Always do what you are afraid to do.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

School was over for the day and Elizabeth Thornton was a mess of nerves as she walked down the boardwalk. The only indication of this was the way she wrung her hands together every now and then. Only people who knew her well would be able to spot her true state of mind, for she walked with purpose; head held high, determination written all over her face. She had been wavering between Nathan and Lucas for weeks-months, really-now, having a devil of a time trying to figure out who she had stronger feelings for of the two suitors. It had been an agonizing decision, but with a little help from Rosemary—from their talk a couple of nights ago—she'd finally realized who she envisioned a future with. Now that she knew, she was hopeful and ready to bravely work toward that future. If it wasn't too late...

Nathan Grant sat at his desk in the Hope Valley jail. His guest loved to chatter about anything and everything and it was driving him crazy. He was barely able to concentrate on the report he was working on. Paperwork was the bane of his existence when it came to the Mountie life, but it had to be done. It would just be nice if he could complete it in peace. He couldn't wait for Elias O'Rourke to be out his hair. Tomorrow can't come fast enough, he thought with a sigh.

Trying to ignore the talkative prisoner, Nathan let his mind wander from his task, thinking instead of a beguiling and beautiful school teacher: Elizabeth Thornton. She'd captured his heart not long after he and Allie came to Hope Valley and he yearned for her to feel the same way. It was apparent early on that he had competition from the suave and charming saloon owner Lucas Bouchard. So far Lucas had been first in everything concerning Elizabeth; he'd met her first, caught her interest by providing the building for the library, the first to dance with her at the Founders' Day Festival, given her a bouquet of flowers, asked and taken her out. He was also partially responsible for her achieving a book deal, making her dream of becoming a published writer come true.

Nathan was also highly aware that Lucas was in a position to offer Elizabeth more than he ever could pertaining to fancy dinners or tickets to a reading by a famous author, and so many more things. He knew she wasn't overly concerned with materialistic things of that nature, but what woman wouldn't want to be spoiled like that on many occasions? He was able to provide a comfortable life for himself and Allie, but a trip to an expensive restaurant or theater wasn't feasible very often. Elizabeth deserved the best of everything and Nathan could never compete with Lucas in that aspect.

He sighed, wishing the day was over so that he could go home, change from his red serge and relax, talk over the day with Allie, maybe read after supper, go to bed early. Lately his mind kept going back to how Elizabeth had told him that she'd gone to Union City with Lucas because he'd asked. He could admit that she wasn't wrong, he'd never taken the risk to ask her out yet. Hope had filled his chest when she had said that her outing with Lucas may not have been what it looked like and she hadn't objected when he'd told her she mattered to him. Nathan had finally felt the courage to ask her out when he was at the school viewing Allie's schoolwork, but he'd been cut off when she presented her project about the aquatic food chain. Then this morning in the livery had felt like the perfect opportunity, but that horse kept distracting him and he'd lost his courage, making a swift exit after putting away her saddle for her. He wanted to bang his head on his desk in frustration. He was a Mountie for crying out loud! If he could pursue dangerous criminals without hesitation, surely he could ask a woman he was certain he was in love with out to dinner! Then again, he'd always been more cautious in his personal life than his professional.

A knock on the door of the jail jolted him out of his reverie. He knew it wasn't Bill because he would just barge in, so Nathan had no idea who was on the other side. He called for the person to come in and was surprised to see Elizabeth gliding inside as if she'd been summoned by his thoughts. He was momentarily unable to move or speak, but he quickly regained his wits and manners, standing in courtesy.

"Good afternoon, Nathan," she said with a smile.

"Good afternoon, Elizabeth," he replied politely.

Elizabeth shifted nervously and Nathan felt his own nerves mounting, he could remember very few times she had displayed anxiousness like this without an obvious reason. He was worried he was about to be informed that while she was flattered by his feelings for her, he'd lost her to Lucas. He was resolved to let her go graciously, even though his heart would be shattering into tiny little pieces.

Steeling himself, Nathan asked, "What can I do for you?"

"Could—could we talk?" she asked tentatively.

"Of course." Nathan motioned for her to exit the jail. He wasn't keen on the idea of his prisoner overhear him being 'let down easy.' It would be too embarrassing. Nathan followed Elizabeth and firmly shut the door behind him. He waited for her to initiate the conversation he was dreading.

He saw Elizabeth take a deep breath before she looked him straight in the eye. "Nathan," she began, "I've been thinking a lot over what you said the other night—and—and I'd like to talk about it." She shifted her weight and adorably pushed some hair behind her right ear. "I've asked Rosemary if she'd be willing to watch Little Jack and Allie for us. She said yes, so I'd like you to come to dinner if you're available and if—if you want to, of course."

Nathan felt dinner was a bit excessive to tell him they didn't have a future together, but he figured it would be nice to have dinner alone with Elizabeth at least once. He gave her a small smile and it seemed to relax her because she retuned it. "I'd love to. What time?"

"Six-thirty?" she asked.

"Sounds prefect. Can I bring anything?"

Elizabeth considered for a moment and then said, "A bottle of wine. Whatever you choose is fine." Her cheeks tinged pink at the suggestion. It was a bit confusing, but he didn't feel this was the time to request an explanation. Anyone could walk by them and overhear. He shuddered inwardly if Florence was the someone who happened to hear that part of the conversation without further context. Nathan then cursed his thoughts because none other than Lucas was approaching him and Elizabeth, confidence in every stride.

Lucas stopped before them. "Elizabeth," he said, greeting her with a wide smile. "Nathan," he said, without the smile. Nathan could hear the forced politeness in his tone.

"Lucas," he said, neutrality in his own voice.

Lucas turned back to Elizabeth and spoke to her as if Nathan wasn't there. "I'm sorry to interrupt," I'll bet, Nathan thought sarcastically, "but I thought you should know that I've spoken to Henry about our partnership. It didn't go as well as I'd hoped."

Elizabeth's face fell and Nathan wondered what was going on with Lucas and Henry. He knew things weren't good between the business partners—Bill had warned him there might be trouble since the non-trial, but didn't go into details—but he didn't know to what extent the issue was. It must be pretty bad if Elizabeth's dismay was anything to go by.

"I'm sorry to hear that," she said. "Well, I appreciate you doing what you could."

Lucas frowned for a moment then spoke again. "You know what? You just made a book deal. Instead of being sad we should be celebrating."

"Lucas," she said shaking her head, "I just feel bad for all those oil employees."

"I understand. I do too," Lucas replied.

Nathan felt he should walk away from this conversation, but it was like his feet were rooted to the boardwalk and he couldn't move, even though Lucas clearly wasn't including him in their conversation.

"But life is too short not to appreciate the good things when they happen. Can you meet me tonight? In the library?"

Nathan felt his stomach drop. He was worried Elizabeth was going to cancel their just-made plans to celebrate with Lucas. Or she might invite him to join them and Nathan really wasn't looking forward to that.

"Oh—I—um," Elizabeth stumbled over her words, a rare occurrence. "I already have plans for tonight. Maybe tomorrow?"

Relief infused Nathan's entire body at her words.

It was Lucas's turn for his face to fall in disappointment, his confident smile vanishing. "Of course," he said politely.

Elizabeth turned back to Nathan. "See you tonight?"

Nathan smiled. "I'll be there at six-thirty sharp." Nathan didn't miss the look of disbelief Lucas sent their way.

"Goodbye," Elizabeth said to both men and promptly walked away.

It was petty to feel satisfaction at the sour look Lucas was trying and failing to hide, but Nathan couldn't help it. It felt like he'd won a small victory over the man, just like when he'd pretended Bill wanted to talk to him at the combined bachelor/bachelorette parties and engaged Elizabeth in helping him improve his dart throwing skills. Lucas gave him a curt nod and walked off in the direction of the Queen of Hearts without another word. Nathan re-entered the jail with a large smile and sat down to happily finish his paperwork, feeling light as a feather. The taunting from O'Rourke about his new countenance didn't bother him one bit.


While I dearly love the show, I feel like Elizabeth and Nathan are the ones meant to be together, not her and Lucas. The season 8 moments between Elizabeth and Lucas were too forced in my opinion, which is why I absolutely don't understand how the writers could put them together in the end. This is rated M because it will allude to sex, but with trying to keep to the guidelines for the site, I won't be posting the explicit scenes. I'm also posting this on AO3 (same title and username), so if you want to pop over there to read the full version, I'll make a note when the chapters contain more. This won't be a simple fic, either. There will be some hardships along the way, but it will eventually be a HEA. Also, be warned that this is a WIP and I don't have a set schedule to post, so if a few weeks or more pass between updates, it doesn't mean I'm not continuing. I'm just too busy to write or waiting for inspiration to come to me. I hope you enjoy! :)

Thank you for reading!

If anyone has any questions or wants to chat a little more in-depth about The Time Is Right, you can find me on Discord /teQeRD4E or InstaGram lsquared1501 :)