Summary: This is third of the To Everything series, the first, Re-acquaintance and the second Falling. Shiloh and Adam are married and are embarking on a new life together discovering that fitting all their desires in can make for trouble as her past keeps creeping in, and as they balance the opportunities that come their way.
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Rating: T Reader Alert: Some violence, mild adult situations
To Everything, There is a Season Series:
Special thanks to sklamb; my beta, my friend
Adam opened his eyes just as the dim light of morning pushed its way in through the windows. This bedroom has two windows. I’ll be waking up earlier now. Before he moved a muscle, he let his mental fog clear, then smiled, remembering he was a married man now. He thought about their talks before the wedding; her insecurities slowly answered one by one. It all came down to the Whitney name for her; honoring her long passed mother and father…and her brother, Micah, for all their hard work building the Flying W ranch. The Flying W was their home now. Then there was her singing; making it fit in with running a ranch, and lastly, her trust of him that started with none whatsoever, and after a long, sometimes painful journey for both of them ended with an ‘I do’ that said to him she finally completely trusted him. They were starting a new life today…together…and he was excited about their future.
Turning on his side, he slowly removed the blanket covering her…Shiloh…his wife, lying on her stomach, her hair spread like a wave over her pillow. Laying his hand on her shoulder, he slowly drew it down her silky, soft skin all the way to her knees.
Goose bumps covered her, and without opening her eyes or stirring, except for a smile, she said softly, “I promise you I will never complain about your hands again.” He chuckled, then proceeded to kiss the goose bumps on her back, bringing on another round just as the former were beginning to fade. “Your kisses either.”
She rolled over into his arms, smiling sleepily. “I didn’t get enough sleep, and it’s all your fault.”
“The pleasure was all mine,” he said, tenderly kissing her. “Good morning.”
Snuggling happily into him with her head laying on his arm, she asked, “Who needs San Francisco when we could stay right here?”
“That might last the morning; maybe even the day, but after that, you’ll want something to do, and I told you weeks ago that you were taking some time off. Now, as much as I’d like to spend the morning in bed with you, we can’t. We have to finish our last minute packing before the rest of the Cartwrights get here.”
“Do I have time to take a bath?”
“A quick one…if we get up now.”
She looked up into his eyes and smirked. “I guess the honeymoon’s over.”
Rolling her onto her back with his arms around her, he said, “not even close,” just before he took her breath away with a long, toe-curling kiss. He swung his leg over her, rising up off the bed, pulling her up with him. “Now, get going. And make it quick.” Before she could step away, he caught her arm. “Wait. You don’t have a wash basin in here. Where should I shave?”
“There’s a wash basin in the bath house off the kitchen,” she said, pulling on her robe. “Get your things and come with me.”
While water was boiling, Shiloh pulled the food out of the icebox. “Let’s see, there’s bacon, biscuits, ham, apricot preserves…” Adam reached across her, taking the biscuits and preserves to the table. “…fruit and milk. Oh, and I have something else.” Reaching over to the work table she uncovered a loaf of bread and took it to the table.
“What’s this? This didn’t come from the Ponderosa.”
“I made it.”
“You made bread?” he asked, skeptically looking sideways at her.
“Don’t look at me that way…at least until you try it. Annie taught me.”
He snorted. Annie was Shiloh’s best friend from college as well as her stabilizing force and as luck would have it, a woman who his brother, Hoss, had a soft spot for.
“When did you make this?” he asked, smelling it.
“Day before yesterday…in the morning. Annie said it looked good, so I thought I’d let you try it to tell me if it is good since you’re used to Hop Sing’s bread.” Sitting on the chair next to him, she looked at him with nervous anticipation.
He cut a slice, pinched a piece off, and hesitantly put it in his mouth. Creasing his brows, he said, “This is…soft…fluffy…not bitter.” He smiled. “Can you do it again?”
“Well, now that I’ve learned not to knead it to death, yes, I think I can do it again.”
She pulled one of the pots of boiling water off the stove and went into the bath house, then came back for the second pot of water. Pumping cold water into the tub, she tested the water until it was just warm, then filled a pitcher with the warm water and poured it into the basin. “Adam, come shave while the water is warm.” She dropped her robe and stepped into the tub, reaching up to the shelf where she kept her toiletries. Uncorking a bottle of rose oil, she poured some into the water, releasing a strong aroma of roses into the room.
“So that’s why I always smell roses when I’m around you.” Adam stood in front of the mirror in his drawers, placing the cup for his shaving cream, his shaving brush and his straight-edge next to the basin.
When he had lathered up his face and started shaving, she propped her arms on the side of tub and laid her chin on them, watching. “Does it hurt?”
“Only when I cut myself…or when the blade is dull.”
“How often do you shave?”
“It depends on what I’m doing. While we’re San Francisco I’ll have to shave a couple of times a day. When I’m on a cattle drive, I don’t shave for days.”
“Why don’t you just grow a beard? Then you wouldn’t have to shave every day.”
“Because keeping a beard trimmed and neat is worse that shaving. Besides, when I grew a beard for your performance in Virginia City, you didn’t like kissing me, and I intend to do that on a regular basis now that we’re married.”
Leaning back in the tub, she giggled, “Married…to you. I wonder what Micah would think.”
“You may not remember, but Micah was very protective of you. We don’t have time to discuss it now, but if you want to talk about Micah, we’ll do that when we get to San Francisco. Right now, you need to dress and get your wedding gown packed.”
“Would you hand me a towel, please?”
Adam wiped the leftover lather from his face, looked at himself, making sure he didn’t miss anything, then took a towel off the wall hook and walked to the tub as Shiloh stood. Taking a slow, deep breath and flaring his nostrils, he looked fervidly at her from under his brow, then wrapped the towel around her when she stepped out of the tub. She leaned against him, and he moaned when they kissed, Shiloh answering with a moan of her own. Turning around and taking her with him, he backed her toward the door. “Go get dressed. I’ll be up in a minute.”
When they came back down the stairs, Adam was carrying the small trunk that held their wedding clothes. Shiloh carried a small bag that had things both of them had added at the last minute. Both were added to the trunks and bags waiting at the front door at about the same time the wagon drove up in the yard with Ben and Joe following on their horses.
“While you’re loading, I’m going to pack a basket from the kitchen,” said Shiloh, disappearing around the corner. Adam opened the door before the family even stepped up on the porch. His broad smile told them all was well.
“Adam, where’s Shiloh?” asked Annie.
“She’s in the kitchen packing a basket.”
“Oh, well Hop Sing sent a basket.” Taking the basket from the wagon, Annie hurried into the kitchen where the girls combined everything into one.
Heading out the door, Shiloh stopped. “Annie go on out, I need to get something off the desk.” She grabbed a small gift wrapped box, and ran out the door with Adam closing it behind her and locking it. She slipped the box into one of Annie’s bags, before she climbed into the back seat of the wagon.
Hank was there to see them off, and after Adam went over instructions one more time, he climbed into the back seat next to Shiloh, and they were off to Virginia City.
They arrived with only a few minutes to spare to board the stage, and while the driver was loading and tying the trunks in the rear boot, Annie and Hoss were saying their restrained goodbyes.
Shiloh stood watching them and leaned into Adam. “Do you remember when I was going to Europe with Edwin, and I got off the stage?”
Twisting his mouth, Adam looked behind them. “Give me a minute, then grab Annie and follow me,” he said, winking. Walking over to Hoss, he cleared his throat. “Excuse me, but I need to talk to you…over here.”
“Now?” asked Hoss, grimacing.
“Yes, now. It’s important.”
“You wait right here. I’ll be right back,” Hoss said, looking apologetically at Annie.
Adam took Hoss to the alley next to the stage office and pushed Hoss against the wall of the building. “Don’t move.”
Grabbing Annie, Shiloh said, “Come with me. Don’t ask questions.”
Annie obediently followed and was promptly shoved into the alley behind Adam while he and Shiloh stood blocking the entrance with their hands clasped in front of them, looking around as if they were just waiting to board. Standing further down on the boardwalk, Joe and Ben watched, turning away and laughing.
“Adam said you might not be gone for the whole four years, Annie. I’d be mighty happy if you decide to come back to Virginia City,” said Hoss.
“Hoss, write her a letter,” said Adam over his shoulder.
Grinning from ear to ear, Annie tiptoed into Hoss and wrapped her arms around his neck. He looked confused for a minute, but a smile suddenly appeared on his face, and then he surrounded her with his arms and kissed her long and tenderly.
When the stagecoach driver yelled for everyone to board, Shiloh took Annie’s hand, and dragged her away toward the stagecoach. Hoss gave Adam a half smile and looked away. “Thanks, Adam.”
“You’re welcome,” Adam answered, grinning and walking back to the stage with a hand on Hoss’s shoulder.
Once the ladies were in the coach, Adam turned back. “Pa, we’re staying at the Lick House if you need anything from me. Hank has all the information for the ranch and knows what to do. Johnny’s taking care of the horses.”
“I don’t want you to worry about thing, Adam. Hank’s been taking care of the Flying W for a long time, and Shiloh has Johnny trained pretty well to take care of the horses.”
“Joe, try to stay out of trouble,” Adam said, smiling.
Joe took his hand, grinning. “Just don’t get to liking San Francisco too much. And don’t worry. We’ll have all the problems waiting for you when you get back.”
Adam took Hoss’s hand. “Adam, you make sure she gets on that ship alright, you hear me?”
“I’ll take care of her, Hoss. Don’t worry.”
Slapping Adam on the arm, Hoss nodded. “I know you will.”
When Adam climbed into the coach, he stopped in the door. Shiloh and Annie were sitting next to each other on a seat with another man in business attire. The other seat was occupied by a man in a ratty, moth-eaten coat and a well-dressed, expecting young woman sitting next to the window. Smiling his most diplomatic smile, Adam said, “If you’ll excuse me, I fully intend to sit next to my wife and her sister.”
Looking at Annie sitting next to him, she smiled and nodded, and the man took the middle of the other seat. Before Adam was seated, the stagecoach lurched forward, and almost sent him into the man’s lap, but Annie and Shiloh each grabbed an arm and pulled him into the middle of their seat. Taking each one’s hand, Adam smiled and said, “Well, ladies, we’re off.”