Word Count 1,251
Episode Tag to Blood Rock
Johnny slid down the bannister of the back stairs and landed like a cat on the stone floor. The smells of spicy chicken greeted him before he reached the kitchen door. “What’s for dinner, Teresa?”
She turned from the stove, stuck a strand of dark brown hair behind her ear and smiled. “Chicken stew. I thought it was just chilly enough for something warm. Since it’s just the two of us, I added in some spice.”
“You think Scott’s gonna stay over at the Taft’s once he gets Ben settled in?”
“Murdoch get off to Aggie’s already?”
Teresa looked in her oven, checking her biscuits, and closed the iron door. They needed a few more minutes to be just the right color. “Yes. He was ready to go to. I think he wants to talk to her about … everything.”
Johnny sighed and moved over to the sideboard and grabbed a couple if bowls and spoons and headed for the wooden table. “Everything that happened in Blood Rock. I still don’t think I know the whole story.”
“I think it hit them both kind of hard.”
“Who? Murdoch and Scott?” At the nod of her head, he asked, “Why?”
Teresa took a sip of the stew and smiled. “Here, take this pot to the table. It’s heavy.”
Johnny moved over, grabbed the handle and jumped back. He took the proffered cloth and picked up the hot pot and moved it to the table. “What do you mean that everything with Ben hit Murdoch and Scott hard?”
“Get the butter,” Teresa said as she pulled the biscuits out of the oven and plopped them one by one in her wooden bread bowl and headed toward the table. “It was close … to their … situation.”
Johnny nodded as he thought. Close to his and Murdoch’s too, if you thought about it closely and he wasn’t ready to think about it that close. Still and all …
“Yes, it was,” the third voice came from the side door.
Teresa and Johnny turned to see Scott standing there, holding his hat. “You didn’t eat with the Taft’s?” Teresa asked.
Scott sat his hat on the sideboard, grabbed his own bowl and spoon, and headed toward the table and his siblings. “No.” He started ladling the stew in his bowl.
“It may be a bit spicier than you like. I didn’t think you were coming,” Teresa apologized.
“It’s fine. I didn’t want to miss our Thursday supper.”
Johnny grinned, stood, and walked to pour his brother a large glass of milk. “Here, this will help with the heat.”
“Thanks,” Scott said taking the glass and sitting at the head of the table. He sighed. “You know, there was a time in Blood Rock where Ben asked Murdoch and I how would he know if his father liked him if they never met. I can’t tell you how many times as a child I wondered that same thing. Hoped if Murdoch would just meet me that he would like me. Like me and bring me here, bring me home. Boston, for all that it was, and it was a lot, never felt like home.”
“Oh, but he wanted you here. You know that now, don’t you?” Teresa asked, her eyes imploring Scott to believe her.
Scott didn’t answer her. He didn’t have an answer to that. Did he know? He wasn’t sure, even now, not quite. He took a spoonful of stew and followed it with a large swallow of milk. He glared at Johnny’s impish grin. “I did see a side to Murdoch with Ben. He was softer, he was … I think I saw how he might have been had he raised Johnny and me.” If Murdoch had wanted them … him … maybe he did … maybe. He had told Ben Price that he had a right to meet his father. Had said it so softly and with such understanding. Murdoch had helped Morgan Price see his son, even crossing the Blood Rock’s sheriff to do it.
Johnny’s smile fell and he looked down at the yellowish stew and watched its swirling reds and greens as he pushed it around with his spoon. “Yeah?” he softly queried.
“Yes. I think … I believe … we would have enjoyed growing up here,” Scott decided. The Murdoch Lancer he was coming to know was a good man, with a good heart, who wanted him. Teresa said so. There were still so many questions to ask and answers to hear, but his heart said Teresa’s words were as true tonight as those she’d spoken to Johnny their second day at the ranch.
Johnny nodded. “Yeah.” It would have been so much better than the life he had lived raising himself, and he had, basically, raised himself.
“Oh, you both would have loved it,” Teresa started as she buttered one of her biscuits. She had grown up with Murdoch Lancer. She had benefitted from his paternal love all sixteen years of her life.
“I bet he would’ve gone broke buying belts to beat on me with,” Johnny derisively laughed.
“Oh, he wouldn’t have beat you, you know that!” Teresa furiously defended.
“I bet we would’ve seen his woodshed a time or two, for sure.”
“Well, yes, but it wouldn’t have been beatings. Murdoch was always more of a task master when you did bad. I remember one time, I think I was about nine or ten. I had been terribly mad because I wanted to go with Daddy and Murdoch on the cattle drive and they had both said no. So I threw my plate and the food bowls on the floor and they shattered! It made a terrible mess.”
“Woowee … little sister has a temper,” Johnny laughed.
Scott nodded, “I had already figured that out, little brother.”
“So, what’d Murdoch do?” Johnny asked, truly interested in his father’s disciplinary practices.
“Well Daddy spanked me but the next day Murdoch brought me in here to the kitchen and I had to clean everything up. He’d not let Maria clean anything. And food had gotten sticky overnight, and I really had to scrub it. And he lectured me, the whole time. It taught me a lesson. More so than the spanking.”
Scott nodded. That seemed in character for his father, their father. “Yes, that seems like him.”
“It would’ve been nice,” Johnny started softly. “All of us, growing up here together.”
“Yes,” Scott replied. Then, with a twinkle in his eye, he threw out, “Well, I suppose you two children are still growing up.” He looked up with a smirk only to be hit between the eyes with a well-aimed piece of biscuit.
“Just being childish, big brother,” Johnny grinned as he took a big bite out of the remaining biscuit in his hand.
Scott swiped his forehead with his napkin. “You excel at that.”
Teresa held her napkin in front of her mouth trying to stifle the giggles that were trying to erupt from her.
“Yes, growing up Lancer would have been an adventure,” Scott concluded taking another gulp of milk.
“Yeah, and you’d be able to handle spicy foods … maybe,” Johnny grinned. When he looked up a piece of biscuit hit him in the face.
“Maybe indeed,” Scott said with a smile as he popped the rest of his biscuit in his mouth.
FINIS … for now
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