When Love Lies Ahead – Extended Epilogue

Peggy studied the painting on the easel in front of her, sipping coffee from the cup she was holding in one hand. Her other hand was occupied with the brush. She added a few strokes of green to the plush ground around the stream she’d just added.

She tilted her head to the side, gazing at the painting. It was pretty good, in her estimation.

“Well?” She heard Will behind her. “What do you think?”

She turned around and gazed at the painting her husband was doing. They were in the room in their farmhouse Will had specifically built for what they were doing. He’d bought all the supplies they needed and set up two easels in the room. It was surrounded by windows, so the natural sun came in all around them. It was much easier to see because of that.

Will was exceptional when it came to home design. Over the last year, practically since the day they got married, he had been working on their home. He used his savings to build the original two- bedroom one-story home and had gradually expanded, adding a second floor and a deck. He planted potatoes and corn, which was apparently perfect for the soil around Newborn, according to the locals, and hired two men who knew what they were doing to help him learn to farm.

At the same time, his father had learned with him. He’d gotten a couple of acres as well and built a home somewhat like Will’s, but not one that was intended for the starting of a family. He told Will he had no intention of ever being with a woman again, as no one could compare to who he’d had.

Will told Peggy he thought it was a shame, but he understood his father might just not be willing to go through that pain again. If anything happened to the second woman in his life, Steve Harrison might not be able to live through it.

Peggy liked her father-in-law, now that the man wasn’t treating Will so badly. He had turned out to be quite loving, right by his son’s side while Peggy gave birth to their first child, a little girl they called Violet Esmerelda.

Her daughter got her attention from her husband’s painting by cooing from her basket bed in the corner near the open doors. Peggy always thought too many paint fumes might hurt her child, so she placed the girl in a well-ventilated area whenever they were painting.

“You are getting so much better with filling in the colors and details,” she said encouragingly and truthfully. Will had converted his art skill into drawing up blueprints for people’s homes. He considered them simple sketches, with very little detail, mostly just where the walls would be.

She approached his easel, glancing at him with an approving smile.

“So you like it?”

“Oh yes. You are getting much better, my darling.”

“Hmmm.” Will stood back, analyzing his painting with a critical eye. Peggy was always amused with his sense of humor. “Not something that will be hung in a gallery anywhere, I think.”

“No,” Peggy agreed, putting one hand up on his back, “but it can be hung in our gallery right here. You can just build one onto the house.”

Will let out a short laugh. “That sounds like a lot of work. How about we just make all the walls in the house our gallery? We can line the walls upstairs so people won’t immediately be hit in the face with our talent.”

Peggy had to laugh. “Yes,” she agreed, nodding.

“And then when we get to a whole lot of paintings, we can start rotating them one by one, store some of them, put others up.”

Peggy was afraid he would continue rambling, and she was about to stop him when their daughter made a fuss. They were used to the little girl talking. She was not quite a year and could sit up in the basket bed if she wanted to and even roll over. But she hadn’t formed many sentences and generally loved to repeat the word “mama” as many times as she could. Will told Peggy he was jealous and that she better teach their next child to say papa first or his feelings would be very hurt.

Peggy went to the basket and picked the girl up, holding her so she could look right into the child’s eyes. She couldn’t help grinning as Violet pushed two fingers into her mouth and sputtered happily. She pulled her fingers out long enough to say, “Mama, Mama, Mama,” before shoving them back in and giggling hysterically.

Peggy laughed, looking back at her husband.

“Did you hear that? She’s laughing when she says mama. She thinks I’m funny-looking.”

“No, she doesn’t,” Will responded. “She’s clearly looking at me when she laughs like that.”

“Will.” Peggy said his name sternly, narrowing her eyes at him. “She was looking right at me. She thinks I look funny.”

Will took on a nonchalant expression, shrugging. “Well, maybe she does think you’re funny-looking.”

Peggy gasped, slapping him playfully.

“Hey!” he cried out. “I said you weren’t first. What do you want from me?”

“What are you two doing?”

Their fun was interrupted by a sharp rap on the door and the sound of Peggy’s mother’s voice.

“Mama!” she said enthusiastically, holding Violet on her hip as she headed for the woman in the doorway a few steps away. Peggy gave her a kiss on the cheek and purposefully held out the baby so her mother could forward the kiss to Violet.

Her mother dutifully pecked Violet’s cheek with a gentle kiss.

“How is my favorite daughter and son-in-law?” Mrs. Andrews asked, stepping into the room, her eyes switching from one painting to the other. “Oh my. These are lovely. Whose is whose?”

“That’s mine right there,” Will said proudly, pointing at his painting. I think I’m improving. The master says I am.”

Mrs. Andrews laughed, giving her daughter a loving look. “You have taught him well,” she said.

“Thank you, Mama. Let’s go to the parlor. It’s stuffy in here.”

Peggy led her husband and mother out of the painting room onto the deck that stretched around that side of the house. She headed for the front, where another set of double doors led into the massive parlor Will had built on. He told her it was in case they wanted to have balls and grand parties there. She couldn’t imagine they would ever want to do that, but she did like the amount of space around her whenever she was in the room.

She was about to step into the parlor when movement in the cornfield caught her eye. She wouldn’t have noticed, but the color red had appeared, and there was no reason for that to happen. Going into the room with her back to the cornfield, Peggy handed her daughter to her mother.

“Will you take her to the kitchen and get her some milk, Mama?” she asked. Her mother didn’t even ask why. She nodded and took the child from Peggy.

“Of course, I will. Come on, little darling girl. Let’s go.”

Mrs. Andrews cooed at the baby as she walked away. Peggy turned to a very confused looking Will.

“There’s someone in the cornfield, Will,” Peggy said seriously. “We need to go find out who it is.”

Will snorted. “You mean, I need to go find out who it is. You stay here where it’s safe.”

“I’ll stay back,” she responded, “but I’m not staying in here. I don’t want you getting shot. Go get your guns and give one to me. I will protect you from behind. You didn’t see it. I did. I have to show you where.”

“What did you see?” he asked, heading to the gun cabinet. He pulled open the drawer and picked up the two pistols from the framed box he had for them. He hadn’t touched them in quite a while. His life had turned to farming.

“I saw something red,” she responded. Peggy was doing her best not to feel or sound frightened as she took one of the guns from him. “Thank goodness you taught me to shoot.”

“Yeah, you’re good at it, too. All right, lady, let’s go see what’s out there. It might just be an animal. Nothing to be afraid of.”

“I want to make sure,” Peggy insisted as they left the parlor and headed out toward the cornfield. “I know it’s been a long time, but even with Rodney behind bars for his crimes, I don’t feel comfortable. Your father … well, we have to admit he was involved with some very nasty people. Those Indians …”

“They didn’t hurt us, though,” Will injected. “We have to remember that. They didn’t hurt us.”

“They hurt Evan and Meredith Baxter.” Peggy said the words in a soft, low voice. It had been months since she’d thought about the doomed couple from the wagon train journey.

“Yes,” Will conceded, regret in his voice, “but they didn’t hurt us.”

Peggy remembered their challenging time with the Indians. She could see it like it was yesterday, when Two Feathers hurt himself, when Black Braid gave them food. They had all come so far since then.

The two headed for the cornfield, Will beside Peggy, a little bit in front of her. She could tell he wanted to protect her. He likely didn’t even want her along with him, but she had near perfect vision and could spot and shoot a squirrel at forty yards. She was good protection, and she knew it.

When they got to the edge of the cornfield, they stopped. Will put his left hand on her back and they both proceeded into the rows of stalks.

“Who’s there?” Will called out. “We’re armed. We know someone is here. Who’s there? Are you friend or foe?”

Peggy nearly fainted when she saw a man step out into their line of vision, not ten feet away, saying, “Friend.”

He formed it as a question.

It was Black Braid.

The first thing Peggy felt was an overwhelming sense of fear. She stepped back and looked around for the other Indians the older one had been with over a year ago when they’d been captured.

“What do you want?” she asked harshly, resisting the urge to hide behind her husband. “Why are you here? Go away!”

Will held one hand out to her, instantly calming her down. Her heart was still pounding, but she said nothing more, blinking at the Indian.

“I come as friend,” he said in much clearer English than he’d spoken before.

“You learned our language,” Will said. Peggy could tell he was impressed. She’d come to rely on her husband’s judgment when it came to who she let in her life and in the life of her child. If he wasn’t reacting badly to the presence of the older Indian, perhaps she didn’t need to either.

It still felt strange to her, uncomfortable. She wanted to move away from him and continue moving away from him until she was safe inside her home. But there was also no way she was leaving her husband here alone with the Indian.

“I learn from townfolks,” the Indian answered Will, nodding. “I come to find you and make peace.”

“We had no problem with you, Bla … sir. We had no problem with you. We were at your mercy, and you treated us kindly. You saved us from getting hurt by that … by your friend. With the brightly colored beads.

The Indian nodded. “Nacona,” he said, continuing to nod.

Peggy glanced at Will, but her husband didn’t return the look. He kept his eyes on the Indian.

“Nacona?” he repeated, using the same inflection on syllables as the Indian. “Is that your name? Nacona?”

The man shook his head, brushing his hands over the front of his chest. “Beaded. Bright color. Nacona.”

“Oh,” Will said, nodding. Peggy was glad when he explained what he’d realized. “The one with the beads. His name was Nacona. Or is. Don’t know if he’s alive. Don’t care if he’s alive. He was a deadly enemy to have.”

The Indian touched himself on the chest. “Tahoka,” he said. “Tahoka.”

Peggy was the first to repeat his name back to him. When she did, his eyes averted to her and he smiled, nodding.

“You are Tahoka?” she asked. He nodded. “I’m Peggy. Peggy Harrison.”

She stayed with Will, holding her gun at her side in a noncombative way. There was still a little worry in her mind, a little nervousness in her soul. But she was becoming more and more convinced the old Indian meant them no harm. He hadn’t been their enemy the last time either, she thought. He’d protected them from this Nacona man whom they’d called Beads. He’d fed them and made sure they could clean themselves. Maybe he wasn’t an Indian to be feared really.

“Peggy Harrison.” The Indian said her name in a choppy way, but she smiled at him warmly.

“Yes. Peggy.” She touched her chest. “That’s Will.” She held her hand out to her husband.

“Thatswill,” the Indian scrunched the two words together, smiling at Will, who laughed, shaking his head.

He held out his hand. “William,” he said, pressing his other hand against his chest. “William.”

“Ah!” Tahoka laughed, shaking Will’s hand. “William.”

“Yes. That’s right.” He looked down at Peggy, who was curious to know more about this friendly Indian.

“I no mean to scare,” the Indian said. “I have learn English from townfolks. I wish to teach you … my language.” He stressed each word as if he wasn’t sure he was using the right ones.”

Will smiled big. “You want to teach us? I’d love that. What about you, Peg? You’d like that, wouldn’t you? We’d never be in a predicament with them again. We’d just be able to talk our way out of it. They seemed real happy that Rodney could speak it and look what he turned out to be.”

Peggy did like the idea. She pulled in a deep breath and stepped back, holding one hand out toward the house.

“Why did you not come to the front door?” she asked. “We would have recognized you.”

From the look on Tahoka’s face, Peggy realized he didn’t understand everything she said. She smiled. “Oh don’t worry yourself. Let’s go inside. You can meet our little daughter.”

“Daughter,” Tahoka said. “Baby child.”

“Yes, that’s right,” Will said.

Peggy walked in front of the two men, hurrying back to get there before them so she could warn her mother who was about to come into the house. She glanced over her shoulder at the men, who weren’t far behind her and scurried through the parlor.

“Mama?” she called out. “Mama are you in the kitchen?”

“Yes, dear, we’re in here.”

Peggy burst into the room, looking back again. The men were halfway through the parlor, about to come through the foyer. The kitchen door was open, and if she could see them, she knew her mother could too.

“Don’t be afraid,” she said frantically, forcing her mother to look into her eyes and not around her at the approaching men, whose deep voices could be heard echoing through the small foyer they were about to pass through.

Her mother giggled uncomfortably, pulling her eyebrows together. “I beg your pardon?”

The men came in the kitchen before Peggy could say another word. Her mother’s eyes widened like saucers as she took in the large man in Indian dress.

“Well …” she said breathlessly, stepping around Peggy, holding out one hand. “Hello.”

Peggy watched as her mother patted her hair with one hand while holding the other one out to the large man. “Betty,” she said in a soft voice. “Betty Andrews.”

“She’s married to my father,” Peggy announced, as a reminder to her obviously smitten mother that she was taken and had been for years.

Betty laughed softly, poopooing her daughter’s uncomfortableness. “Of course darling, of course. We must not be rude to our visitor, though. Please, come, sit down.”

“He doesn’t know a lot of English, Mama.” Peggy had to admit she was amused by her mother’s behavior toward the older Indian. She hoped the woman would get it out of her system before Tahoka met her father. He wouldn’t want to see his wife fawning over the visiting Indian.

“This is our daughter, Violet,” Peggy said, touching the baby on the nose. Her mother was still holding the baby. The Indian smiled at them both.

“Howdy, baby,” he said.

This struck Peggy, Will, and Betty as hilarious. They laughed heartily while Will went to the pot of coffee that had been brewing on the stove, sending the delicious smell through the room.

“You want some coffee, friend?” he questioned, raising his eyebrows at the Indian.

“Coffee?” Tahoka didn’t seem to know what it was.

Peggy grinned at her husband. “Pour him a cup, honey. Let’s see if he likes it as much as you and I do. Put in some sugar. That will get him going.”

Will chuckled, pouring the hot liquid into a mug, dropping in two spoonfuls of sugar from a small glass bowl by the sink, and setting it down in front of the Indian.

Tahoka made to pick up the cup and drink, but Peggy grabbed his hand.

“It’s hot,” she warned. “Hot.” She waved one hand in front of her mouth while breathing harshly. The Indian lifted his eyebrows, dropping his gaze to the mug.

“I will wait,” he said, pronouncing each word perfectly.

THE END


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56 thoughts on “When Love Lies Ahead – Extended Epilogue”

    1. WOW!! Great story & really suspensible!! Couldn’t wait to read the next chapters to see what was going to take place!! Really enjoyed the story!!

    2. I very good book that I couldn’t put down. There was so much going on letting you keep reading to see when they would get rescued. I loved the characters Will and Peggie and how their love grew for each other. Also enjoy the extended episode about their marriage and child. 😘

    3. Waited a while for the epilogue. It was worth it! Loved the story and how it shaped. You did good, girl! Keep writing!

    4. I loved this book. There was a lot of twists in the story that took me by surprise but it was wonderful how the storyline blended everything together.

    5. I enjoyed this book very much and perhaps a book 2 about her best friend Tiana and you might want to write about Tiana’s four rambunctious brothers and would be book 3,4,5 and 6. I realize every story has heartaches and that could be when when Peggy’s parents die and Will’s father dies. Just a thought since you are excellent author. Thank you for this book!!

    6. Love the story. Wanted to keep reading about Will and Peggy’s adventure. Great story of courage and adapting to dangerous circumstances to survive an evil enemy.

    7. Ellen I have to agree that this one kept me on the edge of my seat, not knowing what was going to happen on the next page. I love the main characters and all of the others as well. It seems like every time a new bad guy was introduced he was much worse than the ones before him. I am so glad that Peggy and Will got married and had their baby, Violet. Thanks for the great read. I always enjoy your books, very much.

    8. I just love sorties about now people lives back then To comparé To now and how simple there needs were. Love To get more s tories like That for i an 86 and do a lot of reading. Thank y ou

  1. Exciting adventures for Peggy and her friend Tiana. Leaving their home and joining a wagon train with their families. A great story but I wish the extended epilogue had more of Tiana and her life in it.

  2. I enjoyed the book, action packed with lots of love! I would have loved to read about Tiana and her family as well.
    Thank you Ellen Knightley, I enjoy your books!

  3. Wonderful book. I would love to read a story about Than a and Wills friend Joe. Do they get married and live happily ever after.

  4. Life out west was not meant for the faint hearted. Your story certainly carried adventures, drama, and a variety of characters to keep the story going through the last page.

  5. Great story with so many surprises. A lot of information on the journey of a wagon train. Enjoy it thoughly. Ready for next book from you.

  6. I Enjoyed the book very much, through the hardships and trials, WILL AND PEGGY persevered and found THE life they wanted.Reid Atkinson

  7. I loved this book. It’s the first one of yours I have read and am excited to read more. Loved the twists and turns of being kidnapped and getting back yo the wagon train. Loved the extended epilogue. I love seeing how their live progress.

  8. Loving families, adventures, hardships, dramas and more; who could ask for anything more. Second EK book I read and surely won’t be the last. Wonderful writer, I love your work !

  9. Enjoyed the story. There was a lot of suspense and many twists and turns. I thought Peggy’s character was very easy to get to know. It was like making a friend. Will was just a great guy and had a lot going for himself.

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