Author's Note: Sequel to Return to Rock Creek. Any Kiowa beliefs in this story are from my imagination so if its incorrect. Im sorry, I mean no disrespect.
It's been ten years since I laid eyes on the town of Rock Creek. I had no intention of ever returning here. Not after everything that happened, not after the war. The only reason I'm here now is because of her. I know I should have returned to her sooner but after the war I had a lot to deal with. So when I finally returned to our home in Virginia two months ago it was to find her gone. The neighbors told me she had moved on almost eight years ago. There was only one place I could think of that she would go to. Rock Creek. So that's why I find myself here now, overlooking what once was the Pony Express station.
The place has changed quite a lot. The main house and barn look the same, but the bunkhouse looks like it has had several rooms added on. It's been turned into a regular house. I wonder who lives there now. Judging from the number of horses in the corral and surrounding pastures, whoever owns it has a horse ranch. From my vantage point I can see another bunkhouse further away and two small houses located near the station. It must be a multiple family business.
Oh look here comes someone now. I wonder if they would know anything about her. Wait is that Buck? It is! Those must be his children, all four of them. This must be his place. I wonder who he went into business with and if I know the girl he married. Wait someone is coming out of the bunkhouse. It's Lou! I've found her! Buck must just be visiting. Wow his kids really like her, judging by the way they are swarming around her now. She seems happy to see him. Wait why is she kissing Buck? Oh no it can't be. Those are Lou's kids with Buck! How can this be? She's my wife. But Buck wouldn't be with Lou unless they were married and they wouldn't marry unless they thought I was dead.
I shouldn't have come back here. I need to leave before they see me. Too Late. I watch in horror as Lou spots me and faints dead away.
I swear I am never taking these hellions anywhere again! Man are they their namesakes, well all except Emma. If she actually took after Emma it would be a blessing, instead she is her mother's child to the bone, and I love it. I still can't believe Lou and I made these four beautiful wild children. I can't believe it's been almost eight years since I married Lou.
Finally we're home. The children wasted no time running off. Oh they spotted their momma. I swear Lou gets more beautiful every day. I make my way to my wife. I have to push our rugrats out of the way so I can embrace her, her small baby bump making contact first. "Hello beautiful" I say after we break our kiss. "I sure don't feel beautiful today, but I love you all the more for thinking it." Lou tells me with a grin.
"how was the trip to town?' she asks me, she can tell I've been about ready to pull my hair out. "Well our children have been banished from Tompkins's store…again." I tell her trying really hard not to laugh. "What did they do this time?" Lou asked looking in the direction our children had run off in. "Oh same old same old." I said with a grin. "Well they come by it honestly." Lou said laughing, I join in now. They really were our children after all. Little Ike just turned six and our twin boys, Jimmy and Cody were going to be five in a month, and our little baby girl Emma just turned three. Lou was due to deliver our fifth child shortly before Christmas, a good five months away.
I watch as Lou catches sight of something. Shielding her eyes she looks into the distance behind me. "What is it?" I ask not turning, if its trouble I don't want them to know I'm aware of them. "It's a rider." Lou says barely moving her mouth, she doesn't want to let on she's seen them either. "How many?" I ask wondering if I will be able to protect my family if the need arises. "Just one." Lou says her brow wrinkling in confusion. "What's wrong Lou?" I ask knowing that look. "I don't know, there is something familiar about him." Lou says. I turn to look, moving beside Lou. There is something familiar about him.
Out of the corner of my eye I see the color drain from Lou's face. I turn back to her. "Lou? What's wrong honey?" I asked concerned it might be the baby she is carrying. She points to the rider and says, "Kid" just before she faints dead away into my arms. Kid, it can't be, he's dead. "Jimmy, Cody, Rachel!" I cry out. They immediately come running, knowing I only shout like that when something is wrong. "What happened Buck?" Rachel asks when she spots Lou in my arms. "She's fainted Rachel, help me get her in the house." Rachel does so, I stop and say to the guys, 'Jimmy, Cody there was a rider on the ridge. Go after him now!"
"What's wrong Buck?' Cody asks, he knows I don't usually order them around like they are my hired hands. "It's Kid!" I say sharply. They look at me like I'm crazy. "Kid's dead Buck" Jimmy said thinking I've lost my mind. "Just do it Jimmy." I shout at him. My two friends look at each other before going for their horses. I hear them ride away as I carry Lou into our home with Rachel's help.
It can't be Kid. It's not possible. He died eight years ago. If it is him where has he been all this time? Why show up now? What could he want? Lou that's why he's here. Please don't let it be Kid.
Chapter 2 - Lou's POV
"Lou? What's wrong honey?" I hear Buck say, the worry evident in his tone. I know my face is dangerously white as I point to the lone rider on the ridge. I try to get my voice to work but I can only manage one word, "Kid". Then my world goes black.
When I come to I'm in our bed. Rachel is leaning over me. I can hear my children nearby. "Rachel please tell me I was dreaming. Tell me I didn't see Kid". I plead with the woman who was like my mother. "I wish I could honey. But we don't know. There was someone there, but he's gone now. Jimmy sent Cody back to get Buck. The just left, Buck will track whoever it was and find out what he was doing there." Rachel said trying to put me at ease. It didn't work. I give her a weak smile as she leaves the room to check on the kids.
This can't be real. Kid's dead. It can't have been him. Oh God, if that really was Kid that means…I'm still married to him, Buck's not my husband! This can't be happening. Why now? Why after all this time? Where the Hell has he been for the past eight years? Why did he never contact me? What are we going to do? God what must Buck think? Please don't let it be Kid.
I should have just let him ride away. I shouldn't have sent Jimmy and Cody after him. I shouldn't have tracked him down when they couldn't find him. I shouldn't have made him come back with us. Looking at the man before me now, I still can't believe my eyes. None of us can. He's supposed to be dead. We had a service for him eight years ago, I made the cross myself.
He still looks the same but he's changed. He's not the man we knew. He's not the Kid we knew. The Kid we knew wouldn't have abandoned Lou. He wouldn't have let her think he was dead. He wouldn't have waited eight years to try to contact her. This man may look like Kid, but it's not him.
"Why are you here Kid?" I asked my tone icy. "I came looking for Lou. This was the only place I thought she would go." The look alike says his tone indicating I should have known that. "Why?" I ask with no emotion, I can't afford to show it right now. "Because she's my wife Buck" the man said. I glare at him, "She's my wife, I married her eight years ago. We have four children together and another on the way!" I yell at him. I'm losing my temper I know. "I married her ten years ago, you were there you know that. Your marriage to her is not legal, Buck." The Kid look-a-like says. I want to throttle him, Jimmy holds me back.
"You were dead." I said stating the obvious. "Clearly I'm not; I want to see my wife." He says to me with a smirk. "Why now? Why after all this time. Where have you been? Where were you when Lou's brother and sister were killed? Where were you when she had to sell the horses just so she could eat? Where were you when she got word you were dead. Where were you when she used the last penny she had to come home to her family? Where the hell were you Kid?" I shout at him, my voice having gotten steadily louder with each question I threw at him.
"You weren't there! When she needed you most you abandoned her, left her alone so you could go fight in a war! When she needed you, you let her think you were dead! And now when she has moved on and has a new life with me you show up. The Kid we knew would not have done that. You are not Kid and Lou is not your wife!" I know I'm shouting loud enough for the people in town to hear me, but I don't care. How the hell could Kid do this to Lou, to me, to all of us? He was our brother, how could he make us all think he was dead. How could he show up now, after all Lou and I have shared together?
"Think what you want Buck, but she's my wife. I love her and want her back. You have shamed her by turning her into a half breed's whore." Kid said mocking me.
That was it, what little control I had over my temper just broke. I launched myself at this stranger. Jimmy and Cody didn't even try to hold me back. I wanted to beat this man to within an inch of his life for what he has done. Only Teaspoon stopped me before I inflicted too much damage. With Cody's help they dragged the Kid look-a-like away to the main house. As I sit down on my porch and put my head in my hands. Jimmy sits next to me, his arm around my shoulder.
"You ok Buck?" he asks concerned. "I don't know Jimmy. I still can't believe it. What am I going to do? Kid's right since he's not dead Lou is still married to him. Jimmy what if she doesn't want me anymore? She loved Kid first, what if she goes back to him now that he's back?" I ask turning my face to look at him. My misery clearly evident on my face. "Buck, Lou may have loved the Kid when we were younger but we've all grown up. That ain't the Kid she loved. She ain't that Lou anymore. Besides I never saw her look at Kid the way she looks at you. She won't leave you. I know." Jimmy said trying to reassure me. 'I hope your right Jimmy. I really do." I say to him, but I really don't know if what he says is true.
I know that was hitting below the belt but I said it anyway. I didn't expect Buck to attack though; he had always been the peacemaker. My former friends didn't even try to stop him. Buck was a better fighter than I remembered. I didn't stand a chance against him. Teaspoon finally stopped him. With Cody's help they took me to the main house.
"Alright now I want answers!" Teaspoon demanded of me once they had me sitting down. "What do you want to know?" I asked already knowing the answer. "Care to explain why you're not dead for starters." Teaspoon asked me. 'Well obviously because I haven't been killed yet. I didn't know I was supposed to be until Buck told me." I shot back. "Why didn't you try to contact Lou before now?" the old man asked. "Well I was fighting a war." I said snidely, didn't he know that. 'The war ended five years ago Kid." Cody said angrily. Everybody was angry with me it seems. "I wasn't ready. I saw a lot of terrible things in the war. My entire company was wiped out. Most of them younger than me. I just wasn't ready to go home." I admit to them, I know it's not much of an excuse but it was all I had.
"Why Now?' Teaspoon asked me. "I missed my wife. When I returned to our home two months ago the neighbors told me Lou had moved on. So I came here, I knew she would come here. I didn't expect to find her married to Buck with children." I say shaking my head, how could she just move on like that? "What did you expect Kid, for Lou to just go on alone? Even if she hadn't thought you were dead, it's been eight years." Cody yelled at me. That was what I had expected. I thought she loved me so much, she would still be waiting on me. 'Cody, go check on Buck, I'll deal with Kid." Teaspoon said, I think he saw the murdering look in Cody's eyes. Cody hesitated a second before leaving.
"What is it you want Kid?" Teaspoon asked sitting down across from me. "I want my wife back. I want Lou to come home." Why does everybody keep asking me that? "Kid I married Lou and Buck eight years ago. They have made a life together. This ranch is theirs. They have four children and another on the way. You can't just expect Lou to forget all of that and go back with you." Teaspoon tells me. Why does everybody keep telling me that Lou and Buck have shared a life together? I figured that one out myself.
"Teaspoon, you married us ten years ago. Since I'm not dead she is still my legal wife. I don't care if she has kids with Buck. I love her and want her to come home." Why can't they see that? "What about the children?" Teaspoon asks. I haven't thought about them. "What about them. Their Lou's, I'll raise them as my own." Teaspoon looks angry at me, 'Their Buck's too. Don't you think people back home will question their heritage when they see them? The boys look just like Buck."
Teaspoons right, I don't want people back home to know Lou has been with a half breed. 'Fine Buck can keep them. But I'm taking Lou home." "She is home Kid. Her home is here with Buck and their children." Teaspoon yelled at me jumping to his feet. "She's my wife! I want her back!" I shout getting to my feet as well. Teaspoon gave a small laugh, "But what about what she wants Kid?" he asks softly. What did Lou want? She thought I was dead after all, surely that was the only reason she married Buck. She can't possibly love him like she did me. No Lou will want to come home. 'Now that she knows I'm alive she'll want me back, you'll see."
Teaspoon walked over to me and put a fatherly hand on my shoulder, "She loves Buck kid. I've never seen a happier couple. And I'm going to be looking into the legal end of this mess. Until we know for sure if your marriage still stands. I want you to stay away from Buck and Lou. Do I make myself clear Kid?" Teaspoon says squeezing my shoulder tightly.
"Perfectly." I say glaring at him. You'll see, she's still mine. She will want me. She still loves me. It doesn't matter that Buck has turned her into a brood mare, she is still my Lou. I will get her back even if I have to force her. She is my Lou. Mine!
Chapter 3 - Lou's POV
I could hear Buck shouting at Kid. I knew Buck was upset and angry. I was too. Buck was shouting the same questions to Kid that I had myself. Kid was right though since he's not dead I'm still married to him. Oh no he did not just tell Buck that he had turned me into a 'half breed's whore'. I flew to the window just in time to see Buck fly at Kid. Jimmy and Cody did nothing to stop him. Rachel has to hold me back to keep me inside. I want to throttle Kid myself. How dare he do this to me, to Buck? He's not the Kid that I knew and loved. I don't know this man. I don't love this man.
Teaspoon puts a stop to the fight. Buck really pummeled Kid. I can't help the smirk that crosses my face, serves him right. Teaspoon and Cody drag Kid away, while Buck sits down on the porch. Jimmy joins him, his arm around Buck's shoulder. I listen to Buck talk to Jimmy. He sounds so miserable. He's scared I'll leave him now that Kid's not dead. Jimmy tries to tell him that ain't the Kid I loved and I'm not the same Lou. I don't think I've changed all that much. I still work just as hard as the boys around the ranch. But I know what Jimmy means. I've grown up. I don't feel like I have to prove myself to anyone. I'm a mother now to four beautiful children, but I still like to wear men's clothes most of the time. It's just easier; I don't have to worry about my skirt getting caught on something.
Jimmy tells Buck that I love him, that I never looked at Kid the way I look at Buck. That I won't leave him. Jimmy's right of course. It's true I loved Kid when we were riding together, but I loved Buck back then too. I just didn't know that until I came back to Rock Creek. I'm not leaving Buck. Turning to Rachel I ask her to keep any eye on the kids. I need to see my husband. She doesn't ask which one, she knows I mean Buck.
Stepping out onto the porch I say, "Jimmy would you mind giving me a moment with my husband, I need to speak with Buck alone." Jimmy gives me a smile before he joins Cody who just came out of the main house. I hold my hand out to Buck, "Come with me Buck". He takes my hand without a word as I lead him to the barn. I climb up into the hay loft and Buck follows without question. I turn to face Buck; he looks so lost and dejected. I know he doesn't know what to think about the circumstances we find ourselves in now.
I walk up to him and slip into his arms; he hesitates before he puts his arms around my back hugging me tightly. Tears fall from my eyes as I press my body against that of the man I love more than anything, the man I consider my husband no matter what the law may say. "Oh Buck, I'm so sorry. I was told he was dead. After he left for the war I never heard from him again. Now after ten years he shows up. I just don't know what to say." Buck's hold tightens on me, "Don't say anything Lou; just let me hold you for a little while longer." I can hear the tears in his voice; he thinks this is the last time he will get to hold me. "You have no idea how much I love you. How much I love the life we have together. Please don't leave me Lou." Buck says breaking down. I pull back from him my hands going to his face to force him to look at me. "Buck Cross I'm not going anywhere. No matter what the law says, you are my husband and I love you and our children more than anything in the world. I've always loved you Buck, and I always will." After I say this I kiss him with all the passion I still felt for this man, even after all these years. Buck's arms around me loosen their hold just enough so he can lower me to the hay loft floor. It felt so right to be with Buck. How can what we have together be wrong in the sight of the law? In the sight of God? I hope Teaspoon will have some ideas.
Lou loves me. I should have known nothing was going to change that. I look over at her sleeping contently in my arms. I don't know how long we have been in the hay loft. I don't really care. The love making we just shared had been amazing; almost desperate in our need to show each other how much we wanted, needed, loved the other. I know Lou says she doesn't care about what the law says, I'm her husband. But in the sight of the white man, I was barely accepted as Lou's husband before Kid returned. I know they won't accept me now. There is only one thing I can think of to do. I have to marry Lou in the Kiowa world. At least that way our union will still be accepted in the Great Spirit's eyes.
I turn and gently wake Lou. She smiles up at me before I press another kiss to her slightly kissed swollen lips. I tell her my idea. She likes it but also doesn't. She knows it means I will be leaving for a while to track down Red Bear's tribe. I don't want to leave her either, but I don't know what else to do. We leave the barn and head back to the bunkhouse. We tell Rachel my plan. Rachel helps Lou pack some food while I get my gear together. My family escorts me back outside to my waiting horse.
After I tie my gear down I turn to them. I knell down to hug and kiss my children. I tell Ike he has to take care of his momma and brothers and sister while I'm gone. Jimmy and Cody give me hugs and promise to be good little boys; I hope they are for Lou's sake. Little Emma cries and tells me she doesn't want me to leave. I promise to be back soon, and if I'm lucky I will be bringing her uncle Red Bear home with me.
I look at Lou; she still has straw in her hair. I laugh a little as I pick a piece of it out of her hair. She blushes knowing what she must look like, and knowing Rachel saw her like this. I give her a wink. Looking into her eyes I tell her everything I want to say without a word. She knows. She always does. I pull her close and kiss her soundly. I tell her I'll be back soon and I love her. I mount my mare and reach down for one last kiss before I ride away in search of my brother's tribe. I pray to the spirits to aid my search.
I watch from inside the main house as Buck and Lou enter the barn. Several hours later they emerge. Lou has hay stuck all over her. I can't believe they just took a tumble in the hay, where anybody could have seen them. They don't even look ashamed. It was one thing when they thought I was dead, but now they know I'm not. They've gone into the old bunkhouse now. I know Teaspoon told me to stay away but how does he expect me to stand by while Buck sullies my wife.
I watch as Buck exits his house with Lou and their children in tow. Looks like he's leaving. He kneels down and talks to the kids first and the turns to Lou. He pulls a piece of hay from her hair. She blushes, finally she's ashamed. They embrace. I watch as Buck mounts his horse, with on last kiss to Lou he rides away. Maybe my luck is turning around. With Buck out of the picture I can have Lou all to myself and win her back.
Chapter 4 - Lou's POV
It's been two days since Buck left to find his tribe. Kid has not bothered me once. Teaspoon had told him to leave us be until he knows what the law says. Sam and Emma took Kid to their home. It was on the opposite side of town, so he was as far away as we could get him. I miss Buck terribly, in the eight years we have been married we've never been apart overnight. It's driving me crazy. I can't sleep without his arms around me and the children are just as restless. I know they miss their daddy too. There is to be a dance tonight. I would rather stay home but the kids have been looking forward to tonight for a month. Jimmy and Cody promise to make sure I dance, but they have their own wives to dance with too. I just hope they keep Kid away.
Teaspoon, Rachel, and Little Noah are ready to leave, so I usher my children out to the waiting wagon. Teaspoon helps them get in the back with Noah before he assists me up into the seat of the wagon with Rachel. He goes around to his side and climbs in and sets off for the dance. Jimmy and his wife Amanda had just arrived at the dance when our wagon arrived. Cody and his wife Helen and their four year old daughter Louise pull in behind us. After assisting their families they come to give Teaspoon a hand with mine. Jimmy had just helped me out of the wagon when Sam and Emma arrived with their brood. I was glad to see Kid was not with them. My happiness was to be short lived.
I had just finished dancing a rather upbeat number with Sam and I was exhausted and hot. So I asked Sam to help keep an eye on my youngins' while I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. Sam offered to go with me. I should have accepted if I had I wouldn't be in the situation I find myself in now.
Kid had decided to come to the dance after all. I don't know how long he had been there but apparently he had been waiting to catch me alone like I was now. "Hello Lou", his voice behind me startles me. I wiped around to find him not two feet away. "Kid' I say looking frantically around for someone to come by. "How've you been?' Kid asks stepping closer. "I've been really well and happy, as if you cared." I say taking a step back to find a wall behind me. I'm trapped. "I do care Lou. I've missed you. I shouldn't have stayed away so long." Kid says taking another step forward. He was within inches of me now. "No you shouldn't have. I haven't seen or heard from you in ten years Kid. I've moved on with my life. You should too. You shouldn't have come here Kid. Go away and let Buck and I live in peace." I tell him. "Live in sin you mean. You're still my wife Lou. I'm not leaving unless you're with me." Kid said before pressing me against the wall and kissing me. I try to fight him off but he's too strong. He's not the Kid I knew. The Kid I knew would never force attentions on a girl. I do the only thing I can think of. I open my mouth up to his kiss then I bite down on his lower lip. I taste the blood.
Kid releases me with a howl of pain before he hits me, knocking me to the ground. I scream when his hand makes contact with my face. I look up at him from the ground, a hand to my sore cheek. Kid looks to be in shock. My scream brought Teaspoon and Jimmy running. When Jimmy sees me on the ground it is all Teaspoon can do to keep Jimmy from killing Kid. Cody and Sam have arrived by this time. The two younger men hold onto Jimmy while Teaspoon escorts Kid to jail for assault. Sam and Cody release Jimmy and then help me to my feet. "You alright Lou?" Cody asks. "I'm fine" I say brushing off my skirt. "No you're not, you're bleeding." Jimmy says taking a kerchief out of his pocket and pressing it to my mouth. "It's not my blood, its Kid's. He kissed me so I bite his lip to get him off of me." I tell the three men. They all looked mad at that news. "Well it's a good thing you're still feisty as ever." Sam said with a grin. The others laughed. After I had regained my composer I went back inside with the men to gather my children and go home.
I can't believe I just hit Lou. I've never raised a hand to a woman before. What's wrong with me? Lou's scream has brought Teaspoon and Jimmy. Jimmy looks about ready to kill me. Teaspoon should just let him. Instead he holds him back until Cody and Sam arrive. Teaspoon then escorts me to jail.
Jail. I've been in enough of those to last a lifetime. After that disaster in Prosperity I swore I would never be in another cell again. Unfortunately that's another promise I broke. After my company was killed, I deserted. I guess that's why my commander thought I was dead and wrote to Lou telling her that. It wasn't long after that, that I was picked up by union soldiers. They held me in prison camp until the end of the war. Two long years.
After the war ended and I was released, I had been so ashamed of myself that I didn't return to Lou. I wondered from town to town. More often than not I was picked up on vagrancy charges. Sometimes it was shoplifting, when I needed food. I've spent the better part of the last ten years in one jail cell or another, but I thought all that was behind me now. I never thought Teaspoon would be the next person to lock me in a jail cell. I wonder how long I'll be stuck in this one.
After Teaspoon had turned the key in the cell locking me in he asked, 'Why did you hit her son?" 'She bit me' I tell him. Teaspoon looked at me like I had three heads, "Why would Lou bite you?" "I kissed her." I say, still slightly annoyed that Lou had reacted that way. "Well then I say you deserved it, kissing her against her wishes." Teaspoon said as he moved towards the door. "How long you going to keep me in here?" I ask before he leaves. "Depends on if Lou wants to press charges, if she doesn't you'll be free to go in the morning." Teaspoon told me and then left me alone with my thoughts. Maybe Lou was right. Maybe I should just go away and let them live in peace. No! She's my wife! I'll do whatever it takes to win her back.
Chapter 5 -Lou's POV
The next morning I met Teaspoon at the jail. He wanted me to come down and give my statement about what happened at the dance. After I gave my statement he told me I could press charges against Kid and he would be locked up for a while awaiting trial. I didn't want this whole mess to be public so I didn't press charges. I left Teaspoon's office and headed home.
Kid was released and he quickly caught up with me. "Lou wait please." He called after me. Against my better judgment I stopped and waited for him. "What do you want Kid?" "I just wanted to tell you I'm sorry. I don't know what got into me last night." Kid said once he was standing next to me. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Teaspoon watching making sure I was ok. "Fine, now can I go?" I say starting to walk off. "Wait please." Kid said grabbing my arm, I give him a frosty look and he lets go. "Thank you for not pressing charges. If there is anything I can do to make it up to you please let me." Kid says quickly.
I look at him and smirk, "And what is it you want to make up to me Kid? Hitting me, kissing me against my wishes, or abandoning me ten years ago?" I didn't bat an eye as I said this to Kid. "All of it." Kid said meeting my eyes, I can see he's sincere, and for some reason I felt sorry for him. "Well I guess there is something you can do Kid." I start to say a little hesitantly. "Anything Lou" Kid encourages. "With Buck being out of town Jimmy has to fill in as deputy and continue his job at the ranch, along with the work that Buck normally does. So the ranch is basically short one and a half men. If you're willing to work hard we could use a hand until Buck comes back. Cody would be in charge of you." I don't know why I'm offering him a job, but something tells me working with the boys again is just what Kid needs.
"When do you need me to start?" Kid asks with the first smile I had seen on his face since he returned. "Well come on then, I'm sure Cody can put you to work now." I say as I start to walk away, but then I stopped and looked at him. "Just one thing Kid, I don't want to be alone with you ever again, if you can't handle that don't bother coming with me." "Ok Lou, if that's what you want." Kid said agreeing. He followed me the rest of the way home. I know having him work the ranch may not be the best idea but even after all he's done he's still family. I hope Buck will understand.
I can't believe Lou didn't press charges. Not only that but she's going to let me work at the ranch. Granted she told me not to ever be alone with her again, but at least I'm closer to her now. Maybe if I can explain what happened eight years ago she'll forgive me and give me a second chance. I just have to time it right.
I've been working for Lou for two weeks now. The others were not happy about it at first but they eventually loosened up. It felt good to be working again. To be with family again. I didn't realize how much I had missed this. Buck still has not returned and nobody will tell me where he's gone in the first place. It doesn't matter, he's not here. I've kept my promise to Lou. I've haven't been alone with her, granted sometimes she only has one of the children around when I approach her but she never said it had to be an adult present.
I finally got up the nerve to tell her where I've been all these years, and why she received word I was dead. She seems to understand my reasoning. She also says she forgives me, but that she still loves Buck. She actually thanks me. She tells me if I hadn't left to go to war, she never would have known how much she has loved Buck all these years, even when we were riding together. That stings my pride something fierce. But I'm still not giving up, she's still my wife.
It's been two weeks and Buck still isn't home. I wonder if he is having any luck finding Red Bear. Kid has been working hard at the ranch. At first I regretted my decision but he's done a good job. Plus working with the boys again seems to be bringing the old Kid back. I'm glad; I didn't like this new Kid at all. Catching me in the barn one day with just Little Emma, we were looking at the new kittens; Kid finally answers the questions we all have wanted to know.
He tells me where he's been for the past ten years. When I got word he had been killed it was a mistake, obviously, because the rest of his unit had been killed his commander assumed he had been as well when he didn't turn back up. Kid deserted the confederate army and a short time later he was picked up by union soldiers and put into a prison camp where he spent the remainder of the war. After the war ended and he was released he was so ashamed he couldn't come home. He's spent the last eight years in and out of jail.
I feel sorry for him and understand why he couldn't come home. I told him I forgive him, but I also tell him that if I had never got that letter I would never have known how much I loved Buck even when we were riding together I loved Buck. I can tell that fact hurts him, but it's the truth. I know Kid isn't about to give up though, he never gave up easily. Besides in his mind I'm still his wife. I hope Teaspoon gets word soon on whether or not my marriage to Kid still stands. And I really hope Buck comes home soon.
Chapter 6 - Buck's POV
It's been well over a month since I left Lou in search of my brother Red Bear and our tribe. I'm just about ready to give up and go home to my wife and family. I miss her soft warm body next to mine at night. I miss those little heathens we call our children. Hell I even miss my 'brothers' and other extended family. I just want to go home. I just don't understand how Kid can claim he loved Lou so much and then abandon her for ten years. I'm about to go mad from just a month without her. But just as I have decided to turn around and go home my luck turns.
I spot signs that there is a tribe nearby. I don't know if its my village or if it's even a Kiowa village, so I use extreme caution as I approach. Before getting too close to the village I dismount from my horse so I can remove my shirt and jacket. I put my black vest back on and remount. I clutch my medicine bag and whisper a quick prayer to the spirits that I will find Red Bear at this village.
When I am close enough to the village I am relieved to see it's in fact a Kiowa village. Even if it's not Red Bear's tribe they should be able to point me in the right direction. I was not twenty feet into the village when a familiar figure stepped out in front of my horse. At last I had found my brother. "Brother" I cried dismounting and embracing Red Bear. "Running Buck it seems that the white man's world has agreed with you; you're not so scrawny anymore." Red Bear said teasing me. It's true though, in the years since I had seen Red Bear last I had filled out more. I was a true warrior now, strong, lean, and well-muscled, my heart was true Kiowa.
My brother leads me to his tepee were we could talk without others listening. He knows I have come for a reason. After we were seated inside his wife brought in food. I hadn't realized how hungry I was until I smelt it. Red Bear laughed as I dug in. "You need to find yourself a woman brother to cook for you." I grin at him; it had been so long since we have spoken he knew nothing of Lou and the children. "That's why I'm here brother. I've found a woman; we've been married eight years and have four children, another due in four moons." Red Bear's smile got huge as he slapped me on the back, "It seems you are blessed by the spirits Running Buck." My smile slowly slipped from my face. "That's my reason for coming brother, to be blessed by the Great Spirit. There has been a complication to our union."
Red Bear looked at me in confusion, "What do you mean little brother?" "Do you remember me telling you about my brothers in the Pony Express? Well Lou, my wife, was one of those. She hid the fact she was a female to get a job. For the longest time only us riders knew she was a woman. Well she fell in love and married another one of the riders, Kid. And after they married they moved back to Kid's home in Virginia so he could fight in the war for the south. That was ten years ago. Two years later she returned to Rock Creek with news that Kid had been killed. I had loved her for years, so when she returned it wasn't long before we married. She had always loved me as well. Well one moon ago, Kid returned to Rock Creek, he was never killed in the war. So he claims his marriage to Lou still stands in the eyes of the white man's law. Lou says she doesn't care what the law says. I'm her husband. But I want our union to be right in the sight of the Great Spirit. That's why I've come to you Red Bear; we want to be united in the Kiowa way."
Red Bear was silent for a while as he considered my story. "If I do this that you ask, your woman would still be considered the others wife in the white world. She will not be accepted. Are you sure this is what she wants?" Red Bear asked looking at me seriously. "Yes. We both are used to not being accepted by others. Our family accepts us and that is all that matters to us." Red Bear nodded his head at my words, "It cannot be a completely traditional ceremony. That would require the whole village to participate. I will come with you and perform a smaller ceremony. We will leave at first light." "Thank you my brother." I say as I grasp his arm.
We left just as the sun was starting to rise the next morning. I knew it wouldn't take a whole month to get home but it would still be a couple of weeks since we would have to avoid a lot of the towns, just as a precaution. In two weeks I should be back home in Lou's waiting arms. That thought alone brings a smile to my face.
Chapter 7 - Lou's POV
It has been a month since Buck left. I was really starting to worry about him. What if he was hurt? Or in trouble? I was just about ready to set out after him when I just got this feeling that Buck had accomplished what he had set out to do. He had found Red Bear and was coming home to me and our children. Somehow I knew this to be true. I could feel it in my soul. My husband would be back in my arms in about two weeks' time. I just knew it.
Over the past month Lou and I had manage to become friends again at least. It wasn't what I wanted but it was a start. I could tell she was worried about Buck. She thought he should be home by now. But then this morning I noticed a change about her. She was smiling and whistling. Whatever has happened it must be a good thing. She looked more like the Lou I had fallen in love with, but there was still something different about her. It wasn't that she was older or that she had more curves since becoming a mother. This was different.
I watched her as she was staring off into the west with a dreamy look on her face. I knew what was different. Lou was heart and soul in love with Buck. It was almost as if she could sense him coming home to her. Everybody was right, Lou and Buck were truly in love with each other, and they belonged together. As much as I loved her I knew what we had once didn't compare with this. I had to set her free.
I didn't want to mind you, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I would wait until Buck returned and then I would tell them both. Maybe if I'm lucky they will keep me on here. I realize the only thing I missed more than Lou was working with family again. Having a purpose. Having a family. I didn't want to leave here ever again. I went to Teaspoon to tell him my decision.
"Hello Kid, I was just coming to look for you. I've gotten word back on the legal matters of your marriage to Lou." Teaspoon said as I entered his office. 'That's what I was coming to talk to you about. I want to give Lou a divorce so she and Buck can get married legally." I say sitting down across from Teaspoon. He looked shocked, "Well Kid, I'm surprised to hear that, but as it turns out it's not necessary. Since you were declared dead your marriage ended. But since you weren't dead it would normally mean you would still be legally married, however since it's been ten years since you made any contact with Lou by law you abandoned her. So your marriage is null and void." Teaspoon told me as gently as possible.
"So Lou is not my wife?" I ask making sure I understood. "Correct' was all Teaspoon said. "But since I didn't die eight years ago that means she isn't Buck's legal wife either." I said understanding. Lou was free already; she could marry whoever she wanted. "That's correct as well." Teaspoon said pursing his mouth. I give a soft laugh, figures after I decide to be all noble I find out Lou wasn't mine anymore, but she also wasn't Bucks' "Well than I guess once Buck gets back you'll have a wedding to perform." Teaspoon laughed.
"What made you want to give Lou up Kid?' Teaspoon asked a few minutes later, trying to figure it out. I give him a sad smile, "over the past month I've got to know her again. I still love her Teaspoon, I probably always will, but I finally saw how much she loves Buck. She's been sick with worry for him for a week now. But today I saw her whistling and smiling staring off into the west with a dreamy look on her face. It was almost as if she knows Buck is coming home or something. Those two have a connection that Lou and I never did. I messed up; I missed my chance with Lou. She's moved on and I have to let her go. I would appreciate it if you don't say anything yet. When Buck gets back I'll tell them myself."
I get up to leave but Teaspoon stops me. "You know Kid, you may not be married to Lou anymore but you're still a part of this family. I know things have been a little tense around here but we all are glad you're alive and back. This is always your home. After you talk to Buck, maybe something can be worked out to find you a permanent place with the rest of your family." I give him a grateful smile, "You have no idea how much that means to me Teaspoon. I think I have missed working and being with my family more than anything else. I feel like myself again." Teaspoon smiled, "It's good to have you home son." With that he pulled me into a hug, the first one I had gotten since coming home. I really was home.
Chapter 8 - Buck's POV
Exactly two weeks after finding Red Bear I saw the outskirts of Rock Creek. I was on my land. I pointed out the horses to my brother telling him they were mine. In the Kiowa world I was a very rich man for having so many. As our horses drew closer to my home I was surprised to see Kid working alongside Jimmy and Cody. I saw Lou bringing them all water, little Emma trailing after her. Lou's belly was more pronounced, it about two and a half more months I would be a father again. I smile at the beautiful sight before me. "That is your woman?" Red Bear asked indicating Lou. "Yes" was all I said before Lou looked over and saw us. She dropped the bucket she had been carrying causing water to splash up on Jimmy. I grinned quickly dismounting my horse and ran to meet her halfway.
Lou literally jumped into my arms almost causing me to lose my balance. The kiss we shared made the loneliness of the past month and a half disappear. I was home. Little Emma had attached herself to my leg by this time. I let go of Lou long enough so I could pick my daughter up. I knew my sons would be at school. With my arm around Lou I led her to my brother to introduce them. I could feel my 'brothers' move closer so they could welcome me back and meet my brother as well.
As late in the year as it was it was still hot. An Indian summer Buck would call it. The guys had been working hard all morning, so with little Emma trailing after me I brought them a bucket of water to drink from. "You know Lou, I've been thinking are you sure you're not due to have that baby this month?" Jimmy asked with a grin. I roll my eyes, "See that's what you get for thinking, I'm sure I'm not due this month." Cody grinned before saying, "Guess she is having twins again." I glare at the two of them, "Are you two calling me fat?" The guys grinned. I knew they had a point; my belly was much bigger than it should be at this point. I was just fixing to give Jimmy a drink of water when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.
I look over, a huge smile spreading across my face. I dropped the bucket I was holding. It splashed up on Jimmy, I head his muttered curse, and I didn't care. All I cared about was reaching the man I was running towards. He met me halfway, with a small leap I threw myself into Buck's waiting arms. I know the force almost knocked him over. I give him a kiss that made all the lonely night just melt away. My Buck was home. Emma wrapped herself around her daddy's legs. He let go of me long enough to pick her up. Then he led me to the man still sitting on his horse. I could feel the boys fall into step behind us as Buck introduced me to by brother in law. "Red Bear this is my woman, Lou, and our daughter Emma Little Feather." Red Bear dismounted and walked over I could tell he was sizing me up. "She is worth four ponies at least." Red Bear said at last to Buck. I looked confused.
My expression made the two Indians laugh. "It's a compliment Lou; most warriors would only give two ponies at most for a woman." I blush slightly at the compliment. "The Great Spirit has blessed you with a fruitful womb. You will have twins by the next moon." Red Bear said reaching a hand toward my swollen belly. I just smirked, everybody thought I was fat. Buck introduced Red Bear to our 'brothers' even Kid, and told him that our sons would be home from school soon.
The guys went back to work while Red Bear and Buck followed me into the bunkhouse where I fixed them something to eat. After the men had eaten Buck told me Red Bear had agreed to perform the ceremony. It was decided we would have it tomorrow after they were rested from their trip.
I watched Lou walk across the yard with little Emma, bringing us some water. As she handed me the dipper I smiled my thanks. Jimmy and Cody started teasing her about her baby belly. She really was getting big, but we all thought she was still beautiful. I watched as Lou turned to look at something that caught her attention. A huge smile blossoming on her face as she dropped the bucket and ran to the man quickly dismounting his horse. I heard Jimmy muttered an oath as the water splashed him. I watched as Lou almost knocked Buck over in her exuberance. She really loves him. I notice the older Indian with him. I recognize him from the time Ike was taken hostage by Buck's tribe. It's his brother Red Bear. I tell the boys and together we fall into step behind Lou and Buck to meet him.
I wondered why he was here. Is this where Buck's been? Searching for Red Bear? After we were introduced we went back to work as Lou led the brothers inside. I turned to Jimmy and Cody, "Why did Buck bring him here?" I know they know why. The two share a look, unsure what to say to me. "Kid Buck went to find Red Bear so he could marry Lou in the Kiowa way. He thought that way at least their marriage would be right in the sight of God, if not the law." Jimmy said to me, the look on his face one of compassion. "God? How would an Indian ceremony make things right in God's eye?" I asked not sure what Buck was thinking. "God, Great Spirit, same thing if you ask me." Cody said with a shrug.
Now that I know where Buck has been I understand why they wouldn't tell me. I guess they thought if I knew I might do something stupid like kidnap Lou while Buck was gone. "Hmm… I guess that makes sense. But as it turns out it wasn't necessary." I tell the guys, they look at me like I'm crazy. "Teaspoon told me two weeks ago that according to the law I'm no longer married to Lou because I technically abandoned her for ten years. But that also means Buck and Lou aren't legally married either. I was waiting for Buck to come home so I could tell them together. I still love Lou, but I realized that she and Buck are meant to be together." Jimmy and Cody each give my shoulders a sympathetic squeeze before we get back to work. I would tell Lou and Buck tomorrow.
Chapter 9 - Lou's POV
The next morning I woke up in Buck's arms. It was the best night sleep I had had in over a month. As big as my belly was it was too uncomfortable to welcome him home in the manner I wanted. So instead of letting him be the one in control, like the way I liked when we made love, I controlled it. I never much cared for being on top but this time I didn't mind at all. Now as I lay awake in my husband's warm embrace I let out a contented sigh.
Today we would be married in the Kiowa way. I wasn't sure what to expect. Buck told me it wouldn't be traditional but it was still just as sacred. I got out of bed so I could fix breakfast for my family. I was surprised to see Red Bear already up and sitting at our table. "Good morning Red Bear, I hope you slept well." I say to him with a happy smile on my face. Buck's brother looks over at me; I swear I see the same teasing smile that Buck has for me on his face, "Yes I did… after you finished welcoming my brother home that is." I flushed hotly; I didn't know we had been loud enough for anyone to hear. Red Bear laughed at my embarrassment, "Do not be ashamed little one. Remember in our world families all sleep together in one room. What is shared between a man and woman is done openly and without shame. It is good that you please Running Buck and he you." Red Bear told me with a twinkle in his eye. I know my face was getting steadily redder; this was not the type of conversation I was used to.
Fortunately Buck came to my rescue, slipping up behind me he put his arms around me, his hands resting on my belly. He kissed the side of my neck, "yes it is a good thing that you please me and I you." He whispered into my ear. I smacked him playfully. So much for my rescue. After breakfast I sent our boys off to school and little Emma to Rachel. Red Bear left to prepare for the ceremony. It was going to take place out on the prairie. After he left Buck pulled something from his saddle bags. It was a white doeskin dress. I had never felt anything so soft or seen anything so beautiful. There was even a pair of moccasins to wear with it.
"Red Bear's wife sent these for you." Buck said holding the items out to me. "They're beautiful." I tell him as I take them from his hands. Buck has to help me with the dress, as large as my belly was it was a snug fit, but Buck swore I looked beautiful. With his help I braided my hair placing a beaded band around my head. Buck changed into a very nice pair of buckskin pants and shirt. He left his hair loose except for one section that he braided wrapping it with fur, and tied an eagle feather to it as well. Buck looked like a true warrior. I had never seen him look so handsome.
After we were ready we mounted our horses and went to meet Red Bear. I didn't understand anything that was said during the ceremony since it was spoken in Kiowa. Red Bear had joined my hand with Buck and had wrapped a beaded cloth around our joined hands, binding us. Then Buck kissed my cheek, the look in his eyes told me I had to do the same. Then it was over. We were married in the eyes of the Kiowa. I grinned at Buck, his smile matching my own.
Lou had never looked more beautiful than she did in that doeskin dress. We should have done this years ago. I know Lou doesn't understand anything that Red Bear is saying. I'll explain it to her later. After I kiss her cheek, she reads in my eyes that she supposed to do the same. She does. The ceremony is over. She is my wife in the sight of the Kiowa people and the Great Spirit. My Kiowa heart soars at that realization. I have to remember to thank Kid. I never realized how much I had needed to do this for my own self, for my Kiowa self. But as much as my Kiowa self is at peace now, my white side still knows that in the white world she is not my bride. There is nothing that can be done about that though. So I will take what I can get. Lou, Red Bear, and I return to the bunkhouse.
Red Bear is anxious to get home, but we talk him into staying until morning, the children would be upset if he left without saying goodbye. I ask if he wants me to accompany him home, he says no if I did I would miss the birth of my children. He swears Lou will give birth to twins within the month. As big as her belly is, I tend to agree with him. That night after supper Red Bear tells my children stories of our people, something that I had been lack in doing. I'm ashamed of that. I make a promise to myself that from now on I would tell my children the stories of our people every night. I can see they are enthralled by them, even Lou appears to be. The next morning after breakfast my brother leaves to return to our people.
Chapter 10 - Buck's POV
As we watched Red Bear ride away Kid approached us. "Buck, Lou could I speak with you two alone?" He asked. I looked at Kid, at one time I had considered him a friend, a brother, but after what he had done I wasn't sure I wanted to hear what he had to say. Lou's hand on my arm made me stop and take a closer look at him.
Kid had changed in the time I was gone. He seemed to be Kid again. I looked at Lou who gave me a soft smile, "Alright Kid, come on inside." I say as I lead the way into the bunkhouse. After we were seated Lou got cups of coffee for all of us. "Alright Kid, what is it you wanted to talk about?" I asked him looking him squarely in the eye.
I looked at Buck. I could tell he still didn't trust me, but for old times' sake he was giving me a chance to speak my mind. I take a deep breath. "Well, Buck first I wanted to apologize for the things I said to you when I first arrived back here. They were uncalled for and I didn't really mean them. For a long time Buck I haven't been myself, but since coming back home and working with the guys again, I've started to feel like myself again. Two weeks ago I came to the realization that though I still love Lou, I probably always will, you two are meant to be together. There is a connection between the two of you that we never shared." I say looking between the two of them, both of them had unbelieving looks on their faces.
"What are you saying Kid?" Buck asked looking at me in confusion. "What I'm saying is Buck that I realized I had to set Lou free. I went to Teaspoon to tell him I wanted to give Lou a divorce. So she could marry you. Turns out I didn't have too. According to the law our marriage is null and void since it's been ten years since I contacted her. They called it abandonment." I could tell Buck was trying not to smile. "So Lou is not legally you're wife?" he asked me. "No, but she's not yours either. Since you married eight years ago, she was still technically married to me at the time. But Lou is free now to marry you legally." I tell them, Buck and Lou can't stop their smiles as they look at each other.
Buck looks back at me and smiled holding his hand out, "Thank you Kid. You do know that if we had known you were still alive we wouldn't have married. You are my brother Kid; I could never purposely betray you." I shake his hand, 'I know Buck." Lou came around to my side and gave me a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you Kid. And for what's it worth you will always be family and are always welcome here." I smile at them. "You know I was actually hoping that you would keep me on here. I know it may be awkward at first, but I really do love working with family again." I tell them looking at them hopefully.
Buck and Lou share a look and smile. "Well from what I've been told by Cody and Jimmy you still work as hard as ever, so… we would be happy for you to stay on. You're family after all. Families are supposed to stick together." I give Buck a grateful smile and turn to thank Lou as well but when I looked on her face I was shocked by her expression. "Lou?" I asked just before she puts her hand to her belly and lets out a pitiful moan. Buck jumped to his feet and rushed to Lou's side. He tells me to go get Rachel the baby is coming early.
Buck and Kid had come to an understanding. Kid had asked to stay on at the ranch and Buck agreed. I was glad that our remaining family would all stay together. But my joy was cut short by a sharp pain in my abdomen. My hand going to my bell I moaned. I heard Kid say my name before Buck rushed to my side. He told Kid to fetch Rachel. Then he lifted me in his arms and carried me to our bed. "It's too soon Buck, the baby isn't due for two months still." I say worried. "It will be ok Lou, as large as you are you have to be further along than we thought or its twins again. You know twins almost always come early." Buck says trying to soothe me. Rachel comes in then and with Buck's help they get me into a nightgown. Buck is ushered from the room. A few minutes after Buck left Emma came in to help Rachel.
It had been hours since Lou had gone into labor. I don't know why it always takes so long for the baby to come. As I paced the porch I had a strange sense of déjà vu. This was the exact scene as Lou's previous births. Teaspoon was whittling, Cody and Jimmy leaning against a post and the wall. Sam keeping the kids distracted by the corral. The only difference, Kid was here pacing with me. I can tell by the look on his face that hearing Lou in such pain is causing him pain, the same as me.
Kid looks at me, "How have you done this three times already Buck? It's about to kill me listening to her in there." I run a hand through my hair, "I don't know Kid. I can't stand for her to go through this pain either, especially knowing I'm the cause of it." Kid just looked at me as we continued our pacing. Then I heard the sound of a baby crying. I look over at my family, their grins matching mine. I wait at the door for Emma or Rachel to let me in. they don't. I start to get worried when I hear Lou cry out in pain again. I cast a panicked look in Teaspoon's direction. He is off his feet and coming to stand beside me. That's when we heard another baby's cry.
I breathed a sigh of relief. I had twins again. Emma opened the door a minute later and let me in. I go into our bedroom to find Lou holding one baby and Rachel another. She looked beautiful. "Your brother was right Buck." Lou said with a grin at me. "He usually is." I say as I sit next to Lou on the edge of our bed. Rachel places my baby in my arms. "We have a son and a daughter Buck." Lou said as the child was placed in my arms. I lean over and kiss my wife, our family joins us now. Our children anxious to meet their new siblings. "What are their names daddy?" Ike asks. Lou and I had already talked about names and had picked out a name for a boy and a girl. I look at her and she nods giving me permission to tell.
I hold my son in my arms and look down at him, "His name is Jesse Sly Fox." I look over at the baby Lou is holding, "And her name is Rachel Hummingbird." Our family all took turns holding the newest members.
One month later I stand at the front of the little white church again. Teaspoon is in front of me again. This time however I had my 'brothers' to stand with me. Jimmy and Cody stood by my side as we watched Emma and then Rachel come up the aisle. Then on the arm of Kid came Lou. This was the wedding we should have had all along. A wedding with our entire family. Kid handed Lou over to me with a smile. I knew this was hard on him but he was handling it well. After he gave Lou away he sat next to Sam on the front bench. Our children next to him.
This time I remembered everything that Teaspoon said. And when it was time to kiss the bride I did so without any reservations. I could hear the chuckles in the church before we finally broke apart. At last I was married to the woman I loved in both the worlds I belonged to.
I had been surprised when Lou asked me to give her away. At first I wanted to turn her down but I thought it appropriate so I agreed. Lou was beautiful in her wedding dress. The look of love on her face as she met Buck's eyes at the front of the church just made me realize what I had been fool enough to leave behind all those years ago. I handed her off to Buck. After I gave her away I sat next to Sam and my 'nieces and nephews'. As I watched Buck marry the woman I loved I can't help think this is how he must have felt when I had been the one up there marrying Lou. They had told me that Buck had loved Lou even then but out of his friendship for me he remained silent. I was blessed to have a friend like him. When Teaspoon told Buck to kiss his bride he did so quite thoroughly. I had to chuckle myself at them. Lou truly belonged to Buck now. She was where she belonged, and for now so was I. maybe one day I will love again, but for now I'm content to work Buck's ranch with my brothers and 'sister'.