Hi, everyone! As promised, here is part two of Sarah Nitsch’s and Kami Clements’s dramatic story of Faith saving the day. Can she do it?! Find out! And for Part 1, go to last Friday’s post.

 

 

Faith hastily exchanged little Dorothy’s old blanket for a fresh one, then dropped it in the large laundry hamper on her way to grab the quinine from the bar. It was time to administer another dose to everyone. Rosemary grabbed the other bottle to help out. Faith saw that that bottle was already half empty, and the bottle she herself held was past that. She was worried. She tried to think as she started giving everyone the quinine. If I don’t figure out what this disease is, and fast, I’m going to run out of medication. Fiona had informed her that some of the surrounding towns had gotten wind of some kind of epidemic in Hope Valley. They’d stopped all trains and stagecoaches, so Faith couldn’t order more medicine and expect delivery. What do I do?!

Breathe, she ordered herself, as she gave Carson his portion of quinine. He took it, but by reflex only. He’d gone in and out of a fevered sleep since he’d collapsed that morning, and he’d been unresponsive to anything Faith said. She lingered just a moment longer to dab his sweaty brow with a cool cloth. “I will figure this out!” she whispered determinedly as she tenderly traced his cheek with her finger. “I’ll make you and everyone else here well. I promise!”

His only reply was a shallow inhale and exhale. Faith blinked several times to keep from crying, then tore herself away from his side. Florence was there. She looked very sympathetic for her situation. “Why don’t you sit with him for a few minutes. We can handle things.”

Faith gazed longingly at the face of the man she cared for so deeply, but stubbornly shook her head, and insisted, “My patients need me.”

She stood in the center of the room where she could have a good view of all said patients, and concentrated on each in turn. She wasn’t a doctor, but she’d certainly been studying. Surely she could discern what sickness this was if she just stopped moving for a few moments and focused. Alright, her mind told her as she threw herself into the thought process, everyone has a high fever. Everyone has a sore throat, but not the same kind. Opal’s and Dorothy’s are red and enflamed; Maggie, Emily, and Mrs. McCormick have gray spots in their throats; Ned has gray spots, and gray film is starting to form; Cody’s and Robert’s film is starting to coat their throats…so is Carson’s. And Mr. Bartlett is the worst: his entire throat is so coated, he can hardly breathe. Everyone else is either at these stages, or somewhere in between.

Faith put her fist to her mouth, thinking hard. “Sore throat, high fever, gray film, shallow breath…” Faith’s hands flew up, and her eyes bulged with sudden enlightenment. That had to be it! She frantically scanned the room, and found Rosemary giving quinine to Benjamin Davis. “Rosemary! Can you ladies handle things here for just a moment? Mr. Bartlett and Robert are my only two left who need quinine.”

Yes, of course…” Rosemary assured her, but Faith was already racing out the door. “Don’t forget to scrub your hands well if one of you does laundry.”

Faith was running to the infirmary as fast as her legs would carry her when she heard Elizabeth calling to her. “Faith!” They were both gasping for breath as Elizabeth approached. “How is everyone in there? It breaks my heart that so many of my students are ill! Is there anything I can do to…?”

“ Don’t come any closer, Elizabeth!” Faith warned. “I know you want to help, and I’m truly grateful; but we can’t risk you getting exposed, and taking this home to Jack Jr. I don’t know that he’d live through it, and I can’t bear the thought of you losing him too. Please, go home. I’ll let you know if you can help in any way.” Then she kept running.

“But what…” Elizabeth started to yell, but Faith had disappeared inside, “…is it?” she finished to herself. Well, she’d find out soon enough. Right now, Elizabeth gave into the sudden urge to go home, and hold her son close.

Faith closed the door to the infirmary, reached for the medical encyclopedia, and tore through the pages until she found what she was looking for. “I was right!” She slammed the book down, and reached for the telephone, frantically jiggling the switch hook, and hoping Fiona wasn’t taking a break.

“Hope Valley Central. Number, please?” came the voice. Faith had never been so happy to hear someone speak.

“Fiona! This is Faith Carter. Please connect me to Dr. Burns at the Union City Hospital.”

“Of course, Faith. Did you figure it out?”

“Feel free to listen in, and find out.”

“Alright. Trying that number now.”

The line seemed to ring endlessly, but someone finally picked up on the 5th ring. “Dr. Burns’s office, this is Nurse Everston. May I help you?”

“I have a call for Dr. Burns from Hope Valley.”

“Oh, please put it through.”

“Melinda? Is that you?” Faith asked.

“Faith! Hello! I certainly do miss you here! How are things in Hope Valley?”

“Not so good at the moment, Melinda,” Faith answered impatiently. “I need to speak to Dr. Burns right away.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Faith, but he’s making his rounds right now.”

“Right now?” Tears sprang to Faith’s eyes, and panic seized her heart. “But this is an emergency! Isn’t there anything you can do?”

“I’m sorry, but you know there’s no way I can reach him when he’s on rounds.”

“Oh!” Faith whimpered. The walls of her composure were cracking. Every moment ticking away was precious time wasted. What could she do?

“Oh, wait a moment, Faith! He just arrived back.” Faith wanted to sob with relief, but she held her ground, and strained to hear the exchange in the background. “For you, Doctor. It’s Nurse Carter.” Then some noisy feedback as he picked up the receiver.

“Nurse Carter! Faith! How are you faring with Doctor Shepherd?”

“Doctor, I…”

“You know, we had a new arrival from your dear little town not too long ago: Mrs. Ramsey and her lovely dress shop. My wife frequents it quite often.”

“Dr. Burns! I’m in a huge predicament, and I need your help.”

Dr. Burns’s tone immediately sobered. “What’s the matter, Faith?”

Her lip quivered, knowing she was about to admit it out loud. “We have an epidemic…of diphtheria.”

Faith heard a female gasp on the line. She’d almost forgotten that Fiona was listening. She would talk to her later. Right now, she had work to do. “Doctor, I need to know what the latest and most effective treatment is, because it’s been around too long already. I don’t know how much longer my patients can last.”

“What do you mean, ‘your’ patients? What’s happened to Dr. Shepherd?”

“He caught it as well. One of the patients coughed directly in his face then his resistance was low when he was trying to care for everyone.” Faith bit her lip to control her tears before she added, “He’s quite ill, actually.”

“Oh, Faith, I’m so sorry! If I could, I would come help, but I’m afraid I just can’t get away right…”

“No, Doctor, I wouldn’t dream of asking. The town is pulling together. I just need to know the treatment. Has something new been found in the last three years or so?” Faith rolled her eyes at the insanity of her question. That was highly unlikely.

“ Actually, there is,” he revealed, and Faith wanted to scream in delight. She allowed herself a little silent hop instead.

“As you know, there’s been an anti-toxin since the 1890’s using the blood of horses, but it’s always been so expensive to get into Canada.”

“Of course, I remember! We couldn’t even keep it stocked in Hamilton.”

“Well in May of 1914, a Dr. John Fitzgerald created a kind of ‘Anti-toxin Laboratory’ at the University of Toronto, in a stable of all places! Can you send someone to Toronto to retrieve some for you?”

“I will find someone. Thank you, Dr. Burns. Oh, and the next time you see Dottie, please tell her not to come home for a visit until this is all over.”

“I will. Good luck, Nurse Carter. Faith…you’re very good at what you do. You’ll get through this.”

“Thank you, Doctor. That means more than I can say. Goodbye. “

He hung up after giving her one more well wish. “Fiona?” Faith asked. “Are you still there?”

“I’m here,” Fiona’s voice was shaking. “Diphtheria?”

“It’s alright, we’re going to make it through. Will you please call Sheriff Avery and tell him to meet me in front of the saloon?”

“Of course! Anything else I can do?”

“Stay by the telephone. We need to make sure we don’t miss any calls, and we need you to stay healthy. And Fiona? Pray!”

Fiona was quiet a moment, as if considering the concept for the first time. “Sure thing.”

Faith hung up, and scurried back to the saloon. She found Rosemary bathing Mr. Bartlett’s face. “Rosemary, where’s Lee?”

Rosemary looked a little confused. “He’s on a traveling business trip for the mill. He’s been gone for a week.”

“Where?”

“I won’t know where he is until he calls to check in. I told you all this four days ago. Remember?”

Faith dug her knuckles into her forehead. She did now. One more thing in the way. “I need someone with an automobile,” she muttered.

“Did you say ‘automobile’, Faith? Henry Gowen has one. What do you need it for?”

Faith opened her mouth to explain, but saw Bill through the window. “I’ll explain later,” she said, and headed out the door.

“Sheriff! Thank you for coming so quickly. Don’t come any closer. We don’t want you exposed.”

Bill stopped just short I found the steps, and put his hands on his hips. “Did you figure out what it is?”

“Yes, it’s diphtheria; which is why I need your help. Do you think Mr. Gowen is willing to drive you somewhere?”

“And where might that be, young lady?” Henry Gowen appeared only a few yards to her right. She hadn’t heard him approach.

“ Oh! Mr. Gowen! Stay back please. Thank you. There’s an anti-toxin for diphtheria at the University of Toronto that we need right away. There are no trains or stages coming or going from Hope Valley, and I thought the safest way to pick it up would be with a law enforcement officer. And neither of you have been exposed. You could drive to Hamilton, then take a train to Toronto, maybe?”

“I can drive myself. I’m not going on a road trip with Henry,” Bill insisted.

“If my automobile is involved, Sheriff, there’s no way I’m staying behind,” Henry fired back.

Faith watched the interchange, wondering if maybe she made a mistake. Fortunately, at that moment, Rosemary opened the door, and stood beside her. “I couldn’t help but overhear. I telephoned Hickam, and he should be right over.”

“What for?” But just then, the door to Lee’s office opened, and Mike made his way across the street.

“What’s going on?” he asked. “How is everyone in there?”

“Everyone is very ill, actually,” Faith answered. “But that’s going to change very soon. Sheriff Avery has kindly agreed to go get a diphtheria anti-toxin from the University of Toronto, and Mr. Gowen has graciously offered to drive him.” She was careful to not have her tone turn too skeptical. She needed them to do this, and as quickly as possible. “And Mike, you’re going to…?” Faith didn’t know that part, so she looked at Rosemary.

“You’re going to make sure these two don’t kill each other,” Rosemary finished. Both men turned to her in protest. “Oh, don’t look at me like that! You know perfectly well you two need a chaperone, and who better?”

That’s when Mike inquired, “How much do we need to get?”

Faith thought a moment, then said, “Better get enough for twenty-five. We have fifteen sick now, and it might go up. I can see how much money is in the infirmary…”

“We can settle that when we get back,” Bill grumbled, still not excited to travel with Henry.

Mike looked very hesitant, but dutifully said, “Well, alright! When should we go?” He clapped his hands together, trying to look certain.

“The sooner, the better,” Faith said. Rosemary took it a step further, and actually shooed them away, flicking her hand at them. “Go on now, get going.” The men dispersed to get ready to leave.

Then Florence opened the door, and shot her head out. “Faith,” she urgently beckoned, “we need you in here.”

Florence led them back inside, and over to Old Man Bartlett’s cot. He was lying still…deathly still. Florence began to stammer nervously. “I…I….I…I don’t understand. I was giving him a sip of water, and he started choking. That’s when I came to get you.”

Faith felt his neck for a pulse. She closed her eyes, and shook her head. “He’s gone,” she whispered. “I lost him.” A wave of fear overcame her. Now what would she do?

 

 

I hope you all have a marvelous Easter, or whatever you’ll be celebrating this weekend! See you next week! This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!

Hello, Hearties! Welcome to #FanFictionFriday! But before we get to that, I think it only fitting to mention that extremely important announcement Erin made on Wednesday! YAY!!!! We’re all going back to Hope Valley in less than a month! Are you excited? Because I’m THRILLED! That also means that Sarah and I have less than a month to bring you our next story before we’re proven wrong by the real plot lines. 😀

One note about this story: When I interviewed the birthday twins, Ben and Andrea, one of the questions was, “If you could write one storyline for your character, what would it be?” Apparently Ben’s idea for her was “BRILLIANT”, because she wanted it for her own answer:

“I’m envisioning an episode in which an outbreak of some illness renders many in the town out of commission — including Dr. Carson! Now Faith has to rally the healthy members of the town and organize the medical response to save the day!”

(For both of the full interviews, go to the links in the comments.)

Well, Andrea, (and Ben,) WISH GRANTED! We bring you our version of that dream’s fulfillment. Sarah thought of this fantastic idea, and we wrote it together. And with the hiatus, we had just enough time to tell it to all of you! So, may I present “Romance: Quarantined” Part 1 by Sarah Nitsch and Kami Clements.

 

 

Carson peered into the dark abyss that was Old Man Bartlett’s mouth, trying to deduce the reason for his ailing throat and fevered brow. It was definitely enflamed. And what was that right…

A cough erupted out of nowhere from the older gentleman’s throat. Carson squinted his eyes shut, and snapped his head back, but too late. Well, it wasn’t the first time he’d been coughed on; it certainly wouldn’t be the last. He made a mental note to give his face a thorough washing later.

“Sorry, Doc. Didn’t feel that one coming.”

“That’s quite alright, Mr. Bartlett. Just part of the job.” Carson reached for his clipboard, and started making notes in the old man’s already-full file. “Well, you certainly have a sore throat,” Carson observed lightly. “When did this start?”

“ ‘Bout two days ago,” was the answer.

Too early for any diagnosis, Carson thought, but he nodded. “We’ll give you something to help bring that fever down, and some tablets to ease your throat. Nurse Carter, would you bundle those up please?”

Faith immediately scooted her chair back from her paperwork, and cheerfully began collecting the medication. Carson smiled, and stopped to watch her a moment, then shook himself back to the present with Mr. Bartlett. “Careful not to take more than one tablet a day for your throat,” he warned, “or you might start to crave it. I also saw some phlegm. With your history of weak lungs, we’ll want to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t build up, and obstruct your breathing.”

Faith appeared beside him with the package, and held them out with her signature smile. “That will be $0.45 for both. And that includes the visit too,” she said as she handed it over.

Old Man Bartlett’s face became drawn with worry. He dug through his pockets, and studied its contents. “Would it be alright for me to give you $0.20 now, and the rest later?”

Carson gave an understanding smile, and held out his hand for the coins. “Of course.”

“Thanks, Doc,” Mr. Bartlett said, and dropped the money into Carson’s waiting hand. With that, he got to his feet, a little unsteady, and made his way out the door. “See ya soon,” he called, without turning his head.

Faith closed the door behind him, then turned with an admiring smile. “Well done,” she complimented as she coyly approached Carson.

“Well, I do have a way with the elderly,” he playfully responded. Faith reached up on tiptoe to kiss him. He gently pushed her shoulder back down, but his eyes glowed with her attempt. “You may not want to. Old Man Bartlett just coughed all over my face. I need to wash up.”

“Oh. Well, we can’t be responsible for starting an epidemic now, can we?” she smoothed the arms of his white coat. “It’ll be worth the wait.” She smiled again, and went back to her paperwork, her eyes not leaving his until the last possible moment.

Carson sighed happily, and went to clean his face. Life couldn’t get any better!

 

FIVE DAYS LATER

Could things be any worse?! Carson and Faith scurried from patient to patient, administering quinine to keep their fevers down, and trying to make everyone comfortable. Carson rubbed at the soreness in his throat, and wiped the sweat from his brow as he knelt and tried to look down Maggie Lawson’s throat, despite her feverish tossing and turning. “ I’m fine,” he insisted to himself. He sorrowfully looked at Maggie’s pained face. He’d saved this little angel when he’d first come to town from a runaway wagon. He couldn’t let her die now!

What was this illness? Carson tried to concentrate, but his head ached, and his brain felt addled. In the last five days, fourteen people had been reported sick. The school had been closed, and Lucas Bouchard had generously offered the saloon as a makeshift hospital with the number of invalids continuing to rise. Carson accepted instantly, and quarantined the place, hoping to stop it spreading.

He looked around to see Opal, Emily, Cody, Robert, Ned Yost, Mr. Bartlett, and Mrs. McCormick among so many others. Opal had come two days ago with an enflamed throat. Mrs. McCormick had been here four; she had the same gray spot he’d seen in Mr. Bartlett before he…Carson’s eyes grew wide as he slowly stood up. Before he’d coughed on him! Now there was a gray film coating his entire mouth. And most of the ill were either children, or getting on in years.

He knew! He knew what it was! He also knew how to cure it. They had to act fast! Carson almost turned to go tell Faith what was plaguing everyone, but stopped cold. His hand went to his throat as the pain flared. The room swam before his eyes, his breath was short, and he tasted filmy residue in his mouth. Faith’s voice echoed in his ears, asking if he was alright. He took a shallow breath to answer her, then collapsed.

 

 

And with that, we leave you hanging on the cliff. 😀 What’s the disease? Come back next Friday and find out! Have a happy weekend with the knowledge that you’ll be seeing these lovely characters on your TV screens very soon. This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!

Hello, and Happy Friday, Hearties! I won’t waste your time with lots of fluffy talk; I’m super excited to share this, and I hope YOU are super excited to read it! If you’re a little lost right now, go back to last Friday’s post before you read this one. It will explain EVERYTHING! 😀 Sarah and I have worked really hard on this one, and we hope you enjoy it. So here is Part 2 and the conclusion of “A Secret Too Well Kept”, a #FanFictionFriday #TeamInfirmary story by Sarah Nitsch and Kami Clements. 

 

 

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.”

 

 

 

Have a fabulous weekend Hearties. Feel free to watch this in your head if you start missing Hope Valley. No charge! 😉 This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!

Happy Friyay, Hearties! I’ve got a special treat for you today. With the unprecedented scheduling of the hiatus, I’ve had to be a little unorthodox about scheduling my posts. So this is the Hooked Heartie’s promise: until the break is over, I will post twice a week. I can’t say if it will be on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, but it will be on two of those days each week.

 

Now, for the treat! As most of you know, my friend Sarah Nitsch and I love to write WCTH fan fiction. When Season 4 ended, we got on the bandwagon of predicting what Jack’s return would be like in Season 5, and we were told we needed to post it in the Fan Fiction area. So then we decided to really write stories. That’s one of the ways we became such good friends, and what inspired us to start writing a novel together. We usually save them for the time in between the seasons. To us, there seemed to be little point in trying to come up with something creative only to have it disproven the next week…and it gave us something to do, (and you something to read,) while we waited for the next season. 

 

So when Sarah told me she had a fabulous idea for a #FanFictionFriday story, I said that was great, and let’s see if we could still write it to fit where the plot left off when Season 6 ended. Then the show went off the air. At first, we just cried! Then we were talking about the turn of events, and it hit me! We could use the time to write those stories Sarah had thought of. So, I now present for your reading pleasure, A Secret Too Well Kept. You all know the characters so well, you could probably watch a video of this story in your head; and it’ll be just as good as watching the show…okay, no it won’t, not even close; but at least it’s SOMETHING. 😉 Enjoy!

   

 

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.

 

 

Join me next Friday for Part 2. 😀 We’ll see you next week,  either on Monday or Wednesday. We’ll leave it to mystery. 😉 This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom! 

Can you believe it, Hearties??? We have arrived at the Friday before premiere day! This is my final post before we will see the first glimpse of the “hip and modern” Hope Valley, as Erin called it. Just a reminder, I’m having a premiere party on Monday evening, so if you’re going to be in the Austin, TX area, let me know so you can join us.

Also, you should know I’ve promised my guests that I would wait for them to watch the episode for the first time, so I will do a special post on Tuesday this time. But all the other new episodes will be reviewed on Monday, as I will be watching them very early Monday morning. This coming Monday will be AGONY, but hopefully, I will survive! 

Well, we have come to the conclusion of Crossing Wires. I still think I must have been crazy to write this. Most people will tell you I am NOT a #Henrigail fan. But it was actually fun writing something different; made me think outside the box. So, this being our last post before Season 6, I’ve decided to post the entire story. That way you can remind yourselves of the previous installments, and read the “much-anticipated ending”. (Cough, cough) 😀 So, I give you Crossing Wires, in its entirety:

                       

 

                                  CROSSING WIRES

Henry Gowen allowed half a smile to touch his lips, but only after ensuring he wasn’t being watched. His eyes softened, and the muscles in his shoulders began to relax as Abigail came into view, briefcase in hand. How lovely she looked, how calm and confident. Henry discreetly gazed at her forest-green clad figure as she crossed the street from her café to her office. Somehow, that office being formerly his wasn’t irritating him at the moment. His mind was far too occupied with wondering if that was a new gown, and how becoming her full golden curls looked when she left them unpinned.

Then Florence Blakely walked into his sightline, hands clasped, eyeing him down her nose very suspiciously. And just like that, Henry’s smile melted in the light of the sun, and his neck tensed again as he tipped his hat to Mrs. Blakely. She hesitantly went on her way, and he, slowly but efficiently, limped toward…where was he going? Ah! The mercantile! That seemed as logical a place as any, if only to cover his true errand this morning. As the sidewalk boards creaked and groaned under his boots, Henry let his mind wander back to Abigail. He was not comfortable with these sentiments that had slowly been overtaking him; slowly, but aggressively. He’d not felt this way for anyone since Nora; he didn’t even remember his feelings for her being so all-consuming. All the emotions suddenly became very exhausting; so, the mercantile forgotten, Henry took a seat on a nearby bench. Time passed as he sat almost motionless, pondering his predicament.

“But what can be done about it?” Henry asked himself aloud as he forcefully banged his cane down in frustration.

“Pardon me?” inquired a startled voice. Panicked, Henry looked up, but it was only Molly Sullivan, passing by on her way to the mercantile.

“Oh, nothing at all, Mrs. Sullivan. Good day to you.” He offered a somewhat forced and patronizing grin, and again tipped his hat. Mrs. Sullivan moved along, and Henry returned to his thoughts. You’re a fool, they chided him. Henry certainly had to agree. He’d already lost his status as the town’s public official, then most of his dignity with his prison sentence. Why would he sacrifice what was left of it for something that could never be?

“Planning your next business venture, Henry?” a familiar voice questioned. Henry knew that voice that always interrupted everything! He shook his head, and emitted a sardonic one-syllable chuckle before raising his eyes to meet those of Sheriff Bill Avery.

“Not at all, Bill. Just having a moment’s contemplation.”

“Is that so? What about?”

There was a long pause as Henry tried to mentally craft his next words, while attempting to stare Bill down. Unfortunately, Bill had an infamous glare of his own, so Henry settled for, “Nothing that concerns the local law.”

“Oh, so you’re going for something with a farther reach, huh?” Bill retorted.

Henry shook his head again, and squeezed his cane head extra hard before offering a very controlled, “Nothing that concerns…you…” Henry’s words trailed off as he heard someone approaching. It was Abigail, basket in hand, heading for the mercantile. Was it her lunch time already?

“Afternoon, Bill. Henry,” Abigail smiled as she walked between them. How fetching her smile is, Henry thought. He nodded and smiled in return, his eyes following her by their own volition as she passed by. He watched until the last glimpse of her disappeared into Ned’s store.

When Bill cleared his throat, Henry knew he’d made a mistake. He tried to remain aloof, but Bill’s snake eyes saw straight through his façade. “Henry,” Bill began as he sat down, uninvited, “may I tell you something as a…friend?” The word pushed past his teeth as if they were being pulled. He obviously hated saying it as much as Henry hated hearing it. At Henry’s grimace and skeptical glance, Bill gave an annoyed growl. “As someone you’ve shared a drink with then?”

“You’re welcome to try.”

Bill scoffed, then went on. “You might be able to fool some people, but I’ve known you too long. I know what you’re trying to do.”

“And what exactly might that be?” Henry countered. If Bill was going to spout unsolicited advice, Henry was going to make him say every bit of it.

Bill was never one to back down from a challenge, however, and he shot back, “You’re trying to alter yourself to appear as an eligible and appealing bachelor…a bachelor who will catch the eye of a certain lady who happens to hold your former position.” Once again, Bill had twisted everything around, but Henry refused to dignify his accusation with a response. There was a very long and tense pause.

Bill took the silence as relenting, though, and his eyes were filled with triumph. “Frankly, I don’t know why you think Abigail would want you to court her.”

“What wouldn’t I want, Bill?” Both men’s heads shot to the right like starter pistols. Abigail had already finished her shopping, and was heading straight for them to go back to her office, her basket bulging with supplies. Bill stumbled over his words momentarily when Abigail stopped in front of them, but he recovered quickly as he stood; too quickly, in fact. “I was just telling Henry here that you would never want to go to court again.”

Abigail visibly shuddered. “Ugh! Two experiences I will never forget, but never want to repeat; not unless it’s absolutely necessary, of course.”

Not only was Henry disappointed that Bill had been able to recover his blunder so smoothly, but he also couldn’t help wondering if those two experiences were so unpleasant to her because he was involved. He stood as well, and was just opening his mouth to strike up some pleasant conversation, and leave Bill’s “advice” in the dust, when a voice across Main Street turned Abigail away from him…leaving his mouth gaping to catch the flies.

“Mayor Stanton!” the voice called cheerfully. Henry felt bile rise in his throat, and sat back down as the new “distinguished gentleman” in town met Abigail in the middle of the road.

“Oh, good afternoon!” he heard her call back to…what was his name? It didn’t matter; the bad taste was there all the same. Ever since he’d arrived in Hope Valley, he’d been monopolizing a very large portion of Abigail’s time. “Business,” he’d said, but Henry knew better! How could he not be attracted to her? Henry reluctantly watched as the two walked back to the mayor’s office. He was certain he heard something about plans to meet the following evening, and her laugh echoed in his ears, like the memory of a fantasy.

Henry was yanked back to reality by the very real, and still lingering, presence of Bill, whose smugness was reaching new heights of glory. He winced.

“You see, Henry? Abigail needs someone stable, someone kind, someone without a record. Trust me when I tell you that you’re better off forgetting all about this little venture. Stick to business.” Bill stood and walked away, seeming very confident that he’d told Henry what’s what. But there was one thing Henry did realize from Bill’s little lecture: if he stayed silent much longer, his opportunity may pass him by like the train to Hamilton.

“We’ll just have to see about that, won’t we, Bill?” Henry whispered to himself.

                        TWO DAYS LATER

Abigail Stanton stood in a corner of her office, barely able to contain her excitement. Her cheeks were as pink as her blouse, and her hands fidgeted with each other as she watched workmen from the telephone company install Hope Valley’s very first telephone. This day had been a long time coming! Abigail had checked and double checked, stretched and saved the town’s budget until the expense could be covered. Now it was finally happening, and she felt she was doing her job as the mayor to bring her town into the modern age.

When the four men exited, Abigail didn’t dare move. She was glad she hadn’t when they returned, straining to keep the switchboard balanced between them. Her eyes grew wide, and her breathing tensed. Goodness, that was big! How was one person to handle all that? Then they began to connect all the wires, and she felt full-blown panic set in. There were so many!

“Pardon me, gentlemen,” Abigail inquired, trying to remain composed, “what happens if the wires get crossed?”

“You end up with a mess of a tangle, ma’am,” the head man snickered, and the others laughed with him. Abigail joined in, albeit it was stilted and reluctant. Sensing her genuine concern, he gave a serious explanation. “All joking aside, Madam Mayor, wires have to be crossed sometimes to complete a telephone call. The important things to remember are where the call originates, and how to make the right connection.”

“Aha, I see,” she acknowledged, wishing she felt calmer about this entire ordeal. It was exciting, but a big responsibility! Then Abigail remembered something! She wouldn’t have to deal with the switchboard at all! What a burden off her shoulders! She was just starting to breathe normally again when something chased all the air from her lungs.

“Abigail!” Rosemary said a little too loudly for standing at the open office door, mere feet away from Abigail’s ears. Even the workmen were startled. Luckily, they hadn’t been holding anything heavy at the moment.

“Oh, Rosemary! Oh, you gave me a fright!”

“I’m sorry. I just had to see this! I did knock, but you looked so preoccupied, I thought it better to just let myself in.

“Oh.” Of course you did, Abigail thought as she rolled her eyes; but she couldn’t help but smile. With Elizabeth in school this time of day, she was grateful to have a friend with whom to share this moment. Speaking of which… “Have you seen Bill? I thought he’d want to see this.”

“I passed him on my way here,” Rosemary explained. She then went into storytelling mode, deepening her voice to imitate Bill. “He called the installation of the telephone ‘a lot of fuss and bother’, and made up some excuse about having ‘a mountain of paperwork’. He’ll come over later.” Rosemary turned her attention to the workmen finishing their task of hooking up the telephone system, and clapped with excitement. “Isn’t this thrilling? A telephone in Hope Valley! Lee said he would have one installed in our home too!”

“Well, isn’t that wonderful!” Abigail replied. Just then, the lead workman planted the telephone in her hands, and tipped his hat.

“There you are, Mayor Stanton. You’re all set, and ready to go.” He walked out, and the others followed suit, tipping their hats in turn.

“Thank you,” Abigail called to them, a little unsure if she should move or not. The lead workman noticed her sudden stillness, came back up the steps, and added, “We made the wire extra long, so you can even carry it outside.”

Abigail sighed and smiled in relief. “Well, in that case, I’ll walk you out…part way, at least.”

Abigail and Rosemary walked to the edge of the staircase, and watched him descend, and get into the driver seat of the company automobile. The four of them gave a final wave as they drove away. Rosemary waved back, and Abigail gave a smiling nod, as her hands were a little full.

“Oh, Abigail! I keep meaning to ask you, who is going to run that giant switchboard? You can’t possibly do it all, not with everything you already have to do! I’d offer to do it myself, but…”

“Actually, Rosemary, that’s what I was thinking about when you came in. I was feeling overwhelmed about that very notion, then suddenly, I remembered! I hired a woman named Fiona Miller. She’s a telephone operator from Union City. With everything going on, I had honestly forgotten. But now, I can…”

Abigail was interrupted by an unfamiliar, shrill sound. She looked down, only to realize that the object sitting in her hands, the town’s telephone…was ringing.

Abigail froze. It worked. The telephone worked! Two rings. Abigail could hardly believe it! She had the honor of being the mayor in a frontier town that actually had a telephone. Now it was ringing! Three rings. “It’s ringing,” Abigail said quietly, but her excitement kept building. “It’s really ringing!” she cried to Rosemary. Four rings.

Rosemary could only laugh with joy, her signature smile decorating her face from ear to ear. “Yes, it is!” Five rings. “Well? Abigail?”

“What?” Six rings.

“Are ya gonna answer it?” Bill yelled from the jail. Obviously, the ring could be heard down the street, and he’d ventured out from under the “mountain of paperwork” to see what was all the commotion.

Seven rings. “Oh!” Abigail exclaimed while Rosemary giggled at her flustered manner. Abigail lifted the receiver, and let it dangle in her fingers for just a moment before putting it to her ear.

“H-Hello? Hope Valley, M-Mayor Abigail Stanton speaking.”

“Hello, Mayor Stanton. This is former Mayor Gowen.”

“Henry???” Abigail said, very surprised. Rosemary looked on completely baffled, and for once, completely speechless. Bill looked downright shocked, and even a little angry. Obviously, he thought Henry wasn’t the person to commemorate such a milestone. Abigail looked at the contraption as if it held the answer. Then her eyes immediately scanned the streets, trying to find him. Silly! she scolded herself. He’s on the telephone. Of course I won’t see him! “Where are you calling from?”

“Benson Hills. Am I, indeed, Hope Valley’s very first telephone call?”

“You certainly are, but why on earth did you want to be?”

“Well, I thought one momentous occasion deserved another.”

“And the other is?”

“Abigail, I know we’ve not always seen eye to eye; in fact, it hasn’t happened very often at all. I know in the past I have made your life rather miserable, but for some strange reason, despite all that, you still seem to believe in me. Well, I’d like to return that kindness with a gesture of good faith.”

“By doing what, exactly?”

“Well, I’d like to bring you here to Benson Hills next Thursday evening, and take you out for a fine meal…if you’re willing.”

Abigail’s mind began reeling! The last time Henry had asked her to join him for a meal, it had been lunch, the idea had made her insides crawl, and she’d pondered the repercussions of using her skillet as a weapon. Abigail shuddered as she also remembered using the incident as a way to find evidence that Henry had been responsible for the death of her husband, her son, and half the men in Coal Valley. For that last reason alone, Abigail knew she should decline; but for some unknown cause, she hesitated.

“What did he say, Abigail?” Rosemary’s insistent question startled her back to the present.

Abigail covered the mouthpiece of the receiver, hoping that would muffle the sound enough for Henry to not overhear them. “He’s…he’s asking me to dinner.” She was glad Bill was too far away to hear; this would put him over the edge. But he was staring. He took a few steps to come over, but Abigail put up a hand to stop him.

“Oh dear!” Rosemary’s baffled expression took on a bit of concern. “Well, are you going to accept?”

“I…I don’t know.”

“Abigail?” questioned Henry’s voice.

“Yes, I’m still here.”

“So, w-would you like to join me for dinner next Thursday?”

Abigail could hear the nervousness in his voice, and felt for the poor man. Should she accept? The idea sounded crazy! Although, it was just dinner. But still, should she start this? Then the telephone workman’s words returned to her mind:

Wires have to be crossed sometimes to complete a telephone call. The important things to remember are where the call originates, and how to make the right connection.

Well, she definitely knew the origin of this encounter; and even if she didn’t know the outcome just yet, maybe now was the right time to make a connection. Hopefully it was a right one

Abigail was still feeling hesitant and unsure. Maybe she wouldn’t accept. But despite her hesitation, a smile crept it’s way to her lips. “I’ll consider it.”

                                      THE END

 

Well, everyone, have a marvelous weekend, and I hope you love the first episode of Season 6. This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!