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Mature Content: No With: Various Lost Lake Ranch household characters. Location: Blackbird Lodge (main house) When: April 22, 1875 Time of Day: Early afternoon Blackbird Lodge, the main house on Lost Lake Ranch, seemed to have a light and jovial air about it. Today was the annual spring dance in town, and most of the adults were getting ready for it. Sage and Mary Miller, the night foreman and the home's cook and head housekeeper, were staying overnight to watch after the children. This had the six-year-old twins excited since Sage and Mary's children would be sleeping over as well. Shade Thornton stood at the sideboard that served as a liquor cabinet in the great room. He had just poured himself a very small shot of Scotch. He gently moved the glass in a circular motion and watched the dark amber liquid swirl around. He was looking forward to the dance and getting off the ranch. The family had booked several rooms at the Belle-St. Regis so they would not have to make the harrowing trip back to Lost Lake in the dark. Shade was also looking forward to seeing his sweetheart, Katherine Bowen. He had made time to go into town as often as the winter weather allowed, but it never seemed often enough or for long enough. With the advent of spring, that should change...hopefully. And it was the remote location of the ranch and the life it imposed on the people that lived there that made Shade hesitate where Kate was concerned. Was it fair to ask her to make such a radical change to her life? She was a teacher and really loved her work. True, there were children at the ranch that needed teaching too. There were Cody and Nettie, his niece and nephew, and some of the hands with families who lived in housing on the ranch. He shook his head and took a swallow of the Scotch, enjoying the rich, peaty taste of the aged liquor. Just then, a rustling sound on the main stairway made him look over and up... ~ to be continued in the next post .... ~