Less than 2 weeks to go! Let’s kick off THIS week with a little atypical sentimentality. If you tuned in last week, (you’re welcome to go back if you missed it,) I went over my personal choices of Bill’s Top 11 Tough Guy Moments; 11 so I wouldn’t be stereotypical. And if you remember correctly, I promised a post that featured the opposite. So here are my personal choices for Bill’s Top 5 Softie Moments, (I decided to make it a more classic number this time). You’ll notice I didn’t put anything about Abigail, Nora, or Dottie. No, I’m not ignoring those moments, or the romance. I just want to focus more on the teddy bear moments rather than the Don Juan ones; especially when he’s got the reputation of the muscle in town

  1. Bill plays Dr. Phil to Dr. Shepherd. You’d expect the great Inspector Avery to stand up for, or pull a gun out for someone in town. What might come as a surprise is that he sits down, and has a heart to heart with a struggling soul. But Bill takes the time to soothe Carson’s troubled heart, telling him he did everything he could for Cody, and expresses confidence in his medical abilities.

 

  1. Sticking up for Timmy and performing in the talent show. Did you ever think you’d see the same man who barked, “ Give me a reason to pull the trigger,” singing “This Little Light of Mine”? It’s absolutely precious and so endearing to see him reassure Timmy that music is, indeed, NOT for babies, then take it a step further by singing with a whole group of children.

 

  1. Teaching Cody to throw a baseball. Poor Cody! He’s trying so hard to live life without his only family (Becky), he’s trying to fit in and make friends, and he’s trying to impress those boys with no help. Luckily, Bill is observant enough to see that Cody needs a little boost, and he does it himself. Good thing Bill knows baseball, and can pass on said wisdom.

 

  1. Talking Robert out of running away. This one almost got the number one slot since it is so adorable. I love how Bill not only takes the time to talk to him, but he gives him life examples, and his own experience to illustrate the point. At that point, we hadn’t seen Robert’s father, so it’s nice to witness someone teaching a little boy how to be a man.

 

  1. Can you guess! “Now that is a sight I never thought I’d see.” BILL AS SANTA! Is there any other softer way to show you’re a pushover than by bringing happiness to children dressed as the jolly old man himself? Good thing the “tough guy reputation” had been solidified, or he’d be in big trouble!

 Have a great week! See you on Wednesday! 

 

Well, everybody, here it is! The final #FanFictionFriday of the season. I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed them, because Sarah and I have loved writing them. Thank you for all the support! Now we’ll have to see how close we come, because our Christmas stories weren’t even REMOTELY close. Make sure you read last week’s story first, as this is a sequel of sorts. Without further ado, here is “A Shadowed Heart”, by Kami Clements and Sarah Nitsch.  

 

A Shadowed Heart

Jack collapsed into the chair behind his desk, his head fell into his hands.  His arms were shaking, and were only steadied by his quivering knees.  It was happening again!

No, no, NO!  Jack begged himself as he pushed a fist against his closed eyelids.  Not now!  Elizabeth was due at the jail any moment, and thus far, he had kept this from her.  But nothing could stay the horrible plague now: the horrible plague of war.  Jack’s mind was overtaken: the smells of the gunpowder and rotting flesh, the feel of every cannon shot that shook the earth beneath him, the sounds of pistols fired and men screaming in pain, the metallic taste of blood in his mouth when he was thrown from Sergeant…

Jack’s eyes flew open, and he put his fingers to his lips to ensure there was no red residue.  He looked toward the door in time to see the ashen, ghostly face of one of his fallen soldiers.  Jack’s skin went cold, his eyes widened, and he couldn’t catch his breath as his comrade reached toward him.

“You didn’t save me,” the soldier wheezed.  “Why, Jack?  Why?

“I tried,” Jack gasped out in short breaths, trembling with panic.  “I really tried.”

The soldier limped closer, his bloody hand coming ever closer to Jack’s shoulder.  “Jack!  Jack!”  Jack bolted from his seat, and grabbed the wrist; then he was looking into the terrified face of Elizabeth, and the phantom face melted away.  His eyes darted downward.  Instead of a soldier’s bloody paw, there was only Elizabeth’s dainty fingers, with his ring adorning one of them.  With a groan of both fear and frustration, he released her gruffly, and started to pace.

Elizabeth forced her breathing to slow as she watched Jack circle the room like a caged animal.  She was worried.  In the weeks that had followed his homecoming, she had seen the haunted look on his countenance more and more often.  Elizabeth knew Jack thought he was keeping it from her, but she’d have to be blind not to see the look of death itself in his eyes.  She just didn’t understand it, and she wanted to change that.

Jack had finally stopped pacing, and wearily sank into his chair, squeezing the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger.  Elizabeth approached him as she would a skittish child on their first day of school.  She tentatively touched his arm.  “Jack?”  Jack reluctantly raised his gaze, looking for all the world like he’d rather be anywhere but here.  “Jack, please tell me what’s wrong.  You know you can talk to me about anything.”  No answer.  “Jack, please?  I know something has been tearing you apart inside, and I want to help.” 

Jack looked sharply at her, trying not to be angry.  He thought he was concealing it; of course he couldn’t, not from her.  “That’s just it, Elizabeth!”  he responded defensively.  “I can’t tell you!  I can’t expose you to that kind of horror.  I spend my time trying to forget all of that!”

“But you won’t,” Elizabeth shot back.  “You won’t forget about it, so let me help you through it.”

Jack paused a moment, considering Elizabeth’s words.  No, he wouldn’t forget these terrifying images, not any time soon.  Maybe he should talk to her about it.  She was going to be his wife, after all.  Jack immediately shook his head, as if to physically shake off the idea.  Out of the question!  Part of his duty as her husband was to protect her.  He wasn’t going to let her experience even a fraction of the nightmares he was seeing in his head.  No, he would handle this himself!  His face took on a look of stern resolve, and he turned determined eyes back to his fiancée.  “There’s nothing you can do,” he replied, cold as ice.  The look of shock on Elizabeth’s beautiful face nearly made him flinch, but he held his ground.  “Please, go.  I need to be alone.”  He turned away, unable to look at her anymore.

Elizabeth knew with that look and that tone, there was no talking sense to him now.  “All right, Jack.  I’ll go.”  She barely made it through the door and got it closed before she had to lean against it to let the tears spill.

Jack didn’t budge when he heard the door open, but when he heard it shut, he thought he’d made a mistake.  He charged at the door, ready to take Elizabeth in his arms, and pour out his whole soul to her.  But the door was like a blockade stopping Jack in his tracks.  He leaned his head on the door in defeat, then turned to lean against it with a sigh of frustration.  How was he going to get through this?

Elizabeth tried to calm her emotions, but to no avail.  She just stood there, leaning back on the door, silently spilling her sorrow, and trying not to care that people were starting to stare.  It wasn’t supposed to be like this!  Everything was supposed to be perfect when Jack got back!  Elizabeth felt lost; she didn’t know what to do.  Abigail.  The name alone had a calming effect.  Abigail will know what to do.  Elizabeth cleared her throat, wiped her tears, stood straight, then crossed Main Street to the café.  She opened the door to find the place devoid of customers.  She must have missed the lunch rush.  That was a relief!  Abigail looked up at the sound, and smiled brightly to see Elizabeth come in.  The smile faded when she saw the shine of fresh tears on Elizabeth’s cheeks.  Abigail rushed to her friend, and enfolded her in a soothing embrace, no questions asked.  “Everything will be all right,” she whispered.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Elizabeth did feel better after having a cup of tea and a scone…and talking things through.  She still felt troubled though.  “Why does it have to be this way, Abigail?  My greatest wish to have him home and uninjured has come true, but nothing is right!”

“But Elizabeth,” Abigail reasoned, “what if he isn’t uninjured.”  

“What do you mean?”

“His mind and heart have been scarred, Elizabeth.  Think about all he’s been through, all the terrible things he’s seen.  That became daily life for him: always worrying about his men, and watching so many of them die, always suspecting danger around the next corner, always thinking that bullet passing his ear could have ended his life.  Now he’s suddenly taken out of all that.  He’s trying to get used to a life where he doesn’t have to constantly look over his shoulder; trying to put away all those awful sights and sounds.  I even dare say he has something I’ve heard of called shell shock.  The brain gets rattled from all the explosions, and causes him to panic. How do you think he’s feeling?”

Elizabeth was stunned into silence.  Of course!  How could she not realize?  The pieces began coming together as she spoke her thoughts aloud.  “You’re right.  All that time Jack was away, I only prayed for him to come home alive, that I would see him again.  Then he came home with no serious injury, and I counted myself extra blessed.  I knew he would need time to adjust and mourn his lost friends, but I never considered that it could go so deep.  I just assumed that after a few months, he’d be fine.  Oh, I feel so guilty now!  He’s not fine, Abigail.  He’s…different.  We’re different.  It feels like we’re on completely different paths.”

 “No,” Abigail wisely countered.  “It’s true your path has changed.  It’s rockier to be sure, and probably a bit longer than you planned.  But your destination is still the same.  You just need to find a way to walk that path together.”

 Elizabeth considered this, but there was still something else.  “How do I do it?  He won’t let me in; he won’t even really talk to me.

“Then you have to show him you love him despite this rock in your path.”

 “More like a boulder,” Elizabeth muttered ruefully.  Then she sighed.  “But how do I do that?”  

Abigail took her hand.  “I can’t answer that one for you.  Listen to your heart.  You’ll think of something.”  She could tell Elizabeth needed some time to mull things over.  She patted Elizabeth’s hand, then stood to collect and wash the dishes.  Elizabeth just sat, staring at nothing in particular, thinking about her past with Jack.  Her mind wandered over their first meeting, the spider incident in the row boat, their first kiss on the hill, the first time he told her he loved her after he’d lifted her as though she were weightless, the relief of him being alive after being ill with pneumonia, his proposal with all the beautiful candles and rose petals…Elizabeth’s eyes suddenly brightened, and a mischievous smile crept its way to her mouth.  She had an idea.

 The next evening, Jack was still distressed.  He hadn’t had any more visions, but he hadn’t seen Elizabeth since she’d flown out like her skirt was on fire.  Now that things had settled down a bit, Jack knew he’d overreacted.  He just didn’t know how to fix things.  He’d just bowed his head to pray for help when a gentle knock sounded at the door, and there she was, coming in the doorway.  Jack felt his heart race with nervousness.  He so wanted to patch things up between them, he just didn’t know the course.  Well, no time like the present to figure it out.  “Elizabeth,” he started.  “Elizabeth, I…”  Jack sighed, and ran a hand through his hair.  “I really don’t know what to say,” he admitted.

Elizabeth smiled sympathetically, and took his hand.  “Then let me help you.  Jack, I know you saw some terrible things up north.  Why won’t you share them with me?”

 Jack sighed again.  “I told you, Elizabeth.  I can’t share them with you.  Up there…it was worse than anything you could possibly imagine.  I would never forgive myself if I subjected you to any of that.  And now, I don’t know if I can even…”

“Jack,” Elizabeth interrupted gently.  Jack stopped.  He’d expected her to get upset again, so her soft tone took him off guard.

“What?”

“Take a walk with me.” 

Jack’s eyes widened.  Of all the things she could have said, that was the last he’d expected.  “Elizabeth,” Jack said in a business-like tone, “I don’t think this is the time to…”

“Jack,” Elizabeth implored, holding her hand out to him the way he often used to, “take a walk with me?”

Jack felt his heart soften.  The glow of her eyes and the love in her voice told him he probably should go along.  He smiled for the first time in days, took her hand, and replied, “Is there a reason for this walk?”

“There is,” Elizabeth stated with conviction, “and it might be a little long,” she added as she grabbed a lantern.  Jack wondered how far they could be walking, but he followed his bride-to-be out of the jail and down Main Street.

As they walked, Jack realized they were headed toward the land he’d bought.  Maybe she had a new idea for the house or the garden she wanted to show him.  They’d have to be quick, he observed, as they were quickly losing daylight.  When they weren’t far from the property, Jack saw several lights in the distance.  He looked inquisitively at Elizabeth, but she only smiled, and kept walking.  As they arrived, Jack felt his heart melt completely.  What looked like a good half-acre was covered in candles, very similar to what he’d done at the church when he’d proposed to her.  “What’s all this?” he asked, emotion filling his voice.

Elizabeth set the lantern down, faced her fiancé, and took both his hands.  “Jack, I love you.  More than that, I am in love with you, and I can’t wait for us to spend our lives together.  That means for better and for worse.  So whatever it is you’re struggling with, I’m not going anywhere; I’m staying right here by your side.  I just hope you’ll let me into your heart again, and let me share this burden with you; because your pain is my pain.”

Jack couldn’t hold back the tears any longer.  He hadn’t cried like this since he lost Doug; he was overcome.  Oh how he loved her!  Then show her, a voice said to him inside his head.  “Oh, Elizabeth!” he cried hoarsely, then pulled her close, and pressed his mouth over hers.  He kissed her like she was water, and he was a man who had crossed a desert.  Why had he denied himself this beautiful connection when it replenished his soul so completely?  He kissed her on and on, and when he released her lips, he spread tender kisses all over her face and throughout her hair.  Then he took her face into his hands to just gaze at her, and marvel at her beauty, inside and out.  His next thought couldn’t go unsaid:  “How did I ever live without you?!”  He kissed her once more, then put his arms around her to just hold her close.  Without letting go, he positioned their arms into a waltz and began to dance with her, their faces close together. 

Do it now, the same voice inside Jack’s head told him after a bit.  Tell her!  Jack gently stopped the dancing, took the lantern in one hand and Elizabeth’s hand in the other, and led her to the log to sit.  He put his elbows on his knees, and took a deep breath.  “It started about a week after I got home.  At first, it wasn’t too bad: I’d close my eyes and see a blast every once in a while, or look behind me when things got too quiet, sure that someone was following me.  But the last few weeks, it’s gotten worse.  I can see everything like it happened yesterday.  I can smell all that gunpowder, and taste blood in my mouth.  But then a few days ago, something truly terrifying happened:  I saw him.”  He paused, trying to gather the courage to go on.

“Saw who?” Elizabeth prodded.

Jack blew out a breath.  “I saw one of my men who got killed.  I watched him die, Elizabeth.  One of those gang members,” he almost spat the words, “took aim and fired right at his heart without a second thought.  I tried to run to push him out of the way, but I wasn’t fast enough.  I wasn’t fast enough!” he repeated harshly.  He finally faced her.  “I saw him again in my office right before you came in yesterday.  I saw him as plainly as I see you now.  It was so real!  I’m haunted, Elizabeth,” he acknowledged.  “I’m haunted.  And if this keeps happening, I can’t protect you.  I can’t take care of you.”  Jack took a cleansing breath, feeling a little better already.  “That’s what’s been happening to me; that’s why I’ve pushed you away.  I’m afraid I won’t be able to take care of you.”

“Oh Jack. I’m so sorry!”  Elizabeth could only hug him, hoping she could take some of the fear away.  Please, God, Elizabeth prayed silently as she squeezed her eyes shut.  Please give me the words to say.  Almost instantly, words flooded into her mind, and her eyes popped open.  She eased back to look into Jack’s lamp-lit hazel eyes.  “Jack, let me make one thing very clear: I don’t need a husband to take care of me; I need an equal partner so we can take care of each other.”

Jack’s emotional sigh was filled with relief and love, and more tears.  He returned his hands to her face.  “I love you!  I love you so much!”  Jack slowly looked around at all the candles, then an idea appeared in his mind.  His hands dropped to her hands, and one knee hit the earth beneath them.  “Elizabeth Thatcher, will you still marry me?”

 Now Elizabeth cried a few tears of relief.  She touched his face, and replied, “I can think of no greater honor, Jack Thornton.”  She joined him kneeling on the ground, and kissed him deeply, finally feeling their spirits connect once again. 

Photo credit: Crown Media
Edit by: Mary Schmidt

Hello, hello, hello! Happy Hump Day! I hope your week is going smoothly, and you have the fortitude to make it to the weekend. Before we get to today’s topic, there’s a list that I thought you might be “wondering” about, or at least slightly interested in. I’ve been watching “Psych” lately, since it came on Hallmark’s Movies and Mysteries, (and I heard Pascale Hutton was in the pilot). I can also watch it without my husband grumbling too much, hee hee. Anyway, to my surprise, “Psych” was filmed in Vancouver, not California. And you wouldn’t believe how many WCTH actors are in this show, never mind Hallmark regulars. I’ve just finished Season 5, and here’s the list:

 Pascale Hutton (Rosemary) – S1 E1
 Steve Bacic (Spurlock) – S1 E4
 Anne Marie DeLuise (Aunt Caroline) – S1 E4
 Chelah Horsdal (Cat Montgomery) – S1 E13
 Terence Kelly (Sam Bailey) – S2 E7
 Karin Konoval (Aunt Agatha) – S2 E12
 Jill Noonan (Carla) – S3 E9
 James Brolin (Judge Black) – S4 E3
 Lynda Boyd (Mrs. Thatcher) – S4 E3
 Devon Weisel (Viola) – S4 E9
 Alex Zahara (Beau’s Father) – S4 E14
 Adam Greydon Reid (Mr. Stoneman) – S5 E3
 Derek Hamilton (DeWitt Graves) – S5 E5

Quite a list, isn’t it? This crowd really gets around. And add this to the mix: in S2 E1, the character of Shawn says, “For the love of Lori Loughlin!” while watching a particularly frustrating part of a TV show. It made me giggle so hard!

Now for today’s #WonderWednesday movie. On some recent visits to the official fan page, I noticed quite a few people were re-watching Erin’s movie, “Chance at Romance”, or were seeing it for the first time. It seemed to have a very good impression on several, so I thought that would be a fun choice. And who doesn’t love Patricia Richardson with her quick wit, loveable sarcasm, and motherly nature?

First of all, can you believe Erin plays a CHEF! After WCTH and “Cookie Cutter Christmas”, we’ve seen her be pretty incompetent in the kitchen. Then here, she plays someone who makes 48 pot pies in one sitting, and starts an online Pot Pie of the Month Club. I bet she really enjoyed portraying someone with that specific skill. Those pot pies would definitely be worth $3 each at an auction, and they might even beat out Rosemary’s chicken fried steak. Watching those scenes made me crave one horribly. And Sam (Erin) works at a café of all places! The very beginning, her bustling around with a coffee pot, it reminded me of something Abigail said to Clara: “Keep the coffee cups filled, and they won’t squawk.” That looked to be exactly what she was doing. But the plot doesn’t tip the scale too much, as Erin’s character is incredible with kids!

What a whiz kid he is! You only come across a genius 12-year-old once in a blue moon; and on top of it, Donny is a ruthless schemer! That’s a very dangerous combination! And when a father is aware of how crafty his son is, is it a wise decision to put him in charge of a website? You got to give him credit though. He knows how to pick ‘em, and he can sweet talk a woman better than his dad…at least at first.

And that profile he came up with! It reminds me of a resume for a secretary position. But Donny is very business-minded, so I guess it fits. I was actually curious as to what was on Sam’s personality profile that deemed her “PERFECT” in Donny’s eyes. It’s only flashed for a second, and all we really see are a glimpse of his written notes/reactions. So I paused the movie at just the right moment, and here’s what I found:

 Sam likes baking, tulips, black licorice, and art. Donny wrote “Yes!” (I had wondered how Donny knew her favorite flower and candy since that’s never mentioned.)
 Sam’s eyes are blue. Donny wrote “good”.
 Sam has no allergies. Donny wrote “great!” (Very helpful for living in the country.)
 Sam likes classic country music, classic rock, and top hits. Donny put brackets around country music, and wrote “Nice”
 There’s no comment attached to this one, but I found it amusing. Under “Dislikes”, Sam put: “Men who are too attached to their mothers, bad dates.” Both must stem from her string of bad luck, especially Joel.

Ryan McPartlin was a surprise choice in this role for me. I’ve only ever seen him in roles where he’s a perpetual Peter Pan, or slightly on the ditzy side. Here, he’s a widower, a father with a career, and even slightly famous. It just took me a moment to get used to it. One thing I totally LOVED was the scene when he shaved. So many male actors, (and the characters they play,) are covered in scruff. Whiskers seem to be “the thing” in several films, especially Hallmark films. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m a clean-shaven girl. I can’t imagine a man who doesn’t have an actual beard not shaving before his wedding…or that kind of thing. So I very much appreciated Heath (Ryan) shaving as part of his “dress to impress process”. But how disappointing that he was named after the candy bar instead of Wuthering Heights. Hee hee.

I’ll end with a note about the photography. Whoever they hired to snap those shots was a good choice. They really captured an already-beautiful woman, and made her exquisite. She wasn’t a bad model either! Heath’s favorite picture was the one of her in the pink shirt looking down. That one is gorgeous. I think if I had to pick one, I’d pick one with the pies since it’s her favorite thing to do.

Well, lovelies, the time has come. I hope you’ll come back on Friday, because I’ll be posting another short story! And it might be the last for a while because I like to fill in gaps between seasons with my stories. Make sure you read last Friday’s story first though. Toodooloo!

 

Hello, Hearties! How was the weekend? Do anything exciting? I finally finished my WCTH marathon, from the pilot to “The Wishing Tree”, so I’m officially ready for Season 5. But, it only took me about a month, and for a mother of 3 kids who love the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, that’s GOT to be some kind of record!

So on to today’s topic! I thought it might be fun to break out of the box a little bit. And Jack Wagner needs a turn. On a side note, does anybody else find it hilarious that he basically talks to himself every time he calls Jack’s name? Buh dum ch!

Anyway, I recently watched an interview with Jack Wagner, and he called Bill “the James Bond of Hope Valley”. That is a very interesting way to put it, and one I never would have thought of. Thank goodness none of James Bond’s behavior of indiscretions is present in the series, right?! Whether or not you think of Bill as Bond, we all know he’s the resident tough guy….besides Jack. So here are Kami’s personal choices for Bill Avery’s Top 11 Tough Guy Moments, (nope! No cliché Top 10 here!)

  1. This one is a “softie tough guy” moment since he’s standing up for a child. Any guesses? Season 3, when Bill dares Robert to have a problem with him being a musician. That sure gave Timmy confidence!
  1. This one doesn’t last long, but it teaches people new to town that you don’t mess with Bill. Season 4, when Dr. Strohm accuses him of favoring Carson after breaking up their fight. His reply: “You accusing me of not doing my job?” That line said with those eyes staring you down…the good doctor made the right call.
  1. Since we’ve never seen Bill in the uniform, we sometimes forget, (at least I do,) that Bill was a Mountie. But we are very soon reminded of that fact with Bill’s quick reactions when the Tate boys tried to rob the bank of the railroad payroll in Season 4. And that demanding voice insisting, “Drop it!” would intimidate any criminal.
  1. This involves different scenarios, but all centered on the same theme: Inspector Houston. There are a lot of different moments when Bill went head to head with Houston in Season 2, so I’ve put them all together. Houston thought he was so smart and sneaky. He should have known better than to go up against the dynamic duo of Hope Valley. My favorite line that illustrates Bill’s attitude toward Houston is: “We both know who’s guilty.” Menacing and gravely voice!
  1. Whenever there’s revenge or a vendetta to achieve, get out of the way! And when that involves a man’s best friend and the late husband of a woman that man is trying to impress, run and HIDE! That was Bill being a huge tough guy when he caught Garrison in Season 3. Thank goodness Jack stopped him from being an even bigger tough guy, and spending the rest of his life behind bars.
  1. All undercover agents have to be tough guys; it’s part of the job description. Bill embodies this perfectly when he goes under cover as a counterfeiter in Season 2. He never lets his face flinch for a moment. I have to admit, I had no idea whether Bill was a hero or a villain at that point. Talk about tough!
  1. This one is quite amusing, but there’s no denying that Bill is very intimidating here. You’ve heard the expression “Kiss the cook”? That is NOT likely to happen when Bill is wearing the apron, or holding a rolling pin. Because as we know from Season 4, Bill gets “really steamed” when his cooking gets criticized. I feel sorry for those poor men who didn’t have a clue as to who they were dealing with.
  1. Villains always need to be challenged; things need to be shaken up for the bad guy. They need to be reminded who is in charge. Gowen gets served in Season 1 after he sends his goons to beat Bill up. Bill shows Henry just how much of a tough guy he is by telling him, in so many words, that he was going down! “I like worms; good for fishing.”
  1. Speaking of villains, have you noticed that lots of them are wealthy and greedy? In Season 2, we see an example of how low a wealthy man will go to have power over someone. And Clara was the victim. What does Bill do? He insists on handling the case, even though Abigail wants nothing to do with him. Then he swoops in and gets Clara out with his razor-sharp eyes, low voice, and very convincing words. Total tough guy.
  1. It was hard to not give this one the #1 slot. Season 4, and two words: AJ Foster. ALL his dealings with AJ scream “tough guy”, she even calls him that. And boy, does she need it; she just doesn’t learn her lesson.
  1. OK, here’s the #1 Tough Guy Moment. Watching this scene is actually how I got the idea to do this list. It’s a very serious moment; very intense and menacing, and frightens the crook out of his boots. Want to guess before I reveal? (Theme from Jeopardy playing.) Season 3, getting Dottie’s money back from that thief of an insurance agent. It’s the perfect blend: he’s menacing but not violent, he knows exactly what to say concerning legal matters, and Dottie gets her money. It’s perfect!

 Tune in next Monday for the next edition of this series.

 

Okay, Hearties, here you go!  It’s #FanFictionFriday, and it’s a biggie!  This is the first story I’ve written to be published straight to the blog.  This is one way to envision Jack’s permanent return home.  This one has been a long time in the making.  Sarah Nitsch and I strated playing with this idea at least 3 months ago, if not longer.  So have fun reading “Halley’s Comet”, written by Kami Clements and Sarah Nitsch.

 

Elizabeth sat on her porch, wrapped in her favorite shawl, staring at nothing in particular. These nights with Jack gone seemed to weigh down her shoulders like an anvil of loneliness. The darkness seemed endless, pushing into her face. She anxiously waited for the stars to appear to pin it back in the sky where it belonged. A few stray tears trailed down her cheek. Elizabeth brushed them away, blaming the chilly night air for the sting in her eyes. She ruefully rolled her eyes, and shook her head. Of course she was fooling herself. The melancholy heartbreak she’d experienced since Jack left after Christmas reminded Elizabeth of those sorrowful days when he’d briefly been reassigned to Cape Fullerton. She hadn’t known then if Jack would ever come back; at least she knew now. A few more days, Elizabeth coached herself inwardly. Just a few more days, and THEN he’ll the home. “For good,” she added aloud.

There had been an article in the newspaper that the syndicates and gangs up north had surrendered, and the fighting had finally come to an end. Then, just a few days later, Elizabeth had received that long-anticipated telegram that STILL filled her with unspeakable bliss: Jack was coming home! She’d broken down right there in the mercantile, and shed MANY tears of relief. Of course, Abigail’s shoulder had been readily available to absorb all that moisture; as was her sister Julie’s!

Elizabeth finally smiled as the memory of her sister’s astonishing arrival mingled with the sounds of her moving around in the guest bedroom upstairs. What an ironic turn of events, Julie turning up unexpectedly two times Jack was forced to depart Hope Valley. Strangely enough, that familiar twist of fate was very comforting to Elizabeth now.

Preferring “comforted” to “downcast”, she closed her eyes to soak in all the familiarity around her: a few horses nickering as they settled in for the night, the wind breezing its way across the pond, Lee and Rosemary laughing next door, Julie humming to herself upstairs. Yes, she felt comforted. Now all she needed to feel completely at peace was to have Jack home safe and sound. Why was it that she felt his absence more acutely now that she knew he was headed this way? Maybe it was the anxiousness settling in, or the fear that something would happen to him when the danger was supposedly passed, and he was traveling home alone.

“Breathe,” Elizabeth reminded herself. Maybe a short walk would help clear her head of all this fretting. She made her way down the steps, but when her feet touched the path, she became distracted by the stars starting to appear. Each one was a bright spot of hope, reminding Elizabeth to keep the faith, and put her trust in God. She repeated this thought in her head as she breathed the way Jack had taught her to when she needed to settle down: in through the nose, and out through the mouth. After a few repetitions, her breath came in normal, regular intervals. She smiled fondly at the memory, and went back to star-gazing.  

“I thought Halley’s Comet only came by every 75 years,” said a voice behind her. Elizabeth knew that voice! Its familiarity washed over her like warm water. She inhaled excitedly, and turned to gaze at the voice’s owner. There stood her hero in red serge, removing his riding gloves. To Elizabeth, he’d never looked more handsome. “Or is that just another excuse to wait out here in the middle of the night?” he added mischievously. They both smiled broadly. Jack dropped his gloves to the ground, and opened his arms. Elizabeth let out a cry of pure delight, ran to him at full speed, and leapt into his outstretched arms with such force that they spun in a circle.  Jack chuckled warmly near her ear, and Elizabeth felt a shiver of excitement shoot down her spine.

Even when they slowed to a stop, and Jack had removed his hat, he wouldn’t loosen his hold. Elizabeth wasn’t objecting; she was in no hurry to let go of her fiancé. Nothing made her feel more content or at peace than having this man envelop her; and it had been so long!

“I missed you so!” Jack exclaimed. He finally eased back to look at her, and put a hand to her face. “You are a sight for sore eyes!” His thumb traced the same path where tears had been only minutes before. “So beautiful.”

Elizabeth smiled bashfully, and reached up to clasp Jack’s hand. He only moved their hands to his heart. “I’m so glad you’re back safely!”

“You worried I wouldn’t be?”

“Maybe a little,” she responded coyly.

“Just a little,” he countered teasingly.

She pretended to be insulted, and push him away. “Don’t push it!”

Jack’s eyes suddenly turned serious, his voice gravely and passionate. “Too late for that.” And then he kissed her. Elizabeth felt her heart catch on fire, as if the pieces were fusing together, where before, they had laid separate and broken. Her heart felt full and complete. And by the way Jack was kissing her,  it felt like life was being breathed back into the hollow cavity of his soul. Elizabeth thought she was going to faint from dizzy ecstasy when she heard a surprised, “Oh!”

Startled, Jack and Elizabeth broke apart to see Julie darkening Elizabeth’s front doorway. While looking a bit on the stunned side, she looked devilishly pleased. “I thought I heard something out here.”

Suddenly self-conscious , Elizabeth eased away from Jack as Julie skipped down the steps, and took both Jack’s hands in her own. “Jack! So good to see you home uninjured!”

Jack good-naturedly held her hands for a few moments, and cheerfully answered, “Julie! Lovely to see you again. How long have you been visiting?”

“About 3 weeks. Elizabeth was sounding so glum in her letters, I was afraid she just might wither away without me. So I came on the first stage I could catch.”

“Well, that was so kind of you,” Jack said as he released Julie’s hands, and slipped an arm around Elizabeth’s shoulders. “Thank you for looking out for her,” he added, giving Elizabeth a small side hug.

“Oh, it was nothing; my pleasure really,” Julie passed it off with a wave of her hand. “I took it as my family duty to aid my sister in her time of trial.”

Elizabeth tried not to snicker at her sister’s dramatic monologue. Despite the theatrics, she knew Julie meant every word. She also knew that she and Jack weren’t ready to say goodbye for the night, and would rather not have an audience. She lightly cleared her throat and widened her eyes, hoping Julie would take the hint. She took it alright, and very obviously yawned; then she announced, “Well! What a  day it’s been, and I am positively fatigued. I hope you two will excuse me?”

 “Sure,” Jack said with a smile. Julie flamboyantly, but graciously, turned and floated inside. As she watched her go, Elizabeth caught sight of Lee and Rosemary excitedly peering out the window. 

 Rosemary appeared like she’d like nothing better than to bolt out the door to welcome Jack back herself.  Thankfully, Lee held her back. They both gave a final wave, and disappeared. Jack and Elizabeth smiled, and waved back; then Jack turned Elizabeth around to kiss her again,  both smiling all the way. 

Jack paused, and just drank in her presence, their faces close together. Elizabeth relished his nearness, loving that their foreheads touching wasn’t merely a dream. She finally inched backed just enough to look at him. “So, it’s really over?” she inquired, searching his eyes.

“It really is. The fighting has stopped, and my posting has been terminated. It’s all over,” Jack’s last words came out heavily, as if they themselves carried great weight. Elizabeth touched his face. “And how are you? Really?”

Jack’s smile faltered slightly, and his eyes turned dark for a moment. Elizabeth’s heart started to pound. What had happened? What was wrong? Had he, indeed, been hurt? She was just about to voice these questions when the light came back into his eyes, and his smile returned. He cradled her hand in his own, and kissed her engagement ring the way he did so often; she never tired of it though. Jack put her hand back on his heart, and answered her. “Don’t you worry about me, Miss Thatcher. I’ll be fine. It was hard up north, I’m home now, safe and sound. It WILL take time to get used to life away from all the fighting, but I’ll do it. With you.”

Elizabeth threw her arms around Jack, and held him close. “And I’ll be right here,” she murmured into his shoulder. She pulled back, and looked him square in the eye. “Right here,” she reiterated.

Overcome with emotion, Jack pressed his lips to hers, anxious to show her just how much her words meant to him. “I love you, Elizabeth!” he whispered as their lips parted. Then he looked HER square in the eye. “You are my life!”

Elizabeth smiled, tears and nostalgia shining from her eyes. “And you are everything to me!” she added.