The following day, as soon as the morning nausea had passed, Elizabeth made a walk back out to Jack's head stone. Standing there, she looked at the words carved into the stone. Her hand went up to the ring resting underneath her coat and blouse. Though she still wore her rings on her fingers, she had placed Jack's wedding band on a chain that was around her neck. She needed to keep some piece of her close to her. Though she planned on offering the bands back to Charlotte should her mother-in-law ever find her way to Hope Valley like she said, for now, Elizabeth wanted to keep them close.

"We got more snow again last night. The children were throwing snowballs at each other as they made their way to the schoolhouse that you built for them and for me," Elizabeth said, speaking in a conversational tone as if her husband really was there listening to her. "I miss them. I talk to Florence. I am going to try teaching Monday afternoon. We thought that might be better than me trying today, with it being Friday. Carson said that perhaps returning to normal activities might help the physical symptoms of my grief pass. I hope he is right. Waking up with an upset stomach every morning is not much fun."

Elizabeth paused. Not being out and about much, she didn't have much news to share. She had already told him how much she missed him and how much she wished she was here with her. None of that had change but saying it out loud once again just seemed pointless.

"I read your last letter to me every day, Jack. I am trying hard to go on with my life like you wanted me to but it is hard. My parents want me to come home. As tempting as the idea of being sheltered by my parents like I once was is right now, I know I could not leave Hope Valley. I loved the life I created here, even though you are no longer here to share it with me. Not to mention, leaving Hope Valley would feel like leaving you somehow. Besides, I could not leave my students. Though it has been overshadowed by the greater loss of you of late, I have missed my students."

A break in the clouds brought out a bit of sunshine. Elizabeth tilted her head up, the sunshine feeling warm on her face despite the cold temperatures.

A line from the letter Jack had left with Abigail came back to her then. Jack had written that he would be looking over her for all the days of her life. The sunshine now felt like a fulfillment of that promise.

"I love you, Jack," Elizabeth said, knowing the words would always be true no matter what changes came to her life.

Turning from the headstone, she turned to see a figure standing at the gate of the cemetery. Though a black coat covered the telltale red jacket, the rest of the uniform told her the man was a Mountie. Remembering how Constable Grant had looked the day he had walked into the school house, Elizabeth knew it was him there now. His hand rested on the top of the gate though he made no move to open it.

Knowing that she would not be able to avoid him forever, Elizabeth moved forward now. Constable Grant had been a friend of Jack's. Looking through the letters Jack had sent while in the Northern Territories, Elizabeth had found references to Constable Grant. Having now met the man, the references took on more meaning.

"Good day, Constable Grant," Elizabeth said as she approached. "Were you going to see Jack?" she asked, hoping he did not find the terminology strain. She could not bring herself to say the words Jack's grave quite yet.

"I was," Nathan replied. "I stopped because I did not want to disturb you."

Elizabeth nodded. "I appreciate the thought," she told him. "I am also relieved that I am not the only one remembering Jack. I hope it is not too hard on you serving in the town that Jack called home?"

"Hope Valley is exactly how Jack described it, ma'am," Nathan told her. "It is an honor to serve this town as he requested."

"Call me, Elizabeth please," she requested, the ma'am reference seeming way too formal.

"Of course," he acquiesced. "You may call me Nathan."

"Well, Nathan, if it is not too hard for you, I was wondering if the offer to answer any questions was still valid. I think I am ready to know about Jack's last moments if it will not be too hard on you."

Nathan nodded. "I can't promise not to get choked up, but I am willing to answer your questions, Elizabeth. It is the least I can do."

Without thinking, Elizabeth reached out, placing her gloved hand over top the hand that rested on the top of the hand resting on the top of the gate. Here was someone who was grieving Jack like she was, though in a different way. Elizabeth knew that Nathan's grief was no less important than her own and perhaps it was more raw. Not only had Nathan been there when Jack had died, but he also had other losses that would still be recent.

"When would you have time?" Elizabeth asked, hoping that she would not have to wait too long. She was worried she would talk herself out of it.

"Any time that Abigail has Allie. My niece has not been interacting with me much at all but I still want her to have my undivided attention when she is with me. With my injury, most of the actual police work is still falling on Bill for now."

"Perhaps after you have had your time with Jack, then," Elizabeth suggested.

Nathan nodded his agreement.

"Then I will give you some privacy and you can come by my house when you are ready," Elizabeth told him. "It is the last one in the line," she added just in case he wasn't aware.

"All right," Nathan agreed.

As Elizabeth lifted her hand from his, Nathan swung the gate open, standing aside so that she could pass through.

"Thank you," Elizabeth told him as she stepped through the gate and started toward home. She had not gone far when she stopped and glanced back. Nathan's head was bowed as he walked toward the headstone she had just left.

Reaching the headstone, Nathan stared at the grave marker. He had not been back since the funeral. Mostly that was because he was afraid of being overwhelmed by the memories again. However, he knew he could not keep putting off coming here. Just like he had with Dylan and then Colleen, Nathan knew he needed to come back and say a final good-bye to Jack.

"Everything you have said about Hope Valley has been true, Jack," Nathan said quietly. "I'll admit, part of me thought you might have been being a bit nostalgic in your tales but I see now you were remembering clearly. They may have been a little skeptical of me at first, but as soon as they knew we were friends, they came around. They have been most welcoming and helpful which given I have Allie with me, I need all the help I can get. I know nothing about raising a little girl, Jack. Especially not one with the emotional trauma my niece has been through this past month. Yes, my father was absent. His gambling and stealing had him in jail for a good portion of my childhood, like I told you, but he is still very much alive. I also had Mom. Allie just has me, and right now I am not even sure she wants me around. She keeps telling me she wants to go back to Grandmas. I think I am more scared about the prospect of trying to raise Allie than I ever was while up in the Northern Territories."

"I was the one that brought the news to Elizabeth, Jack, just like you wanted. I just saw her actually. This has all been hard on her, but something tells me she is going to be all right in time. She has had the support of your friends. Bill was her rock during your service. Actually, despite her tears, Elizabeth may have handled your service better than I did. Memories of that last day with you, Jack, overwhelmed me. I must have asked myself a dozen times if there had been something that we missed. Something that could have been done differently, which would mean that you would still be here with us. Nothing stands out. Until that first shot rang out, nothing seemed amiss."

"For now, Jack, I will serve your town and honor your memory. I will confess that I may not re-sign with the Mounties when my current contract is up. Allie said something yesterday that has me thinking, She is afraid of losing me to the job just like she lost her father. I cannot honestly tell her that she won't and that breaks my heart. My mother raised me to finish out my commitments and the plan is to finish out my current contract here in Hope Valley. I hope if I do pursue another career that you will still consider my promise to you kept."

Even as he said the words, a sense of peace came over him and Nathan knew he had his answer. As far as his friend would be concern, his promise would have been kept. Jack would have wanted him to do what would be best for Allie as well.

After saying a short prayer, Nathan turned from his friend's grave. He knew he would find his way here in the future, but for now, he was at peace with his friend's death. Like with Dylan and Colleen, he had to go on living, not get lost in the grief.

The snow crunched under his boots as he left the cemetery. He suddenly felt nervous. Part of him wished he had suggested they met at the Mounted Police Office but he quickly dismissed that. Surely, she had spent time with Jack at the jail and it was so impersonal. Besides, what if someone just walked in. This was definitely not a conversation to have in a public place. Though he supposed, they could have posted Bill as a guard.

Nathan shook his head. No, that would not have made him feel any easier. He would have almost felt like he was trying to tell a girl how he felt with their father hanging around. He actually found himself chuckling at that analogy. The laughter helped put him at ease as he walked the line of row houses. Reaching the house on the end, Nathan stepped up to the door and knocked.

It didn't take long for Elizabeth to answer the door. He could tell she felt uneasy as she invited him inside. He took off his hat and black coat and surrendered them to Elizabeth who placed them on the coat rack.

"I made us some tea," Elizabeth said. "I hope you don't mind. My stomach has been protesting the smell of coffee lately."

"Colleen had that trouble when she was expecting Allie," Nathan commented. "I learned to like tea then."

Nathan missed the look of surprise that crossed Elizabeth's face as he moved to the table she had motioned to.

"What would you like to know?" Nathan asked, when they were both sitting at the table. Letting Elizabeth's questions control the conversation, Nathan told her about what they had gone through up in the Northern Territories as they sipped the tea. He even relived that last day again, though he was able to stay in the present and not get lost in the memories.

"This might sound morbid, but there was blood on the envelope of the letter you gave me? Do you know whose it was?"

Nathan remembered seeing Jack's blood on his glove briefly before reaching up to his own gunshot wound. His blood had mixed with Jack's then.

"I'm sorry. I had thought I had wiped my glove clean before I had retrieved the letter. I must have missed some."

"Was it Jack's?" Elizabeth asked.

Nathan nodded. "Probably mine as well," he added. "Jack's blood was on my glove when a fellow squad member had mentioned my wound. I placed my glove over the wound with Jack's blood on it. I probably should have put that letter in a fresh envelope. I'm sorry."

Elizabeth was shaking her head. "No. It is a good feeling knowing that only Jack and I saw those words. Not that I would think you would have read the letter, but still, getting it in the original envelope gave me that extra reassurance."

"Good," Nathan replied, not sure what else there was to say.

Elizabeth reached out and took his hand. Nathan could not help but notice how gentle and soft her touch was as neither of them were wearing gloves this time.

"Thank you for sharing," Elizabeth told him, her gaze holding his. "I know it cannot be easy reliving those events but knowing about Jack's final moments brings me a feeling of closure about his death."

"He loved you, Elizabeth. You were on his mind often up North, always remember that. I know it was short-lived, but I hope you do not regret marrying him quickly like you did. I know Jack had no regrets."

Elizabeth gave a sad smile. "I have no regrets," she said. "I just miss him."

"So do I, Elizabeth," Nathan told her, the two falling into silence and their own thoughts, Elizabeth's hand still resting on top of his.

The next morning, though her stomach still felt a little queasy, Elizabeth had bundled up against the cold and set off down the row of houses after drinking her cup of ginger tea. Nathan's comment about his sister's morning sickness, when expecting Allie, had gotten her thinking. She had not had her time of the month since before Jack had come home for Christmas. She had just chalked up the missed months due to stress. After all, she and Jack had very little time together before he had headed back to the Northern Territories. Still, she had decided that a talk with Carson might be in order.

Before that though, she had another task. In her hands were Nathan's leather gloves. She knew he might have another pair. Jack had more than one pair of gloves. However, she also did not want Nathan wondering where he left them. She didn't want him possibly wasting time searching for them when they had simply been left on her table.

Reaching the house the Grants were staying in, Elizabeth noted that there were no curtains hanging in the windows. Though she didn't mean to spy, Elizabeth paused on the steps watching Nathan attempting to brush out a little girl's hair. Remembering her mother trying to untangle her hair as a child, Elizabeth felt sympathy for both of them.

As she watched Nathan try to undo the tangled hair, she heard a young girl's yell as the hair was pulled. The girl got to her feet.

"Stop pulling my hair! Grandma would have already had this done!" came the hysterical words of the girl even as she stomped a foot.

Elizabeth didn't hear Nathan's reply though she saw his lips move. She saw the anguish on his face though he was clearly trying to stay calm.

"I want to live with Grandma!" came the declaration before the girl hurried out of sight.

Inside, Nathan tossed the hairbrush on the cushion beside him and ran his left hand through his hair. Elizabeth thought briefly about just leaving, unsure whether Nathan would want to deal with a visitor right now, no matter the reason. Instead though, she stepped a little more to the side and knocked on the door.

"Coming," came the call from inside. Moments later, Nathan was opening the door. Elizabeth saw no trace of his earlier distress.

"You forgot these yesterday," Elizabeth said, holding up the gloves. "I wasn't sure if you realized it or not."

Nathan reached out for the gloves. "I had not realized it yet," he admitted as he took the gloves. "Thank you."

A thud from upstairs, caused both of them to look toward the stairs. "My niece, Allie," Nathan said, apologetically. "That was probably a shoe or a book hitting the wall. She is not taking to this move well. The littlest thing can upset her. This morning, apparently, I can't brush her hair as well as my mother. There is probably some truth to that, though when I am out of this sling she is going to find I know nothing about fixing a little girl's hair either."

Elizabeth smiled sympathetically. "Could I talk to her?" she asked.

Nathan nodded as he stepped aside and motioned her inside.

"Where is a hairbrush?" Elizabeth asked, despite knowing perfectly well where it was.

Nathan silently went and retrieved it for her. He handed it to Elizabeth. Taking it, she gave him a reassuring smile as she headed for the stairs. Upstairs, she followed the sound of sobbing to the girl's room. As Nathan predicted, several shoes lay haphazardly near one wall, an indication that they had been thrown. Allie, however, had thrown herself on the bed, her head buried in her arms.

Elizabeth walked over to the bed and sat down near the girl. "Is your hair really worth all this fuss?" she asked.

Allie turned her head. "You are not Miss Abigail," she stated, through her tears.

"You are right. I am Mrs. Thornton," Elizabeth said, figuring it would be best to start with the name the girl would use at school. "I live in the house at the end of the line," she told her figuring to keep things simple for now. "I had to bring something by and heard the fuss you were making."

"Uncle Nathan does not know what he is doing!" Allie protested.

Elizabeth thought about the distressed look she had seen on Nathan through the window. "I think your uncle would agree with you," Elizabeth said. "But then he has probably never had to brush out a little girl's hair before. When you are faced with something new, do you always no what to do?"

"No," Allie admitted, the word muffled as she hid her face against the bed again. "But I am a kid."

"Just because we become adults does not mean we suddenly know everything."

"I would rather go back to Grandma."

"Your Grandma must think that you are better off with your Uncle or she would not have sent you with him," Elizabeth said, trying to smooth things over.

"I do not care!" Allie cried dissolving into fresh tears.

Elizabeth was not sure what else to try saying. These were emotional issues that clearly would not be resolved quickly. Elizabeth did know that she could at least get the girl's hair brushed out.

Reaching out, she stroked the girl's back just like her mother use to do for her. After a few minutes, the sobs started to subside again.

"Can I brush your hair out, Allie?" Elizabeth asked.

"Go ahead," came a muffled response, though Allie didn't look up.

As gently as she could, Elizabeth reached out and started to gently try to work the tangles out of the girl's hair. A glance to the doorway revealed to Elizabeth that Nathan had followed and was silently watching as he learned against the door frame. She could tell by his expression that the man felt overwhelmed but there was sympathy there as well. As she continued her task, she found herself asking the Lord for guidance on how to best help both Nathan and Allie.