Summary: After being rejected in romance, Hoss is amazed when the person he least expected revives his spirits.
Rated K+ (1,070 words)
To Hoss With Love
Hoss Cartwright sat at his favorite spot, a particular flat rock overlooking Lake Tahoe. Both the water and sky were as blue as his own eyes, and the sun set off sparkling white flashes on the rippling water. There was a warm breeze blowing, and it should have been a glorious day for anyone alive. For Hoss, who was glumly throwing pebbles methodically into the water, it was anything but. He was still stinging from the latest in a string of rejections by women to whom he had given his heart. He had thought—oh, he had really thought—that this time he had captured true love. His heart had dared to soar, only to discover, as usual, that his feelings were not honestly reciprocated. The fresh footprints were still imprinted on his heart.
Why did this romantic pattern dog him the way it did? Sometimes he thought that his friend, Waldo Watson, had the right idea all along; just end it all. Things might be easier all around that way. Hoss and Waldo were a lot alike: oversized, clumsy, and in the way, even if they were well-meaning. But Waldo had found true love in the end, dadburnit. Today Hoss felt like leaping off the edge of a cliff, just like Waldo was trying to do when Hoss first found him. His most recent rejection had only reinforced what Hoss already knew: he was big and ugly, he wasn’t good with words, he wasn’t charming, and he wasn’t smart.
He knew that Pa and his brothers felt bad for him. He knew they cared about him, but sometimes the love of a family didn’t make up for being a big loser. He took off his big hat and slapped it down on the rock. He ran his fingers through his hair and stared out at the water. He very nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard a voice beside him.
“Hoss, you are a wonderful person. Very few people are as fine as you are,” the soft, lilting, feminine voice spoke to him.
He looked up sharply to see a lovely young woman sitting just a few feet away, on the same rock, in the shade of an outcropping. She was smiling sweetly at him, and her wavy, yellow hair fell softly over one shoulder. A cream colored shawl was wrapped around her and her legs were curled beneath her.
He knew he was slack-jawed. “Ma’am, who are you? How’d you get here? I ain’t heard nothin’.”
She threw her head back and her honeyed laughter was caught on the breeze. “I have been here for a very long time. I watch you often.” Now he thought he recognized an unfamiliar accent in her speech.
“How do you know me?”
“I have loved you since the first moment I saw you. The Fates took me away from you much too soon, but you must believe me, I have always been with you.”
He gaped again. “Are you my Ma?” He whispered the words almost reverently.
“Ja, I am Inger,” her smile wreathed her face and sent a glow of warmth toward Hoss.
“But how can that be? You died on the trail in the Indian attack.”
“Ja, that is true. My body died, but my spirit and soul, they are very much alive, and I take great pleasure in watching my beautiful son,” she assured him.
“Ain’t nothin’ too beautiful about me,” he muttered, hanging his head.
She reached out and put her hand under his chin, lifting his face. “Hoss, my Eric, I have something very important to tell you, and you must pay attention to me.”
She had touched him! He had felt it. He looked up, giving her every ounce of his attention.
“You are a very special man. You have in you a heart so big that very few people can manage one like it. You are kind and gentle and strong. You care about right and wrong. You see the good in people. You can heal with your hands, and you love nature. Animals trust you naturally, so strong is your sense of goodness. You protect others. There are very few people like you walking this Earth. I know what your sadness is right now, but you need to know that it is fleeting. The time is coming when people the world over will know Hoss Cartwright and love him. He will live on and on for generations in their hearts, a model and a tribute to true human goodness and love.” She stroked his cheek lightly with her hand
Mesmerized, he stared at her, trying to take in what she said. He didn’t understand it all, but he knew he was being infused with a warmth and joy that could only come from true love. He knew that his earlier worries were not going to hang over him. He reached out to his mother, and she took his hands.
“Keep being strong, my special son. Tell your father I love him and I am often with him, too. Whenever you need me, just call out. I am always near you. I love you.”
The hands he held melted away from his grasp, and he was again alone on the rock. He thought for a long time about what she had said, and slowly a happy grin stole over his face. He nodded his head once, proudly, and his heart began to swell. Yes, he could do that, and he would. It felt right.
Hoss got up and made his way across the rocks to his horse, Chubb, who received some heartfelt nuzzling and a big hug around the neck. The world was beginning to right itself again. He mounted up and headed off toward home. Maybe sometime he would tell Pa about this day, but for now it was his private treasure.
“I love you, too, Ma. Thank you,” he said softly as he rode slowly home.
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