Author's Note: Well, finally! I'm still not real happy with the idea, but I do like the story around it. And thanks to all of you for your feedback and encouragement during all this! Now, without further ado, my final installment.
Back to: Chris
Buck wasn't ashamed of it. He just didn't want any of the others to know, that was all. So, he kept all his stuff well hidden at the very back of his closet under a pile of old clothes he was going to give to charity, some day. So what? Didn't mean there was anything wrong with it. Lots of men did it.
He found it soothing, bringing back memories of long, boring afternoons sitting with his mother's friends in the back room. Usually on holiday weekends, when most men were with their families. When he first asked the women if he could join them, they had giggled and laughed. He was 'so cute'; wanting to sit with them, do what they were doing. He was clumsy at first, his small hands just not up to the task. But he had learned that it was more balance and skill than anything else. Soon, he was just as good as the best of them, and faster.
They all said he had a fine eye for color, for knowing just what would blend well in the right proportions. Soon, he was taking requests for special occasions; a baby shower here, a special birthday there. Someone was moving on, getting out finally, finding her own place and needing that special touch. He was much in demand; a true artist, he was told.
Sarah had known; she had caught him one day. True friend that she was, she promised never to tell. But she had called on his skills more than once. He smiled fondly as he found his rhythm. He relaxed, letting his mind roam free. The stress of the previous week faded away.
He had gone to the saloon with the guys for their regular Friday night beer, but JD had a date with Casey, as did Nathan with Rain. Ezra was exhausted after testifying, on closed circuit TV with his face blacked out, for the past three days, and claimed fatigue, going home early. Chris also left early, saying he had to clean up the house since they were having a bar-b-que for Josiah's birthday the next day. The other three shared one more beer then headed their separate ways, all to meet up tomorrow at Chris'.
The phone rang, startling Buck. He swore as he got up, irritated at the interruption. "Yeah," he growled in the phone.
"Buck?" Chris' voice came over the line.
And it wasn't like he was selfish, either. He gave a lot of them away. In fact, he gave all of them away. Just because no one knew they actually came from him and not from his fictional aunt wasn't anybody's business but his.
"Can you do me a favor?" Chris asked.
"Sure, pard. What'cha need?" Buck answered in what he hoped was a calm voice. He knew Chris was on the phone and couldn't see him. But the thought of getting caught made his heart pound just the same.
"Could you stop by the feed store on your way out tomorrow and pick up some sweet feed?"
"No problem," Buck said jovially.
"What'd you get Josiah?" Chris asked. "One of those afghans your aunt sends you?"
Buck looked over at the almost finished blanket lying across his couch. The dusky blue, sage green, and desert red blended in a harmonious, soothing pattern. Josiah would appreciate the southwestern influence and it would go perfectly with his rustic furniture.
"Just can't keep the old girl down," Buck laughed. "And you know about me and shopping."
"Well," Chris' voice had a strange quality to it. "I hope she knows how much we all appreciate her gifts and her talent."
Buck was stunned. Chris couldn't know - could he? Sarah would never have told him, would she? How did he - ?
While Buck stood stunned, groping for something to say, Chris quietly said goodnight and hung up.h
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