Here is the conclusion of Jake's story.
A tradegy froze Jake's heart, can he learn to open up and let love move back into his life...and heart?
A tradegy froze Jake's heart, can he learn to open up and let love move back into his life...and heart? SOME MONTHS LATER:
Four Buttes in the Montana territory.
Jake was bone weary, it was a hard long trek out of the canyon. The streets were deserted, but at the end of the thoroughfare Jake could hear raucous laughter coming from the saloon. He spotted the sheriff's office,a light was still burning, good. He tethered the horses and headed for the office.
"I'm Jake Thornton with the Pinkerton Agency. I've come about Linus Miller."
The sheriff looked up at the cold, hard man standing before him. "I've heard of you Thornton, with the Pinkerton's now, eh? What about Miller?"
Jake motioned to the wanted poster on the wall. "You can take that down, I have Miller outside." "Do you now? Well, I will get the cell ready..."
Jake shook his head. "The only thing Linus Miller needs is an undertaker, he is slung over his saddle outside. You can confirm his identity and see he is buried. He is starting to reek. I need a bed, and I need to know where the telegraph office is."
The sheriff scratched his ragged beard. "Well, the telegraph office is closed until morning, you might find a bed at the hotel, if not, I have a cot out back you can use."
"I may take you up on that...also, I will want that reward ready for me as soon as possible. I will go check at the hotel. Be back soon." Jake turned on his boot heel and walked out.
The sheriff watched the man depart, his broad shoulders straight and determined. Yeah, he had heard of Thornton, Miller did not have a chance with Thornton on his tail... Jake did not have any luck at the hotel, looks as though he will have to take the sheriff up on the offer of that cot.
He walked past the saloon, he stopped briefly, he was considering if a couple of shots might would go down all right. But the noise and smoke assaulted his senses, he was just to tired to even lift a shot glass.
Jake sighed and walked back toward the sheriff's office. Sheriff Brenton showed him the backroom, it wasn't much but it would do. Jake made sure Miller's saddlebags were well hidden. Jake counted it before he left the canyon, over 12,000. Overland stated they were missing 8700. Well, they could have that.
The rest of the cash? Jake was going to keep, as well as the 5000 reward money. Jake himself stood to make a fair bonus out of this. A job well done. The next morning, Jake dressed and made his way toward the telegraph office. He got a decent night's sleep, considering. He had to send telegraphs to Kane McCullough new U.S. Marshall, and Gabriel Grayson, new sheriff of Thunder Valley, informing them of Miller's' status. Jake explained to the Post Master his need to send 2 telegraphs. Jake hesitated, and he cringed. He should send one to Samantha, it was only common courtesy, she was his wife. Better to hear from him he was making his way back home than to hear it second hand from her brother Kane.
"Make that 3 Telegraphs..." Jake amended.
The Post Master pointed to a nearby desk and told Jake to write down what he wanted to say. Jake scribbled he caught up to Linus Miller, and that he was dead. Kane would have to go out to the Miller ranch and tell the family. He basically said the same thing to Gabriel Grayson.
Jake laid the quill down, what to say to Samantha? They were only married 4 days before he left to trail after Linus and his gang, they were hardly speaking. A marriage of 'convenience', who was he kidding? "For Rafe's sake" he had told her in a cool tone. Damn...
Jake remembered back to the night before the wedding, when Kane McCullough, Sam's brother, came to see him in his rented rooms... Jake had tried to explain his reasons for marrying Kane's sister, so Rafe would have a mother, that it would eliminate the need for a legal action brought to bear, as Samantha had threatened to sue for adoption.
"I had hoped, that the two of you would marry someday, but not like this!" Kane thundered. "Don't you feel anything for my sister?? Your heart must be made of stone!"
"Kane, she's the one that brought that lawyer Tyrell into this! This was the only way I could see to avoid some drawn out legal fight!" Jake snapped. "That is what Sam said, you are both stubborn...and stupid. I can see it in her eyes, what she feels for you, what she has always felt, from the first time I introduced her to you almost 4 years ago. You were married, she understood that, but when Carla died in child birth, and you left town, without a damn word, leaving Rafe with no one, Samantha stepped in and took care of that baby. She said you would return, she hoped and prayed...and then you finally did. Bitter, cold...an empty husk inside. And still, she cared." Kane said quietly.
"But you couldn't see it, or you chose not to see it. Preferring to stay mired in the past. Wearing your grief as a protective cloak, so no one could get near. Carla's gone Jake, accept it. Take a good long look at Samantha. She loves you...why, I cannot fathom to guess. We are friends Jake, but if you hurt my sister, I will make you pay."
Jake had left his rooms and went across the street to his former home, where Sam lived with Rafe. He stopped, Samantha was walking up and down on the front stoop singing a song to Rafe, who was laughing quietly.
Jake felt his heart tighten. They were getting married tomorrow. There would be no wedding night, no words of love, no showing of affection.
They were married by Luke Tyrell of all people, as he was a Justice of the Peace, and four days later after a curt good-bye, Jake rode out, not looking back.
God, he acted as an unfeeling idiot. As soon as they signed the marriage license, he went back to his rooms at the boarding house. Before he left, he arranged for the purchase of the house, just a few streets over from the main thoroughfare, for Sam and Rafe.
Then rode away.
"For Rafe's sake"...not really. Deep down, he knew, he cared for Samantha McCullough. Later that evening, Jake had supper with sheriff Brenton at the saloon then joined him for a game of billiards. Jake found the man good company, after so many lonely nights on the trail, it was satisfying to have a little companionship and conversation for a change, talking to one's horse can be rather one-sided.
"Got the wire from Helena, reward money is all ready for you Jake, pulling out tomorrow morning?" The sheriff asked.
Jake leaned on his pool cue. "Yeah, think so. Been gone a long time, it will be nice to get home." And as Jake spoke the words, he found it was true, he was anxious to get home. The sheriff stepped back from the table. "I checked Miller's gun, it had not been fired. I assume, he was reaching for it, was that it?"
Jake did not answer, he leaned his right hip, and looked over at Brenton. Shrewd.
"Anyway, that is what my official report will read." Brenton ventured.
"You knew Miller, didn't you? A lot of history, is what I sense." Brenton stated in a casual tone.
Jake leaned down to take his shot. "Fred, you don't know the half of it." The balls clicked together with a good deal of force. "I will leave some money for a tombstone, not that the sidewinder deserves it, but...I think his family would appreciate it."
After a couple of games, the sheriff took his leave. Jake stayed in the saloon, had a few more shots of what passed for whiskey.
Around 9 PM, a blond woman sauntered into the place. She no doubt worked there by the look of her attire. Jake was immediately mesmerized, she reminded him of the first time he ever met Carla, oh so long ago. She too, worked in a saloon This woman...had the same pale beauty Carla had. The woman, was immediately drawn to Jake Thornton, what woman wouldn't be? He had such an aura of danger about him, and a cool, beckoning look, she thought to herself, he was dressed in black, tall, muscular but not too much so, and oh so handsome.
She took a few steps closer. Those eyes, so deep, so blue... this man had seen plenty, that was obvious. Her eyes studied the rest of his face, beautiful full lips, that mole on his cheek.
Without realizing what she was saying, she whispered, 'We can go to my room..." In the woman's room, he got as far as taking his shirt off, when he froze.
He was acting foolish, as always. A couple of drinks and he imagined he was with Carla, pathetic.
He was a married man, married to Samantha McCullough. He soon was mired in guilt, he was married, and not to Carla, not any longer. The woman was none too pleased at Jake changing his mind.
"Be sure you are out of here in 20 minutes, I may be back with another fella soon enough." she huffed.
The woman turned and left.
Jake stood for10 minutes, his head reeling, his emotions in turmoil, he slowly put his shirt on. He went back to his cot in back of the sheriff's office. The next day, Jake started out, putting Four Buttes and Linus Miller behind him. He had a few more weeks yet on the trail, then he would be back in the Black Hills...and Samantha. How many lonely nights did she invade his thoughts? But then so did Carla. He knew, he could no keep pining for Carla, it was futile, not practical.
As for his feelings for Samantha, they were muddled, as always. But somehow, he felt for the first time since Carla died, that perhaps he was ready to move forward. But it was also the woman in Four Buttes. He could never go back, pretend Carla was still here...she wasn't.
And Sam? He remembered that one kiss they shared, so many months ago. She was indeed a passionate woman. They were married...why couldn't they make a go of it?
Jake had a lot to think about in the weeks ahead before he got home...
A few weeks later in Thunder Valley:
Samantha just had Luke Tyrell over for lunch, as she often did, usually about once a week. She had grown very fond of Luke, If Jake was not in the picture...perhaps, who knows? But love Jake she did, and she had been on pins and needles since getting the telegraph saying he was on his way home. She looked at Luke, in so many ways, he looked like Jake, perhaps his features were not as harsh as Jake's, but both were very handsome. Luke's emerald green eyes sparkled as he spoke to her.
He was charming, but Sam sensed a toughness similar to Jake's lurking just below the thin veneer of courtly manners. He also had a curtain of aloofness, that kept his emotions tightly guarded, again, like Jake.
Looking at the warmth in Luke's face, Sam had the feeling she was one of a very few allowed to see inside. Rafe for his part was oblivious to all the intense feelings and deep scrutiny going on around him, all he was interested in was the oatmeal that was oozing through his stubby little fingers, and how to get it to his mouth without losing a drop.
He knew the man sitting at the table was not his papa, his mother told him so. His papa was coming home! "So when do you expect him?" Luke asked.
"Any day now, really." Sam answered breathlessly.
"Sam...you can get an annulment, say the word, I have the papers ready to go at your say so. You don't have to go through with this sham of a marriage any longer." Luke whispered.
Samantha stared straight ahead. "To me, it is not a sham Luke, I love him. I want to try and make this work, I have got to try. I have thought of nothing else these last 6 months."
Luke closed his eyes. Well, that was that. He tried. There was no getting around it, he cared for Sam more than a friend, and he secretly hoped she would cut Thornton loose...and perhaps, turn to him. Wishful thinking. An empty dream, a futile hope.
Luke pulled back the chair. "All right Sam, I won't mention it again. If you need me, just send for me, I will be there."
"Luke...please." Sam knew, she saw the look in Luke's eyes more than once, she knew how Luke felt. "You must find a woman Luke who will love you completely. You deserve that. I...I cannot be that woman."
"I know Sam. Do not worry, I will be fine, it will pass I am sure, they say it does." Luke exhaled. "I better be going..." Sam walked with Luke out to the front entrance. "I couldn't bear it if we could not be friends anymore, say we are still friends?" she whispered.
"Always Sam, you know that." Luke smiled wistfully.
Sam threw her arms around Luke and gave him an affectionate hug.
Neither saw Jake watching from a distance...
Sam watched Luke climb on his horse and ride away, she stood and waved, watching him disappear from view. Poor Luke. How he did deserve a woman to love. She tried to think of any women in town as a likely candidate...there were very few single women, Clara Wilson perhaps? It would bear some thinking about.
Sam turned to go back into the house, Rafe was still in his highchair, no doubt squirming, or throwing oatmeal all over the wall. She looked up, a man in black stood at the edge of the property. No...it couldn't be him, not yet!
"Jake...." she whispered. Finally, louder, the pure joy bursting from her. "JAKE!!!"
She lifted her skirts and ran down the walkway and threw herself into Jake's arms. With little effort, he caught her, holding her close to his heart.
She had a firm grip around his neck, squeezing tight. "Oh Jake..." she murmured softly. The feminine warmth of her enveloped him, she felt good... Sam jumped down, a firm grip on his broad shoulders, she looked him square in the face. "you look a little tired, but on the whole you look fine...Jake, I am so glad to see you!"
Jake smiled broadly, his chest puffed out in male pride. Damn, she did miss him! Maybe as much as he missed her! And he did miss her, he realized with a lurch to his insides.
Finally, the vision of Sam in Luke Tyrell's arms flashed in his mind. The smile faded and Jake backed up a few steps.
Sam saw it, the shutters came down on his emotions, again. She would not give up, not this time. She would take as long as it would take to breach that wall of his. "What is it Jake?"
"What in hell was Tyrell doing here...is he a frequent visitor?" He said quietly, barely containing his anger.
"Let's talk about that later, come in and see Rafe..." Sam said softly. Jake couldn't argue with that, he was tired, hungry...and fighting right now did not appeal to him. Sam went over to the ice box and began to prepare Jake some food. "Some soup and biscuits OK for now, Jake?" She called out.
Jake reached down for a smiling Rafe. "Yeah, that sounds just fine."
The pleasant domesticity of the scene warmed Jake, the movements of Samantha behind him, scurrying about the kitchen getting him some lunch, Rafe laughing in his arms. "Papa!" He had cried. Jake smiled broadly. Rafe did not forget him as he had feared...did Samantha?
Could he blame her if she did?
Jake cleared his throat, it had grown thick with emotion. "I'll put Rafe in his crib while I see to the horses...I be back in a moment."
Sam could hear his boots walking across the wood floors, her hands were trembling as she stirred the vegetables into the broth. Dear God, she acted foolish, rushing into his arms like that, but she could not help it, she was so happy to see him!
Was he home to stay? Surely he would not be taking rooms at the Boarding House again! Would...would he sleep in her bed? How to even broach the subject? After 30 minutes, Jake walked back into the kitchen with Rafe on his hip, he was tickling the boy and laughing with him. It sounded like heaven to Samantha. She felt tears form in her eyes, how many months did she long for just a scene.
"Your..your lunch is ready Jake..." Her voice quivered slightly. With Rafe put back in his highchair, Sam sat across from Jake, watching him intently. She could not keep her eyes off him. What had he been up to these last 6 months, did he seek any comfort from any women? And what happened with Linus Miller? Sam heard from Kane that Miller was dead, but what were the circumstances, dare she ask?
Jake took a spoonful of soup, he could feel Sam looking at him, a warmth traveled through his body, and it wasn't from the vegetable-laden beef broth. "Tastes good..." he mumbled. "Jake...you are staying here, with Rafe and I, you are not taking rooms. Are you?" Sam asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
Jake laid down the spoon. "I would prefer to stay here, if you will have me."
Have you?? That is all I ever wanted...."This is your home Jake, you are welcome, always." Sam gulped. "I...I can make up the extra room..."
"Yeah, fine, whatever." Jake said in a brisk, cool tone. "What's the matter? Would you prefer the master bedroom? I can move into the smaller room..." Sam ventured.
"Never mind sleeping arrangements, I want to know what Tyrell was doing here, what has been going on in my absence. Is there something I should be made aware of, Samantha? Something you want to tell me?" Jake said hotly. The thoughts of Sam lying in Tyrell's arms turned his stomach. Suddenly the soup did not appeal.
Samantha looked at Jake incredulously. How dare he think there was something between her and Luke? Was he jealous? While that thought made her heart jump a bit, she was inwardly fuming at his veiled accusation.
"Luke Tyrell means a great deal to me Jake..."
Jake pushed back from the table and began to walk for the back door. "I am going to see Matt and my sister, be back later." He called gruffly over his shoulder.
Typical Jake. Get up and walk out of the room. Sam set her jaw firmly. She would make him listen when he came back...if he came back. After tearful, happy greetings at the Butler farm, Helen, Jake's sister, whipped up some flapjacks since Jake admitted grudgingly he was hungry.
Matt was his best friend, almost like a brother, they had been through a lot together.
Matt and Helen brought him up to date, he enjoyed being with his sister and her family.
Family...isn't it what he had longed for, all those years he was alone, a gunfighter, a bounty hunter, things he had done and seen, things too horrible to mention. Merely a dream, he had thought, or was it? Matt and Jake went outside to watch the sun set, the rest of the afternoon had passed quickly.
"Jake...what are you doing here, why aren't you home, with Samantha and Rafe?" Matt asked quietly.
Jake looked over at his friend. Matt knew him too well. "I wanted to see you, Helen and the children..."
"You are as stubborn and hard-headed as a Missouri mule Jake. Our visit could have waited. You have been away 6 months, you should be with your family...your wife." Matt stated firmly. Jake sighed deeply and leaned back against the house. "Yeah...I know."
"Jake, it took you years to admit your feelings for Carla before you acted on them, don't make the same mistake here. Life is too damn short. Do you love Samantha?" Matt asked.
Jake sighed again. "It has taken me a long while to get there, but yeah, I think I do. I thought about her a lot while I was away, Carla too..." Matt laughed softly. "You and your sister are a lot alike, it was quite a journey for her to overcome her loss over Great Wolf, Strained my patience, I can tell you. Almost walked out. But I stuck it out...Samantha may not have that kind of patience Jake. Carla is dead. It is tragic dying in childbirth, but it happens. You have another chance at happiness Jake, embrace it." "Go home Jake, take Samantha in your arms, show her how much you love her, even if you cannot bring yourself to say the words yet. Don't waste a moment." Matt looked off across his property, thinking of Helen. He loved her so damned much, even now, he ached for her. Maybe that's why he wanted Jake out of here, so he could put the kids to bed and he and Helen could be alone.
Jake looked over at Matt and began to smile. He read the look on Matt's face as plain as day. "I get the hint, Matt. I'll go...and thanks for the advice. I will take it." Jake made his way back to the house, Samantha was in the nursery with Rafe, so Jake went into the master bedroom...to wait.
For what exactly? He did not want a confrontation, or fight, or argument. He wanted...he wanted his wife. Samantha...his wife.
Matt was right, he was as stubborn as a Missouri mule, and twice as stupid. But he wanted to make up for it now, but was it too late?
If it was, he had no one to blame but himself. Rafe finally had fallen asleep, Sam walked into the bedroom. At first, she started visibly. She did not even hear Jake return!
She turned away, afraid of what her face was showing. The need, the love. She has had those feelings since the first time she laid eyes on Jake all those years ago. Those feelings have been her companion and good friend all these years. She loved him, she wanted him...and it hurt so, the never-ending ache.
"Sam...come over here, with me...on the bed..." Jake said huskily. Samantha walked over, her legs trembling, she laid down next to him. "About Luke...he is a friend Jake, nothing more. A really good friend. He was there for me all these months you were gone, helping me with the house, hiring some help for the horses and property. Just a friend..." her voice trailed off. Oh God, did he believe her? He was quiet for some time, as if thinking it over.
"I know...I didn't mean to insinuate anything else..." Jake exhaled. "Sam...can I help you get that dress off?"
Samantha felt as if she wanted to swoon right there. "Please..." she whispered. Sam trembled in his arms. "This will be no marriage of convenience Samantha McCullough Thornton. We are going to be a real family, we are going to be man and wife..." Jake whispered.
"Oh yes Jake, it is what I want too, what I have always wanted. I...I thought you didn't, that's why I said the things I did..." Samantha cried.
Jake put a finger to her trembling lips. "It's all right..." he crooned. "Let's not talk about the past...not now."
Many hours later, Samantha went to get a bubble bath, Jake was asleep, and no wonder. She smiled as the lavender scent enveloped her senses, the warm water soothing her. She thought of what had transpired between them. It was everything she dreamed of...and more. The next few weeks were they happiest either had ever known. As much as Jake loved Carla, he was never this affectionate, giving or tender. Maybe it was his advancing age, he wondered, mellowing out at 34...or maybe it was Samantha. She was so open and giving in her emotions.
Either way, he never felt such contentment...so...at peace.
If only he could be as giving. he was trying, he had not said "I love you" to her yet, but he showed her 100 different ways. And he was falling in love with her more and more with each passing day...and night. Home now for well over a month, Jake had settled into a routine he was enjoying, working around their property seeing to the horses. He was particularly fond of Linus Miller's horse, which Jake took with him home to Thunder Valley. A fine piece of horseflesh, maybe he could breed him...he would say this much about Miller, he had a keen eye for horses. Linus could of made a real go of the Miller ranch if he had put his mind to it...waste.
Jake stopped by the post office, not much there, but there was a telegraph for him...from the Pinkerton Agency. Damn.
Jake read the contents, his mouth dropped open in shock. Looks as if his domestic tranquility was coming to an end...sooner than he had hoped.
Jake walked into the house, he had to tell Samantha.
With Rafe playing happily on the floor, Jake disclosed the contents of the telegraph, he had to leave on a job.
"But...Jake, you told me you would only be accepting the jobs you wanted! Why do you have to go??" Samantha cried.
"I signed a contract with them for two years, I am sorry I didn't tell you...at the time I figured...oh hell, I don't know what I figured..." Jake sighed.
Samantha ran to the kitchen, she began to cry. Jake came right in after her. "Samantha, I am so sorry. It was selfish of me, I was hurt, mad...figured you wouldn't care if I was away. It was stupid. I signed the contract the night before we married..."
Sam clenched her fists. "Where are you going, and for how long? Is it dangerous??" "I will be gone over a year, I am going to Dawson City...in the Yukon. But the Pinkerton's assure me I will be free and clear after this job is done. I stand to make a good deal of money Sam, money that can set us up for life. I swear to you, after this is over, I will never leave you and Rafe again."
Sam began to cry again, Jake's felt his heart tighten, he pulled her against him. "Please love, don't cry..."
"It is dangerous, isn't it? Jake if anything should happen to you..." Sam sobbed.
"It won't. I promise, I will come home to you and the boy. I...I have to catch the train in 2 days..." Jake whispered in her ear.
Sam cried as if her heart was breaking, which it was. Later that night, Jake lay, looking at her, stroking her hand, it was trembling in his.
"Samantha...I love you..." Jake whispered.
A trickle of moisture slowly wound its way down Sam's face. Jake took his thumb and brushed away the tear. "Don't cry darling, I won't let you be sad, not tonight."
The next day, Jake hurried about, making arrangements, as he had to leave the next day. He had one more stop to make. It was early evening now, and he saw Luke Tyrell working at his desk through the large window. He knocked and entered.
Luke looked up, Great. Just what he was in the mood for, a fight with Thornton. Luke had stayed away from Sam this past month, giving her space. "What is it, Thornton?" Luke said, his voice gruff and guarded.
Jake took a seat without being asked. "Listen, Tyrell...I know I am in no position to ask for a favour, but here I am..." Jake spread his hands. "I have already seen Matt and Ethan, you see, I have to leave, on a job, The Pinkerton Agency. I will be gone months, maybe over a year. I would like you along with Matt and Ethan,to look out for Samantha and Rafe. Can we overlook our differences here? Samantha considers you her good friend..."
Luke was floored. This he did not expect. He fingered the letters on his desk absently, He knew what it took for Thornton to come to him like this. "Of course, anything for Samantha and Rafe. You can count on me...Jake. She loves you, no one else." Luke said quietly.
"I know. What can I say? I was stupid. I...I don't want us to be enemies. We both want what's best for Sam." Jake said, in a subdued voice.
"I promise, I will look after them as they were my own, you have my word." Luke said firmly.
Jake shook his head slowly. "Thanks...Luke. Much appreciated." Jake looked across the desk at Luke Tyrell, he could be his younger brother, they looked so much alike, alike in temperament too, apparently. Perhaps Tyrell wasn't so bad...the two men shook hands, and Jake left. 16 MONTHS LATER
Jake Thornton had fulfilled his contract to the Pinkerton Agency. John Pinkerton himself gave Jake a commendation and a fat bonus plus a percentage for his work in Dawson City. Weeks of traveling by ferry, train and horseback had taken its toll on Jake. He took the train as far as Deadwood, and bought a new carriage and horse for the rest of the trip home. He wanted some quiet time, before he hit Thunder Valley, time to collect himself. A few more lines were deeply etched in Jake's face, his eyes a little more sunken, he had aged, and he knew it. He and Samantha exchanged letters, but they were few and far between.
A sharp pain roared up his leg, Jake winced. One thing he did not tell Sam was he was injured, shot in the leg, he almost lost the limb.
Thank God for a sawbones in Dawson City who knew what he was doing. He would have a slight limp, and intermittent pain for the rest of his days.
Jake had also lost some weight and some muscle, being laid up as long as he was, but he was hoping getting back to work around his own place and some home-cooking would remedy that. Jake went through town, a lot had changed in 16 months, more businesses and homes, then he saw it, his house. He jumped down from the carriage, wincing slightly. The first to see him was Rafe.
"PAPA!!!" he cried, and ran toward Jake.
Jake was in shock, the size of him! He was going to be a tall drink of water. Almost 5 years old now. Rafe ran to his arms. "Oh papa, how we missed you! I told Ma you would be coming today, I just knew it! I am so happy!" Rafe cried.
Jake hugged the boy close. He had missed him. "You were a good boy Rafe, you listened to your Ma?"
"I did!! I helped around the house too! And I helped Uncle Ethan and Uncle Matt and Uncle Luke too!!"
Jake patted Rafe on the head. He looked up, Samantha was running pell-mell toward him, She was even more beautiful than he remembered.
Oh God, he had missed her so...a deep raw ache of longing tore through Jake. Samantha grabbed Jake and embraced him, dear heaven, he had lost weight! No matter, she would take care of that. She also noticed a scar on his cheek, it was all but faded, but looked permanent, oh dear God, how did he get that?
They held each other for the longest time...Finally Sam said, "Jake, come in the house, I have something to tell you..maybe I should just show you."
Jake took her hand and began to follow her."You're limping!" Sam cried.
Jake waved it off. Samantha brought him into the nursery. "Your son, Jake. I named him Rance Tyner Thornton..." she whispered.
Jake was stunned. "Sam..." his voice broke. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Matt and Luke told me I should have written, but I did not want to worry you Jake...everything went fine. I had my family and friends to support me." Sam handed Rance to Jake. "And why didn't you write me, about that shocking limp, and the scar...and Jake, you have not been well, I can see it in your eyes, you have lost weight..."
"Yeah...I guess I did not want to worry you." Jake could feel the tears forming in his eyes, he felt as if he was about to blubber. Damn. "You are home to stay Jake?" Sam asked hopefully.
Jake looked down at his son, "Yeah, I am home to stay. Oh Samantha...I wasn't here, I am so sorry..."
"Jake, you have come back to me...to us, your family. That is all that matters. I love you." Sam smiled.
"I love you..." Jake answered, the words coming free and easy to him now. Finally, he had his dream, his heart was full.
Bonus shot next page... BONUS SHOT:
Jake with a grown up Rance, wow. Rance turned out to be quite a looker.
I want to thank everyone here at TSR for the support and kind words on my stories since I started posting them in the fall of 2006. It is appreciated more than I can say.
~A Cowboy's Heart~ Conclusion
Jun 27, 2009 by drewsoltesz
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