The Stage rolled into Rock Creek on time by the Grace of God. Teaspoon Hunter stood ready to great one of the passengers. He had received a letter the week before informing him that a young man was arriving. A very important young man, who's father was very worried.

There were just three people on the Stage, an older widow with her daughter and a young gentleman perhaps 20, dressed in the latest fashions from the East. He was a fish out of water from the 'git-go', and Teaspoon shook his head as he stepped forward to greet him.

Seeing the silver star on Teaspoon's shirt, "Ah, I see that my father has alerted you to my arrival."

"Teaspoon Hunter at your service. Mr. -"

"Jordan E McInnerny, of McInnerny Mercantile, at your service Mr. Spoon." the young man pumped Teaspoon's arm with boundless exhuberance. "As you undoubtably know, my father has entrusted me to open new stores in the West. We have a large chain of Mercantile Shops in the Eastern States... and we want to be one of the first to tap the Western Market. I really doubt that I will need your assistance during my stay... however it was very nice to meet you.. I hope that we will meet again soon."

With that the young blonde gentleman tipped his hat, grasped his traveling bag in his hand and walked into the nearest hotel.... leaving a flabergasted Teaspoon standing in his wake.

Lou sat in Rachel's parlor dressed in her new green dress. She nervously bit her lip as Rachel kept a steady stream of chatter going. Lou's feet tapped nervously on the wooden floor as she listened for movement on the porch.

Rachel turned to look at the young lady before her, "Lou..? Lou! " She chuckled to herself, "LOUISE McCLOUD?!"

"Yes?" Lou jumped a bit...

"I know it's hard to wait for the boys... I think Ike is ready... why don't the two of you take the wagon into town and go to the dance... I'll tell the others where you are."

Lou looked relieved and ran out the door... it slammed shut behind her.

Chapter One

Jordan McInnerny scanned the crowd at the dance, older married couples, some younger ones... farm boys and country girls... nothing peaked his interest.. even the music seemed a little too...ah, Western for him.

He was dragged into conversation by a woman who leaned entirely too close for comfort. He was in desperate need of rescue... then he saw his savior.

A young woman breezed through the door, her lithe frame wrapped in a deep green dress with cream lace at the sleeves.. her hair was swept up and away from her sweet face that shone in the lamp light... her smile was entrancing. He stopped listening to the woman before him and watched in wonder as the new young lady surveyed the room and then turned back to the door.

A young man walked through, a bandana tied around his clean shaven head. The Boston born gentleman arched a brow at this strange coif.... 'Must be a Western thing' he thought. He wondered what this man was to the green-clad angel.. and he was relieved when the man followed her to an empty bench and sat down next to her much like a brother does, a comfortable distance between them.

Jordan let out a sigh of relief and turned to the woman talking at him, "Excuse me," he said, "I have just found my dance partner." He moved passed the now fuming woman and made his way through the dancers to stand before the sweet vision in green.

"Miss?" Lou was lost in the sights around her... the colored paper lanterns glowing with soft light.. the band playing a happy song she had heard Teaspoon hum a time or two... her foot merrily tapped along. That is until Ike gestured for her to look up. "Miss? Could I have this dance?"

Lou blinked twice... a tall gentleman, perhaps Jimmy's height, was holding out his hand. Lou looked around quickly, but she was the only 'Miss' to be seen. "You're asking me?"

He smiled broadly, 'Even her voice was wonderous' he thought. "Yes you Miss ........"

"Well, ah....." Lou faltered... searching for what to say.

"Shy, my dear? Well, it doesn't matter, the dance?"

Lou looked to Ike who shrugged his shoulders... *Why Not?* he signed.

Lou put her hand in Jordan's and was swept onto the dance floor just as the band struck up a slow sentimental ballad.

Jordan held one hand and placed the other on Louise's slim waist and gracefully waltzed her around the floor, winding around the other couples... all the while staring into her face.

"My dear lady, what heavenly force led me to you on this night? Could it be our guardian angel drawing us together?"

Lou stifled a giggle... the words were so outrageous, but his expression seemed to say that he believed it. She was captivated by his clear speech with his sophisticated words and sweet lyrical tones... she was drawn into the moment.

She was barely aware that he had moved his hand from her waist to her back, drawing her closer, until his was swung away from her by an angry Jimmy, "Who the hell are you?"

Her dance partner stared into the faces of several rough looking men, all seemed to take an immediate dislike to him.

He could only stammer out a reply, "J-J-Jordan E. McInn-nern-ny. I'm new in town... from Boston... just today." Jordan knew he was on the verge of babbling and took a moment to straighten up and calm himself.

Lou stood behind him, her arms crossed and her temper flaring, "Jimmy, leave him alone, he wasn't doing anything.... yet." She through in the last word just to see the boys fume.

She was rewarded by several dark looks directed at her admirer.

Ike shouldered his way into the crowd and quickly signed that he had been watching Lou the whole time and the man had kept his hands in check. The men relaxed a bit, but all of them moved to the side of the room, Kid had Lou in tow.

Jordan remained in the middle of the dance floor staring after them. He watched in fascination as the pretty young woman waved her arms and had a few choice words for the group of hot-headed young men that considered themselves her protectors.

Jordan smiled to himself, even when she was angry, she was beautiful. He made up his mind to ask for another dance. He had not taken more that a step before another young man blocked his way. This one appeared to be an Indian! He wore a single earring and his long ink black hair fell to a point below his shoulders...and his hard and impassive as a bear! Try as he might, Jordan could not get around him. He watched as the young lady was swept into the next dance be a young blond man with leather fringe on his jacket. They danced to the lively music that sounded like a reel.

In moments she was laughing with her head thrown back... she was swung from one man to another... the pace quickening until it almost seemed like she flew across the floor.

When the men weren't dancing with her, they each took turns blocking his view. From the brown haired, blue eyed man who looked like he wanted to rip open his throat to the black gentleman with the cool gaze, Jordan had a feeling he was going to have to work hard for a moment alone with the delicate creature that had captured his heart.

Chapter Two

Jesse burst into the dance, he was wild with worry. He ran to the riders and panted out the message from Rachel. A rider had come in ... Teaspoon had run into trouble with the Clayton gang outside of town. The 'boys' needed to help him track down the brothers and bring them back to the jail where they belonged.

As a group they all left the dance. Lou had Jimmy's hand on one arm and Kid's on the other as Buck stayed behind for a moment, to make sure that Mr. McInnerny did not follow.

Jordan watched them all leave and then spurred himself into action. He would have her... he knew it. He just had to find out 'WHO' she was first.

It seems that most people in town were unwilling to give any information to outsiders... almost everyone he asked just turned a deaf ear to his questions. Almost everyone, the young lady he jilted earlier was more than happy to volunteer her own feelings on the subject.

"The little sap in 'green', awful color for her skin you know, weeeeelll, she is the Marshal's daughter... only comes into town once in awhile... if you ask me it's just because it's not seemly for her to live around the waystation. Even though her daddy runs the Pony Express Waystation-"

"Excuse me?" he interrupted, "didn't you say he was the Marshal?"

She sighed, a great heaving sigh, "He's BOTH, can't you pay attention?" She shook her head frustrated, "Anyway, she comes into town to stay at the Waystation with all of those men... those young handsome men. If you ask me... they are all a little too protective of her..." she nodded pointedly then paused to let her meaning sink in. "There is never any mention of her 'mother'... and as the whole town knows.... Teaspoon Hunter has had SIX wives no one knows which marriage she came from... can you imagine the scandal she must live with?"

"Yes, well," he dismissed her last statement, "her name?"

"Oh that? Yes, her name is Louise, Louise McCloud." She continued to talk, unaware that she was now standing quite alone...

Chapter Three

Jordan McInnerny found his way to the Waystation and knocked on the sturdy wooden door. The knock was answered by a very surprised Rachel.

"Hello!" she said as she looked around the yard. Strangers rarely came to the house, and Rachel was ever protective of the riders' sanctuary.

"Ma'am, my name is Jordan McInnerny." He looked down at his feet nervously, " I was told that Louise McCloud lives here?"

Understanding was slow but sweet, " I take it you met her-"

"At the dance, yes ma'am. Ah, Mrs. -" now it was his turn to fish for information.

"Ms. Dunne."

"Ms Dunne, I was wondering if I could speak with Ms. McCloud?"

She stepped aside and invited him in, "I'm afraid she's not here... she ah-" Rachel was unsure of what to say, so she busied herself by pouring coffee for both of them.

"I can only guess- but by the way the gentlemen were acting tonight, they could've locked her away in some safe mountain cabin... or the back room under lock and key."

Rachel smiled behind her cup, "the boys are like brothers to her and I'm sure they thought they were doing what's best by her."

"I think I could do right by her too Mrs. Dunne," he looked down at his hands, "I can't believe just a short hour ago, I held her in my arms."

She took great joy in his sweet and galant words as he described their 'Lou'.

The two sat there for quite some time. Jordan was a great source of information about the East. Rachel was genuinely interested in his stories of the industrial advances taking place in the larger cities.

The boys return covered in dust, some looking the worst for wear, "We found them Rachel!" Cody was the first in the door, "What's left over from din-" He stopped as soon as he saw Jordan.

Jimmy stopped on a dime, "You again!? Didn't we give you the slip?"

Lou was almost to the door when Buck and Kid swung her back around and dragged her back to the bunkhouse, "Let go you guys.. I'm starving!" She shrugged them off at the door.... "What is with you two?"

"That ...dandy is HERE!"

"Who?" she wondered out loud. "OH!" She covered her mouth in surprise and ran into the bunkhouse.

Teaspoon elbowed his way through the crowd, "What the HELL is going on? Hasn't there been..." He stopped as he say Jordan sitting at the table, his hat in his hands. "You?"

"Mr..." He jumped up from his seat, tipping the chair over behind him. The heavy wooden chair bounced twice and threatened to take out a small side table before it came to rest. "Mr. Spoon, " he cleared his throat nervously and adjusted his tie. "Mr. T-Spoon sir? The reason I came here,.... I mean, what I want to say, well..." He stared at all the men looming near him, and then in one rush blurted it out, "I want to court your daughter."

Teaspoon tipped his hat back, "Well son- " he steps forward, "I thank you for coming by, but me and the boys just got back from a tough ride." He took the young man by the arm and led him to the door - "Why don't you join us for lunch tomorrow and we'll ask Louise how she feels."

As they hear Jordan's horse disappear into the distance, Jimmy turns on Teaspoon, "I know how she'll feel.... she won't stand for it... and neither will we!"

Chapter Four

The next morning, Louise didn't take it well at all. "If I'd known it was gonna cause this much trouble... I would have burned all my dresses a long time ago," she grumbled into her pillow.. the boys had all gathered around her bunk with Teaspoon and Rachel.

"I know Lou," piped Teaspoon, "but now that Jordan thinks you're my daughter.. it don't look right for you to be sneaking into the bunkhouse at night... "

"Besides," smiled Rachel "it will be nice to have you that much closer... give us a chance to talk."

"Ah, hang it!" Lou slid off her bunk and took her pillow and blanket and dragged them into the house like a dejected child.

She stomped around the house like a caged animal and Rachel had to chuckle, this was hard on all of them, especially her floor!

By the time lunch rolled around Lou had calmed down and put on her blue dress. She had thoughts of hiding out in the bedroom, playing ill, but she knew that Teaspoon would just send one of the boys to come get her.

She wore her hair up in a high ponytail, a white satin ribbon tied in a bow around it. She had put on dainty pearl earrings and her new flat shoes. Looking in the mirror she had to say that if she was being forced to meet Mr. McInnerny what's the harm in enjoying yourself.

Rachel came up to let Lou know that Jordan was downstairs. She leaned closer, "If you pity the poor man, you might hurry down there... it seems that they're trying to scare him away... with an 'evil eye' contest!" Rachel giggled as she gave her best impression of an evil witch... her 'claws' extended.

Lou stood, straightened the folds of her skirt and followed Rachel down the stairs.

Chapter Five

Teaspoon was the only one in the room trying to make Jordan feel comfortable. The others sat around the room, most had their arms crossed and all had devilish glares on their faces. Teaspoon was about to disown them all when Ike touched Buck on the arm and motioned up the stairs...

Rachel enjoyed watching the boy's expressions... they had all seen Lou in dresses before... but every time she did it... it was like the first time. Glares forgotten, they all stood.

Jordan was among those on their feet. He gripped the edge of his hat and stared, amazed at the young lady before them. They all watched as Lou sat down at the long table.

"Let the games begin..." said Teaspoon under his breath. Sure enough the boys all rushed to table, each one elbowing the other for a chance to sit next to Lou.

Jimmy ended up winning one side and Ike, surprisingly, won the other... he proudly sat down next to Lou,

She leaned toward him, "Thanks Ike..."

Rachel handed the plates to Teaspoon and began to serve the food...

Chapter Six

'Forget what I said about enjoying myself..." Lou fumed. She had quickly realized that sharing a meal with Jordan (and everyone else) was either going to drive her insane, or kill her. 'Heck, I might even speed it along... where did Rachel leave the shotgun?'

Throughout the meal Jordan had kept up a steady stream of continuous questions... so continuous that no one could answer a thing!

Cody happily shoveled food into his mouth while laughing at the strange easterner. Buck looked as if he had eaten broken glass and Ike was enjoying the man's accent and overly happy conversation. Kid barely even looked at his food, Noah was only too happy to watch everyone's reactions... he could use this for weeks of torture. Jimmy stabbed at his food, impaling the peas with his fork, he nearly turned everything on his plate to mush. Teaspoon felt sorry for the riders, but especially Louise who looked like this was her last meal.

Jordan didn't seem to understand the discomfort of those sitting around him. He continued to eat and talk... question and prod.

When Jordan finished his second slice of pie and had complimented Rachel for perhaps the 20th time, he took a second to breathe. More than one person in the room sighed in relief.

"So, Louise," she looked up at the sound of her name, "As much as I have enjoyed sharing a meal with your... ah" he looked around at the strange assortment of men gathered in the room, "family, I would really like to spend time with YOU."

Lou sat up in her chair, and looked around for help. "Just me?" she cleared her throat and looked up into the expectant eyes of Jordan McInnerny.

"Yes," he looked straight into her eyes, "Just you and me, alone for dinner... there are so many things I would really like to ask you."

"Ah, well," Lou stood up... causing the men around her to scramble out of their seats as well. "I really don't think that's a good idea... " she backed up and Jordan walked around the boys to follow her...

To this day... the riders don't know why, but they didn't follow to two out on to the porch. They just stood there, unsure of-

The unmistakable sound of a slap reached them through the door, "How dare you!"

Lou pushed her way back through the boys, and ran up the stairs... "Lou-" Kid started after her... Jimmy laid a hand on his arm to stop him. Lou looked alright.

Rachel followed her upstairs, calling out to her young friend. She reached the door but it was locked. She called in to Lou, "if you need me..."

Lou was too involved with her own ranting that she didn't hear Rachel calling to her.

"Louise! Please, talk to me!" A wind kicked up and Jordan let out a mammoth sneeze, "Damn dust!" he roared. Jordan was out the courtyard pacing back and forth in front of her window. "I'm sorry.... I just... please come to dinner!"

The boys filed outside watching the young man pace in the sunlight... sweat starting to bead on his brow. He continued to stare at the window.

"I know I shouldn't have tried to .... to kiss you, but-"

That's all they needed to hear... "That's it, I'm puttin' a stop to this, now!" Kid started across the yard.

"Duck!" Jimmy called out the warning almost a second too late.

Kid hit the ground as a tin cup sailed past his ear. The Kid flinched as the cup flew into the wooden post of the corral.

Several other items sailed through the open window... some of them even got close to the target.. the young man calling out love poems and sneezing at the top of his lungs.

Kid skittered back across the dirt, like a crab seeking shelter, as Louise hurled steady stream of unladylike expletives at her suitor.

Jesse rode up from town and left his horse a safe distance away. He ran up to Hickok who was sitting on the the top rail, his hands covering his ears, "Whew, she sure can swear!"

Jimmy nodded toward Jordan, who was expertly dodging the missles being hurled out the window-, " Doesn't seem to bother him."

Buck had joined them by the rail, "I wonder when she'll run out of stuff to throw?"

*Or have better aim* signed Ike.

"Heck," said Jesse, "Why wonder?" He reached over and took Cody's gun from it's holster and fired a shot at Jordan's feet.

The man stopped in the middle of his thought and gapped at the young boy with the pistol in his hand.

Lou peeked her head out from the window, the curtains billowing around her, "Jesse? What do you think y're doin'... "

Cody grabbed his gun out of the boy's hand and inspected it before he put it back.

"I could hear the fuss all the way past the second rise!" he yelled back. What does the fancy boy want Louise?"

"Well son," answered Teaspoon, "Mr. Fancy pants here wants to take our little Louise out on the town... She just doesn't seem willing!"

"Hey Louise," Cody called up.

"Yeah Cody?"

"Why don't you give us some peace and quiet and humor the guy... "

Lou stared at him for a moment, "Oh,!" She looked down at Jordan, "Five o'clock... don't be late... and you better not try anythin' or you'll end up like Cody!"

The riders all looked at Cody... he stood there lookin' up at Lou, a cock-eyed smirk on his face. He didn't see it until it was too late... 'BAM' a wooden brush hit him across his brow. He fell into the horse trough, stunned.

Chapter Seven

That evening at five o'clock, Jordan brought his team of horses to a halt in front of the house. Lou stared out of the window. She was dressed in a new outfit that Jordan himself had sent over. The sable brown moire skirt swung from her slight hips and fell to a point just below her ankles. New brown boots pointed out from beneath the hem. Lou's jacket was the same tailored fabric trimmed with a delicate soutache braid. A cream colored blouse patterned with eyelets softened the color of her face and brought out the color of her eyes. She was every inch a beautiful young woman, but Rachel could see from her reflection in the window that Lou was very disappointed.

"Is he late?"

"No, it's him alright." Lou straightened up and smoothed her skirt with a nervous gesture. "I know Kid had a ride, but I just don't understand where the other boys are," she admitted in a quiet voice.

Rachel moved closer and put reassuring hands on Lou's shoulders, "Oh honey, I'm sure there's a good reason why they're not here." They both looked outside to see Jordan standing alone in the courtyard. "You best not keep him waiting."

Chapter Eight

The ride to the restaurant was quiet on Lou's part... Jordan, however, tried to make up for it by keeping up a steady stream of stories about the store, "So... in a few days all the supplies and stock should be in and we can have a Grand Opening! I want to hire a band and hang a huge banner in the middle of the street. We'll have prizes for the first customers and maybe even get some newspapermen to come and take pictures..."

Lou sighed and looked out into the dimming light. "That's nice."

Jordan slowed the horses, "Louise?" She turned to look at him, "I can't help but think you'd rather be somewhere else.

Lou looked up at her companion and smiled... "Is it that obvious?"

"Is it me?"

"No, can't say it is. I just don't know much about fancy stores and Grand Opening parties... I just feel like I don't fit into the conversation."

Jordan took her hand is his, "I want to help you 'fit in' Louise," he leaned closer, "I want to..."

"Hey there kids!" Lou and Jordan jumped apart, her cheeks felt warm and flushed. Cody and Noah walked up beside the wagon.

"Louise! What a beautiful dress!" Noah leaned toward Lou, "did we interrupt you two?"

Jordan was about to answer when out of the corner of his eye he caught a glint of metal.

Cody had moved the side of his jacket back and his Colt was gleaming in the lamplight.

Jordan placed his hands solidly on his knees, "No sir, nothing but a nice drive... " he looked around a bit uncomfortable around the two riders. "Well Louise... we ought to get to the restaurant-"

"Well, that sounds like a fine idea," Cody chimed in.

"You two have a wonderful night." Noah smacked on the horses and the wagon lurched forward. Jordan made a frantic grab for the reins.

Chapter Nine

His heart in his throat from the meeting with the two men, Jordan turned down the wrong way twice. When they finally came to a stop in front of the restaurant he scrambled out of the wagon and sprinted around to the other side.

Lou stood and reached down. Jordan had his hands on her waist and was about to lift her when- "Louise! My goodness how beautiful you look tonight!"

Jordan's hands slipped and Lou almost fell to the ground. She was relieved when two strong hands caught her and set her down gently. She looked up to find herself staring in the sweet face of Ike McSwain.


Ike nodded and pointed a finger to the other rider with him.

Buck moved his friend aside, " We were just looking for Cody and Noah..." he pointedly looked at Ike who was now shrugging his shoulders... "I don't suppose you've seen them?"

Jordan seemed to scowl at the two, but shook it off. "Yes, yes we have... a very 'pleasurable' experience to be sure."

*Teaspoon asked us to keep watch... in town tonight*

" ' seems he thinks there might be trouble."

"No, trouble boys... no trouble at all. Louise?" His voice was losing some of it's cultured edge and Ike smiled as Jordan puffed up his chest in a pretty funny imitation of a flustered rooster. "Shall we move on in to dinner?"

"Sure Jordan," he tucked her hand in the crook of his arm and walked quickly up onto the wooden sidewalk. Lou looked back to see the two riders congratulating each other.

Chapter Ten

Once they were seated at the restaurant Jordan seemed to relax. He smiled and ordered for them when the waiter came 'round. Lou settled into her chair.

"You see," he began, "you really would like it in the east. People are much more respectful of privacy. There are police who deal with uninvited guests."

"They were just havin' fun.."

"Do you find it fun Louise?"

Lou was unsure of how to take what he said, "Jordan-" there was a note of warning in her voice.

"Don't you see? There is an air of refinement that is just plain missing from the west." He paused as the waiter poured out two glasses of wine. "Wouldn't you be happier in a place where you could learn from other young women. Tea parties, soirees, debutante balls, brilliant social events, and" he softened his tone, "a wedding at the height of the social season!"

She stared at him, "I've never felt like I needed any of that," she argued. "We have dances and parties here, and as for a large wedding," she looked up at him through her lashes, "I'm just not wanting to make that kind of a change now. I like my job with Rus-" she stopped as she realized what she almost said to him.

"With who?" he hedged.

"With.... ah....with Rus- with R-"

"Young man, you just can't barge in here." The older man who had shown them to their table was trying to chase down the young man who had breezed in through the front door.

Jesse grabbed a chair from a neighboring table... ignoring the gasp of surprize from an elderly man and turned it around so he had to sit straddling the chair. "Hey Louise!"

"Hello Jesse." She raised a brow as she waited for his excuse.

"Cody and Noah said you'd be here, and I thought I'd join you."

"Young man-" Lou's hand on his arm silenced Jordan.

"Jesse, we are here for dinner together..." she phrased the rebuke lightly.

"Yes, together," reiterated Jordan. "ALONE," he added.

"Yeah well, that's nice and all, but I need a ride back to the waystation too." Jesse was trying to catch Lou's eye. Here he was trying to rescue her and she wasn't catching his meanin'.

Louise motioned for him to lean in closer, "Jesse," she whispered, "it's okay. I can handle myself. Tell the boys to take you back home."

"But," he began to protest.

"But nothing, I know they're all standing outside waiting to hear what happened.... now scoot!"

Jesse looked a bit sad and wounded but Lou knew he'd recover as he recounted his tale for the others.

Jordan looked relieved when he finally saw the door close and Jesse hopped down the stairs to join the other riders. "Worse than a bunch of gossiping women," he said under his breath.

Lou tried to stifle a laugh... "I'm sorry Jordan... I guess the boys are just watching out for me."

"It's funny," he grinned at her, "for you, I would put up with twenty of them."

"Really, well....I wanted to tell you before-"

"Oh dear god, tell me you aren't se-" he saw the laughter in her eyes and his smacked the table, sending some of the silverware jingling against each other. "You are joking!" 'Thank the Lord,' he thought to himself.

Chapter Eleven

It was well past ten when Lou was deposited on the porch of Rachel's house. Jordan had left after a few quiet words... and a chaste kiss on her cheek.

She stood against the rail, leaning out into the cool night air. Her hair was still in a bun, but some waves had escaped framed her face like a fine gilt frame.

Jimmy Hickok stood off to the side and watched her. He hadn't been close enough to hear their parting words, but he wasn't worried... he had heard in town that Jordan would be leaving in the morning. The last rider in had delivered a letter to Jordan from his father. Apparently, Jordan has been neglecting the other stores nearby and the elder Mr. McInnerny was less than pleased.

Lou touched the cameo at her neck, she had borrowed the pin from Rachel, and a soft smile touched her lips.

Jimmy was amazed at how something as simple as a smile could make her even more beautiful than she was the moment before. As much as it pained him to admit, Jordan could give her everything she ever wanted. Including, bringing her brother and sister home, but there was something about Lou that would never be at home in a fancy ballroom. Sure she'd enjoy a turn on the dance floor, but she's not like the empty headed ladies who preen behind fans and painted faces. Lou was like the first true breeze of spring, warm and sweet and so very strong.

Jimmy chuckled to himself, leave it to Lou to bring out the poet in a man like him.

Lou stood out in the moonlight for another moment before she walked back into the house, taking off the dainty brown jacket as she walked.

For a moment he considered going in after her and spending a few quiet moments alone. He took a step toward the house, but the bunkhouse door opened and Cody, clad only in his long johns and his hat stared out into the moonlit night. "Hickok? You comin' in or what?"

Hickok threw down the piece of straw he'd been chewin' on and headed across the yard to the house, "Cody? What the hell are you doin' sleepin' with your hat on?" Cody just shrugged his shoulders and walked back into the darkness of the bunkhouse.

He climbed the few steps to the porch and stopped for a moment, 'I can wait until tomorrow... she'll be back in the bunkhouse, right where she belongs.'

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