This is my own imagining of Season 7 of When Calls the Heart, before the actual season begins. It picks up right where Season 6 left off, at the end of the dance. I'll post as I write each chapter.

Also, please be forewarned I'm #TeamNathan. But I love Lucas too, and will incorporate his story here as well. I'm going to try to have multiple storylines going at the same time, just like the show does.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I've enjoyed "watching" it in my mind.

Disclaimer: I own none of these characters. They belong entirely to Crown Media. I've only borrowed them to manipulate to my whims. :)

The author

The Dance

"May I get you some punch?" Lucas Bouchard asked, releasing Elizabeth Thornton from the dance hold as the music ended, turning to face her with his polite question.

"Yes, please," Elizabeth looked up at him and answered, in truth glad of an excuse for his departure. Glad to have a moment to compose herself. Once he'd turned away, Elizabeth let out a long, low sigh and smoothed her hands down the sides of her dress.

It's not that she'd found their dance disturbing. On the contrary, it was nice and pleasant and had made her feel part of her community again, the beginnings of putting the past and the pain of widowhood behind her. And in that regard, her mission in asking him to dance had been accomplished. Lucas was a good man, and she was glad he'd been there for her to overtake that first hurdle.

No, it was the other one that disturbed her. That other one. Him. Elizabeth didn't want to think on it too much. On why Nathan Grant's lingering glance towards her as he'd left the dance should have affected her so. Why, she hardly knew the man! At least that's what she told herself on why the look didn't mean anything, couldn't mean anything. But still, she couldn't deny that something strong, something unnamed, had coursed through her at that moment, or why now, long after he'd left, her gaze was still drawn to the open doorway.

She couldn't. She would not. Elizabeth's spine stiffened in resolve and her glance towards the door turned to a glare, surprisingly fierce. He was a Mounty and she'd been down that road before. She would not visit that pain again, or even the possibility of it. No, if tonight she'd opened her heart to living again, another part of it was just as forcefully tightened shut.

Closing the front door into his small home, Nathan Grant shrugged off his jacket and tossed it onto a chair. He sat and jerkily yanked first one boot and then the other off his feet, letting them carelessly thud to the floor. He propped his forearms on his knees and he leaned forward, drawing a few ragged breaths as his thoughts travelled back to earlier that night.

He should have known. Tonight at the dance, he should have known, he berated himself. When they'd announced the Ladies' Choice dance and he'd looked for her, he should have known. He wasn't smooth, he wasn't cultured, truth be told he knew himself well enough to say he was a little rough around the edges and too quiet for his own good. But somehow he'd still hoped.

But Elizabeth Thornton had dashed those hopes when she'd chosen another for the dance. Someone far more suited to such a woman. And so he'd left, never in his life feeling more out of place, that he didn't belong there, surprised himself that a simple rejection could have affected him so. And he'd shot her a glance from the door as he left, unable to resist drinking in the sight of her, her beauty, her warmth, her goodness shining from every inch of her.

He should have known, the words taunted him again.

He should have known.