Chapter Ten

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 the door.

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."

"Yes, sir."

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."



Chapter Eleven

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 Hannah?"

"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 is outside."

"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.

"All day."

"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 though."

"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?"

"Divorce her."

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 kissing her.

"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. Talking.

"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 the window.

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.

Chapter Eleven

Sam waited exactly half an hour before she got dressed and came out of her room.

The Captian, Pea, and Newt were sitting at the table, having a cup of coffee.

"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 what you."

"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 again."

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 cup.

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.

Chapter Twelve

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 his life.

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.

"Hey, cowboy."

He turned to see Sam standing behind him.

"Hey, darling." He put his arms around her waist. "How long have you been standing there?"

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.

"For what?"

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 people eat."

"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 you do."

"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."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

"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 happy too."

"You already have. You already have."