Love’s Engagement

By Angela
Copyright 1999

Secretly gathered outside Emma’s house, were six curious express riders. Each ready to peek through the tiny window located on the east side of the house. All were trying to remain unknown to the couple inside. Their curiosity had been spurred by Marshal Cain’s recent daily visits and nervous behavior. Something was definitely on the marshal’s mind. Evidence pointed to a proposal.

“He ain’t gonna do it,” Cody declared, standing on a bag of grain placed directly under the window. Grain bags always made a convenient stepping stool. With an amused grin, he turned to his friends. “He’s gone yellow.”

Jimmy, in order to get a better look, shoved Cody away. The blonde rider fell to the earth, not happy with his friend’s stunt. But, he didn’t interrupt Jimmy’s couple watching.

The notorious Wild Bill spied Emma and Sam conversing at the table, sipping tea and eating cake. Sam looked nervous and tense. After studying the marshal, he drew a simple conclusion. “Cody’s right,” Jimmy informed the others who stood eagerly behind him, awaiting their turn to gaze through the glass. “Who would’ve thought!”

“You two wanna keep your voices down?!” Lou hissed. Her conscience was scolding her for going along with the boys’ plan. “They’re gonna hear you!”

“Relax Lou,” Cody encouraged, brushing the dirt off his buckskin coat. During his dusting, Cody noticed several pieces of fringe were missing from his beaded attire. At first it bothered him, but then he shrugged and approached Lou. Placing a gentle hand on her shoulder, Cody confidently stated, “With the way they’re lookin’ at each other, they wouldn’t hear a cannon goin’ off right next to ‘em.”

“What makes you think he ain’t gonna ask?” Kid inquired after joining Jimmy at the house’s window. After catching a glimpse of the marshal, he noticed the nervous tapping Sam was demonstrating with his foot. His palms were sweaty, and they barely managed to grasp the delicate china cup before him. In the marshal’s defense, Kid reasoned, “Maybe he just wants to take things slow?” He stepped down from the stepping stool and faced his friends.

“No one takes things that slow,” Jimmy stated. Then he remembered how slow Kid was venturing into his relationship with Lou. After realizing his mistake, Jimmy corrected himself, “At least most folks don’t.” Kid didn’t miss the subtle message.

“Sometimes slow is best,” Kid argued.

“And sometimes slow leads to nothing at all,” Jimmy threw back, glancing quickly at Lou. He was sure she had the same thoughts. If Kid didn’t start acting more on his feelings, Jimmy was considering stepping in. After all, Lou and him had already proven to make an exceptional team.

“Personally, I’m bettin’ he’s just gone yellow!” Cody announced once more, ending the argument. “Anyone care to make a five dollar wager?”

“Cody, you don’t even have five dollars to gamble,” Jimmy pointed out. “You’ve been borrowing from me, remember?”

“Maybe through bettin’ I can pay ya back. Besides, this a bet I can’t lose,” Cody informed his fellow rider. “Not if Sam keeps dodging the marriage bullet.”

The image of Sam running scared over a marriage proposal, was amusing to the riders. Flying bullets and dangerous missions couldn’t even make the marshal flinch, but asking the ‘big question’ had him stuttering and fidgeting like a school boy. The thought make Jimmy and Cody burst out laughing. To prevent their cover from being blown, Lou shooed the two away from the house. Their absence from the window gave Buck and Ike the chance to sneak a peek. Unfortunately, they were too late.

“They’re gone!” Buck informed his fellow spies. Cody and Jimmy ceased their laughter immediately when they heard the front door swing open. Soon, the housekeeper was standing before them. Sam resided a few feet behind her, fidgeting with his old hat. Cody, clucked softly like a chicken to his friends’ amusement. Luckily, his stunt was too soft for the marshal to hear.

“Don’t you boys have chores to do?” Emma interrogated. Her tone left no doubt that a scolding would follow a wrong answer.

“We were just gonna do ‘em, Emma,” Lou reassured the den mother even though all the chores had been completed earlier. After adjusting her glasses, Lou headed for the barn. Kid, Buck, and Ike wisely followed. However, Jimmy and Cody decided to linger around and gamble with Emma’s temper.

“Actually Emma,” Jimmy called, positioning his hat firmly on his head. “Me and Cody already finished all our chores.”

“Is that so?” Emma questioned with a raised eyebrow. Hands firmly resting on her hips.

“Yep,” Cody foolishly reaffirmed.

“Well, I’m sure I can find something for you gents to do,” Emma said, her words guaranteed punishment. Before she could deliver her sentence, Sam interrupted from behind.

“Emma, I should probably be heading back now,” he informed her. The news displeased her, Sam could tell. But, he remained firm in his decision.

“I’ll see you off,” Emma insisted. Before escorting Sam to his bay horse, she called to the two troublesome riders, “Don’t you boys go anywhere. There’s work to be done.”

“This is your fault!” Cody said, pushing Jimmy roughly in the chest. His hot tempered friend retaliated with the same tactic. The other riders took time to enjoy their fellow riders’ misfortune, before disappearing from sight. It was best to avoid a woman’s wrath, and lying low was the safest bet.

An hour later, Jimmy and Cody were still working on Emma’s chores. And they were Emma’s chores. First she requested that all the kitchen cupboards be dusted and organized. Then she insisted that last night’s dishes be sparkling clean. And to make sure the boys kept busy, Emma added on the fun task of scrubbing floors.

“It ain’t like Emma to get this upset over nothing,” Jimmy pointed out as he dipped the wash rag into the steamy, soapy water, and began scrubbing dishes caked with stew.

“I imagine she’s fed up with Sam running scared,” Cody answered. After rinsing and drying another dish, Cody shared a thought that was haunting him. “You suppose we’re the reason Sam hasn’t asked?”

“What are you talkin’ about?” Jimmy asked, handing over several forks that were mostly clean.

“I mean, we haven’t exactly gave them much privacy lately,” Cody explained.

Jimmy nodded his head in agreement. Ever since they suspected Sam was going to propose, they had been stalking the couple. “Maybe it’s time we made it up the them?”

“Yep. Course, that’s if we ever get these chores finished,” the blonde rider commented as he stared at the pile of dishes before them. At the moment, the situation looked hopeless.

After searching the station, Kid finally found his love counselor resting against the tack shed. The station’s manager had his old hat covering his eyes, and appeared to be dozing. Kid, with troublesome thoughts, sank down beside the older man.

“Nice day,” Teaspoon commented after noticing his companion. He raised his hat, and soaked up the warm sun. “Something botherin’ you, Kid?”

“Teaspoon, I need some advice,” Kid confided. “About women.” Jimmy’s comment had really got him thinking.

Teaspoon eyed the young man curiously. “What about ‘em?”

“I guess I was wondering...” Kid’s voice trailed out. He wasn’t sure how to present his problem. “What pace should you court ‘em at?”

Teaspoon chuckled at the boy’s inquiry. “There ain’t no set pace when it comes to falling in love,” he told the boy. “Ya just gotta let it blossom like the flowers.”

“What does that mean, Teaspoon?” Kid asked, tugging at his hat’s brim. Sometimes he wished Teaspoon would say things in plain, simple terms.

“Kid, ever seen a flower grow from a tiny bud into a beautiful rose?” The station manager inquired.

“Yeah,” Kid admitted. “In the late spring and early summer months.”

“Turns into a sight that would steal your breath clean away, doesn’t it?” Teaspoon sat up straighter and adjusted his suspenders while Kid contemplated his theory.

“I suppose so, Teaspoon, but..” Kid began, with confusion written in his voice.

“No buts about it,” the older man corrected. “My personal favorite is the yellow rose.” He could easily picture the beautiful flower in his head, and remembered giving the lovely flower to his third wife on their first official date.

“How does the way flowers grow help with courting?” Kid demanded finally.

Teaspoon took a deep breath before furthering his explanation. “Son, does a flower allow itself to be rushed into blooming?”

“No,” Kid acknowledged.

“No it don’t,” Teaspoon reaffirmed. “It does things on its own sweet time, spreading its smooth petals gracefully out. Love’s just the same!”

“So you’re saying, love ain’t something to rush?” Kid inquired hopefully.

“Just let it blossom naturally, son,” Teaspoon advised the young man.

“Thanks Teaspoon,” Kid said before leaving the station manager to his resting spot. He felt better about his relationship with Lou already.

Late that evening, the riders called a secret meeting in the bunk house. Together, they decided to surprise Emma and Sam with a nice quiet dinner. The dinner would be held on a Thursday evening, six o’clock sharp, at Emma’s. Although they considered treating the couple to an evening at Sweetwater’s fine restaurant, they realized there would be little privacy there. Sam wouldn’t propose in a crowded restaurant.

“Lou, you’ll prepare the meal,” Cody ordered, with the firm belief that cooking was second nature to the gentler sex.

“What?” she cried. Her objection didn’t surprise her male companions.

“You gotta put your woman instincts to use sometime,” Cody informed her. Despite the fact Lou had burnt the first meal she’d ever cooked for the boys, Cody had hope. He was sure the natural talent women possessed for cooking would emerge.

Lou stared at him in disbelief. Then she hissed, “Woman instincts? Cooking ain’t an instinct, Cody!”

To cool the fire burning in Lou’s eyes, Kid suggested a simple proposition. “Why don’t we draw names? The first two names pulled from a hat have cooking duty.”

With a shake of his head, Jimmy stated, “That won’t work.”

“Why won’t it?” Kid demanded, still bothered by the comment Jimmy made earlier.

“Cause with my luck, I’m bound to be drawn,” Jimmy informed him.

“No more than the rest of us,” Buck pointed out.

*He’s right* Ike agreed, even though he wasn’t going to be entered in the raffle. He was scheduled for a run that Thursday.

“All right,” Jimmy surrender. He retreat from the group, seeking the comfort of his bunk. “Let me know when this grand drawing’s gonna start,” he called before lowering his hat over his eyes.

With the notion passed, Cody began scribbling the names of the five contestants down. The winners would be the people not selected from the hat. Once he was finished, Cody showed the article to his friends to ensure fair play. Then the names were carefully torn out, folded, and placed in Buck’s dark hat. Before names could be drawn, Cody shook the hat vigorously to mix the names up.

“Lou, would you do the honors?” Cody asked, holding the hat out to the lady rider.

Nodding, she accepted the duty. After pulling out her choice, Lou announced her victim. “Jimmy!”

“You’d better have been just callin’ me, Lou!” Jimmy stated from his bunk.

“Sorry Jimmy,” she answered sweetly.

“That ain’t fair!” Jimmy protested heatedly. Quickly he joined his friends, and attempted to justify his outburst. “Those weren’t mixed up enough.”

“Fine,” Cody said, rolling his blue eyes at Hickok’s tantrum. “We’ll start over.”

Lou folded and threw Jimmy’s name back in the hat. Then Cody passed the hat to the Kid. After shaking it nearly a minute, Kid asked, “This good enough, Jimmy?”

“Yeah that oughtta do,” Jimmy admitted. Gently nudging Lou away from the hat, he insisted, “I’ll draw, Lou. You can read ‘em.”

“Be my guest,” Lou encouraged.

“I will,” he reassured her. After pulling out the unlucky soul, Jimmy handed the slip to Lou.

“Cody,” she announced. This brought her great pleasure. Cody was going to be able to explore his ‘instincts’!

“That figures,” Cody muttered. It was just his luck to get more kitchen duties. He couldn’t help but notice the pleased smile Lou was wearing.

“Draw the next one,” Kid suggested.

Jimmy reached in to pull the last name, accidentally grabbing two slips. Lou, to correct the situation, pulled one free from Jimmy’s hand and read it. Then she revealed the last chef to the group.

“Jimmy!” she announced.

“Why do you always gotta pick my name?” Jimmy demanded.

“Guess I just have a likin’ for it,” Lou threw back.

“So it seems,” Jimmy acknowledged. Moving closer to her, Jimmy stated, “But see, it don’t count.”

“Why not?” Buck asked.

“Because, I drew this one,” Jimmy stated, waving the fold paper before his friends. He handed the slip to Cody.

“Well, well,” Cody exclaimed as he peered at the name. “Looks like you’ll be needing those instincts after all, Lou!”

“That’s not fair!” Lou declared loudly. “Jimmy’s name was drawn before mine!”

“Actually, they were drawn at the same time,” Buck pointed out to his friends.

Cody, seeing an opportunity arise, stated, “Well, there’s only one thing we can do to make the drawing fair.”

*What’s that? * Ike signed.

“Both of ‘em have to cook,” the blonde rider announced.

“There’s no reason for them to pair up,” Kid said, annoyed with Cody’s notion.

“Actually Kid, I think he’s got a good point,” Jimmy stated, mostly to aggravate the Kid. “Me and Lou have always worked good together.” He turned to Lou and offered his hand. “Partners?”

“Partners,” Lou agreed, after considering the proposition. To seal the alliance, they shook hands briefly. She really didn’t want the duty, but it was the only way to resolve the cooking issue. Besides, Jimmy was right. They made a good team.

“Well that settle’s it,” Cody exclaimed happily. “The rest of us will be in charge of getting Sam to Emma’s on time.”

“We’ve got two days,” Buck noted. “I’m sure we can figure some way of getting Sam here.”

All they needed to do now was draw up a menu, and formulate a fool prove plan. Sam had to be at the station before six. Then the couple could enjoy a romantic dinner alone. The riders would dine in town to help cure their curiosity disease. Hopefully, a marriage proposal would happen before the evening ended.

Thursday finally arrived, holding the promise of a beautiful warm day. After seeing Ike off, the riders went about their daily chores. It wasn’t until late afternoon that they threw their plan into action.

While Lou and Jimmy ventured off to begin their cooking adventure, Kid and Buck rode into town to fetch Sam. After writing a special note for Emma, Cody pinned it to where she would surely discover it. Right on the house’s front door. The note ordered her to wear her finest dress and to be ready to dine at six. It also promised a rider free night. But, he couldn’t allow her to find it until closer to five. So to keep her distracted, Cody decided to visit with her for a while.

“Hey Emma,” Cody called as he spotted her hanging clothes on the line. “Nice day out.”

“Yep,” she answered. “Where were Buck and the Kid headin’?”

“To town. Kid’s got some errand to run,” he explained. “Buck’s helping.”

“I see,” Emma muttered, not pressing the issue. After placing the last three shirts on the line, Emma proceeded back to the house to prepare supper.

“Emma!” Cody cried urgently.

“What is it, William?” Emma asked, a bit alarmed by Cody’s outburst.

“I need one of my shirts sewn,” Cody informed her quickly.

“It’ll have to wait to after supper,” she told him. Before she could take another step, Cody called to her again.

“It’s real important Emma,” Cody pleaded. “It’ll only take a minute.” Actually, half an hour, but hey what’s the difference?

“All right,” Emma said, as she followed the express rider to the bunk house.

Meanwhile, as suspected it was Mr. Hickok, in the kitchen with the wooden spoon that sent the bowl of egg mixture crashing to the floor. Although he denied touching the bowl which lay shattered on the floor, Lou didn’t believe him. There was solid evidence that incriminated him. Mainly the simple fact that Jimmy was the only one near the bowl. How else could a bowl placed securely on the counter suddenly fall?

“Get that cleaned up!” Lou ordered. “I’ll continue on with the cooking.” Whether he liked it or not, that was the way it had to be. The meal had to be done by six, and they were already behind schedule.

In the bunk house, Emma waited impatiently for Cody’s shirt. The young man had tossed half his clothes across the room searching for the torn item. After browsing through all his clothes, he began searching through the others.

“I know it’s here somewhere, Emma,” Cody reassured her. “It probably got mixed in with the others’ clothes.”

“Well, when you find it just bring it over to the house,” Emma said, making for the door. She had duties to tend to.

As Emma headed out the door, Cody grabbed an old, stained shirt and ripped it. Then he ran after the red headed woman. “Found it, Emma!”

“Amazing,” Emma declared. After taking the shirt, the house keeper noticed how grubby it was. “This is important?”

“I really like this shirt,” Cody informed her. “I’ve had it for a long time.”

“That I can see,” Emma answered, holding the dirty cloth up. “Got a needle and thread?”

“Oops,” Cody exclaimed. To sew the shirt, Emma would have to go to the house. There was no thread in bunk house.

“I can fix it in the house,” Emma reassured the rider. This time, Cody let her go. It had to be close to five by now. Hopefully, things were going well for the others.

After searching the town, Buck and Kid finally located the marshal by the livery stable. He was trying to calm the stable owner. It seems a few kids had a little fun last night, painting on the side of the barn. A harmless prank, but one that had the stable owner burning mad. After the men finished conversing, the boys approached Sam.

“What brings you boys here?” Sam asked, stopping in the middle of Sweetwater’s fine street.

“We come to invite you to dinner,” Kid answered the marshal.

“Wish I could,” Sam said, removing his hat. “But, there’s a lot of things I gotta see to here in town.” He proceeded to the jail, with the riders close on his tail.

“It’s real important,” Buck informed him.

“Is that so?” Sam asked, his pace not slowing.

“Teaspoon made it sound that way,” Kid chimed in. He knew Sam would come if Teaspoon was the one asking.

“Something happened?” Sam interrogated. He turned and faced the boys.

“He wouldn’t say,” Buck lied. “He just said to get you.”

“All right,” Sam agreed. “I’ll be there.” Then he left the boys and headed for the jail.

“By six,” Kid called after him. “And wear something nice.”

Sam turned around puzzled. “I have to dress up?” He questioned. He eyed the riders suspiciously. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“That was easier than I thought it would be,” Buck admitted as they watched Sweetwater’s law enforcer turn the corner. So far, things seemed to be falling into place.

In Emma’s tiny kitchen, the two chefs stared at the clumpy, foul smelling substance Lou had created. Neither one had summoned the courage to taste it. However, Jimmy did poke it with a wooden spoon.

“What’s this suppose to be?” He asked his partner, tipping its container for a better look.

“Gravy,” she said defensively. “Why? Something wrong?”

“I’ve never seen gravy that looked like that,” Jimmy told her. “Definitely none that smelled as bad!” He shoved the bowl away.

“Well, maybe if you would’ve helped-” She began before Jimmy interrupted.

“I was cleaning and cooking the meat,” He reminded her.

“You mean the meat you burnt?” She threw back.

“It ain’t burnt, Lou, it’s well done,” he corrected. His team mate was about to argue when soft laughter caught their attention.

“Emma!” Lou cried in surprise. The red headed woman, smiled at them from the doorway, holding Cody’s letter in her hand. The cat was out of the bag. “Ain’t you suppose to be getting ready?”

“Well, I thought I check in on ya,” Emma informed the chefs. “It’s a good thing I did.”

“We got things under control here, Emma,” Jimmy reassured her. The den mother just smiled.

“Maybe so,” she said, slipping on her apron. “But I think Sam might actually wanna eat when he gets here.”

“This was suppose to be a surprise,” Lou explained.

“It was,” Emma said, placing a loving hand on Lou’s shoulder. “Real nice one too. But I think I can handle it from here.” She shooed the riders away. After they were gone, Emma got to work. Maybe tonight would be the night Sam finally asked.

“Maybe we should head to town now?” Lou suggested to her companion. Kid and Buck were probably growing tired of waiting.

“Might as well,” Jimmy agreed. Entering the barn, the riders discovered Cody already had their horses saddled and ready to go.

“How’d the cooking adventure go?” He inquired, mounting his bay horse.

“Don’t ask,” Lou answered. Cody just grinned. Together, the trio raced away.

Nearly a mile from the station, the three riders spotted Buck and Kid riding hard towards them. The two riders halted their horses quickly beside their friends. The look on their faces showed things were not well.

“What went wrong?” Cody asked.

“Sam’s stuck in town,” Kid answered. “Seems a group of kids have been playing tricks on some of the store owners.”

“Tompkins and a few others are demanding Sam do something about it,” Buck finished. Their plan had almost worked. The marshal was dressed nicely and on his way out when the angry mobbed found him. With the citizens in an outrage, and the deputy real sick, Sam couldn’t afford to leave. He sent the boys to apologize.

“We can’t let this happen,” Jimmy cried. “Emma’s really looking forward to this.”

The others agreed. Then a broad grin stretched across Cody’s face. “If Sam can’t go to Emma, let’s bring Emma to Sam.”

“And then what?” Buck asked.

“Then they serve some time together,” Cody informed his friends.

“Sounds like a plan,” Jimmy replied. One of the best plans Cody had ever come up with.

“I’ll go get Emma,” Lou volunteered.

“Me too,” Kid exclaimed, wanting to spend some time with her.

“We’ll meet you at Sam’s office,” Cody called after his friends. Then they headed off to find Sam, and complete their grand scheme.

Lightning and Katy were halted directly outside Emma’s. Quickly, the two riders sprinted up the steps and into the house. Their arrival caught their den mother by surprise.

“Lulubelle!” Emma cried as the young lady rushed towards her. “What’s the matter?”

“It’s Sam, Emma,” Lou exclaimed. “He needs you to come quick!”

“Is he hurt?” the red headed woman asked, very worried.

“No, but he needs your help,” Kid told Emma. With a nod, the den mother followed the riders out the door. To save time, Emma suggested Lou and her double. Lightning could handle the extra weight.

After pushing through a crowd of angry storekeeps, Jimmy, Buck, and Cody came and stood beside the marshal. Together they presented a united front, demanding the citizens calm down. Still the crowded persisted in yelling about the injustices they suffered. Finally growing tired of the ruckus, Sam fired his gun into the air.

“Everybody go home,” he ordered. “I can’t get to work with all of you followin’ me with your belly achin’.” The crowd reluctantly complied, but not after muttering complaints about the law. Sam ignored them, and turned to the riders.

“What brings you boys back to town?” Sweetwater’s Marshal asked.

“Thought you could use the help,” Buck told him.

“We just might have a lead,” Cody added. Not true at all, but while Sam was locked up, they would look for one.

“Let’s hear it,” Sam insisted. The sooner he found the troublemakers, the better.

“Can we discuss it in your office?” Jimmy asked after spotting Lou escorting Emma into the marshal’s office. Sam quickly agreed, unaware of Emma’s arrival. He lead the way across Sweetwater’s busy street.

“Emma? What are you doing here?” Sam cried, surprised to find her waiting by his desk.

Emma stared at him briefly, baffled by his reaction. Then she turned to her riders, eyeing them with suspicion. It was a set up!

“What are you boys up to?” She demanded.

“Nothing,” Lou reassured her. She placed her arm around Emma’s shoulders, encouraging her to walk with her. When they got close to the open cell, Lou stopped. “We just thought you two should spend some time together.”

“Yep,” Cody reaffirmed. Together Jimmy and Cody nudged Sam towards the cell. “Nothing like a little quality time.” Soon the older couple stood less than a foot apart.

“Ready?” Jimmy asked Lou.

“Uh huh,” she answered. Before Emma and Sam could even formulate a question let a lone ask it, the riders pushed them into the little cell. After locking it, Cody slipped the key into his boot. Then he congratulated his friends on a job well done.

“Now hold on,” Emma scolded. “You can’t just lock us in here-”

“We just did,” Jimmy pointed out. “And you’re staying in there ‘til something gets done.”

“I’ve got those kids to catch,” Sam reminded the express riders. “I have-”

“Leave ‘em to us, Sam, ” Kid said.

“Yeah, Buck’s gonna track ‘em,” Jimmy stated, very amused with idea of catching the pranksters.

“Now that you’ve run out of excuses,” Cody noted, sporting a huge grin. “We’ll be on our way.”

“I’ll bring you dinner,” Lou added before following the crew out. She shut the marshal’s door behind her, and locked it. No one was getting in. To prevent interruption she placed a closed sign on the jail door.

“That’s real nice!” Sam called after them before turning to face his love. He had the ring in his brown pocket, just waiting to be place on her finger. He just hadn’t worked up the nerve to ask.

“Them riders of mine!” Emma exclaimed. Then together, they laughed.

“They got us good, Emma,” Sam noted. She nodding in agreement before taking a seat on the cold bench. Sam joined her, summoning his courage. She looked lovely, despite the horse hair that clung to her skirt.

“I wonder how long they’ll keep us in here?” She asked.

“I don’t know,” Sam answered, embracing her hand.

“Well, can’t say I mind the company,” she told him, gripping his hand tighter.

Her words and the privacy Lou had created, made his confidence soar. “Emma, there’s been something I’ve been wantin’ to ask you.”

“Oh?” she exclaimed, not letting on that she suspected a proposal.

He nodded bravely, removing his old hat. Slowly he made his move and displayed the ring. On bended knee, he asked, “Emma, will you marry me?”

“Thought you’d never ask,” Emma admitted before placing a firm kiss on Sam’s sweet lips.

“Is that a yes?” He asked, breaking the kiss.

“Yes,” she answered. “Now are you gonna put that ring on my finger or not?”

“With pleasure,” he answered after giving her a quick kiss. Once the ring was her slim fingers, they kissed again. Finally they were going to embark on a new journey, together. Hearing the office door being opened stole them from their moment.

“Here’s supper,” Lou announced, holding a big tray with plates filled with green beans, potatoes, and steak. Two glasses and a bottle of wine also rested with the meals.

“You can let us out now,” Emma declared, displaying her ringed finger.

“Oh!” Lou cried happily. Placing the tray on Sam’s desk, Lou rushed to Emma’s side. “It’s beautiful! I’m so happy for you two!”

“Thanks Lou,” Sam said, eyeing her curiously. He never seen a boy react the way Lou just did.

“I’ll tell the others!” Lou cried excitedly. She raced to the door.

“Wait! Wanna let us out first?” Sam called.

“Oh, I can’t,” the express rider answered. “I don’t have the key.”

“How about dinner then?” Emma suggested.

“Almost forgot,” Lou admitted as she grabbed the plates and slide them to the prisoners. Then she handed over the wine along with the glasses. “I’ll go get the boys!”

“Best time I ever served!” The marshal admitted to his future wife. Looking into her eyes, Sam wondered what he had been so scared of. They loved each other, and were destined to be united.

Before they could even finish the meals, the express riders came barreling into the office. Teaspoon was with them. The station manager suspicions were aroused when everyone let the station. So, he headed to town himself. After hunting the riders down, Teaspoon heard about the crazy stunt they pulled. He laughed at the couple in the cell.

“They weren’t kiddin’,” Teaspoon said, approaching the bars.

You wouldn’t believe the things they’ve been up to, Mr. Spoon,” Emma said, very proud of her riders. They had made the day very special for her.

“I can believe it,” Teaspoon said, causing the riders to quickly deny their mischievous deeds. They claimed to be angels. “Congratulations, Sam. You gained yourself a fine woman.”

“Oh! Not to interrupt the moment, but we found your pranksters,” Cody informed the marshal.

“Who?” Sam inquired.

“Two of the Miller’s boys, along with Charlie Johnson’s kid,” Jimmy stated. After locating the criminals, the riders had a good long talk with them.

“The boys feel real bad, and just can’t wait to repair the damages,” Cody informed the marshal. Repairing the damage through hard work didn’t seem like a bad idea to the boys after Cody lied about the penalties. A year in prison or a month of hard work. Hmmm... tough choice to make!

“Cody, let them out,” Lou insisted after remembering the couples’ request.

“Sure,” Cody stated. He reached into his boot. Then he began searching it. “I can’t find it.” The couples’ faces grew wide, expressing their concern. “Just kiddin’!” Quickly he tossed the key to Teaspoon, who released the couple.

“Next time, behave!” Jimmy scolded. “Or we’ll lock you up longer.” A chorus of laughter followed.

“I can’t say it would bother me,” Sam informed the riders. “As long as I get to keep the same company.”

“Till death do us part,” Emma said, embracing Sam’s hand. Together, the couple left the group and went to enjoy the night’s cool air.


Rice was thrown onto the newlyweds as they paraded out of the church. Congratulations were called by their friends and family. Beside the church, the couple stopped to shake hands with the guests, encouraging them to come to the reception.

“She looks so beautiful!” Lou said, misty eyed. Emma’s white dress was made out of silk with lace accenting the neckline and sleeves. Her veil was long and flowing.

“Yeah she does,” Kid agreed. The other riders held the same thought. Sam looked handsome too. He had on a brand new suit. Black coat and pants with a clean white shirt, and a black tie.

“It was a beautiful wedding,” Jimmy acknowledged.

“Yep,” Lou agreed. The wedding was perfect, but it also made Lou sad. A month before the wedding, Sam got a promotion. He was going to be a Territorial Marshal. His new job, required him to move away from Sweetwater. That meant Emma was leaving too. Lou was going to miss her so much! Luckily, she had three weeks before the couple left, and Lou planned on spending as much time with her den mother as possible. Seeing Emma so happy made it easier to let her go. Sam would take good care of her.


“It’s a girl,” the doctor announced to the eager father and exhausted mother. “She’s beautiful!” Gently the doctor cleaned the newborn and place her in her mother’s arms. Her husband drew them close, staring down at his little girl.

“She has your eyes, Sam,” Emma noted, softly caressing the baby’s cheek.

“Definitely has your hair,” her husband threw back. He kissed his wife’s damp head.

“Michaela Louise,” Emma said, handing the baby carefully to her husband. “Meet your daddy.”

Sam held his child protectively, cooing to her. Emma gazed upon them with tremendous joy that even exhaustion couldn’t conquer. Her new family was the most precious thing in the world. Once her strength returned, Emma planned on sharing the good news with her other family. Her express crew would always be family, and never forgotten.

The End

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