“Pack,” he snapped.
Joshua looked at Lonnie with panic in his eyes and the big man held up his hand reassuringly.
“Justin you are frightening Joshua. Now take a breath and tell me why we have to pack.” Lonnie crossed his arms over his massive chest and waited for Justin to answer him.
“We are going to Madison. Joshua is going into a secure compound and you are going with him.”
“You’re sending me away again!” Joshua exclaimed angrily. “You promised; you said I could stay with you that you would never leave me alone again.”
“Chris called,” Justin's voice and composure broke. “They took Ben and the baby. They broke into his house and just took them.”
Joshua slumped into his chair, his hands over his mouth and the colour drained from his face.
“I’ll go pack,” Lonnie said and left the couple together in their grief.
Joshua moved trance like to the car Justin had arranged to take them on the dangerous journey. He held Jemima in his arms and behind him Lonnie’s eyes darted around looking for any sign of danger. Thrust into his waistband was the revolver that Lance had given him, only for the first time it was loaded.
“Lance is expecting us and he arranged the escort,” Justin said as Joshua eyed the dozen soldiers that surrounded the motor vehicle.
He nodded and slid on to the rear seat, strapping Jemima into her car seat. Justin got in beside him and Lonnie got in beside the driver.
Justin stared out of the side window, his eyes fixed on the passing buildings. “You will be in a guarded compound and Lonnie will be staying with you. Lance, Joey, Chris and myself will be searching for Ben and Declan.”
“What if you don’t find them?” Joshua asked in a small voice.
“We’ll find them.”
Justin pulled Joshua into him and the teen rested his head on his shoulder. Beside them in the baby seat Jemima whinged and shoved her tiny fist into her mouth. Joshua sat up and sighed.
“She’s hungry. I really should have fed her before we left but everything was so rushed.”
Justin lifted his hand and stroked down the side of Joshua's face. “I love you,” he whispered. “Feed her, no one can see. The windows look black from outside.”
Joshua gave the driver a worried look and Justin understood his concern. “Driver,” he said. “Put the screen up please. My husband and I want some privacy.”
Lonnie turned in his seat and frowned. “Joshua wants to feed Jemima in private,” he explained.
The big bodyguard accepted the explanation and pushed the button that raised the screen. Once they were alone Joshua unbuttoned his shirt then lifted his daughter to his chest, letting the little girl suckle on his right nipple.
“You don’t have to breast feed if you don’t want to Josh. I have no problem with you bottle feeding.”
Joshua smiled contentedly. “Actually I like it. It makes me feel closer to Jemima.”
Justin stroked the baby’s head. “It’s beautiful to watch. I almost envy you.”
“I don’t think I could have gone through what you did to have her. You were so brave.”
Joshua blushed. “I was terrified.”
“Next time you won’t be,” Justin said softly.
“Next time?” Joshua answered. “What makes you think there will be a next time?”
Justin leaned in and kissed the teenage breeder’s lips passionately, making Jemima whimper as she was temporarily displaced. “There will be a next time my darling because I have no intention of not bedding you at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Joshua blushed a deep red and lowered his eyes before looking up again through his thick black lashes. Justin leaned in kissing him again, breaking the kiss reluctantly when Jemima started to cry.
“I’d better feed her,” Joshua said breathlessly.
The journey to Madison passed without incident with both Joshua and Jemima eventually falling asleep. By the time they arrived at the Bass-Fatone residence the sun had set but the compound was lit up as if it was still daylight. Joshua woke up as they drove through the gates and blinked against the influx of light and he shuddered at the sight of all the soldiers that were milling around.
“Are you alright Joshy?” Justin asked concerned.
The breeder nodded and chewed his bottom lip not being totally convincing and Justin patted his knee. “You will be safe here Joshua, I promise you and you will have plenty of company. Lance tells me that he has opened the compound to any breeder that wants protection. That’s why there are so many soldiers here.”
“How long do I have to stay here?” Joshua asked quietly.
Justin looked out of the side window as the car drew to a halt outside the big house. “Until it is safe for me to take you home again.”
Tear welled up in Joshua's eyes as he released the straps holding Jemima in her seat. “I’ll miss you,” he whispered sadly.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can angel but Chris needs me. If the boot was on the other foot and it was you and Jemima that was kidnapped …”
Lonnie held the car door open while Justin helped Joshua out. The teenager turned and faced his husband, stepping closer until their bodies touched. He leaned in and placed his lips against Justin's. The older man deepened the kiss, embracing his young husband one last time before he had to leave him.
“Joshua.” The teen broke away from the kiss suppressing a tiny sob and greeted his father.
“I have missed you so much my son,” Trystum gushed. “And look at Jemima, my she has grown!”
“Well she eats like her daddy, she should have,” Joshua replied sarcastically. “My nipples feel like they are on fire most of the time.”
Trystum laughed. “I know what you mean; when I was nursing Caleb mine felt exactly the same. Come on I have prepared a suite of rooms for you and Lonnie.”
Joshua hesitated and turned to look at Justin one last time. He bit his lip and his chin trembled as he tried to put on a brave front.
“Justin will see you at dinner my darling,” Trystum said reassuringly. The young breeder nodded and taking a deep breath followed his father into the building.
Justin watched Joshua go, his heart heavy at the prospect of leaving him again. Only this time he knew that he would be safe. While Lonnie drew breath he could be certain that his husband would never be harmed. Sighing mournfully Justin trekked across the lawn to the hastily erected offices and knocked on the door before entering. Inside Lance and Joey were bent over a table, pawing over a map as they planned the search areas and in the corner of the room slumped on a chair was a shadow of a man.
Chris sat unmoving his eyes glazed and fixed on the floor. His hands rested in his lap, an empty shell of the man he once was as he grieved for his lost family. Anger suddenly filled Justin's soul as the callousness of the kidnappers sunk in. they had stolen a gentle young man, who had already suffered so much, and his baby from the one man that had loved them unconditionally.
“Good to see you Justin.” The soldier’s thoughts were interrupted by Lance Bass’ deep voice. “Please tell me you brought Joshua with you and that he is safe inside the compound.”
Justin nodded. “I left him with Trystum and Lonnie.”
“Lonnie is here as well?” Lance asked with a show of relief. “I was hoping he would decide to stay with them. I’m worried that the rebels might try to steal Jemima and Caleb as well as Joshua himself. Having Lonnie to hand eases my concerns.”
Chris looked up noticing Justin in the room for the first time. His voice shook as he spoke. “I only went to get some milk from the store. I wasn’t gone more than five minutes … when I got back they were gone.” Fat tears rolled down the hardened soldiers face. “The house was wrecked; he must have put up one hell of a fight. I couldn’t bare it if they hurt him … what if they have …?”
“Don’t Chris,” Justin grabbed his old friends hands and squeezed them hard, making the older man wince and meet his eyes.
“They won’t hurt him, they only took him yesterday, and we still have time on our side. You have to pull yourself together CK. Ben needs you to be strong for him; he’s counting on you to help him.”
Chris’ eyes came back into focus. “Joshua, Jemima, where are they? You didn’t leave them alone!”
“They are here CK, they are safe and with Trystum and Caleb. Lonnie will protect them with his life.”
The short dark haired man nodded, muttering over and over, “good, good. That’s good.”
A cough caught both of their attentions and they looked up to see Joey waiting patiently, Lance at his side.
“The kidnappers couldn’t have got too far. Chris raised the alarm quickly and we had the whole state shut down in minutes. They have to be somewhere in this radius. They couldn’t have gotten any further in the time they had.” The bearded man pointed to a circled area on the map. “I have a full platoon of men ready to go. Lance is taking the eastern quadrant Justin I want you to take the southern. I will take the west and Chris you will take north.”
“No,” Chris snapped shaking his head. “You’re not going to send me off away from where he is.”
“We’re not CK,” Lance spoke in soft comforting tones. “You can’t possibly cover the whole area, its better that we do it this way. They could just have easily gone north towards Alaska or Russia, the disease that wiped out women spread all over the world. There are a lot of countries that would be happy to buy a breeder, not just the south.”
Lance moved closer to his friend and patted his shoulder understandingly. “You feel helpless, I can understand that. But believe me, the best thing you can do is follow Joe’s orders. He knows what he is doing CK.”
The older man nodded, reluctantly agreeing to the plan.
“Then we are agreed,” Joey said.
“Dinner will be ready; Trystum said something about fried chicken.”
Justin laughed. “Joshua is always going on about how much he misses fried chicken. He’d never forgive me if I made him miss it.”
The soldiers started to leave, Justin hung back noticing that Chris hadn’t moved and was staring at the map open on the table. He nodded for Lance and Joey to leave and went over to see what was still worrying the dark haired man.
“I’ve lost him haven’t I?”
Justin felt his stomach turn. “We will find him.”
Chris shook his head and inhaled deeply before meeting Justin's gaze. “Don’t lie to me JT. You know as well as I do that I’ll never see him again.” Chris slumped down into a chair, his head in his hands. “I love him so much Justin, what am I going to do? What would you do … if it was Joshua?”
“If it was Joshua, I would tear the world apart to find him and god help the man who took him.”
Chris took a deep breath. “You’re right, we will find him and Declan, and when we do I am going to make the bastard that laid hands on him wish he was dead.”