Flash Fiction: Invisible Strings – Part 22

This entry is part 22 of 22 in the Flash Fiction: Invisible Strings

Written in 68 minutes. Went over because it was the ending and I wanted to do it right 😛

Jason checked the latch on the horse stall, ensuring it was fastened firmly. Over his shoulder, he heard footsteps.

“Do you know how many replies that advertisement received last year?”

Mystified, Jason turned to find his cousin several paces away, glaring at him. “What?”

“When I decided to find you a wife, it’s not like I chose the first woman who replied,” Dillon said, and Jason clenched his jaw. “I took it seriously. There were twenty women. Elizabeth was the only person I wrote back to.”

“I don’t see what that has to do with anything—”

“I knew from the second I opened her letter that she was the right person—”

“You recognized her name—”

Dillon dismissed that with a snort. “Yeah, okay. Let’s credit all that’s happened this last year by suggesting the only reason I picked her was the name. Maybe it made her letter stand out, maybe it’s why I took a second look. But it’s not why I invited her here.”

Jason grimaced, shook his head. “I don’t know why you’re bringing this up—”

“I spent a lot of time and energy last year finding you someone who would suit. She had to be devoted to her family, but she also had to know how to handle loss. How to deal with grief—”


“Shut up,” Dillon said, and Jason closed his mouth, realizing that his cousin was truly angry with him. “We can argue all day long whether I had any right to do what I did, and you’d probably come out on the winning side. But I didn’t do any of that lightly. I wanted you to be happy. I could have sent for the first woman who replied, but I didn’t. And I found you someone who suits you down to the bone. Don’t deny it—” he warned when Jason opened his mouth. “Elizabeth fits. She can handle all the stupid committee stuff that Grandmother thinks is important, she works hard, and she loves her family. Which includes you, jackass.”

Jason exhaled on a harsh breath. “I’m not doing with this you. It’s none of your concern.” He started towards the door of the stables, brushing past his cousin. “You took a risk, nearly humiliated Elizabeth, and put me in an impossible position—”

“It was a risk, but until tonight, I didn’t regret a damn thing. I found you the perfect wife, but I definitely didn’t do right by Elizabeth. She deserves better.”

Jason’s chest tightened and he whirled to face Dillon. “What the hell does that mean—”

“She’s in the house, practically in tears, sure that she’s ruined her marriage by asking you for more than you’ve promised. She’s burdened you with the weight of her love because you don’t feel the same. You told her so—”

“I never—” Jason swallowed hard. “That’s not what I told her—”

“You didn’t reject her?” Dillon wanted to know. “You didn’t tell her not to say it, to keep it to herself?”

“I—” He dragged a hand through his hair. “She thinks she loves me, but I know it’s not—it’s gratitude. For not sending her away last year. For Cameron—”

“Gratitude,” Dillon sneered. “Aren’t we full of ourselves? Then you don’t love her, either? All you feel is grateful? She’s given you a son to love. Another child. She’s made Grandmother happy. She’s impressed all the busybodies in town. She’s learning how to train horses—yeah, you have a lot to be grateful for.”


“You and I both know it’s bullshit. You’re so stupid in love with her you can’t see straight, but she can’t use those same facts to be in love with you back. Moron,” Dillon said. “You make her cry again, Jason, and we’re going to go another round. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with you, but I worked too hard for you screw it up. So fix it.”

His cousin’s words rattled in Jason’s head as he returned to the house and managed to get through dinner. Elizabeth was careful around him, her eyes strained, her movements awkward. His grandmother had clearly taken against him—Lila sent him  several disappointed looks over dinner, and Dillon all but glowered.

Cameron was the glue that kept the evening upbeat. He talked about his pony, about his dog, about learning to read, about being a big brother, about the snow, about being sick — He filled the uncomfortable silences and brought light to his mother and grandmother.

Jason avoided saying goodnight to his family by excusing himself to put Cameron in bed for the night—fleeing like a coward, obviously, but he had no notion what to say. How to put it right.

Dillon had the right of it — Elizabeth was the center of everything. His family, the work on the ranch, and in a few more years, likely even the town itself. She’d slid in so neatly with all facets of his life that Jason hadn’t really appreciated how difficult it must have been for her.

But his world had centered around Michael, once, hadn’t it? Spending time with his nephew, finding an excuse to bring him to the ranch, planning all the ways he’d show Michael the world. Purchasing a pony long before he was old enough to ride—

Jason read to Cameron until his son’s eyes drifted close, his hand curled around the stuffed dog, the living one resting at the foot the bed, snoring softly. Jason tucked the counterpane around him, then took a deep breath.

It was time to face his wife and, as Dillon had commanded, fix what he’d broken.

When she’d retired for the evening, Elizabeth had nearly retreated to the bed, pretending to be asleep as she had the night before. But Lila had advised her to find some way to clear the air with Jason, to move forward. There was Cameron and this child to consider, and oh, Elizabeth wanted more children.

She wanted that ease back—the comfort and sweetness they’d brought to each other before she’d opened her mouth and ruined it all. Jason was a good man who cared about her, and he loved their children.

So she sat in the chair before the fire, working with her needlepoint—it was still a bit awkward as she retrained herself to avoid the use of her index finger, but it was more than she’d had before.

Jason came in, halting at the door, his expression blank. Elizabeth lowered the hoop to rest on her belly. “Cameron is asleep?”

“Yes,” Jason said, a bit warily. But then he came and sat in the chair across from her, both angled slightly towards the fireplace. She’d miss this when the weather turned warmer — there’d be no reason to sit before a cozy fire and speak of the day that had passed or the one yet to come. But perhaps it would be for the best if they didn’t have these moments—

Should she just pretend it hadn’t happened? Ask about the horses or the nursery? Or should she clear the air—

“I’m sorry,”  Jason said, breaking into her musing. Elizabeth blinked, then focused on him. “For yesterday. I hurt you—”

“I’m sorry for making you uncomfortable.” Her voice sounded strong, but her fingers trembled, the needle slipping. “That was not my intent. I just—I wanted to share how I felt.” Elizabeth met his eyes. “I never meant for my words to feel like a burden. They shouldn’t, you know. I don’t require you to share my feelings.”


“Love should be a gift. Offered freely. And mine is.” Here it was. The clearing of the air, the words spilling from her lips with little thought or consideration with what came next. “It needn’t change things between us. I’ve told you how I feel, and that’s—it’s what I wanted. I promise I won’t say it again—”

“That’s not—” With a grimace, he leaned forward, bracing elbows on his knees as he bent his head, dragged his hands through his hair. “I hurt you,” he repeated.

“It’s all right—”

“It’s not.” He rose to his feet, all but stalked across the room. “You could die,” he muttered, and she frowned. “Women do, you know. In childbirth.”


“And the baby—” Jason shook his head. He gazed out the window, over the dark landscape that was scarcely visible. “Dillon was right,” he added, and her confusion deepened. “You’ve been the perfect wife since the moment you stepped off that train—”

“You aren’t—” Elizabeth made a face, her bewilderment shifting to irritation. “You needn’t feel guilty for not loving me. That was never my intent—not in the saying of the words nor in anything else I’ve done since I’ve arrived. I—” Her face flushed. “I wanted to be a good wife so you’d never regret—”

“I don’t feel guilty,” Jason cut in, turning back to face her. “I feel—” He paused. “Unworthy,” he said finally. “I’ve done nothing to deserve all you’ve given me. And you owe me nothing. There’s no regret to be had, Elizabeth. I’ve told you that, over and over again. When I asked you to marry me, it had little to do with how you got here. I never made any damn sacrifice—”

His face was flushed, his brows pinched together, and something hopeful began to swirl. He really believed that, she realized. There’d been no sacrifice on his part. “Before the lake,” she said. “Before the lake, I worried all the time if I’d be good enough for you—”

“Damn it—”

“But I stopped. Because you looked happy that day. And you made me a promise that day would just be ordinary. That we’d have such memories, so many that Cameron wouldn’t remember just one. But I told you I’d never forget it.” Elizabeth rose to her feet, set aside the needlework. “Because I loved you that day. Yes, for the kindness you showed Cameron. To me. For the gentle way you taught him, and how you made me feel when I was in the water, in your arms.”

His expression eased as she approached him. “I’ve worried,” she said softly, sliding her arms around his waist. “Because I was scared you didn’t love me back. I was jealous of any woman who might have had your attention—”

“There wasn’t—” Jason framed her face, his touch soft against her skin. “There wasn’t anyone but you.”

“But I wasn’t sure of it, you see. Until these last few weeks. I’ve grown as large as a house—”

“You haven’t—”

“And I’ve driven you senseless with all my small worries about Cameron, the nursery, the horses—” She smiled, because it was so lovely to just know. “Yesterday, my love for you just spilled over, and I had to share it. Because it made me so happy. But it worried you. It scared you.”


“Because you love me, too.” A tear slid down her cheek, cool and quiet. He brushed it away with the tip of his thumb. “And you’ve had such a hard lesson to learn—that what you love—who you love—we have such a finite time in this world. And sometimes, our time ends before anyone is ready to let us go.”

Jason rested his forehead against hers. “Is anyone ever ready?”

“Maybe not.” She slid her hands up his chest, her palm resting over his heart. “But I would rather have a short life with love than a long without it. I love you, Jason.” His chest trembled beneath her hand. “And all I wish in this world is to hear the words from you. Just once.”

“I love you.” He captured her mouth for a quick, but soft caress. “I love you,” he repeated, and a soft sob slipped past her lips. She’d worried he’d say the words and she wouldn’t believe them, but oh, she did. He’d said it, and it was true, and it was real— “You won’t hear it just once, I promise.”

“The words are lovely, and I thank you for them. But you’ve shown me in so many ways, small and giant, that they’re true.” Elizabeth pressed her hand to his cheek. “And we’ll hold on to it for as long as we can.”

“A lifetime won’t be enough,” Jason said, taking her hand in his and kissing her fingertips. “I will always love you.”

Spring had blossomed by the first week of May. Dillon drove his grandmother back to the ranch as Lila bubbled over with happiness and plans for the wonderful summer getting to know her new great-grandson.

Dillon was feeling pretty smug when they arrived, and his cousin greeted them, tired but happy. He’d been responsible for all of it, he thought, meeting the new bundle of joy who looked like a red wrinkly mess to him. He’d found Elizabeth and brought her here. And then when Jason had nearly faltered, Dillon had fixed it all.

Lila returned from visiting with the new mother above the stairs and they went back to the carriage. He helped her over wheel, then swung up next to her. “Well, that’s a relief. For Elizabeth to be safely delivered, and all in good health.”

“Yes.” Lila smiled. “Your cousin is all settled. It’s your turn.”

Dillon dropped the reins. “What?”

“It’s time for you to write another advertisement.”

He paled. “Another?”

Lila snorted, then set the reins in her grandson’s hands. “You don’t really think I ever believed Jason advertised for a wife, do you? Foolish boy.”

Feeling less smug and vaguely ill, Dillon took his grandmother home.

In the bedroom, Elizabeth sat propped up against the headboard, cradling the day old newborn. Jason lifted Cameron onto the bed beside them both, then sat on the edge. “What do you think of your little brother?”

“He’s awfully red and angry looking,” Cameron said, peering at the swaddled bundle. “Not a lot of fun yet. He can’t play with me.”

“Not yet, darling. But soon. You’ll have to help us teach him everything he needs to know. How to talk, to run, to play—”

“I know. I know. Big brother. Big responsibilities.” Cameron crawled in close to her, laying his head on her shoulder. “I have to make my promises now.”

“Promises?” Elizabeth echoed, meeting Jason’s eyes. “What do you mean?”

“You made promises to Papa and he made them, to you. Then I had to make promises, too. Papa, you told her I made my promises, right? Because I’m a Morgan, too. Just like Mama.”

“At the wedding,” Jason clarified. He raised his brows, suggesting he’d explain more later. “Cam—”

“He’s too little to make promises yet, so later for him. But I can. So I promise to be a good brother. To take care of you and help you learn to scoop the poop and clean up. And to find you a dog and pony of your own if you want but it’s okay if you share mine.” Cameron furrowed his brow. “I don’t know how to read a lot yet, but I know more than you. So I’ll read to you like Papa does. Or maybe we can do that together.” He looked at his father expectantly. “Right?”

“Of course.”

“That’s some lovely promises you made,” Elizabeth said. “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Mama. And Papa. And baby Jake.” Cameron leaned down to kiss his brother’s cheek. “And Pip, too. And Alice. And Cinnamon—”

Jacob Martin Morgan yawned and then settled in for a nap, falling asleep before his brother could finish listing all the things he loved.



  • Thanks for the great story and ending.

    According to Shelly on May 29, 2023
  • What a great ending! I loved that Lila knew that Dillon sent out the advertisement and now it’s his turn. It was great that Elizabeth knew that Jason loved her but he said the words. Cam is so adorable. His promises were so sweet. This is one story that I’ll reread. Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent with us.

    According to arcoiris0502 on May 29, 2023
  • Dillon thought he was going to be scotch free, LOL

    Great ending

    According to Tammy on May 29, 2023
  • What a great ending. I loved it! Dillion figuratively kicking Jason’s behind and Lila encouraging Elizabeth to be open with Jason. The declarations of love were perfection and Cam’s promises were so sweet and Lila knowing that it was Dillon was the one who put in the advertisement and now that Jason and Elizabeth are solid, she has turned her attention to him. Perfection.

    I am happy to hear that you have found a teaching job in your district.

    According to nanci on May 29, 2023
  • This was a perfect ending. I have enjoyed this story and all the characters. I will find myself reading this story again and again.

    According to Carla P on May 29, 2023
  • Perfect ending to a perfect story. Congrats on the job. I do French family history.

    According to leasmom on May 29, 2023
  • Congrats on the new job!!!! And thank you for such a lovely treat with this story. Just the right amount of angst to mix in with total sweetness all around.
    Be kind to yourself this summer. Your loyal fans will be here whenever you are ready. As always, thank you for sharing your talent!

    According to LivingLiason on May 29, 2023
  • This was a beautiful story. I really enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing it. I love your writing.

    According to Anonymous on June 17, 2023
  • loved it! sweetest fic ever.

    According to ma on February 24, 2024