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The Wedding
A Bring Back Milly Production
by Michelle Palmer

Chapter 14: T'was the Night Before The Wedding

Lucas put his hands on his hips as he looked the gunfighter up and down.  “What are you doing here?” he asked in surprise.

“Well, I came to offer my services.”  He held his hand out for Lucas to shake. The two men enjoyed a hearty handshake as everyone started laughing.

“Johnny Drako!” Peter hurried forward and pumped his hand.  “Johnny, I haven’t seen you since…well…since…When was the last time we saw you?”

“It’s been a long time!”  Johnny smiled at the other McCain brothers.  “I’m certainly glad to see you all together again!”  He shook each hand.  “Boy, this brings back memories of some good times!  Where’s your sisters?”

“They couldn’t make it.  Both are heavy with-child,” Peter declared.

Tom Benton hurried forward, suddenly in his marshal mode.  He didn’t know Johnny like the McCain’s and Gibbs did, and he was concerned about a gunfighter suddenly showing up.  “Johnny, what sort of services do you wish to offer?” he asked suspiciously.

“Well…” Johnny pulled out a gun and spun the cylinder.  “After seeing that article in the paper, I was afraid some gunfighters might see it fit to come ruin this special occasion for my best friend.  If there was ever a time, this would be it.  So, I thought I’d come to North Fork and offer my services.”  Tom just stared at him, still unsure of his intentions.

“Tom, uh…” Lucas hurried forward to defend his friend.  “Johnny’s quit gun fighting.  He wants to be on our side.”

“Oh?” Tom looked him up and down. “I don’t think that’s possible, Lucas.  Potter’s Field seems to be the only place gunfighters can retire to.”

“I haven’t gotten in one gunfight since I left North Fork earlier this year, Lucas.  I’ve been keeping to myself.  Had no trouble doing it so far.”  Drako looked at the McCain Brothers and Johnny Gibbs.  “You uh…may not believe this, but I’m even thinking about offering my services to the law.”

Lucas gave him a surprised look.  “You’re right!  I don’t believe it.”  Then he scratched under his nose.  “I’d be honored to accept your services, Johnny!”

“Now, wait a minute, Lucas!” Tom started.

“Oh, come on, Tom!  You remember me when we were in the war.  I was always a good, honest shot.  I never killed anyone that didn’t need killing!” Johnny declared.

“But you’ve done some killing since then!” Tom argued.

Micah stepped forward to stop the bickering.  “We could use a few good gun hands, Drako.  I have Tom and Buckhart here to help out, but I have hired some more deputies for tomorrow to guard the ranch and uh…town.”

“I’m surprised you’d let an article like this get in the paper, Lucas,” Drako declared.  “I figured you would know what such an article would bring!”

“Well uh…” Lucas scratched under his nose. “It wasn’t exactly me who did it.”

“Oh!” Johnny smiled.  “She didn’t tell you she was going to do it?  Is that it?”  Johnny shook his head.  “If my bride-to-be did something like that I’d probably explode!”

Micah choked on his beer.  Lucas rolled his eyes and turned to grab a mug from Sweeny.  “Here Johnny, have a beer!”

“What uh…Lucas isn’t telling you,” Abraham winked from behind his baby brother.  “Is that when you explode, you better make sure you aren’t a cup of dynamite going up against a barrel of dynamite like he did!” Lucas gasped as he turned to look at his brother.  “Oh uh…” Abraham laughed.  “Micah Torrance filled us in on all the details, Baby Brother!”

***

Milly turned herself around in the mirror as she studied the red dress newly purchased from the dress shop.  “What do you think?  Will Lucas like this?”

Lou stepped forward and straightened her tie in the back.  “What I think, Milly, is that you are a ravishing beauty.  We’re going to have to keep those other men away with a stick!  And as for Lucas…I may just have to tie him down to make him behave himself tonight!”

Milly smiled.  Color was in her cheeks.  Her heart was pounding out of her chest as she looked around the room.  “Well…is the photographer here yet?  He’s supposed to take our pictures!”

“Everyone is here.  Lucas is beside himself wondering why you aren’t down there yet!” Lou declared.  “He sent me up here to demand you get down there right now!”  Lou smiled.  “He’s very anxious to see you.  I think he wants reassurance that you still want to marry him.

“Oh, I do! I just…” Milly started.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door.  “Milly!” Lucas’s voice called.  “You get down here!  The preacher is ready to start the rehearsal!” Lucas ordered impatiently.

“Oh, I just love Eastern-styled wedding’s!” Lou declared.  “That’s what this old West needs!”  She turned toward the door.  “Ye just mind yourself, Lucas McCain!  Ye get on back down those stairs!  I’ll bring her to ye!”

They listened as footsteps sounded on the stairs.  “Now, you just smile and enjoy yourself!”  Lou hugged her.  “This time tomorrow night, ye will be alone with your man.”  Lou put her hands on Milly’s cheeks.  “Oh Milly, I’m…I’m so happy for ye.  I wish I could find what you have!”

“Maybe someday you will.”  Milly smiled.  “Maybe he’s here tonight!”  She smoothed her dress with her hands.  “Well…here we go!”

Milly walked to the door and opened it.  She gasped, surprised to find Lucas standing outside her door with his arms crossed.  “Lucas McCain!” Lou shook her head as she tried to keep herself from smiling.  “Well, I never!”

Lucas grinned as he walked toward his bride.  He put a hand on her cheek.  His eyes suddenly sparkled as he looked her up and down.  It was obvious he was very much enjoying the view.  “You look…ravishing!” He bent down and kissed her softly.  “You are so beautiful!” They just stared into each other’s eyes as Lucas landed another kiss on her lips.

“Lucas!” Lou called from the stairs.  “Milly!”

Lucas waved his hand for Lou to go on as he continued looking into Milly’s eyes.  “Nothing wrong with wanting a few minutes alone with you, is there?”  He stroked her cheek with his thumb as he lowered his head closer to hers.  His lips spread into a wide grin.  “I’ve hardly had anytime alone with you since…”

“Last night behind the hotel,” Milly smiled into his eyes.  She raised her head up and kissed him.  She slid her arms around his neck as she pressed on the back of his head.  Their kiss deepened.

“Hey, are we going to have to call out the fire brigade!” Johnny Drako called from the bottom of the stairs.  “You’ll have tomorrow night to be alone!”

The couple laughed into their kiss, but they didn’t stop just yet.  Lucas tightened his arms around her, enjoying the privacy.  “Mildred Scott!  You get down here!” Jenny Scott demanded.

Lucas groaned as he broke the kiss.  “I think the commander of the troops has spoken!”  He pressed his hands to her cheeks.  “I love you, Milly Scott.”

“I love you, Lucas McCain,” Milly declared passionately as she took his hand in hers.

They walked down the stairs together, hand-in-hand.  Their smiled widened at the applause they received as they, the couple of the hour, made their way down the stairs.  Milly smiled as Lucas kept an arm firmly around her waist.

“Lucas, I’m afraid I have one more surprise for you,” she announced at the bottom of the stairs.  “Bring him out.”

The door opened.  Lucas looked down at Milly as he smiled and hurried forward.  “Able!  Able Goss!”  He grasped the photographer’s hand and pumped it heartedly.

“Hello Lucas!  Mark thought that since I took wedding pictures for you and Margaret, you’d enjoy my doing the same for you and your new bride, Miss Scott.”

Lucas nodded.  “I would love nothing more!” he declared.  Milly looked up at Lucas and saw his eyes shining with tears.  He turned and looked at his bride.  “How did I get so lucky?”

Milly smiled up at him as she once again took his hand in hers.  “It is I who am the lucky one, my love.”  She led him over to the arch as Lou guided everyone into the dining room for dinner.  Able took some pictures of the blushing bride and groom as they stood under the beautifully decorated arch.  Then he included Lucas’s brothers and Milly’s mother and niece.  After the pictures were done, Milly and Lucas made their way through the crowd to discuss the ceremony with the preacher.  Reverend Gathers nodded his approval when Lucas and Milly announced they would be saying their own unrehearsed vows to each other.  He figured they would.  It wasn’t often that he saw a couple so in love.

Lucas walked his fiancée toward the dining room, but they suddenly found themselves once again standing under the arch.  They paused there and looked into each other’s eyes.  Lucas bent down and kissed his fiancée on her lips.  They were so caught up in the moment that they didn’t realize their kisses had become more than just a short peck on the lips, and people were staring at them.  Finally, Lucas put his arm around Milly’s shoulder and led her into the dining room for dinner.

The rehearsal dinner had been prepared by Anne Dodd-Taylor.  Everyone stood as Lucas and Milly came into the room.  “That sure was some kiss!” Johnny Drako declared shamelessly.  Everyone laughed as the couple blushed.

“Johnny Drako!” Lou Mallory shouted.  “Now, you behave yourself or I’ll throw ye out on your backside!”

“Careful, Lou!” Micah laughed.  “You’re talking to a gunfighter!”

“Oh gunfighter my right eye!” Lou declared as she put her hands on her hips and looked Johnny  Drako up and down.  “I can learn him a thing or two!”

Johnny smiled at her.  “I’d love to see you try!”

Milly and Lucas laughed.  “Maybe she’s finally met her match,” Lucas smiled down at her.  “I think I’d like to see her try to!”

“Lucas McCain!” Milly and Lou both declared at the same instant.  Lucas slowly sat down next to Milly.  Everyone else sat down as well.

Ann stood up next to the table of food.  She held one of her twins as he tried to wiggle free.  “I’d like to take this moment to say a few things about Lucas if I may.”  Ann licked her lips.  “I’m sure all of you in this room are very well aware of who Margaret McCain is, though some of you never met her.  She was a true gem, and Lucas and Margaret were so very much in love.  They were in love for a long time and when she died…Well, Lucas has waited a long time to remarry.  There were times he could have taken another wife as a mother for his son.  A man like him…it wouldn’t have been too hard.  But…”

Ann lowered her head as she felt her tears coming on.  “Milly, I’ve gotten to know you over the past couple of days, and I must say that you are an amazing woman to have softened up this man’s heart enough to see the kind of love he possesses.  I can see the love for each of you flowing through you.  And I made Lucas’s favorite meal tonight in honor of the love you two share.  I used to fix this when he and Margaret…and Mark…came to our house for dinner.  And this is my way of saying thank you for all those happy times that are forever etched in my memory.”

Ann stepped forward.  “Lucas McCain…this is my wedding gift to you.”

Anne filled the plates for the bride and groom and sat the food down in front of them.  Mark’s eyes grew wide when he saw the roast goose.  “What about mine?” Mark asked.

“You can get in line like everyone else!”  Anne declared with a firm nod of her head.

There was much talking and laughing as everyone filled their plates and sat down.  When they were just finishing the meal, Mark sat back and sighed contentedly.  “That was so good!” he declared.

Lou made her way over to where Mark was sitting.  “Ye can start gathering up the dishes, Mark.”

“Huh?” Mark asked.

“Oh, did ye forget that you offered to clean all these dishes so us ladies could get rested?” Mark stared at her.  “Well don’t ye remember Mark?  I know I don’t have to remind you of the conversation…”

“Oh!” Mark gulped as he stood up and started gathering the dishes.  Lucas and Milly looked at each other and raised their eyebrows.  “I’m on it, Miss Lou!”

Lou turned and smiled at Lucas and Milly.  She looked as if she was going to enjoy this very much.  “He’s also going to be cleaning up after the wedding tomorrow.”  She raised her eyebrows then walked away.

Milly turned toward Lucas.  “Do you think this has anything to do with the incident that occurred at the ranch last Saturday?”

Lucas patted her hand.  “I think, Milly, that it has everything to do with that.  I think Lou is punishing Mark for what he did.”

“You think we’ll ever find out what happened?” Milly questioned him.

“Maybe.”  Lucas finished off his pie then turned back to Milly.  “When our grandchildren tell us about the funny story their father told them.  Then we’ll know.”

They both laughed.  The ladies called Milly over to their table after that.  Milly kissed Lucas then hurried across the room to talk.  In time Milly and Lucas caught each other’s eye from across the table.  Lucas nudged his head toward the door.  Milly wiped her mouth with the napkin, then slowly stood up.  Nobody was really paying attention, and nobody saw the couple quietly slip out.

Lucas took her hand.  “You nervous?” He asked her as he led Milly out onto the boardwalk.  Milly nodded silently.  “So am I.”  They sat down.

Milly laid her head on Lucas’s shoulder.  “Are you having second thoughts?”

“About marrying you?” Lucas asked, surprised.  He lifted her head and turned to look at her.  “Never!”  He rubbed a finger against her cheek.  “Milly Scott, I love you.”  His heart beat faster as she stared at him.  “Tomorrow, I’ll make you my wife.”

Milly lowered her eye lashes.  Then she laid her head back on his shoulder and sighed.  “Everything’s been so…crazy!  I’ve been pretty terrible these last three weeks, Lucas.”

“Yeah, well I haven’t exactly been a picnic to be around either,” Lucas declared as he again lifted her head and kissed her softly.  “But I’ll make it all up to you…very soon.” He gave her an impish grin.  Milly blushed.

They sat there just holding hands on the porch to the hotel.  The lobby inside grew quiet as people began going up to their rooms.  Milly and Lucas watched as those staying elsewhere filtered out the doors and made their way down the street.  Nobody stopped to bother the couple, because they knew they were focused on each other and the big day.  Finally, Milly yawned.  “I need to get you inside, my love,” Lucas mumbled as he lifted her face to his and kissed her.  Then he stood up.  He took her hands and lifted her to her feet.  He turned to her just outside the door to the hotel.  “I’ll leave you one last time.  After tonight, there will be no more leaving you at the door.  Tomorrow night, we’ll be together.  Tomorrow night, my sweet Mil, I’ll take you…home.”

Milly’s face lit up at the sound of that.  She bit her lip.  “I can’t wait!” Milly said as she once again drew her arms around him.  Lucas bent his head down and kissed her passionately one last time.  Then their lips parted and Lucas released her.  “Tomorrow I’ll make you Mrs. Milly McCain.”

She smiled as she watched Lucas step off the boardwalk and make his way out of town to the ranch where, no doubt, his friends and brothers, whom he had seen slip out at some point in the evening, were doing some heavy celebrating.

Milly slowly stood and wrapped an arm around the post.  “Goodbye, my love.  Tomorrow we’ll start our life together…as husband…and wife!”

***

T'was the night before the wedding, and all through North Fork
Not a gunman was found, not even an outlaw;

The hotel was all decorated for the big event,
And even the barn for which away things were sent;

The citizens were nestled all snug in their beds,
Save the wedding couple with thoughts in their heads;

And Milly in her nightgown, and Lucas in his pants,
Had tried to settle down to rest for the events,

When outside her window the moon was shining bright,
Milly stood from her bed and knew she was up for the night.

Away to the window Lucas flew like a flash,
He suddenly became fearful he’d oversleep, then to North Fork he’d have to dash.

The moon shone on the balcony where she did stand
as she thought about the event that was now at hand,

When, what to his wondering eyes should appear,
But his son, with a grin that was so dear,

with a sparkle in his eye and a grin on his face,
a hand on his shoulder and back to bed he did chase.

Faster than bullets, her thoughts they came,
And she thought of all that needed done and said them by name;

"Now, bathing! now, Combing! now, Dressing and Primping!
On, Wedding! on Reception! on, home and Romancing!

To the top of the porch! to the bottom of the floor!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away dirt!"

As she thought about the day the wild images fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, how will they get by,

So into the new bedroom one final time he flew,
to make sure everything was ready and tidy too.

And then, in a twinkling, he thought of the next day
When he’d marry his bride and take her away.

As she thought of that moment, turning around,
Off the balcony and down the stairs she came with a bound.

He would be dressed all tidy and neat,
From the top of his head to the bottom of his feet;

A ring on their fingers each one would slide,
As their eyes locked and their love did abide.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! His lips how they smiled!
As he said “I DO” her heart would beat wild!

His lips would press together as he waited for her,
Then soon her words of “I Do” would occur;

Then their lips would join as they became one,
and they would turn, as they smiled, oh this is so much fun;

Then at the reception food they would eat,
as everyone enjoyed the couple at the feast.

Wedding traditions would occur throughout the night,
and the restless children would begin to fight;

Then the bouquet of flowers she would throw,
to an unsuspecting future bride down below;

Laughter would sound as he took her in his arms,
And rice they would throw as their voices warms,

Then he kissed her one last time on the lips so dear,
As everyone hollered and waved and cheered;

He called to the horses and slowly rode away,
as his bride is finally beside him after the long day.

And the men exclaimed as they rode out of sight,
Congratulations!  And have a good NIGHT

***

Neither Lucas nor Milly got much sleep that last night.  Both lay in bed for a long time thinking about the other.  They tossed and turned, but neither was able to allow sleep to come.  Eventually, they both got up from their bed.  One walked into the couple’s kitchen, the other made her way down into Lou’s private kitchen to make some coffee.

Lucas opened the front door and looked up at the night sky.  He stared at the stars thinking about holding his beloved in his arms the following day.  “Pa?”  Lucas turned to see Mark buttoning his pants as he came to stand in the doorway.  “You should be in bed, Pa.  You have a big day tomorrow.”

Lucas sat down on the steps and sighed.  “I didn’t sleep the eve of my first wedding, son.  I suspect this one will be no different.”

“Why?”  Mark sat down beside him.  “What are you thinking about?”

Lucas turned and looked into his son’s eyes.  He smiled as he put his arm around Mark’s shoulders.  “Everything.  Our lives are about to change, son.  Tomorrow night I’ll be brining my wife home, and she’ll be here to stay.  Every other time, she’s gone home and it was just the two of us.”  Lucas smiled.  “Tonight is the last night it’s just ‘us.’”

“Are you…having second thoughts?” Mark asked.

Lucas smiled.  “Milly asked me the same thing earlier tonight.”  Lucas sighed.  “No son, I’m not having second thoughts, but I’m concerned about you I guess.”  Lucas turned and looked at Mark.  “We’ve always been close, son.  It’s been the two of us and I’m just worried that…”

“Pa,” Mark stopped him.  “I love Milly!  I’m ready for her to move in with us and take care of us.  I know things will be different.  I mean, tonight we can sit out here on the porch and talk, but next week…will I be able to do this?  I think Milly knows we are close and I think she’ll still give us the space we need.  Actually, I’m hoping she’ll join us here, on the porch.  I remember a few times, when Ma would sit out on the porch with you and I’d sneak from my bed and you’d let me sit on your lap, until I fell asleep.”

Lucas smiled as the memory.  “I hope so too, son.  I guess I’m just nervous.”

“About tomorrow night?” Lucas turned and looked at Mark.  He was being serious.  Lucas nodded.  “From what you’ve told me about…well, you know…it’s a wonderful time for the man and woman to come together and show each other their love, Pa.  Are you afraid she’ll…” Mark stopped.  He wasn’t really prepared to have this conversation with his father.

“I guess we both are, son.  It’s not just what happens on the wedding night.  It’s…She’s going to know everything about me.  What if she doesn’t…I mean I wonder if…” Lucas rubbed a hand against the back of his neck.

“Did you have these same thoughts with Ma?” Mark asked then.  Lucas nodded.  “And how did that turn out?”

Lucas smiled.  “Our wedding night was perfect, son.  So was the night after that and the night after that…We had a few adjustments to make, but we learned to adjust and…” Lucas sighed.  He shook his head at his son.  “When did you get to be so smart?”

Mark smiled.  “From listening to you, Pa.”  Mark put an arm on his father’s shoulder.  “Can we go back to bed now?”

Father and son stood up and went back into their house.  Lucas hoped sleep would come to him.

***

Milly opened the back door to the kitchen and stepped out.  She too looked up at the stars, thinking about tomorrow.  Tomorrow, Lucas McCain would give her his name.  Tomorrow night, he’d take her in his arms with no more holding back.

“Can’t sleep?” Milly turned to see her mother standing behind her.  “Are you nervous?”

Milly nodded.  “I’m nervous about so many things, Mother.”  Milly bit her lip.  “I’m shaking.”

“You wouldn’t be a normal bride if you weren’t nervous.”  Jenny sat down on the step outside the back door.  “You know…When I was standing outside my father’s house that last night, I wondered if I could just run back home after the wedding and postpone that night.”

“Why?”

Jenny shook her head.  “Ignorance, I guess.  I hadn’t ever been on my own.  I wondered…what if I didn’t cook his supper right?  What if when I got up the next morning, I didn’t do what he expected?  What if I didn’t clean house right or…” Jenny smiled.

“I worry about those things too, Mother.  I don’t want Mark to hate me and think I’ve taken his father from him.”

“Milly, Mark is a very sweet boy.  I don’t think he’d ever think that!”  Jenny laid a hand on her daughter’s hand.  “Mark loves you.”

“But it’s always been him and his father…Well, at least for the last nine years.  What if he doesn’t get the attention he needs?”

“You’ll have to work with it, Milly.  You will have to find times to give Lucas and Mark time alone.  They work together out on the range so they’ll have time then.  They may not have those late night talks on the front porch or wherever they talk, but…they’ll make adjustments.”  Milly looked straight ahead as she thought about that.  Jenny put her arm around her daughter.  “Milly, marriage…rather there are children involved or not…is a lot of work.  It’s not going to be easy to adjust, or even to live together twenty years from now.  But as long as you talk and tell your husband what bothers you, you can weather any storm.”

“What if I…” Milly allowed her thoughts to die.

“Go on, Milly.”  Milly shook her head as she blushed.  Jenny smiled.  “What if you disappoint him?”  Jenny laughed.  “Milly, let me give you some advice.  Everything will take adjustments and learning.  You’ll find out he doesn’t like the way you fix certain foods…or maybe he’d rather you do his laundry on a certain day.  Or maybe he wants to talk to you alone in the morning before things get busy instead of every night after things calm down.  You’ll learn these things as you go.  You both are worried about disappointing the other, so you won’t fail.”

“You think so?” Milly asked.

Jenny nodded.  “I know so!”  She smiled.  “Milly, you are afraid of disappointing him.  I know you are thinking about your wedding night.”  Milly blushed as she looked away.  “Am I right?”  Milly turned back toward her mother and nodded.  “Like everything else, love making isn’t something that’s perfected the first time.  You learn, over time, how to do it better.  But you love each other and that’s what matters.”  Jenny smiled as she smoothed Milly’s hair from her face.  “If you think that he expects it to be perfect, you’re wrong.”

“But he’s…” Milly closed her eyes.  This was so intimate, she hated talking about this.

“Experienced?” Jenny smiled again.  “Honey, he learned that experience from his first wife.  The experience with you will be completely different.  This is like a whole new experience for him as well.  Honey, marriage is the most amazing experience, but love making is a very small part of that marriage.  Important, yes…But only one of a million other things that will make your marriage happy.”

Milly smiled.  “Now, how about if I get you back to your room.  You just think about something else and don’t worry about the small stuff.”

Though the remainder of the night was long and restless for the couple, they managed to rest.  They were both very happy when the sun began to peak over the mountain.  The day they had been waiting for had finally dawned!

The Wedding — The Groom is Missing


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

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