Texas Redemption(143)

By: Linda Broday

“This damn tie. For two cents I’d wear my normal clothes.” Houston shot a longing glance at his comfortable trousers and shirt on the bed. He seldom wore a neckpiece and when he did, it was a simple western tie. “This isn’t me. I think it’s called an ascot or some such nonsense, but with this thingamajig on, the only ass in the room is me.”

Sam strode forward. “You can do anything once, big brother. Becky wants her wedding perfect and you’re gonna give it to her. Let me see it.”

With a flick of his wrists, Sam had the silk neckpiece tied in nothing flat. “Where’s your stickpin?”

Houston handed him the diamond pin. “You’re not wearing your sheriff’s badge.”

“Not on duty.” Sam reached for the black cutaway coat and held it for Houston. “Besides, it ruins the look of my suit.”

A former Texas Ranger, Sam had given up the job when he married Sierra Hunt and adopted an orphaned boy two months ago. Sam was now sheriff of Lost Point, Texas—a place that until recently had been an outlaw haven. The town was an hour’s ride from the Lone Star, so that made their pa happy. Stoker had said if Sam couldn’t live on the ranch, he wanted him nearby. Houston was glad he hadn’t gone far. He liked having his brother around.

“Shouldn’t need the badge today. At least I hope not.” Houston nodded and shot him a grin. “Were you nervous when you and Sierra tied the knot? My hands are shaking.”

“Mine shook too the day I wed Sierra.” Sam shot him a narrowed glance. “Becky’s the right one, isn’t she? I mean you don’t have any doubts or anything.”

Houston paused for a moment in thought. Although they’d grown up together on different ranches, he knew the exact second he’d fallen hard. Becky was ten and Houston had been twelve. It was right after they’d buried his mother. Although he protested, his father made him go to a barn dance at the Golden ranch. She wore a blue dress that seemed woven from his dreams and the soft lantern light shining on her hair reminded him of daffodils. He knew right then that there would never be another girl for him. Lord, how his heart pounded when he took her in his arms. Becky pushed away the dark shadows of his life with rays of sunshine. He’d known then that she was his one true love for all eternity, and he still knew it now.

“She’s the one,” Houston assured him.

“I wish Mother was alive to see you,” Sam said quietly. “You’d make her proud.” He wandered to the window and pushed the curtain aside. “I wonder if Luke will show up.”

With one last glance in the mirror, Houston turned. “Hope so. I miss him, you know. I really like having our outlaw brother in the family—it’s easier than having a lawman like you, anyway.”

Sam moved from the window and flicked off a piece of lint from Houston’s shoulder.

Houston slapped his hand. “Stop it. You’re not Mother.”

Paying him no mind, Sam straightened the ascot. “I worry about Luke out there all alone, searching for the man who framed him for murder. He needs us.”

“It’s what he chose,” Houston reminded him.

Music drifted upstairs from the piano they’d lugged outside for the ceremony. Both bolted from the room. Houston would never hear the end of it if he kept Becky waiting at the altar.

A few minutes later, he pushed through the door and stepped onto the wide porch. Though this was a ranch, it was so large that it was more like a town, complete with a mercantile, school, telegraph office, and its own doctor. The early May afternoon was beautiful with sun splashing onto rooftops and whitewashed buildings.

Everything was perfect, and not a cloud in the sky.

He and Sam strode to stand next to the preacher they’d brought all the way from Squaw Valley, the nearest town with a church. Overhead, the Texas flag fluttered in the breeze and the sun caught on the huge bronze star that hung suspended twenty feet away. The brilliant rays passed through the cutouts in each star point, creating a beautiful image at Houston’s feet.

Reverend Smith fought a sudden gust of wind that sent his long red hair tumbling, blocking his vision. Remaining ramrod straight, he calmly parted the copper strands in the center like a curtain and peered out. Houston covered his mouth to keep from laughing.