A/N: Thank you for all of the comments, nuggets, and for reading. We have reached the end for this part of Gene and Emily’s story. I plan to revisit them in future stories, as well as incorporate them into other Barkley family stories. I hope you have enjoyed their story.
Thank you to Coloradogal (Tammy) for doing the beta work. Thanks also to Coloradogal (Tammy), Valley Cyn Ann (Cyn), and JbsAngel07 (Mary) for being the sounding board about the direction of the story, and my biggest “cheerleaders” as I took on my first long story.
As the train arrived in Stockton, Heath and Charlotte were waiting for Gene and Emily's arrival. "I hear congratulations are in order baby brother, and that I will soon have a new little sis," greeted Heath shaking Gene's hand then offering a welcoming embrace to Emily.
“The carriage is just over here. Come on little brother let’s get those bags stowed.”
As the two women watched the brothers walking ahead of them Charlotte spoke to Emily, "I am so happy for you and Gene, Emily. I would very much like for us to be friends, sisters in fact because I know how much it will mean to Gene and Heath."
"I want that too Charlotte. I also hope Melody and I can become friends. She is an important part of Gene's past, and besides once you and Heath start your family, we will both be aunts to your children."
Charlotte smiled as she placed her arm around Emily's shoulders and said, "I am so happy to hear that Emily. I know Melody will want the same for us all."
"What do you two lovely ladies say to a celebratory dinner at the Cattleman's," suggested Heath as the ladies caught up to them.
The two couples enjoyed a filling dinner and lively conversation.
"Emily, when are you and Gene planning on marrying?"
"We hope to marry before Christmas.”
Looking to Heath and taking his hand Charlotte suggested, "Emily, Gene, Heath and I talked before your arrival and were wondering if you would like to share our special day."
Gene looked to Emily who nodded affirmatively. "We better head to the ranch and share our news with Mother," said Heath as the couples stood and left the restaurant and walked to the carriage to head home.
Ten days later Audra and Melody assisted Emily and Charlotte in getting dressed. While down the hall Nick and Jarrod assisted the nervous Heath and Gene.
Victoria along with Silas, Myles and Ida rushed about making sure all the final touches were in place before the arrival of the invited guests.
As Emily was putting the finishing touches on her hair Melody stepped over asking, "Would you like some help with that," as she picked up one of the sculpted floral hair clips.
"Thank you Melody I would appreciate that."
Melody worked Emily’s long curly blond hair into a fashionable bun and clipped the floral hair clips to each side of her hair.
“Emily, I am sorry for my unkind behavior towards you, will you be able to forgive me?"
Standing and embracing Melody Emily replied, "Melody I hope we can be friends, become as close as sisters even."
Wiping the tears from her cheeks Melody said, "Thank you Emily that is what I want as well."
Then there was a knock at the door, Audra walked to open the door letting Jarrod and Nick step in the room. Both older Barkley brothers gave a low whistle as they saw how beautiful their future sister in laws looked. Giving a wink to his sister, Jarrod said,
“Are these lovely ladies ready to become the newest Mrs. Barkleys?"
Nick added, "There are two handsome Barkley brothers waiting downstairs for their lovely brides."
Seeing that as their cue to head down the stairs and take their places with the rest of the guests, Audra and Melody each gave Charlotte and Emily one last embrace.
Turning towards the radiant brides, Jarrod walked over and gave Charlotte a kiss on the check. Nick did the same to Emily then offering his arm to Charlotte he stepped out the door and headed to the top of the stairs. Jarrod offered Emily his arm, gently kissed her on the cheek and followed his younger brother out the bedroom door.
As the eldest Barkley sons escorted the brides of their little brothers down the stairs. Heath and Gene were captivated as Charlotte and Emily walked down the aisle towards them.
After exchanging their vows, and sharing a celebration with close friends, the happily married couples headed for the carriage that would take them to the Stockton hotel.
The two couples would each be spending a short honeymoon as they planned to be back at the Ranch to celebrate Christmas as a family. Heath and Charlotte were going to spend time down the coast of California at a secluded inn in Monterey; while Gene and Emily were going to spend their time at a lovely inn just outside of San Francisco.
Arriving at the hotel and signing the register Heath and Gene again congratulated one another and the couples went their separate ways.
When they reached their room, Gene scooped Emily up into his arms and carried her across the threshold. Placing her back on her feet and closing the door behind him, Gene gave Emily a long passionate kiss.
"I love you Emily Barkley."
”I love you too, Dr. Barkley.”
The longtime sweethearts embraced and shared many tender kisses and caresses before at long last expressing the love they had long held for one another.
Eugene Barkley awoke suddenly on Christmas morning. Looking around the room his heart was quickly warmed by the familiar sights that reminded him he was truly home at last. The mementoes of the teenage Eugene Wyatt Barkley's life sat about the room; the family portrait taken when he was only seventeen years old, the first family portrait that included his brother Heath; the polished wooden box handmade by Heath as a gift to him on their first Christmas together. The room also reflected the accomplishments of the now thirty two year old Dr. Eugene Barkley. The medical diploma that hung on the wall over the desk, the portrait taken just days before of he and his three brothers on his and Heath's wedding day sat on the fireplace mantle and beside it was the wedding portrait of he and his beloved Emily.
Looking to his side there laid his wife, his lovely Emily. As he watched her sleep he recalled how her love and devotion had helped him become the man he was today, and how her encouragement had finally led him back home. Picking up his pocket watch from the bedside table he opened the cover and noted that soon his brother Heath would be headed out for his daily ritual of watching the sunrise.
Quietly rising and dressing in his tan pants, green flannel shirt and boots Gene stepped out into the corridor and headed down the back steps as the aroma of Silas's cinnamon buns filled the house. Reaching the kitchen he was greeted by Silas.
"Merry Christmas Mr. Gene! You be up a mite early for a grown man, I can remember you and Miss Audra sneaking down them steps early to see what Santa had left under that tree. Course ole Silas remembers Mr. Jarrod and Mr. Nick doing the same."
Gene thought of the Christmases of his childhood of waking early and knocking on Audra's bedroom door and how they woke the rest of the family in their eager anticipation of Christmas morning. Glancing at the staircase Gene with a twinkle in his eye said, "I'll be right back Silas"
Gene hurried up the steps and gently tapped on Heath and Charlotte's bedroom door. Heath, who was up and about preparing for his morning ride quietly opened the door.
"Is everything alright Gene?"
"Come on Heath, it's time the youngest Barkley sons upheld a tradition," answered Gene grinning at Heath mischievously.
Heath responding with the lopsided smile the family so loved asked, "And what tradition would that be Baby Brother?"
"Getting everyone up early on Christmas morning; Sis always joined me in waking the others, so let's wake her first."
Slapping his younger brother on the back, Heath raced down the hall to Audra’s room with Gene close behind. With the giddiness of little boys the two youngest Barkley brothers began knocking on the bedroom door calling out "Merry Christmas, time to open presents." Not waiting to see if their yelling had the desired effect, the brothers repeated their efforts on Nick, Jarrod and their mother’s bedroom doors.
As Heath and Gene bounded down the grand staircase to the parlor followed by the rest of the bleary eyed Barkley family Silas looked on with pride. As Myles walked in carrying a large tray with the cinnamon buns and the silver coffee pot and cups and saucers he noted the tear filled eyes of the older man.
"Everything alright Silas," he questioned.
"Everything be just right, the Barkleys are whole once again," answered Silas as the loving sounds of laughter and happiness filled the Barkley home, and a Barkley son once lost and now found along with newest Barkley family members joined in on the joy of Christmas morning with those they loved.
Epilogue-Two years later
Dr. Gene Barkley and his brother Heath were visiting Berkeley for the dedication of the new men's dormitory for those in the medical studies program. The funds for the building of the dormitory were given by Gene and Emily Barkley to the college.
As Gene and Heath walked across the campus they recalled that special day seventeen years ago that forged their bond as brothers.
"This is a pretty special place for us Big Brother,” said Gene.
Wrapping his arm around Gene's shoulders Heath replied, "Yes that will always be our special day."
After the ceremony the two brothers caught the evening train for Stockton. When they arrived, three hours later, they went to the livery and picked up their horses and headed to the ranch.
They rode out to the eastern edge of the ranch where each brother had constructed their homes. The soon to be mother, Emily, and the new mother, Charlotte, who held the three month old Genevieve Charlene Barkley in her arms, stepped onto the porch of Gene's home.
The brothers greeted their wives with a warm embrace. Then saying their goodnights Heath and Charlotte walked across the yard to their home.
The next morning everyone gathered at the main house for the surprise party to welcome home Nick and his bride, Lydia, back from their honeymoon.
Jarrod and Rachel had traveled from San Francisco to be there along with Carl and Audra Wheeler and their children Donnie and Janet.
Victoria had written to Tommy in St. Louis about Nick's marriage to Lydia and invited him and his family to Stockton. Tommy and his wife Sharon along with their children Nicholas Heath, Jarrod Eugene, and Audra Victoria had made the trip west to join in the celebration.
Later that afternoon, Nick pulled the buggy to a stop in front of the big white mansion that was home and helped Lydia from the carriage. He threw the reins to Ceigo telling him to have one of the men return the buggy to the livery in town. Then scooping his wife up in his arms he opened the door of the big house with his foot and walked into the foyer as the gathered family shouted "Surprise!"
Nick sat Lydia back on her feet and the family began exchanging hugs of congratulations to the newlyweds.
During the boisterous family reunion, Emily had quietly stepped away and was sitting on the settee in the parlor. Charlotte noticed that Emily was no longer in the room and went to see about her.
"Is everything ok Emily?"
"Please go get Gene, I think we will be having another surprise very soon." said Emily.
Heath sent Schad into town to get Dr. Benjamin Albrecht. Dr. Merar had retired a year after Gene and Emily had married turning his practice over to Gene. With the growth of Stockton and his enlarging practice Gene saw the need to bring in another doctor. When the young Dr. Albrecht, who was recently graduated from Berkeley, had sent him a letter of introduction, Gene was delighted to offer the young man a position in his practice.
With shouts of good luck and best wishes, Heath and Charlotte rode with Emily and Gene back to their home.
Heath sat with the nervous Gene as Charlotte helped Dr. Albrecht and Emily. Several hours later Gene and Emily welcomed Henry Heath Barkley into the family.
Three months later Chelsea Hendricks was enjoying the sunny afternoon on the grounds of the Pittsburgh Hospital for the Mentally Insane. As many of the patients greeted visitors, Chelsea walked about the yard telling those she greeted that her son, Adam and daughter in law, Emily, would be visiting soon.
Nurse Theda Groves found Chelsea sitting alone under a shade tree.
"Hello Mrs. Hendricks, how are you today?”
"I am wonderful, my Adam and his wife Emily are coming to visit.”
Offering a smile Nurse Groves said, "I hope so Ms. Hendricks,” she then handed her a three-month-old Stockton Eagle which was turned to the society column she said, "I thought you might enjoy this news about some of your former neighbors in Philadelphia."
Chelsea eagerly grabbed the newspaper and read the columns headline "Dr. Gene Barkley and wife Emily formerly of Philadelphia welcomed son Henry Heath Barkley to their family on May 10th."
Crumpling the paper in her hands, Chelsea let out a hysterical wail.
"Oh my precious Adam how could that evil woman do such a thing to you when you loved her so. I promise my baby, Emily and those Barkleys will pay for what they have done to us."