Sadly, Marlene is no longer with us. Her stories are archived here for her friends to remember her by. Enjoy her legacy to Lancer.
#2 in the Surprise series
Word count: 1,915
Johnny was glad to be on his way home, tonight had been a very stressful night.
He wasn’t planning on asking Kiera to marry him, yet here he was coming home to tell his family that he was engaged.
He sure hoped Murdoch or Scott knew what he could do to get out of it. He sure hoped Murdoch or Scott knew what he could do to get out of it without hurting his girl.
He did love her, yet didn’t think they were ready to settle down.
Kiera was beside herself, already planning on where to have the wedding and who her bridesmaids would be. Why the way she went on about it, Johnny couldn’t get a word in edgewise.
Then she insisted on going to the dance as they had planned, and she showed all her friends the locket.
As if that wasn’t bad enough for him, Teresa came up and congratulated him.
She asked why he hadn’t said anything, and all he could do was smile.
How he found himself in these fixes, he sure would like to know.
Seems trouble follows him around just waiting to pounce on him.
He was able to ignore Teresa’s many questions for now, but how long would it be before he’d have to explain it to the whole family?
Johnny also needed to know who’s necklace did he have, was someone else keeping a secret from them?
Finally reaching home, Johnny let a hand take care of the carriage and horses.
Walking across the grounds to the hacienda, Johnny heard Bill yell out congratulations to him.
He ignored him, as he felt things were already getting too out of hand!
Entering the hacienda, Johnny removed his hat and gun belt and hung them on the rack by the door.
As he stepped down into the great room, he saw the other package was gone from Murdoch’s desk.
“I guess I didn’t figure it would still be there,” Johnny said out loud to himself, not knowing someone else was listening to him.
Johnny blew out the light on the desk that was kept lit until all the Lancers were home. Making his way up the stairs to see if his brother was still awake.
Seeing a light underneath his brother’s door, he knocked, then opened the door and walked in.
“Well come on in, heard about your engagement,” Scott couldn’t help but smile at the look on Johnny’s face.
“Yeah about that, you know a way out of it?” he asked his big brother.
“What you mean a way out of it? Wasn’t it your idea to propose to Kiera?” puzzled Scott.
“Well, yes and no”
“Johnny, it’s either ‘yes’ you did or ‘no’ you didn’t. Which one is it?”.
“I ordered a heart necklace and had the inscription ‘Happy Valentine’s’ written inside of it.
When I showed her the inside, it said ‘Will You Marry Me?’ instead.
Johnny went and sat on Scott’s bed, looking down at his lap.
“Scott I’m not ready to settle down, but I don’t see how I can get out of it without hurting the girl I love”
“Johnny, didn’t you look at the inscription before you wrapped it up?”
“No, there were two packages the same size. I opened one and it was my necklace or so I thought so I just put it in my pocket, then left. I put the other one on Murdoch’s desk, and now it’s gone”
“Well, all we have to do is track down the other one and then explain what happened to Kiera.”
“Just like that, huh? It isn’t that simple, Scott. Kiera insisted on going to the dance where she showed off the necklace to all her friends…and Teresa! She even has the wedding all planned out. Anyone who was at that dance tonight thinks we are engaged.”
“Brother, when you mess up, you do it all the way.” Scott couldn’t help but worry about his brother.
He knew Johnny had a good head on his shoulders, and an even bigger heart.
He hated to let anyone down, let alone the girl of his dreams.
“Why don’t you get some sleep and we’ll talk to Murdoch in the morning, find out if there were two identical necklaces. Scott suddenly had a thought. “Johnny, if there were two identical packages, who were they addressed to besides you?”.
“That’s just it, Scott. Both packages were addressed to ‘Mr. Lancer of Lancer Ranch, Morro Coyo.’ ”
“Well, get some sleep and we’ll figure it all out tomorrow”
“Very funny, Scott, like I’m going to get any sleep tonight.”
Johnny stood up and went to his own room, where he laid down on his bed, fully clothed.
The next morning at breakfast Murdoch, Scott and Teresa were discussing the dance and Johnny’s engagement, or lack of it.
When Johnny came down to eat, overheard Teresa talking to his father and brother.
“Kiera wants to have the wedding here at Lancer, and asked me to be a bridesmaid. Isn’t that exciting?”
“Teresa, it’s a mistake. There isn’t going to be a wedding.” Scott was doing his best to help Johnny out.
Johnny didn’t say a word or look at any of them as he took his seat.
“Son, is what Scott and Teresa telling me really a mix up of necklaces?”
Murdoch looked on Johnny, concern in his eyes.
“Yes, Murdoch,” was all Johnny could say.
Just then, Maria brought a big plate of food over to him and told him to eat up.
Murdoch spoke up.
“I would like to know who ordered the other necklace and where is it now?”
He looked at Scott who held up both his hands.
“Don’t look at me, I thought it was you last night. Thought maybe you and Aggie were finally making it legal?”
Johnny snorted at his brother’s mention of making it legal.
Teresa smiled at Scott, knowing as her brothers did that Murdoch spent every Saturday night at Mrs. Conway’s ranch.
Teresa wasn’t naive, she knew what went on between a man and a woman, so it was only logical that it was Murdoch who ordered the other necklace.
“I’ll have you all know that when, and if the time comes when I decide to get married again, you’ll all be the first to know”
Murdoch stood up, throwing his napkin down and headed into the great room with his coffee.
The three remaining ones at the table all burst out laughing.
They’d all seen the blush on Murdoch’s face.
“This still doesn’t solve my problem. Teresa, if someone was breaking your engagement, how would you want to be told?”
Johnny didn’t know for sure what he was asking.
“Johnny, you wouldn’t break Kiera’s heart, would you?”
She threw down her napkin and grabbed his plate
“Hey, I’m not done with that!” protested Johnny.
“Well you are now. Let’s go see if we can figure a way out of your problem.”
Scott got up and walked over. putting his arm around Johnny’s shoulder as they made their way into the great room.
That night, Johnny went over to Kiera’s home to explain things to her.
His approach was to always tell the truth and get it said.
He just hope she would understand how he felt about her and about marriage.
He pulled up to her home. Dismounting Barranca, he ground tied him, and made his way up to the porch.
He raised his arm, ready to knock on the door, when the door flew open and Kiera ran right into his arms.
“What’s wrong honey?” asked Johnny as he put his arms around her.
“Oh, Johnny, lets take a walk. I have to talk to you”
Kiera looked up into his face, as he reached out with his finger and wiped the tears away.
Johnny wrapped his arm around her waist as they walked past Barranca, towards town.
Neither of them said a word as they walked, arm in arm.
They walked over to the bench in the center of town.
As they sat there, Kiera told Johnny that her father felt she was too young to marry.
“Papa also thinks you aren’t ready for marriage yet, either. It seems your reputation has preceded you as a lady’s man because of all the women you’ve dated before me. He thinks I’m just another in a long line of your women.”
Johnny hastened to reassure her that his reputation was exaggerated, but he also knew Kiera’s father was right about them both being too young..
Then he explained what really happened with the matching packages.
Kiera, laughed instead of taking it badly, as Johnny feared. She thought it funny that something like that could only happen to her man.
They decided to continue courting as they both agreed they weren’t ready for marriage, as exciting as it was.
After walking back to Kiera’s house, Johnny insisted on talking to her pa so he could explain what really happened.
However, Kiera though it would be best not to tell him, but Johnny wouldn’t be stopped.
Johnny left Kiera, feeling a lot better about being able to sort everything out without Scott or Murdoch’s help.
However, he was still curious as to who had his necklace, and whether they’d want it back.
“Hey Johnny” Jelly yelled out, as he stopped outside the entrance to the hacienda.
“Johnny we need to talk”
“What’s got you all jumpy, Jelly? You’re jumping like a grasshopper on a hot rock.”
Johnny stepped out of the way as Jelly made ready to swat at him.
“Johnny this is serious!”
“Okay, let’s go up on the porch and talk about it.”
“No! Come to my room, I don’t want anyone to know yet.”
Jelly lead the way to his small room off of the main house, which was usually used as a guest room.
Johnny had to duck his head out of the way of a cow bell hanging from the ceiling.
Jelly sat on his bed as Johnny pulled up the only chair in the room.
“Now Jelly what’s this all about?”
“I want you to get that necklace back from Kiera…There I said it!”
“Ya mean the necklace I gave my girl was yours? Ya ain’t seeing anyone, are ya?”
Johnny couldn’t remember Jelly saying anything to him.
“Yes, I am, and it ain’t none of your business who it is either, so don’t ask!”
“Okay Jelly, don’t get yourself into a pucker. Here it is.” Johnny said as he reached into his coat pocket and gave Jelly the necklace that Kiera had given back.
She didn’t feel she should keep it as it belonged to someone else.
Johnny had told her he would get the real necklace back for her.
“Jelly ya got mine?”
“Sure, here it is. Now don’t go telling anyone about this”
“I promise, I won’t tell anyone if ya tell me who the lucky lady is.”
Jelly knew Johnny well enough to know he didn’t break his promises. What he didn’t know was if this would be too good for him not to spill the beans.
He decided to take a chance with him, anyway.
“I proposed to Gus. Now all I have to do is give her this here necklace”
“Whooopy! Hot Dang! Jelly..did she say yes?”
Jelly didn’t answer as he handed Johnny Kiera’s necklace and left Johnny standing there with his mouth hanging open.
~ end ~