Word Count 5,810
First of The Letter series, followed by Answers
“Padre Felipe?” the man called softly.
“Yes, my son. How may I help you?” the priest asked as he walked out from behind the alter.
“You asked me to tell you when he came into town. He and his brother just arrived. They are at the general store now,” the man whispered reverently.
“Thank you, my son. God Bless you,” Padre Felipe replied. He went quickly to his office and retrieved his long-held parcel. He then walked down the street to the general store, slipping in quietly.
“Whatya think of it, Johnny. Ain’t it a beaut?”
“It’s shiny, Walt, but I don’t think so,” Johnny smiled.
“Whatya mean? Why it’s the latest from Colt,” Walt protested.
“I don’t like it. Look, the hammer’s too hard to pull back and …. look at that, the trigger’s so tight you can’t hardly squeeze it,” Johnny explained.
“Well, it’s brand new, with some adjustments…”
“With some adjustments, it would be just like this,” Johnny said as he pulled his own gun from the holster and held it up. “I don’t need a new gun, Walt. Thanks, anyway.”
“Oh, alright. I’m expectin some new Winchesters any day,” he tried.
“Well, that I might be interested in,” Johnny grinned.
“Excuse me, Walt, but do you think you could fill our order? That is if youâ€™re through trying to put the gunsmith out of business,” Scott interrupted.
“Oh, sure thing, Scott and I ain’t doin no such thing. I got just as much right to sell guns as he does,” Walt huffed as he went to the storeroom to fill the order.
“He sure does try to prime you,” Scott laughed.
“I know. You’d think I was the only person in the valley that used a gun,” Johnny replied.
“Hey, Johnny, I just got the St. Louis paper. Guess what they’re a callin expert shots these days?” Walt called from the back room.
Johnny laughed and shook his head. “What’s that, Walt?”
“Shootists. Ain’t that somethin? Shootists. Why do they always have to come up with them fancy names?”
“Shootist, huh? That is fancy. Hey, Walt, you don’t mind to just keep callin me Johnny, do ya?” he teased.
Walt came out of the back, laughing. “Reckon that’ll do better than a shootist. Where do they come up with that stuff?”
“Ask him, he’s the smart one,” Johnny said and nodded his head toward his brother.
“I am not getting in the middle of this, gentlemen. All I want is our supplies,” Scott begged off.
“I’m a gettin ’em. Just hold your horses,” Walt said.
Scott noticed the priest standing near them then. He also noticed the man kept looking at Johnny. He nudged his brother with his elbow and pointed with his eyes. Johnny turned around then turned back and shrugged. The padre didn’t miss any of it and he took the opportunity to approach them.
“Excuse me, gentlemen,” he said.
“Yes, Padre, may we help you?” Scott asked.
“You are the Lancers?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m Scott and this is my brother, Johnny,” Scott introduced. Johnny nodded his head but did not turn to face the man.
“I wonder if I may have a word in private with you, Johnny?” he asked.
Johnny turned to look at him then. “Do I know you?”
“No, but I have something rather … delicate to discuss with you. Perhaps you could come to the church with me.”
“I doubt I want to hear it, Padre. No offense, but I ain’t lookin to be saved,” Johnny said rather coldly.
“Oh no, you do not understand. This is not about the church. Please, I do not feel comfortable talking of it here. Would you indulge me?”
Johnny looked at Scott who simply shrugged, then back at the priest. “Alright, but make it fast,” he said. “I’ll be right back,” he added to Scott.
Johnny walked down to the church with the padre, feeling more uncomfortable with every step. What could this man possibly have to say to him? He didn’t feel threatened, certainly, just guarded. The priest ushered him into his office and offered him a seat. Johnny sat down and waited impatiently.
“What I have to tell you may be difficult for you to hear, but I hope you will listen to all of it,” the padre started.
“Go on,” Johnny said shortly.
“Ten years ago I was a young priest under the tutelege of Padre Francisco in Sonora.” He stopped and waited for a reaction.
“Sorry about your luck,” Johnny said sarcastically.
“I see you remember him. I was there when your mother died, Johnny. You would not remember me, I was only present at the burial. I remember you, however. You would look at no one, only down at the grave in front of you. When it was done, you simply walked away. Padre Francisco told me we were to collect you later that day and take you to the orphanage.”
“Yeah, well that was his idea, I had my own,” Johnny said.
“Yes, when we arrived, you had already left. Someone told us they saw you leave town. Padre Francisco spoke with the man who rented the rooms to your mother. He wished to have the personal belongings removed so he could rent the place again. You didn’t take much with you.”
“Just what I thought I’d need, which wasn’t much. What is this all about?” Johnny asked, growing tired of the trip down memory lane.
“Please, be patient with me. We packed up everything there. Her clothes and yours and any personal items we found. When I opened the dresser drawer I found an envelope addressed to you. I concluded it was from your mother and I thought it must be important, so I kept it. I have carried it with me all these years, hoping one day I would find you. When I heard I was to come here, I remembered Padre Francisco told me your father lived in the area. I inquired of some of my congregation and discovered you had come to live here a few months ago. I have been waiting for you to come to town. I did not think it wise to come to your rancho.”
“Wait a minute. Are you telling me you have a letter for me from my mother?” Johnny asked with unabashed surprise.
“Si, I have it,” the padre said as he reached inside his robe and pulled the envelope out.
He handed it to Johnny, who looked at it as if it were a rattlesnake for a minute, then accepted the letter. He stared at the front of the envelope, at his own name written there and knew it was his mother’s handwriting. He could hear his heartbeat pounding in his ears and he felt a little dizzy.
Padre Felipe got up and walked around the desk to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Are you alright, my son?”
Johnny simply nodded and closed his eyes for a minute. He took in a deep breath and stood up. “Thank you, Padre. I can’t believe you kept this all these years. Thank you,” he said softly then left.
Scott and Walt had the wagon loaded and Scott was waiting for his brother so they could have a cold beer before heading home. Johnny came down the street looking like someone had punched him in the gut.
“Hey, are you alright?” Scott asked.
“Yeah, let’s just go,” Johnny mumbled.
“Go? But I thought we were going to the saloon,” Scott said.
“I don’t feel like it, let’s just go home,” Johnny snapped as he climbed aboard the wagon.
Scott stared at him dumbfounded, then climbed up after him. Johnny handed him the reins and sat back, crossing his arms in front of him.
“What did the priest want?” Scott asked after a half hour of silence.
“Nothin,” Johnny clipped.
“You were gone a long time for nothing,” Scott remarked.
“Sorry you had to load the wagon by yourself,” Johnny mumbled.
“That’s not what I meant, Johnny. Are you going to talk to me about whatever is bothering you?”
“Didn’t say anything was bothering me,” Johnny said.
“Right, youâ€™re always this affable,” Scott replied sarcastically. The only response he got was to be ignored. He gave up and they made the rest of the trip home in silence.
Murdoch met them in the yard. “Did you get everything?” he asked.
“Yes, everything on the list,” Scott said as he climbed down. He made a motion with his eyes to indicate all was not well with Johnny. Murdoch replied with another look but Scott could only shrug.
“Are you alright, son?”
“Fine,” he mumbled and walked inside.
“Great! First I have to load the wagon by myself, now I have to unload it, too?” Scott griped.
“Why did you load it by yourself?” Murdoch asked.
“Some priest came in the store and asked to speak to Johnny alone. He went with him and he’s been like this ever since. He won’t tell me anything about it,” Scott reported.
“Come on, I’ll help you unload, then we’ll see what’s wrong with your brother,” Murdoch said, frustrated.
Johnny headed straight for his room and locked both doors. He sat on the bed and pulled out the envelope, staring at it for a long time before he ripped it open. Inside was a letter written in Spanish, in his mother’s elegant cursive. He swallowed hard. It had been so long since he’d seen her handwriting, the emotions it brought forth startled him a bit. Finally he hunkered down and began to read.
My dearest son,
Â Â Â Â I am writing this letter because I am a coward. I could not bear to face you and tell you the truth. I have felt for some months now that my time is near an end. I do not know why I feel this way, but I am sure I will not be with you much longer. My sweet boy, I am writing this for you and I will tell you of it’s existence before I leave you.
Johnny, I am not sure how to tell you this so I will begin at the beginning. When I married your father, I loved him deeply. To this day, I still love him just as much. We were so happy together, so in love, and when you were born, our lives were complete. Your father treasured you, son. He loved you so very much. I withstood the hatred for his sake and for yours.
But when it began to affect him, I could no longer take the pain. The people of the valley did not approve of our marriage. The women would look down at me in town, the men made horrible remarks when your father was not present. I could take it all until the day I heard one of his best friends tell him they could no longer be friends. I heard them in our living room. This man had always driven his herd to market with your father’s. They made the trip together every year.
This day, he told Murdoch he could no longer do this, that he could no longer be associated with a man who had taken a Mexican wife and ‘bred’ a child. Forgive me, my love, those were his words. Your father did not know I had overheard the conversation, nor did he ever mention it to me. I tried to get him to talk but he would not. I am sure he wanted to spare my feelings. I decided I would have to leave to free him of the burden of having me as a wife. I could not risk him losing all he had worked so hard to build because of me.
I met a man in town, a gambler, and I allowed him to believe I loved him so that he would take us away. I knew I would not be able to leave without help. I worried over taking you with me, but how could I leave you there to be hated and hurt? I did not think about the future, about your future. All I could think of was stopping the pain my husband was enduring because of me.
My sweet Johnny, I hope some day you can forgive me for lying to you all these years. I felt if I told you the truth, you would hate me and I could not bear that. That is why I invented the lie that your father threw us out. I needed you to hate him so you would not seek him out. I know how wrong I was now. I know how cruel it was to hurt you so deeply, to make you think your own father did not want you.
Now, I am gone. The lie has been revealed. I was too much of a coward to face you with the truth, I tell you now in a coward’s way. Johnny, go to him. Find your father, give him this letter and he will understand all. He loves you more than you will ever know, my son. He even sent men to find us, that is why we moved so much. His rancho is near Morro Coyo in California. Go to him, my son, and claim your birthright.
Perhaps, some day, you will be able to forgive me. If you cannot, I understand. But know this, my darling. I have always loved you more than life itself and, if it is allowed by God, I will look down and watch out for you and keep you safe on your journey through life. Live well, my darling boy, live well and love well. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Mama
Johnny sat there stunned for a moment, then he began to laugh at the absurdity of life, his laughter turned to tears and then to anger. He let the pages of the letter fall from his hands to the floor as he felt the burning rage deep inside him build. He stood up and paced the room, trying to fight it, but in the end, he allowed it to consume him.
He walked over to the dresser and with one sweeping motion of his hand, knocked everything there to the floor. He picked up one end of the dresser and flipped it over, the mirror crashing to the floor in a million shards of light. He picked up a small table and hurled it at the window, busting the glass out onto the yard below. He picked up one of the legs from said table and began beating the wall with it, then threw it aside and started kicking the wall. Finally he stopped, too exhausted to continue his rant and walked back over beside the bed, dropping to his knees, his head hung low and sat there.
Scott and Murdoch had just come inside from unloading the supplies when they heard a huge crash from upstairs followed by the sound of more destruction. They ran up the stairs and tried Johnny’s door, but it was locked. Murdoch pounded on the door and shouted for Johnny to open it but he got no response. Suddenly, it was quiet again and they looked at each other with deep worry etched on their faces. Murdoch tried again, calling to Johnny, telling him if he didn’t open up, he’d kick the door in.
Murdoch had waited long enough and he pushed Scott gently to the side as he backed up and kicked the door with his foot. It flew open and banged back closed again, then swung limply on it’s hinges. They walked in to find Johnny kneeling on the floor, still as death. Murdoch put his hand up to stop Scott from rushing to him and approached the young man slowly. By this time, Teresa and Jelly were also present to witness the carnage that was once Johnny’s bedroom.
Murdoch kneeled down behind his son. Unsure how to proceed, he called softly to the young man.
Johnny’s head came up and he turned slowly to look at his father, then he fell back against Murdoch who wrapped his arms around his son. He held onto Johnny and motioned for Scott to leave them alone. The blond went unwillingly, but sensed Johnny needed his father more just then.
“Can you tell me?” Murdoch asked softly after a while.
Johnny reached down and picked up the pieces of paper in front of him, handing them to his father without a word. He stood up then and walked over to the window, glass crunching under his boots.
Murdoch read the letter, twice, then dropped onto the side of the bed in shock. He didn’t know what to say as his mind reeled with the information.
“Sorry about the mess,” Johnny finally mumbled.
“What? Oh, yes,” Murdoch said distantly. He pulled himself together and went to his son. “Johnny, I don’t know what to say.”
Johnny shrugged. “Nothin to say,” he replied in a trembling voice. “She lied, that’s all,” he said, but he could not stop the tears from falling and he tried to hide his face.
Murdoch grabbed hold of him and Johnny collapsed into his arms, sobbing like a child. Murdoch guided him out of his room and into his own, sitting his son on the bed and rocking him slowly.
“She never told you about this letter?” Murdoch asked after Johnny had quietened.
“No, she was so sick at the end. I do remember she tried really hard to tell me something, but she couldn’t speak. She was so weak,” he said softly.
“Scott said there was a priest in town,” Murdoch said.
“He had the letter. He was there, at the funeral, but I don’t remember him. He said he found it after I had gone. He kept it all these years, hoping to find me someday. Can you imagine? He didn’t have a clue what was in it, but he kept it still,” Johnny said with some amazement in his voice.
“Sounds like a thoughtful man,” Murdoch commented.
Johnny straightened himself up, he had been leaning on his father the entire time, and stood. “It’s funny, don’t you think? I mean, she wanted to keep me from prejudice. What the hell did she think she was taking me to?! Didn’t she think it would be better to just tell you what was happening? What did she think was going to happen to me after she died? Oh right, I was supposed to root through the house until I found her secret after I put her in the ground!” His sarcasm could hardly be missed.
“You’re angry with her,” Murdoch stated.
“Youâ€™re damned right I’m angry with her!” he shouted.
“You should be angry with me, too. I didn’t know how she was being treated, but I should have been able to guess,” Murdoch said quietly.
“No! Don’t turn this around! She did this, she made the decision all by herself. She didn’t talk to you about it, she sure as hell never asked me my opinion! It’s a simple question, really. Johnny, would you rather live in this dump with me and be hated or go home to your father and be hated? Tough choice, alright,” Johnny said snidely.
“Do you want to break something else? I have plenty of stuff in here,” Murdoch asked.
“Are you trying to make me madder?” Johnny asked incredulously.
“No, son. I wish you could calm down a little, but I understand how upset you are. I’m upset with her, too.”
Johnny looked closely at his father and saw the pain on his face for the first time. “God, Murdoch, I’m sorry. This must be awful for you. I don’t know what to say,” he said miserably.
“Come here, son. I’m glad you got that letter. I never understood why she left. I always thought it was my fault, that I had done something or not done something. At least now, we know the truth. She was wrong, son, there is no doubt about that. But she did it out of love, and I have a hard time faulting her for that. We all do things out of love that aren’t right, but we believe it’s for the best. She admitted she hadn’t thought about the future. She was in a great deal of pain, too. I’m sure she wasn’t thinking clearly at all.”
“I’m sorry, Murdoch, but I just can’t forgive her that easily. I know it must feel good to know she still loved you, and I’m glad she did. It helps me, too, knowing that. But all I can think about is what she put us all through. All I can think about is how much she made me hate you all these years. I believed something for so long, coming here, finding out is wasn’t like that, didn’t really help. I still didn’t know why, now I do and it still doesn’t help. I try to let the past die, I want to so badly. It just seems like everytime I think it is dying, something happens to knock me on my back again. Now this, it’s too much.”
“How can I help you, Johnny?”
“I don’t know. I…I need to be alone,” Johnny whispered.
“No, Johnny, please don’t do that. I don’t want you alone with all of this,” Murdoch pleaded.
“Sometimes, it’s the only thing that helps. I need to get this right in my head. I can’t do that unless I’m alone.”
“Where will you go?”
“Just up to the line shack at South Mesa. Don’t worry, I’m not running away. Just give me some time, ok?” Johnny asked.
“Alright, son. At least you’ll be on the ranch. Do you want me to tell Scott and Teresa about this?”
“Would you? I hate to ask you, but….”
“It’s fine, really. Do what you have to do to feel better. Just know we’ll all be here when you’re ready to come home,” Murdoch said.
“Home sounds good. Thank you. I am sorry about my room. I guess I went a little crazy,” Johnny smiled a little.
“You had every right. Don’t worry about that. Just come back as soon as you can,” Murdoch said and wrapped his arm around his son.
Johnny rumaged through the mess in his room until he found a change of clothes and his saddlebags. He slipped quietly out of the house and to the barn. He was gone before anyone knew he was leaving, anyone except Murdoch.
He waited until he saw Johnny riding away to talk to his family. Scott came running through the house and headed for the front door.
“Scott,” Murdoch called.
“Where’s Johnny going?” Scott asked.
“He’s going to spend a few days alone. I want to talk to you. Would you get Teresa and Jelly? They need to hear this, too.”
Once he had them all gathered in the living room, Murdoch decided to just read the letter to them instead of trying to explain. When he had finished, he looked at each of them, seeing the shock and concern on their faces.
“I don’t know what to say,” Teresa whispered breathlessly.
“Me neither. I think she made a fool headed mistake,” Jelly said.
“Oh? You think so? Of course she did! I can’t believe this, Murdoch. How could she do that to you and Johnny? Where did he go?” Scott said harshly.
“He’s still on the ranch, son. I know this is upsetting but Johnny needs some time alone. It’s all he asks of any of us right now,” Murdoch explained.
“Upsetting? That would be putting it mildly. Why didn’t she tell him about this all-revealing letter?” Scott asked.
“He said she was so weak at the end. He remembered her trying to tell him something but she wasn’t able,” Murdoch replied.
“If my child’s entire future was riding on a few pieces of paper, I think I’d find the strength to say ‘open a drawer’,” Scott said sarcastically.
“That’s enough! You weren’t there, Scott. None of us were there, so we can hardly judge how sick Maria was!” Murdoch shouted.
Scott stared at his father in disbelief. Teresa stood and took his arm. “Scott, help me get some coffee for everyone,” she said.
“I don’t understand him,” Scott grumped when they got to the kitchen.
“That’s obvious. She was his wife, Scott. He loved her very much and he just found out she loved him all that time. He knows the truth about why she left now. Finally, after twenty years, he knows the truth. Johnny knows, too. I’m not saying what she did was right, but it certainly explains a lot of things. That’s what’s important now. Johnny will deal with this. He’s been torn apart between his love for his mother and his love for his father. Now he knows he doesn’t have to feel like he’s betraying one by loving the other.”
Scott considered her words and realized she was right. As angry as he was with Maria, at least they knew she hadn’t hated Murdoch. Still, the fact that she had led Johnny to believe his father hated him was too much. He knew he would never forgive her no matter what Johnny or Murdoch decided. He also knew it wasn’t his place to forgive her, at least it wasn’t as important as Johnny and Murdoch’s feelings. He nodded his head at her to indicate he had heard her words, then he walked back to the living room.
“Murdoch, I’m sorry. I had no right to say those things. I’m not happy about what she did but I’ll try to understand,” Scott said.
“Thank you, son. Johnny will need you when he comes back,” Murdoch said.
“And I’ll be here for him,” Scott promised.
Johnny arrived at the line shack just before dusk. He bedded Barranca and walked into the building. He was beginning to think this was a mistake. He felt very alone and he didn’t really want to be. He sighed and threw his saddlebags in the corner. Suddenly, he heard a voice in his head. ‘Pick up your things, miel’.
He shook his head at the memory of his mother’s voice. He lit a lamp and turned the wick up to chase away the corner shadows. He wished he had a bottle of something, anything, at the moment. Getting drunk was a very appealing thought just then. He smiled to himself. What would she think of her little boy drinking? But he wasn’t a little boy anymore, though sometimes he sure felt like one. He wondered if that feeling would ever leave him, if he would ever feel like a real grown up.
He dropped down on the cot and stared at the ceiling. ‘Well, your alone now, just like you wanted to be. Now what?’ he thought. He felt very heavy and his eyes closed of their own accord. He was asleep in seconds.
The next morning, he decided to take a walk. He headed up into the woods and loped around, not going anywhere in particular and thinking about that damned letter. Murdoch had been right, it was good to know the truth. It didn’t help the feeling of betrayal he felt toward her though. She had lied to him about something so important, so vital. How could he forgive that? If his father’s life had been threatened, he might understand, but not this. Not because of other people.
She had always told him they didn’t matter. All the hateful, vicious things they would say to him as a child, she would simply say those people didn’t matter and hug him. But they did matter afterall, apparently. Â He looked up toward the heavens and sighed. Remembering what she had written about looking down and watching out for him, he wondered idly if it were true.
‘Are you there? Can you see the mess you made of my life? Of his life? If you had only stayed with him.’ He couldn’t finish that thought, it was too painful. He didn’t want to think at all. He wanted more than anything to go home and forget any of this had happened. ‘Could you give me a little break here, God? Just a small one, just a month or so of peace and quiet. That’s all I ask,’ he prayed.
He headed back to the shack, deep in thought. He walked out of the tree line to see his brother leaning against the hitching post. He smiled at the blond and shook his head. ‘Guess not, God,’ he thought whimsically.
“Murdoch said you wanted to be alone. You know me. I never listen,” Scott smiled.
“Yeah? Since when?” Johnny grinned.
“Do you want to talk?” Scott asked, serious now. Pain appeared so quickly on Johnny’s face, he nearly gasped aloud. Instead, he put his arm around his brother and squeezed him close. Â Â
“Let’s go down to the stream,” Johnny said.
“Well, I have to say things are getting more interesting,” Scott said lightly.
Johnny gave him a quick smile that faded just as quickly. “I’m really mad at her, Scott. Part of me understands, I mean, I know what she was going through. The fact is, she didn’t think, she ran. Like I used to do. If I think about this much longer, I’m gonna ‘if only’ myself to death,” he said with a soft laugh.
“It’s hard to not think about it, though,” Scott said.
“It’s not hard, it’s impossible.”
“Ok, let’s just go through this. Your mother felt the pressure of all the prejudice around her, but it wasn’t until Murdoch was threatened by it that she acted. We know by this, even without her saying it in the letter, that she loved him very much. She didn’t think things through, if she had, she probably would have confided in him. From what I know about your mother, she was impetuous. She acted first and thought about it later with most things. It was her nature, one of the things I’m sure Murdoch was attracted to in the first place.
â€œNow she’s left and she has a baby to take care of. A baby who undoubtedly kept asking about his father. She couldn’t tell you the truth, you were too young to understand. So, in her anger and bitterness about the situation, she told you the worst thing she could. Once said, she couldn’t take it back without looking bad in your eyes. No mother wants that. So, she kept up the lie, thinking some day she would explain it to you. Then she realized she was sick, and she was afraid to tell you the truth, afraid you would leave her when she needed you most.
â€œSo she wrote it in a letter that she had every intention of telling you about. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to do that. Then along comes Padre Felipe who finds the letter, senses it’s importance and ten years later, is able to deliver it. In my opinion, the worse thing she did was tell you Murdoch didn’t want you. Can you get past that?” Scott finished his summary of events and took a breath.
“Youâ€™re good, Boston. But you didn’t have to go through all that. You see, that is what’s bothering me. What she told me about Murdoch. I think by the time I was about five or six, I finally figured out I needed to stop asking. Everytime I did, she would just cry, anyway. She could have come up with anything but that,” Johnny said, his voice trembling at the end. “To answer your question, no, I don’t think I can forgive her for that,” he finished barely above a whisper.
“Then, how are you going to deal with it?” Scott asked.
Johnny took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I’ve been trying to deal with it since I came here. The only difference is, now I know why she lied. What I am going to do is go home, live my life and try to put it where it belongs.”
“I think that is a very good idea. Johnny, you don’t ever have to be alone again. I’m always here, we are all always here. You know, I said that was the worst thing she did. The best thing about that letter is, she really loved him and you.”
“Yeah, she did. I know how much she loved me, but knowing how much she loved him … Scott, I can’t tell you how much that means to me,” Johnny said, nearly choking on the words.
“She sacrificed a lot for him, too much,” Scott said.
“Ya know, I think I’m just gonna focus on that. How about that, Boston? Now we have something in common. Our parents loved each other,” Johnny said teasingly.
“We always had that in common, we just know it now. There is something else we have in common, you know. We don’t say it, but we love each other.”
Scott expected Johnny to blush or look away, but he didn’t. He stared into his brother’s eyes and spoke volumes with his own. “Yeah, there is that,” he said softly and hugged Scott.
“Come on, brother. Let’s go home,” Scott smiled.
Johnny and Scott walked into the house together. Teresa walked up to Johnny and hugged him tightly, then gave him a loving smile.
“Where’s Murdoch?” he asked.
“He’s in your room, cleaning up,” she grinned.
Johnny grimaced at this information then headed upstairs. He walked in to find his father sweeping up glass. “Don’t do that,” Johnny said.
Murdoch gave a start and turned to face him. “Youâ€™re back!”
“Told ya I would be, just a little quicker than I thought,” Johnny laughed softly.
“How are you?” Murdoch asked.
“I’m ok. I can’t solve this in a day or two. It’s going to take a long time to come to terms with what she did. But I have decided to be grateful for what I have and for knowing how much she loved us both,” Johnny replied.
Murdoch swallowed hard. “I think that’s a good idea, son,” he whispered.
Johnny walked up to him and took the broom from his hand, tossing it toward the bed. “Knowing you loved me and wanted me all that time, I … I just want you to know how much that means to me. How good it feels to know the truth, even if it still hurts. I was so confused, I didn’t know what to think for so long. It was hard to let you in because of that.”
“I do love you son, I never stopped,” Murdoch croaked and hugged Johnny to him.
“I love you, too, papa,” Johnny said softly.
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