A few months ago, Johnny had met the girl of his dreams. She was on his mind as he rode into Green River, excited to see her. He had ordered a beautiful heart-shaped necklace and had it “be my valentine” engraved on it. He saw the necklace in one of the catalogs that Teresa often left lying around. He couldn’t wait to see his girl’s face when he put it around her neck. Johnny needed to stop at the general store where the post office was also located. Phil Gentry, the store’s owner, was just opening up when Johnny arrived.
“Howdy Phil, is there a package for me?”
“Let me take a look, I haven’t got it all sorted yet.”
Shuffling through the mail Phil quickly sorted it putting various letters in pigeon holes while he separated off any that were addressed to Lancer Ranch. When he was finished, Phil smiled as he handed the small pile of letters to Johnny along with two small packages identical in both size and shape.
Johnny stuffed his saddlebags with all the mail Phil handed him. He then headed over to the restaurant to confirm his reservations and to make sure all his plans would be carried out to a “T.”
Still having work to do after he finished up in town, Johnny pointed Barranca in the direction of the east range. He needed to check the progress that the hands were making to be sure that they would be ready to move the cattle the next day.
He had no trouble finding the men who were working on a large chunk of downed fence line and he pitched right in to help with the necessary repairs. The time flew by quickly and Johnny had worked up quite a sweat in the hot sun. They finished the job with just enough time for him to get home, bathe and leave for his big night on the town with his lovely lady.
Upon reaching home, he handed Barranca over to one of the ranch hands saying “take good care of him for me.”
Once in the great room, Johnny threw his hat and coat onto the couch and slapped the mail down onto Murdoch’s desk. Without missing a step, he bounded up the stairs to where he found a hot bath waiting for him as he had requested. “ Right on time,” Johnny thought as he unbuttoned his shirt and throwing it onto the bed along with the two packages. Once his pants were off, Johnny dropped them onto the floor and lowered himself into the tub with a sigh then laid back into the hot water.
When he was done scrubbing and washing his hair, he toweled himself dry and dressed in his best red shirt, brown pants and bolero jacket.
He retrieved one of the packages from the bed where he had tossed them earlier. They both were addressed to Mr. Lancer of Morro Coyo, but which one was the one he had ordered? He picked up the closest one to him and tore the brown wrapping off it and grinned as he saw that it was his silver heart-shaped necklace. He took it from the small box, breathed hard on it then rubbed it a bit over his shirt sleeve to shine it up before he dropped into his breast pocket. Figuring the other package was either Murdoch’s or Scott’s he took it with him downstairs to put with the other mail on the desk.
Johnny picked up his lady friend, Kiera, at her home in the Lancer carriage that he had paid Jelly extra out of his own pocket to shine it like a pair of new black patent leather shoes. He wanted everything to be perfect. He proudly helped her into the seat, then drove her off to the special dinner he had meticulously planned.
Throughout dinner, Johnny kept nervously touching his breast pocket slyly, just to be sure he hadn’t somehow lost the clever gift he wanted to give his valentine sweetheart right after dinner. The main course had been pot roast with baked potato, gravy and sweet butternut squash. The waitress cleared away the dishes from the main course and immediately brought the dessert he had pre-ordered: strawberries covered with chocolate he’d ordered especially from Ghirardelli’s Chocolate Company in Stockton. Johnny held one to her lips as she delicately bit off the first succulent bite. They both enjoyed each other immensely as they talked and laughed together, feeding one other the luscious fruit.
After dinner, Johnny and Kiera walked the sort distance to the dance hall, where just outside he stopped next to the swing set in the school yard where he motioned for her to sit. He pushed her back and forth a few times then watched as the swing slowly came to a gentle gliding stop as she dragged her feet a bit on the ground. He then pulled the necklace out of his pocket and held up dangling from its shiny silver chain. Her eyes lit up as she took it from him.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, honey” Johnny said to her. “Oh it‘s inscribed too, look what it say‘s here inside,” He showed her the inscription.
“Oh yes Johnny, I will marry you”
Johnny looked at her shocked, not knowing what to say as he looked inside and saw that the inscription said “Will You Marry Me?”
The surprise was on Johnny!