SMALL FALLS 2014 REBOOT – PART 4
The ex-outlaws rode hard all the way to River Gap. Heyes was quiet most of the trip, but Kid understood. He knew his partner was going through feelings that he wasn’t use to dealing with. It didn't help that Heyes hadn't really had any sleep since Friday. He had refused to leave Laurie's side the entire week and now they had a tough ride to get to the Colonel.
They rode into River Gap at two o'clock, Friday afternoon. They took care of the horses and headed over to the hotel to check in. "One room," Heyes told the desk clerk at the hotel, "Can you tell us where we might find Colonel Marker?"
The desk clerk looked up from the registry, "Mr. Smith?" he asked.
"Yes," Heyes replied cautiously.
"Then you must be Mr. Jones," the clerk said, looking at Kid, "Colonel Marker left this note for the two of you." He handed Heyes a folded piece of paper.
Heyes read it, "Had to go take care of a few things. Will be back in town later tonight. Have dinner on me and meet me in my room around nine for drinks. Colonel Marker." Heyes turned to the desk clerk; "We would like a bath as soon as it can be arranged." He turned to Kid, "You go ahead. I'm going to go send a telegram and then I'll be up."
Kid thought of going with him but decided to do what Heyes asked, so he went to the room to get cleaned up.
Heyes walked across to the telegraph office to send the telegram. He started writing: "To: Laurie," and didn't know what to write for her last name. The incredible Heyes smile appeared on his face as he wrote:
“To Laurie Smith, Jansen Hotel, Small Falls.
Arrived 2:00, Colonel due at 9. Weather looks okay, will tell you what the night brings. Love Joshua Smith.”
He handed the telegram to the clerk and headed back to the hotel. Kid was still in the bath so Heyes lay down on the bed to wait. Kid was talking to him and asking him what he thought the Colonel was up to. After three unanswered questions, the blond partner turned to see Heyes fast asleep on the bed. He smiled and went back to bathing and smoking his cigar. Heyes slept till Kid woke him up for dinner at six.
At nine, the ex-outlaws went to Colonel Marker's room. The Colonel greeted them, asked how they were doing and how the friend who was badly hurt was doing. They told him they were fine and their friend was hanging in there. Then they handed him the sealed envelopes.
"Still sealed?" the Colonel said, sounding surprised.
"Per your instructions," Heyes replied.
"Curious?" the Colonel asked.
"Well," Kid started.
"Of course you are," the Colonel stated, "No one could do this job and not be curious. By the way, I don't know how you did it. It seems that the people interested in this information don't know it has all been acquired yet. We've gotten no word since the first pick-up at the hotel and I know they're still watching the lake. You two are the best."
"Thank you. I believe there was an agreed upon price for our expertise," Heyes stated in a very businesslike tone.
"Yes, five hundred dollars plus expenses. I already sent you one hundred dollars, so how about we make it seven hundred? Oh, you did such a good job; I'll give you nine, so that will make an even thousand." The Colonel took out a stack of money and started to count it out as he continued to talk. "The envelopes contain the names of important people who are supposed to be loyal to the Governor but aren't. In fact, the details of a plot to discredit the Governor and get him thrown out of office are in the envelopes. He'll now know details of their illegal actions and can protect himself. There is also a list of those people the Governor can count on for things. People that no one would think would be interested in helping the Governor. My guess is that your names could be on the list." They had a few drinks and the alcohol was getting to Heyes. He had slept some already today, but he could barely keep his eyes open. They said good night; the Colonel thanked them for a job well done and told them to keep in touch, he would be putting in a very good word with the Governor.
The partners left town the next morning but not before Heyes sent another telegram:
“To Laurie Smith,
Weather's great. Hope you are.
After sending the telegram, Heyes turned to Kid, "I'd like to send money to Laurie. I was thinking two hundred dollars," he said, asking for approval.
"I was thinkin’ three hundred," Kid said with a smile. "By your account, you wouldn't have gotten the pick-up by the lake without her. Everyone gets an equal share."
Heyes got the Heyes smile on his face, "I like the way you think." He gave his partner a pat on the back; they sent the money and they left town.
Doris walked into Laurie's room with a tray; she was still sleeping. Laurie had been up briefly in the morning, but she was sleeping more than ever. It had been two days since Joshua and Thaddeus had left. Laurie looked like she was getting some color in her face, but she was still extremely weak. Doris put the tray down on the table next to the bed. "Laurie, dear," she said quietly, "Laurie, I have some broth for you. You need to eat." Doris paused before adding, "Laurie, I have a telegram for you. They weren't sure who it was for, but it came to the hotel. Laurie, can you hear me?"
Laurie slowly opened her eyes; "Did you say you have a telegram?"
Doris smiled. "Yes," and handed the telegram to Laurie. She looked at it and smiled, she got stuck on Laurie Smith. A tear rolled down her cheek. "He loves you," Doris said as she stroked Laurie's arm.
"I know," Laurie said and held the telegram to her heart. She read it and after a few moments she took it and placed it under her pillow.
Doris got Laurie to eat a little that day. The doctor came by and said she was doing better. Her injuries were beginning to heal and she looked a little stronger. Laurie slept a little less that day.
The next day at lunchtime, Doris walked into Laurie's room; Laurie was awake playing with the heart on her necklace. "You're awake. Good. I have some lunch and a telegram."
Laurie smiled as she took it. As she read it, a tear rolled down her face.
"Tears of joy?" Doris asked. Laurie was quiet and she closed her eyes. "What's the matter, dear?"
"Nothing, just missing Joshua," Laurie said with a forced smile.
"Joshua and Thaddeus should be back soon," Doris told her.
"No," Laurie corrected her, "He's not coming back. I released Joshua before he left. He doesn't need to be stuck with me after what happened. They won't be back. He's just letting me know he's okay so I don't worry." Laurie took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "I think I'd like to be alone for a couple of minutes."
Doris leaned over to kiss Laurie's head, "I'll be back shortly to get the tray."
Three weeks later, sitting in a saloon having a beer, Kid looked over at Heyes and teased, "You're gonna wear it out if you keep playin’ with it."
Heyes looked confused, and then realized he had been rubbing the heart charm Laurie had given him between his fingers. He had taken his watch out to check the time, and didn't realize it was still in his hand. He smiled at Kid and placed it in his pocket.
"When was the last telegram sent?" Kid asked.
"Last week," Heyes replied.
"You want to send one before we leave town tomorrow?"
"No," Heyes said shaking his head as tension filled his face.
Kid knew Heyes was still hurting so he backed off. He would bring it up later.
They played poker for a while, and then went to get a beer at the bar. Kid turned to Heyes, "I think we should head northwest when we leave in the mornin’."
Heyes looked puzzled at Kid, "Northwest? Since when did you get so specific? What's northwest?"
"Small Falls," replied Kid with a smile, "It's been three weeks. We know Hanshaw isn't there anymore. I know you want to see Laurie. I want to see…”
“I don’t think…” Heyes began to interrupt.
Icy blue eyes glared at brown ones, “That she wants to see you, ‘cause that’s plain ridiculous. And don’t tell me you don’t want to see her. You’re wearin’ the charm out and besides that you’re just miserable.”
Heyes creased his brow.
“Yeah, I said it. You’re miserable! You have been since we left Small Falls. And besides wantin’ to see Laurie, I was thinkin’ I might want to see Sarah, too."
"Sarah?" Heyes asked, raising his eyebrows.
"Sarah," Kid stated. "With everythin’ that happened; I didn't get to dance with her or use my charms on her."
Heyes gave a guttural laugh, "Charms, is that what you're calling it?" He laughed some more. Kid was happy to hear him laugh. He had barely cracked a smile in the past few weeks. “Okay, we can go northwest tomorrow." He paused, laughed some more, "Charms!"
Laurie was slowly healing; at least she was physically. Doris and Walter had been wonderful since Heyes and Kid left but she didn't have the same feeling about life. She didn't care anymore. Not only had she been attacked, yesterday Doris finally told her that her house burnt down. She had nothing to go back to and was feeling very down. Sam even started to venture out with Doris instead of staying next to Laurie's bed. Then the money from Heyes came. He did tell her he loved her and this was just to help until he got back, but she knew different. He wasn't coming back. Why would he? Why would anyone after what had happened? She didn't even dream he would come back. It hurt too much. She went to put the money in the top of her dresser drawer. That's when she found the note with the money Heyes had put there the day he left.
I am sorry that I have to leave. If I could change anything in my life so I could stay with you I would, but I can't. Remember this has nothing to do with what happened. I want to stay. You have made me happier than I have ever been. I will come back when I can. Please be happy and know how much I love you,
Laurie read the note and reread the note. Then she quietly sat down by the window. She didn't cry anymore, she couldn't. Her life was numb and she was just going through the motions. The doctor told Doris it was the shock of everything. Laurie would be her old self eventually. Laurie knew different, she knew her life left when Heyes left. The note said he would be back, but she also knew that was written before he left. Written with the guilt of having to leave her while she was in such bad shape. The guilt of not walking back to the hotel with her. When he first left, she got telegrams regularly, but the last one was weeks ago. She was living only because she promised Heyes she would try. Laurie also figured that she owed Doris and Walter for taking care of her. When she was up in the middle of the night she would venture downstairs to the kitchen to make the muffins and biscuits for morning. She only worked when no one else was awake. When people were up and about, Laurie stayed hidden in her room. She sat at the window, looking out at the street below, unconsciously playing with the heart. She was too ashamed and couldn't bear to see anyone in town. How could she look at them when they knew what had happened to her? Most people would only ask Walter and Doris how she was doing, but some, including, the Sheriff, the Quimbys, Charlie and even Charlotte, had come to visit Laurie. She wouldn't see any of them except the Sheriff and that was only because she thought she didn't have a choice.
When Heyes and Kid got up the next morning, they left town riding northwest. Heyes figured they could get to Small Falls by the end of the week. Kid noticed a difference in his partner right away. He was happier, teasing Kid about his "charms" as they rode. On the third night of the trip they sat by the fire after dinner and Heyes was once again rubbing the heart Laurie had given him between his fingers. Kid watched and finally said, "You should marry Laurie."
"Huh?" Heyes said, being jostled out of thought.
"I said, you should marry Laurie," Kid repeated.
"I asked, if you remember. Twice. And she said no twice. Besides, just cause I asked doesn’t mean we could really get married. I was…" Heyes voice trailed off as he stared at the fire.
"A fool? No Heyes, you weren’t a fool. You were tellin’ Laurie how much she means to you. You asked when she was hurt. She thought you were takin’ pity on her or you thought she was dyin’. She wouldn't have said no if you had asked her before," Kid's voice trailed off not mentioning the attack.
"I have no right. It wouldn’t be legal anyway.”
"Why not?" Kid asked.
Heyes turned to Kid; "I can't exactly marry her as Hannibal Heyes, now can I?"
"Marry Laurie as Joshua Smith."
"And tell me how that will be legal?" Heyes said sarcastically.
"People change their names all the time. Like that guy, what's his name, Sloane? That's not his real name and he owns the entire town of Wickenburg. If he can do that, you can get married as Smith. Are you ever gonna go back to bein’ Hannibal Heyes? After we get our amnesty, do you think you'll go back to it? Are you gonna be known as Hannibal Heyes ex-outlaw or Joshua Smith, Mr. Nobody? The only ones who'll know are you, me and Laurie," Kid replied.
"Not to mention Lom, the Devil's Hole gang, every lawman that knows who we are, the Governor."
"Okay, so some people will know, but no one in Small Falls. This way the two of you can be together and Laurie will have a family. When we get our amnesty you can re-marry her as Hannibal Heyes if you want.
Heyes poked the fire with the stick. “I can’t stay with her, it’s not safe. And why are you encouraging this when all I’ve ever said to you is ‘Kid it’s not the right time.’ ‘Kid you can’t do this now.’ Not once have I ever encouraged you to marry any of the damsels in distress you fall for. Why the heck are you telling me to marry Laurie, it’s wrong.”
“It ain’t wrong and this is different. You were right,” Heyes looked up from the fire and smirked, “Yeah you were right; just don’t let it go to your head.” Kid rolled his eyes. “It was just a moment with all of them. Yeah, I really liked them but it ain’t the same. You don’t fall for anyone and you fell for Laurie. You can’t look me in the eye and tell me you don’t still love her.”
Brown eyes drifted back to the fire, “It still doesn’t make it right.”
“In our life not much is right Heyes, but this is right. Laurie deserves to have a family and to know she is loved. She knows who you are and doesn’t care. She’ll be okay with us leavin’ and you seein’ her when you can. She’ll understand but she’ll also belong.”
“So she can live like a widow most of the time? Keep her from meeting someone else who can be there for her.”
“Did ya see a line of suitors waitin’ for her? And even if that were so, she loves you and told you that she would always love you.” Kid paused and stared at his partner for a minute. “I don’t think she falls for anyone either and she fell for you.”
“She turned me down twice already," Heyes said nervously.
"Ask her when we get to town, then marry her that night. You two belong together. I never thought I would ever say that, Heyes, but you do. If I have to lose you to someone, it should be Laurie," Kid said as he patted Heyes on the back.
"You're not losing me. You're gaining Laurie," Heyes said with a smile.
The cuts were healed. Even the deepest of the cuts and her ribs were healing as well. Emotionally, it was a different story. The horrible brutality of the attack kept Laurie from sleeping most nights and when she did sleep, she woke up from terrible nightmares. Doris was very worried about her. She was thin to begin with, and since the attack, she hadn't been eating, she was wasting away.
It was mid morning and Doris pleaded with Laurie to come eat something downstairs. It was such a beautiful day; they could both sit on the porch and have lemonade and muffins. She had asked Laurie every day since the doctor cleared her to move around, to please come downstairs and sit on the porch, see people, get some fresh air. She told Laurie that everyone in town wished her their best and would like to stop and say hello. Sitting on the porch would be perfect for that. Laurie had always said no; she couldn't face anyone. It was now four and a half weeks since the attack and she had barely left her room and had not stepped outside the hotel. For some reason this morning, when Doris asked, she surprised herself and said yes, it was time to try the porch. If it was too much, she told herself, she didn't have to stay.
Taking a deep breath, she stepped out onto the hotel's porch. It was a beautiful day and it felt wonderful to have the breeze on her face. Slowly, she walked over to a chair by the front stairs that faced away from the street. Laurie figured she could be outside, but she didn't have to see everyone's face as they looked at her. Doris came out with muffins and said she would be right back with the lemonade. Laurie was sitting quietly when she had the sudden urge to turn around; whipping around she saw Heyes standing at the bottom of the porch stairs. Gasping, her hands instinctively covered her mouth as tears welled in her eyes and then flowed freely down her face. "Oh, my" was all she could get out as she stood up shaking.
Heyes took two giant steps up the stairs and reached for her. They wrapped their arms around each other and held on as if it was for dear life. Slowly they relaxed their grip and Heyes drew Laurie into an incredibly passionate kiss. Just as quickly as it started, it abruptly stopped as he quickly stepped back, "I didn't hurt you did I?"
"No, you didn't hurt me, Joshua." Laurie said, as the tears flowed down her face, she placed her hand on his face. "I can't believe you're here. You are here aren’t you? I’m not dreaming?”
“You’re not dreaming; I’m here.”
“I missed you so much," Laurie said and started to bite her lip.
"Still driving me crazy," Heyes whispered and pulled Laurie in for another kiss that was interrupted by a cough from Kid.
"Thaddeus!" Laurie exclaimed as she turned to see Kid on the bottom step.
"Laurie," Kid said with a smile and walked up the stairs to give her a hug and kiss on the forehead. "The two of you are drawin’ quite a crowd on the street," he said with a smile.
Laurie turned and blushed as Heyes pulled her close to him.
The porch door swung open, "Joshua, Thaddeus," Doris exclaimed as she walked through the door and gave them each a hug. "It's so good to see you! Let me get some more lemonade and muffins. I'll tell Walter you're here." She said, almost singing, "It's so good to have you back." She squeezed Kid's arm as she walked back into the hotel.
Heyes held Laurie close to him; it just felt so good to have her in his arms again. He didn't want to let her go. Maybe Kid was right, it might not be technically legal, but to everyone in town, they would be married. He wouldn't have to go into Kid's room and go through the adjoining door to be with Laurie. They wouldn't have to hide it; he could walk into the room through their door. Heyes let go of Laurie and looked into her eyes, then gently cupped her chin with his fingers and pulled her into a gentle kiss. "We need to talk," he said softly.
"Okay," Laurie smiled and followed Heyes to the far end of the porch.
When they got there Heyes turned to Laurie and blurted out, "Marry me.”
"Joshua, you," Laurie started.
Placing his hand gently on Laurie's lips, he said, "Let me finish, please. Before you answer, let me finish." Laurie nodded her head yes and gazed into his eyes. "I love you. I don’t think I ever thought I would say those words to anyone, now or ever but you have stolen my heart. I have been miserable since leaving. If you don't believe me, ask Kid. I don't know how legal it will be. Kid doesn't think there is a problem, but I always get in trouble when I listen to him." Laurie giggled. "As I was saying, it may not be completely legal, but no one in town will know it isn't and we could be together. I can’t promise you when or for how long we’ll be together. We could get married and I might have to leave tomorrow and not know when I’ll be able to see you again.”
“Way to sugarcoat it,” she smiled at him.
Heyes ran the back of his hand down the side of her face. “It's what I can do now. When I get amnesty, if you want to use Heyes, we can get married again. I just know that I need you in my life."
"Joshua, Hannibal," Laurie rolled her eyes, "I don't even know what to call you, and I don’t care. I don’t care if you’re here today and gone tomorrow.”
He raised his eye brow at her.
Giving him a slight glare she continued, “I love you with all my heart but, being married to you? You already have to worry about you and Kid. You don't need an extra person to worry about. What would Kid say anyway?"
"It was his idea," Heyes stated. Then he corrected himself, "He knew I wanted you. He helped convince me this was the right time.”
She tilted her head slightly and pursed her lips.
“That didn’t come out right either,” Heyes ran his hands down Laurie’s arms and held her hands. “I know this isn’t ideal. I know I could leave you by yourself for a long time. Keep you from someone who is here and taking care of you all the time. Kid knows what you mean to me. That I’ve never felt this way before and he convinced me I had the right to ask you.” He raised her hands and kissed them. “This is the third time I've asked.”
Kid helped Doris as she walked out on the porch with a tray of lemonade and more muffins. Sam was in tow with a huge bone in his mouth. "They look very happy together," Doris said as she looked down the porch at the couple. "It has really been rough on her. This is the first time she's been outside since she was attacked. She's stayed in her room all the time."
"It's been rough on Joshua too," Kid said, watching the two of them. "He didn't want to stay away so long."
"They look like they are having a very serious conversation."
"Well, if I'm right, Joshua is telling Laurie he loves her and has asked her to marry him."
"It was Kid's idea?" Laurie asked teasingly, raising her eyebrows.
"Only that I should ask you when we got here and get married tonight."
"Tonight!" she exclaimed.
Heyes wrapped his arms around Laurie and pulled her close, "Yes, tonight. I want you to be my wife. Laurie, will you marry me tonight?"
She looked into his big beautiful brown eyes and watched his lips as he asked her. She melted into his arms and said, "Yes!"
He pulled her close and kissed her deep and passionately.
"Looks like Laurie said yes!" Kid exclaimed.
Doris put her hands to her face, "Oh my!"
Heyes and Laurie separated and turned to see huge smiles on their friends’ faces. "Congratulations!" Kid exclaimed as he walked towards the two of them.
The pair had smiles from ear to ear as they walked over for hugs and kisses from Kid and Doris.
Doris reached out to give Laurie a hug, "I am so happy for you, dear." She looked at her, "I told you he loved you and he would be back. Now when is the wedding?"
"Tonight," Heyes responded.
"Tonight!" Doris exclaimed, "My goodness, so fast. Don't you want a few days to plan?"
"No," Laurie said, as she stayed in Heyes' arms. "No planning is necessary. Joshua wants to get married tonight; I have no reason to wait. It's just going to be Thaddeus, Joshua, myself and I hope, you and Walter. Maybe if Walter wouldn't mind, he could walk me down the aisle. He doesn't have to but..."
"Of course Walter will, dear," Doris stated.
"What will I do?" Walter asked as he opened the screen door.
"Walk Laurie down the aisle when she marries Joshua tonight," Doris replied.
"Marries Joshua? Tonight?" Walter asked, confused. "I was only a few minutes behind you. When did this all happen? By the way, nice to see you again, Joshua, Thaddeus." Walter shook both of their hands and placed his arm on Laurie. "So what is this about you getting married tonight, dear?" Walter asked Laurie in the most fatherly of ways.
"Joshua just asked me and he wants to get married tonight. I was wondering if you would walk me down the aisle," Laurie said with a smile on her face and tears welling up in her eyes.
"Tonight?" Walter said, turning to Heyes and sounding a little gruff; "You couldn't come back, ask her and wait a day, could you?" Walter paused as he teased Heyes, "Well, I guess the two of you have waited long enough. I know it's not my place but since I will be walking Laurie down the aisle, I give you my blessing." Turning to Heyes and shaking his hand, he said, "Joshua, if I was you, I wouldn't have wanted to wait any longer either." He gave Laurie a big squeeze and a kiss on the head, "I am so happy for you, dear."
"Well, if we have a wedding," Doris interrupted, "We need to get things done. Laurie, we need to get you a dress."
"NO!" Laurie blurted out, "No new dress! I don't want a new dress. I'll find something to wear."
"Hey," Heyes said, trying to soothe Laurie, "It's okay. What's the matter?"
"I have been hurt both times I had a new dress for a special occasion. That's not happening tonight. I'm not doing that!" Laurie said, trying not to cry.
"Okay, okay," Heyes hugged her, "No new dress, that's fine. You can wear what you have on now; anything, I don't care. It's okay."
"Laurie," Doris said calmly, "I'm sure it's too big, but I think I can alter it enough to fit you. Would you like to wear my wedding dress?"
Laurie turned around to look at Doris, "Really? I would love to, if it's okay with you."
A huge smile came over Doris' face, "My dear, you're family, like my daughter. I'd be honored if you wore it." She gave Laurie a big hug.
"Well, we do have some things to take care of this morning," Heyes stated, "Thaddeus, you're going to check with the preacher for tonight. Laurie, we're going to go to the doctor's office so he can tell me everything's okay. Doris, we'll need baths when we get back."
They all turned to get things ready. As Laurie and Heyes followed Kid down the steps of the hotel porch, she came to an abrupt stop on the last stair. "What's the matter?" Heyes asked. Laurie began breathing heavily and swaying a little. Tears were forming in her eyes as she began to shake.
Kid turned around to see what was going on, "Heyes," he said quietly, "This is the first time she's been outside. Doris told me she hasn't left her room since…"
Heyes took a deep breath and put one hand on Laurie's arm and the other he placed on her chin to lift her face up a little. "Sweetheart," he said softly, "I'm here. It's okay. I won't leave your side. You can lean on me." She said nothing with her lips tight together; she just stood there and swayed slightly. "Can you talk to me, Laurie? I'm right here." Heyes continued but she didn't move or say anything. He ran his hand through his hair and looked around. He motioned to Kid to walk across the street. When he got there, he turned and faced them. "Laurie, sweetheart, if you want to get married, you have to come with me now." He stated more firmly. Still no movement from Laurie; her eyes were fixed on the ground. With a deep breath, the ex-outlaw leader turned around and started to walk across the street slowly. He kept his eyes on Kid as he walked. Laurie stood looking at the ground. Kid watched her with no expression on his face. When Heyes was halfway across the street, he was about to turn around when he detected the slightest change in Kid's expression, so he kept walking.
Laurie realized Heyes was walking away and maybe, if she didn't move now, he would leave forever. She tried to move and couldn't at first, but then, she closed her eyes, placed her foot on the dirt, opened her eyes and started to run.
Heyes caught the smile on Kid's face just in time to turn around, swoop Laurie off the ground and spin her around. "That's my girl!" Heyes said as he kissed her.
Kid walked over to the two of them, "Once again, all the town's eyes are on you two."
"I don't care," Laurie said, as she still had her arms around Heyes' neck and was looking into his eyes. "Let them stare, he's mine!" she said happily.
"Then I don't care either. Of course, I could do this all day, but don't we have a wedding to get ready for?" Heyes said as he squeezed her. Laurie bit her bottom lip. He shook his head and said with a small laugh, "We're gonna skip straight to the wedding night if you keep that up." He kissed her nose. Laurie blushed and Kid rolled his eyes.
"I'm gonna go see the preacher," Kid said, as he put up his hands and walked away.
Heyes laughed the quiet guttural laugh that made Laurie melt every time she heard it, "You certainly have a way of affecting men." He kissed her again. "Let's go see what the doc has to say.
The pair walked into the doctor's office. "Laurie, Mr. Smith," Doc Williams greeted them warmly. "I heard you were back in town." Heyes looked surprised. "Good news travels fast, Mr. Smith," the Doctor assured him with a smile. "Now what can I do for you?"
"Doc, I just wanted to hear from you how Laurie is doing. I plan on marrying her tonight, if you tell me she’s okay," Heyes stated.
"Well, congratulations are in order then," the Doctor stuck his hand out to shake Heyes'. "Why don't you both sit down?" he motioned to the chairs. "Laurie's injuries have almost all healed. Most of the knife wounds have healed. There are still a few that are probably still very sensitive. Her ribs are healed but tender and she should still be careful. They're the injuries you can see, but Laurie had some internal injuries as well."
Heyes sat holding Laurie's hand. He could feel her whole body tense when the Doctor spoke. He was afraid he had pushed too fast. Maybe Laurie wasn't ready for this.
The Doctor continued, "I don't really know how to tell you this any other way," the Doctor stated, "I believe Laurie has some internal scarring. I really can't tell the extent of it. She was beaten pretty badly. The bruising took a very long time to go away, and I think she may have had some internal bleeding. Luckily, it wasn’t worse than it was but…well, there really isn’t any other way to say this but to say it. It may make having relations difficult and it might make having children impossible. I can't be sure. We won't really know until..." the Doctor paused.
Heyes squeezed Laurie's hand, "Everything else is okay? Physically, I mean? It's okay for Laurie to get married?"
"Of course," the Doctor replied, "She can also have relations, or at least try."
Heyes stood up and shook the Doctor's hand, "Thanks, Doc." He nodded and turned to help Laurie up.
She had been silent the entire time they were in the office. As soon as they left the office, Laurie turned to Heyes, "You don't have to marry me."
Heyes turned to her, pulled her close and gazed into her eyes, "I know I don't have to marry you. I want to marry you." Heyes paused, "Sweetheart, I can wait. I'll wait for you ‘til you're ready. I know you've gone through a lot, I can wait."
Tears filled Laurie's eyes and her lip began to tremble, "He said that I couldn't have children."
"Noooo," Heyes said softly, "He said he didn't know. We would have to find out and that wouldn't stop me anyway." Then with a big grin, he added, "I understand they have some fine children in orphanages." He stroked the side of her face; Laurie smiled and hugged him.
“I don’t know…” she whispered.
“I do,” he kissed her nose. “Trust me.”
"Okay, that's taken care of. Now off to the jewelers," Heyes stated. They both turned and happily walked arm in arm down the boardwalk to the jewelers.
It didn't take long to pick out matching wedding bands. They were both very simple, just plain bands. Heyes had wanted to get Laurie a nicer ring, one with a gem in it, but she said no. She liked the plain one the best. He asked the jeweler to engrave the inside of the rings with "Forever" and their initials. He would pick them up later in the day. As they were leaving the store, he turned to Laurie, "Wait here a minute, I forgot something." He stepped back in the store and left her out front waiting.
As she waited, she turned and almost bumped into a man coming out of the feed store. "Excuse me, I'm sorry," she said, "I wasn't paying attention."
"Laurie," the man said, looking up, "How are you?" He gently placed his hand on her arm.
"Matt?" she said sounding surprised.
"Yeah, wow, you look great," Matt said.
"When did you get back in town?"
"A few weeks ago, after Pa... I wanted to come see you, but I didn't know..." he stuttered.
Tears filled Laurie's eyes and her lip began to tremble; "I'm sorry Matt."
"No, no, you shouldn't be sorry. I'm the one that should be sorry. I should have protected you. I should have known something was up. He shipped me away because I gave you a kiss on the cheek. I should have known," he was rambling.
"Matt, you didn't know. I didn't know it was going to happen, so how could you know? I'm sorry, I didn't want it," Laurie's voice trailed off.
"Of course, you didn't want it. I would never think that, not of you. Laurie, I have missed you so, your smile, the way you make me feel. I wanted to visit, but I didn't think you would see me. I wouldn't blame you, not after what my father did, but I did check with Doris all the time to see how you were."
The door of the jewelry store opened and Heyes stepped out. "Okay, we're done," he said to Laurie, as he looked at the man talking to her. Walking over to her, he placed his arm protectively around her waist; she was tense and he saw tears in her eyes. "Laurie," he said with concern as he gave Matt a glaring stare "Is everything alright?"
"Everything is fine, Joshua." She relaxed as he slid his arm around her, "This is Matt, an old friend of mine."
He looked at Laurie, then turned to Matt and shook his hand, "Matt, Joshua Smith, Laurie's fiancé."
"Matt Carlson," Matt said, shaking Heyes' hand, "Did you say fiancé?"
"Yes, we're getting married tonight," the ex-outlaw leader stated, holding Laurie close to him, "Carlson?"
"Yes," Matt said. "Congratulations. I've heard how happy you've made Laurie. She deserves it. She deserved to be happy before my father." Matt stopped, changing the subject, “I should get you a wedding present.”
"No Matt," Laurie said as Heyes held her tight to him "No present. We're just having a very simple ceremony with Thaddeus and the Jansens. That's all. Thank you and it was good to see you."
As Matt looked at Laurie, she could see tears forming in his eyes. "I'm so sorry about what happened," he said quietly. "I wish I was here, maybe I could have stopped him. I should have known something was wrong when he sent me away for kissing your cheek. The things he said, I'm sorry."
Laurie placed her hand on Matt's arm, "You had no idea; it's not your fault."
Realizing the conversation needed to end, Heyes interrupted, "Laurie, we really need to get moving if we're going to get married tonight." He turned to Matt, "Matt, thank you for thinking so highly of Laurie and for being her friend."
"Mr. Smith, I can see how much you care for Laurie," Matt said. "Make her happy, she deserves it." Leaning in, he gave Laurie a very small kiss on the cheek. "I always wanted the world for you. I can see in your eyes that that's Mr. Smith, be happy." He shook Heyes' hand, then turned and walked away.
Heyes held on to Laurie's waist as he watched Matt walk away, "You okay?"
"Yes," Laurie said quietly, then leaned her head on his shoulder, "I'm very okay."
He looked down at her and smiled then gave her a small kiss.
"He's right. You are my world."
As they started to walk back to the hotel, Heyes said playfully, "So, he's the boy who kissed you? I guess I don't have to shoot him because he knows you're mine."
"I love you," Laurie said as she smiled and rolled her eyes.
The rest of the afternoon was spent getting ready for the wedding. Thaddeus had cleared it with the preacher; the wedding would be at six. Heyes went back and picked up the rings. Doris altered her wedding dress. Laurie bought a special nightgown and then went back to soak in the tub. At five o'clock, Doris came to her door. "I think I've altered the dress enough to fit you. Let's try it on and I can make any adjustments," she said.
"Oh my," Laurie gasped as she saw the dress for the first time, "It's beautiful, Doris, just beautiful!" Suddenly Laurie changed her expression and shook her head, "Thank you, Doris, I can't wear it. It is beautiful, but I'll just find something else. I know Joshua likes the blue skirt and blouse," Laurie said nervously, obviously upset.
"Laurie, what's the matter?" her friend asked with concern in her voice, "Why can't you wear the dress?"
"It's white," she said quietly as she looked at the ground and tears formed in her eyes, "I can't wear white."
"Oh, Laurie," Doris said with such compassion as she reached out to hug her, "You can wear white. What happened doesn't affect that. It wasn't your fault. Joshua knows that."
"You really don't think it matters?" Laurie asked as she looked up at Doris.
"No dear, it doesn't matter. I'll understand if you don't like the dress and don't want to wear it, that's fine; but don't worry about it being white. You deserve to wear white. If anyone in this town deserves it, it's you. You're an angel dear." The women hugged.
"I love the dress," Laurie said as she tried it on.
Doris helped Laurie get dressed and ready. The dress was white lace. Against Doris' wishes to put her hair up, Laurie wore it down. "My goodness," Doris gushed, "You look like an angel. Joshua will be speechless." She paused, and then told Laurie, "I am so happy for you, dear. I want you to know that you and Joshua are always welcome here. I love you like a daughter," she paused and took a breath, "We better get going before I start crying. It's okay to make them wait, just not too long." She gave Laurie a kiss on the cheek.
Heyes and Kid were waiting in the church. Heyes was starting to pace. "She'll be here," Kid said, "Relax."
"I am relaxed," Heyes snapped.
"No you're not," blue eyes rolled, "I know how you get when you're nervous, and you're nervous! Don't you want to marry Laurie?"
"Of course I do!" Heyes bellowed. Then quieter, "It's you. You're making me nervous."
"Me, what did I do?"
"I don't know, but you're doing it! Now stop it!" he snapped again.
The door at the front of the church opened and Doris walked in. She walked up to the boys and told them that Laurie was ready. The door opened again and Walter walked in, followed by Laurie. Kid put his hand on his partner’s shoulder and gave him a smile as the organ began to play. Laurie and Walter walked down the aisle together and Heyes' smile grew bigger as she got closer. Walter handed Laurie off to Heyes. The ceremony was very simple and very beautiful as both Laurie and Heyes gazed into each other's eyes the entire time. When it was over Heyes gently kissed Laurie. Then everyone hugged and kissed. Laurie thought she was dreaming. Everything was so perfect. A tear began to roll down her face. "Hey," Heyes said with concern, "What's the matter, are you okay?"
"I'm more than okay," Laurie said as she smiled, "I'm just so happy. I can't believe this. I can't believe I just got married. I can't believe you married me, Joshua."
He looked into her eyes and pulled her close, "Believe it, you're my wife, Mrs. Joshua Smith," and he flashed the brilliant Heyes smile, the one only Kid got to see, then he gently kissed her and added, "Ready for dinner?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I am," she smiled back at him, with her eyes lost in his.
They were about to head back down the aisle to the front door when Walter said, "Let's go out through the side door through the church courtyard. It's beautiful this time of evening."
Agreeing, they followed him, but not paying attention to anything other than themselves. They were completely caught off guard when they stepped into the courtyard full of people. "Oh my," Laurie said, as she looked at everyone as they started to clap.
"When everyone heard the two of you were getting married," Doris said, "They wanted to make sure you had a very memorable day."
"H-H-How?" Laurie stuttered.
"Well, it may have had something to do with Doris running all over town telling people," Walter announced and everyone laughed.
"Walter," Doris said, "I just told a few people, and everyone else volunteered to bring food to celebrate the wedding.
"Speech!" someone yelled from the crowd, "Speech!"
Heyes stood on the steps to the courtyard with Laurie by his side. He started, "Thank you all for coming." Looking at Laurie, he continued, "I just married the woman of my dreams. I have never known anyone as special. I can't believe she'll have me." He leaned over and gently kissed her forehead. "When I married Laurie, I also carried on a Smith family tradition." Both Laurie and Kid looked at Heyes very curiously. He continued, "On the inside of our rings, we have "forever" and our initials engraved. What Laurie doesn't know is that I went back and changed that." Laurie looked at Heyes more intently. He went on, "When my great grandparents were married, my great grandfather John Smith couldn't afford much. The jeweler had rings that were already engraved that he could have cheap. My great grandfather had his initials placed around the ones already there. When my great grandmother looked at the ring, she wanted to know why it said "J.H.H.S" on it. My great grandfather explained that it stood for John Happy Husband Smith. Since then, my grandfather and father have added the H.H. between their initials. I'm happy to say that on the inside of Laurie's ring it says J.H.H.S. with the H.H. standing for happy husband. I am the happiest husband." He leaned over and kissed Laurie on the lips and everyone cheered.
"Now it's time for food and for everyone to say hello," Walter announced. The town applauded as the happy couple walked down the steps into the courtyard. Walter was right; it was beautiful. Everyone from town was there and had brought enough food for a feast. That is, everyone except for the Carlson family.
Kid walked over to Heyes with the biggest grin on his face, patted his partner's back and said, "Happy husband." Kid nodded his head with approval and gave Laurie a kiss and said, "Welcome to the family."
Laurie looked at her husband, "That's why you went back to the jeweler." She paused, "I love you, H.H."
They all ate while Joshua and Laurie walked around greeting everyone. As they mingled, everyone told them how happy they were to see Laurie up and about and happier that Joshua had come back. Charlotte even came over to give them her congratulations and best wishes. They ate, drank and talked for almost three hours when Heyes looked over at Laurie and saw her sitting down. She looked exhausted. He walked over to her and put his hand on her shoulder. He turned to face everyone as he picked up a glass and clanged it with a spoon. "I want to thank all of you for coming tonight. It has meant a lot to us. However, the day has been long and although Laurie is doing great, she is still recovering. I think it is time to take my new bride to get some rest. Thank you so much and I hope everyone stays and enjoys themselves."
Walter walked up to Joshua and pulled out an envelope, "The town of Small Falls would like to give this gift to you, to help you start your new life together. We are all so pleased that you have found happiness and hope that you stay here with us." He handed the envelope to Heyes.
Laurie, who was now standing next to Heyes, put her hands to her mouth and tears filled her eyes. Heyes put his arm around Laurie to steady her as he shook Walter's hand. "Thank you," Heyes said sincerely, obviously taken aback by the gesture.
Laurie, overcome by the generosity of the town, gave Walter a hug, and very quietly said, "Thank you." She and Heyes turned and left to go back to the hotel. They walked back with Laurie holding Heyes' arm and resting her head on his shoulder. About halfway back to the hotel, Heyes asked, "You okay, sweet, I mean Mrs. Smith?"
Laurie lifted her head off his shoulder, looked at him with a huge smile and said, "I'm wonderful, Mr. Smith."