Hey, Hearties! I’m back! WOW! I cannot believe it’s been an entire WEEK since I’ve actually…blogged. All of you who are bored during this quarantine, you are MORE than welcome to come to my house. You will not suffer from monotony in the slightest! 😉 But school is finally winding down for us, so my laptop will no longer be commandeered by my girls for their schoolwork.

Well, this is a big day! Not only am I back for the first time in a week, but I am debuting my first music video! If you love Hallmark, (which I suspect you do since you’re reading this,) and/or you’re feeling a little trapped by current circumstances, this video is for you! But first, let’s talk Nathan. (The reason for this discussion is in the video, but you’ll have to watch it to find out 😛 )

So, let’s get the “vegetables” out of the way first, poor Nathan’s flirting misfires. First of all, thank you to everyone who weighed in. That really did help me a great deal, and saved me a whole lot of time. Truthfully, I like Nathan’s flirtation failures. They make him human and relatable, and they make us smile. I’m inclined to believe that even diehard Lucas fans have a soft spot somewhere for the Mountie. But we can’t deny that these romantic mishaps cause us to react like Allie: palm our foreheads and shake our heads, but we’re still smiling. So here are, in the Hooked Heartie’s opinion, the Top 5 Nathan Flirting Failures.

 


5) The “Great” Triangle. When Elizabeth catches up to Nathan to try and engage him in conversion about Allie’s Queen Victoria book report, he misses a big opportunity to flirt. Instead he gives answers that are a couple words long. Then things get super awkward when Lucas approaches, thus the “great triangle”.


4) Dinner Invitation in the Stables. This is an interesting one. There isn’t an actual person interrupting them like in the school, and Elizabeth is geared up to say yes. So pull her outside, and finish your sentence, my friend!


3) “Just Getting Warmed Up”. Oh Nathan. You started out with such pure intentions: winning your niece a fishing rod at the strong-man competition. And you accepted the loss until the pretty teacher walked up eating popcorn. Then you had to show off. And it backfired. Good thing Lucas bombed too, or else it could have been REALLY embarrassing.


2) The Wave at the Party. Oh my gosh! How do you spell awkward? W-A-V-E. And the way Nathan tried to backpedal by putting his hand on his neck…you can’t help but feel sorry for the poor guy. At least Elizabeth smiled at Nathan first. We can say that much.


                                                                                 AND


1) “The Founders Would Be Proud”. I don’t think this one needs explanation. Elizabeth and Allie’s faces say it all. Nathan even admits it “just came out”.

 



Okay enough of that! Let’s skip to dessert: Nathan’s flirtatious advances that make us shout “Bullseye!” Or some kind of equivalent. 😀 He may have plenty of flirting failures, being the shy and tongue-tied man that he is, but in these instances, he hits the nail on the head.


5) Hands Brush. I put this one last because it’s semi-unintentional; a happy accident, if you will. When the library shelves collapse, and Nathan helps Elizabeth pick up the fallen books, their hands brush, and there’s definitely electricity. Didn’t hurt that in the moment before, he had very sincerely complimented her with, “You’re quite the teacher.”


4) “You Matter to Me”. I know what some of you diehard #TeamNathan fans are saying right now: “How could that be #4, not #1???? I promise to reveal my reasons momentarily…one of them right now. I love that actual feelings in the form of words pushed their way out of his mouth; we all know how difficult that is for him. I remember gasping, and yelling, “He said it, he said it!” I just think the moment ended abruptly. So while the emotion is genuine, and we all held our breath, there are other moments that play out more fully.


3) Invitation to Dinner. He finally got the words out. We were all so proud of him! He probably felt the urgency to ask since he was leaving to transfer the prisoner, Elias, and he didn’t want that loose end to remain untied. So good for him for taking a deep breath, and seizing the moment by the throat. Now we can only hope we get to see that dinner at the café in Season 8.


2) Holding Jack/Funny Faces. Okay, guys, I STRUGGLED with this one. Should it be 1? Should it be 2? I even asked my husband and my best friend to weigh in on it; that’s how stuck I was. This moment melted me into a puddle, and my heart was pounding with joy at those hilarious faces. Rarely is there any gesture more endearing than a man holding and playing with a baby. What it came down to was that this scene showed more of his good character, and why he might make a good choice for a stepfather. Number One, however, shows more of Nathan’s personal intent toward Elizabeth.

                                                                   AND NUMBER ONE IS…………………………………………


1) The Engraved Wooden Plaque. There are so many levels to this gift that some write off, or dismiss as “simple”. First, Nathan remembered that Emerson was her Elizabeth’s favorite poet. Then he took the time to choose a quote appropriate for her; which with Emerson, that is no easy task. But he doesn’t write it down. He becomes a craftsman, carving it into a beautiful wooden plaque with his own hands. He doesn’t have the means to match the generous gift of the library that Lucas can afford to do, but he offers what he can to the cause.

Okay, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the first exclusive look at my first music video project, “Do You Wanna Watch TV With Me.” I had the great honor of singing this song I created for Kristoffer Polaha in his Friday night Instagram Live video: The Polaha Chautauqua. First thing he asked was if I had put it on YouTube. Well, I finally did! But I wouldn’t have been able to pull it off without my husband and cameraman, Will, my dear friend Jess who edited, my piano player Shaleen Wilding, and yes, my children, who loved playing themselves on camera. Enjoy! This is Hooked Heartie, signing off. May your heart let your hope blossom!

 

Okay, everyone, we have some HUGE news for you today! This is BIG! Thanks to all of you wonderful, supportive people, (and maybe even thanks to the quarantine for making so many of you bored enough!), Hooked Heartie now has 100 FOLLOWERS! Actually, the total is 103! What a milestone! I remember how excited I was when we hit 50, and now it’s more than doubled! Thank you all SO MUCH for your laughter, your tears, your indulgence, your patience when I miss a day or am late, and your SUPPORT! I can’t begin to show you enough gratitude!!!

But I’m going to try! I’ve got something special for you today! Call it a #FlashbackFriday and a #FaceOffFriday mashup! And in celebration of Mother’s Day on Sunday, it’s something VERY appealing to all you ladies out there, as well as something everyone’s favorite WCTH mom Elizabeth gets to experience: the best of Mr. Lucas Bouchard and Constable Nathan Grant.

There’s got to be a moment when you decided which team you were on, something special one of the men did to steal your heart. Or did one of them do something that made you conflicted? What was the one moment when one man or the other sealed the deal for you, or made it harder to decide? Well, what I’ve done today is present the two moments I think made each man the most desirable; when each of them really hit a homer for me. It leaves poor Elizabeth with quite the conflict, but she’s a mom. She’ll make the right decision for her and for her son. So here we go!

Nathan Moment #2:
This is more of a fun thing, but it makes Nathan very appealing: chopping wood. Any fan of Hallmark knows there are few things more attractive in a Hallmark man than watching him succeed at the chopping block. Why is that? I don’t know exactly. It’s one of those “you had to be there” things. When I started making a huge deal about it, my very practical husband said, “Sweetie, I’ve chopped wood.” It’s not that sexy…and those logs are pre-split.” I know THAT, of course! But there is just something about a man splitting logs (on TV at least) that shows off an old-fashioned display of strength and masculinity. A girl knows a man that strong can protect her, and a good look at those arms makes her want to feel them around her!

Lucas Moment #2:
This moment is quite small, especially compared to the grand “not a date” on which he takes Elizabeth. All of that is INCREDIBLE, of course! But there is one point where he becomes the most desirable, mostly because he’s not trying. When the desk clerk at the hotel calls Elizabeth “Mrs. Bouchard”, there’s no playing along, no moment of teasing, not even a smirk. Lucas IMMEDIATELY corrects him, and clearly calls her “Mrs. Thornton”. Then add some icing on the cake: he booked her an entire SUITE, while only booking a single room for himself. No appearance of impropriety, AND gives her the royal treatment. That makes him pretty desirable!

Lucas Moment #1:
Yes, I’m doing this order on purpose. Lucas has a moment that I’m sure everyone, even #TeamNathan fans, must admit makes Lucas a very desirable man. I have a feeling Elizabeth had a very hard time not melting into a puddle at this great act of kindness, generosity, and yes, affection. That moment, in my opinion, is when Lucas gave Elizabeth the library. We all know how dear literature is to Elizabeth’s heart, as is the drive to use it to inspire her students’ minds. But “more important” town matters, as well as the town’s unwillingness to pay, leaves the town without a library. I wonder if that’s part of the reason he gave it to her: his noise-making ruckus pushed back the library discussion at the town meeting. Regardless, giving Elizabeth the means to fulfill her dream of a town library, and at no additionally cost… that definitely bumped Lucas up several points on my scale.

 



Nathan’s Moment #1:
Turn around IS fair play. Although Lucas made several strides, especially in Season 7, there is a very significant step in which he is lacking. And who voluntarily picked up that slack? Our mild-mannered Mountie. Can you guess what step that might be? It’s the one moment that made Nathan everybody’s main man, even #TeamLucas fans. And that moment happens the instant Nathan took Baby Jack into his arms, and melted our hearts with those amazing goofy faces. Any time a man voluntarily holds a baby, he instantly wins brownie points. And when he’s as handsome as Kevin McGarry, he becomes the most attractive man in the room! Then if that wasn’t enough, he pulls out the tactics, AND makes the baby laugh. Sorry, Lucas, but you have yet to even hold Elizabeth’s little man.

 



So, do you agree with my picks? What are YOUR top moments that make each man the most desirable? Think about it, and keep the picture in your head this whole weekend. Have a Happy Mother’s Day all you mommies out there! And YAHOO! OVER 100 FOLLOWERS!!! Please keep ‘em coming, and please keep clicking ads, sharing, retweeting, and shopping on Amazon through our site. It helps so much! Thank you SO MUCH! This is Hooked Heartie, signing off. May your heart let your hope blossom!

 

 

Photo credits: Crown Media

Well, #Hearties, I can hardly believe it’s all over! Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry! At least we know that it’s not going away forever. It WILL be back; the future may be a bit uncertain concerning filming, but it is returning. So that is one thing to look forward to. Also, I know I’m a day late, but once again, I have a great excuse! At the bottom of this very post is not one but TWO podcasts! Not only do you get our recap of the very dramatic season finale, you also get a Round Robin conversation about the entire season with the King and Queen of Heartie podcasting: James Lott Jr. and Marisa Serafini! And that one didn’t drop until today, so I couldn’t share it with you until now.

So with that in mind, please put your hands together for…………THE FINAL SHOWDOWN OF SEASON SEVEN! Who will get the most points today? Will that be enough to win overall? Shall we find out? LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLE!


 

S7E8: INTO THE WOODS

LUCAS:
+1 Long glance on the street
+1 Cookies are “delicious but not necessary”.
+1 Graciously accepts anyway
+1 Got her an autograph
+1 Bound the book in the leather
+1 Loaned her binoculars
+1 Came and got Elizabeth after finding Lee


NATHAN:
+1 Tipped his hat and said hello on the street
-1 Cold shoulder with “How far you going?”
+1 Cute wave through binoculars
+1 “Elizabeth is up there with the kids”
+1 Wanted to keep her safe with the kids
+1 “I’ll get Emily!”
+1 Found Emily and Elizabeth and guided them back to the cabin
+1 Making sure Elizabeth isn’t hurt
+1 “You both could have died!” (He cares that much!)
+1 “You put both our lives in jeopardy” (Some may argue this point with me, but if we want to get technical, Elizabeth disobeyed an officer of the law. She needed to hear what he said, even if she didn’t want to.)
-1 “My focus is on 2 things” (Even though anger is justified, that’s a low blow)
+1 He tries to apologize before Florence interrupts


S7E9: NEW POSSIBILITIES
LUCAS:
+1 Telling Elizabeth his mother’s compliment of her writing
-1 Sent in the chapters without asking
-1 Negating her feelings of not being ready
+1 Gave her an opportunity (Once again, I’ll probably get pushback for this, but a writer never thinks their work is ready. He helped her take a leap)
-1 Elizabeth wonders if she can trust him
+1 He profusely apologizes
+1 He was out of line and has learned his lesson
+1 Asking Elizabeth to stay and sit with him
+1 His excitement at her saying yes

NATHAN:
-1 In denial: “I’m not shutting you out”
-1 Refusing to talk to Elizabeth
+1 Humble acknowledgement to “He asked”
+ 1 Apologized for lashing out at her
+1 “I overreacted”
+1 Appreciates her courage and that she follows her instincts
+1 “I want you to be safe”
+2 “You matter to me” (First true spoken declaration of his feelings)


S7E10: DON’T GO
LUCAS:
+1 He came to get Elizabeth to call the publisher
+1 Grabs her coat, “Shall we?”
+1 Helps her relax for the call
+1 “I’ve read your work”
+1 “Did I write those chapters?”
+1 “Make a grand entrance for when you’re famous”
-1 Pulled out of the company
+1 Trying to keep things afloat from his own pocket
+1 “I can’t fault you for caring”
+1 Confiding in Elizabeth about Henry
+1 Inviting Elizabeth to celebrate at the library
+2 CANDLES! (2 points for being so Jack-like, but no more because it could have been hazardous! 😀 )
+1 Takes her jacket
+1 Pulls out her chair
+1 Brushes her hand
+1 Holds her gaze
+1 His vulnerability at seeing Elizabeth hug Nathan. He really showed that he truly cares for her, and it’s not just for show or the thrill the chase

NATHAN:
+1 He’s so happy to hear the news of Elizabeth’s book deal
+1 “I’ll see you at school in a bit.”
+1 Calling both Elizabeth and Allie talented writers
+1 Tried to ask her to dinner before Allie interrupted
+1 Complimented her on her strong mind, i.e. no cobwebs
+1 Unsaddles Sargeant for her because he doesn’t want the “famous writer hurting her hands”
+1 Happy the publisher realized how special she is
+1 “He’s not the only one.”
+1 He tried asking her out again
+1 “Standing guard” banter
+2 Finally got it out that he wants to take her to dinner at the CAFÉ (NOT the saloon! 😉 )
+1 Tells Elizabeth she can think about it
+1 Elizabeth’s reaction hearing he might be dead
+10 HE GOT THE HUG! Very emotionally charged, and no wandering eyes toward Lucas

TOTAL:
LUCAS – 26, NATHAN – 34

Well! Nathan pulls ahead in this final round! The strong, “silent” man got his day. But will it be enough for the entire seasonal win? Or will Lucas in all his suave charm prevail?

FINAL ACCUMULATED TOTAL: (Drum roll please………………………………………………………………….)



LUCAS – 90, NATHAN – 88

Oh man! He did it! He maintained his lead to the end for the win! On paper, Lucas is a very desirable choice. Now we’ll just have to see if the feelings match up. I know this disappoints several people, but when you think about it, I will admit that Lucas took more chances, and made more moves. We never saw Elizabeth’s reaction to Nathan’s flowers, they didn’t actually GO on that dinner date, and there were no words spoken there at the end of the finale. So Lucas does deserve this win. But we’ve heard what Brian Bird has said about The Tortoise and the Hare. 😉 We’ll just have to observe if it applies here.



Have a great rest of your weekend, Hearties. I’ll be back, I promise. It may not be until Wednesday, but I’ll do everything I can to keep you entertained! Be safe, be sane, be HAPPY! This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!

Photo credit: Crown Media
Top photo edit: Sarah Nitsch



Well, friends, we’ve arrived. It’s the finale for both our wonderful shows.  Can you believe it??? But the Hallmarkies Podcast Heart to Heart Hearties have some surprises coming up for you so you won’t get too blue. (Although, you #TeamNathan fans probably wouldn’t mind a bit of blue, given Kevin’s eye color, and the costumes he wears to make those peepers sparkle. 🙂 ) It’ll be hard to get through, but we can make it, right?  It WILL be much harder without new episodes to look forward to.  Thank heavens for DVR recordings and Edify Films enabling us to pre-order Season 7. Thank you Elliott and Tiffany Wallach! And even though we don’t know exactly when they’ll start filming, we know that an 8th season of WCTH is secured. #Season8WouldBeGreat! Now all we need to feel complete is an announcement for season 2 of When Hope Calls. #MeAndYou4Season2

Well, I have a few treats for you today too, just to start you off. The WHC recap is below. As with all these, please remember that we recorded this in October…hence my Halloween scarf 😉 We also talk about Hallmark television as a whole, since October is the end of the TV season, and the reign of Christmas movies began. Reflect on the very first season of When Hope Calls as a whole, and relive those feelings you had at the end of season 6 of WCTH; especially the awe you felt at the amazing job they all did on the editing.  And you’ll see my little girl make an appearance; the ladies were kind enough to invite her on so she could give a child fan perspective on both shows.  Funny thing, she says which team she’s on, kind of, and it’s the EXACT OPPOSITE of where she stands now.  Apparently turning 9 changes a person drastically! 😀

Then, a very special conversation: I got to chat with Hanneke Talbot, the feisty Nurse Maggie Parsons, and hear her side of the story of When Hope Calls. The fact that she’s actually British makes her doubly delightful!

Okay, everyone. I’ll be back on Friday with our very last #FaceOffFriday of the season.  See you then!  Be safe, be sane! 🙂 This is Hooked Heartie, signing off. May your heart let your hope blossom! 

 

Well, #Hearties, we have arrived! This is the final Friday post before our final episode premieres! What will we DO without our show??? We’ll survive this…SOMEHOW! Don’t worry, part of the “survival” includes lots of post-finale content. We’ll see what kind of fodder the finale gives me, and what kind of time I have; maybe I can compose a new story!

But for tonight, we’re doing things a little differently. For your audio pleasure, I’m giving you the episode recap first. Then when you’ve listened to THAT, you can read my other Faith and Carson story. Just a disclaimer: this story was written before Romance Quarantined.

 

Did you like that? Now cozy up with a warm blanket, and read A Secret Too Well Kept, by Sarah Nitsch and myself.

 

A Secret Too Well Kept:

The bell on the door of Dottie’s Fine Apparel rang as Faith slipped inside. She almost called out, but then she heard Rosemary in the back. “I’ll go, Clara. You keep hemming. We’ll be here most of the night as it is,” she instructed just before appearing from behind the curtain. “Oh, Faith!” Rosemary pleasantly greeted her. “What can I do for you?”

Faith squeezed her hands together, and rocked back onto her heels with a moment’s uncertainty before admitting, “Well…I’d like to buy a dress.”

Rosemary gave a single clap of delight. “Oh, that’s wonderful! Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place.” She held up a finger, signaling Faith to wait there a moment, then flew into action removing a gown from a mannequin. “Let me just…” she mumbled to herself as she unfastened the last button, and lifted the cloud of fabric off the frame.

“How do you like this one?” she asked. “I actually thought of you when I was working on it.” Rosemary held the gown to Faith’s shoulders from behind so she could see herself in the full-length mirror.

“I, uh…I heard you talking to Clara,” Faith stalled, not wanting to make a decision. “What did you mean you’ll be ‘hemming all night’?”

“Oh! It’s actually very exciting. We’ve been getting several orders for alterations to make hemlines shorter on existing dresses, as well as making new ones with higher skirts. Apparently, Fiona has started a trend!” Rosemary almost squeaked the last few words in her enthusiasm, but then shook her head to get back to business. “Faith, you’re digressing. What about the dress?”

Faith sighed, and tilted her head to the side. “I don’t know, Rosemary. The hemline might be a little too daring for me.”

“Oh pish posh! It’s fine. And, if it really means that much too you, I can let it out an inch or two. Now, what about the dress?”

Faith squinted slightly to study her appearance with a critical eye. The sleeves went to the elbow with a slight puff, the lines were simple but tasteful, and the skirt was ruffled all along the edge. It was a very attractive dress, with just one little problem…

“It’s quite nice…” Faith said hesitantly.

“‘Quite nice’?” Rosemary tried not to sound offended. “You don’t like it? But it matches your eyes.”

“Oh, yes, it does, and it’s very pretty. It’s just that…Well, I wear blue everyday.”

Rosemary made a sound of enlightenment. “Ah! Well, yes, that’s true. I know that for myself, if I had to wear that same tired, plain, drab uniform…” Faith raised her eyebrows, indicating Rosemary might have used a few too many adjectives. “Oh! Not you, you still look…lovely. The point is, if I had to wear it all day, everyday, I would tire of blue as well. So, let’s just take this…” Rosemary swept the blue gown away, and went to put it back. She then gestured to the other dresses on the mannequins, all standing at attention for their Corporal Coulter. “Do any of these strike your fancy?”

Before Faith could think to stop herself, her gaze fell upon one in particular, and her eyes began to glow. Rosemary was quick to notice. “Which one is it?” Rosemary smiled.

“Oh, Rosemary, I don’t want to trouble you. You have so much work already…”

“Faith, these are the dresses we are going to hem anyway so we have some to put in the window. So…” Rosemary drawled, “which one should I alter first?”

“Well…” Faith said in the same tone as she reached a hand toward her favorite, “this one is quite lovely. I’ve always been partial to all shades of purple, but especially light purple. I guess that’s because my favorite flower is lavender. Although, lavender is technically an herb, not a flower…”

Rosemary held up a hand. Obviously, she was the only one allowed to give a monologue on a subject. “Uh, Faith? Let’s save the medical lesson for another time, shall we? Now, this color is a shade or two darker than the color lavender, but it will look lovely against your blonde hair. And, the pattern is the same as the blue, so it will be very flattering on your figure.”

Faith blushed, and Rosemary giggled. “So, do you need a new dress for something special? A certain…occasion, perhaps?” she asked with a knowing look in her eyes.

Faith’s pretty blush was instantly replaced with the red flush of nervous guilt. “Oh! No. No, no special occasion. Just your average, everyday…” her tone took on one of utter discouragement, “ordinary purchase.”

“What are you talking about, dear?” Rosemary demanded.

Faith sighed heavily. “There don’t seem to be any special occasions to prepare for,” she declared glumly. “Not a one,” she added, looking away.

Rosemary was mortified, and started stammering in a panicked whine. “But, but, but last week, you said…you told me you two had a picnic that went so well. Well, ‘very nicely’, I think was the phrase you used; but I couldn’t have wiped that smile off your face with chloroform! What on earth happened?!”

Faith sighed another heavy sigh, but with more sadness. “Rosemary, what I’m about to tell you, it cannot become public knowledge.”

Rosemary gasped. “Oh, Faith! Of course I wouldn’t…”

Faith’s stare became unwavering. “No, Rosemary! I mean it! You can’t say this to any of the ladies; you can’t even tell Lee!”

Rosemary was a little taken aback, and shockingly, slightly intimidated by Faith’s sudden intensity. Her face took on an unusually solemn expression, filled with sympathy. She took Faith’s hand, leaned forward slightly, and looked straight back in her eyes. “I give you my word, I will be the soul of discretion. Why don’t we sit down?”

Faith took a relieved breath, then moved to sit in one of the waiting chairs in the corner, trying not to cry. Rosemary turned the “Open” sign on the door to “Closed”, then took the seat next to her. “Now, what’s happened?”

“Nothing…” Rosemary looked at her, puzzled. “No, I mean, nothing’s happened. Everyday I go to work, and Carson is ‘business as usual’. Actually, he’s worse than usual.”

“‘Worse than usual’? How can that be? Has he been unkind to you?”

“Oh no! He’s very kind and…polite. But he only talks about the patients or the supplies we need, that sort of thing.

“That’s peculiar. What on earth could have gotten into that man?”

Faith wiped a stray tear as she tried to explain, knowing she’d never hear the end of it until she did. “At our picnic, we both managed to say how we feel about each other. We even…kissed,” she added timidly. Rosemary gasped again, this time with glee. Faith raised both her hands to stay any outbursts. “But…we didn’t want the town putting us under a microscope…scrutinizing us,” Faith clarified at Rosemary’s confused look. “We wanted to move at our own pace without all the speculations. So, we decided to keep it a secret. The first few days,” Faith’s voice began to get wistful, “were so wonderful! He’d kiss my cheek or my forehead after making sure no one was around, or take my hand when he was walking me home. But then, people were around us more and more…I guess he just got…out of the habit? Because now, it’s as if nothing happened at all. He probably changed his mind, but doesn’t know how to tell me.” Faith grew more and more emotional. “I’ll just have to swallow my own feelings, and move on!”

Rosemary was distressed! Her perfect plan, and Faith’s heart, were unraveling before her eyes. “But, Faith!” she protested.

Faith stood, and headed for the door. “No Rosemary! If I push him, it could ruin our relationship; it could ruin my career! I can’t give up nursing, and I don’t want to give up Hope Valley. I need to go. The gowns are beautiful.” With that, Faith rushed out of the dress shop, leaving Rosemary sitting there looking very perplexed. But not for long. “Well! We’ll just have to see about that, won’t we?”

Rosemary was walking arm in arm with Lee a few days later, still trying to figure out a way to remedy Faith’s situation. The poor girl looked more downtrodden than someone thrown from a saddle.

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” Lee asked. “We just passed Elizabeth by the mercantile, and you didn’t even say hello.”

“What? Oh! I’m sorry, Lee, my mind is just very occup…Oh, Carson! I’ve been looking everywhere for you!”

Lee rolled his eyes as Rosemary dropped his arm to run and catch up with the good doctor. “Apparently, her mind isn’t too occupied for Carson,” he mumbled, and hurried to join them.

“What’s wrong, Rosemary?” Carson asked. “You’re not feeling sick, are you?”

Rosemary gave him a baffled look. “Why would I be talking to you if I was sick? No, the reason is quite simple, really. I ordered a roast, but two got delivered by mistake. They said I could keep the extra. Well, we can’t eat that much…” Lee cleared his throat, suggesting he could, and Rosemary nudged him into silence, “…and I hate to waste good food. I thought maybe you’d like to take it, and make a delicious dinner…for someone?” Nothing. “Faith, perhaps?”

Carson tried to cover his surprise, but failed miserably. “Oh! Um…well, I’m not sure I should…wait! How did you…?” His eyes shifted back and forth between the Coulters, searching for the answer to his unasked question.

Lee just shrugged. “I stopped asking how she knows things a long time ago; saves me a lot of time.”

Carson sighed, frustrated at Lee’s lack of advice when he’d been so helpful in the past. Then he pasted his “cheerfully polite” expression on his face, and turned to Rosemary. “Thank you, very much, for the thought, Rosemary, but I don’t know that dinner is the right…the right…” The “right” words were escaping him, along with his calm composure, not to mention his pride.

It didn’t matter, though, as Rosemary just waved her hand to dismiss his comments anyway. “Oh, nonsense! Of course it’s ‘right’. Now as far as timing being right, well that all depends, now doesn’t it?”

“Depends on what?” Carson and Lee asked simultaneously, both completely lost in Rosemary’s web of words.

“Oh, men!” Rosemary groaned in exasperation. “It depends on what you want for your future, of course! Do you want to maintain a professional relationship with your lovely nurse, and remain alone for the rest of your life? Or do you want to take the chance that you might just find a little happiness with her, which is more important than any job.” Nothing again. “If you decide on the latter, you know where to find me. I’ll arrange everything!” And with that, Rosemary sauntered away, rubbing her hands together, and looking very pleased with herself. One would think she’d solved the world’s problems in one fell swoop.

Carson and Lee could only stand in the middle of the street and stare at each other, both completely confounded. Finally, Lee clapped Carson twice on the shoulder, and said, “Just something to think about,” Then caught up to his wife.

Carson was left alone, feeling rather stunned. That’s usually what happens after an encounter with Rosemary, he thought, and chuckled to himself. I think I need to sit down. He looked up to see that he was close to the infirmary, and figured his desk was as good a place as any for some contemplation. Once seated, he picked up some paperwork to look busy; but truthfully, he just stared out the open door. What was his dilemma? What was stopping him? It’s true neither one of them wanted the town staring and speculating, but their friends and neighbors were bound to find out sooner or later; especially if Rosemary had anything to do with it. Part of it had to be that things had been progressing so gradually between them for so long; and then in the past few weeks, the wave of romance came crashing in, throwing them together, and changing practically everything. That certainly was reason enough to question the situation, he reasoned.

Then there was the matter of giving Faith the space she needed to process this change. She had been so scared to risk her job and her heart; she seemed to need that. Carson shook his head. Even in his head, he was stalling, avoiding the true heart of the challenge. What he really didn’t want to admit, even to himself, was how much Faith’s job was impacting his feelings for her. The fact that she was a nurse, just like Amber had been…it frightened him. A horrible vision of history repeating itself flashed before Carson’s eyes. Losing his wife had nearly broken him! How could he possibly live through losing Faith too?

Just then, Carson caught sight of Faith walking hand in hand with Opal. Her whole face lit up when she laughed, her head tilted to the sky in her delight. Carson couldn’t help but smile. Elizabeth told him once that Faith didn’t consider herself good with children. Well, she had obviously acquired the talent over time. His smile widened as he watched Faith bend down to Opal’s level, talking to her with big eyes, and tapping her playfully on the nose.

As Carson continued to observe her discreetly, Molly approached, and Faith pleasantly greeted her . He was struck with the beauty of her smile and her genuine care for others when she gingerly touched Molly’s left arm, obviously asking about the gash they’d treated her for a few days ago. He heard his name mentioned; Molly must have asked how he was doing. A brief, but obvious look of disappointment crossed Faith’s lovely complexion, but she was quick to cover it. The pain in her face, as short-lived as it was, made Carson wince. Look at her, he marveled. I’ve practically been ignoring her, and she’s still trying to protect my reputation! What an amazing woman!

Then suddenly, he knew. There were no fireworks, no lightning bolts, although his heart was certainly thundering in his chest. But he just knew. He knew Faith was the one who had patched the hole in his heart that losing Amber had left behind. He knew the petty little worries of society and careers were nothing in the grand scheme of things. He knew that she loved him as he loved her. Most of all, he knew what he had to do, and he knew how he had to do it.

That evening, Faith glumly ambled along the sidewalk, knowing she should go home, but lacking the motivation. She’d gone to the Queen of Hearts saloon to try the new menu for dinner, but ended up only having the stomach for a cup of coffee; and even that had taken a full twenty minutes to consume. Things were just not looking up at the infirmary, and Faith was just about ready to give up. The thought saddened her even more.

She was passing the dress shop, chin on chest, when the door flew open. “Oh, Faith!” Rosemary stopped her dead in her tracks. “I’m so glad I saw you! I need your help. Do you have a moment?”

“Well, I suppose I do. I was just going to…”

“Wonderful! Come with me.” Rosemary reached for Faith’s hand.

“Rosemary, I really should…Oh!” Rosemary made the decision for her, and yanked Faith inside. “Oh! Okay…”

Rosemary closed the door behind them, then stood to face her, hands up, and itching to work. “Now as you know, I was hemming all those gowns I showed you a few days ago, and now, more have come in for alterations. All the mannequins are in use, and Clara’s working at the saloon tonight. The fact of the matter is, that dress you…almost tried on is not even half finished, and I can’t bear leaving a dress unfinished if I can help it. I need a woman to wear it so I can get the proper measurement; I’m not used to this modern styling yet. Will you please try it on so I can finish it? Please?”

Faith got so lost in Rosemary’s speech moving as fast as a train that she was surprised to realize Rosemary had stopped, and was waiting for a response. “Oh! Um…well…alright. I guess I can spare a few minutes.

Rosemary seized the dress Faith had admired, (it was awfully close at hand, and looked almost done. How odd.), and shoved it into her arms. “You can use the back to change. Let me know if you need any assistance,” she reminded, and shooed her away.

When Faith emerged, she looked radiant; as pretty as the flower…herb, itself. “Oh, Faith!” Rosemary exclaimed in admiration, “that dress definitely belongs on you.” Rosemary let out a small, delighted laugh, and added, “Oh, I do such marvelous work!”

Faith rolled her eyes good naturedly, and stood very still in front of the mirror while the very determined seamstress began to fuss with the material. Faith noticed that when Rosemary stood behind her, she was doing plenty of tugging and tucking, but it didn’t feel like she was doing any pinning, even though there were plenty of pins in her mouth.

“Aren’t you going to…” Faith began, but she was interrupted when Mike Hickam burst into the shop, doubling over, and heaving for breath. Both women whirled around, emitting startled gasps.

“Nurse Carter!” Mike huffed. “Come quick!” Breath. “It’s…emergency! Four men…the mill…with the head saw.” Breath. “Dr. Shepherd needs you at the infirmary now!”

“Of course! Right away!” Faith hurried to the door, then spun around, her hands frantically trying to unfasten the buttons at her back. “Oh! The dress!”

Rosemary shooed her away again, this time out the door. “Never mind the dress! Go! Go!”

Faith fled toward the infirmary as fast as she could. As soon as she was out of earshot, Mike straightened up, and gave a shy smile.

“Well done, Hickam,” Rosemary smiled in return.

“Thank you, Miss Rosemary.”

Faith ran the whole way, and pushed open the door, already asking, “Carson! What’s the big emergen…cy?” Faith’s breath caught in her chest, but not from running. There stood Carson in his best suit, definitely not prepping for a medical procedure. “Hello, Faith.”

“H-Hi,” Faith stammered. Tears sprang to her eyes, and her bottom lip got caught under her teeth. She tried to brush the tears away as she took in the room, and how different it looked. The electric lights were off. Instead, there were several candles on the shelves that usually just held tonics and bandages, cotton balls and tongue depressors. The flames danced around the room, casting shadows, and illuminating a glowing reflection on the Victrola that was playing soft music in the corner. Her eyes fell on the beautiful table set for two, complete with a bouquet of lavender, then they finally returned to Carson’s gentle and handsome smile. “What’s all this?” she asked emotionally.

“Well,” he moved in closer, and tenderly took her by the hands. “I think I made a very big mistake.”

Faith stiffened, and her smile faltered. “A mistake? About me? Oh, Rosemary! You promised you wouldn’t…” She grumbled, and started to pull away, but Carson tightened his hold.

“Faith, no. Please wait. This is difficult to explain. First of all,” he smiled to lighten the mood. “Rosemary wanted me to tell you that she did keep her promise of discretion. She didn’t breathe a word to any of those busybodies, and frankly, I think Lee knows less about us now than he did before. And she didn’t tell him; she told me!” he chuckled, and Faith laughed ruefully. Then Carson took a sobering breath, and pressed on. “This is the hard part. My late wife, Amber, was the only woman I ever really courted; and I did it so poorly, I sometimes wonder why she said ‘yes’ when I proposed. I was so young and foolish. Now, well…well, now I guess I’m just being foolish.” He chuckled a little more self-consciously, and Faith encouraged him on with a small smile. “I know I’ve said some…ridiculous things.” Faith smile widened, and he interjected, “Not my finest moment.” Then he continued. “And I know I’ve said and done several confusing things that make you question my feelings. Well, that ends now!” Faith’s eyes grew large as she realized the direction this was going. “No more secrets. You deserve to know. When we decided to keep this whole thing quiet, I thought you needed some space and time to let all this sink in. I was so afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing…of making a mistake, that I made the mistake of pushing you away. That’s not what I want.”

“What do you want, Carson?” Faith asked meekly. Carson shifted her hands to his chest, and gazed deeply in her eyes. “I want to greet you with a kiss every morning when you come into work. I want to sit in the open air, and talk and laugh with you when we’re at lunch. I want to hold your hand as often as possible, and take long walks with you beside me.” He brushed a stray hair from her face, and tucked it behind her ear. “And I want to brush the hair away from your eyes so I can see them sparkle as they look up into mine.”

Faith’s eyes sparkled alright, but with tears. One escaped, trailing down her cheek. Carson took a deep breath and one step back, but kept hold of her hands. “I’ve said my piece, but I want to know what you want. So, Faith,” he squeezed her fingers warmly,” my beautiful Faith, what do you want?”

Faith had to take a moment to know where to begin. Then the words came, and she looked straight into Carson’s eyes. “When Peter demanded I give up nursing to marry him, and completely degraded who I am, I was so afraid of that happening again someday. But you have always respected my decisions and my career. That was one of the many reasons I said ‘yes to scary’ on our picnic.” She smiled nostalgically as all the times Carson had showed how he valued her raced through her mind. “I have never felt any pressure to be anything but what I am with you. So…I want everything you want; and I want it with a man who appreciates, supports, and cares for me. I want you, Carson.”

Carson cradled her face in his hands, caressing her cheek with his thumb. “You have me,” he murmured. And then he bent to kiss her. She responded with such energy that he enveloped her in his arms, letting the floodgate of unspoken words and suppressed feelings finally unlatch and swing wide open. He released her lips, and they both smiled with pure joy as their foreheads met. “You have me.”

 

 

Well, that wraps it up! Have a wonderful weekend, you wonderful people! And enjoy the finale. This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!