REGRETS AND HINDSIGHT (FINAL)
CHAPTER 1 BACHELOR PARTY GAME
A/N As you know this is the rewrite of the original story of Regrets and Hindsight. I appreciate everyone's patience as I felt I had to do this. I'm pretty happy with my rewrite and the direction and focus it has. The code, for the most part, I've eliminated and changed a bit of the original content but it still has the overall feel I think, and hope you do too. You will need to read this story from the beginning and then work you way to the old Chapter 9 the Bill the Intimidator. From there the story will begin to morph a bit.
As always, the characters aren't mine with the except of a few that you will easily recognize. Any similarity to someone else's story is accidental
Nathan had one of the worst days he could think of. The last thing he wanted was to go to the Bachelor Parties for Florence and Ned. He not only had to deal with yet another confrontation with Elizabeth but having his heart crushed again. When would he learn to stop exposing his heart to her? At least now, the whole Fort Clay secret has been revealed and not hanging over his head. She had forced him to disclose it as Bill celebrated before retiring his Serge. The entire town was gathered, and most likely, they all heard their conversation. Then without giving him a chance to say anything else, she runs off crying. Then Elizabeth comes in the office this morning demanding I tell her why I kept it from her. At least this time it was privately, although she stormed off yet again. She has become someone I don't even recognize. The Elizabeth I know wouldn't be running off without giving me a chance to speak. It's downright childish, and I'm starting to lose patience with her. Maybe I should give her space, stop interacting, and avoid opportunities for her to keep trying to bait me.
"I requested to be placed here in Hope Valley. I did it because I felt my duty was to watch over you and little Jack. I had only recently found out that he left behind a wife and son. But then I began to fall in love with you. I fought it at first because it felt like I was dishonoring Jack's memory. But no matter how much I tried I couldn't help myself. I love you, Elizabeth, and I believe love is always worth fighting for."
Then Elizabeth just looked up at Nathan and said, "I didn't ask you to do that."
Then, as usual, she left without giving him any chance to respond. It was beginning to wear on his nerves, and he was starting to think it was time to move on. He knew she was grieving, fighting her feelings, and hearing about Fort Clay had rattled her. It was the only reason he was still willing to hold on. But he was quickly reaching the point of no return and walking away. Maybe there were just too many obstacles for them. He wasn't a stalker, and if she gave him an answer, he would accept it. If Elizabeth truly didn't feel the same way he did, he would have moved on already. But he knew without a doubt that she did return his feelings. He felt that in their kisses by the pond that she herself initiated. It was also evident in the way they looked longingly at each other. There was a powerful pull between them as if they had to be near each other for survival. Everyone noticed that they always had that tendency to gravitate towards one another. Then there are those sparks that fly whenever they touch, like the day in the library. It's frustrating watching her try to force feelings for Lucas. In fact, the more she tried forcing it she began changing into someone he didn't recognize. This current Elizabeth was not someone he would be able to see in his life. The difference between the Elizabeth he knew and this current one was like night and day.
He appreciated Rosemary trying to give him advice about her. While he wasn't ready to give up, he would have to keep it in the back of his mind. He felt raw now from all the confrontations they had had lately. He needed to step back and not make decisions right then. She even blamed him for Allie altering her guest list to just the two of them. Because it was Ned and Florence, he decided to go to the party anyway because he was genuinely happy for them. When he got there, some men were already waiting at the table. Knowing that Lucas and Elizabeth would be together, he needed a drink. Joseph asked if he was ok, but he didn't want to talk about it. So, he just said it had been that kind of day. Maybe later, he might open up to Joseph and get some advice. He had heard that others had gone to him and felt better after. At this point, God was the only one who could really fix this. He knew Elizabeth was trying to reconcile her grief and let go of Jack. Inside she was hurting and fighting her feelings. But she is lashing out at the people close to her and hurting Allie. It has gotten so bad that Allie doesn't feel comfortable being alone with her. Maybe he and Allie needed to go away for a few days.
As always happens later, the bachelor and bachelorette parties are ultimately combined. The ladies just know how to have a good time. The men always sucked at planning them, and it was always playing poker. The women's party games were always more fun and planned much better thanks to Rosemary and Fiona. Nathan needed some air and a break from seeing Lucas and Elizabeth together. It hurt so much to see them knowing how she felt about him. To those who knew her, you could see her smile didn't reflect in her eyes. He couldn't wait for the party to end so he could leave and go home. Maybe he could sneak out and do a small walk around to town checking on things.
When he came back in, he heard Fiona telling the men to change places. Nathan just went over and stood with the rest of the men. Then he noticed that Elizabeth was blindfolded, and Fiona was placing her hands on the men's one by one. He wasn't sure what was going on, but he somehow knew it would not end well for him. Suddenly after looking over at Lucas, he really wished he had gone home. Lucas confidently stood next to Nathan because he knew she would know his hands from Nathan's. Especially since they had held hands several times over the past few weeks. Then Nathan realized that Elizabeth had to go by touch to find who she belonged with. Nathan wished the floor could swallow him up at that moment. His heart began to beat fast the closer she came. Lucas looked over at Nathan, who appeared to want to be anywhere but in line.
Lucas could not help but smile as he waited for Elizabeth to get to him. He had heard Nathan tell Joseph earlier "it was that kind of day." He knew Nathan didn't know what the game was when he lined up. Elizabeth didn't know Nathan had returned either. He watched as Fiona put her hands in Nathan's and his hands closed around hers. Nathan stood there holding her hands and waiting for her to move to Lucas. He wished they were anywhere but in front of the town. Nathan could only look at the woman he loved more than anyone, except Allie and his mother, and braced himself for her move to Lucas.
But he couldn't help the feelings that swept over him as he looked at her. He felt a familiar sensation go through him at her touch. Nathan knew that she felt it too, even when it was accidental. Her touch felt like coming home, and sparks flew when they were near each other. He couldn't believe it when she just stood there struggling to decide if it was Lucas or not.
A sliver of hope began to form in Nathan's heart as she struggled with the decision. Only to have them dashed when she said Lucas before taking off her blindfold. 'I don't know how to process what just happened? all three thought simultaneously. You could hear the shock from the other participants. Everyone knew she rejected Nathan and knew she was courting Lucas. But they also had known even if she refused to admit her heart was Nathan's.
Elizabeth could do nothing but just look between them, mortified and confused. 'How did I mistake Nathan's touch for Lucas when I have held hands with Lucas for a few weeks now went through her mind. She also could not stop thinking about how his touch felt like coming home and the sensation that went through her. She should have guessed since it was the same feeling that day in the library. In fact, the sparks fly even when they accidentally touch.
Her eyes locked with Nathan at that moment, and she removed the blindfold. Suddenly everyone quieted, and they watched what would happen next. She couldn't help feeling her heart respond to the warm, loving look in Nathan's eyes. Especially when it also brought up the memory of those beautiful, passionate kisses by the pond. But then she remembered Lucas and had to look away, breaking the connection regretfully. Looking over at Lucas, she could see his disbelief and disapproval because his lips were drawn into a straight line. How was she going to explain this away, and what did it mean? She could see the longing in Nathan's eyes and knew she felt that too. She desperately wanted to take the risk, but something was holding her back. If she lost Nathan the way she lost Jack, she wouldn't recover. Then there was little Jack to consider. She didn't want to risk him losing another father. Because he would know Nathan and have a relationship, she couldn't risk him going through what she had with his father's death. 'I'm just going to have to try harder with Lucas and put in more effort.' Elizabeth thought.
But the memory of when she ran her fingers through Nathan's hair and those kisses unwillingly returned. She found herself desperately craving those even now. The look in his eyes made her always feel cherished. Nathan decided he had enough for the night and decided to go home. He could slip out while everyone else was busy watching the next person. As he walked to the jail to lock up, Nathan reflected on the game that the women would know the one they are meant to be with by touch alone. She would know by holding the men's hand, which was meant for her. Then he thought about how she not only had his hands but lingered for a few minutes. He knew she felt the same spark and feeling of home as he did. It happens every time they touch, even accidentally. There is no way that Lucas' hands are rough and calloused like his. He doesn't do anything that would make them that way. When Lucas handed him a beer at the saloon, Nathan had looked at them once. Maybe what he thought was a smirk may have been something else. Nathan smiled at the idea that he might not need to be embarrassed. It was kind of funny because they have been courting and holding hands for a few weeks now. He knew without a doubt that if things were reversed, he would be able to pick Elizabeth's. He would undoubtedly know the difference between her touch and another. She may have said Lucas before removing her blindfold, but she had to know the hands were his. It was kind of telling as he thought more about it and gave even more credibility to what he knew. Then he thought of the kisses by the pond the day he told her he loved her. Then her revelation that she had only kissed two men in her life and asked if he could guess who they were. Nathan was 99 % sure that both men wore a red serge. 'There's no way she thought my hands were Lucas' because of how she had looked at me afterward,' he thought as he went to lock up. For once, he was glad that Allie was at a sleepover at Opal's. He just wasn't up to an inquisition and needed to do some woodworking to keep his mind busy. He was so deep in thought he didn't hear Bill come up beside him. Bill asked him over to talk, and he knew that was what he needed at that moment. He was so grateful to have a friend like Bill. He had become like an older brother to Nathan and often gave great advice with perfect clarity.
Elizabeth, Rosemary, and Lee helped with cleaning up before heading home. She knew Lucas wanted to talk about what happened but wasn't ready. When she saw Lee and Rosemary preparing to leave, she grabbed her coat and followed them out while he was occupied. They all were worried about Elizabeth because she was acting like a different person. She has been lashing out at those closest to her, especially Nathan, who has borne the brunt of it but Rosie and Ally. He wished Abigail was in Hope Valley because she could probably get her to listen. The longer she tried forcing feelings for Lucas, the worse she got. It didn't escape his notice that she left before Lucas could speak to her about the game. Maybe he and Rosie needed to talk with Bill and compare notes before it was too late. Nathan has been patient and respected her space. But a man can only take so much heartache for himself and his daughter.