A/N: Hey my sweet cherubs. Thank you to every one for all your nice reviews. I hope you love the new chapter. Sorry it took so long. Much Love. xx-Kitten.

Chapter 18: All We'd Ever Need.

Sam held her breath as she heard Jake say those words. She even pinched herself. Surely this was a dream. Jake left because he didn't love her. Didn't trust her to love him back. Didn't want her.

He didn't care that he'd hurt her and had no real foundation for doing so. And Sam was home in bed, having dreamed that Jake came home early, and that Brynna had had the baby at the party, that Kit had a daughter and that she and Jake had argued and he'd told her that he'd wanted to marry her when she was fifteen and told her that he loved her now. It was all just a dream and in a moment she would wake up to Dad knocking on her door and telling her to stop burning daylight.

Wouldn't she?

She pinched herself again, harder this time.

Nothing happened.

Jake was still standing in front of her in the dark on the hill behind the Ely's home. Jake was still breathing hard as though arguing with her took all of his energy. His mustang eyes were wild as he looked at her, but he smiled just a little bit when Sam pinched herself a third time.

"Stop pinchin' yourself Brat, you'll bruise."

Jake sounded calm now, back to his usual easy going sarcastic tone and that lazy tom cat grin.

"What did you just say to me?" Sam asked him.

"To stop pinching yourself."

"Before that?"

"To stop telling me I don't love you when I do."

"Did, you mean."

"No Brat. Do. When I do love you." Jake clarified, his brown eyes teasing her with mischief.

Sam fell back against the rock behind her in shock. Then she leant there staring at Jake like he'd spontaneously turned into a pumpkin just because he felt like it.

Then she stood up again, glaring at him.

"You can't just say that like it makes everything ok Jake!" Sam told him, stomping her foot to emphasise her point. "You still left without an explanation. You still weren't here when I needed you. Even when I pulled stupid, life threatening stunts in the hope that you might actually care! And you didn't. Or you would have seen me more than three times in the last four years."

"Do you ever actually listen when I talk?" Jake asked her mildly.

"Of course I do!" Sam said.

"So you did hear me when I said that every time I saw you made it even harder to leave, which was one of the reasons I broke up with you in the first place?"

"Your excuses don't make it better Jake. You still left, you still let me think you didn't love me, or didn't trust me. You still ignored me when I wrote to you about me coming to visit you. You still let me walk around hurting for four years, let me walk around feeling all wrong because you weren't here for the important stuff. You excuses don't change the fact that you broke my heart."

"I know." Jake said softly.

Suddenly Sam noticed that Jake wasn't wearing his hat and that his hair was hanging loose about his shoulders, the shiny black looking blue under the moonlight. And his mustang eyes gleamed as he looked at her with his thumbs hooked into his pockets. He looked regretful.

"So what happens now?" Sam asked him softly.

He tilted his head to one side and Sam knew he was asking her what she meant without speaking. Typical Jake.

"Maybe you didn't notice, but we've been fighting. And you just declared you love me. So what happens now?"

Jake smirked at that "Well you could tell me how you feel about me now?"

Sam narrowed her eyes at him. Surely he was teasing. Surely he had worked out by now that she wouldn't have been out here crying, or spent the last four years crying about him breaking her heart if she didn't love him back. Surely she wouldn't have made out with him while skinny dipping last night if she didn't still have a massive crush on him.

"Do you ever listen when I talk?

"Don't recall you saying one way or the other how you feel about me now."

Sam glared at Jacob Ely for several long moments.

"Do you think I kiss just anyone?" Sam demanded angrily.

Jake smirked a little at the reminder of last night. "I dunno Brat. Been away a long time. Don't know what it is that you do no more."

"I could strangle you Jake Ely!" Sam said.

"I have a better idea." Jake murmured huskily as he stepped closer to Sam. When his face hovered an inch above hers he whispered, "But I'm not doin' it until you tell me how you feel about me now."

Sam quivered with anticipation at the idea of him kissing her again.

"Jake, when you drove away four years ago, you had my heart in your back pocket." Sam whispered to him "And you never really gave it back."

Before Sam could even smile at him Jake's lips took possession of hers. His lips were soft and warm as he kissed her and Sam melted right there. Melted into a quivering puddle of Sam right there in his arms. Stars she loved him!

His tongue gently pressed against the seam of her lips and Sam smiled when she parted them so he could kiss her properly. Her navel was flipping madly as she clutched him to her and their tongues swept tenderly against each other.

Sam didn't know how long they stood there kissing in the moonlight. It could have been centuries. All she knew was that she would love to do this for the rest of her life. Slowly Jake pulled back from her, still cupping her cheeks tenderly in his hands.

"Samantha..." he breathed huskily. Sam opened her eyes and met his gaze. "I'm still this close." He told her, holding his thumb and forefinger close together. Sam smiled for a moment before she realised he meant he was that close to getting down on one knee and proposing to her. As much as she loved him and would no doubt marry him some day, she was too young yet.

"Jake" Sam cautioned.

"Too young, I know. I heard you this morning with Jen. But I'm still this close to askin'. I want to love you forever." Jake told her.

Sam smiled at him.

"Should probably ask me to be your girlfriend again first."

Jake fixed her disbelieving look. Before raising his eyebrows at her questioningly. Sam rolled her eyes. Typical Jake, thinking that just raising his eyes brows would be enough.

"Ask me properly Jake." Sam told him, stepping back from him a little.

"Brat if you want me to verbally ask I'm gonna drag you down to the ranch yard and get that furry little box out of my glove compartment and get down on one knee in front of everyone." Jake told her.

Sam gulped.

"What?" She squeaked "What furry little box? Do you mean a ring box Jake?" Sam demanded.

Jake nodded.

"I'm sorry, what? Why do you have a ring box in your glove compartment?" Sam squeaked again.

"You sure you listen when I talk?" Jake asked her, quirking an eyebrow. "Sam I was so in love with you that at eighteen I was one breath away from asking you to marry me then. And I ain't never stopped loving you that much." Jake said, shrugging his shoulders.

Sam stared at him.

"Prove it."

Jake raised his eyebrows "How am I supposed to prove I love you?"

"I meant prove it about the box." Sam said.

"I'm not showing you the ring Sam. Not until I actually ask you to marry me." Jake said, "So unless you want me to ask you now; you're not seein' it."

"Fine. But I want to see the actual box."

"Why?"

"Jake I'm almost nineteen years old. And you just told me you've wanted to propose to me since you were eighteen. Then broke up with me. Yet sometime during the last four years you supposedly still loved me enough to buy a damn ring! I want you to prove it."

"Fine." Jake said before striding away from her. Sam started to pick here way down the hill, trying to make sure she wouldn't get and burrs or prickles in her bare feet. She'd been lucky on the way up. Jake stormed back a moment later and turned around so he stood in front of her with his back to her.

"Get on Brat." He said gruffly.

Sam giggled just a little bit before climbing onto Jake's back and letting him piggy back her down the hill.

When they reached the bottom Sam slid off him, and Jake took her hand, leading her around the side of the stone ranch hose, past the clothes lines and Maxine's veggie garden. When they reached the ranch yard Sam noticed that practically everyone had left, no doubt after learning that the baby and mother were both healthy. The yard was deserted. Still holding Jake's hand, Sam stopped to pick up her shoes and carried them over to her truck. She had a spare pair of boots in there and she pulled them on while Jake went to his truck. She had just finished pulling the second one on when Jake stopped in front of her again.

His fist clutched something and when Sam met his gaze, he turned his palm so that the box rested on his open hand.

And there it was. A little furry green box. It looked tiny on Jake's huge palm, and when Sam reached for it Jake closed his hand back around it.

"Like I trust you not to peek." He smirked at her.

"Oh come on Jake. I promise I won't look." Sam whined at him. She was completely awed by this. Jake narrowed his eyes at her before slowly opening his hand again and letting Sam pick it up.

It truly was a ring box. And the fuzzy feel of the velvet against her skin made Sam shiver.

"When?" She asked Jake softly.

"After my first year." He murmured. His brown eyes looked vulnerable as he stared down at her and Sam felt her love for him burn a little brighter. "That summer when I came home I was gonna ask you properly. I didn't care that you were only sixteen. But you kept avoiding me and acting like we'd never been together." Jake told her as Sam let him take the box back off her. He slid it into the pocket of his jeans. "Thought I'd blown it completely. I nearly returned this. But it's so you that I held onto it, hoping that someday I could change your mind." Jake told her.

Sam watched as he turned away from her, clearly uncomfortable talking about this without his hat to hide under.

"Jake..."Sam murmured, waiting until Jake looked at her before continuing. "I never stopped loving you either you know."

When Jake rubbed the back of his neck and bit his lip on a smile Sam grinned.

"So... Do you wanna be my girlfriend again?" he asked her softly, still rubbing the back of his neck.

Sam nodded, grinning at him even as she took hold of the front of his shirt and pulled him down so she could kiss him. Briefly Sam pressed her lips against Jake's before she pulled away and slipped past him, heading for the stone ranch house where her family were.

Sam glanced over her shoulder when she heard Jake snort.

"What?" she asked him.

Jake looked at her with an odd expression on his face for about a minute.

"You. Used to be that I could predict every movement and practically read your thoughts right off you face. Now I can't even predict your reactions. The girl I left behind would've kissed me proper after what just happened here."

Sam turned around to face Jake, that lazy tom cat smile of his that she had perfected on her petty face.

"The girl you left behind learned to bury her feelings and kill that endless chatter." Sam told him.

Jake just stared at her.

"Don't look at me like that Jake. The girl you left behind is still in here, she's just buried real deep and gonna take a lot of coaxing to get her back out in the open." Sam whispered to him. She grinned when Jake smiled real slow at her.

"Now, are you done gawkin'? You need to meet your possible -future-brother-in-law." Sam told him before turning back around and walking into his house.

Jake trailed along behind the woman he loved. She'd agreed! She'd actually agreed to be his girlfriend again! Jake had been so sure when she threw their break up in his face earlier that he'd never win her back. That he'd never convince her to forgive him for stupidly breaking up with her.

He hadn't meant to tell her about the ring he'd bought her.

Especially after the incident that morning with Jen. He'd meant to keep that fact that as a nineteen year old kid he'd gotten a job stacking hay for a farmer, saved up for months and then walked into a ring shop, spotted and purchased a ring that suited Sam perfectly. He didn't want to spook her or have her turn him down like Jen had done to Slocum. Because there was no way he'd survive having Sam tell him she didn't want to marry him.

Hell he'd developed a crush on her when she'd showed up on River Bend wearing all black clothes and with the awful punk haircut. And the two years that followed had tested his patience and his sanity beyond belief. He could even pinpoint the day when he realised he'd liked her a whole lot more than just a friend too.

Angry as a cut snake at her and she was taking damn pictures of him while he stood in the freezing snow clutching a wet foal. But that day as she lost herself in a snowstorm to save that blind little foal Jake had realised that in spite of how much he worried about her and how much it drove him crazy, he loved how she did anything she deemed necessary to save the life of an animal. And he knew it was the Indian spirit in him that approved of that. When Witch- a more foul tempered and rude and spiteful horse he'd never met- let Samantha Forster climb up behind Jake and ride double with him Jake was just about ready to eat his hat in shock. And he knew then that he was a goner.

From that day he'd begun to notice the little things about Sam. The way she crinkled her nose when she laughed. The way she watched a horse with an expression of awe on her face. The way her nostrils flared when she was mad about something. He'd always noticed expressions and cues and been able to guess what someone felt or thought without them saying, but with Sam he became so attuned to her, and she became so attuned to him that they didn't even have to speak.

That Sam was still somewhere inside her, even though she had retreated to hide behind the attitude of a cowgirl. And it was that Sam, with her incredibly big heart and the love and understanding she extended to all animals, especially the wildest and most dangerous ones, that had somehow found it in her to forgive him for breaking both of their hearts and driving away like the biggest idiot the world had ever seen.

Jake knew one thing though, now that he had her back in his life, there was no way he was letting her get away from him ever again.