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A Cowboy's Heart~ Part I
Published Jun 21, 2009


Written By

drewsoltesz

Storyteller
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Jake Thornton was many things, stubborn and obstinate for one, and had seen a lot in his travels, hardened and cynical, he finally opened his heart, only to have it crushed. Can he allow love into his cowboy's heart again?

Jake Thornton was many things, stubborn and obstinate for one, and had seen a lot in his travels, hardened and cynical, he finally opened his heart, only to have it crushed. Can he allow love into his cowboy's heart again? Sheriff of Thunder Valley, Jake Thornton was an ex-gunfighter, as a lot of sheriffs and marshals were in the old west. He was a tough, no-nonsense man. An amazingly fast draw and deadly accurate, word soon spread not to go up against the sheriff of Thunder Valley...because you would not have stood a chance...

Jake carried a torch for the owner of the Carter Saloon, Carla. What he did not know, is the feeling was reciprocated.
Hello Jake..." Carla said softly. "What brings you here this time of day?" Jake glanced at the drink Carla was holding and raised an eyebrow, "It is water Jake. nothing more. I told you I do not drink alcohol anymore, do you want to taste?"

Jake shook his head. "No Carla, there is no need." he murmured quietly. He informed Carla he was forming a posse and going after some bandits.
Carla rushed into Jake's strong arms. "Oh be careful Jake! I fear for you, the hills are dangerous!" her voice quivered with great emotion.

Jake pulled Carla close, she smelled as fresh as the morning. He whispered huskily in her ear. "We will talk more when I return Carla. When everything calms down, we will talk of you and me."
Carla's heart skittered in her chest. They held each other, the clock on the wall the only sound in the room. Jake let her go finally and walked away.
When Jake makes up his mind, there is no holding him back. When he returned, he did something that was long overdue, he proposed to Carla.
Jake took a small box out of his duster pocket. He snapped it open and showed Carla, it was a gleaming diamond ring. Carla gasped aloud in shock. "I picked this up in Deadwood, when I saw it I thought of you...say you will consent to be my wife Carla. Let's not look back anymore, we will only go forward...together."
Tears began to spill from her cheeks, Carla took the ring and placed it on her finger. She ran into Jake's arms and squeezed him tight. "Jake, yes! Yes, I will be your wife, and I am so grateful...I too only want to go forward, and I cannot think of anyone else but you to share it with." Carla buried her face in his shoulder. "Let's do it right away...Jake I love you so, I have since the first time I laid eyes on you."

Jake held Carla close, the happiness clearly showing in his face. It would be a new beginning.
They married right away, and soon settled into a domestic tranquility.
Jake put down his fork and took Carla's hand and caressed it tenderly. "You have no regrets, love?" he asked.

Carla sighed deeply. How could she regret loving this man? Never had she known such complete happiness since she married Jake. It wasn't easy adjusting to being a housewife, but the nights in Jake's strong loving arms more than made up for it. "No regrets Jake, none at all." she whispered.
One afternoon, Jake cam home early. "How was your day, my love?" Jake drawled affectionately.
"I went to see Doctor Corbett Jake, he confirmed my suspicion. I am going to have a baby." Carla said delicately.

Jake could not believe it. Already? They were barely married 2 months! He could not think of more welcome news. He reached out and took Carla's hand. "You have made me the happiest man, Carla. I never dreamed I would be a father...thank you."
Meanwhile, Jake's deputy, Kane McCullough brought his newly arrived sister, Samantha to Jake's office for introductions.

Kane spoke of Jake quite a bit, Sam knew her brother liked and admired the man. She knew Kane did not give his respect or show his feelings easily, so she surmised, this Jake Thornton must be an extraordinary man.
As they walked into the office, Sam stopped dead in her tracks.
"Jake! This is my little sister, Samantha McCullough, Sam, this is Jake Thornton..." Kane smiled.
Jake looked up from his papers and gazed at the young woman standing in front of him. Her looks were striking, he had to admit, a very handsome woman. Perhaps not the delicate beauty that Carla possessed, but if there was one thing Jake admired in a woman was her honesty and strength, and he surmised this woman possessed those attributes. She would make a good friend for Carla, someone close to town. Carla and his sister Helen got along well, but with their confinements, they hardly saw each other.
Jake rose to politely greet Samantha McCullough. Her gaze had not wavered from Jake's strong, handsome features. She was entirely taken with the man, his aura, his overall demeanor, his vigor and strength. And she sensed a capacity for swift and intense retaliation if crossed, but also a depth of sentiment and deep feeling that he keeps deeply hidden, revealing to only a chosen few.
Why Sam could ascertain all this from one glance was beyond her comprehension.
"Very nice to make your acquaintance, ma'am." Jake said politely.
Samantha McCullough was thoroughly and completely smitten. With a married man. She could not believe it.
How utterly foolish of her!
She murmured a perfunctory reply, still she was locked in the pull of his pristine blue eyes.
"Have you settled in to your new home?" Jake questioned.
"Yes, thank you, we have." Sam said softly.
Kane spoke up. " We stopped by and visited Carla as well."
Jake smiled. "I do hope Miss McCullough, you and Carla can become friends. She has not been able to get out much."
Sam felt her knees quiver, that smile! "Of course, I would like very much for Carla and I to become better acquainted."

Jake nodded. "Then we will see each other soon."
Kane took his sister's arm and led her toward the door, only then did she at last break her gaze with Jake.
Sam had come over quite a bit to visit Carla the last several months. Not just because Jake asked her to, but she found she was genuinely fond of Carla. They became close friends. Carla had a difficult pregnancy, was told by the Doctor to stay in bed a lot of the time. During one of their visits, Carla suddenly yowled in pain.

"What is it? Carla...what is wrong?" Sam asked worriedly.
"Get...get the doctor Samantha, hurry!" Carla gasped.
Sam ran out the door toward Dr. Forbes Corbett's office.
After a few hours, Forbes came outside in the hallway to a waiting Samantha. "Miss McCullough?"
She looked up into Forbes Corbett's face. "Oh dear God, what happened?"
"I could not stop the bleeding, I did everything I could...The child is fine, but...but I could not save Carla, she died a few minutes ago." Forbes said softly.
Sam could not believe it. Her friend Carla, gone.
Good God, poor Jake! Jake was in Deadwood, he would return home to find....Sam began to cry.
A little later that same day, Jake at last returned from Deadwood, it was early evening now, the sun had all but set. A chill gripped his heart as he saw Forbes Corbett walking toward him, his face hard set.
"Why are you here Forbes, what has happened?" Jake hissed, his voice laced with worry.
"Jake, I am so sorry..." Forbes began.
Jake heard nothing after that, a roaring and pounding in his head took over. His pulse throbbed in his ears.
No.
Not that.
Not Carla.
Jake took the stairs two at a time...it wasn't true! Corbett was lying! Not Carla...his love, his life, his whole reason for living!
Jake walked into the room. There Carla was, as peaceful looking as if she were sleeping. Only she was not sleeping...she was dead.
Her face was very pale.
Jake let the tears flow. He closed his eyes, the pain flooding his body was terrible. The pain clenched his stomach. Even though the tears rolled down his cheeks, he refused to sob and wail.
"Oh Carla, how could you leave me all alone in this miserable world?" he whispered.
The smell of death was rife in the room, dense and cloying. He could not move toward her.
That was not his Carla laying there.
He thought of all the times they had together, not enough, not near long enough! All those years they were apart, wasted! They could have been together! Anger and a deep rage began to flow through him.
In the next room, Jake heard a baby's piercing cry slice through the air.
He clenched his teeth in anger.
That...baby.
Killed his beloved Carla.
Jake walked down the stairs toward the front door. 'Wait Jake, where are you going??" Forbes went over to block his way.
"Out of the way, Forbes, I swear I will plug you where you stand if you do not let me pass." Jake hissed dangerously.
By this time, Samantha had run down to the sheriff's office and got her brother Kane.
Jake took off his badge and tossed it to Kane. "You're sheriff now. I am leaving town, I don't know when I will be back, if at all."
Jake's face was devoid of emotion, he was an empty shell.
As far as he was concerned, his life was over.
"Jake, you are not being reasonable, this is your grief talking! You can't leave!" Forbes said loudly.

"You can't leave Jake! What about your son? He needs you!" Samantha cried, her voice trembling.

Kane stayed silent, just looking at Jake's face told him everything he needed to know about his friend's feelings. He knew there would be no stopping Jake.
"That is not my son...no son of mine would have killed his mother." Jake roared. "I don't care what you do with him, stick him in an orphanage for all I care!" Jake thundered.

Samantha was beginning to get angry. "You can't leave! What about Carla, her funeral? You have to see her properly buried!"
"I'll not stand by and watch her be put in the cold, dark ground. I can't." Jake turned and walked out the door.
"Jake!!" Samantha cried.
"Let him go Sam," Kane said quietly. "He has to grieve his own way."
Jake did not care where he was going...all he knew is he had to get away from Thunder Valley as far and as fast as he could.
Carla...dead. He could not accept it. Nor did he want to.
Jake could hear the baby crying upstairs.
The pitiful wail had no affect on him...he felt nothing.
TWO YEARS LATER

Jake Thornton sat and soaked in a bubble bath in Abilene, Kansas, a bottle of whiskey as his only companion. As it often was these past two years. He worked as a railroad agent, a scout for the cavalry, a bounty hunter and even a hired gun once or twice, drifting from state to territory, never stopping more than a few weeks. If he kept moving and kept busy, he didn't have time to think...of Carla.
Jake got out of the tub, slipped on his trousers and sighed deeply. His looks had changed, his body added some lean muscle, he let his hair grow long, he grew a goatee. He had a harder edge to his countenance. His face was guarded, cool and detached. If he had the look of a man that should not be messed with before, now it was even more so. Jake had an iron-sureness of a man who tolerated very little from others.
Jake looked in the mirror. Sometimes he hardly recognized the man staring back at him, the dark circles, the permanent furrow in his brow. The vestiges of a violent life were etched around his eyes.
He was miserable. He had shut down emotionally, Carla was still a part of his heart. Her death caused such a chasm to open in his soul he felt it would never heal.
He stared back at the stranger in the mirror. Perhaps...perhaps he should return to Thunder Valley, Helen his sister, Matt Butler his best friend were there. And the baby...he shook his head. He would not think of that child.
He decided that quick, he would return for a short visit.
Then move on down the trail if needs must.
It was a long journey, but Jake had made it. He hesitated outside of town, should he just go out to the Butler Farm? He couldn't, not yet...so Jake took the back way into town. He did not want to run the risk of running in to anyone. Besides, the graveyard was down by the lake on the edge of town.
He made his way around the perimeter of the lake and jumping down off his horse, walked into the graveyard.
He saw it immediately.
Someone had planted flowers.
Jake dropped to his knees, the earth was still somewhat soft. The stone read: Carla Evans Thornton, beloved wife of Jacob C. Thornton, beloved mother to Rafael Jacob Thornton. Greatly loved. Sadly missed.

Jake buried his fists into his eyes, which were already burning with hot tears.
"Carla..."Jake rasped with emotion. "Please forgive me my love. I could not face it, face seeing you put into the ground. I am a coward. Why did you leave me? I miss you so...forgive me, for I cannot forgive myself. I never will."
A breeze suddenly appeared out of no where and ruffled his long hair.
Jake stood, his knees felt like rubber. He looked down at the granite stone. The breeze was gone as quick as it arrived. "You always did forgive me Carla, for every stupid thing I ever said or did. I will never find another like you."
He looked down at the inscription again...'Rafael Jacob Thornton'...who named the boy, he wondered.
He wiped the hot, stinging tears from his cheeks. Maybe this was a mistake, coming back here was just opening old wounds, not that they ever really healed.
He had to face it sooner or later. His love, his life, his darling wife...was dead. Gone.
It is so easy for people to say "its time to move on", but how does one? Did he even want to?
Traveling around like a saddle tramp was no answer. He had done that before, he hated it then. He really thought at last he would be putting down roots, starting a family. Putting his wretched, lonely tortured past behind him.
It seemed he was doomed to repeat it.
A raw ache of sorrow rolled though his guts.
A couple of days later, Jake went to see the sheriff, his former deputy, Kane McCullough. "Jake...Sam and I have been living in your house, with your sister's permission. We have your son there." Kane said quietly.

"Helen told me..." Jake exhaled. "I don't want the house Kane, I will never live in it again. If you want to buy it off me, I will give you a more than fair price. As for the child..." Jake's voice trailed off. "I will go see your sister after we are done here. We will talk more when you get back from Yankton."
Kane nodded. "Fair enough."
Jake took a deep breath and stepped into the house. He stood in the front foyer and looked around. Not much had changed. Except Carla was gone, but he could feel her presence still. No...he could never live here again, it would shatter what little bit was left of his heart.

He and Carla had such plans, he wanted to give her a proper home, at the time, it was one of the fancier homes in town. They wanted to fill the house with the happy sounds of children.
Well, hell.
Jake was still deep in thought when Samantha McCullough walked into the room. She froze. My God, it was JAKE!! She ran into his arms without hesitating, grinning from ear to ear. She KNEW he would come back, deep in her heart, she knew it!

Jake was surprised by the reception he received, and a little shaken. He had not held a woman since Carla, and the reaction he was feeling having Sam in his arms, was disturbing, He stepped back immediately.
Sam kept a firm grip on his shoulders. "Let me look at you! Jake, you have changed! I must say I like it! Where have you been? All this time, no word..." She let her voice trail off. She would not press him, she changed the subject. "Would you like to see Rafe? I hope you don't mind I named him..."

Jake looked into her handsome, earnest face. "I already offered to sell the house to Kane, I will not live here again. As for the child...I have come to discuss his future with you. Come let's take a seat."
Jake didn't waste anytime. "I have no means to look after a child. I can take him to an orphanage so he can be adopted by a loving family, or if you wish to adopt him, that could be arranged. I don't know why you took on his care these last couple of years, he is nothing to you."

She knew why she did, she was in love with Jake then, she was in love with him now. She had grown to love Rafe as if he were her own.
"You will not take him to an orphanage, not while I draw breath..." Sam said in an even, firm tone. "I will adopt him. He is a darling little boy, Jake, a happy, content child. If you would only come into the nursery and see him...he looks so like Carla, Jake, he is not to blame for her death."

Jake closed his eyes and sighed.
Sam stood. "Come and see, Jake."
Sam led Jake into the nursery, Rafe was awake, babbling happily in his cradle. Silently, Sam handed him over to Jake, then quietly left them alone.
Jake held the boy and had a good look. He could not help but smile. Yes, he could see Carla.
Rafe smiled and laughed in Jake's arms. He seemed to be what Samantha said, a happy, content child.
Rafe snuggled next to Jake's broad chest, his little hand gripping Jake's shirt. Jake closed his eyes tightly, blinking back some tears. Oh Carla...Jake's heart was pounding fiercely.
He knew now he could not give the boy away, this was his and Carla's son, and he owed her to see to the boy's proper upbringing.
Jake hugged the boy close. "You are a Thornton." Jake whispered.
Rafe laughed and reached his chubby little arms around Jake's neck and squeezed.
He liked this man, who ever he was. He felt a connection to him immediately.
He kissed Jake's neck and babbled. "Da...daaa...da..."
That was it, Jake's heart melted.
A few days later, Samantha was preparing a little lunch for her brother, it was hard to concentrate, for Jake would be there later that afternoon to visit with Rafe, and if Sam could convince him, to stay for supper.

It was getting harder to see him, not knowing if he was going or staying in Thunder Valley, Her feelings were quite intense, and had been for over three years, ever since that day Kane introduced Jake to her in the Sheriff's office.

No man had entered her thoughts since. A few had tried to court her, she would have none of it.
That is it, she resolved that tonight, she would try and speak about how she felt, whether Jake wanted to hear it or not...
It took a great deal of convincing for Jake to stay to supper. Kane was late, as usual, so they were alone for a spell. Jake did not like to be in the house for any period of time, too many painful memories, Sam supposed.

She was unusually quiet all through the meal. Her emotions were in knots, she was beginning to lose her nerve. Jake could sense something was up. He offered that they may take a walk when Kane returned.
She nodded.
Jake went over to the floor where Rafe was playing happily. Jake lifted him into his arms, Rafe snuggled in close, he kissed Jake's neck like he always did.
"Daaaa...dada." Rafe burbled.
Jake kissed Rafe's forehead. "I'll see to the boy's bedtime and meet you outside in a while."
Samantha ran upstairs to change out of her house dress. She put on one of her best dresses. She nervously paced outside. She was going to do it, not matter how foolish she felt or how much he rejected her, she had to speak to her heart.
This had gone on long enough.
What seemed like an eternity, Jake finally emerged from the house. Kane was home now and able to look after Rafe while they went for a walk.

Damned if that boy wasn't a sweet kid. He looked like Carla, tore at his heart every time he looked at him.
He began to walk with Samantha. Jake looked over at her, she looked pretty in her pink skirt and white lace blouse. He always thought she was a handsome woman. He often wondered if Kane and Samantha got mixed at birth, Kane was the prettiest man he'd ever seen, Samantha the handsomest woman. Strange that.

Samantha closed her eyes. She had to admit his new look made him even more appealing.
Jake cleared his throat. "Beautiful evening, hardly any bugs tonight..."

Samantha stopped walking. She couldn't, her knees were knocking. "Jake..." she whispered. Her voice sounded ragged. She tried to get control. "I have to know...are you staying in Thunder Valley, or are you riding out at the end of the summer?"
Jake rubbed his chin. "I don't know...hadn't thought about it much..."
Samantha turned and walked over to Jake...she reached up and began to caress his whiskered cheek. It was like fire under her skin. "Stay Jake...there are people here who care about you...very much."

Jake reach up and grabbed Samantha's wrist, gripping it tightly. "Don't..."
He glanced over, they had stopped in front of the graveyard. There was Carla's grave...staring at him.
Jake lowered her arm somewhat roughly and walked away.
Jake stared down to the lake, he was rubbing the back of his neck in agitation.
"Is my touch so awful to you Jake?" Samantha asked, her voice quivering. "Am I so abhorrent you cannot look at me?"

The thing was, Samantha was not abhorrent to him...not at all if he was to be honest. He had never thought of her that way...but he was tonight, and it disturbed him.
Jake turned around, crossing his arms. He looked over toward the graveyard. "There she is, Carla is everywhere Samantha. I can't get her out of my system. No matter how far I traveled. I am not sure if I want to. I loved her...so much. Now she's gone. I am not sure I want to put myself through that again."

Samantha knew she was seeing a part of Jake no one else had seen. He had let down his guard. "So you will remain alone the rest of your life? Carla would not want that for you Jake, you know it."
Jake turned and faced Samantha. She was hiding nothing, she was showing everything she was feeling on her face. Funny he had never seen it before, then again, he never really looked. But he was looking now. Jake knew Sam spoke the truth, Carla would want him to be happy, find some sort of peace.
Love? He wasn't sure. He wasn't sure he was capable of ever loving someone like that ever again. Wasn't sure he even wanted to.
He walked over and gently took Samantha's hands. He looked into her eyes...really looked. His hard set features softened slightly. "Sam...I make no promises. The heart is what it is. God knows when I will be ready...if ever. If you will be patient with me, I would like to try. I need time."

A few tears clustered on her long brown eyelashes. "Jake, if you knew how long...I...I care so much for you..."
Jake smiled slightly. "Guess I'm staying in Thunder Valley after all."
Samantha's heart took flight.
Jake Thornton had taken a couple of rooms at the Hotel in town, Matt and Helen tried to talk him out of it. As much as he enjoyed his extended visit with Helen and Matt and the children, he needed some time on his own.

It was an upstairs room with his own balcony, that over looked the thoroughfare. He marveled at the changes in Thunder Valley in the two years he had been gone, from a dusty cow town into a thriving center of commerce.
And he was almost directly across from his former home, the house Samantha McCullough lived with his son. The house Carla died in. It was still a painful mass that had its tentacles manacled on his heart. A firm, ridged grip.
To Samantha's credit, she did not push Jake, for that he was grateful.
He could hear the raucous sounds from the saloons in the distance.

Now what does he do with the rest of his life? He had some money put by, but how long would that last? He was fairly sure he did not want to farm and ranch. Not now. He had one other offer to mull over...John Pinkerton had been in touch.
The moonlight shadowed on Jake's dark, harsh, handsome features. A Pinkerton Agent. He would have to travel, would involve detective work, some danger. But he was used to that. Pinkerton was generous, said Jake could take only the cases he wished...good pay.

He had not seen Samantha McCullough much, at least not alone, he came around every other day, to see Rafe, or so he told himself. Across the late evening air, the sounds of a piano wafted toward him. It was from his former house...Sam.
Jake walked over, opened the door and went into the back parlour. Samantha was playing some classical piece. She was good...very good. Jake stood and listened.

She was a wonderful woman. All this time...it was if she had waited for him, but maybe that was his male ego thinking that.
There was no denying the way she looked at him, that day down by the lake, but Jake had not acted on it.
Samantha finished. Jake felt his throat close over from the emotion, he turned away and looked out the window, not wanting Sam to see him in such a state.

She rose from the bench, surprised Jake was in the room. "Jake? Have you come to see Rafe? He is napping right now..."
"No...Samantha. I came to see you." his voice was low, hoarse.
He swallowed deeply and turned to face her. With the backs of his fingers he caressed her soft cheek, outlining her jaw and chin, it felt good, to touch a woman...to touch her.

Samantha gasped from his touch, it was if he opened the lid of a can full of kerosene and dropped in a lit match. Years, she had waited, 3 long years to feel Jake's searing touch.
Samantha could not control herself, it was if a damn burst in her heart, her passion overflowing and breaching the top. She grabbed Jake and kissed him.

Samantha's cheeks flushed, and she pulled away in embarrassment...what had she done? She practically attacked the man!
"Jake...I...I...I am so sorry, I don't know what came over me..." Well, she did know. She wanted him so badly it hurt. A raw, searing ache.
Jake stared at her for the longest time, saying nothing, nor could she read anything in those deep blue eyes of his.
"Jake, please...say something!" Samantha pleaded. The silence was deafening and was scaring her a little.
Jake reached out and pulled her against him and kissed her back. Her desire surprised him, if he were to be honest. He was enjoying the kiss, and so was Sam.
But then, Carla suddenly appeared in Jake's mind...the memory of the first time he had kissed Carla.
The memory froze his heart.
Jake pushed her away. "I am so sorry Samantha, I can't do this. Not now...maybe not ever. She is always there, she will always be between us...Carla. I can't do that to you."

Fear griped Samantha's soul. "You...you just need more time, I can wait. I would wait a lifetime for you Jake, you must know this. Please, do not push me away entirely. I promise I will keep my distance."
Jake turned to leave. "I think it better we not see each other for awhile Samantha, I need more time, it is true. I need to think...I have decisions to make. Good night."

His boots reverberated on the wooden floor. Samantha could not hold back the tears. She had ruined it, all her efforts to get closer to Jake gone with her pathetic attack on him. 'Oh why couldn't I have controlled myself? And Carla...my dear friend...why can't you let him go?'
A couple more weeks passed by. Sam hugged Rafe close. 'We will be together, I promise you that.'
Rafe burbled and hugged her neck, saying 'mama'.
It melted her heart.
And what of Jake? He had hardly been around lately, and when he was he would mumble 'hello' to her, then scoop up Rafe and go to his rooms across the street.
Jake went out on his balcony like he often did, it was early evening, already it was getting dark sooner, autumn was around the corner.
He looked down, there was Samantha on the front stoop, holding Rafe, and who was that heading up the steps?
Jake squinted...red hair, suspicious, squirrelly look, it was that lawyer, Luke Tyrell!
Luke followed Samantha into the nursery and watched as she cooed lovingly to Rafe, even sang him a lullaby.

Almost made a man wish for a wife and family. Almost. He had to admit he was feeling some interest toward Samantha McCullough, more than he had toward any woman for sometime.
They stepped outside the nursery. "Was it something important Luke?" Sam asked.
He stared at her without answering, his green eyes blazing. Luke suddenly had the urge to embrace her, he shook it off.
"I have drawn up some preliminary papers for adoption, like you asked me a couple of weeks ago. Of course, Thornton will have to agree to the terms, but I think it is fair."
Sam looked worried. "I don't know Luke...Jake might think this move presumptuous on my part, it might anger him..."

"You have to think of the child, Samantha. He needs a mother, as you said. Thornton can't do it full-time, right now he is basically a drifter, he could leave town again without notice..."
Samantha sighed. A few tears running down her cheeks.
"Come here..." Luke said in a deep voice. He hugged Samantha and patted her on the back. "It will be alright, you'll see. It will all work out the way you want."

Luke stepped back, he reached up with his thumbs and wiped away the wayward few tears running down her cheeks.

"What in hell is this?" A voice growled from the doorway.
Jake stomped over toward Samantha and Luke, who still had their arms entwined. They stepped back immediately.
"Jake, have you met Lucas Tyrell?" Samantha said a little too brightly.
Jake's eyes narrowed dangerously. Jealousy bubbled and boiled inside his heart.
So much for her declarations of deep feelings for him.
But right under the jealousy was hurt feelings, and anger...anger at himself for not acting on his growing affection for Samantha. Was it now too late, was she involved with this red-headed idiot?
Luke was amused by this whole scene. Jake Thornton acting like a spurned lover. "I am here on business, Thornton. It involves you...and the boy."

Jake snarled to Sam, "What the hell is he talking about?"
Samantha laughed nervously. "Well, he was helping me with the adoption of Rafe, drawing up a few papers, obviously we were going to discuss it with you before we proceeded any further..."
Jake was stunned into silence. He had mentioned adoption when he first arrived home, but for her to take this step without talking it over with him...it stung.

Luke looked over at the man. 'Well I'll be...,' Luke thought to himself. 'Thornton is in love with Samantha McCullough.'
It was written all over the man's face.
Jake turned on his heel and headed for the door.

Samantha ran after him. "Don't you dare walk out, Jake Thornton! That is your answer to everything! Come back here and discuss it! You know Rafe needs me...I need him! Jake!"
The door closed gently, Sam began to cry.
Luke watched the scene wistfully. He knew now he did not have a chance with Samantha McCullough.
Her heart was taken, no doubt long ago, by the looks of it.
Her soft crying tore at his insides. He was not one for sentiment. But he felt bad. He would give it a few days, then go talk to that bull-headed Thornton.
Make him see a few things...
Jake took solace in the only thing that ever worked in the past, a bottle. He sat in his room, alone, brooding.

He did not know what to do next. Samantha...seeing a lawyer behind his back. THAT lawyer. But wasn't just some supposed underhand legal maneuver that had him in shreds, it was Sam, in Tyrell's arms, he gently wiping away her tears.

There was a hard knock at the door. "Enter!" Jake yelled.
Luke Tyrell stepped into the room.
Jake immediately snarled. "What do you want? Come to serve me papers?"

Luke shook his head in disbelief. "You are stupid ,Thornton." "Samantha McCullough, for some unknown reason, wants to be a mother to your child. But we both know she wants more than that. And you are too stubborn and too plain stupid to see it." Luke said softly. "What I would not give to have a woman like that love me the way she loves you. And you push her away. Idiot. You don't deserve her."
"Is that all you came to say to me? Jake snapped angrily.

"Yeah, I guess. Why I am sticking my nose in, I'll never know. If I thought I had half a chance with her, I would take it. And here you sit." Luke shook his head and walked out.
Maybe he was stupid, stubborn and whatever else.
He could not find the courage to move forward, to take Sam in his embrace, it was if invisible arms were holding him back.
Carla's ghost.
Jake at last, found some inner courage and invited Samantha over to his rooms, he knew it wasn't entirely proper, but they had to discuss Rafe. Make some decisions.
It still stuck in his craw that Samantha went behind his back to that lawyer. Adoption? he loved that boy, the child had his name, that meant something. He wasn't about to sign away his rights.

And damn, Sam looked lovely.
"Jake, why am I here?" Samantha said coolly.
That cold tone just stoked Jake's annoyance...again.
Samantha! why didn't you come talk to me! I thought we could talk frankly, deal honestly with each other!" Jake snapped.
"Right...your answer to everything Jake is to lash out, or walk out of a room. When have you ever been honest with me, let alone yourself!" Samantha snapped right back.
This was getting them nowhere.
"Then I have a proposal..." Jake growled. "Marry me."
Samantha's voice broke out into a sunny smile. Oh dear heaven! It is what she dreamt of, hoped for...for years!
Her lower lip began to tremble, she took one step toward him, this stubborn obstinate man that she loved with every fiber. "Jake..."

"It solves our problems..." Jake said in a business like tone. "No need for adoption, we will both be Rafe's legal guardians. As for our living arrangements, I will keep my rooms here, we can find a small home for you and Rafe...I am going to be on the road, I have just taken a position with the Pinkerton Agency. Seems the best solution."
The smile disappeared from Sam's face like snow in the hot sun. Her eyes turned steely. Blast his ornery, stubborn hide!
Her first instinct was to slap him senseless. How dare he propose such a cold, unfeeling, business arrangement? That is the way he made it sound.
She should say no, tell him to go straight to ....
Jake tried to read Sam's face, it was difficult, she was masking her emotions very well. But he could see the blue frost in her eyes.
He could not help his tone, he was still so angry at her, she betrayed him.

Perhaps that was harsh...in fact, he knew it was. Fact was, he was scared witless.
He was scared to feel anything for Samantha, so he put up a wall, something he had done pretty near his whole life to protect himself.
Samantha took a few steps away. In a flat, emotionless tone, she said. "Fine. I will marry you Jake, for Rafe's sake. And no other."

Those cold, chilly words hurt far more than he thought they would. She wanted to be that way? Fine. "For Rafe's sake then. No other. I will make the arrangements."

~TO BE CONCLUDED very soon!~

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#30jaundyce61Jun 22, 2009

This was wonderful to read, again. LOL! I love that it is all together, flows wonderfully, And Jake is a stubborn man, but very appealing. Yes, he ran off, but he came back. And accepted his son. Marrying for convenience? LOL! Can't wait for more!\:wub\:

#31omik79Jun 23, 2009

I soooo love this story \:D  \:rah\:

#32fabrizioammolloJun 23, 2009

Another masterpiece! The story is just amazing, so detailed and well written. Excellent job!

#33mpattonJun 23, 2009

Great story.  I love seeing the further adventures of the Thunder Valley people.  I am eagerly looking forward to the next instalment in this story.

#34mrssittin1Jun 24, 2009

WOW!! I agree with BBKZ....another great story!! Will be waiting patiently for the conclusion

#35TUTULAJun 24, 2009

As usually another great story\:wub\: Love it very much\:wub\: Great work\:rah\:

#36leifofdelJun 25, 2009

Eagerly awaiting the conclusion. Such a sad/sweet story. Sam is a very beautiful woman. I am sure that it will all work out. Really enjoyed reading it.\:wub\: \:wub\: \:wub\:

#37j_girl87Jun 27, 2009

As always Drew,.. truly amazing story! I feel for Jake but boy.. is he sure is stubborn, lol! I can't wait to see what happens next! 5.0 \:D

#38SaozJun 27, 2009

What a mess those two are! I can understand you're scared Jake, but come on! Do you really think it will hurt any less if something were to also happen to Samantha? Men. \:P And hopefully Samantha's leap of faith will pay off!

#39Zenta889Jul 12, 2009

great sory, as always!

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