against the post of the corral and looked toward the front porch of
Rachel’s house. He’d been directing his eyes in that direction
for the last hour and the scene was always the same. His wife was
sitting in one rocker while Rachel sat in another. He saw their
mouths moving once in a while so they were obviously talking about
something. And he was sure he knew what that ‘something’ was.
“So what’s her decision?”
The southerner turned his head slightly but kept his eyes straight ahead as he knew by the voice who was coming up next to him. “She just keeps reading it over and over again. She won’t talk to me about it, Buck.” Kid looked at the Indian. He took his hat off and wiped his sweaty brow with his shirt sleeve. “She talks to Rachel but whenever I come near her she suddenly has something important she has to do.”
Turning and leaning his body against the fence, Kid sighed heavily. “I don’t know what she has to do that’s so important. It’s not like it’s our house we’re living in. We’ve got one tiny room that’s already filled from floor to ceiling with wedding gifts and all our stuff we brought over from the bunkhouse.”
“We’ve all got big decisions to make, Kid. None of them are easy but it’s something we’ve gotta do whether we want to or not.”
“What are you going to do, Buck?” Kid looked closely at his friend as the dark haired man looked out over the land behind the bunkhouse and main house.
“I’m not sure.” Buck climbed on top of the corral fence to sit on the top rail. “We’ve all lost so much already, maybe that’s what’s bothering Lou. You two leave and it’ll be like losing the rest of us.” He shrugged as he wasn’t sure his reasoning made as much sense as he thought it would.
Kid glanced at Buck then turned his eyes toward the ground, guilt clearly written all over his face. “It’s not like I want to leave.” He turned so he could look to the porch once more. “We’ve just been given this incredible opportunity and I don’t see how we can’t take advantage of it. I just wish Lou would realize that.” He let out a slow breath of air then straightened up as movement from the porch caught his attention. Rachel was now standing and after patting Lou on the shoulder, she opened the door and went inside.
“I’ll be back in a minute, Buck. I got a letter I need to talk about.” With a nod to his friend, Kid headed across the small expanse of land that separated him from the main house. He paused at the foot of the steps and looked up at the petite woman sitting in the rocker, staring at the piece of paper she held in her hands.
“It says the same thing as it did the day you got it.”
Lou flinched as she hadn’t heard anyone come near her. Quickly she folded the paper and slipped it back into the envelope. “I know what it says, Kid. I just wanted to read it again is all.”
“Rachel have any suggestions to offer?” he asked as he climbed the stairs to stand next to where she sat.
“She said she would come when my time drew near,” Lou told him quietly as she got up and went to stand against the railing. “I appreciate her saying that and all but it’s the time before that I keep thinking about.” She glanced away from the southerner who she knew was watching her every movement.
“I’ve never known you to run away from anything before.”
“I ain’t runnin’!” Lou turned and looked up at him as her hands landed on her hips.
Kid tilted his head and looked at her skeptically. “Well you’re not exactly movin’ forward either.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Lou, come here.” Kid reached out and gently took her hand. He looked into her deep, brown eyes and gave her a small smile. He stepped backward, bringing her with him
The ex-rider walked toward her husband, noticed him glance at the steps below them, and then moved to sit down on the top one, pulling him down next to her. She smiled when he squeezed her hand but didn’t let go of it. Lou looked at the letter in her other hand then back up at Kid.
“We’ve all gone through a lot of changes in a short amount of time, you more than anyone– quittin’ ridin’, movin’ out of the bunkhouse for good, changin’ the way you dress, gettin’ married, and now findin’ out we made a baby before the weddin’ night.” He chuckled as he felt his cheeks growing warm.
Lou laughed softly as she met his eyes briefly before glancing down. Her hand, still with the letter in it, moved until it was lying over her stomach.
Kid followed her hand and smiled proudly as he saw it lying over the spot where his child grew. It had been a major surprise when she’d told him the news only days after they’d gotten married. He’d figured it would happen sooner than later but not that soon! But it had only taken him a moment to feel so blessed by her giving him a child. And now all he wanted was to provide for his wife and the child they had coming. And he needed Lou’s help to do that by her saying yes to what was in that letter she was holding.
“It’s understandable you’d be scared – we all are.” When she looked up at him, he nodded yes to his admission. “We already lost Ike, Noah; Cody just left with the army; Jimmy is doing who knows what with Rosemary; and we know any day now we’re gonna be told I’m out of a job. I just feel that all this that’s happenin’ to us and around us is movin’ us to a new place in our lives. I ain’t just talkin’ location but I do think that has a lot to do with it.”
Lou looked behind her to the house then out over the land in front of them that held the bunkhouse and barn. She also took in the sight of the busy street in the background that was impossible to forget about.
Kid followed her eyes and was glad when she seemed to frown as her eyes stayed fixed on the passing traffic of Rock Creek. “I don’t know about you but the only place that ever really felt was like home to me was back in Sweetwater.”
“Me too. We became a family there.” Lou smiled and nodded several times.
“So maybe that would be a good place to start our family.” Kid paused and took a breath. He’d been wanting to tell her his idea since before Buck had brought the letter back to her on his last run. Now he hoped she would listen long enough to hear him out. “If there’s one thing the two of us knows it’s horses; seems like the prime piece of property to start a horse ranch on.”
Lou studied his eyes and could see the excitement running throughout his body as he told her of his plan for their future. She’d been so busy fighting the battle going on in her mind about wanting to be a full time woman while still remaining independent that she was now able to admit she hadn’t given him her time so they could discuss what they could do to make a living once they were married. The dark haired young woman looked guiltily at the wavy haired man beside her. “But you can’t do that by yourself and the doctor said I shouldn’t be around horses until after the baby’s born.”
“Then I’ll fill in for you and help until you’re able to.”
Both heads turned toward the side of the house.
“Buck?” Lou looked to Kid in confusion as they saw him step around the corner of the white building and come toward them.
“I didn’t mean to overhear. I got no where to go. The rest of the family is gone. I say we keep together what little of us there is left.” Buck looked at Lou and smiled. “Besides, you think I wanna miss out on being one of the first in the family to see our niece or nephew?”
Lou blushed and looked away briefly before turning her eyes back to the Indian.
Kid smiled happily and nodded as he listened to their friend.
“It was awful nice of Emma givin’ us such a weddin’ present. It’s just … Kid, I … I’m scared, alright!” She got to her feet and stepped back up onto the porch. “I know how you get when you don’t like not bein’ able to do something. Well this is the one thing I know nothin’ about! And try as you might, you can’t help me through it.”
Kid stood up and went to her. He reached out and took hold of her hand again. “You’re right, I can’t. But I can be there for you and I can bring Rachel when you need her. Lou, remember when you asked me to promise to never ride on without you again?” He waited for her to nod before continuing. “You said if there was any danger you wanted to face it with me. Well to me, danger means the unknown and making a life for ourselves and our baby away from here is the unknown to both of us but if we do it together …”
“We’ll be making a move toward conquering that unknown and making it something we can be proud of,” Lou finished for him. She slowly raised her hand and held up the letter she hadn’t let go of that whole time. Lou took in the letter, replaying the words on it in her mind, she then smiled at him and at Buck as she began to giggle. Relief seemed to flow over her entire body as she knew she would never be alone with all the new changes in her life but it was hearing Kid’s reassuring words that meant the world to her.
“Well boys, what are you waiting for? I think we’ve wasted enough time stalling over this decision.” She put her hands on her hips as she playfully grew serious. “Alright, that’s enough being full of yourselves for knowing you were right all along – now move!” Lou pointed her finger first at the house then toward the bunkhouse.
“Yes, ma’am,” Buck and Kid said simultaneously as Buck turned and headed toward his sleeping quarters.
Kid stepped toward the front door of the house but paused before reaching the door and looked back at her. “I never thought I would say it but I missed you telling me what to do.” He raised his eyebrows at her as he waited for her response.
“Would you just get in the house and start packing!” she stammered as she hadn’t expected such an admission from him. “I’m going to go to the kitchen. I have a lot to tell Rachel.” Lou walked past her husband, deliberately bumping into him with her shoulder, as she opened the screen door and left his view.
Kid laughed as he shook his head. He then turned and looked to the direction of the noisy street. “Good bye, Rock Creek, we’re heading home.” He gave the town buildings a wave as he too opened the screen door and disappeared into the small house.