The Rifleman
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Fan Fiction

The Margaret Years
 
Chapter 2 - The Dance
Written by Michelle Palmer
 
As the moon shone high in the sky that April morning, the majority of Enid, Oklahoma was asleep. A horse neighed softly in the barn where Lucas McCain slept, but he was used to it by now, so the horse’s neigh went unnoticed. Meanwhile, in the house Baby Willie woke up and begged his mother to be fed, a task which she lovingly did as she softly hummed him back to sleep as her husband and daughter slept on.
 
High upon the hill, Abe slept with Julie in his arms, in their home.  Six children slept peacefully as well. And in Jeremiah’s house, Jeremiah sat at his daughter, Abby’s, side and soothed her from her recent nightmare.
 
Further down the street was another family. The moon shone on the porch where one young woman sat. She could see the first small rays trying to make their peek over the mountain, but not quite succeeding yet. Margaret rested her head against the post and wrapped her arms around herself as she shivered. Today was the day. She knew this would indeed be a turning point in her life.
 
The door opened behind her. Margaret turned to see Beth quietly step from the door and sit down beside her. “What time is it?”
 
“Well, judging from that sky over there, I’d say it’s just past five in the morning,” Margaret answered with a small smile.
 
“Can’t sleep?”
 
Margaret laughed. “I suppose I am a bit excited.”
 
“The dance isn’t until tonight.” Beth laid her head on Margaret’s shoulder. “I remember the last dance you and Luke went to together. It was in the McCain’s barn…Remember that?”
 
Margaret closed her eyes and allowed herself to be transformed back in time. The smells, the sights, the sounds…The only thing that spoiled her night was knowing in mere hours she’d have to say goodbye to Lucas and watch him slowly ride away. She only had eyes for one man that night, and that man was Lucas McCain. They had danced so freely and lovingly. His arms stayed around her until finally, he softly whispered in her ear that he wanted to be alone with her…Alone so they could share the last few kisses before he left.
 
“I’ll never forget how you looked…” Beth smiled now. “It was just you and Luke out there. We all watched, mesmerized at how beautifully the both of you danced. Never had we seen two people more in love…” Beth smiled. “Are you going to let him kiss you tonight?”
 
Margaret suddenly lifted her head from the post. “Well now, that will be telling something!” she declared. “That’s between me and Luke!”
 
“You are!” Beth declared. “You are indeed going to let him kiss you!”
 
“What about you? What’s the name of the fellow you’ll be going with?”
 
“Oh…Roger can’t take me. He got me in too late last night and Scott was awful sore…” Beth shook her head. “Honestly! Scott treats me like I’m still a child. Doesn’t he know I’m twenty years old?”
 
Margaret laughed. “In years maybe, my dear sister.” She yawned. “I think I’ll fix a big batch of biscuits and gravy for breakfast!” She hurried inside and went to the kitchen.
 
Beth hurried in after her. “At five o’clock in the morning? You’ll wake up the…”
 
Suddenly, a baby’s cry sounded from the bedroom Scott and Amanda shared. “No…I think Baby Andy will take care of that for us!”
 
***
 
The sun eventually DID come up. Margaret spent the first part of her morning doing laundry. As she did so, a horse rode into the yard. A tall man dressed in black stepped from his horse and sashayed over to her. He gave her a crooked smile as he took the cigar from his mouth and took off his black hat with the silver band. “Miss Gibbs…”
 
“Mr. Jones…” Margaret nodded her head and smiled as she hung the washed undergarment on the line. “What brings you here so early in the morning?”
 
“Well now…I just arrived in town last night and I heard tell about a fine dance that will be taking place tonight.”
 
“Yes.” Margaret turned and smiled at him. “I heard the same thing.”
 
“Yes…Well, I was thinking that it’s been an awful long time since you went dancing, and it would be an honor if you would accompany me to the dance tonight.”
 
Margaret smiled as she turned back to her wash tub. She used the back of her hand to wipe some stray hairs from her forehead. “I’m sure it would be nice, but…I’ve already accepted another invitation.”
 
“Oh?” Lariat took another puff off his cigar and allowed the smoke to slowly roll from his lips. “Who asked you?”
 
Margaret prepared herself for the explosion that would soon happen. “Lucas McCain.”
 
“Lu…” Lariat suddenly threw down his cigar and hurried closer to her. “Are you telling me that that little imp came back for you?” Margaret nodded. “And you took him back? Just like…” Lariat snapped his fingers.
 
Margaret sighed. “No, Mr. Jones…I didn’t.”
 
“Call me Lariat.”
 
“Wouldn’t be proper!” Margaret declared. “Even if you do have my brother’s permission to call on me…I just cannot allow you to get your hopes up! I’m sorry.”
 
“Your mind’s made up?”
 
Margaret nodded. “I’m sorry, Mr. Jones. I’m going to marry Luke.”
 
Lariat shook his head at her announcement. He lifted his eyebrows as the crooked smile returned to his face. “He’s a lucky man…” His smiled widened. “Well now…I must say that comes as no big shock to me, Miss Gibbs.” Lariat placed his hat back on his head. “I could have made you very happy.”
 
“You’re a gambler, Mr. Jones.”
 
“A skilled gambler, Miss Gibbs. There’s a difference.”
 
“Card tricks and sitting in smoky saloons while taking money from families because men have nothing better to do with their time…” Margaret shook her head. “That’s not the life for me, Mr. Jones.”
 
“You’d rather scrub floors and take care of babies…work alongside your husband in the fields? Is that the sort of life a woman as beautiful as you deserves, Margaret? Why…you’ll be old by thirty!”
 
“Miss Gibbs,” Margaret corrected him. “Well then, Mr. Jones…” Margaret turned to hang another garment on the line. “That’s the life I’ve chosen.” She watched Lariat ride from the yard and wished him well.
 
When the laundry was done, Margaret went to ask Scott to put the bathtub to her room. She was in the mood for a good soaking. The entire family would be going to the dance tonight, but everyone knew this dance would indeed be special for Margaret. As Amanda helped Margaret wash her hair, she reminded her that the dance was to celebrate Ann’s pregnancy…not to celebrate Lucas’ homecoming.
 
Margaret grew nervous as she patted her hair with the towel and sat in front of the mirror with fresh undergarments on. She wondered how she should wear her hair tonight. She toyed with her hair for several minutes before a knock sounded on the door. “Who is it?”
 
“It’s Emily!” Margaret ordered Emily to come in. Emily held out a box to her as she hurried forward. “Your dress for the party arrived! I hurried it out here as quickly as I could.” Emily sat down on the bed as Margaret opened the box. “I fear Jason will give me a good tongue lashing when I get back into town. He…watched me race out of town on the horse.” Margaret stared at the dress that lay neatly folded in the box. She looked up at Emily and put her hands to her mouth. “Oh…it’s beautiful!”
 
Margaret’s eyes grew wide as she lifted the dress from the box and held it out against her. She hurried to the mirror and studied herself. “But…I didn’t order this dress!”
 
The dress was white and had a print of red roses all over it. The sleeves were puffed and short. The neckline hung just a bit lower than any dress she had worn, and she wondered what her brother would think when he saw her in it. “The color…goes perfectly with your cheeks,” Emily declared as she stood behind Margaret and smiled.
 
Margaret looked into the mirror at Emily’s face. Then she turned and shook her head. “Oh, but I didn’t…”
 
“No. You didn’t order it.” Emily smiled. “Luke asked me to deliver it to you this morning.”
 
“Luke…Luke bought this for me?” Margaret blushed at the mere thought of Lucas spending so much money on a dress for her. “Why…he shouldn’t do that until…until we’re married!”
 
“Jason bought me dresses and such before we were married.” Emily smiled. “Just let Luke have his romantic fun. Enjoy it while it lasts. It won’t last for long!”
 
“Oh Emily…” Margaret felt her eyes fill with tears. “Emily…It’s almost…almost too beautiful to wear!”
 
“You’ll be the most beautiful woman there,” Emily stated.
 
“Then maybe…maybe I shouldn’t wear it!”
 
“What’s this?” Emily asked as she slowly stood up and stared at Margaret. “Why shouldn’t you?”
 
“This is Ann’s affair! She’s the hostess…she should have her moment!”
 
Emily giggled. “I’ve a feeling Ann’s moment will be watching you and Luke on the dance floor. She wants it so badly!” Emily turned and walked toward the door. “Well…I must get back to town. I’m sure Jason’s thinking up all sorts of reasons to give me about why I shouldn’t ride my horse the way I did.” She hugged Margaret. “I cannot wait to see you in this dress!”
 
Margaret turned and stared in the mirror. She still couldn’t believe she was going to get to wear such a beautiful dress. But she felt guilty because she knew how dear the price came to Lucas. She would have to talk to him sternly, but kindly, and tell him he couldn’t spend his money on such exquisite gifts. He just cannot afford it! She went back to the bed and noticed a piece of folded paper sitting in the box. Margaret picked it up and opened it.
 
My Love,
 
I cannot wait to see you in this dress this afternoon. When I saw it in the dress shop, I knew it was the one for you. Wear it proudly, and don’t worry about the money. Always know that I love you!
 
Lucas McCain
 
As Margaret sat to eat lunch she couldn’t even concentrate. The food just sat in her throat and didn’t agree to go down. Finally, she stood and declared she had to get ready for the dance. Lucas would be coming for her at three o’clock sharp and she had to make sure she was ready! But as she sat down at the mirror, she still had no idea how to do her hair. Another knock sounded on the door and Amanda hurried in. She helped Margaret decide on her hair. They’d do a half bun, then let her hair splash down around her face. Amanda worked and worked to get her hair perfect.
 
Jennifer came in as Amanda was just finishing up. She assured Margaret her hair looked wonderful. Then she held out a box to her. Margaret took it and opened it. She shot a hand to her chest as she stared at the necklace that sat inside. It had a diamond pendant and was so beautiful! “Mother…”
 
“Your father gave that to me a long time ago.” Jennifer smiled as she helped her daughter with the clasp. “I haven’t worn it in a long time. I was saving it for a day like this…And I think this is a very special day.” She gave Margaret a backwards hug.
 
It was two o’clock. Margaret had just an hour to finish getting ready. She went to the bed and ran her hand over the dress, so excited to be putting it on. Slowly, she lifted it and stepped into it. Amanda helped her button the dress up her back. She wore hoops under her dress, which made it look fuller and really added beauty to the dress. Margaret saw a bit of neckline exposed and wasn’t sure it was proper, but her sister-in-law assured her that at the age of twenty-two, it was indeed proper for Margaret to wear such a dress.
 
Margaret could feel her heart beating at 2:30. She pressed her lips together and spun around in the mirror as she assessed every inch of herself. She was ready! Lucas would be here in thirty minutes!
 
***
 
Peter came inside and whistled when he saw Lucas slicking his hair down in the mirror. “Now, that’s a nice suit!” he declared.
 
“Bought it new just the other day!” Lucas declared. He took a deep breath. “Oh boy…I’m so nervous!”
 
“You act as if you’re going to propose to her or something!” Peter declared.
 
“Oh no I’m not!” Lucas shook his head. “But I MUST make this really special. I have a lot of making up to do…”
 
Tiffany handed Peter the baby and came to stand in front of Lucas. “Well, you must get your tie straight!” She straightened his tie then brushed off his jacket. “There.” She smiled as she stepped back. Peter put an arm around her. “Peter, I do wish you could look this nice at the dance tonight!”
 
“Yes dear.”
 
Lucas chuckled. The door opened and Laura rushed in with a huge bouquet of flowers. “Julie said that next time you best decide to bring Margaret flowers in advance! She cut her finger twice on a thorn cutting these roses!”
 
Lucas chuckled. “You just tell Julie thank you very much.” Lucas sighed. “Well…here I go!”
 
Abe had helped Lucas rent a surrey from the livery. It was beige in color and had a fringe running around the top. The pony that pulled it was white as buttermilk. He hoped he wouldn’t stir up too much dust as he traveled. “Oh, Lucas!” Lucas paused with his foot on the footrest and turned to look at Tiffany who was carrying the basket out to him. “Don’t forget your picnic!”
 
Lucas smiled his thanks then climbed into the seat and softly clucked to the horse.
 
***
“He’s coming! He’s coming!” Beth announced from the living room window. “Margaret, he’s here!”
 
Margaret pinched her cheeks again and smoothed out her dress. “Mama…Mama!” Margaret cried in a panic as she hurried into the living room. “Mama, check the back once more! Make sure there are no wrinkles!”
 
A knock sounded on the door. Scott started to cross the room to open it. “Don’t open it!” Margaret hissed as she waited for her mother to finish the inspection. Margaret took another big sigh. “Oh dear…what have I forgotten?”
 
“Nothing! You’re beautiful!” Amanda declared as the knock sounded again.
 
Scott went to open the door. He didn’t open it far, but put his one arm on the door, and the other on the doorframe as he looked Lucas up and down. “Well, well, well…Please tell me you aren’t planning on getting married!”
 
“Ha ha!” Lucas declared. “Can I come in?”
 
Scott opened the door wider and stepped out of his way. Lucas took one step inside, but then froze when his eye caught site of his date. He stared at her toes and looked all the way up to her face. Without thinking, he let out a long, slow whistle. “Well now…” Lucas whipped off his hat. “If you ain’t the prettiest gal I’ve ever seen…”
 
Margaret blushed. “Do you like it?” She fluffed out her dress.
 
Lucas nodded his head as his smile widened. “You look…absolutely…breathtaking…” Scott cleared his throat from behind him. “You are beautiful!”
 
“I’m ready to go!” Margaret declared. “The dance starts at seven and it takes us an hour to get there.”
 
Margaret reached for her cape, but Lucas grabbed it from her and put it around her. He took her arm and led her out to the surrey. Margaret threw her hands to her mouth and gasped. “Oh Lucas!” She picked up the flowers that sat on the seat waiting for her and cradled them in her arms. She put her nose into them and inhaled the fragrance. “They are beautiful!”
 
“I know you love flowers,” Lucas answered. “I wanted to make sure you had a bunch of different kinds.”
 
Lucas helped Margaret into the seat and softly clucked to the horses. The Dodd ranch was an hour’s ride from the Gibbs’ Ranch with a normal pace. At the pace they were going, it could be nearly five before they arrived. “Lucas, if we want to talk to Mr. Morgan, we best hurry.”
 
“I’m not taking to Mr. Morgan tonight, honey.” Lucas took her hand and squeezed it.
 
“You’re not?”
 
“Well…maybe if he comes to the dance…but not about the land.” Lucas turned and smiled at her. “Tonight I want it to be about us, Margaret. Just you and me.” Lucas smiled into her eyes. “We’ll have a picnic on that small hill on the land. And we can talk until the dance…but they’ll be no business today.”
 
“Speaking of business…” Margaret looked down at her dress. “Thank you for this.”
 
“Thank you for wearing it. I wasn’t sure you would…I hoped...”
 
“I just can’t believe it!” Margaret cleared her throat. “Lucas…”
 
Lucas held up his hand. “Oh no! Don’t you dare ruin this moment with a lecture, Margaret Gibbs!”
 
“But Lucas!”
 
“I’ll not have it, ya hear? I bought you that dress because I wanted to. I want no lecture on saving my money for more practical things! I won’t hear of it!”
 
Margaret smiled. “Alright, Luke.” She squeezed his hand. “Thank you.”
 
They quieted as Lucas continued driving the horse down the path slowly. Margaret laid her head on Luke’s shoulder and sighed contentedly. She looked down at the flowers still sitting on her lap. “I love flowers…” she mumbled.
 
“I know.” Lucas nudged his shoulder for her to look up at him. “And I love you.”
 
“For a man who hasn’t been around women for a few years, you certainly are speaking to my heart. You sure you didn’t have some sort of woman friend while you were gone?”
 
“Well…” Lucas smiled. “There was this crazy woman. She really liked me and I kept telling her I wanted nothing to do with her. Somehow she got it in her head that I wanted to marry her.”
 
Margaret lifted her eyebrows at Lucas. “Oh?”
 
“Yeah. I met her when I was helping with some cattle in Dillon, CO. She was a sight! Her father was filthy rich and she was used to getting whatever she wanted.”
 
“Oh…” Margaret toyed with the ribbon on her bouquet. “And uh…how did you come to meet this…this…woman?”
 
“I sold some cattle to her father. She was there when I came to meet with him, then she started following me everywhere I went.”
 
“Oh?” Margaret felt a twinge of jealousy creep over her. “And did you uh…think she was pretty?”
 
“I suppose she was…” Lucas stopped and straightened up as he slowed the horses down. “I mean, she was nowhere near as pretty as you are, my love.”
 
“Hm…” Margaret mumbled. “The way you’d talk, one would think I was the prettiest girl in the whole world.”
 
“You are.” Lucas lifted his eyebrows. As Margaret stared into his eyes, she knew he was being sincere. She merely smiled.
 
“So about this woman…” Margaret toyed with the ribbon some more as she tried to act casual about this. “What was her name?”
 
“I believe her name was Nora,” Lucas answered. “She was a sight…”
 
“Oh?” Margaret raised an eyebrow and glanced sideways at Lucas. “A sight?”
 
Lucas smiled as he looked at her. “I do believe your jealous, Margaret Gibbs!”
 
Margaret held up her hand and started to deny it. “Maybe a little bit. But I recall a time when you were jealous of me too. Like when Lariat Jones tried to dance with me at the dance before you returned to the war?”
 
“Oh yeah…” Lucas grumbled. “He’s a lot better looking than me. He could give you the things you want.”
 
“As a matter of fact...” Margaret smiled. “I saw him just this morning.”
 
“Oh?” Margaret smiled when she heard the same hint of jealousy in his voice.
 
“Did you know he asked Scott if he could call on me?” Lucas shook his head as he started the horse back in motion. “And this morning, he came to ask me to the dance.”
 
“Yes? And what did you tell him?” Lucas stared straight ahead.
 
“Well…I told him I was promised to another.”
 
“Promised?” Margaret smiled. “So you sent him on his way?”
 
“He told me he could give me a wonderful life…one that I’d be accustomed to. He didn’t think I should have to scrub floors and take care of children…work in the fields…”
 
“You won’t work in the fields…not if I have anything to say about it,” Lucas declared sternly.
 
“Lucas, calm down! I chose you already. There’s no one else I’d rather go with.” Margaret smiled. “I’m so glad you’re back.”
 
“Oh?” Lucas grinned. “So is my punishment over?”
 
Margaret sat up and turned to look down the road. “We’ll see…”
 
It took about an hour and a half for the young couple to arrive at the land. Lucas pulled his horse and surrey off the road and parked at the edge of the land that he hoped to someday own. After climbing down, he turned and swung Margaret down. They stared into each other’s eyes. Margaret read something new in his eyes. She blushed and looked away, not quite sure what the look was trying to tell her.
 
Lucas turned and lifted the picnic basket and blanket from the surrey. Margaret lifted her dress as they made their way across the field to the spot where Lucas wanted them to sit. “I should have waited to put this dress on,” Margaret commented.
 
“Oh no you shouldn’t have!” Lucas argued. “I could just stare at you all night!”
 
Margaret helped him spread out the blanket. She carefully sat down and opened the basket. “My…my…for a bachelor, you sure do have quite a lunch here.”
 
“You know I didn’t think this whole thing up on my own,” Lucas mumbled as he suddenly felt self-conscience. “In fact, I had a long talk with Julie and Abe this morning. They…”
 
Margaret bent over and pressed a finger to his lips. “No…don’t!” Margaret shook her head. “You don’t have to say a word, Luke. I know you didn’t think up the dress and the flowers and the surrey…all by yourself, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that you went through so much work to make this evening special. I don’t want to know who you talked to and what they told you. I just want to enjoy tonight.”
 
Margaret clasped his hands and bowed her head. When Lucas didn’t say anything, she quickly uttered a blessing out then handed him a sandwich. “This is so beautiful!” she declared as she took a bite from her sandwich.
 
“The sandwich?”
 
“No, silly!” Margaret giggled. “The land! She turned to look out across the road. “From here you can see Ann’s house, but in every other direction, you can’t see anything. It’s so isolated…so secluded…so….”
 
“You don’t like it?”
 
“I love it, Luke!” She sat down her sandwich and took his hands in hers. “All these years you’ve been gone…there’s been many times when I rode out here and I just stood and looked over the land. I wondered if you would ever buy it. I wondered if you’d ever…”
 
“…come back?” Lucas finished for her. He dropped his sandwich and put a hand under her chin. “Margaret…” Lucas mumbled as he lifted her head. “My sweet…sweet…” His words died in his throat as they stared into each other’s eyes. He shook his head and picked his sandwich back up. “I have plans for you later, my love. You must wait only a bit longer.” He finished off his sandwich then stood up. “Just like I have plans for this land.”
 
Lucas bent over and grabbed her hand. Pulling her to stand up beside him, he pointed to the ground at his feet. “This is where I’m going to build the house.” He ran a bit to the left and pointed to the ground. “And this will be our barn.” Then he moved a bit to the right again. “And here’s the well where we can draw all our water”
 
“Lucas!” Margaret laughed.
 
“Wait!” Lucas hurried to a large oak tree. “I’m going to hang a swing from here, and every day you come on out here and swing!” Lucas ran back to her and grabbed her hands. “And when the time comes, I’ll build on to our small house to fit those ten children you want to have!”
 
“These are just dreams, Luke!” Margaret declared as her eyes filled with tears.
 
 
“Margaret Gibbs, I’m going to marry you some day! I told you that a long time ago. Remember?”


“Just before you headed back to war. You had to come by the house and see me once more. You told me then…and many times since. But…” Margaret turned her back to Lucas. “It’s been a long time and we’re still not married.”
 
“I know!” Lucas hurried up to her. “I know, my sweet Margaret! I’m a fool…a stupid fool for ever leaving you! But…” Lucas dropped to his knees. “I’m here now. And now’s what matters. I’ve never wanted anything as badly as I want to marry you.” He quickly stood up. “And I’ll ask you…when the time’s right, I’ll ask you so you be thinking of the answer!”
 
“I wish…” Margaret started.
 
Lucas put a finger to her lips. “Hush, honey. I know what you want, but I have to get things ready. I have to finish plowing the field, then buy the land and…Oh Margaret, when I propose to you, it’s going to be special and sincere! There’s going to be no half-way! Before I do anything, I’ll get your brother’s permission. I’ll buy you a ring and I’ll promise you the moon if I have to. Please…Please honey…just be patient with me.”
 
“I will, Luke…Oh, I will!”
 
Margaret suddenly turned toward the road when she saw a wagon drive past. “Oh, it’s the girls arriving to help Ann.” Margaret had promised Ann she’d help get ready for the dance. Lucas, in turn, had agreed to assist Hal with setting up for the dance. Lucas wrapped his arm around Margaret’s shoulders and they made their way to the Dodd’s.
 
***
The band had arrived. Several area men with fiddles and guitars, banjos and even harmonicas had organized a whole evening of music. At seven o’clock the men were in their places. Lucas went into the Dodd house to fetch his date. Arm-in-arm, they made their way to the barn, which was made wide open for the occasion. Margaret and Lucas smiled at their family members who had arrived. Hal stood up on the platform and held up his hands. “May I have your attention please?”
 
The room grew quiet. Everyone turned toward Hal. He cleared his throat. “Honey, come on up here.” He held out his hand and helped Ann up onto the platform with him. “Two weeks ago, Ann told me that she was expecting our first child. As you know, I love to throw parties, even when I have nothing to celebrate. Well, tonight, I’m throwing this party to celebrate the upcoming birth of our first child…girl or boy…” Hal turned to look at Ann. He took her hands in his. “The day you delivered the news…you made me the happiest man alive…”
 
Margaret and Lucas each reached out for the other’s hand. Lucas squeezed her hand tight as they imagined their own future as husband and wife. Slowly, they turned their faces to look at each other. Lucas winked down at her and nodded his head.
 
“…even if you can’t tell…” Hal finished as he patted Ann’s belly. Ann blushed and waved him off. “Well, what are you waiting for! This is a party! Let’s dance!”
 
Loud cheering came over the crowd gathered in the barn. Lucas, still holding Margaret’s hand, made his way out of the barn and turned toward her. “May I have this dance…Miss Gibbs?”
 
Margaret smiled in surprise when he held his arms in the appropriate stance to dance with her. They both giggled as the stared at the other, remembering the first dance they had gone to when they were only 14 years old. “I reckon this is the first time you got it right, Mr. McCain!” Margaret declared as she walked into his arms. She continued to look into his eyes as he began slowly moving her around with the music.  “I’ve missed you.”
 
They danced the dance, never taking their eyes off of the other. Margaret’s eyes shone with unshed tears as she allowed Lucas to lead. When the dance number stopped, a slower tune began. “Well now…I think this requires you to get a bit closer…” Lucas whispered in her ear as he wrapped an arm around her and pulled her into his arms. “I’ve missed this…” Lucas whispered as they slowly danced. Margaret put her arms around him and laid her head against his chest. “You don’t know how many nights I laid awake remembering it just like this…”
 
Margaret couldn’t say a word. She just allowed her heart to speak silently as she closed her eyes and savored the moment. She could hear his rapid heart beating as her head laid against his chest. The tears in her eyes began falling down her face as they danced. The tune ended too quickly. The moment it ended, Lucas pushed her away from him. His eyes held concern when he saw the tears on her cheeks. “Margaret?”
 
“Oh Luke…I’m so happy…So very, very happy!” Margaret cried.
 
Lucas looked up when he saw Scott hurry up to them. “Luke…can I see you for a minute?”
 
Margaret hesitated in releasing Lucas’ hands from hers, but Lucas gave her a reassuring smile that he’d be back in a minute. She stood outside the barn and watched as the two spoke. Then Lucas nodded and hurried back to her. “What was that about?”
 
“I’ll tell you later,” Lucas answered as he took her arm and led her into the barn. “Would you like some punch?”
 
She couldn’t tell from his voice rather the talk was good or bad. She knew Scott was going to announce his permission for them to court, but Lucas’ voice held so much emotion…what if Scott had…”Well?”
 
“What?” Margaret suddenly looked up at Lucas. She hadn’t heard a word he said.
 
“Do you want some punch?”
 
“Oh…Yes, please.” She took the cup from him and sipped on it. “Lucas….”
 
The Marshal announced that a square dance would start. Lucas wiggled his eyebrows up and down and grinned at her. “That’s our cue. You want to join in?”
 
“I want to watch.” Margaret always enjoyed watching the men square dance together. All four McCain brothers lined up and got ready to dance. The way Enid did their square dances, the men would always end up dancing with each other. It was a fun time for the families.
 
“So…” Margaret turned to see Ann standing beside her. “I see you two are on the right path.” She smiled. “Hal and I saw you picnicking up on that land. Is Luke going to buy it?”
 
Margaret blushed. “He’s already built the house and barn in his head. Even has a swing in the oak tree for me. I think he’s going to talk to Mr. Morgan very soon.”
 
“What about getting married? Any plans there?”
 
Margaret blushed again. “He says he wants to marry me. But he’s waiting for the right time to ask me.”
 
“What is it with men anyhow?” Ann shook her head. “Whatever you do…don’t do a long engagement! Hal and I made that mistake twice, and it took three different dates for us to get married.”
 
“Oh Ann…” Margaret rolled her eyes. “I’m only getting married once! I want it to be so special.” She saw Lucas hurrying back toward her. “Besides, he hasn’t asked yet!”
 
Ann sat down her cup and laughed. “It’s only a matter of time, Margaret!” Then she was gone.
 
Margaret and Lucas danced a few more dances together, but as they stared into each other’s eyes, they knew what the other wanted. Finally, Lucas put his lips close to her ear. “You ready?”
 
Margaret smiled. She loved walking in the moonlight with Lucas. “What about Scott?”
 
“He said we’re courting,” Lucas said with a smile. His eyes sparkled as he looked deeply into her eyes. Arm-in-arm, they made their way out of the barn and slowly walked together through the fields of the Dodd ranch. When they came to the pond, Lucas found a place for her to sit than sat down beside her. “Here we are…” Lucas mumbled as he rested a hand on her soft cheek. “The moonlight…sounds of music and laughter in the distance…and just the two of us under a bright moon.”
 
“Is this more training you received?” Margaret questioned him. “I mean…this is some of the advice you received today?”
 
“Oh no, Margaret…” Lucas lowered his face to hers. “This is Lucas McCain talking.”
 
Margaret closed her eyes in anticipation to feeling his lips against hers. But when his lips touched her, they brushed against her cheek. Margaret opened her eyes in surprise. “Lucas, I…”
 
“Margaret Gibbs…I don’t deserve the love you’re showing me and I...I just don’t know if I can…” His voice became husky. “Ma’am…” Lucas swallowed. “May I…kiss you?”
 
Margaret pressed a hand to his cheek and nodded her head. “Yes,” she answered.
 
Lucas again lowered his face to hers. This time, she felt his lips as they pressed against hers. His arms went around her shoulders as he drew her toward him. Their kiss intensified. Margaret found herself responding to his kiss by returning one of her own. Finally, their lips parted, but they were only an inch away from each other. “I…I love you…” Margaret felt her eyes again fill with tears.
 
“And…I love you…” Lucas declared as he wiped the tear that squeezed from her eye. “Margaret Gibbs…as long as I have breath in my lungs, I will never…ever run away from you again. Whatever storms come our way…whatever problems I face I want to face them with you…Like we always have before.” Lucas kissed her again. “Margaret, the whole time I was away, I thought about you and how deeply I’d hurt you. I wondered if I’d lost the best thing that ever happened to me.”
 
Margaret kissed him softly. She pressed a hand against his cheek. “Oh no, Luke…Never! I would have waited twenty years for you, because there is no other man that could ever claim my heart. You’ve had my heart since I was eight years old. I expect you’ll always have my heart. Promise me, Luke…Promise me you’ll marry me someday.”
 
“Oh, I promise!” Lucas answered as he stared into her eyes. “Just as soon as I can, I will take you as my wife!”
 
He stood and pulled her to her feet. “We need to get back…It’s not proper for an unmarried woman to be alone with an unmarried man for too long…But I have to tell you one more thing…” Lucas took her face in his hands. “I…” Lucas kissed her right cheek. “Love…” He kissed her left cheek. “You…” As he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close, they shared a kiss more powerful than any other kiss they’d ever shared. It was a kiss that left them both breathless, yet it was a kiss that held a deep promise – a promise that only they understood…and a promise they both knew would come true…

The Margaret Years — The Land

These stories are based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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