The Writer's Corner
The Next Step…
Chapter 28 – The Day After
Written by Deanne Bertram
Lucas drove Milly and the baby back to the ranch the following
morning. He watched as his wife carried their daughter inside,
he smiled as he thought of his eldest child already inside, then
he headed the team to the barn. He tended to Mark’s morning
chores in the barn, obvious, Mark hadn’t been outside yet. Once
finished with the chores in the barn, Lucas returned to the
house, carrying the milk pail and a basket of eggs. He set them
down on the counter as he smiled and walked to the closed
“Lucas McCain,” Milly whispered. “You let them two sleep.
Remember back to our wedding night. I’ll not have you disturbing
them. They’ll wake when they’re ready, and not before then.”
Milly held and pointed the spatula to Lucas as she stood in
front of the stove. Lucas feigned a look of hurt, but then went
and picked up his daughter from her cradle and walked and sat
down in his chair.
“Well, Myra, seems we officially have a new member in the family
today. Granted it took longer than nine months for her to become
a part of this family, but well worth the wait. I’ll introduce
your new sister to you as soon as she wakes.”
Milly smiled as she watched her husband and daughter. Lucas
cooing and Myra grabbing at his lips as Lucas held the baby to
Mark woke in the morning and looked over at his sleeping wife,
thankful the new bed he had ordered had arrived before their
wedding. He saw the rise and fall of her chest under the cover
and saw the smile on her face. He placed a gentle kiss on her
lips, then, under the cover, ran his hand down her arm. Sensing
the softness of her skin.
Hope woke and looked to Mark. Smiling as she looked into his
dark eyes. They kissed and continued to caress each other,
neither saying a word.
Their attention was drawn to the sound of a baby squealing in
the front room, both grinned as they realized they were no
longer alone in the house. Quietly they slipped from their bed
and got dressed.
Before opening the door, Mark pulled Hope into his arms, one
more time and briefly gave her a kiss.
“Oh Mark, I can’t go out there.” Hope stated, all of a sudden
feeling extremely embarrassed. “Your parents are out there.”
“Hope, they’re your parents now too,” Mark said as he ran his
thumb across her cheek.
“But Mark, I… I can’t,” Hope softly cried to his chest.
“Hope, why?” Mark asked.
“I just can’t,” she cried as she pulled away from Mark and ran
to lay down on their bed.
Mark opened the door and then pulled it shut behind him. He
looked to his Pa, sitting in his chair, a smile on his face as
he tried not to make eye contact with his son. Mark was confused
and unsure what was wrong with Hope. He walked to his Ma and
whispered, “Ma, could you talk with Hope. I think she needs to
talk to you. Please?”
Milly turned around and after looking at Mark and seeing the
closed bedroom door, understood the problem. “Okay Mark, just
don’t let your father’s breakfast burn. I’ll be out when I can.”
She turned and walked to the bedroom door, quietly knocking
Lucas put Myra in her crib and walked to the kitchen, “Trouble
“I’m not sure,” Mark stated with concern as he watched his Ma
close the door behind her.
“Son, as a married couple, what happens behind that door,
between you and Hope, is your business. I won’t pry, but I
understand what’s happening. Mark, every new bride goes through
this. Worrying about what others must think of them. That’s one
of the reasons Milly and I wanted you to spend last night here.
You’re both still young enough to need the help of family to get
you through this morning. Even you Mark. You’re scared right
now.” Lucas placed a hand on Mark’s should and gave it a
“Only because I don’t understand and I’m worried about Hope,”
“Mark,” Lucas hesitated, as he remembered his wedding night with
Milly. “What you both felt last night, neither of you’ve ever
experienced them before. Even though we had talked about what to
expect, actually experiencing those feelings is something
different. Women are more sensitive to the situation and their
feelings, afterwards. This is all perfectly normal. It’s part of
being married. Don’t worry, your Ma will have her out here soon.
Let me finish cooking, you go set the table.”
“Pa, how did I end up with a Pa like you?”
“Guess you were just lucky.”
By the time Lucas was ready to take up the food, Mark had the
table set, and had picked up his sister, he was cooing at her
and she was babbling back to him. “That’s okay Gabby, yes it
is,” Mark stated. “One of these days you’ll get the words out.
It takes time, just keep trying.”
Mark looked up as the bedroom door opened and Milly led Hope
into the room.
“Good morning daughter,” Lucas brightly called. “Have a seat at
the table and I’ll have your breakfast there in a moment.”
Hope looked to Milly who nodded and gave her a slight push to
the table. She walked over and sat down next to Mark, who handed
her Myra. He sat back and watched as Hope lovingly held and
cooed to his sister.
Milly walked back to the kitchen, “Is everything okay?” Lucas
“It will be. Just give her time. Please, just go about
everything as usual and for now, no references to last night.”
“I promise. I talked with Mark, I could tell he was confused and
worried. I explained what was happening to him and let him know
this is natural. I also told him, this was one of the reasons we
wanted the two of them to be here last night, instead of the
hotel. So, yes, my love, I’ll behave.”
“You better Lucas, or so help me…!” Lucas quickly quieted Milly
with a kiss. They carried breakfast to the table.
During breakfast, they made plans for the day. Milly asked Hope
if she would stay at the house and help her, she wanted to get
things organized for when they brought Hope’s belongings from
Miss Hattie’s. That and the rest of their families were expected
at the ranch for supper that night. Lucas and Mark planned to
head into town to pick up some lumber, seems they needed to make
a larger table and some bench seats for their guests. Lucas
stood to take his dishes to the sink when Hope stood and said,
“No Mr. McCain, I’ll get that.”
Momentarily taken back, Lucas put his hand up and pulled his
plate away from Hope. “Hope, let’s get one thing straight, right
now. You are a member of this family and I’ll not have you
calling me Mr. McCain.”
“Hope, I’m not reprimanding you. You can call me Lucas, if you
“Oh, no sir… I couldn’t, it’s not proper.”
“Well then what do you suggest would be proper?” Lucas asked.
“Well, I was thinking…” Hope looked to Mark. “My father is my
father, but you… Would it be…
Would it be proper if I were to call you Pa and Miss Milly, Ma?”
Milly looked to Lucas and nodded. “Hope, we’d be right honored
to have you call us Ma and Pa. As I said, you’re family. And for
right now, I can take my own dirty dishes to the sink, as can
They kissed their respective wives and then peaked at the
sleeping Myra. As they stopped to get their hats from the rack
and pick up their rifles Lucas quietly stated, “Come on son, we
got work to do today. That is, unless you’re too tired.” But not
quiet enough. Before he could open the door, he heard Milly
yell, “Lucas McCain!”
“Come on son, before your Ma throws the spatula at me.” Both
laughed as they headed to the barn.
Until they crossed over the hill and the house was no longer in
sight, Mark kept looking back over his shoulder.
“Don’t worry son, she’ll be there when we get back. Here,” Lucas
stated as he handed the reins to the team to Mark. “Get your
mind off your wife.”
“Sure Pa,” Mark replied. “Pa? Is this how you felt with Ma, not
wanting to be separated?”
“Every minute. But you got to let them breathe son, you can’t be
underfoot all the time.
Lou walked into the restaurant to find Micah and Hattie sitting
down at a table, Micah being the gentleman and holding out her
chair. Lou raised an eyebrow and then cheerfully greeted them.
Micah scooted his chair a little bit away from Hattie as he
cleared his throat before replying to Lou.
“No Micah,” Lou cajoled him. “Don’t insult the woman. You scoot
your chair right back to where it was, else I’ll get Johnny in
“Lou, where my chair is, is my business,” Micah stated.
“Yes, but this is MY business establishment, so you follow my
rules. Micah, I think it’s sweet. You and Hattie make a
wonderful couple. Besides, it’s about time you too came out into
the open instead of sneaking around to hold hands and keep each
other company, when you think no ones looking.”
“But Lou,” Hattie stated. “We’re too old to go around like you
young folks. We just enjoy each other’s company.”
“Hattie, there’s no age limit on love. In the beginning I
enjoyed Johnny’s company and in the beginning, Lucas enjoyed
Milly’s company. Nothing wrong with you enjoying each other’s
company, in the presence of others. As long as you two are
happy, who cares what others think.”
“Thanks Lou, I guess you’re right. We’re two adults and what we
do, well…” Micah stated as he moved his chair back towards
“I’ll have your breakfasts out shortly,” Lou stated as she
headed to the kitchen.
Mark pulled up the team in front of the hotel as he saw his
Uncle Johnny and Aunt Colleen exit.
“Morning Uncle Johnny, Aunt Colleen,” Mark called.
“Johnny, Colleen,” Lucas greeted them.
“Good Morning,” they answered in unison.
“Now Mark, didn’t expect to see you in town today. Your Pa scoot
you out the door as soon as you woke this morning? Drug you away
from that fine looking wife you married?” Then turning to Lucas,
“Lucas how could you drag the poor boy away from his marriage
bed? Shame on you.”
Mark’s cheeks started turning red at the conversation. His Pa
laid a hand on his shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
Colleen gave Johnny a sharp jab in the ribs.
“Johnny, I didn’t wake him this morning. Milly wouldn’t let me.
Besides, if we’re going to have everyone over for supper, we
need to make some more furniture.”
As they stood there talking, many of the town’s people who were
out and about offered congratulations again to Mark, as they
“Could you use some help there Luke?” Johnny asked.
“Sure, just let Mark and me get the lumber purchased and loaded,
before we head on back to the ranch. That’ll give you time to
get the buggy from the livery. I’m sure Milly and Hope would
love to share Colleen’s company.”
While Mark escorted Colleen into the house, Lucas had a chat
“Johnny, while you’re here today, do me a favor, no comments
about Mark and Hope and their marriage bed.” Johnny had a
perplexed look on his face. “Johnny, Hope was rather embarrassed
this morning. You and Colleen, and Milly and I, we were adults
when we got married. Don’t forget, they’re both only 18. That’s
one of the reasons I forbid a shivaree last night. Please for
Margaret’s son, behave yourself?”
“Lucas, I understand. Guess I should have been more sensitive
earlier. I’m sorry,” Johnny stated.
After Mark returned outside, the three set to work constructing
Hope’s father and brother arrived at the ranch around
mid-afternoon. After unsaddling their horses, they helped carry
the new furniture into the home.
Dinner was everything Milly had wished it would be. Family
present and celebrating. And no one mentioned anything about
Mark and Hope’s marriage bed. Soon the evening came to a close
and the Gibb’s and the Lane’s left. The family walked back
inside after seeing everyone off.
Milly stated, “Well Lucas, I sure am tired after all the work
today, are you ready to retire?” as she poked him in the ribs
and motioned with her head towards the bedroom.
Lucas agreed. The two of them kissed Hope and hugged Mark and
wished them good night. They picked Myra up from the cradle and
walked to their bedroom.
As he closed the door behind them, Lucas asked, “Milly, what was
that all about?”
“Lucas, please. This way it will be easier for Hope, no one
present to watch as she and Mark walk into their bedroom. We’ll
see how she’s doing in the morning,” Milly answered.
Lucas had removed his shirt and sat down on the bed and sighed
as Milly leaned back into him and held Myra to nurse. Warmth
filled Lucas’ heart as he watched two of the three most dearest
women in his life.
“Milly, thank you for being my wife and such a wonderful mother
to my children.”
The Next Step — Settling In
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch