“Yes, Lucas, I will marry you.”
Lucas brought Arcelia’s hand to his lips, pressing them softly to her skin. Then, he rose back to his feet and drew her to her feet. He found he did not want to let her go. Not yet, maybe not ever. But, he needed to. He’d already informed her parents and older brother of his intentions. Now to tell them she had accepted.
They’d always accepted him and as more than just another ranch hand. They hadn’t denied his request to ask for her hand, even though he imagined they’d have someone else in mind for her. Another Mexican rancher perhaps. Not the son of Irish immigrants who had fled before they’d starved. But, they’d left it up to her to choose. And she had chosen him.
He finally released her and stepped back. But, she grabbed onto his hand again. Maybe she did not want to let him go yet either. Well, they could go spread the news together.
But, as they headed out of the parlor, there was a commotion near the front door. Lucas moved so Arcelia was behind him. He didn’t know just what was going on, but he’d protect her from whatever it was.
Then, he recognized the voice that shouted, “You cannot just keep me from seeing her.”
“Varick,” he muttered. That man had become such a thorn in his side. He knew Arcelia had tried to gently turn him away. But, the man never stayed gone.
“I do not wish to see him,” she said.
Without looking back, he reached for her hand and squeezed it. “Then, I will make sure he leaves. Just wait here.”
He stepped away from Arcelia and moved toward the front door. Both Diego and his father blocked the entrance to the house. He put a hand on Diego’s arm, and he shifted so Lucas could step through.
“I think it’s been made clear that you are not welcome here,” he told Varick.
The man sneered at him. “It is not your home. You only work here. You cannot tell me to go or stay. If Arcelia wants to see me-”
“She doesn’t,” Lucas informed him.
“That is not your call to make.”
“You are right. It’s not. It is Arcelia’s, and she has said she does not wish to see you. Right after she agreed to marry me.”
The other man’s body went rigid at that, his face turning dark as thunderclouds seemed to build in his eyes. “She did not. She is mine.”
“That is not the choice she made,” Lucas said, keeping his voice calm even as everything in him wanted to throw him at Varick and put a final stop to this.
“She will. Once you are dead, she will come right to me.”
Lucas rested a hand on the butt of one of his pistols. Even when going courting, he couldn’t risk leaving them behind. Not when Varick was in town. Or when someone else would decide to call him out and try to take his name as a gunfighter. It was a name he’d never wanted, but he had it now and couldn’t just get rid of it.
“That will not happen, Mr. Steinwehr,” Arcelia said from behind him, nearly making his heart stop. She should have stayed back where it was safe. But, she continued speaking and moving up beside him. “I have already asked you to leave me be. I would ask it again and for you to remain gone this time.”
“You will regret this,” Varick said, his eyes still burning like an icy fire. “I swear it.”
Lucas stood there until Varick had turned and walked away. He knew this wasn’t over. That man wouldn’t let it be until he had what he wanted. Diego swung the door shut then turned to him.
“You must go,” he said. “It won’t be safe for the two of you here any longer.”
“I won’t leave Arcelia behind. We’re getting married. Once that is done, we can find a place of our own. Somewhere she will be safe. Until then, I will not run.”
“I would not put it past that man to shoot you in the back rather than face you. Would you leave my sister with that grief?”
“I can’t just go,” he said, his voice raw. “I can’t leave her behind.”
Diego glanced at his parents then Arcelia, and getting nods from them as if they understood what he was thinking, he looked back to Lucas. “Then, you’ll marry now and take her with you. I’d rather my sister be away with you than dead or in his hands.”
Lucas looked over at Arcelia. “This is what you want?” he asked.
She reached out and took his hand. “I want to live a life with you. That is all. If this is the way it must be done, then it makes me happy.”
Lucas’ face softened and his shoulders dropped. he studied her face, making sure what she said was true. he could see no sign of her lying, though. So he nodded and turned to Diego. “Call for the priest then. We’ll have it done.”
He still didn’t like the idea of running from a problem. But, if it meant keeping Arcelia safe, that was just what he would do. he only hoped the trouble wouldn’t follow him to wherever they chose to make their new life.
Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write a story with the Hansel and Gretel structure, with the life-changing moment at the beginning and everything following from that. This is some back story for a western I’m working on. It’s actually one I wrote years ago(I don’t think I have that version any longer & it’s probably just as well) and have recently re-plotted. I’ve had some trouble with it, but hoping it’s finally coming together for me.