"The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides." - Time Tested Beauty Tips

Ike lay back against his pillow in the darkness of the long prairie night and remembered the earlier conversation with Emma and Sam.

He'd been so full of happiness and hadn't had the words for the feelings he felt inside… feelings inspired by the quiet young woman from Baltimore, but Emma didn't need to know anything more than what she saw on his face.

Emma could read them all like books and it was sometimes the cause of untold rejoicing or endless pain when she looked right through their innocent acts. She'd taken his hand and let him into the parlor, most likely interrupting the quiet evening they'd planned on. Her words were kind and cautious, outlining the possible strain on Annie's emotions. She had been through quite a lot during her travels and to hear that a man she'd felt 'close' to over the space of a year's correspondence was dead. It had all been a shock.

But it was Sam's cautioning words that could have changed the way he felt.. changed the elation at his day with her into anger for what Sam had said. "It's just that she's… not real… well, you know."

Emma had taken up the cause on their behalf. "Pretty?" She was spitting mad. "Is that what you're tryin' to say?"

There wasn't any need to listen to the rest of it. Ike knew Emma would get her way… that didn't matter to him; he knew where Annie's beauty was…
It was in the soft smile of her eyes when she thanked him for carrying her bag.
It was in the way she told him how she drew comfort from the Church.
The way she took his hand to step up into the wagon and relaxed into his touch as he lowered her down into the grass for their walk.

She was all that he'd never known that he ached for. He could imagine her looking across the table at him before supper, her eyes smiling with pleasure as he thanked her and they bowed their heads for grace.

He could imagine her eyes smiling at him over the head of their first… over the heads of all of their children.

He could imagine her eyes shining love down on him when he was laid out in his death bed, their children and the rest of their family held in her gaze after decades of love.

She was beauty in the simple grace of her every breath.

When he looked up at Emma and told her… and Sam, through Emma's words that Annie had her own kind of beauty, what he really meant was that she had the kind of beauty that made him the happiest man in the world.

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