The Writer's Corner
The Next Step…
Chapter 48 – Returning Home
Written by Deanne Bertram
Thadd walked with Mark back to Hattie and Micah’s. As they
entered, he pushed Mark upstairs and said, “I want to speak with
your family. Just go on up there to Hope.” He watched Mark take
the steps two at a time. Thadd walked into the parlor and saw
the huge crowd present, a little taken back, but not surprising.
Lucas was the first to speak up, “Doc? How is he?”
Thadd looked around the room.
“Doc they have a right to know.”
“Alright, Lucas. I’ll say it bluntly. It’s a miracle that Mark
is alive. From the injuries I just saw, by every right, he
should be dead. The only thing I can guess that kept him alive,
was the cold water from the river that Hope said Ramone threw
him into, after he thought Mark was dead. It helped lessen the
swelling in his neck, to an extent. Anyway, Mark was strangled
so hard, his larynx is fractured and a lot of the blood vessels
in his throat hemorrhaged. The fracture should heal in a few
weeks. I’m sure his vocal chords also took damage. That’s why he
can’t really talk. His throat is still swollen and until the
swelling goes down and the bruising subsides… I’m surprised he’s
been able to say what he has. It’s going to take a while before
we know if he’ll get his voice back. There’s also the emotional
distress he endured.”
“Doc, Milly and I were talking while Mark was with you. When you
do allow our family to go home, we’re going to move Mark and
Hope back in with us, at least until we’re sure they’re handling
this okay and can put it behind them. Right now, we don’t trust
either of them to not hide things from us. If they’re in our
home, we’ll be able to better know when something’s not right.”
“Lucas, I think that’s a good idea. I’ll want to see both of
them again tomorrow, now I know it’s Sunday, so I’ll come here
after services. If I like what I see, I’ll let them go home
afterwards. Right now they’ll both need the support of their
family and friends.”
Thadd looked around the room and saw the concern and relief on
the faces of the adults present, in addition to the McCain’s,
there were the Drako’s, the Gibb’s, all three Lane’s, the
Torrance’s, the McCafferty’s, John Hamilton, Drew Anders, and
“Lucas, if you’d like. The men can head out to your place this
afternoon and get things moved around,” Johnny Gibbs offered.
“And just how would you ‘men’ arrange things?” Colleen chided,
as a few of the women present giggled. “We’ll all go and help
things get set up. I’m sure Milly and Hope would enjoy a woman’s
touch in getting their home ready for their return.”
“If you’ll excuse me first, I think I’d like to get the twins
and take them up to Hope and Mark,” Annie stated.
Shortly, Ethan and Annie, and Mrs. Mayhern returned from the
hotel, the ladies carrying the boys and Ethan carried their
cradles. Milly and Lucas followed them upstairs, and then went
to the room they had been using and woke Myra and Little Ted
from their naps.
Annie knocked on the door and then opened it. She was thrilled
with how much life shown in Mark’s eyes as he saw his sons.
Annie and Mrs. Mayhern handed the boys to Hope and Mark, while
Ethan set their cradles in the room.
“Well Mark, since you’re back. I think you can help Hope to take
care of your sons. I’ve enjoyed helping take care of them, but
just the same, I’m glad you both are back. I don’t know if I
could handle raising children full time,” Ethan stated.
“Ethan, you better find out if you can!” Annie stated, looking a
little upset at her husband.
“Annie, are you pregnant?” Hope asked.
She nodded. “I had just returned from the doctor’s when we
received the wire from Micah.” Turning to Ethan, “I didn’t say
anything before, because with Hope missing and then the news of
Mark’s death… I didn’t feel it was right for me to share my good
news, not with everyone else being so… heartbroken.”
Milly and Lucas entered the room, carrying Myra and Little Ted,
to see Hope and Annie hugging. They saw the smirk on Mark’s face
and the uncertainty on Ethan’s.
“Mark we have some work to do at the ranch, so we’re going to
leave you and Hope here? Hattie and Micah will be downstairs if
you need anything,” Lucas stated. “Johnny and Drew will be over
at the Marshal’s office, but I’m sure they won’t be needed.”
The afternoon was spent with Hope reading to their sons and Mark
lying in bed with Hope, while she leaned back against him. He
was enjoying the story almost as much as the children.
As the others headed out to the McCain Ranch, Reverend and
Maggie McCafferty invited Brother Lamartine to their home.
During their meeting Brother Lamartine wrote a question, ‘Would
God be upset with me if I broke my vow of silence?’ and showed
it to the Reverend.
“Depends on why?” he replied.
‘Too much needs to be said and difficult to write,’ Brother
“If you’d like some time alone to talk with God, I’d be happy to
take you to the church and give you all the time you need,
before you make your decision. I don’t know why you chose to be
silent, but with a good enough reason, I believe God would
Reverend McCafferty led Brother Lamartine to the church and left
him to his conversation with God.
Maggie was setting supper on the table when there was a knock at
the door. The Reverend answered the door and invited Brother
“Please, come in. I hope your conversation with God went well?”
In a quiet voice, Brother Lamartine spoke, “The Father agreed
that Mark needed someone to speak on his behalf. But He also
told me that I didn’t need his approval. It had always been my
decision. I know he wants me to keep talking, especially to the
people of my flock, when I return to my home. He wants me to
return to ministering to the people, not just provide a haven.”
“I’m glad you could find peace in your decision,” Reverend
McCafferty said as he invited Brother Lamartine to join them for
Everyone had returned to Hattie and Micah’s and supper was
almost ready when, Milly and Lucas went upstairs to check in on
Mark and Hope. When they opened the door, they saw the four
sleeping in the bed. Lucas knocked on the door and then called
Mark’s name. Mark stirred first and then Hope. Lucas and Milly
entered the room.
“We just wanted to let you know we’re back and we’ll bring your
supper upstairs to you,” Milly started to say as she and Lucas
took the twins.
“Ma, I’m so tired of being in this bed. Could I please come
downstairs?” Hope pleaded. Hope looked to Mark and asked, “Could
you please carry me downstairs?” Mark looked to his parents and
Lucas called for his brother-in-law Johnny from the top of the
“Johnny, would you come up here?” As Johnny came up the stairs,
Lucas stated, “Just help Mark get Hope downstairs. She’s tired
of being in the bedroom.”
They arrived in the parlor to see a number of tables and chairs
set up and Annie, Colleen, and Hattie carrying food to the
tables. Mark set Hope down in a chair close to the playpen with
Mark turned when he heard, “Papa” and saw Zachariah reaching for
Hope quickly turned around in her chair, “Did he?” she asked.
“Mark, Zach just said Papa!”
Mark was already reaching to pick Zachariah up, when he heard
“Papa” even louder. A wide smile crossed Mark’s face. Mark
laughed to himself, ‘Funny, my son starts talking when I can’t.”
Before Mark could sit down, Joshua was reaching and calling for
Mark handed Zachariah over to Hope then turned and picked Joshua
up and sat down with his son.
Hope said, “Well Zach, you and your brother are full of
surprises. You both can talk.” A smile crossed his face as he
clapped his hands, calling “Papa” and he reached towards Mark.
Joshua started laughing and calling “Pa..Pa.”
Myra stood in front of Hope and Mark, looking to the twins and
told them, “He’s not Papa, he’s brother!”
Lucas and Milly looked to each other, with Milly covering her
mouth with her hand.
Johnny called to Lucas, “Okay, Brother, I think ‘now’ would be a
good time to explain the relationships within your family.” He
and everyone else laughed.
“Don’t look at me with that, ‘well she’s your daughter’ look!”
Milly replied, trying to keep herself from laughing too hard.
Lucas shook his head, “Okay, but later. Right now, I’m hungry!”
As family and friends gathered around the tables, Lucas said
grace, thanking the Good Lord for seeing his family returned.
“Lord, I also ask that you continue to watch over us. I know we
have some healing to do and with your grace, we’ll come through
this stronger than before. Bless our friends who offered prayers
that we should be re-united. And bless the strangers who used
courage to help us. We thank you for the nourishment we are
about to eat. It is in your name we pray, Amen.”
As supper progressed, Lucas kept wondering about the looks that
Mark exchanged with Ethan and the looks that Hope exchanged with
Annie. Thinking that he’d need to have a talk later, with Mark
and Hope, to make sure they were okay. When Mark saw his Pa
looking towards him, he just shook his head.
Milly and Hattie returned to the tables with fresh coffee to be
served. Lucas grinned and shook his head when he saw Mark raise
a cup as Milly stopped to fill another, but then had to laugh as
he watched how much sugar Mark put in the cup.
Once Milly and Hattie were seated, Annie spoke up.
“I know that Lucas has been watching the eye exchanges between
Ethan and Mark as well as Hope and myself; rest assured nothing
is wrong. Since this group is family, and Ethan and I are
honored to be a part of this rather large family… I thought now
might be time to share my news that I’ve kept a secret while
Hope and Milly were missing. Ethan and I are expecting.”
A hearty round of congratulations were given to the happy
“So Ethan, why the looks at Mark?” Lucas asked.
“I just found out the news, upstairs, a little earlier. I had
told Mark and Hope I was glad they were back home and I had fun
watching the twins, but I didn’t know if I could handle children
full time, and that’s when Annie told me. Guess it was just an
inside joke between two brother-in-laws. I mean, I want
children, but watching after Zach and Josh, it just got to be a
little overwhelming at times.”
Johnny Gibbs offered, “Ethan, you got saddled with two boys who
were almost a year old. It’s easier when you start with them as
“Really?” Ethan asked.
“Only if it’s one at a time!” Micah chimed in.
Everyone had a good laugh.
After everyone had returned to their homes or the hotel, Lucas
and Milly put Little Ted to bed as Mark put Zach and Josh to
bed. Then they returned to the parlor where Hope and Myra
Milly sat with Myra on her lap as Lucas spoke.
“Myra, we need to talk to you about Zach and Josh.”
“Yes sir,” she answered.
“You know that Zach and Josh are Mark and Hope’s sons?”
“Sweetie, we need you to understand, they’re not your brothers.
They’re something even more special,” Lucas stated.
“More special than Mark?” she asked.
“In their own way, yes. Joshua and Zachariah are your nephews
and you’re their Aunt. Like Aunt Colleen is to Mark. That makes
you all the more special to them. You’re their only aunt,” Lucas
“Me Aunt Myra?”
“Yes,” Milly said as she smiled at her daughter.
“Me not their sister?”
“No, sweetie,” Milly answered. “Do you understand?”
“Me special. Me Aunt Myra,” Myra stated. Then turned to Mark and
Hope, “Will they be sad me not sister?”
Hope reached out to Myra and took her to her lap. “No Myra. The
boys won’t be sad. They’ll be happy they have you as their
Then Myra looked to Mark, “You okay me not their sister? Me
still be your sister. Okay?”
Mark reached over and ruffled Myra’s hair and smiled as he
On Sunday morning, Lucas and Milly knocked on the door to the
room where Hope and Mark were staying. Mark opened the door and
let his parents in.
“Mark, Hope, we thought maybe, it would be better if we have
this conversation up here, before heading downstairs for
breakfast. Mark, I know you just returned yesterday and you were
fine here, but that was with family. We’ll understand if neither
of you are ready to go to church services today. It’s your
choice,” Lucas stated.
Milly added, “Hope, its one thing for me to attend services
today. I didn’t experience anywhere near what you did. We just
don’t want either of you to feel uncomfortable. There will be
plenty of questions from the people of the town and I guess what
we’re really trying to say is, that maybe you should stay here.
Once both of you are healed more… We just want to protect both
of you. You’ve been through so much.”
“Pa, Ma, Mark and I… we sort of talked last night. And honestly,
neither of us feel we’re ready to go to church today. It’s still
“Hope, neither of you need to explain anything,” Milly stated.
As Lucas and Milly and Micah and Hattie left the house, Brother
Lamartine was about to knock on the door.
“Brother Lamartine,” Micah stated. “Hope and Mark are in the
parlor. I’m sure they’ll both be happy to see you. We’ll be back
Brother Lamartine entered the parlor to see Mark lying on the
floor with both his sons crawling over him, calling Papa, as his
“I’m happy to see life back in your eyes, Mark,” he said as he
removed his hat. “Mrs. McCain, my name is Brother Lamartine.”
“Brother Lamartine, please call me Hope. But, I thought Lucas
said you had taken a vow of silence?” Hope asked.
“I had, but I talked yesterday with Reverend McCafferty and then
with God. Your Reverend stated if I had good enough reason, he
was sure that God would understand my need to talk again. And in
my talk with God, he said it was always my decision, whether I
should talk or not. He bore no ill against me for needing to
break my vow.”
The boys continued to claim attention from Mark by calling
“Papa”, as he tried to quiet them by holding his finger to his
mouth to indicate ‘shhh’.
“Brother Lamartine, we’re sorry, the boys just started talking
last night and now, they won’t be silenced.”
Brother Lamartine continued, “Miss Hope, never silence them.
Maybe I just needed someone, like your Mark, to come into my
life to show me that there was a need for my voice to be heard
again. When I pulled Mark from the river, I thought I was
pulling a dead man from the waters. Then when he breathed and
moaned, I thanked God. When he finally woke, it was a hollow set
of eyes that I saw. He mourned your death. We stayed at my home
in Mexico for two days, before I convinced him of his need to
return here. Then for a week we traveled here. I know he’s not
told you that he was ready to leave his sons to the care of your
brother and his wife, because he felt he couldn’t go on with out
“Mark?” Hope asked.
Mark hung his head as he nodded.
“Ma’am, I’m not sure what changed his mind, maybe he doesn’t
even know.” Lamartine paused as he looked to Mark and saw him
shrug his shoulders. “When his uncle came to get me yesterday he
told me how they followed Mark’s trail from your home, away from
North Fork, but then Mark changed directions and they found him
on the hill overlooking this town. I’m sure the Good Father had
a hand in it. He works in mysterious ways. Somehow he drew Mark
back to North Fork and to you.”
“Brother Lamartine, thank you for saving his life and bringing
him home. Maybe you were part of God’s plan for Mark as Mark was
part of God’s plan for you. For whatever reason, you both needed
someone,” Hope said. “I’m glad you were there for each other.”
Then turning to Mark, “Please don’t be ashamed for feeling that
you couldn’t raise the boys. When Ramone told me you were dead,
I felt part of me die. Then when we were returning home, I
wanted to die. I couldn’t imagine raising our sons without you.
Pa told me you had asked Ethan and Annie to raise them. I was
ready to give into your wishes, but once I got here and saw
them, I fought to live. Because I knew that you would live on,
in them and I wanted them to know who their father was. Mark,
please don’t be ashamed.”
Brother Lamartine continued to talk, “Neither of you has any
reason to be ashamed. For a while, your grief was too great to
bear alone, but the Good Father made sure your family was
re-united. And seeing the life in all of your eyes this morning,
I know I did right in insisting to bring Mark home. And maybe
that’s why it was so important for me to talk now, to help you
understand what Mark can’t tell you. He does work in mysterious
ways and this was God’s way of showing me that I needed to be
heard again. So that I can minister to my flock. That’s another
reason I wanted to stop by this morning, I want to say goodbye.
I’ll be leaving to return to my home. I’ll return the wagon to
Señor Castillo-Sanchez and let him know the McCain family is a
After church services, Lucas and Milly returned with Doc Burrage
to Micah and Hattie’s. After the examinations, he agreed that
they could go home, but with stipulations they still take it
easy and that he wanted to see them the following Saturday.
The McCain’s and the Lane’s shared lunch with Hattie and Micah.
Ethan and Annie said they needed to return to West Point and had
made arrangements to take the Monday afternoon train. Seth
announced that he too, needed to return to his post. The
McCain’s decided to postpone returning home until after the
Lane’s had left.
As they waited on the platform, Hope asked, “You’ll keep us
posted on the baby?”
“Every month, sis,” Ethan stated. Then turning to Mark, “I’ll
probably be wiring you for all sorts of advice once he’s born.”
“Are you so sure it’s going to be a boy?” Annie asked.
Seth stood in front of his daughter and said, “Each time it gets
harder and harder to say goodbye.”
“I know Father,” Hope said through tears as the families said
Lucas and Mark made sure that Hope would be comfortable in the
back of the buckboard. Lucas set Blade’s saddle in back for Hope
to lean against. Mark then went and saddled Blue Boy and led him
and Blade, while Nils led Razor and Two-Bits, back to Hattie and
Micah’s. Lucas had traded the three saddle horses they acquired
before heading into Mexico, for a two horse team to pull the
buckboard. Once Hope, the twins, and Little Ted were settled in
the back of the buckboard, Nils tied Razor and Two-Bits to the
back. Mark got in the saddle and tied Blade’s lead to his saddle
horn. Milly climbed up to the seat and Lucas handed Myra up,
before he climbed on board. The McCain’s headed home.
As they arrived at the Ranch, Lucas asked Mark to get the horses
settled in the barn and he’d see to getting the family into the
Mark entered his parent’s home and saw Hope sitting in his
chair, he then saw through the open bedroom door, their bed.
Milly walked over to him and said, “Mark, this is how your
father and I want it. For the time being, you and your family
will be staying here with us. At least until you both are better
Upon Seth Lane’s return to Fort Sam Houston, he proceeded to
Colonel Albright’s residence. During the train ride back, he
made a decision.
Colonel Albright asked, “Seth, what will you do? You’re a
military man. Do you really want to give up your career?”
“Jacob, I missed so much of Ethan and Hope’s growing up years, I
don’t want to lose out on Joshua’s and Zachariah’s. They’re my
grandsons. As for what I’ll do? I think North Fork would
appreciate a former military man as a deputy. I haven’t talked
with them, but I think they would accept my offer. I’ve seen
first hand how Johnny and Mark are struggling, right now, just
the two of them, with young families, and who knows how long it
will be before Mark get’s his voice back. Jacob, this is
something I want. Please grant my request for an honorable
“I’ll see that it gets processed. When do you think you’ll head
“As soon as I can get my things packed up and ready to ship
It had been a little over a week since the McCain’s had returned
to their ranch. That night, Hope was standing at the sink,
finishing drying the dishes, and started staring at a
serrated-edged knife she held. Mark came up behind and wrapped
his arms around Hope. Not knowing she was reliving her
nightmare, Hope turned and slashed out at Mark and started
screaming for him to back away and never to touch her again.
“You may have killed my husband, but you will NEVER take his
Mark grabbed at his hand and saw where the knife had cut him. He
stared at Hope. Milly turned, in hearing Hope screaming, she ran
to the door and yelled for Lucas, who came running from the
barn. He entered their home to see that, from behind, Mark was
trying to restrain Hope, one arm around her waist and he had her
wrist in his other hand, trying to keep the knife away. Hope
continued to scream for him to let her go as she kicked and
clawed at him.
Lucas ran to them and slapped Hope across the face. Mark flashed
fire through his eyes that his father would dare strike his
wife. Lucas backhanded Hope even harder a second time. Mark
tried to yell ‘PA!’ but no words would come out. Slowly Hope
stopped fighting. Her eyes focused in on Lucas standing in front
of her, she then looked over her shoulder to see it was Mark who
restrained her. She dropped the knife and looked at her hands
and saw the blood, “What have I done?!” she cried.
“It’s okay Hope,” Lucas said. “Everything is going to be
alright.” Milly came up next to Hope as Mark released her. Milly
helped Hope wash the blood off her hands.
Lucas got the medical box and tended to Mark’s hand at the
table. Mark’s face still held the anger he felt towards his
“Mark, I’m sorry I slapped her. I’ve seen this kind of reaction
when I was in the war. She wasn’t seeing you or me, she was
reliving her memory. I had to slap her to bring her back to the
present. Son, I’d never deliberately strike Hope without just
cause, I love her as much as I love you.”
Mark watched as Milly led the still crying Hope to their
bedroom. Once Lucas was done bandaging Mark’s hand he put the
medical box back in the cabinet. He turned to continue his talk
with Mark, only to find Mark had left the house.
Lucas walked to the porch to see Mark sitting on the steps, head
bowed in his hands as he rested his elbows on his knees.
“Son, this is why Milly and I wanted both of you back inside
this home. I know from experience that it could be something
small to set Hope off, to unlock her memories. As bad as things
were for Hope in Mexico, we didn’t want the two of you trying to
deal with this on your own,” Lucas spoke as he sat down next to
Mark. Mark raised his head and looked out to the horizon. “Mark,
it’s not that we didn’t think you were ‘man’ enough to handle
everything, it’s just that, you’re recovering from injuries
yourself and you still feel responsible that this happened
because you weren’t home. You’re still fighting your own
“Mark, I’ve been beating myself up too. But think on this, if
you had been home, there’s every chance you would have been the
one with the fractured skull or worse, you know how to use your
rifle and you would have tried… I know that I’d of tried to go
for my rifle too. Mark, those outlaws would have killed you or
me, had either one of us been here. Percy…, he’s a city boy and
he doesn’t hold to carrying a weapon.”
Mark looked to his Pa and Lucas saw a change in his eyes, for
the first time since they learned of their wives being taken,
his eyes didn’t hold the bitterness. They held understanding and
acceptance, but a sadness too.
“Mark, I see you finally understand the truth. Tell you what,
we’ll see how Hope’s doing in the morning and at that time,
we’ll decide if the two of you can move your family back into
your home.” Lucas gave a small laugh. Mark looked questioningly
at his Pa. “It’s been kinda nice having you back under this
“Mark?” Hoped called from the doorway. Mark turned. “I’m so
sorry. Can you forgive me?” Mark nodded as he stood and gave a
hand to help Hope get down the steps with her crutches and to
then sit down, in front of him. Milly walked and sat down in
front of Lucas.
“I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me,” Hope stated.
“Hope, none of us know exactly what you experienced at the hands
of Castoria or Ramone. We only know bits and pieces. The mind is
funny, it can block out memories that are too traumatic,
memories it doesn’t want to remember,” Lucas stated.
Milly continued, “Hope evidently the knife you were drying,
started to unlock a little of your memory, only you thought you
were living it. Not that it was a memory.”
“Can I tell you what happened?” Hope asked.
Mark wrapped his arms around Hope and gave her a squeeze. He
steadied himself for what his wife was about to reveal. It was
one thing to hear from Thadd, but to hear Hope’s first hand
account… Hope tried her best to keep her emotions under control
as she spoke of her ordeal, but she couldn’t suppress the tears
or the shudder that overtook her body when she spoke of Castoria
trying to rape her and then she told of killing him. Mark held
tight to his wife, hoping his arms could convey what his voice
Later that night, once in bed, Mark continued to hold Hope in
his arms. He never wanted to let her go again. He still felt her
trembling as sleep finally overtook the two of them.
After breakfast the following morning, the McCain family
encountered total chaos. Seems all three boys realized at the
same time that they could walk. Little Ted crawled over to one
of the chairs around the table, pulled himself up to stand, then
took a few steps to Mark’s chair by the fireplace, and grabbed
for and pulled the blanket off the back. Laughing as he plopped
down on his fanny and the blanket fell over him, he called
‘Mama’ as he was laughing. As Milly picked up Little Ted, Josh
and Zach started walking and pulling things over as they lost
their balance, with Hope trying keep out of the way of her two,
lest they knock her off her crutches. With the front door still
open, Milly hollered for Lucas and Mark who were out front
chopping and stacking wood, “Lucas, Mark, get in here, we could
use your help!”
Both men came running. They saw Milly with Little Ted in her
arms and a frustrated Hope. The three boys started calling
“Papa!” as Lucas and Mark entered. Myra stood in Lucas’ chair,
pointing and laughing!
“Don’t just stand there gawking, Mark. Help get your sons under
control!” Hope called.
Lucas asked what the trouble was.
Milly answered with exasperation in her voice, "All three
decided to start walking and pulling things over and... Lucas
don't just stand there!"
Lucas decided to take his daughter’s lead and laughed as he
watched the family scene. Before long, Hope and Milly were
laughing, and Mark’s eyes were laughing as he sat down on the
floor and held his arms out for his boys, who toddled over to
him and collapsed in his lap.
Later in the day, the McCain family headed into town to do their
weekly shopping and to let Doc Burrage examine both Mark and
Hope again. They left the children with Hattie and Micah at the
day care, with words of warning, ‘the boys are walking’.
Thadd was pleased with what he saw in Hope and especially after
she told him what happened the night before. As he led Hope back
to the family, he told everyone, “Another four weeks on the
crutches and she’ll be fine. I’m impressed with the work the
doctor in Mexico did. You can’t even see a scar.” Then turning
to Mark, “Okay, Mark, you’re next.” Before following Mark into
the room, Thadd said to Lucas, “Why don’t you take Milly and
Hope to the general store and do your shopping, I’ll send Mark
along when I’m done with him.”
Thadd was pleased to see the bruises around Mark’s throat were
finally starting to fade, but was concerned that Mark still had
no voice. “Mark, it’s wait and see. You’re not as sore as you
first were and your throat, inside and out, is taking a
healthier color. Give it more time.” Thadd’s eyes pleaded for
Mark to be understanding. “Now, let me see your hand. Hope told
me what happened last night.”
After looking the wound over, “Your Pa cleaned it up good enough
and it’s not deep enough to require stitches, I’ll just wrap it
back up. By the middle of the week, remove the bandage and if it
looks okay, you can keep it unwrapped. Okay?”
“Keep your chin up Mark!” Thadd stated as Mark left his office.
Before walking to the general store, Mark headed to Johnny’s. As
he entered he saw Johnny sitting behind the desk, looking over
some wanted posters. Mark knocked on the door.
“Yes, may I… Mark! Sorry there, I wasn’t paying attention.
Didn’t expect to see you in town. How you doing?” Drako stated
as he came around the desk to shake hands with Mark. Then
remembering, “I’m sorry, you doing okay?”
Mark nodded and pulled out the small pad of paper he’d taken to
carrying, and wrote: “My rifle? Pa said it was here?”
“Sure is Mark. I wanted to bring it out to you and see how you
and Hope were getting along, but with Lou and baby Danielle… Its
tough handling the town by myself with the family... Oh, Drew
got recalled to Denver earlier in the week.”
Johnny saw the uncertainty in Mark’s eyes, knowing he’d taken
the badge off and given it back.
“Mark, you’re still my deputy. In fact, I’m glad you stopped
by.” Johnny walked around the back side of his desk and pulled
out Mark’s badge and pinned it back on his shirt. “Tell you
what, Lou and Danielle have a doctor’s appointment in a few
minutes, would you mind watching the office? I promise, I’ll be
back as soon as I can.”
A smiling Mark pushed Johnny out the door.
Mark propped his rifle up against the wall as he took a seat and
leaned back in the chair in front of the Marshal’s Office,
Lucas was loading up the supplies in the back of the buckboard
when he saw Mark, relaxing back. He called to Milly and to Hope,
then pointed to Mark. Both women smiled. Life was slowly
returning to normal.
As Mark sat in front of the Marshal’s Office, Amos came out of
the telegraph office and walked over and handed a wire to Mark.
North Fork, New Mexico Territory
Outlaws found /stop/
Transporting more women into Mexico /stop/
Army returning women to Texas /stop/
Federales dealt swiftly and justly /stop/
No word of son /stop/
We will pray /stop/
San Lucas, Mexico
Mark folded the wire and put in his pocket, then walked to the
San Lucas, Mexico
Thank you for rescuing my wife and mother /stop/
News is wonderful /stop/
I am home /stop/
North Fork, New Mexico Territory
Mark decided to walk the town while waiting for Johnny. As was
custom, the train station was the last stop.
The conductor called out, “We’re going to be laid over for a
little while longer than usual deputy. We’ve got a lot of stuff
to unload from the cargo car.”
Mark walked to the car and heard a man’s voice giving orders on
how to unload and stack his shipment. Mark thought he recognized
the voice, but over all the noise and the voice didn’t fit the
clothes the man was wearing, Mark wasn’t sure. The man turned
around to get out of the way of the porters.
“Mark, you doing okay? Hope and the boys are still okay?” Seth
Lane asked as he approached Mark.
Mark nodded, the expression on his face saying, ‘I don’t
“Mark, I resigned my commission and requested an honorable
discharge. I missed out on too much and decided I wasn’t going
to miss out on any more. North Fork is going to be my home.”
Mark took out his pad of paper and wrote, ‘Does Hope know?’
“No son, I thought I’d surprise her and you.” Putting an arm
around Mark’s shoulders, Seth continued, “You can accompany me
to your Marshal’s office, I need to talk with him and you. My
plan involves both of you.”
Johnny Drako returned to the Marshal’s office just as Mark and
“Mark, I’m sorry, but Lou had something she needed done at the
house once we got back from Doc’s.” Then realizing who was
standing next to Mark, “Seth, what brings you back to North Fork
“Well, seems I’m unemployed. I was figuring maybe you and Mark
could use another deputy. Since Mark’s wearing his badge again,
he can be your primary deputy and if you’ll have me, I can be
your second. This would give you more time to spend with your
families and Mark can take the time to heal, and not feel bad
about not standing his watches and leaving everything to you.”
“I sure would appreciate another deputy.” Johnny asked, “Well
Mark, do you think he can handle the job?”
Johnny pulled a badge from his desk and pinned it on Seth’s
shirt, under his vest, and then administered the lawman’s oath.
Mark and Seth left the Marshal’s office and headed over to the
daycare. Before entering, Mark pulled out his paper and wrote,
“I have a surprise for you.” Then motioned for Seth to wait. He
entered the daycare and saw his family gathering their children.
He showed the note to Hope.
“We know, we were loading up the buckboard, we saw you sitting
in front of the Marshal’s. I’m glad you’re wearing the badge
Mark shook his head. He motioned for his Ma and Pa to wait, one
moment. He placed his hand to the small of Hope’s back and
slowly walked beside her as she made her way out the door.
Lucas and Milly heard the surprised squeal from Hope and ran to
the door. They saw her in her father’s embrace, her crutches on
the ground. As Lucas and Milly approached, Seth bent down to
pick Hope’s crutches up. As he stood, Lucas spotted the badge.
Opening Seth’s vest, he asked, “Seth, what’s going on?”
“I’m taking the first steps to really being a grandfather to my
grandsons. I resigned my commission and Johnny and Mark have
accepted me as a deputy.”
The McCain’s invited Seth to join them at the hotel restaurant
for lunch. There he explained his rather sudden return.
“Now I don’t want any of you to think this was prompted by what
happened. It just got harder and harder to leave after each
visit. I saw the struggles Johnny and Mark were experiencing
with their jobs and young families. I’ve grown to love this town
and her people. More importantly, I wanted to be a real member
of this family, not just a part-time member.”
“Seth, I’m sure Johnny and Mark will appreciate another deputy
and, if a few days of the twins walking and talking is any
indication, and remembering Mark growing up, I’m going to need
all the grandfather help you can offer.”
Hope asked, “Was Mark really that bad growing up?”
Mark shook his head as Lucas said, “Yes.”
The family laughed.
Several days later, Mark and Hope were waking up in their own
bed, back in their own home. They were enjoying the comfort of
snuggling with each other when they heard, “Papa.” After several
more calls, coming from both boys, Mark got up from bed and went
to the boy’s room. He looked into the room to see both boys
standing and reaching for him, calling “Papa.”
“Okay, let me get you up,” Mark said as he lifted Zach from
their crib and set him down on the floor and then reached for
Josh. He took each son by hand and led them to his and Hope’s
bedroom. He looked up to see Hope sitting up in bed, excitement
on her face.
“What?” he asked, as the boys started calling, "Mama."
“Mark, you just spoke.” Then more excitedly, she declared again,
“You just spoke!”
“I did. Didn’t I?” Mark replied.
Mark picked up his sons and placed them in bed, being careful
about Hope’s leg and then climbed back into the bed as the boys
started saying, “Papa spoke. Papa spoke.” Everyone started
giggling and laughing.
A short time later that morning, Mark was in the bedroom,
finishing shaving, when they heard a knock on the front door.
Hope answered, and both boys started calling for “GanPa.”
Lucas bent down to pick both of them up and asked, “So, how are
my grandsons doing this morning?”
“Papa spoke, Papa spoke!” First Zach said and then Josh
“Hope?” Lucas asked and saw the gleam in her eyes as she nodded.
Mark came from the bedroom, wiping the last of the shaving cream
from his face.
“Is it true Mark?”
“Without thinking this morning, I spoke to the boys. It just
happened,” Mark stated. His voice was somewhat raspy. “I know,
I’ll still need …” Hope hobbled over to Mark and put her fingers
to his lips.
“Still need to be quiet! No unnecessary talking, at least not
your first day with your voice back!” She pulled her hand away
and quickly gave Mark a kiss.
“Well Mark, I’d listen to your wife, if I were you. Come on.
Milly sent me over to get you. She made too big a breakfast for
just us to eat. You can surprise your Ma and then no more
talking!” Lucas stated has he pointed a finger towards Mark.
Lucas handed Zach to Mark and he carried Josh as they headed
over for breakfast. Lucas allowed Hope and Mark to leave the
house first and then he closed the door.
Myra was there to greet Mark as they entered, “Hi Mark!”
Mark set Zach on the floor and picked Myra up, “Hi Gabby!” he
whispered in her ear, then put his finger to his lips to ‘shush’
Myra. “It’s a surprise for Ma!”
“I like surprises!” Myra exclaimed.
“And just what surprise are you keeping young lady?” Milly asked
as she took Myra from Mark.
“It’s a secret!” Myra said as she put her finger to her lips and
‘shushed’ her Ma.
“Okay, I thought this family didn’t keep secrets?” Milly stated.
After seeing Hope to her chair, Mark walked next to Milly and
wrapped his arm around her shoulder and quietly said, “Good
Milly looked at Mark and had a big smile on her face. “So that’s
Myra’s secret! Your voice is back. Oh, Mark!” She leaned over
and kissed Mark on the cheek.
“You like surprise?” Myra asked.
Then Zach and Josh started calling, “Supize! Supize!” And soon,
Little Ted joined in the fun.
Mark and Lucas rode into town that afternoon. Their first stop
was Doc Burrage.
“Mark, Lucas, everything alright? Didn’t expect to see either of
you so soon,” Thadd stated.
“You tell me,” Mark quietly answered.
“Now that is a pleasant surprise. Come on, hop up on the table,
and let me have a look,” Thadd instructed.
After a quick look, Thadd said, “Your throat is looking a lot
better Mark. Don’t over do it with talking for the next few
days, I think you’ll know when you’ve said too much.”
“Don’t I always, with Hope telling…” Mark stopped mid-sentence
and laughed. Lucas and Thadd knew exactly what Mark was about to
say, from their own first hand experiences.
“I’ll let Johnny know you’re fit to stand your shifts again.”
“Thanks Thadd, tell Abigail and Savannah we said hello,” Mark
replied as he and Lucas left the office.
“LucasBoy,” came a holler from behind them as they passed the
day care. They turned to see Micah running after them.
“Morning Micah! How are things going?” Lucas asked.
“Good, just fine. Hey are you heading over to Johnny’s?”
“For a few minutes.”
“Morning Micah,” Mark said sheepishly.
“So that’s what brought you to town. Glad to hear it. Just
thought I’d let you know that Tessa and Mabra are planning to
ride out to your ranch this afternoon. They both need to talk
with Milly. I’m not so sure I like the idea of them riding on
their own, yet. Would you mind escorting the girls out and
“No problem Micah. We’ll swing by Nils in a little while.”
“Good, well, I better get back inside before Hattie starts
yelling for me.”
“He’s really enjoying being with all the younger children, isn’t
Father and son laughed as the patriarch of their family
retreated back into the day care.
As Lucas and Mark entered the Marshal’s Office, John Hamilton
ran over to talk with them.
“Lucas, Mark, how are you? I won’t keep you but a minute, but I
thought you should know the town counsel met this morning. Now
Lucas we know that you’re the president, but we had a quorum
“Just what was discussed that couldn’t wait until someone could
come and get me?”
“Lucas, while you and Mark were looking for Milly and Hope, we
postponed the summer social. We just couldn’t see holding it
with everyone so, down in the dumps, so to speak. Well, with
your family and all being back, we wanted to reschedule. We’re
going to have a mid-summer social and it’s going to coincide
with Percy and Tessa’s wedding at the end of the month.” Then
turning to Mark, “We hope by that time, Hope will be off her
crutches and you’ll have your voice back.”
“I’ll let Hope know,” Mark said, then watched the surprise on
Johnny’s and John’s faces.
“Congratulations Mark! I just knew today was going to be a good
day! We’ll start passing the word that the social is
rescheduled. Just what this town needed to finish bringing a
spring back to everyone’s step! Goodbye Lucas, Mark, Johnny!”
“So Mark, you got your voice back,” Johnny said. “When would you
like to stand watch?”
“I was thinking this weekend. Come into town Friday afternoon
and give you Friday through Sunday with your family. I also want
to bring Hope and the boys in to stay at Lou’s, if that’s okay
with Lou? I don’t think Seth’s house would be ready for us to
stay with him. Though he might enjoy watching the boys for a
“Mark, Hope…” Lucas started.
“Pa, please. Give me a chance to get back into the swing of
being a deputy, without worrying about them. I just need them
close to me, like you needed me close, when I was growing up.”
Lucas and Mark headed to Nils and met up with Tessa and Mabra.
“Girls, could we ride along with you? Micah said you wanted to
talk with Milly.”
“Mr. McCain, we’d love the company,” Tessa replied.
When the group arrived at the McCain ranch, Mark inquired where
“She’s taking a nap. Keeping up with both the boys and helping
out with laundry today, it took a little out of her,” Milly
Mark put Blue Boy in the corral and then headed to his home.
Lucas told the girls that he’d take care of their horse and to
head on into the house with Milly.
Milly asked the girls if they’d like a glass of lemonade, she
had some freshly made.
“Miss Milly, I…” Tessa started.
“Tessa, take your time,” Milly offered.
“Are you having bad dreams? I mean, I almost put what happened
behind me and then I wake up in a cold sweat and I’m so scared.
Last night I woke and found Mabra already awake and she admitted
she’d been having bad dreams too. We just needed to talk with
someone and…” Tessa stated, almost in tears.
Milly put a comforting arm around both the girls and asked them
to sit down at the table.
“A few times, I’ve woke in a cold sweat and remembering those
men coming here and forcing us into their wagon. Have you talked
with anyone else?” Milly asked.
“No ma’am. I’m too embarrassed too,” Tessa answered.
“Oh, Miss Milly. I wanted to hurt those men when they started
treating Hope so bad. But I was a coward,” Tessa replied.
“But you weren’t when Senor Castillo came into the dining room,”
Mabra declared. “Miss Milly, she pulled a knife on him and
demanded he release us. Just like in the dime store novels of
damsels demanding their release from pirates!”
“Some pirate, he was one of our rescuers,” Tessa replied.
“But you didn’t know it at the time,” Mabra pleaded.
“Miss Milly,” Tessa continued. “I feel so guilty for how they
treated Hope and the injuries they inflicted upon her. I…”
“Tessa, I understand how you feel. The men tried to rescue all
of us, but couldn’t. You shouldn’t feel guilty that you came
through your ordeal thinking you hadn’t been injured. You were
injured, not physically, but emotionally. Your nightmares are
proof of that, so don’t think you came through this unscathed,
either of you. It will take time for all of us to get over this.
Hope is a strong woman and she’s the love of family to help her
through. As do you. Percy and Mr. Bullock are wonderful people
and I know they already think of you as family. You just have to
wait until Reverend McCafferty makes it official. So, what you
should be thinking of is your upcoming wedding. Start thinking
of that all day and I’m sure the bad dreams will fade away.”
“Oh Miss Milly…” Tessa and Mabra both cried and hugged Milly.
After an hour of talking, Milly led Mabra and Tessa out to the
porch and called out for Lucas, asking if he wouldn’t see the
girls back to town.
Mark entered his home and walked to the bedroom and peaked in.
Both boys were asleep in their crib and Hope was sleeping in the
bed. Mark saw the restless sleep Hope was having and he crawled
on top of the covers and wrapped his arm around his wife,
brushing back the hair from her face, as he quietly said, “I’m
here love. Sleep quiet.” Hope quieted in his arms.
Sometime later, Mark woke to the sensation of Hope kissing him
on the cheek.
“How are you feeling?” he asked. “Ma said the boys wore you out
“Just trying to do too much on these crutches I guess.”
“Don’t I remember,” Mark ruefully replied. “Why don’t you take
it easy and I’ll take care of the boys and fix supper tonight.”
As they sat around the table eating supper, Mark told Hope, “I
talked with Johnny about returning to duty. He’s appreciated
Seth, but I’m sure your Father would appreciate some time to
finish the carpentry work in his house. I told Johnny I’d start
this Friday afternoon, but I want you and the boys in town, at
“Mark, don’t you think we…”
“Hope, I already had this talk with Pa. Just do this for me. If
I get through this weekend okay, then my future watches you and
the boys can stay at home. Please, for me?”
“Okay. This would give me some time to catch up with Lou and see
Danielle, I mean…”
“You don’t need to explain.”
Mark was relieved that everyone in town gave him and Hope their
privacy. No one asked any questions, other than how they were
doing and stated how glad they were to see them in town.
As Mark was making one of his trips around town, he stopped at
his father-in-law’s home and saw his Uncle Johnny helping out.
“Hi ya Mark!” Johnny called. “Bet you’re surprised to find me
here. I just needed to get out of the house for a while. Abigail
brought Savannah over and the ladies are talking. When that
happens, I know to get out of ‘Dodge’.”
All three men laughed.
“I just stopped by to invite Seth to supper at the hotel
tonight,” Mark replied. “Ma and Pa are coming in later and well,
Uncle Johnny why don’t you and Aunt Colleen and Lillian join us,
A few days later, there was a large gathering at the McCain
ranch, family and friends arrived for the first birthday party
for Little Ted, Zach, and Josh. It was such a beautiful day that
tables and chairs had been set up outside for the celebration.
There were various games for the children and plenty of food for
everyone. When the cakes were finally brought out, one was
specially designated for the birthday boys and it was quickly
demolished by three sets of greedy little hands. Other cakes
were brought out for everyone else to partake.
At the end of the day, Lucas and Mark assisted Milly in cleaning
up after the party, while Hope watched after the little ones, by
reading to them on the front porch.
By the time everything was cleaned up, the boys could barely
keep their eyes open. Lucas handed Little Ted to Milly and then
he picked up Joshua, as Mark picked up Zach, and helped his
eldest get his children home.
As Lucas stepped from Mark’s home to the porch, he leaned
against one of the posts. Mark followed behind and stopped next
to his Pa. “Mark do you feel I shortchanged you? Do you regret
that you missed out on such things?”
“Pa, it was just the two of us for so long. And having lost Ma,
I didn’t mind that we kept our birthdays private. We both hurt
on our birthdays and holidays because those times were very
special to her and she wasn’t with us any more. But now that we
have Milly and Hope, and I have a sister and a brother, and
sons… We’ve such a large family that at times it’s overwhelming,
but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m happy we can to share
our blessings with our families and friends. But no, I don’t
regret the life the two of us made here.”
Seeing that his Pa was still a little melancholy, Mark replied,
“But there is one thing that I do feel a little shortchanged,
now that you’re asking.”
Lucas stood a little straighter and looked Mark in the eye. He
saw that little mischievous expression on Mark’s face and
started to smile even before Mark could say, “You sort of
‘shortchanged’ me on height.”
“Good night, son.”
“Good night, Pa.”
That night, as they lay in bed, Mark and Hope reflected on the
first year of their sons’ lives.
“I’m just thankful this year is behind us, Mark,” Hope said as
she snuggled in Mark’s arms. “I count the boys as a blessing,
but there a lot more that happened that I’d just as soon
“But there were a lot of good things that happened. Don’t let
the bad make you forget the good.”
“You won’t let me, will you?”
The splint had been officially removed from Hope’s leg and Thadd
stated the break had thoroughly healed, but advised against
doing any cross-country running, just yet.
The church and town was festively decorated in anticipation of
the wedding of Percy and Tessa. Tessa was beautiful in her
wedding dress and Percy was equally handsome in his suit. By the
end of the ceremony, there wasn’t a dry eye among the women in
Reverend McCafferty introduced Mr. and Mrs. Percy Bullock to the
town of North Fork. Then instructed everyone to go out and enjoy
Throughout the evening, Mark would walk the town and then return
to dance a few slow dances with Hope. When the band was taking a
break, Mark felt a tug on his pants. He looked down to see Myra
motioning with her finger for him to ‘come here’.
“Yes Gabby,” he said as he knelt down and allowed Myra to
whisper in his ear. As the band returned and started another
song, Mark escorted Myra to the dance square. They turned and
bowed to each other, then Myra reached up with her arms and Mark
picked her up. The people of the town stood and watched as
brother and sister shared a dance together. Lucas wrapped his
arms around Milly and they both smiled.
As the party came to a close, Mark said goodnight to his family
as Lucas drove them home and he made way to the Marshal’s Office
for his shift.
Mark laid down on one of the bunks in the jail and was almost
asleep when he was awakened, seems some of the men were using
the back side of the jail as their staging area for the shivaree.
Mark collected his rifle and walked around to the back. He
snickered as he remembered how his parents had forbid the
shivaree when he and Hope had wed.
“Ahem,” Mark said as he cleared his throat.
“Ah, come on Mark. We’re just wanting to have a little fun,”
Billy Davis called out.
“Make it quick or I’ll run the whole lot of you into the jail
for disturbing the peace.”
Mark watched as they quickly ran to the hotel, knowing full well
which room Percy and Tessa were staying in. Some beat pots and
pans together, others whistled, while a few others lit
firecrackers and threw them up to the window. Mark smiled as he
saw the curtains part and the window open. Percy stuck his upper
body out the window and pleaded with his friends to let him be.
Then spying Mark, he yelled, “Deputy, you have to do something.
How can a man properly make a woman his wife with all this
With that, their friends started whooping and yelling even
louder. Percy promptly closed the window and pulled the
curtains. A few moments later the room went dark.
“Okay, guys, you’ve had your fun. Go on home. I think a few of
you will have some explaining to do to your own wives or don’t
you remember how embarrassed you were at your own shivarees?”
“Gee Mark, you’re no fun,” Feddie Toomey sulked.
“Freddie, I’d remember tonight well, when you finally decide to
ask Carolina to become your wife!” Mark laughed in response.
Mark and Lucas spent the Saturday out on the range, repairing a
section of fence that was in jeopardy of coming down. It was
late when they returned to the ranch, the children were already
in bed and Milly and Hope had supper waiting on the stove. Lucas
and Mark washed up out back and their wives fixed their supper.
Afterwards, Mark started to go into the room where the boys were
sleeping, when Milly suggested, “Mark, just let them sleep over
here tonight. You can come get them in the morning.”
“Are you sure Ma?” Hope asked.
“Get out of here. We’ll see you in the morning,” Lucas stated as
he walked Mark and Hope to the door.
Mark sat down on the edge of their bed and pulled his boots off
and then started to unbutton his shirt. Hope walked over, lifted
the hem of her dress and sat down, facing Mark and straddling
his lap. She playfully kissed his lips as she finished
unbuttoning his shirt and then pulled it off his shoulders. She
ran her hands down his chest and then back up to his face.
Pulling his head to hers.
Mark wrapped his arms around Hope and pulled her closer to him
and he passionately returned her kisses.
As Lucas and Milly climbed into bed, Lucas inquired, “I sensed
something amiss with Hope tonight. Is everything okay?”
“I pray it will be after tonight,” Milly answered.
Lucas looked perplexed at her answer.
“Lucas, we’ve been… intimate on several occasions since we
returned home. Hope’s only had the splint off her leg for a week
and knowing your son… Lucas, there are still some unresolved
emotional issues in their home. Hope didn’t say anything but I
get the feeling that she’s struggling if she can still be a
wife, in every meaning of the word, to Mark.”
“Mark’s not said anything to me.”
“Lucas, do you readily talk with your son about our marriage
“Then do you think he would talk with you about his?”
“He should have.”
“Lucas, he probably doesn’t realize the conflict that Hope is
experiencing. He’s so gentle and caring that he’d be willing to
wait. He understands how traumatic everything was that Hope went
through and wouldn’t want to push her into something he thinks
she might not be ready for. Lucas, would you push me to be
intimate, if someone had tried to rape me?” Lucas shook his head
‘No’. “But while he waits, Hope is doubting herself. I pray that
they’re resolving their issues right now.”
“Hope, are you sure?” Mark asked, sensing where events were
about to lead.
“Mark, it’s been a while since I’ve had a nightmare and I AM
your wife. Mark, for the last week, I’ve had this yearning deep
inside and today, while you and Pa were out on the range, its
become almost unbearable. I think Ma sensed it today when we
were working and talking and that’s why she suggested we leave
the boys over there tonight. Please Mark, I have to find out.”
Slowly Mark unbuckled the belt around Hope’s dress and dropped
it to the floor. Next he started to unbuttoned the front of her
dress. He kept looking her in the eye, stopping when he sensed
her tensing. When she would breathe and relax he proceeded. He
had reached the last button, but wasn’t ready to pull Hope’s
dress open, not quite yet, he wanted to make sure. He pulled her
head to him and kissed her again. As they parted, Mark’s eyes
asked again and Hope nodded.
Mark was still hesitant, even though Hope said she wasn’t having
the nightmares; while she slept, she still would shiver and pull
away from him, as he would run his hand down her arm. ‘Deep
down, is she really ready?’ Mark asked himself.
Mark carefully stripped his pants off and then lovingly slipped
Hope’s dress off the back of her shoulders and allowed it to
fall to the floor. He laid backwards in their bed and pulled is
wife to him, pulling the covers over them. Gently, as if she
were a China doll, Mark carefully caressed his wife, sensing the
softness of her skin, but still unsure that she was really
ready. Oh, how he yearned, but he was willing to wait, as long
as it took. Hope caressed Mark and kissed him over and over
again. In time, he felt the moment he had been waiting for. He
felt all the tension leave Hope’s body, as she breathed deeply
and totally gave herself to him and they made love and enjoyed
each other as husband and wife.
Their desires that night were stronger than their wedding night.
They lost themselves in their pleasures. In time, Hope curled up
and snuggled against Mark and slept, but Mark didn’t, he still
held concern. He watched as Hope lie against him, her arm
outstretched over his ribs, her cheek resting into the soft spot
of his shoulder, her leg over top of his. He pulled the cover up
over her back and shoulders and then ran his hand across her
bare shoulder and down her arm. Hope snuggled deeper against
Mark. It was then that Mark knew he had his wife completely
back. He turned his head and placed a kiss to the top of her
head; he laid back and smiled, as sleep closed his eyes.
Next Step — Trail of Fear
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch