Just a Neighbor (by millieshepherd)

Summary: In the aftermath of Laura Dalton running off with Will Cartwright and Adam’s accident that left him crippled, he is still trying to recover both physically and emotionally. In an attempt to heal and get rid of the itch to leave the Ponderosa for a while, he buys a six-month homestead claim contract. His piece of land is a beautiful little spot about forty miles north of the Ponderosa and he soon discovers his closest neighbor is a pretty young lady named Felicity Quinn. While helping each other through multiple situations, a close friendship grows between them and they aren’t sure if they want to continue to be “just neighbors”. (This story takes place around the beginning of season six.)

Rating: PG

Word Count: 7,648

Just a Neighbor

Chapter 1 

Walking into the land office, Felicity Quinn patiently took her place at the back of the long line of gruff, dirty men. The heat of the late spring day was making the crowded room become stuffy and begin to smell like the men filling it. Even though the dress she wore made her appear prissy and very girlish, Felicity was born and raised a little rough around the edges so the foul smelling room didn’t make her bat an eye. She welcomed the fresh air that drifted through the open door as yet another person stepped into the building. Keeping her eyes downcast under her frilly purple hat, she glanced behind her to see a man dressed from head to foot in black. He had a rugged cowboy look which combined with his dark attire made him stick out in the room almost as badly as she did in her purple hat and dress. 

Slowly but surely the line made its way to the desk where one sweaty, uncomfortable looking man sat with a nearly all gone stack of homestead claims in front of him. She stepped up to him as he mopped his brow with a handkerchief and laid her small reticule on the table. Her eyes quickly darted down to the small metal sign bearing the man’s name before she said, “Good afternoon, Mr. Richardson I’d like to file a claim, please.”

“Ma’am, are you sure?” He put back on his wire framed spectacles as he glanced up at her wearily. 

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“There are conditions,” he ran his hand through his hair, making it stand on end, “conditions you might not be aware of.” 

“I’m aware of the conditions: I must build a house, dig a well, and make the land wagon accessible in six months.” 

“But are you capable of completing those conditions?”

“Mr. Richardson, I am fully capable.” Her voice took on a steely, determined tone as she pulled herself to her full lean height of five foot five. 

“Are you completely sure, miss?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Alright,” he pulled a clean off the stack and handing her the freshly dipped pen, pointed to a finely dotted line on the bottom of the page, “sign right here.”

With a flourish and a satisfied grin, she quickly signed the deed to her new homestead claim.

 

He watched as the purple clad lady gently laid the required twenty-five dollars on Mr. Richardson’s desk before she picked up the deed for her twenty acres of land. Turning around, her chin held high, shoulders set stiff, she walked past him and he quickly tipped his hat as she breezed by and was rewarded with a small smile. He glanced behind him and couldn’t help noticing that she was a pretty little thing but now was not the time to be admiring blonde girls. As he faced the sissy looking city dude sweating buckets behind his desk, Adam Cartwright placed the two pieces of paper money in the now large pile of bills as he said, “Mr. Richardson, a homestead claim, please.”

Mr. Richardson sighed as he shoved the very last claim and a pen in his direction. Quickly jotting his name on the dotted line, he rolled the pen back towards him and blew on the ink to make it dry. He folded the paper before he put it in his shirt pocket as he bid the weak man good day. 

He stepped out the door and began to head in the direction of the general store. He had a list of things that he needed to take with him the next day when he went to his claim. His Pa wasn’t going to be happy when he found out about his plans so he had to make sure he had all of that night to smooth things over and try to make him understand. He always had a hard time expressing his feelings and this time was no exception. 

Adam swung the store door open and his eyes came in contact with the blonde girl from moments earlier in the land office. Her back was to him but as the bell on the door rang, she turned to look over her shoulder. Her face was pretty in a simple kind of way yet her big blue eyes would make any red blooded man look twice. She almost reminded him of Laura but he quickly pushed that thought to the side. He told himself he wouldn’t think about her anymore and here he was doing just that. 

“Adam, I’ll be with you as I’m finished with the young lady here.” Louis, the shopkeeper behind the counter called when he saw him. 

“Don’t worry about it, Lou, I’m not in a rush.” He stepped up and pulled a stick of licorice out of the jar. Leaning his right hip on the counter, he tipped his hat at the young lady standing next to him as he bit off a piece of the candy. “Good day, ma’am.”

“And good day to you, sir.” She smiled and the sight of it nearly took away his breath. Her eyes, which had looked all blue from a distance, had green specks in them and they were framed by long delicate brown lashes. Some would call her homely or even plain but when she smiled, there wasn’t a doubt about it, she was just plain beautiful. 

“Are you new to town? I don’t believe I’ve seen you around here before.” He asked, trying to start a polite conversation despite the fact that he hadn’t intended to; he wanted to hear her soft voice that sounded sweet like honey again. 

“Yes, I am new to town.” Her smile continued and he found it rather contagious as his own face formed a smile. He hadn’t felt much like smiling the past few months and it surprised him that he’d forgotten how good it felt to do. “I’m going to be working one of the homestead claims north of here.”

“Well, so am I. Maybe we’ll end up neighbors.”

“That would be very nice.” She laughed and held out a small hand for him to shake. “I’m so sorry, I completely forgot my manners, my name is Felicity Quinn.”

“I’m Adam, Adam Cartwright.” He gently shook her hand, careful not to grasp it too tight. The strength that she used to grip his though, it surprised him. He didn’t think a woman as small as her could have such a strong grip, especially since she was a good six inches shorter than him, coming only to his collarbone. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Quinn.”

“The pleasure’s all mine and it’s Miss, not Mrs..” He nodded at the correction, pleasantly pleased that she wasn’t wearing some other man’s brand. 

“Miss Quinn, your order will be ready for you by morning.” Lou told her, distracting Adam from trying to find an excuse to say something else to continue the small conversation that was quickly dying out. 

“Thank you so much, Mr. Williams. I’ll be by in the morning to pick it up in my wagon.” She collected her small bag from off the counter before turning to nod at both of them. “Gentlemen, good bye.”

“Goodbye, Miss Quinn.” 

“Alright, Adam, now what can I do for you?” Lou asked as soon as the bell over the door let out a chance signaling her exit. 

“I’d like you to fill out this list for me,” he laid a piece of paper on the table, “I’ll be by in the morning to pick it all up.”

“Sure thing.” Lou quickly read the list before he asked, “Did you really get one of those homestead claims?”

“Yeah, and I got lucky, too. There was only one left after Miss Quinn’s.” 

“What does your Pa think of you doing this?”

“Well, he doesn’t know yet.” He explained. “I’m going to tell him tonight.”

“Then I wish you good luck!” He laughed.

“Thanks, I’m going to need it.” Adam moved towards the door and waved over his shoulder. “See you in the morning, Lou.”

 

Chapter 2 

“Hey, Pa, could I talk to you for a minute?” Adam asked as he strode into the house and found the gray haired man behind his desk. 

“Of course, what is it, son?” He looked up from his paperwork and gave his oldest his complete attention. 

“Well, I was wondering if I could have six months of time off.”

“Six months!” He exclaimed. “Whatever for?”

“You know those homestead claims that are twenty miles north of Virginia City?” His Pa nodded, a look of confusion on his face. “I bought one.”

“You bought one?!” He shot to his feet, making his chair tip dangerously behind him but it safely landed upright.

“Yes, Pa,” Adam began to explain, “I want to do this, I need to do this.”

“But why?”

“I’m not entirely sure why.” He sighed. Talking about his emotions and opening up had always been one of the hardest things to do, even with his father. Yet he knew he owed it to his Pa to at least try to explain; just brush the surface enough to hopefully make him understand. “I feel like I need to prove myself again. I want to break away for a while and be alone so I can.”

“But, Adam, you don’t need to prove yourself to us, we know you’re more than capable.”

“Pa, I’m not trying to prove anything to you, I’m doing it for me.” He watched his Pa’s face slowly turn to what looked like slight understanding. 

“You’ve only been on your feet for three months since your back injury, are you sure you can do it?”

“Believe it or not, despite some mild back pain when I’m really exhausted, I feel as good as I did before the fall.” He smiled and hoped it looked genuine, he hadn’t lied but maybe just stretched the truth a bit. He had nearly all of his strength back but his back hurt more than he let on. He’d often go to bed with it throbbing badly. He wasn’t going to admit that now though, there was too much on the line. A twenty acre plot of land with his name on it to be exact. “I plan to leave in the morning. My plot is one of the few that are closest to Virginia City, so it’s roughly forty miles away.”

“How long do you intend to live there?”

“Well, I haven’t decided but I know six months for sure. I’ll make up my mind at the end of those months.”

“Alright, son, I won’t hold you back.” He sighed. “But remember, the Ponderosa is your home and the door will always be open no matter what.”

“I know, Pa, thank you.” They shared a smile before Adam turned to go upstairs. Halfway up, he paused to look back and ask, “Oh, and can I borrow a wagon? I have two weeks worth of supplies I’m picking up tomorrow and they won’t all fit on my horse.”

“Of course.”

 

Felicity stepped into the general store the next morning, garbed in a completely different attire from the day before. In fact, she hardly looked like the same girl with a brown split skirt clinging to her hips below a dark red blouse. Her long blonde hair hung at her waist in a thick braid and a simple brown man’s hat rested on top of her head. She peered around the empty store and spotted not only the store clerk but Adam Cartwright as well. 

From the little bit that she’d seen of him the day before, she couldn’t figure him out. She was typically pretty good at reading people, especially men, but Mr. Cartwright had her stumped. He had dark, handsome looks and a charming smile yet he almost seemed to be plagued by some sort of inner battle. His eyes had a mournful look to them, like the world had taken a piece of him and he hadn’t fully recovered it yet. She hoped whatever it was, he would get it sorted out, but then, of course, his affairs were none of her business. 

“Morning, Miss Quinn.” The store clerk gave her a small wave when he looked up and saw her. 

“Good morning, Mr. Williams.” She called and then turned to the dark man to find him tipping his hat at her. She smiled with a nod, “Mr. Cartwright.”

“Miss Quinn, your supplies are all ready to go,” Mr. Williams informed her, “they just need to be loaded onto your wagon.”

“Thank you, where are they?”

“Right over here, ma’am.” He pointed to a stack of items in front of the counter on the left side of Mr. Cartwright. She stepped over and picked up the smaller sacks. To her surprise, Mr. Cartwright hefted the heaviest sack onto his shoulder and followed her out of the store. 

“You didn’t have to help but I thank you for it anyways.” She placed her packages behind the seat as he flopped the sack of flour into the back of the wagon. 

“Don’t worry about it,” he waved off her thanks, “it’s what anybody would’ve done.”

They both slipped back into the store and Felicity made quick work of finishing up loading her wagon. She didn’t have a whole lot to pack since she’d only bought two weeks worth of supplies and because Mr. Cartwright helped her, she started out of town before he even began to load his own supplies. She wasn’t sure where his homestead was but she hoped she’d see him again. He seemed like a nice man and since the only friends she had were miles away in California, it would be nice to make some new ones even if they were men. 

 

Chapter 3

Adam rode the perimeter of his homestead, getting off of Sport every couple of miles to pound a small stake into the ground. The first thing he wanted to get completed was marking off his claim so no one could try to take it or attempt to squat on it. As soon as he was finished, he’d find a spot to build his house and then set up camp for the night. 

He caught sight of a large tree in the middle of his claim. It looked like a pretty little spot and as he quickly hammered his last stake in the ground, he led his horse behind him as he walked over to it. There on the other side of the tree, which he now saw was a weeping willow, was a decent sized creek. The weeping willow was roughly twenty feet from the edge of a creek that had to be at least as wide as Hoss was tall. A smile slowly spread across his face as he remembered that one of the requirements for the homestead claim was to dig a well but if there was already water on the claim, it wasn’t required. He sure lucked out when he got the last claim in the stack.  So did his neighbor to the right of him since the creek continued to flow past his land and onto their’s. 

As he turned around, a small clearing full of wild flowers behind the tree caught his eye. He quickly tethered Sport to a branch and strode over to the area. Gently stepping through the flowers, being careful not to crush them, he made his way to what seemed like the middle and then stopped. Hands on his hips, he slowly turned to face the tree. A gentle breeze blew around him and he inhaled a deep breath, taking in the sweet perfume of the flowers at his feet and all around him, he unhurriedly nodded to himself. This was it, this was the spot. The creek was close enough that hauling water wouldn’t be a burden yet the tree was far enough away that should it fall, it wouldn’t hit the house. 

Closing his eyes, he could see it all like it was already there. A small, humble wood house in the middle of a field of wildflowers with a beautiful weeping willow swaying in the breeze a little distance away. The gurgle of the creek and chirp of birds sweetly filling the peaceful silence and then the croak of frogs and chirp of crickets to sing a soft lullaby at night. No loud younger brothers to interrupt his reading or busy ranch sounds to block out the sweet melodies coming from his throat and guitar. He’d been fighting with the urge to go wandering through the country and around the world but this place, it just might be the cure for that.

 

Roughly a mile in the distance, Sally could see a man standing in the middle of a colorful field. She guessed that it must have been flowers making it colorful but she couldn’t tell who the man was, only that he was dressed in dark clothing. As he turned and she could tell he’d spotted her, she lifted her hand high in the air and waved. He took his hat off his head, raised it above him and waved back. Even though he couldn’t see her, she smiled broadly. She was glad to have a neighbor and if her guess was correct, he just might be Adam Cartwright. 

A few hours later as she was sitting down to eat lunch she looked up to find the man walking along the creek towards her camp. Her guess was right, it was Adam Cartwright. He stepped up to her where she was propped up on a small barrel and with one smooth motion, took off his hat and held it at his waist while he said, “Good afternoon, Miss Quinn, I saw you wave earlier and since I finished setting up my camp, I thought I’d come say hello.”

“I’m glad you did, Mr. Cartwright, from a distance I couldn’t tell who you were.” She smiled, standing up to offer him her hand to shake. 

“Since there was only one lady in the office yesterday, I figured it was you.” He laughed, gently shaking her hand with a firm grip that matched her own. 

“Would you care to join me for lunch? There’s plenty for both of us.”

“I’d love to, but only if you’ll call me Adam. With us being neighbors now, it seems too formal for you to call me Mr. Cartwright.”

“Alright, then, Adam,” she began to dish him up some of the beans and cornbread, “you’ll have to do the same with me, my name is Felicity.”

“Felicity is a very pretty name.” He took the plate from her and leaned his back against her parked wagon. “Have you decided where you’re going to build your house yet?”

“Yes, right here.” She gestured to the area they sat in. “That is, of course, if you don’t mind me being so close to your property.”

“Oh, no, not at all.” He looked over at his land and pointed one long, slender finger towards the tree. “I’m going to build mine right in the center of that field of wildflowers.”

“That will be lovely.”

“That’s what I thought.” He grinned. “Do you have house plans or an idea of what type of house you’re going to build?”

“Well, I wanted to make a simple one room house but I haven’t the least idea how to draw up plans or begin building it.”

“But in the land office you said you could.”

“I know,” she smiled sheepishly, “since I have enough money, I was going to hire someone to do it for me.”

“You just happen to be in luck because I have a degree in architecture and would be more than willing to draw up the plans for your house.” She looked at him, shocked and surprised. “And my younger brothers agreed to help me build my house, while we’re at it, we’ll build yours, too, all free of charge.”

“But, Adam, I can’t let you and your brothers do all that work without paying you something.” 

“It’s the neighborly thing for me to do and when my brothers see you, you’ll have two noble servants who would be more than willing to trade their work for your good cooking.”

“You just want me to feed you and your brothers as payment?” She asked, even more surprised. “That doesn’t seem like much.”

“Yes, it is enough.” He smiled and it slowly turned into a chuckle. “You’ll understand when you see my brother Hoss.”

 

Chapter 4

After drawing up the plans for both of their houses, Adam went back to the Ponderosa two days later. He decided to start building as soon as possible so that it was finished and out of the way, plus then he didn’t have to sleep on the ground. Sleeping on the ground wasn’t doing his back any good favors and each morning he woke up stiff and in pain. If he was going to make this homestead work he couldn’t hobble around like an old man with a crippled back, so he figured he might as well get his house built as quickly as possible. But he would have to wait a little longer since he’d already made up his mind to build Felicity’s first. She didn’t know yet and she might object but he didn’t like the idea of her sleeping outside while he had a roof over his head. 

Steering his wagon full of wood through the grassy fields to the homestead claims, he heard his brother’s wagons rattling along behind him. They were each driving a wagon just as full of wood as his, in fact they had enough wood between the three of them to complete Felicity’s house and then start his. He felt they might as well kill two birds with one stone since the weight of three heavy wagons making several trips would make a nice start to a road to the homestead claims. 

Joe and Hoss agreed right away to help him build Felicity’s house, especially after they found out she was pretty and a good cook, too. Joe was a sucker for a pretty face and Hoss never turned down a good meal, so Adam knew neither of them would say no to a prospect like that. 

As they got closer, Adam spotted Felicity moving around in her camp and if his eyes weren’t lying to him, it looked like she was wearing jeans. All he could hope was that it wouldn’t distract Joe too much. He personally didn’t mind women wearing pants, though it was unusual and caught him off guard, but when it was a very pretty girl with a womanly figure, even he found it distracting. But of course it was her choice what she wore so he, Joe, and Hoss were going to have to work around the distraction.

Adam pulled his wagon to a stop near the spot where Felicity wanted her house and his brothers followed suit behind him. As they all climbed down, she strode over with a cheerful smile on her face. “Hello, Adam, glad to see you back.”

“It took a little longer to get all the wood we needed than I thought it would so we stayed overnight in town.” He explained and then gestured to his brothers, who he could tell were getting anxious to be introduced to the blonde in front of him. “Felicity, I’d like you to meet my younger brothers. This is Hoss and that’s Little Joe.”

“Nice to meet you both.” She took turns shaking their hands. “Please call me Felicity.”

“Sure thing, ma’am.” Hoss blushed.

“Felicity, just call me Joe.” He tipped his hat and that cocky, flirtish grin spread across his face. Adam fought the urge to roll his eyes at his youngest brother’s typical flirting but Felicity ignored it and agreed with a small nod.

 

It took Adam and his brothers a little over two weeks to build Felicity’s small house. In those two weeks she cooked for the four of them and assisted in the building when she could, but she quickly realized why Adam told her she’d understand why her cooking would be enough after she saw Hoss. Hoss was a very large man and could eat as much as his two brothers combined, his appetite alone kept her cooking for hours each day. 

Since Felicity was the daughter of a saloon girl and had lived in a saloon until she was fifteen, she learned very quickly how to read a man so it didn’t take long for her to discover what type of men the Cartwright boys were. Hoss was the easiest of the three to read; he had a big heart and caring ways. Despite his large size, he was gentle and sweet to both his fellow man and the stock. It took her most of the first day to figure out Joe but when she did, she liked what she saw. He was a ladies man yet in a kind and dear way, he also loved to laugh and joke around but his brothers had to keep him in line because he had a tendency to be a little lazy. But Adam, she still wasn’t sure what type of man he was. He had the same caring, kind, and sweet ways as his brothers but she could tell something was bothering him deep inside. As they all became close and friendships were formed she hoped that his problem, whatever it was, would work itself out.

 

Chapter 5

Three months later Felicity walked towards her house after leaving Adam’s, they’d had dinner together again for the third time that week. Casually humming a tune to herself, she could feel him watching her from behind. Whenever she would go have dinner at his place and she would walk home alone, he would always watch her until she got to her door. They’d wave goodnight and then step into their own quiet houses. It was their system of sorts and she liked it. Adam and her had gotten to be really close friends and they were constantly visiting each other; there was nearly never a day that went by that one of them didn’t walk the small mile to come talk. 

She was almost ten or so feet past Adam’s weeping willow tree when a noise made her look up quickly. There not five feet away from her, drinking out of the creek was a big black bear. Her feet stopped like her shoes were made of iron as fear filled her to the brim. The bear slowly turned towards her, a deep snarling growl coming from its throat. Felicity didn’t know what to do but as the bear reared up on its hind legs and let out a loud roar, she did the first thing that came to her mind: run. She turned around and bolted in the direction of Adam’s house and saw him hurrying towards her with a rifle in his hands. 

She could hear the bear’s heavy feet thudding the ground behind her as it chased after her and she thought she could make it to Adam but suddenly she hit the ground. The wind knocked out of her and she felt sharp claws slash open her arm as the bear rolled her over. Its gastly face was mere inches from her and she could feel its hot breath. In an attempt to protect her face she brought her arms up around her head and the bear swatted its meaty paw at her, slicing open the underside of her already bleeding arm. As she thought for sure she was going to get either eaten alive or swatted to death, a gunshot rang out. The bear let out a loud groan and collapsed heavily on top of her as everything went black.

It took him a few heavy shoves but Adam finally got the dead bear off of Felicity. There was blood everywhere, both hers and the bear’s, and she was unconscious. He didn’t know what knocked her out but he knew he needed to get her inside to see how hurt she was. Leaving his rifle by the dead beast, he quickly scooped up the limp girl and rushed her into the house. 

He laid her on the bed and after seeing her right sleeve was nearly torn off, he ripped it the rest of the way. Underneath the soft fabric was a mess. On the underside of her arm directly below her elbow were three deep gashes and on the outside of her upper arm were three more; all of them bleeding badly. 

Quickly wetting a cloth, he pressed down on the wounds and shook his head as it almost instantly turned bright red. He needed to get her to Doc Martin and fast. Losing Felicity wasn’t something he was about to do, especially since he felt their friendship was beginning to turn into more. She’d helped him get over Laura’s betrayal and the pain that gave him. He never tried to let his Pa and brothers see it but Laura hurt him more than he expected she could. During the past three months, he’d noticed the pain had begun to fade until it was gone and it was all thanks to Felicity’s companionship. 

He gently wrapped her in the blanket lying under her on his bed and then left her a moment to saddle Sport. He wished he still had the wagon but he’d given it back to his Pa and there wasn’t time to go over to Felicity’s place and hook up hers. Sprinting back in the house, he scooped up her still unconscious form and after a slight struggle, mounted his horse. He held her tight against him as he rode as fast as he dared towards Virginia City.

 

“Felicity?” Her eyes fluttered open at the sound of the voice and she saw Adam bent over her. His face was lined with worry and somehow looked slightly older than the last time she saw him. She felt his hand gently squeeze her left one as he asked, “How do you feel?”

“Tired and my arm hurts.” She replied, her mouth dry.

“I expect it does, it nearly got torn to shreds by a bear.” He smiled slightly and then lifted a glass of water to her lips. “Here, you need to drink, you lost a lot of blood.” 

“Is my arm going to be alright?” She asked after drinking half of the glass. 

“Yeah, you’ll have six nasty scars but they should heal nicely as long as the wounds don’t get infected.” As he sat the glass back on the table beside her bed, a knock sounded on the door and she realized that they were at the doctor’s office and no longer at Adam’s house. He must have brought her here after she passed out. The person knocked again and Adam called out, “Who is it?”

“It’s Hoss, Joe, and I.” She recognized Adam’s pa’s voice through the door.

“Come in, Pa.”

“We came as soon as we got the message.” The gray haired man strode through the door, his other sons following. All of them stepped up to the bed, hats in their hands at their waists. “Felicity, how are you doing?”

“All right, I guess.” 

“That’s good.” He smiled at her. She had gotten to know and love the Cartwright men as friends and it hurt her heart when she thought about how she hadn’t been completely honest with them about her past. But there was never a time like the present and she decided to fix things. 

“I need to tell you all something.” She watched them all look confusedly at one another but she could tell that they would listen to what she had to say. “I haven’t been honest with you about who I am and where I come from.”

“But, Felicity, your past doesn’t matter to us.” Adam interjected. 

“It does to me and you’re my friends. You’re supposed to be honest with your friends and I haven’t.” She took a deep breath and began her long story, “My mother was orphaned at a young age and was passed back and forth between family until she was fourteen. The family she was staying with kicked her out and she had to make it on her own. She got a job at a saloon and just survived. When she was fifteen, she found out she was expecting me. From the time I was five until I was about twelve, I would serve drinks and then after I turned thirteen, I began to perform dancing and singing numbers. Ma’s boss wanted me to start entertaining but she wouldn’t let him. Thankfully during the years we were there I never had to entertain, I avoided it like the plague

“It was around the time I turned fifteen, a man came to the saloon and he and Ma became friends. They got married and we moved to his farm outside of Sacramento. He treated me like his daughter and since then they’ve had five more children.” 

“How did you get here in Virginia City?” Ben asked. 

“For the past few years I’ve wanted to move out and go my own way. I heard about the homestead claims and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Pa and Ma gave me their blessing and the funds to start me off and I came here.” 

“Felicity none of that matters to us, everyone has some sort of past and no one can change it. All that matters is that you’re living the right way now, we aren’t going to hold something that you had no power to change against you.” Ben smiled as he gently patted her shoulder. “You’ve talked enough for now, you need rest so you can heal properly. The boys and I will leave you alone.”

Ben and the two younger men stepped out of the room but Adam stayed for a moment longer once they were alone. He leaned down towards her and softly planted a kiss on her forehead as he quietly said, “Get some sleep, Felicy.”

 

Chapter 6

A few weeks later Adam was chopping firewood for Felicity since her arm wasn’t completely healed yet and her woodbox was getting low. He wanted to be able to get enough cut to last for at least until the beginning of autumn. His back had been bothering him worse lately but he was trying to ignore it and just push past it to get all the work that needed to be done. 

He lifted the ax and went to swing it down to split the piece of wood on the chopping block in front of him when suddenly something in his back pulled. A sharp, fiery pain shot across his lower back and up into his shoulders as the ax thudded to the ground behind him. His knees buckled as a loud groan of pain escaped his throat. The pain was so bad he couldn’t move so he did the only thing he thought to do and that was yell for help, “Felicity! Felicity, get out here!”

She was at his side in a moment and bent down to look him in the face. He was near tears from the pain but he didn’t care that she saw, all he cared about was getting off the ground. “Help me up.”

“Adam, what happened?” She stepped around him and tucked her good shoulder under his right arm pit. He put his arm around her shoulders, trying not to bump the sling tied around her neck, and between the two of them got him to his feet. 

“I think I threw my back out.”

“Then you need to lie down,” she began to slowly lead him towards the front door. “Come on, we can make it.”

They made it to her small bed in the corner after a long painful five minutes. He collapsed on his stomach onto the mattress with a small moan while Felicity watched him with worried eyes as she asked, “What do you want me to do?”

“Well, there isn’t much for you to do, my back’s just acting up from the accident I was in a while back.” He looked at her over his shoulder. “I have a bottle of liniment in my cupboard. Will you go get it and the whiskey beside it? I’ve found that’s the only thing that helps.”

“Of course, I’ll get it.” She moved towards the door. “I’ll be right back.”

 

As Felicity ran towards Adam’s house, she wondered what type of accident he’d had. He’d never mentioned it before but she had noticed something was off with his back at times. He would rub it or stretch when he thought she wasn’t looking but she saw. She’d also heard the pause in his chopping and his groan before he ever called for her. She was halfway to the door when he yelled. It scared her to see him like that bent on the ground but she quickly pushed her fear to the side and helped him into the house. 

Throwing the front door open, she went straight to the cupboard and snatched both bottles. The door slammed shut behind her as she took back off for home, the bottles tucked in her sling. She had to go slower since she didn’t want to drop them and her arm was beginning to throb slightly.

As she stepped back through her door, she found Adam still laying where she left him, only now stripped to the waist, his shirt on the bed beside him. Her eyes quickly took in his muscular back but she quickly averted them so she could concentrate. She handed him the nearly full bottle of whiskey and he took a quick swing before handing it back. 

“You don’t mind rubbing the liniment on my back do you, Felicy?” He asked. 

“No, of course not,” she let a small smile play on her lips as she heard what he called her. Ever since she had the run in with that bear, he’d called her Felicy and she liked it. “It might take me a little longer since I can only use one hand but thankfully I’m left handed. Would you open the bottle for me?”

“Yeah, give it to me,” he took it and unscrewed the cap for her. She poured the liquid on his back and he let out a quiet hiss as he said, “It’s cold!” 

“It’ll warm up,” she laughed as she began to massage it in. His muscles were tight to the touch and when she rubbed his lower back, he took a shallow breath and jumped slightly. “I’m sorry it hurts. What kind of accident did you have?”

 

Adam knew that question was coming sooner or later and he quickly made up his mind to tell her the whole story. “I was secretly building a house for my fiancée and then one day she showed up with my cousin. I heard them coming and it startled me; I fell off the ladder I was standing on. After I hit the ground, the roof beam I was trying to put in place fell on my back. I was paralyzed from the waist down for a few weeks and it took me three months till I was able to walk again.” 

“Fiancée?” Her hand stopped.

“Yes but she and my cousin were coming to tell me that they were in love and that our engagement was off.” He explained. “Laura and I were together for a while but I discovered during the time I was confined to a wheelchair that I really didn’t love her. I was in love with the thought of marriage, not her. She married Will and I haven’t heard from either of them since. My only regret is not getting to tell Peggy goodbye.”

“Who was Peggy?”

“Laura was a widow and Peggy was her young daughter.” He sighed as he felt her hand begin to knead his back again. “I loved her like she was my own and, to be honest, I miss her.”

“I’m sorry about Laura jilting you.” She said quietly. 

“It’s alright, I’m completely over it now.” And that was the truth, he was and it was all thanks to her. 

 

Chapter 7

About two months later, both Adam and Felicity completely healed, were sitting in the warm autumn air under the weeping willow tree. The long branches concealed them in their own little world as they leaned against the trunk, their shoulders mere inches apart, her hand cocooned tightly in his. After Adam threw out his back their relationship turned in a romantic way and he was glad it had. If it hadn’t, he was bound to have stolen a kiss and he wasn’t sure how that would have gone but now that he’d gotten a few kisses with permission, he was as happy as any man could be. 

“You know, this place saved me.” He broke the peaceful silence they had been sitting in for about ten minutes or so. 

“How’d it do that?”

“I felt like I was drowning and needed to get away. I didn’t know how far, I just knew I needed to get away so I could breathe. Pa kept watching over me like I was a fragile egg and Joe and Hoss tried to keep out of my space. It was miserable especially since I wanted to hide the amount of pain, both physical and emotional, from everyone.” He sighed and felt Felicity drawing circles on the top of his hand with her thumb. 

“Please go on,” she asked after he was silent for a few moments. 

“It might sound silly but when I got here and when I stood in the middle of that field, it was like I could breathe again. Like one of the burdens I was carrying was magically lifted away.”

“I don’t think that’s silly.”

“You don’t?” He looked down to find her watching him.

“No, because I’ve felt the same feeling before.” She explained. “When Ma married Curtis, a huge burden got lifted from both of us because we didn’t have to live like we were any longer. But you said that only one of the burdens was lifted, what was the other one?”

“Laura.” He turned away from her and looked intently at the sweeping branches in front of them. “Slowly but surely, her memory and the pain it brought faded until it vanished completely.”

“What made it disappear?”

“You.” The single spoken word seemed to float through the air between them as silence reigned once more. 

“Me?” Her voice was barely a whisper but Adam still heard it.

“Yes, you, Felicy.” Facing her, he took her chin in his hand and slowly turned her face towards him so that she’d look at him when he spoke again. “Your friendship and then eventually love healed me, it washed me clean. I never thought that day in the land office when I saw a young lady wearing a frumpy purple dress in front of me, that that girl would change my life forever. Felicity, I know I’ve never told you this before but I love you.”

 

He’d said it, he said the three words she’d dreamed that he would say to her. If he weren’t holding her chin, she would’ve leaned up and kissed him. She could barely believe it yet she somehow managed to get out, “I love you, too, Adam.”

He did kiss her then and soundly, too. After they parted she found herself unable to tear her eyes from his face. Thankfully he didn’t seem to mind her staring blatantly at her as he continued to speak. 

“Felicity, you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I don’t want to lose you.” He slowly turned away from the tree and faced her completely, holding both of her hands in his own. “Would you do me the honor of being my wife?”

“It would be an honor to have you as a husband,” his expression turned slightly worried so she quickly gave him her answer. “Adam, yes, I’ll do the honors and become your wife.”

“Are you sure?”

“Why wouldn’t I be sure?”

“Well, I am quite a bit older than you.”

“You’re thirty-five and I’m twenty-six, that’s only a nine year difference. Age doesn’t matter to me, Adam, you do.” She smiled. 

“So you’re positive.” 

“Yes, I’m absolutely positive!” He pulled her close for another kiss and when they broke apart she watched his face break out in a grin. 

“To honor, love, and obey?”

“To honor, love, and obey,” she nodded, “till death do us part. 

 

Epilogue 

Adam and Felicity were married two weeks later and lived the rest of their lives together on the two homesteads together. As the years went by they had four beautiful children, two boys and two girls. Timmy and Amos looked just like their Pa while Liz and Matilda were the spitting image of their mother. 

After having fifty wonderful years together, Felicity had to lay Adam to rest under the weeping willow that still stood firm by the creek. Two years after that, another headstone stood beside Adam’s and they were once more together. 

Their children kept the land that brought them together in the family and made sure the house didn’t deteriorate and that there was always a weeping willow sweeping over the two loves nestled in the ground. Between the Ponderosa and Adam and Felicity’s own legacy, the Cartwright name was forever known in Virginia City and the state of Nevada.  

 

The End

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Author: millieshepherd

I'm a nineteen almost twenty year old Bonanza fan who started writing fanfiction in February 2021.

14 thoughts on “Just a Neighbor (by millieshepherd)

  1. I love it when Adam is happy.I love the Family tree,In one if the episodes-Ben asked Adam about being sure about marrying Laura or was it just the thought of being married,Adam finally coming to terms that it was exactly that.Great read,

  2. With varied and difficult pasts Adam and Felicity found peace and true love. I’m glad they had so many years together and that the land and tree are staying within the family.

  3. What a wonderful story.
    Always love when Adam finds happiness . They both found each other when their lives were
    Full of uncertainty . I’m sure there is a lot of room to explore their 50yrs together with children
    No pressure though 🙂

  4. Good to see Adam moving on from that silly Laura. Building his own homestead and finding love was their happily ever after.

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