Kid awoke the next morning in his old bunk in the bunkhouse, a smile plastered on his face. He thought of the night before. After Lou accepted his proposal, they returned to the ranch. It was almost impossible for him to leave her there and not come in and make love to her again, but he felt it would not be right. Reluctantly, he tore himself from the kiss and ran towards the stable. He saddled Katy quickly and rode towards the way station. He had the feeling that if he'd take his time, he would not be able to hold back.
When he arrived at the way station, the house was already dark. He entered the warm bunkhouse, smiling as he realized either Teaspoon or Rachel had already started the fire for him. At this moment he loved them so much, he loved everyone. Lou agreed to become his wife, and nothing could ruin his mood.
Kid sat on his bunk just as the bunkhouse door opened slightly.
"Can I come in?" Rachel asked from outside the door.
Kid smiled and rose from the bed. He opened the door wide for Rachel to enter, his smile widened when he realized she brought him some breakfast.
"Teaspoon had to head early to town," she apologized for the absence of her husband, "but I thought it would be nice having breakfast with one of my boys again."
"Thanks, I don't remember when the last time I had a real breakfast was," he smiled sheepishly.
"Why not?" Rachel asked, surprised.
Kid shrugged. "I guess when you're single, it's easy to skip meals."
"Well," Rachel handed him a plate full of eggs, bacon, and biscuits. "Teaspoon told me this might change soon."
She had her answer when she saw the wide grin on Kid's face.
"So, when's the big day?" she asked.
"We hadn't discussed it yet," he answered, then turned serious. "Do you think I'm doing the right thing, Rachel?"
Rachel put down her mug of coffee and reached for his hand on the table, squeezing it lightly. "I know you, Kid. You will never rush into anything unless you were absolutely sure. She seems like a nice girl, and if I saw correctly, there was a lot of love for you shinning in her eyes the other night at the party. I love you, and I want you to be happy. There is no right or wrong if you're happy, as long as you don't hurt anyone," she smiled at him.
"Thank you, Rachel. That means a lot to me."
"What's going on?" Caroline asked her husband when he entered the house.
Cody flopped on a chair. "I don't know where Kid is," he told her. "His girlfriend did show up, but he's nowhere to be seen. I don't think he slept at the ranch tonight," he added.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, Katy was not in her stall this morning."
"Well, then, if this is so, the poor girl probably didn't eat anything for breakfast."
"Billy, go to her and invite her over for breakfast," she told him.
"What?" Cody exclaimed. "I can't do that, Caroline. She's one of my employees, I can’t treat her differently."
"William Frederick Cody," she cried. "You go out there now, and invite the poor girl here. She's my friend and your friend's girlfriend, if not something more."
"What do you mean 'something more'?"
Caroline sighed and sat on a chair next to him. "Buck told Jenny who told Kaitlin and me that Kid planned on proposing to her last night. Seeing her here, in his house, I guess she said yes."
"That old…" Cody started with a smile but stopped at the look his wife gave him. "Okay, ok, I'm going. But I don't like it."
"Your objection has been noted," she told him, grinning.
Cody felt awkward as he neared Lou. She was shoeing one of the horses, working alongside Buck.
"Good morning," he greeted.
"Hi, Cody," Buck greeted back.
Lou looked nervously around.
"Um… eh…" Cody stammered. "Caroline wanted me to invite you over for breakfast. She figured you didn't have anything eatable at Kid's place."
"Where is he anyway?" Buck asked.
"He said he’d be staying at the old way station for awhile. He did say he'd be back in the morning though," Lou answered shyly.
"Probably Rachel made him some breakfast," Buck smiled, fondly remembering the breakfasts Rachel used to make for them.
"Oh, yes, Rachel's breakfasts…" Cody had a dreamy look in his eyes.
Lou laughed. "I am hungry," she admitted. "Kid doesn't have anything at his place."
"Well, he's not used to having guests," Cody said, missing the angry look that passed over Lou's face or the murderous glances from Buck.
"I'm not a guest, Mr. Cody," Lou said defiantly, her head high. She left the men and headed towards the Codys' house, fuming the whole way.
She knocked on the door and entered when she heard Caroline calling her to enter.
"'Morning, Louise. Have a seat. You must be starving."
"I am," Lou admitted with a smile and sat at the table.
Caroline sat next to her, while Lou ate her breakfast.
"Thank you, Caroline," Lou said when she was done eating. "I didn't even realize how hungry I was."
Caroline looked baffled for a minute. "Is everything alright, Louise?"
Lou nodded solemnly, unsure of what to say. She felt awkward at the ranch without Kid around. She wasn't sure of her place there anymore. She knew she had a job, and Kid promised her this will not have to change, but still, she was a little anxious about his friend's behavior, just like Cody, a couple of minutes ago. And here she was, having breakfast at his house, talking with his wife, her only female friend.
"Did Billy say anything to offend you?" Caroline asked, knowing her husband all too well.
"It's alright," Lou tried to smile. "I just wish Kid would get here already. He spent the night at the old way station," she explained.
Caroline patted her shoulder. "He will be here soon enough. And don't you worry about my husband none," she smiled. "He doesn't always think before he speaks, but he has a good heart. I think he just doesn't quite know how to deal with you and not realizing what you are sooner."
Lou smiled back. "I guess you are right. Still I wish Kid would arrive already."
"How was your evening yesterday?" Caroline tried to change the subject. Her smiled widened at the dreamy look in Lou's eyes.
"It was beautiful, Caroline. Everything was so magical. Him, the dinner, the walk…"
"I take it you said yes," Caroline laughed at the girl's obvious happiness.
Lou looked surprised. "You knew?"
"First thing you have to learn around here. Very little is kept a secret," Caroline giggled and missed the horrified look that crossed Lou's face.
A knock on the door cut her train of thought.
"It's open," Caroline called.
"Caroline, is Lou here?" Kid asked before he even entered the kitchen.
At hearing his voice Lou sprang to her feet and rushed into his embrace.
"What's that all about?" Kid chuckled.
"I missed you," Lou mumbled shyly.
Kid laughed and kissed her lips lightly. "I missed you too."
"Ahem," Caroline cleared her voice, reminding them that she was there.
"Sorry, Caroline," Kid blushed. He brought his hands to hug Lou, who still clutched at him like she'd never let go. "Lou, honey," he tried to entangle her from him. "I really should get to work."
"Maybe you can come here for lunch," Caroline suggested.
"Thanks, Caroline. You sure it's not imposing?"
"Nonsense, Kid," Caroline smiled. "I'm making lunch for myself and Billy anyway. We'd love if you joined us."
"Are you sure Mr. Cody will be happy about it?" Lou asked nervously.
"Why not?" Kid asked, holding Lou's shoulders, looking into her eyes. "Did he say anything to you, Lou?"
Lou was surprised at the anger she saw in his eyes. She shook her head. "No, Kid. Everything is fine."
Kid wasn't sure he believed her but decided to drop the issue for the time being. "Well, I really should go now," he quickly kissed Lou's lips once more. "I'll see you at lunch then."
Lou watched him leave and sighed. "Are you sure, Caroline?" she asked again.
Caroline nodded and hugged her. "Don't worry about Billy, Lou."
"Well, I should probably get back to work too," Lou finally said. "Thanks for breakfast, Caroline. I guess I'll see you at lunch."
Kid entered the barn to gather some things he needed for work. He thought about what Lou said, and felt the anger sweep through him again. How dare Cody insult her? he thought. Another voice in his mind told him to calm down. He had no idea if Cody even said anything.
"How was Rachel's breakfast? Still as good as it used to be?" Buck smiled at him.
Kid smiled at his friend. "Maybe you should come tomorrow morning, check for yourself."
"So, Kid. You have anything to tell me?" Buck tried to pry.
"Did Cody say anything to Lou?"
"What do you mean, Kid?"
"I want to know if he said anything to her that made her upset."
"He didn't mean anything, Kid. He just made a very Codyish remark. You know him," Buck tried to lighten things up.
"What did he say?" Kid sighed.
"He just remarked that your place probably doesn't have anything to eat since you're not accustomed to guests."
"She's not a guest, Buck."
"And that's exactly what Lou told him. Kid, she can take care of herself, and Cody really didn't mean anything."
"Well, I think I have to talk to you guys about something," Kid said after a couple of silent moments. "Can you get Cody? I'll go find Jimmy. Let's meet at your place."
Buck nodded and the both of them left the barn.
"You need anything else, boys?" Jenny asked when she brought them the coffee pot and the mugs.
"No, sweetheart, thank you," Buck smiled and kissed the palm of her hand.
"So, Kid, what is it?" Jimmy started when Jenny left them.
"Well, I wanted to talk to you about Lou," Kid started. "First of all, she's not a guest," he eyed Cody angrily. "Secondly, I asked her to marry me last night and she said yes."
"Congratulations, Kid," Buck grinned at his friend.
"Isn't it a bit soon?" Jimmy asked suddenly.
Kid shot him an angry glare. "What do you mean?"
"Well, you've only known her for a couple of weeks, and you're already marrying her. What about Samantha?"
"What about Samantha?" Kid tried his best not to shout in frustration. He could not believe his friend. Why couldn't he just be happy for him?
"Well, you've been brooding over her for seven years, and all of a sudden this mysterious woman arrives and you fall head over heels with her… I don't know Kid, I don't want you to get hurt."
"Why are you so sure I'd get hurt? Lou is not Samantha. She's nothing like her. She's sweet and smart and she's not afraid of hard work. I love her, why can't you accept it?"
"We do, Kid," Buck answered calmly, looking at Jimmy and Cody, daring them to say differently. "We're just worried about you. We want you to be sure this is what you want. If you're sure then we're one hundred percent behind you."
"Well, I'm sure, Buck. I love her and I know she loves me. I've never known anyone like her and I've never been this happy. I'm not the same young boy I was when I've been seeing Samantha. I know what I want. And I understand what you said about me thinking of Samantha up until a few weeks ago, but that's just it, Lou makes me so happy that I haven't thought about Samantha since."
They were all silent for a few moments, until Kid broke the silence again. "Look, guys, I care a lot about what you think. You are not only my best friends, but you are my family and I love you all, but I need to know that you stand behind me on this one. I know what I'm doing and I know what I want. I want her. I know it's fast and I know that some of you may feel uncomfortable with her," he eyed Cody carefully, "but I guess I need your blessing."
"You have our blessing, Kid. If this is what you want, you have our blessing," Cody smiled. He rose from his seat and approached Kid. Kid also rose and the two hugged. "I didn't mean to upset her, Kid. I just talked without thinking, you know how I am sometimes," he apologized with an impish smile.
"I know Cody, it's ok. Thank you," Kid smiled at his blond friend and sat back down.
Buck patted his shoulder. "Congratulations, Kid. I'm really happy for you."
"Thanks, Buck," Kid replied.
Jimmy kept staring ahead, contemplating. "Well, then, I guess we need to look for another hand now," he smiled. "I'm happy for you, Kid. Congratulations."
Kid nodded and smiled. "Well, Lou is not going anywhere. She's intending to keep her job."
"What do you mean, Kid? Why should she do that?" Buck asked surprised.
"Because she loves the job and she's good at it. I don't see why she can't do it if this is what she wants."
"Well, when's the big day, Kid?" Cody asked
"We haven't discussed that yet. But I'll try to remember to invite you," he grinned mischievously.
"Hey, Teaspoon," Buck greeted the older man as he rode into the ranch. "What brings you here?"
"I'm here to see Kid, is he anywhere around?"
"Well, I think he just came out of Cody's house. Maybe he's at the far end stable."
"Rachel wanted me to invite him and Louise to dinner tonight," Teaspoon said, somewhat unenthusiastically.
"You don't sound too happy about it," Buck commented with a small smile.
Teaspoon shook his head and smiled sheepishly. "I just feel like he's rushing into this. Like he's marrying her because he spent the night with her once, and now thinks he needs to do the right thing by her."
"I don't know Teaspoon," Buck said and laid a hand on Teaspoon's shoulder. "He talked with us this morning. He sounds pretty in love with her. She's a nice girl, we all saw that at his party, and it looks like she loves him too."
Teaspoon nodded solemnly. "Well, I won't say anything to him, I just hope he'll be fine."
Buck smiled and started to back up. "I should get to that horse I'm working on," he explained. "Send Rachel my love."
"Will do," Teaspoon promised and headed towards the stable.
"Hey, Teaspoon," Kid called as he saw Teaspoon coming into the stable. "What brings you here?"
"Is this something you all agreed to as the ranch's formal greeting?" Teaspoon chuckled.
"Uh?" Kid asked confused, wiping his hands on his pants.
"Never mind," Teaspoon smiled. "Rachel sent me here to invite you and the lovely Louise to dinner."
"Oh, we'd love to come, Teaspoon," Kid smiled. "What time do you want us there?"
"How about seven?"
"Seven it is."
"Kid," Jimmy poked his head through the stables door, coming from the attached corral. "I really need your help with this horse. Hi, Teaspoon."
"Well, I won't be in your way, boys. See you tonight, Kid," Teaspoon waved his hand and started towards the exit.
"Bye, Teaspoon. See you later," Kid called after him and followed Jimmy to the corral.