The stillness of Christmas Eve night was broken by six men quietly entering the milling group of horses in the corral behind the livery. Their horses were quickly caught and tacked up. Grumbling, a man barely visible in his black garb handed his reins over to the man next to him in a buckskin coat and re-entered the corral. Thankfully, the large gray he was after was waiting at the gate, confused that she was not going along with the others.
“Thanks, stud,” A large mustached man grinned at the human shadow that had just finished tacking up his mount.
“You’re late,” Chris growled.
“Miss Millie had a Christmas present for me,” Buck grinned, taking his horse’s reins and swinging into the saddle.
Vin smirked and JD laughed, as Chris gave his oldest friend a final scowl and mounted.
The others were quickly astride their horses and the group headed out into the night.
Vin took the lead as they began a trek up into the mountains.
“Mister Tanner, might I inquire what reason you have for taking me from my soft, warm, feather bed as this unearthly hour?” Ezra asked.
“Got something for all of ya,” Vin replied.
“I hope it’s worth leaving the little party Millie and I were having,” Buck called out to him.
“It is,” Vin assured him.
“What is it?” Nathan asked, curious.
“Something special,” Vin answered.
“I don’t know of anything special up here,” JD told him.
“It’s there, trust me,” Vin called back to him.
Silence descended as the horses picked their way up the trail and into a clearing. In the middle was a pile of wood set up for a fire.
“Got us about a half hour, make yourselves at home,” Vin told them, as he dismounted.
The others followed suit; stripping the horses and leaving them hobbled so they could graze or sleep as they chose, but not wander off.
Vin started a fire and, pulling a pot and coffee out of his saddle bag, began boiling water he had gotten from the creek.
The others pulled the blankets off their saddles, and settled around the fire.
With the coffee brewing, Vin settled onto his own blanket.
“Didn’t want to camp alone?” Chris raised an eyebrow at him.
“It’ll be here soon,” Vin smiled.
Knowing that they weren’t going to get much more out of him, the men settled in with their coffee to wait. Vin had asked them here because he said he had something for them, apparently they would just have to wait.
“There!” Vin pointed to sky.
“A truly spectacular sight,” Ezra commented
“Amen,” Josiah agreed.
“Never seen anything like that,” Nathan said in awe.
“Now, that’s a light show!” Buck exclaimed.
JD said nothing, staring in wonder.
Chris also said nothing, smiling slightly as he laid back to watch the show.
Right on schedule the meteors streaked across the sky, bright yellow and white against the black of the night sky.
“Comes at the same time every year. Knew it’d be easy to see tonight, wanted to show it to ya. Merry Christmas.” Vin told them quietly.
“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” …” Josiah began quietly telling the Christmas story as the men watched the shooting stars.
An hour later, the men headed back home, the mood still quiet and peaceful.
Vin fell in beside Chris. The gunfighter hadn’t said a word all night. The blond was never known as a chatterbox, but he did normally say something.
Chris looked over at Vin.
“Seen something like that before,” Chris told him.
Vin said nothing, knowing that his friend would continue when he was ready.
“Sarah and I got married; had the ranch ready for her. It was two day ride from her dad’s place. We eloped when he was gone overnight. Got married that day, but the first night we had to camp because we were between towns. We laid there watching the shooting stars, still couldn’t believe that we were finally married,” Chris related to him, smiling once more at the memory Vin’s gift had returned to him.
Vin smiled, touched that his friend had shared this special moment from his life.
Dawn was just peeking over the horizon as the group returned to town. Vin grinned to himself as his friends chatted about the wonder he had shared with them. It was a very merry Christmas.
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