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Family History

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The thing of it was, while he’d been growing up, Chris had never been allowed to touch it.  Before his grandfather had died, he’d given it to Pa, and Chris had always known that when Pa died, it would go to James; from eldest son to eldest son, because that’s how it was done.


Now the thing was here, sitting on the table in front of him, and all he could do was drink whiskey and stare at it and wonder how in the hell James had managed to find him.


I have no sons to receive this when I pass away, James wrote in the letter Chris had crumpled up in his pocket.  You know Pa always set great store by this, and even though you fought with him, I know he would rather you have this than have it be lost when my daughters marry.


Chris finished his glass and poured another, staring at the book, still sitting on the thick brown paper James had wrapped it in.


Vin eased into the seat next to him, slouching down a little and stretching his legs out under the table.  He glanced at Chris, then at the book on the table.  “Didn’t figger you were much for Bibles.”


There was a cross stamped into the leather cover.  If there had been any gilt in the impression, it had long since worn away.  The leather itself showed its age in stains, in how its grain had all but disappeared.


Chris snorted and tossed back his drink.  “I’m not,” he said, tone rough.  “My brother sent me the family Bible.”


Vin just looked at him, but Chris refused to feel bad for not talking about family he didn’t want to talk about.  Instead, he just stared at the book, remembering how the pages sounded as Pa turned them, the many different hands that had set down births and marriages and deaths, some of them so faded they were barely legible even then.  He remembered Pa pointing out where Grandpa had entered James, and him, and Annie.


He remembered the hiding he’d gotten after he’d oh-so-carefully written his cousin’s name near his own, even though Pa had ordered him not to because he wasn’t really a Larabee.


Chris pushed himself to his feet, grabbing the Bible and the paper it had come in.  “I’m sendin’ it back to him tomorrow.”


The next morning, though, the Larabee family Bible had made its way no further than the small table in Chris’s cabin, and the scathing letter he’d begun writing had stopped at Dear James.