Summary: A simple vignette about Little Joe, a girl, and a watchful big brother.
Rated: K+ Word count: 624
Sweeter Than Pie
He swallowed hard and managed to get the last bite of dry, overly-sour apple pie down his throat. He set down the plate with a smile. Of course, the smile came more from relief than pleasure, but Susannah wouldn’t know that. So the pie was sour. Little Joe thought and shrugged. I didn’t buy her basket for the pie anyway. What I’m after is sure to be sweet!
“Did ya like it, Little Joe?” Susannah leaned forward setting the curls around her face bouncing gently. Her pansy eyes sparkled, and her voice tinkled like bells.
Reaching out and taking her hand in his, Little Joe Cartwright answered smoothly. “Could anything touched by this be less than angel sweet?” He lifted her hand, turned it upward, and pressed his lips to her palm. “Mmmmm, even better.”
“Now, Little Joe,” she murmured tugging back her hand but not hard enough to make him release it. “Somebody might be watching.”
He was on his feet in one swift move still holding her hand in his. “Then let’s walk a little further on.” He had her on her feet and his arm around her waist before she finished saying, “Little Joe, if my pa. . .”
Little Joe leaned close and whispered into her ear, “Has me horsewhipped, you can tend my wounds and kiss them better.”
Her blush deepened the pink of her cheeks, but she kept walking until they found deep shadows and the cover of sweet-smelling lilac bushes. He wrapped his arms around her and managed three kisses before he felt the tug on his collar and surrendered to its pull.
“Hoss will be walking Susannah back to her folks.” Since Adam’s hand was still on his collar and Hoss had already taken Susannah’s arm, Little Joe let his elder brother’s statement go unchallenged. Susannah gave him one lingering look over her shoulder as she walked away. When they were out of sight, Adam released his hold on Little Joe.
“We’ll wait a few minutes before returning.”
Little Joe sent Adam a petulant glare. “You just had to do that, didn’t you?”
Adam’s answer was simple and direct. “Yes.”
“You just waited and watched.” It was an accusation.
“I know you well, little brother.”
“I don’t. . .”
“Ever think. Her father is a church deacon and a swings a fifty pound hammer all day.”
Little Joe’s body slumped with his attitude. “I spent three dollars on her basket.”
“And you got three kisses in return; it seems a fair deal to me.”
Little Joe realized the import of his brother‘s words, studied Adam’s face, and noted the absence of any anger. “You gonna tell Pa?”
He cocked his head. “Because you’ve done the same?”
Adam shook his head and put his finger over his lips. Then he slipped his arm around his little brother’s shoulders. “Come on. Let’s get back.”
Little Joe took a few steps before he mumbled, “You wouldn’t think it so fair if you’d had to eat Susannah’s pie.”
“Bad, was it?”
“Terrible!” Adam turned in time to see the expression on Little Joe’s face. He laughed and slapped the boy’s back. Little Joe returned a giggle.
“Our basket’s got one of Hop Sing’s peach pies. Of course there’s only one piece left.”
“Race ya for it!” Little Joe took off before the words left his mouth. Adam smiled for a second and then dashed after him.