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The Next Step...
Chapter 32 – The New Year
Written by Deanne Bertram

Mark and Hope had turned nineteen. Milly and Lucas had celebrated their second wedding anniversary and Myra had celebrated her first birthday, by the time the McCain family finished seeing the New Year in.

As they arrived in town for church one Sunday morning, they saw Micah and Hattie leading Johnny away from Doc’s office. He kept anxiously looking over his shoulder.

“Lucas, Mark, need your help. Lou’s in labor. We need to keep Johnny occupied until the baby is born,” Micah called over.

The hours passed in the Marshal’s Office as they waited for word. It was difficult trying to keep Johnny’s mind from worrying. At first Lucas thought of telling Johnny of when Mark was born, but the more he thought on it, he knew it would only add to Johnny’s worry. Lucas had almost lost Margaret that day. Instead, Lucas told of when Myra was born and how Milly had started in labor before midnight and Myra wasn’t born until later in the morning.

“Lucas, I’m so scared. Even facing some of the fastest gun fighters, I never felt this scared,” Johnny stated as he leaned forward and placed his head in his hands.

“Johnny, fatherhood is a miracle. Granted the nine months of waiting never fully prepares you for this day. Believe me, your baby will melt your heart the first time you hold them in your hands. I won’t say it gets any better in facing your fears, each time the child sniffles or sneezes or coughs. Then when they start crawling and then walking. You’ll be scared each time they scrape their knees. Then one day, you’ll be teaching your child how to ride a horse. And then watch as they head to school on their own. Before you even know it, they’ll be graduating school. And then one day, you watch as they walk down the aisle. But you never stop worrying about them. Even after their married and living their own life.”

“You talking from experience LucasBoy?” Micah asked. “Seems you’re doing a little bit of traveling down memory lane.”

“Yeah Micah,” Lucas replied as he looked over at Mark and smiled. “But believe me; it doesn’t get any easier when the second one arrives.”

“That’s only because you let too many years pass between the two of us,” Mark stated as he grinned.

Hattie, Milly, and Hope brought a tray of sandwiches to the office and shared a late lunch with the men. It was late afternoon when Johnny jumped up as he saw Abigail Burrage walk past the window and enter the office.

“Abigail, Lou?” Johnny begged.

“Johnny, Thadd will have Lou ready to see you in a few minutes. It was a difficult birth, but you do have a healthy child. If you’d like, you can come with me?” Abigail stated.

Johnny grabbed his hat and hurried from the office and followed Abigail to see his wife. Abigail led him to a back room. She opened the door and let him in, then closed the door behind him.

Johnny quietly walked into the room and removed his hat, barely whispering Lou’s name. Lou turned to look at Johnny and smiled, “You have a son.” He sat down on the edge of the bed and leaned forward and kissed his wife, “We have a son,” as he laid down on the bed next to his wife, caressing the back of his son’s head. Johnny grinned as he heard the suckling sounds while his son nursed from his wife’s breast.

When Lou felt their son stop suckling, she handed him to Johnny to hold. Johnny did feel his heart melt as he held his son, he opened the blanket and counted each finger and every toe, twice.

“Well boy, what should we name you?” Johnny asked. “Lou, did you have a name picked out?”

“I was thinking Connor Sean Drako.” Lou stated as she leaned into her husband and looked at him.

“Connor. It’s a good strong name.” Then looking to his son, “So Connor, how do you like your name?”

Soon, Lou and Connor were asleep. Johnny kept smiling, looking back and forth between his wife and his son.

*****

Thaddeus and Abigail Burrage walked to Micah’s office and let everyone know the good news.

“Lou’s going to be confined to bed for about a week and then I’d prefer she not return to working at the hotel for at least three weeks more, but they have a fine, healthy son.”

It was decided that Hattie would fill in for Lou at the hotel and restaurant, until Lou was given a clean bill of health.

*****

As Spring returned to North Fork, the town council decided that the town was growing and truly needed a second school, what once was the town hall, just wasn’t big enough anymore. So, in between the birthing of their livestock and planting their fields, the men of North Fork set out to build a larger school to meet the growing needs of the town.

As more and more women of North Fork appreciated a few hours in town, without having to worry about their children, the room that Hope used at the hotel was no longer large enough. It was decided that the day care would move into the former school room at the town hall. When Abigail Burrage wasn’t needed to help Thaddeus, she spent the days helping Hope, watching the youngsters of North Fork.

The Next Step — Myra, the Toddler

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

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