Chapter 22

Since she had woken that morning, Louise hadn't stopped for one single minute. Today Theresa was getting married and she was getting just a bit too demanding. If the girl had been completely calm in the last days, today she was a bundle of nerves. It was quite understandable, but her attitude was driving Lou crazy.

Louise had woken up feeling as sick as she had been the last few days. She feared that she'd better get used to it as it seemed it was going to be the rule during her pregnancy. She really hated feeling like this. She hadn't actually felt this sick before and all her tiredness also added to this. Lou made a note that she should try to get better rest from now on. Last night she hadn't gone back to bed till quiet late. Another almost complete sleepless night. She hadn't been able to be with Kid alone as she had planned, but she had enjoyed some pleasant moments with him and the others. It had felt so fine. She couldn't remember the last time they had been together like that.

After enjoying a big breakfast, despite Theresa's complaints, it was time for the girl to get ready for the occasion. Emma and Isabel were there to help and Lou was really thankful for that. She couldn't manage Theresa on her own in the girl's present mood. She changed from being all smiles to grumpy in a matter of seconds on top of her incessant demands and complaints. It was really too much for Lou to deal with. Louise didn't recall being this nasty on her wedding day. She had been nervous naturally but nothing out of the ordinary. She was supposed to be the one to have mood swings. She was pregnant; not Theresa. Yet, apparently, all this wedding business was affecting her sister in the same way as her pregnancy was playing havoc on Lou's nerves. Fortunately, today Lou felt in a cheerful mood, but even so she had been about to snap at Theresa a couple of times.

Emma was doing Theresa's beautiful long hair while the girl was complaining about some petty thing. Louise had stopped listening to her sister's whining long ago. It surprised her how Isabel and Emma seemed to be taking the girl's attitude quite calmly. Theresa was behaving like a spoiled brat and was getting on Lou's nerves with her nagging. Louise decided to leave the bedroom for a while and go downstairs to have a drinking of fresh water and calm down. Lou was reaching the end of the stairs when she heard a knock on the door. She opened the door and her face lit up when she saw Kid before her. "Hey, handsome!" she greeted him and gave him a long kiss on the lips.

Kid smiled at her fresh gesture. The anger he had felt towards her yesterday had faded. He had really been annoyed, but he couldn't keep angry with her for long. Thinking everything over, he considered that in a way her slip was kind of funny. He couldn't wait to see everybody's faces when they finally told them the truth and he knew that now it wouldn't be long. They were standing at the door and Kid asked in a playful way, "What if somebody sees us?" He was referring to the long kiss that they had just shared. He knew that nobody had seen them. Everybody was in the bunkhouse, getting ready for Theresa's wedding and there wasn't a soul in the yard.

Lou shrugged her shoulders and said smilingly, "I don't care."

Kid smiled and kept staring at her eyes for a few moments. Suddenly, he remembered why he had come to see her this morning. He wasn't eager to tell her as he knew she wouldn't be too pleased. "Lou, remember that fella, Brown? The one we sold a few horses this week?" Kid asked. Louise nodded and he continued, "I got word from him just now. Apparently, he urgently needs a couple more of our horses today. Seems he is in some kind of fix. So I'm afraid I'll have to do the job and take them."

"No!" Lou whimpered. "Not today. It's Saturday and my sister's wedding."

Kid nodded ruefully and added, "Lou, you know I have to go. I can't ask any of the boys. It wouldn't be fair. We gave them the day off for attending Theresa's wedding."

Lou puffed irritated. She just wanted Kid to be there with her today. "It's not fair for you either," she pouted. "I wanted to dance with you." She thought ruefully that now it wouldn't be much different from when Jeremiah had married. She had been alone and today she would be lonely too. Admittedly, the situation wasn't quite the same and she knew where her husband would be now, but still, she felt quite annoyed.

"Lou, it won't take me more than three hours," Kid said. "I'll be there to dance with you, I swear. Save me all the dances, will you?"

Louise smiled despite feeling irritated for the sudden change of plans. She would undoubtedly save all the dances for him. Finally, she relented and said, "All right, I'll be waiting for you at the restaurant."

Kid was about to say something, but then a voice sounded behind him, "Hi". He turned around and realized it was Rachel, who stood on the porch just behind him. Kid greeted her warmly, "Morning, Rachel. You really look stunning today." The woman was wearing a white embroidered blouse and a very elegant skirt. Her hair, which she usually had in a plaid or a bun, was hanging loose.

"Thank you, Kid," Rachel said smilingly. "I've come to see how the bride is doing."

Louise kept quiet from her position at the door. She felt awkward in Rachel's presence. The thought that she had somehow messed up her friendship with Rachel pained her terribly. Rachel would understand when she told her; actually, Lou knew that Rachel would be the first to feel happy for her. What worried Louise was that her friend held a grudge for not trusting her in the first place.

"I was just leaving," Kid said. "If you'll excuse me." He tipped his hat to both women and began to make his way down the steps onto the yard, but he stopped as Lou suddenly called out his name. He turned round and Louise muttered, "Ride safe, will you?"

Kid smiled at her, hearing the worry behind her words, and just said, "Always." Then he continued his way out of Lou's place.

As Kid left, Louise felt terribly uncomfortable just with Rachel's presence. 'It is really foolish,'Louise thought. Rachel had been her friend since they first met, but she had never seen her friend as angry as yesterday, at least not with her. They had argued many times; it was something natural between close friends, but the way Rachel had looked at her yesterday hadn't left Lou impassive. It wasn't what she had actually said; it was the pain in her eyes that had expressed what Rachel felt. Lou saw in them that her friend had felt in a way betrayed by her after so many years of friendship, and Lou just felt terrible. Now that Rachel was with her, the two alone, Lou didn't seem to find the right words to say. She didn't dare to meet her eyes, but fortunately, it was Rachel who spoke up.

"You two really get on well. I can't say it doesn't surprise me," Rachel said, glancing at Kid's figure disappearing inside the stables.

Louise just shrugged her shoulders and let her friend in the house. They stood in the middle of the hallway, looking at each other but without saying one single word. Again it was Rachel who began the conversation. "How are you, Louise?"

"I'm fine," Louise whispered with a thin voice. She lowered her eyes, not daring to meet her friend's inquisitive gaze.

"So you're gonna have a baby?" Rachel asked.

Lou nodded. Right now she was feeling so small. She felt as if she were fifteen or even younger. She had never had to give any explanations to anybody since a very young age. Her mother had died when she was just a little girl and from then on she had basically been her own person. She had always done whatever she had wanted in every moment, but now she felt as if she owed Rachel something. Although she was an adult woman now, surprisingly, she really cared what her friend thought. It was at this moment that Louise realized how much Rachel meant in her life. She looked up and to her surprise Rachel was smiling.

"How are you feeling, Lou?" Rachel asked again.

"I've seen better days," Lou replied. For the first time she dared to smile and Rachel let out a peal of laughter. After a while Lou said sincerely, "I'm so sorry, Rachel. I …,"

The woman shushed her. "Come here, silly," she said and hugged Lou warmly. The girl wrapped her arms around her friend and reveled in the feeling of relief she felt. "That husband of yours and I need to have a very long conversation," Rachel muttered.

Louise giggled at Rachel's motherly attitude. "Oh he won't mind, I'm sure," Louise exclaimed, "You'll see him later." She stopped and looking straight at Rachel's eyes, Lou felt the need to express how she was feeling. "I'm really sorry, Rachel. I need to talk to you, to tell you the truth."

In that moment a loud voice calling Louise from upstairs resounded in the house. It was Theresa. Lou rolled her eyes, which made Rachel laugh. "Seems we'll have to leave that conversation for later," Rachel said and added, "So tell me how the bride is getting on?"

"Oh she's driving me nuts," Louise said. Both women laughed as they climbed the stairs towards the bedroom. Louise was feeling elated that she had been able to mend her problems with her friend. Since yesterday she had had this fear in the pit of her stomach. But now she really was relieved that things between Rachel and her were back to normal. She still had to talk to her and explain everything.

They let themselves into the room and Lou stopped dead in her tracks. Her mouth fell open as she saw her sister in her wedding dress. She was really a sight. She looked beautiful and all of the sudden, Louise realized that Theresa wasn't a little girl any longer. She really was a grown-up woman and in a way the thought sent a stabbing pain to her heart. Lou wished she could get back all those years she had been apart from her siblings. She had missed so much and they were now beginning their own lives. In a way, she was having a taste of her own medicine. She had left them when they were very young even though her reasons were more than justified, and now it was them that were leaving her. She knew that she couldn't stop time as she also knew that she couldn't have done otherwise. Anyway, whatever she had done they would have left her eventually. Louise kept staring at the lovely image of her sister and heard Rachel exclaim, "Oh Theresa, you look beautiful!"

The girl smiled her brightest smile and she turned to her sister. "Louise, what do you think?"

Lou felt as if she couldn't talk. She was feeling really emotional and tried to control the tears that threatened to spill. She pursed her mouth tightly but her lips began quivering despite herself. Her eyes were getting blurry and as she saw Theresa smile at her obvious emotions Louise just blurted out, "Damn pregnancy!"

Everybody laughed at Lou's words. Theresa's face lit and smiled even wider. Louise didn't need to say anything else; the girl knew what her sister was thinking. She approached Lou and gave her a hug. They stayed like that for a few moments, but Emma's voice brought them out of their reverie. "I think we should get going. Your husband-to-be must be waiting."

Theresa giggled happily and exclaimed, "All right, let's get married then."

It was a fact. Theresa was now a married woman. The church service had been very emotive, especially for Lou. She had found it so moving when Jeremiah had walked Theresa down the church aisle. Lou couldn't believe that they were so grown-up and she felt so proud. The rest of the service had been intense. Louise had relived her own wedding as her sister pronounced those sacred words that joined her to the man by her side for ever. Lou couldn't help thinking about Kid. She wished he were there with her and she wondered where he was right now, what he was doing. She just hoped that he hurried up and came to her soon. It was strange but she now felt so vulnerable without him. She had thought that she was used to living without him and in a way over time she had accepted that she had lost him for ever, but that time seemed so far away. Since Kid had returned to her life, she just felt as if he had never gone.

The church had been packed with guests to the wedding. Lou could see that Theresa's in-laws had lots of relatives and acquaintances. Louise looked around her and just saw a lot of unknown faces; many men in army uniform, snotty ladies. Not at all the kind of people Lou was used to. She watched as everybody congratulated the couple. Lou cringed at hearing people calling her little sister Mrs. Addams. Louise still saw Theresa as a little girl and now everybody was calling her 'Mrs'. She had felt the same when she herself had got married. She wasn't used to being called 'Mrs. McCloud'. Actually, she didn't even recall being called Miss McCloud that much. She was just Lou, that was what she had always been. And all of the sudden, she had become Mrs. McCloud. It had sounded so strange and stiff to her ears. In a way, it was nice because it meant she was married to Kid even though she didn't have his name. But other than that, she had never liked the name. Fortunately, not many people called her Mrs. McCloud. For her family and friends she was just Lou, and that was what she would always be.

After the church there was a small reception at the local restaurant. It was really noisy and busy inside. There were so many people who had attended the wedding and Louise was beginning to feel tired. Now that she thought about it, Louise realized that since she had returned from Blue Creek, she hadn't had proper rest. That was why she was feeling exhausted all the time.

The day dragged endlessly for Lou. She felt compelled to make petty talk with a lot of people she had never met before. She understood that being Theresa's eldest sister she was kind of in the centre of attention. People felt that they had to pay their respects to the bride's family. She was tired of all these formalities and didn't have any wish to talk to such a bunch of uninteresting people about really nothing. It was her dear sister's wedding day and Lou wasn't enjoying it a bit. Kid hadn't turned up yet, she hadn't been able to spend any time with her friends and Theresa seemed as busy with the guests as she was.

She spotted all her family at the other end of the room. The band was playing a really sweet melody and several couples were dancing in the middle of the hall. Louise was with a couple of ladies who had been babbling on for at least the last hour. She had stopped actually listening to their words as the women banged on about their daughters, but she couldn't bear it any more and finally managed to excuse herself and headed over to where her friends were. They smiled at her as she reached them.

"Oh man, am I tired!" Lou exclaimed and let out a sigh.

"Oh honey, have a seat," Rachel hurried to say as she brought a chair closer to Louise. Lou smiled as she sat down next to her friends, who were polishing off their plates with cake. "You shouldn't strain yourself too much," Rachel added.

Lou smiled at her friend's words. "Are you planning to spoil me, Rachel?" she asked amused.

"You bet I will," Rachel said smilingly. "I wasn't around when …" her voice faltered as she knew that the subject was a painful memory to Louise. She paused and after a lapse she said with determination in her voice. "I'm here now and I'll keep an eye on you whether you like it or not, Louise McCloud." Rachel had felt so terrible that Lou had had to go through the miscarriage all by herself. The older woman had rushed to Sweetwater as soon as she heard, but unfortunately, she hadn't been there when Lou had needed her most. Rachel knew what it was to suffer a miscarriage and be all alone. She herself had lived the same nightmare, but Rachel guiltily thought that Lou needn't have been alone. She should have been there with her younger friend but there was nothing she could now do about the past. Now Rachel swore to herself that she would see to it that Lou was well taken care of this time.

The former station mistress still doubted that Lou's marriage had been one of her friend's greatest ideas. What kind of marriage was this? The man hadn't appeared at the ranch at all. Wasn't he worried about how Lou was doing especially now she was pregnant? He just seemed unconcerned as the facts spoke louder than words. Rachel was so angry at the man's obvious indifference. She could understand that army men had heavy responsibilities, but just this morning Rachel had seen Captain Hoskins in town as she was heading towards the ranch. He was just roaming around, seemingly in idle chatter with two other gentlemen, just lazing around. By the looks of it he was having a great time. On seeing Rachel the captain had tried to greet her politely but the woman had kept a proud stance and had continued walking without even turning her head or acknowledging the man's presence.

Rachel had been so furious and about to give the man a piece of her mind, but eventually thought to wait for a better moment. As sure as the sky was blue, Rachel would have a very long talk with that man. He had married Louise and got her pregnant, and, well, Rachel would make sure that he acted as a proper husband for Louise. Lou just didn't need any more lame versions of husbands. Rachel was still angry, especially as she hadn't seen hide or hair of him all day. Louise had said or maybe hoped, Rachel thought, that he would turn up and see her, but he hadn't made his appearance so far.

"Thank you, Rachel," Lou said at her friend's words. She felt that she had nothing to fear this time. She wasn't alone. She had Rachel, her friends and especially she had Kid.

Jimmy kept staring at her and finally said, "I still can't believe that you're pregnant."

Lou smiled shyly and added, "Just tell me the same in six months' time." She giggled, imagining the scared moment she went into labor. Everybody started laughing and joined in her mirth.

"So having fun, Lou?" April asked.

"Seems some are having more fun than others," Lou answered with an amused expression. They were watching as Teaspoon and Emma were having a go at the dance floor. Louise laughed. It really was a sight to watch. Emma was trying to keep up with the marshal's awkward steps. She was laughing delighted as if she were having the time of her life. Louise also caught a glimpse of Cody dancing with a pretty girl. Cody was still the same, Lou thought. He wasn't one to waste his time and hang around. He just didn't miss any opportunity to approach any girl who caught his eye. That was just Cody.

As Louise was watching the couples out on the dance floor, she caught sight of Theresa leaving her now husband's company and come towards them. She had the biggest smile plastered on her face and as she reached them, she said, "Oh, so sorry to neglect you. I've been stuck with Joseph's family and friends." Buck stood up to give his seat to the bride and the girl sank down on the chair heavily. Her feet were killing her and the many emotions in the day were taking their toll on her. She was really exhausted.

"Don't worry, honey," Rachel said smilingly.

Theresa smiled and turned to her sister. "So where is he, Louise?" she asked in a playful tone. She had tried to catch sight of any man coming near Louise, but her sister had always seemed busy talking with some of her guests. Theresa just didn't want to miss meeting her brother-in-law.

"Who?" Lou tried to feign ignorance.

"Captain Hoskins, silly," Theresa insisted. "You said he'd come to the wedding."

"No, I didn't say such thing," Lou exclaimed. Just the sound of the man's name made her cringe.

"Of course you did!" Theresa cried out. "Didn't she, April?"

Rachel was watching the exchange with her full attention. She was curious to know how Lou was feeling about the man's absence. Rachel supposed that her friend must have felt upset. She had told Rachel that he would be there for the wedding today, but he wasn't and Rachel was surprised at this new attitude in Lou. She was denying to have said any of that bare-faced. Louise wasn't like this. She would never deny something that she knew was true since she was very straightforward. But this new attitude of hers confused Rachel. Maybe she was trying to hide how she really felt; how she felt hurt and embarrassed.

"Yes," April answered Theresa's question. "Lou, you told us that your husband was coming to your sister's wedding."

Lou looked at April with an amused expression. "You're right, April," she said, "That's what I roughly said." Then she burst out laughing uncontrollably to everybody's surprise. Theresa and the rest looked at her as if she had lost her mind. What was so funny about it?

"Oh come on, Louise," Theresa whined. She didn't find Lou's attitude amusing in the least. "Stop fooling around." She kept quiet, hoping that Lou would tell her where that husband of hers was. In that instant Theresa's eye was caught by the person entering the room right now. "Oh no," Theresa grunted, a rueful expression in her face.

Louise turned her eyes towards whatever had attracted her sister's attention. Her face lit as she saw Kid coming towards them. She smiled broadly and her face felt hot all of the sudden. He was wearing his suit and Lou thought that he looked so handsome. He had taken the trouble to go to the ranch and get changed. Lou wouldn't care what he'd be wearing as long as he were with her, but now she was glad that he looked so smart in his suit.

"Hey, Kid!" Buck waved to his friend as he also noticed him in the crowded room.

Louise turned to her sister and talked to her with a serious stance. "Be nice, all right?" she warned.

Theresa was about to protest but Kid had already got to them. He tilted his head smilingly and said, "Ladies, you look beautiful tonight." He smiled broadly and his eyes lingered on Lou just a bit longer. Then he turned to Theresa and added, "Congratulations, Theresa."

The girl just snorted and Louise cast a furious look at her. "Uh… Kid," Lou began hesitantly, "was everything all right?"

"Just fine," Kid said, "I'd have come earlier but Mrs. Brown insisted I had some refreshment. She wouldn't hear a no for an answer. I couldn't refuse."

"Of course not, Kid couldn't refuse a woman," Theresa muttered maliciously. Louise turned her furious eyes to her sister once again. She was tired of Theresa's snide remarks to Kid. The girl's attitude really shocked and embarrassed her.

Kid's smile faded on hearing Theresa's words. Clearly the girl was really sore at him and the Southerner really felt self-conscious. He cleared his throat and trying to sound casual he talked to Louise clumsily, "Lou… uh … may … I have the pleasure of this dance?"

Louise smiled broadly and as she was about to respond, to her own chagrin she heard Theresa's loud and clear voice, "No, you may not." Lou looked daggers at Theresa and without turning her attention from her sister she said, "Of course you may, Kid." The girl didn't flinch and glared back at Louise. She really didn't understand why Louise had to waste her time with him. Lou rose to her feet and only when she felt Kid's hand taking hers she turned her attention to him. She met his eyes and couldn't help but beam with pleasure. She hooked her arm around his and let Kid steer her to the dance floor.

Theresa watched them as they began to dance with a grim expression. She turned to the others around the table and asked, "Why can't he leave her alone?"

"Honey, Kid is a good man," Rachel said.

"They're good friends now, Tessa," Buck added.

Theresa felt annoyed with her family's obvious biased attitude. "Some friend he has been to my sister," she muttered irritated.

"Sometimes things are out of our control, Tessie," said Emma, who had joined them after her exhausting dance with Teaspoon.

"Maybe," Theresa admitted reluctantly, "but she doesn't need him any more. So he may well let her be."

Nobody said anything else and they all kept looking at their two friends enjoying their dance. They were laughing happily as they swayed with the music. Rachel stared at them, feeling a mixture of regret and melancholy.

"It's really surprising how well they get along," Jimmy voiced what they were all thinking. His two friends seemed to be so much at ease with each other's company. When he had last been to the ranch, Lou seemed to have more than one problem with her situation with Kid, but now it was as if it didn't trouble her anymore. Jimmy remembered when his two friends had broken up during their Pony Express days. They had stayed friends, but in a way there was this tension between the two of them. But now Jimmy didn't notice that strain at all.

"Looking at them you'd think time has frozen," Emma remarked.

Rachel let out an audible sigh and added in a feeble voice, "But everything has changed so much. She's married to that man and he himself is planning a wedding."

"No, he's not," Buck said.

Rachel turned her surprised eyes to Buck and asked, "What do you mean?"

"He and Alice broke up, Kid told me," Buck answered.

"When?" Rachel asked again.

"Sometime around Christmas," Buck said. "He told me that he felt a bit awkward talking about it. That's why he didn't say anything."

Buck's words resounded in Rachel's ears and then thoughts flashed though her mind. She heard Louise's voice over and over again. "Around Christmas", "Rachel, it's not what you think"; "I need to tell you the truth." Could she just dare to think that …? As she kept looking at the couple's happy faces, Rachel remembered Kid's fishy absences, at the dance, last week; all of them happened when Lou surprisingly wasn't around either. 'And she never admitted anything about Captain Hoskins."Rachel thought. She turned to April and said, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

April looked at her quizzically, not understanding what her friend was getting to.

"What are you talking about?" Theresa asked as clueless as April seemed.

Rachel rose to her feet and approached the couple dancing. She tapped Louise on the shoulder and signaled to the two of them to follow her. Lou and Kid looked at their blond friend surprised and just did as Rachel said. The woman slowly sank down on the chair she had just left as Kid and Lou stood with expectant expressions.

"Rachel?" Lou urged to tell her what it was her friend wanted that required her to interrupt her and Kid's dance. Rachel looked at them and her eyes instantly fell on her friends' clasped hands. On following Rachel out of the dance floor they hadn't given any thought and they were still hand in hand. It was a totally subconscious act; it was something normal between them. Noticing Rachel's eyes on them she let go of Kid's hand immediately but she didn't miss Rachel's small smile forming on her lips.

"Louise, don't you have anything to tell us?" Rachel asked with an enigmatic smile.

"What do you mean?" Lou said non-chalantly. She felt quite self-conscious with the looks from her friends glued on her.

"You know," Rachel stopped purposely and then added with a knowing smile, "for example, who is your husband?" She looked at Lou purposely. "I'm sure you can enlighten us."

Theresa didn't understand what Rachel was talking about. Lou had already told them that she had married that captain. All of them had been there when Lou had spilled the beans.

Lou laughed, cast a brief glimpse to Kid and then she looked at her friend with a bemused expression. "Why, Rachel," Lou began in a playful way, "I seem to remember you were in my wedding, wasn't she, Kid?"

Kid smiled amused and simply said, "I guess she was."

"She means your wedding in Blue Creek!" April exclaimed. She was really curious about what Lou had to say. Apparently, Rachel wasn't convinced yet that Lou had married Captain Hoskins. April herself didn't have any doubts about the whole thing. She and Rachel knew that their friend had a romance with the man, so the conclusion was just logical. But, anyway, she wanted to hear from Lou herself. Her friend hadn't talked much about it and April felt curious. She really was getting tired of Lou's games. Why couldn't she talk straight?"

Lou smiled sweetly. For someone as sharp as April she sometimes was slow in catching hints, as everybody seemed to be as well. There wasn't a single reaction; only Rachel had a knowing expression but Lou understood that she wanted her to talk clearly. Louise looked at April and said, "That wedding, this wedding, no difference," she paused and directing her gaze at Rachel Lou added, "at all." She looked around and saw her friends' still blank expression. Only Rachel was smiling but seemed too emotional to move. To make her point Lou reached for Kid and gave him a light kiss on the lips.

"You two little scoundrels!" Jimmy exclaimed and he hurried to hug his two friends. Lou and Kid smiled broadly as one by one all their friends came to congratulate them. Rachel approached her and hugged her tightly, "I'm just so happy for you, Louise… for the two of you," the older woman said still clasping Lou against her.

The two women finally pulled apart and Lou muttered, "I know, Rachel." She looked at Kid, who was by her side and smiled at him. "There is … there will be nobody else for me, Rachel … ever."

The woman didn't say anything. There was nothing to say. In the last twenty-four hours she had been frantic with worry for Lou, but now all her worries disappeared. Kid was the man for Louise, he had always been. Lou would just be fine now after such a long time. She was again with the only man she had loved: her husband and they were going to have a baby.

All of them had gathered around Kid and Lou. The couple had to hear more than one wisecrack, especially from Cody, but Lou just didn't care. Everybody could have their fun at their expenses. In a way, she welcomed the bantering. It just felt good.

Theresa had stayed a bit behind the group as she was feeling very awkward. She hadn't expected this turn of events at all. She was happy for Louise. She knew how much she loved Kid and now that Theresa watched them casting looks at each other she could tell that Kid loved her as much as Theresa had seen years ago. But the girl couldn't help but feel terrible. She had behaved towards him hideously. She tentatively approached them and said, "Kid, I'm really sorry for the way I've been treating you."

Kid smiled at her, glad that the girl had got over her dislike towards him and just said, "It's all right, Theresa. Actually, I need somebody to keep me on my toes here. But I assure you I'm not planning to hurt your sister … ever again."

Theresa nodded and just said, "I know." She reached and gave each of them a peck on the cheek. She felt that things had turned out better than she had hoped. She was now a happily married woman and her sister had been given a second opportunity with the man she loved. Kid felt relieved that Theresa didn't plan to hold a grudge against him. The girl had clearly made him know that she was anything but pleased with him. Kid couldn't blame her for feeling like that, but he had feared that because of him there could be a rift between the two sisters.

Buck approached him and patted him on the back affectionately. Kid smiled and Buck asked, "So you remembered?"

Kid shook his head, "Not a thing, I'm afraid, my friend," he said and looking at Lou straight in the eyes he added, "I just fell in love with this woman." He leaned over and kissed his wife long and tenderly. They pulled away as they heard Teaspoon's voice saying, "I think this deserves a toast for the new bride and for our Lou."

Kid and Lou smiled and joined in the toast. Kid leaned towards Lou and whisper in his wife's ear. "I love you."

She smiled broadly, feeling happy for having her family with her and for having Kid. She looked at him smilingly and added seriously, "I love you too. But never forget me again." Kid smiled and drew her to his arms, feeling that he couldn't forget, not any more.

The end

This is the end of this flawed story. Thanks to those who have read it and shown me their encouragement. Thanks a lot!