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Saturday, May 12, 2012
Author's Note: This is the fourth installment in the Sweetwater Romance series. It comes after Sweet Pea. It falls between the episodes Face of the Enemy and The Exchange in season 2.
Kid took a deep, fortifying breath as he swung down off Katy’s back outside the fence in front of Sam and Emma’s new home. He sure hoped Emma had the answers he was looking for, because coming to her, admitting he needed help, took almost all the courage he had. He really didn’t like sharing his problems with a bunch of other people. But things just couldn’t go on the way they had between him and Lou. Something had to change.
Tying Katy’s reins to the fence, Kid opened the gate and began to make his slow way up the walk to the porch steps. Taking his time, he looked around, getting a feel for this new place. It was the first time he’d been to visit Sam and Emma since they’d moved to Fort Laramie. In many ways, it reminded him of Emma’s place back at the Sweetwater home station. The tall, stately home boasted a large front yard surrounded by a white picket fence. Kid paused to admire the roses planted carefully along the base of the porch that wrapped around the entire front of the house. He could see Emma’s hand in everything from the freshly turned earth around the base of the flowers to the calico curtains edged with handmade lace fluttering in the breeze at each window.
Finally, he forced himself to take first one, then the second step up onto the porch. He raised his hand and, forming a fist, began to let it fall toward the door. Bam! Bam! Bam! He winced at the loud noise, having hit the wood harder then he’d intended. But, nothing happened. No Emma came rushing to the door to see who was calling. No cheerful sound of Emma’s voice calling out to him to come on in to the kitchen, she couldn’t leave the baking right then. Nothing.
Kid frowned, suddenly a little worried, and moved to the side of the door, bending over to peer through the window next to it, trying to see past the curtain into the home’s interior. Maybe Emma was hurt.
The quiet sound of a gun being cocked, had every last one of Kid’s muscles stiffening in fear and anger, only to relax an instant later at the voice that spoke from behind him.
“Raise ‘em, real slow like! And turn around so’s I can see just who thinks it’s a good idea ta come poking around my wife’s kitchen like a peepin’ Tom!”
Kid carefully raised his hands and turned around slowly, just as Sam had ordered.
“Sam,” he greeted.
“Kid!” the shocked Territorial Marshal uttered. “What the hell are you doin’ here?” Then, in sudden concern, “Is everythin’ all right in Sweetwater?”
“Fine, just fine,” Kid said. Then added, nodding at the gun Sam still held pointed at him, “Mind pointin’ that thing elsewhere?”
Sam looked down at his gunhand, startled. “Oops!”
He quickly held his hand out to his side as he carefully levered the hammer back into its resting position and holstered his gun. Then he rushed forward to envelope Kid in a bear hug.
“It’s good to see you again, then, son,” he enthused.
Kid, still worried about Emma, pulled away from Sam to ask, “Where’s Emma?”
“Oh, she’s off to a quilting bee the next town over. The Ladies’ Social is getting ready for a wedding next week,” Sam smiled at Kid, obviously taking pleasure in how quickly Emma had integrated herself into the local social scene. “She’ll be so excited to see you when she gets home for supper.”
“Damn!” Kid muttered under his breath, sinking to a seat on the porch steps, forearms resting on his knees, chin on his forearms. He let out a long, forlorn sigh. “I’m only in town for another hour or so. I just delivered an Army dispatch to the Territorial Governor. I’m supposed to go back and pick up a reply at 2:00. I won’t be here for supper.”
Sam looked more closely at the tall, sandy haired Express rider, taking in his slumped shoulders, tired countenance and sad eyes. Leaning back against the porch post nearest his young friend, he asked, “What’s wrong, Kid?”
Kid just shrugged, not sure if he wanted to, or even could, explain everything to Sam. A brief smile slid across the Marshal’s face, then disappeared again without Kid’s having noticed.
“Wouldn’t have ta do with a certain letter Emma got not too long ago from Lou, would it?”
Kid looked up at Sam, surprise showing in his furrowed brow and crinkled blue eyes. Sam laughed. Reaching out, he patted Kid’s shoulder.
“Oh, don’t worry, Kid. Emma told me all about Lou’s little secret when we got married. I’ve gotta say, it was almost a relief to find out.”
Kid relaxed, then nodded.
“Probably,” he muttered.
Sam moved back toward the door, motioning for Kid to follow him. “I know you can’t stay long, son, but why don’t you come on in and tell me all about it. Emma left some of her sweet tea in the cellar. A nice cold drink and a little talk are just what this situation calls for, I think.”
Kid stood, pulling off his hat to slap it against his leg as he followed Sam into the dark, cool interior of the house. In what seemed no time at all he found himself seated at the large wooden kitchen table, polished to a high sheen, a glass of Emma’s delicious sweet iced tea, well cooled in the cellar, between his hands, a plate of her best cookies in front of him. Both the tea and the cookies remained uncharacteristically untouched as Kid laid out all his troubles to Sam.
“I just don’t know what to do, Sam. I love her,” he finished. “I love her so much. But…” He finally let his voice trail off, unsure what else to say.
“That’s a mighty big ‘but’, son,” Sam smiled at the desolate young man sitting across from him. Taking a slow sip of his own iced tea, he leaned back in his chair and sighed in appreciation. “Seems ta me you two put the cart before the horse and got yourselves in a fine tangle.”
Kid didn’t say a word, just ducked his head and blushed beet red. Sam laughed.
“Well, ya ain’t the first couple ta do so, and I figure, if you two love each other, ya can probably straighten things out. If yer of a mind to, that is.”
“I am, Sam, I am,” Kid fervently assured him. “I… Well, I know I messed things up with her. I just don’t quite know how.”
“I’ll tell ya somethin’ my own Pa told me ‘bout women once, that’s stood me in good stead all these years. Treat her like a lady. And, despite how she’s livin’, I can guarantee that’s what she wants, more than anything.”
“But I tried that, Sam,” Kid nearly wailed. “I tried treating her like a lady and she called me a low down, mealy mouthed coyote!”
Sam, in the middle of taking another appreciative sip of his tea, nearly spewed the cool liquid across the table as Kid’s comment startled an unexpected bellow of laughter out of him. Once he had himself firmly in control again, Sam shook his head.
“I imagine she did. See, you got things a mite mixed up. I didn’t say treat her like a BABY, I said treat her like a LADY,” Sam grinned. “Lots of men get the two mixed up. Heck, lots of men think there’s no difference. Thing is, if you’ve got yer mind set on spendin’ a lifetime with a strong, independent woman like my Emma or your Lou, you’d danged well better learn the difference. And right quick!”
“How do I do that?”
“First off, find out what she wants. When you want different things, find a way to compromise. Ain’t either of ya goin’ ta be completely happy, but at least she’ll feel like ya respect her opinion on things. And, finally, keep yer hands to yerself until the weddin’ night,” Sam finished with an emphatic glare.
Kid started to protest that he’d only been following Lou’s lead, but Sam held up a hand to forestall him before any words got out of his mouth.
“Oh, I know how those things happen, son,” Sam said in a softer tone. “And I ain’t sayin’ I never slipped up. But, she ain’t goin’ ta believe you respect her if you head straight to bed with her. She’s going to come to think you only want her for precisely that, no matter what you want. And, sooner or later, she’ll start thinking that’s all she’s good for. Now, that’s bad news! Especially for a woman livin’ like yer Lou is.”
Kid nodded slowly, digesting what Sam was saying and what he wasn’t. Unlike Teaspoon’s advice, this actually made some sense. This, he could work with. Suddenly, Kid began to feel hope leaping in his chest. A slow grin, a real one that spread from ear to ear, made its first appearance of the day.
“I think I can do that, sir,” he said.
“Good,” Sam grunted. Then, pointing at the plate in front of Kid and the sweet tea in his glass, he added, “Now you make sure to finish those up, or Emma’ll have my hide fer not feedin’ ya proper before a run.”
Both men laughed even as Kid finally dug into the treats in front of him, visions of how he planned to win Lou back dancing in his head.
Sweet Reunion (#5)
Treat Her Like A Lady, Celine Dion
Lady, treat her like a lady
You'll make a good girl crazy
If you don't treat her like a lady
She stopped going to church, she don't wanna go to school
All the girl could want was a little attention
From a man who's strong
Anyone would rather be alone than be used