And this is it, dear readers...the LAST chapter!

CHAPTER FORTY-ONE

Wednesday, July 14, 1875

Unable to look away, but knowing that he should, Michael continued to stare down at his sister. Her nakedness was concealed from his view, but only just; a bare leg, all the way up to thigh level, stuck out from under the cell room blankets and they'd been pushed down so that her back was clearly visible. Really, the only thing that hid her from his view was the fact that she lay, face down, her breasts buried in Black Hawk's chest, his arm wrapped around her with his hand covering where the small of her back reached her blanket-covered bottom. The man sleeping beneath her was just as naked as she, but Hannah's body managed to keep most of him hidden. It might have been shocking, had it been any other couple in town freely exposing themselves, but, for some reason, Michael could only shake his head. His sister was definitely unique.

"Hannah," he whispered.

His sister's eyes snapped open and when she would have bolted straight up, exposing herself further, Black Hawk's arm tightened around her, keeping her where she was. And for that, Michael would be eternally grateful. There was only so much a brother could see of his sister.

Black Hawk's eyes opened then as well, and Michael waited while he focused. He saw just a touch of embarrassment in the man lying there, as if he'd planned on being up early enough to show at least a small measure of decorum, but then he seemed to push his feelings aside.

"I just wanted to let you two know that I've sent Billy over to pick up breakfast. He should arrive back shortly." He paused. "Thought you might want to get up and...ahhh...be decent...before he returns."

Black Hawk nodded.

With her back still to her brother, she said, "Thank you, Michael."

Michael stood there for another moment, then turned on his heel and walked back into this office.

~oOo~

Hannah sat on her cot and Black Hawk stood leaning against the cell bars the next time Michael came into the room. He was happy to see that the two of them had dressed and were seemingly ready for visitors. Both looked at him as he came in. He went first to Jesse's cell, pushed a tray of food under the bars, then came and did the same for Hannah.

Hannah sat up and eyed it. "That is not enough food for two," she commented.

"No, it's not," Michael said. Then removing his keys, he opened the door. "And that's because Black Hawk's leaving now."

"Michael!" she protested, on her feet now. "This is our wedding day. Can't we at least spend it together?"

"Relax Hannah. I have no intention of keeping you two apart. As we speak, Pa and James are down at the courthouse talking to Judge Prescott about settling this...at least by this afternoon," he added. "And I'm sure the Reverend will understand and agree to marry you later in the day."

Hannah frowned, clearly not liking the plan, but Black Hawk nodded his understanding. "I will go home and change, then return."

"You certainly will not!"

Everyone turned around to see Mary standing in the doorway.

"You should not even be here," she scolded. "It is bad luck to see the bride before the wedding."

Hannah rolled her eyes. "Oh Ma, I think we're beyond that by now, don't you?"

Mary shook her head vehemently. "No, I do not! This wedding is going to go on as planned...even if we have to do it right here in this jailhouse. I've talked to the Reverend; he will be here at ten sharp. Now you!" she said, her eyes going to Black Hawk. "Shoo! You can come back later."

Black Hawk smiled, then kissed Hannah and left quickly before there could be further protest from his beautiful bride-to-be.

~oOo~

Her mother having finally gone, Hannah sat down to eat her breakfast, which was now cold from sitting there while her mother jabbered on about moving the wedding to the jail. Nibbling on her toast, she sighed heavily; this was not the way she'd hoped her wedding day would go. She'd never really considered how it would go though, but this was definitely not it. Then smiling, she chuckled to herself. It really was kind of funny. That she'd be getting married in a jail cell was certainly something different than anything she'd ever heard of before.

"I don't suppose that it's any of my business, but...what ever are you laughing at, Hannah?"

Hannah stopped immediately, her eyes swinging to the sheet separating her from Jesse. "No, you are right, it is not any of your business!"

He sighed. He didn't know what to say to her. He loved her so much. He'd always loved her, but now he'd ruined their friendship. Now he realized that's all he'd have ever had from her and he knew he should have been satisfied with that. And now he'd ruined her big day and she was laughing about it, and that made him feel even worse. How could she be laughing at a time like this? he wondered. But then he smiled sadly and answered his own question. Because...she's Hannah.

His head was in his hands when he heard a scratching noise. When he looked up, he was looking into Hannah's clear blue eyes; she'd reached through the bars and pulled down the sheet.

"But I will tell you anyway," she said. "I guess I find it humorous that I will get married here." She threw her arms up in the air and glanced around her cell. "It's not exactly the color scheme my mother was hoping for."

Jesse looked at the gray block walls and frowned. He'd ruined everything for her.

"And I'm not sure how she plans on fitting everyone inside this place." She paused as she sized up the room. "I do not think that even our families could crowd in here, let alone any of the townspeople. But, just between you and me, I didn't want to invite anyone from this prejudiced little town anyway."

Jesse watched as she began pacing.

"But I guess you're invited...can't really exclude you, now can I?" she said, dropping onto her cot and staring across at him.

Jesse blushed. "I'm sorry, Hannah," he whispered. He was standing there clutching the steel bars. "I just didn't understand."

Hannah shook her head. "I'm not even mad at you, Jesse. I'm just sad. You were my friend. How could you do what you did?" she asked.

He shrugged. "I guess I just thought that I could change your mind...that I could make you love me." He stopped, realizing how absurd that sounded. Make Hannah Cooke change her mind? Now that was utterly ludicrous!

She shook her head. "I do love you, Jesse. I have always loved you...but not like that. You are my friend."

"Still?" he asked.

For a moment she just stared through the empty cell at him, then she nodded. "Yes, in spite of everything, you are my friend still."

Groaning, Jesse leaned his forehead against the bars and closed his eyes.

Hannah watched him, then making a decision, she stood up and went to her locked cell door. "Michael!" she shouted. Then impatiently, she called out again. "Michael!"

Within seconds he appeared.

"What is it?" he asked, a worried frown bunching his brows together.

"I want Jesse released immediately."

"What?" both men said in unison.

Hannah didn't bother looking at Jesse. "You heard me."

Michael shook his head. "No way, Hannah, not after what he did to you. He's stayin' right where he is."

"Is that so?" she asked, her hands fisting on her hips.

Michael nodded, then frowned when Hannah smiled.

"I might not have much knowledge of the law, dear brother, but I do know that I'm the only one who can press charges against Jesse...and I absolutely refuse," she said, folding her arms across her chest. "I want him released now!"

Michael stared at her for a moment, then turned and marched into his office, returning with some paperwork and his set of keys.

"You'll have to sign this," he said, pushing the papers through the bars and into his sister's face.

Hannah read the paperwork, then handed them back to her brother. "I will not sign either of those. Let him go!"

"You're making a big mistake, Hannah," he said as he went and opened the other cell door. "Dropping the charges against him will, in no way, free you."

Hannah shrugged. "I know that, and don't care. I cannot do this."

Michael held the door open for the other man and slammed it shut when Jesse had stepped out, then started out of the room. "Come with me. You have one to sign as well!" He didn't wait for Jesse to follow.

Jesse stopped in front of Hannah on his way out. "I'd not have hurt you. I certainly had no intention of...of..." He frowned. He couldn't even say the word rape.

Hannah nodded. "I know that."

Smiling sadly, he went into the sheriff's office.

~oOo~

"Now take your shit and get the hell out of my face!" Michael said through gritted teeth as he practically threw the other man's belongings at him. "And I don't want to see you anywhere near my sister. Is that clear?"

Jesse nodded, then slipped his pocket watch and money clip into his pocket.

"Well...what are you waiting for?" Michael snapped when the other man didn't move to leave right away.

"I...I just wanted to say that...I'm sorry."

"Yeah, well...fine! Little good that does us all now! Now get the hell out of here!"

Jesse frowned, then put on his hat and left the sheriff's office.

~oOo~

"You're going to wear a hole through that wood floor, Michael," Hannah finally called out. Her brother had been in the other room pacing for nearly half an hour and she figured she'd better talk to him.

"Are you crazy?" he asked, appearing in the doorway. "Holding him here was the only way to insure your release today. His father would never allow his precious son to stay here more than one night."

Hannah could sense his frustration. She was frustrated too. But doing things the way her brother wanted to do them didn't sit well with her. "Michael, you can't hold someone like that. That's bribery...or something."

"So!"

"So...it's not right, and you know it. Plus, I never filed charges against Jesse. The whole thing was a hoax. Nice try, trying to get me to sign those papers."

Michael sighed. "I just wanted it on record, Hannah, just in case he tries to hurt you, or some other woman, again. Now we have nothing! If only you'd signed them, he'd have an arrest record."

"Well, you do not have to worry. Jesse will not ever do such a thing again. I am sure of it!"

Michael frowned. "How can you be so sure?"

Hannah shrugged. "I don't know, I just am," she said as she plopped down on her cot again, then flung herself backward.

Michael watched her lie there, then he left her to her own thoughts. Sitting at his desk, he stared at the complaint form he'd filled out, but she'd refused to sign. Then, balling it up, he tossed it across the room and into the trash bin.

"Damn it!"

~oOo~

At quarter to nine Michael looked up from his desk to see the man he'd just released opening the door.

"What the hell are you doing back here? I thought I told you to stay away from..." he began. Then he saw that the man had others with him, his father, for one, then both of Michael's deputies and the entire Cooke clan behind them.

"We're here to drop the charges against Hannah," Jesse finally said.

Michael looked from the younger man to his father. Mr. Wyndham didn't look nearly as agreeable as his son. "Is that so?"

Mr. Wyndham frowned, but finally nodded. "It is."

"Well then, I'll need you to sign this." Michael pushed the paper at him. When it was signed, he handed his keys to Jake and stood up. "I'm glad you came to your senses before this went any further, Mr. Wyndham."

"I suppose a night in jail is enough punishment for the both of them."

Michael glanced at his family. He suspected that they didn't agree where Jesse was concerned—neither did he—but at least the ordeal would be over. Just then Hannah came into the room with Jake and everyone turned to look at her.

"Good day, Miss Cooke," Mr. Wyndham said, tipping his hat at her, then exiting the office quickly.

Jesse glanced at her, he expression pained, then followed his father out.

"Now!" Mary exclaimed. "Can I get my daughter ready for her wedding, or is there more paperwork to complete?"

When her question met only silence, she beckoned her daughter to follow and they walked out.

~oOo~

Standing beside the examination table, Black Hawk handed the suture needle to his father. As soon as he'd arrive at the office, his father had put him to work. A woman had come in with her dog; it had been hit by a passing wagon, and they were trying to repair the damage. Black Hawk watched silently as his father worked, holding the light so the man could see better.

"There!" Daniel exclaimed. "I think that'll do it!"

"Will she live?"

Daniel shrugged. "She looks good to me. Why don't you go out and let Mrs. Figg know Puddles will be all right."

Black Hawk nodded, disappeared for a moment, then returned shortly.

"She says she has a few things to do, then she'll be back for her dog."

Daniel nodded. He'd moved Puddles to a recovery cage and was now cleaning up his examination room. "Don't you think it's time to start getting yourself ready?"

Black Hawk frowned. "I wanted to go check on Hannah one more time, but...Mary thought it best that I don't see the bride before the wedding," he said.

Daniel chuckled. "Well, that is the way of it. I don't know who made up that tradition," he said as he disinfected his instruments, "But I do think it's silly. Okay, I'm finished here. Let's go get cleaned up."

~oOo~

Back in their hotel suite, Hannah was pushed into the bathroom and told to bathe, then yanked out, forcibly stuffed into her undergarments, and then made to stand still while her hair was done. The only thing that stopped her from protesting was the knowledge that all she had to do was get through the next few hours and then she'd have several days alone with the man she loved—her husband. Just the thought made her shiver with anticipation.

No family to bother them, no people at all! And no fancy clothes to wear.

I can even stay naked all day if I wish, she thought with a smile as she imagined swimming with her new husband, then sunning themselves on a moss-covered riverbank.

"What are you grinning about, Hannah?" Magen asked curiously. When her sister didn't answer, she frowned.

"What a silly question that is," Mary said. "Your sister's about to be married, what do you think she's smiling about?"

Magen smiled, but she still wondered what was going on in her sister's head. She was going to ask again, but a knock on the door prevented it.

Hannah seemed to focus then. She was still in her underwear when the door opened. Her girls had arrived to help her finish.

"Oh Abby, you look lovely!"

Abigail Kelly grinned at her best friend. "Oh Hannie!" she exclaimed. "You look just beautiful!"

Hannah laughed. "I am not even dressed yet, Abbs."

Abigail giggled. "I know...I guess I always think you look beautiful."

The two women hugged, then Hannah was helped into her dress.

~oOo~

"All right," Mary said as she stood behind her daughter looking at her in the mirror. She was ready to go—or so she thought. "Just one last order of business."

Hannah frowned and turned around. "What is that?"

Mary grinned. "Something Old, of course," she said, pulling out a box and handing it to her daughter.

Hannah's eyes widened as she opened the box and stared at the double-strand ivory pearl choker.

"This," Mary said as she lifted the necklace from the box, "Is very old. It belonged to your great-grandmother, Halldóra Gunnarsdóttir." She motioned her daughter to turn around, then she fastened the lobster clasp and straightened it so that the single ivory pearl at the end of the chain in the back dangled freely. "But now, it is yours," Mary finished.

Hannah's hand fluttered up to her neck as she turned to look in the mirror. Then smiled at her mother. "Thank you. I will treasure it."

Mary hugged her daughter then stepped back so that another could come forward.

"Something New," Gracie said, handing her a small, flat, pink box tied with a red ribbon.

Hannah smiled and pulled on the ribbon. Lifting the box top she found an exquisite pair of diamond white silk crochet gloves. "You made these?"

Gracie nodded. "I am not as good as my mother, but they came out nearly perfect."

"Nearly perfect?" Hannah exclaimed, first turning them over in her hands, then slipping one on and holding her hand up to see it better. "They are perfect, Gracie! Thank you."

Gracie grinned with pride, glad that her gift was so well received.

"My turn," Sarah said, stepping forward and presenting her portion—an antique brass hairpin, with a cameo-style blue floral design. "Something Borrowed. But...you can keep it until Lilly or Star marry. Daniel gave it to Morning Star on their tenth anniversary, and asked me to hold it after she passed...for one of his daughters."

Hannah stared at it, then, pushing it back at the other woman, she said, "I...I cannot take this...even for a short time. It belongs to one of his daughters."

Sarah shook her head and refused to take it. "Of course you can take it. Daniel asked me to do this. He wants to see you wear it."

Hannah's eyes filled with tears and she stood there silently as Sarah slid it into her hair, then turned her so she could see it in the mirror.

"It is lovely on you."

Hannah smiled and blinked back her tears. "Thank you," she whispered.

Sarah grinned. "You are family now, honey," she said as she leaned and kissed Hannah's cheek.

Hannah kissed her back, then looked at Magen.

"I know that you don't need this, but...Something Blue," she said, holding out a small paper wrapped item.

Hannah smiled and opened it up to find a garter trimmed in blue organza lace. "What are you talking about? I love it!"

Magen frowned. "But you don't need it; you're not wearing any stockings."

Mary gasped. "Hannah!"

"Oh Ma, relax...it's not like I'm forgoing the drawers. And the stockings are uncomfortable."

Mary sighed and shook her head, but she didn't say anything.

"And I can still wear it, Magen," Hannah said, sitting down and slipping the garter onto her leg and up to her thigh. "See?"

Magen grinned.

"Thank you," Hannah said as she straightened her dress and stood up. "It is perfect." She then pulled her sister into her arms and hugged her tight.

"And last," Abigail said. "A bride cannot go without a sixpence in her shoe...for wealth, they say, though I don't think you need any more of that."

Hannah grinned and took the coin. Though it had some slight wear on both sides, the lettering and date were clear. It said, Victoria Dei Gratia Britanniar: Reg: F:D: on the front, and Sixpence 1866 on the back. "Do I really have to wear this in my shoe?"

Abigail shrugged. "You're supposed to. I did...but we all know how that worked out, so you'd better not."

Abigail giggled then and Hannah joined in. It was the first true laugh she'd heard from her friend since she'd returned to Little Creek and it sounded heavenly. "I think I'll take my chances," Hannah said as she knelt down and put the coin in her shoe. "No sense in tempting fate."

Abigail smiled. They all did. The morning seemed to be shaping up rather nicely.

~oOo~

Having showered and dressed, Black Hawk was combing his hair when a knock on the front door sounded. Putting down his comb, he went to answer it; it was Michael and James and Hunter.

His brow bunched in worry, he said, "Is everything all right?" This day was not going as planned and he hadn't expected the three of them to show up at his father's house. He was supposed to meet them at Michael's office.

Michael smiled. "Everything is better than all right. Hannah's been released. The wedding will go on as planned."

"At the church," James added.

Black Hawk sighed. "That's wonderful. What happened?"

"In short, Hannah insisted that Jesse be released, and apparently he went to his father and had the charges dropped against her."

"Well, that's a relief."

"You're telling me," Michael said with a roll of his eyes. "I was beginning to think my mother was going to kill someone...namely me."

Black Hawk chuckled. "I doubt she'd do that."

Michael shook his head. "Well, I wasn't so sure. At least now that hell is over." Then glancing down at his watch, he said, "We'd better get on over to the church. It's almost time, and our father will kill one or all of us if you're not there on time."

Black Hawk grinned. "I told you I'd be ready," he said, fastening the top button of his shirt and arranging his tie. Normally he hated such a restriction around his neck, but for Hannah, he'd do anything.

"What are we waiting for?" he finally asked as he scooped up his jacket and headed for the door.

Hannah's three brothers smiled back at him and they all left.

~oOo~

Hannah had tried to get out of the surrey without help, but her father would have none of her independent ways. He'd pulled it up to the church steps and told her to sit tight.

"Would you, for once in your life, allow me to be your father!" he demanded as he came around and took her gloved hand to help her to the ground.

Smiling, she let him lower her, then she looked up at the church doors. Everyone was inside waiting on them.

"Having second thoughts?" her father asked.

"Not on your life!" she said without a moment's hesitation, her eyes swinging to the man still holding her hand.

"Well then," Jon Cooke said after staring at his first born daughter for a moment. "You look beautiful."

And she truly was, her blue gown bringing out the blue of her bright eyes even more so than usual and her face shining radiantly. She held a fragrant bouquet of flowers, a mix of Larkspur and Jasmine, a few of them plaited into her hair.

Hannah smiled at her father, then pulled a flower from her bouquet and tucked it into his lapel. "Thank you, Pa," she said quietly.

Jon waited while she arranged the flower, then he reached out and held her face between his large, work-worn hands. "It is I who should be thankful, Hannah. I am so grateful that you have come home to us. I know that I have not been so...agreeable."

She shook her head in protest, but her eyes welled as he continued.

"But I am ever so happy that you are here." He moved his thumbs to wipe her tears away, then leaned to kiss her cheek.

"Thank you, Pa," she said again, then hugged him.

For a moment he stood stiff, unaccustomed to showing any emotion other than belligerence, but then he melted and brought his arm around to hold his daughter.

"And just remember this moment when your second daughter finally notices some nice young man and falls in love and wants to marry."

Abruptly, Jon pushed back from Hannah and stared down at her. "And just what's that supposed to mean?

Hannah smiled as she patted her chest lovingly. "I think you know what I mean, Pa. She's not a child anymore, just like I'm not."

He bristled at her words, then stuck out his elbow for her to take. "Are you ready?" he asked gruffly.

She nodded.

~oOo~

When the doors opened and the music began, Black Hawk looked back and saw his bride. Dressed in blue and white, she looked magnificent. Her dress, neither too formal, nor casual, showed off her womanly figure; it suited her perfectly. He'd not seen it before, as her mother forbade it, but he thought she couldn't have chosen a better color to wear. Blue was one of his favorite colors and it looked lovely on her, with her shining eyes of precisely the same shade.

Smiling as she neared, he realized he trembled slightly. He wasn't nervous, just excited that their day had finally come. And he wanted to touch her. He wanted all of this to be over, so that he had the right to touch her, so that not even her father could deny them what they both wanted—each other.

When she reached him, their eyes locked. Only the Reverend's voice brought their attention from one another—but only briefly.

"Good people," he said, speaking to the room at large. "We have come together in the presence of God to witness the joining of this man and this woman in the bonds of holy matrimony. Since the beginning, when the first man and the first woman walked the Earth, marriage was not to be entered into lightly, but reverently and soberly. And into this most holy estate, these two persons have come to be joined.

"God 'made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.'"

The Reverend glanced around then, the next words always his most dreaded part of the ceremony. Sighing, he continued.

"If there be any here who can show just cause why these two should not lawfully be joined together, speak now, or forever hereafter hold your peace."

Both Black Hawk and Hannah held their breaths as the pressure in the room seemed to smother. Hannah felt her chest constrict and Black Hawk's collar suddenly stifled, but they waited. Whispered words circulated, causing both the bride and groom to glance over their shoulders. The moment seemed an eternity, but not a word of protest was spoken.

The Reverend, relieved for the couple, let out his breath and continued.

"Who gives this woman to be married to this man?" he asked, his eyes going to the front pew where Hannah's father sat waiting for his part in the ceremony.

Standing, and speaking in a voice loud and clear enough for all to hear, Jon Cooke said, "I do."

Reverend Johnson nodded as Jon took his seat once again. He could not help the smile that crossed his lips as he looked at the couple standing before him. They had faced so much. They'd fought hard for what they wanted and they'd won. It would make a huge statement within the community and he was thrilled for them.

"Of all the others you have met," he went on, "you have chosen each other as partners in life. To grow together in love, you will need to commit yourselves to each other freely and gladly. If you know of nothing, legal or moral, to forbid your vows, and wish now to commit yourselves to each other, indicate that by joining right hands."

Smiling, Black Hawk turned slightly, so that he faced her more fully, and held out his hand. Hannah took it without hesitation. Only then did the Reverend speak again.

"Do you, Black Hawk Alrik Walker, take, Hannah Kristín Cooke, for your lawful wedded wife, to live together after God's ordinance, in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love, honor, comfort, and cherish her, from this day forward, forsaking all others, keeping only unto her, for as long as you both shall live?"

Black Hawk smiled and stared deeply into the eyes of the woman he loved, then squeezed her hand and said, "I do."

"And do you, Hannah Kristín Cooke, take Black Hawk Alrik Walker, for your lawful wedded husband, to live together after God's ordinance, in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love, honor, comfort, and cherish him, from this day forward, forsaking all others, keeping only unto him, for as long as you both shall live?"

Hannah gave a slight nod and, her eyes glowing, said, "I do."

Smiling, the Reverend addressed those gathered before him.

"Let us now pray for this man and woman, as they have taken the holiest of vows.

"Oh Father," he said, his arms lifting toward the heavens. "As Black Hawk and Hannah have chosen each other, help them and bless them, that their love may be pure, and their vows may be true, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen."

And the congregation chorused, "Amen."

"May we have the ring?" the Reverend asked next.

Hannah and Black Hawk's gaze went then to Daniel Walker as he stood up and came forward to give the groom the ring, then returned to his seat.

"The wedding ring is a symbol of eternity. It is an outward sign of an inward and spiritual bond which unites two hearts in endless love. As a token of your love and of your deep desire to be forever united in heart and soul, you Black Hawk, may place a ring on the finger of your bride."

Black Hawk, taking Hannah's hand and smiling mischievously, slipped the ring on her finger and said, "Hannah, I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness to you."

Hannah grinned. It was not the borrowed ring he had previously given her, but the one he said he'd ordered. Obviously it had arrived sooner than expected.

But then it hit her. That day he'd been late to church, when the reverend had held up making his announcements—Black Hawk had been late because he'd been out of town; he'd made the long trip to Denver to fetch her ring, so that she could have it on the day they married.

Tears formed in her eyes, blurring the ring on her finger and his face as she looked up at him. He gave her a moment to compose herself.

But then she was shocked further when he nodded at the Reverend and the man of God extended a closed hand out to her and whispered, "Put out your hand." Putting her own hand out, she blinked in confusion as a small object fell into her palm; she stared at the golden band she held, wondering what it was for.

"By the same token, Hannah," the Reverend went on, "You may place a ring on the finger of your groom."

For another moment she just stared at the Reverend. This was unprecedented; men simply did not wear wedding bands—not out here in the west anyway. But then, her eyes shifting first to the ring and then to her groom, understanding hit her; he wanted all to know that he belonged to her as she did to him.

Reaching out, she took his hand, her own trembling.

"Black Hawk, I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness to you."

Black Hawk clasped her hand and held it steady as he grinned down at her.

"By the vows spoken aloud in the presence of God and your witnesses, and by the giving and receiving of these two rings," the Reverend said with a triumphant smile, "I now pronounce you to be husband and wife."

Turning, he spoke to all those watching. "May I be the first to introduce Mr. and Mrs. Black Hawk Walker."

~oOo~

"It is done," Hannah said with a grin as she and her husband, riding double on his huge black horse, Midnight, her mare and a packhorse trailing, rode out of town. The day had been long, and more eventful than they had anticipated, but now that they were headed west and away from Little Creek, to a destination known only to them, where they would spend the next week alone, both had relaxed.

But Black Hawk shook his head at her comment.

"No, my bright-eyed wife," he replied, his grin matching hers as she turned her love-filled eyes up to meet his. "It has only just begun."

His gray eyes sparkled with love for his new wife as he leaned to kiss her. He would give to her all that he had, all that he was. He could do no less. And he knew that she would do the same. They had truly become one, just as the Reverend had said.

The End
(for now)

~oOo~

I hope you have enjoyed Hannah and Black Hawk's story. I wrote (and finished) this a long time ago. I'd always intended to make it a series of books (about the family and friends of Hannah and Black Hawk), set in Little Creek, my own invented town in the old west. I have several started stories...but just don't have the time for writing these days (way too much work). Part of me thinks no one would be interested. *sigh* I would love to get this published...someday...and maybe continue writing the others. But until then, I'm glad to have a place to put this up, for people to read. Thank you to everyone for reading my tale...and to Faye, who kept reading and COMMENTING! I appreciate the interest. *grin*