As Nathan headed to the jail, he was so deep in thought he didn't hear Bill come up beside Him.

"Are you OK, Nathan? You have been quiet tonight and drinking whisky instead of beer."

"Really, Bill? You are accusing me of being quiet? Do you remember I never say anything unless something needs to be said?"

Nathan replied with a hint of sarcasm and a smile.

"Fair enough. Let's just say quieter than usual then." Bill said with a laugh.

"Bill, I just feel so so.." frustration evident as he searched for the words that didn't come. "I can't even find the words to say what I'm thinking or feeling. I know she loves me the same way I do her. But she is stuck on the fear that I will die as Jack did. She is trying to let go of Jack to move on with her life. I know it can't be easy, but now she is with Lucas. Then there are the confrontations with the whole Fort Clay thing. Yes, Bill, I know I should have told her sooner than I did. She confronted me about the adoption ceremony as if it was my idea. Do you know she confronted me about it on the street? I was getting ready to go search for an escaped prisoner. You know, the one that got away a second time. I explained that I had seen the guest list when she asked me. I told her the truth that her name wasn't on it and her name wasn't on it. Then she accuses me of being hurtful? Really? I'm glad Ally is at a sleepover tonight because I don't think I can handle an Inquisition tonight." Nathan said frustration was very evident.

"Why don't you lock up the jail and then come by the office? I'll grab a snack, and we can sit, and you can tell me what is going on. You haven't been yourself since the day Hargraves came to town."

"Ok, I'll be back in just a minute. I appreciate your friendship more than you know." Nathan said, heading to the jail. As Bill watched, he couldn't help thinking of how much Elizabeth had put Nathan through. But then she is not acting like her usual self either, but she needs to be told some hard truths. He was just the one to do it, too. He just had to figure out when. Bill wasn't going to stand by while she tried making herself love another. Not to mention he didn't want his godson raised by Bouchard. He owed to Jack to try to keep it from happening. Maybe he needed to talk with Lee and Rosemary.

"Ok, Nathan, spill."

"Well, I told you some of it already. Do you remember when I returned and told you I changed my mind about buying your land?"

"Yes, I do! Did something happen between you and Elizabeth as well?" asked Bill.

"Yes, it did, and I don't know if I screwed up or not. On my way back, I saw her sitting on a rock by the pond. She smiled at me and asked how I liked your land. But it was the kind of smile that didn't reach the eyes. Do you know what I mean? So as we talk, she brings up that she can only offer Ally and me friendship. That it would hurt too much if she lost me the way she did Jack. When I told her I wouldn't let that happen, she said I had no right to promise her that. I told her I would quit the Mounties Bill. If it meant I could be with her, I would in a heartbeat. I am choosing her over the Mounties. But then she yelled that she couldn't let me do that. Then as she heads towards Sargent, I beg her to stay and talk about it. She said it would only make it harder if she did. Then I walk over as she gets ready to mount up. I told her I knew she felt the same as I did. We were looking at each other like we always do. You know the one where everyone doesn't exist?"

"Yeah, I've seen you two have those frequently," Bill said, chuckling.

"Anyway, suddenly she got this look on her face I didn't recognize. The next thing I know, she put her lips on mine, and let's just say it was amazing. I couldn't even think straight afterward." Nathan said with a smile while his face turned red!

Bill smiled back and said, "Yeah, I know what those are like. I have had a few myself in my time."

"We finally came up for air because it was a long one. Then she kissed me again and ran her fingers through my hair. I have to say I always wondered why people liked others to do it. Now I know, and she seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. It was like she couldn't help herself. I hope to experience it again in the future. It was better than the first one, and the world seemed to disappear. I didn't hold back on either one. I started getting hopeful that she had changed her mind. But with the last light kiss, she got on her horse. I told her I loved her and was in love with her."

"Well, what did she say, Nathan?"

"She didn't say anything but took off as fast as she could on Sargent." Bill saw Nathan just put his head down, discouraged.

"Did you ever get an answer from her?"

"No, though I have given her enough opportunities to respond. I have even told her that love was worth fighting for. I told her I fell in love early on but fought my feelings. I came to Hope Valley to watch over her and little Jack but stayed because I loved her. After the public confrontation, she demanded to know the Fort Clay secret. She approached me, asking where Ally was because they had an incident. I told Elizabeth she was home but was afraid to be alone with her anymore. I also told her I had been trying to ensure she understood everything going on. It isn't Elizabeth's fault because I want to preserve their relationship. She then says Ally should blame her because I'm her rock and the standard Ally will use to decide the man she will marry.

She said that when she left a note telling me to come over when I got home. I go thinking something is wrong, but Ally believes it is something different. I could see her hopes were up, but I tried to tell her it wasn't about what she thought. That Elizabeth was courting Lucas, and we just had to accept it and try to be happy for her. But it was all because I missed the parent-teacher conference. After asking me why I hadn't been there, telling me, 'Oh, I thought you would have a good reason.' From there, it was mostly where she was critical and chastised me for taking Ally fishing. I did apologize because she was right; I need to carry on even though we aren't together. I just don't know why she couldn't have written what she told me in the paper. When I got up to leave, I could tell she was a little upset. Which is another reason I know that she cares.

When I tried to lighten the mood, she tried stifling a laugh. She confronted me at the jail, asking why I didn't tell her. I told her I meant to but didn't know when the right time was. That I came to watch over a fallen brother's family because it was my fault. She said Well, I never asked you to do that. But I found myself falling in love with her. But I felt guilty as if I was dishonoring Jack's memory. But I love her and little Jack too much and can't fight it anymore. The prisoner transfers opened my eyes to what is essential.

"Well, what did Elizabeth say this time you told her?" Bill asked.

"She didn't because once again, she left without another word. Finally, the night Ned was bad, I had finished rounds. As I go by the infirmary, I see Elizabeth sitting on the bench. You could tell she was cold but said she was fine. She had promised Florence she would sit there so Florence would go home and rest. I stopped and gave her a blanket, and we talked about the adoption ceremony and other things. I told her I thought adopting Ally was the most important thing I have ever done. That I didn't understand how Dylan could run out on her. Elizabeth asked me if I had ever lost someone so close to my heart that it tore it. I told her not yet, and then I got up and left. Bill, we have deep conversations and can communicate just by looking at each other. What's wrong with me that she isn't willing to try?"

"After the hug, I figured she wanted to explore our feelings for one another, but apparently, I was wrong. I say this because I have tried getting her to come to dinner several times only to be turned down. At this point, I don't know what to do or say. Bill, oh, one thing I forgot which gives me some peace. She said she has only kissed two men in her entire life and gave me two guesses. So, there is that to keep a little hope alive. Bill, I know this goes without saying, but I would like to keep this between us. However, I would like to make one request of you. Please ensure that Elizabeth or Lucas don't approach Ally until this whole triangle business is complete?"

"Yes, Nathan, you can count on it. I'll happily watch over her as if she were my own. I'm assuming she goes to Opal's when you're out on Mountie business.?"

"Yes, she does, but when she couldn't stay with Elizabeth. I would say the Coulter's, but Elizabeth is next door." Nathan replied.

"Don't worry; I'll deal with it if it comes."

"Thanks, Bill, and I want to thank you for listening to me too. It feels better to get it all out in the open. I felt embarrassed about that party game and how she chose my hands but guessed they were Lucas', but then I thought about they have been courting. She should know his hands by now, I'm sure. I think he was caught off guard because he was confident, she would pick his." Nathan said with a chuckle.

"I hear you. Lucas's hands are soft manicured, but yours are roughened and bigger. Oh, and she left without telling him goodbye or talking about what happened. He wasn't a happy camper."

"I would pick Elizabeth's hands if it were reversed. It's because of the feeling we both get when we touch, even accidentally. Some type of spark that runs through us and then the feeling of being home. According to the game, she is meant to be with me but said Lucas. At least that's what the Status Quo is right now. Bill, I don't know how I will cope if she stays with Lucas permanently. I keep trying to stay hopeful as I see them together. My heart will break and be unrepairable; I know it." Nathan said with tears in his eyes.

Bill went over to Nathan, gathered him in a hug, and said it would work out. I know her, and he will not be her choice. Well, I'm going to head home and do some woodworking, and I have some wood to chop."

"Nathan, I'm going to do your rounds tomorrow. Why don't you take the day and go fishing with your daughter?" "Thanks, Bill, I think I will do that, and I appreciate you listening tonight. You rank right up there with Joseph in giving advice. You are a great friend, and I'm grateful to have you."

"Nathan, don't go all soft on me now," Bill said with a slight smile. After he left, Bill thought about all that Nathan had told him. He knew it was wrong but not how bad it really was. If he was being honest, he was mad at Elizabeth and her actions. It was not in any way the Elizabeth he knew. Some bright spots made him hopeful, but he needed to devise a plan. Anybody with eyes could see how she was trying to force something with Bouchard. Whenever Nathan is nearby, she can't help but follow him with her eyes. They both seem to know where the other is in the room. They will keep moving from different people until they find themselves together. It was time to talk with Rosemary and Lee about an intervention. Elizabeth was about to throw out the man she was supposed to be with. He had never seen two people so perfect for one another. It was time to remove the gloves and get everything back in order. She could lash out at him all she wanted. It might get it all out of her system. But he wasn't going to continue watching this shipwreck anymore. It was time he spoke to Elizabeth and straightened her out. He owed it to his friend and fellow Mountie Tom and Jack Sr and Little Jack. He owed it to Elizabeth that she wakes up and smells the coffee. To finally show her the mirror and what everyone but her saw. If Jack were alive, there would have been no question that he wouldn't have fallen in love with this Elizabeth. He also noticed that Elizabeth wasn't happy, although she said all the right things. But that mischievous sparkle and quick wit were gone from her eyes. It was as if a light went out in her. He wanted to see it back before it was too late. Hurrying home, he vowed to talk to Lee and Rosemary the following day before he went to confront her.