Title: Heart Of The Mountains
Author: RaeAnne
Rating: PG

Neil/Christy romance

Disclaimer: all characters of "Christy" are property of the LeSoud family no profit is being made, for my entertainment only. Some of the events in the book were used with creative license taken, but no breach of rights is intended.

Authors Note: This is my very first attempt at Christy fan fiction, I hope that it came out okay, I tried hard to stay true to the mountain dialect, but Neil's brogue I didn't attempt, just try and listen his voice in your head, Um I really tried to stay with in reason on the characters, but if I strayed too far please forgive me J I have written a sequel to this called "A Love Beyond Compare" so please check that out too …again I really hope you enjoy this story I have read so many fan fictions and have enjoyed them immensely I hope that this one is at least as partly enjoyed as much as I have the ones I have read. Thank so much RaeAnne.

Heart Of The Mountains
By RaeAnne

"Miz Christy! Miz Christy!" Creed called into the schoolhouse.

"Dear me Creed, there is no reason to shout!" she said with a smile as she came out of the schoolhouse onto the steps.

"Miz Christy Doc' MacNeil wants ta talk to ya" Creed said hands on his hips.

Christy looked to were Creeds eyes were looking, she saw Neil astride Charlie.

"I am sorry to bother you during school Miss Huddleston but if you wouldn't mind I would be most grateful to have your assistance" he said his tone even but his eyes showed his tension and his pleading.

"Not a problem Doctor, what ever I can do to be of assistance" she said then turned her attention to her students. "Okay class lets get back into the school house, and Rob Allen would please make sure they work on their arithmetic while I get Reverend Grantland to finish you lessons" Christy instantly had the attention of her class and with

"Yes ma'am's" filling the air she nodded towards the doctor who waited patiently. "All right Doctor" she said coming up to him. He did not dismount to help her up he just offered a hand from where he sat. Christy was a bit shocked at first but her hesitation wasn't notable as she grasped the offered hand and he easily drew her up behind him.

With in a couple of minutes they were at the mission house and Christy quickly swung down from the horse and rushed into the house.

"David! David!" she called loudly but couldn't stop the grin that pushed it's self onto her lips, "Mother would have a fit if she heard me yelling like this!" she thought, and then all seriousness returned.

"What's the matter Christy? Is everything okay?" David said coming in the back door.

"Yes and no…. Dr. MacNeil just rode to the school and needs my help, could you please finish my class…?" she asked seeking his eye contact hoping that she would be able to convince him, ever since her refusal of his proposal David and she had been a bit aloof.

"Of course Christy… be careful" David sighed and before he could say anything more she was out the door and onto Neil's horse.

"Dr. MacNeil, what is it you need me for?" Christy managed as they took off at a somewhat radical speed.

"Neil, that is my name Christy, please use it," Neil said in his stern yet gentle manner. Christy pulled back a little but the fear of falling made her rethink her decision. "It's Fairlight…. Jeb came out to my cabin and said that she had fainted and had a high fever.. I am not sure what it is yet… tell I get a chance to examine her… I thought you would want to come along… seeing as how she is your friend and all… and depending on what I find I could use your help..." Neil said slowly as he urged Charlie a little faster.

"Oh.. Dr. Ma,… I mean Neil… not Fairlight!" Christy said as she choked down a sob and fought to keep her imagination from running wild.

"Don't let your mind run wild there Christy" Neil said speaking her very thoughts, his words though unsteady were somehow stabilizing.

As they reached the Spencer's cabin Christy began to feel somewhat ill.

"Doc…. She's awfully hot.. and she's starting to shake something fierce…!" Jeb said coming out the cabin nottwo seconds after Neil had brought his horse to a stop. He was down in flash and quickly brought Christy down within a second of his feet touching the ground.

"Get my bag Christy!" Neil said as he started in following Jeb, but he stopped before entering all the way into the house to give a small reassuring smile then disappeared. Christy grabbed the bag and fought dizziness as she started towards the cabin.

"Not Fairlight…. God please… she means so much to me… to her family to everyone here at the cove please hold her in Your steadfast arms and reach Your infinite love to surround her family, and keep Neil's hands steady and mind clear" she prayed silently as she came into the house.

"In here Christy!" Neil called urgency in his voice.

Christy made her way to the Spencer's bed. Christy had to fight back the fear and the heartache as she made her way in. She quickly handed Neil is bag and sought a place in the corner of the room.

"Water! We need lots of cold water! Jeb get the water, Christy get towels!" Neil bellowed as he checked Fairlight's pulse and heartbeat. She went into another series of convulsions. Christy backed out and quickly ran for the towels as Jeb ran for the water. Christy was back before Jeb so she moved to the left side of the bed, Neil on the right. "

Is… is… she.." Christy tried to ask but her mouth was dry and she couldn't force the words.

"She has some sort of fever.. I don't know Christy.. if we can't break this fever before it reaches too high…" Neil couldn't force himself to say anything further. He didn't need to and Christy preferred it that way.

2…3.. now 6 hours had passed and Fairlight's temperature kept rising. Neil wiped the sweat from his brow as he swiftly inserted the needle into her arm, hoping against hope that this medicine would bring it down. Cold compresses were placed on her and she was now drenched in cold water but the fever remained. Christy watched in horror as she in her mind watched as her dearest friend in the cove slowly fade away.

2 more hours had passed and it was into the getting into the night and the temperature had somewhat stabilized at 103.2 but at the temperature severe damage could be done, the brain or many other things if they could not bring it down. She now was all ready in a comatose state.

Christy held onto Fairlight's hand and wiping her brow and trying to soothe her with His enduring promises. However, Fairlight still shook and was hot to the touch.

"Christy… I don't know what else I can do!" Neil said exasperated. Christy looked at him; her fear now gave way her strong will and undoubting faith.

"Dr. MacNeil, I am not ready to lose her… neither is her family, I am going to fight with her. You might have done all you can do medically but I am not willing to give up that easily, because though you are an amazing physician no healing comes but from the ultimate Physician" Christy said and then on her knees her hands clasped tightly with Fairlight's she cried out to God with all strength.

Neil stepped back watching with a sad expression for to him God had not become real, he had yet to see Him work one miracle, so he shook his head in frustration.

"Please Heavenly Father, reach out and wrap Your arms around Fairlight, show her Your healing, bring her from the sickness. Lord, please you said "By Your stripes we are healed" please heal Fairlight!" Christy called out tears streaming down her face. Neil could no longer watch, he left the room.

No more then a half hour had passed and Christy had quieted her prayers from her heart wrenching cries to a softer heart filled prayer. "Chri…s..tty" her name was said in a hushed whisper.

Christy's head jerked up and she watched as Fairlight's eyes began to flicker and she felt Fairlight's hand squeeze hers. "Fairlight?" Christy asked softly.

"Mmmm thirsty!" Fairlight moaned. And Christy began to cry tears of joy.

"Neil! Jeb!" Christy called through tears.

"What?" Neil said bursting through the door of the cabin Jeb fighting tooth and nail to be in behind him.

"She's awake!" Christy sobbed.

"She is!" Neil said racing to the woman's side and taking her temperature. As he waited for it to read, he felt her forehead. "It's broke! I can't believe it! It's broke!" Neil said in amazement. "99.8, getting better, I can't believe the sudden drop!" Neil cried.

Christy sat back a little ways God's movement made her tingle and thrilled her to her very core. She had her friend back, her family was still whole, and now Neil had seen for himself the healing power of God. She smiled wearily as she sat back and leaned against the wall, her hair damp and clinging. Neil spent a few more moments looking her over then stepped back.

"Except for appears to be dehydration she appears to be over what ever this was!" Neil said folding his arms. Christy smiled yet again as she watched Jeb sit by his wife and hold a cup lovingly for her to sip.

"Thank you Christy….. God.. heard ya…..He is so wonderful" Fairlight breathed in deep and closed her eyes into a deep sleep.

Christy laughed and cried, "Yes.. yes dear Fairlight He is most wonderful!" she laughed and cried all the more. Neil looked Christy with an inquisitive look.

"I think she will be all right for the night, make sure she gets plenty of water, and lots of bed rest! I will by in the morning," Neil ordered as he looked at the tear-streaked face of Fairlight's husband.

"Yes sir doc! Thank you so much for all yer help!" Jeb said shaking his hand.

"Your welcome Jeb."

Christy couldn't keep from saying "And thank you to the Heaven Father who decide it wasn't quite time to take this one home yet." Neil's smile dropped.

"You are sure right Miz Christy" Jeb nodded and walked with them into the main part of house.

Christy was shocked to find the Spencer children sitting solemnly in the loft looking down. She had completely forgotten! How awful for them… they had no idea what had happened.

"Miz Christy is ma all right?" little Lulu asked softy moving down the steps.

"Oh she is now" Christy smiled reaching for her and bringing her into a hug. Neil stood off a bit and watched. "It's okay now…" she said softly and sat her down, the child's nerves seemingly calmed.

"You did well in there Christy," Neil said softly as he took her by the elbow as they wearily walked from the house.

"Mmm" she nodded.

"Oh now don't go falling asleep on me now" Neil laughed as he felt Christy's weight began to lean on him a little more, not that he minded but he felt bad that she had to go through all of this.

"Come on now Christy got wake up… open those big blue eyes of yours… I have to get on the horse… I am going to put you in front of me but you are going to have to wake up a little," Neil laughed as yawning Christy nodded absently. He steadied her then swung on to the horse then carefully pulling her up in front him.

"Mmm I am so tired," she yawned again cuddled up against his chest. Neil breathed in jaggedly but held her tight.

She felt so right in his arms, so perfect. He laughed softly at himself, if only she knew, she would have fit. A proper lady like she would never "cuddle up to man" that wasn't her husband and probably not even then… it just isn't done! Neil laughed to himself as he pictured her saying that. His smile however died as he thought back to what he had just watched. Fairlight brought literally from the claws of death… and seemingly by a young woman's unyielding prayers.

Neil walked Charlie at a steady pace his mind thinking on the things he had just witnessed. "Oh… Christy.. if I only I knew for sure…" Neil said softly his eyes drawn towards the fading light of the sun as it lowered and a soft blue of twilight set in.

"We're here Christy" Neil said gently shaking her as the stopped in the mission yard.

"Oh Christy!" Miss Alice cried as she came from the house followed by David and Ruby Mae.

"She's fine Alice, just worn out. Fairlight Spencer had a raging fever that I could not bring down…. And this little lady staid by her side the whole time… Fairlight's fever is broke now. I think she will make a full recovery" Neil said handing Christy down to David's waiting arms.

Neil inwardly flinched as he felt Christy's weight leave his arms and into those of David.

"Thank the Lord, and thee Neil, we will get Christy in bed now… will thee stay for a cup of coffee?" Alice asked as Ruby Mae and David took Christy into the house. Neil's eyes not leaving Christy's sleeping form for a moment.

"Thank you Alice, but I must be getting home, I am bit tired myself" Neil smiled and turned his horse from the mission.

Christy slept fitfully, but her dreams were filled with visions of herself being held by strong arms. She didn't know whose arms were holding her, but she felt so safe, so protected…. And loved…. She tried to turn to see the face but she was so tired. She wanted to speak, ask who it was but she was just so tired…..

"Mmm" Christy moaned as the sun light streamed through her window slowly waking her from her slumber. She turned onto her back looking up at the ceiling, the memories of what had happened last night flooded through her mind. Tears suddenly stung her eyes, the tears though were joyous, "You are so good!" Christy cried moving to her window looking towards the sky. She quickly dressed discovering the sun was high, it was nearly noon!

"Oh Ida I am so sorry! I overslept!" Christy called rushing down the stairs. Christy said a silent prayer for it was Saturday, no school!

"Oh don't fret now dear, I have heard of your adventures last night and it is most understandable that you slept in," Miss Ida said as Christy entered the kitchen.

"Thank you, but I still feel guilty for sleeping in" Christy sighed as she sat at the table. "Dr. MacNeil was over earlier, he said that when you woke to tell you that he had went to see Mrs. Spencer and she is doing well, still needing lots of water and sleep but it looked like she was going to make a full recovery" Miss Ida said wiping her hands on a towel and sat down opposite Christy.

"Oh how wonderful!" Christy cried clapping her hands. Miss Ida smiled and nodded.

"I wonder if Dr. MacNeil will be at his house this afternoon." Christy said absently as she helped Miss Ida and Miss Alice prepare lunch.

"I am sure that he is. Why do thee ask?" Miss Alice asked.

"Oh, I thought that I would drop by and maybe bring him lunch, I would like to talk to him more about what happened with Fairlight last night," Christy said fighting a blush.

"I think that would be a nice gesture," Miss Alice said thoughtfully as she pulled out the picnic basket.

Christy was riding Buttons through the woods the sun shining down through the high graceful canopy of tree limbs, her thoughts on the Doctor she was seeking. "What a change in attitudes!" she thought remembering her quick judgment after his pulling her from the river and they had their afternoon conversation.

"Who would have thought that we would ever get along… or that I would fall…" she stopped her thoughts before they could get the better of her. She looked around at her surroundings, never would she find sights like this in Asheville… or a doctor like Neil…. She stopped herself again and continued the ride in quiet safe thoughts, thoughts far from the thoughts of the heart.

"Christy!" Neil called in surprise as she rode into his view.

"Good afternoon Dr. MacNeil!" Christy called happily riding up to him, where he was chopping wood in front of his porch.

"Neil! For the last time dear Christy, it is Neil!" Neil said mock anger.

"Yes sir Doctor," Christy said eyes dancing.

"Hump, lets get you off that horse," he said raising his arms for to come to. She willingly came. His hands were on her waist and he lifted her down easily, his hands though hesitated on her waist even after her feet had safely found solid ground.

"I….. I've brought lunch…. And a hope that I might entice you into a conversation, of topics that hopefully you wont find boring" Christy had to fight to keep composure, but the tone of her voice held an almost flirtatious edge, that made Neil's eyes dance and his pulse quicken.

"If a conversation with you is one I can look forward to then I am sure I will not find it boring," Neil said taking the basket from her and offering her his arm. She nodded her eyes faltering and a smile pulling at her lips.

"Fabulous lunch Miss Huddleston!" Neil said in high praise as he leaned back in against the tree trunk.

"Christy! For the last time dear Neil, its Christy!" Christy said in her best impersonation of Neil, all the while trying to keep a straight face. Neil let out a deep long laugh one that showed through his eyes.

"I thank you for you praise, but I did very little, I am still honing my skills as a cook, and I am happy to say that while they are progressing all the time they are not at all in the same league with this delicious meal" Christy said smiling.

"Who ever made it, it was most thoroughly enjoyed" Neil his laughter tamed but his eyes still glowed with contented laughter. "So shall we engage in that conversation you wanted to have?" Neil said looking over at Christy who sat on the opposite end of the red and white checkered blanket that had been spread under the tree.

She had intended to talk more about the fever Fairlight had but something else intrigued her. "I would like…. I was hoping that you could help me understand… the… well heart of the mountains! I mean… I can see outwardly why the people of the mountains hold it so close… but I want to know … I want to know its heart… and its soul…" Christy said quickly unsure if this mountain doctor would laugh and declare her crazy or if he would take her plead to heart, and in turn humor her.

Neil didn't answer quickly and Christy tried, though in vain, to judge his reaction but his face, even his eyes were expressionless. "You want to know the heart of these mountains? It is not something that someone can be told, you have to see it, and you have to feel it in your heart. For everyone it's different," Neil said simply.

Christy was disappointed but said nothing just sat her eyes eyeing a single flower that was just a few inches away from the blanket.

Neil watched her intently. "That little flower you are looking at Christy, for some is the heart of these mountains," he said softly. She jerked her head towards him her eyes questioning.

"You seem a bit shocked," he softly laughed.

"I must admit that I am, it is so simple so…" she found her voice.

"Small, so seemingly unimportant? Yes to some it is, that is what makes your query so hard to answer," he stated. She nodded.

"Show me the mountains… please Neil," she said her eyes meeting his. Neil looked into her eyes and he knew he was lost. Hopelessly lost, he had lost his heart to this woman with her powerfully gentle blue eyes with their soul drowning depths. He nodded his answer and Christy smiled with delight and gratitude. "Thank you Neil" she breathed.

"If you plan on seeing anything today we better get this stuff cleaned up," he said trying to maintain a sense of reason.

"Where are we going first?" she asked excitedly as the started off. Neil laughed "I like your eagerness lass but the places I intend to show have no names, at least not that I know of, but I am sure for all who have seen them they are known by many names" Neil said.

Christy nodded. They moved with silence. There were many questions that she had running through her mind but she let them remain unasked for to speak she thought would break the spell that had fallen on the warm bright afternoon.

"We are just about there" Neil said and reached for her hand. Christy held tightly to his hand, she guessed that they were somewhere near the river, she could hear its rushing water.

"Oh Neil!" she breathed as they came out of from the protection of the trees and into the sun. "It is so beautiful!" she cried as she eyed the clear waterfall that ran down into a large calm pool, beautiful rocks covered one side, it was a small piece of heaven flowers grew in the soft velvet grass by the pools edge.

The water was so clear like glass its clarity reflecting the blue clear sky above. Christy let go of Neil's hand for a moment, ran to pool, and ran her hand carefully through, feeling the cool water brush against her skin. She closed her eyes listening to the call of birds and the water as it sang its hypnotic song, she was soothed. She sat in the grass her skirts pooled around her looking around her wondering how it was that in all the time she had been here that she didn't discover a place like this… and that the places that though paled in compression did not touch her soul even a half as much as this one had.

She looked towards the water and saw her reflection and the one the of sandy red haired man standing behind her his eyes calm and peaceful, like this beautiful place had the same effect on him as it did her. She suddenly knew in her heart why it was that in the place at this time she felt so soothed, it wasn't just the place, it was whom she shared this place with. She tried to fight the answer that had come so clearly to mind but it staid.

"I can't believe it Neil; I have never seen such an awe inspiring place.. it is just so beautiful!" she said.

"Aye lass it is" Neil said, though his eyes were not on the surrounds but on the reflection of Christy in the water.

"He said lass again…." Christy thought and she felt her heart's beat accelerate and she smiled inwardly.

"This is just one of the many places here that could be called the heart of the mountains. There is so much more to see, to touch to experience," he laughed.

She nodded and carefully turned towards him, "I think I could stay here forever" she breathed, her voice was little more then a whisper.

Neil watched her and whished that her words were true that she could stay with him forever, but he knew better then to even hope that thought could ever be even considered.

"I think we have enough time to see one more place," he said again offering her his hand, she accepted.

"That waterfall was amazing!" Christy as they walked further down the stream still holding hands.

"Yes, I actually go there sometimes just to think, it is just such a calming place" he said kicking a stick his eyes focused further down the path. Christy felt so close to him, like she was not only discovering the heart of the mountains but his heart as well.

"This place really isn't as beautiful as the waterfall but you said you want to discover the "heart" of the mountains, I think this will help you" he said leading her down what was the beginnings of what looked like could be a trail but was over grown with weeds and other wild things.

They pushed through the brush and suddenly Neil stopped.

"What's wrong?" Christy asked.

"Nothing, we've reached the spot I wanted to show you," he said and pushed some vines, bushes out of the way, and he pulled her forward and through the clearing he hand made.

She stepped out into the light and caught her breath. They stood on a small ledge looking down into a valley. She looked down and with excitement pointed down to grazing dear and the fluttering butterflies. He nodded at her with a soft smile. She looked down still at a loss for words. This little valley tucked away from what little of the outside world was here in Cutter Gap was this jewel untouched by human hands.

"Oh Neil, this is such a true testimony of God's great creation! This is so moving… between this and waterfall it has to be as close to what I could ever think Eden must have been like" she gasp.

She turned to look at Neil but his once soft and calmed expression had turned cold and hard. "What is wrong?" she asked her smile turned into a frown.

He shook his head and turned to go back through the clearing that they had just come through. She stood still in shock. She shook her head, lifted her skirts, and started after him.

"Neil! Wait for me!" she called walking briskly to catch up to him. "What is wrong? Did I do something?" she asked as he still moved quickly to match his long and purposeful strides. He said nothing and she pushed the subject no further.

"I thank you for the lunch Miss Huddleston, it is getting rather late into the afternoon, I hope you have a safe ride back to the mission," Neil said curtly as he retrieved the picnic basket from the porch, were they had left it. Christy stood by Buttons many questions unanswered. He helped her onto the horse and handed her the basket then stepped back.

"Good day to you Dr. MacNeil" she said matching his curtness and turned Buttons in the direction on the mission. She looked back not once.

"Oh that man is so infuriating!" Christy said bitterly as she came into the mission house.

"What troubles thee Christy?" Miss Alice voice asked from the parlor.

"Oh Miss Alice it's Dr. MacNeil! I asked him to show me some of the sights of the mountains around him and when I remarked that the places he showed me were a true testament to God's great creation he became so cold! He was just plain curt! That man can be so gentle, caring, and tender then you mention God and he shuts himself off and he is again cold and distant! I don't understand!" Christy cried falling down beside Miss Alice on the sofa.

"Aw my dear child, that is Neil. Thee can try to change him but he is like that. He has been hurt, he wants to believe that it was God that caused the hurt but as thee and I know God is love God is just. Neil blames God for losing Margaret and their son, he cannot understand that God has a plan for all of us and He does nothing and allows nothing we cannot handle and that is not in His will. Neil needs to surrender his will to the Master's will to achieve his truest happiness and so he can find true love again, until he lets God take over he will never be complete, he will never be what he could be, he will never be able to fill that part in his soul that God created in everyone that can only be filled by Him. Thee cannot change him Christy. God can though, have faith. Believe and pray and I know God will not forsake thee. He wants for everyone one to know His Son for He sent Jesus to the world so that for who ever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Pray for him Christy and show him God's love through you. You can't save him, only the Heavenly Father can do that, let Him" Alice said and lovingly hugged her. Christy nodded knowing that she was right and her words were so comforting to her.

The next day after church and lunch had been eaten Christy found solace in her room staring out into the beautiful day. She leaned on the railing of her balcony lost in her own thoughts.

"I love him…" the thought penetrated through her body like a warm flood washing over her. She smiled at herself as she peered out into the soft blue sky.

"He is so…. So unlike anyone I have ever met!" she began to think. "He makes me so angry, he keeps me sane. He makes me laugh, and he makes me cry. He never lets me fall, but he never gives me the answer, he makes me be independent yet I find myself leaning on him to find my strength…"

Her mind wondered and then fall on a chilling fact. "He is not a Christian. What kind of marriage would we have if we were constantly battling the subject of faith? How can we work to together to have a marriage of equality when he does not take God seriously, and therefore looks at my faith as some sort of childish superstition that I do not know better of? He is a good man no doubt, but how can we ever survive a union where one is not focused on God? How can I lean on him to be the spiritual head of the household when he fights so hard against God...?" her mind battled, then came to a very sad conclusion.

"How can we have a marriage when he is not only fighting God, but in many ways fighting me…. Besides the fact he has shown nothing but friendship… and at times not even that?" She felt tears began to sting and she stepped back into the room closing the doors behind her.

Monday and Tuesday came and went and Christy still hadn't seen or heard from Neil. She sighed as she began to clean up the schoolhouse after Wednesday's school. She looked out a window and sighed yet again as she saw the afternoon turned out beautiful. She finished preparing the lessons for tomorrow and started out the door and as she turned towards the door to lock it, a voice made her stop.

"Afternoon Miss Huddleston," a thick Scottish brogue filled the air and made Christy's ears tingle and heart soar.

She looked down at the hand that held the key to lock the door, it shook. She smiled and carefully holding her hand steady locked the door then taking her time returning the key to her pocket. "Good afternoon Dr. MacNeil" she said turning towards him an infectious smile spread gracefully across her lips, her eyes playful and her cheeks slightly rosy.

"Aww we are back to those stuffy formalities" he laughed standing at the bottom step of the schoolhouse.

"Aye sir we are, and you are to thank for that" Christy said her voice crisp as she remembered his snubfour days prior, but her eyes still were playful.

"True as that maybe I have come to make amends," he said holding up a picnic basket. "An early supper, though I am sure it is not as good as the one you brought I was told that it was the thought that counts" he grinned.

Christy nodded, "Indeed it is but the saying "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" is in part true for a lady too." Neil laughed his deep rich laughter.

"So it be, either way I have enough fortwo and there is only one of me, will you give me the honor of your company, I have selected a place that I think you shall be most delighted in" he said offering an arm.

"I am not sure Doctor; they might be expecting me at the mission..." she said evasively her eyes turned toward the mission house.

"I have all ready alerted them of my intentions and they are not expecting you back... yet" he added smiling.

"How very thoughtful of you, I see then no reason why I should not grace you with my company" she grinned.

"Oh I am so honored, seeing as how the likes of me an old hillbilly doctor like me could ever be honored with the presents of a learned city gal such as yourself" Neil said his voice taking on the makeup of a true hillbilly drawl.

Christy cringed but had to laugh. "Keep it up Neil and I am leaving" she grinned her eyes softening and she went towards him taking his offered arm.

"That would be a true loss," Neil said his voice deep and husky, the playful note gone. Christy turned to look into his dark hazel eyes and he smiled at her and her gaze fell a blush reaching her cheeks. Neil started off, moving towards the area behind the schoolhouse.

"Where are we going this time?" Christy asked as she walked next to him. "Just over that little hill, there is a beautiful little spot that I think you will really like" he smiled. She nodded and they fell into a steady pace.

"It's beautiful" she breathed. Neil stood off watching eyes glowing.

"I thought you would like it." He said.

"I do… it's like a postcard I once saw in Ashville" she said softly looking out at the beautiful Tennessee Mountains.

"Shall we eat?" he asked unfolding the blanket.

"Please!" she grinned. Neil pulled out chicken, salad and some other things. Christy grinned with pleasure as she sat on the other side of the blanket.

"It looks wonderful Neil!" she cried.

"Thank you" he said simply.

They sat enjoying the meal and each other's company when their idyllic afternoon was shattered.

"Miz Christy! Miz Christy!" Zady Spencer cried coming up into the field behind the schoolhouse.

"Dear Zady what is the matter?" Christy asked standing and meeting the breathless girl.

"It'z mama, she wanna'd me ta fetch ya," Zady gasp. Christy's eyes went to Neil, who needed no further statement and moved to where she was standing.

"What is wrong Zady?" he asked calmly.

"I don't rightly know sir, she's been abed for a while, not lookin' real right ya know doc, she sent me to fetch Miz Christy," Zady said.

Neil glanced at Christy who showed fear in her eyes.

"Okay Zady you come with me, I am going to go get Buttons and we will be on our way," Christ said taking the young girl by the shoulders and started towards the mission house briskly. She glanced back at Neil who was all ready nearing his horse.

With in a few minutes they were on the trail moving quickly to the direction of the Spencer cabin.

They reached the cabin and found the children out front waiting.

"Been waitin' for yer teacher," Clara said softly as Neil andChristy approached the door.

They entered Neil leading. Christy peaked from behind him and saw that Fairlight laid in bed her face flushed and eyes open but bloodshot and dull. Neil and Christy went to her side and Christy felt her forehead.

"She's hot, incredibly hot!" Christy gasped.

"You've come!" Fairlight's weak voice came.

"Of course I did! Why didn't you ask for me sooner?" Christy smiled.

Neil looked worried as she held her side. "Dr. MacNeil is here, everything is going to be just fine Fairlight" Christy smiled and looked at Neil. His expression was dark.

Time drug by and Christy's fear was escalating, what was wrong? She didn't know, but blindly did as Neil told her, as he barked orders. There was a brief period where Neil met her alone while she fetched water.

"It's typhoid, Christy, Typhoid!" Neil said his words echoed painfully in the still air.

"Are you sure?" she asked voice unsure.

"It has fooled me before yes… but I know for sure this time… I can't believe that I didn't see the signs before with her!" he said and for one a moment anger and frustration was evident.

"Neil, you did everything you could before…we'll get through this…" she said softly touching his shoulders.

"Maybe we will… but Fairlight wont… she's too far gone," he said sadly. Her hand shrank away from his shoulder his words freezing her.

"What?" she asked.

"I am sorry Christy; I should have said that..." he said quickly.

"Yes you should have! If I am going to help you, you have to be truthful with me…." She said tears stinging her eyes. He looked up at her letting his sorrow and desperation show. She knew the truth.

(Authors Note: here if you read the book is where the typhoid epidemic is just as in the book, nothing changed, I will take over just after "The joy of the children was in his voice". I am going to switch briefly to 1st person but will continue in the 3rd person after this short piece.)

He loved me like that; I had heard his prayer, his heart felt words still echoed in my memory as I tried desperately to open my eyes.

"Christy, Christy dear lass…" he whispered running his hand over my forehead.

"Neil," my dry lips formed his name, it came out in a croak. I forced my heavy eyelids to open slightly and I saw the tears that fell from his rich deep hazel eyes as a soft rich laughter floated on the air.

"Welcome back, angel" he said touching my cheek.

"I…I..." I tried to form words but he placed a finger on my lips.

"Shh, you rest… plenty of time for talking later, you rest," he said. I nodded liking the sound of reassurance in his voice, he wouldn't be leaving me, he would stay by my side, of that I was sure.

They typhoid had been passed for about a month; Christy had regained her strength and was helping with the aftermath of the epidemic. She hadn't spoken with Neil yet about his prayer, it never seemed the right time, but then again she had hardly seat all since she was well enough to be under the care of Miss Alice alone. She sat in the small gazebo watching the late afternoon set in.

"Good evening Miss Huddleston" a thick Scottish brogue danced on the breeze. She glanced away from where she was staring and her eyes fell on the beautifully handsome face of the doctor.

"Good evening Dr. MacNeil," she smiled. He approached her and stood in the frame.

"How you feeling?" he asked.

"Short, please sit down and keep me company" she smiled. He laughed and sat.

"That's better," she said. He smiled.

"I am glad you're here Neil," she started. He said nothing so she continued. "I… I wanted to talk about the day or night, or whatever it was when I finally awoke from the fever… I …" she searched for words.

She looked at him for a moment; he showed no signs of contributing to this attempt. "I heard you… I heard you pray… or I thought I did… maybe it was just another one of my delusions, but it was so real!" she said rushed.

Neil nodded slowly. "You weren't dreaming Christy, I did indeed pray, I prayed so hard that night, I gave up my fight… I knew that it was either give up my foolish stubborn pride… or lose you, because I knew that it was out of my hands, there was only one who could heal you and I am forever grateful that He did, and that He gave this stubborn doctor another chance… to know Him, to love again…" he said softly. She stared at him unbelieving what she heard.

"Neil! I am so happy!" she cried throwing herself into his arms. Neil was not expecting that but held her tightly.

"It took me a while to realize how helpless I really was, tell that night when I faced losing you..." he trailed unsure how far he should go. Unsure where this train of thought might lead, but he had gone part way, might as well go the rest the way.

Christy grinned with a secret revelation of her own. She had fallen in love with the doctor who loved her like she had wanted, who had said he was in love her, she now loved him with all the love he had for her.

"In the depths of me, down in my spirit, I knew. I knew that you were the one… I heard you in the depths of me when you asked me to… I just can't believe that it took me so long to see it" she smiled touching his cheek. He looked at her, his smile wide. This was more then he had hoped for! But their moment didn't last long because the voice of Miss Alice calling them brought them back to reality.

Neil staid for supper that night, which was eaten somewhat early, after dessert Neil rose and asked Christy if she might like to accompany him for a walk. She readily agreed.

"Are you really truly happy here Christy?" Neil asked as they climbed a small ridge near the mission house.

"Being here in Cutter Cap I have sometimes missed Ashville, I have sometimes just sat in my room looking at thefour walls surrounding me and I would miss my family so bad I had serious doubts about how I would keep going, then I see people like Miss Alice and David.. and you… and I look out the window and I see the sun on the rise or I see a blue jay land on the balcony and I realize that being here is only place I could really survive. When I first came here, I was so unsure; I was so confused and overwhelmed that I was sure I would never able to continue to live here. But now I couldn't imagine living anywhere else, the people, the earth so close, so with in reach all encompassing, it has embedded itself into my very being and I know that I am only whole when I am here, with the people that mean the most to me, the mountains are now so much a part of me that the thought of ever leaving scares me to death! I asked you once what the heart of the mountains was… I am still searching for it, but I think that in that search, I found my own heart, it is in you," she breathed.

"As mine is in you lass… you have no idea how much that means to me to know that you love me because I have often only dared to dream that you could be mine but you know what, you have found the true heart of the mountains dear Christy, it is the love! You know the love that it inspires and you in turn you see it's majesty for what it is, you are no longer the city gal that came in here trying to make this place the city you came from, you now see that what makes it different, thought it has it's strong points and the not so strong points, the beauty and the goodness of the hearts of those here out weights the difficulty that comes from living here." Neil said watching Christy as she stood at the cliffs edge the setting sun's glowing light surrounding her.

She was so beautiful, so amazing. She kept looking at the sky with a whimsical smile spread widely on her beautiful lips. She turned towards him and she smiled at him her eyes filled with love and longing. He moved towards her and reached out tipping her chin with the tips of his fingers bringing her eyes up to meet his. He searched them for his answer. He found it.

He moved closer still his hand still touched her cheek softly and his other hand had moved to her waist. He gave a gentle pull and she moved closer to him and tipped her head up towards him and she responded by closing her eyes and parting her lips slightly. He leaned down and with slight pressure touched his lips to hers. His kiss was so feather light but it burned her lips with the intensity of an undying fire. She pushed herself further against him and she lifted her arms to encircle his neck, her hands entwined with the hair at the back of his neck.

His hand was at the side of her face and he wrapped his other more firmly around her their kiss growing with passion and intensity. Neil finally pulled away, "You know being here with you, I can finally look out at this view and cherish it for what you saw from the beginning but took this stubborn doctor so long to see, that these mountains,….. that you, are truly a testament to God's undying love and amazing creation…" His voice was husky as he tried to regain his composer after a most amazing kiss.

Christy smiled at him her heart swelling with so much love and pride that she had to choke back tears and struggle over the lump in her throat. "Neil MacNeil, I am so glad that you have stopped fighting God, that you finally found that Heavenly Father does love you so…. Even more then I love you, and that's quite a bit" she giggled.

Neil ran his fingers down the side of cheek and kissed her sweetly and lightly. "My darling lass, if not for you I would still be fighting! I love you Christy, more then I ever thought I could love anyone…" he trailed. Christy looked at him expectantly for a moment and he finally went on.

"I want to marry you…" She tried to interrupt him with a joyful answer but he put a finger to her lips and he went on "but I don't want to propose to you yet…I made a mistake the first time and rushed things... I am not going to do it again. But I want you to know my intentions, if you have no feelings toward me that are even remotely serious tell me now...I know that friendship can take on the guise of love and please tell me now if you don't love me…." he said.

She was shocked, her mouth fell. "Neil! How dare you!" she cried stepping back. He looked at her taken aback.

"You dare to question my love for you? I tell you I love you and you still question me? You want to try and persuade me, convince me that I don't love you, so you don't feel obligated to love me in return?" she gasp, she knew that that was not at all the case but she wanted him to feel as loved and cherished as she felt.

She wanted him to know that she considered herself lucky to have the love of a man as wonderful as him.

"No! No Christy that is not what I meant at all! I just… I just wanted to tell you that if you didn't love me that it was all right… I know that I am old… I have been married before... that I am a new Christian, that…." He tried to go on but she put her finger to his lips.

"Shh…. All of that stuff means nothing to me, if it doesn't bother you… I love you for who you are everything about you! As for being a new Christian we are all always longing to learn more of Him to grow closer, we will learn together…. and you darling Neil you are not at all old" she grinned and leaned up and kissed his lips just long enough to get his interest, and then she pulled away.

"I just feel so inadequate for your love…. like I don't deserve you" he said with a sheepish smile.

"Again I say I am the lucky one. I am the one who is inadequate; when I first met you, I was an ignorant, arrogant, disillusioned little girl! You looked past all that and somehow found something in me to love… I am most certainly a lucky one" she smiled.

Neil laughed "Aww while I do agree that you were somewhat ignorant of the situation you were coming to… and disillusioned about that situation at that, you have grown from that young girl to a beautiful sensitive woman who I love so dearly! Let's then say, that if not for God and His grace we would be hopeless and without God, we would never found each other and the love that He has given us. In God's eyes we no matter what we do are entirely inadequate but because He loved us, He sent down His Son and with Him we are able to have hope…" Neil whispered, his new relationship with God had kept him in The Good Book and he was hungry for more.

"Through each other we are whole," Christy, said tears coming.

"Aye, we are," he said catching a tear that had fallen on her cheek with his thumb.

Neil looked down at the angel he held in his arms and he leaned down to again capture her lips. "Marry me?" he whispered against her lips.

Christy's eyes danced and she pulled away "I don't know… I have to think about it…," she said tipping her head in a guise of deep though.

"You little…." Neil stared with a laugh.

She looked at him, giggled and turned running from him down the hill into the lush meadow below. She ran quickly but it only took moments for Neil to reach her. Laughter filled the air as he pulled her to him and then down into the soft grass. "

Yes" Christy smiled as looked at him.

"Thank you" he smiled and raised her hand that he had taken hold of lifted, her palm to his lips, and placed a soft kiss in it. Christy caught her breath and wondered if it was possible to love anyone more then she loved him… she smiled as she looked up at the sky and grinned.

"No thank you" she said leaning forward and kissing his lips.

The End!

A/N: Hi, I just re edited this story to give it a more easy format to read, I hope you enjoy! Thanks again for reading! --RaeAnne 4-19-05