Sam wanted to go all the way back to Hat Creek, but she didn't dare, not
without the Captian's permission.
She locked herself up in her hotel room, coming down only to eat, hoping
not to run into Hannah or any of her family.
It felt like the Captian would never come back. She began to wonder if she
hadn't lost them both.
She was sitting at her desk, writing to Augustina when there was a knock on
She opened it.
"NEWT!!!" He was there. At her door. He looked a little worse for the wear,
certianly, but he was alive and he was there to see her.
She threw her arms around him.
"Oh, I am so glad you are alive!" She placed a kiss on his cheek.
"Me too," he laughed, returning her hug.
She learned how he had been ambushed and left for dead, and how the Captian
had found him and nursed him back to health.
Well, she had known he would do that.
Then the Captian announced it was time for them to leave.
She did as she was told, going out to the barn to saddle thier horses.
Hannah followed her. "I suppose you will be telling Newt what you saw."
She shook her head. "I reckon not."
"Why not? Newt's an honorable man. He wouldn't stand for it if he knew. He
would probably divorce me and you can have him, free and clear."
"And have him hate me for the telling of it? I don't think so. Besides, you
said it wasn't what I thought, so I must not know what I had seen. My Papa
always taught me not to put my nose in the whiskey, unless I knew the brand
and I don't know your brand yet. Doesn't matter, anyway. You'll reveal your
own self, all in good time."
She left Hannah standing there in the stables.
Hannah stayed in the barn until she had regained her composure.
When she finally joined the others, the sight she saw infuriated her, made
her jealous and just a little sad.
Newt was standing close to Sam, his hands resting lightly on her waist, as
he whispered in her ear.
Sam was raised up on her tiptoes, her hands on his shoulders for support,
as she listened to him. Whatever he was saying, had brought a smile to
Sam's face and an occasional giggle from her throat.
They could say what they wanted about how innocent thier relationship was,
but at that moment, Hannah could easily see the love between both of them,
not just Sam. It hurt to know he was capable of loving someone besides her,
whether he realized he did or not.
Woodrow stood watching them, too. His thoughts not so different from
Hannah's. Only difference was, he was wondering how things might have
turned out if Newt had stayed at Hat Creek.
Hannah walked over to Woodrow.
"You're family, now. Thank you for bringing him back to me."
She kissed his cheek.
"Thank you, ma'am." He said stiffly.
"Well, girl," he addressed Sam. "It ain't a holiday. I imagine they's lots
of work waiting for us at the ranch."
She hugged Newt. "Goodbye," she whispered. "I love you."
"I still love you, too."
She mounted her horse and with a wink and a grin, was gone.
"You know, Hannah," Newt said. "When I left Hat Creek, Sam was a little
girl, but now she's all but grown. In just two years."
"Two years is a lot, sometimes, Newt."
Sam laid in her bed, to cold to sleep. This blizzard wasn't the first she
had seen since coming to Montana, but it was by far the worst she had seen.
A knock on her window startled her. She sighed. Probably some hand who
needed medical attention and didn't want the Captian to know they had been
hurt. Fighting wasn't allowed at the Hat Creek. Since Sam had become handy
with a needle and salves, these visits after Pea and the Captian were
asleep, weren't unusual.
She hopped from the bed, wrapping a thick blanket around her for the little
warmth it would provide, and hurried to the window.
"Newt!" She gasped as she opened it. It had been a little over a month,
since she had seen him in Curtis Wells. "What are you doing here? Where's
"Freezing." He answered, ignoring her other question. "Let me in."
"Okay. Go around to the front and I'll open the door." She started to shut
the window, but he caught it.
"NO! I mean, no, Sam. I don't want the Captian knowing just yet. I.., I
just can't face him right this minute."
She moved back from the window, giving him room to climb in. As he turned
to shut the window, Sam giggled.
"What?" He asked, seeing no humor in his situation.
"I was just thinking what would Papa say if he could see you climbing in my
window in the middle of the night."
"Something, I'm sure I wouldn't like," he laughed also amused by the
thought. "And he'd probably do the talking with that big Colt of his."
"Not for you." She answered seriously.
Newt drew the thick curtians over the window, trying to put some warmth
back in the tiny room.
He pulled Sam into his arms and held her close for a moment, needing the
warmth of another human being. Of Sam. He hadn't been able to get her out
of his mind since she left Curtis Wells.
He thought of her when he was eating, when he was breaking horses, when he
was sitting beside Hannah in church, as he sat thruogh Sunday dinner with
the Peale's, when he was talking to Ida, whenever he was awake and
breathing, he was thinking of Sam. He had even thought about her when he
was making love to Hannah.
"Newt," she said, knowing her question could push him away, but having to
ask. "Where's Hannah?"
"I left her." He let her go and looked around the room. "When did the
Captain build this?"
"After you left. Said a growing girl needed her privacy. Ms. Clara probably
put the idea in his head. She bought the bed and the furnishings."
He nodded, knowing the room might have been the Captian's idea, but not the
beautiful white furniture. He rubbed his hands together trying to get some
warmth back into them.
He saw the small fireplace. "Why isn't this lit? It's as cold in here as it
"The fire went out," she answered, noticing how hard Newt was shivering,
and the blue around his mouth and in his fingertips. "I couldn't get it to
light back and didn't want to wake the Captian or Pea. I'll try again."
"I'll do it." He knelt in front of the wood, get first a small piece of
kindling then the large pieces of wood to catch fire.
"How long have you been riding?" She questioned.
"In this blizzard? Are you crazy?" She removed the blanket, wrapping it
around his shoulders. "You could have frozen to death."
He shrugged. Riding off in the middle of a blizzard probably wasn't the
smartest idea he'd ever had but then neither was spending another night in
Curtis Wells with both Hannah and Mosby, and Hannah's memory haunting him.
Sam pulled her rocking chair close to the fire. "Here, sit." She commanded
then took one of his hands between hers and began to rub the cold out of
it. Frostbite was a very real threat she had learned. "Just your luck,
you'll have a case of frostbite. I would get you some coffee, or tea, but
I'd have to walk over the Captian to get to it. Light a sleeper as he is,
he'd be sure to wake up."
Newt was touched by her actions. She was shivering herself, as the fire
hadn't yet warmed the room, but she was more worried about him having
frostbite, or having to face the Captian, than her own comfort.
"Take those half frozen boots off. You need to get warm."
He watched her as she sat down on the hearth to help him remove his boots.
With the firelight glowing behind her, making her red hair look like a
firey halo, he thought she must be the most beautiful lady he had ever
seen. It was hard to believe this was the same little girl he used to give
piggyback rides to. "Sam, how old are you now?"
"15. Just had a birthday last week," she grinned impishly, reminding him
that Sam would always be Sam, no matter how grown up she was. "My niece and
nephew gave me a party."
"Niece and nephew?"
"Yeah, Augustina and July have a two year old girl, and Martin."
Newt smiled, glad that Sam had accepted Augustina as her sister.
"They put streamers and paper signs all over the place. The Captian loved
it, let me tell you." Her eyes glittered mischeiviously.
"I'll bet he did." Newt answered.
She took his other hand and began rubbing it. He realized he ached to hold
her. Not cradled in his arms as he had so many times when she was a child,
but as a man holds a woman. "Come here." He pulled her onto his lap and
wrapped the blanket around them both. "I'll get warm faster this way."
She gave him a look that said she didn't believe him, but didn't say
anything or move either.
She sat rigidly for a few moments then relaxed against him as the fire
warmed the room and them. He gently caressed her arms, inhaled the scent
of jasmines in her hair. She stirred a little in his lap and he knew
Captian Gus would have shot him for the thoughts THAT provoked.
He knew she was full of questions and he wanted to answer them, but just
couldn't seem to find the words.
Finally he spoke.
"She cheated on me."
Sam sighed. She couldn't hide that she knew from him. If he found out later
it could destroy thier friendship.
"I know, Newt. I saw her. I didn't think it was my place to tell you
"Hannah told me you saw. You're right. It wasn't your place. You just
happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or maybe the right
time. I don't know. She said it was my fault for leaving her alone all
those times." His words were filled with such hurt, it hurt Sam to hear his
voice. She hated Hannah for blaming Newt for her own shortcomings.
"What are you going to do?"
Sam sat up, shocked by his words. Despite what Hannah had said to her, she
never really believed Newt would do such a thing. "But, Hannah loves you,
regardless of what she did."
"No, she doesn't, Sam. The divorce was her idea. She was in love with the
image of me. Her rough, tough cowboy. But like all images, time was bound
to see through. And it did. We haven't been right for some time. Though if
Mosby thinks she really loves him, he's a bigger fool than I was." His
words were bitter.
"You are nobody's fool, Newt Call." She replied. "So, what now?"
"I gave her our house, our land, everything but my horses. I've raised
them, they're mine, and I'll be damned if he's going to use them to further
his plans. Decided to take my horses and come back here. Maybe the Captian
will give me a job." He answered.
"He will," she replied, confidently. "What about Hannah's family? What do
they think of all this?" She knew Austin Peale was Newt's best friend.
"Josiah goes along with whatever Hannah wants, so as long as she thinks
she's happy, he's okay with it. Austin don't like it. Took my side. Said
Hannah was stupid and fickle and a lot of other things I won't repeat to a
lady. I wouldn't be surprised if we see Austin in the future. I don't think
he'll stay now. Not with the tension this mess has put in his family. I'm
sorry for that. He said that ever since his mother died it had been him
against Hannah and Josiah. I could see that. He also said in the case of
our friendship, water was thicker than blood. He's a good friend."
"You're a good friend." Sam replied.
"Just a lousy husband."
"You're a wonderful husband, I'll bet. You just haven't found the right
wife." She leaned over to give him a peck on the cheek, but he turned his
head, meeting her lips with his own.
When she pulled away, he tried to apologize.
"I'm sorry, Sam. I.."
She interrupted him by returning his kiss. He quickly gained the upperhand
again, holding her tightly against him. He ran his toungue across her
lips. She gasped at the strange new sensation and he took the opportunity
to slide his toungue into her mouth. Caustiously, he felt her reaction.
Sam didn't know what to think, or feel or do. No one had ever kissed her
before, much less in such an intimate way. She tentatively touch her
toungue to his and began to mimic his actions.
Both Lizzie Pickett and Augustina had told her about kissing like this, and
she had found the way they described it disgusting and she swore she
wouldn't let any man put his toungue in her mouth, but now that it had
happened, she quickly decided she like it.
They continue to kiss for what seemed like and eternity to Sam but was
really just a few minutes. It left her breathless with a funny feeling
growing in her center.
Groaning, Newt tore his mouth from hers. He hadn't known a simple kiss
would make him feel like that, or that it would be that hard to stop
"I'm ready to face the Captian now," he said, . "I just needed to talk to
you first. I knew you would understand. He may not."
He stood, gently setting her on the floor. "You need to get back to bed.
You'll probably catch cold since I've had you up half the night. Talking."
He struggled to get his boots back on.
She smiled. The Captian didn't think anybody should sit up the night.
"Can't you wait till morning to talk to the Captian?"
He opened the curtians as she climbed back in her bed.
"It is morning."
She looked out and sure enough the first few rays of light were beginning
to streak across the sky.
"Use the door, Newt," she laughed, realizing he was going to go back out
He gave her an incredulous look. "I'll have a hard enough time with the
Captian without coming out of your bedroom this time of the morning."
"Good point." She watched as he climbed out the window.
"I love you, Newt Call." She said, as he shut it. He smiled and nodded,
then was gone.
Sam laid thier, wondering if she had dreamed this night, until she heard
Newt pounding on the front door. No, it was real.
Her Newt was home.
Sam waited exactly half an hour before she got dressed and came out of her
The Captian, Pea, and Newt were sitting at the table, having a cup of
"I am sorry to hear about the trouble with your wife. She seemed real
nice," she heard the Captian say. "But you'll have a job here if that's
"I do, sir, and I thank you," Newt answered politely.
"No need for thanks, just hard work. You helped make this ranch what it is.
I won't turn you away from it."
"Yes, sir. I plan to work hard, sir."
She smiled. Their roles always would be the Captian in charge.
"Never known you to do much else," Woodrow admitted. "I will say this,
though, Isolm Pickett's top hand. July Johnson's second. They've worked
hard to earn those spots. I won't take 'em away from 'em."
"No, sir, I wouldn't expect you too."
"NEWT!" She rushed to him as if just seeing him. "I'm so happy to see you
He hugged her with as much enthuasiam, knowing the Captian would wonder why
if they didn't behave this way.
"Yeah, half an hour's a long time," Woodrow replied, staring at his coffee
They both paled and stared at him.
"You knew?" Sam asked.
Woodrow nodded. "Heard ya'll talking."
"Why didn't you say something?"
"Figured Newt would come to me when he was ready."
"Ya' ain't mad, Captian?" Newt asked, somewhat apperhensively.
"Should I be?" Woodrow countered.
"No, no." Newt answered in disbelief. Time was Woodrow would have shot
first and asked questions later.
"Well, then, girl, time you get started on breakfast." Woodrow pointed at
the kitchen. "You got three hungry men waiting on it."
"Yes, sir." She grinned, then began fixing Gus's famous biscuits.
Newt was working on a house. He had been back at hat Creek for over year,
and couldn't remember why he had left.
He was happy again. As happy as when he and Hannah had..., No he was
happier than he had ever been with Hannah. Happier than he had ever been in
Sam was supposed to be coming out for a picnic with him. He had told her
only to show up, but she had insisted on getting the food, laughingly
claiming that he was a lousy cook of anything but biscuits and eggs.
That was just as well, he would probably ruin anything he tried to fix
today. Today was the day. The house was weeks from being finished. The
outside was done.
It was to be two stories, with a porch that wrapped all the way around. the
kind of house Sam had always dreamed of living in. He was going to see to
it that he made all her dreams come true. It had cost him the better part
of his years pay not to mention hours of hard work, but it was well worth
it, when he saw the look in her eyes, the first time he had let her come
out to see it with him.
He stood to wipe the sweat from his brow.
He turned to see Sam standing behind him.
"Hey, darling." He put his arms around her waist. "How long have you been
After a long kiss, she answered, "Long enough to see that I'm the luckiest
woman in Montana."
"Is that a fact?" He kissed her again.
"Umm-hmmm." She snuggled in his arms. At first, Newt's affectionate manner
had embrassed her. He was always kissing her or holding her hands in front
of everyone, but now she loved it.
She was happy he wanted everyone to see how much he loved her.
"Let's get lunch." She pulled him out to the wagon. "Here ya' go." She
handed him a large picnic basket. "Take this inside."
"Yes, ma'am," he grinned. "I live to serve."
"Good," she replied, winking at him, over her shoulder as she climbed up on
the wagon wheel to retrieve the blanket.
He set the basket inside the doorway. then went back out. Catching her as
she stepped down, he swung her around in his arms.
"Newt Call, what are you doing?" She giggled.
"Practicing," he replied, carrying her into the house.
He just shrugged as he sat her down. He picked up the basket. "What have
you got in here? I'm starving."
"Food. Where do you want to eat?"
"In the kitchen," he replied as if that was obvious. "That's where most
"All these rooms look alike," she laughed.
"Be careful, you just might hurt my feelings," he replied. "The kitchen is
the one with a sink."
He pulled her to the left side of the large main room.
"Oh." She stuck her toungue out at him, as she unfolded the blanket. "Sit."
"Yes, ma'am. You sure are bossy today." He teased.
"Careful you don't hurt my feelings," she shot back. "I won't feed you if
"I'll be good," he promised.
They set out the food and ate. After lunch was over, sam was sitting on the
blanket, now upstairs, watching Newt skillfully making a window sill.
"Newt, this house is going to be so beautiful when you finish it."
"I'm glad you think so," he replied. He put his tools aside and came over
to sit beside her.
"Why is that?" She asked, allowing him to gather her up in his arms.
"Because, I'm building it for you."
She turned her head to look at him. "That's sweet." She gave him a small
peck on the cheek.
"It's more than sweet," he answered. "Sam, Samantha will you marry me?"
She sat silently for more than a minute.
Then smiled. "Newt Call, if you don't know the answer to that, then you're
dumber than you look. Of course, I'll marry you."
"I'm going to make you so happy, Mrs. Call." He smiled, lowering his lips
to her. "You won't regret this."
"I know. I love you, Mr. Call." She eagerly kissed him back. "I'll make you
"You already have. You already have."