Okay, everybody! Why bother? Let’s just skip the niceties, and go straight to the story. Enjoy!

 

 

Elizabeth’s left hand cupped her mouth as she gasped, and tears sprang to her eyes. Nate saw a glint of sunlight reflecting off her wedding band, and squeezed his eyes shut with self-loathing. For a moment, he wished he HAD died in that accident. He would have given anything to have traded places that day so Jack could be here in Hope Valley, with Elizabeth where he belonged. But sadly, things didn’t turn out that way.

When Nate looked at Elizabeth again, he was sorry he had. She was crying quietly behind her hand, tears streaming down her cheeks. He wondered if she might slap him. He certainly wouldn’t have blamed her; in fact, it would have made him feel better. But what did happen was something he never expected. Elizabeth regained her composure: took a few deep breaths, wiped her tears, then gently placed her hand on his forearm. Nate stared in shock, but Elizabeth offered a small, empathizing smile. “This must have been very difficult for you, Constable Grant.”

Nate stammered, completely taken aback. “Y-yes ma’am, it certainly was!” he finally admitted, then felt like one of those rocks had been lifted from his shoulders. “I didn’t know what you’d think of me, what you’d say. I know you probably resent me, Mrs. Thornton, but believe me when I say that I would have switched places with Ja- Constable Thornton in a heartbeat!”

“I’m sure you would have, Constable Grant,” said Elizabeth, taking her hand back, and readjusting her books in her arms. “And let me assure you, that while I never imagined coming face to face with one of you, I promise I don’t hate you. My husband was a very duty-bound and protective man. If it hadn’t been you, it would have been someone else.”

“That’s true enough, ma’am.” Then Nate genuinely smiled for the first time since he got to town. “He loved you so much, Mrs. Thornton. He was always talking about you, and he showed me a picture of you. That’s how I knew who you were. Elizabeth bashfully smiled at the ground, and tucked a stray hair behind her ear. “And there’s more…” Nate’s face turned serious again as he held a folded and ashy-looking paper out to her. “He asked me to give this to you before he died.”

Elizabeth looked almost nervous as she unfolded the page, and rubbed her fingers together to rid them of the dust. One glance, and her eyes widened in shock. “How did he know?!”

 

 

Part 5 coming your way next Friday for #FanFictionFriday! Ill be back on Monday with a special treat for you. This is Hooked Heartie, signing off! May your heart let your hope blossom!

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