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!