“Joe…”“Shh!” Giggling ensued.
Ana found Joe’s excitement contagious but could not suppress her apprehension in what they were doing.
“Joe, what if Adam finds out?”
“Don’t worry Ana. What Adam doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”
“He is my husband. How can he not know?”
Joe applied his most charming smile. “And he’s my brother. I’ll make sure he doesn’t find out.” Joe gave her a reassuring kiss on the cheek. “Now come on. We need to get off the street before someone sees us and lets the cat out of the bag.”
After glancing around to make sure no one was watching, Joe clasped Ana’s hand and led her up a set of back stairs of the hotel. Little did he realize that one of the biggest gossips in town had seen Joe Cartwright sneak Adam’s Cartwright wife into the Internationale Hotel. She made her way down the boardwalk toward the mercantile as quickly as her aging legs could carry her, most certain she had seen Adam and his other brother there.
“Mister Cartwright. Oh, Mister Cartwright.”
Hoss spun around at hearing the woman’s panicked voice.
“Miss Dottie, what’s the matter?”
“Oh, I need to see your brother right away. Where is he?”
Adam stepped out of the store with a large bag of sugar in his arms. Tossing it onto the other bags in the wagon, he turned to tip his hat to the older lady. “Morning Miss Dottie. Are you alright? Do you need some assistance?” He noted her red coloring and how she was rapidly fanning her face with her lace handkerchief.
“Oh, I am beside myself. I just saw…well, actually I’ve seen them a few times this week, but…oh my…”
Looking like she was about to fall clean over, Hoss guided Miss Dottie to a crate to sit on.
Adam crouched beside her. “Take a deep breath. Now tell me, who did you see?”
She took a couple of deep breaths, and began to weep. “That dear wife of yours, and…and your brother. Oh, I am so sorry and ashamed to have seen it. My heavens, I just don’t understand how they could do such a thing. The scandal of it all. They were sneaking into the back of the hotel. And he…oh dear…kissed her, and in broad daylight no less. Oh my!”
Her fanning increased as Hoss took a big swallow of air to settle his now churning stomach. He chanced a look at his brother and wished he hadn’t. Adam’s face was dark, his lips were disappearing into a thin line and his nostrils were flaring. His black brows dropped low over his angry eyes.
“I’m going to kill him.”
Hoss was caught between making sure Miss Dottie didn’t keel over onto the boardwalk and going after Adam to make sure a murder didn’t occur.
“Miss Dottie, now you go on inside and get a cool drink of water. I’ve got to catch up to Adam. Oh, and please don’t say anything to anyone. I’m pretty sure it’s not really what you’re thinkin’. So please keep this all to yourself.”
Miss Dottie could only nod as she disappeared into the store. She had no plans to repeat what she had seen after seeing Adam’s face turn terrifyingly dark. Oh the scandal of it all!
Hoss felt he’d never moved so fast in his life to catch up with Adam but managed to slip in front of him before he entered the hotel. He placed a large arm on each side of the door frame to make sure his older brother couldn’t get past.
“Out of my way Hoss.”
“Nope. Cain’t let you go in there like ya are. Adam you gotta listen to me. Now you know there’s got to be a reasonable explanation.”
In his fury, Adam was probably the only one who could match Hoss’ strength. He shoved Hoss aside and barged across the lobby, taking the staircase three steps at a time.
Hoss gave a frantic look to the clerk who shrugged helplessly.
On the second floor, Adam stopped at the door at the end of the hall, the suite reserved exclusively for the Cartwright family. Hoss saw him rest his ear against the door.
“Adam.” Hoss’ whisper came out more like a squeak.
Adam raised his arm to pound on the door when it suddenly opened revealing a startled maid.
“Oh, excuse me, Mister Cartwright. I was just freshening the room. If you require it it’s all ready.”
She squeezed past the two brothers, making straight for the stairs.
“Wait. Has my younger brother been in here, or my wife?”
“I couldn’t say, sir. I just check the room everyday to keep it fresh in case your family needs it. Please excuse me.”
She spun around but not before Hoss caught her worried look.
Already inside, Adam found everything in order. He threw a glare at Hoss, and slammed his fists on his hips. “Okay, Hoss, what is going on here!” His expression demanded an answer.
“I swear Adam, I don’t know. Miss Dottie had to be mistaken. You know how bad her eyesight is. Listen, let’s just go an’ get the supplies home. You know we only got a short time a’fore we have to be back here for the concert.”
Adam snorted and left the room ahead of his brother. Hoss expelled the breath he was holding when he heard a familiar muffled giggle, and rapid whispering coming from the bedroom. He quickly exited, pulling the door closed rather loudly behind him.
Arriving back at the mercantile and climbing aboard the wagon the two brothers headed home. Hoss drove the full wagon at a careful speed, but remained silent, not wanting to stir the hornet’s nest beside him.
Adam seethed all the way, and stormed into the house as soon as they arrived.
Ana entered the great room from the kitchen with Hop Sing following. “Adam? What is wrong? Joe is in the washroom. He will be out in a moment.” She squinted her dark eyes at her husband and wrinkled her nose. “Hop Sing, I believe Adam will be the next one to use the washroom if you do not mind getting it ready.”
Hop Sing grinned. “Get ready, lickety-split. Need hurry to get ready for fancy night.”
Adam had no chance to ask anything further as Ana quickly took his arm and guided him to the washroom. As they entered, he saw Joe ducking out the back door into the kitchen.
Feeling foiled again, Adam accepted his fate and prepared to bathe. However, Ana could tell that his questions were not going to wait for long.
From that moment on, everyone was kept quite busy getting ready to go to a concert in town. Ben had graciously agreed to watch Adam and Ana’s children overnight since everyone else was going to stay in town after the concert.
Even though he was enjoying the concert he kept throwing irate glances at Joe throughout the performance. After the concert, Adam became separated from his wife in the crowded lobby. Outside, he couldn’t find her or Joe so impatiently pushed through the lingering guests to head to the hotel. Once more Hoss rushed to keep up with him.
“Now Adam, you need to cool down. Don’t you go spoiling what was an enjoyable evening.”
At those words, Adam’s stride increased. “Don’t tell me to cool down. What could have been an enjoyable evening with my wife has turned into a nightmare with my soon-to-be deceased brother.”
Adam reached the hotel and stormed upstairs. This time Hoss just missed grabbing his brother’s arm, and Adam did not pause to knock on the door. He backed up and kicked it in.
“Joseph Cartwright! You…”
“SURPRISE!! Happy Birthday Adam!”
A grinning Hoss pushed past his statue of a brother so as not to miss Adam’s expression. Ana stepped forward to wrap her arms around her husband’s neck and give him a passionate kiss. She then threaded her arm around his to lead him further into the room. He was immediately surrounded by his children and family. Hop Sing happily served champagne for everyone.
“Are you alright son?”
“We got you good, didn’t we older brother.”
“Adam, I hope you are not mad at us. It was my idea and Joe was so sweet to help me.”
“Joe, you and Ana planned all this? This is why you and Ana were whispering a lot and sneaking around town?”
“You bet.” Joe’s face suddenly wrinkled and he glanced at Ana. “What did you think we were doing?”
“Uh, nothing. I had no idea.” Adam turned on Hoss. “You knew?”
Hoss quickly shoved a glass of champagne into Adam’s hand and winked at Ana. “Happy Birthday big brother. An’ ya know, you got yourself a right fine wife there too, to wanna do all this for ya.”
Adam turned back to his wife and gave her a long, passionate look. He pulled her into his arms and returned her earlier kiss. “Yes, I sure do, Hoss, I sure do. Now let’s get this party started.”
Adam leaned down to whisper into her ear. “You and I will have our own rendezvous later, my sweet.”
Ana smiled coyly at her husband as they meandered through the room. How she loved her dear Adam.
For the enjoyment of other readers, please keep the ending secret in your comments. Thank you. ~AC1830
Other Stories by this Author
- A Brother’s Heartache (by AC1830)
- Cowboy Boots and Dancing Shoes (by AC1830)
- The Light Inside (by AC1830)
- Cowboy Boots and Dancing Shoes, Part 2 (by AC1830)
- Angel of Love (by AC1830)