A/N: I am sorry, I let you wait quite a while, but life plays its own game sometimes and that made it almost impossible for me to write for a while.
As you see we are back in Eden, and I just want to promise we will join our Mountie more in the future.
Thank you for your patience, I try to do better.

Hope Love Letters

Chapter 5 TRYING

Eden, Nova Scotia
Nathan was nervous. He could not eat much for breakfast and found fewer words than usual this morning, while he and Allie talked about the day ahead. What they would do and what they expected, and how it would be. When it was time, he stood up, thanked Allie for taking care of the dishes, left the house and went to the barn. After he saddled Newton, he closed the last buttons of his serge which was a sign that his working day had started. Then he mounted his old companion to start his first day as the new Mountie in town.,

He was anxious about how people would react to see him, how they would receive him.
A shadow drew over his mind, as he remembered his first days in Hope Valley. 'Hope Valley,' he thought and sighed. Then the shadow transformed into a piercing pain ending with the picture of Elizabeth so clearly before him, looking at him, telling him that he was not the one she was in love with. It felt so real as though she was standing in front of him right now, and breaking his heart all over again.

Nathan tried to breathe through the pain and wondered when it would lessen, when he would stop thinking of her. Maybe it was not a question of when, maybe it was a question of if. He could only hope he would learn to live with it.

He had been told Eden had not had a Mountie for years. No one wanted to be here, as it offered no real chance to advance a career. The town was far away from any excitement and adventure. He was the only one who had applied for this posting. But that was exactly what had spoken to him. Quiet and peace, finding himself again. Trying to forget, trying to overcome, trying to heal, trying to start a new life- without HER.

The pain inside him had not lessened since that awful day last autumn. He could only hope it would be gone someday but as long as it was still inside him, torturing him, he tried not to let it dominate his being, his life. But that was not an easy task, leaving him fighting it every single moment.

While he rode into town and towards the Mounties office, he felt curious gazes on him. Not like those he had to face back in Hope Valley. No, they were friendly and open gazes. In some faces, he could even see understanding dawning that they now knew why that friendly, polite but quiet single father in the white cottage outside of town was here. He was their new Mountie.

When Nathan arrived at the Mounties office, he felt both nervous and excited at the same time. What would be awaiting him in this community and inside this building. He dismounted, tied Newton in front of the building and looked for the keys in his pockets. When he found them, he drew in some air, held his breath, and unlocked the door.

What he saw was once a nice office and jail, but the years of not using and taking care of it had left their mark. Every inch was covered in dust and cobwebs, and obviously a cat had found its way in and raised a whole litter of kittens in one far corner. The mother was not at all delighted to be disturbed in her cozy home and she obviously did not at all want to share it with anyone.

The jail had two cells but definitely needed new cots and furniture. How well, the locks were still working he was soon to find out.
"This building needs a complete make over," declared Nathan, not realizing he was speaking aloud

"You are probably right" Nathan heard from behind. He turned around and looked at a young man, mid-twenties, with blond hair, light blue eyes and the broadest mouth Nathan had ever seen, smiling at him.
A hand reached out to Nathan and a very warm "Welcome Constable! I am Mack Fraser." While shaking Nathans' hand with quite some energy.
"Nathan Grant," was all the Mountie replied. Both men did not feel the necessity of using a lot of words, they just felt comfortable with each other.
Both men looked around and saw that the desk was old and stood only on three legs and the chair did not look much better.

'Okay', Nathan said, 'let's start cleaning!'

He started looking around for a bucket and everything else he would need. But what he found was not good enough to use anymore.

Nathan was starting to make a list when he heard a knock from the open door. He turned around and saw another tall, muscular man. He was about 50 years old, with a decent belly bulging over the edge of his pants and a big, warm smile on his face.

"Good morning, Constable, I am John McDonald, the major of this little town. I am so happy to have you here, we wanted a new Mountie for so long. Finally, you are here. Welcome to Eden," then he looked around and breathed out loudly. "Oh boy, this means a lot to do for the first week. Let's see if we can help you with anything," he added. And before he could even finish his last sentence almost everybody on Mainstreet had heard

"John McDonald, why don't you introduce me to the Constable," and next to the major's side appeared a middle-aged, vivacious woman with red hair and an almost shrill voice.

"Ahem, Emmy I do not even know the Constables name yet. We were just starting to get acquainted."

Mack Fraser looked at the floor, checking his shoes very carefully. Since Emeralda had ignored him since she arrived.

"Constable, may I introduce my wife, Emeralda McDonald?"

"Nice to meet you. I am Nathan Grant," and Nathan reached out his hand. John McDonald took it with a big smile on his face and said "Good to have you here, Nathan. Please, call me John." Then the major turned to his wife and asked her "Emmy do you think we could help Nathan to get this office in a more presentable state, so he could start working soon?"

Emeralda McDonald reached out for Nathans' hand and shook it too. Then she smiled and said "Well, I think I could go, get the children and some equipment we will need. If we all help together it should not take long until it looks a bit more habitable. Ah, Nathan shall I send for your daughter too? And may I ask where your wife is? We haven't seen her since you arrived."

Nathan felt almost overrun. He was perplexed about so much open kindness and will to help him. "Oh, ah that, well, I am not married. But I expect Allie to be here soon anyway."

"That is just wonderful, then we will see each other soon, I'll get the children," was all Emeralda said, then she turned around and disappeared. But everyone who could see her face got a feeling like a cat she had just caught a mouse and the mouse was not even aware of it.

Nathan, Mack, and John looked around the building to make a list of what was broken and what could still be repaired as well as what needed to be replaced. The three of them also decided that a little paint on the walls would not harm anything and a telephone was needed too. They agreed that John would come this evening with his wagon to transport the broken pieces of furniture, that Nathan thought he could repair at the white cottage. The three men started to empty the room, leaving cat mom not at all happy with the changes! She suddenly had to share her home and did not like it a bit! Nathan looked at her scowling face, then the kittens, 4 that he could count, sighed, and said to her:" So, what I am going to do with you?"

"I think we could relocate them into our barn. Newton surely would enjoy the company, and I would too," he could hear from behind him.

He looked up to see Allie arriving with a basket, filled with sandwiches and two bottles of lemonade she had made for lunch.

Allie looked around and breathed out loudly. "Wow, how long did you say nobody was here, Dad? This needs work, and a whole lot of it!"

"Yes, I think you are right. Allie, may I introduce you to major John McDonald and Mack Fraser," Nathan replied. "John, Mack, this is my daughter Allie."

"Allie how nice to meet you. I hope you like being here in Eden. Have you already met some of the children here? I have a daughter about your age. Her name is Athena, she should be here any minute to help us," the major said with a friendly and open smile on his face.

Mack reached out to shake Allies hand, shook it and just smiled at her. Allie nodded and smiled back, then she turned to the major and said:

"Very nice to meet you Mr. McDonald. No, I am sorry I haven't met anyone yet. We were just so busy with the house," said the teenager while she looked around for a transport box for the cats.

"Allie, we have not decided to take that litter of cats' home. I could use them here too, no mice, no rats…," Nathan tried to say but when he looked into his daughters' pleading eyes he smiled and nodded.

"Okay, take them quickly before I change my mind. But I am not so sure about Newton liking them," Nathan said with a warm smile. The love he felt for his daughter was so clear to see on his face.

John McDonald watched that sweet interaction between father and daughter and wondered what happened to Allie's mother, but did not ask, maybe another time.

Mack Fraser turned to Allie and said "I might have a box on the wagon outside, let me go have a look." Mack turned towards the door and was just about to leave the building when they could hear the audible voice of Emeralda McDonald talking to her children and the way it sounded you would think she was directing at least 10 of them. When the group finally arrived at the office, she was accompanied by another adult and two teenagers. The two teenagers were about 14 and 16 years old, both with the dark hair of their father but the freckles of their mother. The other adult was about mid-twenties, had red hair, freckles, and the same warm and open smile on her face like John McDonald.
The younger woman looked at Mack, nodded towards him and started smiling as though she had just gotten a very big birthday present. Mack, smiled back, looked into her eyes, nodded too, and went to his wagon.

When the group entered the building John cleared his voice and introduced his family:
"Nathan, Allie, these are my children. Aphrodite. Allie, you will meet her in school, as she is the schoolteacher here in Eden," and pointed to the younger woman next to his wife. Then he continued
"And these two are Athena and Hermes. Athena, I think you and Allie are about the same age. Why don't you show her around town over the next days and introduce her to the other children? This is Allie. Constable Grant's daughter."

Hermes breathed out loudly. He was so thankful that Athena would have to show the new girl around. Hanging around with those kids was not at all his taste for how to spend his summer.

Aphrodite looked at Allie and welcomed her with a warm smile. "Allie I am Miss McDonald. It is nice to have you here. I am sure we will get along well. And as it is summer, and we are all off school I will not ask you any question about it now. I will talk to your father about it later. So, let's see. Mother said we are all needed to help turn this office into working operation and when I look around, I think she is right. Hermes you start taking away the cobwebs. Athena, you take the broom and mother, and I will start dusting. You two…," and she looked at Nathan and her father "…finish emptying the room and then get started with some repairs and I would suggest a little paint? Allie could you please gather the cats into some box so they can feel secure?"

Nathan was speechless, how could someone take command so easily? He looked at her and was impressed. No one noticed his gaze towards the young teacher, except for a mother with a plan and she thought it already worked well.

Hope Valley
Elizabeth was so fatigued as she had already run out of power and strength, and it was just after lunch. She felt like she had worked hard all morning, like back in the time when she and the other women of Coal Valley worked in the mine. But in reality, she had just played with Jack and had a picnic lunch with Lucas.

She had tried to see Lucas as much as possible the last ten days. For lunch or dinner, whenever she could find someone to watch Jack, although it was not easy to find someone.

Lucas always tried really hard to make these times they had together as special as he could. Picnics, Gustave's finest French dinners, the settings, and locations all had to be perfect.

One time he even managed to create a ball-like scene so they could dance together in their finest clothes. The room was illuminated by a million candles, and there was a lot of champagne, soft music, and dancing. It was a very intimate date. After, they danced for a long time to slow and soft music, till they sat down on the loveseat, and he started to lean in and kiss her. His kisses grew more and more passionate, and Elizabeth allowed it all to happen.

She tried to make this work, she tried to feel the right way, she tried to make this a real relationship and answered the kisses with the same intensity. But somehow it did not feel energetic, vibrating or heart-lifting as it did when Jack kissed her or as it did when her special someone was close or held her hands. She could not feel how it floated all over her senses and body and made her want that this should never end, that the connection never gets broken. She did not feel how all of her was opening up to all of him. And was there an 'all of him,' she wondered. 'We are all different, this is how Lucas is,' she thought, convincing herself, trying to justify how she felt. Trying to explain her reaction to herself, trying to convince herself that all was as it should be, as it had to be.

Lucas had picked her up at lunchtime today and drove to a quiet little spot close to the pond but so hidden that nobody else could see them. And when it was about time to have dessert, he fed her with strawberries and cream and kisses. Elizabeth tried to ignore the headache that grew stronger and louder and tried to concentrate on the kisses of the man she chose and not on thoughts of the man that left… her; and not on her son who was spending quite some time with his favorite Auntie Rosemary.

Although Rosemary loved to spend time with Jack, she was not happy with all the short notices Elizabeth had given her over the last weeks. But she decided that she and the little boy would have some fun.

In the meantime, on that blanket at the pond, certain kisses became more demanding, and Elizabeth felt Lucas deliberately but firmly push her to the ground. He breathed in her ear that he had longed to be with her like this for a long time and that he enjoyed it so much to feel more of her. And Elizabeth let all that happen- again, in the attempt to make this relationship work and remembering how good it felt a long time ago with Jack…

When his hands dug deep into her hair, seeking a hold, then passionately ruffling it and his lips roamed over her face and further, she put a stop to it. It did not feel right.

And the headache just became even stronger and pounding and these painful lines that HE left…her were making themselves heard more clearly than before, were pecking into her heart to make sure she noticed the words, repeated themselves her in her mind over and over again with more volume than usual. It was impossible to ignore and that caused her even stronger and pounding headache.

Elizabeth sat up again and asked if they could leave as she was all of a sudden not feeling well. Lucas needed a short moment to regain his composure before he could say "Yes, of course, Ma Cherie," and then he packed their picnic back into the basket. After that, he helped Elizabeth to come back up on her feet. The couple headed towards his car, and he drove her home. When they left the car in front of her house, he said a little frustrated goodbye to her, kissed her, turned around and left with no further words. Not happy with the ending of that promising picnic at all. This time, he had really thought they could have moved further. What a disappointment.

When Elizabeth opened the door to her house, she saw a very happy and relaxed Little Jack, sitting on Rosemary's lap leaning towards her and concentrating on the book his Auntie was reading to him. His eyes were already heavy, but when he saw his mamma, energy came back into his little body, and he ran with open arms to her. Elizabeth happily lifted her son up, kissed him, and said "It is time to say goodbye to Auntie Rosemary and have a nap."

Jack kissed his mother on one cheek and waved towards his Auntie, smiled, and said, "nighty night." Mother and son disappeared upstairs, and it did not take long until Elizabeth came down.

Rosemary waited for her, looking at her with a big question mark on her face.

"You look a little bit disarrayed? What happened?" was all she asked. Elizabeth sighed and just shrugged her shoulders and said: "Well, my headache became stronger."
"And that messed up your hair? Nevertheless, I will leave you to get some rest too. I will check on you tonight," the friend replied and left to go back to work.

Elizabeth sat down on the settee and breathed deeply several times.
This headache she had was not leaving her and she had not slept well recently. Nothing she tried had led to an easing of the pain, the weakness she felt, and the words she heard. No, that was not right almost nothing led to an easing of the pain, and almost nothing let her feel invigorated and filled with life. Only, only when she took one of the letters out of the box and read it, and only then her headache vanished, and she felt better, lighter, warmer, and alive. But she did not want to read those letters, she did not want to hear his soft voice in her head, she did not want to see his face in her mind, she did not want to know what he thought and felt and wanted to share with her. And Elizabeth was so proud that she had managed not to read a letter for the last 10 days. But it had its costs, and she paid the high price.

Nathan left four weeks ago, that meant fourteen days with this headache, fourteen days of missing strength, fourteen days of knowledge that he had left…because of… her.

The first four days, she couldn't help herself and found herself reading a letter per day and always felt better after it. She even found some resting sleep, but the last ten days had been exhausting and demanding. But no, no, she would not read. She tried so hard not to go to that box, not to let her fingers run over the lavender flowers, not to open it, and not to take a letter and read it. It would be so easy to go to that box and seek and find relief, but what then?

During these last 10 days, it was as if Little Jack knew something was wrong with his mother. She was not rested, nor as patient as she used to be and didn't smile as she used to do. Her son reacted in the same way as she behaved towards him. He was fussy and started crying a lot. His otherwise sunny and calm personality had a short line of patience. Elizabeth even had to go to him each night because he cried heavily, and it took her a long time until the little boy fell asleep in her arms again. This had to end. Jack needed some deep sleep, and she did too. The question was just how?

But right now, she would rest a bit too, although felt she would not be able to sleep. But rest, rest she could. Not thinking, not feeling, not remembering, not hearing the headache. Just resting. And Elizabeth tried her best to do so, just with the not hearing the words that caused her pain and headache, but she failed. She could not run away from it, she could not ignore it, she could not not hear it as it was in her mind, and she was unable to stop it.

After one hour of trying, she gave up. She stood up, went to the box, and let her fingers feel the lavender flowers before she opened it and took out another letter with trembling fingers. And in that moment, she felt the headache leave her…

Dearest Elizabeth, my Elizabeth, my Love,

Love. I know, a strong word. I know, a deep word. I know, a powerful word, but it also can be a heartbreaking word, or a heartfilling word that defines your happiness. That is what I hope for - happiness.

My feelings for you are rather new, but so strong. They feel so right, so natural, so pure, so raw. And yet I am powerless and overwhelmed by the intensity of my feelings. I try to tell my brain and my heart that I should not hope, not dream, not love.

But I do. I do and all that is so much stronger than me. I am torn between my love for you, the hope I feel and the desperate situation I am in because of my actions.

I tell myself I should not put my hopes too high- I know who I am. I know what I did. I know what it made me feel. I know what it will make me, for you, when you know the horrible, unspeakable truth. But I also know I need to show you who I am to let you find your way to forgive me, see me, and love me back.

I will try to let you see my best, Allies best, as we are a true family and belong together. Loving me means loving Allie too. I only might be her uncle, but in my heart, she is mine.

Sometimes, she wants or needs to go her own path. Well, she has her mother's personality, yet also her giant but vulnerable heart, for sure.
I know Allie is still afraid to be hurt again, to find friends and people she starts to love and bond with, and then with a new posting has to leave them again. I mean, how many times should or can her heart get broken without severe damage? Because of that hurt, she cannot let her heart open up to the children or you, yet. Give her time, my love.

You said she needs stability, and I agree. But what does stability mean? Not moving around, or does it mean a true, dedicated, and loving relationship with her family? I guess you would say both.

What she needs most right now is love, guidance, orientation, patience, and trust.

Trust, that she is safe with me. Trust, that she can always come to me no matter what. Trust, that her heart is as important to me as my own, if not even more important than mine. Trust that I am there for her as long as I breathe. Trust that I always do my very best to never leave her. I have tried to give her that trust since the first day she came to me, when she was only four years old and lost her mother.

Stability, being with me, I can provide as much as it is possible. However, stability in the sense of not moving around is not so easy to put into execution. I try to do my best, but I am still a Mountie, where my life must go, is not entirely my decision alone.

Allie told me tonight that she gave the things back she tricked the children of with that card trick. After digging a little deeper, I found out she did not give them back the way she 'won' them, for example half eaten. No, I don't approve of what or how she did it, and she knows that. But I don't expect miracles overnight. We talked about it. Give her time, and we will both try to give her the support she needs. She will find her way. She knows what is right and wrong. Now, she has to know you, trust you, and learn to trust, in order to open up to all the children in school and find her way to making right decisions. Give her time, my love. I will give her love.

I, myself, am not a talkative and easy to open up person either, at least not anymore. Too heavy is the guilt on my heart and my soul. And I am not sure how to let you see me, how I should show you who I am, what I like to do, and what I think and feel. Of course, here in my letters to you I can talk easily and free, and you can see me, Nathan Grant, with all his doubts, thoughts, his heart, and his soul. However, the Nathan Grant you will see, and speak to outside these letters does have a hard time to show who he really is. He is not easy with words and does not show much of himself until he finds the confidence and trust needed to bond with a person.

So, please, my love, give Allie and me time and the opportunity to adapt to this new situation in our lives. Being stationed here, trying to implement some of that stability you think she needs, trying to become a part of this community, trying to keep it safe, trying to let people into our lives while hoping for a loving, happy ending.

It is late, my love. Our days start early, and since I think and dream of you, I will not fall asleep easily. My thoughts are wandering around you and dreaming of us and hopeful leading me into sweet dreams
Good night my love, I hope to see you tomorrow and will always try to let you see the very best and true me.

Yours, love