First Night by Molly

An episode tag for The High Riders

Word count: 1,270

I’m sitting in my favourite armchair, comfortably ensconced beside a dying fire, absently staring into its glowing embers. My thoughts are dominated by the events of the day and rightly so. It has after all been a truly wondrous day. No, I’m not exaggerating! My choice of words are apt for today my prayers were finally answered.
Melodic chimes echo through the silence. Father Time’s dedicated songster reminding me of the lateness of the hour. I know I should be in bed, asleep and gaining the strength l need to face the difficult days that lie ahead but I’m not tired, not in the slightest.
To the unsuspecting eye I must look rather sedate and perhaps even a little dour. That couldn’t be further from the truth for my heart soars! A word springs to mind, one that I believe describes my state of my mind perfectly, that word is euphoric! I chuckle softly to myself knowing that it is not a word I or anyone else would normally associate with me but… my sons are home! Both of them are here, both safe under my roof!
For the first time in twenty-five years I know peace of mind. The hollow ache inside has gone, the emptiness is suddenly filled. I feel whole again.
I’ve never been one to indulge myself but tonight I’m allowing myself to savour the moment. I’m happily wallowing in a sense of contentment I don’t really own, not yet at least but its something I’m determined to fight for, something I hope and pray I will win and forever hold on to…
Damn! I didn’t want to allow my thoughts to travel down that path. I’ve been avoiding contemplating anything but the positive tonight, but I’ve opened the door now and the doubts are flooding in. Doubts borne of wrongs I can’t ever put right.
My boys are home but I will have to fight to keep them here. That is one fight that scares the hell out of me, more so than the fight we face with Pardee. I could survive the loss of Lancer but not losing my sons, not again.
My euphoria is dampened but only a little, joy is a formidable force, a buoyant emotion, thankfully one not easily quashed, not even by the fact my sons hate me!
Yes they hate me. I have had to accept that. It hurts I don’t deny but that pain has strengthened my resolve to win their trust, their respect and ultimately their love. Am I expecting too much? Only time will tell.
Right now they look at me and see a stranger, a man they have no memory of. Both have been raised on lies, force fed tales of abandonment, cruelly convinced they were unwanted and unloved. But God is my witness, he knows the truth, he knows how much I wanted them both, how very much I love and have always loved them.
I may be a stranger to them but despite what I said just minutes after they arrived they are no strangers to me, how could they be? They have always been in my thoughts, remembered nightly in my prayers, treasured in my heart and cherished in my soul. No matter the miles that separated us they have always been a part of my life. I have never forgotten them or lost hope of bringing them home.
So why didn’t I tell them all this today? Why didn’t I make my feelings known?
As they stepped into the great room together my heart thundered wildly in my chest. It had felt ready to burst, overflowing as it was with relief and wonder. I reined in those emotions and deliberately concealed them. In doing so I no doubt reinforced both men’s belief that Murdoch Lancer truly was a cold, heartless bastard.
I know I did myself no favours today, I held back like I always do. There was so much I could have said, things that were begging to be said…and then there were the things that would have been best left unsaid. I got it wrong today, terribly wrong but I’m determined not to make the same mistake tomorrow.
I sense Scott is willing to give me a chance, wanting me to be a part of his life but Johnny? I’m certain Johnny expects me to betray him, believing it to be a question of when rather than of if. The blue eyes that twenty years ago looked at me with love now stare at me full of suspicion. I can’t blame him, not knowing what I do of his past.
So is it too late for Johnny and I? I desperately hope not, he most of all needs a father, so too a second chance at life. Both are waiting for him here at Lancer. My greatest fear is that he will reject both, that he will ride away and return to his old life and fate has decreed that the Madrid’s of this world will die young.
Suddenly there is a chill in the room and I shudder violently. My spirits plummet back to earth with a numbing thud, the euphoria surrounding me evaporating in a blink of an eye.  I’m left flailing in despair but I determinedly surface insisting…It’s not going to be that way…I won’t let that happen…not to my son!
I tell myself that my blood runs through his veins, that whether he likes it or not he is a part of me and a part of Lancer. He and his brother belong here. This land is their birthright, this hacienda the home in which they should both have been raised. The boys and I have an invisible bond, undeveloped maybe but its there all the same. Surely we can build on such foundations?
Yes. I’m running scared now and desperately trying to reassure myself. But who wouldn’t if they had as much as I to lose?
If I could look into the future what would I see? Cattle grazing in the pasture? The letter L emblazoned on their rumps? Would there be four places set around the supper table?
My heart screams a resounding yes! My head…well it isn’t nearly so wise. It’s led me astray before, many times. I’m going to have to learn to ignore it, at least where the boys are concerned.
I know it’s not going to be easy; I’m set in my ways, stubborn and riddled with pride. I don’t give an inch and insist on calling the tune but one thing I’m not is what they grew up believing me to be. Will they ever acknowledge and accept the real me?
Maybe the key to success is Lancer itself. It has united us in its defence and tomorrow we begin our fight in earnest. If my estranged sons are willing to work with me to secure themselves a share in Lancer, is it not then possible they then be willing to work towards becoming what we should be, a family?
It all hinges on what it is they want. That being the case I can only hope we share something else besides the same blood.
I stifle a yawn. I’m so very weary now and the leg that’s gone all sour on me is beginning to ache. My bed beckons and I limp towards the stairs knowing I must close my eyes to the worries and uncertainties that plague me. I need to rest, I need to wake refreshed and ready for whatever the new day will bring. At least now I won’t be facing it alone.






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