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The Wedding
A Bring Back Milly Production
by Michelle Palmer

Chapter 18:  The Morning After

Milly had wondered if she would be able to sleep that first night, and she discovered that she slept very well in her husband’s arms.  She didn’t stir all night, and when she woke up the next morning the sun was cresting over the hills.  She was happy to see the sun shining in the windows.  It was almost as bright as the shining in her husband’s eyes as he stared into hers that morning.

When she awoke and opened her eyes, she was on her side facing him.  He was staring at her as he gently caressed her soft skin, enjoying holding her close to him in his arms.  Lucas smiled. “Good morning, my love,” he mumbled, mesmerized by this beauty that now lay beside him in his bed. “I’m sorry if I woke you.  I just…couldn’t help myself.  You look so beautiful sleeping.”

Milly smiled as she reached up and touched his stubby cheek.  She kissed him softly, then just stared at him as his hand softly continued to glide up and down her side. “How do you feel?”

“Like a rancher’s wife,” she answered.  Lucas’s eyes widened when he saw the desire in her eyes once again.  He pressed his lips to hers and they again enjoyed a long kiss as Lucas once again began caressing her.  Milly moaned softly as their kisses became more intense.  She heard Lucas moan as she allowed her hands to begin caressing him as well.  She enjoyed being in her husband’s arms even more that morning than the night before as they once again made sweet love.  When they were finished, Lucas kissed her softly on the cheek and lifted himself half-way up.

“Well…we have to get up at some point today,” Lucas whispered softly as he brushed her hair from her face.

“Oh?” Milly asked as she lifted her head from the pillow, kissed him again and smiled.  “Why?”

Lucas chuckled softly.  “Well…I’m hungry for one thing.  There’s chores that need done and…” Lucas put a finger to the tip of her nose.  “We have guests to see off on the noon train.”

Milly sighed.  “Well, so much for a perfect day.  I hate seeing Mother and your family leave so soon.  I wish they could stay longer.”

Lucas smiled as he stroked her cheek with the back of his fingers.  “Well…we’ll visit them.”

“You promise, Lucas?  We’ll go to Kansas City and…” Milly smiled.  “…Oklahoma?”

Lucas nodded.  “Mm hm.  Especially now that we have the train to travel with.  Oh…and of course the money you are bringing in.  You see, there are benefits to having you here.”  Lucas smiled as he bent down and kissed her.  His hand quickly again ran down her body.

Milly giggled.  “Stop it!” she laughed.  Then she looked into his eyes.  “But we don’t have to get up just yet…do we?”

Lucas chuckled softly.  “What do you want to do, Mrs. McCain?”

“I just want you to hold me.”

Lucas turned on his side and drew her back against his chest.  He wrapped his arms around her.  “How’s that?”  Milly smiled as she closed her eyes.

Lucas soon heard the steady rhythm of her sleeping in his arms.  He lifted up and looked at her sweet face.  Then he softly laid a kiss on her cheek as he brushed her hair back.  He wanted to stay with her and watch her sleep, but he had chores waiting outside.  The animals wouldn’t understand why they weren’t being fed; and, like Milly said, she was now a rancher’s wife!  Lucas groaned regrettably then after kissing her cheek one last time, he got out of bed.

He smiled as he came around the bed and saw Milly’s wedding dress still on the floor where it had landed when he slid it off the night before.  He picked it up and hung it on a hook on the back of the door until she could properly pack it away.  Then he picked up the other clothing strewn on the floor and put them in a neat pile in the corner for washing.  He saw the caked mud on his jacket and laughed, surprised Milly had allowed him to marry her looking like he had.

He quickly dressed, leaving his shirt untucked and unbuttoned as was habit.  Lucas quietly opened the door and laughed when he saw the untidy mess on the table from the night before.  He quickly poured out the dirty water and neatly laid the rag on the counter.  He’d let Milly decide how to keep track of dirty laundry.  Then he put the medicine box back in its place.

Opening the front door, he quietly whistled as he headed to the barn to begin his morning chores.

***

When Milly woke up some time later, she no longer felt her husband’s arms around her.  She slowly sat up in her bed and smiled at the way he’d tucked her in after getting up.  Milly looked out the back window and smiled as the sun winked at her from its position in the sky.  Then she laughed as she threw herself back down on the pillow and stretched.  “Mrs. Lucas McCain!” She closed her eyes as she remembered being in his arms last night and again this morning.  Why had she been so worried?  And what did her Mother mean by it not being perfect?  It was more than she had ever imagined!

“Okay, Milly McCain…” Milly chastised herself.  “You are now the wife of a rancher!  You’ve got to get busy!”  Milly threw the covers back and began to get dressed, but then she turned and saw her wedding dress hanging neatly on a hook behind the door.  She smiled as she looked around the room.  Seeing the trunk at the end of the bed, she opened it and saw it was empty.  “Thank you, Lucas,” she whispered as she gently placed the dress inside and closed the lid.  She wondered if it would ever be worn again.

After putting on her undergarments, Milly sat down at the dressing table and picked up the hairbrush.  She studied the back of it and its fancy design of flowers.  Again, she marveled at every pain-staking detail her husband had gone to make her home perfect.  She smiled, then ran the brush through her hair.  After putting her hair up in a ponytail, as she was accustomed to doing, she went to the basin and began her washing.  She enjoyed the smell of the rose-scented soap and knew it was yet another purchase Lucas had made just for her.

After she finished dressing and had put on her boots, Milly opened the door and went into the kitchen.  Her husband would be hungry from his chores.  She would make him a nice breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup.  She turned and saw the empty basket lying on the counter.  But first, she’d take care of some of her own chores!  Humming, she opened the front door of the house and made her way to the chicken coop.

She softly began singing a song about the morning sunrise as she patted a chicken.  Then she began gathering the eggs from the roost.

Lucas heard her voice and came out of the barn.  He stood just inside the door and watched her gaily gathering the eggs.  Slowly, he walked over to the chicken coop and leaned against it as he grinned with his arms crossed.

Milly turned at hearing the wood creak.  “You’re not buttoning up your shirt?”

“Why should I?  We’re married,” Lucas replied.

“I know, it’s just that… before… you’d always hurry up and button your shirt whenever I’d arrive unexpectedly.”

“That was a sign of respect…”

“Oh, so you don’t respect me now that I’m your wife!” Milly feigned indignity.

“That’s not what I meant and you know it,” Lucas replied as he tried to pull Milly into his arms.

Milly turned from the coop after gathering the last egg.  He slowly shook his head as he took the basket of eggs from her.  “This is Mark’s job.”

“Oh?” Milly raised her eyebrows and grinned up at him.  Then she looked around.  “Mark’s not here.”  She took the basket of eggs back from him, but Lucas kept a hand on it.  “I’m sure Mark has better things to do than gather the eggs!” She declared with a quick nod of her head.  “I’m very capable of…”

Lucas suddenly bent down and kissed her.  Then he smiled into her eyes.  “Now, every time you start to backtalk me, you’ll get a kiss.”

“Oh?” Milly smiled.  “And you uh…think that will stop me?”

“Well…” Lucas gave her a playful wink.  “I certainly hope not!  But I think I’ll get plenty of kisses that way.  You see…I know how you are, Mrs. McCain.  You speak your mind.”

“So gathering the eggs is now my job.  Mark has better things to do, I’m sure!” Milly declared.

Lucas looked at the smile that spread on her face.  It was the same smile she used on him when she first came back.  He knew he’d lose every battle when she gave him that smile.  “Alright.”  He touched the tip of her nose with his pointing finger.  “But does that mean I have to fix my own breakfast?”

“Of course not!” Milly declared.  “But I needed eggs for the pancakes.  Do you have any maple sap?”

Lucas nodded.  “It’s in the cellar.  The cellar is…”

“I know where the cellar is!” Milly declared.  She turned and walked back into the house.  After moving the rug out of the way, she opened the door and started down the steps.  But as she shined the lantern at the floor level, she saw something.  She ran her finger along the line of the floor.  Lifting her finger, she found black soot.  Milly climbed from the cellar and went to the door.  “Lucas!  Oh Lucas!”

Lucas appeared in the doorway of the barn.  “Um…could you come in here for a minute?”

Lucas came into the house.  “What is it, honey?”

Milly led him to the opening of the cellar and pointed at the large line of black soot that was between the door and the floor.  She then turned and looked at the rug.  Studying it closely, she could still see traces of the soot on it.  “How did this happen?”

Lucas scratched his head as he slowly walked toward the fireplace.  He lifted an eyebrow as he turned back to Milly.  An idea began forming in his head.  Milly hurried to get the maple sap than closed the cellar and let Lucas cover the door with the rug.  As she walked into the kitchen and began getting her supplies together, Lucas leaned against the counter and crossed his ankles.  “The day I came into town all mad about the invitations…that was the same day we suspect something happened here, right?”

Milly nodded as she poked him and pointed for him to get out of her way.  Lucas moved out of Milly’s way and crossed his arms.  “Milly, before I left I gave Mark orders to ride over to Willow Canyon and get Mr. Marvin to clean the chimney and stove pipe since I wasn’t going to be able to do it.”  Lucas reached his hand over and stuck his finger in the mixture she was making.  She slapped his hand.  “Ouch!” he declared as he jerked his hand back.

“You know…come to think of it Milly, I saw Mr. Marvin at the wedding yesterday.  I gave him the money for the job, and he said next time he’d charge me double for such a dirty job.  I didn’t think about it at the time because I was thinking about the wedding….But…” Milly turned and looked at him.  “Let’s just suppose that those two boys got it in their head to do the job themselves as a wedding gift for me…er…us.  Let’s just suppose that Mark figured he’d seen me doing it often enough that he could do it himself.”

Milly lifted an eyebrow as she stirred the pancake mixture.  “He wouldn’t.”

“This is Mark we’re talking about.”

“He would!”  They both smiled as their eyes grew wide as they looked around the house.  “No wonder Lou was here cleaning.”

“And that explains Mark having just taken a bath.”

Lucas nodded.  “Then Mr. Marvin coming after the fact?”  Lucas shook his head.  “That boy!”

“Should we wait and see just how long it takes him to confess?” Milly asked.

“No.”  Lucas answered as he slipped his arms around her from behind and kissed her on the neck.  “I have a better idea.”

Milly giggled as Lucas nuzzled her softly.  The grease in the iron skillet began to sizzle.  “Um…Lucas?”

“Hm?” Lucas mumbled as his lips pressed against her neck.

“You’ll cause me to burn your breakfast.”  Lucas mumbled.  “Lucas McCain!” Milly reprimanded him.

Lucas hurried with the rest of the chores, and then whistled as he came in and washed up for breakfast. “It smells good, Milly.”

Lucas smiled as he began setting the table.  Milly turned and put a hand on her hip.  “What are you doing, Lucas McCain?”

“Well…” Lucas paused with the plates in his hand.  “I’m setting the table, my Love.”

“That’s my job!” Milly declared.

“Oh?” Lucas sat the plates down and walked into the kitchen.  He firmly put his hands on her shoulder and turned her from the stove.  “Now, you listen to me, Milly McCain.  I didn’t marry you to take over all the domestic duties.  When Margaret and I were married, I went into the marriage thinking that she would do all the domestic duties.  She quickly taught me that everything was a partnership.  She expected me to set the table properly and even dry a dish every once in a while.  In turn, she helped me with my chores.  She even rode the range with me a few times.  It helps the other appreciate what the other does.”

Milly lowered her head.  Then she raised it back up to look into his eyes.  “I’m sorry. I guess I just got caught up in the moment.  You may set the table.”  Then she raised an eyebrow.  “Does that mean I have to help you with the cattle?”

Lucas chuckled as he kissed the tip of her nose.  “Of course not!”

“Oh.  Well, will you still teach me how to ride a horse?” Milly asked softly as he kissed her gently on the lips.

“Side saddle or like a man?” Lucas asked.

“Oh, I want to do it the right way!  Like a man!”

Lucas looked down at her dress.  “We’ll have to get you some riding skirts.”  He grinned.

“I have blue jeans!” Milly declared.

Lucas laughed as he bent and kissed her again.  Suddenly the door opened.  “Oh, excuse me!” Mark declared.

Lucas and Milly broke their kiss and turned to look at their son standing in the doorway.  “Don’t you know how to knock?” Lucas grumbled.

“But I live here and the door was wide open…”  Mark raised his eyebrows.  Then he stopped.  “I forgot.  Lou told me to make sure to knock first.”  He walked in and sniffed the air.  “Is that pancakes I smell?”

“I thought Lou was going to feed you breakfast then send you to church,” Lucas declared as he went back to setting the table.

“I had to come, Pa.  I wanted to show Ma my wedding gift.” Lucas froze and slowly turned around.  He lifted an eyebrow as he studied his son.  “…Oh!  To her!”  Mark chuckled as he turned to wash his hands.  “Oh, and I have some good news for ya.”

Lucas turned and glanced at Milly who had returned to her cooking.  Somehow, he had a feeling Mark’s good news wasn’t his good news.  “What’s that, son?” Milly asked.

“Sally’s taking Grandma Jenny back to Kansas City.  She wants to spend some time there before returning to school.  So…” Mark grinned.

Lucas and Milly looked at each other.  They were happy, but sorry at the same time.  Milly needed to talk to Lucas before he said anything.  She could see it in his eyes.  She reached over on the counter and grabbed the empty milk pail.  “Mark?” Mark turned toward her.  Milly smiled.  “I…I’m glad you came.  I wonder if you can get some milk?  Your father’s been so…” Milly felt a blush creep to her face.  “…busy that he hasn’t had a chance to milk the cow.  Could you?”

“Sure Ma,” Mark answered with a nod.  “As long as you promise to…”

“You’ll do it either way, boy.  Now…get going!” Lucas demanded gruffly.

Mark hurried out the door.  Lucas sighed.  “This is why you get married BEFORE you have kids.”  Lucas shook his head.  “I knew there was a reason to God’s madness!”

Milly chuckled.  “You didn’t want him to go, honey.”

“I know,” Lucas answered with a sigh.

Milly walked up to her husband and laid a hand on his arm.  “You were hoping for some time alone.”  Lucas nodded.  “Lucas?” Lucas looked up.  “Maybe this is for the best.  We can have our Bible reading right here, then we’ll go into town together.”

“And after that?” Lucas asked.

Milly turned back to put the rest of the pancakes on a plate.  “Well…” Milly winkled her brow as she thought.  “I know we were planning a week all to ourselves, but…Oh Lucas, Mark needs you right now.  His whole world is changing!  That’s why he came back here.  Maybe he IS fifteen, but he’s still a growing boy and he still needs assurance that you are here for him.”

Lucas took the bacon from her and sat it on the table.  “I was hoping for some time alone with you though, honey.  This is an important time for all of us.”

“Well…” Milly bit her lip as Lucas held the chair out for her to sit down.  She thought for a minute.  “I think we’ve already come to our first compromise, Lucas.  I mean…he’s your son, so what you say goes but…”

“Whoa there!” Lucas held up his hand.  “He’s our son.”  Lucas took her hand in his as he sat down next to her at the head of the table.  “Now, listen to me.  I…”

“Got the milk, Ma!” Mark carried it in and sat it on the counter.

“Uh…son, would you mind uh…” Lucas struggled trying to find something for him to do.

Mark laughed.  “If you’re still talking about what to do with me, I’ll go on outside and wait.  I’m sorry I came home, Pa.  I just…” Mark hung his head and walked outside.

Lucas turned back to Milly.  “Now, as I was saying…you married me yesterday, you became Mark’s mother.  So anything that concerns him concerns us.  We make decisions together as a family.”

“Let him have today with us…just to adjust and get used to the idea.”  Milly sighed.  “I know he’s told us he understands about the marriage, but deep down he’s afraid of losing that closeness you two have.  He needs reassurance.”  Milly held a hand up toward the door.  “Did you see how rejected he looked just a few minutes ago?  He knows his returning with that announcement has put a change to our plans and that’s what we’re talking about.”

“Alright, I’m willing to listen to your idea.”  Lucas nodded.

“Tonight we’ll send him to stay the night in town.  He can come to the ranch after school and help you work, then after I feed him supper he can go back into town.”  Milly held up a hand.  “But, he has to get his homework and other studies done.”  She stated this very sternly.

“So then I’ll have you to myself every evening?” Lucas smiled as he bent his head toward her.

“And uninterrupted mornings,” Milly answered with a smile.

Lucas bent over and kissed her.  “Mrs. McCain, I think we’ve just made our first compromise.”  He kissed her again.  “Then on Friday, Mark can come home to stay.  That’ll give us time in the afternoons to talk about how he’s feeling about all this.”

“Lucas?” Milly raised her eyebrows.  “I think we better let our hungry boy inside.”

Lucas called out for Mark to come in.  Then he bent over and kissed her.  “Ahhhhhhh, I thought it was safe to come in!” Mark declared as he sat down at the table.


As they sat down to eat breakfast Mark stated, “Lou has already ordered that I’m staying in town with her.  She wants you two to have your honeymoon week without any prying eyes around.  I’m only here to do my chores and then I’m to skedaddle back to North Fork.”

Milly put a hand to her son’s face.  “Lou is a wonderful person!  She deserves somebody special…”

“Well, unless I miss my guess, Lou just may have found someone.  She danced several dances with Johnny Drako after you left last night.”

“Johnny…” Lucas laughed.  “Oh my!  Lou Mallory courting a gunfighter…”

“EX-gunfighter.”  Mark corrected and Milly smiled.

Once breakfast was eaten and dishes done, Mark walked Milly toward the barn.  She gasped when she walked into the barn and saw the buggy.  “What’s this?” she asked as she walked over and ran a hand over the newly remodeled buggy.

“That’s for you, Ma.  I fixed it up for you.”  Milly turned and stared at her son.  “Well, I knew you needed some way to get back and forth to work, and Dr. Burrage bought a new buggy, so he let me have the old one.”  Mark smiled.  “Besides, I knew you would need it for the new colt I got you.”  Mark pointed to the stall.

Milly gasped as her eye filled up with tears.  “Mark!  Oh Mark!”  She hurried over to the colt and laid  a hand on his nose.  It was a beautiful beige-colored chestnut.  Milly hugged the horses head to her.  “I’ve never had my own horse before!”

“Never?” Mark asked, surprised.  “Really?”

Milly smiled.  “Well, I…I grew up in the city, you know.  I never really…really needed a horse much.”  Milly turned and stared at her horse.  “Oh, but I’m going to love him!”

“You’ll have to come up with a name.”

“Cocoa!” Milly exclaimed.  “His name will be Cocoa!”

Mark smiled.  “I like that.  So, I don’t suppose you ever milked a cow before either?”

Milly shook her head no.

“Well, after I’m allowed to return home, full time, and if Pa’s not already taught you, I’d be more than happy to teach you,” Mark stated.

“Is that so you can get out of doing your chores?” Milly asked with a sly grin.

“No Ma’am!  It’s something practical that you’ll need to know.  Never know when Pa and I might end of up having to spend the night out on the range.”

Milly swatted at Mark’s backside and he ran ahead to the house.

Lucas waited at the open door for his family to return inside.  He showed Milly to the table where he had placed their family bible.

“Your penmanship is so much better than mine, I thought you’d like to add our marriage to the family bible,” Lucas requested.  Each took a seat as Milly made the entry and then blew over the page to help the ink dry.

The three sat at the table, gathered hands, and bowed their heads as Lucas led his family in prayer.  After Amen was said, Lucas looked up and smiled, yes, his family… the start of a new chapter in the lives of Lucas and Mark McCain.

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
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