After The Proposal
Esther May’s chest tightened at seeing C.J.’s hopeful, worried expression. There was no doubt in her mind that C.J. had started the conversation as a cover. That he meant to lead the lieutenant away from the riderless cavalry horses, but once he threw the loop, he had to tighten it around the question. “Will you marry me?”
She knew he meant it. From the bottom of his boots, he meant it, and with the question in the air, from this point forward, their relationship would never be the same.
What To Do
And they did have a relationship. How could they not after all they’d been through?
Esther May realized she wanted C.J. around—she loved him. But at this moment, she wanted to drag him behind her gelding at full gallop.
She extended a hand. “Let’s go somewhere more private and talk about this.”
Lieutenant Mercier patted C.J. on the shoulder. “Ooh, that’s not good, old boy. Thanks for the bottle.” He left as quickly as if the bugler sounded Recall.
C.J. gulped and cast a lifeline glance at the Dunn brothers, but they turned away too. He pulled his hat back on and took Esther May’s hand.
Down By The Creek
As Esther May led a subdued C.J. toward the tall cottonwood trees along Tonto Creek, she saw Liluye. The Apache woman watched them from astride her black mare, the shotgun held crossways over the horse’s withers.
Esther May was sure Liluye was capable of lifting scalps, and she wanted C.J.’s.
“Aw, dammit.” She was going to have to talk with Liluye too.
Tell Me Now
C.J. stopped. “If it’s a ‘No’ you’re gonna give me, just say it now and be done with it.”
“I didn’t mean to say that out loud, C.J. I’m sorry. I just saw Liluye, and I have to clear the air with her too.”
She waved for Liluye to join them. “We may as well do this once, and it’s gonna be fun—you speaking English and her speaking Apache.”
Esther May and C.J. still held hands when Liluye arrived under the trees. She held C.J. in a stare like a mountain lion watching prey.
[Please get off your horse and talk with us,] Esther May said in Apache speak.
[I can see from here.]
[This man has asked me to be his mate.]
[Are you holding him, so I can shoot him?]
Esther May laughed despite her belief if she had said ‘Yes,’ C.J. would be dead. [No. I have to tell him something. He may not want me after he hears it, but if he does, I’ll take him.]
Truth To Liluye
Liluye kept silent, so Esther May continued. [If I take him or not, I’d like you to stay with me—I love you as my sister.]
“Lot’s of gibberish going on,” C.J. said. “What’s so important?”
Esther May released his hand and flexed her fists.
“OK, here goes. Do you remember when we first met at the Rio Grande, and I was after those guys that killed my daddy?”
“At the same time they robbed us and killed him, they attacked me.”
She paused and studied his frowning look of concentration. He hadn’t understood.
They Changed Me
“They tore my dress off, C.J. They had at me, and now I can’t ever have children.”
“You don’t want kids because of that? But it happened a long time ago.”
Esther May realized her voice was growing loud, but she couldn’t stop it. “I can’t have babies, you idiot! The doctor that patched me up had to … ” she stopped to breathe, “take out parts to keep me alive. No children.”
[Are you mad at him, Riding Woman? Should I shoot him?]
[No. I’m trying to make him understand that I can’t have children.]
[Good! No one should see his coyote children anyway.]
Esther May smiled at her friend. [Thanks, Liluye. You make me laugh.]
C.J. Tries To Make Amends
“Look,” C.J. said, “in the first place, we don’t need kids, and—” he stopped and narrowed his eyes at the Apache. “What’s she got to be here for anyway? This is between you and me.”
Esther May decided C.J. needed both barrels of a verbal shotgun. “She also wants to marry me. I’m trying to choose.”
C.J. paled, and he stepped back. “What?”
Esther May’s temper and amusement swirled in an unholy mix. “So, you’d still want me without the possibility of children, but not if a woman thinks the same way you do?”
Has Esther May’s outburst ended C.J.’s matrimonial mood? Don’t forget to leave your comments below.
When searching for a relevant article about infertility, I was blown away by the number of listings and passionately held beliefs on the ability to bear a child. Succinctly put, I ain’t going there, folks, except for this link which says the ancient Greeks wrestled with the problem.
To read the series, click here for the first post. This will be Tales Old Roy Told. Tap the down arrow in the Archive box to open the list. After Tales Old Roy Told, work upward.
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