Summary: The one who steals the heart of Adam Cartwright is a lucky girl indeed. You do not need to have read “The Luckiest”, this story stands by itself.
Rated: K+ WC 1600
Mrs. McReedy was not a woman given to jealousy. She prided herself on the fact that she could do what she did day after day and never feel jaded when her husband failed to be as romantic as some of the young men that came in here. Their relationship was strong and deep; they didn’t need little gifts to keep the feeling between them. But now as she watched the man who’d just entered her shop approach the counter, she could feel the green-eyed monster rattle the cage she’d carefully locked it in. “Good morning, Mr. Cartwright.”
“Morning, Mrs. McReedy. Has my order come in yet?”
“I do believe it arrived yesterday; let me go check.” There really was no need for her to, for there was no doubt it had. She had looked at it more than once since it’d come in yesterday morning, admiring its design. She’d been a surprised when he’d come in with his own drawings, and even more so when she saw it in no way flouted the rumored Cartwright wealth but rather was elegant in it’s simplicity. She went back to the store’s safe and pulled out the little box, checking one more time that it was indeed in there, before heading back to the front.
“It came yesterday,” There was no mistaking the excitement in his eyes as she handed it to him. He opened it, and she subconsciously held her breath, letting it out as he broke into a wide smile.
“It’s better than I imagined,” he said, looking at it a moment longer before snapping it shut and putting it in his vest pocket. “Thank you for everything, Mrs. McReedy; you’ve been such a big help.”
“It was my pleasure, Mr. Cartwright, though I expect to hear all about it at church on Sunday!”
“Yes, ma’am,” he said giving her a wink.
The bells on the door chimed as he exited, and Mrs. McReedy allowed the little monster one more shake before tucking him back where he belonged. There was no doubt in her mind that the one who had managed to capture the heart of Adam Cartwright was a very lucky girl indeed.
Adam Cartwright flipped his pocket watch shut for the fifth time in ten minutes and glanced impatiently down the road the stage would be coming. Three minutes until she got here.
He had never thought himself one to be in a long-distance relationship. Everyone knew they were hard, and few lasted more than a couple of months. There were distractions, temptations, loneliness – better just to end it before you left and save yourself more heartache. Those were the exact words he’d told Suzie Johnson when he’d gone off to college – and he had firmly believed them at the time. But now…
His relationship with Anna was different. This he tried to convince himself for the sake of not having to eat his own words. They were older when they’d met, looking for something other than a summer fling. Maybe it was because they weren’t so far apart; San Francisco to Virginia City is an easier travel than from Virginia City to Boston. Whatever it was, he couldn’t say it wasn’t worth it.
They had worked out a schedule from the very beginning; they each would take turns traveling to the other’s city every other weekend except on the occasion that Adam had to travel to San Francisco for business, and then they might see each other three times in one month. It was certainly costly for both of them, but that was something Adam was hoping would change very soon.
The rumble of horse hooves and wagon wheels was soon heard, and he could swear that his heart began to beat a little faster. He straightened his hat, brushed away the imaginary dirt from his shirt, and readjusted his grip on the bouquet of roses and sagebrush he’d brought. The smile that spread across his face was one of pure happiness as it pulled up in front of him; it was barely stopped before he was opening up the door. A hand stuck itself out from inside, and he stared at it a moment before taking it and helping out the rather large and frumpy woman attached to it.
“Thank you, my dear boy. Now if you would get my bags, there’s a good lad.”
“I can’t-” he started to protest, but the coachman was already placing the huge valise in his arms, nearly crushing the flowers.
“Goodness! What a horrid climate! It’ll make me positively ill!’ The woman complained to no one in particular as she bustled off towards the hotel.
“Wait, ma’am!” Adam gritted his teeth as she ignored him, reluctantly following her. Five minutes later he was back, his mood a little sourer despite the one-dollar tip she’d given him for his “speedy service”. He saw Anna standing off to the side, bag at her feet and a mischievous sparkle in her eyes.
“I didn’t know you’d taken up a side job,” she said as he approached.
He grinned despite himself. “It’s mainly for the ladies.”
She laughed as she gave him a hug and kissed him lightly on the lips. “It’s so good to see you,” she said.
“You too,” he murmured, brushing a lock of hair behind her ear. He hugged her again before handing her the flowers – he’d almost forgotten. “Sorry they’re a little squished,” he gave her a wry grin and she giggled.
“They’re beautiful, Adam, thank you.”
He picked up her bag and offered her his hand. “Shall we go?”
“Let’s, before she comes back and asks you to dinner,” she teased.
Together, they walked back towards the wagon, Adam’s thoughts only for the woman whose hand was in his.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Most would’ve said that today was beautiful at a sunny 75 degrees, low humidity, and a smattering of clouds in the sky. Maybe they would’ve been struck by the glowing landscape, with the trees reflecting green beams of light and everything moving towards full bloom. It was as close to natural paradise as man could get.
For Adam Cartwright, it took the form of dusty brown curls whipping behind a slender neck. It was flashing, hazel eyes expressing intelligence and sweetness at the same time and a mouth that could go from a frown to an impish grin to a kind smile in an instant. And it could only take the shape of the one who was in front of him, slowing her horse and turning back to him, telling him to hurry up with a twinkle in her eye.
“Adam Cartwright, you’d swear you’re a hundred years old by as slow as you ride!”
“Oh really?” he spurred Sport forward and galloped past, hearing her laugh as she caught back up to him. They rode side by side in silence, and Adam could feel his heartbeat quicken. By the time they stopped, he was near bursting with nervousness and excitement, but kept it all hidden.
“Let’s stop here; there’s something I want to show you.” He held her hand as she got down before turning to his saddlebag and pulling out a thin blanket he’d packed earlier that morning. Smiling, he grabbed her hand.
“What’re we doing, Adam?”
“I just want to show you something,” he sat down on the blanket he’d spread beneath a large pine tree and patted the spot next to him.
“It’s a beautiful view,” she said as she tucked herself under his arm. “So peaceful.”
It was indeed. From atop the hill they sat on, the grassy sea before them sparkled under the late afteroon sun, sweeping away every shadow into the surrounding forest. It seemed as if night could never reach it again.
“I’m hoping to start building here soon,” he said, breaking the silence.
He pulled out a folded piece of paper from inside his vest and handed it to her. As she opened it, he gazed at the scenery, trying to remain casual and calm but inwardly failing. “Of course I need to get approval first.” He snuck a look at her, but her face was hidden behind the large sheet of parchment paper. Did she under stand what he was saying? “Anna-”
She lowered the paper, revealing a wide smile underneath glistening eyes. “It’s perfect,” she whispered.
His heart burst with happiness as he got up and knelt on one knee before her, pulling a small velvet box from his back pocket. “Then will you, Anna Clemans, give me the utmost joy by being my wife?” The box opened to reveal a silver ring, its flawless diamond no bigger than a baby’s fingernail.
Her smile only grew larger as her eyes finally overflowed. “I couldn’t think of a more wonderful person to spend the rest of my life with.”
Adam took her left hand and gently slid the ring into place, then kissed her palm. “I am the luckiest,” he whispered.
Out of the forty years they had together, they never saw a more beautiful sunset than the one that shown before them now, illuminating their new home and, more importantly, their new life.
Next in the Lucky Series:
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.
Other Stories by this Author
- The Luckiest (by alyssajoy64)
- When Darkness Falls (by alyssajoy64)
- Bonds of Brotherhood (by alyssajoy64)