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~The HorseMaster~
Published Dec 21, 2008


Written By

drewsoltesz

Storyteller
21206Views4.9Rating

Page 1 / 84

Deep in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory in 1874, a quiet, unassuming Rancher persues the love of his life, horses.
Lance Garrett has no room in his life for any complications, that includes women, until a quiet unassuming young lady captures his attention, but will the horsemaster open his heart at last?

Deep in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory in 1874, a quiet, unassuming Rancher persues the love of his life, horses.
Lance Garrett has no room in his life for any complications, that includes women, until a quiet unassuming young lady captures his attention, but will the horsemaster open his heart at last?
Lance Garrett, his widowed mother Rosa, and younger brother Daniel just recently moved to the area to start a horse breeding farm, a dream of Lance's for years.
His father was an older man, and not in the best of health for quite a few years, but he encouraged his son's dream, encouraged him to persue it.
And Lance did...with a few choice stallions and mares, he hoped to breed quality horses, the finest in the Black Hills.
Jane Wilson and her older brother, the Reverend Dominic Wilson and her younger sister Clara Wilson had moved to the area a couple of months before.

Settling in to their new life, Jane was the practical sibling, she ran the house, looked after her siblings. It was a responsibility Jane took seriously.
Jane was the older practical sister of the two, or as she was teased while in school, 'Plain Jane'. Next to Clara, her golden haired sister, she did look rather plain, she accepted this with her usual resigned countenance.
Even her brother was prettier than she, if she were to be honest. But they were all determined to make a new start, and Jane was going to start a small business, dressmaking.
Jane did not waste anytime, she saw there was no dressmaker in town, and she immediately set up a small room in their new home. If she got established, she could always move into a building on the main thoroughfare.
But this would do for now. She proudly stood and looked at the room. She was an excellent seamstress, and extra money she could bring in would be most welcome.
Lance Garrett was taking a break from working with his horses. He was deep in thought and did not hear the horse and buggy pull up to the ranch.

Jane Wilson was delivering a dress she had made for Rosa Garrett, Lance's mother, who was her first customer. She wasn't going to make a habit of this, delivering, but she wanted to make a good impression, get her small business going.
Jane was entirely mesmerized by the vision of the young man lounging on the grass. She grasped the dress bundle closer to her side. Never had any man affected her so.
He was...beautiful.
She could think of no other word to describe him, he was perfection, his dark tanned skin, his muscular frame, his...his...Oh bother.
She hurried to the front door of the farmhouse and knocked. As if he would notice her!
Jane delivered her bundle and received payment, with Rosa promising to recommend her to other ladies. By the time Jane came back out, the young man was in the paddock with a skittish horse. The horse was bucking and snorting, clearly agitated.
The man spoke to the horse in a quiet, calm almost seductive tone, showing no fear.
The horse stamped his hooves in the straw, whinnying and shaking his head. Lance reached out and stroked his sleek neck, whispering in his ear, almost immediately, the horse quieted down.
Jane had never seen such skill in handling horses before, she was very impressed.
Lance turned and saw the young woman watching him. He walked over to the fence. "Can I help you?" he asked politely.
Jane just stared, no wonder the horse calmed down, that voice! Melodic, rich...his eyes. Dear heaven.
She found her voice at last.
"I just delivered a dress to Mrs. Garrett." She whispered.
"I am Lance Garrett, I am her son. And you are...?"

I am plain Jane, spinster seamstress, never been kissed, and I certainly won't be by the likes of you, I'll be bound. Jane said to herself wistfully.
"Jane Wilson. We just moved here a few weeks back, my brother is the new reverend."

Lance smiled. "We just moved here a few weeks ago too, My mother and my brother Daniel. Afraid we don't go to church much."
"I was watching you handle the horses, you have a true gift..." Jane said, admiration in her tone.
Lance walked around the fence to join the young lady. Jane took a deep intake a breath as he walked closer. "Do you like horses, Miss Wilson?" He questioned hopefully.

Jane smiled. "I do, very much, I just wish I could ride better, I can handle a buggy and bridle, but would love to ride one."
"Perhaps I could give you lessons, if you like." Lance ventured.
Jane did not know what to say. "I...I think I would like that, Mr. Garrett."
Her heart began to flutter madly.
A week later, the Wilson Sisters were in town at the mercantile to place an order, Jane would have gone alone, but Clara pouted, saying she was bored.
As the walked down the planked sidewalk chatting, Jane's insides lurched madly as she saw Lance Garrett walking toward them.
Jane had yet to set up her first riding lesson with Lance, and seeing him stride with that masculine confidence toward them set her heart aflutter once again.

Lance for his part, stopped dead in his tracks as the sisters walked toward him. He felt as if he had been struck by a thunderbolt. Who was that blond vision gliding toward him?
Jane noticed immediately Lance only had eyes for Clara, they were wide, bright, intense with interest.
She should have known.
This happened every time she had even a slight interest in a man, as soon as they clapped eyes on Clara, she was forgotten, if she was even noticed at all.
Jane felt her heart drop clear to her toes.
Jane mumbled introductions. She could not look. Lance acting the gentleman, Clara smiling and flirting as she always does. She could sense Lance's interest from where she was standing, how she wished the earth would open up and swallow her, this was painful to witness.

Lance began to smile, and laugh...that rich, melodic voice she had heard him use with his horses, that voice that sent chills down her spine. He was using it on her sister...
He spoke of his farm, his horses, perhaps Miss Clara would stop by sometime so he could show her his horses? Perhaps they could go for a buggy ride to the lake...
Clara lowered her eyes coquettishly, saying maybe she would someday soon.
Lance's face beamed.
Jane turned and watched, his handsome tanned face was alight, he did not look like that when he spoke to her. She looked at his hair, so long and lush, what would it feel like to run her hands through his thick, chestnut locks? She would never, ever know.

She no longer heard the conversation, all she could see was Lance.
But he did not see her, not at all...
"...Miss Jane?" Lance was addressing her. Jane snapped back to reality and looked away.

"I'm sorry...you were saying?" She said breathlessly.

"I was telling your sister that I am going to be giving you riding lessons, and that she should join us. You are still interested?" Lance inquired politely.
"Of course, as soon as we agree on a price Mr. Garrett." Jane exclaimed.
"Well, I won't be charging too much, what do you think is fair?" Lance ventured.
Jane was glad he at least was directing some of the conversation toward her, even if it was for a business transaction. "Oh no, you set the price Mr. Garrett."
Lance shrugged. "How about 1.00 a lesson?"

Jane smiled. "That is more than fair, just let me know when you wish to begin."
Lance turned back to Clara. "Will you be joining us?" He said in a low voice.
Clara smiled. "I will have to think about it, Mr. Garrett."
Lance touched his forelock and began to walk away. The two sisters watched his broad-shouldered frame disappear from view. Jane waited. What on earth would Clara say about him?

"Well..." Clara sniffed. "He's not bad, but he smells of horse." Clara crinkled her pert little nose in distaste. "I abhor the smell of horses, barns, stables."

Jane almost wanted to cry from relief. She cleared her throat. "So...so you will not be taking lessons from him, then?"
Clara thought a moment. "He is quite handsome as men go, he might be possible husband material...I would put him far down on my list though, that smell..."
Jane's heart soared.
A couple of weeks later, it was a hot afternoon, and Lance had worked hard all day. He walked behind the barns. The small pond looked inviting. It would be awhile before Miss Wilson came for her first riding lesson, surely he had time for a quick dip to cool off?

He sighed. Too bad her beautiful younger sister Clara wasn't coming. It was hard to hide the disappointment from his face when he heard that news. No use asking the fair haired beauty if she wanted to go on a carriage ride. It was obvious she wasn't interested in him.
Jane was early. She was anxious to get started on her first riding lesson, but she also was anxious to see Lance Garrett.
She remembered the look of crushing disappointment when she told him her sister was not interested in lessons.

Why torture herself? Lance Garrett would never look at her, not while Clara piqued his interest. And she did not have the heart to tell him Clara was not interested in him because 'he smelled'.

No such odor offended Jane. She thought Lance smelled of the outdoors, fresh air and hay. Yes...and horse.
Jane didn't care. She found Lance glorious.
She looked around the property, all was quiet.
Jane went to the front door of the house and knocked. There was no answer. She went into the barns...no one. She began to walk the perimeter of the property when she froze. There was Lance Garrett, sitting in the pond. Not a stitch on.
Jane was hidden by the maple bushes. She did not move, nor dare breathe. She watched.
It was almost painful to observe the perfection of him, for she knew, she would never attract such a man...ever.
Lance stood suddenly and began to slowly walk out of the pond.
Her cheeks began to flush to a deep crimson.
Still, Jane did not move. She admired the view, the view that was not covered by the trees and foliage.
And committed it to memory. For that is all it would ever be to her...a memory.
Whatever would Dominic make of her searing, admiring gaze?
She could hear her preacher brother now...'Thou shall not covet....'
But covet she did. She wanted Lance Garrett.
Jane's feet at last moved. She turned and fled toward her buggy, and prayed he did not see her. She climbed in the buggy and made it look as if she had just arrived.
Her cheeks were still flushed.
She was not ashamed of her reaction to Lance, and Dominic's pious voice inside her head would not make her feel any different...
Lance peered through the trees. He saw Miss Jane Wilson getting down from her buggy.
She was early! He ran to his pile of clothes and began to dress quickly.
The young lady would have been in for a shock if she had arrived any earlier!
Lance emerged from the thick cluster of trees and faced Miss Jane Wilson.
She seemed different today, the flush to her cheeks and the brightness to her eyes made her almost attractive.
Though he always thought she had lovely eyes.
Lance's eyebrows knotted. When did he ever think that?
"Good afternoon Miss Wilson, ready to begin your first lesson?" Lance asked politely.

Jane stared. She could not find her voice. Although he was now fully dressed, she still saw him as he was walking out of the pond, rivulets of water shone like diamonds, glittering in the bright late summer sun against his tanned, muscled skin.

Her mouth was dry. "Yes...Yes I am most anxious." She at last replied.
"Are you well, Miss Wilson? You look a little flushed." Lance asked, concern in his voice.
If you only knew, Jane sighed to herself.
"Oh I am quite well Mr. Garrett. Never felt better."
Lance led Jane into the barn. "This is Lucius. He is very gentle, ideal to begin with. We shall use an old Cheyenne trick I know of. You will be almost embracing the horse, let him get used to your scent, your voice, then he will follow your orders more obediently. Keep eye contact with him, do not show fear, he will sense it."

Jane opened the gate and walked into the paddock.
Jane began to stroke the horse's neck as Lance instructed her, talking softly near the horse's ears. The horse nickered, his ear's flicked with each soft gentle cadence of Jane's voice. She laid her head against the strong column of Lucius' neck.

Lance, for some reason he could not fathom, suddenly wished he were in the horse's place, having Jane Wilson stroke his neck and talk softly in his ear, her warm breath feathering his cheek.
What was the matter with him??
It was Founders Day, and the ladies picnic baskets were being auctioned off to the highest bidder to raise money for a new school.

Why, Jane thought to herself, why did she let Dominic and Clara talk her into this she had no idea. Her knees were knocking under her skirt. At Clara's insistence, she left her hair down, and wore a new dress, she even allowed Clara to put on a little face powder on her. She looked out among the group of men. There was Lance Garrett...all the men were talking among themselves.
No doubt her sister's basket will get heavy bidding.
Some of the men looked over at Clara Wilson, all were interested in bidding on her basket, by far the prettiest woman there. Captain Jeffrey Hunter folded his arms. Out of uniform for the afternoon, he glanced at the pretty blond. Bid on that spoiled, pampered princess' basket? He thought not.

Lance Garrett also looked over at Clara, should he try and bid for her basket? He looked at her longingly, her looks affecting him afresh.
The bidding on Clara's basket was fast and furious. Lance Garrett yelled out "20.00"

Jane's heart sunk like a stone in a pond. She knew it. Lance was still interested in her sister.
A deep ache began to pound near Jane's heart.

Clara for her part smiled slightly. No other ladies basket had reached 20.00 that day. Nor had so many men bid for 1 basket. She was flattered. And perhaps feeling a touch smug.

Then to the shock of everyone, Captain Jeffery Hunter of the US Cavalry yelled, "50.00." The bidding was closed.

"Next up...Miss Jane Wilson. My sister is a fine cook, if I am any judge, I think there is fried chicken and biscuits here!" Dominic cried.
No one spoke.
Jane's humiliation could not have been more complete. She knew she should not have done this! A few hot tears started to form in her eyes.
Lance looked around at the remaining men, what in hell was wrong with them? There was nothing wrong with Jane, in fact, he had never seen her look lovelier.
He looked over at Jane, she looked stricken, and embarrassed.
"20.00!" Lance roared.

Jane swallowed hard. He did it out of pity, no other reason, of this she was convinced.
The bidding was closed.
Over by a small brook, Jane and Lance are alone. Jane hardly said a word during their meal.
"Anything wrong Miss Wilson?" Lance asked, concern in his voice.
"My name is Jane..not Miss Wilson, not Miss Jane...but 'Jane'." she replied softly. "And I wish you did not bid on my basket."

Lance knotted his eyebrows. "Why not? I am partial to fried chicken and biscuits."
Jane flashed Lance a look. "Oh come now Jane, I was teasing you..."
They both sat on the soft grass. "You did it out of pity, because no other man was bidding on my basket. That hurt worse than if no one bid at all." Jane whispered.

Lance looked down. "I did not do it out of any pity Jane..." Lance said. "Not at all. I don't know how to make you believe me. I wanted to share the basket with you."
"You bid on Clara's..." Jane said, a slight accusatory tone in her voice.
Lance kept his head down. "Yes, I did. I won't deny to you Jane I do find your sister attractive, but so did every other man there today. But it is not the same type of feeling I have for you."

Jane looked away from Lance. His nearness was overwhelming her, he was sitting close, too close. But she did not move away from him. Behind her the water in the brook lapped gently against the rocks.
Feeling. For her. Dare she ask what type? As a Sister? A friend?
Lance at last looked up, his brown eyes intense and firmly fixed on Jane. "I like you very much Jane. I would like to think we are friends. We have gotten to know each other, these past weeks, during the lessons, have we not?"
"Yes Lance, I think so. I consider you my friend."
Oh but I want it to be more...Jane thought to herself.
You are my friend too, Jane. I am glad we met. And forget those other men. I thought you looked quite lovely today. The man next to me was about to bid...but I beat him to it." Lance proclaimed proudly.

Jane smiled at him warmly. Bless you for a kind liar, she thought. He was trying to spare her feelings.
Lance got to his feet, bringing Jane with him, he gave her a friendly hug. "There, feeling better now?"

Jane closed her eyes, the nearness of him, the feel of him, that melodic voice vibrating against her.
The humiliation was worth it, just to be in his arms, ever so briefly. "Yes....."
Lance held her close, closer than a friendly hug required. She was so delicate, she did look lovely today. He could feel her heart beating like the wings of a bird against the bars of a cage. She felt good in his arms...right.
Lance closed his eyes and smiled. He wanted her to stay like this. "I'll take you home now Jane..." He whispered.
Lance took a hot shower later that night, mulling over what his mother told him at supper. His widowed mother was getting married again, and she gently encouraged her two sons to start thinking about settling down.
Perhaps it was time to find a wife, settle down. He would be 25 in a few months. Perhaps it was time to raise some children, alongside his horses.

He closed his eyes and let the water soothe his racing mind and aching muscles. He was glad he and Daniel rigged up a shower in the barn, came in handy after mucking out the stalls.
He rubbed the bar of sandalwood soap over his muscular frame. As he was thinking of marriage, Jane Wilson wandered casually into his thoughts.
Why her? True, she was no raving beauty...but beauty fades. Quickly.

He liked her, very much. She was a steady, kind lady. He could do worse.
Funny he didn't even think of her sister in this way.
He could picture Jane working along side him, caring for the house, the horses...he could not picture Clara Wilson doing that.
The last thing he needed was a high-strung filly like Clara.
Coming in from the barn, Lance stripped off his jeans and climbed into the crisp sheets. With their mother leaving, they would need someone to help out with the running of the house and the farm.
Whether it was a housekeeper or a wife, it would be a decision Lance would need to make.
And make soon...
Jane worked tirelessly at her dressmaking, but she could not concentrate on the task at hand. All she could think of was the brief few minutes she was in Lance Garrett's arms at the picnic.

She had had a few more lessons with Lance, she certainly felt more confident around horses, Lance made it all seem so easy.
But every time he came near, or assisted her in the saddle, positioned her legs...his touch made her shudder, a deep longing for something she would never have would overtake her.
There was a sharp rap on the door, peering out the window, she could not believe it, Lance!!

She checked quickly in the mirror, why she was not sure, why bother? She slowed her tread as she got to the door.
"Hello Lance..." she said shyly.
"Good afternoon Jane, may I come in?" he smiled.
"My brother and sister are not at home...perhaps we can sit out here, it is a lovely day."
Lance had a good look at Jane. No, she was not the beauty of her sister, but neither was she ugly. She had lovely eyes, and a charming smile that lit up her whole face. He glanced at her body quickly, and if he was not mistaken, she had a fine figure under those heavy calico petticoats.

He smiled. "Alright, how about over here on the bench?"
They exchanged pleasantries, Lance told her of his mother's impending marriage to Trent Buchanan. A man 14 years younger than his mother. Lance spoke honestly of his reservations.

"Lance, if they truly love each other, what does it matter there is some years between them? I am sure they have discussed it, and they must feel they can overcome it if they are to marry. Your mother needs your support...your love...not your disdain."
Lance thought a moment. He turned and looked at Jane. "You are right, I am just concerned for her happiness, it hasn't been easy for her these last years."

"Talk with Mr. Buchanan, Lance. Tell him how you feel. Tell him your concerns. I think he will appreciate your honesty. It will help you get to know him better, to see if he is worthy of your mother. I think he is, or she would have not agreed to the marriage." Jane said gently.
Lance impulsively pulled Jane close and laughed. "You always make me feel better Jane, after we talk. You are very wise. I will talk to Trent...I should get to know him, no reason we can't be friends." Lance casually put his muscular arm around Jane's shoulder.

She gasped, she felt a heat seep through her body from her shoulders down.
They talked quietly some more, staying in this position.
Finally, Lance stood, he gently reached down for Jane's hand and assisted her to her feet. He held on to her hand, slowly lifting it toward his lips.

Jane began to tremble, was he going to kiss it? Why did he come to see her, surely he was not courting her?? In your fevered dreams...
He did indeed kiss it, and not the 'polite barely touching the lips to the hand' kiss, either. His warm full lips caressed her knuckles until her knees nearly gave out, they had turned to melting honey.

She looked up at him, he was smiling, those gleaming white teeth a stark contrast to his glorious dark tanned skin. "Thank you Jane, for listening to me." he said huskily. "See you Friday...for your lesson."
Jane could barely speak...
A few weeks later:
It was early evening, Jane had been out for a riding lesson, and Rosa Garrett insisted she stay for supper.

After seeing to the chickens, Lance came back in the house, he looked around the parlour. "Where did Jane go?" he asked.
Daniel looked up from his book. "I think she said she was going out to the barn...Lance, have you got designs on her?"
Lance began to sputter. "I...I don't know...no...maybe..."
Daniel began to smile. "Sounds like yes to me. I saw the way you were looking at her during supper."

Lance laughed dismissively. "I was not..."
"You don't even know you are doing it. Why do you think Ma asked her to stay to supper? Didn't you see the way Miss Jane flushes up whenever you talk to her?" Daniel smiled.
Lance looked at his younger brother. Actually, yes he had noticed. He also noticed whenever he came in contact with her, to help her in and out of the saddle, his insides fluttered. He thought he was imagining it, guess not.
She was a fine woman. Why not ask her to be his wife?
He was growing mighty fond of her. Perhaps tonight, when they said good-bye, he would kiss her, to see if that fluttering would return.
Lance's thoughts were soon interrupted by a high-pitched scream.
Lance ran out onto the front porch, in time to see Jane being thrown from a horse. What was she doing on Thunder?
Thunder was not his horse, it belonged to a cavalry captain, the horse had been taking fits, acting crazy for no reason, the soldier brought him to Lance to see if he could calm him, train him.

Jane hit the ground hard, Thunder reared his front hooves and brought them crashing down toward Jane's head, she rolled away, but the hooves caught her in the back.
Lance was horrified. Why would she take the horse out? But then, he did not warn her to stay away from Thunder either. She must have just assumed it was one of his, a new acquistion.

He was frozen for a moment, as Thunder again brought his hooves down on Jane's back.
She was no longer screaming, she had passed out.
Lance ran down the steps, his heart in his throat, Daniel and Rosa were right behind him.
Thunder reared up one more time, but Lance's yell threw him off balance, and the hooves came down inches from Jane's face, kicking up the dirt.
As Daniel went over to throw a rope over Thunder's neck and pull him back toward the barn, Lance reached down and scooped Jane into his arms.
"Quick!" Rosa cried. "Bring her in the house, then Lance, go for the Doctor!"
Lance went with all haste and brought back Doctor Corbett. He examined Jane, and looked gravely at Lance and Rosa.
"There is bruising on her spine. I don't like the look of it. And swelling. Until the swelling goes down, we will not know the extent of the damage. I am afraid for a time she will not be able to walk. And until the swelling goes down...we will not know if that will be permanent."
Lance felt as if he had been sucker punched. "Are...are you telling us Doc, she may never walk again?"

Forbes shrugged. "I wish I could say for sure, spine injuries are a funny thing. There is no way to tell. She should not be moved for a couple of days."



Dr, Corbett had given Jane laudanam for the pain, she would be asleep for hours.
"We will look after her. She can stay with us Doctor Corbett, as long as it takes. I will go myself to see her brother and sister and explain what happened. It is only right we care for her." Rosa said softly.
Lance smiled at his mother. "Thanks Ma..."
2 days later, Jane was able to get out of bed, Lance carried her out to the front parlour and gently sat her in a wheelchair Dr. Corbett had brought by for her use. He went over to light the fire, so she would be warm, for Jane was trembling in his arms.

Lance had been kindness itself, attentive, concerned. Looking after her every need. She had to get out of here, back home to her own house. She did not think she could take the look of pity in Lance's eyes another day.
He walked over and crouched down next to her. Jane looked away, she could not look in those beautiful, sad eyes of his.

"I want to go home..." she said softly. I will not cry, she said firmly to herself. She had not shed one tear for herself, and she wasn't about to start. The sooner she came to grips with her paralysis, the better off she would be. And she could not think with Lance so near. If he was out of reach before, now he was more so.
"Why not stay, Jane? For awhile at least? We all want to take care of you...help you..." he offered in a gentle voice.
"NO!!! I don't need you...I want to go home!" Jane cried, a little more harshly than she intended.

Lance looked at her, a hurt look on his face, he looked as if she had struck him with the back of her hand. "Maybe I need you Jane. I have grown to care for you very much. Don't you feel what is between us? Let me look after you... Marry me Jane."
The logs crackled and snapped behind her in the fireplace. She could not have heard him correctly.
This was pity and guilt speaking. She had heard Lance talking to his brother the other night, saying he blamed himself she got on the horse. That was all this was, to assuage his pain and guilt.
He did not love her. As much as she had dreamt of this moment, it could not have happened at a worse time.
"I won't marry you." Jane said firmly.
Lance exhaled. "So, you don't care for me, is that it? I don't believe you Jane."
He stood and walked over to the bookcase. A muscle twitched in his jaw.
"I am a cripple, I will never walk again. I will not marry you, or any man." Jane declared as firmly as she could.
"I never would have believed it of you..." Lance said, disappointment in his tone. "You are a coward Jane Wilson. You are giving up. Doctor Corbett said this maybe temporary, but you are determined to believe the worse. Even if the worse happens, so what? I care for you, not your ability to walk."

Jane said nothing, her heart felt as if it splintered into a thousand pieces.
"Fine, tomorrow I will take you back to your brother...but I am not giving up." Lance said quietly.
Lance walked over and with no effort at all, lifted her from the chair into his muscular embrace. Shocked by the sudden movement, the sudden closeness, Jane threw her arms around his neck and held on.

Lance backed up several steps and sat on the sofa, with Jane sitting firmly in his lap.
"Lance...please, let me go." she whispered. She felt so helpless. But yet she felt safe.
"I am going to prove you care about me, and that I care about you, I am going to kiss you Jane, something I should have done by now."
Jane was beginning to tremble again, just being in his arms was affecting her. A kiss? Dear heaven...
A feeling like an electric shock surged through her as soon as his lips touched hers. Oh my, never had she dreamed it would feel like this.
Lance leaned her back, deepening the kiss, for he was enjoying this far more that he thought he would. It was true then, he did fall for her. Hard.
At last he pulled away, leaving them both breathless. "Don't you dare say that kiss was out of pity. Listen to me, I want you Jane Wilson, and you WILL marry me, it has taken me a long time to realize I care for you, I am not going to lose you now."

Jane's heart was throbbing in her throat. It cannot be true. "I cannot saddle you with me Lance, it would not be fair. I can't stand at your side, be your partner...be...be your wife."
Lance's large hand stroked her back. "I am not giving up...accept it. I will take you to your brother, but you will not get rid of me..."
Over 6 weeks have passed, Jane did return home to be with her brother and Clara. She even took up sewing again as best as she was able under the circumstances.
She was doing some mending when Dominic came upstairs to her sewing room. "Dr. Corbett is here, Jane. I will show him up. I want you to listen closely to what he has to say, promise me you will do that?"
Jane knotted her eyebrows. "Of course."
Dominic motioned for Dr. Corbett to take a seat. "What is it Dominic, you look so grave!" Jane exclaimed.

"Nothing...I am worried about you. Listen to the Doctor Jane." Dominic smiled sadly and left the room.
"The swelling and bruising has disapated Jane. There should be some movement by now...try to wiggle your toes...right now." Dr. Corbett stated.
"I don't want to try, nothing helps...it doesn't matter anyway." Jane said flatly.
"So it is true, you have given up. You know Jane, your recovery depends on you. I have heard it said you are a strong woman, the fact that you will not fight worries me more than your injury."

Jane gulped. "Are you saying I will walk again?"
"No, it is too early to say that. It could take weeks before you regain any sensation, or it could happen tonight. Or..."
"Or?" prompted Jane.
"Or you may never have more senation or mobility than you do now. But that is no reason not to try. You know Lance Garrett comes to see me every week, asking about you, the man cares for you Jane, why won't you let him help you? Open your heart, it will help your recovery, I promise."
Dr. Corbett examined Jane and took his leave. Before he left, he wheeled her out onto the balcony, so she could get some fresh air.
It was a beautiful summer day, birds were singing in the trees, the fragrant smell of wildflowers filled the air.
She exhaled deeply, there was Lance. He had come to see her a couple times a week since she returned to her home. As he promised, he was not giving up.
How long had she dreamt of a snug home, a handsome, rugged man, with children and dogs at his feet? Or perhaps horses in the barn? The dream lulled her to sleep every night.
Then she met Lance Garrett, it was if he walked straight out of her dream.
The yearning of her heart was so raw, she had to turn away and blink back the tears.
Lance came out onto the balcony and smiled warmly.
"I think today, We will get you to stand, Jane."

Jane's eyes flew open in horror. "No! I can't!! I am too weak!"

"No, you are not Jane. You are stronger than anyone I know." Lance said firmly.
Lance reached down under her arms and lifted her to her feet. She squealed, and threw her arms around his neck.

"That's it, you just hold on...I'm here." Lance smiled. She had to recover, this woman was his life. But he knew, even if she didn't, he would still love her.
Lance turned Jane slowly to face toward the town. He gently held her elbow, his other hand bracing her back.

Jane began to smile, with Lance's help, she was doing it, she was standing!
"Listen to me Jane..." Lance's warmth breath caressed her neck, "I love you. It is a beautiful summer day and I am with the woman I love. I intend to enjoy every minute, so should you."

Jane's heart soared. He loved her. There was no pity or guilt in his heartfelt words. Could it be...?
His hand began to stroke her shoulder. "There are a lot of people out there Jane, all with their own problems and heartaches. They all have one thing in common, they want to be loved. Stop denying what you feel, stop trying to push me away. Stop denying there could be hope for a recovery..."

Jane's heart tightened. Lance was right. The spectre of self-pity had been hanging over her head long enough. She loved Lance so much, it hurt. "You are right..." she whispered.
Lance turned her around to face him. "What? Say that again..."

"I said you are right, I do love you Lance, I think I have from the first time I saw you. I want to get well. I want you to help me. We will face what comes together..."
Lance smiled, Jane returned his warm, loving smile. She had her dream, the horsemaster was hers.
And as Lance held her, Jane felt a slight pins and needles feeling in her foot. Perhaps there was hope...

~THE END~

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#94jsfFeb 15, 2009

I'm so glad I stopped by to sign your guestbook! You are the master at setting up scenes. The story was heart warming, the scenery perfect, and the ending all I hoped it would be. Thanks for doing what you do, Karen! \:\)   \:wub\:   judi

#95Little SeerFeb 26, 2009

\:wub\: How sweet and loving it turned out to be.  Loved it.  Cheers!

#96KvetoslavaMar 16, 2009

\:rah\:

#97omik79Mar 30, 2009

Very awesome!  I almost cried..ok im a sap but \:D  I love happy endings!!  Nicely done!! *thumbs up*

#98Deanna73070May 7, 2009

Again, another beautiful story, Karen, full of hopes and dreams! Wonderful!

#99Zenta889Jul 12, 2009

Lovely!\:D

#100urm0mOct 11, 2009

This is my fave story ever \:D

#101DVSVJul 18, 2010

nice \;\)

#102klbjcbAug 5, 2010

Excellent!  I loved it.  \:rah\:

#103tristen_love23Aug 26, 2011

wow this is an amzing story

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