Six months later…

Chance sat underneath the tree sipping some cold beer while the activity of others milled about him. A group of ranchers and other folks had shown up to help raze the new barn to replace the one that had burned down to the ground one dark winter night. Chance had worked construction during his summer breaks while at Rice University so he felt right in his element helping build a barn on a ranch not much different than the one that had raised him.

He had taken a break, grabbed a cold one and sat back to relax for a few moments while Jed, Jonathan, Reed and others nailed the framework pieces which would be hoisted up to form the newly constructed walls. Rhonda and Fiona had been working on what would be the doors and window frames, while Alice and Bonnie and other women brought out plenty of food and cold drinks to keep everyone well fed while they worked.

Jed barked out orders as the foreman of the job, having fully recovered from his bullet wound suffered some months before when he had been trying to help Fiona escape from some of Andre's hit men. Bonnie had helped nurse him back to health amidst some grumbling on his part and the two had to the delight of everyone around them started seeing each other. Jed had made peace with his past life which had cost him the life of his beloved wife and had felt like a new man with Bonnie in his life.

Rhonda and Jonathan had also started dating and had gotten quite serious still meeting in Montana for breakfasts, lunches and dinners even though Jonathan had left the U.S. Marshal's office except to serve as a consultant on the trafficking case involving Andre's operation. He worked directly with Simon who had been promoted in the FBI as well as the U.S. Attorney's office.

Chance had also fully recovered from his own bullet wound and his shoulder no longer pained him and Fiona had gotten through her own surgery to properly repair her broken wrist with flying colors and had gotten the cast off several months ago. She had been living in Montana, working in the women's crisis center with Rhonda and Frankie while undergoing her own intensive counseling with a woman she felt comfortable with working through the darkest chapter of her life. Chance had watched her struggle to rebuild her life, and reclaim her identity back from the men who had stolen it, had celebrated her successes and held her when she cried.

By the time he had flown back to his backed up caseload in L.A., he had fallen more deeply in love but had kept it to himself knowing that she had enough in her life to deal with right now. Sometimes she allowed people in, and other times, she closed everyone around her out…just to survive.

So he waited until she could accept what he had to give her and concentrated on being her best friend, as he had been most of their lives.

He hadn't had to talk her into taking this vacation to the ranch which had been so instrumental in saving her life. She had wanted to go back and thank those who had helped her without expecting anything in return, including those who had risked their own safety to keep her secure during a time when very little felt within her control.

So right now, he sat and watched the most beautiful, vibrant woman out there hammering some wood while chatting with Rhonda, and laughing over something. His heart skipped a beat watching her laugh…the part of her he had missed the most in the past harrowing months. A man could fall in love just from listening to it and it had drawn him more deeply in that direction once again.

"Enjoying the beer?"

Chance looked up and saw Alice sitting down nearby, a beer in her own hand and keeping an eye on the barn razing. He nodded and marveled at how organized the effort had been since they began it this morning.

"I remember the night it burned down…we barely saved all the horses and if it hadn't been for Fiona …"

Chance knew the story about how she had gotten out of bed and still in her nightclothes had grabbed Sienna from the barn and ridden through the frigid night in the direction of the flickering flames and the scream of the trapped horses. She had been acting on instinct having been through a similar experience while growing up and hadn't felt the exhaustion from pushing her still weakened body so hard until afterward.

"She's quite a woman Chance."

He couldn't argue with that.

"Yes she is…"

"How's she doing?"

Chance sighed as he watched her examine her handiwork.

"Pretty good…she's been working hard with the foundation when she's not helping the attorneys on her case….it's getting larger with each woman they interview and she's given them a lot."

Alice nodded, and studied Chance carefully, with a smile.

"How are you doing," she asked.

Chance paused.

"I'm back in L.A. but still spending weekends in Dallas when I can…work piled up but I make the time."

"That's good…I know it's hard when you love someone so much…to be separated by more than just distance."

He blinked his eyes and she widened her smile.

"Oh come on, of course you do. You did even before all this happened…didn't you?"

He nodded; it was the truth after all and sipped his beer thoughtfully.

"Yeah, I knew…that's why I returned to L.A. to tell her…but everything got so turned upside down for a while…and I think if I hadn't left…"

She shook her head.

"Don't blame yourself for what you can't change. What matters is how hard you fought to get her back…to help her find her way back."

He felt some of the heaviness leave him.

"You'll get where you need to go…you both will…it will take more time but you'll get there. You just have to be patient."

He nodded again.

"I know…"

And indeed he did. At that moment, he looked up and saw her walking towards him, with a smile on her face that warmed him deep inside. She went to get a beer and sat down beside him.

"We've finished the doors and we're taking a break."

They watched Rhonda taking Jonathan's hand and leading him to the refreshment table.

"It looks like it's coming along mighty well."

She nodded.

"Yeah and when it's done, the horses will finally be able to return to it…their home."

He wrapped his arm around her and her head nestled comfortably against him as he watched the men began to raise up one side of the new barn and knew that what she said would come to pass.

The horses would indeed return to where they had lived at last and eventually too, he and the woman beside him who he loved more than life itself would find their own way home.