"Honestly, Elizabeth," Rosemary spoke hurriedly. "You would not believe how much the town is talking about the happenings of today."
Elizabeth turned a shade of pink. It didn't surprise her that the town was buzzing in excitement. After all, there was a hold up of the jail wagon, a Mountie was dead…..and then there was her very public display of something towards Nathan.
Watching Elizabeth intently, Rosemary slowed down—something that Rosemary Coulter never really did. Time to discuss town gossip and rumblings could wait. Right now, she needed to step into her role of friend and confidante to Elizabeth Thornton.
The two women had been through a lot. Their friendship didn't start off the greatest. Rosemary had come to Hope Valley, then called Coal Valley, with the intent to win back Constable Jack Thornton. Only he had eyes for Elizabeth and Rosemary fell in love with Lee Coulter, a new arrival in town building a sawmill. It all worked out for the best—both had married their loves and a friendship had blossomed.
But then, Jack Thornton died in the line of duty. Rosemary had been saddened on two fronts. One was for her own loss and the other for Elizabeth. To lose a husband after only eleven days of marriage! It had been close to three years since that day and so much had happened.
Elizabeth had not one, but two men, in her life. There was Lucas Bouchard, the saloon owner and then there was Constable Nathan Grant, the Mountie sent to replace Jack. Both appeared to have feelings for Elizabeth, although Lucas's were definitely more overt and obvious. Rosemary wasn't sure where Elizabeth's heart had stood—indeed it looked like it went back and forth like a weathervane—until today.
"Elizabeth," Rosemary led Elizabeth to the settee. "Are you alright? Today was a bit of a whirlwind and fraught with emotion."
Elizabeth smiled, "I'm alright, Rosemary."
Rosemary prodded further. "I heard about the hug."
Once more, Elizabeth continued to turn red. "I'm sure everyone heard about the hug. It wasn't the most discrete action in the world. Fiona saw it I know. So did Bill."
"And so did Lucas."
Elizabeth stopped. "He did?"
Rosemary nodded. "Apparently he did and he had quite the puppy dog face or so Florence said."
Elizabeth sighed. "What am I to do Rosemary?"
"I can't answer that for you, Elizabeth" Rosemary reached out and held her friend's hand. "Only you can. What is your heart telling you?"
Elizabeth sat in silence. What was her heart telling her?
When she had first arrived in Hope Valley, and had fallen in love with Jack, everything had seemed already decided. After his tour in the Northern Territories, it was just the two of them planning the future. A beautiful house with room for the whole Thornton clan. After five years of growth and waiting, they had had a gorgeous wedding. Discovering Jack had been killed and that she was pregnant in a span of a short time had been a lot to take in. Baby Jack was a living reminder of a beautiful season of her life. She would always be grateful to God for her son.
She hadn't expected feelings for another man to stir. Let alone so quickly. And let alone with two men. Lucas supported her writing, her dreams of being an author. He had even built the town a library for goodness sake! He went out of his way to provide culture to the town.
Then there was Nathan Grant. It had taken a lot for her to cross the threshold of the jail and introduce herself to him. So many memories of Jack were tied into that building. But Nathan was his own man. He was raising his niece, Ally and how she had blossomed at Hope Valley! He had even turned down a promotion so they could stay in Hope Valley. It wasn't solely for Ally. Elizabeth had known that then. And she knew that now. In the last year, Nathan hadn't come out and shared emotions too much. But she did know she mattered to him. He said she was special. He cared about if she lived or died as evident with their "fight" in the woods.
Just yesterday she had had a not date with Lucas, everything from candles to champagne. It had been a nice evening. And then today, just before taking the prisoners out on transport, Nathan had asked her to dinner at the Café. That felt like a date. But before she had time to answer, the transport had arrived. Next thing she knew, she was in Yost's Mercantile, hearing that Nathan had been shot.
Elizabeth rushed out and heard the words "He's gone."…
Elizabeth turned to face Rosemary. "When I heard that Nathan was shot…" She paused. "I was hit with the thought that I would never see him again. And it grieved my heart."
"It wasn't because I was having flashbacks to Jack and hearing news of his death. In that moment, when I thought Nathan was gone, I was thinking of him, of us. Of knowing that there is something between us. I thought of how he's an incredible father figure to Ally and how Baby Jack absolutely adores him. I thought of the Christmas we spent together trimming the tree and this unspoken connection between us. The man who made the plaque for the library, the man who is willing to talk to Robert about being a Mountie, the man who Bill has taken a liking to, and the man who confuses me and makes me smile and makes me feel things I haven't felt in a long time…"
Rosemary smiled. "What about Lucas?"
"Lucas is sweet and caring. He reminds me of my past and my past desires, desires I had put on hold for a long time. He's helping my book come to be. But I have only ever thought of Lucas as a friend. A good friend. And his gestures make me feel special. He's like Jack in that way. He has a romantic side to him."
Elizabeth closed her eyes. Everything had been building to this moment. It wasn't fair to either man to give false hope of a future. In that moment, Elizabeth knew what her decision was. And probably always had been.
"It's him, Rosemary. It's always been him."
"I know, Elizabeth," Rosemary smiles knowingly. "Question is…..does he?"