*** Logan and Rachel have their own private reflections, and then they each in their own ways say good-bye to the past...
*** Reggie and Max are lurking...
≈ 5 ≈
~ Putting the past to rest ~
Logan leaned against the corral fence, his pipe smoke filling the air, and wondered why the Alvin and Eunice Danvers of the world had to dampen the spirits of people striving just to be happy and enjoy life? He had always known he didn't measure up to the Danvers expectation of who their son's best friend should be. He came from bad blood in their eyes, inferior. It seemed to Logan that Alvin's views of a good Christian didn't quite coincide with his ideas that a person's worth had more to do with how that person lived and treated his fellow man, rather than a perception of one's pedigree.
One of the things that always gave Logan food for thought was, as much as Alvin found fault with his lineage, he still thought Logan owed him high regard. While he would not mistreat the Danvers, the only people Logan owed unending devotion and respect were Arnie and Madeline Wesley.
Logan looked toward the house again. He hoped that Rachel would take her usual walk. He started for the house at least a half-dozen times, but always stopped before leaving the corral area. He knew after the attack on her person by the Danvers today, she needed to make peace with her past, in order to go with their future. He just hoped to hell she didn't change her mind. Now that he had held Rachel in his arms, and talked about a future together, to have it end before it began would be beyond devastating. He took another puff of his pipe. He longed for the scent of lavender to tantalize his senses.
Rachel worried all the way home that Logan would take her quietness the wrong way. She needed to put her jangled and weary thoughts in some kind of order. It was as if an almost healed wound opened again, and she did not want to put Logan through any more turmoil.
The harsh words about her forgetting Daniela had cut her to the core. Her one thought of solace was her belief that in her heart, losing Daniela was God's way of keeping father and daughter together.
Today, however, brought memories of Daniel and Daniela fresh in her mind. She needed time to find her balance, and then tick-a-lock on that part of her old life. Once her soul-searching gained its proper perspective, Rachel took a hot bubble bath, had a quiet meal with her father. Afterwards, she and Rosella settled Arnie for the night. Giddiness over spending time with Logan teased her sensibilities as she imagined his kisses and caresses scorching her skin.
She just hoped he'd be at the corral because she wouldn't look for him at the bunkhouse. She respected it was the men's domain at the end of their busy workday. The closer to her destination, the more thrilled she became. Her anticipation heightened with the sweet smell of tobacco smoke. She felt giddy as she stopped behind a tree and stared for a moment as his face illuminated when he took a drag on his pipe. She smiled, "A penny for your thoughts."
With a sexy edge to his voice, he said, "And for that penny, this cowboy will lay his life on the line for you, pretty lady."
Rachel flew into Logan's arms, "Hold me, sweetheart."
"So, the hired hand is marrying the boss's daughter," Reggie smirked. "I suppose the fair Rachel is as gifted at twirling a man around her little finger as was Madeline. I figure on making an impression on the wedding night, Max. What with the groom all googly-eyed over his new bride, it just stands to reason that he won't be so attentive to the goings on around the place as usual. Hell, anytime a man has a chance of getting his nub rubbed, he best not let the chance slip by."
"I figure we make an impression the night of the wedding," Max suggested. "With Logan occupied tending to his bride, the old man tucked in from all the excitement, and the hands full of rotgut from the festivities; we'll send a mighty fine message to get their attention."
Reggie took a drag from his stogie, pointed it toward Max. "You just be sure you're well accounted for so no one is the wiser about your involvement. I want to make sure Arnie knows he owes me before I move in for the kill."
"Business is in order then," said Max.
Saturday, her wedding day and a day that Rachel could not believe she'd ever experience again. She was jittery, full of excitement because she'd dared to reach out and risk her heart once again. Her father had made a vast improvement since his little plot to get her and Logan together. Rachel smiled at her reflection. This time, she felt more prepared for what lay ahead. There would be no surprises. She was prepared to be a wife, a lover. She had worn a white wedding gown for her and Daniel's day, but this time she was mindful that she was not an innocent anymore.
Rachel chose a simple lavender organza gown. Do not let the Danvers cloud this happy day, Rachel, she scolded herself when Alvin and Eunice came to mind. It felt strange asking someone else to do the pastoral duties outside the Dirksville Assembly Church. Nonetheless, given the harsh words from Alvin, Reverend Tommels from a neighboring town agreed to perform the ceremony.
Rachel knew, before she could start her new life, she must do one last thing. She made her way down the stairs, picked three daisies out of the vase of wild flowers on the kitchen table, and then out the back door to the group of trees on the hill where her husband, daughter, and mother laid at rest. It was something she simply had to do.
Rachel stopped at her mother's grave first and laid a daisy on top of the stone. "Oh, how I miss you, Mamma. I'm doing my best to take care of Daddy." She laughed, "I suppose you've seen his latest plot concerning me and Logan. I must say, though as aggravated as I was with him at first, now I'm just crazy about his and Rosella's hand in bringing me to this very day. Oh, Mamma, Logan isn't Daniel, and I wouldn't want him to be. I know he'll be good to me as I will him. He even gives me tingles on the inside, just as Daniel did, which makes me doubly lucky to have found love twice in my life." She rubbed her arms as a shiver ran through her body, "I feel you with me, Mamma, and I know you'll be watching over us, and Daddy, today." She kissed the tips of her fingers, and then rubbed them over the top of the tombstone. "I love you, Mamma."
She walked a few feet to her husband's grave, knelt down, and then laid a daisy on his stone. "Oh Daniel," she said as tears welled, "I had to come. I know, deep down, in my heart, as does Logan that you would be happy for us. I just wanted to tell you that Mrs. Daniel Danvers will love you always. Nothing will ever change that darling because what we had was very special. It's Rachel that can't live in the past anymore because I need to touch and be touched, love and be loved. I know you would want that for me too. I'm sorry I didn't get to tell your parents about my plans first. I realize it's been hard for them, losing you, and then our beautiful daughter. And now that I am marrying Logan, it's more difficult, but I promise you, Daniel, I won't give up on them." Rachel rose, kissed her fingers, and then patted the top of his stone. "Good-bye, Daniel, and love our daughter well for me, too."
Rachel turned away to gain control of her spiraling emotions, and then laid the last daisy on Daniela's stone. "You take very good of your daddy, my beautiful baby girl. You are my first, and you will always be Mommy's most special gift from God. I hope to give you brothers and sisters someday. And Logan and Mommy will make sure they know all about their older sister." Then Rachel kissed Daniela's stone. She cried softly for a few minutes, and then got up and turned toward the house.
"Okay, Logan, I'm coming. It's time for Rachel Danvers to live again." She walked back to the house, lighter of heart, mind, and spirit looking forward to her new journey as Mrs. Rachel Burke.
Logan saw her there and waited until Rachel was back in the house until he approached the three graves. Out of respect for his best friend and his new bride, he needed to make peace with Daniel's memory too. Logan stood at the foot of the grave with his hands in his back pocket. "Well, pal; I feel in my gut you'll understand Rachel and my finding each other. I love her to my very core. It's just as you told me many times, 'What's not to love about your Rachel because she's the moon and stars?' You were right, Daniel because she is that for me, and more." Logan scuffed the tip of his boot at the dirt. "I won't ever try to take your place, pal, and I'll do my level best never to let her regret a minute of loving me." He grinned at one of their childhood sayings, "Till me meet again, don't take any wooden nickels."
Logan knelt at Daniela's grave. "Little one, I'll take good care of your mommy, and she was right, too, because your brothers and sisters will know they have a big sister who came first, sweetie. You and your daddy take care of each other."
Logan then stood at Madeline Wesley's grave. "Oh, Maddie, we all surely do miss you, pretty lady. I promise to treat your little girl well. I'll make sure Rachel never regrets loving me because she's my whole world. And, by the way, this is one scheme of Arnie's that I highly approved of, too." He chuckled, "I know you miss the old coot as much as I know he does you, but Rachel and I do our best to keep him with us a little longer. I feel you all around us today, pretty lady, so until we meet again, thanks for the gift of your daughter."
Logan walked back to the bunkhouse to prepare for the new life awaiting him. He smiled a little lighter of heart.