The Writer's Corner
A Bring Back Milly Production
by Michelle Palmer
Chapter 3: Wedding Plans
”Milly!” Lou called as she raced up the stairs. “Milly Scott, I want to talk to ye!” Milly stopped and turned to look at Lou. Lou put her hands on Milly’s shoulders and studied her face. “Is there something ye want to tell me?”
Milly laughed as she opened the door to her room. She held out her hand, inviting Lou inside. Milly closed the door and leaned back against it as she sighed and closed her eyes. “He asked me to marry him,” she announced with a wide grin.
“And ye said yes!” Lou declared.
Both women squealed. Lou sat down on the bed. Milly hurried over and sat down on the bed so hard that she bounced. “Oh, I feel like a school girl all of a sudden! I want to open the windows and holler down on the street that I’m going to be Mrs. Lucas McCain!”
Lou giggled. “Oh, I can take care of that for ye!” She acted as if she was about to stand up.
“NO!” Milly gasped. “Lucas McCain is the president in the town council! People start hearing he’s engaged and I’ll never get him to myself!” Milly laughed. Then she got all dreamy-like as she thought. “Mrs. Lucas McCain…I can hardly believe it!”
“So, tell me, Mrs. McCain to be... how did he propose?” Lou demanded as she made herself comfortable on the bed.
“Well…” Milly brushed her hair back as she leaned forward and smiled at Lou. “He took my hands in his and he looked deeply into my eyes…” Milly stopped and smiled.
“Yes….And?” Lou prodded, a smiled crossing her own face.
“And…he said…’Mildred Scott, will you marry me?’” Milly mocked Lucas’s voice. Then she giggled like a school girl.
Lou wrinkled up her nose. “That’s it?” she asked surprised, yet in a disappointed voice.
“Well…” Milly shrugged and narrowed her eyes. “What else is there to say?”
“Well, he could have quoted a poem or sang you a song or…” Lou pouted with a firm nod of her head.
Milly giggled again as she rolled her eyes. “Have you not stood beside Lucas at church and heard him sing?" Both women giggled. "Not pretty! He doesn’t seem like the poetry type either. Lucas is a simple man. He just speaks what’s on his mind.”
“Meaning he’s not romantic?”” Lou asked as she raised her eyebrows.
“Well…” Milly pressed a finger to her lips. “I do remember a time when…” Milly laid on the bed on her stomach. “…Let’s see…It was two…no…three?...Three years ago, I think. Lucas was in the store buying work pants, work shirts, needle and thread…You know…” Lou nodded. She did know – very well. “Anyway, there was this church social coming up and I waited for him to ask me. I even hinted. I finally came right out and told him I had some fancy shirts he could look at. Do you think he took the hint?”
Lou pinched her lips together as she laid down on her stomach next to Milly and propped her head up with her hand. “No!”
Milly nodded. “I finally had to tell him that I might allow him to take me to the church social if he were dressed properly.”
Lou smiled. “And of course he bought the shirt right then and there!” Milly shook her head as she raised an eyebrow. “I thought not!” Lou shook her head. “Men!”
“He said, ‘And if I’m not?” The girls giggled. “Like I said…he speaks his mind!”
“Yes. He does at that. And he finally spoke what needed to be spoken, long before I came to town.” Lou stated with a firm nod. “Believe me, I know!”
“Oh…” Milly rolled over onto her back and closed her eyes with a contented sigh. “Maybe he didn’t get down on one knee. Maybe he didn’t strum a guitar or read a romantic poem. But he asked me, and I could tell how much he loved me. I could feel it in his…” Milly stopped and threw a hand to her mouth.
“Milly, we are both women. I saw you kiss him tonight, remember?” Milly giggled. “So…how long were you back in town before he took you in his arms and kissed you?”
Milly smiled. “Well…once he got over the initial shock of seeing me on his doorstep…” Milly blushed as she remembered that kiss.
“That’s just what I thought!” Lou straightened up on the bed. “So…tell me, when’s the wedding?” She demanded.
“Well…I don’t know. He wants it soon – says he’s not big on long engagements."
Lou raised her eyebrows at Milly as she said, "I don't think it’s that he's not big on long engagements…but rather that we've been gone too long. And he wants to get a ring on her finger before he can have any more regrets."
There was more giggling.
"Maybe we could get married in a couple weeks…” Milly thought.
Lou gasped. “A couple weeks?” She stood up and put her hands on her hips. “Ye think that’s enough time for me to plan a wedding?”
“You?” Milly asked in surprise. Lou nodded. “Well…I was just thinking something simple. Maybe you and Micah could witness and…” Milly stopped when she saw Lou shaking her head. “No?” She asked as she again raised an eyebrow.
“Milly Scott, it’s not every day the leading citizen of North Fork gets married! You’ll need a dress – after all, a girl only gets married once…” Lou put a finger to her chin and pretended to be deep in thought. “Well…hopefully…”
“Lou!” Milly gasped in mock horror.
“I can make the wedding cake. Since it’s spring, we can have the wedding outside somewhere-“
Milly gasped. “At the ranch!” Oh, she could just imagine it now!
“By the pond!” Lou thought excitedly. “We have to have a reception afterwards! Oh, AND an old fashioned barn dance in Lucas’s…er…your barn! I’ll take care of everything! Oh Milly, this is going to be wonderful!” Lou stopped as she studied her new friend’s face. Milly was deep in thought. Lou threw a hand to her mouth, realizing she had just taken over. “Oh…I’m sorry. You don’t want me to do this. It’s okay. I got ahead of myself. If you don’t want my help…”
“Oh no! It’s not that! Not at all!” Milly declared. “I would love a big wedding and for you to help…if Lucas approves, of course! I was just thinking…” Milly’s voice drifted off.
“Thinking what?” Lou’s voice softened as she laid her hand on top of Milly’s.
“I want my mother here.” Milly lifted her eyes to Lou’s. “It was my mother’s dream to see me married. My sister was so much older than me and married when I was a little girl. She moved away to Denver with her new husband for the event so my mother didn’t even get to see her married.”
“Can’t she come? I’m sure Lucas would pay for…” Lou started.
Milly touched Lou’s arm and gasped. “Oh no! It’s not the money!” She sighed. “She can’t travel by herself…Well…I mean, she could, but I don’t want her to.” Milly stood from the bed and went to look down onto the darkening street. “Mother had a stroke soon after I got back home. Oh, it wasn’t bad but…” Milly turned from the window. “I worry.”
“Oh dear…” Lou bit her lip. “Let’s see…” Lou stood as she started pacing the length of the room. “A three day train ride there…If we send someone to fetch her, it’ll take about a week. You think she’d come?”
“YES!” Milly declared. “She’d come! Nothing would keep her away!”
“Then it’s settled!” Lou declared with a nod of her head. “We’ll talk to Lucas about it! Don’t ye worry, Lucas will see that she gets here somehow!” Milly raised an eyebrow and smiled at her new friend. “What?” Lou asked suddenly.
“Lucas has you pegged very well!” Milly smiled. “He said you aren’t shy and are a feisty red-head.”
Lou pressed her lips together and raised her eyebrows. “Did he mention the word Wolverine?”
Milly chuckled. “As a matter of fact…” The women laughed. Milly grew series as she walked up to Lou and put a hand on her shoulder. “He told me that you bend over backwards to help people and you are very friendly.” Milly grabbed Lou’s hands and squeezed them. “Thank you.” Then she yawned.
Lou gasped. “Oh my! And here I am getting onto that cowboy for keeping you up too late!” Lou grinned as she pressed her lips together and raised her eyebrows. “But I suppose he’ll be doing a lot of that before too long!”
Milly’s eyes grew wide in shock at what Lou was insinuating. Lou laughed out loud and drew her hand to her mouth. “Well, it’s true!” She stood up. “But I really DO have to let you get to bed now. Do you start your job tomorrow?”
“My…” Milly gasped. “Oh, my job! I forgot!” She rolled her eyes. “I’m already nervous about marrying Lucas. Now I’m nervous about my job too!”
“Well, ye just go to bed and put it all out of your mind! Get a nice, quiet sleep.” Lou opened the door then turned around. “By the way, Mark has told me Lucas snores.” Lou couldn’t hide her grin as she closed the door. Milly thought on that as the door closed. Well, as soon as she married Lucas she’d see if that were true…Then she blushed as she thought on that.
Milly walked over to the French doors and opened them. She stepped out onto the balcony and peered down onto the street. She could hear the piano in the saloon playing a song. She waved at Micah as he looked up while making his rounds for the evening. “Mrs. Lucas McCain…” Milly said dreamingly. “Milly McCain.” She looked up at the stars. One seemed to twinkle brighter than all the others. “Oh Lucas…I can hardly wait for that special day!” She mumbled.
Lucas looked up in the sky as he leaned over the corral. He saw a star that almost looked like heaven was winking at him. It made him feel like he had God’s approval.
He hoped they would have a fast engagement. Perhaps Milly would agree to a simple wedding with Micah, Lou, and of course Mark standing up with them. But whatever she wanted would be fine with him. Lucas grinned. This was his bride’s day and he planned on making sure she had everything she ever wanted on that day – from the moment she got up that morning until she fell asleep in his arms that night. Everything would be perfect – or his name wasn’t Lucas McCain!
Lucas grinned. That night. It would be that night that he would look his wife, Milly McCain in the eye. That night, he would promise her that he would never let her go. That night, they would be alone together with no holding back, able to express their love for each other. That night, he would fall asleep with her in his arms.
Then the next morning, when he woke up, she would still be there. Lucas grinned. Oh, how he loved that woman! He couldn’t wait for that night…and all the other nights and days they’d be together.
“Pa?” Lucas turned to see Mark walking towards him. “You going to bed tonight?”
He smiled into his son’s eyes. “I reckon I should.” Lucas turned back to look into the corral. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to sleep much – not with the thoughts that were racing through his head. He’d just ask Milly to be his wife and she said yes! Thinking that still made him shiver. How did a mean ol’ cuss like him get so lucky?
Mark narrowed his eyes and studied his father. He sure was happy about something! If he didn’t know better, he’d say his father had grown two inches taller tonight. Lucas turned back toward his son. When he saw his studious stare, he allowed a big grin to cover his face. “She said yes.”
“You asked her????” Mark asked excitedly as his own eyes lit up.
“Twice!” Lucas answered with a nod.
Mark lifted his eyebrows. “Tw…twice?” he asked. Then he grinned mischievously. “What? Did she say no the first time?” Mark teased.
“Mark,” Lucas rolled his eyes. “You sound like Milly.”
“Well then, I guess I picked the right person for my Ma!” Mark declared with a nod of his head.
Lucas raised an eyebrow. “Oh?” he asked as he turned toward his son. “You mean…I didn’t have anything to do with this?”
Mark folded his arms and gave his head a shake. “Well Pa, you two weren’t exactly kissing in the General Store that first day. Why, we weren’t in there two minutes before you started yelling at each other! I had to stand between you two so you wouldn’t start a fist fight!”
Lucas gave his son a disgusted look. “A fist fight? With Milly?”
Mark cleared his throat. There was a mischievous gleam in his eye. “Well…now I suppose I’ll have to stay between you two to make sure you don’t…” Mark stopped and grinned as he raised his eyebrows. He saw the warning on his father’s face and thought that, even at the old age of 15, finishing that sentence could have dire consequences.
Lucas shook his head. “Goodnight, Mark!” Lucas said sternly.
Lucas watched Mark slowly walk toward the house. He shook his head again. “That boy!”
Milly had a lot to do Monday morning before school started at one o’clock. Her first task took place at the general store where she made several purchases for some items she would need for teaching. Yesterday, Mr. Griswald had given her a grade book for her to keep track of the progress of her students. He also had on hand copies of the books grades 1-3 used in their studies. Milly hadn’t been able to sleep the night before and had looked through the books, remembering the same lessons back East in Kansas City when she was a little girl.
After she left the general store with her new purchases in hand, she made her way to the church. It had occurred to her during her sleepless night last night that she had neglected to find a place for her school. She just wasn’t herself the last couple of days! As she thought on her dilemma, she remembered hearing about how many towns in the West didn’t even have a school and would have to use a church…or even in some cases…the saloon to teach the children. The thought of using a saloon certainly didn’t appeal to her, so she went with the most appealing option – the church. She had mentioned her idea to Lou at breakfast, and Lou assured Milly that Reverend Gathers would have no problem with her idea.
When she got to the church, she was happy to find the reverend there. He was busy on cleaning up from the Sunday service the day before. “Well, Miss Scott, if I remember?” He smiled and held out his hand to her.
“Yes. Hello, Reverend.” Milly took his hand and smiled sweetly.
“May I offer you my congratulations? I hear you will soon be Mrs. McCain.” Among his many jobs as North Fork’s reverend, one of his favorites was performing a wedding ceremony.
Milly let out a breath of surprise as she smiled, being reminded of last night’s engagement. “Well, since I just accepted Lucas’s proposal in marriage last night, I have to ask…how did you know?”
“Your future husband stopped by the parsonage last night. I tell you, I’ve talked to men after their lady has accepted their proposal, but I’ve not seen a man as excited about it as Lucas!” He chuckled. “He is beside himself with joy.“ Milly blushed, but smiled as she realized just how happy she HAD made him last night. So, I presume you stopped by to tell me you set a date.”
Milly laughed. “No, I’m afraid not. I’m actually here to see about using the church in the afternoons to teach the children. You see, Mr. Griswald is overcome with children – seems our community has done some growing since I left a year ago – and I will be taking over the responsibility of the first three grades. I can’t teach at the school so…”
Reverend Gathers smiled. “I would be more than happy to share my pulpit with such a beautiful lady.”
Milly’s heart leapt. Everything was falling into place nicely! “I’ll make sure everything is back the way I left it on Fridays, Reverend,” she assured him.
“Well, I only use this place on Sundays. Save for people coming in here to use the alter; it’s not used the rest of the week. There’s no reason why you can’t leave your things in here all the time instead of moving them in and out.” Reverend Gathers smiled. “You’ll need a place to store your things. I’ll talk to your fiancé’ about bringing a cupboard in here. I have a couple in the parsonage I’m not using. You can just store your supplies in there. I assure you, It will be no problem. If you want, I could also have some men stay on Sunday afternoons and rearrange the benches…”
“Oh no! That’s not necessary!” Milly declared. “I do want the benches rearranged, but I have two sturdy men that are about to become members of my family that will be more than willing to do the job.” She would personally see they had a cheerful heart for the task. “I’ll have them come over on Mondays and take care of it for me.” Milly took his hand. “Really, I thank you for just letting me use the church.”
Reverend Gathers finished up his cleaning then left Milly to get ready for her first day in the ‘new’ school. She immediately began setting the room up for her first school session. She would need to get two strong men to help her rearrange the desks this morning. Milly figured she could persuade Micah to help. Then maybe…Milly smiled as her heart jumped at the prospect…just maybe some certain handsome rancher would come into town to see his intended today.
By the time Milly got everything arranged in the church, it was time to have an early lunch. Then she would begin making preparations for that afternoon’s lessons.
Milly took a sip of her coffee as she sat in the dining room later that morning. She felt gentle hands on her shoulders as she sat down her cup. “May I join you?” Lucas’s husky voice asked from behind her as he leaned down close to her ear. She raised her head back and smiled up at him. Like he needed an answer to that! He quickly placed a kiss on her forehead then sat down right beside her and took her hand. They smiled into each other’s eyes.
Lou cleared her throat. Lucas and Milly turned and looked up at her. “I came to take Milly’s order,” Lou said with a click of her tongue. She held up a finger and shook it at Lucas. “Now, Cowboy, this is a restaurant, so ye just mind that ye don’t start any of that lovey dovey stuff in here!” She motioned to his chair. “Ye just scoot that chair on back where I placed it! If I wanted my chairs moved, I would…”
Lucas interrupted her with an impatient sigh. “Lou, we’ll have the…” Lucas raised his eyes and looked at Milly. She shrugged, indicating whatever he wanted to order her. “Bring us the Irish Stew.” He waited for Lou to go then bent over and kissed her cheek. “If she had her way, we’d sleep in separate beds after we were married.” Milly blushed at his words. “But if she had herself a cowboy, I’m sure she’d be just like us!”
Milly smiled and dropped his hand, regrettably. “I have to go to work soon, Lucas. I still have some preparations to do.” Lucas groaned, acting like a kid who was just told he couldn’t stay outside and play anymore. “Don’t you have a ranch to run?” Milly asked as she raised an eyebrow at him.
“Do I have to?” Lucas whined as he grinned at her.
“’Fraid so. But first, I need a good, strong man.” Milly smiled as she grabbed his forearms and squeezed. Her heart beat faster as she felt his hard biceps through his shirt. “Oh, and I’d say you’d probably do,” she teased.
“Oh, thanks a lot!” Lucas kissed the tip of her nose. Thankfully, the dining room was pretty empty so they had quite a bit of privacy at the moment. “Engaged less than 24 hours, and you’re already destroying my ego…and putting me to work!”
Milly laughed as she squeezed his arms again. “Well…it’s just that I need a couple good, strong men to rearrange some furniture in the church. I’ll be teaching my pupils there until some other arrangements can be made.”
“Two strong men, huh?” Lucas raised his eyebrows and gave her a suspicious look. “Did you…uh…feel his biceps too?” Milly blushed, but couldn’t say anything. Lucas laughed at her reaction. “Who is this other strong man?”
“Micah…” She smiled at her fiancée. “That is if we can track him down.”
“Micah’s your strong man?” Lucas chuckled as he took a sip of his coffee. “I…think we can find him. I just left him in his office…sleeping.”
Milly laughed. “I’m glad to see he hasn’t changed any!”
“So…” Lucas took a piece of bread from the bowl. “Have you thought about when you want to become Mrs. Lucas McCain?”
“Today!” Milly declared with a smile. Lucas bent over and kissed her. She knew that would be fine with him. “Lou and I talked about it last night.” Lucas raised an eyebrow. Two women talking – especially those two women… “Oh Lucas, she wants so badly to throw us a reception and help me plan a big wedding.”
Lucas nodded. Lou’s enthusiasm didn’t surprise him. But what Lou wanted didn’t matter. This was Milly’s day. “But, what do you want?” Lucas asked softly as he put his arm around her and drew her close to him.
“Well…” Milly laid her head on his shoulder. Then she looked back up at him and gasped. “Oh Lucas, I’m sure you want a small wedding. I know how you are and I…”
Lucas put a finger to her lips to hush her. He gently shook his head. “I didn’t ask you what you thought I wanted, honey.” Lucas took a bite of his buttered bread. “I asked what YOU want. This is YOUR day.”
“Lucas, that’s not true. It’s your…” Milly started.
Lucas placed two fingers to her lips this time. “I’m going to make sure you get everything you want for your wedding day. What I want is to see you happy. If you’re happy, I’ll be happy.” He smiled at her. Now…” Lucas handed Milly a piece of buttered bread. “What do YOU want?”
Milly smiled as she looked into his eyes. “Well…I’ll only get married once, Lucas. And Lou so wants to plan a big wedding with a reception and a barn dance. She wants me to have a beautiful wedding dress and…” Milly smiled. “If you want the truth, Lucas, I would LOVE to have a big wedding with lots of guests and…and everything! After all, it’s the biggest day of my life!” Milly lowered her eyes. “Oh, but you don’t want a long engagement and…and neither do I! We’ve waited so long and I…”
Lou appeared with the stew. First she made sure she stood between the chairs Lucas and Milly were sitting in, all in good fun. She sat the bowls in front of them. Lucas sighed as he raised an eyebrow up at her. “Lou, can you sit?” Lucas asked in a voice that told Lou she WOULD sit. She nodded and sat down. “How long would it take us to get a wedding all ready?”
“How long? Well Lucas, a big wedding takes months to plan!”
“Months?” Milly turned and looked at Lucas. “Lucas, no!”
“When do ye want to get married?” Lou questioned with a huff. “Tomorrow?”
“YES!” They both declared.
Milly leaned forward after taking a bite of her food. “Look Lou, neither of us wants a long engagement. I was thinking more along the line of…” Milly turned and looked sideways at Lucas. “…Weeks.”
“Days!” Lucas declared.
“Weeks!” Lou and Milly both argued back.
“Alright.” Lucas sighed as he reached for Milly again. Milly pulled away so she could take another bite of her food. “If I have to wait weeks, I guess I can.” Lucas turned to Lou. “How many weeks?”
“Well, I suppose we could do it in three weeks, Lucas. But it would be pushing it!” Lou looked at Milly then. She paused only for a moment before she cleared her throat and spoke. “But there’s something else, Lucas.”
“We need to get Milly’s mother here.”
“Lou, I…” Milly started.
Both Lou and Lucas held up their hands to hush Milly. Milly stared from one to the other. “It would take a week to get her here. Milly will need to contact her and let her know when the wedding is so she can be ready. We’d need to send someone for her. Milly doesn’t want her to travel alone.”
“Her mother, of course!” Lucas nodded. “She has to come!” Lucas took a sip of his coffee. “I’ll be busy getting the house ready. There’s no way I’ll have time to go. You and Milly have a wedding to plan.”
“Could Mark?” Lou asked suddenly.
Both women heard Lucas’s sharp intake of breath. “Not by himself, Lou! I couldn’t allow that!” Lucas answered sternly.
“He’s fifteen, Lucas!” Lou argued.
Suddenly, Milly held up a hand to hush them. “First of all, this is my mother you’re discussing, so is it okay if I get in on this conversation?” Lucas and Lou both chuckled as they realized they’d gotten carried away. “Second of all, I have to eat so I can get to work. Thirdly…” Milly stopped to take a bite. After she swallowed, she lifted her chin and said, “Mark is fifteen years old, Lucas! He’s very level headed and mature and I think he’s plenty old enough to…”
“No!” Lucas said a bit louder than he intended. The group looked around. Lucas cleared his throat. “Absolutely not! I forbid it!”
Both women knew he had just put an end to this discussion.
Lou gasped, suddenly coming up with the perfect solution. “What about Micah?”
“Send the town Marshal to Kansas City?” Lucas raised an eyebrow.
“Well Lucas, you just said that he’s sitting in his office napping. I’m guessing he can do that on a train as well as he can in a chair!” Milly retorted. Milly looked at Lucas through her long eyelashes as she spoke her next words. “We could send Mark with him, give them some grandfather/grandson time. And I think it would be good for Mark to meet his future grandmother. They could get to know each other on the ride back.”
Lucas scratched under his nose. “He’d miss a week of school, Milly,” he hinted, thinking that would make her reconsider what he thought was an order…not a suggestion.
“I don’t think that’s what you’re worried about, Lucas. I think you’re worried about missing Mark.” Lucas smiled at Milly’s words. This woman knew him so well! “It would be a good adventure for the boy. And uh…” Milly bent over and laid a hand on Lucas’s cheek. She flashed him a big smile. “It would give us some time alone to uh…work on those wedding plans.” Her smile grew as she lowered her eyelids over her eyes.
Lucas smiled back at her as they just gazed at each other. Lou gave a disgusted groan. “Oh, I think I’m going to be sick!” She retorted. Milly and Lucas laughed.
“If you are worried about Mark and his schoolwork, Lucas, I can talk to Mr. Griswald and see about his assignments. I suspect, though, that missing a week of school won’t hurt him too much.” Milly smiled.
Lucas groaned at her glowing smile. He knew that smile would imprison him for the rest of his life. It would be hard to say no to that! “Okay…I’ll…” Lucas stopped as he smiled. There was no more “I.” “We’ll talk to Mark about it tonight.”
Milly nodded, then took her hand away from Lucas and took a bite of her soup. “Well, I have to get to work. You two should go so I can eat.” She looked from Lou to Lucas.
Lou stood up. She turned and looked at Lucas. Lucas looked at Lou, then at Milly. “Me?” Lucas asked, pressing his hands to his chest in shock. “Oh, but I’m your fiancé!”
Milly nodded. “Yes you are, my love…” Milly bent in to him and stared into his eyes. “And if you want to stay that way, you best leave so I can finish eating!”
“What about my Irish stew?” Lucas asked.
Milly bent over and patted Lucas’s cheek as she chuckled. “If you promise to be a good boy, you can sit there and eat it. But you must be good.” Lucas grinned mischievously and moved toward her. Milly pressed a hand against his chest. “Not that good!”
After eating, Lucas and Milly made their way to the Marshal’s office. Micah was still sleeping. The couple paused just inside the door. Milly folded her arms and shook her head. “Doesn’t he get hungry?” She whispered in her fiancé’s ear.
“Oh, didn’t you know?” Lucas asked in a normal voice. Then his voice grew louder as he said, “He just eats anytime he pleases. In between naps.” That made Milly giggle.
“Huh? What?” Micah sat up and looked to see who had dared to interrupt his sleep. “Well, if it’s not the future Mr. and Mrs. Lucas McCain!” He stood up. “I was uh…up most of the night helping damsels in distress.”
“Mm hm…” Lucas grunted as he looked at Micah doubtfully and nodded. “Well, since you are well rested, you can come with us to the church.”
“The church?” Micah looked from Milly to Lucas. Then he folded his arms and grinned. “Well, Lucas Boy! I knew you wanted to marry her, but isn’t this rushing it a bit?”
“Micah!” Lucas grunted again. “Milly will be teaching the children in the church in the afternoons. We need to rearrange some furniture so she can get started.”
“Oh!” Micah grinned. “So, when IS the date?”
Lucas turned to Milly and folded his arms as he cocked his head to one side and narrowed his eyes. “Yeah. You and Lou never DID give me that piece of information.”
Milly smiled. “How about three weeks from Saturday.”
“Last Saturday?” Lucas asked hopefully.
Milly shook her head and patted his cheek as she turned to walk out. “No my love…NEXT Saturday.”
Micah and Lucas watched Milly walk out. Lucas turned and raised an eyebrow at his friend. “Next Saturday,” he mocked.
“LUCAS!” Milly warned.
“Coming, dear!” Lucas called.
Micah laughed. “Somehow I get a feeling those two words will become very familiar to you, Lucas Boy.”
Lucas patted Micah’s back as they walked out onto the street. Lucas shifted his rifle from one hand to the other as they walked down toward the church. Milly walked ahead of them, giving them some privacy to talk without her hearing. “I’ve got a favor to ask you.” Lucas smiled. “It would be a wedding present for Milly.”
“I need you to take a trip.”
“A trip?” Micah stopped walking as he turned toward his friend. “What? She wants you become the town Marshal now?”
Lucas laughed. “I need you and Mark to go fetch her mother in Kansas City,” Lucas said quietly.
“Kansas City???” Micah retorted. “You’re going to send the two of us away to…” Micah stopped as he turned and looked at Milly who was walking ahead. “Oh…I see!” He grinned wide again.
“MICAH!!!” Lucas rolled his eyes. “Milly thinks it would be good for you and Mark.”
“Oh for me and Mark, huh?” Micah grinned even bigger. “I’m sure she has your best interest at heart too, my lucky friend you! A whole week without the boy and Marshal around will give you two plenty of time to…”
“That’s enough, Micah!” Lucas grunted.
Micah cleared his throat. “So sending Mark away isn’t your idea?”
“No. Definitely not my idea.” He rolled his eyes. “I wasn’t exactly…given a choice.” Micah was enjoying having fun at his expense.
“What about my job?” Micah asked then.
“Well, I suppose you can sleep on the train as well as you can…OH!” Lucas grunted as Micah elbowed him in the gut. Lucas held up his hands in mock surrender. “You have a standing deputy, you know.”
“And you’re sure he won’t get distracted from his duties by a certain raven-haired beauty?”
“I’ll be at the ranch working hard. If there’s trouble, someone will come get me. I’ll stay in town at night when things tend to get crazy in the saloon. It’ll only be for a week, Micah. How bad could things get?”
Micah laughed at that last statement. “Well okay, Lucas. As a matter of fact, it’ll give you something to do to help keep your mind off your impending prison…uh…life sentence. You just tell me when.” Lucas nodded. Then they stopped on the steps before entering the church. “But you also remember that someone will have to take her back to Kansas City after the wedding.”
Lucas grinned as he turned and looked at Milly as she walked into the church. He turned back to Micah, a big smile on his face. “Uh huh…” They both smiled at each other. “But, you’ll have to find yourself another deputy when you…and Mark…take her back. I’m going to be on my honeymoon!” Both men laughed knowingly.
Milly nodded her approval as she continued writing notes on the paper. Micah sighed, happy the moving of furniture was finally over. “But you know we have to do this every Friday evening and Monday morning.” Micah said this quietly, thinking Milly wouldn’t hear him.
“Oh no.” Milly looked up. She pointed her pen at Micah. “Micah, you’re off the hook.” Then she looked at Lucas. “Mark will be helping Lucas from now on.” As soon as she finished her statement, she lowered her head and went right back to her writing.
Lucas put his hands on his hips and shook his head at Micah. “You see? Less than 24 hours of engagement, and she already has both mine and Mark’s lives all planned out!” Micah laughed as he turned and walked out the door.
If Milly heard the snide remark, she chose to ignore it as she stood from the desk and looked around the room. “Oh, I hope this is going to work out!” she said nervously as she put a hand to her chin and looked around.
Lucas walked up behind her and put his arms around her. He rested his chin on top of her head and gave her a backwards hug. Milly laid her arms on top of his and leaned her head into his chest. “You’re going to do fine, Milly! These kids have the best school teacher anywhere!”
Milly closed her eyes as she continued to rest her head on Lucas’s chest. “You’re a bit prejudice,” she pointed out quietly.
Lucas kissed the top of her head. “Maybe.” He turned her around to face him. He looked into her eyes. “But I could see the passion for these children in your eyes. You haven’t even met them yet and you already have hopes for them.” He kissed her softly. “Now…” he said as he touched her chin. “Let’s go get those kids.”
Milly turned and looked at her desk. She reached to do a little more rearranging, but Lucas grabbed her arm. “Everything’s fine, Milly,” he said sternly. He walked with her to the school and helped transport all the children to the church. He stayed quiet in the back of the room and watched as Milly tried to get the laughter and talking under control. Finally, she clapped her hands together really hard and shouted, “SILENCE!”
Lucas threw a fist to his mouth. She sure wouldn’t have any trouble! “Now,” Milly sighed. “That’s better! Let me introduce myself. I am…”
“You’re the Rifleman’s woman!” one of the children declared. Milly sucked in her breath and put her hands on her hips. Lucas cringed when he saw the mean look on her face. He sure hoped she never used that look on him or Mark! The child straightened up in his chair. “That’s what my Pa said at the supper last night. He said you’s gonna tame the Rifleman.”
Milly cleared her throat as she looked back at Lucas. She saw the laughter in his eyes. “My name, young man, is Miss Scott. The Rifleman…” Milly closed her eyes as she realized her slip of the tongue. “…Mr. McCain and I will be getting married soon. Then my name will be Mrs. McCain. I do not want anyone to refer to me as ‘The Rifleman’s woman.’ Is that clear?”
The children nodded. Lucas leaned against the door and folded his arms as he watched his fiancée hard at work. “And everyone who is in the classroom will be expected to work…Regardless of your age.”
The children turned to see Lucas standing in the doorway. Lucas straightened up and nodded his head. “Yes ma’am!” Then he quickly left the church.
Milly felt passionate as she taught the kids for the afternoon. She could see the desire to learn in some of their eyes, while in others she saw confusion. She worked with each child individually to get a better understanding of where they were academically. Then for those who would be staying at home for the morning, she recorded their assignments in a note and sent them on their way.
As Milly exited the church, she was surprised to see Mark waiting for her. “Pa sent me to fetch ya, Milly.” Mark explained as he walked up the steps of the church.
“Oh?” Milly put the key to the church in her handbag. “Why?”
“He said you’re coming to dinner tonight.” Milly rolled her eyes. “He said we had some things to discuss…as a family.” Mark grinned at her.
Milly smiled as she made her way down the steps. That warmed her heart. She may even forgive him for not “asking” her to come for supper.
“How’s it feel to be teaching again?” Mark asked then.
“Wonderful!” Milly declared. Mark helped her into the wagon. All the way home, she told Mark about the joy of watching the children learn.
When they pulled into the yard, Milly saw Lucas in the corral tending to an injured calf. He straightened up and started toward her. Milly blushed as her eyes landed on his chest. His shirt was unbuttoned all the way down and hanging out of his jeans. “Good afternoon, Miss. Scott!” Lucas greeted her with a smile. He started to take her in his arms, but Milly took a step back. She blushed and looked towards Mark.
Lucas looked down. “Oh! I’m sorry, Milly.” He quickly buttoned his shirt, enjoying her bashfulness. “I have beans and cornbread cooking in the kitchen.” After tucking his shirt in, he put an arm around her waist and led her toward the house. “How was your first day?”
Milly stopped and turned to him. “Wonderful, Lucas!” She beamed. “It was just wonderful!” She paused at the door. “You and Mark just go on with whatever you usually do. I’ll finish supper.”
They enjoyed their meal as they engaged in small talk again. After supper, she and Lucas talked to Mark about riding to Kansas City to fetch her mother for the wedding. Lucas smiled as the excitement of adventure danced in Mark’s eyes. But Milly looked sternly at her soon-to-be son. “I’ll be talking to Mr. Griswald about your lessons for the week you miss school. I’ll give you a choice of either working ahead before you leave or working on the train.” There was a warning in her voice that said, “No argument!”
Mark stared at Milly. She had just returned three days ago, and she was already laying down the law! He turned to look at his father. “Pa?” He asked for help.
Lucas held up a hand and shook his head. “This is her turf now, son.” Lucas picked up the dessert plates from the table. “And I’m glad it’s now out of my hands!”
“Boy, oh boy!” Mark exclaimed. “Engaged for 24 hours, and she’s already bossing!”
“I was bossing you way before now, and you know it!” Milly declared as she reached out and touched Mark’s ear. “You forgot the ear-pulling I gave you in the school yard?”
“Oh yeah,” Mark groaned as he touched his ear. He was still trying to decide who’s ear-pulling hurt the worst…
“And the smack on the backside?” Mark groaned. “And the…”
Mark held up his hand. “Alright, alright!” She certainly knew how to get her point across!
Milly smiled. “Now, get over there and do those dishes, young man!”
Lucas walked over to Milly’s chair and took her hand. He helped to her feet. They walked out onto the porch and sat down. He draped an arm around her shoulders. His voice was a bit reserved as he spoke. “Milly, I hate to bring this up, but I’m afraid we got some important matters to discuss.”
“Oh?” Milly raised an eyebrow.
“Well, it seems when I built this house, I didn’t exactly foresee me getting married. We only have one bedroom and uh…” Lucas took her hand and leaned in towards her so he could look into her eyes. “That just won’t do.”
Milly blushed as she thought on the implications of that sly smile Lucas held on his face. “Well then…I think we DO have some things to talk about.”
Lucas kept a hold of her hand as they stood up. He led her to the back of the house. “I was thinking about knocking out this wall.” He pointed toward the wall. “We could add on a couple bedrooms.”
“A couple?” Milly questioned as she turned to look at him.
“Well…” Lucas cleared his throat and lifted his eyebrows. “You know…things happen.” He grinned mischievously.
Milly blushed. “Do you…want more children?” She asked.
“As many as you can give me.” Lucas grinned as he drew her to him and again kissed her. She found herself lost in his embrace as she slowly drew her arms around his neck and leaned into his kiss. Lucas was the one to finally break the kiss. He cleared his throat. “There’s only so much a man can take…”
Milly blushed again. “I think two rooms is a good idea…for now.” Milly smiled coyly at him. Lucas took a piece of paper out of his pocket and opened it. Milly looked at the plans he had been drawing. “Okay, so we can make our bedroom come out right here…” he pointed around the yard and showed her where their bedroom would come to. “Then the other bedroom.”
“That’s a pretty big bedroom!” Milly declared.
“Milly, I’m going to make it special. I’m not telling you what I’m planning for you. It’s a surprise. You’ll see it…on our wedding night.”
Milly blushed. The mere mention of it sent shivers through her body. She cleared her throat and took a few steps from him. She looked at him, but he suddenly averted his eyes from her as they started walking out of the back yard. “Lucas?” Lucas stopped but didn’t turn toward her. “What else are you thinking about?”
Lucas jerked his head around and stared at her. “How did you…”
“Lucas McCain! I can always tell when you are avoiding something. What is it?” She folded her arms and waited.
He took her hand and led her back to the porch. He sat down and pulled her down next to him. The next item up for discussion was difficult, but it was one that had to be discussed. “Well…I haven’t told you much about my wife and…Well, discussing my past wife with my future wife is a bit....” Lucas cleared his throat. “Margaret was…well, she was something special. I’ll always hold a place for her in my heart.”
“I understand that, Lucas.” She put her hands on his cheeks. “I’ve always understood that. The love you have for her runs very deeply, and I’ll always respect that.”
Lucas took her hand from his cheek and drew it to his lips. He held it in both of his hands and studied it intently. “I know…” He swallowed. “When Mark and I settled here, it took a long time for us to make peace with the fact that she was gone, but we’ve finally done it…pretty much…But we wanted her all around us. So, after we settled here, we sent for a lot of our things from Oklahoma. The lamps, the pictures on the wall, the curtains and…” Lucas raised his head and looked into her eyes. “The dishes.” Milly nodded without flinching. She stayed quiet. “Well…a woman…she wants her own things. She needs…” Lucas lowered his head. Talking about this was very difficult for him.
Milly suddenly leaned into Lucas and put a finger under his chin. She lifted his head, forcing him to look into her eyes. Then she gently shook her head. “Stop right there, Lucas McCain.” Milly kissed him softly before continuing. “Now, I know that Margaret was Mark’s mother and your wife. I could never replace her in either role, and I don’t want to. She will always have a special place here…” She laid a hand on his chest over his heart. “And here…” she laid a hand on the top of his head. “And here…” She pointed toward the house. “I accepted that a long time ago.”
Milly took Lucas’s hand in both of hers and smiled softly. “You weren’t ready to move on to the point of marrying me and accepting me into your home before I left, Lucas. But now you are. I can tell you have come to terms.” She dropped his hand and put her own in her lap. “When I move in, I move in with the intention of seeing Margaret’s memory around. She’s part of you and Mark, Lucas. I can never stop that, even if I wanted to. There are memories and moments that I’ll never be a part of. Those are private memories between you and Mark. But Lucas, when I marry you, I’m marrying Lucas McCain. I’m moving into your home and setting up house. I would be so…” Milly suddenly felt her eyes moisten. She put a hand to her chest as she felt tears trickle down her cheeks. “…so honored to use Margaret’s things.”
Lucas smiled and brushed a tear from her cheek. “And we would be honored to share them with you. They will be as much yours as they were hers.”
“But Lucas, if my using Margaret’s dishes and such bothers Mark…” Lucas shook his head. “Then I am more honored that you would allow them to become mine as well.”
Lucas turned to her then. They shared a look of silence as they searched each other’s face. Then Lucas drew her close to him and again they shared a kiss.
“OH, again?!” They heard Mark groan from behind them. Their lips parted. Lucas continued looking into Milly’s eyes. “Pa, if you want I’ll escort Milly back to town.”
“No son. I’LL escort her back to town!” Lucas declared as he stood up. “You finish your chores then get to bed.” He put his arm around Milly’s waist as they headed toward the barn. Lucas never took his eyes off of her. “You got school tomorrow.”
Mark leaned against the post as he watched them enter the barn. He allowed a slow easy smile to cross his face. “Welcome back, Milly!
The Wedding — Tensions
This is a story based on the TV series “The Rifleman”
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around The McCain Ranch