Author's Note: New author here and its been a long time since I tried to write down the stories I have in my head. I am also a history buff, and like to throw some into my stories. Hope you enjoy them, feed back is welcomed.
She could barely breathe, the smoke was heavy and thick, fire raged all around her, it felt like her whole world was on fire. She rubbed her stinging eyes trying to clear the smoke, that is when she heard the high pitch cry. Looking up she saw it, an eagle as white as snow, its cries grew louder as it swooped down from the sky just above her head, as if beckoning her to follow. The wings clearing the smoke, creating a path in which she followed, it lead her to a ledge and below a river, looking up the eagle continued to circle, calling to her, she took another step forward looking down, then saw them floating face down…………………….
"Hey Teaspoon!" Cody hollered causing Teaspoon to jump up and draw his gun "A letter has arrived for ya"
"Cody why in tar nation do you have to be so ear-splitting" Teaspoon responded and he re-holstered his gun and straighten his cock-eyed hat.
"Sorry Teaspoon can't help it; guess I was just born this way."
Cody handed over the letter Teaspoon tore it open and began to read it quietly mouthing each word, a smile began to appear.
"Well now Teaspoon I can read hand signs, track just about anything, but lip reading is not my forte." Buck spoke as he leaned over trying to read what was written, "I hope its good news."
"Why yes it is seems I will be having a visitor next week" Teaspoon began to reread the letter and mumbled "Nothing about sweet pea… "
"Sweet pea, what about sweet peas?" Cody asked as he also leaned over to try to read the letter.
With that, Teaspoon quickly refolded the letter "Don't you boys have chores to do?"
Buck and Cody did not need to be told twice and high tailed it out of there, heading towards Thompkin's store to see if Rachel was ready to head back to the waystation.
Skye awoke with a flinch, remembering where she was, she leaned her head against the side of the train, her brother Malcolm was on the other side sound asleep. She envied him, actually men in general how they could just close their eyes, and fall into a deep long sleep was beyond her. She turned towards the window, watching the scenery roll by. Just like her life she thought, her parents never really felt at home in any one place and loved the freedom they had when they both came from countries where freedom and liberty where just a dream. Her father Duncan McIntyre came from Scotland. He left his homeland after he was forced from lands that his family farmed for years, forced to live on land that was not worth the dirt it held. Her mother came from Poland, a well to do family but chased into exile after the Cadet Revolution. Some how her parents who where so different, her father's fiery nature, her mothers calm quiet spirit, crossed paths, fell in love and began travelling together in what they called this New World, having 3 children along the way. Not that Skye was complaining she had seen this New World, from top to bottom, and coast to coast seen things in her short life that most people could only dream of, but there was something to be said about setting down roots, that turned her thoughts to her godfather.
"Here you boys go" Rachel said as she set down the bisques. Cody was out on run so everyone was able to enjoy a nice relaxing dinner without having to turn into vultures to try to get their fair share.
"Rachel once again you out did yourself."
"Why thank you Teaspoon."
"Your welcome, I have been meaning to ask you now that your friend and her son have gone. If you wouldn't mind some more company, seems an old friend son is coming to visit and I was hoping to offer him a room here, hope it won't put you out"
"Of course not it's no trouble at all, we have the room, is your friend coming as well?"
"No, I am afraid Duncan. Malcolm's father passed on about a year or so ago" Teaspoon treated everyone to some tidbits about his life, which was unusual for him. Teaspoon enjoyed telling his long-winded stories but always left his personal life out.
"Here comes the stage coach now Teaspoon " Noah said as he leaned over the hitching post to get a better look down the road. Teaspoon turned towards the building using the window to fix his hat. The stage pulled up and stopped across the from the Marshall's office as Cody and Buck came out.
"Aren't you going to go over Teaspoon?" asked Cody.
It's a bit crowded over there, with everyone coming and going, so Malcolm said he would meet me here at the office"
Just then a dapper tall young man came around the stage horses and headed towards them." Teaspoon Hunter, is that you?"
"Sure is Malcolm" Teaspoon responded with his hand extend "It's been a long time, son."
Malcolm smiled taking Teaspoons hand "yes, yes it has, well looks like you have not changed much over the years."
"You sure have grown in to a fine man, but did you have to grow so tall?" Teaspoon chuckled, your father had a fine stature, I think you out did him. Oh let me introduce you to some of my boys from the pony express, this here is Noah, that there is Cody and Buck."
Malcolm held out his hand and shook each riders hand "It is a pleasure to meet you all, heard nice things about you from Teaspoons letters."
"Now don't be telling tales, "Teaspoon cut in "Don't you be having some bags that need looking after?"
"Oh yes the stage master said it would be a few minutes, they should be ready now, if you wouldn't mind helping me Teaspoon I have a surprise for you as well."
"Ohhhh surprise," Teaspoon grinned, using both hands to re-adjust his suspenders "I love a good surprise."
The group began to head across the street, the coach pulled away, as the dust settled, Teaspoon stopped dead in his tracks "It can't be, can it?" He whispered his eyes misting over. "Sure is." smiled Malcolm.
Standing there amongst the baggage was a girl about Lou' height, she was wearing a long plum taffeta walking skirt with matching bodice, a black belt that accented her tiny waist, and emphasised her womanly figure. She wore a women's small black derby style hat, with a long plum pearl edged ribbon and small black and plum ostrich feathers accenting the back of the crown, in her hands she held a fancy black lace parasol. As the boys walked closer, they could see she had light brown hair pinned up behind her ears with loose curls hanging down, and even from their distance, they could see she had the biggest sparkling blue eyes they ever seen.
"Fella's I think I am in love" Cody whispered.
Noah chuckled" Cody, you would love a cow if it wore a dress."
"Ya but can a cow fill out the top part of a dress like that? Wonder if she is related to Rachel, and my hands, I bet they could fit around her waist"
Buck stood quietly by observing the girl, with her fine clothes, she reminded him of Kathleen a spoiled city girl, not quite the looker Kathleen was, but by no means unattractive, her eyes were a different story, even from Buck's position he could see them, they reminded him of the dark blue sage flowers out on the plains.
The boys watched as Teaspoon gather the girl up in a big bear hug, and began to speak to her in some language they never heard of, or heard Teaspoon speak, confused they stepped closer to hear.
"Uncle Peaspoon, "zosta?a daleko na dawno ju? ostatnio widzia?em siebie(it has been far to long since we last saw each other)"
"Tak to jest, Sweet Pea (Yes it has, Sweet Pea)"
"Ah ah pami?ta? j?zyka mamas, wygl?dasz dobrze (ah you remember mamas language, you look well)"
Skye looked over Teaspoons shoulder and saw the group of boys standing and staring, "Oh I am being very rude, my apologizes, are these the express riders?"
Teaspoon turned " Yes they are, boys this here is Skye McIntyre my goddaughter"
Noah whispered to Buck " I thought Teaspoon didn't have any daughters, well except Amanda?" Buck shrugged his shoulders.
Cody stepped up first with debonair politeness "Name is William F Cody ma'am" taking Skye's hand and placing a gentle kiss on it "At your service."
"Charmed to meet you, William," she responded with a slight nod and curtsey trying to hide her smirk.
"You can call me Cody."
Noah stepped in next "Noah Dixon ma'am" shaking her hand with a firm but gentle grip, noticing that Buck was still standing off to the side " and that there is Buck" Noah gave Buck a slight nudge with his shoulder as he stepped back.
Buck moved forward taking her hand "Buck Cross ma'am"
As soon as Skye took, his hand she felt a warm tingling feeling start in her fingers "Pleasure to meet you Buck" no one seemed to notice that they both held each other's hand a moment long than the others.
"Well let's gather your bags and head over to the way station," Teaspoon suggested.
Skye released Bucks hand, wiggling her fingers and thought to herself, my hand must be asleep, she did not notice Buck rubbing his hand on his leg thinking the same thing.
As they pulled into the way station, the first thing Skye noticed was the warm homey feeling that settled over her. An attractive woman came out from the main house and a few more boys from a bunkhouse; she noticed something odd about the one about her size. Teaspoon made introductions between Malcolm Skye Rachel Lou and Ike.
"Rachel if you could be so kind and show me my room, I wouldn't mind refreshing up a bit," Skye asked as she reached for her bag in the back of the wagon
"Of course you must be tried from that long trip"
Just then, Cody came up and tried to remove the bag from Skye's hand "Here let me help you with that"
Pulling her hand and bag back "No it is alright I can manage" Skye followed her brother and Rachel towards the house.
Malcolm whispered in Skye's ear "That was a bit harsh"
"Yes, I know but I don't want to give him any ideals, the sooner he realizes I am not interested the better."
"How do you know he is interested in you? Maybe he is just being polite?"
"Well maybe not interested in me but sure interested in something," Skye chucked "When he talks to me he doesn't look me in the eye"
Dinner in the bunkhouse was a wonderful affair, Malcolm and Skye felt right a home with Teaspoon, Rachel and the Pony Express Riders. The riders learned more about Teaspoon in that one evening then they have all these months working for him. Learned about his prospecting days, when he met the McIntyre's and became a part of their small family. How he became godfather to Skye and her brother Jozef, and most of all what a teddy bear he turned into when he was with her when she was just a child and the how the names Peaspoon and Sweet pea came about.
"Skye couldn't say the letter T when she was small that's why she calls me Peaspoon" Teaspoon went on.
Skye giggled "If you keep telling stories about me I am going to have to tell a few of my own about you."
"Oh please do." Rachel asked as she sent down some cookies.
"Well lets see, there was the time when Teaspoon use to use me as… what did you call it Teaspoon? Oh, yes women bait. He would dress me up in my Sunday best; take me to town, then pretend to be the poor uncle that did not know what to do with a baby. Or how Mama and I tried to teach Teaspoon Polish so that he could flirt with my ma's sister, ended up telling her to go jump in cow pies"
"Well it did help me to get to know some of the lovely ladies in town and I did finally manage to learn some Polish, knowing another language makes me sound educated." Teaspoon chuckled.
Malcolm spoke up "Yes you to were like two peas in a pod, used to make Jozef really jealous"
"*Who is Jozef again?*" Iked signed and Buck translated for Malcolm.
"Jozef is Skye's twin brother"
"I am confused how you can be twins with one boy and one girl, I thought twin are the same." Cody asked
"Well when most people think of twins, they think identical, exactly the same, but really there are more fraternal twins born which are one boy and one girl they can look similar or not." Malcolm explained
During the evening Lou noticed the glances that Skye and Buck would do when the other was not watching it reminder her of herself looking at Kid.
"Well gentlemen it has been a loving evening but I think its time for me to turn in. Rachel thank you for a wonderful dinner, Good night everyone." Skye said as she stood up and headed out of the bunkhouse.
"Yes I guess we should all turn in for the night," Teaspoon announced.
The dream woke her up again, rolling over she looked out the window. It was still dark out. Knowing she would not be able to go back to sleep, she got up and put on a simple blue day dress, and grab her shawl. Quietly she went down the stairs, out the door and headed towards the barn. When she entered, some of the horses looked her way and quietly nickered.
"Shhh now my loves I mean you no harm." Skye whispered.
She slowly walked along the stalls, stopping at each one giving them a gentle pat on the side of the neck, she came to the last stall. "Well hello there handsome" Skye whispered as she leaned against the stall door. The horse took a step back a little weary of the stranger. Skye continued to stand there leading her head against the post. Soon the horse stepped forward smelling her with his nose. "See now, I wont bit you"
Slowly she raised her hand, letting the horse smell her. "You remind me of my father's horse." Once the horse felt comfortable with her, she began running, her hand up and down the horse's blaze, talking to it calmly. Standing there talking to the horse was very calming, she did not realize that it was almost morning. "So you see Malcolm decided to send me back to England, and well I don't really like it there much, they have this thing about money old money verses new money and me being from new money.…." Skye continued.
"You always talk to horses?" with a start Skye turned around and saw Buck standing there leaning against the door with his thumbs hooked in his pockets, "Sorry didn't mean to scare you."
"Oh," blushing Skye continued "Your up late Buck how long have you been standing there?" hoping he had not been there long.
"Up late? It's almost morning, haven't been here long just walked in to start my chores." Buck said as he walked over to his horse. "How long have you been out here?"
"A while, I couldn't sleep, is this one yours?" Skye asked referring to the horse.
"Yep" Buck could sense sadness in Skye, "So…… you didn't answer my question," hoping humour might cheer her up.
With a crooked smile and an arched eyebrow "Do you make it a habit talking to animals?" continuing with a goofy face "People may think you're a few cards short of a full deck"
Skye tried to suppress her smile "The real question is, do I think they will respond?" Then she turned and headed out the barn door.
Buck just stood there, not sure what to think, one thing for sure is she did have a funny sense of humour.
"Rider coming" yelled Lou "Its Kid, Noah you ready?"
Skye came out of the house just as Kid was coming in, she watched Noah come barrelling out of the bunkhouse, and leap onto his horse, taking off as Kid handed off the mochilla pouch to him. She headed over to Lou and Kid.
"I can take her for you Kid, Rachel saved you some lunch it's on the stove in the bunkhouse." said Lou as she reached for Katy's reins.
"Oh this here's Kid, Skye, Kid this is Skye" Lou nodded in Skye's direction
"Nice to meet you," Kid responded as he held out his hand.
"Like wise" Skye said as she shook his hand just then she squinted, feeling a small pain in her head, thinking maybe it's just the sun and light she turned to Lou "Do you mind if I help you with this horse, I think I need to get out of the sun for a bit."
Lou led Katy into the barn and began removing the tack, Skye followed behind.
Picking up a brush, and waited for Lou to finishing currying one side. "So how long have you been with the pony express?" "
Since they opened this Station"
"How do you like working for Teaspoon"
Lou chuckled "Well to be honesty my first impression, was oh my, this man is crazy as a loon, he was bathing in the horse trough. When he was done starting rubbing bear grease saying something about it is the secret to good health, something like that anyway, then he seemed like a grizzly bear, but now I know his bite isn't as bad as his growl"
"Yes, he is a bit of a softy underneath that rough and tumble exterior" Skye said as she stepped over to the side Lou had finished and began brushing the horse. "Lou can I ask you a personal question?"
"Well….humm…. how do you like working with all those boys, being a girl and all?"
Lou's head snapped up from the other side of the horse, with a shocked look swallowing hard "How did you know?"
"Well you have a bit more sway than swagger in your walk."
Skye chuckled "and if you really were a boy, your pretty face would just be sinful."
"You think I am pretty?"
"You don't think your pretty Lou?" Skye asked as she stopped brushing "Well you are and I am surprised that you are not beating off those boys you bunk with, with a stick"
"Well, that I could do but they all know I am spoken for…. well kind of" Lou smiled "But you have to keep it a secret, they don't allow girls to ride for the express."
"Your secret is safe with me…so which boy has your fancy."
The girls finished brushing down Katy, enjoying the girl time and friendship that started to blossom. Lou told Skye more stories about the boys and their adventures, and Skye told Lou stories from when she was in school in England. Once the girls were done with Katy they decided to go see what trouble the boys where up to.
"Come on boys, someone has to be willing to take me on." Cody asked Buck Ike and Kid.
"Nope not me" responded Kid.
"Its not like I am asking a lot just bet me a dollar," Cody then turned to Buck "How about you Buck lets have a competition between this here rifle and your bow"
"You still owe me one dollar" Buck responded as he set down his arrows and began inspecting his bow.
"Competition? What are you boys doing?" asked Lou as her and Skye came around the corner from the barn.
"Well I m trying to get them boys here to have a bit of shooting contest but they're all too chicken …. Bawk! Bawk!" Cody teased while flapping his arms like a chicken. Ike and Buck rolled their eyes at Cody's antics.
Skye stepped up "What kind of contest?"
"If they can shoot as far as I can" Cody smiled putting his arm around Skye and turning her towards the open field " See that target I put out there, I would be willing to pay one dollar if they can hit it if not they pay me one dollar"
"Can you really do that Cody?"
"Of course" Cody said as he removed his arm from around Skye and stepping forward "Be prepared to be amazed." He then held up the rifle. B A N G, sure enough he hit is mark. Then turning around, winking at Skye "See its easy boys."
Just then Buck let an arrow go and it to hit the target with a THUNK, turning to Cody with a smirk "That's two dollar now you owe me Cody"
"Can I try the rifle Cody?" asked Skye.
Cody shook his head "Well this here is a mighty powerful rifle, not sure if a little lady like you could handle it" With her hands out and "Is my money no good?"
"No ma'am but if your sure you can handle this here you go," responded Cody handing over the rifle.
Skye stepped forward; feeling the weight of the rifle, smirking she then licked her finger and stuck it up in the air, turning back to the group she tried to look like she really did not know what she was doing. Once she saw Cody smirking, she decided to play it up a bit more. "Lou would you be so kind and stand behind me to catch my fall, should this rifle be too much for this lady to handle?"
"Of course," Lou came up behind Skye whispering "Are you sure you know what your doing?" and held her hands up to catch Skye in case she did stumble from the kick back of the rifle.
"Yes" Skye whispered, then raised the rifle and took aim…..B A N G. Her shot hit the target as well. She did take a small step back but did not fall on her backside to the surprise of Cody.
"Dang," Cody said while scratching his head turning to Skye "Where did you learn to shoot like that?"
"My father taught me, and I guess you own me a dollar Cody" smirked Skye, turning to Buck "So would you like to have the same wager?
Buck looked at his bow; no way, a city girl like her would know how to shoot this he thought, "I really don't like taking money from ladies."
"You wouldn't really be taking money from me, if I lose I will just pay you with the money from Cody" Skye gave Buck one of her innocent smiles.
Shrugging Buck handed Skye the bow, she examined the bow, weighing it with her hands, drawing the bow a few times before she grab an arrow from Buck's quiver. Talking a relaxing breath, she then nock the arrow, looking towards the target, she stood there took aim, drawing back, releasing the arrow it flew straight hitting its mark. Skye turned back to the group, Buck, Ike Cody and Lou all stood there with their mouths hanging to the ground.
"Where did you learn to a shoot bow?"
Skye laughed "Well I didn't just learn how to be a proper lady at my fancy school, Archery and Shooting where considered an acceptable sport for ladies to part take in" hooking her arm in Lou's they left the boys standing there with perplexed looks on their faces.
"Hummm, Buck here are your arrows," Cody said as he came back from the target, and handed Buck the arrows.
Buck looked down Skye's arrow had hit his shaft splitting it, her arrow stuck in his.
Malcolm came out of the house, to find Teaspoon relaxing in one of the porch chairs, heading over the empty chair beside Teaspoon and sits down, "It's quiet around here today."
"Yessiree, that doesn't happen around here much" chuckled Teaspoon "but since it's quiet I thought maybe we could catch up a bit and maybe you would tell me why it looks like you have the world on your shoulders."
"You sure are good at reading people Teaspoon." Malcolm then looked up to see his sister come around the barn with Lou their arms linked, smiling and laughing. "Now that is a good site to see, my sister taking an interest in boys, I was beginning to think she may be heading for spinsterhood."
"She is at that age."
"Yes she is, I thought for sure when she was at school she would be just like the other girls, with grand ideals about love and courtship. Giggling over boys, all consumed with fashion, typical stuff girls her age do, and she was at first but then I noticed a small change especially after the riding accident." Malcolm continued his story filling Teaspoon about the riding accident during a hunting party, which still had Malcolm perplexed, Skye was not a strong rider but had some skill. After the accident, she began to have headaches and strange dreams. She became very insistent that they go visit their father. Once there, Skye's headaches and dreams stopped. Malcolm continued, "Our Father had developed a friendship with a chief from one of the local tribes. It was a very peaceful time, even after father found the gold. He knew what would happen once word got out about the gold. So he worked with the chiefs to keep it quiet, unfortunately it didn't last long Miners from all over began flooding the Fraser River and Skye's headaches and nightmares returned. Things escalated when some miners attacked a young Nlaka'pamux woman, in retaliation the tribe decapitated the miners, sending the headless bodies down river. One of Skye's favourite spots was by the river; she was the one that first found them"
Teaspoon shook his head " Poor girl been thru some bad times no wonder she looks so pale and thin, losing her mother, seeing all that that, then losing her father in such a short time."
"I am just glad that she wasn't there for the worst of the fighting, the chief warned my father that more trouble was stirring and it would be best if we left the area. He sent Skye and myself on, but stayed back to try to calm the situation down. That is when he was killed during a dispute between the tribes and miners.
"I wouldn't have expected anything else from your father, he was a good man. Where was your brother during all this?" asked Teaspoon
Getting up to stretch Malcolm turned to face Teaspoon "Jozef? He stayed with ma's family in England, he lives for all the hustle and bustle of city living, after father passed I took Skye back, thinking it would be a good thing, but Skye is not like Jozef she seemed to wilt even more. That is when I got to thinking about you and your letters. You sounded so happy here, surrounded by people you care about, I figured maybe a complete change of people and scenery would be good for Skye."
"It is amazing how us here ragamuffins became a family". Teaspoon smiled as he got up and placed a hand on Malcolm's shoulder "It did not happen over night, but I am sure we have room for more."
"Glad to here that." Malcolm said "because I do have other motives as well, now that I am finished school, I have to start my own practise, the cities are filled with doctors, figured I would see what its like out here. I was thinking of going into town to talk to your town doctor see if he knows of any towns looking."
Skye was up early, the dream woke her up once again, but she did manage to sleep a little longer than the night before. She was still tired yet she could not fall back asleep, groaning she got up and headed over to the washbasin, hoping some cold water would help. After washing her face, she looked into the mirror, sighing when she noticed the dark circles around her eyes. After getting dress in the clothes, that Lou helped her buy in town the other day, Skye headed down stairs. Rachel was up making breakfast in the kitchen.
"Good morning Skye," Rachel said while pointing to the coffee on the stove "Coffee is ready."
"Morning Rachel, do you need any help with breakfast?" Skye asked as she grabbed a cup from the cupboard.
"I have things under control, plus you are still our guest, but if you wouldn't mind taking coffee out to Ike and Cody they should be working in the barn."
Taking more cups from the cupboard, Skye poured the coffee into the cups and heading out the door.
"Breakfast will be ready in 30 minutes." Rachel called out to Skye as she left the house.
Ike was in the middle of mucking out the stalls when Skye walked in. "Morning Ike, I brought you a coffee," as she held up the cup's "Rachel said breakfast will be ready in about 30 minutes."
Ike looked up from his work, he took the cup Skye handed him, then giving Skye a peculiar look, he tugged on his shirt.
"My clothes?" Asked Skye, Ike shook his head yes "I figured Lou has the right Ideal shirt and pants make it easier to do this kid of work. I am not one to sit around much. Speaking of sitting around where is Cody, should he not be helping you?
Ike rolled his eyes, shrugged his shoulders. Rolling up her sleeves and grabbing another rake, Skye began helping Ike muck out the stalls.
Skye stood up straight stretching her back once her and Ike had finished half of the stalls, Ike looked up and waved his hands as if to stay he could finish the rest.
Just then, Sampson stuck his head thru one of the lower rails and bit Ike's backside, Ike jumped then turning towards the donkey began to chastise Sampson using sign language. Sampson responded with loud braying and shaking his head.
Skye chuckled as she walked over to them, putting her hand over the railing began to scratch Sampson behind the ear" I think he understood you and gave you his two cents" Ike smiled, shaking his head yes.
Pulling out an apple Ike gave it to Sampson. Skye and Ike stood there petting Sampson as he munched on the apple. Ike noticed that Skye seemed deep in thought poking her she looked up, with a questioning look Ike pointed to his head.
"What am I thinking about?" Skye asked, and Ike shook his head. "Well this may seem kind of silly, but I was thinking that maybe Sampson would let me ride him."
Ike shrugged his shoulder, gave Skye a look, and moved his arms pointing to the horses.
Blushing Skye decided that she could trust Ike with her secret. "He is smaller than the horses," Skye then gave Ike a hard look. "Can you keep a secret?"
Ike moved his hand to his mouth and made the motion that his lips are sealed.
"See the thing is, I still really like horses but I don't have the courage to get back on them since my bad riding accident just thinking about getting up on them make me feel nauseous.
Ike and Skye heard a group of horses coming into the yard heading towards to door Skye turned to Ike. "Now remember you promised not to tell, it's rather quite embarrassing" smiling Ike nodded.
Kid Lou Jimmy Noah and Buck rode in to the yard as Rachel Malcolm and Teaspoon came out of the house to meet them.
Teaspoon called out "Sure glad to see you boys, everyone seems to be in one piece." Buck slowed his horse down his heart skipped a beat when he noticing Skye and Ike coming out of the barn together laughing, shaking his head why it matter to him if she was spending time with Ike. However, for some reason it did, Buck did not understand his feeling, his head told him to stay away from the girl but his heart told him different.
The group all came together in the middle of the yard that is when Rachel noticed Lou's bruised face "Good lord Lou you alright ?
"I am ok." Lou responded as she slid off her horse trying to keep her head low hoping the hat brim would cover most of the bruise.
"I think not," Rachel, said in a stern voice as she walked up to Lou lifting Lou's chin "Once you done with Lighting come into the house and we will clean that up."
Ike and Skye came up to the group. Ike took Kids and Lou's reins signing that he would look after the horses.
As Buck slid off Stormrider, he saw Skye coming over to him smiling, he already could feel his face turning pink and his tongue felt like a brick in his mouth. This girl who was probably just like the rest, just like Kathleen, or like that girl back in Blue creek that he offered to help but ended up setting him up to be caught by Nickerson men. Girls are nothing but trouble he thought, he did not realize how close Skye was when his feet touch the ground.
Skye went up to Buck. "I can take Stormrider for you, if you like." Holding her hand out for the reins, quickly realizing she had singled Buck out she called to Noah, "I can take your horse too Noah." Buck just stood there staring at Skye "Buck?"
Feeling like a silly fool Buck managed to break free from the depths of Skye's eyes, they were like a clear blue lake that beckoned to you on a hot summer day. "Oh sorry what did you say?"
"I can take your horse for you if you like,"
"It's ok, I want to check his legs, "seeing the disappointment in Skye's eyes "Do you know If Rachel has coffee on, sure could use one."
"Yes she does, Noah, Jimmy, would you boys like one too? Skye called over her shoulder as she headed into the house.
"Yes please." Noah called back, turning to Buck smiling "I am surprised that you both remember I was here"
Buck just scowled at Noah, as he walked by leading Stormrider towards the barn. Ike followed with Lighting, and Katy smiling at Noah as he passed, and Jimmy bringing up the rear with Sundance.
The boys were working away, when Ike went up to Stormrider's side, Buck appeared on the other side to remove the tack, Ike started making moony faces at Buck, both Jimmy and Noah chuckled in amusement. Ike followed Buck as he went to place the Saddle on the railing, still making dreamy faces.
"Ike cut that out" Buck grumbled.
Ike laughing and shrugging his shoulders "*What I ain't doing anything.*"
Noah chimed in "I can't believe that you can notice Ike looking at you with love in his eyes but you don't notice that girl doing it."
"She's not looking at me like that, she is just being friendly."
"Oh is that what we call it now a days, and you are just being friendly back right? Cause your looking at her the same way."
"Am not" Buck huffed.
"Are too, why don't you just admit that there something between the two of you, everyone else can see it?" Noah laughed. "For a Indian you sure are blind, thought you were suppose to be more aware of things around you then most"
"You two look like you would like to be dancing." Jimmy chimed in.
"I hardly know the girl, so you're just reading more into it then there is." Buck said as he chucked a brush at Jimmy.
Ike smiling and moving his hands, "*Why then don't you offer to take her for a ride, get to know her some.*"
Buck rolled his eyes "You know how it turned out the last time I took a girl riding, nope, no thank you, I don't want to get myself into that kind of trouble again."
"Trouble, who is in trouble again?" Skye asked as she came in with the coffee.
Noah spoke up "Oh we were just telling Ike about the Marshal in Willow Creek."
"Rachel is lifting breakfast so finish up and head over to the bunkhouse, I would like to hear about your adventure as well," Skye said as she handed each boy their coffee, gathering up the other cups from earlier she headed out the door.
Skye was just coming out of the back door of the house with a basket of clothes turning back so she could shut the door, she did not hear Buck walk up behind her.
"Need a hand?" Buck offered.
Startled Skye jumped and dropped the basket on the ground. "Lordy, Buck you keep sneaking up on me."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you." Replied Buck as he bent down to pick up the basket. "Rachel wanted me to come and get you, lunch is ready."
"Ok, I will just finish hanging these and be right in"
"Would you like some help?"
"No you go on ahead; I will be there in just a minute"
"Let me at least help you put them back in the basket" Buck smiled as he reached for some mores clothes.
Skye was reaching for the same clothes and their hands touched, sending a shiver up both their arms. Their eyes locked, and the world slipped away. It was just the two of them, something that neither could explain was pulling them closer and closer together. Skye could feel Buck's warm breath tickling the tip of her nose. Buck was swimming in the depths of Skye's eyes.
CLANG, CLANG, CLANG The ringing of the lunch bell broke the trance that both where in. Turning back to the forgotten clothes Skye began to gather them up again, "You better go; Rachel's ringing the lunch bell. I will be there in a few minutes."
Standing up Buck stuttered "Yes, I better go, I will let her know you will be along shortly." Turning he heading towards the front of the house, trying to shake his head clear, wondering how this girl he barely knew could affect him so.
Skye stood up trying to catch her breath, thinking to herself, what is it with, Buck Cross? How he could break down the walls, she tried so hard to build around her, in just a matter of seconds. Making her break the rules, she had set not to let anyone get to close to her. Oh she had boys come a calling, but she quickly learned that most of them where just looking for a conquest, and the others a way to increase their wealth. She for one did not want to be topic of conversation in men's study rooms.
Heading back to the house after hanging the laundry, Skye entered the back of the house; Lou was standing in the back washing room, looking out the window.
"Miss Louise, you look like a kid looking at the candy jars in Tompkins's store with a pocket full of pennies"
Lou turned to Skye, blushing and grinning.
"Well Lou, are you going to tell me what got you turning pink?" asked Skye.
Lou walked up and linked arms with Skye as she lead her thru the house, telling Skye all about the shower incident that just happened between Kid and her. By the time they came through the bunkhouse door for lunch, they were both were giggling and blushing like schoolgirls. They sat down across from Ike and Buck who were just finishing up.
"Now that you are cleaned, up here you go Lou." Rachel said as she placed a plate in front of Lou, she also place a plate in front of Skye, eyeing the giggling girls suspiciously "What in heavens are you both giggling about?"
Lou spoke up first between fits of giggles "Nothing we can mention in front of mixed company."
Ike and Buck turned to face each other and gave each other a look. Without a word they both got up, and excuse themselves from the table and ran out the door like two spooked horses, causing Lou and Skye burst out into more giggles.
Sitting down at the table, Rachel gave the two girls a stern look. "Ok you two, spill it."
Blushing and smiling Lou turn to Rachel, and filled her in on what had happened between her and Kid. Outside Ike and Buck stood shaking their heads when Kid came up.
"I would not go in there if I was you." Buck recommended.
"Why not?" Kid asked as he started to open the door, as soon as he heard the girls giggling away, he quickly closed the door and stomped off.
Both Ike and Buck turned toward each other with baffled looks and shrugged their shoulders.
Skye had gone into town with Malcolm to do some shopping. Malcolm had stopped by Doc. Jones again and ended up staying to start going over the patient files. Doc Jones had decided go back east with his family they were not cut out for this Wild West living. Malcolm coming in a few weeks ago looking to start up a practice was a godsend. Teaspoon had finished up at the marshal's office for the day so tied his horse to the back of the buckboard and was escorting Skye back to the way station.
"Sure is a purrrty day" Teaspoon smiled.
Chuckling Skye said "Sure is, something on your mind?
"Why do you asked?"
"You have a certain tone in your voice as well as a look, when you are trying to get someone to open up."
"Well when you've been around as long as I have you learn on what works to get people to open up." He said as he placed his arm around Skye. "I figured with all that you have been through you might need some one other than your brothers to talk to."
Closing her eyes and resting her head on Teaspoon's shoulder. "I could think of no one better than you, but I am fine, really."
"Mostly you seem fine on the outside, a little pale and tired looking, but on the inside you are not the Skye I once knew."
"Time will fix that, just being around you and this family you are a part of has helped, distracting me from my sorrows, replacing bad memories with good, giving me hope for the future. I hope you don't mind that we came, both Malcolm and I thought a change would do us both good."
"Of course not, I am truly happy that you are here, you Malcolm and Jozef have always been my family no matter how far away you were or how long it had been since we last saw each other, family doesn't need to be blood to be a family."
"So then you have room for more, Malcolm and I have decided to stay."
"Yes, I heard Malcolm filled me in. We always have room for more, but I must warn you, the dinner table might be a battle area especially if Cody is around, I would hate to see you wither away even more."
The station was quiet; Cody had not been around for a few days, Lou and Kid where on their special run Skye smiled to herself she could not wait for Lou to return to hear all about it. It was a lovely day, Rachel didn't need her help with anything so Skye decide to catch up on some reading, with her arms loaded she decided that the loft in the barn would be a great spot it would have some shade and with the loft doors open let in a nice breeze. Walking across the bunkhouse porch, her nose in one of the books she did not notice Buck coming around the corner.
"Good book?" Buck asked.
Bucks words startled Skye causing her to jump and the arm full of books to go flying, scattering all over the porch.
"MR. CROSS, this is the third time this week you have startled me." Skye looked up at him with a smile. "I think I am going to have to get you a cow bell to wear."
"I am sorry, I truly don't mean too." Buck said as he bent down to help her with her books, "You sure must like to read, you have a lot of books here." When he saw her smiling, he smiled back grabbing one "The Women in White?"
"It's a mystery."
"The Life of King Henry the Eight?"
"Historical biography, he was a king of England, mostly known for having six wives, two he beheaded. He also broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, making himself supreme head of the Church of England which according to the Roman Catholic Church was a very naughty thing to do."
"Sounds interesting and this one Waverly by Sir Walter Scott?"
"It is a historical novel, based on the Jacobite Rebellion. The main character and a few others are fictional but a lot of them are real as well as many of the events. So you are learning a bit about history and being entertained all at the same time."
"What was the Jacobite Rebellion? Buck asked he always tried to learn more about the white man's history. May I borrow it sometime?
"It was a Scottish Rebellion against the English, just let me finish the last little bit, I think you would enjoy it, it has a bit of everything, Scottish culture and traditions, politics and war, and a bit of a love triangle."
Buck went to grab another book as he picked it up another smaller book fell out reading the title he looked up Skye "Indian Sign?"
Blushing Skye took the book from Buck, "Well I figured since we are staying on, I should learn how to carry on a conversation with Ike."
For some reason Buck's heart skipped a beat and sank at the same time. He was happy to hear that she was staying but her interest in Ike was another thing. "You're staying on?"
Skye noticed the disappointment that flashed across Bucks eyes. "Yes, that was the plan to come and see what this West was like. Malcolm needs to start up his own practice, there is a lot more opportunity out here, we're figuring on moving to a town close to here but it looks like Doc Jones wants to move back east, so Malcolm is going to start to take over his practice."
"Really, so you are going to stay in Sweetwater?"
"Yes, but not in town, we are looking at properties outside of town. My father's dream was to start a small horse ranch with Malcolm," Skye said as she looked down playing with a corner of a book.
Buck noticed the sadness that came over Skye as she spoke; placing a hand on hers, "I am sorry about your father, sounds like he was a good man."
Skye looked up into Buck's eyes, there was genuine concern and a warm sincerity in them. The warmth from his eyes seemed to travel right down his arm into his hand, which was still resting on hers. Both seemed lost in each others eyes, as they continued to stare something was pulling them closer and closer, their lips almost touching…..
"Ahem" Buck and Skye jumped apart, looking up they saw Noah looking down at them with a big a grin from ear to ear. "Sorry to interrupt but Ike and I need some extra hands to fix the fence at the side of the house."
Getting up Buck offered to help them. Skye stood up as well, walking towards the barn turning back and holding up the small Indian sign book she called to Buck. "If it's no trouble would you mind helping me with this book later?"
"Sure, it would be no trouble at all" Buck called back, turning back to Noah Buck saw the smirk on Noah's face. "What?"
Noah laughed as he started walking towards the side of the house. "If what I interrupted was your way of helping someone with a book, it's sure is an interesting way."
In response to Noah's comment Buck stuck out his foot in front of Noah, causing Noah to stumble then took off. Noah chuckled and took off after him.
As promised once Buck was done helping Ike and Noah, he found Skye reading up in the loft and began helping her with some of the signs that the drawings did not quite get right. Buck was impressed at how much Skye had learned on her own, and that she was a quick study. Between lessons, they talked about her time in England and France. Buck told her how he met Ike at the mission school. The more they talked, the more Buck began to feel like they had known each other for years. He also figured out that Skye was not interested in Ike or any of the boys, she thought more of them like an extended family. It was interesting that she did not mention him, making him wonder if she really did not think much of him, no that wasn't it. She was being far too attentive and friendly, maybe there was something more between them like Noah said.
Skye was truly enjoying the afternoon with Buck; she was surprised how easy the conversation flowed. Buck was normally quiet and reserved especially around her. Today she got a small glimpse of whom this mysterious, Buck Cross was, there was definitely more than meets the eye. He was quite clever and when she spoke, he truly was interested in what she had to say and to boot he actually looked into her eyes. His smile was warming to the soul like the sun on a cold winter's day. His laugh was infectious; Skye was so busy thinking about Buck's finer qualities that she did not realize he was chuckling at her.
"What? What are you giggling at?"
"You, you just said that you like to sell horse poop."
Chucking herself Skye said. "Well I guess that is a sign to break for the day, I should go and see if Rachel would like help with dinner." As she began sliding the books over to the ladder. "Oh I am done with Waverly if you would like to borrow it."
"Yes please, if you don't mind."
"Of course not, it is the least I can do for all your help today."
Buck took the book flipping thru some of the pages, when something feel out onto the floor picking it up he noticed it was a long black ribbon. It had tiny little blue beads as well as two patches, with the same embroidered red background and what looked to be a white eagle turned to the right with golden beak, with talons and a gold crown upon its head "Skye this fell out of the book"
"Oh thank you I forgot I had it in there"
"What is it?"
"It's a couple of things, that I am not sure what to do with, but still very dear to my heart. The black ribbon and these patches, which are Poland's nation emblem, were my mothers, after the war in her home country, her family fled to England, and France. Women from Poland would wear these black ribbons as a sign of mourning for the lost of their country. The blue beads are from a friendship bracelet that a young girl I became friends with gave me when my father took me to the Thompson River People village, it broke but I was able to save most of the beads."
"Thompson River People? I never heard of that tribe before."
"You will have to ask Malcolm about their proper tribal name, I do not want to disrespect them by butchering it when I say it since I can not say it properly so I just use where they are located."
Buck was a little taken back; did he just hear her say she did not want to disrespect Indians? That was something he just was not use to hearing. He was also curious about her reaction when she first went into the village. "Was that your first encounter with Indians? Where you scared?
"Yes it was the first time. Scared, why would I be?"
"Just that there are a lot of stories out there about them being savages and heathens."
"Well, my father taught me not to believe everything I read, and it wasn't long ago that the English thought my fathers ancestors where heathens and savages. I knew my father would not put me in any sort of danger. I was more nervous than scared, going into their homes and not being familiar with their customs, I didn't want to embarrass my father who had worked very hard on building a friendship with them, or offend them by doing something inappropriate. Speaking of offending someone I better go and help Rachel" Smiling Skye got up and headed down the ladder.
The last thing Buck saw was her hand coming back up to grab the pile of books she had pushed to the lofts edge. Thinking to himself, this was a very interesting afternoon in deed.
Skye was running late this morning, the dream woke her up once again last night, causing her to toss and turn for the rest of the night. When she finally fell asleep again, it was almost morning causing her to sleep in. Taking a deep breath she sighed and put on her best smile before opening the buckhouse door. Rachel, Buck, Malcolm and Lou where sitting at the table.
"Morning Skye, coffee and breakfast is on the stove." Rachel said as she pointed to the stove.
"Morning everyone, sorry I slept in Rachel"
"No trouble, it's not like you to sleep in so you must have needed it."
"Ha, you obviously don't know Skye, I am not sure if it's the fresh air here or what, but back in England, Skye was a late riser and when she did get up was as growly as a bear fresh out of hibernation" Malcolm laughed.
"Well who won't be growly when they had to look at your face every morning." Skye commented as sat down giving Malcolm one of her best scowls.
While Skye ate her breakfast, Buck took a few minutes to really look at her. She was quite charming and friendly on the outside, but he did notice the light trace of darkness in and around her eyes. When she thought no one was looking, she would drift off to another place and a cloak of sadness would float over her. She reminded him of the flowers growing on the plains, strong in the winds but when you inspected them closer, they look fragile and delicate. Thinking to himself, that he would love to wrap his arms around that flower and protect her from the winds. 'Wait what am I thinking,' shaking his head, 'where did that come from?'. After Skye had finished eating, all but Rachel headed into town. Cody Ike and Kid where already there waiting for that reporter that was coming and Teaspoon was working at the Marshal's office.
Skye had finished purchasing her items from Tompkins's store and heading out to meet up with Lou and Malcolm. When she came out Malcolm was helping Kid load the supplies into the back. She looked up and down the street but Lou was nowhere to be seen.
"Hi Kid, where's Lou?"
"Oh something came up, she took Katy to go look into something, hope you don't mind if I tag along back to the station with you."
Kid had jump up into the seat taking the reins, when Malcolm bumped Skye to the side to jump up in the seat trying to take the reins from Kid. "Here Kid let me drive."
"It's ok I got it" Kid responded trying to take the reins back from Malcolm. As they fought over the reins like little boys, Skye walked to the back and was about to jump in when the buckboard jerked forward then took off down the street. With both Malcolm and Kid yelling at each other and still fighting for the reins.
Looking over his shoulder Malcolm smiled at Kid "Glad Lou filled you in on this little plan we cooked up with Ike, She still standing there."
"Are you sure we don't need to go back and get her?"
"No Ike is watching and will bring Buck along to pick her up, maybe we can finally get her over her fear of riding horses. I have a feeling she wouldn't want to embarrass herself in front of Buck."
Skye stood there watching them drive off into the distance, 'some horsemen they are' she thought. Sighing she started walking in the direction they had gone, hoping they would get the horse under control and come back for her. She was lost in thought, and being very un-lady by cursing her brother out in her mind. She did not hear Buck and Ike come up behind her with their horses.
"Hey Skye, it is kind of a hot day for a walk don't you think?" Buck said as he watched Skye jump and turn around giving him a look. Smiling he continued. "I know I startled you again, do you want to go back to Tompkins's store? I am sure he would have a bell of some sort?"
With that smile Skye could not stay mad at Buck for long. Smiling back she said "Don't tempt me, I am not to happy with you men folk right now, seems neither Kid nor Malcolm know how to drive a buckboard and left me here."
Ike signed something to Buck and took off, leaving Buck looking down at Skye from his horse. "Well hop on up and I will give you a ride."
Skye could feel her face turning pink quickly turning her face, she starting walking "I think I would like to walk.'
Coming up beside her on his horse and keeping pace with her walking Buck smiled. "It is a long walk, and it's a pretty hot day."
"I won't melt"
"No, but you might wear out those shoes of yours, or your feet, cause they really don't look like walking shoes."
"I'll be fine, plus I am not wearing the proper riding clothes, someone may come by and see me up there, with my bloomers showing, that would be very un-lady like."
"If someone comes along I will let you down, so they don't see them." Buck told her as he stopped his horse sliding off, gently taking Skye by the arm and turning her to face him. "Skye, you ok? You're looking kind of green."
Skye looked down at the ground whispering. "I am ok, maybe it is just the heat."
"You don't look ok." Buck said as he placed his hand under her chin and raised her face up to his. Then a thought hit him, maybe she really was like all the rest and did not want to be to close to an Indian. "Would you rather ride Stormrider yourself?"
"Oh no I couldn't do that."
"I am, afraid to get up on a horse." As quickly as that came out of her mouth, Skye's hand went up to her mouth. She could not believe she let Buck know that she was afraid. Turning quickly she bent over feeling her stomach lurch like she was going to be sick.
Kneeling down beside her Buck rested his hand on her back for comfort. " I don't understand, how can you be afraid of horses when you spend so much time taking care of them, you are always offering to help with them?"
"Taking care of them, and getting up on them are totally two different things, just the thought of putting my foot in the stirrup, makes me queasy, ever since my riding accident, the horse got spooked and took off like a screaming banshee from hell, I slipped off but my foot was caught in the stirrup. I was dragged a bit before someone was able to stop the horse."
"I am sorry, I didn't know." Buck said as he stood up with Skye.
"How could you, I wasn't an expert rider, but I do miss it but I just can't seem to get over it"
"Well they do say, It is not enough for a man to know how to ride; he must know how to fall." He then gave her his warmest smile. "You aren't a true rider until you fallen off twenty times."
Giving Buck a small smile in return and rolling her eyes Skye said. "Oh that's great; I guess I have to fall off nineteen more times."
"Well then I guess we better get you back in the saddle."
"Easier said then done." Skye whispered as her lower lip trembled.
Placing his hands on both of Skye's shoulders, and looking her straight in the eye Buck said. "You can trust me, I won't let anything happen to you, I will control the horse, you just have to put your foot in the stirrup just to get up, then hold on tight to me."
Putting on a brave face and a smile Skye said, "Well I think I could trust you, if I knew your proper name."
"Well you get up on this horse and I will tell you." Buck responded as he smiled back as he got up on Stormrider first. Turning to look at her over his other shoulder he held out his arm. "Now take a deep breath, grab on to my arm, put your foot in the stirrup just to give some leverage, and I will pull you up."
As soon as she was up, Skye closed her eyes tight, leaning her head on Bucks back and wrapped her arms tightly around his waist.
"Umm Skye?" Buck gasped due to Skye's death grip.
"I kind of need to breathe"
"Sorry." as she loosened her arms.
"My proper name is Running Buck."
"That is a very handsome name."
Skye was starting to get a little perturbed, didn't he realize he was distracting her from imagining she was anywhere else but on top of this horse "What?"
Skye squeezed her arms around his waist as hard as she could for just a second as she said, "For that Mr. Cross you have to tell me how you got your name."
Buck laughed, "Ok but it isn't a real exciting story, the day before I was born my mother was gathering fire wood when she saw a buck running, and so that's where she got my name."
"What about your father, didn't he have a say?" Skye asked but as soon as she finished her question, she could feel Buck tense up.
"I don't know who my father was."
"I am sorry Buck; I didn't mean to ask you an uncomfortable question."
Hearing the sincerity in her voice, Buck relaxed "It's ok, you wouldn't have known, would you like to hear about my village"
"Yes I would love to."
Buck continued telling her about growing up in the village, when he would feel her relax he would pick up the pace just a little bit. Once they were close to the way station he convinced her to let him get off and just lead the horse with her still sitting in the saddle. Hoping doing this the rest of the way into the yard would give her the confidence she needed to continuing riding.
Helping her down off the horse Buck grinned. "See that wasn't so bad, and you don't look that pretty shade of green anymore."
"All thanks to you and Stormrider." Skye said as she looked up into Buck's eyes.
Buck was still holding on to Skye, he really should let go he thought, but he could feel that force again building up and pulling them even closer, Skye didn't seem to mind she wasn't stepping back, should he just kiss her once? Maybe it would break the spell she wove around him whenever she got too close. Leaning forward even more he, noticed Skye was moving forward as well. He could feel her breath on his lips……
"Excuse me, are you Buck Cross?"
Both Buck and Skye turned towards the stranger's voice, with unsettling looks on their faces, there was a women with dark hair standing there. Instead of getting the hint that she was interrupting something, she walked forward with her hand out.
"Name is Jennifer Walker, reporter for the New York Dispatch that Russell, Majors and Waddell sent a letter about, was wondering if I could ask you a few questions."
Buck looked at Skye and rolled his eyes making Skye giggle. "If you can talk while I tend to my horse. Skye can I see you later?"
"Of course, I will just go see if I can find that brother of mine." as she walked away leaving Buck with the reporter.
Author's Note: A big thanks to my wonderful beta Shauna.