A/N Thank you for your patience, and I hope that I may be able to post weekly from here on out, or at least that is my goal. I'm still not 100%, and I am trying to bring a few of my others to completion, which will allow me to focus more on this one and a few others. Because of a bad fall, I had a few weeks ago, I may have torn my rotator cuff, so that may cause a delay. But for now, enjoy this chapter, and I will promise to try and consistently post regularly. But I promise that I will NOT abandon a story and leave it unfinished.


The morning was spent making logistical plans of what needed to be done before Nathan and Elizabeth returned to Hope Valley and housing for the others. Since most of the Nexxus Corporation had been captured, the Coulters were going home at lunchtime to prepare. Bill would travel back on the afternoon train depending on how the meeting with Lucas went. Gabe, Tom, Charlotte, and the children would be leaving on the afternoon train the next day since Gabe and Nathan had an early meeting at HQ concerning their promotions. It was decided that Nathan and Elizabeth would wait three more days before returning to ensure she was fully rested and that everything was ready for their arrival. Since even the thought of the train triggered an extreme response in Elizabeth, Matthew would drive them to Hope Valley with Elizabeth being sedated for the trip.

There was a sense of relief at being able to come home, but there were constant reminders that all was not well. Elizabeth woke up screaming after having a horrible nightmare about still being locked up with the others. It would alternate with being taken from the train, knowing that her son was still on it, not sure she would ever see him again. Charlotte and Tom couldn't get the memory of having to watch Spurlock beat Elizabeth. Even Nathan still recalled the photos from the scene and had his own mental picture of what happened. Matthew assured them that, in time, they would regain a sense of normalcy again as they faced what happened and allowed the healing to begin.


Nathan sat at the table in civilian clothes with his hands arranged to hide his wedding band. Bill was sitting next to him, fiddling with his papers, trying to look official and that they would entertain a plea.

"You ready?" Bill asked.

"As ready as I'll ever be, I suppose," Nathan said with a lack of enthusiasm.

"Well, if you feel like you're going to lose it, you need to get up and leave. All of us will understand, although Lucas will be ecstatic."

Nathan scoffed. "Trust me; I'm not about to do Lucas any favors or give him the satisfaction."

Before long, the door opened, and Lucas was escorted in by Patrick and another Mountie, handcuffed and shackled. He was accompanied by another short, stocky man in a business suit, presumably his attorney.

After ensuring he was secured safely in the chair, Patrick moved to the other side of the table, sitting on the other side of Nathan.

"Well! Well! Well! If it isn't Saint Nathan," Lucas sneered. "I'm surprised you're not in uniform. What did they figure out how inept you are?"

"Kind of surprised to see you here, Bill. But then I guess he needs someone to hold his hand." He pretended to cry and wiped his eyes, mocking Nathan.

"I'm here because word has it you want to make a deal. I have been hired by William Thatcher, the Grants, and the Thorntons to represent the family."

"I'm Phillip Thomas, Mr. Bouchard's attorney, and I'll be representing his interests in this negotiation."

"You know I was so sorry about Elizabeth. You can't win them all. But hopefully…." Lucas sneered.

Nathan's jaw clenched, but his features stayed neutral, not giving anything away. Only the two gentlemen beside him knew how tense he was.

Sensing the awkwardness in the room, Phillip jumped in and said, "Now, gentlemen, we understand…"

Not getting the rise from Nathan he had wanted, he lashed out. "Why is he here, anyhow? The great Judge Avery needs backup from a second-rate Mountie?" Lucas sneered.

"Did you forget you requested this meeting?" Nathan said, "Don't tell me you are getting forgetful? I also couldn't help noticing that you speak as if Elizabeth is dead. Did you think that you killed her?" Nathan said cocking his head.

"Don't answer that, Mr. Bouchard," his lawyer said, but Lucas ignored him.

"Are you saying she survived? How is that possible? How is she?"

Nathan uncovered his left hand and said, "My wife is alive and well." He held up his hand and pointed to his wedding band for emphasis. "Although from what I hear, you should be more concerned with your own wife."

"That's impossible because we checked," Lucas growled.

"On whether she was alive or that we were married?" Nathan smirked. "Because I can assure you that both are true. I woke up with her in my arms this morning. Maybe your contact should have checked for Elizabeth Grant. Not that you have many of them left that are free."

Patrick cleared his throat. "You should know that the Dixons and Andrew Hargraves are also in custody, Bouchard," Patrick said. "Furthermore, you should be on notice that Nathan represents Elizabeth's and Jack's interests, and the family and victims are not amenable to any leniency being extended to any of you. Of course, their representative wholeheartedly agrees. Based on all the evidence we have against you, your wife, your father, and the others will ensure that you will never see the light of day again."

Lucas growled, stood up, and moved as if trying to get to Nathan but forgot he was shackled. The Mountie that stood guard rushed over and placed a restraining hand on Lucas' shoulder, pushing him back into the chair.

Nathan stood up and moved away from the table. "Do you have anything left to say before I leave? The next time you see me will be at your trial because I won't return." Nathan said.

"You tell Elizabeth this isn't over, Nathan!"

Nathan chuckled. "Oh yeah, it is! I'd say have a good day, but I doubt it is possible for you. As a matter of fact, I say your day just got worse."

As he walked toward the door, Lucas yelled, "Don't you turn your back on me. Who do you think you are? Nathan! I'll tell you what you are. You are an inept second-rate Mountie. Nathan! I said don't you dare walk away until I am finished. NATHAN!"

Nathan just kept walking and closed the door behind him without even looking back, grinning from ear to ear. He could hear Lucas yelling his name even after the door was shut, and he had taken a few steps away. All he could think about at that point was getting back to Elizabeth and the kids and beginning the process of packing to go home. He also needed to talk to Matthew first because he knew Elizabeth would want to know how the meeting went.


When he got home, he found Elizabeth and the others cheering in the library. "What did I miss?"

"Watch Nathan," Elizabeth said as she moved her skirt away from her feet. Then as he looked at her feet, he could see for the first time that she could move her toes. "I have feeling in my legs too, but so far, I can only move my toes, but Matthew says with time, I'll regain everything back and be able to walk!" Tears of joy streamed down her face.

"Oh, Lizbeth, I am so proud of you," Nathan said. "Before you know it, you'll be walking around on your own two feet."

"How did your visit with Lucas go?"

"It went very well, and I kept my cool, but he didn't. I wish you could have seen his face when I revealed my wedding band and that I woke up with you in my arms. He was screaming my name when I left with a big smile on my face. Bill and Patrick were still there, along with his attorney. Why he even had one since he wouldn't listen to him is beyond me."

"You just missed Lee and Rosemary, Nathan," Elizabeth said. "They said they would have everything situated by tomorrow evening, so if we wanted to come home a day earlier, we could."

"But I advised Elizabeth that she should wait a few extra days to ensure she has healed a little more and rested so we don't see any regression in the progress that she has made. Especially since she has now begun to move her toes and have feeling in her legs," Matt said.

"After the meeting in the morning, Nathan, you are free for the next five days," Patrick said as he walked in and heard the last part of the conversation.

Bill came in a few minutes, chuckling. "Boy, you sure stirred Lucas up, Nathan. They had to put restraints on him."

Patrick laughed. "After you left, he started threatening you and your descendants, naming names of his associates in the process and giving us more leads to follow. However, I doubt that they will amount to any of them from the looks of it. He doesn't yet realize how many of the Syndicate are behind bars at this point.

"After you left, he also said that the two of you weren't married and you were just in denial. His lawyer asked for proof of the marriage since it could call into question Nathan's credibility. Bouchard shut up when I pulled out the marriage license. I've never seen anyone turn that shade of red before." Bill laughed. "To top it all off, his lawyer quit when Lucas wouldn't shut up and started shouting insults at him, too."

"So, what happens now, Bill?" William asked.

"We pick up the pieces and get back to normal. Then when his trial happens, we will have to testify. Since Elizabeth is still recovering, that won't happen for three months at the earliest. Since the others we apprehended have been singing like canaries for lighter sentencing, there's no reason to believe you are in danger anymore." Bill replied.

"In fact, William, you are free to travel back to Hamilton as soon as you like," Patrick said.

"I just might do that now that you are okay, Beth," William said. "Maybe over the summer, we can either come to see you, or you see us so that your mother can meet your family."

"Elizabeth, most of the trials will be occurring in Hamilton since the crimes were so widespread, so you'll have to travel there in a few months," Patrick informed her. "It will be good that you'll have a place to stay since I don't know how long the trials will take."

"If you have to travel there, Patrick, I extend hospitality to you and your family. It is the least I can do for all you have done and for allowing us to stay with you. That will apply to any connected to the trials traveling from here." William said. "I'll be glad to have everything behind us and things back to normal."

"We would appreciate that, William and I will pass the invitation on to the others," Patrick said.


Later that night, dinner conversation centered around the excitement of the children to be going home and Allie getting back to school with her friends. The overall atmosphere was lighthearted, and a sense of hope lingered as they looked forward to the changes coming due to recent events.

A couple of hours later, after reading the kids a story and tucking them in, Nathan carried Elizabeth to their room and helped her prepare for bed. Changing her bandages and helping with her more intimate needs had ceased to be awkward, and they were now entirely at ease with one another.

"Your bruises are fading, Lizbeth, but how is the pain?"

"Honestly, it has eased up, and I thought I may start forgoing the morphine and switch to just aspirin. I think the pain medicine is why I am still so fatigued."

"What about your nightmares, sweetheart?"

"Perhaps we can see how much they affect my sleep and decide what to do from there? I don't want to get to where I rely on them to where it becomes a problem."

"I don't think that is a concern, but let's see how tonight goes then. We can always discuss it with Matthew in the morning." Nathan said as he settled her in the bed.

"I like that plan," Elizabeth said, easing into her husband's arms after he slid into bed beside her. She gave a sigh of contentment as his arms gently pulled her closer to him.

"Your incision looks great, and no signs of infection, and with you regaining feeling in your legs and some movement, I'd say you are on the mend physically, which eases this husband's concerns immensely."

After exchanging a couple of sweet kisses, they settled down into a peaceful slumber. Elizabeth was only plagued once by a nightmare, but she quickly fell back asleep in Nathan's loving embrace and words of comfort.