Lou opened the tent and went outside. No, it was definitely not what she and Kid imagined when they got married and decided to move out of Rachel's house, but at least it was their own place. It was small – barely enough place for a bed and a trunk for their clothes. She had a feeling they would need a bigger tent soon. She still hadn't discussed it with Kid; she wanted to be sure first.
Looks like we have new neighbors, she thought, seeing the new tent right next to hers. New tents were added on a daily basis. The tent city now harbored more than twenty tents. It even had its own mercantile and saloon, though Lou could do without the later. At least their tent was far enough from it.
Lou stretched her back and started towards Rachel house. Since their tent didn't really have a kitchen in it, they still used to eat breakfast at Rachel's. Kid left earlier that morning to check if Teaspoon needed any help, and he was supposed to meet her there.
Breakfast was one of the few times they got to meet the others. Since the express ended, aside from the two of them moving to their own… tent, there were other changes. Cody was off with the army, and Buck went to find himself with his half-brother. Jimmy was still there, though things were not perfect between him and Kid, to say the least. Even though Rosemary was gone for a few weeks now, and out of Jimmy's life, the hostility between the once best-friends was still there. Lou sighed as she thought of the two young men that were so important to her. She loved Kid with all her heart. She knew there would never be another man for her, but if there was another, Jimmy would be him. Cody and Buck were like brothers to her, but Jimmy was something entirely different.
Teaspoon was still acting as the marshal of Rock Creek, and Kid and Jimmy helped him out, whenever he needed the help, which grew more frequently since the new tent city was up.
"Hey, there." Kid neared her, as she walked into Rachel's yard. He kissed her quickly. "Are you alright? I tried to call you a couple of times, but you never heard me."
"Sorry, Kid," she answered and smiled shyly. "I was deep in thought."
Jimmy and Teaspoon were already sitting at the table when the young couple entered the house.
"Morning," Kid greeted and sat at the table, across from Jimmy.
Lou helped Rachel bring the food to the table, and then both women joined the men for breakfast.
"Have you seen we have new neighbors?" Lou asked Kid.
Kid shook his head.
"It's right across from ours. It looks bigger, though. Maybe it's a whole family."
"That's nice, Lou," Kid said unenthusiastically.
"What's wrong, Kid?" Lou asked, not accustomed to this mood of his.
"Nothing. I'm just tired. I'm sorry. Maybe you should go and introduce yourself."
"Yes, maybe you can bring them a cake or something," Teaspoon suggested.
"Are you crazy, Teaspoon?" Jimmy teased. "She wants to make friends with them. She shouldn't try to kill them on their first day in town."
"'Sides, I'm too tired to deal with murder today," Kid continued.
Lou tried to feign she was hurt, but just couldn't help join in the boy's mirth. At least they're joking together, she thought.
"What are you going to do today?" Kid asked his wife, as he walked her back to their home.
"Don't really have anything to do. With you and Jimmy working with Teaspoon and Rachel at school, I'm pretty much bored."
"You really need to have more friends here." Kid kissed her forehead.
"Maybe you'd stay with me today…" Lou hugged him tight.
"You know I can't, baby." Kid chuckled.
"I know. It's just that I feel so lonely."
"You really should find something to do during the days."
"But I don't really know how to do anything. All I know is horses, and now that the fact that I'm a woman is out in the open, no one will let me near them."
Kid sighed and kissed her forehead. "I know, Lou, and I'm sorry. We really need to think about that. Maybe we should not go to Rachel's for dinner tonight and just stay here and talk?"
"I really must go now, Lou."
"Go then," she said and kissed his lips.
"I love you."
"I love you too."
Lou watched as her husband walked in the direction of Teaspoon's office. She sat on a big rock just outside her tent, her head in her hands.
"Are you alright?"
Lou looked up into a pair of blue eyes. At first she thought Kid was back, but the voice was a woman's.
"Uh? Oh, yes. I'm fine. Just a little bored." She smiled at the woman. Now she saw the woman was beautiful. She had long curly brown hair, but her most stunning features were her eyes.
"Louise." Lou stood and shook the woman's hand.
"So you are our new neighbors," Lou smiled. "I was planning to come and introduce myself."
lived here long?"
"About a month here in the tent, but we used to live at the Pony Express way station for about a year."
"We only came here yesterday."
"You and your husband?" Lou asked.
"I'm sorry to hear about your husband. Were you married long?"
"I can't imagine what you're going through. Kid and I've been married for a couple of months, and I can't imagine how life would be without him." Lou felt so sorry for the woman she just met a few minutes earlier.
he's in a better place now."
"Give her time," Lou encouraged, "it's too soon."
"So," Lou started, stirring the conversation to a different direction, "Where are you from originally?"
"My husband is also from
"Nope." Lou laughed. "It's the most protected secret. I guess you need a higher clearance than simply being his wife…"
Lou nodded. "Me too. I just complained to my husband that I have nothing to do during the days. He's working with the marshal and my other friend is the teacher at school and she's busy most of the time. That leaves me pretty much myself…"
now we have each other to be bored together."
"Would you like to join us for dinner tonight?" Lou asked suddenly. "We're eating at the way station. Rachel is the most amazing cook."
"You sure she won't mind you inviting strangers without asking her first?"
"She won't mind." Lou smiled confidently. "'sides, I'll go and help her. It will be fun and you'll get to meet everyone."
"There's Rachel and Teaspoon, who is the marshal here, and then there's Kid and Jimmy. Kid, Jimmy and I used to ride for the express. Teaspoon was our manager and Rachel used to take care of us. Kind of like parents, really."
used to ride for the Express?"
"It's a long story." Lou smiled. "I'll tell you it over dinner."
"Great," Lou said. "I'll go let Rachel know. I'll pick you up around seven."
"We'll be ready."
"I'm so tired." Kid sighed as he lay on the bed, not even bothering to undress. "Why are you dressed like that?" he asked as he saw Lou wearing one of her few dresses.
"I always dress up for dinner," she answered.
"But I thought we said we'll stay home tonight."
"I know, honey," Lou said, lying next to him on the bed, kissing his lips, "but you told me to make friends, and that's what I did."
He propped himself on one elbow, looking at her skeptically. "What's that got to do with dinner?"
this nice lady and invited her to dinner," Lou answered. "I think
you'd like her. She's also from
Kid chuckled. "And you think that only because she and I are from the same place, we will have something in common?"
"She's real nice, Kid. And it's important to me. I need her friendship."
"OK, ok. Just give me a couple of minutes of shut-eye."
Lou kissed him again and lay beside him. As she watched his breath becoming slower, she understood once again what it was that made her fall in love with him.
Kid put on
his shoes, Lou went outside to get
I'd like you to meet my daughter, Mary-Jane."
confused, but smiled at them.
ladies ready?" Kid asked, nearing the women. It was dark, and he didn't
have a good look at
baffled at first. He held
"Kid?" Lou was flabbergasted by what she saw. Also, a bit apprehensive. Usually people from their past didn't mean good news. It was like that when Kid's brother, her father or even Doritha came.
"Lou," Kid suddenly remembered she was there. "This is my sister, Virginia. Jed's twin."
"Your sister?" Lou looked from her husband to her new friend. "You never told me you had a sister."
Only now did Kid notice the young girl standing shyly in front of their tent. He crouched so he'll be in the same eye level as her and extended his hand for a shake. "Nice to meet you, Mary-Jane. I'm your uncle Michael, but everyone just calls me Kid."
The girl smiled and shook his hand. Kid was satisfied and rose, smiling at Lou. "Let's go," he told the three ladies.
Rachel, Teaspoon and Jimmy were waiting for them on the porch.
"I was about to send Jimmy here to get you," Rachel reprimanded them.
"Rachel, Teaspoon, Jimmy," Kid started as they reached them, "I'd like you to meet my sister, Virginia, and her daughter Mary-Jane."
"Your sister?" Jimmy exclaimed. "You never told us you had a sister."
"It's a long story, apparently," Lou said. "But at least, now I know my husband's name." She smiled mischievously and entered the house.
"Lou knows you name?" Jimmy looked shocked at Kid.
Kid nodded and smiled mysteriously as he followed his wife.
Teaspoon extended his arms to both Virginia and Mary-Jane. The both of them hooked their arms in his and the three of them entered the house, followed by a smiling Rachel and Jimmy.
"Thank you, Rachel. Dinner was wonderful."
the company." Rachel smiled. She simply loved the young woman. She
remember when was the last time she saw Kid so happy before. It was
missing part of him was found, without him even knowing it was indeed
The conversation rotated between funny stories of their childhood in
noticed the looks Jimmy gave
"So, tell me everything," Lou whispered as she and Kid lay in bed. Dinner was wonderful, and it was good to see Kid laugh so freely, but she couldn't wait for the night to be over and for Kid to tell her everything.
Kid sighed and turned to face her. "It's a long story. You sure you're not tired?"
"Pregnant teenagers?" Lou asked.
Kid nodded. "They took care of the girls until the birth and then gave the babies for adoption. That way, the girls could carry on with their lives without the burden of a baby."
"So what happened?"
really know yet, it was hardly the time to ask
"She was married," Lou suddenly said, resting her head on his chest. "I forgot to mention it. She told me her husband died just before they came here. She was married for five years."
Kid kissed the top of her head and hugged her tightly. "Well, I hope she will have easier life now."
"At least she's with family now," Lou said and closed her eyes.
Kid smiled as he heard her breath even. He knew sleep wouldn’t come easy for him that night. Not with all the memories that assaulted him.
The next few weeks passed quickly. Lou's and Virginia's friendship grew closer and they even talked about opening a women-clothes shop together. They wanted a shop that will have clothes suited for women of the west – fine dresses as well as working clothes like pants and simple blouses.
Kid and Virginia also became closer, and they spent at least an hour a day talking. Kid also spent time with his niece. She was a clever girl, and he loved to talk to her and even teach her how to ride a horse.
"Why didn't you return home?" Lou questioned.
"Are you crazy? Did Michael ever tell you about our father? He'd hit me for running and take me back there. I had to keep running. I always wondered what happened to Jed and Michael, but I couldn't let them know where I was."
"A few years after Mary-Jane was born I met Charles. I told him everything and he still wanted to marry me, so I figured – what the heck. I cared a lot about him, but I'm not sure I really loved him. He was a good husband and a good father to Mary-Jane. She loved him dearly, and he doted on her. We had a good life together, and I do miss him a lot."
"I don’t think I even realized what I felt for him was anything other than love until I met you. I can see the love you and Michael have for each other shining in your eyes. It's in the way you talk about each other. I don't think I ever felt anything like it."
"I need to go to the doctor's, and I'm a bit scared to go on my own, will you come with me?"
"How about now?" Lou asked. "I've been putting it off long enough. By this rate I'll have the baby before I know I was pregnant."
"You think you're pregnant?" Realization sank. "Why don't you ask Michael to go with you? I know he'd be thrilled."
"That's exactly why I don't want to go with him. If I'm not, he'll be so disappointed…"
"Mind if we stop at Teaspoon's office?" Lou asked when they got out of the doctor's.
"Morning, ladies." Teaspoon greeted as the two entered his office.
Kid rose and went to kiss his wife and his sister. "To what do we owe this pleasure?"
"Can I speak to you outside for a second?" Lou asked, pulling him with her, not waiting for his answer.
Kid shot an apologetic smile at his sister, but she just smiled at him letting him know everything was alright.
"I just couldn't wait till tonight," Lou told him when they were outside.
"What is it?"
"We're going to have a baby," Lou blurted out without any further words.
"What? Are you sure?"
Lou nodded. "We were just at the doctor's and he confirmed. I'm already three months along."
"Three months?" Kid exclaimed. "Didn't you notice before?"
"I did, Kid," Lou whispered, puzzled by her husband's reaction. "I was scared I might be wrong. I didn't want to go to the doctor's just to be told there's nothing to my feelings. Aren’t you happy about it?"
"I am happy, Lou. Very happy." He pulled Lou into a hug. "We're going to have a baby."
what's going on with the two of them," Jimmy said as he, Teaspoon and
know soon enough,"
"You know, don't you?" Jimmy neared her.
When he first approached her, she was a bit hesitant. She knew his reputation, but she also got to know the real him in the passing weeks. She was also a bit confused by her emotions. Her late husband was a good man and they were married for five years, but she never felt those things that Jimmy stirred in her. Her husband was safe. He loved her, and she loved him in a way, but she wasn't in love with him, though she only realized it now, that she felt herself falling in love with her brother's best friend.
And he was younger than her. Much younger. Seven years younger. And she didn't mind. All she knew was she was happy, and she looked forward to their secret rendezvous.
"So, what is it?" Teaspoon asked as Kid and Lou came back.
"Well, Teaspoon," Kid began, "it looks like you're going to be a grandpa."
"Well," Teaspoon laughed, "what do you sat about that? My little girl and boy are going to have a baby." He hugged Lou, kissing her cheek and then hugged Kid.
"Congratulations," Jimmy said awkwardly, shaking Kid's hand. He then hugged Lou close, kissing her cheek. "When's the baby due?"
"In six months," Kid answered proudly.
happy for you, Michael."
The months passed slowly, too slow for Lou's liking. Kid started working on their house, making it big enough so Virginia and Mary-Jane could also live with them until another house was built, but him being so stubborn, he wouldn't ask Jimmy to help, so things were moving very slowly.
She was embarrassed by her own thoughts and desire. This was not how she was brought up. This wouldn't have made her mama proud, but she couldn't help the way she felt towards him. She watched from the bed as he put on his boots. "I wish you wouldn't have to leave," she told him.
"I wish so too," he told her as he leaned on the bed and kissed her lips softly, "but I have to get back to work before your brother comes looking for me."
"What is it between you and Michael, anyway? Lou told me you were best friends once."
"We were, but that was a long time ago. We were young and we didn't know any better and I guess we didn’t have anyone else."
"Don’t give me that, Jimmy. Tell me the truth. What happened between you and my brother that made you so angry at each other?"
"I will, I promise. But not now, I have to go."
"You coming to dinner at Rachel's tonight?"
"I will if you'll be there," he teased.
"I will, but so will my brother."
"I can handle him if it means I get to see you."
what are you doing here? Is everything alright with
Jimmy thought as he saw Lou exit her tent at the same time he did
"Teaspoon needed him for something so lunch was canceled. What are you doing here?"
"What's going on here?" Lou asked.
"Look, Lou," Jimmy started, "please don't mention this to Kid, please…"
"Not mention what?" Suddenly realization hit as she saw the look that passed between Jimmy and Virginia. "How long has this been going on?" she asked.
couple of months,"
"Why didn't you say anything?" Lou felt a bit hurt that her friends didn't trust her with their secret. "It'd because of Kid, isn't it?"
"Lou, you know how he'd react," Jimmy said.
Lou sighed. "Still, you can't keep this a secret forever.
"Find out what?"
Jimmy, Lou and Virginia all stiffened at the sound. "What are you doing here?" Lou asked, hugging her husband.
"I came here looking for Jimmy. Find out what?" Kid asked again.
out about the party,"
Lou examined her husband's face, hoping he would buy their lie. "I didn't know her birthday was coming so soon. She should have the best birthday ever," he said.
"Well, then," Jimmy started heading towards town, "You know where to find me if you need any more ideas."
"What were you doing here anyway?" Kid asked indignantly.
"Oh, I just came here to ask Lou if you were coming to dinner at Rachel's tonight."
"Why didn't you ask me?"
"Because you'd have told him to ask me." Lou saved Jimmy from answering.
"Kid, please slow down," Lou begged as the two of them walked to Rachel's (or in Lou's case, waddled). "I can't go this fast."
"I can't wait for this baby to be out already," Kid told her truthfully. "It takes us an hour just to reach Rachel's. I'm starving."
"We'll be there in a couple of minutes. Stop fussing."
"She said she will meet us there. Mary-Jane is sleeping at a friend's, and she said she had something to do before dinner."
As they neared Rachel's, something in the shadows caught Kid's eye. He drew his gun and sneaked behind the house.
"Kid, what are you doing?" Lou hissed at him. "Where are you going?"
He signaled her to remain quiet as he went behind the building. He froze in his tracks, Lou almost bumping into him as she came sneaking behind him.
leaning against the building, one leg propped up,
"What are you doing?" Kid yelled.
"What are you doing?" Kid asked again, his voice still loud.
"Kid," Lou tried to pull him away, "let's get inside."
"No!" he jerked his arm from her. "What's going on here?"
since you ask so nicely,"
"Well, it seems you're doing much more than 'seeing'"
"Kid, let's get inside," Lou tried again.
"No, Lou, stop telling me to go inside," he told her, and then realization kicked in. "wait in minute, Lou, you knew about this, didn't you?"
"Kid, this is hardly the place to talk about it," she said calmly, noticing the curious glances from passers-by.
"I can't believe you didn't tell me, Lou."
"It's none of our business," she answered
"Like hell it isn't," he kept yelling, "this is my sister."
a grown woman, Michael, and I can see whomever I choose,"
"But why Jimmy? Why him of all people?" Kid cried.
I love him,"
"But he will only hurt you in the end. I've seen it happen before. He'll tell you he loves you and then he will back away."
"Kid!" Lou reprimanded.
"What, Lou, it's true and you know it. He didn't have a lasting relationship since I know if."
"That's not fair, Kid. You know damn well what happened each time," Lou admonished. "Now, calm down and let's get inside. People are starting."
"They don't care if people are staring," Kid continued. "The way they've been going at it here, doesn't leave much for imagination. They are the ones who started everything here, where everyone can enjoy the show."
"What's eating you so badly?" Jimmy, who was quiet until now, asked angrily. "Is it the fact that your sister loves me or the fact that I love her?"
"You love her?" Kid sneered. "If I had a penny for every time I heard that… you say you love her, but did you tell her the truth of how you killed her twin? Does she know how you shot him?"
had a lot
more to say, but was stopped by Jimmy's fist. Soon the both of them
rolling in the dirt behind Rachel's office. Lou yelled at them to stop,
The fight broke only after Teaspoon fired his gun in the air, drawing their attention. "In the house," he said. "Now!"
both staggered inside, Teaspoon, Lou and
"What's going on?" Teaspoon demanded.
and Jimmy didn't answer
"Involved in what?" Teaspoon asked, but seeing the look Lou gave him he understood. "Oh… involved…"
"They know it's wrong, or they wouldn't have kept it a secret!" Kid shouted.
"The only reason we kept it that way was because we knew you'd react like this!" Jimmy shouted back. When he saw no reaction from Kid he continued, "Why are you so against me and Virginia being together? We are friends."
"We were friends," Kid said.
"Kid, it's been almost a year since Noah died. He was my friend just as he was yours, and I miss him just as much. It's like you're blaming me for him dying."
blamed you for Noah dying. I blame you for standing by Rosemary when
she is the
reason he died. And you were the one who brought her here in the first
place." Kid was panting now, the fight leaving him. "I don't want to
"I'm a big girl, Michael," she said softly. "I can take care of myself."
"I thought I was doing the right thing." Jimmy suddenly confessed quietly. "I believed in Rosemary and in her cause. She had the right idea, it's just that her judgment has been blurred by her grief."
They were all at Rachel's lounge. Jimmy and Virginia sat on the settee, holding each other's hand, while Kid stood by the fire place. Teaspoon sat on a chair next to Lou, while Rachel watched the whole scene from the door.
"I just want you to be happy, Virginia," Kid said, breaking the silence.
"Well, then, I guess I'm happy for you." Kid smiled at her and kissed her cheek, "for the both of you."
Jimmy rose to shake Kid's hand, but Kid pulled him into an embrace. "Just don't hurt her," he whispered.
"I won't, Kid," Jimmy whispered back. "I love her."
"Well, that's very nice, y'all, but I think someone should get the doctor," Lou suddenly said.
watched her, when
Kid gave his sister away, returning the favor. He and Jimmy had made their peace with each other and rebuilt their friendship.Lou held Noah-James in her arms, telling him everything about his family.
"I would like to thank Kathleen for, again, helping me perfect this story.
You make me feel so much more confident with the story."