T'was the Night Before The Wedding…
Lucas put his
hands on his hips as he looked the gunfighter up and down.
“What are you doing here?” he asked in surprise.
I came to offer my services.” He held his hand out for Lucas to
shake. The two men enjoyed a hearty handshake as everyone
“Johnny Drako!” Peter hurried forward
and pumped his hand. “Johnny, I haven’t seen you
since…well…since…When was the last time we saw you?”
“It’s been a long time!” Johnny smiled at the other McCain
brothers. “I’m certainly glad to see you all together again!”
He shook each hand. “Boy, this brings back memories of some
good times! Where’s your sisters?”
“They couldn’t make
it. Both are heavy with-child,” Peter declared.
Tom Benton hurried forward, suddenly in his marshal mode.
He didn’t know Johnny like the McCain’s and Gibbs did, and he
was concerned about a gunfighter suddenly showing up. “Johnny,
what sort of services do you wish to offer?” he asked
“Well…” Johnny pulled out a gun and spun
the cylinder. “After seeing that article in the paper, I was
afraid some gunfighters might see it fit to come ruin this
special occasion for my best friend. If there was ever a time,
this would be it. So, I thought I’d come to North Fork and
offer my services.” Tom just stared at him, still unsure of his
“Tom, uh…” Lucas hurried forward to defend
his friend. “Johnny’s quit gun fighting. He wants to be on our
“Oh?” Tom looked him up and down. “I don’t think
that’s possible, Lucas. Potter’s Field seems to be the only
place gunfighters can retire to.”
“I haven’t gotten in
one gunfight since I left North Fork earlier this year, Lucas.
I’ve been keeping to myself. Had no trouble doing it so far.”
Drako looked at the McCain Brothers and Johnny Gibbs. “You
uh…may not believe this, but I’m even thinking about offering my
services to the law.”
Lucas gave him a surprised look.
“You’re right! I don’t believe it.” Then he scratched under
his nose. “I’d be honored to accept your services, Johnny!”
“Now, wait a minute, Lucas!” Tom started.
on, Tom! You remember me when we were in the war. I was always
a good, honest shot. I never killed anyone that didn’t need
killing!” Johnny declared.
“But you’ve done some killing
since then!” Tom argued.
Micah stepped forward to stop
the bickering. “We could use a few good gun hands, Drako. I
have Tom and Buckhart here to help out, but I have hired some
more deputies for tomorrow to guard the ranch and uh…town.”
“I’m surprised you’d let an article like this get in the
paper, Lucas,” Drako declared. “I figured you would know what
such an article would bring!”
“Well uh…” Lucas scratched
under his nose. “It wasn’t exactly me who did it.”
Johnny smiled. “She didn’t tell you she was going to do it? Is
that it?” Johnny shook his head. “If my bride-to-be did
something like that I’d probably explode!”
on his beer. Lucas rolled his eyes and turned to grab a mug
from Sweeny. “Here Johnny, have a beer!”
isn’t telling you,” Abraham winked from behind his baby brother.
“Is that when you explode, you better make sure you aren’t a
cup of dynamite going up against a barrel of dynamite like he
did!” Lucas gasped as he turned to look at his brother. “Oh
uh…” Abraham laughed. “Micah Torrance filled us in on all the
details, Baby Brother!”
Milly turned herself
around in the mirror as she studied the red dress newly
purchased from the dress shop. “What do you think? Will Lucas
Lou stepped forward and straightened her tie
in the back. “What I think, Milly, is that you are a ravishing
beauty. We’re going to have to keep those other men away with a
stick! And as for Lucas…I may just have to tie him down to make
him behave himself tonight!”
Milly smiled. Color was in
her cheeks. Her heart was pounding out of her chest as she
looked around the room. “Well…is the photographer here yet?
He’s supposed to take our pictures!”
“Everyone is here.
Lucas is beside himself wondering why you aren’t down there
yet!” Lou declared. “He sent me up here to demand you get down
there right now!” Lou smiled. “He’s very anxious to see you.
I think he wants reassurance that you still want to marry him.
“Oh, I do! I just…” Milly started.
there was a knock at the door. “Milly!” Lucas’s voice called.
“You get down here! The preacher is ready to start the
rehearsal!” Lucas ordered impatiently.
“Oh, I just love
Eastern-styled wedding’s!” Lou declared. “That’s what this old
West needs!” She turned toward the door. “Ye just mind
yourself, Lucas McCain! Ye get on back down those stairs! I’ll
bring her to ye!”
They listened as footsteps sounded on
the stairs. “Now, you just smile and enjoy yourself!” Lou
hugged her. “This time tomorrow night, ye will be alone with
your man.” Lou put her hands on Milly’s cheeks. “Oh Milly,
I’m…I’m so happy for ye. I wish I could find what you have!”
“Maybe someday you will.” Milly smiled. “Maybe he’s
here tonight!” She smoothed her dress with her hands.
“Well…here we go!”
Milly walked to the door and opened
it. She gasped, surprised to find Lucas standing outside her
door with his arms crossed. “Lucas McCain!” Lou shook her head
as she tried to keep herself from smiling. “Well, I never!”
Lucas grinned as he walked toward his bride. He put a hand
on her cheek. His eyes suddenly sparkled as he looked her up
and down. It was obvious he was very much enjoying the view.
“You look…ravishing!” He bent down and kissed her softly. “You
are so beautiful!” They just stared into each other’s eyes as
Lucas landed another kiss on her lips.
called from the stairs. “Milly!”
Lucas waved his hand
for Lou to go on as he continued looking into Milly’s eyes.
“Nothing wrong with wanting a few minutes alone with you, is
there?” He stroked her cheek with his thumb as he lowered his
head closer to hers. His lips spread into a wide grin. “I’ve
hardly had anytime alone with you since…”
behind the hotel,” Milly smiled into his eyes. She raised her
head up and kissed him. She slid her arms around his neck as
she pressed on the back of his head. Their kiss deepened.
“Hey, are we going to have to call out the fire brigade!”
Johnny Drako called from the bottom of the stairs. “You’ll have
tomorrow night to be alone!”
The couple laughed into
their kiss, but they didn’t stop just yet. Lucas tightened his
arms around her, enjoying the privacy. “Mildred Scott! You get
down here!” Jenny Scott demanded.
Lucas groaned as he
broke the kiss. “I think the commander of the troops has
spoken!” He pressed his hands to her cheeks. “I love you,
“I love you, Lucas McCain,” Milly declared
passionately as she took his hand in hers.
down the stairs together, hand-in-hand. Their smiled widened at
the applause they received as they, the couple of the hour, made
their way down the stairs. Milly smiled as Lucas kept an arm
firmly around her waist.
“Lucas, I’m afraid
I have one more surprise for you,” she announced at the bottom
of the stairs. “Bring him out.”
The door opened. Lucas
looked down at Milly as he smiled and hurried forward. “Able!
Able Goss!” He grasped the photographer’s hand and pumped it
“Hello Lucas! Mark thought that since I took
wedding pictures for you and Margaret, you’d enjoy my doing the
same for you and your new bride, Miss Scott.”
nodded. “I would love nothing more!” he declared. Milly looked
up at Lucas and saw his eyes shining with tears. He turned and
looked at his bride. “How did I get so lucky?”
smiled up at him as she once again took his hand in hers. “It
is I who am the lucky one, my love.” She led him over to the
arch as Lou guided everyone into the dining room for dinner.
Able took some pictures of the blushing bride and groom as they
stood under the beautifully decorated arch. Then he included
Lucas’s brothers and Milly’s mother and niece. After the
pictures were done, Milly and Lucas made their way through the
crowd to discuss the ceremony with the preacher. Reverend
Gathers nodded his approval when Lucas and Milly announced they
would be saying their own unrehearsed vows to each other. He
figured they would. It wasn’t often that he saw a couple so in
Lucas walked his fiancée toward the dining room,
but they suddenly found themselves once again standing under the
arch. They paused there and looked into each other’s eyes.
Lucas bent down and kissed his fiancée on her lips. They were
so caught up in the moment that they didn’t realize their kisses
had become more than just a short peck on the lips, and people
were staring at them. Finally, Lucas put his arm around Milly’s
shoulder and led her into the dining room for dinner.
The rehearsal dinner had been prepared by Anne Dodd-Taylor.
Everyone stood as Lucas and Milly came into the room. “That
sure was some kiss!” Johnny Drako declared shamelessly.
Everyone laughed as the couple blushed.
Lou Mallory shouted. “Now, you behave yourself or I’ll throw ye
out on your backside!”
“Careful, Lou!” Micah laughed.
“You’re talking to a gunfighter!”
“Oh gunfighter my
right eye!” Lou declared as she put her hands on her hips and
looked Johnny Drako up and down. “I can learn him a thing or
Johnny smiled at her. “I’d love to see you try!”
Milly and Lucas laughed. “Maybe she’s finally met her
match,” Lucas smiled down at her. “I think I’d like to see her
“Lucas McCain!” Milly and Lou both declared at
the same instant. Lucas slowly sat down next to Milly.
Everyone else sat down as well.
Ann stood up next to
the table of food. She held one of her twins as he tried to
wiggle free. “I’d like to take this moment to say a few things
about Lucas if I may.” Ann licked her lips. “I’m sure all of
you in this room are very well aware of who Margaret McCain is,
though some of you never met her. She was a true gem, and Lucas
and Margaret were so very much in love. They were in love for a
long time and when she died…Well, Lucas has waited a long time
to remarry. There were times he could have taken another wife
as a mother for his son. A man like him…it wouldn’t have been
too hard. But…”
Ann lowered her head as she felt her
tears coming on. “Milly, I’ve gotten to know you over the past
couple of days, and I must say that you are an amazing woman to
have softened up this man’s heart enough to see the kind of love
he possesses. I can see the love for each of you flowing
through you. And I made Lucas’s favorite meal tonight in honor
of the love you two share. I used to fix this when he and
Margaret…and Mark…came to our house for dinner. And this is my
way of saying thank you for all those happy times that are
forever etched in my memory.”
Ann stepped forward.
“Lucas McCain…this is my wedding gift to you.”
filled the plates for the bride and groom and sat the food down
in front of them. Mark’s eyes grew wide when he saw the roast
goose. “What about mine?” Mark asked.
“You can get in
line like everyone else!” Anne declared with a firm nod of her
There was much talking and laughing as everyone
filled their plates and sat down. When they were just finishing
the meal, Mark sat back and sighed contentedly. “That was so
good!” he declared.
Lou made her way over to where Mark
was sitting. “Ye can start gathering up the dishes, Mark.”
“Huh?” Mark asked.
“Oh, did ye forget that you
offered to clean all these dishes so us ladies could get
rested?” Mark stared at her. “Well don’t ye remember Mark? I
know I don’t have to remind you of the conversation…”
“Oh!” Mark gulped as he stood up and started gathering the
dishes. Lucas and Milly looked at each other and raised their
eyebrows. “I’m on it, Miss Lou!”
Lou turned and smiled
at Lucas and Milly. She looked as if she was going to enjoy
this very much. “He’s also going to be cleaning up after the
wedding tomorrow.” She raised her eyebrows then walked away.
Milly turned toward Lucas. “Do you think this has
anything to do with the incident that occurred at the ranch last
Lucas patted her hand. “I think, Milly, that
it has everything to do with that. I think Lou is punishing
Mark for what he did.”
“You think we’ll ever find out
what happened?” Milly questioned him.
finished off his pie then turned back to Milly. “When our
grandchildren tell us about the funny story their father told
them. Then we’ll know.”
They both laughed. The ladies
called Milly over to their table after that. Milly kissed Lucas
then hurried across the room to talk. In time Milly and Lucas
caught each other’s eye from across the table. Lucas nudged his
head toward the door. Milly wiped her mouth with the napkin,
then slowly stood up. Nobody was really paying attention, and
nobody saw the couple quietly slip out.
Lucas took her hand. “You nervous?” He asked her as he led
Milly out onto the boardwalk. Milly nodded silently. “So am
I.” They sat down.
Milly laid her head on
Lucas’s shoulder. “Are you having second thoughts?”
“About marrying you?” Lucas asked, surprised. He lifted her
head and turned to look at her. “Never!” He rubbed a finger
against her cheek. “Milly Scott, I love you.” His heart beat
faster as she stared at him. “Tomorrow, I’ll make you my wife.”
Milly lowered her eye lashes. Then she laid her head
back on his shoulder and sighed. “Everything’s been so…crazy!
I’ve been pretty terrible these last three weeks, Lucas.”
“Yeah, well I haven’t exactly been a picnic to be around
either,” Lucas declared as he again lifted her head and kissed
her softly. “But I’ll make it all up to you…very soon.” He gave
her an impish grin. Milly blushed.
They sat there just
holding hands on the porch to the hotel. The lobby inside grew
quiet as people began going up to their rooms. Milly and Lucas
watched as those staying elsewhere filtered out the doors and
made their way down the street. Nobody stopped to bother the
couple, because they knew they were focused on each other and
the big day. Finally, Milly yawned. “I need to get you inside,
my love,” Lucas mumbled as he lifted her face to his and kissed
her. Then he stood up. He took her hands and lifted her to her
feet. He turned to her just outside the door to the hotel.
“I’ll leave you one last time. After tonight, there will be no
more leaving you at the door. Tomorrow night, we’ll be
together. Tomorrow night, my sweet Mil, I’ll take you…home.”
Milly’s face lit up at the sound of that. She bit her
lip. “I can’t wait!” Milly said as she once again drew her arms
around him. Lucas bent his head down and kissed her
passionately one last time. Then their lips parted and Lucas
released her. “Tomorrow I’ll make you Mrs. Milly McCain.”
She smiled as she watched Lucas step off the boardwalk and
make his way out of town to the ranch where, no doubt, his
friends and brothers, whom he had seen slip out at some point in
the evening, were doing some heavy celebrating.
slowly stood and wrapped an arm around the post. “Goodbye, my
love. Tomorrow we’ll start our life together…as husband…and
T'was the night before the wedding,
and all through North Fork
Not a gunman was found, not even
The hotel was all decorated for the big
And even the barn for which away things were sent;
The citizens were nestled all snug in their beds,
Save the wedding couple with thoughts in their heads;
And Milly in her nightgown, and Lucas in his pants,
tried to settle down to rest for the events,
outside her window the moon was shining bright,
from her bed and knew she was up for the night.
the window Lucas flew like a flash,
He suddenly became
fearful he’d oversleep, then to North Fork he’d have to dash.
The moon shone on the balcony where she did stand
she thought about the event that was now at hand,
what to his wondering eyes should appear,
But his son, with
a grin that was so dear,
with a sparkle in his eye and a
grin on his face,
a hand on his shoulder and back to bed he
Faster than bullets, her thoughts they came,
And she thought of all that needed done and said them by
"Now, bathing! now, Combing! now, Dressing and
On, Wedding! on Reception! on, home and Romancing!
To the top of the porch! to the bottom of the floor!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away dirt!"
thought about the day the wild images fly,
When they meet
with an obstacle, how will they get by,
So into the new
bedroom one final time he flew,
to make sure everything was
ready and tidy too.
And then, in a twinkling, he thought
of the next day
When he’d marry his bride and take her away.
As she thought of that moment, turning around,
the balcony and down the stairs she came with a bound.
He would be dressed all tidy and neat,
From the top of his
head to the bottom of his feet;
A ring on their fingers
each one would slide,
As their eyes locked and their love
His eyes -- how they twinkled! His lips how
As he said “I DO” her heart would beat wild!
His lips would press together as he waited for her,
Then soon her words of “I Do” would occur;
lips would join as they became one,
and they would turn, as
they smiled, oh this is so much fun;
Then at the
reception food they would eat,
as everyone enjoyed the
couple at the feast.
Wedding traditions would occur
throughout the night,
and the restless children would begin
Then the bouquet of flowers she would throw,
to an unsuspecting future bride down below;
would sound as he took her in his arms,
And rice they would
throw as their voices warms,
Then he kissed her one last
time on the lips so dear,
As everyone hollered and waved and
He called to the horses and slowly rode away,
as his bride is finally beside him after the long day.
And the men exclaimed as they rode out of sight,
Congratulations! And have a good NIGHT
Neither Lucas nor Milly got much sleep that last night. Both
lay in bed for a long time thinking about the other. They
tossed and turned, but neither was able to allow sleep to come.
Eventually, they both got up from their bed. One walked into
the couple’s kitchen, the other made her way down into Lou’s
private kitchen to make some coffee.
opened the front door and looked up at the night sky. He stared
at the stars thinking about holding his beloved in his arms the
following day. “Pa?” Lucas turned to see Mark buttoning his
pants as he came to stand in the doorway. “You should be in
bed, Pa. You have a big day tomorrow.”
Lucas sat down
on the steps and sighed. “I didn’t sleep the eve of my first
wedding, son. I suspect this one will be no different.”
“Why?” Mark sat down beside him. “What are you thinking
Lucas turned and looked into his son’s eyes. He
smiled as he put his arm around Mark’s shoulders. “Everything.
Our lives are about to change, son. Tomorrow night I’ll be
brining my wife home, and she’ll be here to stay. Every other
time, she’s gone home and it was just the two of us.” Lucas
smiled. “Tonight is the last night it’s just ‘us.’”
“Are you…having second thoughts?” Mark asked.
smiled. “Milly asked me the same thing earlier tonight.” Lucas
sighed. “No son, I’m not having second thoughts, but I’m
concerned about you I guess.” Lucas turned and looked at Mark.
“We’ve always been close, son. It’s been the two of us and I’m
just worried that…”
“Pa,” Mark stopped him. “I love
Milly! I’m ready for her to move in with us and take care of
us. I know things will be different. I mean, tonight we can
sit out here on the porch and talk, but next week…will I be able
to do this? I think Milly knows we are close and I think she’ll
still give us the space we need. Actually, I’m hoping she’ll
join us here, on the porch. I remember a few times, when Ma
would sit out on the porch with you and I’d sneak from my bed
and you’d let me sit on your lap, until I fell asleep.”
Lucas smiled as the memory. “I hope so too, son. I guess I’m
“About tomorrow night?” Lucas turned and
looked at Mark. He was being serious. Lucas nodded. “From
what you’ve told me about…well, you know…it’s a wonderful time
for the man and woman to come together and show each other their
love, Pa. Are you afraid she’ll…” Mark stopped. He wasn’t
really prepared to have this conversation with his father.
“I guess we both are, son. It’s not just what happens on
the wedding night. It’s…She’s going to know everything about
me. What if she doesn’t…I mean I wonder if…” Lucas rubbed a
hand against the back of his neck.
“Did you have these
same thoughts with Ma?” Mark asked then. Lucas nodded. “And
how did that turn out?”
Lucas smiled. “Our wedding
night was perfect, son. So was the night after that and the
night after that…We had a few adjustments to make, but we
learned to adjust and…” Lucas sighed. He shook his head at his
son. “When did you get to be so smart?”
“From listening to you, Pa.” Mark put an arm on his father’s
shoulder. “Can we go back to bed now?”
Father and son stood up and went back into their house. Lucas
hoped sleep would come to him.
the back door to the kitchen and stepped out. She too looked up
at the stars, thinking about tomorrow. Tomorrow, Lucas McCain
would give her his name. Tomorrow night, he’d take her in his
arms with no more holding back.
“Can’t sleep?” Milly
turned to see her mother standing behind her. “Are you
Milly nodded. “I’m nervous about so many
things, Mother.” Milly bit her lip. “I’m shaking.”
“You wouldn’t be a normal bride if you weren’t nervous.” Jenny
sat down on the step outside the back door. “You know…When I
was standing outside my father’s house that last night, I
wondered if I could just run back home after the wedding and
postpone that night.”
Jenny shook her
head. “Ignorance, I guess. I hadn’t ever been on my own. I
wondered…what if I didn’t cook his supper right? What if when I
got up the next morning, I didn’t do what he expected? What if
I didn’t clean house right or…” Jenny smiled.
about those things too, Mother. I don’t want Mark to hate me
and think I’ve taken his father from him.”
is a very sweet boy. I don’t think he’d ever think that!”
Jenny laid a hand on her daughter’s hand. “Mark loves you.”
“But it’s always been him and his father…Well, at least
for the last nine years. What if he doesn’t get the attention
“You’ll have to work with it, Milly. You
will have to find times to give Lucas and Mark time alone. They
work together out on the range so they’ll have time then. They
may not have those late night talks on the front porch or
wherever they talk, but…they’ll make adjustments.” Milly looked
straight ahead as she thought about that. Jenny put her arm
around her daughter. “Milly, marriage…rather there are children
involved or not…is a lot of work. It’s not going to be easy to
adjust, or even to live together twenty years from now. But as
long as you talk and tell your husband what bothers you, you can
weather any storm.”
“What if I…” Milly allowed her
thoughts to die.
“Go on, Milly.” Milly
shook her head as she blushed. Jenny smiled. “What if you
disappoint him?” Jenny laughed. “Milly, let me give you some
advice. Everything will take adjustments and learning. You’ll
find out he doesn’t like the way you fix certain foods…or maybe
he’d rather you do his laundry on a certain day. Or maybe he
wants to talk to you alone in the morning before things get busy
instead of every night after things calm down. You’ll learn
these things as you go. You both are worried about
disappointing the other, so you won’t fail.”
so?” Milly asked.
Jenny nodded. “I know so!” She
smiled. “Milly, you are afraid of disappointing him. I know
you are thinking about your wedding night.” Milly blushed as
she looked away. “Am I right?” Milly turned back toward her
mother and nodded. “Like everything else, love making isn’t
something that’s perfected the first time. You learn, over
time, how to do it better. But you love each other and that’s
what matters.” Jenny smiled as she smoothed Milly’s hair from
her face. “If you think that he expects it to be perfect,
“But he’s…” Milly closed her eyes. This
was so intimate, she hated talking about this.
“Experienced?” Jenny smiled again. “Honey, he learned that
experience from his first wife. The experience with you will be
completely different. This is like a whole new experience for
him as well. Honey, marriage is the most amazing experience,
but love making is a very small part of that marriage.
Important, yes…But only one of a million other things that will
make your marriage happy.”
Milly smiled. “Now, how
about if I get you back to your room. You just think about
something else and don’t worry about the small stuff.”
Though the remainder of the night was long and restless for the
couple, they managed to rest. They were both very happy when
the sun began to peak over the mountain. The day they had been
waiting for had finally dawned!
The Wedding —
The Groom is Missing