“There’s a lov. Let’s go an see if Louise can come berry pickin with may. Twood bay fun ta chat with another woman fer a change...wheel about thins I canna talk ta may Mum,” Dorrie chatted to her horse. “Aye yer sooch a bonny lad and wheel ya know it.”
Lifting her head, Dorrie saw the station up ahead and made a clicking sound to make Wind Chaser pick up speed. She saw Lou sitting on the porch reading a book as she rocked back and forth in the old Bentwood rocker. It was kind of funny how some of the folks in town were murmuring about her liking two of the riders since she'd been seen in both Buck and Lou's company quite often over the past two weeks.
“Lo Lou!” she called out flipping her hat back off her head. “How would ya like ta go berry pickin?” she asked with a wide grin.
Lou marked the page she was on and put the book aside when she saw Dorrie. “Not right now. I think it’s too hot to be doing anything that requires moving around. Besides, rumor has it that a certain someone is coming home from a run this afternoon. Might want to save our strength for that,” Lou grinned and arched a brow.
She had grown to like Dorrie and was so happy that her and Buck had finally found each other. They all were. But Cody was the one that was the happiest. No doubt about that.
“Sit yourself down. Might be nice to have a girl to chat with every once in a while. Instead of all these men folk.”
With a small chuckle, Dorrie slipped off her horse and tied her to the rail before stepping lightly up the stairs and sitting in the old willow rocker next to Lou. “Wheel, ya know there are some that would thin yer lucky ta bay surrounded by all these handsome young men.”
“So Buck should bay home taday?” her eyes sparkled at the thought of seeing him once more. “Tis grad news! I miss him when he’s gone on the longer rides. Is it that way fer ya when Kid is gone off, too?” the auburn haired woman asked.
“Yeah,” smiled Lou. “Unless I’m mad at him, of course. But even then I miss him.” Taking a deep breath Lou looked over at Dorrie. “Betcha Buck misses you too right now. When you’re not together you’re all he’s talking about.”
That comment brought a bright smile to her face. “I canna talk too mooch about Buck at home...Rory...well he is worried that I’ll bay makin may life harder bay being with Buck. He joost dinna understand that I love Buck and that tisn’t goin ta change.” Looking across the open yard and then back to her friend’s chocolate colored eyes. “Boot he’ll have ta face it some day. Moost bay hard fer ya as wheel havin ta hide yer feelins from others all the time.”
Lou looked down for a short second. “Sometimes there is. But I can always talk to Emma...and now I have you to talk to, too.”
For a few short moments there was a silence between the two. “Brother’s are like that. They worry too much. I have a feeling that you and Buck are going to work out just fine and Rory is just going to have to live with it. Besides he’s a man. He should know better than to argue with a woman,” Lou said with determination.
“Ah so true are yer words!” A few moments passed by as the healer rocked nervously back and forth before eventually stuttering. “Umm Lou...Buck and I...we’ve...umm.” Raising her eyes up to the sky. “We’ve been kissin and...I...have you ever...I mean...” The Irish Scottish woman played with her skirt before looking up at Lou once more.
“With Kid you mean?” Lou asked. “Yes, we have.” Then she smiled. “Are you thinking about you and Buck, um...dancing...?”
“Dancing...tis that...oh aye, I’ve thought about it. Canna help it. When he touches may I forget everythin...” Dorrie sighed. “Did it...was it...did ya like it? Or was it painful like some people say?” She whispered leaning closer to her friend.
Lou wasn’t so sure what she was supposed to answer to that. She had heard that the first time was supposed to be hurtful, but her first time was, well, that was something she didn’t want to think about. Wicks was dead and buried and so were her memories.
“Dancing...it’s what Jimmy calls it.” Then taking a deep breath. “The first couple of times was kind of scary, but now...” Lou looked around to make sure that there were no ears around. “But now it’s quite the experience.”
Licking her lips, Dorrie nodded and then gave her friend a bashful look. “Wheel I...I love him and I want ta share that with him, too. Course men have more experience I’m sure.” she cleared her throat.
“I don’t know about Buck. He ain’t the kind that kisses and tells. Most men, when they want some entertainment...not that Buck is like that,” she hurried to say. “Buck ain’t nothing like most men.”
“Oh aye, he tisn’t like any man I've ever met,” she spoke softly. “A few lads have set their eyes may way boot...I never felt a bit drawn ta them. With Buck it was like...from the moment I met him I couldn’t catch may breath. I want ta bay with him...all the time.”
“Thanks Lou...fer talkin bout...umm, dancin. Yer a good friend.” Then pulling herself from the chair she gave Lou a conspiratorial look. “I best go and get picking before the heat near suffocates may and Wind Chaser. Maybe on yer next free day we canna go inta town fer lunch. Give the gossips another talk ta add to the many about may and may family. Boot on the bright side it does support the image o ya being a young man.” Dorrie grinned impishly.
“I’m sure it will. And Dorrie, you’re a good friend, too.”
The two shared a secret smile. “Let’s go Wind Chaser. The berries willna pick themselves!” With a small wave the auburn haired woman rode quickly down the dirt rode toward the pond.
Humming an Irish tune she’d learned from her mother, Dorrie poked and prodded around the bushes while plucking the blackberries from their prickly stems. She was having some problems collecting them since she had to taste one every now and again for the mix of tart and sweet were addictive to the young woman. Glancing back at her horse, she checked to make sure Wind Chaser was still out of the hot rays of the late afternoon sun.
“Ouch!” The Scotch-Irish woman groaned while looking down to find a thorn deeply embedded in her thumb. Looking at the dark purple juice all over her fingers, she pulled herself out of the undergrowth and walked toward the pond to clean her hands so that she could get a better look at the stubborn thorn.
Buck hadn’t realized that he had fallen asleep until he woke up. He had been told that he could take his time getting back to the station after the run to Fort Miles so he had decided to stop by the pond and get cleaned up. He must have fallen asleep relaxing in the sun.
Sitting up he looked over the water in the pond. A smile came to his lips as he saw his favorite person by the water’s edge. Circling his arms around her waist he leaned in and smelled her hair. It smelled just as he remembered it.
“I missed you,” he mumbled into her hair.
She was bent over washing out the thorn when she felt warm arms come around her and a shiver ran down her spine as his warm breath caressed her neck.
“Buck!!” she whispered huskily. Unfortunately, as she was shifting to turn around to face him her right foot slipped forward. “Aaaah,” she cried out as she felt them falling into the cool water with a splash.
Slapping her hands on the surface of the water to keep from going under once again. She shoved her wet tresses from her eyes as she searched for the young Kiowa. “Buck!” she called out frantically looking for any sign of his dark hair. “Buck!”
Buck was surprised as he was suddenly pulled under water. He enjoyed the feeling of the water around him and had to stop himself from taking a cleansing breath. Finally resurfacing Buck pulled his hair out of his face and smiled at Dorrie. She looked so beautiful with her hair all wet.
“Dorrie. Are you alright?” he asked as he gently touched her cheek.
“Oh Buck...I missed ya so,” she smiled when she saw his handsome face before her. And she laid her cheek into his hand reveling in his touch. “Looks like I’m takin may bath a wee early,” she giggled as she moved closer to his body and held on to his shoulders to balance herself in the water.
“I already had mine, but I wouldn’t mind an other one.” His voice was almost a whisper in the breeze. Draping his arms around her waist he drew her into a kiss.
Her hands caressed his neck as she groaned out at the burning that had her oblivious to anything but his touch and the feel of him against her.
Buck was pleasantly surprised when she deepened the kiss. There was a fire burning within him and he longed to still it. Moving back slightly, he started to undo the buttons on her blouse while his lips never left hers.
Shrugging out of her blouse, Dorrie’s hands worked to undo her skirt and with a toss sent them up on to the bank. Dorrie pulled back for a moment to look into the Indian's dark eyes as she pulled off her underskirt. She was breathing harshly and made little gasping sounds as her eyes darkened with passion.
For a moment Buck stood completely transfixed. He could hardly believe that this wasn’t a dream. Following her example he pulled at his long john bottoms; the only thing he was wearing.
“Are...you...sure...?” He was breathing hard. “You...know...what...this...means...” He stood still in the water, not sure what to do with himself.
Nodding slowly her eyes locked to his. “Aye, I’m certain,” she said breathlessly as she reached below the surface of the water to remove her pantaloons and then struggled in frustration with the buttons of the camisole. “I know what it means...I love ya Buck...I’ll always love ya,” she said in her soft lilting voice.
Moving closer to her Buck carefully placed his hands around her waist and drew her too him. Closing his eyes, Buck nuzzled her neck with his nose and placed small kisses on her exposed collarbone. “I love you,” he mumbled. Finally able to say the words. “I love you.”
She couldn't seem to stop the small glistening tears that slipped form her eyes as she, with a little help from Buck, finally pulled her camisole free and threw it where her other cloths now lay upon the grass. Gently touching his cheek she leaned forward and touched her lips so tenderly to his.
“Ya said the words...oh, Anan Cara.” she choked out as her body now pressed against his.
“I love you,” he repeated. He reveled in saying those three simple words. “Anan Cara.” He repeated her words as well. He didn’t know what they meant but they were music to his ears.
She smiled up as he repeated the Gaelic words back to her. “It means of may soul. Which ya are...may soul mate,” she said as her lips ran down his neck and her hands lightly touched his chest. “Buck I...naer did this...I mean...I’m afire...” she groaned out holding tight to him.
Buck groaned in pleasure and threw his head backwards. “Dorrie...I...need...you...”
Subconsciously the two moved towards the bank and there in the soft summer grass the two shared in their love for one another.
Buck felt like he was a snake that had just changed ham. He was a new man, and in the process he had left something behind. Dorrie’s head lay on chest, a mass of hair behind her. Lazily one hand finger-combed it. The other hand was draped around hers, resting above his heart.
Her head lay on his chest and she listened to his heart thrum as it returned to its normal rhythm. She savored in the feel and smell of his skin against hers and sighed in happiness as his hand ran gently through her hair. The sun beat down upon them and they enjoyed its warming rays. “Hmmm I dinna care ta move. I want ta stay like this forever,” she murmured while placing little kisses on his chest.
“I naer knew I could feel like that...” She went silent, then lifted her face to look into the Kiowa’s eyes. “Tis it always like that?”
Buck sighed. “I hope so,” he said in a low voice. From up above he could hear the birds singing and a gentle breeze flow through the leaves. “I don’t ever want to let you go.”
“May either boot I know if I dinna bring some berries home for supper tanight may brother will wonder what I’ve doon all afternoon.” Her eyes were shining with happiness as a sweet smile came to her face. “I joost hope may cloths are dry.” She leaned forward to kiss him once more.
Buck drew her even closer to him as her lips touched his. “I love you,” he mumbled again. Almost locking his arms around her. He was afraid that if he let go, she’d disappear into nothingness.
“Ya have no idea how happy you’ve made may at this very moment. Ta hear ya say ya love may. Oh Buck...there tis nothin that can come between us now fer way both love each other. Nothin tis stronger than love,” she said squeezing him tightly to her.
“All the wars in the whole wide world can’t come between us now because nothing is stronger than the two of us together.” Closing his eyes, Buck listened to nature and the felt a part of it inside him – beating with an even heart.
Kissing the top of her head, Buck wished that this moment would last forever.
It took every bit of strength she had to draw back from his embrace. “I dinna want ta leave...boot I best get dressed in case someone else comes by. Someday soon maybe we can bay tagether always,” she said pushing her waist length curls from her face as she rose to her feet to gather up her cloths and began to put them on. “I...Buck, there have been many who say what we did was wrong boot I want ya ta know that it was one of the thins in may life that I know was right. Deep in may heart I know.”
Buck nodded as he watched her get dressed. Standing up, he smiled and gently placed a curl behind her ear. “I can’t wait to see you again.”
“Wheel I dinna want ta ever bay away from ya...now ya best get dressed Mr. Cross o I will bay so tempted ta stay and bayfore ya know it may brother will bay makin ya take may ta the alter,” she chuckled. “Hurry...I need ya ta help may berry pick!” she grinned at him then ran a finger gently down his face and across his lips.
Buck leaned into her touch. “I love you.” Tearing away from her he moved to put his clothes on.
“And where does milady want us to pick these berries you speak off?” he said, repeating the wording he had read in a book once.
“Again he was silent, and after a pause turned to me, laughingly. When scorn did not inspire is mirth. When it was genuine gaiety that painted his features with joyous, expression, his beauty became super-evident, divine.” Buck stopped reading from The Last Man when he heard a buggy arrive. When he saw who it was there on the buggy, he put the book aside and held a tighter grip on Dorrie who was resting in the nook of his arm.
Kathleen found the drive from town to the station especially strenuous, particularly when she was in the condition that she was in. Who in their right mind would put a house in the middle of nowhere?
Dorrie was enjoying the story, but the feel of Buck’s arms around her even more. Her head was resting against his shoulders and when was picturing the story in her mind when the sound of a carriage coming into the station yard took everyone’s focus away from the story to see who had arrived. She could feel the nervousness in Buck as she shifted her eyes to see that their was a young woman in the carriage and each of the riders seemed to be giving Buck a worried look.
‘Who is she and why does she make everyone, especially Buck, nervous?’ she thought as she shifted on the porch swing.
“That ain’t who I think it is, is it?” Cody asked as he rose to his feet and leaned against the porch post to get a better look.
“Sure looks like it ta me,” Lou spat out as she also rose to her feet in an aggressive manner.
“Now ya all settle down and be on yer best behavior. Best ta find out bout a situation before ya go off ta battle,” Emma said wiping her hands on her apron as she made her way down the two steps to stand by the buggy. “May I help ya miss?” she asked guardedly.
Buck sat frozen he had no idea what he was going to do. Kathleen was the one person that he never expected to see again. He only thing he seemed capable of doing was to hold on tight to Dorrie. He was relieved that Emma went down to talk to her. He wouldn’t be able too.
Kathleen knew that this wasn’t going to be easy especially, not that it seemed Buck had a new girl. “Ma’am, I just wanted to let everyone know that I am in town. After all...we do share some history.”
“History...well now that would be true nough Ms. Devlin,” she said and after getting a closer look at the pretty dark haired girl she met her eyes with a smile. “Or is that Mrs.?”
Lou wasn't having any of this pussyfooting around. “No idea what would bring ya out this way Ms. Devlin or whatever your name is now. Ain’t nothin here of interest to ya anymore.”
“LOU!” Emma admonished the young woman.
“What? After what she did ta Buck! Emma ya...know...”
“I said enough!” Emma said, turning back to look at the fancily dressed young woman.
Buck had had enough of all of this. After giving Dorrie a weak smile, he stood up and stared at Kathleen. “Why are you really here? I’m not judging, just asking.”
Kathleen sighed, she knew this wasn’t going to be easy. “I moved back to Sweetwater. St. Jo held nothing for me. I just wanted to say hello.” She looked at Buck. This was not the time to say what she wanted. She needed to talk to Buck in private for that. None one of his friend or his new girl around. “Really, I should be going.”
“Buck?” Dorrie whispered as she slowly rose to her feet. Looking over at the young woman, the healer could easily tell that the young woman was at least eight maybe nine months pregnant.
Cody looked over and saw the fear in Dorrie's emerald eyes. “It ain’t nothing ta worry bout Dorrie.” The blond rider said with conviction.
Kathleen took one last look at Buck before she said her good-byes and turned the buggy.
Buck made sure that Kathleen was out of sight before he turned to Dorrie. Standing close to her, he drew her into a hug. “Are you all right? Her being back in town isn’t going to change anything between us,” he whispered so that only she would hear.
“That...that was the girl you...Kathleen Devlin?” Dorrie stuttered out while her already upset stomach rolled.
Lou was about to say something when Jimmy kicked Kid’s foot. “I think we should go check those new horses Teaspoon bought a day ago. Don’t you, Kid?”
Buck looked at Dorrie, and nodded, slightly. He was a little thrown off that Kathleen was back in town. He was happy that everyone knew best to leave them alone. “Dorrie...” Buck thought for a while just to make sure that he said the right thing. “I don’t know why she’s back in town...but, I want you to know that I love you more than anything else in the whole world.”
Unable to stop herself, Dorrie wrapped her arms around Buck's waist and pulled him close to her. “I love ya Buck. So mooch I’m afraid one day I’ll wake up and ya'll bay gone. Guess I’m joost being a wee jealous tis all.”
Pulling back she looked deep in his eyes. “Surry,” she said in a soft voice.
“Alright ya all. I have lunch settin on the table growin cold!” Emma chimed in as she walked back up the steps. “Come along Dorrie. Yer one of the family now,” the older woman said with a smile and a wink before opening the door and heading inside.
Ike had chosen to be silent through this whole ordeal. God, he wanted to strangle Kathleen for even having the nerve to show up in Sweetwater after what she did to Buck. But that was right, she wasn’t there to see him crying at night when he thought everybody else was asleep. Looking at his friend now, he could see some of those feelings emerging from wherever it was he had hid them.
*Come on. Don’t hog the space. I for one could eat like Cody. In fact, I think I could eat Cody...just for good measure. *
Buck grinned at his friend's comment and translated to Dorrie. It felt so good to smile. Putting his hands around Dorrie’s shoulders, the three were the last to enter the bunkhouse.
Buck didn’t want leave on a long run when things were like they were, but he had no choice. Besides, it gave him a chance to think. He still didn’t know how Dorrie felt about Kathleen being in town because she hadn’t said much, and he had to leave the day after Kathleen had announced her arrival.
After getting cleaned up, Buck decided that he could go into town and see Dorrie. He knew that she was at Doc’s today. Saddling a fresh horse he rode at a leisurely pace, taking his time to smell the sweetness of nature.
Kathleen needed to get Buck alone soon ...her money, what little she had was running out. Laying a hand on her swollen stomach, she near stomped down the boards. When her father found out she was pregnant he’d thrown her out telling her that she would get nothing further from him. Of course she’d rushed to Trevor to tell him in the hopes he would finally marry her only to have him cast her aside as well. Now that she didn’t have any money coming her way he wanted nothing to do with her or their child.
Now she was desperate and she hoped she could somehow get Buck to help her. She would do what every Devlin before her had ever done. Used people to survive. With a determined look on her face she continued down the boards.
‘Well now look who’s in town visiting the local Witch,’ Kathleen thought as she moved quickly to intercept the Indian before he made his way inside the building.
“Buck!...Buck!” she called out huffing heavily and pretending to weave on her feet.
Buck turned around at the sound of his name. Seeing Kathleen about to fall he moved quickly to catch her. Once he was sure that she was safely on her own feet he let go of her. “What do you want?” he asked briskly. “I have business to do.” He knew that he was being rude, but Kathleen had done nothing to earn his forgiveness.
“Buck...we need to talk...there’s something you should know and...I’d rather not have the whole town hear about it,” she said in a tearful voice while rubbing her very large stomach and catching the Indian's eyes. Actually quite a few people watched as Buck caught her, which brought a secret smile to the young actresses’ face.
“I have a room at the hotel. We could go there if you would like,” she offered placing a glove-covered hand to her forehead.
Buck’s brow frowned. “Can’t we take it an other time? I have business to attend to.” He was desperate for a way out. He didn’t want anything to do with Kathleen and that was final. “Kathleen,” he said in a low voice. “I know that we have a history, but all that is over now.” Then he thought for a moment. He was curious what Kathleen had to say. “All right, I’ll go with you, but if I don’t want to hear any more, I’ll up and leave.”
Giving him a nod she pretended to need his support as she walked her into the hotel and up the stairs to her room. She made sure to say hello to as many people as possible along the way. Turning the key carefully she opened the door and showed Buck in before sitting down on the bed.
“Buck after we were together...my father.” Kathleen paused to sniffle as she looked into her hands. “He threw me out.”
Buck nodded. He wasn’t sure what to think or say. Maybe she’d learned what the real world is about then. He was tempted to say “and...” but kept it to himself. Instead he nodded one more time for her to continue. But then he got to thinking, and there was a chance, but he wanted to hear the words come out of her mouth.
“Buck ..I'm almost out of money and I can’t do this on my own anymore.” the tears began to fall slowly down her cheeks. “I...also think a baby should have his father in his life. I came back to ask for your help Buck....Please.!” she laid her head in her hands and sobbed or so it seemed to any one watching her.
Buck looked down on his hands. Then he looked at Kathleen. He had no idea what he was going to do. “Kathleen,” he said. “The two of us...we’ll never get back together. I have Dorrie now, and we love each other. But give me a day, and I'll figure something out. Not for your sake, but for the baby’s.”
Dang things weren’t goin as she’d planned. Pulling her face from her hands, she put a begging look on her face. “Oh Buck...you don't know how much this means to me. Our... I mean before I know it the baby will be here and I have no idea what to do.” She paused for a moment. “What does your tribe do as far as unwed mothers?”
“Let me think on it, and I’ll get back to you tomorrow. Right now, I have something that needs doing.” Buck touched his hat before walking out of the room. He hurried across the street towards the doc’s office. It was then that he realized that he had no idea what he was going to tell Dorrie.
He was happy to know that the office was empty because the two really need to talk. Drawing her into a hug, Buck kissed her hair.
Busily cleaning up one of the beds, Dorrie turned to see Buck coming through the door and he quickly walked over to her and pulled her against him. At his touch she felt the fear, worry and confusion and pulled back to look with concern into his chocolate eyes. “Buck? What’s wrong?” she whispered touching his cheek.
Buck had no idea what he was supposed to tell her. Dorrie deserved… needed to know the truth, but he had no idea how he was going to get it out. “Dorrie, I think we need to talk. I mean, I know we have to talk. Maybe we should sit down.”
Buck squirmed because of the worry he saw in Dorrie’s eyes. He had no idea how she was going to react to what he had to tell, and he was scared that she might get mad and wouldn’t want to see him again. Rory would get mad, that was for sure. There were so many thoughts rushing through his mind, maybe he should have talked to Ike first, or Emma, figured something out for Kathleen and the baby before he talked to Dorrie. No, him and Dorrie are a part of each other and she had to be the first to know.
Not looking at Dorrie, he sat down on one of the beds. “Dorrie, there’s something I have to tell you. And please listen to what I say before you say something because I’m not sure how I’m gonna get this out.”
The serious tone of Buck’s voice took her breath away. He was nervous and the look on his face frightened her. What could be wrong? Was he…did he not want to be with her anymore? But she knew he loved her just as she loved him…so why?
Dorrie nodded and then lifted her fear filled eyes up to his before slowly sitting down on the small cot beside him. Her stomach was churning and she began to feel nauseous.
”All right,” she whispered while holding her hands together so tightly that her knuckles showed white.
Buck wasn’t sure where to fix his eyes. He looked at the wall, at his hands, at the ceiling, before he finally looked at Dorrie.
“Dorrie, I just came back from talking to Kathleen. She says...she says...that the baby, that it’s mine. I promised I’d help her. Not for her sake but for the baby’s. Kathleen knows that I love you and not her, and she accepts that. I have to help her. Please, understand.” Buck reached over to take one of her hands in his. He needed her to know that he loved her and that that would never change no matter what.
She hadn’t intended to wince but the words were like a blade to her heart. A baby? Kathleen was going to have Buck’s child? It had been one of her dreams to marry Buck and have his children...now. All sorts of things went rushing through her mind as the Kiowa reached over and took her hand in his. “Are ya gonna marry her ta give yer child a name?” she choked out the first of her questions.
Buck looked down. He had no idea how he was going to answer that. Gently touching Dorrie’s face so that she was looking at him, Buck turned his body so that it was straight in front of hers. Taking both her small hands in his larger ones, he looked deeply in her eyes.
“I don’t know,” said Buck. “I just found out five minutes ago. I hope not because I don’t love her. I love you and only you. I don’t want to enter a marriage of convenience. Both Kathleen and I would be miserable. I told her than I would figure something out by tomorrow. Dorrie, whatever it comes to, please know that the two of us are linked together and I love you more than life itself.”
Buck took a deep breath. This was going better than he had expected. Then again, he had no idea what he was expecting. “Dorrie, this situation is scaring me. For the first time in my life I have no idea what’s expected of me.” Then he realized what that came out as. “Please Dorrie, don’t misunderstand, I don’t want you to sacrifice anything. I...the only thing I know is that I love you and know that that won’t ever change; no matter what happens I will always love you.”
Releasing the breath that he had no idea he was holding, Buck looked deeply into Dorrie’s eyes, wondering what she would say.
“Oh Buck,” Dorrie’s voice shook painfully as the thought of an infant, the child of the man she loved, being raised like this. Torn between two worlds yet again. She’d seen the damage it had done to the wonderful man before her and would hate for that to happen to his son or daughter.
Her green eyes filled with tears and they slipped down her cheeks. “Buck...if you slept with Kathleen...aren’t ya...already married ta her bay yer tribe’s laws? I’m so confused! I know ya love may Buck and ya know how mooch I love ya boot this...” she paused to let out a sob before resting her forehead on his chest.
“What are way gonna do? If may brother finds out...I’ll naer bay able ta see ya again...I joost know it!”
As Dorrie rested her forehead on his chest, Buck drew her into a hug. He had no idea how she was feeling, and all he could think off to do, is to be there for her. “Dorrie, I’m confused, too. I never thought about Kathleen like we would stay together forever. I was...” He drew a deep breath. “I was curious. I wanted to know what it was like. I thought I loved her, she knew she didn’t love me. Whatever it was, it ended when I realized the truth and broke up with her.”
“Boot now there tis a wee one ta thin about...ya dinna thin...” she paused for a moment shaking her head but wondering all the same. “Do ya thin she’d let us raise yer child? I mean if she dinna want ta keep the babe.” It would be the best answer in the young woman's mind. An unwanted child with a woman who didn't really want it while she and Buck could raise it as their own. The healer pulled her head back up to look at the man she loved more than anything. “Do ya thin she’d do that?”
“I don’t know. Kathleen doesn’t know the meaning of the word responsibility. I’m not an expert, nor should I judge, but I have the feeling that she can’t take care of a living person that's dependant on her twenty-four hours a day.” Buck placed on hand on her shoulder. “Maybe I should talk to Emma, too. Maybe she will help me work something out.”
Dorrie shook her head as his turbulent emotions flowed with her own. “I dinna know...maybe. I do know that may family won’t bay pleased at all if they hear. May brother will bay the worst o all! Aye ask Emma boot take a care ta see if we can keep others from findin out until we figure out what ta do. I’m so afraid...I’m afraid this wheel lead ta ya leavin may...and I canna bear it.”
“Dorrie, whatever happens, and whatever decision is reached I will never leave you. Remember that, I will never leave you.” Buck looked into her eyes. “I will talk to Emma alone tonight and see what she comes up with. We will handle your family when it comes to that.”
Buck bit at his lip. “Dorrie, thank you for understanding. Thank you for loving me when I thought I couldn’t be loved.”
“Oh Buck...I love you more than ya’ll aer know. Dinna forrget that. I canna leave ya...” she clung tight to him afraid to let him go.
Buck had left Dorrie at the Doc’s office when a patient came in for assistance. For the rest of the day, Buck had remained silent, and even Cody had commented that he looked sick. He must be, because it isn’t normal for Cody to notice things like that. Buck had just shrugged. Even though he wanted to he hadn’t had a chance to talk to Emma, and it was night now. He could go up to her house to see if she was still up. If he were to talk to her she wanted to do it in private.
It seemed he was in luck, there was a light on. Softly he knocked on the door.
Busily scrubbing the pot she’d cooked her potatoes in earlier for the boys, Emma heard a light tap on the side door. “Come on in! I’m just finishin up here,” she called out figuring one of the boys needed her to mend something or a add something onto the shopping list that they’d be taking in tomorrow morning.
Buck opened the door and stepped inside. For one second he wondered if this was the right thing; talking to Emma. Standing there with his hat in his hand, Buck sighed. “Emma, can we talk? It’s really important.”
Hearing the seriousness in Buck’s voice, Emma quickly put the pan into the sink and looked over into his troubled face. “Why sure Buck. Come on in and set down. Ya alright? Ya aren’t fightin with Cody again are ya?” she asked her voice full of concern.
“No, it’s nothing like that,” Buck reassured as he sat down at the kitchen table and put his hat down next to him. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you all day, but I didn’t want anyone to overhear. I talked to Kathleen today. She said that the baby is mine.” Buck was afraid to meet her eyes, worried what he reaction might be.
“Yours?” she sighed and sat down in the chair next to his. “I take it by the look on yer face that it could be?” she asked in a soft voice.
Buck nodded. He had no idea how he would be able to get the words that confirmed it out. Instead he started to rant. “I mean, we were only together once and I just can’t understand it. Why didn’t she say something sooner. I know we didn’t split up as friends, but she knew where I lived, and I would be easy to make contact through the company. I promised I’d help her, but I have no idea what that means. And I’m not sure how whatever I do will affect Dorrie. When I talked to her today I promised her that I’d never leave her. I love her so much, and I don’t know what I’d do if I were never to see her again. I think Dorrie understands the situation, but she doesn’t like it. She has such a big heart. She said that we could take the baby in and raise it as our own. Who would do that with a child that isn’t even hers?”
“Ah honey, I’m so sorry ya having ta go through this,” she started taking the Kiowa’s hand into hers. Only then did he meet her eyes. “Must have seemed like the worlds fallin apart all around ya...with you and Dorrie finally settling that silly business with Cody and now this. One thing I am certain of is that Dorrie loves ya like there’s no tomorra. As far as Kathleen Devlin is concerned...well I don’t know how much I’d trust her. This child could be yours...might be someone else’s.” Emma paused shaking her head. “Real hard ta tell until the baby's born and even then... Why don't ya ask Kathleen if she'll give ya the child when he or she is born. That might be the best thing for everyone. And Buck...if ya need a place for her ta stay til the baby’s born...I’d be happy ta put her up here.”
Emma topped his hand with hers. “But I can’t tell how the others will react to her being here. They all have takin a likin ta Dorrie and already have a sour stomach from Ms. Devlin,” she said with a smile.
“Ya are right bout one thing. Ya shouldn’t marry this girl for the baby and it does take a special person ta want to raise a baby that the man she loved had with another woman. Ya think on what I've said and that room will be upstairs if ya need it.”
Buck nodded. “It’s was Dorrie that suggested it.” He smiled slightly. He was so proud of her for taking the situation so well. “Emma, is it alright if Kathleen stays here on the condition that she is to help you whenever needed? If she is going to be a mother she needs to learn responsibility. She’s so spoiled you wouldn’t believe it. I hate to put this task on you, but I don’t think that there is anyone in town that would hire her.”
Nodding , Emma rose up to her feet. “Yes, that will be fine. I'll give her little things she can do around here, but with the child soon on the way we don't want her ta harm herself in any way. You do know if she keeps the baby...it will be harder for you and Dorrie...”
“I know. I figured that we can just play it by ear until the baby comes and then see what happens, but I think that all three of us should maybe sit down together and talk this through. Thank you Emma for helping out. Will you talk to the others about Kathleen moving in? I don’t think I can do it on my own. I know that they will be mad.”
“I will tell them she’ll be comin here ta stay until the baby is born but...Buck it should come form you that the baby could be yours. That is your secret ta tell.”
I know. I just don’t know how to get the words out. I will tell them when the time is ready for them to know.” Buck smiled weakly. “Thank you Emma, for helping me out.”
“Yer welcome sweetheart.” She reached out and gave the boy a hug. “You go ask Kathleen tomorrow and I'll get the room ready. Night Buck.” Her heart ached at the poor boy's pain.
“Night Emma.” Buck returned her hug and went to the bunkhouse. He was glad that everyone else was asleep so that he didn’t have to answer any questions.
Buck was nervous about going picking up Kathleen. He had no idea if she’d be willing to live out at the station. Taking a deep breath she realized that she had nothing to worry about because it would go the way it would.
Walking up the stairs to her room, he knocked on the door and waited for her to open.
“Who is it?” Kathleen called out through the door. Maybe her father had changed his mind or the man whose child she carried?
“It’s Buck,” he called. “Can I come in?”
Slowly pulling the door open and looking through the crack, Kathleen did indeed find the handsome Indian looking back at her. Moving back from the door, she pulled it open to let him walk into the room.
“Hello Buck!” she said brightly. “I’m so glad you kept your promise. About coming back to talk about the baby I mean.” She downplayed her enthusiasm. “Have you...thought about what we should do about the baby?” she asked with true desperation in her voice. She was out of money and only had enough to stay one more day at the hotel.
Buck took a deep breath. “Kathleen, I have a suggestion. Emma has agreed to let you move into the station if you help her with tasks around the house and such. It’s up to you. But I need to know, when the baby comes, what do you plan to do then?”
“What do you mean ?” she asked while placing a hand to her large swollen stomach. “Aren't ya gonna marry me?”
Buck’s mouth dropped open. “What made you think that? Yesterday, I said that the two of us will never get back together and I stand by that.”
“B...b...but Buck, do you want the child to be teased and ridiculed? Called a bastard?” she asked, her voice turning bitter when she found her plan was not going off as she wanted.
Sighing, Buck looked at Kathleen. “We won’t get married and that’s final. I will only marry out of love. I thought I loved you, but I was wrong. Now that that’s settled, what do you plan to do when the baby is born?”
‘NO!!!’ Her face screwed up and she began to cry. “I don’t know... I...I Buck I was wrong and I admit I shouldn’t have left you. Why can’t you forgive me? We can start all over. I love you...” Kathleen moved closer to Buck and rested her hand on his chest. “Please Buck...please let's start over again!”
Buck knew her words were empty. “Kathleen, please. Why don’t you pack up your things and come with me to the station. Then when the baby is born you can decide what to do then.” Buck had no idea what was to happen now. He couldn’t understand why she was acting the way she was.
Knowing the choices open to her were few, Kathleen wiped the tears from her cheek and began to pack her cloths into the bags she had at the foot of the bed. She would at least have a place to stay and being so close to Buck...maybe she could change his mind. Once all her things were gathered together, Kathleen stood and waited for Buck to pick up her bags.
She could tell by the way the boys, and Lou were squiggling around they were wondering why she'd ask them to come in from their chores.
“All right boys I called ya all in here ta tell ya that I have someone movin into the house with me fer a bit and i expect ya all ta be civil and treat her as ya would any guest. Now, Ms. Devlin has found herself in rough times and I've done the Christian thing and offered ta have stay here until the baby is born and she figure out what she is going to do.”
“No way Emma!” Lou screamed out jumping to her feet. “That snake ain’t stayin here! After what she did ta Buck? Let the devil rot in Hell for all I care. She’ll end up there one way or the other.”
Cody stood up and nodded his head in agreement. “There’s no way we’ll let her stay here.” He nodded to Ike who was signing furiously. Cody didn’t want to translate because Emma was here right now, but he felt that the man should at least know that he had been heard.
“Louise! Now you set yerself down right now!” Emma commanded her voce rising. “Now ya all need ta listen careful like. Buck asked me if she could stay and I said yes. I ain't sayin ya have to be her friend nor wait on the girl just treat her with respect ya’d give any stranger. Is that clear?” she asked and looked at them all with a tilt to her head indicating they had best respond appropriately.
“Has Buck lost his mind?” sputtered Cody. “Does he remember how much she hurt him.”
Hearing a wagon arrive, all heads turned to see Buck and Kathleen entering the yard. They all stood in silence as he helped her down.
Kathleen took Buck’s hand as he helped her from the wagon and then gave all the boys a sweet innocent smile.
“What will this do to Dorrie?” Lou whispered as she clenched her nails into her hands in distaste. “This is all about that baby I’ll bet!” she spat out as she held onto the post of the porch.
“Dorrie! Yer right Lou. What the hell is Buck thinkin?” Cody mumbled as they all watched Buck carry the pretty brunette’s things into Emma’s house.
Buck looked at the others and wondered what kind of ribbing he was in for as soon as Kathleen was out of hearing range. He had just set her things inside the house and was now standing next to Kathleen. Looking down at the ground for one moment before shifting his eyes to Kathleen. “We need to tell them that the child is mine,” he whispered.
Shifting her gaze to the small group that was gathered just outside the bunkhouse, Kathleen smiled over at Buck. “I’m sure telling them now would be a good idea. Just so they get used to the idea of us being together again...ta take care of the baby,” she quantified while looking demurely at Ms. Shannon.
Shaking her head at the young woman’s talent for trying to manipulate, Emma picked up one of the bags from the porch. “I think Buck can handle tellin the rest of HIS family what they need ta know. Let’s get you up to your room so ya can get some rest. We don't want anything to happen to the little one.” Then with a sweeping arm gesture, Emma waited as Kathleen gave her a fake smile and proceeded trough the farmhouse door.
”You go on Buck, the rest of her things can wait a bit before finding their way upstairs.” Emma gave him a reassuring pat on the arm before heading inside and closing the door.
Buck let out a sigh. He wondered how many times he had to tell Kathleen that there was no chance of the two of them ever getting back together. He looked after her as she followed Emma inside the house. Looking out at his family, he saw them standing there in complete shock.
“Guess you guys are wondering why Kathleen is staying here...” He tried to drag it out. “None of you are blind so I guess you can see that she is pregnant and the baby is mine.” He had practiced this little speech over and over in his mind, and the best way he could think of to do it was to just say it.
“WHAT!” they all muttered. Louise stood up, the anger in her face would make the plagues any mother-in-law’s dream. Slapping Buck across the face, she strode to the barn muttering curses all the way.
Buck stood holding a hand over his cheek as he watched her go. He had imagined that something like this would happen. Looking at the rest he waited for them to shoot him, or whatever way they would prefer to kill him.
Kid couldn’t believe his eyes as Lou went up to Buck and slapped him hard across the face. Watching her stride angrily away and muttering curses as she went, he was torn between following after her and listening to what Buck had to tell them.
”So the baby is yours...ya sure?” Kid asked quietly as his eyes shifted to see Cody barely holding back his anger.
Jimmy rose up out of the old rocker and gave the Kiowa a questioning look, “Ya gonna marry her?”
”WHAT? Marry HER? You gone an lost your mind Buck? What about Dorrie?” Cody asked as he gave Buck a shove. “Did ya think how this will hurt her?”
“It was Jimmy that started to yap on about marriage. The only way I will marry is out of love, and I do not love Kathleen.” Moving to look at Cody he sighed. “Dorrie already knows and is dealing with it better than what I expected. Now, if you don’t mind me, I have some chores to do.” Buck turned away without giving his family and other thought.
He knew that Ike would follow him. The two had been brothers for a very long time now, and sometimes it was almost as if he could read Ike’s mind without even looking at him. “What do you want?” asked Buck. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it.”
*Are you serious! She’s going to live here?*
“She can’t afford the hotel any longer so until something can be worked out, yes, she will live here. In return she’s going to help Emma with whatever needs doing.” Buck sighed and looked at his friend. “Look, I’ve only had a day to get used to this situation and I’m sorry for being so rough.”
Ike nodded. He wasn’t sure what to say. *Buck, it’s going to work out. Just make sure Dorrie is included in every decision. *
Buck nodded, before he smiled and left to check up on Kathleen.
Kathleen looked around the small bedroom which Ms. Shannon had taken her. There was a navy blue block quilt on the bed and a matching curtain in the window. “Quaint,” she said disdainfully. “But it will do till I talk Buck into marrying may. That would do to make my father sorry for kicking me out! I'll take the Devlin name to the dirt by marrying a savage. That would pay him back for her losing Trevor.”
Putting her cloths in the empty maple dresser drawer, she gazed with admiration at her pretty porcelain complexion in the mirror but it soon turned to distaste when she touched her large swollen stomach. Hearing a tap on the open door she turned to find Buck bringing in the rest of her things.
Buck set her bags on the bed so that she could do with them what she liked. How much stuff did one person need, anyway, he wondered. “Kathleen, we need to talk. I know things have been rough for you, but you’ve had eight months to get used to this situation, I’ve had one day. Surely you must have thought about what you are going to do when the baby comes. I know I’m bugging you, but I need to know.”
The pretty brunette tried hard to try and gather her thoughts together as his direct question threw her for a second. “I really don’t know Buck...I thought we could raise the boy or girl together and now...well that won’t be possible. Not with how you don't see us...together...” she drifted off to silence.
Buck sat down on the bed. She knew that Kathleen hadn’t thought about the issue without him in the equation. Biting on his lip, Buck’s brow frowned. “In light of what you have discovered, are considering raising this child alone? Don’t get me wrong, please don’t, but we need to figure this out before the little one gets here.”
“I guess I’ll have to now won’t I? Guess now I get ta be a woman who is alone with out the father ta help her in the day to day raising of the child. But don’t feel bad Buck, you aren’t the first to want to just throw a bit of money at a child or simply walk away,” she snapped out while reaching for one of her other bags on the bed.
“Kathleen, I never wanted it to be like this, but if we marry, we will both end up miserable and you know that. I want to be there for the child, see him or her grow up, but I can’t marry you when I love someone else.” Buck took a deep breath. He didn’t want to bring Dorrie into this, but he just had.
“Right. I understand. The redhead I saw you on the porch I presume? So she will watch us raise our child...we will have to be around one another at times to do that. Does she know that? I must say she is someone special to be able to watch the man she loves be around an old lover without it eating away at her. I don’t think I could do it.”
Moving over to put her bag on the corner chair she turned once more to face Buck. “Not to mention how torn the child would feel. I don’t know Buck, maybe if I get some money together it would be best for me to take the baby back east.” Her light brown eyes met his darker ones as she placed the barbs of doubt within his mind.
Buck sighed. He seemed to be doing a lot of sighing as of late. “Kathleen, you don’t have to make any decisions right now. Why don’t we just give it today and then tomorrow you, me, Dorrie and Emma can talk this through.” Buck looked at her wondering what was going through her mind.
“You want me to talk to this Dorrie woman? About the baby? Buck even you can’t be that mean spirited.” she gasped out.
“Dorrie is a big part of my life. I love her and she deserves to be a part in this. I will never leave her out in the cold when something happens in my life. She knows that the baby is mine and she is dealing with it better than I would have expected any woman to do.”
“Dealing with it is she? Well if you think I will leave this child to a witch to help raise you can just get that clear out of your mind! That will NEVER happen!” she shouted at him with a stomp of her foot.
“Don’t you ever call Dorrie that word again. Dorrie is a good person and has a big heart. I can’t stand here talking to you if you can’t act civil.” Buck was breathing heavily. “You want an easy way out of this situation? Fine, Dorrie and I will take the baby and you’ll be free to travel Spain or wherever!” With that Buck left the room slamming the door behind him.
At the bottoms of the stairs he slumped together on the floor. He had wanted to be a father, to teach a child all the wisdom that he had, but he had never imagined that it would be like that.
Emma could hear the banging and then the sound of feet stomping down the stairs as she made tea in the kitchen. Wiping her hands on her faded white apron, she walked over to the stairs and found Buck just sitting there with his head looking down at the floor. “Buck? What’s wrong? Ya have a fight with Kathleen?” she asked softly lowering herself to sit next to him on the step.
Buck looked up at her. “I don’t know. All I want is for everyone to be happy with the situation, but I realize now that that can’t happen. I have to be crazy thinking that I could do that.” Buck drew his feet up under him and wrapped his arms around him. “Emma, I have no idea what to do. Usually I think things through but now I just can’t seem to keep a thought straight. Please, I need help.”
”Things like this are never easy sweetheart. You have Dorrie who you love and your dreams with her being torn apart. I wish I could give you the answer...really I do but it has to be what you feel is in your heart. Does what you want come before that child you helped create? How much suffering would you go through for that child....if it meant giving up Dorrie..”
“I love Dorrie more than I’ve ever loved anyone. I promised her that I would never leave her, and I aim to keep that promise. Emma I was so stupid – I thought that we could just sit down and talk about it and reach a decision that everyone would be happy with.” Buck looked down, and started speaking in a low voice. “On my way back from my last run, I stopped in Benton and I bought a ring...for Dorrie. I was going to give it to her and ask her to marry me. Instead I made her cry.”
“Oh sweetheart...” she pulled him into her arms. “Why don't you go on and get some rest. Let time move a bit. Maybe fate will work things out. Ya never know...Kathleen may hate carin for that baby once it comes. And just leave the little one here with us. Don't worry bout the others...they'll come round ya'll see.”
Buck returned the hug. “Maybe I’ll go read for a bit. At the mission it always helped me relax. Maybe later I can think clearly again. Emma.” Buck looked up at her. “Since my mother was killed, you’re the only person I could think of that was anything like her.”
“Aww, well now honey that is a wonderful complement and I think of ya as family too. We ain’t goin anywhere Buck, just give us all time to adjust. Alright?" she said with a quick hug.
“Thanks Emma,” Buck smiled and stood up. “If you need me I will be in the bunkhouse.”
As soon as she saw Buck leave shoulder’s slumped through the kitchen door, Emma shook her head as she gazed up the stairs. “Let’s just hope you get tired of life out of the city.” Then walking back into the kitchen she began to clean the pots once more.
Cody sat on his bunk thinking of how this fancy city girl whom they all couldn't stand could come spinning back into their lives.
”I don’t get it Jimmy. Why the heck bring her here? I'd personally donate money to keep her in town,” he muttered
“Count me in,” Jimmy muttered in agreement.
Buck knew that they were all talking about him. How could they not. He also knew that they would want to discuss it with him, something that he didn’t want to. Opening the door to the bunkhouse he walked straight towards his bunk and picked up the book that laid on his pillow. It was his sign that he didn’t want to participate in any discussion.
They all just stared as Buck came through the door as if nothing changed and they waited. But while Jimmy only shook his head.....Cody and Lou were like a water bout ready to spurt from the spigot.
“Buck...tell me you aren’t serious!” Lou spat out as she jumped down to the ground from her bunk and stood over him.
Buck looked up from the book. “About what? Kathleen living here? Yes, I am. I know that you all probably hate me right now, but take a moment to think what you would do in my position. Then what will you say.”
Those words seemed to quiet the room as they all looked shamefaced from one to the other...all but Lou of course. “Right I see how this is going. You are going to let that conniving snit live here and torment Dorrie right? Well my stomach is hurting I think I need some fresh air. Maybe sleepin in the barn will help.” Lou said while gathering her pillow and blanket together.
“Lou...wait you’re not being fair...” Kid started but the sound of the door slamming put an end to his comment.
The sound of the door echoing through the room had everyone moving to their cots for the night. Though the tension still resided they all knew Buck was right it could have been any of them.
Buck put the book aside and pulled the blanket over his shoulders. He was thinking, what if Dorrie wasn’t as okay with it as she had let on? Maybe she was just putting on a show so not to worry him any more? He would go see her tomorrow, and it would be just the two of them and no word of Kathleen would be mentioned.
Wind Chaser flew along the road as tears fell unchecked down Dorrie’s cheeks. The pain in her heart was near unbearable as Buck's words echoed through her mind.
”Kathleen is having my baby…” She'd been so happy…she loved him so much and the thought of his being with Kathleen…pretty prim and proper Kathleen tore at her very soul. Pulling up on the reigns of her horse, Dorrie slipped from the saddle onto the grass. She walked her horse over to the tree line and tied him to one of the low willow branches.
The auburn haired woman then walked slowly over to the pond and knelt down to touch the cool water as she replayed the first time she and Buck made love to one another. Pulling her knees up to her chest, Dorrie stared across the water until the tears turned in to sobs: deep gut wrenching sobs. When she had no more tears left, the young woman wearily rose to her feet, mounted her horse and headed toward home. ‘I jist have ta get through the door without them noticin’ she thought on her way up the dirt lane that led to the Macalister home.
While she was brushing Wind Chaser down, Rory came into the barn. “Time fer supper Dorrie. Ya have a busy day today at Doc’s?”
The dark-haired man noticed the dirt stains on her blue skirt and the way her hair looked rumpled. “What happened ta ya? Dinna tell may ya fell from yer horse again?” he asked taking her arm and turning her to face him.
”Dinna feel like talkin Rory.” Her voice came out husky from her crying bout. Lifting her chin he saw the signs of tears on her face and her red eyes. “What’s wrong Maurvereen? Ya nay fellin wheel again?”
”Nay, joost let may be Rory…please,” she begged as she placed her horse in the stall and began to walk toward the house.
”Dinna walk away from may, Doreen Moira Macalister!” he pulled her round again. His eyes narrowed. “Tis this have anythin ta do with that Indian lad?” Dorrie’s eyes darted downward to hide her feelings but her brother had seen enough. “What tis goin on? Did he hurt ya? Where tis he?”
”Stop Rory! Tis between may and Buck. I'll nay tell ya…now I’ll bay goin ta bed...I’m nay fellin wheel. Please ..leave it bay.” She asked huskily before all but running into the house.
”What have ya doon now ta may sister?” he muttered while he saddled Cinnamon.
Soon as his horse was saddled, Rory took off toward the Pony Express Station. He’d get to the bottom of his sister’s woes no matter what it took. This was the second day in a row that she’d come home with red eyes and not feeling well. He rode up to the rail out side the Bunkhouse and gave the door a good solid knock. When the door opened he saw a pretty young brunette who was obviously very pregnant. "Scuse may ma’am…I thought that pony express rider’s lived in this here building"
Kathleen smiled at the quite good-looking blacksmith. “Well they do. I'm just here helping to get supper on the table. Can I help you with anything?” she asked coyly.
”Oh Wheel aye if ya dinna frash…do ya know where I might find Buck Cross?”
”Buck…hmmm he was here a bit a go but went out to the barn to do some chores. He's trying to be sure all his work is done so he can spend more time with me before the baby comes.”
Rory's hands were tightly grasped into fists as he listened to her speak. “Are ya sayin that the baby yer carrying tis his?”
< Kathleen didn't answer right away. “He hasn't told you?” she asked in return.
With eyes like thunderclouds, Rory spat out a “Nay he dinna!” before turning and striding toward the barn. He found Buck brushing one of the horses down and the Scotch Irish man spun Buck around and hit him solidly in the jaw. “Ya devious spawn o Satin! How dare ya bay courtin may sister with another woman carryin yer child!”
Buck was surprised when Rory turned around and hit him. He hadn’t heard the man enter because he was still upset about the argument that he had had with Kathleen yesterday. After regaining his balance Buck drew his knife and shoved Rory against the wall. Placing the knife firmly against the base of Rory’s throat, Buck sneered, “Don’t go judging people when you don’t know the whole truth. You can ask me any questions you want about this situation, but don’t hit me.”
He looked Rory squarely in the eyes, just like Red Bear had taught him.
“Release him.” Buck heard a calm voice saying and out of the corner of his eye, Buck saw Teaspoon standing there. Buck did as he was told, and sheathed his knife. But he did not take his eyes off of Rory.
Turning toward the older man, Rory spat out, “Your ‘boy’ here has been seeing may sister while he has another young girl near ready ta have his child! Ya dinna find anything wrong with what he’s been doing?”
“Buck, would you care to enlighten Rory here.” Teaspoon motioned towards Rory.
Buck nodded. “I only found out about Kathleen and the baby two days ago. I never ever meant to hurt Dorrie. You have every right to be mad at me. Dorrie is your sister, but you have to understand.” Looking Rory in the eye he hoped that he in some form could make Rory understand.
"Understand what lad? That ya have a duty ta that woman in there and the baby! " Rory paced back and forth while he ran his hand through his hair. "It may no bay so with yer people, boot here we marry and give our children a name so they dinna run round baying called bastards. " Pointing toward the bunkhouse, "Yer duty now lays with that young lady full of yer child! Nay may sister! "
Taking a deep breath Rory spoke low as he glared at Buck. "I'll say this boot once ta ya lad and only once. Dinna come naer Doreen again. "
“If that is what you wish,” Buck said, the defeat evident in his voice. Right now, Rory was the stronger man. “But know this, you just broke Dorrie’s heart more than I ever did in the last two days.” There was no point in trying to tell Rory what was really going on, the man refused to listen and that was his right. Buck looked at Teaspoon before jumping up on Midnight and rode out of the station.
He needed to get away for a while, and feeling the horse move under him was a grand sensation. This is what riding a horse should really be like. No saddle, no bridle, just the rider and his horse.
Stopping at the pond, Buck slipped off and squatted near the river. Drawing his fingers through the water he made intricate patterns that disappeared mere second after they were made. Circles formed in the water as the tears left the pattern they had been making down his cheeks.
Once he’d gotten the Indian’s promise from him, Rory rode home and strode into his sister’s room. Dorrie looked up at her brother and could tell he was on one of his rampages. “What do ya want? I told ya I dinna feel wheel Rory! PLEASE leave may alone...”
Dorrie was about to turn over and look at the other wall when Rory sat down in the chair next to her bed.
“Listen ta may Dorrie. Yer nay ta see that Indian boy again. He has responsibilities that lie elsewhere and nay with ya. He’s agreed ta stay away and now ya should do the same,” he said firmly before rising to his feet and preparing to leave the room.
Dorrie jumped up from the bed “NO!!! Ya canna do that Rory! I love him more than anythin...and...and I’ll see whom I want!”
”Nay ya wilna Mavoreen. The boy gave his word and I’ll keep him to it! He should marry the lass. That tis his duty and ya know it!”
”No!!...I hate ya...oh Rory I’ll hate ya forever till I die!” the young woman cried as she raced out the door and ran down the dirt path toward the creek where she sat and wept.
As the tears fell she thought of her brother's words. Buck had promised to stay away from her. He must have wanted to be with Kathleen again. A numbness seemed to settle upon her as she sat and listened to the crickets cry along with her in the darkness of the night.
Slowly and as if in a daze, Dorrie began to walk across the open meadow with no specific direction in mind. The cool night breeze whipped her waist length hair about her face as her nightgown flutter out behind her. With the soft light of the moon, she looked like a lost spirit who was walking aimlessly among the living.
Buck hadn’t realized when night had fallen or for how long he had been out here. He had just been sitting in the place where the Dorrie and him had made love thinking about absolutely nothing. At first he had tried to think about solutions to the problem, but none had presented themselves. Buck wished there was something he could do that would make everyone happy but whichever way he twisted or turned it, someone always ended up getting hurt.
Hearing an other person approaching Buck looked up and saw Dorrie walking towards him, though it seemed that she couldn’t see him.
Standing up he whispered her name before he ran over to her and drew her into a hug, he didn’t want to ever let her go.
'I moost bay dreamin.' Dorrie thought as she felt Buck's arms come around her an pull her tight against hime. "Buck?" she whispered like a lost child. "I thought....may brother said you were nay gonna say may again." she mumbled as if she were in shock.
“I didn’t think I’d ever see you again either. Oh Dorrie, I love you so much. Please, I don’t ever want to let you out of my sight again. Let’s run away so we can be together forever.”
“Oh...It hurt so bad...his telling may that ya weren’t gonna see may again! I wanted to die. Oh how I lov ya...What are way ta do?” she paused and pulled him tightly to her afraid to let him go. Her face buried into his chest. “Buck can we go and live with your people? Cause I dinna want ta loose ya...I...can't,” she cried.
“I can’t lose you either. Dorrie, I can’t go back to the Kiowa. Red Bear told me to never look back, I can’t disobey him. It would be a disgrace. I wish we can go back there, I want to show you where I grew up, but we can’t. There must be somewhere else we can go. Didn’t you say your father worked with the railroad, maybe we can go there instead. Maybe he will keep us safe until we have a place to live. I know I’m only dreaming, but I don’t ever want to lose you. Every night I wish I was holding you in my arms and feel your breath on my neck. I love you so much.”
Suddenly the sound of horse beats across the field caught the young lovers’ attention as Rory came galloping up to them and swung off his horse’s back. “So this is how good yer word tis it lad?" He said angrily while reaching forward to take hold of his sister. “Time ta go Doreen. Are ya mad walkin round in yer night cloths!”
”Dorrie began to struggle against his strong grip. “Nay...Rory let may bay. I love Buck and I dinna want ta leave him...ay ever!”
“Let her go or I’ll hold a knife to your throat again and this time my hand might slip,” said Buck. He was so mad because he saw the hurt in Dorrie’s eyes. “Rory, look at your sister. Can’t you see how much you are hurting her?”
Rory’s eyes burned as they met Buck’s. “May? I’m hurtin her? She’d been cryin fer the past two days naer from sunup ta sundown and tis I who did it?” Then he looked a bit closer at the two of them.
”Doreen ...Did ya have you and this Indian been tagether...and dinna pretend ya dinna know what I mean!” The blacksmith barked out pulling her out of Buck’s arms so he could look into her face. “Answer may!”
Buck looked from one person to the next. This was all too...something. He wished that Kathleen had never come back to Sweetwater, that Rory would accept him for who he was, but he couldn’t turn back time.
Rory looked down at his Dorrie’s face and his grip unknowing tightened as his eyes shifted to glare at Buck. “Your just havin fun with all the girls now aren’t ya?”
Dorrie winced as her brother's hand squeezed her arm. “That tisn't true Rory...please it was something Buck didn't know...”
Rory looked at Buck and shook his head “I dinna care...you and him...Dorrie ya know better...” He said in disappointment as she dragged her toward his horse and lifted her up into the saddle. Once he had her in place, he swung up behind her.
”You’ve been warned boy.” Rory spat out at the Kiowa while Dorrie struggled to pull away.
”Buck!...No Rory. Buck...” she repeated as looked down at Buck.
Buck wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do and before he really had a chance to make a decision, Rory rode of with Dorrie.
“I love you,” he mouthed but he wasn’t sure Dorrie could see.
Buck followed on his own horse. He could catch up with them easily, but Rory wasn’t the happiest person on earth right now and Buck didn’t want to be more in the center of his wrath than he already was.
He saw Rory pull Dorrie off the horse and towards their house. Buck knew that Mrs. Macalister would be there and Dorrie wouldn’t be too much in harms way. Buck sat hidden behind the trees for almost an hour before he started for home. The others must have started to worry about him by now.
It was close to sunup when he rode into the station. The others would wake soon and he was dead tired and most of all he wished for a warm bed and not being disturbed. But no such luck, the station was already bustling with life.
Lou knew that she wasn’t a joy to be around, she hadn’t tried to be it either. She couldn’t believe that Buck had let Kathleen move in at the station and let her do whatever she wanted. She hardly ever helped Emma out like she was supposed to. What were they – on her daddy’s payroll? And Buck just let her do whatever she wanted, like he had given up or something.
Seeing Dorrie across the street, she waved her friend over.
Dorrie was opening Doc’s door when she caught a look at Lou giving her a wave. Returning the greeting, the healer watched as her friend crossed over to stand beside her. “Lo Louise!” she said quietly as she pushed a strand of her auburn hair off her now almost white face. “Why dinna ya come on in fer a bit. I've missed seein ya boot with Rory being....watchin oer may like a hawk I can barely go anywhere boot work and home.”
Pushing the door slowly open, Dorrie crossed over to the hook that hung on the wall and hung her healer's bag before turning around to face her friend. Just as she shifted her gaze back, a tingling sensation came over Dorrie and the room began to move around her and grow dark. Her eyes rolled back into her head and she fell with a thud to the wooden floorboards.
Lou immediately rushed to Dorrie’s side. “Please, you gotta wake up,” Lou called. She was so scared for her friend. All this stuff with Buck and Kathleen and no one really sure what was going on.
Opening her eyes, the young healer saw Lou staring down at her and she tried to fingure out how she ended up on the floor. All of a sudden her stomach turned and she reached over to pull a metal bowl over from the small table next to the bed and was sick.
Rubbing her back, Lou wondered how she was best to help Dorrie. “Are you alright?” she asked. “You fainted. Maybe it would be best if you lied down on one of the cots and rested.”
Shaking her head tears began to fall down her cheeks and her hands shook as Lou helped her rise to her feet so that she could sit on one of the cots. Dorrie had been trying hard to pretend that she'd just had the flue or that the problems in her life were at fault for her condition but she knew the truth. She knew she couldn't run from it forever for soon everyone would know.
“Please, will you talk to me.” Lou hugged her friend tight and rub her back. This had to be a really stressful time for her and she understood that the cup was full.
Cody saw Lou and Dorrie head into Doc’s office and he wanted to check on the young woman since they hadn't seen her for a few days and Buck seemed awfully quiet lately. Heck they all were come to that. Having Kathleen around was putting them all out of sorts.
He crossed the street with a determined look on his face.
Dorrie was crying as Lou rubbed her back and gave her a glass of water.
“I...oh Lou I'm ...I'm with child,” she sobbed out as she sipped a bit of the clear liquid.
Lou wasn’t sure how she was supposed to react. “Dorrie, are you sure?” was all she could get out. She felt so bad for her friend. Everything seemed to fall about her head. “Dorrie, you know that I will always be there for you. Does Buck know?”
Cody had his hand on the door handle when he heard Dorrie say she was pregnant and he froze. His hand gripped the iron doorknob so hard that his hand turned white.
Shaking her head , Dorrie brushed quickly at the tears that were falling down her cheeks. “Surry canna seem ta stop weepin...I dinna know what ta do...Rory will naer let may near Buck. He said...he would kill him. He was so mad at me for...for being with Buck and him already goin ta bay a father. Maybe he’s right...I should go and live with may father.”
She sniffled taking another sip of water.
Lou knew that there was nothing she could do but be there for her friend. “Dorrie, I’m not the smartest person in the world but I have a belief that everything will work themselves out in the end. Buck loves you like nothing I’ve ever seen.” Biting her lip, Lou knew that she had probably said something stupid.
Running a hand through his blond hair, Cody turned from the door and walked as if in a daze down the boards trying to figure out how he could help Dorrie and Buck. Dang Kathleen! The little witch. She’d saddled a horse after he’d told her not to...she’d come into their lives and turned everything upside down.
Finally reaching Sultan's side, Cody swung up into the saddle and rode back toward the station to try and work on a plan to help both his friends.
"Naer mind... I'll thin on it fer a bit. " She said laying a hand on her stomach. "Can...when ya see Buck wheel ya tell him ..I'm surry." she whispered.
“Yes, I will.” Lou was silent for a while. “Do you want me to tell him that you’re with...”
“NAY...he tis havin so many problems with Kathleen right now...Boot I wheel soon. I joost hope Rory dinna find out or...” She swallowed hard at the image of her brother’s angry face.
Lou nodded. “Your secret’s safe with me.”
Ike was on his way home from a run. It was nice to finally be away from the station for a while. With Kathleen being there all the time it was impossible for a person to breathe properly. Seeing a rider less horse Ike recognized it as Powder Keg.
Looking around he saw Kathleen lying on the ground in obvious pain. He rushed towards her to see if he could help. What in the Devil was she doing out here on her own.
“AHHHH! Do something you ...” She stopped to gasp out in pain “Dummy! Something is wrong with the baby...” Kathleen began then catching Ike’s eyes she slumped into darkness.
Town was closer than the station so that was where they were headed. There were in open territory sp there was nothing he could do to make a travois. With some lifting and a lot of worry, Ike managed to get her on the horse. At a quick pace the two headed towards town.
He was glad that there was someone that lifted Kathleen down when they stopped in front of the doc’s. Rushing inside he saw Dorrie and Lou and was started to sign furiously. *She’s having the baby.*
Dorrie pointed to the cot beside the one she and Lou were sitting on and rose unsteadily to her feet. Coming round the bed she quickly listened to the girls stomach area in the hopes of finding a heart beat. “I need some water over there if ya would Lou while I get some salts ta see if we can wake her.”
Moving with great speed and skill, Dorrie open the vile and watched as Kathleen’s eyes gazed back into hers. “YOU! AHHHHHH!” she screamed in pain. “Get away from me!! You’ll kill may baby ya witch”
Dorrie's eyes went from Ike to Lou and then back to the pretty brunettes.
“Look Doc tisn’t here right now and I’m all ya have through this thin so “this witch” wheel have ta do,” she said firmly.
It took every thing she had to say the next words. “Ike ya best get Buck.” But as she said the words and began to touch Kathleen she gasped out as the realization that the young woman had been deceitfully lying to everyone. The baby was not Buck’s!
Ike nodded and rode as hard as he could towards the station. Buck sat on the porch reading a book so that no one would disturb him. He looked up when Ike pulled the horse to a stop. *You gotta come. Kathleen is having the baby.*
Buck was on his feet in the matter of seconds. He rushed into the barn and rode out bareback towards the Doc’s.
In the office everything was going crazy and he had no idea what or where to do with himself.
“Ahhhhhhhhh Oh my God it hurts!” Kathleen screamed out in pain. “Get it out of me!”
Dorrie’s eyes caught Buck’s as he came through the door. She didn’t know how to tell him...first that the baby was not his and secondly...that the wee child was dead.
“Ya boys can go inta the other area while I see about helpin Ms. Devlin,” she said huskily.
For the next 6 hours, Dorrie bathed the young woman’s brows and waited for the child to be pushed from the canal. Finally at a round midnight the baby was delivered; unfortunately dead.
Kathleen began to cry hysterically that Dorrie had killed the baby saying that it was because she didn't want it to survive.
Pushed beyond endurance and still ill from earlier, Dorrie looked at the young woman and said in a clear voice. “Dinna ya say sooch a thin I’d naer kill a child...naer! Yer one ta talk Ms. Devlin! Tellin Buck the babe was his when it twasn’t ! Usin him and hurtin him so.” Dorrie choked out her green eyes blazing. “You killed this babe with yer foolishness bay riding so close ta time. You were nay eight months pregnant when ya came boot nine!” Then rising quickly to hr feet, Dorrie held the poor dead infant in her arms as she went to wrap it's tiny body in a sheet so that it could be buried proper.
Buck had been sitting in the waiting room for a long time now. He never wore a watch so there was no way he could tell exactly how long. The others had gathered in the waiting room and Buck could feel their eyes on him. Emma had tried to talk to him, but Buck had no desire for speaking. All Buck wanted was for the baby to be alright.
His head shot up when he heard Kathleen screaming that Dorrie had killed the baby and then there was only silence.
Now he knew that all eyes were upon him, but Buck just sat there staring into nothing...feeling nothing. He heard Dorrie speak at the back of his mind. He heard her say that the baby wasn’t his and that Kathleen was in fact nine month’s pregnant and not eight. It was all so confusing. Kathleen had lied to him, about everything. None of this would have happened if Kathleen hadn’t come back to town. If he had never let himself be seduced by her. He should have been strong then and resisted. Dorrie should have been the only woman he had ever been with.
Taking deep breaths his face was so numb that he couldn’t feel the tears that rolled down his cheeks for the second time in such a short time everything was falling apart. Feeling Emma’s arms around him, Buck leaned into her embrace thinking that the person that he really needed to hold him was Dorrie.
Emma held tight to Buck as she stared at Ike across the room. So the young girl had lied to Buck. Emma would be lying if she said she’d been surprised. That girl looked like a taker since the first time Emma had met her all those months ago.
“Things will work out sweetheart ya’ll see,” she whispered to him. Then the older woman looked up to see Dorrie's arms covered by a sheet. It looked to the innocent passer by as if the healer was about going about the simple task of doing laundry but in truth was carrying the poor dead baby.
It seemed like forever as Buck and Dorrie's eyes met and she saw the tears in his eyes. "Surry Buck...but ...the baby tis dead." she swallowed hard and moving toward Ike she handed the boy the tiny wrapped bundle. "Ike could ya take the baby ta bay made ready fer burial," she asked before the sound of Kathleen’s screams of outrage could be heard all about them.
“WITCH... You red-haired witch...my baby...Trevor...our baby!” the young woman began with loud screams as they drifted in to pain filled sobs.
“I'll bay soon finished sewin her up. Lou tis helpin...I ...she should probably spend the nigh.” Dorrie choked out wanting more than anything to cross the floor to Buck but knowing it could cause the man she loved even more pain if her brother happened by.
Buck sat up a little and watched Ike holding the bundle with the dead child. Taking deep choking breaths he looked at Dorrie wondering if he should say something or if he should wait until they were alone. Though being alone might never happen. “Dorrie...” his voice was barely above a whisper.
Ike swallowed hard as he felt the dead bundle in her arms. He had a task to do. With one last look at Buck he walked out the door to the undertaker.
“Oh Buck I .....I'm so surry ya had ta go through all this ...I,” she said as a few tears slipped down her face. The young girl looked from Buck to Emma and then with a choke she said, “..love you...dinna forget that. May brother...” she paused tucking a fallen lock of hair behind her ear. With a tormented look, she turned back to finish working on Kathleen.
“I love you, too.” Buck choked out as Dorrie turned. Sitting up he released himself from Emma’s hold. “I...” But he couldn’t get out an other word. His hand clutched the medicine pouch around his neck and felt the ring that he had laid in there. He had thought he would never have any use for it but he had kept it as a sign for the love that he held for Dorrie. Now, there was a chance. No, he couldn’t think like that. A child had just died and he was thinking of himself.
Kathleen stared out from the Ms. Shannon's bedroom window down into the open yard where the boys were busy cleaning the yard and caring for some of the horses. Now that she'd healed up they were ready to kick her out. So she lied about the baby... It wasn’t as if Buck hadn't slept with her. Now the only thing she had of Trevor was gone not that she was overly excited about caring for a baby, still.
Now she had one goal in mind before she left the lovely town of Sweetwater. The redhead witch would pay for killing her baby. One day she’d gone to see the doctor to make sure that she was totally healed and she heard the doctor talking to the red haired witch about her BABY! It took everything she had to keep from screaming out in painful loss.
Later that week when Ms. Shannon had gone into town, Kathleen had gone through the woman’s things and found a pretty silver broach which she’d then sold to Mr. Tompkins. That money had secured her the help of a very desperate man at the saloon whom was soon about to put into place a very sweet revenge.
Stepping lightly down the stairs and into the kitchen, Kathleen looked at Emma with a small insignificant smile. “I need ta go ta town ta see about getting a stage ticket back east,” she said to the older woman. “I’m sure that will be a cause for celebration,” she stated and then strut out the door and up onto Ruby’s back. With a kick, she was off toward town.
One day had passed since the baby had died and Buck had asked Teaspoon for this long run. He needed to get away for a while and he needed to make his mind clear. It had been refreshing to feel the wind in his hair and the horse work under him. And when he got home, hopefully Kathleen would be long gone. He hadn’t spoken to her after the truth had come out. They had nothing to talk about. Kathleen had lied to him, again. And he had to figure out a way to make things go back to normal.
It was night now and he laid down next to the fire he had made and looked up at the sky. The stars were out and it seemed as if they were competing with the moon for attention. It had been so long since he had slept outside. He really missed it. Though he didn’t mind his place in the bunkhouse, there was something special about being outside and feeling nature around him.
He couldn’t sleep, not yet. There was still too many thoughts flying around in his head. He had to find a way to get back with Dorrie and to make Rory understand that he loved her more than anything. Absently his hand went to his medicine pouch and hoped that one day Dorrie would wear the ring on her own finger.
Buck had been so nervous about buying it. The thought to buy it didn’t come to his mind before he saw it on display in the widow in Benton. He had entered the store, hoping that he wouldn’t get thrown out. Though the man that ran the shop didn’t seem to happy about Buck being there he was happy to show him the ring.
The better part of the emergency money that he always kept in his boot were spent on that ring, but Buck didn’t mind because the ring practically screamed Dorrie. It consisted of three golden bands woven together and three small roses on the top. The roses were so well done they almost looked real and the woven bands reminded him of the pattern on a quilt that Dorrie’s mother had made for her.
Dorrie was not feeling well and for some reason the smell of Doc's coffee was making her extremely nauseous. Doc had gone out to get some lunch at the hotel so she figured she would rearrange the medicine cabinet while the office was quiet.
Hearing the door open, Dorrie turned to find Ms. Devlin come through the door. The auburn haired woman flushed at seeing the woman in front of her. Ever since the brunette's baby died, she’d done her best to stay away from Dorrie. The healer had yet to find a way to get through to her brother about what had happened with Buck and the young Indian had been sent on a long ride. She heard he was to return today and was hoping to try and get out from under her brother’s watchful eye so that she could tell him about the baby.
She was so afraid of so many things least of all how this whole situation with Kathleen had to have soured Buck's stomach to the thought of babies and such. Swallowing hard, Dorrie said, “Doc went ta lunch. He should bay back in an hour if ya care ta come back then.”
Kathleen smiled at the person she now considered the bane of her life. “That’s all right this shouldn’t take too long. Pulling a piece of paper out Kathleen set it on the old oak table along with a pencil. Pulling out a small derringer from her purse, Kathleen pointed it at her.
”I want you to write a little note to your ‘dear’ Buck,” she spat out angrily. “Tell him you are leaving to go live with your father.” Seeing the surprised look on Dorrie’s face. “Ahhh didn't think I could learn all I wanted about the local ‘witch’. Killer of babies is more like it!" moving closer she pushed Dorrie into the small chair by the table. “I want you to write exactly what I tell you,” she said pressing the gun against the Scotch Irish woman’s head.
”My dear Buck,
”I' am so sorry ...but I can not live here knowing that I killed Ms. Devlin's baby...” she paused when she noticed that Dorrie had yet to pick up the pencil.
”Nay...I'll nay write sooch lies.” Dorrie called out looking over to the door hoping that a patient would be coming through at any moment.
”You want to die now?” she asked pulling the hammer back.
Dorrie could barely breathe but she knew that if she told her she couldn't write she might be killed immediately.
”Never mind, that won’t stop me you foolish girl. Parker!” she screamed as a man came walking slowly in from the rear of Doc's office.
”What... Who?” Dorrie asked as the man pulled his gun out and aimed it at the healer.
”Take her. Looks like I'll have to write the note myself.” Kathleen ordered taking the pencil and quickly writing the following letter.
My dear Buck,
I' am so sorry ...but I can not live here knowing that I killed your and Ms. Devlin's baby. Please do not come after me. I have decided to go and live with my father and brother Liam. It is best that we don't see each other again and I am so glad that you will respect my wishes. Buck...I lied. The baby was yours and Kathleen’s . Hopefully over time you can forgive me.
A devious smile came onto her face as she thought of the young woman paying for what she'd done. More from her knowing that Buck would end up with her once Dorrie was taken permanently out of the picture.
The tall dark haired man pulled Dorrie roughly to her feet and dragged her out the back of Doc’s where two horses were waiting for them. The young woman was afraid to scream out in case the gun would go off and ...kill her child. The man tied her hands before lifting her up into the saddle and then mounted his own horse. They took off out of town from the rear of the building to avoid anyone noticing them. Holding tight to the saddle horn, Dorrie felt the horse begin to gallop east away from the setting sun.
Just as Kathleen finished folding the paper she rose to her feet just as the good doctor entered. “Oh Doctor Baker. I thought no one was here. I sat for a good thirty minutes and no one was around. No I fear I must go back to the Station to wait for Buck. He is coming back form hi run and I so wish to see him.”
"Ms. Macalister wasn't here? that is very odd...hmm she may have been feeling unwell. I am sorry Ms. Devlin. If you like I can see you tomorrow."
"That sounds just fine Doctor. Thank you so much. good afternoon" she called out as she left with a light step toward the awaiting buggy. 'No there would be no stagecoach need now ' she thought with a satisfied grin.
Buck knew that he would be home soon and that a nice bath and a hot cup of coffee would be there waiting for him After he'd cleaned himself up, he would ride into town, hoping that Dorrie was still at work and he would apologize to her. He would apologize for all the trouble that had been stirred up and for not understanding how she really felt. It tore at him when Rory had said that she had cried herself to sleep every night. He would apologize for ever causing her a wrong and beg for her forgiveness. He remembered something Red Bear had said when he had decided to teach his little brother about women. “No matter what, it’s always your fault, even when you know that it’s not. It is our job as men to apologize for being a man.” Their mother had doubled over in laughter then, and Buck really didn’t understand what was going on. He was so young then and looked up to his brother and believed him to be right about everything.
Riding into the station, he passed the pouch to Jimmy and went to take care of Midnight. Giving the mare a some sugar for work well done, he decided that it was time to take care of himself. Buck walked up the bunkhouse and poured himself some coffee, which was quickly consumed before he went to wash up.
Since he was going into town anyway, Teaspoon had asked him to drop the new wanted posters off at Sam’s. Buck stuffed the papers in his pocket as he mounted a fresh horse. He rode at a fast pace because he was anxious to see Dorrie. Tethering the horse outside Sam’s office, the Kiowa was so set on getting inside that he bumped right into Cody.
“Whoa...Buck! Where are ya goin'n such a hurry? This ain’t Doc’s office,” Cody teased giving Sam a wink.
“Quit teasin the boy Cody. Ain’t ya got someplace you need ta be other than here. I'm sure Emma can find something for ya ta do.” Sam shook his head but returned the blonde's sheepish grin.
“Sam, Teaspoon asked me to give you these.” Buck handed the Marshal the wanted posters before he turned to Cody. “Have you seen Dorrie today? I really need to talk to her.”
Kathleen practically beamed with glee as she saw Buck talking
to Cody and the Marshall. This would be easier that she had thought.
Waving her hand she called out his name. “Buck, Dorrie asked me if I
could be so kind as to give you this letter. I was in the Doc’s office
Buck thought that this day would be pretty good but Kathleen had done what it took to sour it. Skimming through the note, his eyes focused on the young woman darkening with pure rage. Giving the note to Cody to read, he stared at Kathleen knowing that she was the one behind this. Dorrie wouldn’t write a note like this. Dorrie would tell it to him if something was wrong. Dorrie would never lie.
Cody detested Kathleen and the thought that Dorrie would give the spiteful woman anything to deliver ta Buck screamed something was amiss. Opening the note he read it and shoving it toward Sam he grabbed the pretty brunette’s arm and squeezed tight.
“What's goin on? Did you write this bunch of lies?” Cody asked angrily as his eyes looked down the boards towards Doc’s. “Is she still at Doc’s... Cause I think we should take this note back and talk ta her about it! What do ya think Buck?”
Buck nodded solemnly and fixed his eyes on Kathleen. “Exactly.” The saliva was gathering in his mouth and he fought the urge to spit at the woman before him.
“I saw her take off myself,” said Kathleen. It was the truth, wasn’t it?
Cody, still holding the girl's arm, began dragging her down toward the Doc's office. Opening the door, Cody shoved the other woman through the doorway while he looked around the room. “Dorrie!” The blond screamed out.
Doc came rushing into the room. “What? Cody?...Ms. Devlin? Is something the matter?”
“Sure as Hell,” exclaimed Buck. “Ms. Devlin gave us this note from Dorrie. Noticing that Dorrie did not come out he turned toward Kathleen. “Have you seen Dorrie, Doc?” Turning so that he was facing Kathleen a strange kind of smile came to his lips. “Well, there was one thing in that pretty little plan of yours that went wrong. Dorrie didn’t write this letter. She barely knows how to read. And, I know Dorrie well enough to know that she wouldn’t use this wording. She didn’t kill your baby Kathleen. You did. You should never had gone on a ride like that when you were nine months pregnant.” Buck stood close to her and held her up by a tight grip on the upper arms. He felt Sam’s arm on his shoulder but chose to ignore it. Right now Dorrie was more important than abiding the law.
“Buck let her go. We’ll get ta the bottom of this, I promise!” Sam said pulling the Indian backwards.
”Heck no Sam! She’s gotta tell us where the heck Dorrie is! Now!" Cody said moving forward but Sam blocked his path toward the girl.
“I’m with Cody on this one,” sneered Buck.
“Please Buck. You gotta set me down,” pleaded Kathleen. “Dorrie left out of her own free will. I promise. Please, listen to the Marshal.” She had never seen Buck so angry before and it scared her at the same time, as she was excited. Why, she couldn’t tell.
“Buck!” Sam pulled on the Indian’s arms but couldn’t quite break the hold Buck had on the woman. “All right Ms. Devlin from what I understand Dorrie couldn't have written this note, not to mention that the two of you,” he paused looking at Buck. “Are not exactly friends so where did the letter come from?” Sam asked keeping his tone even and light.
“Sam! Kathleen wrote that dang thing! All them prissy words. Why? So you could try and get Buck back?” Cody shook his head. “We don't believe ya and I'm tellin ya now Buck still has that knife and you have an awfully nice scalp a hair!”
Buck grinned wickedly. “You know that’s a mighty fine idea. Say, Ms. Devlin. I’ll let you keep your hair of you tell me where Dorrie is. Seems like a fair trade to me. I love Dorrie. You love yourself.”
“Boys! That’s enough! I will tell ya Ms. Devlin that if we find that Ms. Macalister has been hurt in any way you will be held accountable for it. I think we have enough evidence here to take you before a judge.” Sam said looking into her light brown eyes.
A trail would be mighty fine. Slowly Buck set Kathleen to the floor. “You know, cooperating will give you a lighter sentence. I don’t think a prison would become you...” Buck looked at her intensely.
Kathleen took a few deep-gulping breaths. There was no way that she would come out on the good side if there was a trial; not without her Daddy’s lawyers. “All right. I paid a man to take her out west and leave her there. There’s no way she’ll find her way back to civilization. At least not this little Hell hole.”
“Sam, lock her up. I’m going to find Dorrie. Cody, tell Teaspoon that I need a few days off.”
“You what? Where exactly is west of here? I don't know Buck...how can we trust anything she says?”
“Who took her Ms. Devlin? And where exactly west of her did these folks take her?” Sam asked his tone serious.
“Hell I'm telling Teaspoon… I’m coming, too!” Cody paused for a moment as he recalled what he'd heard when he was in town last. "It's getting late and she’s out there alone...with child. We've got ta find her," Cody murmured more to himself but loud enough for the others to hear.
Buck turned and looked at Cody, Kathleen forgotten. “Cody, what did you just say? Child? What child?” Then realization dawned on him. “If anything happens to her...” he said to Kathleen. “If anything happens to her or our child, you will die.”
“Guess I shouldn't have said anything bout that. I just overheard her talkin in Doc’s. I'm bettin she wanted ta tell you,” Cody murmured. "Sorry."
“You care about her but...you loved me! You told me that you did...you... Made love to ME before her, ME.” Pulling the gold cross from around her neck she held it up to Buck. “I gave you this...remember? It's Gold...pure gold! You can have it if ya let me go.”
Buck sighed. “I never loved you. I thought I did. There’s a difference. And that.” He pointed at the gold cross. “Is fool’s gold. It has no value to me.”
Cody shook his head at the woman’s brazen try at buying her freedom but had to smile at Buck calling it fool’s gold.
“You were nothing but a mangy Redskin that I used to make my father angry! I hate you...Hate you!” she screamed out. “I hope she’s already dead! Dead, dead, dead!!" her voiced rose in maniacal laughter and then she began to weep.
“C’mon Cody. We don’t have to listen to this. I’m going to find Dorrie and when I return...” Buck didn’t say anything further. Not turning around, he walked towards the door.
Rory was livid. He heard the Indian boy was in town and that he’d been seen going into Doc’s. As the dark-haired man pushed the door open, he saw, not only the Indian, but the Marshal, a blond and the woman who’d lost her baby just recently. He’d been so busy at work and watching over Dorrie that he hadn’t really listened to all the details. He'd just told his sister that it didn’t make any difference to her staying away form the boy. Quickly, his eyes darted about the room looking for Dorrie.
“Dorrie!” he called out while glaring at Buck. Noticing that his sister didn’t answer he asked. “Thought I told ya ta stay away from her,” he glared “Where tis may sister?” he asked the Marshal.
“I did. Until she got kidnapped. Now, I’m going out to find her. It’s getting dark and I can’t track then.” Buck’s voice was full of venom.
"Kidnapped..?" Rory barked out moving in toward Buck. "What are ya talkin bout? Who would want ta kidnap may sister? We dinna have money and she..." a thought passed his mind at her being a young woman in town sometimes without his eyes watching over her. "Who took her?" the blacksmith said his voice growing fierce as well.
“Look Mr. Macalister. We’re workin ta find Dorrie...” Cody started
Buck sighed. “Are we to stand here and make chitchat or are we going to look for Dorrie?”
There was fear in the Rory's eyes now. “Why would anyone take her... I dinna understand...” He started looking at Sam.
“Mr. Macalister, it seems Ms. Devlin had a fella take her out west to...” Sam looked to the other boys then back to the Scot, “..leave her out in the open hopin nature would ...” The lawman broke off. “But Buck and Cody are goin out after her and I’m sure the two of them will find her.”
“Out ta die?” His green eyes blazed as he reached for Kathleen but Cody pulled him back.
“Come on.” Buck pulled both Rory and Cody put of the office. “The more eyes the better. Sam will take care of Ms. Devlin. We’re already losing light.”
With a look of blazing anger at Kathleen, Rory spun around and moved quickly to get Cinnamon ready before riding up beside the Blond and Buck. “Let's go then!” he said as he looked nervously toward the setting sun while he pulled his gun from the holster at his side to be certain it was loaded.
The rough looking man and Dorrie rode for hours, continually higher into the mountains. Then without any warning, the man pulled up next to her and shoved her from the horse's back. Dorrie screamed out as she tried to protect her stomach from injury. She rolled down the sloping rock and brush covered hill until she was brought to a stop by a bush. Laying there in the grayish blackness of oncoming night, she listened to the man ride off with the other horse trailing behind him.
With her hands still tied, the healer shifted onto her knees and pulled herself up to stand but her ankle gave way under her as she sank to the ground in pain.
While taking in small little gasps of air as she tried to gain control of the pain, the healer looked about for something she could use to help her balance on her good foot. Dorrie noticed a stick not too far from her and crawled over to pick it up.
After about twenty minutes of falling and getting up, the young woman finally was able to keep her feet beneath her.
Little by little, Dorrie moved gingerly down the hill but the slipping rock made her journey long and tedious. She was so tired and wanted to stop but knew that she had to keep going while there was a bit of light left in the darkening sky.
“Look there,” Cody said as the darkness began to hide a great deal from their searching eyes and the moon was just a sliver in the sky. As the men looked in the direction where Cody had pointed, they saw a man riding slowly down the hill pulling an empty horse behind him. “Wanna guess who that is? You go on ahead Buck, we'll take care of this fella and catch up with ya.”
Rory didn’t say a word for rage drove him forward as he pulled his gun from it’s holster and they took off after the man’s silhouette.
Dorrie was on the ground taking a rest, her face awash with tears of pain and fear. What had she done to Kathleen that would make her do this? She only tried to help her... “Buck," The healer whispered as she touched her stomach. He would never know that she hadn't left him. She hoped he wouldn't believe Kathleen's words but what if he did? What if he thought she left him...as the note said? Struggling once more to her feet she heard a rustling in the bushes below and the sound about her brought fear. She began to move downward until she came to an area that was somewhat flat. A smile came to her face as she found what looked to be a miner’s path, which would make her trek downward far much easier.
But before she could take one step, a wolf leapt out form on of the near by bushes and began to snarl at her edging her backwards. “Ahh,” she screamed as she sank to her knees and brought the stick up to protect herself. One by one the wolves moved in on the young woman.
Buck nodded and continued straight ahead. It seemed like forever before the heard the growl of wolves. Fear stroke through him and he urged his horse forward.
There he saw Dorrie! She was crumbled on the ground and there was a pack of angry wolves circling around her. His eyes narrowed; he fired bullets in the direction of the wolves. Wolves were afraid of fire and loud noises.
There was one wolf who wouldn’t be scared off by the shots of a gun. He sneered and flashed his teeth. Buck sat on his horse and watched it for a short while, gauging what the wolf would do. Just as it took a leap at Dorrie, Buck threw his knife.
It placed itself in the target; the wolf’s spine.
Jumping of his horse, he ran towards Dorrie and drew her into his arms pulling her tightly against his chest. For a moment he'd thought that he would never be able to hold her in his arms ever again. Yet here he was, and Dorrie was safe.
“I love you. I love you so much. I’m so sorry for everything that happened. Because I didn’t understand and because I wasn’t there for you. I’m so sorry for not keeping you away from Kathleen and I’m sorry I didn’t see the truth earlier.” Buck buried his head in her hair and cried. They were tears of joy and tears of sadness. “Are you hurt? Is the baby...” He stopped. Dorrie hadn’t told him about the baby yet. “Cody told me when we discovered that Devlin had, that she had.” Buck couldn’t bring the words to his lips.
Dorrie clung to him as the sound of gunfire went once more through the night and she looked up at Buck. “Oh Buck I was so afraid that I would die...and you would believe her...believe her lies.” she wept into his chest her tears soaking his shirt.
”I...” she paused and looked up into his dark eyes. “I love ya Buck, soo mooch. Oer this nothing changed...wheel...except...” she paused a moment as confusion came over her face. “How id ya know bout the...baby? Did Lou tell Cody?” she blushed while wiping he tears from her cheeks with the palm of her hand.
“Cody overheard you...I think. He didn’t tell…” He paused for a moment kissing her forehead. “Dorrie, marry me. Let’s make it right in both worlds.” Pulling back he removed the small velvet pouch from his medicine pouch and fished out the item. “I bought this a while ago, but then everything happened, and I didn’t want to make more complicated...”
Eyes widening in wonder, Dorrie took the small golden ring in her hand. The tiny braiding that had been woven into a circle looked so very much like the patterns from her Mum’s Book o Kells. But the most precious part of the ring was the intricately carved roses in the center of the ring. Three... It was as if fate once again had stepped in for in her mind each rose represented each of them; Her, Buck and their babe that she now held within her.
“Aye...with all may heart I have already been yours in all things. I knew the day we...made love on the back o the pond and it hasn’t changed Buck...please say ya know that,” she begged reaching up to cup his cheek in her hand.
“I know that.” Buck placed his hand over hers and smiled. “But according to white man’s tradition we have committed a sin. In a way I think I believe in both of them. In the white man’s God and the way I was raised. In the Kiowa way we are already married, and I will always think of that day as our wedding day, but I want to show God that I will make it right in both worlds.”
Dorrie couldn't say a word for she couldn't believe the man she'd loved had said the most beautiful of things to her. A slow crystal like tear of happiness slipped down her cheek and she nodded. "Aye ... I want ta marry ya and make it so all of them know that I love you Running Buck Cross and no other.” She handed the ring over to Buck. “Then Buck you will give this to may on the day we wed in the church but it will nay change that I'm already your wife in my heart...always..." just as she finished the words, the ground moved about her and she felt light headed. "Buck...feel funny. " The weight of her body began to sink to the ground.
“Dorrie, what’s wrong?” Buck asked but she was already out cold. Draping his jacket over her he prayed that Cody and Rory would hurry up and get here. Gently he laid Dorrie on the ground and gathered wood for a small fire that would hopefully keep the wolves away and keep Dorrie warm as well as show his friend and Dorrie's brother where they were..
“It’s gonna be alright. I’m right here and I’m never gonna leave your side.”
Rory moved quickly after the shadowy figure in the glow of the waning moon. No matter what it took he would make this man pay for what he'd done to his sister. “Come on Cinnamon. Tis a reckonin comin fer anyone who comes up again a Macalister’s wrath!” He growled as his horse crested a small hill and gained on the man.
Cody nodded and urged his horse forward after Rory. All the images of what might have happened to Dorrie flashed through his mind. None of them were good. But Buck would find her and would make sure that she was safe. That was his only comfort.
The man fired two shots at them, but none of them met their intended target. Crouching down on Sultan’s back, the blond rider pulled the gun out of his holster and fired.
Seeing the flares of red from where the man was firing, Rory aimed at the man’s horse for it was large and a much easier mark. As the smoke of his gunfire cleared, he saw the man’s horse stumble and the rider fall from the saddle while the horse, he was sure Doreen had been riding, ran quickly away down the hill.
“Yer a dead man!” Rory hollered out as he moved ever closer. He saw the man fire his gun once more and swung off his horse's back so that he could move more quickly.
All Cody could see was the flares of the guns. He fired a few shots but he couldn’t see clearly and he knew that he had missed. Rory was far luckier. Once the man’s horse was down, they had him surrounded. It seemed that the kidnapper had no intention of giving up and turning himself in.
Rory felt a bullet whiz by his right leg and ping into the rocks near his feet. Lifting his gun with steely determination, he took his time and pulled the trigger. He heard the man call out in pain and then resounding silence. The Scotch Irishman waited a few moments before slowly moving forward. There he saw the gunman laying face forward against a rock as the blood seeped from a wound on his back where the bullet had exited.
“He’s dead!” Rory called out so the blond rider could hear him. “Aye...dead,” he said in a softer voice. “Let the wolves have at ya as ya would may sister ya bastard.”
Cody nodded. “Let’s go find Dorrie.” He put a hand on the man’s shoulder. “She’ll be all right. I can vouch for Buck any day.” With that he turned his horse around and rode towards where they had split up. Smelling smoke Cody waved for Rory to follow him.
Rory nodded and swung up into the saddle. He followed the other man as Cody led them down some fairly treacherous hills til they came to a small dirt path. Rory could see what looked to be a fire up ahead and fear hit his stomach as he thought of his sister's fate with the man that they'd just killed. Had he hurt her...before leaving her to the dangers of nature?
They rode up to the fire and found the Indian sitting by his sister's prone body. "Doreen," he said huskily as he jumped from his horse and moved to her side.
“I think she’s gonna be alright,” choked Buck. She was so silent. “She’s just tired and it's been a long day for her. A long day for all of us.” Gently he touched Dorrie’s cheek. “She’s gonna wake up when she’s rested up some, I think.”
Rory looked at the pained expression on the Indian’s face and heard the fear for his sister laced in his words. It took him by surprise after seeing the other young woman carrying his child he was all but certain Buck had been playing with his sister's affections.
Nodding, he leaned down took her milky white hand in his, "Lo Doreen may lass. Ya rest sweetheart. Wheel see ya home safe on the morrow." He then leaned over and kissed her forehead. "Did he....da ya know if he...hurt her?" Rory asked his eyes meeting Buck's.
Buck swallowed hard. “I don’t think so. Mostly I think she’s just scared and exhausted, but before she blacked out she knew that we'd found her and that she'd be safe forever.” His eyes went to the carcass of the wolf that still had his knife standing out off his spine. “Rory, I really love Dorrie, and everything that has happened with...it was all a mistake. She, Ms. Devlin, was lying to me. I don’t know if Dorrie has told you but I think that you should know that.”
Cody had been standing back and watching the two converse. He wasn’t a part of this conversation so he didn’t want to interfere.
“I see...Dorrie tried ta talk ta may boot...I was so angry that ..I dinna listen,” The large dark haired man said in a quiet voice looking at his sister’s dirt covered face and torn cloths. “I can see ya love her ...I’d have ta bay blind not ta. It’s joost...she’s so young...I want ta bay certain that she’ll nay hurt any more.” He paused a few moments and then sat down on the ground and looked to the fire. “Alright Mr. Cross…Buck… I'm listenin.”
Buck took a deep breath and thought about what he was going to say. “I am only one man, have never claimed to be anything else. We've decided to get married. I know that I should have asked for your permission first but I was so happy that I found her and that she was safe.” Buck looked down on Dorrie’s gentle face. “Rory, do I have permission for Dorrie’s hand in marriage? I know things have been done a little backwards, but I want to make it right. Make everything right. And I promise that I will protect her for the rest of my life;of our life. I’m not trying to take your place as Dorrie’s protector, I’m trying to share it.”
Rory's respect for the young man was growing as he listened to him speak. Nodding in understanding to his words, Rory asked. “And this Devlin woman?”
“She’s nothing to me. She lied to me so many times. In the Kiowa way of life lying, is the only bad deed that cannot be forgiven. She will most likely go to jail for kidnapping Dorrie. That's where she deserves to be.” Buck spoke the last sentence with venom.
“Ahh, so she lied about the child bayin yers. Wheel what ya said was true enough about may hurtin her far more than you when I separated her from ya. I’ve naer seen may sister look so unhappy when she could'na bay with ya. Joost know, I dinna want her hurt. When Doreen gives o herself she tends ta give it all and sometimes...ends up gettin hurt.”
He pulled his coat off and put it over his sister as she groaned out within her dreams. “Guess I could use some help watchin oer her.” He murmured with a slight smile.
“Thank you, Rory,” Buck smiled. Then he looked down and Dorrie and softly held her hand in his.
Two weeks had passed and when Buck thought about it, it seemed like an eternity. So many things had happened. The trial was over yesterday, and Kathleen had been sent to prison for kidnapping. Both him and Dorrie had testified against her, and even through all that she had done, Buck felt kind of bad for her. Prison wasn’t a place that she belonged. But Buck knew that she would come out a better person...at least it would have given her some time to think things through.
Now peace had once again settled over Sweetwater and they were slowly getting back to normal. Buck took a deep breath and smiled as he looked down at Dorrie who was resting in his arms and how they were soon going to be living together. Really being married.
“I love you,” he whispered in her ear. His voice was meant for her and her alone.
Dorrie was running after a small boy of about two with midnight hair as he toddled across the grass. With a giggle, she lifted him up into her arms and spun him around. The child looked up at her with hazel eyes and grinned just as a touch brought her back from her dreams...”I'll catch ya yet...wait til I tell yer Da!” she laughed as her eyes slowly opened to find Buck staring down at her and professing his love.
”Hmmm, and I love you so Buck.” Dorrie paused a moment and then reached up to touch his cheek. “I had the best dream...boot then I always do when we...we’re tagether,” she grinned up at him with a bit of color coming to her cheeks. The week had been tough on both of them and this had been the first time that they'd been able to spend any significant time with one another.
It had been hard going to court and looking at Kathleen after what she’d done to her and especially Buck. In the end, the young woman had been given a lenient sentence for eventually giving Buck and Cody the information of where to find her. She would serve only a short few months in prison but was told never to return to Sweetwater again. Once the sentence had been given, Dorrie finally felt as if their lives could move forward.
Dorrie’s swollen ankle and scratches were now healed from the nightmare she’d gone through due to Kathleen’s treachery. When she'd finally awoken after Buck had rescued her from the wolves, she'd found Buck and Rory talking to each other in civil terms before she'd slipped into a peaceful rest once more. When next she'd opened her eyes, Rory was lifting her up so that she could sit in front of Buck as they left the rocky hillside. She’d thought that Cody had been there as well but her mind was still kind of foggy with some of the details. But she did recall the feel of Buck’s arms around her as she drifted on and off on their way toward the Macalister farm.
Looking up into Buck's chocolate eyes, she whispered, “You are the brightest of gifts in may life. I am so thankful that fate sent ya inta Mr. Tompkins’s store. I can’t wait ta wake up to ya every mornin!” she said huskily.
“Me neither,” Buck whispered as he brought her arms a little closer around her and placed a kiss on her lips. “Only one more week now...” If it was up to Buck the two would be moving in together right this minute but it had to be done in the proper fashion. A smile came to his lips as he thought about the four ponies that he had bought for Mrs. Macalister and her family. Things had happened kind of backwards in Dorrie and his relationship and Buck didn’t know a whole lot about the traditions that white people followed when it came to marriage, so at least he could make it right by following his people’s traditions. He would present them to her once Dorrie’s father and other brother came into town tomorrow.
"Hmmm.." she started reveling in his kiss. “Agra, I'm gettin a wee bit cold so why dinna ya lay back down and keep me warm?" she whispered while pulling him back down for another.