Chapter 22

Her mind was still in a cloud as she began to hear the faint sound of her favorite tune, the one her music box played, the one that comforted her through her toughest times. A slight smile began to emerge on her face, until the pain of it shot through her, causing a wince instead. The music stopped abruptly, replaced by a soft male voice, "Abby, Abby are you alright? Can you hear me?" Please wake up, please!"

The voice was familiar, but it didn't belong to her father, Drew or Jonathan. She scrunched her nose in thought, but only for a second, for the pain was excruciating. Then, recognition came over her, the smooth, deep voice, belonged to Jacob.

"I must have been hit quite hard, for my mind is playing a very nasty trick on me. Your voice sounds just like my elder brother Jacob, who was slain in the war." she said quietly, still unable to open her eyes.

"No tricks Abs, it's me." the voice answered softly.

Despite her throbbing head, she forced her eyes open. The light caused a blinding pain and she could not see anything at first. She squinted, not caring about the pain it caused, trying to get her eyes used to it. As they did, the image of the person sitting next to her became more clear. He had chestnut brown hair, bright green eyes, and a smile that could only belong to one person, it was Jacob. There he was, sitting right there beside her, alive and well, perfectly fine. She sat up, ignoring the sensation of dizziness and pain that hit her and wrapped her arms around him tightly.

"Abs, your head, you should lay down."

"I don't care! You're alive, oh Jake, how I've missed you. How, how can you be?"

"Well Abs, you may not care, but you're hugging me so tight I can hardly breathe! Please, there will be plenty of time for hugs once you're well, for I am not going anywhere." he smiled, pulling her off his neck carefully and laying her back down.

"You're safe, I can't believe it, you're safe." she murmured, getting comfortable again. "If you're alive, then Drew didn't kill you!" realization hitting her as hard as Danny's punch had. "Drew! Is he ok? Did they save him before Danny killed him? His stitches, they need to be re -sewn, Danny pulled them out, oh, and all that blood on his face. Please, tell me he's alright, where is he?" she cried, trying to pull herself back up from her pillow.

"We got him, he's a little beat up, but he'll be alright, Melli is stitching him back up right now, and tending the rest of his wounds. And no, Andrew didn't kill me, he saved my life."

"What?" she whispered, incredibly confused by her brothers declaration.

She sat quietly as Jacob began to tell the story. "I was badly wounded in the battle, as I'm sure you were told. Took a bayonet right to the stomach, which left me unable to do much more than breathe. When the trumpet call came to retreat, I couldn't move, but I was still alive. So I prayed, prayed that a British soldier wouldn't come back over the battle field and finish the job. Sure enough, I heard footsteps, and there was nothing I could do about it, I looked up, and saw Andrew. I couldn't speak, for I was in so much pain, but he said to me, 'Don't worry soldier, you're going to be alright,' and he picked me up and placed me in a ditch out of harms way."

"How could he have?"

"I don't know Abby, but he did, and he didn't know who I was because I'm sure I looked a mess, and I would guess that I wasn't the first soldier who's life I saved. After he left me, a farmer found me and took me to his house, where his wife and daughter nursed me back to health."

"I've been so cruel." Abby whimpered, ashamed for believing Danny.

"What? You? I can't believe it." he smiled.

"But I have been! I agreed to marry Drew and then, when I heard that he had killed you in battle, I stopped reading his letters, stopped writing to him, broke his heart. I convinced myself that he was a monster, because only a monster would kill my brother. Then he showed up at the front door, tired, injured and heartbroken, and I was so cold to him."

"Abs, I can't believe you would deny yourself happiness because you thought I was killed... in a war! People are always dying in war, and I knew, when I enlisted, that I might very well die for our country's freedom, and I was willing."

"You are my favorite person, my best friend, my brother, how could I have attached myself to the man who took you away from me?"

"First, I don't think I'm still your favorite person." he smiled. "And it seems that you had made your decision before you knew I was alive."

"Alright, perhaps you're not my favorite anymore, but you're still quite high on my list." she blushed. "If you've been alive all this time, why did you not write?"

"It took almost a year to get me back to health, I was malnourished, tired, and wounded. My wound turned to gangrene, which was another complication, and I didn't know that I would survive anyway. I didn't want to write and say I was alive, only for you to get another letter that said I'd died because of infection. So I waited, waited until I was out of danger, waited until the war ended, then slowly made my way here. I wanted to see you, see everyone, tell you in person, prove that I was alive and celebrate it with my family. I'm sorry if that was a selfish reason for not easing your pain sooner." he smiled, awkwardly.

"It doesn't matter Jake, you're alive." she said graciously, squeezing his hand. "Will you take me to see Drew?"

"I don't think you should Abs, your head. The doctor said you should stay in bed for a couple of days."

"I don't care, I'll be ok, I need to see him, please Jake." she begged.

"Alright," he sighed, "I never could say no to that whine." he smiled, lifting her from her pillow, and helping her out of bed. He took her by the arm and carefully lead her downstairs. Abby looked an absolute fright, her hair disheveled, and her face swollen and bruised, and although she knew how badly she must look, it didn't matter, she had to see him, right now.

She found him sitting on a stool in the kitchen, Melli dabbing his cuts with witch hazel. One eye was swollen shut, with cuts accenting his eyebrow. His cheekbones were bright purple, his lip was split open and more swollen than usual. Deep red burns colored his wrists where his hands had been tied so tightly.

"Drew, you look awful, are you alright?" she said, leaving the stability of her brothers arm, stumbling to his side.

"You don't look much better," he laughed, "and you should be in bed." He said more caringly, noticing the black and blue mark that seemed to span from her ear to her nose.

"I had to come see you. I was worried about you." She ran her finger delicately over some of his cuts as he gazed at hers intently.

"Well if you must see me so badly, let us go to the parlor so you can sit down." He slid off the stool carefully, holding his side with one arm and offering her the other. They walked quietly and slowly and Andrew sat her carefully on the sofa, then eased himself down beside her.

There were so many things she wanted to tell him, ask him, she hardly knew were to begin. She decided to first ask about his injuries, as they were the most obvious, and simple answers would suffice for this type of conversation.

"How is your side? Did your stitches come out?"

"Yes, very quickly, but Melli stitched me back up, not as neatly as you did, but I suppose it will do the job well enough."

"I'm glad to hear it." she sat silently for a moment, focusing on the side that sustained the injury.

"Abigail, you shouldn't have come after me. Look at you, he hurt you because of me, and I couldn't do anything to stop it." he said sadly, brushing a piece of stray hair from her face.

"If I had not come, Danny would have killed you, and how could I have allowed such a thing?" she answered, shooting him a coy smile. Then, turning more seriously, she reached for his hand, "You didn't kill Jacob..."

"No, I guess I didn't."

"He said you saved his life by pulling him into a ditch, so another British soldier wouldn't kill him."

"I suppose I did." he said quietly.

"Did you know it when I accused you?"

"No, during the war I started to drag Patriots to safety when the battle was over, hoping that someone would find them and nurse them to health. I must admit, my true motivation for such actions was you. I could not bear to think of you getting a horrible letter saying your brother had died, so I saved as many as I could, hoping that if Jacob would ever fall, I would be able to help him. But, the faces of the soldiers were unrecognizable, covered with dirt, blood, hair and gun powder. So I didn't recognize Jacob when I pulled him to the ditch."

Tears welled in her eyes, "I love you Drew. I'm sorry I ever doubted you. I don't expect me to forgive me for how foolish and cruel I've been, but I had to tell you, I just had to tell you."

"Shhh..." he said, holding a finger to her lips. "it is all forgotten." Then, without another word he kissed her. At the first touch she groaned in pain, he pulled back, concern and fear written all over his face. Abby quickly decided that she could endure such pain for something so sweet and pressed herself upon him. The pain almost disappeared as the warmth of his breath and touch penetrated her soul. Finally he pulled away, gazing at her in unbelief.

"Can it be true, that after so many years, you are truly mine."

"I believe it is true sir. I am yours, and there is absolutely no way to get rid of me."

"Well then, I'm glad I have the opportunity to do this more properly. Do forgive me for not getting down on one knee, they are both bruised rather badly." he smiled, reaching into his pocket with one hand and taking her left hand in the other.

"Abigail Whitney, I have loved you longer and more deeply than any other person I have ever known. You bring me joy like no other and I want nothing more than to spend ever day with you for the rest of my life. Will you do me the honor of accepting my hand in marriage?" With that, he slid the small band on her left finger. The very same one she had found in the envelope with his first proposal.

"Where did you find this?" she asked, tears flooding from her eyes. "I threw it away."

"Melli saved it, just like the letters. I have your necklace too."

"Oh, may I please have it?"

"Might you be able to answer the question first?" he asked anxiously.

"Oh! I'm sorry! Yes, of course I'll marry you! I'd like nothing more than to be by your side forever!" She wrapped her arms gently around him, squeezing him tightly. He let out a small cry and she pulled back, giggling. "I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking."

"That's alright, for a hug from you, I'll endure any pain."

"Well, that won't be necessary, I can hug more softly."

"Very well then."

They cuddled on the sofa for a few minutes, both far to happy to care if anyone saw them. Abby pulled away once more, a twinkle in her bright eyes. "Would you care for a swing my dear?"

"There is no place I'd rather be." he smiled, kissing her again.

"Mmm, I do love the way you do that." she whispered, leaning on him as they walked.

"Then you are a very lucky young lady, for you shall have to accept a great deal more of those kisses."

"I can hardly wait." she sighed, leaning her head against his chest, breathing in his familiar scent, soaking up the comfort and security his arms provided. Yes, she could spend forever in his arms and be perfectly content, and that is exactly what she planed to do, beginning right now.

A/N: Well that's it! Thank you so much for all the comments and for sticking with my story as it's come along! I know parts of it could definitely be better, and that it needs work here and there, but it feels good to have the whole plot done, and laid out!! Sorry if I wrapped it all up to neatly, but Jacob was never going to really die in my mind as I worked through the story. I know it makes everything very happy...but, that's how I like endings...sorry! Again, I'd love to know what you think, so please leave me a comment. And, I've already started my next story, moving on to the Civil War. I have the first three chapters written, but don't have a title and haven't developed it super well yet...but be on the lookout for it, it's coming soon! Thanks again for reading! I really hope you enjoyed it.