Notorious in the West(93)

By: Lisa Plumley

 Only somehow, Olivia realized, Griffin had managed to double the love she’d given him. He’d managed to make it as big and as strong as befit a seven-foot-tall giant who could turn around trains with his will alone...and emerge from the darkness to find a girl with a light, just waiting there for him.

 From now till forever, Olivia meant to be that light for Griffin. She meant to love him and care for him and trust him.

 At the bottom of The Lorndorff’s stairs, Griffin turned to her. He smiled, patently hers in that moment and happy for it.

 He held out his hand. “Are you ready for this?” he asked.

 “I’m ready for everything,” Olivia promised him.

 Then she took his hand, assembled all the inborn curiosity that had separated her from everyone else for so long...and used it to send her straight into her future with Griffin.

 * * *

 “Have I ever told you,” Olivia remarked as she and Griffin reached the top of the hotel stairs after leaving the railway station, “about the time I discovered the universe?”

 Still holding her hand, Griffin smiled. “I don’t think so. I guess I should have known there was more?”

 “Of course there’s more!” She laughed. “With me, there always is.”

 “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he assured her.

 “Good.” Olivia nodded. “So...?”


 “So aren’t you going to ask me?”

 “Oh. Of course.” Griffin delivered her his most inquisitive look, determined not to disappoint her. He felt far too grateful for the second chance he’d been given. “Tell me,” he said obligingly. “What about the time you discovered the universe?”

 Joyfully, Olivia squeezed his hand. “It happened when you kissed me,” she told him. “It was right there in your eyes.”

 “Aha.” Nodding, Griffin recollected that moment. “I think that was a dust mote,” he teased. “Just a bit of fluff.”

 “It was not!” she protested. “We were at the creek!”

 “I remember.” For a moment, Griffin did just that. Then he smiled at her. Rakishly. “If you’re fond of what my eyes can do,” he said, “wait until you learn more about the rest of me.”

 Olivia looked as though she could hardly wait. Except...

 “After we’re married, you mean?” she asked.

 “Yes,” Griffin agreed staunchly. “After we’re married.”

 For an uncertain, rueful moment, they looked at each other.

 Then, “Let’s head to Reverend Benson’s right now!”

 Their unified exclamation made them both laugh.

 “We’ve got to stop doing that,” Olivia said, looking giddy and full of daring. “It’s going to begin annoying people.”

 But Griffin only shrugged. “I don’t think we can stop. It’s not as though we’re doing it on purpose.”

 “That’s true. Maybe it’ll stop on its own. Eventually.”

 They contemplated that for a moment.

 Then, “Probably not,” they said in unison.

 Laughing, they headed back downstairs again, hand in hand.

 In the lobby below, Griffin stopped. He looked around the bustling hotel, soaking in the furnishings and the chandeliers.

 “You know,” he mused, “I think I’ve found a home here.”

 Olivia smiled mischievously. “Really? At The Lorndorff?”

 “No.” At her overtly cheeky tone, Griffin smiled. He deserved that, he guessed, for joking about dust motes. Very discreetly, he touched her dress’s lace-trimmed bodice, making his meaning more than plain. “Right here. In your heart.”

 Olivia melted. “And here I had such a humdrum answer.”

 “You had the perfect answer,” Griffin disagreed cheerfully. “Between the two of us, we have every territory covered. That right there, Miss Mouton, is the true meaning of partnership.”

 “That’s true.” With a newly assessing glance, Olivia looked him over. Lovingly. “You know,” she said, “I think we’re going to have a very interesting and thrilling life together.”

 “I know we are,” Griffin promised. “I guarantee it.”

 Then he took Olivia’s hand, and they both got started. On today, on tomorrow...and on every single fun-loving, philosophy-filled, sunshine-sparkled day that would come after that.

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