Looking up to the sky, Kid rolled up his sleeves and wiped his brow. It was a hot afternoon, and it was getting hotter. Just as he leaned back down to continue his work, Louise came over and placed her hand on his shoulder. "Kid, come on in and get cooled off, it's blisterin' hot out here and the fence can wait. Beside's you've been working on it all morning."
He looked up at her and smiled,"Thanks Lou, I'll be in a few I just want to finish this one side." She smiled back at him, nodded, and headed back inside to finish her work on the kitchen.
As she was walking away, he called out to her, "Lou, you got plans for tonight"? Kid grinned at his wife, and instantly she knew he was up to something.
"Well, I had nothin' planned as of yet. I was sorta thinking that I was gunna spend it with this guy I know." She kept a straight face, but as Kid looked into her eyes he saw the familiar twinkle that lingered whenever she teased him.
"Guess that means you wouldn't want go into town to have dinner with me then." Kid said seriously turning back to his work.
"You mean it!!" Lou squealed running over to hug him. Laughing he responded, "Of course, I'm serious. Wouldn't have asked you if I weren't. I figured it was high time I got you out, besides, we need to reacquaint ourselves with Rock Creek, we've been gone a while you know."
Shortly after the end of the war, Kid and Lou decided that they had seen enough of the fighting that raged through the land. So they headed back to the last place they had known....Rock Creek. The other express riders had gone their different ways, and it seemed that Kid and Louise were the only ones that were ready to settle into a somewhat "peaceful" lifestyle and start their new life together. Even though the two of them had stayed out of the war, it still affected everyone who wasn't involved.
"Then I'll fix us a little something to eat now, and we'll go out later." Kissing his cheek she turned and walked briskly to the house.
Shaking his head with a happy smile, he turned once again to his work of sawing, chopping, and lifting. I have such plans for this place....our place, no, our home. He thought to himself. As he worked, Kid couldn't help but think back to the best days of the Pony Express and the people in it; Jimmy, Cody, Ike, Noah, Buck, Emma, Rachel, and most of all Teaspoon. Those days were something magical. They will never happen again, but I can't imagine my life without those few wonderful years. He chuckled outloud as he began to remember some of the funny memories. Cody, he always was getting himself into trouble with his mouth or actions. As much as he hated to admit it though, Cody made their group complete. In spite of your ego Cody, you really did have your funny moments. Ike, he was the one who just by his very presence would calm any of the riders just by sitting with them, and although he was mute, he could speak a thousand words just by looking at you. We miss you Ike! Noah, well, Kid couldn't completely know about Noah, they were friends until his death, but there was always something that caused them to keep a distance. Although Kid knew he would have done anything for him, somehow he still couldn't help but regret that they hadn't been able to be closer. I guess me being from the South made a lot of difference. Noah knew how much I loved my home, and although he hid it, somehow I've always known that he held that against me. Deep down that was something Kid knew he wouldn't ever be able to resolve.
Buck was always a mystery to Kid. Deep down he was probably one of the bravest men he had ever known. Buck had always listened to everyone's side of a story, and Kid would never forget that he had always been there to help him. Anytime Lou had been in trouble or Kid feared for the fact that she had been late to her schedule, Buck had been one of the first to volunteer to help him go find her.
Kid's memories of Emma were fond and he were fond and he would always remember the kindness that she had shown to all of the inexperienced riders. She cooked their meals, and looked after all of the boys in her own motherly way. But most of all, he would always treasure the advice she had given him.
Rachel was the kind of woman that remained a mystery, somehow without being around she knew what was going on. She had always been especially in tune with all that was going on with Kid and Lou. Kid knew how much Rachel had meant to Lou, and for that he would always grateful.
Kid was always aware of the fact that Teaspoon was probably one of the most important people in his life. He had been more of a father to Kid than his own father had ever been. You mean the world to me Teaspoon, I don't think you will ever know how much you meant to all of us. Gosh I miss you.
He didn't let his thoughts dwell on Teaspoon long, it hurt too much. Once again he chuckled to himself, and then there's Lou....Louise, the woman I never thought I would get this close to. I wasn't sure that we'd ever make it, but of all the things I was uncertain of, I knew I couldn't live without her. Does she realize JUST how much I care, and where I would be if she weren't here?? The thoughts of Lou instinctively brought him to a halt with his work. All of this thinking had only made him miss everyone, and the only place for comfort that he knew was being beside his wife. He stopped what he was doing and went into the house in search of the woman he so much adored, and longed to talk to. As he opened the front door he called out, "Lou." With no response he started walking further into the living room. "Lou, you're right about the heat, I thought I'd come in a cool off for a bit, besides, I want to talk to you."
Still there came no reply and he began to get a bit suspicious. "Lou, where are you"? The silence loomed about him. "Oh gosh Lou, don't do this now." He whispered under his breath, figuring she was playing with him. He hastily searched through upstairs and realized there was one place he hadn't in yet. The kitchen. Swiftly heading down the stairs he walked to the kitchen. Where else could she be? She had to be there, or else.....he wouldn't let himself finish the thought. "Lou"? He called out one last time reluctantly. Looking around she was nowhere to be found. There was some small evidence that she was beginning to cook something, but there was no mess around the pans. Turning to leave he noticed an small white towel spotted with blood lying in the corner behind the door. Rushing over to pick it up he touched the red stain and realized it was fresh. "Lou, what's happened!!" Before he could think a second thought Kid ran out of the back of the house and looked for any trace of Lou that might lead him to her. Frantically he searched around the whole house. It wasn't until he was about to give up and ride towards town that he saw them. Bending down to study the marks he easily identified them as horse tracks. From what he had learned from Buck about tracking, it looked like about four horses. He turned and ran to the barn and saddled Katy with the record speed he had been trained in. "Please let her be OK." Kid prayed outloud. Mounting he rode into town at top speed.
Lou wasn't really sure what had happened to her, she only knew that her head ached and she could feel something wet and sticky that was on the side of her head. Having ridden with the Express and had several accidents she knew immediately that it was blood. Opening her eyes she felt the old familiar feeling of being on a horse as it galloped. This time she wasn't in control, and from the color of the horse, it certainly wasn't Katy or Lightning. She realized that she was sitting in front of someone, more specifically a man, and he had his arms secured around her holding the reigns so she couldn't escape when she did wake up. Turning her head she glanced at the man who now was apparently her captor. His face was dirty, almost black. He had sharp piercing grey eyes, and his hair was a dark dirt-filled brown which sat underneath a black hat. Lou had seen his type before, and frankly she could have lived without ever seeing it again. "What do you want with me"? She spat out.
He gave no response, only kept his eyes focused straight ahead. She looked to both sides and saw that there were three other riders following behind. She couldn't hear what they were saying but they were laughing about something. Probably best if I don't know. She thought to herself. Realizing it would be pointless to try and knock him off the horse or escape, she squirmed trying to readjust herself on the uncomfortable saddle. "You sit still!" The stranger yelled at her. Lou was taken back by the gravely voice which arose so quickly.
"What do you want me for"? She tried again.
"Just shut up and you'll know soon enough." He replied. Sensing she could not win she tried to think of an explanation. Lou had no memory of what had happened, she just knew that she was in the kitchen fixing Kid something to eat and she woke up here with a terrible headache. Oh Kid, where are you? Please find me. She sobbed to herself.
The marshal looked up from his desk. "Howdy Kid, haven't seen you around in a while. What's up."
"Plenty's up, Jake." He quickly replied, pulling out the towel with the bloodstains. "Lou's gone, just vanished. When I went in the house to find her this was the only trace of anything I found." Taking the towel his face turned grim with concern. "Were there any tracks left behind."
"Yeah, looks like about four of them. The storm winds started picking up as I spotted them and they were quickly being erased, so there's no way to follow them through the dirt out there. If only it had rained...." His voice trailed off and Marshal Jake Dunn could see the sick paleness of worry on Kid's face. He knew what he had to tell Kid, but it wasn't going to be easy.
"I think I have an idea of what might have happened to Lou." He said contemplatively after staring at the bloodstains.
Kid's face lightened somewhat, "What's that"?
"Well, it ain't necessarily good news. But see this mark on the towel"? He pointed to two slits in the corner of it, they formed into the shape of an 'X'. "Yeah I do."
"That's a mark made by the Crawford gang." Jake stated
"Ain't ever heard of them."
"That's because they haven't been in these parts. Mostly they've been down in Texas area....they struck a lot while I was there. I never really thought to warn the folks up here."
"So then you know where Lou is!?" Kid hastily replied.
"No, but it's a start. We're going to have to start a posse to ride after her Kid. These men are ruthless, and they know what they're doing. If we don't give them exactly what we want, Lou probably won't come out alive."
At the thought of that Kid closed his eyes, trying to fight back the horrible sickness that came upon him. "What do they want with her"?
"Who knows, they may have changed, but years ago they would go around kidnapping women or children and would hold them up for ransom. It was just another way of robbing. We can only assume this is the same situation."
"But why Lou! We're not rich! What could they expect"?
"That don't matter to these men Kid." He paused. "I'll go out and gather some men, in the meantime you better collect what money or valuable items you do own. I'll get the men together and we'll head out first thing in the morning, there's only a couple of hours of daylight left. The Crawfords will stop for the night." Without another word he stood up and left.
Kid stood there a minute lost and staring at the wall. Louise, kidnapped for money....oh gosh Lou, can you ever forgive me for not being there! I'm going to search day and night, I will find you, I swear it. Pulling himself out of the daze, Kid turned and went to Katy. "I'm going to need help, and there's specifically three people I want." He said outloud, remembering a letter he had received from Teaspoon a few weeks ago, Kid hoped that Jimmy and Buck were still visiting him there. "Jimmy, Buck.....Teaspoon, please still be in Sweetwater. I'm coming your way."