Hope Love Letters

Authors note:
First, I want to apologize for all misspelling and all grammar wrongs in this note- the chapter is corrected. Cinda did not see this note -yet.
But here is my very very special THANK YOU to CINDA JUSTICE, who is so patient with me and my ever so lousy English. I believe it is more than challenging for her sometimes. 1000-time thank you my friend!
And I want to say THANK YOU to all the people helping me to become better and encouraging me to proceed writing. It is not easy for me, and I am honestly more than impressed how fast you all are able to post next chapters. I am obviously very slow. So, please excuse my slowness.
Thanks to my husband, Stefan, who has to discuss everything with me while having breakfast and he did not even watch the show!
And I want to say THANK YOU to all of you who leave reviews. I read them with an anxious heart, always unsure if I got right what I wanted to tell. But your reviews help me to see and understand what I actually did write. There is always so much in my head that I am unsure I got it right.


Hope Valley
"Ma Cherie, do you want another cup of tea?" asked a little annoyed Lucas.
This afternoon tea was not at all what he wanted it to be.
Elizabeth was still busy helping Jack to eat his strawberry cake without spreading strawberries and cream all over his shirt and the table, which was covered with an elegant white tablecloth. It was not easy for the boy as there was no highchair for him to sit properly at the table and eat by himself.
The three of them were situated in Lucas' office, where he had tried to create a romantic scenery. A small table, two chairs, sitting so close together, to be able to feed each other. That was the scenario he had planned for today. But Elizabeth brought Jack with her and that destroyed all of his plans.
Elizabeth looked thankful in his direction and nodded. She barely had the opportunity to eat a piece of this delicious looking and smelling cake for herself. She was happy to be able to sip her tea, while helping Jack finish his second slice. Her son was already signaling that a third piece was on his mind as he lifted his arm and pointed towards the cake. It felt like he was inhaling it.
Lucas already had been forced to change his plans as the sunshine turned into heavy rain earlier this afternoon, and the romantic picnic he had planned was nothing to think about anymore. And now this.
How could he create romance if The Boy was with her?
Elizabeth looked at her son, smiled and asked him if he now was stuffed with cake and maybe wanted to play a little with the toys, he brought with him.
But no, the cake was too good to stop eating until it reached the top of his little, but bigger getting belly. The three-year-old needed to take advantage of this situation and eat as much as he could. Usually, his mom was not so generous with cakes, so he stretched his arm towards the cake and said: "Mama, I want more," with pleading eyes, and then added "Pease!"
With a sigh Elizabeth took a third portion for her son, smiled at Lucas, and whispered, "I am sorry."
However Jack did not lose his appetite with this third piece either. His mouth was red from the juicy strawberries and a little bit of cream topped his nose while he ate his cake with great appetite.
Elizabeth wanted so badly that Jack would show his best side today and she couldn't say he was misbehaving but it was not how she would have liked it to have been. But in her eyes, it was so adorable, when he was eating with so much enthusiasm the cake Gustave baked for them.
However, this third portion was eventually his last for today, because suddenly the small boy started to look a little pale and Elizabeth had a motherly premonition what was going to happen.
"Lucas, quick! I think we are going to need a bucket. This young man's eyes have obviously been much bigger than his stomach", she said.
'Oh no, that too?', was all Lucas could think before the three-year-old child started to vomit and all three portions of Gustave's delicious cake made their way up and, onto the table, again.
Elizabeth wanted to sink into the ground! That was just too embarrassing.
She couldn't find a babysitter this afternoon. Everybody seemed to be too busy. She also knew that she and Lucas had to adapt, that they had to include her son into their relationship at some point. She just didn't want her son to cry for more cake today and have a smaller fight with him here in Lucas' presence. But now, everything that could go wrong went wrong, and the beginning bond between these two had to wait.
The mortified mother wanted to go home with her son, clean him up and try to calm his stomach.
"Lucas, I am so sorry. Really, I am so sorry, but would you mind, to get your car and give us a lift home?" she asked him, ashamed and pitiful at the same time.
"Absolutely, ma Cherie. Await me at the back side of the saloon, please," the frustrated but very polite suiter replied and left the room.
Elizabeth gathered their belongings and her, still very pale son, to go to the backside of the building.
Lucas was already awaiting there, the motor of his car was running, and he had placed a bucket on the backseat, just in case The Boy would need one again.
It wasn't long, until the car stopped in front of the Thornton house and mother and son climbed out.
Elizabeth seemed to want to go quickly inside but Lucas stopped her, drew her close and kissed her. Then he whispered into her ear:" Next time I hope we have more time for just us.", and kissed her again, this time more deeply while Jack was staring at them, holding his mother's hand.
"Mama, I- Mama I feel-Mama-," was all he could say. Elizabeth then cut their kiss short, turned her attention towards her son, took him up into her arms, said a quick goodbye to Lucas, and disappeared into the house.
Lucas put his hands into his pockets and shrugged his shoulders in frustration before he got back into his car. 'This was not at all how I wanted it to be. And now I even have to clean up the mess The Boy created in my office,' were his thoughts.
Back in her home Elizabeth took care of her son. She cleaned him up and changed him into his pajamas. Then she gave the little man with a too big appetite for strawberry cake, a cup of chamomile tea to sooth his stomach and let him play with some toys.
She sat herself on the settee, breathed deeply, and tried to think over her day so far.
Again she had not slept well. Again, and again Nathan's words from his letters came to the surface and made themselves heard while she tried to sleep. And again, she heard the line that gave her a headache over and over again, like a cacophony of how he loved her, that he left-her.

She reflected about how her day started, and that was not bad at all. Actually, it was a nice start into the day.

Short after Elizabeth and Jack came down in the morning, they could hear a knock from the door. Jack was curious who this could be and ran to the door, impatiently waiting for his mama to open it.
When Elizabeth arrived at the door, she asked her son who this could be this early. Jack shrugged his shoulders and said with a serious expression on his face:" Don't know mama."
When the two of them opened the door, they saw who was standing in front of them. Rosemary. She was still concerned about her friend's wellbeing and wanted to check on her. The welcomed guest was carrying a basket, that spread a seductive smell of cardamon and oranges.
"Good morning my dear! I thought we could have a cup of tea and a little breakfast together. Lee already went to the mill, some bigger loading is going on today and he wanted to be there in time," she said with a bright smile on her face. She stormed into the house and found her way into the kitchen. There she filled the kettle, put it on the stove, and looked for a plate for the muffins.
Then she turned around, looked at Jack, opened her arms, laughed at him, and asked him if he wanted to say good morning to her. Jack came running as fast as the wind into her arms, a happy smile on his lips and hugged her tightly.
That moment of lightness when Rosemary came into her house made Elizabeth smile. And she smiled even more when she saw with how much joy and delight her son had running towards her friend.
Elizabeth's mind was heavy and tired, and she still felt the restlessness of the night inside her. The words of Nathan's letters were moving inside her head and heart and somehow it made her feel aggravated. But she didn't want to think of Him.
She chose Lucas, there was nothing, nothing, no reason why she should feel bad or wrong about it.
But she did. She was hurt. She did not understand why, but she was. Elizabeth felt that something was not right anymore.
She pushed these thoughts away, followed her son and Rosemary into the kitchen and began to set the table for the small breakfast they would share.
It was endearing how Rosemary interacted with the little boy and included Jack in how to brew tea the and place the muffins on the plate. Jack had fun helping with the big and important things, which smaller children could not do yet, but in his mind, he was already a big boy now. After breakfast, Jack went to play with some toys and left his mom and his auntie for a boring conversation alone.
Rosemary breathed loudly, looked first at Elizabeth then into her cup of tea before she started: "Elizabeth it is now a couple of days since you got that box with letters from Nathan and if I may say you don't look as well as you usually do. You look tired. I wonder what is going on with you and what are you going to do with those letters?"
Elizabeth had unconsciously feared that this question would come up and started to study her cup of tea thoroughly as well. After some silent moments that felt like an eternity she said quietly and sadly: "I still don't understand why he left. I thought we were friends, and you tell friends major changes in your life, right? Confide in them in your decisions? He did not come to me or talk to me as he did before. How could Allie even stay silent? How long did they know that they were leaving me- ah, us? No, I am not well, I feel left out. I am hurt!"
Rosemary looked at her in disbelief, then she responded with a soft voice: "Elizabeth, he told you in his letter why he left. He loves you and cannot live with a broken heart that cannot heal. This man was always gentle with you. Everybody could see where his heart was. And who was in his heart. Would you care to tell me what happened between the two of you last autumn? Because something must have happened, there was a visible change in Nathan's behavior. And if I may add, you seem to be the only one he said good bye to."
Elizabeth shook her head but then started to talk: "He told me about Fort Clay, he confessed again that he had fallen in love with me, that he believes love is always worth fighting for."
"What was Fort Clay about?" asked her friend carefully, and Elizabeth told her everything she knew about it and that she also said that there is no guilt to carry around with him as it was not his fault.
"Elizabeth, there must be more…" Rosemary added.
Finally Elizabeth told Rosemary everything that she had said to Nathan, when she told him that she loved him but was not in love with him and that she was looking for Jack in him.
Rosemary stayed silent, looked at her friend and did not know what to say. And how could she? There was nothing she could say about those words she just heard. The usually talkative friend didn't know what to say or do. She just stood up and went to Jack who played with a Mountie while he ran through the living room imitating chasing some criminals.
"Jack, who is chasing those criminals? And what have they done?" Rosemary asked him. Jack answered. "The Mounties! It's my dad and Mountie Nathan, but I have only one Mountie." the little man replied with a little regret. "And what have the criminals done?" asked Rosemary." They stole all the cattle from the farm" was all Jack said and returned to chasing the cattle rustlers.
Rosemary came back to the table, sat down, took her cup of tea, and looked at her friend directly into the eyes, still saying not a word. Then she sighed and asked Elizabeth what she thought she was going to do with this wonderful box and the letters.
This time it was on Elizabeth to sigh and to look at her best friend. "Honestly, I don't know. It is all I have left from Nathan. The box is the most wonderful piece of work I've ever seen. - And- I have to confess I already read two of the letters. Don't say anything, I know I shouldn't. I just couldn't resist. I wanted to know-I-", she said meekly.
Rosemary raised one eyebrow but stayed silent. Elizabeth continued: "I just don't understand why he left without telling me, without saying goodbye. He must know how much that would hurt me."
After these words, Rosemary jumped up and said: "Oh it is late, I must go, Dear. I have to write a newspaper and an article that we are without a Mountie now, although I believe everybody already knows. Words spread fast.", then she turned to Jack and asked for a goodbye. Jack lifted his head, nodded, murmured something like bye and returned to his very important conversation between Mounties and cattle rustlers as the Mounties had already arrested the criminals.
After Rosemary had left her, Elizabeth started to check what she was going to need for the next few days to cook and wrote a list for the mercantile.
An hour later she and Jack were on their way into town. It seemed to be a warm, clear, and bright day. The air shimmered in the heat of the day, birds were chirping, and butterflies were dancing around them. Jack stopped quite often, so many adventures to discover today.
Elizabeth felt somehow uncomfortable. She felt all the glances people furtively threw at her. 'Surely, they just wonder if I would know more about Nathan's departure. It was no secret that we are friends. They want to know more but don't dare to ask,' were her thoughts, so she started to think about the tea-date she was going to have with Lucas this afternoon. He always made them special. What would it be this time? She wondered and started to think about who she could ask to watch Jack.
When mother and son finally arrived in town and had done all their shopping, she asked around who would be able to watch her little sunshine, but she could not find anyone who was available. 'Well, then Jack will follow with me. Maybe this is a good start. Lucas and Jack just have to know each other better. Nathan never had…. no, no, no. No thoughts about Nathan.' Went through her mind and she felt the headache becoming louder again.

But now after their tea date, Elizabeth realized, that the tea-date had not gone well at all.
Jack fell asleep on his blanket on the floor, next to her feet in front of the settee. Maybe she should wait a little more before she should include Jack into her relationship with Lucas. Lucas does not have any experience with smaller children. They should start slowly. Were her thoughts.
But right now, she needed to rest a little too, she felt exhausted. "I will close my eyes just for a minute or so."
The headache was becoming worse and louder again. She closed her eyes, just a little moment. Just to silence the headache.
Elizabeth woke up. Jack shook her awake. "Mama, mama I hungry.", he said with a serious expression on his face and a very loud rumble from his little belly.
"Oh boy, then we should make you something to eat. What do think about pancakes tonight?" she asked her son with a big smile on her face and placed a kiss on his cheek. Although she did not feel rested at all.
"Can I have strawberries too mom?", he asked. Elizabeth swallowed and said, "Well Jack, I think you've had enough strawberries for one day. What do you think about apple and cinnamon?" she returned. "Hm, okay, I think," her son agreed.
After having dinner, Jack played a little more before he had to go upstairs and go to bed. Elizabeth sat by his side and read a story to him until he was sleeping deeply. He looked so peaceful, and a small smile was on his lips. 'What was he dreaming?', his mother wondered.
Elizabeth went downstairs, looking for the book she wanted to read, Oscar Wilde, 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'. She had heard quite a lot about it and was curious. She started reading but couldn't concentrate. Her thoughts returned to her day.
The breakfast with Rosemary. She never told anyone about her conversation with Nathan last autumn. Why did she tell Rosemary today? There was nothing wrong that she put an end to this situation after she decided to love Lucas. Love is a decision, right? Not a matter of what was in someone's heart. You can put someone in your heart, right? She tried the simple life and happiness with Jack, and it failed her. It had taken Jack from her. Now she was going to let herself be in a relationship with Lucas who will spoil her in every possible way and will not be taken away by accidents.
This man shows her so clearly how much he desires her. That he plans such magnificent dates for her is truly showing his deep affection for her. No, she made the right decision. Nathan could not provide her with such attention, such safety, and spoil her that way. But then she remembered how the Mountie, the father, the man made her feel. She couldn't breathe for a short moment. 'No, it is not right to think and feel that way- about HIM!'
I have to concentrate on Lucas. I have to make up for the disastrous afternoon tea-date today. Maybe we should have dinner tomorrow. I surely will find someone for tomorrow night to watch Jack. Laura should be back by tomorrow evening.
And she started to think about what dress she could wear and what Lucas would ask Gustave to cook for them, where they would have their dinner, if he would have any surprises for her and and and…
Elizabeth tried so hard to think of Lucas and their future and she did really everything she could do not to think about a very special box in her living room.
She tried again to read her book, but the words did not make it any further than to her eyes. It was like she was reading mechanically but not understanding the meaning of it. So reading was not that distracting enough to ignore the box and the soft voice that she could hear from it calling for her.
She went to her desk, journaling, yes, that is what she could do, should do, but even here the words refused to come to her. No words were written on paper as her hand was blocked by the words she heard coming from that box.
She decided to do something mechanically-dusting. Yes, dusting is good. I haven't dusted my bookshelves for quite a while,' thought Elizabeth.
She got everything she needed and started to take out all her books from one board, cleaned it and returned the books after a thorough acquaintance with the dust cloths. But then, suddenly, she realized what book she held in her hand. Emerson. And suddenly she could not stay away anymore. She found herself in front of the letter filled box, opened it and took out the next letter. Fighting with herself and losing this battle, she greedily starting to read HIS letter like a medicine after an awful day with headache.

My dearest Elizabeth!

Yes, I dare. I dare to call you my dearest Elizabeth because you are. You are "my dearest" in my heart. You are My Elizabeth.
Yesterday I still was uncertain if I may address you that way, but this is how I feel, and this cannot be wrong. Love cannot be wrong. To love you cannot be wrong. I know such a strong and powerful word, so early, but it is love that I feel. Now I said it, now it is spoken, I cannot take it back. Love.
No, I haven't forgotten that we still have to have that talk. And I haven't forgotten that I still can lose you before you even open your heart to me.
Forgive me, for being so bold, but I just have to tell you what I feel. In one way or the other it has to be expressed, as I cannot say or show you anything yet. I will tell you here in my letters instead. Here, I will not let myself be stopped by hesitancy and I will freely tell you how I feel for you.
I must tell you, as I would otherwise, just explode because of the pure intensity of my feelings. Or I would do something so stupid and declare myself before you are ready to open your heart to me. We need time and I will give us the time we need to let us find each other. It will not be easy for me, but I will be patient. I will wait for the right time.
Allie has decided, again, to follow the wrong path to find her place here, in this school, and among the other children. Maybe she thinks impressing, showing off, being the cool one is a good way for an entrance, but I think she understands now that she took the wrong turn. If you could only see her like I see her at home with me, she is just wonderful the way she is.
We did not have a normal or steady life and I know I should have provided that for her, but after all, I am a Mountie too and we have to accept that as well. I tried to do my best, caring for her, loving her.
Winning someone's heart, opening her own up to others, letting others in, means a lot of pain when leaving those people behind- again. Allie guards her heart. Who can blame her for being cautious? Or without orientation sometimes about what is the right thing to do
when it is about growing roots and building friendship?
Allie has already lost so many people in her life. Not only her mother, but she also lost her dad- just differently. She lost being with her grandmother too, as we cannot live with my mother, and my father hasn't been a part of our lives for a long time. Not to mention the grandparents from her father's side, they've never shown any interest in her.
We, Allie and I are all we have, and we are not used to staying long at one place and making a lot of friends or even close friends.
When we came to Hope Valley, I did not expect the deep impact it would make- you would make on me, and I see Allie is fighting not to lose her heart, not to come too close to anyone. She just tries not to get her heart broken when we have to leave once again. No dreams that could be crashed.
But today in school, I saw you seeing and understanding her. And then suddenly, I understood you could feel with her as you understood her pain and fear for a broken heart, for being left behind and having to lose people who matter to you. For a short moment you opened a window to your heart and your soul, and I could see who you really are.
I saw in that short moment your true self. And if I would not have already fallen for you I would have then.
I saw beauty, kindness, compassion, tenderness, love -a lot of love, understanding, but I also saw pain, hurt, grief, longing and loneliness.
Elizabeth I would do anything to take that painful part of yours away from you, but I can't. I just can hope, you let me find a place in your heart one day. Let me fill it with love and tenderness, gentleness, yes, passion as well, but also with sharing, laughter, joy and happiness.
When I saw you in that moment it became clear to me that that is what I want. I just never knew I wanted it. Now, I will dream about it as long as we have to go that road to finally be together. Finally, to show and live what we feel and mean to each other. I just know there has to be an us. I will wait patiently but will be there and try to let you see me too. Try to show you who I am. I am not good with opening up to people either, but I will try. I will try because I know this is what you need to let your heart find mine when the time is right.
You gave Allie a book today, an Emerson book. We love Emerson, but this is one we haven't read yet. She was already reading it today, while sitting all afternoon on the back porch. She was so deep in the book, she barely answered when I asked her to come in for dinner.
You love Emerson, poetry? I am not surprised that you find beauty in poetry. A heart of yours is surely touched by beautiful words and their melody. Poems, for me, always have a melody that let our hearts sing while reading.
You gave us some poetry today, so let me give a poem to you too. It is written by a German poet. I found his book by accident in a bookshop some years ago. This is one of those I like most- now.

Love Song
How shall I keep my soul
from touching yours? How shall I
lift it up beyond you to other things?
Ah, I would gladly hide it
in darkness with something lost
in some silent foreign place
that doesn't tremble when you deep stir.
Yet, what ever touches you and me
blends us together the way a bow's stroke
draws one voice from two strings.
Across what instrument are we stretched taunt?
and what player holds us in his hand?
O sweet song. (1)

I end for tonight, it is late.
Soon I will close my eyes, and it is then that your sweet face appears in front of my inner eyes and so it is also you who I see as the last of this day and who leads me into Morpheus' realm.
Good night, my dearest Elizabeth.
with all my heart

(*1) Poem of Rainer Maria Rilke, "Love Song," 1918, Public Domain