This is it folks....the final chapter.   I just want to say thanks to all of you for making this such a wonderful experience for me.  I'm so glad you all have enjoyed this story.  And if you have enjoyed "Thief of My Heart" please recommend it to other wattpaders who you think will enjoy it.  Thanks again for being such a great audience.   Until we meet again somewhere in the old west.......may life deal you only aces and may all the cowboys in your life have dimples.  

~Karen :')

Snow fell gently on the southern Wyoming countryside.   It hung heavily from the boughs of the towering pine and spruce trees that grew in abundance on both sides of the train tracks.  Evangeline watched as the wintry scenery passed by her window.  She had not expected them to travel into Wyoming as she and her Aunt Olivia traveled west from Nashville to San Francisco, but when Livvy had informed her that the only train that was destined for California would have to first travel to Rawlins, Wyoming,  her heart had leaped in her chest.    She knew that Devil's Hole was in Wyoming.  And although she knew that it was somewhere miles from here in the remote Grand Tetons, she still held onto the faint hope that perhaps she would see him.  She could picture him in her mind, sitting astride his proud black stallion,  galloping through the snow towards the train, where he would jump aboard and find her.  Then he would sweep her off her feet and carry her off on Odin's back.  They would ride into the setting sun leaving the train and the past behind them. 

The past.   Damn the past.  Especially his past.   Why couldn't he ever forgive himself for it.  Would he forever think himself unworthy of her because it?   How many times had she asked herself these questions in the month since she'd last seen his face?  Had it really been one month? One month since she'd seen his face, kissed his mouth, touched his skin?    Yes, it had been one month.  It seemed like a lifetime. Christmas had been celebrated around her at the lavish estate at Heavenly Hills and she had hardly been aware of it.  She should have been ecstatic to be spending the most sacred of holidays in the home her mother had grown up in, surrounded by family and doted on like she were a princess. She should have been anxious to learn her family history.  She vaguely recalled Livvy telling the story of how the mansion had escaped the raiding Union troops during the war with only minor damage, and how they had repaired and restored it to it's former glory.  But her heart had not been into listening.  Her heart had not been in anything.  It was shattered and useless.  And that had left her emotionless.  She simply could not feel anything.  No excitement, no joy,  but also no sorrow and no pain.  She had been numb the first few weeks after he had left her standing in that meadow.   So numb that she barely recalled the trip across the mighty Mississippi River into Tennessee.   She had stood on the deck of the ferry and looked out on the water's surface, but she had not really seen it.   The only bright spot in her life during those first weeks had been her getting to know her aunt Libby.  Her child-like mind had been soothing  to Evie's aching heart, but it had not healed it.   It may not have been in a million little pieces any longer, but it was still bore huge cracks and holes that she didn't think would ever heal.  Unless  a certain brown eyed, dimpled faced former outlaw made a sudden reappearance in her life. 

When the new year had begun and still she remained lethargic,  Livvy became concerned and made some decisions.  She had announced her plan to take Evangeline on a trip to the warm  west coast.  She felt it would do much to change her niece's mood to be in a sunny climate near the ocean.   There were so many fine hotels and restaurants, as well as endless places to shop and enjoy art and theater,  that Livvy was sure Evangeline would feel herself again in no time.  She knew her aunt was only trying to help in her own way.  But all Evie really wanted to do was be alone.  Alone with her sorrow and her misery.  They had pulled out of the Rawlins station mid afternoon and were now a couple of hours from Rock Springs.  They would spend the night there and board another train tomorrow that would carry them to the warm, sunny coast. 

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