an arm out to stop Kris from following Bron. "Let her get ahead of us. In the mood she's in she might shoot us."

"You're joking," Kris gave her a shocked stare.

"No, not really." Suzie sighed as she patted the top of Brit's head. "She pulled a handgun out from under the seat of her truck." They waited five minutes in the dark. "Brit will follow her, don't worry." Suzie reassured Kris.

"Do you think it's been long enough?" Kris questioned Suzie.

"Yeah." Suzie took one step and Brit growled at her. Suzie cocked her head to the side. "You so did not just do that to me." Suzie tapped the dog on the head. Brit wagged her tail and pawed Suzie for more love. Suzie patted her again and took a step. Brit rumbled even louder and moved in front of Suzie barring her from moving forward.

"You don't think she said something to this dog, do you?" Kris whispered as if the dog understood her.

"I couldn't tell you. All I know is that it's Gaelic. The dog's commands are always done in Gaelic so only Bron and Kevin know what they're saying. I think Jake knows but I don't know." Suzie studied the dog for a second.

Both of them moved only to have Brit spin around and growl at them. Suzie's mouth fell open. "That bitch told you not to let me follow her," Suzie growled back at the dog. Brit refused to let either one of them move away from the truck. The growling and snarling became intense as the dog paced back and forth in front of them.

Twigs breaking behind them made both of them turn suddenly. "You better have a damn good reason for being here woman." The words were more of a sneer and not much above a whisper.

Suzie closed her eyes and stifled a giggle. She knew the voice. Even Britney knew the voice, she was wagging her tail.

"I'm helping Bron." Kris backed up next to Suzie swiftly.

"Like hell you are. You get your ass back in the truck and back to the house right now. I'll speak to you about this later." A finger pointed in Kris's face.

Suzie lost it and snort ripped out of her.

"Really," Kris sighed at her.

"Oh my God, it runs in the gene pool. They all suffer from Neanderthalism." Suzie couldn't control her giggling, her nerves were raw.

"Shut up Suzie and get your pregnant butt back in that truck right now." Tim spoke as he stood next to Jerald.

Suzie felt like she was on a roll now, why stop. "Oh he's the pastor he doesn't swear."

"Like hell I don't and I don't want anything to happen to either one of you. Get moving." Tim seethed the words out at her.

Kristen batted her eyelashes at Jerald when he shined a flashlight in her eyes. "She's going to get lost on her own. They went to the Coffetree campsite." Kris gave Jerry a shove with her hand. "She didn't even know she'd been camping on her own property. Your brother is a jerk."

Suzie clamped her mouth shut since she knew it was Kevin that Kris was calling a jerk. The urge to say, "You'd know," was quelled quickly.

"She has one of the dogs with her so she won't get lost." Jerald shook his head, "Kevin is going to blow his mind because you told her." Jerald wrapped his fingers around her shoulder and began pulling Kris towards the truck. Tim started to do the same to Suzie. Suzie threw her hands up in the air and went to stand near truck on her own.

Suzie decided to listen instead of arguing with the Richardson boys. Brit sat down on her feet so she couldn't move. The dog swung its huge head up at her. Drool dripped from the dog's mouth. "God, I'm going to wring her neck when I see her."

"Why didn't you tell me why Tim called?" Kris was fishing for something to save her butt and Suzie knew it. Bron did it all the time. Kris was throwing blame right back on Jerald for not telling her everything.

"Maybe I didn't want you tramping around the woods at night with my pregnant, crazy ass, sister-in-law. She isn't the only lunatic running around out here." Jerald was opening the truck door and shoving Kris inside.

"Stop it." Kris slapped Jerald in the shoulder.

"What are you guys going to do when you get married? Like, are Kevin and Bron going to stand up for you guys?" Suzie could barely contain her amusement.

"No," they barked simultaneously at her.

"Just checking," Suzie snorted again. Now even Tim was grinning. He stopped when Jerald shot him a look that would have incinerated most humans standing. Suzie giggled again. Kevin had shot that look a shit load of times since she had met him.

"Well look the Richardsons have decided to have a party in the woods half way up the mountain." Pete's voice cracked the tension among them. The standoff of Tim, Jerald, and Brit against Suzie and Kris had a new player.

Suzie nearly mowed Pete down as he walked up the trail with a rifle resting on his shoulder. "Pete, I've been trying to call you. Where have you been? Something is wrong. Kevin's gone- the kids- Mc- Can't find-"

"Stop!" Pete put his hand up. "I know all that. Tim and Jer called me. All of you need to go back to the house. I got an odd message from Mc. I stopped by to check on you and Bron." Pete leveled a glare at all of them. "I told you two to go over there with them so that Bron wouldn't leave the house. And you're not there. Why is that?"

Tim groaned and offered up his excuse. "I tried to tell him, but it's our brother, our baby brother. Jerald wasn't going sit around and wait. Stevie doesn't know these woods like we do. We heard some noises and discovered these yahoos running around out here."

"Right. Okay, so now ya'll will go back to the house and wait. I have reinforcements coming to help me out with this. We definitely have a situation on our hands. Steve made his move when Kaylin went into the barn after school. Stupid ass Kevin took the bait and Cooper with him. Jake showed up after getting a text from Kaylin and followed them. Thank God for the new pink Barbie phones because now we have six people out here because nobody can stay at the house."

"Seven, you forgot Bron." Suzie crossed her arms when Brit nudged her arm. "And she has Justin with her."

Pete groaned loudly at her.

"How do you know for sure all this happened?" Suzie hadn't moved and she wasn't going to.

Pete took one big step towards her and she backed up. "Suz, you're not dealing with a Richardson here. Get the hell back to the house and sit there. I'm not going to stand here and dispute the facts with you. "

"I want answers." Suzie stood with a cocky grin on her face after Brit snarled at Pete. "Well, you don't have a choice."

Pete shined his flashlight on her face. "Yeah I do. I'll arrest all of you and then I'll call the press and invite them into the lockup so they can take pictures of Nick's pregnant jailbird."

"Okay I'm leaving." Suzie turned to the open door and jumped in the passenger seat. Suzie watched Kris walk to towards some thickets. She leaned out the window to call her back. Brit was jumping around the truck like a gorilla after following her into the truck. "Kris!"

"Kris, come back here and head back to the house with Suzie." Pete shined the flashlight on her.

"NO!" Kris pushed some branches aside.

"If you don't I'll tell Kevin you've been sleeping with Jerry since the day he left on tour. Pete waved the beam on her form. "Before he met Bron."

"Pete, you're lying." Jerald barked at him.

Pete shined the flashlight in Jerald's face. "Who do you think he's going to believe at this point? Me or you? Hell, he's so blind he sees nothing because Bron covers for everyone."

"Fine," Kris tramped back to the truck and got in the backseat. Tim and Jerald joined Suzie and Kris in the front.

Pete shined the flashlight into the truck. "Now, where's Bron?"

"She left at least twenty minutes ago, maybe longer." Suzie stared straight ahead and said a little prayer.

"Please tell me for the house?" Pete questioned her.

"Yeah right," Suzie shook her head.

"Damn women," Pete grumbled as he pulled a handset off his shoulder. "Okay, boys, Bron is plowing around out here so check your target first. She has one of her dogs with her. Be careful, that dog of hers will do some damage to you if she can't or won't, in her case, call him off. But whatever you do, don't shoot the dog; he's Kaylin's dogs too."

Pete watched the motley crew back down the road. Somehow he knew they wouldn't go back but at least they would be out of the way. Pete knew exactly where Steve had taken Kevin and the kids. Kevin would know but the kids, Jake, and Mc would be lost out here. Above all of this Pete knew Bron would do anything for her kids and her husband. The problem was Stevie knew it too. Stevie was banking on it. He was drawing Bron to him. Kevin and the kids as well as Jake and Mc were nothing more than a tool to do so.

Bron's personality had done a complete turn around since Lenny was taken care of. He had even run into her at the firing range with Mc. Mc had pulled him aside later and explained to him why she was there and not to tell Kevin. Pete knew that Kevin couldn't be everywhere with Bron all the time. Neither could the rest of them. He decided to keep quiet about it. At least she was being responsible about it. Of course, he ran a check for a handgun permit and she naturally had one, courtesy of Webster and company. Not to mention the gun was a government issued weapon. He wondered at the time who gave it to her, Webster or Mc.

Pete walked up the trail hoping to run into Bron but doubted it. She would almost be at the camp taking this route. He had a group coming in from the other side to meet him especially since she had at least a twenty minute lead on him. "Shit, this is a real damn mess," he said to as he followed the path and speaking to himself. "Seven people out are here. Which include one pregnant woman, two kids, and one dog in the woods at night and I thought this job would be easy."






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