DISCLAIMER: The following story is strictly a work of fan fiction. It is not intended to infringe upon the copyrights of MGM, The Mirsch Group, Trilogy, CBS or any others with claims. I neither seek nor receive any profit from writing. The central characters, concept of "The Magnificent Seven" and the town of "Four Corners" are not my original creations. This story and minor characters are.

RATINGS: NC-17 for some language, violence and sex.

NOTES: Does not contain spoilers. This story should be set after "One Day Out West" and definitely before "Working Girls".

by Rita Clark


Chris Larabee knew when he was in trouble. And if he had ever been in trouble in his life, it was now. He glanced once again at the merciless sun to gauge how long he would have to rest before he could make further progress. There was only meager shade at the rocks beside the almost non-existent trail.

"If I can get just a few more miles closer to that stagecoach station. . ." he thought, but left the thought unfinished. It was a very large "If".

There was no point in cursing himself further for a fool. Any man except a completely insensitive son of a bitch would have done the same thing in the same situation.

"Yeah, Chris." He continued his thoughts. "But didn't you let yourself get suckered right into it?"

Well, there was nothing to be gained from this. Chris tried to rest as much as possible while waiting for the beginning of sunset. His plan was to make his way toward help during the cooler hours of the night. He began to take inventory: no horse, no water, no supplies, no gun . . . "Hell," he almost began to smile at the final indignity, "They even took my hat!"

But the smile faded before it had gotten much further than the corners of his dry mouth. This wasn't funny. He could very well die in this desert. And, much to his disgust, it was his own damm fault. At least he wasn't quite as bad as Buck. True, he had gotten himself into a mess because of a woman, but not for the usual reasons that Buck did. The woman that had led him into this predicament had been traveling to meet her husband. The petite, blonde Mrs. Anna Gibson was a respectable lady and she was also pregnant. Of course, it didn't hurt that she was very, very pretty. What else could he do when she stood beside the stagecoach with only a small brown leather satchel looking so alone and unsure of herself?

He had only intended to throw the battered satchel on top of the stage for her and help her in. He had no intention of being talked into tying his horse behind the coach and accompanying her to meet her husband. She dreaded making the journey alone with only the dirty, tobacco-spitting driver for companionship. She had almost laughed with relief when he told her that, yes, he was headed north and, although he hadn't intended to take a stagecoach part of the way, if she was really that uncertain of her situation he would. Chris admitted to himself that he had enjoyed the trip tremendously-for a while. Anna, as she requested he call her, was not only pretty; she was smart and funny. He hadn't laughed like that in a very long time.

Then, as it always seemed to happen, trouble had arrived. Four riders pulled the stagecoach over about halfway between towns. Guns drawn, they had totally intimidated the elderly driver. Chris had hesitated to resist, not willing to draw fire into the coach where Anna might be hit and his hesitation was taken advantage of very quickly. He was roughly ordered out. They took his gun before he really had time to take stock of the situation and they were none too gentle about it. Then Anna stepped down from the coach into the dust and heat. And smiled sweetly. She asked him to take off the money belt around his waist that he was carrying back to Four Corners from Spencerville. He knew then that he'd been taken. There was no choice except to hand over the belt with the $5,000.00 bank transfer for the Cattlemen's Association that he had thought was relatively safe on his person.

So Chris waited in silence as Anna took the bundle that was tossed to her by the surliest of the robbers, then retired modestly behind the coach to change. He stared in amazement as she returned, wearing pants, boots and shirt and carrying her dress, her bonnet and some kind of contraption that apparently was a pillow or some kind of padding with straps that she had worn under the dress. She wasn't pregnant.

Chris smiled grimly, "Now I guess you're going to tell me that you're not even married."

Anna smiled back, "I'm not married. Are you interested?"

"Hell," Chris replied, "I can't afford you!"

The bandit who had carried her change of clothing was not amused by this exchange. "Shut up," he snarled at Chris.

Then to Anna, "We've got what we came for. It's time to go."

He paused only a moment before wheeling his horse towards the coach to silence the almost forgotten driver. But the old man was slumped across the seat, the reins slack. The rider poked him a few times with his rifle, then turned back to the others.

"He's already dead. Must have scared the old fool to death," he laughed. Then he returned his attention to Chris. Anna stepped calmly between the mounted ruffian with his gun ready and the unarmed man they had robbed.

"No." Anna's voice was soft, but he stopped immediately.

"What?" The man was astounded. "What do you mean? We have to kill him. He's seen all of us and he doesn't look much like the forgiving type."

"I'm not the forgiving type." Chris spoke quietly, but the men on horseback got the message. "No." Anna spoke again. "We have his gun and I'm going to ride his horse. We'll just leave him here. It's miles to anywhere and without a horse, water or even a gun he'll never make it."

The bandit smiled suddenly and holstered his weapon. He maneuvered his horse closer, leaned towards Chris and took his flat-brimmed black hat. "Not to mention his hat. Let's git."

"Cover him," Anna spoke to the nearest brigand before stepping closer to Chris. "I want to wish him good luck. He's going to need it."

She looked up into the quiet gunfighter's puzzled green eyes and almost whispered, "There's a shortcut to the nearest station to the left about fifty yards back down the way we came. It's not much of a trail, but I'll bet you can make it out. The others don't know about it. I was raised near here and I used to hunt all over these flats with my Pa and my brothers."

Chris didn't know how to respond to this bit of information. He was startled out of his reverie when four shots rang out in quick succession and the stagecoach horses fell where they stood. As Anna moved to Chris's horse and mounted expertly, the rest of the gang removed anything from the coach and the dead driver they thought Chris could use. They smashed the small water barrel they couldn't carry and snatched his black duster from the seat.

"Nights get kinda cold out here," one of the men remarked. "Maybe I could use this."

Then they were gone. Anna rode at the head of the gang as though she were the boss. "Maybe she is the boss," Chris mused. "She knew about the bank transfer and where I hid it. She gave the orders to let me live. She fooled me and she fooled anybody else that watched her walk across that street into thinking she was going to have a baby. If Buck were here, he'd probably be in love." As the riders grew smaller in the distance and even the dust cloud they kicked up from the dry landscape faded, Chris wondered what the rest of "The Seven" were doing in Four Corners while he contemplated walking through miles of desert in any direction he chose. They were all probably sitting comfortably in the saloon at a back table over good food, whiskey and a card game.

"What would have happened if I hadn't been so damm sure that one man with the bank transfer had a better chance than seven men armed to the teeth?" It was a little late for that.

So, Chris had walked slowly back down the track the way they had ridden in the coach and he found the trail just where Anna had said it woPART TWO: THE DESERT

Chris awoke with a start. He had been leaning against the rocks, dozing a little in the heat. Peering at the sky and the finally lowering ball of fire he judged the time about right to start out. At least six hours must have passed since he was left alone here. He pulled himself up and began what he hoped was truly a shortcut across the hot, arid land. The trail was faint at first and hard to follow but, as he became accustomed to squinting a bit and varying his course around rocks and the few straggly plants that survived here, it became more distinct.

It was still very hot but Chris knew that once the sun dropped behind the distant mountains it would cool rapidly. He would have to pause then and wait for his eyes to adjust for he didn't want to veer off the faded track. He planned to walk until sunrise, then rest again.

"And then what?" He wondered aloud.

The desert, or at least country similar to this, was not unfamiliar to him. He knew that it would be two days before the stage was missed at the next town; it would take searchers two or three days after that to ride to where the coach with the dead driver and horses had been left. Four to five days for a search party to arrive. Chris didn't have four or five days. He had, at the most, three days without water to reach the station. On foot.

"Maybe I should have stayed with the stage." No, he was sure that he was doing the right thing. The dead driver and horses would certainly have attracted scavengers-animal certainly, human maybe. And without a gun . . .

Disgusted by his own litany of despair, Chris paused to wipe sweat from his face and to consider dying alone, slowly and painfully in this barren place without water. After his wife and son's death in the fire, he had wanted to die immediately. For a long time he thought he would die from the grief and sadness. Then, for a while from the whiskey. But now, after meeting Vin and the others, reuniting with Buck and working for Judge Travis in Four Corners, he didn't want to die quite as badly as before. When he did die, he had always imagined it would be in some kind of a fight. Quickly-from a bullet. This was not how he had ever dreamed it would happen.

Because of his family's sudden horrible death, he had lapsed into his old ways; he was a loner by nature. He had simply sold what stock and equipment that was spared by the fire, left what remained of the ranch and wandered from one town to another. Reverting to the only trade he had known before he met Sarah, he had become a hired gun again. Chris had become chillingly good at his profession. Not particularly caring whether he lived or died was his distinct advantage, as was his exceptional skill which had built a reputation that earned him excellent wages. He could always afford plenty of whiskey and women between jobs; and comfortable lodgings to sleep it off in.

Chris forced himself to move on through the night. Negative thinking was not what he needed right now. He walked more slowly and carefully as the darkness truly began to descend. The desert was eerily quiet; only a few sounds floated out of the distance. Occasionally, he could hear a coyote's plaintive wail.

As the hours went by, Chris began to walk almost automatically. He was not aware of the length of time passing or the considerable distance he was covering. Almost asleep on his feet; he was tired, thirsty and hungry. As the temperature dropped more quickly, he began to get cold as well. A few times he almost stopped to rest, then decided that if he stopped he might not be able to get up and start again. Still, he began to waver in his decision to keep going all night.

The cold air, his thirst and hunger, and his exhaustion began to affect his vision and his ability to reason as well. The trail was getting more difficult to follow. His legs were getting heavier and he was stumbling occasionally, then recovering his balance to go on and stumbling again. In Chris's confusion the unthinkable happened-the ground disappeared in front of him and he fell into darkness, then into oblivion.

Chris began to regain consciousness slowly. The blinding light and the oppressive heat confused him. Hadn't he been walking--at night-why was he lying on the open ground in the blazing sun? Then he began to remember his sorry circumstances and that he must have fallen. His eyes weren't focusing too well; everything looked bright and wavered as the heat rose in steady waves from the parched land. He slowly tried to sit up and, as he did, he realized what had happened. Chris was at the foot of a bluff. He had apparently just walked over the edge sometime during the night. Now it was broad daylight. He had no idea how long he had been lying here but he knew he had to try to find some shelter from the sun.

As he staggered dizzily to his feet, he winced and gasped in pain. It had been a long, hard fall and had done some damage. He felt dampness on his face and realized as he brushed his hair away from his eyes that there was a cut on the left side of his forehead and quite a bit of blood, most of it dried and matted in his hair. He had trouble getting his breath; probably he had broken some ribs. His right hand and arm hurt badly and, worst of all, his right leg had been twisted underneath him and felt stiff and swollen. Chris began to curse steadily as he tried to move nearer the bluff where there was a little shade. His leg wasn't broken since he could put a little weight on it and limp slowly but walking for any length of time was now out of the question. He reached a patch of stunted trees and a few cactus near the cliff and settled in as well as he could on the iron hard ground.

"Looks like I need a new plan," he stated to the wilderness around him. "Any suggestions?"

Since no reply seemed forthcoming, he shook his head in disgust at his surroundings and leaned back to rest and think. Chris Larabee slipped in and out of a fevered consciousness. He began to dream.

The visions before him were incoherent and vaguely unsettling. Men, some of them boys really, who he had fought appeared. They looked just as they had at that last moment, when he had scanned their eyes for some indication of when they would go for their guns to fire, only to be cut down by his quicker draw. Other hallucinations rose before him through his fever and weakness. He saw the many women he had known over the years. He recognized friends and comrades he had ridden with. Then he saw Sarah and Adam; he cried out to them, but they didn't seem to hear him. He tried to reach out for them but he couldn't move. Then, even they faded away and the comforting darkness, the quiet and a deep feeling of peace took him. Chris Larabee was dying.

Several more hours passed as Chris lay slumped against the rocks under the merciless sun. Two riders appeared in the distance. Buck Wilmington and Vin Tanner rode slowly in a search pattern that they hoped would lead them to their friend and the leader of their disparate group. It was only by pure chance that the pair had ridden on an errand to the little town of Paradise, a misnomer if there ever was one. There they learned that an extremely nervous man had attempted to cash in a $5,000.00 bank transfer with a fraudulent signature. The alert teller had stalled the man and called the Sheriff. The scrawled signature had been "Chris Larabee".

Vin had explained their intense interest in the matter to the local Sheriff. Sheriff Dan Kinley had been the lawman in the little town for twenty years, a record in this area. His longevity did not come from stupidity. The lanky grizzled peace officer opened the cell door, ushered Buck in and minded his own business for five minutes or so. When Buck yelled that he was finished, he and Vin had what they needed.

Vin Tanner was an experienced hunter and an excellent tracker. He and Buck had located the coach with the dead horses and driver quickly, then began riding ever-widening circles. Vin wished the others were there to help, but there had been no time to wait for their arrival. If Chris had been left as they had been told he had to be found quickly. The desert could be hell even if a man was prepared. To be left out here without water, on foot . . . Vin tried not to finish the thought.

It was the afternoon of the second day that Chris had been abandoned in this desolate place. Buck and Vin met at the apex of the pattern and both men reached for their canteens. As Vin drank sparingly, something caught his eye over by a low bluff to the west. Something was sparkling in the sun. Something that shouldn't be there.

"Buck," Vin spoke quietly to his companion. "I think we may have found something."

"Something," Buck was almost shouting. "How about someone? How about Chris?"

"Damm it, Buck," Vin was on the verge of losing his patience with the worried man, "I can see something shining, that's all. It might be nothing. But, let's check it quick. Then we can go back to riding the pattern. We'll cover more ground this way."

Buck turned his horse with Vin's and they covered the distance quickly. If this was another dead end . . . The heat waves shimmered and made it difficult to see exactly what the twinkling light emanated from. Buck had a bad feeling about this. The feeling worsened and his heart sank as a slight form clad in black emerged from the mirage. The man was deathly still. He was half-propped against the rocks with one leg at an awkward angle. His pale face and light hair were covered with dried blood. It was Chris. uld be. Now he waited for dusk.


It had been three months since Vin and Buck had found Chris near death in the desert and brought their injured friend back to Four Corners to recover. When Nathan saw Chris lying in the back of the borrowed wagon on a pile of blankets he was badly shaken by the extent of his injuries from the fall and his two days in the desert. His physical recovery, however, was surprisingly quick due to the dedicated care he received from Nathan and Mary.

As Chris began to regain his senses, Nathan told him what had happened a little at a time. He explained that it was Vin's knowledge of how to administer water to him often but in small amounts that had kept him alive until they reached the first town. He told Chris how Buck had rigged a makeshift tent over the unconscious man to shade him during the journey in the wagon. Chris already knew how each of his friends had taken turns staying with him while he was still at his weakest and most incoherent. Although at the time he knew he had fought her and had been a bad patient he realized now that the rich broth that Mary had persuaded him to swallow a little at a time had given him back much needed strength.

After the passage of this much time, the rest of "The Seven" had let the almost tragic event fade into the past. J. D. thought it was an adventure to rival the dime novels he was fond of reading. Josiah praised God's mercy and Chris's stubbornness. Ezra credited Lady Luck. Neither Vin nor Buck would ever forget that if it hadn't been for the small silver conchos on his gunbelt, Chris would not have been found-or found too late. Even though the injuries from his fall and the exposure to the elements had healed, Chris could not forget the incident either.

Although he had not mentioned it to anyone, Vin had been watching Chris since he had recovered and resumed their "regular" routine. To his eyes, the usually quiet man seemed restless for no reason. He would get up suddenly from a card game or a meal and walk, sometimes from one end of the town to the other. Less often, he rode out into the countryside for hours, then returned acting displeased with himself and everyone else.

It was late afternoon as Vin and Chris sat at a back table in the saloon. Buck and J. D. were in the Sheriff's office preparing to release two drunks who had finally sobered up from the night before. Josiah and Nathan were repairing pews at the church. Ezra had just thrown down an old deck of cards and gone to his room in mild disgust at the lack of enough men for a good game. The gunfighter and the bounty hunter sipped their drinks without enthusiasm as the dog-eared deck lay forgotten between them. Chris had been staring at nothing more and more often and the sparse conversation lagged even further. "Well," Vin thought, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained." He turned towards Chris, "You want to talk about whatever it is that's making you crazy?"

Chris seemed surprised. "Am I acting crazy?"

"Not really. But you are acting like a man that's got an itch that he can't scratch."

Chris gave Vin an unsettled look and admitted sheepishly. "That's exactly what's wrong with me."

He shifted uncomfortably in his chair before continuing, "I can't stop thinking about that woman."

Chris didn't have to specify which woman he was referring to. Vin knew already.

"Since the rest of the gang was either caught or killed after they robbed you and left you to die, you want to see her caught too." Vin stated what he assumed was a fact.

"That's just the hell of it. If I just wanted her to be in jail, but. . ." Chris let the words trail away and began to idly shuffle the cards on the scarred table, lost in thought once again.

"Then what do you want?" Vin gave a puzzled shake of his head. "If you don't want justice, is it revenge?"

"No. Not revenge. I . . . Damm it to Hell," Chris exploded suddenly.

The bartender's head snapped up momentarily from the glasses he was polishing on his apron to see if gunfire was eminent. When no violence seemed likely to follow the unusual outburst, he relaxed again.

Vin suddenly thought he understood. He cautiously ventured his opinion in his slow drawl. "I think I know what you mean. Been that way myself. Only one thing you can do."

"What's that?" Chris had begun to look just a little amused at the younger man who was giving him advice.

"Get out of here and find her and get whatever it is out of your system. I can cover for you. I'll use any story you want and I'll never mention it again."

Chris was offended at first at Vin's suggestion. He thought about Sarah and how much he had loved her-still loved her. But this didn't have anything to do with Sarah. This was an entirely different emotion. After a few minutes to realize that and analyze his true feelings he was willing to admit that maybe Vin was right. It certainly had been a very, very long time.

"Vin, I'm going to take you up on that offer. I'll check my gear, get a few supplies and leave in the morning."

The two men stood up together. Chris extended his hand to Vin and they shook on it as though they were sealing a bargain.

"You be careful." Vin watched Chris walk towards the door. "Cowboy", he added softly.

Chris heard the jibe and acknowledged it. "You call me a cowboy?" They both smiled.


Anna Gibson returned to her hotel room in the small town of Crystal Springs later than usual. She was weary and depressed at her fruitless attempts to raise enough money to get to San Francisco. Anna was convinced that she could live the good life there. She was tired of backwater settlements and cons that only netted her enough to live on.

"Damm it," she thought, "If those stupid men had let me handle the bank transfer from the robbery we all would have been living high by now." Anna had wanted to use her share to perpetuate even larger and more profitable schemes. Now three of the men were dead in a senseless fight over the money she had been powerless to prevent. The stupid little coward who had sneaked off with the transfer papers had gotten caught immediately. She had removed herself from the area and laid low until she deemed it safe to operate again.

Tonight had been worse than usual. With the long awaited continuation of the railroad coming to town from Eagle Bend, several businessmen had been at the hotel dining room to eat and discuss business. All of them had been attracted to her as she ate at a small table alone but not one of them had the guts to come over and talk to her. Anna knew that she, posing as a lady, couldn't approach a gentleman. After giving them every chance by lingering over her meal, she had finally had to give up for the evening.

Anna went straight to the bed and sat down after locking the door behind her. She was too tired to even search for matches for the lamp. There was enough light coming in the windows from the full moon and all she intended to do was undress and try to get some sleep. She began to undo all the tiresome little buttons half concealed in lace at the front of the stiffly starched dress. Halfway through the process, she rose and merely let the dress fall to the floor and stood in her chemise and petticoat. Undoing her hair was the next step. She took out the hairpins and let the blonde curls fall down her back.

Anna turned towards the "sitting area" of her room as she began to untie the ribbons of the chemise. She froze in surprise as she saw that a man was sitting in the chair in the darkest corner. He struck a match on his boot and held it to the cheroot clenched between his teeth. In the flickering light she recognized the man from the stagecoach robbery. Chris Larabee.

"Don't let me stop you, ma'am."

He drew the fragrant smoke in, then exhaled slowly as he deliberately came to his feet. He wasn't a particularly tall man nor was he heavily built, but in the black clothing that he apparently favored, Chris Larabee looked very dangerous indeed.

She let her hands fall to her sides. "Your call." Her voice seemed calm, but her mind was working as fast as it ever had in her wildest con game. What did he intend to do? Was he going to kill her or just haul her off to jail? What should she do? Fight? Scream?

"I'll bet you have a lot of questions about now. I'll answer all of them." He paused for a moment. "In the morning."

Anna saw the expression on his face as he moved closer to her and she comprehended his last statement. He discarded the thin cigar by flipping it out one of the open windows and, his hands now free, took her by the shoulders and pulled her against him. His iron strength didn't leave her any room to struggle. She knew she should say something. In her "occupation" you had to be quick with your tongue as well as your wits. Or maybe she should scream and call out. Anna realized that she didn't want to do either. To her surprise, she could finally put a name on her restlessness and ill temper the last three months.

"My God," she thought, "Has this been happening to him too?"

Chris tilted her face to his and he was not discouraged by what he saw there. Anna knew then what he wanted and she realized that she wanted the same thing.

It seemed to Anna that their first kiss lasted forever. When Chris finally pulled away from her she was breathless and shaking. He moved to the chair where he had been sitting while he waited for her and she saw that his jacket, hat and gunbelt hung from the back. Sitting down again, he removed his boots and set them aside. He stood and began working on the buttons of his shirt, never letting his eyes leave hers.

Anna stood awkwardly at the side of the bed, not knowing how to react to the confidence he displayed. This wasn't a boy who was in her room because he amused her; this wasn't an old man she was using in a con. Chris Larabee was something entirely different.

When he moved proprietarily toward her again she gave him a tentative smile. He brought his mouth to hers and, this time, her response was immediate. The chemise was untied and discarded. Her petticoat joined the pile of clothing on the floor. She stood naked in the moonlight slanting in softly through the lacy curtains.

Chris relented his passionate kisses long enough to remove his shirt. Anna, emboldened by his ardor, undid the buttons on his pants. He stepped away from the tangled clothing and picked her up only to lay her on the bed and begin kissing her again in a way that made her crazy. They lay naked side by side and she thought his body was beautiful. Anna was almost afraid to return his ardent caresses until he took her hand and guided her, showing her what he wanted her to do to him. She moaned softly as his hands, gentle now, caressed her in return.

Just as Anna thought she would have to pull away from him, Chris moved over her, spread her legs and entered her. She gasped with pleasure so intense it was almost pain and they began to move as one. He was the most experienced lover she had ever known. Anna let him take charge completely. He brought them both repeatedly to the edge of their final pleasure, then slowed for a few moments so they could catch their breath before repeating the process again and again. When the explosion finally came Anna thought she must have actually lost consciousness for a few moments. Chris lay exhausted on top of her until he caught his breath and moved to her side.

After only a few moments and to her surprise and delight, they began to make love again. Chris pulled her on top of him this time and the position gave her more control. He thought she was a vision in the moonlight; her body shining with a light sheen of moisture, her perfect breasts and her long hair cascading almost to her waist. Anna watched Chris as she rode him to their next climax. His face without his usual grim expression had relaxed and he seemed much younger, his lean muscles flexed as he rose to match her movements and his eyes almost closed in bliss.

All through the night they joined together and broke apart; they formed patterns of passion Anna had never imagined. They did things she had heard other girls talk about but had never wanted to try-until now. The night passed in pleasure and intimacy and, as they exhausted their desires, in soft whispers of explanation and apology and finally in muted laughter. Just before dawn, they drifted to sleep in each other's arms.

Chris Larabee woke slowly, none too sure of where he was at first. It must be late morning-the sun was streaming in through the curtains that blew around the bed in a warm breeze. He stretched lazily and then smiled in deep, contented satisfaction. Memories of last night began to come to mind; the smile progressed to a boyish grin. Anna. She had been everything he had imagined all those months. And after hearing the whole story from her in the aftermath of their lovemaking, he had no intention of turning her in to the authorities. She had been telling the truth about the shortcut to the station; from what Vin had told him he had simply veered off the track in the darkness. In his confusion, he had almost walked in a circle. If he had stayed on the faint track he would have made it to the stagecoach station instead of completely losing his way.

Chris had related his story to her and she was horrified at what he had endured. He was an excellent judge of character and he didn't doubt her reaction. Nor did he doubt any of the other things she told him. He would have to give some time to thinking about those.

Without looking around the room, he knew she had packed and gone. They had more or less agreed on that during the night. He had told her more about Four Corners and where he could be reached. She had not even pretended that she was going to "repent"; to change her lifestyle. That didn't bother him. He actually liked and respected her more for not lying.

Later as he dressed and prepared for the journey back to the town he now called home he knew exactly what he would say to Anna at their next reunion. He was certain their paths would cross sooner or later. The little devil had emptied his wallet while he slept and left him a note. On the scented paper she had written, "Thank you for everything. Until next time, Anna." Chris smiled in spite of himself. Perhaps he wasn't the only bad element.

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