"Arthur," mumbled Lucy in her sleep, feeling the warmth of the blanket wrapped around her shoulder. Stirring, she remembered how the sleepless nights were the last few years. Looking up she saw the drenched window, as rain droplets slapped the glass. Rubbing her eyes, she took another look at her surroundings of Jack's room. Smiling, she saw one small item on his table that she had in fact given him. It was a small book and it shocked her, he still possessed it after all this time.
It made her remember the long journey it took to find John Marston. She knew that he, Abigail, and Jack left the country to run away but somehow, they found themselves back in Roanoke Ridge. It was obvious from Charles' letter, that he was in trouble but didn't want to admit it. That's why she sent out to find him first. She knew he was still alive. After all, she ran all the way from the mountain, like Arthur told her to. The look on the man's face was untouchable but he knew the pain she felt. Thinking back on her life afterward, she had never felt so alone.
New York City seemed so long ago now. Walking back into the city after nearly five years, she could tell the time hadn't passed her father. He seemed just the same, but her mother, time was not so kind. The look on their face as Charles waved goodbye in Saint Denis was heartbreaking but the event that happened…. It had to be done this way. But now she was finally with family again. And Tessa might have a chance….
Getting up and stretching, she could still remember the way Arthur would hold her first thing in the morning. No one had ever come close to how he did it. Sighing, she exited the spare room and saw Tessa sitting reading a pair of books in the sitting area as Abigail was washing some dishes. The men seemed outside somewhere as Lucy sat down.
"Morning Mama," called Tessa, playing with her hair a bit, turning a page quietly.
"Good morning my dear," she replied, turning toward the other woman. "Abigail? Do you need any help?"
Abigail shook her head as the front door opened up, and in came three soaked people. John and Uncle shook their heads as Jack simply excused himself to his room to change.
"John?" called Abigail from the kitchen across the way.
"Yes, Abigail?" he replied shaking his head more and putting his hat on the hook.
"You better put those wet clothes near the fireplace," she called to her husband.
A low mutter came from the men, as Lucy watched them retreat to John's bedroom to change.
"OH!" said Abigail suddenly at Lucy. "You was talking in your sleep again. Like old times I remember!" she laughed as she pulled a chair out at the table. "Come! What was you dreaming of?"
Lucy blushed as she walked over and took the cup laid out for her. "Well… just the past."
"Bout?" teased Abigail with a push to her arm. "You was dreaming about him weren't ya?"
"Bout who?" giggled Lucy back in retort. It hurt to laugh as her lungs were not as strong before but the smiles were refreshing to see between the women. John had come out after changing and sat quietly on the sofa with Uncle, who fell quickly asleep.
"What you girls talkin' bout?" laughed John as he sat down with a smile.
"You know… Arthur," offered Abigail.
"Abigail!" shouted John with a firm tone aimed at his wife. This caused him to look over and observe Lucy closely.
Lucy smile slowly turned downward as the memories flooded in. Abigail grabbed for her hands, seeing it greatly upset her. "I didn't mean to bring it up bad like. Arthur meant a lot to ya and us too. He was a strong, brave man. He gave us the chance to walk away from all that. He gave us a second chance," she said, tears forming in her eyes too. Lucy nodded as she spoke.
"He gave everything for that lunatic, and Dutch… He only walked away from his… people—" John could tell that Lucy choice of words was to protect the two children. Jack was old enough to remember people, but not events. Tessa, though, she was able to live because of Arthur.
"— and he didn't even care in the end. I was there. I remember it all. It hurts so much to remember how everything happened. I mean, Abigail, you were there in the end."
Lucy's arms tightened around her midsection before she let out a soften cry.
"Lucy," whispered Abigail as she stood and wrapped her arms about her. She held onto her tightly as though to squeeze the emotion out. "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry. I never meant…"
Abigail was looking at John for ideas but all he did was motion to rub his hands, as he remembered Arthur use to calm her down. Tessa, however, stood up and walked over wrapping her arms around her mother's neck and gave her a big hug. Momentarily distracted by her child, Lucy let out a smile before kissing her daughter's face.
"Please don't cry Mama," offered the young girl.
There was a smile there that Arthur use to have and this brought a smile to John's face. It was indeed like seeing an old friend. After sometime, the Marston's sat with her as she drank some tea. It took a while to calm her down, but they both could see the exhaustion on her. It was sickness, they thought. She was very emotional. John remembered that Abigail was emotional about Arthur too.
It was several hours, after the rain had come and gone. The sun was at high noon and Jack had taken Tessa to help him, but it was really just the two spending some time together.
"Pa says it gets smelling in here, but…" offered Jack as he held open the door.
"EWW!" screamed Tessa holding her nose. "Oh Lord! Why is it so bad in here! What died in here?"
John and Lucy were standing on the porch of Beecher's Hope watching their children interact with laughter covered hands. Snickering, John let out a belly laugh before watching his son stare back at him with confusion.
"That poor boy of mine," he laughed loudly again as the two children disappeared inside the barn.
"Good Lord, the mouth on that girl. Just like her father!" giggled Lucy sipping on her tea that nearly escaped her hands.
"Yah, Arthur use to talk like that. Always the realist," agreed John.
They remained quiet a bit before John stood up straight and looked at her squarely in concern. He turned to lean against the porch railing before sighing heavily.
"I was dreaming about him alright," she started, before allowing him to finish his question. "Arthur… he was always… so kind to me… and affectionate. You, too, actually John," smiled Lucy taking another sip of her tea, her eyes teasing at him. He smirked before realizing what she was referring to.
"I remember well what we did. Arthur spoke about that too when we were accused of what we did," commented John beginning to think back on those days too. "Can you believe what people thought of us?"
Her heart began to beat in the thought of what John and she did, but he placed his hand on hers and rubbed them. She smiled up at him before feeling a loose tear escaped.
"I remember the happier times," Lucy started staring at John, with his brown eyes staring into her. He rubbed her hand until she settled down. It was something that Arthur use to do to calm her down.
"That was a long time ago," offered John, his eyes earnest and calm, unlike Lucy at the moment.
"You know after we left Valentine, and everyone was at that lake shore camp… Arthur, he…. That damn rat Micah, he got a deal with that other gang. I forget who now, but he got hurt. Badly hurt… I had to nurse him back to health…."
John nodded as he appeared to remember.
"Yah… O'Driscoll's boys… He looked horrible," John mumbled as she wiped away her tears. "Thought he was going to die."
"Yah, Colm O'Driscoll… that man hurt him horribly…."
Lucy sat quietly as she could helping Mr. Pearson with skinning her kill from that day. Those around her were quite friendly, well except Micah, who still bothered her relentlessly. He had taken to trying something on more than one occasion, which the other men took notice of and intervened. She learned everyone and their names. Even now at the camp, there were the other women. Like Karen, a loud mouth, big breasted, woman with a strong stomach for whiskey. Mary-Beth and Tilly were very quiet and most excited to be around her compared to Karen or Miss Grimshaw, who everyone took chores from. From her notice, Miss Grimshaw was like a mother hen. Both ladies during chores would ask several questions about Mexico, which sadly, there wasn't much to say.
Mary-Beth and Tilly were around the fire eating as she explained.
"I've only been a handful of time with my father," she answered over beef stew.
"Was it hot?" asked Tilly with wide eyes.
"Were there handsome men like my stories?" questioned Mary-Beth.
Both women seemed impressed with her travels, but Lucy only waved it away.
"I don't know," she laughed. "I'm terribly no help! I remember visiting the church and being baptized. We went to visit his family's farm but nothing too special."
Lucy smiled as she stood up and went over toward the men who were laughing around the table playing dominoes. Around the table were Charles, Javier, and Lenny.
"Hola Lucia," said Javier not looking up. He had a few problematic pieces and she observed the tiles trying to help him.
"Bueno, deberías jugar ese allí. ¡NO! Usa este. El número cuatro al lado de los dos!"
Javier looked up at her with interest and a laugh. "Estaba pensando en usar esto. Tengo demasiados aquí para hacer mucho."
Lucy looked over at Charles and Lenny, who smirked at the two Spanish speakers. They shared a moment laugh before Javier decided on the piece she suggested, but Lenny smirked. The man placed down his piece, effectively blocking Javier during his turn.
"Sorry," offered Lenny. "I know numbers and nothing else!"
Javier and Lucy exclaimed a 'no' before he stood up, reaching for her.
"Come, come! I clearly need help Señorita! Come, come!" he waved her over, which she laughed about. Taking a seat on Javier's knee, Lucy played pieces for him for several rounds, each time enjoying a laughter of chatter with the others. He cradled her around the middle so she wouldn't fall, and moments passed when she noticed that he gripped her thigh a bit too much on. Looking down, he tried to pass it off as innocent, but once he knew that she, too, knew what he was doing, it was clearly a game for them.
"¿No estás ocupado con esos dedos?" she whispered leaning into his chest while Lenny took time to chose his next piece. Nightfall was coming quickly and it was making her sleepy.
Javier drew his body back with a smirk and let out a soft chuckle. "¡Nunca haría algo así!" He hugged her deeply before allowing her to get up. "Gracias Señorita. Keep these men from winning against me!"
Waving goodbye and kissing Javier on top the head, Lucy walked over finding little Jack practically asleep next to the horses and it worried her greatly he would be trampled. Pushing aside his bangs, the young boy stirred lightly before ignoring Lucy's prompts.
"Jack," she whispered shaking his shoulder. "Hey, wake up a moment. Let's get you to your bed."
Jack mumbled something as he accepted her arms to be carried. Rubbing his back, Lucy sang a little lullaby as she searched for where Abigail was. Seeing her across the camp, little Jack fell soundly asleep against her chest.
"…And with the moonlight as my guide… And with this feeling deep inside…"
Abigail stood up as she saw them and took Jack gently from her. Patting his head, she stepped back to allow her a moment to cover the boy up.
"Thank you. Boy falls asleep anywhere…" she muttered pushing her hair back.
"He was by the horses. I didn't want him getting hurt," replied Lucy folding her hands behind her back.
"Well, thank you," she said curtly.
In the distance, they both turned in the direction of an incoming horse, which sounded very familiar. Walking toward the noise, she observed it seeing a figure on the horse. A man grunted and it was clear who it was.
"Oh my God! Arthur!" she screamed, hurrying out to meet him, but the man had only managed to get barely just to camp before collapsing off his horse. He moaned as he landed with a thud. Lucy slide next to him as she reached for him.
"Arthur!" she cried reaching for his head to check for cuts or bruises, which there were plenty. He was horribly beat, a purple eye, and a low cough came as others including Dutch hurried over too. There were many injuries. He looks worse for wear. Moaning and coughing, Lucy locked eyes with him and he smiled at least before his eyes closed.
"You're home," she mumbled cradling his head in her lap. "Dutch!"
"Arthur!" called Dutch as he walked up finally.
"I told you it was a set-up, Dutch," he moaned between breaths and in anger too, Lucy could tell that.
"My boy," started Dutch, not knowing what to do. "My dear boy, what?"
"They got me, but I got away."
"Yeah, that you did," agreed Dutch looking around for someone. "Miss Grimshaw! I need help! Reverend Swanson!"
"He was gonna set the law on us!" he moaned as Lucy helped sit him up.
"Oh, of course he was," groaned Dutch reaching for his shoulders to help him up fully.
Lucy stood there unsure what to do exactly but she followed as Mr. Pearson and Dutch carried Arthur to his bed. Everyone looked around at each other for a moment, before Dutch approached Lucy.
"Miss Bennett, will you sit with him awhile?" he asked kindly waving at the restless Arthur moaning in his cot.
"Of course," she answered, taking the chair closer to him.
"You'll be okay Arthur," she whispered as she rubbed his hands. "You'll be okay, Arthur," she cried, fearfully relived that she had him back and that he was alive. "You're home, Arthur. You're home."
Arthur looked at her as she continued to hold his hands, tears forming in her eyes.
"Don't cry," he groaned as he turned on his side. "Not over me—"
"I know I shouldn't. You… You were gone for so long! Rest Arthur. You need that now. You're home Arthur."
Arthur tried to reach up and caress her face. When his hand reached her cheek, he smiled and let out a sigh. "Yes. I am home… with ya." His hand fell but it was simply due to exhaustion.
Arthur looked horrible, and all Lucy could do was sit there and hold onto his hands. Other tried to trade her out, but as they two sat together, it was clear that no one was to bother them. Often, she would wake up with a blanket over her shoulders, and once, she woke up hearing something rustling behind her. John was standing there, a blanket held tenderly within his fingers, momentarily hovering over her. Surprised riddled his face as she looked into his brown eyes seeing the kindness there. Gently, he sat the blanket over her shoulders before putting his finger to his lips, and quietly walked away, returning to his tent in haste. Silently thanking him, Lucy fell back asleep, her hands still holding onto Arthur's.
Over the next few weeks. Lucy tended to Arthur's injuries, even so as helping him get his strength back with daily walks. Sometimes, he would push her aside in his stubbornness, because, as he said frequently, he needed no help. Not making it far the first few days, but after a week, he was determined to not use her help. He would fall down but several days later, he was able to sit up without much pain.
"Lucy," he asked one evening, sitting on a log near the water. Lucy sat reading his journal leaning against his legs. "Why you reading all that? It's just notes."
"You write very well, Arthur. Besides your drawings are beautiful!" she said looking straight up and showing him one of wolves. She knew he was able to look down her blouse, which he grinned about.
"Lucy," he groaned as he put his hat over her face. "That's mine woman."
Ignoring his request, he poked her in the side which she brushed away. Finally, having enough of it, she got up and ran away, teasing him to chase her. They got a good distance around the bend from the main camp, away from everyone before Arthur managed to catch up with her. His book sat quietly inside his hat near the log, long forgotten by either of them. The sun was setting around them, but they just laughed at one another.
"Damn it," he huffed as he leaned on his knees to pause a bit. "Stop running!"
"Come on Mr. Morgan! Can't have our best shot getting weak!" she called a fair bit ahead of him.
"Oh I ain't weak! Com'ere!" he said bolting after her making her let out a shrill.
Arthur caught up, but really, she let him. Laughing as they ran in the deeper water; she went out a bit more than she realized and it causing her to fall under. He rushed over and swam toward her then seeing she was floating. As they stayed and observed the other, the sun set fully and the beauty of it was magical to them both.
"See! Ya don't listen! The weak coming ta save the weak!"
Lightly pulling her under, Arthur laughed as she splashed violently to regain her balance in the watery way. Spitting water out of her mouth, Lucy floated over to him as she felt his hands go around her sides until they were floating nearly in sync with the natural waves. The water was so still as she stared in his blue eyes. It was mesmerizing to say the least. He got ever so closer and before she knew, his arms had fully wrapped themselves around her.
"I'm sorry, if I was rude. I know ya was tryin' ta help me," he smiled under the moonlight. Lucy cupped his face as she felt a strong blush come. "Yer warm."
"You are stubborn of a man, but a reliant one," smiled Lucy holding his upper arms once more. "But yes, I am warm."
"You make me warm," he agreed with a whisper as soft lips came upon her equally trembling ones. His arms, thankfully, held her in place as she melted. It was warm and inviting, and Lucy wrapped her wrists around his neck. Floating there as they shared deep kisses, filled in troths of love, both felt for once at ease against their odds. Somehow, they made it back to the shore, where they shared another heavy amount of kissing and Arthur did things with his hands, making Lucy wiggle in her wet clothes. It also made her want to scream, but he begged her to not let the others hear.
"Keep quiet," he said placing his hand onto the fabric on top her breasts. Lightly pinching them, Lucy let out a low squeal and then a laugh as she fell back.
"I see dat," he grinned unbuttoning his shirt. "I can't breathe in this…"
Lucy pulled the belt from around her mid-section and tossed it with his shirt. Tempted to remove her shirt, his nimble fingers caught the ends of the blouse and slowly, painfully reached the lowest button.
"Why ya letting me?" he motioned up and down her chest. Lucy eyed his closely as he paused and waited for her answer. "I ain't patient."
"Neither am I," replied Lucy as she undid the buttons to her blouse.
They sat there on the grass, baring everything of their top halves, and Arthur… well he was paused as he stared at the petite woman before him, before letting out a wide grin across those cheeks of his. A moment later, he crawled over and caressed one of her breasts softly, causing her to moan lightly. Deep down, she knew what it was doing to him too.
"You're alright girl," he groaned deeply making her giggle a moment as she laid down on the grass, having been arched on her elbows for so long.
"You know in Blackwater," she started caressing his face and seeing his smile. "I… observed your back, and front, side very well, Mr. Morgan."
Arthur let out a laugh before cupping her face and speaking again.
"I done the same. Now kiss me," he moaned as he kissed her harder, and fingers played her like a fiddle.