As soon as Rose entered the hotel room, she gently laid her hand upon Dave’s. His long lashes fluttered in response, and he cracked a small smile as he woke from his slumber. She only had enough energy to smile in return as a few tears streamed from her eyes. “How are you?” she asked.
“Come here,” he said, as he extended his arms.
She draped herself gently over him and rested in his embrace. Should she divulge what she had found in the house in addition to how Agnes had left Rose to her fate? She was scared, scared of the fact that Dave would have a hard time believing her, that he would think Rose was overreacting, overreaching in her accusations all because she was jealous. And it was true, she was jealous.
But what if her tete a tete with Agnes was divulged and she hadn’t shared it with him? Of course, the only people who knew were her and Agnes. There was no reason she could think of why Agnes would speak of her deception to anyone, but then again. One could never know.
Dave would be devastated to know Rose had kept these things from him. If she were in Dave’s place, she would feel the same. She would blast past the quickly built brick wall her fear had constructed and do the right thing, the honourable thing, and begin this soon-to-be marriage on honesty no matter the consequences.
Rose exhaled deeply, “I need to tell you something…I don’t think you’ll like it, and you probably won’t believe me.”
He squeezed her hand and smiled encouragingly. “Tell me.”
She raised herself to a sitting position, legs crossed and hands grasping the edge of her chair, as she did. He listened without interrupting. His face remained impassive as her concerns, allegations, and facts came pouring out. In the end, he turned his face to the side, away from her inquiring gaze.
Her shoulders slumped inward, ready to hear how he thought her to be ridiculous, how she was only satisfying the pursuit of such a selfish vendetta. She squeezed his hand again and said, “Please say something. I didn’t want to tell you. I could just imagine what you’re thinking and…”
He turned his head and studied her for a moment before murmuring, “It’s just…all right, I’ll be honest with you. The things you’re saying don’t go with the girl I know Agnes to be. It is hard to believe.
“But…we both have experience with people acting one way and being completely different at their core. I trust your judgment completely. I trust you. It just hurts to know that Agnes isn’t what I thought she was.
“If I had to pick who I believe, I’ll always pick you. We’ve gone through so much, I know you inside and out. You are too good to tell lies about a girl you’re jealous about, even if there’s no reason for you to be jealous.”
“Thank you,” she squeezed his shoulders gently as she kissed him full on the lips. She rolled her eyes at herself. “I have been jealous for a good part of the time I’ve been back. I thank you for trusting me not to cross that line, not to willingly ruin another’s name just to make myself feel better.”
He shifted his head on his pillow. “You ready for our next adventure?” he asked, smiling with closed eyes.
“Which one?” Rose asked suspiciously.
“The one where we get married.”
Dave was uncharacteristically faithful in heeding the doctor’s requirements for recovery over the next few weeks. He was a perfect patient as Rose tended to him at the Tudor Hotel in Victoria. Only once did he incur Rose’s verbal slap. While she had been busy procuring a bridesmaid a couple mornings after catching Sean McVee, she had returned to find him tacking up his horse to go for a ride. She unbuckled the girth immediately, huffing and heaving the saddle off the horse, and marched Dave back upstairs to the room to instil the importance of recovering in time for the wedding.
After voicing her frustrations, he no longer attempted to go for rides. He settled his itch to do something by accompanying Rose on her various errands in town. They also went on many pleasure strolls and talked often about their visions for their future.
While Dave recovered, Rose was busy planning the wedding, sending tidings of the news to her family and promising that she and Dave would visit after they had settled in to their new life.
She also sent a telegram to the reverend in Barkerville to, first, ask if he was available to marry them in eight week’s time and to, second, arrange a time when they could meet after Dave’s recovery to discuss the ceremony.
The day she had reproached Dave for trying to ride, she had gone to ask Miss Craig to be her bridesmaid. Although Miss Craig, the headmistress of Angela College and Rose, her previous student, used to wage mental wars against the other, they had come to a truce and a respect for each other soon after Rose had found her father’s gold. They had kept the growing friendship strong through letters while Rose had been away.
About a fortnight later, Dave and Rose traveled by boat and then stage coach to return to the 108 Mile House to complete Dave’s recovery. With Joe and Jack doing the manual labour (they had received permission from their employer to take a short leave of absence with the incentive of Rose’s financial support) and Dave directing the work and performing light tasks, they finished the outhouse, barn, and cellar.
Finally, Dave had recovered enough to ride into Barkerville with Rose to discuss with the reverend, whom they had met the year before during the search for Rose’s father’s gold, the details of their ceremony. Ros...