Rock Creek Fall of 1865
Lou walked through town, heading for Rachel's house. She had purchased the house when the Pony Express ended four years ago. Teaspoon had been given the old bunkhouse and stables by the company. He told the 'boys' that as long as he owned it; they'd have a place to call home. Both Teaspoon and Kid had decided to stay in Rock Creek instead of going to fight in the war, agreeing that they had already seen enough bloodshed, and their place was with their family.
Buck stayed in Rock Creek, too. He, Kid, and Lou had made plans to run a horse ranch as partners. It was actually a three way partnership. Buck and Kid bought and broke the horses, but Lou had a say in the business too. She also kept the books and prepared the meals, when they didn't eat at Rachel's house. Lou planned to wait at the older woman's home for Kid, Buck, and Teaspoon to come home from purchasing the new horses for their ranch.
After she and Kid were married four years ago, they'd bought the old Wilson farm about five miles from town. Kid and Buck had worked hard to make their horse ranch the success it was today. Lou was pleased with all the hard work she'd done to turn the old house into a comfortable home for her and Kid. It was the first real place she and Kid could call their own.
On his last run, just before the express stopped running, Kid went to the orphanage in St. Joseph to get Jeremiah and Teresa. He brought them back to Rock Creek to live with him and Lou. He'd called it his wedding present to her, even though they'd been married almost a month by then. Now Jeremiah was fifteen, Teresa, fourteen, and they seemed to fit right in with their life here in Rock Creek.
Almost a year after they'd married, they'd all welcomed a baby boy into their family. He was named after his 'grandpa' and the two family members who'd died. They named him Noah Ike Hunter. He called Buck, Cody, and Jimmy uncle, just like his Uncle Jeremiah. Teaspoon was grandpa and Rachel was his godmother. His favorite person was his Aunt Teresa, who did everything with him.
Kid, Buck, Teaspoon and some hired hands had been gone all week to Fort Kearny. They were due home sometime today, hopefully soon. Lou missed the Kid. She promised him that she'd meet them at Rachel's house for supper before they took the horses back to the ranch. The children had spent the day with Rachel so Lou could run some errands in town. She'd just finished and was on her way to meet them.
She'd spent most of the afternoon in Tompkins's store, trying to find the perfect present for the Kid's upcoming birthday. She had made Tompkins promise last month to tell her if he saw Kid looking at anything with interest. She'd yet to find the gift she wanted to buy for him. She was running out of time to order him anything special. It didn't help that Tompkins had been gone for a couple of weeks, leaving his new assistant in charge of the store.
She was walking by Caroline's Dress Shop when the stage pulled up in front of the hotel. There were seven men on horses riding alongside it. They were imposing men who sat their horses well, all carried guns strapped to their waists, and there was an intensity about them that clearly stated they were men to be reckoned with if wronged, and reminded Lou of how Kid and the others carried themselves. She hoped it didn't mean there was going to be trouble. With Teaspoon and the boys gone, the town didn't need the trouble. She hoped they got home soon.
The men dismounted as a lady stepped off the stage, helped by the man who was dressed all in black. A boy jumped out of the stage and into the man's arms. Next, a girl with braids exited the coach. She looked to be around Jeremiah's age, but she wore boy's clothes very similar to the ones she was currently wearing.
She continued on to the old waystation, and walked around the corner of the blacksmith's shop as the house came into view. She could see Rachel hanging the laundry and waved to her. Little Noah was playing with Teresa in the yard and Jeremiah was riding Lightning in the corral. She walked through the gate and was tackled by her son. She picked him up and kissed his dirty face.
"Hello my little man."
"Mamma, guess what?" He asked her.
Lou hugged her child. "I give up."
He gave her a look that was so much like his father's that she had to laugh. "No mamma, you hafta guess."
Lou looked at her sister Teresa for help and she signed like she was drawing something. "You made me a picture." She said and smiled.
He scrunched up his nose. "How'd you guess mamma?"
"Just lucky, son." She said as she put him down and hugged her sister.
Rachel walked over and put her laundry basket down. "Supper should be ready soon, if the boys ever get home. Would you like some lemonade while we wait?"
"That sounds great Rachel. I'm sorry I wasn't here to help with supper." Lou said as she sat on the porch swing.
"Don't worry about it." She said, pouring some from the container sitting on the table and handed the glass to Lou as she joined her on the swing. "Any luck finding that gift yet?"
"No, but I'm not giving up." She told her friend.
"Good, I'm sure you'll find something soon. You could always ask Buck to pick something up on his next visit to Seneca. He seems to be spending a lot of time there lately." She got up to go into the house. "I'm going to check on the food, just sit there and relax."
Mary Travis was glad to be off the stage. She thanked Chris for helping her descend it. Billy was so happy to be off it as well, that he'd jumped right into Chris's arms. Casey followed them out, but not into anyone's arms. If she would have, it would have been right into JD's.
The six other men traveling with them joined the passengers as they waited for their luggage. Each man picked up a bag and carried it into the hotel. JD went to pick up Casey's bag, only to have her yank it out of his hands. To cover his embarrassment, he looked around at the town of Rock Creek, Chris turned to Mary after putting Billy down by their bags. "Why don't you and Billy go check into the hotel and get some rest? I'll see if this Teaspoon Hunter is still around these parts."
"Alright," Mary replied, not in any shape to argue with anyone at that very moment. She was hot, dusty, tired, and hungry. Billy needed a nap, and she needed time to think. She took her son's hand and headed into the hotel and up to the front desk. She hoped this wasn't another wasted stop on their trip, and Teaspoon Hunter was still in Rock Creek.
She'd argued long and hard with the judge about going on this search for the man who she had only recently found out was her father. Her mother never wanted to talk about him while she was growing up, and she had only learned what his name was a few months earlier after her mother's passing. The judge looked for him when she'd asked him to, but he'd begged her to leave it alone. Teaspoon Hunter didn't know he'd fathered a child since her mother hadn't known she was with child until after their parting.
She settled Billy into bed for his nap, and wondered if this was another dead end like Sweetwater had been. They had gone before coming to Rock Creek, only to be told by the marshal there that Teaspoon had moved onto Rock Creek a year before the war broke out. She hoped he was still here.
JD grabbed Casey's hand, making her look at him. "Why don't you go check into the hotel, too?"
"Don't tell me what to do JD Dunne. I'll go if I want to, not when you tell me to go. You don't have the right to boss me around." She told him as she pulled her hand out of his, but she went into the hotel to check in anyway.
Their friends watched on, amused by the young couple. Buck Wilmington looked around and smiled when his eyes reached the saloon. "I don't know about you boys, but I need a drink, and the company of a pretty lady."
"I will accompany you, Buck. Perhaps I can persuade some gentlemen into joining me in a friendly card game." Ezra Standish said as both men headed for the saloon. JD didn't say anything, but he did follow them.
Chris watched as the three men walked away. He turned in time to see Josiah Sanchez and Nathan Jackson head towards the town's church, like they always did when entering a town. He looked at his friend Vin Tanner and nodded. "I'm going over to the marshal's office to see if Hunter is still around. Can you make sure Buck, Ezra, and JD stay out of trouble in the saloon?"
"Sure Pard, My throat's a bit parched anyway." He said as he slowly walked the way his three friends just went.
Chris headed for the marshal's office, his eyes taking in his surroundings, and the folks milling about in it. It seemed like a quiet place and the townsfolk looked friendly enough. Most of the residents had smiles on their faces, too. For Mary's sake, he hoped her search ended here in Rock Creek. She was starting to lose hope.
He entered the building and waited to be noticed by the man sitting at the desk. He was cleaning his gun, but looked up when he felt eyes on him. "Hi, can I help you?" A slight frown forming on his face.
Chris nodded. "I'm looking for some information on someone who might have lived here a few years ago. I was told this was the last town he'd lived in."
"I might be able to help you. I've been deputy here going on four years now. Name's Ben Miller." The man reached out his hand.
Chris shook his hand. "I'm Chris Larabee, nice to meet you. The man I'm looking for is Teaspoon Hunter."
"You're looking for Teaspoon? Are you a friend of his?" Ben asked suspiciously.
"I'm looking for him for a friend of mine, Mary Travis. She's the daughter in law of Judge Oren Travis. She's over at the hotel resting. We've been to Sweetwater and she was told to look for him here in Rock Creek." He explained.
Ben smiled. "Well then today's your lucky day. I'm expecting Teaspoon to be home sometime today."
Chris couldn't believe his information was right. Mary would be happy to know her search was finally over. "Can you tell me where he lives?"
Ben nodded. "Sure, he lives here."
"I know he lives in Rock Creek, but where is his house?" He asked, confused now.
"What I meant was Teaspoon lives here, in the back room. Teaspoon is the marshal of Rock Creek." Ben told him, pointing to the back room.
"Now I understand. You said he'd be back today? I'll bring Mrs. Travis by to see him tomorrow then. Thanks for the information Deputy Miller." Chris said and turned to leave just as a boy came running in.
"Deputy Miller, there's trouble over at the saloon." Kyle said trying to catch his breath.
"What's going on Kyle?" He asked as he walked over to the boy.
"A couple of strangers are starting trouble, and they pulled guns on my pa." He explained.
Chris was getting a bad feeling about this. "What did these men look like son?"
"Real scary and dirty, mister. They're drunk, and when pa told them he wasn't going to serve them anymore, they pulled the guns on him and said they'd shoot him. Ma told me to come get help." He said.
"Kyle, take my horse and go to Mrs. Dunne's house. See if Marshal Hunter and the Kid are back yet. Tell them we need help in town, and then stay there until I come and tell you it is okay to come back." Ben told him and pushed him towards the door. Then he went to the back of the room to unlock the gun safe.
Chris followed him. "Mind if I join you? I've got a couple of friends in the saloon and we might be able to help you out."
Ben stopped what he was doing to look at Chris; he'd forgotten he was still there. "I don't mind at all, but let's wait to see if Teaspoon's back yet." He continued to take ammunition out of the gun safe while he waited to see if Teaspoon was coming.
Lou walked over to the corral to watch her brother ride her horse Lightning. He always looked so happy when on a horse. Maybe it was time he had his own. She'd talk to Kid and Buck about giving him one when they returned.
Maybe give him a horse for his birthday; he was going to be sixteen in a few months after all.
Lou wondered what was keeping the men. They should be back by now. They must be taking it slow so they could relive the times when they'd take trips like this during the express days; she wished she could have gone too. She often thought back to those times and her express family when she had time to think. She missed Jimmy and Cody, who had only come to visit a couple of times in the last four years. She missed Ike and Noah so much it hurt sometimes.
She got letters from Emma and Sam, who was still the Territorial Marshal. They had two children of their own, a boy and a girl named Sam Jr. and Louise. They nicknamed Sam Jr., Kid. She had been so touched when Emma told her what they'd named their daughter. She missed Emma terribly.
Lost in thought, Lou didn't hear the horse coming until Kyle was standing in front of her saying something. "Whoa, slow down Kyle. What's wrong?"
"Miss Louise, is Marshal Hunter back yet? Deputy Miller needs him in town." Kyle asked her, trying to catch his breath.
She looked towards the horizon in the direction they would be coming. "They're not back yet. What's wrong?" She asked him.
He explained what he'd told Deputy Miller. He told her what the deputy had told him to do, and he looked to her for help. He looked like Lou had all his answers and she wanted to help him. She made her decision.
She took the reins of his horse, pulled her braids up and put her hat on, making her look like a boy. "Kyle, get Teresa and Noah inside. Tell Rachel what's going on and stay here with her." She climbed onto the horse and called to Jeremiah.
"What's wrong Louise?" Jeremiah asked when he saw Kyle grab Teresa and Noah pulling them into the house.
She told him what was going on and that she was going to help out Deputy Miller. She told him to ride out as far as the Hayes farm to see if he could find Kid, Buck, Teaspoon. If he didn't see them, she told him to stay there until they did. She turned the horse around and headed off for the marshal's office. Jeremiah rode Lightning in the direction he knew the men would be coming.
Lou was at the marshal's office in no time. She ran through the door to see Ben waiting to leave for the saloon with the man in black from the stage. "Ben, what's going on?"
He stopped when he heard Lou come in. "Please tell me that Teaspoon is with you Lou."
"No, they're not back yet. I came to help until they come back. I sent Jeremiah to tell Teaspoon there's trouble. Hopefully they'll be here soon." She explained.
"I really don't want to ask you, but I can sure use your help Lou." Ben said.
"That's what I'm here for." She said then looked at the man in black. "You here to help too?"
Chris nodded, he doubted the stranger's ability with a gun, even though Lou wore one strapped down like he did. He didn't think he was old enough to even be in a saloon, and looked even younger than JD. "I'm Chris." He said and held out his hand.
She shook his hand, remembering that she'd seen him earlier with the other men who had accompanied the stagecoach into town. "I'm Lou. You ready Ben?"
"Yeah Lou as ready as I can be," He asked, grabbing her arm. "Just promise me one thing."
"What is it Ben?" She asked knowing what he was going to say.
Ben knew that she knew, but he had to say it. He took her aside, away from the stranger. "Please be careful. I don't want to have to face Teaspoon, Buck, and especially the Kid, if anything happens to you. They'd kill me."
She smiled and placed her hand on his shoulder, squeezing it. "I promise to be careful Ben. Believe me; I don't want to have to face their wrath either. Let's go." She said as she pulled open a drawer and pulled out a deputy's badge. "Don't worry, I've been sworn in so many times I'm probably still a deputy."
Chris watched the exchange with doubt. Maybe he should insist Lou stay behind, but it wasn't his business. He followed them to the saloon.
Jeremiah reached the Hayes farm and still hadn't run into the men. He knew that Lou told him to stay there until he found his brother-in-law, uncle, and Teaspoon, but knowing his sister could be walking into trouble, he couldn't sit still and do nothing. He made up his mind, patted Lightning on the neck, and kept riding towards his brother in law.
The men herded the new stock of horses towards Rock Creek and home. With any luck they should be there in an hour. Teaspoon, Kid, and Buck were also traveling with a couple of old friends they met up with in Fort Kearny. Not only had they found Jimmy there, but Cody as well. It hadn't taken much convincing by Kid, Buck, and Teaspoon to get Cody and Hickok to ride back to Rock Creek with him. They didn't even have to use the excuse that Rachel and Lou would love to see them.
"So Kid, how's Lou's cooking?" Cody asked rubbing his tummy.
"She's doing a lot better since we got married, right Buck?" Kid looked over at his friend and business partner.
He laughed. "She's never made us a meal we didn't like yet. I think she was pretending that she couldn't cook so we didn't make her do it more often."
Jimmy was listening to his friends talk, but his eyes were on the horizon. He could see a rider approaching them fast. As it got closer, he recognized Lightning. "Hey Kid, isn't that Lou's horse coming our way?"
Kid looked at the rider and horse. "Yes, but that's not Lou. It's Jeremiah coming like the devil is chasing him. Something's wrong." He said and nudged Katy to go faster.
Teaspoon had been watching everything and turned to the extra hands. "Stay with the horses. We'll be right back." He told them then galloped off with Jimmy, Cody, and Buck after the Kid.
"Jeremiah what's wrong? Is Lou okay?" Kids asked when he pulled up next to his brother in law and took hold of Lightning's reigns.
"Kid, she sent me out to find you, Buck, and Teaspoon." He explained what was going on in town, and that his sister went to help Ben take care of it.
Kid wasn't happy. "Buck, can you and Jeremiah help get the horses to Rachel's?"
"Go ahead Kid; take care of Lou and Rock Creek." He told him as he took hold of Lightning's reigns and led Jeremiah to the horses.
Kid looked at his other friends. "Well, let's go save Rock Creek and my wife. She's probably even put a badge on before leaving your office Teaspoon." He said as they galloped towards town.
Buck and Jeremiah watched them ride away. "Why do I get the feeling that Kid is going to tie your sister to the bed for a week? And Teaspoon's going to have to give Ben a vacation just to keep Kid from killing him." He said chuckling. Part 5
Lou, Ben, and Chris walked through the doors of the saloon to see a couple of men holding guns on Kyle's dad. Chris looked around the room to look for his friends. He caught Vin's eye and nodded. Vin knew to be ready for whatever happened next. He saw that Ezra was playing cards but also keeping an eye on the situation. Since he couldn't see Buck and JD anywhere, he assumed they were upstairs with the ladies.
Vin got up to stand by Chris if he needed him. He eyed the deputy and the boy next to him. "Buck is upstairs and JD went back to the hotel. I don't trust these two they've been holdin' their guns on him for a while now." He whispered to Chris.
Lou walked up to the men with Ben beside her. "That'll be enough boys, I think it's time you were on your way. That is unless you wanna spend the night in jail."
The older of the two men took one look at Lou and laughed. "Look Jack, this boy puts a badge on and thinks it makes him a man."
"Yeah Danny, you're right. Maybe we should teach him a lesson." Jack said.
"I don't need a lesson, but I will arrest you both if you don't leave town right now." she told them. They just laughed at her.
Jack made the mistake of turning his gun on Lou. Without a thought, she pulled her own and shot his gun out of his hand. As it hit the ground, his gun went off too. His brother turned to point his gun at Lou and Ben, but found that Chris, Ezra, and Vin all pointed their guns at him. He put his gun down and helped his brother wrap his hand.
Ben reached for their guns and emptied them. "Now you're going to get on your horses and ride off. I don't want to see you around here anymore." He followed them out of the saloon and watched them ride away.
Lou stood there and watched them leave the saloon and ride off. "Are you okay Michael?" She asked the man behind the counter.
He nodded then his eyes got wide. "I'm okay Miss Louise, but you're bleeding."
"What?" Ben said as he left the doorway and rushed to Lou's side.
Chris walked back inside after the brothers' galloped off in time to hear Michael. "Miss Louise?" He asked.
Lou looked down and saw the bloodstain on her side. She didn't feel the pain of the wound, and thought she was just grazed. "I'm okay Ben." She told him as he tried to check her wound.
"Lord Lou, Teaspoon is gonna fire me, Buck is gonna scalp me, and Kid is gonna kill me." Ben mumbled. "We need to get you over to Doc Barnes now."
Chris couldn't believe his ears. Lou was a woman? How could he have missed it? Vin could see that Chris was trying to come to terms with the fact that Lou was a woman, so he moved over to her and picked her up to carry her to the doctor's office. Buck was walking down the stairs fixing his clothes. He joined Chris and Ezra as Vin picked her up.
Lou squirmed in the strange man's arms. No one picked her up like Kid did, she wouldn't stand for it. "Let me go now. I'm fine, it's only a scratch."
"Ma'am, not until I get you to the doctor. You're bleedin' and you need to have it checked out." He told her as they left the saloon with Ben, Chris, Ezra, and Buck following behind.
JD and Casey ran to meet them in the middle of the road. "What's going on?" JD asked.
"A couple of cretins were causing mayhem in the saloon and she was shot trying to show them the error of their ways." Ezra filled them in.
"Please put me down. I can walk on my own." Lou said and Vin put her down, but stayed close in case she couldn't walk.
"Ma'am, you really should have the doctor look at that wound." He told her.
"Stop calling me ma'am, it's Louise or Lou. I don't need Doc Barnes to look at me, I'm fine. I've been shot worse before." She told him and started walking towards the marshal's office.
"Lou, please do what he's suggesting. I'll feel so much better if I know you're okay before Kid gets here." Ben said as they followed her down the street.
"Riders coming," Someone yelled.
"Oh Lord, I'm dead." Ben said.
Lou turned to see her husband riding towards her, with three other riders behind coming in the distance. "Kid!"
He was out of the saddle before Katy could come to a complete stop and took her into his arms. "Lou, are you okay?"
"I'm fine Kid." She said and kissed him.
He could feel moisture on her side and saw the blood. "Lou, you've been shot. Teaspoon's she's been shot."
Teaspoon got off his horse. "Lou, go see Doc Barnes. Ben, what in tarnation happened?"
"I'm fine Teaspoon and don't blame Ben. I was the one to put the badge on, and it wasn't like I had a choice. I couldn't let Ben go in there alone." She faced off against her husband and the man she considered a father.
"Oh stop arguing with Teaspoon and just go see Doc Barnes, Lou. I'm hungry and the sooner you get checked out, the sooner we can eat." Cody said from behind Teaspoon.
She saw her two friends behind them for the first time and smiled. "Cody? Jimmy? I can't believe it; I've missed you both so much." She said and threw her arms around them both.
"Lou, you're bleeding all over us. Go get patched up, then you can hug us all you want." Jimmy told her.
Before she could say or do anything, Kid picked up his wife and carried her to the doctor's office. She could hear her friends laughing as they went inside.
"She let him carry her, and she fought me like her life depended on it." Vin said.
"That's because he's her husband, and he's the only one who can get away with doing that to her." Cody told him.
Teaspoon turned on his deputy as soon as Lou was inside with Kid. "Ben, what happened?"
Ben explained the whole incident and introduced Chris and his friends to them. "If it weren't for these men, then Lou would have been shot again, and there might have been more hurt there."
Teaspoon shook Chris's hand. "Thank you for making sure she wasn't hurt worse. She's like a daughter to me."
Before Chris could say anything, JD cleared his throat. "Me and Casey were taking a walk and overheard those men saying they'd be back with their men to take care of the boy who shot him."
"Great, just what we needed. Cody and Hickok, you gonna stay with Kid and Lou tonight?" Teaspoon asked.
JD perked up at the mention of Jimmy's name. "Hickok? As in Wild Bill Hickok?"
Jimmy groaned. "I hate that name."
"Sure Teaspoon, we can stay with them. Bill will want to stay close by too." Cody said.
Buck Wilmington looked confused. "Why would I want to stay with them? I don't know them and I already have a room at the hotel."
"Huh? No, I didn't mean you, I meant our friend, Buck Cross." Cody said with a look of confusion on his face.
Vin joined them after letting Mary know that everything was okay. He had some news to add to what they knew. "Those men were bragging about their men. They said they were camped out about a days ride from here."
"Well, at least it'll be tomorrow before they come back then." Chris said.
Teaspoon nodded. "That gives us time to prepare for them. I think we should all head to the station and plan on what we're going to do. Ben, you'd better get back to the office before Kid comes out of the doctor's. I'll be by after supper to relieve you." He told his deputy, who nodded and almost ran to the building.
The five other men and Casey moved over to Teaspoon. "If you would let us, we'd like to help. It's what we do in Four Corners." Chris told him.
"That's mighty nice of you, but this is our town, and our fight." Cody said before Teaspoon could say anything.
"Now son, don't look a gift horse in the mouth. We'd appreciate the help Mister?" Teaspoon asked.
"Larabee, Chris Larabee. This is Vin Tanner, Ezra Standish, Buck Wilmington, JD Dunne, Casey Wells, and that's Josiah Sanchez and Nathan Jackson coming this way. We've come here from Four Corners." He told Teaspoon.
Teaspoon nodded at each of them. "What brings you to Rock Creek Mr. Larabee?"
Chris saw Mary and her son exiting the hotel and walking their way as well. "I think I'll let her tell you. Mary, this is Teaspoon Hunter. Marshal Hunter, this is Mary Travis and her son Billy."
Mary shook hands with Teaspoon, but before she could say more Cody butted in. "Here comes Kid and Lou. Now we can go home and eat that supper that's been waiting for us."
"How can it be waiting for us Cody? Rachel doesn't even know that you and I have tagged along with the others." Jimmy said.
"She'll know if Buck and Jeremiah are there now." He replied with a look of exaggeration on his face.
"Boys, stop it. Let's see how Lou is, and then we'll head on home." Teaspoon said as they all turned to wait on the couple to reach them.
Kid and Lou stopped in front of Teaspoon, who took her into his arms. "I told you all I was okay. It was just a graze. I've been shot a lot worse when we rode for the express."
"Don't remind me." Kid replied.
"Me either, Honey." Teaspoon said as Jimmy and Cody both hugged Lou too.
She looked at everyone standing around. "What's going on? Something's wrong, I can tell."
Teaspoon hugged her again. "We'll talk about it during supper. I hope Rachel's made enough." She put her arm through his and Kid's arms as they started walking towards the house.
"Woo hoo suppertime. I hope it's stew. I miss Rachel's stew." Cody said.
Lou thought they all looked like some kind of parade as they walked through town. "Kid, I want to hold my son right now, can we ride Katy the rest of the way?"
He looked at Teaspoon who nodded. "Sure, get on, and I'll climb on behind you." He told her.
Teaspoon watched them ride off towards the bunkhouse. "Maybe you all should stay at the station tonight to be on the safe side." He told Jimmy and Cody.
"We'll talk it over with Kid Teaspoon. Oh, and we'll talk it over with Lou too. You know how she gets when we leave her out of the decision making." Jimmy replied as they all continued on towards the waystation.
Teaspoon turned to the visitors and waited until he had their attention. "You all are invited to come along with us. Rachel still makes a lot of food for supper."
"Thanks Marshal Hunter. We'd like to." Chris said.
Mary walked along side Chris. "Have you talked to him about me yet?" she asked.
"Sorry Mary, I haven't had the chance to get him alone yet. We'll talk to him together before we go back to the hotel tonight." He promised her as he picked Billy up, carrying him the rest of the way as they followed the three men.
Lou and Kid rode into the yard and saw that Buck and Jeremiah were putting the horses into the corral. "Jeremiah, can you take care of Katy for me? I wanna get Lou inside and cleaned up before the others get here."
"Lou, are you okay?" Buck and Jeremiah asked together, both looking very worried.
"I'm okay, it was just a graze. I want to get cleaned up before Noah sees the blood." She told them.
"Jeremiah, why don't you send Kyle home, and keep Noah and Teresa busy? I'll take care of the horses." Buck suggested.
Kid gave his friend a grateful smile, as he grabbed his saddlebags. "Thanks Buck, we appreciate it. Come on Lou, before our son sees us." He took her hand and they went to the back door of Rachel's house to take the back stairs up to the guest room. Thanks goodness Lou always kept a few clothes here just in case she needed to change while here.
As soon as the bedroom door was closed behind them, Kid pulled Lou into his arms and held her tight. "When I saw the blood, I thought I'd lost you." He whispered into her neck.
Lou clung to him and let the tears fall, now that everything was over. "It's okay Kid, I'm okay. I'm not going anywhere. You can't get rid of me that easily."
He pulled back and saw the tears. "Why are you cryin' honey?"
"I don't know, I guess it was the look of anguish on your face just now. I love you so much Kid, I never want to cause you that kind of pain ever." She said.
He kissed her tears away, and then kissed her showing her how much he loved and had missed her. "We'd better get washed up and changed. It sounds like everyone's here now. I can hear our son greeting his grandpa."
Lou laughed and kissed her husband once more, finally smiling for the first time since the incident. Then she poured some water into the wash basin so they could both wash up. As she was cleaning, Kid pulled a change of clothes out of his saddlebags, then went to the closet to pull out a blouse and skirt for Lou. He loved watching her wash, and he'd offer to help her if they had more time.
When she was done, she turned around to see he'd pulled out her clothes. "Thanks Kid, now it's my turn."
He looked at her confused. "Your turn? You just washed up."
"I didn't mean that. Now it's my turn to watch you wash up." She winked at him.
"If we had more time, I'd ask you to help me." He suggested with a smile.
A shiver ran through her and she smiled. "And, if I wasn't worried that our son would come looking for us, I'd take you up on the offer. Now hurry up before Cody eats all the food." She said as she started getting dressed, careful not to bump her wound.
Kid was cleaned and dressed in no time and the couple shared one more kiss before heading back outside. Lou looked around at her friends and couldn't be happier. They were all together again and there was no war calling any of them away this time. She could see Rachel was feeling the same way.
Kid looked at his wife. "A penny for your thoughts?" He whispered into her ear.
"These are free. I was just thinking that it was good we are all back together after all these years." She replied as Jimmy came and swept her into a big hug.
"Be careful Jimmy, she's just stopped bleeding." Kid reminded his friend.
"I told you I'm fine, it was just a scratch." She told her husband as she pulled out of Jimmy's arms to prove she wasn't bleeding again.
"Daddy, daddy! You're home." Little Noah came running and throwing him self into his father's arms.
"Yes I'm home son. Did you see who I brought home with me?" He asked his son.
"You brung Uncle Jimmy and Uncle Cody, Daddy. Where's Uncle Jeremiah and Uncle Buck?" He squirmed out of his father's arms to go and look for them.
"We're right here little man." Buck said as he and Jeremiah walked out of the bunkhouse carrying the table. They placed it over by the house before he swept Noah up in his arms.
"Uncle Buck, did you know there is another man named Buck over there by grandpa? They are gonna have supper with us. They helped mamma in town." He told one of his favorite uncles.
"Really? That's nice. How would you like to help me and Jeremiah grab the tables from the barn and house?" Buck asked him.
"Mamma can I?" He jumped out of Buck's arms.
"Go ahead, but mind Uncle Buck." Lou said as Cody walked up leaving a couple of the men that had been in the saloon.
"Hey Lou, Rachel said as soon as you came downstairs we have supper. Go tell her you're ready, I'm hungry." He said.
She laughed and hugged him. "I missed you too Cody. If you're so hungry, help Kid and Jimmy get the table and chairs from the house. I'll go tell Rachel you're ready for supper."
The men went to do as she requested and Lou went to find Rachel. She found her in the kitchen with the lady from the stage coach. "I'm here Rachel, and Cody is belly achin' about supper. The boys are bringing the tables outside so we can feed everyone."
"Thanks Louise. Mary Travis, this is Louise or Lou. Mary and her son Billy are here to talk to Teaspoon." Rachel explained.
"Nice to meet you ma'am," Lou said.
"Please call me Mary, and it's nice to meet you too." Mary replied.
"Well Ladies, what do you say we go feed those hungry men before Cody dies of hunger." Rachel said as she handed them dishes and a pan with stew in it.
Teaspoon saw the food coming and called everyone to take their places at the table. "Before we eat, why don't we make our introductions?"
"That's a wonderful idea Teaspoon." Rachel said as she stood behind his chair. "I'm Rachel Dunne and this is Teaspoon, as you've already met. Over here is Jeremiah McCloud, William Cody, Jimmy Hickok, Teresa McCloud, Buck Cross, The Kid, his wife Louise and their son Noah."
Chris stood. "I'm Chris Larabee, this is Mary Travis and her son Billy. That's Josiah Sanchez, Ezra Standish, JD Dunne, Casey Wells, Nathan Jackson, Buck Wilmington, and Vin Tanner." He said as Teaspoon nodded at each man and the woman in turn.
Rachel looked at JD. "You're last name is Dunne? My late husband was Henry Dunne, any relation?"
"Not that I'm aware of ma'am." JD said.
Vin stood and walked over to Buck. "Is your name Running Buck Cross?" He asked.
Buck nodded. "Yes, it's me, Vin. It's been a long time."
"You know this man Buck?" Teaspoon asked.
"Yes Teaspoon, he lived in my village when we were younger. Red Bear protected him as he did me." Buck replied.
"Well, I'll be. This sure is a small world." Teaspoon said.
Mary stood and walked over to where Teaspoon was and sat down next to the older man. "It might even be smaller than you think Mr. Hunter."
"Why is that young lady?" He asked.
"Mr. Hunter, do you remember Katherine Evans?" She asked him.
Lou watched the expression on his face, and it reminded her of the time Amanda O'Connell said similar words to him. She was getting a bad feeling. "Teaspoon, are you okay?" She asked taking his hand.
He focused on the woman who'd become a daughter to him. "I'm fine honey." He said and squeezed her hand. Then he turned and looked at Mary. "I haven't heard that name in twenty three years. I'm ashamed to say that I haven't thought of her in all that time either."
"She was my mother." Mary told him.
"Yes, I can see that you look like her. Was? She's passed then?" He asked her.
"Yes, last year. She wrote me a letter about you, but I didn't get it until a few months ago." She replied.
"I'm sorry about that, she was a fine woman. She deserved better than Nathaniel Evans. I mean no disrespect of your pa, but he's as bad as they come." He said.
Mary nodded. "He's long gone, and I'm not sorry. He died in a saloon when I was four, he was cheating at cards. My mother always told me that he wasn't really my father, and she thanked God everyday that his blood doesn't run through my veins."
Teaspoon gave her a funny look. "Just what are you saying Mrs. Travis?"
"I'm trying to tell you that you're my father. My mother said that there was something between the two of you while you were protecting her from the men after Nathaniel. That even though you both confessed your love, she was married to him and so you left after your job was done. It was a loveless marriage brought on by both my grandfathers." She explained.
Teaspoon nodded his head. "Yes, she told me about the arranged marriage. We were only together one night. It was our last night together. Your pa came to claim his wife the next day, saying all the danger had passed. I never heard from her or saw her again."
Mary took out her letter. "I was born nine months after that night. I'm sure Nathaniel suspected I wasn't his child, but he would have lost my mother's inheritance if he'd said or done anything about it."
Everyone at the table was speechless. Even Cody had put down his fork. Lou couldn't tell what was going on in Teaspoon's head, but all the blood had drained out of his head. Rachel must have seen it too, because she put an arm around him to see if he was okay. Mary didn't know what to do and went back to sit next to Chris.
Teaspoon looked at Lou, then Rachel, and finally at Mary. "The day Louise came into my life, I felt I finally got the one thing my life was missing...a daughter." He looked back at Lou. "Darlin' you mean the world to me, just as you boys do. When Amanda came to me as Elizabeth, I felt blessed to have another member of my family, my own flesh and blood. I could never hate Amanda for pretending to be Elizabeth, 'cause it brought me closer to her." He sniffed.
"Are you okay Teaspoon?" Cody asked.
He nodded and looked at Mary. "I'm sorry your mother didn't tell you who I was until after she passed. I would have liked to have known you when you were growing up."
"She wrote that she tried to find you once, but that you were married." She replied.
"Which time?" Jimmy asked, and that made everyone, except Lou laugh. That's all Cody needed, he started piling food on his dish.
Lou excused herself and walked over to the corral to see the new horses, or that's what she hoped everyone thought. She was happy for Teaspoon, but a little sad too. She couldn't explain it, but it felt like she was losing Teaspoon and Noah was losing his grandpa, and she started crying. She felt arms come around her as Kid held her.
"Are you okay Lou?" He asked her as he felt her body shake with her tears.
"I don't know Kid. It's almost like Amanda all over again, but this time I have more to lose if he leaves us. He's the only real father I've ever had and the only grandpa Noah's ever known." She told him.
"I'm not going anywhere Lou, and Noah's not going to lose me as his grandpa ever. You're all still my children as far as I'm concerned. Just 'cause I found I have another daughter, doesn't mean you're going to lose me." Teaspoon said. He'd come up behind them and it broke his heart to think she was hurting like this.
Lou tore herself out of Kid's arms and into Teaspoon's. "Oh Teaspoon, I'm sorry I feel this way. I am happy for you and for Mary and her son, your real grandson." She cried on his shoulder.
He held her and looked at Kid, who also hugged his wife as Teaspoon wrapped his other arm around Kid. "Noah is my real grandson, and if anyone says different they will have to deal with me."
Kid looked at the man who was like a father to him. "Me too, in fact I'd say they'd have to deal with Jimmy, Buck, Cody, and Rachel too."
Lou looked at the two most important men in her life and smiled through her tears. "Thank you both. You don't know how much I love you. I don't know why I'm so weepy today; it must be because I got shot."
Teaspoon walked back toward the table with his arm around her as Kid followed them. "I have an idea, but we'll talk about it later. Now, let's get back before Cody eats everything."
Kid looked at him, wondering what he meant about the idea, but it would have to wait since they reached the table. Kid pulled Lou down to sit at the table between him and Teaspoon, as Noah climbed into his grandpa's lap. That boy sure loved his grandpa.
"Guess what grandpa, guess what?" Noah asked him.
Teaspoon put his fork down to focus on his grandson. "I give up Noah, what?"
The child looked at his mother then back at his grandpa. "You're not s'pose to say that. You're s'pose to guess. You musta teached mamma to say that (')cause that's what she said today."
Everyone laughed. "Well I really can't guess, so why don't you tell me."
Noah got all excited. "You see that boy over there? He says you're his grandpa too. He said it makes him my cuzin. What's a cuzin grandpa?"
Teaspoon looked over at the little boy sitting between his mother and Chris Larabee. "Well, that means he's family and he's your cousin. But it doesn't mean that I love him anymore than I love you Noah."
He scrunched up his face. "I know grandpa. I love you too." He said and hugged him.
Teaspoon looked over at Lou and Kid in time to see her wipe the tears that were escaping her eyes. Yep, he had him an idea alright, and if he were right he might have him a new grandchild soon. He had to talk to Rachel to see if she suspected anything too. They were the first to figure she was expecting Noah after all.
Suppertime was loud and over quickly. The ladies cleared the tables and washed the dishes. Since there were five of them doing the work, it was done in no time. When they returned outside, the men were deep in talk and Jeremiah was showing Noah and Billy the new horses. Lou and Mary sent Teresa and Casey to help him with the boys. Then she, Rachel, and Mary joined the men.
Lou walked over and sat between Kid and Buck. "What's going on?" She asked her husband.
"Looks like the brothers' from the saloon will be back with more men. Those two overheard them on their way out of town." Buck answered when Kid didn't say anything. "Vin said they were bragging that their men were camped out about a days ride from town. They'll most likely be back tomorrow."
Lou looked at Kid. "Were you going to tell me?" She asked.
"I know better than to keep it from you Lou. I was going to tell you later. We're staying here tonight. Jeremiah's going to sleep in the bunkhouse with the boys. Teresa and Noah are going to sleep in Rachel's room, she told us to take the guest room we stayed in before we bought the house." He told her.
"Where's Rachel going to sleep?" She asked him, but looked at her friend.
"I'm going to sleep in the small guest room Lou. It's only for tonight and I'll be fine." Rachel said as if she'd planned the whole thing.
"Mary and her friends already have rooms over at the hotel, and we'll all meet back here for breakfast in the morning to make our plans to protect the town." Teaspoon filled them in.
"Are we sure they're really coming back here?" Lou asked, hoping they were wrong.
"Yeah, seems Tompkins was coming back from a trip to St. Louis and came across the two men. They asked him about the scrawny young deputy. Said he'd been visiting his daughter and didn't know who the deputy was." Jimmy said.
"But Tompkins wasn't visiting his daughter." Buck told them.
Lou smiled when she realized he'd let the information slip. "How do you know he wasn't visiting her in St. Louis Buck?" Teaspoon asked.
"Cause, oh never mind Teaspoon." Buck said when he realized his mistake.
Lou knew that Buck and Jenny Tompkins had been writing to each other for years, and that she'd moved to Seneca a few months ago to work in the dress shop there. Both she and Kid had promised to keep it a secret, Tompkins couldn't know. She knew Buck cared very deeply about Jenny, and he still called her Eagle Feather when he talked about her.
She needed to change the subject fast. "So they're coming back after me?" She asked.
"Yes Lou, they're coming back after you, but we won't let them get you." Jimmy said.
"Seems like they don't like the way you shot that man's gun out of his hand. His brother is gonna call you out. Probably have his men all over town to make sure you don't make it through the fight." Chris said.
"Buck, I want you to track them to make sure they've left the area. I want you to make sure Lou's safe tonight." Teaspoon told him.
"If you don't mind Buck, I'd like to come with you. Two set of eyes are better than one set." Vin offered.
They rode off and Mary said she needed to get Billy to bed. It was a good thing Cody didn't hear that comment, or Chris might have had a problem with Cody. They said good night to everyone and Chris carried a sleepy Billy back to the hotel for Mary. JD also escorted Casey back to the hotel.
Teaspoon looked at the rest of the men sitting with his family: Buck Wilmington, Ezra Standish, Nathan Jackson, and Josiah Sanchez. He didn't really know anything about them, but if they were willing to help out, he was going to let them. He knew that Lou's life was in all their hands, but he was still concerned, especially if she was expecting. He didn't know if he should voice his suspicions or not. Kid would blame him if anything happened to her or the baby, but she'd resent him if he kept her from fighting along side him and the boys. He'd blame himself if anything happened to her anyway.
"Rachel, can I talk to you for a minute?" He asked holding a hand out to her.
She gave him a relieved look. "Sure Teaspoon, let's go into the bunkhouse for a cup of coffee.
Once inside the bunkhouse, Teaspoon didn't know how to voice his suspicions. "Rachel, have you noticed anything different about Lou? I mean how she's been teary eyed a lot today?"
"As a matter of fact, yes I have. She's been kind of absent minded all week. Her mind has been somewhere else, or should I say with someone else all week." She commented.
"You don't think?" Was all he got out, before Rachel spoke.
"She's going to have a baby?" Rachel finished.
"If she is, she shouldn't be out there tomorrow. But, how do we find out for sure?" He asked.
"Maybe she's not expecting, I mean she hasn't had any morning sickness." Rachel replied.
"There's only one way to know for sure. We have to ask her." He took her hand and they went back outside. They looked all around the yard and didn't see them with the others.
The found Lou and Kid sitting on the porch swing, quietly talking with her head on his shoulder. They watched the couple for a few minutes, even a blind man could see how much in love these two were. There was no doubt; they were made for each other.
"We're being watched." Kid whispered to his wife, but never opened his eyes.
"I know they've been watching us for some reason. I wonder what they want to tell us." She whispered back.
Without looking at them, Kid took Lou's hand and said, "We know you're there Teaspoon."
"Yeah Rachel, you might as well come over here and say whatever is on your minds." Lou finished.
Teaspoon laughed, "Should have known you'd know. After all I taught you boys and girl all my tricks."
"Where's Noah?" Rachel asked as they walked up the steps.
"Teresa took him up to bed a few minutes ago. He could barely keep his eyes open, but he wanted to wait for Buck to come say good night." Lou replied.
Teaspoon nodded. "Why don't we go inside and talk there."
"Is everything alright Teaspoon?" Kid asked, concerned.
"Everything's fine Kid. We just want to talk to you both." He replied as he walked over to the door and held it open for them.
Kid stood and took Lou's hand then led her into the house. They sat on the couch and waited for Teaspoon and Rachel to take a seat. "Okay, what did you want to talk to us about?" He asked.
Rachel and Teaspoon looked at each other and silently communicated to each other. "Lou, are you going to have another baby?" Rachel finally asked.
She let out a sigh of relief. She'd thought they were going to be giving them some bad news. "Well, if the good lord allows it I'd love to give Noah a little brother or sister someday."
Teaspoon shook his head. "That's not what Rachel meant Lou. Are you going to have a baby now?"
Lou looked at her husband and shrugged. "Teaspoon, does it look like I'm about to have a baby right now?"
Rachel laughed. "This is not coming out right. What Teaspoon is trying to ask you Lou is are you pregnant?"
Now it was Lou's turn to laugh. "I don't think so, I mean I haven't felt ill in the mornings and I'm not as hungry as I was when I was expecting Noah."
"But you have been pretty emotional today Lou." Teaspoon pointed out.
Kid nodded. "Teaspoon's right honey, you have been pretty emotional today, more than usual."
Lou looked at the three of them. "Of course I've been emotional. I was shot today, and I didn't cry there. My husband is home after being away for a week. Then Teaspoon finds out that not only does he have a daughter, but a grandson too. I was worried about us all losing Teaspoon to them. He's the only real father I've ever had." She said, trying to fight the tears that were close to falling form her eyes.
Kid put his arm around her and pulled her close to him. "That's a lot for one person to take in a day, even for you Lou."
Teaspoon stood and knelt down in front of them. "Darlin', there is no way you'd lose me like that. Noah will always be my first grandchild, and you'll always be the daughter I've always wanted, but thought I could never have. I could find out that I have a hundred children out there, and you'll always be more special to me. You know why?"
She shook her head, afraid to speak for fear she'd cry. "No." was all she could get out.
He smiled and wiped away the tear that escaped her eye. "Because we chose each other to be family. You, Kid, Jimmy, Cody, Buck and Rachel chose to be my family. It wasn't something that was forced on us like blood relations."
Lou threw her arms around his neck and hugged him. "I love you Teaspoon."
He hugged her back and looked at Kid then winked. "I love you too Darlin'."
Rachel and Kid watched them and both had tears in their eyes. They were interrupted by a knock on the door. Before anyone could answer it, Buck walked in with Vin behind him. They both took off their hats and stared at Lou and Teaspoon hugging.
"Well?" Was all Teaspoon said as he pulled away from Lou and stood.
"We tracked them towards Marysville, just like Tompkins said. Are we going to wait for them to come to us, or are we going after them?" Buck asked.
"We'll let them come to us, and it'll give us more time to get ready. Good job Buck and Vin. Go get some sleep, we've got a long day tomorrow." He told them.
Buck nodded. "Lou, can I say good night to Noah first?"
"Yes, he's probably still awake waiting on you. He's with Teresa in Rachel's room." She said.
"I'll say g'night now." Vin said and left the house.
Teaspoon watched Buck go upstairs. "I think we should all get to bed. You head upstairs and I'll send the boys off to bed."
"You sure you don't need my help Teaspoon?" Rachel asked.
He shook his head. "I got it Rachel. Lou, will you do this old man a favor?'
They'd been about to go upstairs, but turned back around. "You're not an old man. What's the favor?" She asked.
He laughed. "I could get used to hearing that honey. What I'd like you to do is go see Doc Barnes in the morning. Just to see if you are expecting."
"Teaspoon, I don't think I am expecting." Lou argued.
"Lou, Teaspoon is right. You need to make sure, before we plan tomorrow. I just about had a heart attack when I saw the blood on you today. I couldn't stand it if I lost you, and if you're carrying our child it would just kill me." Kid said, cupping her face.
She was lost in her husband's blue eyes. "Alright, I'll go see Doc Barnes, but I want to be here when you all make plans for tomorrow's attack. It's my fault they're coming back after all."
Rachel stepped up to Teaspoon. "Of course they'll wait for you and Kid to get back before they make plans. I'll hold breakfast 'til you get back too."
Teaspoon knew better than to keep Lou out of this one. But he'd make sure she stayed behind if Doc Barnes said she was going to have a baby. "We'll wait for you and Kid to get back here, I promise. Now go and get some sleep and we'll see you in the morning."
Lou walked over and kissed him and gave him a hug. "Thank you, we love you Teaspoon...all of us." She kissed his cheek and went up the stairs with Kid following her.
Teaspoon touched his cheek and smiled. Then he bid Rachel a good night and went out the door. It didn't take him long to send his boys to bed and the other men over to the hotel. Once he was sure it was quiet, he headed for his own bed at the marshal's office.
Lou and Kid walked into their room and he pulled her into his arms. "I finally have you all to myself."
She wrapped her arms around his waist and breathed in his scent. "Yes, finally all alone. I really missed you Kid. Please tell me this is the last trip to Fort Kearny for a while?"
"I promise Lou. The next time I'll send Buck and Jeremiah. It's about time we let him have more responsibilities in the business. He's a good kid and ready. He handled himself well today." He told her.
"Yeah, about that, Kid. I think it's time we gave him a horse of his own. Maybe we can give him one of the horses you brought back today." She suggested.
With his arms around her waist, he walked over to the bed. "I'll tell you what, when this is over we'll sit down with Buck and figure out which horse to give him for his birthday."
She hugged him. "Thanks Kid."
"Now, if Doc Barnes says you're pregnant, I don't want you anywhere near those brothers' tomorrow." he told her.
"I don't want to do it, but I'll stay here with Rachel if he says I'm going to have a baby." She smiled and touched her stomach. "Do you think they're right?"
He put his hands over hers and also smiled. "I don't know Lou, but I'd be happy if it's true. I couldn't be happier knowing we made another baby to add to our family."
She touched his face and kissed him. "And if I am not going to have a baby, then I'm going to go with you tomorrow."
"I know Lou, I know. I won't try to stop you, I've learned my lesson. Just promise to stay close to me." He said as he laid her down on the bed. It had been a long and lonely week without her by his side. He missed holding her while they slept.
Hours later, Lou lay in his arms but couldn't sleep. She could tell he wasn't asleep either. "What if I'm not pregnant Kid?"
He pulled her closer and kissed her forehead. "Then we'll try again, and again. We didn't plan to have another baby right now, but that doesn't mean we can't plan for one now that we're thinking about it."
She wrapped her arms around his neck and started kissing him. "Thank you Kid. I love you so much."
"I love you too Lou." He replied as he deepened the kiss.
It was hours before either one of them fell asleep. They had a weeks worth of loving to make up for.
Lou and Kid walked out of the doctor's office quietly. She couldn't look at him and see that silly smile on his face again. She knew he was really happy with the news they'd been given. Truth be told, so was she. She just wanted to fight by his side today. She wanted to be sure he was safe just like he wanted to be sure she was.
"Say something Lou." He said as they slowly walked hand in hand back to Rachel's house.
"I can't believe I didn't know sooner. I should have noticed after going through this with Noah." She replied.
"Is that all you have to say?" He asked her.
She stopped and turned to him. "I'm very happy about this baby Kid. I'm just sad that once again, someone knew before I did. Shouldn't I have noticed the changes before Teaspoon or Rachel did?"
He pulled her into his arms. "Is that the only reason you're not smiling right now?"
"No, it's not. I don't want you to ride on without me. You promised that if there was any trouble we'd face it together." She held him tighter.
He put a finger under her chin to make her look at him. "I'm not riding on without you. I'll just be in town with Teaspoon, Jimmy, Buck, and Cody. Then, there's our new friends, making it eleven people to keep me safe."
"Promise me Kid; promise me you'll be careful. I don't want to raise Noah and this baby without you." She buried her face in his shirt.
"I promise Lou, I'm not going anywhere." He kissed her on the head. "Now I don't know about you, but I'm hungry. Rachel promised to hold breakfast for us, so Cody's probably dying of hunger."
She finally smiled since leaving the doctor's office. "Yeah and it's a good thing, cause I'm really hungry. Cody better watch out today, I might eat more than him."
They started walking again. "Lou, isn't that Jenny Tompkins over there?" He asked.
She looked where he indicated to see Jenny standing in front of her father's store. "Yes, that's her. I wonder if Buck knows she's in town."
They watched her was into the store as they continued walking. "I think we'll let her tell Buck when she's ready for him to know she's here." He replied.
Lou looked at her husband. "Do you know something I don't know Kid?'
"Come on, I already smell the bacon cooking." He said trying to change the subject.
"Lucky for you I'm hungry. We'll talk about this later." She promised as the continued down the sidewalk.
He just kissed her cheek and they walked around the corner to see everyone already gathered at the tables waiting for breakfast and talking. The food wasn't out yet, but they could smell it cooking. They noticed that Teaspoon sat at the head of the table talking to Buck and Vin.
As they got closer, they could hear what was being said. "Buck, I want you and Vin to head out after breakfast. Get yourselves where you can watch for trouble coming, but where you can get out and come back and warn us ahead of the trouble."
Buck nodded and looked up to see Kid and Lou coming into the yard. Teaspoon had told him last night that they would being going to Doc Barnes to see if she was expecting. "Well?"
Teaspoon turned and looked at them, then one by one all eyes turned to look at them. Rachel came running out of the bunkhouse with Mary, Teresa, and Casey behind her. Noah and Little Billy were still in the house asleep. Chris had carried Billy over still asleep earlier.
"Well what did Doc Barnes say?" Rachel asked with her hands on her hips.
"Why were they at Doc Barnes office again? Is Lou's wound worse than we thought?" Jimmy asked.
Kid held up his hand to silence all questions. "Lou's wound is fine. He said she won't even have a scar. The reason we were there this morning is, well Lou you wanna tell them?"
Lou finally smiled at her friends. "Kid and I are going to have another baby."
All of a sudden they were surrounded by Teaspoon, Rachel, Buck, Jimmy and Cody. There were tears, cheers, hugs, and kisses. Finally when everyone moved away, Teresa and Jeremiah hugged their sister and her husband. For a moment, the coming trouble was forgotten.
Kid took Lou's hand and led her to the table to sit by Teaspoon as Rachel and Mary started bringing the food out. "So, I'll have me another grandchild to spoil. Do you plan on telling Noah today?" He asked.
They looked at each other. "We'll tell him together tonight after supper." She said.
Teaspoon nodded. "So, you're going to use the good sense God gave you and stay here with the other women and children?"
"Yes, I'll stay here and out of danger." She replied.
"She's not happy about it, but she promised me to stay here even if she hears gunshots being fired. She's got hers and she'll make a stand here, if it gets this far." Kid said.
"I'm not the only one here that can shoot a gun. Rachel and Jeremiah can shoot. I bet Mary and Casey know how to handle a gun too." She pointed out.
Both Casey and Mary nodded as Rachel sat down. "And Teresa will be watching Noah and Billy in the back of the house."
Teaspoon cleared his throat. "Kid, I want you to go to my office with Ben, and please don't hurt him because Lou got shot."
"Don't worry, I know it's not his fault I have a stubborn wife." He answered.
"That's not funny Kid. It's true, but not funny." Lou said as everyone laughed.
"Jimmy, I want you to take Chris and JD to Doc Barnes office and wait. Cody, you take Ezra and Mr. Wilmington to the saloon. Nathan and Josiah will you go to Jarvis's restaurant and make a stand there?" Teaspoon asked.
"Yes, we'll not let them get pass that point." Josiah said.
"Buck and Vin are going to wait outside town. When they see trouble coming they'll come and warn us. When you get back into town, you both go and help Tompkins make a stand there. I don't want them to get any further into town." He explained.
"Where are you going to be Teaspoon?" Chris asked him.
"Until the trouble starts, I'll be at my office with the Kid and Ben. Then I'll be waiting for those men in the middle of town." He answered.
Lou listened to everything Teaspoon said and was grateful that he was keeping Kid at the marshal's office and further away from the other end of town. She finished eating her breakfast, and then stole some bacon from Cody's plate. "That was mine Lou." He complained.
"That's for all of the times you took mine Cody." She replied.
Buck sat across from her and he put some of his bacon onto her dish and she smiled at him. "Here you go Lou; I remember how you were when you were expecting Noah. You really loved bacon."
"I'm sorry I put you and Kid through so much last time. I'll try to be good this time, I'll try anyway." She promised as she looked over his shoulder to see Jenny Tompkins heading their way. "Buck, there's someone here to see you."
Buck looked confused, but turned around. "Jenny?" He got up and ran over to her.
"Is that little Jenny Tompkins?" Teaspoon asked.
"I don't think she's so little Teaspoon." Cody replied.
"I wonder what she's doing in Rock Creek." Jimmy said
"Her father does live here." Rachel answered.
"I don't think she's here for Tompkins." Kid said.
"I think she's here because of Buck." Lou finished for her husband. The Four Corners group just sat by and watched all that was going on.
Buck met Jenny by the corral. "Jenny, what are you doing in Rock Creek?"
"It was supposed to be a surprise, but it looks like I came at the wrong time. I'm moving to Rock Creek." She told him. "I went to see my father and let him know I was moving here. He told me to come here until the trouble was over, that Mrs. Dunne would keep me safe."
"You'll be safe with Rachel and Lou." He told her what was going on and that he had to ride out with Vin, but would talk to her when he got back. He took her arm and led her back to the table where Rachel dished her up some breakfast.
"Please be careful Buck, I came to Rock Creek because of you." she whispered as they reached the table.
He smiled. "I was hoping you did. Rachel, would you mind it if Jenny stayed with you today? Tompkins sent her over here until we give the all clear."
"We don't mind. Jenny, you're more than welcome here. It's just going to be the women, Jeremiah, and the boys." Rachel assured her.
"Thank you Mrs. Dunne." She replied.
"Call me Rachel please, and we'd love to have you spend the day with us." She said.
Lou stood when the men did. Teaspoon turned to Buck. "You boys better head out soon. The rest of us are heading into town in five minutes. We're glad to see you again Jenny, sorry we can't stick around and visit right now." He told her.
"That's alright marshal, I understand. My father told me what was going on. That's why he told me to come here." She said and turned to Buck. "I'll see you later then?"
"As soon as we're done, I'll come find you." He promised as he and Vin got on their horses and rode off.
Teaspoon cleared his throat. "Come on boys, let's get our stuff together. I want everyone in place in ten minutes. Let's take care of this once and for all." He said and picked up his gun belt to put it on.
Chris pulled Mary aside. "Are you going to be okay here?"
"I'll be fine Chris; it's you that I'm worried about. Please be careful." She said and kissed him on the cheek, then went into the house to check on Billy.
JD and Casey just stared at each other, neither really saying anything. Finally she quickly kissed him, and then punched him in the arm before going to the house after Mary. Before she walked inside, she turned around. "You'd better be careful JD, or else." The she walked inside.
Lou stood with Kid, Jimmy, and Cody. "I wish I was going with you boys. It feels weird to not be out there with you. I know Kid, you don't have to say it, I promise to stay here no matter how many gunshots I hear."
"I'm happy to hear that, but that's not what I was going to say. I was going to tell you I wish you were coming with us too. I trust your shooting more than anyone else out here." He told her.
She turned to look at her friends. "Jimmy and Cody, I'm trusting you to make sure my husband come homes safe and sound to me. You both better come home safe too." She hugged them both before turning and wrapping her arms around her husband.
"We promise Lou." Jimmy said then he and Cody left her to say good bye to Kid.
They hugged one another. "I promise to be careful Lou, just promise me you'll keep Noah, you and the baby safe."
"I will Kid, I promise. I love you Kid." She told him and kissed him.
"I'll be back as soon as they're all in jail, I promise." He kissed her back and held her in his arms until Teaspoon called him. She watched as her family and new friends left the waystation for town. She stood there long after they'd all walked around the corner into town.
Rachel and Jenny had to go and make her come inside. "Come on Lou, Noah will be up soon. Let's make him and Billy some breakfast, and introduce them to Jenny."
"Rachel, I'm afraid they won't all be coming back. I've never felt this way before. I don't know why, it's not like we haven't done this before." She whispered.
Rachel and Jenny exchanged worried looks. "Honey, they'll be fine. There's twelve of them to watch out for each other. Then there's the men in town that Teaspoon talked to last to help also. Ben will be at the marshal's office with Kid. Jarvis, Doc Barnes, Michael, Tompkins, and a few other men are through out town too." She tried to reassure Lou.
She sighed. "I know, but I'm still worried. It must be because of the baby that I'm acting this way."
Jenny smiled. "You're going to have a baby Louise?"
"Yes, we found out this morning." She replied.
"That's great, congratulations." Jenny surprised her by hugging her.
"Come on ladies, let's go inside and feed the hungry little boys." Rachel told them.
The morning and afternoon passed by with no noise or word from town, and it was grating on Lou's nerves. She kept pacing until Rachel made her sit and visit with the other ladies. She got to know Mary and Casey a little more, and reacquainted herself with Jenny. Mary told her about Four Corners and her newspaper, and how her father in law the judge, helped her fins Teaspoon.
Rachel and Lou told Mary about Teaspoon, but only about after he started working for Russell, Major and Waddell. They told her about Amanda O'Connell and what they knew about Elizabeth. She was sad to know she'd never get to meet her sister. They didn't tell her anything else they knew about Teaspoon's past before coming to Sweetwater.
As Mary got to know Lou and Noah, she felt better knowing that her father had them in his life. She wasn't worried that he'd treat her or Billy any different than Lou and Noah. If she had any doubts, then they were squashed when they told her about Amanda. He'd accepted her when he thought she was his daughter, and still treats her like a daughter after she told him the truth.
After lunch had been made and the kids were fed, Lou sent Jeremiah into town with food for the men. She told him to take the food to the marshal's office and come right back to the station. She told him if he didn't come right back, she'd have to go get him and Kid wouldn't like it. When he returned, Kid was with him. She was so happy to see him, she ran out of the house to meet him in the yard.
Kid and Jeremiah walked through the gate at Rachel's house and saw Lou run out of the house. She threw herself into his arms, almost knocking him down. "Whoa there Lou, I missed you too."
"I've been going crazy since you left this morning." She said, still holding onto him.
Jeremiah went into the house and Kid sat on the porch swing, pulling her down next to him. "Buck and Vin haven't come back yet, so there's been nothing going on. The town is really quiet, too quiet."
"Maybe they decided to move on." She said hopeful.
"We can only hope. I think Teaspoon will send Buck to track them if we don't see anything today." He told her.
"When do you have to go back into town?" She asked him.
"Teaspoon sent me here because he said I was driving him crazy with my pacing. He told me to go and have lunch with my wife and son. Has Noah eaten yet?" They stood and went into the house.
"Yes he has, but he'll love to sit with you while you eat. He's missed you and so have I. I just got you back yesterday after a long week gone. Now you're away again." She said as they walked into the kitchen.
"Daddy, you're here." Noah said and threw himself at his father.
He laughed and looked at Lou. "Now I know where he gets this."
She smiled at him, she loved seeing them together. "I don't know if I should be mad at you for the comment or not."
"It was a compliment Lou; it's one of the many things I love about you and Noah." He replied and kissed his wife.
Rachel walked into the room with Mary. "Is it all over? We haven't heard anything all day."
"No Rachel, Teaspoon got tired of my pacing and sent me here for lunch so he could eat in peace." He said.
"Well have a seat at the table. We've already fed Teresa and the boys. We were about to have our lunch. Jeremiah, you come in here and eat too." Rachel called to Lou's brother.
Kid picked up Noah and waited until the women sat down before he did. He hugged Teresa when she came into the kitchen to take Noah. "It's okay; I want to hold him while I eat. You go on and take a break."
"Thanks Kid, but I'm okay. I'm just happy you're okay." She said as Billy took her hand and pulled her into the other room.
Jenny and Casey walked into the kitchen with Jeremiah and sat at the table. Rachel placed a plat in front of Kid as Jenny looked up at him. "Has Buck come back yet?"
"Sorry Jenny, he's still out on lookout." He told her. "Teaspoon said if I was still here when Buck rode in, he'd send him for me."
Lou sat next to her husband as they ate, barely picking at her food. "Are you going back out after lunch?"
He nodded and waited until his mouth was empty. "Teaspoon told me to come eat lunch, but not to hurry. He's worried about you, said you didn't look well when we left this morning."
"Why's he worried about me? It's not like I haven't been through this before." She told him as he finished eating his lunch and drank his coffee.
"Honey, you know Teaspoon will always worry about you. It's because he loves you." Rachel told her.
"I know and I love him too, but I don't want him to worry about me when he needs to concentrate on the job. That goes for you too Kid. I'm going to be okay, just make sure you all are too." She told him.
"I promise, no worrying about you right now." He said and kissed her.
"Kid, why don't you and Lou take Noah into the living room for a few minutes before you head back into town." Rachel suggested and then watched them walk into the other room.
Once in the living room, Kid sat by Lou and pulled Noah back onto his lap. "Daddy's gonna have to go back and help out in town soon, but I wanna sit with you and mamma for a few minutes."
"Are we gonna go home today daddy?" Noah asked.
"Yes son, we're going to be going home today." Lou said looking at her husband.
"Good, cause no one fed my kitty Joey today. If we don't go home today, he'll get real hungry." He told her.
"Noah, if Joey gets hungry, he can go into the barn and eat those mice we keep trying to chase away. He'll be fine until we get home." Kid told his son.
That seemed to satisfy him; he jumped off his father's lap and went to play with Billy and Teresa. Lou and Kid watched him run off then looked at one another before laughing. They never had a boring moment since the day he'd been born.
"We'll be sleeping in our own bed tonight Lou, I promise." He told her.
"I know Kid, I know. I just wish this was all over and you didn't have to go back out there." She said as he took her into his arms. "These damn emotions."
He just kissed her and laughed. "Oh how I remember them from the last time. Once moment you were laughing with me and Buck, the next you were yelling at us and crying. As much as it frustrated me, I can't wait for all of it again."
She laughed and wrapped her arms around him. "I'll remember you said that when I'm yelling or crying at you."
Just then they heard a horse approaching and went to the door, arm in arm. They saw Buck and Vin ride into the yard. Lou held him tighter. The men got off their horses and walked towards the house. Jenny ran out to meet them.
Buck caught Jenny up in his arms as she reached him. "Buck, I've been worried. It's been so quiet here without any news."
"It's all over, both brothers are in jail and not happy with their traveling companions." Vin told her as he tied the horses off.
The three of them walked to the house where Kid and Lou stood waiting. Mary and Rachel came out of the house also. They waited for Buck and Vin to get close enough before asking questions. Lou held Kid's arm tight, afraid it was time for him to go.
Buck let go of Jenny's arm and climbed the steps. "It's over; the brothers came back alone to take care of Lou. Their men turned on them and said they weren't going to cross Marshal Hunter and his boys. I guess they'd heard of us."
"Yeah, they told them they were on their own if they wanted to return to Rock Creek, and rode off to St. Jo." Vin added.
"Teaspoon, Chris, and Jimmy arrested them as soon as they rode into town. Me and Vin rode out to see if they were hiding their men, they rode here alone. They left them to do this on their own." Buck told them.
Lou didn't know she was holding her breath until she let it out. "Thank goodness." She said and leaned on Kid.
"Is everyone okay? Are they all coming back here?" Mary asked as she looked towards town to see if they were coming.
"Teaspoon told Chris and Jimmy to take the brothers to the jail while he went to tell the others it was all clear, and to meet back here." Buck said as Casey came out of the house.
"Does he need help in town?" Kid asked, making Lou stare at him.
Buck shook his head. "No, he's got everything under control now. He said he'd see you when he got back here. He sent me and Vin here to get some lunch." He took Jenny's hand. "Your father will come for you when he's closed up for the day."
She smiled at him. "I'll stay here for a while, but I still need to find somewhere to stay."
Rachel walked over to her. "You're not going to stay with your father?"
"No, it won't work right now to live with my father. We've only seen each other a few times since I left Sweetwater, and we've only written a couple of letters since he moved to Rock Creek. I love him, but we've grown too far apart. I want to make it on my own here in Rock Creek." She replied.
"You can stay here with me until you find a place of your own. I have plenty of room here." Rachel insisted.
Jenny looked from Rachel to Buck then back at Rachel. "Are you sure it's alright? I can pay you for the room and food."
Rachel smiled at her. "We'll talk about that later."
"Rachel, should we start making supper if the men will be coming here soon?" Mary asked her, needing something to do until Chris got back.
"You're right, how could I forget. Let's get supper going." She replied as both of them walked back into the house.
Lou was pulled into Kid's arms, and then he sat them onto the porch swing. They watched Vin lead the horses to the barn as Jeremiah came out of the house to help him. Jenny and Buck walked over to the bunkhouse. "Kid did you know that Buck was going to see Jenny when he went to Seneca?" She'd suspected for some time now, but she didn't know if he knew.
"I knew that he's been writing to her since she left Sweetwater, and that she wrote him back. I didn't know that he was going to Seneca to see her. I didn't know she was coming here either." He replied.
"Buck didn't either; you could see the surprise on his face when he saw her this morning. Well, whatever is going on between them, I hope he's happy. If anyone needs happiness in their life, it's Buck." She told him.
He kissed the top of her head and pulled her closer to him. "You're right and if he's even half as happy as I am with you, then I'm happy for him."
Jenny and Buck sat on the bench in front of the bunkhouse. "Why didn't you tell me you were coming to Rock Creek?"
"I didn't know until a few days ago. Elizabeth is getting married and she's already sold her shop. Caroline was in Seneca visiting and Elizabeth asked her if she needed help here in Rock Creek at her dress shop. I was too excited to even think about letting anyone know." She explained.
"I'm glad you're going to be staying with Rachel." He told her.
"I'm glad she offered, it will be nice to be staying somewhere with someone I know." She was going to say more, but at that moment Cody and Ezra were coming their way. JD and Buck went toward the house with Josiah and Nathan. They saw Casey fly down the porch steps and into JD's arms, knocking him down. She was hugging and kissing him.
Teresa brought Noah and Billy outside to play. Billy held onto her hand but kept looking for Chris. Noah let go of his aunt to go over to where his parents were sitting. He climbed the stairs and stood in front of his father.
Kid let go of Lou and looked down at his son. Noah climbed into his lap. "Daddy and mamma, I have a new friend. His name is Billy."
Lou leaned over and kissed her son's cheek. "That's wonderful honey."
"That's good son. Did you have a good day?" He asked him.
"Oh yes daddy, I did. I had fun with Billy. I wish he could stay here forever, so I have him to play with." He told his parents.
"You really want to have someone to play with son?" He asked him.
"Yes daddy, I love Aunt Teresa very much. She just doesn't like to play with me all the time. She has chores she needs to do and I hafta play by myself." He explained to his father.
"Well, your Mamma and I have something to tell you." Kid said, looking at Lou.
"Noah, how would you like to be a big brother?" She asked her son, as she looked at Kid with a huge smile on her face.
"You mean like Uncle Jeremiah?" Noah asked wide eyed.
"Yes son, just like your Uncle Jeremiah. Would you like that?" He looked his son right in the eyes, eyes that were so much like his.
"Yes daddy, I wanna be a big brother just like Uncle Jeremiah. Mamma, can I be a big brother?" He looked at both his parents with awe.
"You can Noah; you can be a big brother." She told him.
"I am? When am I gonna be a big brother?" He asked her.
"Real soon son." Kid told him. "We found out this morning that we're gonna have a baby."
"Really?" Noah asked Lou.
"Really." She told him through her tears. He wrapped his little arms around both of his parents' necks, hugging them both.
Supper was a happy occasion with Kid and Lou telling everyone that they were going to have a baby. "Are you going to be sticking around for a while Jimmy?" Kid asked his friend.
"Sure, I have no plans to be anywhere for a while. Why do you wanna know?" Jimmy wanted to know.
Kid looked at Lou and they nodded at each other. "Well, we were talking. We wanted to ask you to be the baby's godfather."
Jimmy smiled at them. "Really? Yes, I'd be happy to be the baby's godfather."
"What about me?" Cody asked, hurt he's been passed over.
Lou walked over to him "Well, we were hoping you'd be the other godfather." She told him.
"Yee haw, you bet I would." Cody said as he hugged her. Jimmy pulled her out of his arms and he hugged her too, and then shook Kid's hand.
"Wait a minute, if Cody's going to be the other godfather, then who is Noah's godfather?" Jimmy asked.
"I am." Buck replied.
"How come you got to go first?" Jimmy asked.
"Because he was here when Noah was born. In fact he almost had to help deliver him." Lou told them.
"And I'm Noah's godmother." Rachel told them.
"Is there going to be a godmother for the baby?" Cody asked them.
"Why? Don't you think a couple of godfathers will be enough?" kid asked him back. They all laughed as he agreed.
Little Billy Travis walked over to Teaspoon with Noah trailing behind. "Excuse me."
Teaspoon looked down at him and smiled. "Yes sir?"
"Are you really my grandpa like my mother said? He asked him.
Teaspoon looked at Mary and nodded. "That's right Billy, I'm your grandpa."
"Are you still my grandpa too?" Noah asked with wide eyes.
Teaspoon picked the child up and hugged him, then put him on his knee. "Noah, I will always be your grandpa. Both your mamma and father have been like my own children, and was so honored when they asked me to be your grandfather."
Noah threw his arms around his neck. "I love you grandpa Teaspoon."
There were tears in his eyes. "I love you too Noah." He said as he hugged him. He picked Billy up and placed him on his other knee. "I love you too Billy."
"Grandpa, are you going to be the baby's grandpa too?" Noah asked him.
"Well I sure hope so. Will that be okay with you and Billy?" He watched as both boys looked at each other then back at him.
"If it's okay with mamma and daddy, then it's okay with me." Noah said.
"Me too," Said Billy.
There wasn't a dry eye at the table. "You bet it's okay with us." Lou told them.
"Can I call you grandpa?" Billy asked Teaspoon.
"I'd like that Billy." He replied.
"Is Noah my cousin?" He asked.
"Well, I think you should ask your mamma's that boys." He told them both.
Lou nodded at her son, because she couldn't speak at the moment. Mary nodded when Billy looked at her. "Yes honey, he's your cousin because your grandpa is like a father to Louise, Kid, Buck, Jimmy, and Cody. They are kind of like your uncles and aunt. That's something you've never had."
Chris put an arm around Mary's shoulder and she leaned into his embrace. He was happy for her, happy she'd finally found her father. He was watching the rest of Teaspoon's family and they all looked like they really welcomed them into the family.
Lou sat next to Mary. "How long will you be in Rock Creek? I know we really didn't get to know each other too well with all that was going on."
Mary looked at Chris. "I told the judge that we'd return to Four Corners in a couple months if I didn't find Teaspoon. I wired him this afternoon to let him know we found him. I let him know that I wanted to get to know Teaspoon, and will talk to him when we get back."
"And we'll be sticking around here as long as Mary's here. We promised the judge we'd take care of her. We'd do that even if we didn't promise him." Chris said more to Mary than Lou.
"Louise, I think someone is ready for bed." Teaspoon whispered.
"I've got him." Kid said and took his son out of Teaspoon's arms, as Billy watched him.
"I hope to get the chance to visit while you're here. I'd like to get to know you. Noah loves Billy and they love to play together." Lou told Mary.
"Maybe I could come out to your place in a few days and we can do that." Mary suggested.
"I'd like that, a lot." She bid everyone good night, kissing Teaspoon as she passed him. Then she joined Kid and their dear friend Buck who had the buckboard all ready with Jeremiah and Teresa in the back with the sleeping child.
"Good night Lou, I'll see you tomorrow." Buck said and kissed her cheek. "I'm really happy for you and Kid."
"Thank you, Buck. Why don't you bring Jenny with you tomorrow so we can visit? That way she can get away from town and her father for a little while. I'll make us all a picnic lunch to eat down by the lake." She said as he helped her get into the buckboard next to Kid.
"I'll ask her if she'd like to go with me." He answered.
"I'll be back in the morning with Jeremiah to bring the horses back to the ranch." Kid informed Buck.
"I'll be ready. Good night Kid, Lou, Teresa, and Jeremiah." Buck said as they pulled out of the yard. He watched them disappear around the corner, and then turned to join Jenny on the porch swing.