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The Next Step…
Chapter 16 - The Return of Johnny and Lou Drako
Written by Deanne Bertram

It was a Saturday morning, come the end of July, when Johnny and Lou Drako returned to North Fork after being gone on their honeymoon. Johnny said goodbye to Lou in front of the hotel and then walked to the Marshal’s Office. Surprised to see someone new sitting behind the desk.

“Well, I leave on my honeymoon and come back to find I’ve been replaced?” Johnny queried with laughter in his voice.

“No sir, Deputy Drako. I’m just helping out. Earning by room and keep while my leg was healing. I’m Drew Anders, U.S. Marshal. I’m a friend of Mark McCain’s.”

“Well, any friend of Mark… Speaking of Mark, do you know where he or Micah might be?”

Drew pointed towards the cells, behind Johnny. Johnny turned around and laughed.

“Mark, I thought school was out for the summer. Just what are you and Hope doing in the cell?”

“Johnny, welcome home! I’m helping Hope study. When did you and Lou get back?” Mark asked as he stood and walked from the cell to shake Johnny’s hand.

“Just a little while ago, thought I’d come check in to see what’s happened while we were gone,” Johnny answered.

“Well, things were quiet here in town as far as the law goes, but…” Mark laughed as he couldn’t continue. Micah was walking into the office.

“Johnny, good to see you back! How’s married life treating you?” Micah asked.

“It’s better than I ever imagined,” Johnny replied, as a small grin crossed his face.

“Micah, you taking notes or something?” Mark asked.

“Mark, I’ll have you mind your elders! Don’t you have work to do out at the ranch?” Micah asked, trying to change the subject.

“Not yet. Pa’s not expecting me until after one. I told him I was planning to tutor Hope this morning. ”

“Well,” Micah stated, letting a little bit of frustration come through in his voice. “This ain’t no school room. It’s a jail, so why don’t you mosey somewhere else and study, boy!”

“Yes Marshal. Just wait until Hope tells Miss Hattie how you treated us. Sure don’t want to be in your shoes!” Mark hollered as he grabbed Hope’s hand and ran from the office.

“Just what did that mean?” Johnny asked.

Drew answered, “The Marshal’s been seen in the company of a very fine woman and trying to keep it a secret.”

“OUT!” Micah yelled and pointed the way to the door.

*****

Micah walked to pour a cup of coffee. “So you and Lou….”

Drako interrupted, “No, no, no Micah. It’s not me and Lou. You and Miss Hattie? Does Lucas know?”

“Now why would Lucas need to know?” Micah replied.

“I seem to remember Lucas telling me about three men you knew, being in love, and you wanted to know who was going to be first?” With a school boy gleam in his eye, Johnny continued. “So maybe it’s not just the three of us now. So, are you going to make an honest woman out of Hattie?”

“Drako, that’s between me and her!” Micah exclaimed.

“So you are admitting its true?”

“OUT!”

*****

Johnny decided to walk the town before heading to the hotel. Eager to see his wife, but knowing he needed to return to his duties. As he walked, the store owners and residents welcomed him home and wished him well.

“Home” Johnny said to himself as he stepped to the porch of the hotel, turned and looked down the street of North Fork. “Sounds mighty fine, peaceful, and quiet…”

His revere was broken by a squeal that could only have come from his wife. Johnny entered the hotel to see Lou embracing Milly.

“Milly, when?” Lou asked. “Johnny, Milly just told me she and Lucas are expecting!”

“Expecting what?”

“A baby!” Lou said, deadpan, but her Irish brogue could be heard.

Johnny strode to Milly and gave her a hug and offered his congratulations. “So, when does this blessed event happen?” he asked.

“Sometime after the first of the year, in January,” Milly answered; a gleam in her eyes. “Lou, I was over at the general store and heard Mrs. Donner state she had seen Johnny walking the town, so I knew you were back and I just had to tell you the news. I’m on my way over to the dress makers. Seems my clothes won’t be fitting me much longer, I’m already starting to show.”

Johnny saw Lucas pull the buckboard up in front of the hotel, he congratulated Lucas on the news.

“So cowboy, you still got it,” Lou called as she slipped her arm through Milly’s and escorted her out and down to the dressmakers.

“Well, marriage sure hasn’t settled her down,” Lucas stated as he smiled at Johnny.

“I keep trying Lucas, but that Irish will of hers…”

“Well, maybe getting her with child might help lessen her will,” Lucas replied.

“I keep trying Lucas, but it’s only been a month that we’ve been married.” The two laughed and then went headed over to Sweeney’s to grab a beer.

The Next Step — Preparing for Winter

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

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