Disclaimer: The characters of the Magnificent Seven belong to John Watson, Trilogy, etc and are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.
Universe: Old West
Rating: Suitable for all ages
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The impulse of a moment… That’s all it was, a momentary impulse. How was he to know that that one action would have such far-reaching consequences? How was he to know that a simple request would change his life so profoundly?
As he paced the length of the porch, Chris ran a hand through his hair and wondered if there had been some sign he had missed, some signal that his whole world would be turned upside down and that one simple event would cause him more fear and worry than he had experienced in the war.
He thought back to how it all began.
He and Buck had been moving along the trail for several days.
Their brief foray into the war had left both men unsettled and far older than their years.
They had been following along, picking up day work to earn a few dollars and raising cane at night trying to recapture the youthful exuberance and joy in life that had been so callously stolen by their duty to their country.
Three days they’d been on the trail, feeling it best that they leave the last town as far in their dust as possible. The beer had been tasty, the whisky good and the sporting women were willing and able. It could hardly be considered his fault that the shop keeper’s daughter took a fancy to him. It wasn’t like they did anything more than steal a kiss or two. Chris might be a little wild, but he knew the difference between an innocent girl and a sporting woman. Annabelle might have a bit of wild streak, but she was an innocent girl. He had seen too much ugliness in the world to wish to sully something so pure, but a few sips from her lips certainly wouldn’t have too averse an affect.
Her father hadn’t thought so. Thus, come dawn, Chris and Buck found themselves once more on their way, moving along the dusty trail wherever the wind blew.
The two wanderers pulled into a town. Unlike many of the towns they had ridden through, this one had the neat, tidy appearance of a respectable town. It almost made Chris’ skin itch, even as he felt a small tug in his heart to return to this sort of life, a desire to forget the ugliness he had seen and committed and embrace the life he’d known before the war.
Mostly, though, he believed the prosperous looking town simply meant there would be work to be had and money to be earned. Something he needed to think about since his funds were running low.
They continued through the nicer places of town and found their way to a boarding house where they took rooms before heading off to a back ally where one of the town’s saloons resided, well out of sight of the “respectable” businesses.
Looking around, Chris could tell the prosperity of the town extended back into this little business as well. People may not want to admit that such places existed, but they were willing to use them as needed. And, from the looks of things, people needed to use it quite frequently.
Before long, Buck disappeared above stairs with a lovely little brunette. Chris, finishing his dinner, found himself drawn into a poker game.
Not a bad player, Larabee knew he was no gambler, but Lady Luck was riding high for him that night. His opponent soon ran out of money and offered some land as collateral. Chris won that as well.
He tucked the deed away in his wallet and wondered what he would ever do with it or even if he could use it.
Shrugging off such concerns, he moved to the bar, ordered a whiskey and eyed the comely blond whose best assets were spilling out of her corset.
The next day, though he was now flush with money from his poker game, Chris went out with Buck to see what jobs were available.
With their experience, they had little difficulty being hired on for a week or two.
They had been at the ranch for three days when they were informed by their boss that they were expected to attend church if they planned on keeping their jobs.
Chris simply shrugged. He still had the poker winnings and that land so he didn’t need the job. Buck, however, did need the job. Glancing at his friend, he knew that Sunday morning would find them in service.
The rest of the week passed and the two men were grateful when Saturday finally ended. Tomorrow they would have the day off.
For the first time since before the war, Chris found himself up early on Sunday morning, polishing off his boots as best he was able and pulling out his best shirt to wear.
Fussing with his hair as he looked in the mirror, Larabee took a deep breath and released it, shaking his head at himself. “If the place doesn’t fall down around my ears it will be a miracle,” he mumbled, grabbing his hat and met his friend in the hallway.
A few moments of walking found him staring up at the moderately sized church.
His parents had been faithful church goers and made sure to raise their children the same.
After the nightmares he saw in battle, though, he hadn’t felt clean enough to enter such a place. The life he’d led since then had driven him even further away.
But now, unworthy though he was, Chris Larabee was bound and determined to sit through a church service so his friend could keep the well-paying job.
As the men approached the crowd in front of the building, he watched as Buck spotted some lovely lady or another and moved ahead to work his charm. With a wry smile and a shake of his head, Chris merged into the back of the crowd and took a seat on the back pew.
The singing and preaching, as far as he could remember, had been far better than he expected, but he would never be able to attest to that completely. As soon as he sat down he’d seen her and knew he was lost in a completely new and unexpected way.
The final blessing was said and the congregation filtered outside.
Though he knew he should wait for an introduction, Chris felt an irresistible urge to speak to the beauty who had captured him so unexpectedly and completely.
He waited outside the door watching for her to appear.
When she did, he pushed his way to the bottom of the stairs.
As her foot touched the ground, he took her hand in his and smiled into her startled face. Drawing her a little to the side of the throng of people, he maintained possession of his hand and drew her a little closer.
He vaguely recalled some announcement or another about an upcoming dance. Smiling down into her still startled and slightly suspicious eyes he asked, “Would you allow me to escort you to the dance?”
The beautiful woman’s eyebrows rose at the request. “I don’t dance with men I don’t know,” she responded factually, meeting his gaze with her own.
“Well, then, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Chris Larabee and I would be most honored to escort the most beautiful woman in the territory to the church dance.”
The woman’s cheeks suffused in a very gentle pink even as her mouth curved up into an amused smile. “Very well, Mister Larabee,” she agreed. “I’ll allow you to escort me to the dance.”
“And dance every waltz with me,” he added, pleased with his success and the fact she had yet to try and pull her hand away from him.
“We’ll see,” she replied, eyebrows arched in challenge.
Needing more of a promise, Chris stared into her eyes and requested permission to call on her later that day so they could go for a ride and get to know each other better.
A blinding smile appeared on his handsome face when she agreed. He lifted her hand upward and brushed a kiss across her knuckles.
“And where should we meet?” Chris asked.
A sly smile curved one side of the woman’s lips. “I believe it’s customary for the man to call at the woman’s house,” she teased. “Shall I expect you around three?”
“I’ll be there with bells on,” Chris assured, allowing her to draw her hand away from his. As she turned to leave, Larabee realized he didn’t know her name, “Wait!” he called. When she turned around, Chris asked, “You didn’t tell me your name.”
A wave of musical laughter escaped the lovely woman as her eyes flashed in merriment. “If you’re determined enough, you’ll find it out,” she teased before disappearing into the crowd.
Chris felt his heart beat faster as joy, excitement and something more welled within him. This woman would not be easy to win, but, then, Chris always did like a challenge.
That had been almost three years ago and Sarah Larabee had made his life more interesting ever since.
A simple impulse had driven him to introduce himself to the most beautiful woman he had ever met and somehow, his unworthy self had won her.
“You’ll wear a hole in the porch if you don’t sit down,” Buck admonished from the chair where he currently resided, resting his eyes.
Chris just glared at his friend.
Before he could retort, however, the sound of a door opening drew he attention.
He hasted his step to the door and looked down at the smiling man who was drying his hands on a towel.
Anxiety and worry had been his companions for the past eight hours. He needed to know.
His desperation must have shown clearly for the doctor smiled even more broadly. “Congratulations, Mr. Larabee,” he said. “You have a fine, healthy son.”
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