“You see, senor,” Slade spoke up, “my brother owns a half interest in the ranch where we are living now. We might be making other arrangements if he returns. When he returns, I should say.
“Although there is plenty of room there our living arrangements will have to be considered. Especially if he comes back with a bride.” Slade cocked an eyebrow. “That could become really complicated since I have a wife, too.
“I had only a very small house until Joshua left to advise his wife’s parents of her death.
“It was barely large enough for one. I don’t know where I would put Ellie. Maybe I’ll have to build a loft.” He teased Ellen. “ But now Joseph and his grandparents are living there. We might need another house all together, but if not, we’ll make do.
“I certainly didn’t realize I was going to be marrying money when I proposed the other day.”
“I know that, Mr. Slade.” Ortega-Garcia said. “It was evident that first day I met you.” He chuckled. “And I saw the surprise on your face when you realized her circumstances. It isn’t everyday a man intends to marry a pauper, then discovers she is a rich woman in her own right.
“You shouldn’t fear that I’ll allow anyone to think badly of you. If I hadn’t trusted you, I would have had you driven away before you even knew what was happening.” He stood up and stepped across to stand before Slade. He extended his hand.
Slade stood up.
Ortega-Garcia shook his hand. “Welcome to our community, Mr. Slade. I may not be a father to our Elena but I’ve known her long enough to stand in the place of one. Welcome.” He clapped his other hand on Slade’s shoulder.
“I don’t mean to be a poor host, but you wife looks just short of falling asleep, senor. Perhaps you should take her up to rest.” She has had several exhausting days.”
Slade turned to Ellen. She was pale and drooping. “I can see you are right, Comandante. I must say good night for us both.
“We will be leaving tomorrow sometime. I hope we may stop in the say good bye before we leave.”
He wrapped Ellen in shawl. She smiled wanly and said her good-nights.
Slade took his wife into their suite. She was walking and responding to his words but she was evidently tired beyond thought.
Slade had asked at the desk for warm water as he passed through the lobby. It arrived a few minutes after they got inside. He set Ellen on the sofa by the fire and put the wash basin before her. She washed her face and hands with the pleasant soap. Then she stood up and walked to the bed, unbuttoning her pretty new dress as she went. Slade took it from her and hung it over the chair. Ellen quickly dropped her petticoats and found her husband holding the night dress up for her to slide into. She sat on the edge of the bed and pulled her stockings off.
She laughed as she flopped back amid the soft bedclothes Slade had pulled aside for her. “What a wedding night! A wife so tired she cannot keep her eyes open.”
Slade turned her the right way on the bed and pulled the blanket up around her shoulders. “Plenty of nights, sweetheart. I’ve waited this long for you to be my wife. I guess a piece of paper is enough for now.” He leaned down and kissed her sleepy eyes.
By the time he had changed out of his suit she was breathing deeply in sleep. He crawled beneath the blankets and pulled her close in his arms. She turned to him and snuggled close as though they had shared a bed a hundred times before. Slade bent his head to kiss her amid the wild hair and was asleep before he finished the motion.