((Arg! Okay. Will is going to meet Abby the following day, using the excuse of her injured wrist to get her in so stepfather doesn’t flip out. So, Abby will get to meet Doc, Tea, Sarah and Essie. Tarquin, Luke, and Celeste will be heading out to the country folk for the first day- we will send them to the Cheyenne the following day. Does this work? Yes? No? I’m trying it, anyway. We need to stop relying so much on the damned porch, anyway. They have a rather large house, let’s use it!))
“I’m sorry,” Will offered when she mentioned that her grandmother had passed on. “I never knew either one of my grandmothers’.” Both had died before he was even thought of- his mother had still been a girl for pity’s sake! He knew of both grandfathers’, though had met neither. “Never gets any easier, losing someone you love, though.” This was said very softly, a hint of his own turmoil bubbling to the surface. But he shook his head as if clearing it, and they both changed the subject. At his mention of finding her a treasure, she reciprocated, and he chuckled softly. “I wouldn’t say I’m interesting.” A little shake of his head, in a very Tea manner. “My father, now, he’d be more what folks consider interesting. And my mother, of course, is a subject that is often brought up.” If Doc was a mystery, Galatea was an enigma. Many people speculated on her, and especially on the relationship between the redhead and the
No, she hadn’t been here long if she wasn’t even flinching from the Holliday name. Not that she had reason to- his family was usually fairly laid-back unless someone pushed them- but folks in town were understandably nervous. There were some who still seemed to fear that Doc was going to walk into a room and shoot everyone, then walk out as if nothing happened. The mental picture was amusing, though, and Will caught himself almost laughing over it. Her voice brought him to the present.
“Abby,” he repeated. It was good enough, he supposed. Easier than Abigail. She went on as he spoke about his mother, and he chuckled. “No doubt you have heard of her. Everyone knows my mother. Anyone who has her ear has my father’s ear, so many, many people go out of their way to make nice with her.” He chuckled. “Ignore most of the rumors they bring up. My mother made no deal with the Devil for her looks, nor is she a loose cannon.” These were things even the casual listener would hear of Galatea Shaw. Most people liked her, but among the elite she was considered a ‘woman of ill repute’ among other less-than favorable things. That, and the fact that she was not married, had been a scandal until people realized it did not faze either the gunman or the woman. Due to the arrangement, she could have left him at any time to be with another man, but no one had ever seen her so much as look at another man with that brazen stare she so often
gave the gambler.
“I’m sure she’d like to meet you, in fact. My aunt would as well.” He didn’t mention Essie nor Annie, not yet. “No, I’m sure of it, she would. If it wasn’t heading towards dark I’d bring you there, but my parents come alive at night for the most part, and if my father is in a pleasant mood, my mother will accompany him tonight.” Doc had been in fine spirits this morning at breakfast, but one never knew how long it would last. He rose, then, at her question. “No one would be upset,” he reassured her. “My family is a tolerant bunch, and we’re the only doctors in town- well, myself and my soon-to-be Uncle. My father’s a gambling man, but he wasn’t always.” And consumptive- something that pained the family at times. As Tarquin and even Will had told him, if he cut down on the whiskey and tobacco he’d live longer, but as his father would often retort, he’d rather die with his boots on than hacking up a lung in bed.
Besides, he actually did rest for the most part during the day, Galatea being the one responsible for it. He rather enjoyed when Tea would curl up with him, after all.
“New York, though?” He grinned. “Why, we were practically neighbors. I went to Boston to study for my degree.” He had learned from the best in the country, and fallen in love with the East. But he had come back to the untamed frontier he loved above all else. His mother had been proud of him- and while he showed it horribly, he knew his father took a small measure of pride in both his son and daughter, though would never admit to it out loud. His blood mixed with the woman he did love was enough to make any man proud, but that neither one had contracted consumption was a minor miracle. Especially Celeste, who had been a tiny little thing but had happily gone to her father as a toddler, worming her way into his heart as surely as her mother. He was not the kind to coo or fawn over a child, but he had allowed Celestine to crawl into his lap from time to time, even allowing the little girl (at the time) to sleep against him just as he allowed her
“Any help you can give is appreciated, Abby.” He smiled. “Any time you can come help would be appreciated.” He glanced at his pocket watch, sighing. “It’s getting late. Come, I’ll walk you home.” He offered her his arm, calmly. “If you stop by tomorrow, I can check your wrist again, and take you to meet my family if you’d like. You’ll be working with Tarquin often enough when you’re here- it’s only fair you get familiar with my aunt as well- she’s his fiancée.” He smiled again. They had to pass by his house to get to hers, and he noticed the family was outside enjoying the last of the sun- and his mother waved cheerfully as he passed, her gaze sharp even from that distance. She was pressed in against his father’s shoulder, one finger toying with the lapel of his jacket, and Will just grinned and shook his head.
He stopped outside the gate to her home, giving her a quick, polite bow and bringing her hand to his lips in acknowledgement of a lady from a gentleman. “I do hope I will see you tomorrow,” he said it softly. “Any time in the afternoon is fine- my parents are usually up by then and ready for company.”
She relaxed into his hold when he offered it, leaning her head back on his shoulder for comfort, toying with the smooth lapel of his jacket. When Sarah agreed, she shook her head slightly. “There are times I wish she didn’t take so much after me.” Even now, her self-worth was a daily struggle. She still considered herself beneath the gunslinger she was wrapped around, despite his efforts to make her see that he loved her all the more now for what she was. “She should have taken more after her fathers’ side.” A sigh, but she didn’t move away as she once would have. Doc had broken that habit in that casually masterful way of his, by carefully winding her hair around his fingers, giving her no option for escape. She had tried to pull away a few times, but he just followed her with his body until she had no choice but to relax against him or get up and cause a scene.
Still, she was content huddled up in her gunman’s arms where she could easily inhale his addictive whiskey, tobacco, and gunpowder scent. She did enjoy late mornings and early afternoons, if only because they usually spent the bulk of their time relaxing together. She knew he didn’t enjoy it quite as much as she did, but he did gain a small measure of satisfaction from it, or he would have not allowed it to even start, let alone become something of a normal occurrence. It was good for him, too- he should have spent his time in bed, but that would have only irritated him all the more, and she preferred to have him mobile anyway. He was up, he was about, but she still managed to usually get him to rest for at least a little while with her. And, on days like today, she didn’t fuss when he came home after a day of being apart. They would still go out tonight, still come home at an ungodly hour, and still sleep tangled together like a pair of kittens
after a romp.
Despite what she may have thought about herself, Tarquin knew she was good for the gunman. And why not? No one else would have them. The fact that the gunman was dangerous usually was enough to keep most women at bay, yet in spite of it Galatea had been drawn to him. She didn’t care, evidenced by the way she didn’t hesitate to bring her mouth to his, the way she would casually share a cigarette with him. She could get him to rest at least a little, a feat that thus far had been impossible. But then, he was just as good for her. He valued the former madam highly, spoiled her lavishly. He stuck around this time, for good. He seemed to understand her moods, too- he could be gentle and passionate by turns, but always matched her mood with hers.
No, there couldn’t be a more perfectly dysfunctional couple. Despite this, they were perfect for one another.
Celeste blinked when the holler went up, blushing slightly but giggling all the same. She had inherited that infectious, bubbly sound from her mother, and shook her head merrily. She didn’t mind, though- she had been forward, and it was humorous to see the usually reserved young lady acting in such a manner. But she had been raised in a home where affection was openly displayed. Her parents were not usually far from one another, and usually touched in some manner. They loved one another deeper than many couples she knew of.
At the question, she shrugged slightly.
“Because it felt right?” It was a soft admission. She’d wanted to do that for some time now, but it had just felt like it was the right time. She looked at him, and judging from his smile, it was okay. He wasn’t objecting, just surprised. “I’m sorry if I embarrassed you,” she began, only to find that they were standing closer than was proper, so close she imagined she could feel his body heat. His eyes were such a different color from the men in her family, dark and stormy, and she loved looking into them. He kissed her on the cheek, then, and she nearly huffed, but happily kept close to him as he brought her home. Her parents hadn’t changed position, except for the more intimate placement of her mother’s head on her father’s shoulder again. Luke seemed more comfortable around them than previous times, though. He was beginning to have a more intimate view of the family, and see the interconnectedness. Will was in a conversation (or possible arguement, one never could tell) with his father about remedies for his teething daughter, while Tarquin and Essie were chatting pleasantly enough, good-natured teasing between the pair. Galatea divided her attention between Sarah, Annie and Doc, though often shifted the conversation to include Luke and Celeste as well. But it was a pleasant evening, filled with laughter and conversation. As twilight fell, the group finally began to disperse. Galatea had smirked and easily slipped her arm through Doc’s, following him down towards the busier part of town, and the nightlife they so enjoyed.
She hadn’t changed a thing today, still wearing the same dress that matched his eyes, and hadn’t even taken the time to do a thing with her hair or eyes. She was still attractive, even without the extra time being put into her appearance, and didn’t look slovenly by any means. A laugh drifted back- clearly Doc had said something amusing- and they drifted out of sight. Will was the next casualty of the evening- he scooped his sleepy daughter up and headed down the stairs with a ‘night all’. Celeste stood when Luke did, taking his hand and following, much like her mother did with her father, only without the sensual sway of her hips, or that throaty laugh. When he said goodbye, she couldn’t help the good-natured teasing.
“You better not be,” she mockingly pouted, much as her mother did. He swooped in for a kiss then, and she let him, a smile crossing her face. “Goodnight, Luke.” She trilled it brightly, watching him ride away with a smile. A dark shadow peeled off the wall, and she started until she realized it was only her Uncle Walker. She grinned then and reached for the muscular man, who hugged her tightly.
“You’re quite taken with him, aren’t you, little darlin’?” He inquired softly.
“Uncle Walker! Honestly, you’re as bad as Mama!” She laughed, but kissed his cheek. “Goodnight, Uncle Walker.” She returned home, heading up the stairs for bed. She would wake up early and convince Uncle Tarr to bring her with him. She was good at that. Tarquin drew Sarah with him, too, and Essie followed, calling the cat to join her.
They always got in late.
She was in fine spirits this evening, as was he. They never really needed to support one another, but he kept her at his side with an arm around her waist, while she had hers around his. It had been a decent night- not as good as it could have been, but not displeasing. Both were slightly intoxicated- slightly only in name, for they had consumed quite a bit of alcohol. She laughed often enough, and when they made it home, made certain he knew just how much she adored him before settling in against him for bed.
“I’m worried about Celeste,” she said it softly. “I’m damn near sure that Luke is half-Cheyenne.” Even in the dark, she could make out enough of him to know she was close to his neck, just where he liked her to be at night. “Dammit, John, I like the boy.” She sighed. But that relationship, if she were correct, would not be an easy one. They would have to fight for it. But then, their daughter had fighters on both sides, making her a contender in this fight. She sighed again, wrapping her arm around the gambler. “They’re too young to be so serious,” she said it, knowing and accepting the irony of that statement. She’d been just as besotted over the man she was currently using as a convenient pillow slash hot water bottle at the same age as their daughter.
“And before you say anything, yes, I realize I’m starting to sound like Mama Essie,” she chuckled. “Try and get some sleep, sugar.” She lightly rubbed at his chest as if to comfort, and it was- sort of. That, and she just enjoyed touching him. But he was warm and his scent was comforting, so she found herself drifting off to sleep soon enough.
Celestine was up early. Essie was also an early riser, so she had company as she got herself dressed. The dark-skinned woman was studying her thoughtfully, though, and she looked up. “Yes, Miss Essie?”
“You are the spitting image of your mama at your age,” she said it softly.
“I know. Daddy tells me that sometimes.” She smiled. “Usually when Mama’s not around.” She shook her head. Her father seemed more amused than anything at how much she resembled her mother, and secretly she thought that was probably why he had bonded better with her than her brother. That, and of course the eye color he’d passed down to her, proving she was indeed their blood mixed together. She reached for a dress, when Essie shook her head.
“No. Try a skirt and blouse.”
“But I want to make sure Luke notices me.” She said it almost distastefully.
“Girl, no man alive can fully resist that hair color.” She headed into the room now, eye critically picking out something perfect. The blue skirt would match her eyes, while the ivory blouse wouldn’t wash her out. She stepped back, eyes wide. Essie was truly gifted when it came to style. “There, now. Better for a day with that Uncle of your’n.”
“Thank you, Miss Essie!” She flung herself at the woman, nearly knocking her off her feet, before skipping down the stairs towards the dining room, leaving a confused woman in her wake. Galatea, having heard the commotion and not being asleep anyway had slipped out of bed, dressed quickly and headed down the hall.
“She’s a firecracker, isn’t she?” She asked with a chuckle.
“You two did a fine job with that one. She’s a beauty, through and through.”
“She ought to be. Struck gold wherever she touched. His eyes, my hair… she was always a pretty thing, though, even as a baby.” The redhead chuckled. “Go on down for breakfast- I’m reasonably sure Doc’s awake.”
“You don’t often call him by his first name, do you?” Essie quizzed.
“No. I got used to using ‘Doc’. It feels almost unnatural to call him ‘John’ by now. I do from time to time, just like he calls me ‘Gwen’ occasionally.” She shrugged.
“Funny. I seem to remember him insisting you call him by first name.”
“That was a long time ago, Mama.” She chuckled. “We’ll be down in a bit.”
She headed down the hall to their room, playfully straddling him despite being dressed for the day, more or less. She dipped in to kiss him, affection in her gaze, though there was a hint of mischief too. “Good morning, John Henry.” She winked, then. “Sleep well?” Then she laughed outright. “No, doesn’t feel natural to call you that, sugar. Essie reminded me you always insisted I call you that.” She explained, before shaking her hair back. She melted against him, then, kissing her way along his jaw to end at his ear. “When we were young, did you ever think we’d end up this way?” She purred it, playful, as she nipped at the sensitive lobe.
"God almighty, look at that body!"