Author's Note: This story is based on the picture on the Christmas card Dede sent me. It was just too Kid and Katy and begged to be written now and not wait until December!
'Her and her bright ideas.'
Kid mumbled under his breath for at least the tenth time as he stared at the problem facing him. It was bad enough having to hang pine branches all over the railings of the front porch of their house, or to make wreaths and attach bows to them then hang them from every window, and even to agree to let her make him a red shirt to be worn on Christmas Day. But to let her talk him into doing something so silly, what was coming over him?
"It'll look so nice, Kid," Lou called out as she clapped her hands together eagerly.
'Nice to who?' Kid thought. 'The birds?' When she'd first made the suggestion, he'd looked at her like she'd lost her mind but she hadn't seen his expression of shock, obviously, as she'd gone on and on about how everyone who came to the ranch would see it as soon as they entered their property.
Just how many people did she think would be coming here? He wondered. The only two he could think of that would be stopping by this time of year were Teaspoon and Rachel and they'd both seen the place when it was broken down and dirty so they wouldn't do much more than smile and say 'that's nice'.
Well Lou hadn't said 'nice' when she'd made Kid begin to paint it. What she had said was that it would be 'cute'. Cute?! In all the time Kid had known Louise he was sure he'd only heard her say that word once and that was when she'd described a young pup Ike had found out behind the barn one day.
"Come on, Kid, would you just hang it up? I can't wait to see how cute everyone will think it looks when they come to visit."
There was that word again. As he juggled with keeping Katy in place at the same time as keeping the large piece of wood he held still on his lap, Kid glanced down at his wife. Even though the prospect of becoming a father still scared him to death, he wished the baby would come and get born once and for all because all this gushy talk coming out of her mouth was just too unfamiliar to him and he didn't know how to react to it. He wanted his old Lou back - the one who would have stood there and bossed him around until he'd had the dang thing hung already.
"I'm gettin' to it," he finally answered her as he inched Katy ever so close until he and the horse were standing under the sign he'd made to mark the entrance to their ranch. It had been a very exciting moment in their lives when he'd brought the finished product out of the barn to show her and Buck. The 'K & L Ranch' as it had been instantly dubbed from the moment they'd bought the property and announced they would be starting a horse ranch was a fine, strong name and deserved to be hanging over the road that led to their property … but what he was about to hang was just plain silly.
Etching 'K & L Ranch' ever so delicately into the wood that now hung there had taken a while but was something that he had worked diligently on to make it come out perfect. It had taken all of five minutes to paint 'Merry Christmas' on a spare piece of wood he had lying around … well, actually it had taken a whole afternoon as Lou had insisted the black paint he had wouldn't do and he needed to go to town and pick up a can of red paint. Again, Kid had looked at her like she'd lost his mind but having gone through months of mood swings by now, Kid had done the only thing he could - he'd smiled at her, nodded his head, and silently went to the barn to saddle Katy for the ride into town.
Kid now stared down at the red words that seemed so bright against the white snow all around them. Since there was no talking his wife out of it, Kid finally decided to get to work. It would have been a whole lot easier if he'd brought the wagon but his stubborn mind wouldn't let him bring it for two reasons - one was that all along he'd thought that once they got to the end of their property and she saw once again how great their sign looked, that she wouldn't think anything should replace their names, and the other was that he'd hoped they wouldn't have even made it this far before she'd declare she was tired of walking or her back hurt her or something physical like that and that they should just forget it and turn around. But he'd been wrong once more as she'd walked alongside him and Katy, past the ranch and down the long road, and they were now standing at the entrance to their property. Lou had stood back and surveyed the structure and commented that it would look better there than she'd first thought as the red would be seen from quite a distance.
'That's for sure,' Kid thought sarcastically but seeing the happy expression on her face, he didn't have the heart to let her know he thought that. So with his very expectant wife watching his every move, Kid went to work. He set the new sign down against the post then moving Katy until she was directly under the ranch sign, Kid stood up in the stirrups and reached up to untie his handiwork.
"Good girl," Kid said to his second best girl since his hands were kind of full and he couldn't reach down to pat her neck as he normally would have. One step down, one to go. After placing the original piece of wood gently on the ground, Kid brought the new sign back into his lap and began to work the ropes through the holes he'd made in the top of it. By this time Katy was getting restless so Kid had to change his 'good girl' to "easy, girl" as the board slipped from his hands.
A giggle caused him to look behind him as he struggled to keep the holiday greeting from meeting the snow below him. "What's so funny?" he asked with a scowl.
"You. It took you all of ten minutes to hang the ranch sign and here you are with at least fifteen minutes already gone by since we got here and all you've managed to do is move the ropes from one sign to the other." She laughed again as she shook her head.
"It ain't been fifteen minutes as you put it," he corrected her. "I just wanna get it to hang right so it'll look nice," Kid lied as he couldn't care less how it looked since he'd be out in a few weeks' time to switch it back to the original.
As he tried to move Katy into position once more under the top post, Lou shook her head repeatedly at the antics of a rider wanting to go in one direction and a horse wanting to go in the other. "I still don't know why you didn't bring the wagon."
"I had my reasons," Kid mumbled as he yanked on Katy's reins.
"What did you say?"
"I said, you were the reason." He was sure his cheeks would be flushed from all his fibbing but thankfully it was cold out and they were already flushed from the weather. At her curious stare he went on to explain, "You heard what the doctor said - walking is good exercise for you."
"Walking is but what we just took is more like a journey. My feet and back are going to be aching me all night."
"I walked it too, remember? Katy was just there so I didn't have to carry the sign and so I could reach the rail to hang this up."
"Well if you'd brought the wagon like I wanted you to you wouldn't be fighting with a horse or having to deal with a wife whose feet are getting cold standing in this here snow."
"Well as far as the horse goes, Katy always does what I want her to do and regarding that wife of mine, I'll make it up to her later." Kid gave Lou a sultry look before he grinned and went back to the job at hand.
"I'll make sure you do," Lou told him with a coy smile of her own.
Kid was about to retort when his first attempt to tie off the end of one piece of rope didn't hold. He grumbled in frustration as he tried again.
"Come on, Kid, it ain't that hard a job."
"Oh it's not, huh? You think it's so easy, I'd like to see you try."
"Alright I will." She took a couple steps toward the horse but was met with an outstretched hand and a scowl that sent her into further bouts of giggles.
"Don't you even thi … you stay right where you are." He knew he normally got into trouble telling her what to do but for goodness sake, she was with child! And as a result of her new figure, she couldn't even get onto a horse if she wanted to. "You weren't serious, were you?" He didn't think she would attempt such a thing but lately it was hard to figure the woman out so anything was possible.
"Of course not but it was worth sayin' it just to see your reaction."
"You're gonna get it for sure now, Louise McCloud."
"Good, I told you I'll be lookin' forward to it." She gave him a coy smile to remind him of his promise to make things up to her later for the long walk she'd had to endure.
"Dang it, Katy, would ya hold still!" That was her answer as Kid had finally gotten one end tied and was attempting to throw the other rope over the top rail. The sight of Katy leaning her body one way while Kid was now standing on top of the saddle in order to keep the sign in place caused her to begin to laugh. She laughed and laughed until she had to hold her side as a stitch began to develop there.
"Lou, would ya stop it?" Kid cried out angrily. "You're distracting Katy."
"I ain't distracting Katy, you are, ain't that right, girl?" Lou cooed to the annoyed animal. As if in answer, the paint mare forgot about her precious owner and began to move toward the person talking sweetly to her.
Kid gasped as his feet began moving further away from the pole he was next to. Having no other choice, Kid leaped forward and wrapped his arm around the top rail. He cried out as he was now hanging from a piece of wood, his feet dangling in the air. "Katy, would you get back here! Lou, bring her here!"
"That is no way to speak to your horse, is it, Katy? I told you to bring the wagon." Her eyes danced merrily as she watched Kid readjust his grasp of the pole. She glanced down at the mud puddle that had formed under him from the hole made in the ground from being ridden over repeatedly and the snow now beginning to melt and form a pool there.
An idea formed in her mind, one that would definitely get her into trouble later but at the moment it was too irresistible. "Now, Kid, you heard what the doctor said about me even being near the animals; it's a chance not worth taking. I'm sorry but if you want her, you're gonna have to get her to you yourself," she told him, knowing full well that Katy was done for the day and probably only had a warm barn and a tasty treat on her mind.
"Lou! Lou, that ain't fair. Look, I'm sorry we didn't use the wagon but the walk was kinda fun, wasn't it?" His voice was pleading with her as the sight of that mud puddle directly under him didn't look the least bit inviting.
"Oh the walk was a lot of fun; it's beautiful out here." She then turned around and began to head in the direction they'd come from.
"Lou? Where you goin'? I can't get down unless you bring Katy to me." When he didn't get a response, other than his horse's tail swishing at him like she was brushing him away, he began to beg. "Lou, please, what are ya doin'?"
Lou stopped and turned around long enough to give him a happy grin. "You heard what the doctor said - walking is good exercise for me." And with that she began to trudge through the snow once more, Katy walking diligently by her side.
"What? Lou, would you get back here? I told you I'd make it up to you later." Kid pulled himself up with one hand so he could wrap his arm around the post once more as it kept slipping. When all he saw was her retreating figure, he called out once more, "Lou! Louise!" He couldn't do anymore pleading as his gloves began to slip. Glancing down, all Kid could do was moan. "Uh oh … Lou!!"