The Writer's Corner
by Michelle Palmer
My Dear, Sweet Amelia, How I long for home. I miss ma’s fried
chicken – and yours, since you cook it up as good as ma. I miss
pa’s humming those sacred hymns. But for you, I miss your smile,
my sweet sister. Your smile always brings joy to my heart,
because it lights up your whole face. I miss your eyes batting
when you get excited or start to cry. But most of all, my sweet
Amelia, I miss talking to you.
I know I don’t have much time to write you. And I know that you
and the folks are worried about me fighting in this war where so
many of our friends and family members have already perished.
But, I will promise you that I will be home someday. When I get
there, you can expect that your face is the first one I wish to
see. I wish to give you a great big hug and kiss.
I wish I was there right now to keep those boys from pestering
you so much. I know when I get back I’ll have to get myself a
big club and chase them all away until I’m able to discuss with
them – in quite a length – about what their intentions are for
their future. Then when I approve of them, I will allow him to
court my little sister, under my strict, but keen eye.
Their calling for us to move out, sweetie. We are on our way to
Bull Run now. I probably won’t be able to write to you again for
a few days.
I love you, my sweet Millie!
Millie folded up the letter and placed it back in her music box
where she always kept it. It was again wet with tears. She read
it every day before setting out the door. That letter and her
brother’s other personal effects were delivered to her parents
by a soldier, months after Bull Run took place. They hadn’t
heard form him in a while, and fretted the worst. Millie would
never forget that day. It was etched in her memory like the Ten
Commandments were etched in the stone – nothing could ever
remove it. She had first heard her mother’s cry, than her father
cry. That’s when Millie knew something was terribly wrong. When
she entered to parlor where her parents had invited the unknown
visitor, she saw her brother’s best friend standing at attention
Her knees had buckled in that instance. She could no longer
stand, and didn’t care to ever stand again. Every moment of
their lives together flashed before her, and she didn’t remember
another thing until she woke up in her bed. “Ted…Ted…” Millie
“There, there, my sweet daughter!” Millie opened her eyes to see
her father sitting on the bed, a hard smile laid forcibly on his
cheek. “Ted’s in heaven with Jesus now.” Then he began humming
“In the Sweet by and by.”
It had taken Millie weeks to get through that experience. She
felt like her right arm had been chopped off. For weeks after
she went back to teaching, she felt like someone was carrying
her. There were many days she couldn’t even remember being alive
because of the pain that lay so heavily in her heart.
Eventually, she had given up her teaching job in Kansas City and
moved out west – alone. She took her brother with her, wrapped
tightly around her heart. The letter, which her parents so
graciously gave her, stayed safely in her music box. Very few
other possessions went with her.
Now, here she was still mourning her brother’s death years
later. She had learned to live a normal, functional life without
him, but she still mourned for him deep in her heart.
Now, as she made her way down the street toward the school
house, Millie thought back to the night before. Clay, a young
man she had been courting for the last several months, had asked
her to marry him. She felt horrible because she couldn’t answer
his question right away. She had a lot to think about. If she
was going to be stuck with a man for the rest of her life, she
would have to make sure he was the right man! Clay was a sweet,
gentle man; but he had already informed her that once they got
married, she would be expected to set up a house for him and do
all his cooking and cleaning.
It’s not that Millie didn’t want to do those things – she did.
But she wasn’t the type of girl that could just sit at home all
day sewing up her husband’s pants and chasing around five
children while her husband worked in his newspaper office! She
would much rather live on a ranch and help with the ranching
duties, or live on a farm and help with the crops while watching
the children. She and her brother had talked about that in great
length. She still remembered his words:
“Of course I want you to get married and have children, my sweet
sister. But I also want you to be happy. If staying at home
keeping house and raising children is what you would enjoy
doing, then I say do it. But, if you are like our mother, you
must find someone to settle down with who won’t make you settle
down so tightly. You know that pa allowed ma to work beside him
everyday on this farm. You know there were days she would have
us doing out lessons on the side of the cornfield while she
worked right beside pa. If sewing patches on pants and chasing
kids around all day isn’t all you desire for your future, then
fill it with something else. You must be happy!”
Millie walked into the school. She was happy being a school
teacher, but marriage would put an end to that for sure. There
were schools in the east that were already allowing married
women to continue teaching, but in the rugged west, the rules
were rather strict that a married woman’s place was in the
Millie smiled to herself as she already knew what the answer
would be. Then she turned toward the students and greeted them
before they bowed their head in prayer.
“What do you mean you couldn’t be happy with me?” Clay
practically shouted. Millie tried to shush him, but he held up a
finger, letting her know she was not to say another word.
Millie folded her arms. “See? That’s what I’m talking about! I’m
not a child, Clay. I have a voice and a mind of my own, and I
choose to use it if I see it fitting. I will not be silenced by
your finger anymore!”
Clay folded his arms across his front. “What are you talking
Millie rolled her eyes. “Oh Clay! What would I do married to a
newspaper man? All day, you would be working in the office, and
Clay shrugged his shoulders “Well, you would be at home keeping
“Keeping the house…what?” Millie asked. “Cooking? Cleaning?
Watching our children?”
Clay’s head shot up. “Are you saying you don’t want children?”
“No!” Millie exclaimed. “I love children. I do want children!
But that’s not what I’m all about – being a mother is a part of
me, Clay. It’s not all of me.”
Clay rolled his eyes. “Millie, a woman’s place is in the home.
You cook three meals a day, do the baking, the housework, and
take care of the kids.”
“And?” Millie stated.
“And nothing. That’s it. That’s why men have wives.”
Millie’s mouth popped open! “I thought you loved me! Isn’t that
why you want to marry me?”
Clay opened his mouth to answer, and then closed it again. He
scratched his head. “Well, I think love is something that
“You’ll love me if I’m the good little wife you want me to be?”
Millie closed her eyes and turned around. Then she turned back.
“Listen Clay, I know that men see their lives as getting married
to a fine woman who can cook, sew, scrub and take care of
children. I know that here in the west women are expected to do
those things. But why couldn’t I….oh, I don’t know…tend a store
Clay began laughing. “You want to be a store keeper? Where would
the children be?”
Millie was growing angry. “I am not saying I want to be a store
keeper. If I have a child, I’d be more than willing to stop
tending the store and stay home, but-“
Clay shook his head. “You aren’t making sense, Millie honey.
Just leave the thinking to us men. That’s the way God intended
it to be.”
Millie stared at him for several moments. Then she folded her
arms and walked over to her door. She opened it, then said,
“When you find that verse in the Bible, you can come back and
we’ll talk. Until then, I want you to go.”
Clay walked toward the door. Before he left, he turned and
pointed a finger in her face. “Your father obviously didn’t
teach you where a woman’s place is, Millie dear! No wife of mine
will ever talk to me like that and get away with it.”
Millie stared at her wall. “Are you threatening me, Clay?”
Clay had turned to leave, but then came to stand directly in
front of her. He bent over so his eyes were level with hers. “A
woman’s place is in the kitchen and having babies. If you don’t
accept that, then you’ll be alone for the rest of your life!”
Millie turned from the window; the newspaper was still in her
hand. She could not believe what she was reading. “He’s saying
that I would refuse to give up my teaching job if I get married?
How could he say such a thing?”
Sandy shook her head. “So, you didn’t say that?”
Millie turned. Her mouth was half open as she thought about
this. “No. I respect the town’s rules, even if I don’t agree
with them. I understand why it’s in place, and if I got married
I would be willing to give up my job.” Millie continued reading
the newspaper. “It says here that I want women and men to have
equal rights…why would he do this? I never said those things! I
told him I didn’t want to sit at home all day alone doing
cooking and cleaning. I told him I wanted more. That’s all.”
Millie wiped her hands through the air angrily.
Sandy turned toward her friend. “Well, the article yesterday
stated that you want to take over the general store.”
“I what?” Millie folded her arms.
“Well, I’m afraid the town council’s meeting on this article
tonight. There are several parents who want you to be fired.
They don’t want their children to be influenced by such ideas.”
Millie stared at Sandy. “Do you think I’m wrong because I just
might want to do something besides sit at home and do “women’s
work” as these men so delicately put it? Is it so wrong that I
Suddenly, a knock came to the door. Millie looked at Sandy
before she went to answer it. “Mr. Fielding, come in.”
Mr. Fielding nodded at her and played nervously with the hat in
his hands. “Miss. Scott, I’m sure you’ve read the articles your
er…friend has printed in the paper.”
“I assure you they weren’t true.”
Mr. Fielding shook his head. “Well nevertheless, we feel that
perhaps an…er…older schoolteacher would be able to…er control
the children with more discipline.”
“The children love me.” Millie folded her arms. “Mr. Fielding,
you know darn well that it’s because of those articles in the
“I won’t deny that it is. I’m afraid that your thinking is a bit
to…um…eastern for our standards.”
“You mean because I don’t want to be a slave to my husband, I’m
considered less of a woman?”
Mr. Fielding looked down at his hat and cleared his throat.
“Well, the money that we owe you should be enough to get you
“Back east?” Millie questioned.
“Well, you can’t stay here, Miss Scott. You will need to go back
to your parents.”
Millie shook her head. “I have no intention on going back east,
Mr. Fielding. Now, get out of my house!”
Millie read the telegram again. She had written home to tell her
folks what had happened, but the telegram that reached her just
two days later was devastating. “My father died of a hear attack
late last night,” she whispered hoarsely. She allowed Sandy to
hug her, but she was still in shock.
Millie read the words again. “He hasn’t been in good health
since…well…in a few years. We got some news that weakened his
heart. We all knew it would get him someday, but now when things
are already so messed up.!”
“Is that all the telegram said?” Sandy asked.
Millie shook her head. “My father left me some money. It’s being
wired here. Then my father’s cousin is coming here from North
Fork. She’ll be here tomorrow.”
“Oh? Your father’s cousin?”
Millie nodded. “Yes. Her name’s Hattie. Hattie Denton.”
Millie jumped from the bench when she saw the stage coach
coming. She rushed to meet stage and stood anxiously as the
driver jumped down and opened the door. Millie stood on her toes
and looked over the taller heads, but saw no sign of her second
cousin. “Oh, where could she be!” Millie declared as she bit her
Suddenly she saw her and squeezed through the men to get to her
cousin. “Hattie! Oh, Hattie!” Millie cried as they hugged. “I’m
so glad you came!”
Hattie pushed her away at arms length to get a good look at her.
“Well, I haven’t seen you in a long time, my dear!”
Millie bit her lip again. “It’s so good to see you!”
“I’m sorry about your father, Millie. I’m sorry you won’t be
able to go to the funeral.” Suddenly, Millie burst into tears
and Hattie took her in her arms. “Come on, dear. Let’s get you
home so we can talk.
Hattie and Millie settled down at the table with some coffee.
Millie told Hattie about everything that had happened to her in
the last several days. “Well, he isn’t worth crying over!”
Hattie declared. “As for the so-called town council, well…”
Millie sighed. I don’t understand why they continue to think of
us as…well…overgrown children!”
Hattie laid a hand over Millie’s. “Now, they don’t all think
that way, dear. If the North Fork town council had met over
this, their head wouldn’t have been so easy going about the
decision, I’ll tell you that! Lucas would have stood up for
“Lucas? Lucas McCain?” Millie laughed. “You’ve mentioned him in
your letters. He’s…um…the tall rancher with the smile that you
think would match mine?”
Hattie giggled. “Well, I know he and that boy need someone like
you. And I know that you need-“ Millie held up a hand to quite
“Well, it’s nice to know that not all men are as narrow minded
to think that women are only good for keeping house and child
Hattie took another swallow of her coffee. “Now, don’t get me
wrong, Millie. Lucas is a little rough around the edges just
like the west, but he’s not so narrow minded that he would-“
“Hattie! Enough!” Millie laughed. “Now, how about fixing some of
that stew you promised!”
Millie and Hattie had a good visit. Hattie had been there two
days before she brought up her thoughts. “Millie, I don’t want
to add to your worries. But, you know that my sister up north
has been having some health problems?” Millie nodded. “Well, I’m
afraid that she just can’t take care of herself anymore. I’m
going to have to move up there.”
Millie gasped. “It seems like lots of changes are happening all
at once.” Hattie nodded. “Well, I’m gonna have to sell the
store, and I’ve put so much work in it that I don’t want to see
it go to just anyone. I was wondering if you would want to buy
Millie laughed. “Me be a store keeper?”
Hattie shrugged. “Well, why not?”
“It’s just that when Clay and I were fighting the other day, I
used running a general store as an example of something I told
him I could do if I wanted.” Millie swirled the coffee around in
her cup. “Well, I…I guess I could. This town is wanting me out
Hattie smiled. “Well, I guess Lucas will be surprised when he
gets back from that hunting trip of his!” Hattie laughed. Then
she sobered. “Now Millie, Lucas and Mark are very good friends
of mine. I hate not being able to say goodbye, but my sister
just can’t wait.” Hattie sighed. “I will miss that tall man and
his son something terrible – that’s for sure! But…well, at least
you’ll be nearby. I’m sure you will treat them with the upmost
Millie stared at the man’s retreating figure out of the general
store. Well, Hattie would be proud! She had just met the man,
and they were already off to a bad start! She couldn’t
understand why the man got so riled at her just because she
wanted him to pay her the money he owed. What was so hard to
understand about that fact anyway? Another thing that riled her
was that he was “telling” her to send that pump part back when
it wasn’t even her fault that the silly thing didn’t fit. She
couldn’t believe this was the same man that Hattie had described
Maybe that was why she allowed that man to talk her into such a
plot of allowing him to collect the money. She should have known
better – her instincts had told her there was something smelly
about the plan from the start. But because she wanted to show
everyone that a woman could be just as stubborn as a man and be
successful, she allowed it to happen.
A few days after hiring Mr. Adams, the Marshall and Lucas had to
get the town out of a fix that she had caused. She felt horrible
that her stubbornness to listen had caused such problems to
happen. The Marshall was very understanding and forgave her
instantly. Lucas, on the other hand, was a bit like her in that
he was stubborn himself. After thinking it over for a few
moments, he hinted, rather than stated, that she was forgiven by
offering to fix her window.
By the time Lucas had gotten her window fixed, they were
laughing and joking. Mark tried to join in, but didn’t
understand what was so funny a lot of the time. Micah noticed
Millie and Lucas talking and suggested that he take Mark
fishing. Lucas nodded with a knowing grin. “So, Hattie’s your
cousin?” Lucas was asking.
“She’s my second cousin.”
“So, I suppose she’s told you about me?” Millie only looked at
him and smiled. Lucas cleared his throat. “What d’ she say?”
“It’s all good, I assure you, Lucas!” Millie went to restock the
shelves, but Lucas gently laid a hand on her arm. Millie turned
and looked at him in surprise.
Lucas smiled into her eyes. “How about if I buy you a cup of
coffee? Then maybe Mark and Micah will feed us fish tonight.”
Millie nodded and grabbed her jacket. Lucas allowed her to go
out first before closing the door and locking it for her. “So,
you were a school teacher?”
Millie nodded. “In Santa Fe.. I loved it!” Millie looked down at
her feet. “I was fired.”
Lucas’s head shot up. “Fired? Why?”
Millie sighed. “Lucas, I’m not like a lot of women. I…I want
more than just keeping house and raising kids.”
“Well, there’s nothing wrong with that.” Millie’s head shot up
in surprise. Lucas chuckled. “Did I…surprise you, Miss Scott?”
He pulled the chair out so she could sit down, then asked the
waiter to bring coffee. “I admit that when I was married, I
expected my wife to keep house and such. But if she wanted to do
something besides, well I wouldn’t stop her if it didn’t
interfere with…” Millie’s eyes closed a bit and Lucas struggled
for the right words. “Let me put it this way. I didn’t do the
cooking and cleaning when my wife was alive. But I was as much
of a father to my son as she was a mother. I didn’t expect her
to do all that.”
Lucas took a drink of his coffee before speaking again. “The
truth is, I may want to marry a woman that can cook and clean
and sew, I’ll admit. But my wife helped me on the ranch just
like Mark helps me now. I didn’t treat her like a china doll or
like a slave. Do you understand?”
Millie smiled. “Well, Hattie’s right. You do have a few rough
edges, but I guess you are a pretty nice man at that.” Lucas
narrowed his eyes at her. Then he shook his head and laughed.
Millie’s heart was healing from the pathetic beating it had
taken by the newspaper man. She was growing to really care for
Lucas, though she wouldn’t dare tell him. She was holding back
from him, yet he was holding back from her. Over the next few
months, Millie watched Lucas, and understood just why Hattie
loved him so much. Lucas was a wonderful father, a protective
citizen of North Fork, and was always able to get peace restored
to North Fork.
She hadn’t been in North Fork very long before she realized that
Lucas didn’t back down and did not allow threats to get him
down. One day, an old woman that was on her death bed had made a
threat that Lucas would die within the week. This frightened
Millie so much that she begged Lucas not to come into town. She
didn’t sleep nights, fretting that some harm would come to him.
That’s when she realized that she really did care for this tall,
brave man. Her care and respect for him grew as she watched him
stand tall through that trial and act normal as if nothing was
There were many times that his life was in danger and Lucas
didn’t even tell her. She remembered hearing the day after that
a man named Earl Bantry, who looked a lot like Lucas, had
terrorized Lucas and Mark in their home. She was told they were
okay, but that didn’t stop her from going to see for herself.
When she had ridden into the yard, she saw Lucas out chopping
firewood without his shirt on. She smiled a bit, bur turned her
head while he hurriedly grabbed his shirt and buttoned it up.
She also had forgotten to come up with a good excuse for being
“Well, I didn’t expect to see you today, Millie.” Lucas said as
he helped her down from the buggy.
“I gather that.” Millie looked around, trying to stall until she
figured out a dignified way to explain her presence. “This seems
to be a nice ranch you have here.”
Lucas nodded, then looked down at his boots and back up. “You’ve
seen it before, Millie.” Lucas cocked his head to one side and
waited quietly for her to say something.
“Well, I came out to see if you needed…that is…” Millie bit her
lip. “Where’s Mark?”
“At school.” Lucas answered. Then he grinned. “Micah told you,
Lucas gently took her arm as he grinned. “He told you that Mark
and I had an…unexpected visitor last night?”
Millie’s face reddened. Then she looked down at the dirt. “A
Lucas folded his arms and raised his eyebrows. Millie looked up
at him. She saw that he had pushed the hat further back on his
head, revealing his entire face and some of his blond hair. She
looked away, not being able to trust herself if she continued
looking at that face. “Al right, Lucas! He told me.”
Lucas smiled. “And you were worried about me?”
Millie shrugged. “Well, you and Mark are good friends of mine
“What are you doing Friday night, Millie?”
Millie’s head popped up as she stared into his eyes again.
Lucas smiled. “Would you like to eat dinner with me at the
Millie nodded. “Well, I…yes, Lucas. I enjoy having dinner with
you and Mark.”
Lucas rubbed the end of his nose with his finger to hide his
happy grin. “Well, Mark has other plans. It would just be the
two of us.”
“Oh.” Millie turned around and closed her eyes to regain her
composure. “Well, I guess I could have dinner with you…if it’s
company your wanting.”
Lucas took Millie by the arm and turned her around. “It’s the
company of a certain female that I want.” He grinned. “Well, I
think you should get back to town. I need to finish chopping
this wood so Mark can stack it when he gets home.
At the mention of his chopping wood, Millie’s face reddened. She
left before he could see the scarlet color on her cheeks.
She didn’t leave soon enough.
Lucas came into the store early one morning to buy some
supplies, which included some work clothes for him and Mark. She
had been waiting for Lucas to ask her to the church social, but
he had never gotten around to it. They had made the announcement
in church last Sunday and, in fact, Lucas had offered to help
set up for the social. So, she suggested to Lucas that he buy a
nice fancy shirt she had just gotten in. Lucas liked to tease
her about their courting, and now was no different.
During the last few weeks, they had admitted, nonverbally, that
they were attracted to each other. And when no one was around,
Lucas had taken her hand into his big strong one a time or two.
Every time he did it, she would get goose bumps, and she could
tell taking her hand had the same effect on him. But, Lucas
continued to tease her about their courting. “And if I didn’t?”
Lucas asked after Millie had to come right out and say that she
would go with him to the church social if he was dressed
Millie saw the handsome, mischievous grin on his face and told
him that he knew she’d go with him either way. But, in the end,
she won out and was able to sell him that fancy shirt.
The mood changed fast. Millie didn’t like that look on Lucas’s
face. She had never seen Lucas angry like that before. Right
there in the store, she watched him grab the man by the shirt
and throw him against the door. Then she watched him throw him
out of her store. She kept her arm around Mark the entire time,
feeling that she should be protecting him somehow.
Suddenly, Micah appeared in the door. “Micah, I said I’d try to
stay away from him, but he wouldn’t have it that way. When he
put his hands on Mark, that was it as far as I was concerned. I
don’t let any man do that, not even for you!”
Millie saw the worried look in Mark’s eyes and tried so smile an
encouraging smile, but a deep worry settled in her heart. She
suddenly heard Micah say, “Did I say anything, Lucas?”
“No,” Lucas stated as he looked out the door toward the saloon.
“He was looking for trouble,” Micah stated.
Lucas commented that he was glad he understood. Then Millie’s
heart jumped again and she heard Lucas’s answer to Micah’s
question about how long he was staying in town. “For as long as
I’ve got things to do! Mark’s gotta go to school. I have to go
to the barber. After that, I gotta see the harness maker, the
blacksmith…and after that, we’re having dinner at the hotel.
Mark’s getting tired of my cooking.”
She watched Lucas and Mark leave and knew he was too angry. She
couldn’t stop her heart from crying out to him. But Lucas didn’t
even acknowledge he heard her. He just kept on walking out the
Millie couldn’t concentrate after that. Lucas finally came back
after getting his chores done to pick up the supplies. “Lucas,
about what happened while ago. I-“
Lucas looked around and noticed that no one else was in the
store. So he gently took her hand in his and smiled. “It’s okay.
I’m sorry you had to see that.”
Millie nodded. “What’s going on, Lucas?”
Again, Lucas looked into her eyes and smiled. “Millie, don’t
worry. I’m handling it.”
“I…” Millie stopped and swallowed. “I just don’t want to see you
Lucas smiled and laid a hand on her cheek. “Millie?” He said
gently so she would look up at him. He rubbed his thumb across
her cheek. “Don’t worry, okay?”
They locked eyes and smiled for a few moments. Then Millie
looked away. Lucas gathered the stuff and walked out the door to
his horse. “Thanks, Millie,” Lucas said now that the moment was
over. “I’m going to ride down to the school and wait for Mark.”
Millie couldn’t help to once again remind him about the social
on Saturday. Lucas smiled at her insistence, loving the feelings
it brought to his cobwebbed heart. Suddenly, he saw her mood
change. He saw her loving smile suddenly replaced with the
fearful look he had coaxed out of her only moments before.
Millie stood in horror as a young boy came up and began coaxing
Lucas into a shootout. She watched Lucas grab his gun and turn
around. Then she watched him freeze. As he slowly climbed onto
his horse and rode out of town, fear gripped Millie’s heart.
“What is it, Micah?”
Micah turned and saw the worry on Millie’s face. “I don’t know,
Millie. I’ll go talk to him.” Millie looked in the direction
that Lucas had gone. “I’ll bring him back safely to you, Millie.
Millie couldn’t concentrate on her work. Mark soon came in
looking for Lucas. “Oh,” Millie answered, trying to sound
nonchalant. “Um…he said he’ll be back in a little while. He had
an errand to take care of. Come on in and get yourself a piece
of candy.” Millie put an arm around Mark’s shoulder and led him
inside. She looked back over her shoulder worriedly, praying
that he was okay.
Millie heard a wagon approaching and looked out the door. Tears
of joy and relief filled her eyes. She watched Lucas as he
stopped in front of the doctor’s office. Then she started down
the street. But before she could get there, Micah stopped her.
“Listen Millie, Lucas doesn’t want you to see him right now.
He’s dealing with a ghost from his past and-“ Micah stopped when
he saw the shock in her eyes. “Oh, everything’s fine now, but
he’s still having a hard time. He’d just rather you not see him
like this. He’s fine, Millie. I promise.”
Millie nodded. She could not wait until Saturday night so she
would be able to see for herself.
Millie looked in the mirror and pinched her cheeks again. She
knew she was nervous, but she didn’t know exactly why. It wasn’t
like she hadn’t ever been somewhere with Lucas before. And Mark
would be with them anyhow. Millie smoothed down her dress. This
was Lucas’s favorite – she knew this because she saw the look in
his eyes each time she wore it. He would always tell her that
the color red was made for her.
She heard the knock on the store door and hurried in to open it.
Lucas stood, leaning against the post. His fancy shirt looked
great on him. The colors brought out his eyes. There were
patches of red, green and blue spread throughout the shirt.
Millie smiled as he pushed himself off the post and sautéed
closer to her. “The color red was made for you, Mil,” Lucas
Millie bit her lip. “You say that every time I wear this dress.”
Lucas raised his eyebrows at her. “Well, it’s my saying it that
keeps you wearing it.”
Millie smiled as her cheeks reddened. “You don’t have to say a
thing, Lucas.” She broke the gaze and looked away.
“Well,” Lucas stated as he took her arm and tucked it into his.
“I feel completely silly in this shirt!”
Millie laughed. “Well, I like it,” Millie assured him. Then she
looked around. “Lucas, where’s Mark? Is he already at the
“Mark,” Lucas grinned. “Oh, I knew I forgot someone at home!”
Millie stopped and turned to him. “You mean....he’s not coming?”
Lucas smiled. “Has a bit of a tummy ache. I think someone gave
him too much candy.” Lucas put his hand under her chin and
tipped it up. “So, if you are afraid to be alone with me when
the moon rises, you are to blame for that…Miss Scott.”
Millie smiled up at him. This time, Lucas broke the stare as
they started walking again. Millie smiled as he put his arm
around her and they made their way to the social together.
Millie stopped in mid-air when she heard Mark’s lonesome voice
outside. Mark was telling Micah that their cattle had been hit
by hoof and mouth disease. Her heart beat so hard that she
thought that it was going to leap right out of her chest. Not
Lucas too! Millie ran out and asked Mark if there was anything
she could do. Mark only replied, ‘I guess there isn’t anything
anyone can do.” She put her hand to her mouth as she watched
Mark ride slowly out of town.
Everything was quite. She felt like she was living in a ghost
town. People came into the store to get supplies, but only
things they needed for their trip. Lucas slowly rode into town
one day and handed Millie the list of things he would need. She
knew they were barely hanging on. She wanted to reach out and
touch him – to tell him everything would be okay. But she didn’t
know that it would be okay. As she went to gather up the
supplies, Micah called Lucas over to talk.
Mark slowly rode into town and went into the General Store.
“Mark, have a piece of candy,” she said, wanting to cheer him
But Mark shook his head. “Millie, you can’t afford to give
anything away anymore than we can afford to buy anything in this
store,” Mark answered. Lucas walked slowly into the store.
Millie started to hand Lucas the supplies, but the she stopped.
She saw a far away look in his eyes.
“Millie, I think that the three of us should talk,” Lucas
Millie led Mark and Lucas to the back of the store and they all
sat down at a table. Millie poured Lucas some coffee. She
offered Mark some milk, but he only shook his head. “Mark, you
should drink some,” Lucas stated. “You…you won’t be help to
anyone if you don’t keep up your strength.”
Mark just shook his head sadly. “I’m not thirsty.”
“Mark,” Millie took his hand. “Please drink some milk. Your
father doesn’t need to worry anymore than he already is.”
Mark looked at his father, then nodded. “Listen, I…” Lucas
cleared his throat. “I…um…may need you to keep the boy for
Mark’s head shot up. Millie nodded. “Where are you going,
Lucas shook his head. “I…I may leave for awhile to…to look for
work.” Lucas looked to Millie, then to Mark. “I’m still thinking
Millie bowed her head as the room grew quite. “Can’t I go with
you, Pa?” Mark asked.
Lucas shook his head. “You have school, son.” He looked up at
Mark and shook his head. “Please don’t make this any harder on
me then it is. I don’t want to leave you anymore than you want
Lucas and Millie watched Mark slowly get up and walk out the
door. “He’s hurting, Lucas. Just…just like all of us.”
Lucas nodded. “Funny thing…weren’t we just living it up at a
social two weeks ago? Now look at us.”
Millie smiled weakly. “Well, the bad times won’t last forever,
Lucas.” Millie bowed her head. Then she licked her lips.
Lucas turned his head to look at her. “You…are coming back,
Lucas took his hand away and stood up. “Yes Millie, I’ll be
back.” Millie watched him hurry out the door.
Two days later, the four of them stood outside the general
store. She had insisted that Lucas take anything he needed. He
wouldn’t even hardly look at her. She knew his heart was full of
uncertainty, but it broker her heart not to have those innocent
moments anymore. Millie stood and watched Lucas say goodbye to
Mark. Tears filled her eyes as she watched their hearts break
for each other. She wanted to run up to Lucas and demand he take
Mark with him. She couldn’t hardly stand to see this. After a
hard goodbye, Lucas got on his horse and rode off.
Millie’s heart broke over and over as she listened to Mark cry
himself to sleep every night. She would go in and kiss him
goodnight, just like she promised Lucas she would do. For the
next two months, she watched Mark fall deeper and deeper into a
pit of loneliness. She begged Micah to tell her where Lucas was,
and when he finally told her that he got a job that would put
his life in danger if anyone knew, she agreed that Lucas was
doing the right thing.
She’ll never forget the day Lucas came back. She and Micah had
ridden out to talk to Mark, who had given up hope on his father
ever coming back. Mark said some pretty cruel things, but in the
end, she knew they were things that needed said. She remembered
watching Mark as he suddenly felt his father near. She watched
the embrace. It was then that she knew that everything in the
world would be all right again.
Lucas, Mark and Micah came to her place for supper that night.
Lucas tried to catch up on everything that happened while he was
gone. Mark and Micah teased each other again. Millie watched the
interactions from a distance. She smiled as she saw Lucas and
Mark hug several times. Never had she seen a greater love
between a father and son.
Later that night, she stood at the door and said goodbye to the
three men. Lucas turned to say goodbye to Millie, but then he
froze. He smiled at her. “Um…Mark, could you wait for me by the
Mark let out a snicker, and Millie watched Lucas throw him a
dirty look. “Uh, sure pa. Right away.” Mark smiled.
“Well, here we are,” Lucas said. “Did you miss me?”
“Not as much as Mark did.” Millie smiled.
Lucas raised an eyebrow at her. “I…um…I owe you an apology.”
Millie tried to stop him, but Lucas raised his hand to hush her.
“Let me say this please.”
Millie watched him take off his hat. “Millie, I…I was rude to
you before I left for the trip, and I’m sorry. I was so
uncertain about so many things. I know I brushed you off, but-“
Millie put a finger to his lips and shook her head. “I didn’t
expect any difference. Lucas, we’ve only known each other for
months. You’ve known Mark for 12 years. I wouldn’t expect
anything more from you.”
Lucas took her hand and smiled at her. “Well, now that I’m back,
maybe we could…do something…just the two of us?”
“Pa, I’m waiting!” Mark suddenly hollered out.
Lucas rolled his eyes and Millie giggled. “He’s right, Lucas.
Spend some time with your son.”
Lucas squeezed her hand, then he quickly walked away.
More tragedies struck during the next few months. Millie thought
her heart would break again when Lucas went blind. She watched
Mark struggle through the crisis like a true trooper. She was
happy when Mark came to talk to her about the problem. Millie
wanted to take Lucas into her arms and care for him herself, but
she knew that wasn’t possible, and she knew that Mark needed to
do this more. So as in most tragic moments, she stood by and
allowed father and son to deal with it in their own way. She
kissed him on the cheek as he left the office.
One day, after Lucas’s sight had been restored and all was well,
Lucas told her that if he hadn’t been blind, the cheek would not
have been what she was kissing. Millie only smiled and said,
“That’s why I knew I’d get by with it then.”
A couple months later, a strange woman came into town declaring
that Lucas was her intended and they were going to get married.
If she hadn’t been a woman, Millie would have punched that woman
in the nose right where she stood. In the end, though, she felt
sorry for the woman who had been tricked by a couple of frequent
visitors to Sweeny’s bar that wanted to get back at Lucas.
Then there came an experience that again served to bring the
three of them closer together. She was in the store and things
were really busy. Lucas came and stood at a distance as she
helped the customers. When she had helped the last person in
line for the moment, he walked up to her and leaned over the
counter. “I need to talk to you for a minute,” Lucas said with a
grin on his face.
Millie sighed as she continued writing in the book. “Lucas, now
isn’t a good time. Can’t you see I’m very busy? Perhaps we can
talk-“ Suddenly, Lucas put a hand on her wrist and she stopped
and looked at him. “I really am busy, Lucas.”
“I can see that. All I wanted to ask is if you can have dinner
with us tonight? My treat of course,” Lucas gave Millie the grin
that made his eyes turn up.
Millie nodded. “Well of course I’d love to. But, there’s
Lucas raised his eyebrows to her. “Oh?”
Millie bowed her head to look busy with the ledger. “Yes. You
have that look, Lucas.”
“The there’s something I have to tell Millie and don’t want to
look.” Millie raised her eyebrows and Lucas and looked straight
into his eyes.
Someone was waiting to check out. Lucas stepped outside so
Millie could help him. Then he plopped himself back down on the
counter. “Okay, I need you to watch Mark for a while tomorrow
“Why?” Millie saw some of the sparkle leave Lucas’s eyes, but
she wouldn’t back down. “What don’t you want to tell me?”
Lucas sighed and looked down at the counter. “I want you and
Mark to stay in here with the doors locked tomorrow night.
You’ll be safe enough. I just don’t want to worry about you
Millie’s heart leapt at the thought of Lucas being worried about
her. But she couldn’t keep the fear from her voice. “What’s
“Well, there’s a large amount of cash being transferred to the
bank here, and John just wants me to help make sure it get here
safely. That’s all.”
Millie nodded. “That’s all, huh? Well, if there wasn’t anything
to worry about, you wouldn’t have been so nervous to tell me
Lucas laid a hand on top of hers. “You don’t need to worry, Mil.
I’ll be okay.” Lucas turned to see two other people wanting to
purchase their goods. He went and closed the front door so no
new customers would come in.
The three laughed at supper as they always did. Millie and Lucas
exchanged a few smiles when Mark wasn’t paying attention. After
supper, they walked outside into the fresh air.
"It was a wonderful dinner Lucas, thank you," said Millie, as
they walked outside.
"My pleasure Millie.” Lucas said with a grin. Sorta help repay
you for helping takin' care of this monkey tomorrow night."
Lucas knew that she never minded taking care of Mark any more
than he minded taking her to the restaurant for supper.
"You don't have to repay me, Mark's always welcome!
Besides.....we have fun, playing checkers and reading," said
"Yup, and you're still three games up on me from last time,"
said Mark. Lucas had been enjoying the nice fresh air and
quietness of the night that he had almost forgotten that Mark
was even there.
"We'll just have to see what we can do about that," laughed
Lucas enjoyed very much the banter between Mark and Millie. It
almost made him feel like they were a family. Suddenly, Lucas
had the desire to be alone with Millie. "Son.....you mind
getting the horses?” Millie’s heart leapt at the thought of
being alone with Lucas.
Mark smiled and looked at the two adults. "Alright Pa."
Millie smiled as she watched Mark go on ahead. She looked up at
Lucas. "If the stage is too late getting in, Mark could spend
the night," said Millie.
"Oh I don't think that will be necessary.....the stage is always
on time,” Lucas answered.
"But carrying all that money.....would they keep to their
regular schedule?" Millie asked this. Lucas could hear the worry
in her voice.
"I don't see why not. Like John Hamilton said, it's safe, least
until it gets here." "Then all we've have to do is transfer it
from the stagecoach to the bank." Lucas could tell she was still
worried. "It'll be well guarded,” he said.
Millie couldn’t keep the worry from her voice. She suddenly had
the desire to ask him not to help. But she knew she had no right
in asking him to not do something that was his civic duty. "You
will be careful.....won't you Lucas?"
“Stop worrying Millie,” Lucas said as they locked eyes once
Millie looked down. “I’m sorry. I guess I can’t help being a
Lucas’s eyes big and a big, joyful grin spread across his face.
“No you can’t,” he answered. Then they looked at each other
As usual, Mark was a little quick on interrupting their moment.
“All ready, pa?”
“Ready, son.” Lucas answered as he pushed off the hitching post.
“Thanks, Lucas.” Lucas didn’t miss the look in her eyes. He knew
she was thanking him for more than dinner. He wanted to say
thank you back, because he was enjoying her company very much.
Instead, he just smiled at her once more before leaving her to
watch his tall, retreating figure in the dark.
Millie smiled. Clay had never made her feel like this. Lucas was
so different – he was strong and protective. Never had she
realized that she needed someone like him. He made her feel like
a woman, but the respect he had for her and how she believed
made her feel even better. She had no doubt that if they were to
marry some day, he would still allow her to run the general
store as she always had done.
Millie went into the general store and closed the door. She was
so happy that she didn’t even notice any difference in the room.
She struck a match to light a lantern when a hand covered her
mouth. Sudden fear pierced her eyes as the man warned her about
screaming. It was long before they revealed why they were there
– it wasn’t to hurt her, and this made Millie feel a little
But when she realized why they were there, sudden fear wrapped
around her heart and began squeezing. “We’ve come to hold up the
Oh, Lucas was in danger and she could do nothing. The men were
threatening to kill her. Millie suddenly closed her eyes and
asked God to send Lucas into town the next day. She knew that
they knew each other well enough that he would be able to sense
something was wrong.
The next day, the men stayed while the store remained open. All
day Millie had to do business as if nothing was wrong. She kept
watching for Lucas, but he never came. Time to close the store
came. As she was lowering the blinds and locking the door, she
saw Lucas and Mark coming up in the buckboard. She wanted to
pretend like she wasn’t there. Fear gripped her. Oh, please,
Lucas! Please don’t bring the boy here! Millie begged in her
But Sloane knew Millie was hiding something. “Who are they?” he
Millie told him that Mark was coming to stay with her. The next
words were very difficult for her to speak, and she didn’t want
to say them. Lucas’s life was in even more danger now that they
knew he would be protecting the money. She knew he would be in
the line of fire. And it was at that moment that she made up her
mind she would save Lucas – even if it meant she would die
trying. She loved Mark and knew how he felt for his father.
Nothing in this world should cause mark to loose his father, and
she’d never forgive her self if Lucas died because she was a
When Mark walked in, Millie hugged him and cried. The men tied
them up in the store room, promising nothing would happen if
they cooperated. Millie knew she couldn’t let that happen. She
had to protect Mark and Lucas. She had given them both a large
chunk of her already chipped heart, and she couldn’t afford to
loose those chunks. So she and Mark managed to get loose. Then
she waited for the perfect opportunity.
Protecting Mark like a mother hen, Millie grabbed a canteen. She
knew she only had one shot. She also knew that she could be
killed when performing her heroic task. When she knew the men
weren’t watching, Millie threw the canteen and screamed Lucas’s
name. Then she heard gunshots. It was all over so fast. Millie
was shaking from the whole episode.
They rushed out the front doors. Mark ran into his father’s
waiting arms and hugged him. Millie ran up to Lucas, but stopped
before getting into his arms. Lucas looked up and smiled.
“There’s plenty of room here for you too…Mil.” Lucas smiled.
Millie didn’t hesitate. She rushed into his arms and allowed him
to take all her fears away.
Then she and Mark looked at each other. “I told you, pa.” Mark
said with a smile.
Millie lifted her head to look into Lucas’s smiling eyes. “Told
Lucas cleared his throat as the three of them started walking.
He kept an arm around both of them. “Son,” Lucas declared. “You
talk too much!”
Millie only looked at him and smiled.
Lucas suddenly saw Micah and cleared his throat again. He knew a
good opportunity when he saw one. “Um, I gotta go…talk to…Micah.
Excuse me.” He heard Mark snicker. “I’ll talk to you later,
mister!” Then Lucas stopped and pointed and Millie. “And you
too, young lady!” Then he turned and hurried to Micah.
Millie and Mark went to lock up the store. She didn’t know why
they bothered since there was a broken window. She smiled in her
heart, knowing Lucas would have to fix it for her. After all, it
was his life she was saving!
Suddenly Mark said, “Miss Millie, were you scared?”
Millie thought about the last twenty-four hours. The word scared
didn’t seem to cover it. She had had so much fear in her heart –
not only for herself, but for her two favorite guys. “Well, to
be perfectly honest with you…” Millie started. She hesitated for
only a second when she said, “I was really scared.”
Mark nodded. “So was I.”
Millie and Mark looked at each other. She suspected they
understood where their true fear lied, and it wasn’t only that
they may loose their own life. She smiled at Mark. “That’s
nothing to be ashamed of.”
Mark had insisted that he needed some apple pie, so they went to
satisfy his craving. After they were done, Lucas made Mark go to
the hotel and sleep. “I’ll be there soon, son. I just need to
talk to Millie.”
Mark opened his mouth to say something, but Lucas held up a
finger. Millie smiled as Mark disappeared into the hotel. Lucas
led Millie to a chair outside the hotel. He knelt in front of
her and looked into her eyes. “Are you okay?”
Millie nodded. The Lucas suddenly hugged her tightly. “Oh, when
I think about you and Mark in that store, I…” Lucas couldn’t
“We’re fine, Lucas. We’re fine.” Millie stated.
“It’s my fault. I should have been a gentleman and walked you in
last night instead of leaving you outside. I should have never-“
Millie put a finger to his lips and shook her head. “I’m a big
Lucas stood and sat in the chair next to her. He took her hand
between both of his and just held it. Neither said a word for
awhile. Lucas took her hand and touched it to his lips gently,
closing his eyes. “Millie, you shouldn’t have put your life in
danger like that.”
“What are you talking about?” Millie asked softly.
“You should have just stayed tied up. Micah and I were onto
something, and we were expecting something like this.”
Millie sighed. “Lucas, I know it’s your duty as a man to lecture
me about being brave and courageous to save you. But-“
Millie and Lucas looked at each other. Millie smiled. Lucas
parted his lips slightly as they looked into each other’s eyes.
Lucas bent in to kiss her, but Millie suddenly turned away. She
felt that if she kissed him there would be no turning back, and
she wasn’t sure she was ready to take such a step with her heart
– not after it had already been broken. “Tell me what you’re
afraid of, Millie?”
Millie couldn’t look at him. Suddenly she asked, “What was Mark
Lucas held contact with her eyes and kept a stern look on his
face. Millie knew this was a look that worked on Mark, but she
couldn’t be persuaded to reveal such a deep thought. Finally,
Lucas realized she wasn’t going to give in, so he sighed and
looked away. “I was teasing Mark about wanting to go to town so
much now days and he told me I don’t ever miss an opportunity to
come to town…at least since you arrived.”
“Oh,” Millie smiled. “Well, I’m glad I am such an important part
of this town.”
Lucas nodded. He rubbed the back of his fingertips across her
cheek. “Millie, I really am glad you are okay.”
“I know,” Millie answered. Then she said, “Lucas, my heart’s
been through a beating twice already. I just…can’t take another
Lucas stood and pulled her up. He hugged her tightly one last
time. “Well, I’m a patient man,” he answered. “I can wait.”
Millie watched Lucas walk into the hotel. “Lucas,” Millie
Lucas turned and they locked eyes once more. “You…” Millie
looked as if she changed her mind about what she was about to
say. “You are still a little rough around the edges.”
“Thank you,” Lucas grinned. “I take that as the finest of
compliments.” With that, he touched his hat and climbed the
Things between Millie and Lucas were really good after that.
They started seeing more of each other. Millie became a bigger
part of both Lucas’s and Mark’s life. Micah could even see that
maybe a wedding would be brewing in the wind. But even Micah
knew that since the death of his wife, Lucas hadn’t allowed his
heart to be taken by any woman. He sensed that things were the
same with Millie.
Then one day, a stranger rode into North Fork. This was a
stranger that would rock the foundations of the not-to-stable
relationship Millie and Lucas had built. The relationship was
tested to its foundation, and the test wasn’t enjoyable for
Millie had met someone who claimed to have known her brother.
Lucas had been able to see right through the situation and
forced Harry to reveal the truth to her. But Millie had been so
taken in by this man’s claim to have known her brother.
She was sure Lucas thought she was falling for him. Lucas was
extremely jealous of the relationship from the start, she knew.
But after Harry left that evening, Millie knew that in truth,
she was in love with the idea of knowing someone who knew her
brother. The wound her brother’s death had caused had really
never healed, and she had allowed a man to use her weakness to
charm his way into her life.
As Millie sat in the darkness and remembered the last few days
she had spent with Harry, she had to think about just how much
she had hurt Lucas. How could he ever forgive her? Lucas had
been furious with her when she agreed to go to the church social
with Harry instead of Lucas, and in hind site, she would have
changed that. But, she also knew that Lucas had been wrong in
“assuming” that she would be going with him!
Then there was the confrontation in the store. She had said some
really hurtful things to him. He was in a jealous rage, and was
pretty mad that Harry was getting the “upper hand,” so to speak.
That’s why he came in and slammed the door, demanding they have
a talk. “Millie, I feel we are pretty good friends.” Lucas had
“Why, of course we are. Why do you ask?” Millie still remembered
the look he gave her. Her heart ached just thinking about how
deeply she had hurt him with her next words.
“Well, it may be none of my business, but I don’t think Harry
Chase is for you!” Lucas had declared, to which Mille had shot
back in anger, “I don’t see where that’s any concern of yours!”
Millie closed her eyes now just thinking about it. She had
wanted to give this man her heart, now she was stomping all over
his. How could she have been so blind? So stupid as to say
something like that?
Her heart leapt as she remembered the kiss he had given her to
show her who the better man was. If she hadn’t been so blinded
by her deep loss over her brother, she may have wrapped her arms
around him and kissed him back. In fact, if he walked in right
now, she would kiss him back.
A tear slid down her face. She knew she had to tell Lucas the
truth – the whole truth. She knew that she had to go back home
and bury her brother. She had been carrying him along with her
to protect her heart, but she had broken a man’s heart that she
wanted to always protect from hurt. Millie looked down at the
book, and then she went to find Lucas.
Millie could tell there was a rock wall between them. She didn’t
know how their hearts would recover. It would be so easy for her
to blame the wall on her brother’s death, but she knew it was
her doing that kept him from being buried. It was her doing that
kept that crack in her heart. She explained to Lucas that the
whole week had been her feeling like being closer to her
brother. After returning the book, she turned to leave. “May I
walk you home?” Lucas asked.
Millie smiled. “That would be nice.” They walked in silence for
quite some time. Neither one knew what to say. Finally, they
found themselves outside Millie’s door. “Lucas, there’s some
thing I need to tell you.”
Lucas shook his head. “I understand more than you know.”
But Millie ignored him. “You see, when my brother was killed, I
was devastated. You see, my brother and I were more than best
friends. We were…so close – kind of like you and Mark. He was my
protector, my strong one. We were a part of each other. When he
died, part of me died to.”
Millie walked away. She didn’t feel safe being so close to
Lucas. She stood under a tree and looked up at the stars. “I ran
to Sante Fe, not because I wanted to live out West, although I
think I do. But, I came here to…well, to get away from the
pain…the hurt…that I felt. My folks-they tried to reason with
me, to tell me to go to the funeral and to mourn for my brother.
But I wouldn’t do it. I refused. As long as I didn’t say
good-bye, I would be able to keep him alive.
“I never told a single person about my brother. It was too
personal – something tucked away in my heart that I wanted to
stay there. If I said it out loud, I’d have to admit the cold
hard truth – that he’s dead. Then, when Harry came to town,
something made me just blurt it out – that he died at Bull Run.
I was using Harry as a rope that was tied to my brother. I
mistook my pain for my brother’s death for-“
Millie hung her head. She let tears slide down her cheeks. “I
hurt you so deeply, Lucas. I said things that I…I can never take
back. And I’m so sorry.”
Lucas came to stand in front of her. He wiped her tears with the
back of his hand, then he took her head gently into his hands.
“My sweet Mil,” Lucas smiled at her. “I would be lying if I said
your words hadn’t hurt me, but…your heart was hurting too.”
Millie smiled and looked into his eyes. “There’s more, Lucas.”
She quickly pulled away. You stay there, please, so I can get it
out. “Lucas, I have to go back east.”
Lucas’s smile disappeared. A blank look came to his face.
“What’s that mean…exactly, Millie?”
Millie looked away. “I have to go home and say goodbye to my
brother. I have to make amends with my mother.”
“Will you come back?” Lucas managed to choke out.
Millie bit her lip. “I can’t make any promises, Lucas.”
Suddenly, she had the urge to be in his arms. “Please
Lucas nodded. “When I lost my wife, I wanted to do the same
thing you did. Fortunately for me, I made the right decision.
So, I understand. But that doesn’t make it hurt any less.”
Millie began crying and Lucas immediately wrapped his arms
around her and kissed her hair. “Hush, darling. It’ll be okay.”
Lucas soothed. “Oh, my sweet Mil, if God wants us together,
you’ll be back.”
They just stood and held each other for a long time. Then Lucas
pulled her away and looked deeply into her eyes. “Millie, I…”
Lucas looked away for a moment. Then he looked back at her. “I
Millie nodded as tears again went down her cheeks. “I…I love you
Lucas wiped those tears. “I wish I could be there to wipe your
tears away, because I’m afraid you’ll be shedding plenty.” They
looked deeply into each other’s eyes. “Maybe this will help,”
Then Lucas lowered his lips to her and kissed her gently. Millie
wrapped her arms around him and returned his kiss.
Millie sat silently in the parlor of her mother’s house. She
leaned her head against the back of the couch and closed them.
She had been back for seven months, and felt that she was now
ready to move on. It had been a tough seven months. Because she
had left so suddenly, she had amends to make with her mother.
Not only had she come back to bury her brother, but her father’s
memories had overtaken her as soon as she got off the train in
Millie sat in silence with her eyes closed. She felt her mother
sit down beside her. “What are you thinking about, Amelia?”
Millie opened her eyes and sat up. She turned and smiled at her
mother. “The day Lucas said goodbye to me at the stage.” Millie
smiled. “Has it really been seven months? It seems like
yesterday and yet…it seems like so long ago!”
“You really do love him. Don’t you?” her mother stated.
Millie smiled. “He writes me, but he never says anything about
how he feels. That day at the stage, he said good-bye and kissed
me. But…his kiss was…Well, it was reserved. Like he was taking
back part of his heart.”
Beth laid a hand on her daughter’s hand. “It’s been tough for
you…these last seven months.”
Millie smiled. “Yes. I wish I had dealt with it back when I
should have. It was so much harder doing it this way.”
“Your hearts not in Kansas City anymore, my daughter.” Millie’s
head popped up and she stared at her mother. “I’m afraid you
heart’s in New Mexico territory.”
“I can’t go back there. Not knowing how he feels about me,
mother. What if I go back and…Oh, I just can’t go back there!”
Beth shrugged. “Why not?”
“Well,” Millie picked up Lucas’s latest letter. “I think he’s
“Lou Mallory?” Beth rolled her eyes. “Oh, please! He doesn’t
Millie laughed. “How do you know?”
“Because he loves you.” Millie raised an eyebrow at her mother.
“He writes you every week, and he hasn’t hardly missed a week in
the last seven months!”
Beth shook her head. “If he didn’t love you, he wouldn’t keep
writing you every week! He’s a busy rancher raising a son and,
according to you, courting another woman. He wouldn’t be writing
Millie looked at the latest letter. “He admits to going to some
dance with her, mother!” Millie declared.
Beth smiled. “Well, either you go pack your bags, or you’ll find
them out on the lawn tomorrow morning!”
Lucas waved to Mark as he left for school. “Don’t get into any
quicksand today like you did yesterday!” Lucas teased.
Mark rolled his eyes. “As long as I don’t have to rescuing any
damsels in distress, I won’t.”
Lucas went back in to clean up the breakfast dishes before going
to round up the cattle. Suddenly, he heard a knock at the door.
He went to open it. A big smile slowly spread across his face as
he stared into the questioning eyes of Millie Scott.
“It’s been a long time, Lucas.” Millie smiled.
Lucas nodded as he licked his lips that had suddenly gone dry.
“I…I didn’t know if you wanted me to come back. I thought about
writing first to ask you, but I decided I’d get the truth as
soon as I saw your face.”
Lucas just kept staring at her. She was wearing her hair down
today – not in the ponytail like she usually did. Her black hair
spread over her shoulders. She was wearing the red dress that he
had loved so much. “The color red was made for you.” Lucas
Millie looked down at her shoes. “I stopped by the hotel to
freshen up. I wanted to look…presentable.”
Lucas kept staring. “Oh Mil, I can’t believe you are here!”
Millie suddenly folded her arms and cocked her head to one side.
“Well, you are still a little rough around the edges, Lucas.”
Lucas raised an eyebrow. “Are you going to leave me standing on
the porch all day?”
Lucas shook his head as he grabbed her by the hand. “Oh no, Mil.
I’m going to do what I’ve wanted to do for eight months!”
Millie watched his lips part, then he wrapped his arms around
her and gave her a long, breathtaking kiss. “My mother told me I
left my heart in New Mexico, so I had to come back and find it.”
“It’s been right here. I’ve kept it safe. And Mil darling,”
Lucas smiled deep into her eyes. “Thanks for bringing me my
These stories are based on the TV series
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
The Writer's Corner
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around The McCain Ranch