Romance Fiction posted September 23, 2014 Chapters:  ...20 21 -22- 


Exceptional
This work has reached the exceptional level
A treasure at the end of the rainbow

A chapter in the book The Animal Doctor

Once More My Love (Part 2)

by amahra




Background
From 1906-1928, three women revolved around Nathan. Margaret who broke his heart; Eva who died loving him; Grace, his wife, whom he betrayed. Now it's down to the wire. Who will emerge unscathed?
(Last paragraph of chapter 21  Part One)

Margaret's driver seemed to hold the car door open forever while she overplayed the need to remind Nathan to be on time. "Now, Sweetheart, don't forget the train leaves at seven o'clock sharp. Please leave out around five. I want to be at the station a little early so we can relax and maybe have a cup of coffee before we board."

Nathan bowed his head and pointed to a finger when he mentioned each appointed time. "Leave home at five; be at train station by six; board train at six-forty-five." He wiggled his eye brows and smiled at her.

She shook her head and smiled back. "Are you sure you don't want us to go together?"

"No. All of our things won't fit into one car, I told you. Your things alone will probably need two cars," he teased.

"Oh, stop." She playfully waved her hand at him and climbed onto the back seat.

Nathan slid into the driver's seat of his car, and both cars sped off in opposite directions
.
**************

The Final chapter
(Chapter 22  Part Two)

Nathan stood at the window with his hands in his pockets and stared at the orange sky.  Elizabeth, her eyes red and puffy, finished Nathan's packing. Merald and Jenny moped about, and Pete was unusually reserved. Dr. Koren sat in his chair with a newspaper spread across his chest and faked a nap.  Within the woeful silence, the steady ticking of the wall clock became eerie. Everyone, except Nathan, flinched when the clock chimed five.

"Well," Nathan said, quietly, "I guess this is it."

Pete put the last piece of luggage in the car and waited behind the wheel. The twins, Ella and Ellie, their husbands and their children had come and said their tearful goodbyes the day before. Elizabeth held up pretty well then,  but she finally broke down. She grabbed Nathan around the neck and spoke in his ear. "I've loved you like a son. I'll always love you." She buried her face in his chest.

Dr. Koren rose from his chair, walked over to Nathan and gently pulled Elizabeth away. "Come on, Honey. We'll see him again." Koren held her and patted her back gently. While she rested her head on Koren's shoulder, Nathan stroked her mixed grey hair. Koren looked over at him. "You'll stay in touch?"

"Of course. You and Miss Elizabeth mean the world to me, you know that."

"Take care of yourself, Nate," Koren said, still holding on to Elizabeth. "If you need anything, you write us and let us know."

"I will."

Elizabeth broke away momentarily. Nathan stepped in and gave Koren a bear hug. Koren patted him hard on his back the way men do.


Elizabeth wiped her face with her hand. Koren reached into his back pocket, pulled out a handkerchief and handed it to her. She blew her nose. "If things don't work out, remember, you always have a home here, she said," her lips trembling.

"I know."

Over in a far corner of the living room, Merald and Jenny stood watching. Pete honked the car horn. The sound had a sobering affect on everyone. Nathan walked briskly over to Merald and Jenny and kissed their cheeks. Elizabeth grabbed him again and kissed his face. He patted Koren on the shoulder and hurried out to the car.

They all crammed in the doorway and waved frantically as the car drove out of their view.

On the way to the train station, Pete drove stony-faced.

Nathan breathed in the big Texas air, he thought, for the last time. He wanted to remember everything about Sweet Springs. But his mind wouldn't let him separate the good from the bad. Maybe it's best I don't remember. Start a new life some place else. There's no life for me here anymore.  Everybody hates me. The town. Grace's parents. Grace.  He sighed.  Oh, Grace. Baby.  If only you'd listened.  At least given me a chance to...

Twenty minutes into the drive;  fifteen minutes away from the train station, a familiar sight caught Nathan's eye. It sat afar off on a high hill. It was Ten Oaks. God, it looks so heavenly from here... the place where he'd taken Grace as his bride; where he looked at her beautiful face from across the dining table; where he'd enjoyed watching her sleep after they'd made love; the ups and downs of her pregnancies; the place where God had blessed them with their miracle baby.

Then, as if the sun had broken through a dark cloud that hung over his head, something  snapped inside of him. Something crazy he'd never thought of.

"Pete, turn around," he said, sternly.

"Huh?" Pete huffed.

"Turn around. Take me to Ten Oaks."

Pete shook his head. "Okay, but we gonna' be cutting it mighty close if we want ta' make that seven o'clock train."

"Don't worry. We'll make it. There's something I've got to do first."

Pete veered off the main road, mashed his foot on the gas and pushed the1928 Lincoln Model L towards Ten Oaks. He made every sharp curve, causing Nathan to slide from one end of the back seat to the other. "Sorry about that, Mr. Nate."

"I'm...I'm fine."

Nathan gently scraped his knuckles back and forth across his teeth. Lines grew across his forehead, and his jaw tightened as the car drew nearer to Ten Oaks. After clearing the mansion's second security gate, Pete finally pulled in front of the house. He slowed the car down, but before it came to a complete stopped, Nathan pushed open the door and hopped out, nearly costing him his balance.

He knew Grace was home when he saw the car. He walked agilely to the back of the house  and looked around on the ground near the window sill until he spotted what he needed. He picked up a medium size flower pot and smashed the window pane several times until it became just a big square hole.

Pete heard glass breaking and ran around the back just in time to see Nathan's feet clearing the window ledge. "Lord have mercy!" Pete said, his eyes as wide as an owl's. Then he heard shouting from inside the house. Pete ran and jumped in the car and started it. He kept the engine running in case Nathan needed a quick getaway.

"For the last time, you get out of this house, right now," Mary Nevers shouted.
 
Nathan ran through the downstairs like a madman, checking every room and shouting for Grace.  Grace heard him and Mary yelling. She ran into one of the guest bedrooms and locked the door.  When he started for the stairs, Mary jumped in front of him. He could have gotten past her but was trying not to put his hands on her.

Pearl had just laid the baby in her crib and now stood at the top of the stairs watching the commotion.

"Grace!" he yelled over Mary's head. "Pearl, where is she?" 

Pearl parted her lips.

"Don't you tell him anything, Pearl,"  Mary ordered.

Nathan's face pleaded with Pearl.  "Tell her to come down stairs."

Pearl made a motion to move.

"You stay right where you are."

Pearl froze and stayed tight-lipped. She looked at him as if her heart went out to him. She loved him and Grace but didn't dare anger Mary.  However, with Mary's back to her, Pearl responded to Nathan's plea by moving her eyes slowly to the right several times. But with Mary shouting and distracting him, Nathan didn't notice.

"For the last time, get out of this house. Grace wants nothing to do with you."

He looked up at Pearl again. "Just tell her I want to see her...just for a minute."

"You do, and you'll never work here again."

Pearl stayed perfectly still and didn't attempt to speak, but this time, moved her head slowly in the direction of the guest bedrooms. When Nathan saw that, he shoved Mary aside and leapt up the staircase, two steps at a time.

"OH!" Mary said, stumbling to one side.

Pearl cast her eyes to the floor to indicate to Mary she hadn't done anything. Nathan gave her shoulder a quick "thank you" squeeze as he brushed passed her. He hurried down the long hall, looking in every room until he got to one that was locked. He banged on the door.

"Grace, I know you're in there. Open up. Now!"

Grace stood in front of the bed chewing on her thumbnail. Mary came storming up the stairs shouting. "I'm calling the police this minute." When suddenly, to Mary's shock, his foot went up, and the door thundered opened.

Mary swooned, but Pearl and Joseph broke her fall. Nathan walked boldly into the bedroom where Grace stood with her mouth wide open. He grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her down on the bed.

"Now, I know it's over between us. And after I'm finished, I'll leave and won't bother you again." He paused and took a deep breath. "Grace, I love you. What I did to you was wrong." Grace sat twisting her wedding ring on her finger and stared down at the floor. "I thought I was in love with Margaret, but that was a long time ago." He stopped and lifted her chin with his finger, forcing her to make eye contact. "Look at me," he said.

She stared into his eyes.

He let her chin go. "I was so young when I met Margaret. I believe I just wanted her because I was poor and people didn't think I was good enough for her. And I thought having her would make me somebody, I don't know. But I realized something, while riding over here, I don't belong in England. My home is here, in Sweets Springs." Those words, home, here, lit a fire in her. She wanted to speak, but Nathan kept talking. "You may not want me as your husband, but I am going to be a father to our daughter. If you want a divorce, I won't fight it." He looked away. "God knows you deserve it after what I did."

Nathan didn't notice Grace when her face brightened. She tried to make eye contact, but when he looked back at her, she became frightened.  His mood had changed so quickly, and his eyes had narrowed. She could barely see any blue in them. He shifted his weight to the other foot and pointed a finger at her. "And if you let that cow of a  mother of yours talk you into keeping me away from my daughter.  I'll fight you. I'll fight you with everything I've got."

Before Grace could gather her thoughts, Nathan turned and hurried out of the bedroom. He passed Mary in the hallway. Joseph was holding her up against the wall while Pearl fanned her with her apron.

Nathan scurried down the stairs. He stopped in the library, grabbed writing paper and a pen and began to write. When he'd finished, he folded the paper and left by the front door. As he ran over to the car, he could hear Mary and Grace shouting upstairs. Nathan jumped in the back seat of the car and Pete took off.


"Sir, I don't know if we can make the train from here in twenty minutes, but I'll sho try."

"I'm not going to the train station, Pete."

"Huh!"

"Drop me back off at the Korens, and take this to Miss Margaret."

But before he handed Pete the folded paper, a certain feeling rushed over him like a kind of sixth sense that made him turn and glance out of the back window.

"Pete, stop the car."

Pete slammed on brakes just before he got to the mansion's first gate. Nathan pushed open the door and stood by the car. Grace was running as fast as her beautiful legs could carry her. Nathan was a bit puzzled. He wasn't sure what to make of it. As she ran closer, he could see she had been crying, but the look on her face was soft and pleading. He stood there as she flew into his chest and threw her arms around him. It took all of his masculine strength not to topple over.

He grabbed her and lifted her off the ground while she kissed every area of his face. Between her tears and her kisses, not a spot on his face remained dry. He lowered her down to the ground and began planting kisses on her face and neck. Then he held her a little away from him and just stared at her in amazement.

"Oh, Nate, Honey," she said, trying to catch her breath. "I love you. I don't want a divorce, and...and I would never keep our daughter from you no matter what Mother says.

"It's okay, Honey, you don't have to explain. I'm just glad you want me," he said, still kissing her on the cheek and forehead as she desperately tried to catch her breath. Nathan stared into her eyes as she spoke fast, trying to get out all of the words she should have said to him in the bedroom. "I wanted to take you back. But between Mother badgering me and my own stupid pride, I was confused."

Nathan held her in his arms. "Honey, you don't have to explain."

But Grace couldn't stop talking. "I've always feared your love for Margaret. But when you said you weren't going away with her, I knew you loved me. Oh, Nate please come home." She fell against his chest. "I love you so much."

With his arms wrapped around her, Nathan looked over his shoulder at Pete, who was grinning from ear-to-ear.  He handed Pete the now slightly wrinkled letter.  Pete got into the car and started the engine.

Nathan looked back at Pete again. "Oh, Pete," he called.

Pete snatched his head around and stuck it out of the window. "Yes, sir?"

"Bring my things back to Ten Oaks."

"YES! SIR!" Pete said with all thirty-two white teeth gleaming. He raced the engine and shot off like a canon. The time was six thirty-three.

Meanwhile, back at the train station, a nervous Margaret paced back and forth a few feet from the train. Her heart was thumping. Most of her luggage was already on the train, except for a small jewelry case. People were beginning to board. She bit her lower lip and stretched her neck, looking for any sign of a car coming.

"ALL ABOARD!"

"No. No. Wait!" she yelled to the voice. She walked back and forth wringing her hands. People were kissing, hugging, and saying their goodbyes.  She looked over her shoulder and saw the crowd had thinned. Then she looked straight ahead of her and saw headlights. "Finally," she said.  Pete shot up and brought the car to a screeching halt.

A smile flashed across her face then slowly faded when she saw Pete walking towards her, but no Nathan. "Something must have happened," she thought out loud. "Pete, where's Mr. Daniels?"

"He asked me to give you this, Ma'am."

Margaret stared at Pete, who stood with a poker-face. She pulled the folded paper from his fingers and slowly opened it. Everything around her disappeared as she read the words...


Margaret,
I won't do this to Grace and the baby.  I couldn't live with myself. We had our chance.
I'm sorry.
Nate


"Miss," the porter said,  "you've got to get on the train. Miss?"

Margaret came back to earth. She looked up and Pete was driving off. The porter took her arm and gently turned her around and guided her towards the train. He held her tighter when she wobbled while stepping up. She stood like all of the life had drained out of her.

"You need to take your seat, Miss. The train will be pulling out soon." 

She gave one last look out as if the letter had been just a dream. But all she saw was an empty space where Nathan should have been.

At exactly seven o'clock, the train moved out under a dark cloud of smoke. Margaret sat alone in her private car and watched her sad reflection in the window.

**************

Miles away from the train station, the Koren household became ecstatic when Pete broke  the good news. Pete's laughter lit up every room. Dr. Koren and Elizabeth kept hugging each other. Merald and Jenny broke into a Dosey Doe in the kitchen.

Back at Ten Oaks, Grace smiled as Nathan stood over the crib and watched his little angel sleeping with her thumb in her mouth. To Mary's horror, Grace and Nathan strolled hand-in-hand back to their bedroom and locked the door. Their lips locked instantly, and they peeled off their clothes. Then Nathan lifted her and placed her naked body on the bed. Grace rolled and got under the covers. She smiled as Nathan slid his muscular body next to her.


"I love you," she said, her soft white body pressed against him.

"Oh, Baby, I love you too." He rolled over, his bare chest gently pressing in her pink nipples. He took her mouth into his.


Out in the darkness, a lone train whistle blew. Its mechanical scream faded and melted in the distance, taking with it a lost love that would soon be forgotten. The End .....


Recognized


This is Part 2 of the last chapter of this book. It's longer than the previous chapters. If the ending is too abrupt, it's because it's the second half of one chapter. To get the full effect, read both chapters 21 and 22 together. ( I want to thank those of you who stuck with the book from beginning to end. I hope you will enjoy the ending. And thanks to all of you for your comments, corrections and support.)

For those who are new to the story:

Main Characters:

Nathan (Nate) Daniels....Main Character
Grace Nevers-Daniels..... Nate's wife
Baby Margaret(little Maggie) ........... Nate and Grace's daughter

Margaret...Nathan's heart breaker and lost love
"Big" Tom Wainwright..... Margaret's father and one of the riches cattlemen in Sweet Springs, Texas
Rose Wainwright...........Margaret's mother

Doctor Koren.......Nathan's Mentor
Elisabeth Koren....Doctor Koren's wife
Ella and Ellie ......the Korean's twins

Eva Mitchell.......Deeply in love with Nathan (Deceased)
George and Mary Nevers......Grace's Parents

Ten Oakes'Servants

Joseph........Negro Limo driver
Pearl.........Negro Housekeeper

Koren's Servants:

Pete...........Negro Driver
Merald.............Head housekeeper
Jenny...............Maid and cook

Wainwright Servant

Netty.......Negro Housekeeper

Supporting Characters:
Sweet Springs Town folk

Art work by Google
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