The Rifleman
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The Rifleman's Serenade
Chapter 13 - Finally!
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

 Lucas and Aubrey walked down the hallway toward the hotel room very slowly. Not only were they tired from such a long week of planning, preparation, and partying, they had a fifteen mile carriage trip at the end. They were thankful for the smooth ride in the cool night air. For once Lucas let the help carry the bags and he felt good about leaving his rifle at home. They stopped outside the door, looked into each other’s eyes and said not a word. There was no more to be said. Lucas kissed her and held her tight for several minutes, they seemed to hold each other up. Finally, Lucas opened the door and carried his bride across the threshold. He sat her back on her feet and they embraced once more. After a few moments he went back and closed the door.

“Lucas, do you mind if I get out of this gown and we can rest for a while? I’m so tired. Let’s just lay here and relax for a few minutes.”

“Of course my dear, I feel about the same. That sauna gets me every time. It’s been such a long day, hasn’t it?”

“That it has, and hot too. I don’t think I want to see another bottle of champagne for a decade!” Just then a knock came on the door.

“Excuse me lovebirds.” A man in a white coat with a cart came in as Lucas opened the door. “Compliments of the house. Miss Lou insisted that you have the finest of everything and we aim to please!” He lifted a silver cover to reveal a chilled bottle of Champagne and various snacks from the kitchen. “Is there anything else you might desire?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact. Would you be able to bring us each a cup of your finest coffee and a pitcher if ice water?”

“Right away sir! Is that all?”

“I think so, we just came from a party beyond description, what we really need is some sleep.” Lucas held out a crisp bill for the waiter.

“Thank you sir, I’ll be right back.”

“As I was saying my love, at least a decade!” Aubrey stepped out of the gown and got under the covers of the bed.

“I hope we can feel better and enjoy a taste of this later perhaps. I wouldn’t want Lou to think we didn’t appreciate it.” Lucas chuckled. “I hope he gets back here soon, I’m beat. Did you ever picture our wedding night to be like this?”

“In many ways, yes. Our emotions have been running high for so long though. I bet many couples find themselves frazzled after a big wedding. Maybe we should have run off for a quick wedding and a nice vacation!”

“I wish we could have too. But as you can see, I have a huge family of friends to consider, they would never have forgiven me. And you are now part of it. Welcome to my world!” Lucas laughed once more. “I expect you knew it all along.”

“Of course I did silly! I’m not too tired. I might have to put you to work before we knock off!”

“I’m prepared for that dear! We have waited so long, and now here we are waiting even now! But that coffee sure sounds good!”

“Yes, I need that as much as you do.” Aubrey pulled up the covers and snuggled in. “It feels so good to get off my feet and be able to rest. I haven’t talked to so many people in all my born days. I hope Lou is going to be alright. She sure seemed melancholy at the party. I understand. She’s been working so hard for weeks now with the gun show and the weddings. If it’s success she wants, then she has had a good run of it. I love her so much. We’re even in her best room at this moment. I pray that she can take our being close friends for the long run.”

“She’ll be OK. Never underestimate that woman. I’ve made that mistake more than once and she got over on me every time. But that’s a good thing. People are funny when it comes to love. We seem to resist it more than we seek it once we think we find it. It takes a long time to understand and get over the apprehension. Before I met you, I never got over that. I feel so complete being with you.”

“I can only echo that now Lucas. We have a certain chemistry that mixed almost immediately. I wasn’t seeking a thing when our eyes first met. The attraction was instantaneous. Maybe that’s why we clicked so well, the apprehension is something that usually happens when one or the other is not sure.”

“I felt very drawn to you in that first moment. We both knew it right away. Thank God we came together Aubrey!” Lucas looked down at her in the bed. Just then a knock came.

“Coffee sir, and we took the liberty of adding a piece of apple pie just in case! Oh, and your iced water, of course.”

“Thanks again my friend, here’s two more bills, share a drink with your buddies in the kitchen on us and see that we are not disturbed!” Lucas smirked and winked at the waiter.

“Yes sir! The entire floor has been quiet all night. I think most everyone is at your ranch.”

“As we planned it! You guys are the best, have a great night now.”

“Thank you sir! Congratulations from everyone here.”

“Thank you, and we’ll come down for breakfast when we’re ready tomorrow, no need to bring anything else up ‘til then.” Lucas waved and shut the door. He turned and made a lunge for the bed. “Oh my, this does feel great. No more of those bunkhouse cots for this old rancher!”

“Do you think we should have that coffee and pie?” Aubrey laughed while Lucas grabbed her for a deep kiss.

A few moments went by and they remained in embrace without a care about food. Lucas looked up finally and said, “Do you feel like resting?”

“Not on your life!” Aubrey turned over to be on top of Lucas and she put her man straight to work! The spontaneous moment came without thinking or worrying about feelings. They had waited far too long to let any emotions get in the way.

After so many years of trying to get over the loss of Margaret and having to sacrifice his personal feelings for Mark, Lucas was finally able to let go. He came so close to this moment with Milly Scott. He wanted to so very much. And with Lou, there could be no denying that they could have had a greater romance. Always it was Mark and the rifle. Always there was some nagging fear in the back of his mind that he better not dare let his guard down. But this night was like no other since his happy days with Margaret. All of this left his mind as he and Aubrey shared the same form of release. The love that came to life in this most ready of all couples wove its magic in a very rare form. Neither lust nor longing could accurately explain it. Healing might go a long way, but even the time before as they courted gave them a great sense of that. Perhaps the best description of love is best unsaid. All the words combined would still leave a void.

As their first total embrace was complete, Aubrey took a deep breath and hugged her man tight. Lucas was in such a state of euphoria that he felt numb and unable to speak. The two remained so for quite some time. Finally, Aubrey got up and put on a robe. Lucas watched her as she inspected under the silver cover.

“Look! The coffee is still warm and this pie is wonderful. Can you get up?”

“It could be possible. That coffee does smell pretty good. It might wake us up!”

“Oh, I’d like that!” Aubrey poured the coffee and took a bite of the pie. “You better get over here big boy, before I eat it all!”

Lucas strained to get himself up and sat next to Aubrey at the cart. She fed the pie to him as if he were a child. At this moment he felt quite like one at that. The coffee warmed their insides and revived their drowsy spirits. Aubrey got up and rubbed his shoulders, working down his back a ways. She felt every inch of his well built frame memorizing the tighter spots and going back over them a few extra times. She started to come around and pushed the cart out of the way.

“Coffee break’s over Big Man!”

Lucas stood and picked her up. They fell into the bed and the lovemaking became wilder this time. They were wide awake and over whatever jitters might have existed before. It was a good thing that the adjacent rooms were empty because there was a great deal of racket as they released the energy they had been storing over months of time. They were indeed perfect for each other in that both had the same desires for similar reasons. They spoke not a word through the night, leaving no doubt that their lives were now complete. Finally, the time to rest had come. The late night hour took them off to dream of each other as the ultimate fatigue overcame them.

Lucas slept better than he ever had. His dreams were of happy things that left his mind the instant he woke up. That’s because Aubrey was already awake and looking him in the eye.

“I told you I had some hard work for you!” Aubrey lunged into his lips and they embraced with the same vigor as before. This time being tired was not a factor.

The morning waiter could hear them loud and clear as he walked by on his rounds. He just shook his head in contentment for his best customers. He began to whistle on his way down the hall. He wondered if they would want a breakfast or a lunch!

After their wild morning of love, they fell back to sleep for a brief time. Cowboys might be one of the tougher breeds in this world, but cowgirls know better how to keep them from becoming tame. Aubrey knew that it would be a long time before her man would ever be corralled. Lucas was used to waking early and doing chores, but never anything like this! They slept almost until noon.

The heat finally woke Lucas up first. He gazed at his lover with great content. He felt no weight, no care for anything else but how to keep this woman happy. He was determined not to allow anything from the outside world affect this moment. He sure did feel hungry though. He got out of bed very carefully and left her asleep. The water was still cool and he drank an entire glass. He got partially dressed and sat looking out the window at the people walking along. It was a Monday and business must go on. He thought about how thankful he was that the ranch could go on without his daily attention. For years he only dreamed of such a situation. This kind of life was for the big ranchers with lots of hands. Thinking about that lodge full of bunks and even a sauna gave him a sense of loss in a way. For years he found security in his singular purpose, to keep that ranch and his son going. Now he had to actually pinch himself to wake from a dream. He shifted his thankfulness towards thoughts of Sam and Bat. In such a short period of time virtually everything in his life had changed. Mark became a man and went off to higher education, his ranch was now part of a big operation, Sam and he were now overseers rather than laborers, and he was now a nationally acclaimed showman side by side with perhaps the most famous lawman of all time. Lucas smiled large looking over at Aubrey asleep and so beautiful. She was now his focus, and it was a great luxury that all the new things in his life had culminated to make possible this new dream.

Aubrey awoke to see Lucas gazing out the window, the sun shed rays across her face. She put on her robe and Lucas offered her a glass of water.

“Are you as hungry as I am my dear?” Lucas stretched out his arms.

“I could eat an entire slab of bacon, how about you?”

“I’d say six scrambled eggs, potatoes, and maybe even some ham!”

“I’ll be right with ya, Cowboy!” Aubrey recalled how Lou once called him that!

Aubrey came up behind him and hugged him tight. “The world is a much better place now. We are complete once more. Look at all those people down there, life does indeed go on.”

“That is does. They do seem to have purpose. I’m not sure we’re ready for that just yet, unless you can call gluttony a purpose!”

“I’d say we have that right. We wore ourselves out after all. I bet there’s a few waiting to see us downstairs by now, what do you think?”

“Not sure what to think, but it is my hope they are all so hung over that they’re still asleep or wishing they were!”

“Perhaps you’re right, let me help you on with your shirt and let’s get downstairs and see.”

They turned the landing at the end of the stairs to find a small group of friends at a long table. They had all eaten and been waiting for some time. Lou had a huge table full of food going, but she told the waiter to bring them fresh plates of whatever they wanted. Bat, Emma, Sam, Vanessa, William, Ann, Dillon, Ruth, and Mark, were seated. A few others happened by at various times, including Simon Battle and Johnny Morgan. This was planned ahead by Lou. She knew that nobody would want to do all of this work the morning after such a huge party. She made sure last night to get back early and to be rested for this.

“Well now, here are the late risers! I hope you don’t think you’re going to get used to this kind of treatment now!” Lou smiled wide as she showed them to their seats.

“Good Lord!” Lucas exclaimed. “I had no idea you all were down here. We wouldn’t have waited for so long.”

“That’s alright brother, it gave us more time to talk about you two while we ate!” Sam laughed. “Thanks to Lou, we’re not hurting so bad after all that celebratin’!”

“Well, I hope you all don’t mind watching us eat like pigs then!” Aubrey laughed. “Thank you for such a wonderful time. There’s nothing better than your friendship, all of you.”

“Here, Here!” Bat rapped his cane on the floor. Let us give these two some time to renew their energy.” Chat resumed while the newlyweds ate.

There was a big feed going on at the ranch as well. Many had stayed the night in one massive camp out. It was going to be a few days before North Fork would be back to its normal state. The summer was growing late and the new school year would be starting soon enough. Many were happy to have a few days away from home. Sam told them to stay as long as they liked.

After the meal, Simon pulled Lucas aside to speak with Morgan in private. Aubrey understood the need. Lucas sat down and sighed. But it was not bad news, at least at this point.

“Lucas, Johnny and I are planning to leave on the train in the morning back to Oklahoma City. We just wanted to let you know and see if there are any last minute thoughts. We can talk in detail later if you want.”

“No need for that I reckon Simon. I sure hate to see this have to happen, but I think we realize whatever alternatives exist will not be pretty. You guys try to do this quiet if you can. Talk Hayden out of it even. Don’t risk your necks. And don’t hesitate to wire me. Let me know what’s going on at all times. Johnny, you guys can trust the telegraph office. Bat and I have been working close through them for a long time. Bat will probably be here another week or so. If I don’t hear from you soon, I’ll come looking for you. But I don’t think that is going to be necessary. I’m just too worried about this. You understand.”

“Right you are Lucas. I’ll feel Hayden out and do what I can to be prudent. But I’m not going away without resolving this. It has to end now.” Simon gave Lucas a stern look.

“I know you’ll do your best Simon. I can only figure that a hatred so lasting may not go down so easy. And John, you know better than any of us, keep it legal if you can. I’d rather see the law put an end to this than any other way.”

“You have my word. I know the right people and we can surely try. But Ralph will have the final say I’m afraid. He’s never been an easy man.”

“I know all too well guys. When this is over, I want to see you both again. I’m staying home until then. Aubrey and I need some time to rest and sink our roots. Oh, and one last thing that occurred to me. Mark will be going back to Enid very soon to resume school. Please be mindful of that while you’re there Simon. Johnny, I’m going to trust you to keep an eye out for the boy if anything gets out of hand. Let me know right away. Mark and I have talked and he knows to contact you if need be. God’s speed to you, I’ll be waiting and checking in often at the telegraph office.”

“I hate to leave so soon Lucas. After all of these years we’ve barely heard from each other. I’m so sorry it has to be this way. I’ve had a marvelous time despite it all. Aubrey is a lovely lady. You’ve done so well, and it honors Margaret in every way!”

“Thanks Johnny. That means a lot to me. You find some time to come back here real soon. I want us to have a good visit. Remember the long evenings at my place back home?”

Simon smiled as he looked at Lucas and Johnny talking. “Well, we’re going to do our best to make it all happen again my friends!”

Lucas looked back at Simon. “You be careful brother. Don’t turn your back on Hayden for one second!”

“I know better than that, I hope!” Simon smiled. “I wonder if he still has a band of stooges surrounding him?”

“Wouldn’t surprise me. I guess many have filled those shoes over the years, including you and I.” Lucas slapped Simon on the shoulder.

“That was a cold shot Lucas, right on the chin though! Well, we’ve survived the experience so far. We’ll get this done quick, I can feel it. Johnny knows what he’s doing. I haven’t been back there for many years, since Vicki and I left for Gila and passed through here. I won’t even recognize the place.”

“Sure you will Simon, a lot of it still exists. Only difference is, there’s new cowboys and a lot more railroad.” Johnny sipped his coffee and spied the laughter at the big table.

“I’ll come back once this is over Lucas. I want to do some of that relaxin’ on the front porch with you. I guess we should let you get back to your bride now.”

“I think you should come join us for a few minutes. I’m not happy that you two are leaving so soon, come be with us.” Lucas looked over to Bat and got a nod. He stood up and motioned for Simon and John to join them.

The afternoon wore on as they all laughed and enjoyed the moment. Lucas and Aubrey finally excused themselves, saying that they had a few things to shop for before going back to their room. Everyone knew what that meant, of course. It would be Tuesday evening before the ranch would once again house the newlyweds.

Lou had a huge job ahead to clean and bring her hotel back to normal, if there was such a thing. Everyone in town kept busy throughout the eventful summer of weddings and the gun show. Sweeny had more money than he ever had at one time. He was also about out of beer. New shipments were on the way though. The summer heat still promised plentiful business. Simon and Johnny were wise to get on that train early, there wasn’t much room left on the schedule for the next few days.

As the ranchers returned home there was plenty to clean up as well. Most of the guests were antsy and looking forward to heading home. Sarah Cockrell was very tired. Turley had their bags packed and a train ride was scheduled for Wednesday morning. By Tuesday evening, everybody was back at the ranch. Lucas and Aubrey made a brief visit at the lodge before heading on to their log cabin quarters. The men had chores complete and it was time to relax. A small gathering was held at the Bard house in Sarah’s honor. She had been a real trooper to stay so long.

“Thank you so much for being here Sarah.” Will held her hand as they sat around the dinner table. “I hope to see you very soon in Dallas.”

“Your so welcome William. I’ve had a wonderful time seeing everything here. Your life has great promise. Your family is so gracious, but I knew that back in Dallas. I want you to promise me that if you ever need a thing, you’ll let me know! All I want is a shipment of steaks every month, after that, you can ask for anything. When you get to Dallas, I’ll have the best of everything waiting for you and Ann.”

“Thank you again Sarah. I know a lot has happened in a short period of time. Have you ever been away from Dallas for so long?”

“Never. Even Turley has spent most of his days there. But we have traveled on occasions. I’ll be happy to come back here. It’s a serene place to relax. I never want to lose touch with you. Dallas has gotten along without me for this long, so I can afford to travel more often. I think Turley likes it here too. He doesn’t get to ride a range back home. The outdoors has done him good.”

“Likewise, I have a lot to do in coming to Dallas. I haven’t had a chance to really make an appearance. My old friends must be wondering still about me. I need to bury my brother. Ann wants to shop as you well know. I think we’ll have plenty of time together. Once the cotton farm is settled, there may be more reason to stay in Dallas than any of us can figure on. We won’t have Bat Masterson at our side too often either, so we better learn how to handle these cotton people before long.” William scooted back up to the table as pie and coffee came on trays. “I tell you, since I came here, no human has ever eaten better!” William chuckled as he smiled up at his bride in her apron.

“Ann is a great cook William. You keep working hard or you’ll get fat.” Sarah passed a plate over to Turley who was chuckling at Sarah’s comment.

“You eat well boy. I may be a large man by nature, but Sarah has fed me for years. I’m used to good food. And I’ve been very happy here. I love this ranch life.” Turley took a huge bite of the pie.

“Well, you keep this lady safe my friend. Thank you for being there for her. You’re welcome here any time. And I look forward to us spending some time together around Dallas. I don’t know who can show me around any better.”

“You got it son. I can show you some good times to say the least.” Sarah jabbed Turley in the ribs and laughed.

“I’m a big boy Sarah!” William exclaimed.

“I know, and Turley is a man of the world!” Sarah laughed even harder.

“Ann will be sure to keep a tight rein on me. She’s a genuine cowgirl you know!”

“Thank you dear. Coming from you, one who has been ridden so hard!”

“Ouch!” Turley laughed. “I’ll take it easy on your stallion!”

Tears were shed plenty as Sarah and Turley departed the next morning. William felt a sense of closure now that he and Ann could look forward to their honeymoon. They joined Lucas and Aubrey at walking down the boardwalk and into town. More goodbyes were in the waiting as Dillon, Ruth and the boys were about ready to leave. They still needed to decide what Mark was going to do. Then there was Bat and Emma. They were thinking that next Monday or Tuesday would be the best time to head for Denver. Once William and Ann were ready to go on their honeymoon, Lucas and Aubrey were going to be on their own, finally.

The Rifleman's Serenade — To Be Continued ?

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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