Forever (by Rider)


Summary:  Part one of my WHI “Forever” series “Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Cartwright”  Joe meets and marries Alice Harper.

Rated: K+ (2,020 words)

Forever Series:

I would do Anything for Love
The Love of my Life

Story Notes:

Series written for Ange & Smith


Joe Cartwright walked to room 13 of the Palace Hotel and knocked on the door.


“The manager said this was his room,” he said to the woman who opened the door.


“Bring him in,” she said disappointedly. “You can put him in there,” she said directing Joe to the bedroom.


Joe laid him on the bed, “There was a fight. He didn’t get hurt real bad, he just needs to—“


“Sleep it off, I know!” he was cut-off by the woman. “He drinks more than he fights. I see you managed to get all of his money.”


“What?” Joe was confused, but had an idea of what she meant.


“I should thank you. You’re the first one who ever bothered to bring him home, or did you think that there might be a little something left? If you thought that, you’re wrong. There’s nothing left. There never is.”


“Look, lady, I didn’t come here to find out about any money and I didn’t take the money he had with him! He got in a card game that he shouldn’t have, I just brought him home, that’s all!” Joe stormed out of the room to the door.


“I’m sorry,” she stopped him. “I shouldn’t have said that, I’m sorry. Thank you for bringing him home.”


“No need, I guess we both lost our tempers. I had no reason to bite your head off either.”


“Friends?” she smiled.


“Friends. Doc Martin’s a good man if your husband’s hurting when he wakes up”


“He’s my brother”


“Well, Doc’s the best in town”


“I’ll remember that. Thank you, Mister….uh…”


“Cartwright. Joe Cartwright”


“Alice Harper”


“I guess I’d better be going. Bye!”


“Good bye,” Alice called.


After Joe had left, she couldn’t help but think to herself. I hope I see him again.








The next day, Joe was working on the ranch, blowing up old stumps to clear the roads, when Pa came up to him with a letter for him. It was a letter from Alice Harper, thanking him for helping her brother. He decided to go and thank her for it personally, so he went to her place of business. A clothing store in Virginia City.


When he got there, Joe was very surprised to see that this was a store, for women’s clothing. He told the clerk that he wanted to buy a hat for a friend, and was directed to the hat department, where Alice worked.


“Oh, Mr. Cartwright! A pleasure to see you,” she greeted.


“It’s nice to see you. I wanted to thank you for your thank you note”


Oh, well, it was the least I could do. Well, I understand that you want to buy a hat,” she walked around the desk and picked one out. “We just have a new shipment in from St. Louis. I love this one, I think it’s really lovely. What do you think?”


“Oh, it’s nice. I don’t know too much about hats”


“I know what you mean; it’s not the easiest thing to pick out for a woman. Without her trying it on, I mean. Well, perhaps you’d like to consider something else for Mrs. Cartwright.”


“There is no Mrs. Cartwright. You see, I really didn’t want to buy anything. I just came her to thank you for the thank you note and ask you if you’d have dinner with me tonight”


“I’d like that,” she accepted.


“How’s eight-o-clock?”


“Eight’s fine”


“Well, I’ll see you at eight!” Joe threw the hat down and ran out of there as fast as her could.


“See you at eight,” Alice said under her breath.






That night, before Alice left the hotel room, her brother came home. He was drunk and broke, again. She couldn’t understand why he was always drinking and gambling. She finally had enough! Putting her foot down, Alice kicked him out; surprisingly, he left peacefully. After she was sure he had left, she went on her date with Joe. The two of them were nervous, and were a bit quiet through the evening, until Joe spoke up.


“How was your dinner?”


“Fine. Thank you”


“I know you didn’t eat it”


“I guess I wasn’t hungry, I’m sorry”


“No, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come to the store, I kinda put you on the spot when I asked you to go out with me, I—“


“No. No, I’m glad you did. I wanted… It has nothing to do with you”


“You’re sure?”


She nodded.


“Well, if it has nothing to do with me, and you really wanted to go out with me, then why are you messing up my evening?”


She laughed.


“I mean really! You know, it took an awful lot of nerve for me to walk into that store with all those women and ask you to go out with me. They were all staring! What’s so funny?”


“I don’t know. You just made me laugh,” Alice smiled.


“I’d rather not know why you’re laughing than to know why you’re crying. Alright then, we go”


“Where do we go?”


“Well, there’s only one place that a man takes a woman on a night like this”


“Where’s that?”


“To the barn!”


Joe took Alice to the livery stable where a big barn dance was being held. They joined the crowd, clapping and dancing happily along with the gay and festive music. Afterwards, he escorted her back to the hotel.


“Thank you, I had a wonderful time”


“Same here,” Joe replied. “I could walk you to your room if you like”


“No, thank you. I’m fine. Thank you again, I really had a good time”


“It was my pleasure”


“Good night”


Joe grabbed her before she could leave. “Can I see you again?”




“Is tomorrow too soon?”




“What time do you get off work?”


“I’m off tomorrow, it’s Sunday,” she laughed.


“Oh yeah, I forgot. Well, let me pick you up early, say two-o-clock?”




Joe kissed her good-bye just before she walked away. When Alice walked into her room, she didn’t see her brother John anywhere. Then, she heard his voice.


“Did you have a good time?”


She didn’t answer. He just stayed long enough to tell her that he was sorry, and say good-bye.


After their next day out, Joe came home happier than ever. Just before going to bed, he told his family that he had intentions to marry Alice Harper!




Surprisingly, 3 and a half weeks later Joe had his and Alice’s house already made and furnished! A week later, Joe and Alice were to be married. The day of the wedding, Joe could simply not get control of himself! He couldn’t button his shirt properly; he couldn’t tie his tie; he couldn’t even make his hair stay in place! And to top it all off, when he walked into the church, he thought he would faint.


But all of his fears and nervousness went away when he saw Alice walk down that aisle. She looked beautiful, clad in a silk white gown with a lace veil. First, Alice took her vows, followed by Joe. He never felt happier in his life than the moment he heard her say, “I do.”




That evening, when they got home, Joe couldn’t believe it. Here he was, in his very own home, with the most beautiful woman in the entire world! He was the happiest man alive!


The first few months of their marriage flew bye like the wind. One evening while Joe was finishing up his work, he saw Alice poke her head out the window.


“Hey, you know it’s getting late?” she called.


“I’m almost done.


“You Pa said supper at six. We’ve been late the last three times.


“Well, who’s fault is that?”


Alice blushed. “Never you mind, you just get a move on, okay?


A few minutes later, Joe was all finished and dresses. When he came into the bedroom, Alice was standing in front of the mirror buttoning a cuff.


“Well, I’m already; I thought you were worried about being late.”


“I’ve been waiting for you to button me up,” she replied.


Just as Joe was about to fasten the buttons, he began to kiss his wife’s neck.


“Uh..the buttons,” Alice reminded.


“The buttons! Alright. Is this a new dress?”


“Oh, typical husband you are! You’ve only seen me in it ten times!”


“Well, it’s so darn tight, I can hardly hook it up.”


“Really? This material shrinks sometimes,” she explained.


After the buttons were hooked, Joe began to kiss her again, until she reminded him to go hook up the buggy.




Two days later, Joe was working on his land, when Pa and Candy rode up. Ben told Joe that he had just been by the house, and Alice had a special lunch all ready for him. When Joe got home, Alice had just finished cooking everything.


“Pa told me you were making something special. Why all the fuss?” he asked as he washed his face.


“To celebrate”


“Celebrate what, we got nothing to celebrate”


Joe paused. He looked up at Alice in disbelief. She glanced back, with a happy smile and nodded her head. Joe walked to Alice and hugged her lovingly.


“It means we’re gonna have to add that room on a little sooner than you planned to,” she said.


“Are you kidding me? I’ll have it built in half-an-hour! I… I just can’t believe it, a baby!” Joe couldn’t stop smiling. “Are you alright? Do you feel alright?”


“I’m fine,” she grinned.


“Are you sure?”


“Ah-huh, really. I’m sure, now come on, eat something!”


“Oh, I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t eat if I was starving to death! I just can’t believe it, a baby,” then Joe remembered Pa. “I gotta tell Pa. Maybe I can catch him before he gets home.”


Before he opened the door, he flew back and kissed Alice.


“A baby!!” before he closed the door he blew her a kiss.


As Ben and Candy were riding home, they heard a wagon coming. They turned around and saw Joe. He was yelling to them.


“PA!! HEY, PA, WAIT UP!!! PA, WAIT UP!!!!!!”


When he got off, he ran to Pa so fast that he nearly fell over more than once.


“Pa, Pa….” he panted.


“Joseph, what is it?”


“It’s Alice…”


“Is she alright?” Ben asked.


“Oh yeah! Yeah, she’s fine.”


“Well, then what is it?”


“Pa, she’s gonna have a baby!! A BABY!!!!” Joe yelled.


“A….a baby?” Ben asked in disbelief.


“Yeah, Pa, a baby!! Can you belive it? I’m gonna be a father! ME!!!”


“Oh, Joseph, this is wonderful!!!” Ben was so excited that he picked up Joe and whirled him around.




That night, Joe was so excited over everything that he couldn’t sleep. Alice woke up, and came out of the bedroom to find him standing in the doorway.


“Joe, are you alright?”


“Hmm? Oh! Yeah, I’m fine. I just couldn’t sleep,” he put his arm around Alice and held him close to her. “I was thinking about the baby. You should’ve seen the looks on Pa’s face when I told him. He looked like the king rooster in a hen house. You know, if it’s a girl, he’s going to spoil the baby rotten.”


“Well, it’s going to be up to you not to let him!”


“Well, I won’t. Because I’ll be too busy spoiling the baby myself,” he laughed.


After a few more moments of conversation, the couple went to bed. As Joe lay there, his heart beat with excitement. By the end of that year, he, Joseph Francis Cartwright, would be a father!


Forever Series:

I would do Anything for Love
The Love of my Life

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.


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