Authors: Myrna Mackenzie
“And I'll be a horse rancher's wife. If you'll have me.”
Shane laughed out loud. He kissed her hard. “That's
my beautiful, exciting, exhilarating Rachel. Impatient. Mouthy.”
“Shane, you didn't answer my question. Everyone is waiting. I'mâI confess that I'm a little nervous. I didn't mean to blurt that out.”
And then her wonderful rancher went down on one knee. “I'll have you. I'd never have any other. And I'll love you until the stars turn their lights out.”
“Shane, there's still something in that truck, isn't there?” Jarrod asked. “Something big. What is it?”
“It's a secret,” he said. “It's just for Rachel.”
She looked at him with a question in her eyes, but she was willing to wait for the answer. She had what she wanted, after all. Her rancher.
“I always knew he was a rancher,” Ruby said, and everyone laughed. “More importantly, I knew he was Rachel's rancher. She flipped him over and found all the hidden parts none of us had ever looked for. She found his heart.”
“And she owns it,” Shane whispered against Rachel's hair. “I don't need to move around anymore. There's no longer anything to run from, and what I've spent my life searching for is right here.”
Hours later, as they pulled up at the ranch and climbed out of the truck, Rachel started to go inside.
“I'll be right there,” Shane said. “There's something in the truck that we need.”
“Dishes?” she asked. “Shane, I don't think so. We've been eating all afternoon.”
“I know, and I'm not hungry for food. But we might need a bed. It's in here somewhere.”
Rachel shrieked. She ran to him and put her arms around his waist. “You were giving me your bed? The one we made love on?”
“It wasn't my bed, it was ours after that,” he said stubbornly. “I kept the pillows that still carry the scent of your perfume and gave you the rest. I wanted to feel that you were with me when I slept. I wanted you to remember the man who loved you on that bed. It was selfish, I guess. A better man wouldn't have tried to remind you of our last night together.”
She slid in front of him, rose on her toes and kissed him. “There isn't a better man than you, Shane.”
“I hope you always feel that way,” he said. And he lifted her into his arms and started toward the barn.
“Shane, where are you taking me? What about the bed?”
“I'll get to that in just a minute, my love,” he said. “For now I'm taking you to tell the kids that their mother's home. And this time she's staying forever. She's ours.”
Rachel laughed. “I do love Lizzie and Rambler and all the others,” she said.
“And I love you, Rachel. No more endings. No more moving. Just you and me, beginning the rest of our life together. Every single morning.”
Two weeks later, Rachel walked across the grass near the creek at Oak Valley. She was dressed all in white, her long veil flowing out behind her.
And waiting for her beside the creek was her cowboy.
She reached him and he pulled her straight into his arms, kissed her long and slow and sweet.
The minister cleared his throat.
“Sorry,” Shane said, “but I waited a long time to come back to Oak Valley. Too long. I don't want to wait for the good stuff anymore.”
“Well, you'll wait for this woman if you want to wed her,” the minister ordered.
“In that case, I'll wait forever,” he said, backing away as Rachel rushed forward and launched into his arms.
The minister rolled his eyes.
“You might as well give up for a while. Once they start kissing, it tends to go on and on,” someone said.
But Shane and Rachel heard, and both of them stepped away. “We like to kiss,” Rachel said, “but we want to get married.”
to get married,” Shane said. “Today.”
“And then they're going to be so happy,” Ruby said.
“Rachel is going to college here, and she's going to be a teacher and our local photographer. Shane is going to be a rancher.”
“I thought that Shane hated ranching,” someone called out.
“He only thought he did. Until he looked at it through Rachel's eyes.”
The conversation was going on all around Shane and Rachel until someone said, “Shh.”
Shane was very quietly saying his vows. For Rachel's ears alone. “I promise to love you,” he ended, repeating the words he'd already said.
“I promise to adore you,” Rachel added.
“I promise toâ¦” He leaned over and whispered in her ear. She turned a delicious shade of pink.
“Tonight,” Shane promised.
“I now pronounce you man and wife,” the minister said, rushing in. “You may kiss the bride.”
But he already was. And as he tipped his bride back and her skirts rode up, the toes of a pair of boots with blue trim peeped out.
“Am I a real cowgirl now?” she asked her husband.
“That's the very best kind. And you're my cow boy.”
“Right from the start, sweetheart. And to the end of time.”
TO WED A RANCHER
First North American Publication 2011
Copyright Â© 2011 by Myrna Topol
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