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from Scathed Bones by Leah Lindeman

Copyright © 2020–2021 Leah Lindeman

Chapter 4

Though Jack had prepared a delicious light lunch, she pushed her food around, nibbling here and there. Dave didn’t fare much better. He swallowed his bites as if they were spoonfuls of sawdust. She gave Jack a look of apology.

Even though she believed Dave when he said his worry wasn’t because he loved Agnes, Rose waged war against her jealous uprisings. She couldn’t be the help she promised him she would be unless she could make peace, not with a treaty that left both sides slightly embittered and discontent, but with a total surrender of her insecurities and failings.

Dave led two tacked up horses to the hitching posts. He searched for Rose and found her in the kitchen helping Jack clean up. As Dave entered, Jack winked at him.

Rose, eyeing the two of them suspiciously, pursed her lips and asked, “What’s going on?”

Dave answered, “I have a surprise for you.” He placed her hands in his and led her outside. “I thought I’d give you that tour I promised.”

“Are you sure you would like to?”

He kissed her brow and smiled, “I told you I would. As you said, I’ve done everything I can. Worrying isn’t going to help Agnes.

“I even surveyed the area for any kind of disturbance, but there’s no tracks. Almost as if she were never hereā€¦”

Rose hoisted herself into the saddle and said, “Show me our home.”

It was a half hour ride from the 108 Mile House. As she caught sight of her old home, she slowed down and stopped. She could see the caretakers Mr. Nelson had hired to look over the property and business bustling around tending to the upkeep of the place. She acknowledged her fondness for the place where her father used to walk its rooms and conduct his business, where she grew from a girl to a woman, where her friendship with Dave grew into a deep abiding love.

When they reached the home Dave was building, Rose slid off the horse, her mouth open in wonder as she beheld her future home. She ran up the porch steps and ran her hand along the balustrade. “More than halfway done?” she gasped, “I’d say it’s complete.”

As she ran along the porch length in delight, Dave smiled quietly as he hitched up the horses to the post he had put up before he had even laid the foundation to their home.

He followed Rose into the entrance and wrapped his arms around her as she squealed in delight.

She burst out of his arms and grabbed his hand before exploring the kitchen, living room, and three bedrooms he had built out of love for her. They returned to the living room, bare of any furniture except for two plush chairs in front of the fireplace.

Rose turned around as she inspected each inch of her future home and whispered as tears rolled down her cheeks, “When I was in England, I saw the most magnificent churches, ruined castles and abbeys, the finest works of art and literature, the jewels on the queen of England herself—all of which none can compare to this home you’ve built for me, no, for us. I could never have dreamed of such happiness and pure joy before I met you, and now I have it all.

“I know life won’t be perfect. We are far from perfect, but living life with you is as close to perfection as I could ever experience.”

Dave closed the distance between them, running his thumb over ...

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