I nodded and helped Al to her feet, “Sure, we can go to my office.” I took Al’s hand and led the way.

“Have a seat Ranger Clark, and tell me, um… us what’s on your mind,” I said as I pulled Al to my lap again.

Ranger Clark took the chair across from us, “Please, call me Robert.”

I nodded, “Only if you call me, Mac.”

“And me Allie!” Al chimed in.

“Sure, so we’ve been interrogating Miss Williams and her gang of thugs. She’s giving some indication that she had something set up to take place either at your wedding here at the house or at the reception at the Rusty Nail.”

“I see, so how believable is her intel?” I asked.

“Well, she described a scenario at the Rusty Nail that was very detailed,” He looked at me. “Mac, she had good detail of the bar. But my gut tells me we have them all, and she’s just trying to blow smoke.”

“What do the Marshals think?” Al asked.

“They’re not giving it much credit. That’s why I came here today.”

“Well, Cindi would have good detail of the bar,” I pulled Al close, “She and I spent a lot of time there. She never came into the house, so she would have less detail of the inside setup.”

He nodded, “We thought as much. That’s why I think Miss Williams is just blowing smoke.”

He looked at us, “But it’s better to be safe, just in case.”

“Robert, don’t you have a family you should be with today?” Again, Al was right on point. We shouldn’t be talking business on Christmas Day.

A shadow washed over his face and then was gone, “No, ma’am, my family’s gone. It’s just me.”

“Okay then, for today we’re your family. I’d like you to stay and spend Christmas with us, please,” Al said.

I was very proud of her for taking on the role of Lady of the House.

“That’s very nice of you but let me tell you what I have in mind first,” He said, leaning forward in his chair.

After about 45 minutes of talking, Robert had detailed his plan to keep us safe. He and three other Rangers were to be sequestered at the ranch and the Rusty Nail for the next seven days. Then Robert was going to escort us into Fort Worth for our honeymoon.

I was shaking Robert’s hand, “I have only one question.”

“Shoot,” Robert replied.

“Why? Why are you helping us?” I asked, looking into his eyes, “The case is closed. You have Cindi in custody.”

He smiled, “A Marshal was hurt in the fight to capture Miss Williams,” He stopped and looked at my shoulder, “His medical bills have been paid in full. Money to help him and his family through the downtime has been sent with a note to let you know if they need anything at all.”

I looked down at Al. Her mouth was open. She was shocked, “When did you, … I don’t understand how?”

“You fell asleep after we got home from Doc’s office. So, I called my lawyer. He took care of everything,” I kissed her hand.

“Well Mac, we take care of our own. You have made yourself and your family our own. You took care of us now we’ll take care of you,” He bowed his head.

“Okay then, it’s all settled. Robert, you’ll stay with us for the rest of the day.  I’ll find a room you can use while your here,” Al said having regained her composure.

“But, I, um….” He was rolling the edge of his Stetson.

Al held up her finger to him. I smiled because I’d been on the receiving end of that finger a few times myself, “No buts! You’re now family and family stays in the house.” She moved her hands to her hips, daring him to refuse.

He nodded, “Yes, ma’am… Allie. Thank you very much.”

“Now I think the family is probably ready to open some presents. So, let’s go to the living room,” Al said.

Robert moved to the door, “Robert, can you find your way there? I need to talk to Al for just a minute.”

“Sure, I’ll just follow my nose,” He smiled as he opened the door.

“Ask Matilda for some breakfast if you’re hungry,” I said as he closed the door.

I moved us to my desk, sat, and pulled Al to my lap, “We have a problem.”

“Yeah, what?” She asked as she leaned back into me.

“Well, we have a new family member and no gift!” I smiled.

She went white, “No, that’ll never do.”

I kissed her neck, “I know, but I have a plan if you agree.”

Her eyes were sparkling, “What, what is it?”

“Well, Robert has been eying Bullet for days. So, I thought maybe we let him have the first pick of his babies,” I kissed her again.

She was bouncing in my lap, “Stop bouncing, please.”

“Sorry, did I hurt you?”

“No, but I’ll have a different problem if you don’t stop.”

“Oh!” She moaned as I kissed her.

“What do you think of my idea?”

“Yes, yes, yes… I love it.”

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