The Greatest Love of All (by Territell)

Summary:  Has Marie found a new love?
Category:  Bonanza
Genre:  Western
Rating:  G
Word Count:  680


Marie Cartwright slowly came awake as the sun was making its first appearance of the day.  The bright light peeking through the bedroom window chased away the dark shadows of the night before.  She slowly opened her eyes, tentatively at first, she was so afraid of what she might find, had it been a dream and if it was could she cope with the harsh reality the morning would bring.  Her heartbeat quickened and she was finding it difficult to breathe, but she couldn’t put the moment off any longer, she had to know – she turned her head and time stood still – yes he was real, it was not a dream, the exquisite creature of the night before still lay sleeping beside her.

She looked at his face in sleep and marveled at its perfection.  But Marie Cartwright was afraid, very afraid.  He was a stranger to her, she had known him only a few short hours and yet she knew that the love he would demand from her would be all consuming and once she gave herself to him there would be no turning back.  Marie had only once in her short life given that kind of love and he had left her so suddenly, that even now years later she could hardly bear to think of him without crying.  Could she take that same chance again?  In the aftermath of the love she had lost she had wanted to die and life had ceased to have any meaning for her. What if it happened again?

It had been at this low point in her life when she had met Ben Cartwright and it had almost been love at first sight for both of them.  Their love had filled the ache in her heart and she had learned to laugh and be happy again – but this love was different.  She panicked a little thinking of Ben and the boys – this new love of hers could not be hidden, they were bound to see the difference in her.  All of their lives would be changed from this moment on.

She reached out and ran her fingers through his hair, then softly traced the outline of his face, being so so careful not to wake him.  As she lay looking at him his nose twitched slightly and she laughed.  Marie quickly covered her mouth to stop the sound, she was not ready for him to waken just yet, she needed just a little more time to sort out the crazy feelings she was having.

The minutes ticked by and all the while she took pleasure in drinking in the very sight of him.  Her breath caught, his eyelids were flickering and she knew he was about to wake.  He opened his beautiful eyes and looked straight at her; into her very soul.  In that moment she was lost forever, there was no turning back, she was his for as long as she had breath in her body.  The happiness she felt had to be expressed and she bent forward and kissed his eyes, his nose, his head, his mouth – she couldn’t get enough of him.  In time sleep overtook them both and Marie slumbered with her cheek pressed against his and her hand resting on his chest.

They were unaware when the bedroom door opened and Ben entered unseen.  As he looked at the two sleeping figures on the bed, wrapped in each others arms, his heart ached and his eyes filled with tears.  Ben silently gazed down on the sleeping pair until Marie became aware of someone else in the room and opened her eyes. She looked dreamily up at her husband and then back at the sleeping Adonis and Ben could not mistake the look of pure love shining from her.   Turning to the sleeping figure Ben whispered:

Joseph Francis Cartwright, less than 12 hours old and already you have captured the heart of the most beautiful woman in the world.

***The End***


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