Summary: In She Walks in Beauty, Regan Miller nearly destroyed two brothers’ relationship. So what happened from the time when Hoss nearly beat Adam to death to when they reunited in Virginia City? A missing scene, or two, for She Walks in Beauty.
Rating K+, Word Count 1430
A Brother’s Heartache
“Why were you fighting him?!”
“I wasn’t fighting him.”
“Alright, why was he fighting you?”
I was still reeling from Hoss’ pounding and Pa’s tightly controlled voice made it more difficult to answer that question. Even worse was having to tell him all that had happened with Regan Miller. His smoldering eyes told me everything I already knew. I had crossed the line in family honor and brotherly trust; yes, I had betrayed my brother. But I didn’t kiss her, she kissed me!! The words sound so lame now. In spite of his anger with me, Pa helped me clean up my face then mumbled something about needing to talk to Hoss. I guess I did a good job of convincing him I was alright since he left pretty quickly.
I waited a few more moments then staggered to the main door of the bunkhouse, leaning on any solid structure I could find. I just wanted to get on Sport and ride away. At the doorway I heard Joe’s voice from across the yard then saw some of the guests arriving. Slinking back into the shadows I waited until they moved to the porch, then quietly whistled for Sport. He came immediately. I have no clue how I managed to get into the saddle. The moment I lifted my foot to the stirrup, everything spun around and my aching ribs cut off my breathing. I closed my eyes tight and heaved myself up. Sport started walking before I was settled but I didn’t care. I just needed to get away from Hoss, from the family. I needed to think and let this thing cool down – yeah, not much chance of that happening. No, in truth I needed to leave, leave everyone behind. I knew in my heart I’d never be welcomed at home anymore.
My head hurt, my ribs hurt, I could barely stay in the saddle. I just let Sport meander across the ranch. I fought to stay conscious but kept failing. I guess Sport sensed that I was not well, so he stopped and I finally fell off. The hard impact with the ground jolted pain through my chest but it was no worse than what was already in my heart. I felt Sport’s warm nose push at my face as footsteps quickly approached. A quiet but panicked voice cut through the fog in my head.
“Adam? What happened?!”
All I could recall after that were medicinal smells and the worried chatter from Paul Martin.
In a darkened hotel room I sat by the fire and nursed my injuries – physical and emotional – with my third glass of brandy. Paul had bound my ribs, thankfully they were only bruised, gave me a good lecture about rest and let me leave. I took a room at the hotel and here I sit, numb from it all.
“My God, what have I done?” My voice called out but only the walls were there to hear. My thoughts were still in a whirlwind. I wanted to prove that Regan was lying but I got caught in my own snare. How dare she kiss me! I spent the rest of the day riding around, trying to get a plan in my head. When I rode into the yard I hoped to find Hoss alone. I needed to talk to him before the party. My insides went cold when Hop Sing told me Hoss wanted to see me. Hoss knew, and I knew all the truth would come out now. But all he saw was the betrayal by a brother – I’d kissed the woman he wanted to marry. I took every punch, every throw as my punishment. My relationship with my brother is shattered.
How could one woman shatter a family, all in one night? My eyes couldn’t stay open any longer; the brandy was doing its job. Ready to succumb to the drink and pain, I fell asleep by a dying fire hoping to awake from this nightmare by morning.
Well the party’s over and after Pa and Joe finally went to bed thinking I was already asleep in my room, I got up and moved to Adam’s empty room. Don’t rightly know why. He’d hurt me deeply, so why would I want to be in his room? I spent the whole night there trying to sort out this mess over Regan.
How could Adam do it? He kissed her knowing I was going to ask her to marry me. When I saw them kissin’ I wanted to ride up and tear him limb from limb. Thinkin’ back I realized he never was real happy about me an’ Regan. When she had come for dinner he kept lookin’ at her, an’ she seemed kinda nervous ‘round him. Now I reckon I know why. I decided as I left Miss Regan’s house I was gonna have to set Adam straight on jest who was gonna marry Miss Regan. I couldn’t wait for him to get home.
Now my thoughts keep goin’ back to the bunkhouse. Adam came in and seemed like he wanted to talk, but when I accused him of being with Regan, he got his hackles up. Guess I shoulda let him talk some more but then I wasn’t gonna let him tell me he was goin’ after my gal.
When Pa told me Adam was just trying to help it only added to my fury. He’d practically made love to her! He and Pa seemed to think that there was somethin’ awful in Miss Regan’s past that was gonna hurt me. There was no way I was gonna let them talk bad about the woman I loved. And as for Adam, well, if he never showed his face around me, I’d be just fine about that!
I was so sure Regan loved me. Her past didn’t bother me and I told her she’d never want to look at any other man if she’d give her heart to me. I told her I’d be there for her and we’d be able to grow old together. Why didn’t she believe me? Why didn’t Pa or Adam believe me either? They seemed to think Regan would never change to be with me. When she told me tonight at the party that she couldn’t just love me but I’d have to share her with other men, my heart broke right then and there into ‘bout a million pieces.
The sky’s getting light now and still no Adam. Where was he anyhow? I sure didn’t expect to see him at the party, woulda probably hit him again if he’d shown up, but he never came to his room neither. At first I figured he was acting like the coward I thought he was. But now, after sittin’ here all night, thinkin’ about all he done, all Pa tried to tell me and all Miss Regan said, well, seems I’m the one done made the big mistake.
All night all I could think about was what he’d done to me, but now I’m worried what I’ve done to my brother. I was so furious with him I didn’t even realize he wasn’t fightin’ back. Dear God, these big hands mighta killed him if Pa and Joe hadn’t come in when they did. Why would I get so mad at him, even believe that he’d be goin’ after my girl? That ain’t like me or Adam. Now I know what he was doin’. He was tryin’ to help me, just like Pa said. Oh Lord, what have I done to my brother? The sun’s coming up and he ain’t home. I gotta go find him and we just gotta work this out.
Despite my aching head and ribs, I managed to get downstairs for breakfast. As I headed outside for some fresh air I saw her, standing by the stagecoach. I leaned heavily in the hotel doorway and watched as she entered the coach. She certainly didn’t waste time leaving town. As the stage rolled away, I saw Hoss standing in the middle of the street. Careful of my sore ribs I moved slowly to stand by him.
“Hi Adam.” The words were lifeless.
“Well, there goes one we’ll never forget, hmm?”
“Yeah….let’s go home.”
As we walked I spoke hesitantly, “I was wrong, Hoss. I shouldn’t have interfered.”
“No more wrong than me, Adam.”
I knew we’d be talking a lot more, but one thing was sure – Hoss putting his arm on my shoulder told me we were still brothers.
*Thanks to MK for the collage.
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