Gideon looked at the man in front of him with worried eyes. Spending the first night of his marriage in the home of his Father-in-law was not exactly what he had in mind. It wasn't that he didn't want to make a good impression on Alice's father, he just wanted Alice. But that plan had now been thrown out the window when his wife agreed to go back home for a few days.
The three sat in the back of the Pontipee wagon as Harry, Alice's former suitor, drove them back to town. The other Men had gone back a few hours ago, taking the other wagon with them.
"Your mother has been very worried." The Reverend spoke.
Alice's eyes lit up at the mention of her mother. She had been longing to see her family since she was kidnapped, but had since forgotten about wanting to go home. "I missed her too."
Gideon didn't make eye contact with the father and daughter, as he knew that he was the one responsible for tearing Alice away from her family.
"Gideon, my boy, you need not be afraid of me." The Reverend spoke with a slight chuckle in his voice.
The youngest brother looked up from his hands to meet the eyes of the reverend. There was something inside of him that said to trust Alice's father, that he wouldn't do anything spiteful, that he was a man of God and going against God's wishes would be a sin in the Reverend's mind.
The only reason that the Reverend agreed to marry the Pontipee to his daughter was that he trusted that God had chosen the right man for his little girl to marry, that she would be safe and loved in his arms, even if he thought she was too young to be married.
Milly also played a deciding factor in the marriages. She somehow had convinced the fathers and uncle of the girls to let them marry the brothers, but the girls had told them of their "ruined" reputations after Milly had announced that Hannah was her and Adam's daughter. She had been furious with her friends for claiming her daughter, but also for rushing over to her and trying to take Hannah out of her arms when she walked into the barn saying things to convince the men that she was their daughter.
"Please forgive me, it was all Adam's idea to kidnap the girls." Gideon cast his eyes down from his father-in-law as he spoke.
Alice placed her hand under his chin and raised his head to meet her eyes. Blue met blue and the boy smiled. He loved the way her blue eyes sparkled with amazement, wonder, and love when she looked at him.
"Gideon, how many times do I have to say that I forgive you? My father trusts me, and he trusts God, please stop blaming yourself."
The Reverend smiled as he watched the interaction between his daughter and her husband. It was clear that they were very much in love and he couldn't deny his daughter love.
"I was angry for many months that my Alice was taken from me, I wanted nothing more than to see you and your brothers hang, but I realized that God has a plan for all of us, and if Alice was meant to be with you, that the kidnapping was a reflection on us rather than you. We banned you from town and kept you away from the girls all because of a fight that town boys started. It'll take some time for my wife and me to adjust, but you are now family Gideon, and we love our family unconditionally."
Alice smiled at her father, touched by the words he had spoken to her husband. She had no idea how taking him to her home was going to go, but she knew her parents were accepting people, they understood the ways of the Lord and how he works, and they loved her. She took Gideon's hand in hers and rest her head on his shoulder.
"You don't have a ring."
Gideon ran his thumb over her ring finger and frowned.
"I don't need one, I have you and that's all I need." Alice kissed his shoulder as she spoke.
"Milly has ma's ring, and I can't afford to get you one."
It didn't take long for Alice to notice how close to tears he was. She took her head off of his shoulder and turned his head to meet her eyes. Tears were built up in Gideon's eyes as Alice kissed him softly on his cheek.
"I don't need a ring to show that I'm yours. I love you with all of my heart, and you and your love are all I need."
She kissed him softly as the tears fell from his eyes.
The Reverend smiled softly at the sight of the young couple in front of him. They were truly in love.
The group of four arrived in town a few hours later and to say that the townspeople were shocked to see Alice hanging on Gideon Pontipee with the Reverend smiling brightly at them would be an understatement.
They were livid.
The townsfolk swarmed the wagon as they pulled to a stop and desperately tried to grab at the youngest Pontipee and hang him from the nearest tree, while Alice had tears in her eyes as she tried to protect her husband. They didn't stop until the Reverend yelled.
"STOP THIS MADNESS AT ONCE! You are not animals! You are not to touch Gideon Pontipee or any of his brothers, or you all will be damned to hell."
Alice's eyes widened at the tone her father had used. Never once had she ever heard him say that ANYBODY would be damned to hell, but it made her feel safe and protected that her father wouldn't let anything happen to her husband or brothers-in-law.
The townspeople all stared at the Reverend in shock as he, Alice and Gideon stepped out of the wagon and began their walk towards their destination.
"What about the wagon? Adam will kill me if something happens to it." Gideon looked at the townies with wide and fearful eyes as they walked away from the piece of wood.
"They will not touch it if I have anything to say about it."
Gideon smirked at his father-in-law. "You're not half bad Reverend."
The Reverend smiled and patted Gideon on the back. "Please my boy, call me Patrick, you are family now."
Gideon smiled at his father-in-law and looked down at his wife. "Maybe this isn't going to be such a bad weekend after all."
Alice laughed and leaned into his side as they continued to walk towards her house.
That weekend was one of the best Gideon had had in a long time. He was slapped by Mrs. Elcott when he walked in the door but was then brought into a hug by the teary-eyed woman. But the best part was that the Reverend and his wife left the two alone that night, making up and excuse about needing to go visit Mrs. Elcott's sister, leaving the young couple alone for the night.
And they spent that night wrapped up in each other's arms with soft smiles on their faces, not wanting to be anywhere else.