Books, Characters, Location, Research

MacDougal Snippet, Christmas 1871, Part 6

 Ross and Amelia are relaxing together after their wedding.

“My Bannock family are being pushed to move again and again, so coming to live in our bunkhouse suits them,” said Ross. “I think there’ll be about six or eight.” Of the old folks. The other ones would drop by as they wished, bringing food or appetites. He’d better speak to the Tanners and order in another hundredweight of sugar, flour, beans and pork. Molasses, too, and—

“I’m finally going to meet your family?”

“You’re happy about this?”

Amelia nodded, all excited.

“I want to learn the language, and more about cooking and healing. And working with hides, and the intricate way they sew porcupine needles…” Her words faded as she gazed into the fire, her brain no doubt racing about everything she could learn.

He wondered how she’d take all the advice the grandmothers, aunts, and cousins would provide. How, as a woman, her job was to care for him, hand and foot, so he would have good hunting and provide for her well. He hadn’t bedded any of them young women so they’d not tell her stories about him under the furs. Nevin was bound to get a ribbing, though.

Ross’s biggest worry, how he would hide his need for vengeance, was in the open now. His family knew about it all, and remembered the terrified little boy who’d witnessed something horrendous, then killed his first man because of it. They would celebrate with him the passing of the bitter man he had become from the shame and guilt.

He would focus on his wife and children instead of revenge. The past held terrible things, but he couldn’t change what happened. He would work on improving the present and look to the future.

He knew in his bones that the third man wasn’t far. He had little but childhood memories and nightmares to go on, and no other witnesses. But the man didn’t know who he was, or that he knew. Someday, the leader of that gang would make a mistake.

Ross would be waiting.

 

Amelia snuck her arms around him as best she could. She’d put her skirt back on while he was gathering moss.

“I am happy,” he said. “Content with this moment.” He placed a hand on the bulge resting between them. “Three lives to protect and provide for. My own family to cherish.”

Amelia placed her small white hand on his brown one. “Ross MacDougal.”

“Yes, Amelia MacDougal,” he replied, playful at her serious tone. He brushed her hair back from her forehead with his free hand. She looked him in the eyes.

“Thank you for the wedding ceremony today. It means a lot to me that you care enough to indulge my whims. I want you to know that love you from the very bottom of my soul. When I thought you might be hanged for the death of those terrible men, I realized I can’t imagine living without you.”

She looked down, as if not expecting a response.

He never knew a time where he was wanted. Yes, Gillis and Nevin wanted him with them on the M-D, but it didn’t meet his need. This tiny woman not only carried his future, and the future of his brothers, in her, she held his heart.

His heart.

He inhaled, realizing that it didn’t hurt to have her love him. She didn’t demand in return, but she didn’t have to.

“Amy MacDougal,” he said. He knelt at her feet and looked up. “I more than care for you, Kestrel.”

 

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