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Mail-Order-Bride Part III - a fiction short story
Getting Emma Back
Sam was on his horse, nearly driving it into the ground galloping toward Santa Fe. He had to get to the train depot before the late evening train left the station. He wanted to tell Emma he loved her. Yes, he realized he did love her. In a brief six weeks he had fallen in love with beautiful Emma.
Why hadn't he destroyed that file? Why did he file it in his desk? He should have realized she might find it someday. But, he always locked that drawer. He must have forgotten to this morning.
Sam had scooped up the file off Emma's bed and thrown it into the fire in the fireplace in the great room and watched it burn for a few seconds. Then he had taken off to get Emma back.
When he reached the train depot he jumped off his horse onto the train platform. He flew into the depot and there sat Emma on a bench in the waiting room calmly reading a book.
Suddenly Emma heard a deep voice say, "Maam, I'm Sam Preston. Are you Emma Preston?"
Emma looked up from her book into the warmest brown eyes she had ever seen. She felt the usual tingle, but kept a straight face and surprisingly her composure. She felt a rush as her entire body become hot.
"I don't know how to answer that," she said.
Emma looked Sam straight in the eye and said, "Sam you hurt me and betrayed me by having the Pinkerton Agency look into my background. You've known everything about me, but I know very little about you," said Emma sadly. "You don't communicate much about yourself which wouldn't bother me if you didn't have that file about me. But, the file changes everything. We didn't come together on equal terms, Sam, able to discover each other together," said Emma.
"Emma, I truly am sorry and I regret having the file on you. But, that file is the person, Emma Pauline Franklin. That's not the woman I know. I know Emma Pauline Preston. Emma Pauline Preston is bright, intelligent, adaptable, able to take on any ranch challenge, never complains, and is a wonderful teacher and step-mother to Mark," said Sam
"Emma, Mark has blossomed under your tutelage. He's been so happy you're here. He's taken to you almost as much as his own mother. Emma you've been a raging success at the ranch. The Mexican women like you even better than me as do the ranch hands. Mark is growing to love you, Emma. He's in tears because you left," added Sam.
"But, the file is the reason for the wall between us. Sam," said Emma earnestly. "That's really the reason for this 'marriage of convenience,'" Emma bitterly said. "I'm sure you've had a good laugh on my account."
"Oh, Emma, don't you know I don't give a hoot about what happened or about those buffoons back in Ohio. And, frankly I'm disappointed that you would return there, Emma," said Sam sadly.
Emma, who was holding her ticket in her hand quickly slipped it inside her glove of her left hand. Sam didn't need to know her real destination at this point was Albuquerque. Let him assume it was Ohio.
"And no, I didn't laugh - I knew you were a woman of spunk and determination. I needed a woman like that here," said Sam. You were the best candidate of the dozens of letters I received," said Sam. His eyes had never left her's during their discussion, nor her's his.
"Please, Emma, reconsider what you are doing," said Sam. "Please come back to the ranch; for Mark's sake if not for mine."
"That's just it Sam; you've told me that everyone at the ranch likes me - but you've mentioned everyone but yourself. What about you Sam? Tell me about Hannah, Sam," said Emma quietly.
At that point Sam looked away and when he looked back there were tears in his eyes. "This isn't easy for me Emma. Hannah was the love of my life. We met right here in Santa Fe. She was a waitress at the hotel restaurant when we met. One look at her and I was smitten. I courted her and we were married six months later. She was a wonderful wife to me Emma. She helped me build up the ranch to what it is today. I loved her with all my heart," said Sam.
"It wasn't until nine years into our marriage that we conceived Mark - certainly not from lack of trying. Mark was our miracle baby. When she gave birth to Mark it was a difficult birth - the doc said there would be no more children. But, we were so happy with Mark and we finally had our family and she was a wonderful wife to me and a wonderful mother to Mark," said Sam.
A tear slipped out of the side of his eye. "When the influenza went through here last year - Hannah caught it and died five days later. On her death bed, she requested Mark go back east to school at some point so he had more options in life than just becoming a rancher. I promised her I would do that," said Sam quietly.
"It was a devastation to Mark and me when she passed away, Emma. But, I realized that a chapter in our lives was closed. A new chapter was opening, and for both our sake's we had to move forward. Judge Nelson gave me the idea of advertising for a wife back east, and so I did it," said Sam.
"And then, you came into our lives - these last six weeks have been the happiest for Mar . . ., for me in a year, Emma. You have brought sunshine and love back into my life. I've been amazed at how you have adapted to ranch life and never a complaint, when I know it hasn't been easy for you, Emma. Today was just one bad day, Emma. I was frantic when I thought I could lose you to a rattlesnake bite. I didn't mean to be so hard on you, " said Sam gently.
The train whistle was blowing signaling its arrival. Sam knew it wasn't long before it would be departing.
"Emma, I've grown to love you over these past six weeks and I don't want to lose you now," said Sam earnestly. You're beautiful, Emma, but your real beauty comes from within. Please come back to the ranch with me and continue to be my wife and Mark's step-mother. I need you and so does Mark."
I destroyed the file - it's been burned. All it is is ashes now. It's not important Emma - we'll never speak of it again. Please, let's start over and we can have any type of marriage you wish," said Sam.
The porter approached to get Emma's valises. Emma gave her head a little shake no. She lifted her gloved hand and wiped away Sam's tears.
"I am Emma Preston," she said in response to Sam's original question. Then, Sam took her in his arems and kissed her full and hard on the lips - and Emma kissed him back. She felt hot and tingly all over and Sam's moustache tickled her nose.
Sam and Emma returned to the ranch that night. Mark ran to Emma and embraced her with the biggest and tightest hugs she had ever received when she walked into the house, and then promptly kissed her on the cheek.
The next week or so was busy as Sam, Emma, Mark and everyone on the ranch raced the clock to administer the anti-viral serum to the cattle on Chapparell Hill. Sam, Emma and Mark had really bonded strongly during that time and experience, and they were able to save more cattle than they lost. And the three of them started to become a real family unit.
Emma finally fessed up to Sam that her true destination that night had been to Albuquerque, not Ohio. Sam had laughed uproariously "Emma, you would have hated that "hell-hole of a city," said Sam. "Thank goodness, you came back," he said laughing as he tried to picture Emma there.
A month or so later, Judge Nelson and his "lady friend," hosted a real Santa Fe wedding for Sam and Emma complete with wedding cake and gala reception. Mark stood as 'best man' for his father. Emma wore a cream lace wedding dress with a bouquet of flowers like the one's Sam had presented her with the first time they met at the train depot. Oh, and, Emma was no longer being 'well compensated' by Sam.
Tonight was their official wedding night. Emma sat on the edge of her bed in her bedroom and pulled on the bright red cowboy boots Sam had custom made for her, with padded insides. Sam had bought these for her to celebrate the first cow she had broncoed on her own in record time - "for a woman," Sam had said with that twinkle in his eye.
Emma peeked outside the bedroom door to make sure Mark was in his room with the door shut. She tip-toed across the hall and entered Sam's bedroom. She quietly closed the door and let her robe drop to the floor.
There stood Emma without a stitch of clothing on except for the red cowboy boots. She looked at Sam and smiled. Sam was lying on top of the bed without a stitch of clothing on except for his 10-gallon cowboy hat. They both burst out laughing and didn't come up for air for two days.
© 2013 Suzette Walker