The Rifleman
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Fan Fiction

The Wedding
A Bring Milly Back Production
By Michelle Palmer

Chapter 5:  Apple Pie

When the happy couple arrived at the hotel, Milly turned to Lucas.  She smiled as she looked up into his eyes.  “I’m…sorry I dragged you from your work, Lucas.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Lucas said softly with a grin.  “You didn’t drag me away.  Lou Mallory did!  She said something about there being some dynamite about to explode.”

Lou hurried up to the smiling couple.  “And I was that dynamite!” she declared with a firm nod of her head.  She folded her arms.  “Well now, it looks like you have managed to put that dreamy look back in her eyes.”

“Maybe so, Lou.”  Milly crossed her arms as she shook her head.  “But I STILL haven’t been able to get my errands done!”

Lou put an arm around Milly’s shoulders.  “Well, tomorrow, you and I will get an early start!  We’ll take it one step at a time!”  She turned to Lucas.  “I must get this lady of yours fed so she won’t be late for work, Cowboy!”

“Oh, lunch!” Milly threw a hand to her mouth.  “I completely forgot.”  She blushed as she looked at Lucas.  “I can’t seem to function on my own these days!”

“That’s because your head is in the clouds, where it should be at a time like this!” Lou declared with a chuckle.

Lucas followed the ladies into the restaurant.  He held his chair out for Milly then sat down beside her.  “Are you staying, Lucas?” Milly asked hopefully.

“If you’ll let me.  While I’m here, I might as well eat.  If I have to leave now, I’ll ride all the way back home and have to fix some sandwich or something.  And hey…” Lucas patted his middle.  “I’m a growing boy!”

Milly chuckled as Lou filled their cups with coffee.  “Yes…” She poked his belly.  “We’ll just have to see about fattening you up once we’re married.  You’re getting too skinny!”  Milly looked up at Lou.  “Beef stew, please.”  Then she turned back to Lucas.  “What about ordering the lumber?”

“The…lumber?” Lucas questioned as he raised an eyebrow.

Milly stared at her husband.  “That…is why you came into town today, remember?”  She laughed and gave her fiancée a look that told him they both knew that wasn’t the real reason.

While they were eating, Mark hurried in.  “Pa!” Mark sat down.  “What are you doing here?”

“Nevermind that, son.”  Lucas placed his arms on the table and lifted his eyebrows, silently requesting for Mark to mind his manners.  Mark wrinkled up his face as he tried to figure out why his father was looking at him like that.

“Mark McCain, take your hat off!” Milly suddenly demanded sharply.

“Oh…uh…” Mark took his hat off.  “Yes ma’am.”

“Honestly!”  Milly shook her head.  “You are 15 years old, Mark!  It looks like I’m going to have to teach you some manners.”

“I’ve been working on him for 15 years, Milly,” Lucas pointed out as he gave Mark the evil eye.

“Well…” Milly smiled at the waiter as he sat the stew down in front of her.  “You just haven’t used the right approach.”  She picked up the spoon and started eating.

“Th…The…right…approach?” Mark questioned as he looked at his father.

“Oh don’t worry, Mark.”  Milly smiled at her soon-to-be son.  “You’ll see what my approach is soon enough.”

“I’d take that as a warning, son,” Lucas chuckled.

“You’ll learn too, Lucas.”  Milly took another bite of her stew.  “Elbows off the table, dear.”

“Huh?” Lucas stared at Milly as she lifted an eyebrow.  “Oh…Yes ma’am.”  He turned back toward Mark.  “What are you doing here anyway?  Seems I asked you to get straight home and start working on the wood chopping.”

“I was hungry!” Mark declared.  Lucas cocked his head to one side and studied him.  “Oh…” Mark reached out and took the money from his pocket.  “See, I had my own money.  I wasn’t even going to charge it…this time.”

Milly laughed.  “Uh…What are you doing here, Pa?”

“I told you this morning I was going to come order the lumber today,” Lucas reminded him.

“Yes.”  Mark nodded.  “But you were going to order the lumber later this afternoon.  You said you had some shoeing that HAD to get done this afternoon and you were going to do it yourself to save money since you have some unforeseen sudden expense…OUCH!” Mark shouted suddenly as he rubbed his shin.

Milly turned toward Lucas.  “He came into town to save a damsel in distress,” she answered.  Then she sobered.  “Honey, if I’ve caused problems, I’m sorry.  I…”

“The only one who’s causing problems around here is my son.”  Lucas turned and lifted an eyebrow at Mark.  Mark gulped, knowing he’d caused some problems.

“I…I…I think I’ll go eat with Lou in the kitchen,” he mumbled as he stood up.

Lucas nodded, still giving him an annoyed expression.  “Yeah.  Good idea.”

After Mark left, Lucas turned to Milly.  He laid a hand on her cheek.  “I assure you, honey, you have caused no problems.  If I had known a year ago we were getting married, I may have had a bit more money to work with.  But you let me worry about that.  I DON’T want to wait to marry you any longer than I have to!”  Lucas laced his fingers through hers as he stared into her eyes.  “If you’re going to be my wife, you might as well understand that with all the hardships Mark and I have had lately, money’s hard to come by.  I’m doing better than I was a year ago, so things are looking up.  And…” Lucas lifted his eyebrows as he finished his statement.  “…now that you’ll be living there, Mark and I will have more time to tend to the ranch.  That will be a big help.”

His statement made Milly smile.  Lucas kissed her softly, telling himself he was going to have a severe talk with his boy that afternoon about when to talk and when to stay quiet!

By the time Milly and Lucas finished lunch, it was time for him to walk her to the school.  Lucas waited in the lobby while Milly went up and got her things.  When she came down, he smiled as he took them from her.  Milly blushed as he led her outside.  Once they got on the street, he reached for her hand.  Milly smiled up into his eyes.  He grinned down at her and gave her hand a squeeze.  “I’m going to miss this once we’re married,” she said softly.

“Miss what?”

“This treatment.  You carrying my things, walking me to work, and holding my hand.”

“Oh?” Lucas turned his head to look down the street.  “You don’t want me doing it anymore once we’re married?”

“Well…I mean…it stops once a couple’s married.  These are courting gestures.”

“Oh.  I see.”  Lucas cleared his throat.  “Margaret and I were married for seven years and I never stopped courting her.”

“Oh?” Milly lifted an eyebrow.  “Really?”

“My folks were that way.  They were always showing their love for each other.  I remember my father taking my Ma’s hand in his even just before I left for the war.  My father sternly taught me that a wife is very special.  The husband should always do things to show her.  In return, the wife does the same.  You know…she keeps his house tidy and clean, puts her love in the meals she prepares, loves his children and cares for them, and uh…is there for him at night, showing him her love in that special way.”  Lucas turned to look at her.

Milly blushed and lowered her head.  “Oh.”

“You know, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about, Mil.  That’s the way God intended it to be, even from the beginning.”  Lucas squeezed her hand again.  They were standing in front of the church.  “I’ll show you how much I love you any way I can.  My father brought all four of his sons up understanding that a wife is always to be treated with respect, and loved.”  Lucas bent and kissed her cheek.

“And you’re raising Mark with the same values?”

“I’m doing my darndest!” Lucas declared.  “But as you can tell, it’s not always easy.”

Milly laughed as she took her things from him.  “They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; so I’m sure your father thought the same of you, yet look at how well you’ve turned out.”

Milly started up the steps.  “Uh, Milly…” Lucas smiled.  “I’ll be in town all afternoon.  Have supper at the hotel tonight?”

Milly nodded.  She flashed him a smile.  “Lucas?” Lucas turned back to her.  “Thank you.”  He nodded then turned to walk out of the church yard.  Several children greeted him.  He patted them on the head as he hurried back into town.  Seeing Milly had put a skip back in his walk.  Lou was right.  Going even a day without seeing each other was causing problems!

 The afternoon flew by in a fury of activity for both Milly and Lucas.  Since he was in town, Lucas decided to get all his chores done so he could spend as much time as possible at the ranch.  He sent Mark on back to get started on his chores with strict orders to be back in town at 4:00 sharp – or he would have Milly to deal with!

At four o’clock, Lucas and Mark came in and started rearranging the benches for Sunday services.  Milly gathered up her stuff as her men worked.

When Lucas announced they were done, she walked up to Lucas.  “Lucas, about the blackboard…” she started.

“I’ll do it tomorrow,” Lucas interrupted her as he held up his hand.

Milly shook her head.  “No, Lucas.  I can wait.  You have more pressing things to think of.” She shrugged as she looked up at him from under her long eyelashes.  “I don’t know what got into me…” Then she smiled coyly at him.  “…but I think you made me better.”  Lucas smiled down at her, forgetting Mark was even in the room.  Milly shook her head as she chuckled.  “I feel silly about it now.”

Mark heard the conversation from where he stood.  He slowly walked up to them.  “What Pa should have said, Milly, is that he has ME working on the blackboard.”  Mark smiled.  “But I don’t mind.  It’s a good learning experience for me.”  He put his hat on.  “Now, can we go eat?  I’m hungry!”

The McCain’s and Milly went to the hotel to eat.  Lucas walked between the woman he loved and his son.  He had a hand on each shoulder.  This is the way it had to be…always!

 Lou’s supper was always perfect, and tonight was no exception.  But then she served apple pie for dessert.  After she left, Lucas and Mark groaned as they looked down at their pie. Milly lifted a disapproving eyebrow at father and son, then lifted a bite to her mouth.

“Uh, Milly…” Mark started.

Milly took the bite.  She raised her eyebrows as she looked from Mark to Lucas, then back to Mark.  Then she nodded her head and stood up.  Father and son watched hopelessly as she turned and walked into the kitchen.  After she disappeared, Mark  bent over and looked at his father.  “Pa, you think she’s going to actually tell Lou the truth?” He asked in a loud whisper.

Lucas shook his head.  “I hope not!  Took a lot of doing to get her back in a good mood!  I’d hate for her to see Lou’s temper now!  Maybe I should…” Lucas half-way stood from the table.

But Mark put a restraining hand on his father’s arm.  “I wouldn’t, Pa.  Just let the women figure this out for themselves!” Mark suggested.  “If there’s one thing I’ve learned from you about women…Don’t interfere!”

***
Milly read through the recipe.  “And this is how you always make it?”  Lou nodded.  Milly smiled.  “Where did you get this recipe?”

“An old family friend in Ireland.  She wrote it down for me and…” Lou stopped talking when she saw Milly’s smile.  “Is something wrong with it?” She asked defensively.

Milly gave her a friendly smile.  “Yes.  I’m afraid you forgot the sugar.” Milly kept her voice low and calm, letting Lou know she meant no disrespect.

“Th’…” Lou stared at the recipe.  Milly watched as Lou’s eyes scanned the ingredients once…twice…Then Lou’s eyes grew wide as she slowly lifted a hand to her opening mouth.  “Well, for-ever loving…” Milly chuckled softly as Lou lifted her wide eyes to look at her.  “I never even…” Milly chuckled again when Lou’s face began to turn red from embarrassment.  “Milly!  I bake many different pies and cakes, most of which call for sugar and I never…it never once occurred to me that…” She shook her head.  “Well, I can’t believe nobody has ever even complained!”

“Oh, but they have,” Milly giggled.  “I’ve gotten complaints from both my future husband and my future son.”

Lou narrowed her eyes.  “And they never even…” Lou’s face grew red.  She began huffing as she planted her fists on her hips  “I’m going to give that cowboy a piece of my mind!” she suddenly declared as she started toward the door.

Milly grabbed her arm.  “Oh no!”  She smiled mischievously at her best friend.  “You just leave them to me.  Lucas McCain is ALL MINE!” Then she laughed as she told Lou about her plan.

As the women walked back into the dining room, the telegrapher hurried inside.  “Miss Milly, my apologies!” He tipped his hat quickly.  “It got busy today and I forgot…Well, here it is!”  He quickly tipped his hat and hurried out.

Lucas laughed.  “Well, you must have really put the fear of Milly in him this morning!” He teased as he pulled her down beside him and gave her a peck on the cheek.

Milly opened the telegram and read the contents.  She smiled.  “Listen!”

Wonderful news on your approaching marriage to Lucas, my darling.  I wouldn’t miss it for the world.  Will wait for details.  Mother.

Milly hugged the telegram to her chest.  “Oh Lucas, Mother’s coming!”  Then she gasped and stood up.  “Oh my…I’ve got to decide when to send Mark and Micah.  Then I have to send mother a detailed letter.  Then I need to start planning the wedding.  Oh my!!!  I forgot to get the invitations to the print…” Milly’s voice grew excited and rushed.

Lucas stood up and grabbed her arms.  “Milly…” he warned.

“But Lucas, I…” She stopped when she saw the final warning in his eyes.  Slowly, she sat down and put her hands in her lap.

Lucas cleared his throat and raised an eyebrow.  “Now, Mark and I have a lot of work to do at the ranch tomorrow, honey.  I’ll send Mark in mid-afternoon to get you so you can cook us supper.”

“Lucas McCain!” Lou declared, horrified.

Lucas held up his hands in surrender.  “She told me earlier she wanted to cook us supper!” he explained.  “And I’m not one to turn down a meal cooked by a fine looking woman!”  Lucas grew serious and pointed a finger at Milly.  “Now, listen young lady,” he said quite sternly.  “You and Lou are going to sit down tomorrow morning and RATIONALLY and CALMLY discuss wedding plans.  You hear me?”

Milly smiled.  “Yes dear.”

***

Milly awoke when she heard a knock on her door.  She slowly pulled the covers back and stood up.  “Who is it?”

“It’s Lou.”  Milly opened the door as she yawned.  “Did the cowboy keep you out too late again last night?” Lou teased.

“No!  I couldn’t sleep!  So instead, I started making wedding plans.”  Milly showed her the list that she had worked on.  “I’m sure I haven’t thought of everything yet.”

Lou studied the list then smiled boldly at Milly.  “You forgot the most crucial thing!” Lou wrote it at the bottom.  Milly’s eyes grew wide and she threw a hand to her mouth as she looked at Lou.  Both women giggled.

“I’ll take care of the whole reception.  Ye don’t worry about a single thing! Except…what do ye think you’d like to eat?”

“Well…” Milly put a finger to her mouth as she thought.  “We could do a pig roast.”

“Perfect!” Lou declared.  “And I’ll have plenty of vegetables!  Now, how many people ye think?”

“Oh Lou, I don’t know!”  Milly shook her head.  “I’m going to talk to Mark on the way to his house about guests for his father.  But mum’s the word.  This is a surprise for Lucas.”  Lou nodded.

“Well, let’s go to the general store and see about the material for the dress.  We’ll work on it in the mornings.” Lou declared, taking charge of the situation.

They walked into the General Store.  Lou grabbed the catalog off the desk and started swishing through it.  They looked at the various styles and materials for wedding dresses.  Milly and Lou discussed the matter for quite awhile as they stood at the end of the counter.  They wrote down notes and listed the supplies they would need.  Finally, the ladies agreed on the material and other items they would need for the dress.  Milly explained to Lou how she wanted it to look from looking at various pictures in the catalogue.  After adding a few more purchases to their order, Lou ordered the store clerk to rush it.

“It’ll take about a week,” The clerk declared.

“We can get it from Santa Fe!” Lou shot back.

“It’ll cost more!” the clerk argued.  “It’s cheaper if I…”

Lou shook her head as she turned and looked at Milly.  Then she turned back to the clerk. Milly smiled as Lou placed her hands on her hips and lifted her head to glare at the clerk.  “Ye listen to me!  This woman is getting married in exactly three weeks.  We have a lot of plans to make.  Since this is her only wedding she’ll ever have, we want everything…and I DO mean everything…to be perfect!  So, that order…” Lou tapped the order the clerk was holding in his hand.  “…will arrive on the train in exactly three days or I will have your job!”  She spun on her heels and started toward the door. At the door, she turned back to the clerk.  “And ye have my word on that!” She finished with a swift nod of her head.

Milly hurried after Lou.  “Yes ma’am,” she heard the clerk declare.

“I think it’ll be here on Wednesday!” Milly affirmed with a smile.  “You think we can get it done in 2 ½ weeks?”  She held a bit of panic in her voice.

“With time to spare!” Lou answered.

“Have you made wedding dresses before?”

“Mm hm!”

Lou led Milly to the Print Shop.  With how nervous and edgy she seemed to be, Milly was glad to have a take charge sort of friend like Lou Mallory.  Milly showed the man what she wanted her invitations to say.  “How many?” the printer asked.

“Oh…” Milly put a finger to her chin as she thought.  “Let’s do a hundred for now.”

The printer looked up at Milly.  “A hundred?”  His eyes grew wide.  “Just who do you plan on sending them to?”

“Nevermind!” Lou answered before Milly could.  “Ye just print them up!  We’ll worry about who to send them to!”

Milly and Lou walked out of the print shop.  “I also want to post announcements in the New Mexico newspapers.”

Lou nodded.  “You best go get ready to go to your future home.  I’ll get this over to the telegrapher and have him send a wire to the newspapers.  I’m paying for it.”

“No!” Milly argued.

“No arguments, Milly Scoot!  Lucas and Mark have done a lot for me since I arrived here.  This is just a small way to return the favor.”

Milly smiled.  She unfolded a piece of paper.  “These are the newspapers I want to send it to.”

“I’ll take care of it!”  Milly hurried off to the hotel.  Lou looked down at the paper.  “And maybe a few more besides…” She smiled to herself as she hurried toward the telegraph office.

***

Mark wiped the chalk board clean.  “Well, it seems to work just fine, Pa.”  He picked up the big erasers.  “And I even did the erasers!  Look.”  He boasted, proud of the work he had done.

Lucas looked up from the paper he was working on.  “That’s great son.”

“Ya think Milly will be proud of me?”

Lucas smiled as he kept working.  “That’s very important to you, isn’t it son?”

“Well, I…I guess so…”  Mark brushed his hands on his pants and sat down.  “Pa?  Can I talk to you for a second?”

Lucas heard the hesitation in his son’s voice.  He sat down the pencil and looked up at him.  Mark kept his eyes averted as he spoke.  “I do want Milly to be proud of me.  This marriage ain't…ain’t like a lot of marriages.  I mean…there usually aren’t kids involved.”  Mark paused and looked at his father.  Lucas merely nodded.  “Well, I guess that what I’m trying to say is that I’m a…a complication sort of…”

Lucas stared at Mark.  He stood up and walked over to his son and put a hand under his  chin to keep his eyes focused on him.  “Mark McCain, you…” Lucas swallowed as he gave Mark a small smile.  “You could never be a…a complication – to me or Milly.  When Milly accepted my proposal of marriage, she accepted you.”  Lucas looked hard at his son.  “Don’t you EVER call yourself a complication!”

“Well, I…” Mark pulled away from his father, no longer able to look into his eyes.  He walked towards the window.  “I’m not meaning any disrespect for it, Pa.  But…” He turned and looked at Lucas again.  “Oh Pa, you know darn well that most women don’t have a kid hanging around after her wedding!  I mean, she’s already got a teenager and she’s not even married yet!”

“Son,” Lucas folded his arms and walked slowly toward his son.  “She’s known about you for as long as she’s known about me.  There was no Lucas and Milly.  It was always Lucas and Milly…and Mark.”  Lucas sat down at the table.  He pulled out the chair beside him and patted it for his son to sit down.  “It’s complicated, Mark, but she loves you as much as she loves me.”  Lucas laid a hand on his son’s shoulder.  “There will have to be some…well, some adjustments made that don’t need to be made in a marriage where children aren’t involved.”

“Like what?” Mark asked.

Lucas grinned.  “I…was hoping you wouldn’t ask me that question.  “Well…like you’ll have to share me.  There are times when Milly will need me…and only me.  But, Milly will also have to share me because there are times when you will need me and only me.”  Mark just watched his father intently.  Lucas sighed.  “Alright, son…you know I’ve told you about the…benefits of marriage?” Mark grinned and nodded.  “Well, those times are private, and there may be a time or two I send you into town to stay at the hotel for the night so Milly and I can be…completely alone.”

“Oh.”  Mark grinned.  He lifted his head.  “And what about all those nights you don’t send me to town?” Lucas narrowed his eyes at Mark.  Mark laughed.  “Alright, alright!”  Then he sobered again.  “I just don’t want to feel like an inconvenience.”

“Son, there are a lot of things you make me feel like…angry, hurt, mad, happy, proud, loved…But you never felt like an inconvenience.”  Lucas raised his eyebrows.  “You understand?”  Mark nodded.

Mark cleared his throat.  “But…I DO want to do something special for Milly…to show her how much I love her and that I welcome her into the family.  I know it won’t be ready in time for the wedding, but…I was talking to Freddie and his mother has lots of roses in her yard.  He said it brings the bees, but she loves them.  I was wondering if I could plant some roses around the back and under her…”  Mark grinned.  “…your bedroom window once it’s built.”

Lucas smiled.  “I think that’ll be fine, son.  I want Milly to feel loved…Not that she doesn’t already!”

Mark nodded.  “There’s something else, Pa.”  Lucas looked up at him.  “Well…when Milly lives here, she’ll still be teaching right?”

“That’s what she wants to do right now,” Lucas answered.

“Well…I was wondering if I could use some of the money I’ve been saving and buy her a nice gentle colt to pull the buggy.”

“We don’t have a buggy, Mark.” Lucas pointed out.

“We will soon, Pa.  Dr. Burrage got a new buggy.  He told me I could have the old one if I fix it up.” Lucas narrowed his eyes at his son.  “He’s gonna just throw it out as junk if I don’t take it off his hands, Pa!  Nils and I have already been talking about it.”  Lucas wrinkled his brow in thought.  “Well?”

Lucas scratched under his nose as he thought some more.  Then he nodded his head.  “I think that will be wonderful, Mark.”

“While we’re talking, there’s something else, Pa…” Mark bit his lip as he looked down at the table.  He wasn’t quite sure how to put his thoughts into words.

“Mark?” Mark lifted his head.  “What is it, son?” Lucas asked him gently.

“Well…I…I love Milly…She’s like a Ma to me.”  Mark paused.  Lucas smiled and nodded.  “Now, mind ya…I don’t want to disrespect my real Ma or anything, but…I feel I want to call Milly… ‘Ma.’”  Mark saw tears shining in his father’s eyes.  “Would you mind?”

Lucas gave Mark a tiny smile. He patted his son’s hand.  “I don’t mind, son.  Not at all.”

“You think she’d mind?” Mark raised his eyebrows.

“I don’t think your Ma would mind a bit, son…either one of them.”  Lucas smiled as he patted Mark on the shoulder.  “In fact, I’ve a feeling Milly will be pretty darn proud of you.  Why don’t you go on into town and fetch Milly…”  Lucas smiled.  “…your Ma.”

***

Mark pulled up to the hotel and jumped down.  He started inside when Micah hollered to him from across the street.  “Hi, Micah!  What’s up?” Mark asked.

“Well uh…” Micah frowned.  “Ever since the arrival of Milly Scott last Friday I haven’t seen much of you or your father.  I was wondering if maybe I’d been replaced and forgotten by a raven haired beauty.”

“Ah shucks, Micah!  Nobody can replace you!”  Mark started up the steps.  “I can’t take Milly fishing.”

“Oh!  Well, I’m good to see someone still needs me.”  Micah frowned.  “How are things at the McCain household?”

Mark froze on the steps and turned around.  He folded his arms.  “You know, Micah…Pa and I were just talking yesterday.  I think maybe you should come out to the ranch tomorrow afternoon.  You and I could fish in the pond, then Pa could cook up his famous mess of catfish.  You know how much fun we’ve had doing that in the past.”

“Oh?” Micah raised his eyebrows at Mark.  “And uh…what about Milly?”

“What about me?” Milly asked as she came out smiling at Mark and Micah.

“Oh!”  Mark smiled at Milly.  “I was just coming to fetch ya.”  Mark nodded toward Micah.  “I was just inviting Micah out to the ranch for fishing tomorrow afternoon.”

“That sounds great!” Milly smiled.  Her eyes crinkled as she patted Mark on the head.  “I think Mark could use some grandpa time.”

“Oh, but what about you and Lucas?” Micah asked.

“What about us, Micah?”  Milly turned and looked at Lou.  “Lou can keep me company tomorrow!  We’ve a lot of talking to do.”  She turned toward Mark.  “We should get going.  We don’t want your father to worry.”

As Mark drove the horses down the road, he and Milly discussed their own plans for the wedding.  Milly grew excited as she thought about the look on Lucas’s face if they were indeed able carry out at least some of the plans she and Mark discussed..  Milly opened her tablet and  began making a list as Mark talked.

Mark stopped the team and pulled the break forward.  A loud noise could be heard coming from the house.  “What on earth?” Milly lifted her skirt and accepted Mark’s hand as she stepped over the wagon wheel.  Another loud bang sounded.  She and Mark hurried toward the house.

When they got inside, Milly saw Lucas tearing down a wall on the back of the house.  “Lucas, just what are you doing to my house?” Milly asked with her hands on her hips.  Then she pointed to the mess on the floor.

Lucas poked his head through the growing hole in the wall.  “Oh, hi Mil.”  He looked at the mess on the floor.  “Well honey, if you want a bedroom, I’m going to have to knock out this wall!  It ain’t pretty, but if you have a neat way of doing it, I’m all ears!”  He grinned up at her.  He started to return to his work, but stuck his head back through the hole.  “Oh…one more thing, darling.”  Milly narrowed her eyes and waited.  She knew he was talking sweetly to her for a reason.  She soon found out what it was.  “Once I start building, you won’t be allowed to come here until the wedding.”

“WHAT????” Milly squealed.  “Lucas, I want to get things ready and moved in!  I…”

“I’m sorry, honey.”  Lucas stood up and walked over to her.  He put his arms around her then turned his head toward his son.  “Uh Mark, why don’t you go do your chores.”

“Chores are done, Pa,” Mark answered.

“Well then go swap out the barn.”  Lucas turned and grinned as he stared in Milly’s eyes.

“Barn’s all clean, Pa.  I did it yesterday,” Mark announced with an impish grin.

“Go tend to your crops then,” Lucas said, a bit impatiently as he continued staring into Milly’s eyes.

“All done, Pa,” Mark declared as his grin turned even more mischievous.

“Mark, it’s a big ranch!  I know you can find something that needs doing!”  Mark chuckled, but still didn’t move.  “Will you get the heck out of here before I give you a swift kick in the pants?”

“Sure, Pa.”  Mark went to the door.  “Have fun.”

“Mark McCain!” Milly gasped and turned to go after him.

Lucas grabbed her and pulled her into a tight embrace.  “Forget that now, honey.”  He stared into her eyes and brushed the back of his fingers softly along her cheek.  “I love you,” he said breathlessly.

“I love you too, Lucas,” Milly smiled as Lucas’s lips parted just a bit.  “Oh, I can’t wait to become your wife!”  She lifted her head upwards and gave him a soft, fast kiss.  Lucas put his hands behind Milly’s neck and pulled her head toward him as he kissed her harder.  Milly slowly lifted her arms around his back and gave in to his kiss.  Their embrace became passionate as they enjoyed a long kiss.  The kiss lasted several moments, until they heard sizzling on the stove.  Lucas groaned as Milly broke the kiss.  He kept her firmly in his arms and tried to bring her lips back to his.  “I have to tend to your supper!” Milly argued as she gave him a poke in the ribs.

Lucas followed her into the kitchen.  Milly began stirring the contents in the pan.  Lucas sighed heavily as he wrapped his arms around her waist.  He kissed her hair.  ”What’s for supper?” he asked, his lips against her cheek.

“Roast with carrots and potatoes…” Milly smiled as he kissed her cheek again.  “Green beans and fresh bread.”  Lucas mumbled his approval as he gave her other cheek a soft kiss.  Milly giggled as she put her hands on his hands, still tightly wrapped around her waist.  “And for dessert…”

“I don’t need dessert. All I need is you…” Lucas mumbled as he trailed kisses down her cheek.

Milly forced his arms away from around her waist.  “Well, you will have to wait!”  She pecked him on the lips.  “That’s enough, Mr. McCain!”  She bent over and opened the oven.  Then she carefully removed something.  “Because tonight, we are having…” She turned and held the pan up to him.  “Apple pie.”

***

The McCain’s enjoyed every morsel of Milly’s fine cooking.  Mark commented several times that he couldn’t wait until after the wedding.  He wanted to eat like this every day!

Milly smiled; happy her two favorite men were enjoying her company.  She couldn’t wait to be Mrs. McCain.  She remembered a few years back when she told a young man she had been courting that she didn’t want to be a regular housewife who just cooked, cleaned, and took care of the kids.  But as she looked up into her fiancée’s eyes, the sound of being a regular wife didn’t bother her in the least.  She couldn’t help wondering if the problem was the man; and now that she found the man she wanted to marry, being a ‘wife’ didn’t sound so bad.

“A penny for your thoughts,” Lucas said softly.

Milly blinked her eyes and looked up at him.  “What?”

“You took a trip somewhere.  Where did you go?” Lucas asked as he smiled at her.

“I was just…remembering back.”  Milly blushed.  “To before I moved to North Fork.  I told someone once that I didn’t want to be a regular wife who just took care of the kids and did the chores around the house.  I wanted so much more.”

“Well?” Lucas lifted his eyebrows.  He remembered Milly telling him about the man who had wanted to marry her.

“Sitting here…with you two…” Milly lowered her head and studied the contents on her plate.  She took a bite of her green beans while she gathered her thoughts.  “I find myself wanting to do just that.  I mean…the day I arrived, what did I do?  I cleaned your house!  And the whole time I was wishing it was mine.  Now it soon will be.  I can’t wait to cook your meals for you and clean your house…take care of you and Mark.  Those are the ideas I was running from, yet they seem to have found me right here…right where I ran to.”  Milly lifted her head.  She looked at Mark, then at Lucas.  She shrugged.  “Maybe it was the man…my heart was telling me I didn’t want to do those things for him.”

Lucas laid a hand on top of hers.  He smiled into her eyes.  “He was forbidding you to do anything else if I remember right, honey.  I’m not going to forbid you from teaching.  If you wanted to come back here and tend the store like you used to, I wouldn’t stop you.  But…” Lucas chose his words carefully…”We would have to discuss it…as a family if things got out of hand.  You know what I mean?”

Milly nodded.  “Meaning that as long as I pull my weight around here tending your home and taking care of you two, you have no objections.”  Milly smiled.  “And meaning working more than part time would be out of the question.”

“Did I say that?” Lucas asked.

Milly shook her head.  “You didn’t have to.  I’m a pretty sensible woman…for a city girl.”  Lucas chuckled.

Mark cleared his throat.  “Which reminds me, Pa; I invited Micah to come out here tomorrow.”

Lucas took his hand off of Milly’s and picked up his fork.  “What’s that got to do with anything we were discussing?”

“Well…” Mark rolled his eyes.  “It was getting a little too…mushy in here!”  Lucas and Milly laughed at the look on Mark’s face.  “Anyway, I think Micah’s feeling a bit left out.  Since Milly’s come back, you haven’t played checkers or visited with him or anything.”

“He was the first to know we were getting married,” Lucas declared.

“You mean, you went to talk to him before the preacher?” Milly questioned.

“Uh…n…no..” Lucas cleared his throat.  “I talked to him at Sweeny’s after I left you with Lou Friday night.”

“Oh.”  Milly narrowed her eyes at Lucas.  “So, he really WAS the first to know!”

Lucas nodded.  “Then I told him for sure Monday morning BEFORE I came to see you at the hotel.”  Lucas shook his head.  “I didn’t realize he was feeling neglected, but I suppose we haven’t been including him in things.”  Lucas nodded.  “Alright son, why don’t we make a day out of it?”  Lucas turned to Milly.  “We’ll have lunch at the hotel, then we’ll all come back here to the ranch.”

“I thought that maybe Lou and I would stay in town…to give you ‘guys’ some time alone,” Milly suggested.

“Oh Milly…” Lucas groaned.  “We’re going to be so busy next week…I’m afraid we won’t have much time to spend together.  Can we invite Lou and Micah out here tomorrow afternoon?  While we’re fishing, you girls can uh…” Lucas grinned.  “Just stay in the house and clean!”

Milly gasped.  She picked up her napkin and threw it at him.  “Lucas McCain!”  Lucas bent over and kissed her on the cheek.  “Actually, I have a better idea.”  Milly stood and started picking up the empty plates from the table.  “Lou and I can fix Sunday dinner here at the ranch while you guys sit around and talk or…” Milly cleared her throat.  “…do whatever it is guys do on Sunday afternoons.  Then after lunch, Lou and I will talk and…” Milly smiled.  “…do whatever women do on Sunday afternoons…while you go fishing.  I have a yearning to taste your catfish.”

Lucas took Milly’s hand as she reached for his plate.  “That was a good meal!” he declared softly.

“It sure was!” Mark stated.  “Can I have seconds?”

Milly smiled at Mark.  “You already had seconds.”

“Oh…” Mark raised his eyebrows.  “Can I have thirds?”

Lucas laughed, shaking his head.  “It’s going to be hard keeping his stomach satisfied!”  Then he looked at his son.  “Milly made apple pie, son.”

“OH!” Mark declared with a smile.  “Milly makes the best apple pie!”

Both father and son smiled as Milly took their empty plates to the sink.  She smiled as she carefully cut the apple pie.  She gave a big piece of it to Lucas, and then to Mark. Then she picked up some more dishes from the table, turned toward the kitchen, and smiled widely.

“Milly?” Milly turned back around.  “Aren’t you going to have a piece?”

“Not right now, Lucas,” Milly answered as she went to the sink.  From the corner of her eye, she watched as Lucas and Mark took a big bite of their pie.  She watched Lucas’s smile disappeared.  He adjusted himself a bit in his chair then raised an eyebrow at Mark, who undoubtedly had the same expression.  Milly turned back to the sink and smiled, very satisfied with herself.

She busied herself in the kitchen until they were all done.  Then she walked back to the table.  “So…” She picked up the empty saucers as the father and son took a big swig of their drinks.  “How was it?”

“Good, Milly,” Lucas answered as he coughed into his hand.

“Yeah.  Really good, Milly.” Mark lowered his eyes to the table.

Milly turned from the counter after sitting the saucers down.  She folded her arms and shook her head.  “Liars!”  Lucas and Mark jerked their head up and turned to her.  They both stared at her, shocked.  “You two are pitiful!  Just pitiful!”  She walked over to Lucas and pinched his cheeks together.  “And you’re about to stand in front of a preacher and promise to never lie to me.”  Then she turned to Mark.  “And you both should have your mouth washed out with soap!”

Lucas looked at Mark.  They studied each other for a moment.  Then recognition slowly registered on their faces.  “Oh…LOU!” Lucas groaned.  “You asked Lou to bake us her pie?”

“No.” Milly turned back to the sink as she started pumping water into a pan to heat.  “I baked the pie.”

“What?” Mark asked.  “It tastes just like Lou’s!”

“I used Lou’s recipe.”  Milly walked back to the table.  Lucas reached out to take her arm so he could pull her down onto his lap, but she snapped it away.  “You want to know what the problem was?  Sugar.  It’s a simple mistake – one anyone as busy as a woman running a hotel and feeding half-starved bachelors  can make.” She walked toward the front door.  “And since both of you saw it fitting to lie to me, you will both get in that kitchen and clean it up!  I want everything spotless by the time I get back!” Milly opened the door.

“Where are you going?” Lucas whined.

“For a walk…alone!” Milly declared.  She walked up to Lucas and looked into his eyes.  She took his chin in her hand. “And you can imagine what you are missing.”  She smiled, then turned and walked out the door, firmly closing it behind her.

After she walked out, Mark groaned and went to check the water on the stove.  “Pa, I don’t think we better ever…ever lie to Milly again!  Even if it’s to spare her feelings!” He advised.

“Yeah.”  Lucas shook his head as he folded his arms and stared at the closed door.  He thought on what he was missing right now.  Holding her hand, kissing and hugging…Then after marriage…Lucas’s eyes widened.  “YEAH!”

The Wedding — Sunday at the McCain Ranch

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
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