Once back at the livery stable, I unsaddled Stonewall and put him in a stall. I personally fetched some water, hay and oats for him. Then we had a meditative session before I left for the hotel.
I kept a weary lookout on my way to the hotel, which included having my hand on one of my Colts. I didn’t relax until I got to the hotel second floor and found John Lee sitting in front of our door.
I smiled at him and he waved at me.
As I approached him, I asked, “Have ya eaten yet?”
He shook his head that he hadn’t.
I stated, “Let me get Daphne and we will have lunch together.”
John Lee looked at me like I had grown three eyes. I smiled at him and then knocked on our door.
“Who’s there?” challenged Daphne.
“It’s me Liebchen,” I returned.
The door was immediately opened, and Daphne flew into my arms. I grinned at John Lee and said, “We’ll be right out.”
I picked up Daphne and carried her into our temporary bridal suite.
“Jim, I was worried for ya,” she confessed.
I put her down and took her in my arms. I kissed her very gently, savoring her scent and the touch of her lips. We ended our embrace and had to catch our breaths. Our passion was definitely heightened.
I ventured, “I’m sorry, but I promised that we’d have lunch with John Lee.”
Daphne gave a disappointed frown, but then she wagged her finger at me and said, “Alright this time, but ya aren’t getting out of my clutches after lunch.”
I laughed heartily and promised, “I will submit after lunch.” I continued, “I hope ya don’t mind eating in the hotel kitchen. They probably won’t allow John Lee in the dining room.”
Daphne cheerfully responded, “It doesn’t matter to me as long as the food’s good.”
I nodded my appreciation.
Daphne got her shawl, and we went out into the hall. John Lee got up from his chair from which he acted as a sentry for Daphne’s safety.
I looked at John Lee and said, “I guess we all can go down to eat now. After lunch ya don’t have to play nursemaid to us anymore today. I really appreciate the protection ya provided Daphne while I was away.”
John Lee, being a man of few words, just nodded his recognition of my appreciation.
We went down stairs to the front desk, and I asked the desk clerk, “Where can we three eat a meal together?”
The shocked look he gave us was worth asking the question. “Ah, ah, ah, I don’t know,” he stammered.
“May we eat together in the kitchen?” I queried.
“Yes, I guess so,” he replied.
“Thank ya,” I said, and we headed for the kitchen.
I looked at Daphne, and she returned my gaze without any judgmental look or frown.
I led the way to the kitchen door and pushed it open to the most delicious aromas imaginable. I spied the main cook, because she was pan-frying a steak while giving orders to her two helpers. She looked at me and curtly asked, “What do ya want?”
I calmly said, “A table where we three can have a meal together.”
She looked at us with a soul searching stare for a few seconds. Then she attended to her steak. Looking up at us again, she said, “Give me a minute, and I’ll set ya up.”
I nodded at her and we went back into the lobby for a few minutes. I finally got John Lee talking when I asked about his grandson in Martinsburg. Apparently, they were sort of close. John Lee told of the first time that he took his grandson for a horse ride. The boy fell in love with horses from that day forward. He had followed his grandpa in learning all he could about the equestrian trade.
After a few moments of fellowship, the cook stuck her head into the lobby and motioned for us to follow her. She took us through the kitchen and into a small adjacent room with a square rustic table and four mismatched chairs. One wall of the room had shelves full of various and sundry canned goods, flour sacks, sugar sacks and cooking oils. It smelled like a potpourri of delightful fragrances.
The cook left us for a moment and then returned to tell us what was on the menu. I ordered a porterhouse steak with bread and cooked potatoes. Daphne ordered a small beef brisket, corn and mashed potatoes. John Lee ordered a porterhouse steak with mashed potatoes and corn. We all asked for coffee as our beverage.
Once the cook had left, I asked John Lee, “What cha gonna do once we get back to Shepherdstown?”
“I guess I’s gonna go back to work for Miss Douglas,“ he answered.
“Want a work for me?” I asked.
His face lit up and he said, “Shore would.”
“I’ll talk with Miss Douglas when we get back and see what we can work out. In the meantime, can ya help Daphne get all our paraphernalia together tomorrow so we can leave in the morning?” I ventured.
“Yes, I can,” he answered with a big grin on his face.