Skyheart Ranch

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Happy New Beginnings

Katie - Two Months Later

“Are you sure it’s okay?” Katie asked. “It looks all weird, bunched up on this side.” Ruby sighed and came over, straightening out Katie’s wedding dress. Katie and Cash had discussed it and the only place either of them could imagine getting married was Skyheart. The guest list was small, just the hands and a number of women and their partners from Katie’s Lamaze class. Katie had asked Rocky to give her away and he had gruffly said yes, a few tears leaking from his eyes. Ruby was the officiant, dressed in a lavender suit and paisley tie and pocket square.

“Stop wiggling, sugar, I’ve almost got it!” Ruby admonished, doing some kind of magic to make the dress sit correctly. “There!” Katie turned to the full-length mirror and smiled. For her first wedding, she’d worn an elaborate, over-the-top dress Damien’s mother had chosen. This time, she was wearing a simple, white dress with sheer sleeves and an empire waist that covered her growing baby bump. Ruby had given her soft curls and she was carrying a bouquet of Skyheart flowers: lilacs, lavender, and daffodils with a few forget-me-nots sprinkled in to appease Katie’s minimal wedding superstitions.

“I, uh, I actually have something for you,” Ruby said, looking uncharacteristically nervous.

“What? Rubes, you didn’t have to get us anything, you know that.”

“Well, um...”, Ruby scratched the back of his head. “It’s technically not from me. It’s from Lilah.” Katie turned to face her best friend.

“Why would you have a present to give to me from Cash’s mom?”

“Basically right when I arrived here, she started telling me about the type of woman she wanted for Cash,” Ruby explained. “Someone strong, dependable, someone smart and beautiful, someone who loved Skyheart as much as she did. I don’t even remember how it happened, but we ended up in her sewing room, where she had packed up her wedding stuff. You know she and Eli got married at Skyheart too?” Katie nodded.

“Well, she was showing me pictures, flowers from the ceremony she had pressed, stuff like that. Then she showed me her veil.” Ruby turned and gently lifted a lace veil out of the box behind him. There was a halo to keep it on the person’s head with dry flowers woven through it. Ruby brought out his own strand of flowers and quickly wove it through the halo. It made the veil look amazing.

“Lilah told me her dream was to have Cash’s bride wear this veil. She knew it probably wouldn’t happen, but she was so excited that her veil, this veil, could become a Skyheart bridal tradition. So what’d you say? Wanna wear it?”

Katie couldn’t speak, she was so emotional, but she nodded her head vigorously, making Ruby laughed. He carefully placed the halo through Katie’s curls so it would stay in place, then spread the veil out behind her. The effect was almost ethereal, with Katie looking radiant.

“Oh, sugar, it’s perfect. Now, do we have everything?” Ruby asked.

“My something old was my engagement ring, but the veil works for that too. My something new is my dress and borrowed are the pearl earrings that Rocky got from his mom when she passed. And my shoes are blue.” Katie stuck out a foot to show Ruby her light blue flat with a silver bow on top.

“You’re the most beautiful bride I’ve ever seen,” Ruby said, choking up a little.

“You have to say that,” Katie said, blushing.

“No, I don’t, and it’s true. You look gorgeous and so happy.” Katie gave Ruby a gentle smile and hugged him.

“I love you,” she said. “Now go, you have to be down there before Cash come out.”

“On it.” Ruby winked at Katie as he left to go to the homemade arch Katie and Cash were getting married under. All sorts of flowers were woven through the thin planks of wood. There wasn’t a bride or groom’s side, Katie and Cash wanted everyone sitting together. She took in a deep breath, looking in the mirror one last time.

“Oh, Katie,” she heard Rocky say, and she turned around, smiling at him. He was wearing a nice button down shirt and jeans.

‘A cowboy’s a cowboy,’ Katie thought with a smile.

“Hon, you just...”. Rocky was holding a hand to his heart and there were tears in his eyes. “You look beautiful. Oh, you just look so beautiful.” Katie walked over to him, making sure the back of her dress and the veil stayed straight. She reached up, wiping away Rocky’s tears, which made him laugh.

“Thank you for giving me away. I didn’t have anyone to do it...before.” They all rarely talked about Damien, her life with him, or Senator Crawley anymore. After Katie received her divorce, they were told Damien had taken a plea deal for twenty years and waived his right to a trial in Chicago for another ten, all to be served consecutively. The media went a little crazy when it was revealed how deeply Senator Crawley was involved in protecting his son and hiding the abuse. Tennessee had called for a recall election, but the Senator chose to resign. Katie hadn’t heard from him or any of the Crawley family since.

“I’m honored you asked me, hon,” Rocky said. “I was here for the first wedding Skyheart ever had and I hope I’m here for many more.” Katie laughed, tenderly cradling her baby bump.

“Well, you’re never allowed to leave, so you’ll just be here for every wedding Skyheart ever has!” Katie and Rocky laughed, then he held his arm out for her.

“Ready?” he asked.

“More than ready.” Katie slipped her hand through Rocky’s arm and he led her outside through the back door. Hank was playing God Only Knows on his guitar and everyone stood. Katie could see Ruby standing at the end of the aisle, smiling and crying. Katie looked at Cash and every wedding cliché seemed to happen because it felt as if the entire world melted away, leaving just the two of them. Katie couldn’t even remember walking down the aisle to him, just Rocky kissing her cheek, shaking Cash’s hand, and bringing their hands together.

“Wow,” Cash mouthed, making Katie grin through her happy tears. The ceremony was quick, with a few Ruby asides that made everyone laugh, and when he pronounced them man and wife, Cash dipped Katie back, passionately kissing her, earning whoops and cheers from the guests. When they pulled apart, Katie stared up at her husband and smiled.

“I love you,” she said, meaning it with all of her heart.

“I love you more than anything, angel,” Cash replied, grinning.

Cash - Four Months Later

“I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!” Katie screamed, trying to breath through her contraction. She collapsed back on the hospital bed, exhausted and covered in sweat. Cash wiped off her forehead.

“You’re doing so great, angel,” he said encouragingly. “Shouldn’t be long now.” Katie clenched, another contraction making her sit up.

“That’s what they said three hours ago! Uh, why didn’t I do the drugs? They offered me the drugs, I should have-aaah! God, I hate you!” Katie fell back onto the bed again, then grabbed Cash’s shirt, pulling him close.

“You-you know I don’t really hate you, right?” Katie asked, breathing hard.

“I know, angel,” Cash said, grinning and kissing her forehead.

“Okay, good, ‘cause I-oh my god!”

Thirty minutes later, Cash came out of the delivery room. Ruby, Rocky, and four hands were sitting, waiting for news. They’d been there almost 37 hours, so the hands had been rotating shifts so they could still get the work done on the ranch. As soon as Ruby saw Cash, he jumped up, a giant teddy bear in one arm and a bunch of balloons clutched in his other hand.

“Well?” he asked nervously. Cash grinned.

“It’s a boy!” he announced. Ruby squealed, running over and hugging Cash. Rocky and the other hands crowded around, shaking Cash’s hand.

“When can we see them?” Rocky asked.

“They’ve already cleaned Katie and the baby up and moved them, so, if you want, you can come on in now,” Cash said.

“We’ll wait out here, Boss,” Josiah said, a big grin on his face. “Ruby and Rocky should go in first.” Cash smiled and led Rocky and Ruby to Katie’s room. They all entered quietly, staring at Katie and the tiny, blue bundle in her arms. She looked exhausted but so happy. When she glanced up and saw them there, she grinned.

“Come meet our newest Skyheart family member,” she said. Ruby practically ran over to Katie’s bedside, then immediately covered his mouth with both hands, the teddy bear falling to the floor and the balloons flying to the ceiling. Tears were streaming down his cheeks and he gave Katie the biggest grin before softly running his finger down the sleeping baby’s cheek.

“Oh, sugar, he’s perfect.”

“Ten fingers, ten toes, and a full head of hair,” Katie replied, staring down at her son. “Also some pretty impressive lungs.”

Everyone laughed quietly as Ruby and Rocky pulled up some chairs. Cash gently sat on the bed, trying not to jostle Katie or the baby.

“You kids pick out a name yet?” Rocky asked. Katie and Cash looked at each other and smiled.

“John, for my father,” Katie said.

“And Eli, for my Pops,” Cash added.

“John Eli Buchanan,” Rocky repeated, nodding approvingly. “Now that’s a good, strong name. I love it.”

“We think we’re going to call him Jack,” Katie said.

“Ooh, Jack Buchanan!” Ruby said excitedly. “He sounds like a ‘30s reporter. Oh, or a ‘50s ad-man!” They laughed and Katie looked back down at the little human snuggled tightly in her arms.

“Well, I think he’ll miss the ‘30s,” Katie grinned, “but there’s still time for him to be a 2050s ad exec.”

“Nope,” Cash said, smiling down at his son. “This little one’s a rancher. I can already tell.”

“Oh, can you?” Katie teased.

“Yes, I can.” Cash kissed Katie’s temple, then turned to Rocky. “You wanna hold him, Rock?” A big smile covered Rocky’s face as he nodded. Katie carefully passed her son to Rocky, who looked down at him like he’d never seen anything so extraordinary before.

“Hi Jack. I’m your Grandpa Rocky. That’s your Uncle Ruby and I’m pretty sure you’ve met your momma and daddy. You know, one day, when you’re older and able to understand it all, I’ll tell you all about how your folks met. And how sometimes life can be real unfair and how good people get hurt for no reason. But at the end of it, after everything they went through, they found each other. And it took ‘em awhile, but they found love too. And that’s how you’re here.” Katie was crying and even Cash’s eyes were watery.

“You’re gonna have so many uncles, you won’t know what to do with them,” Rocky continued. “And, god willing, you’ll have little brothers and sisters to look after and protect. And, oh, Jack, you’re gonna be so loved, by so many.” Rocky gave Jack a gentle kiss and carefully handed him back to Katie. “You kids did real good and I’m just so proud of you.”

“Thanks, Rocky,” Katie said, smiling through her tears.

“Thank you,” Cash said. Jack took that moment to coo quietly, making them all smile at this tiny little person they all loved so much already.
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