Before the last aspens were transformed into topaz sentinels burning against the autumn sky, Reno and Eve were wed. When they stood before their friends and vowed to share their lives with each other, Eve was wearing Reno’s gift to her: a gleaming rope of pearls, an ancient Spanish ring of emerald and pure gold, and a radiance that made Reno’s throat ache until he could barely speak.
They stayed with Caleb and Willow through the cold brilliance of winter, laughing and working together while they shared Ethan and sang Christmas carols in a harmony that tempted angels into envy.
When spring came, Reno and Eve rode west for a day, to the place where a shaggy green mesa and snowy mountains stood guard over a long, rich valley. On the banks of a rushing river, the two of them built a home that was shelter against winter, haven against summer heat, and scented with the lilac brushes that were Reno’s gift to Eve on the birth of their first child.
The children of Reno and Eve knew what it was to walk free upon a wild land. They felt the untamed sun of the stone maze and stared in wonder at signs hammered into rock by a culture and a people long dead. Two of the children became ranchers. Another learned to hunt mustangs with Wolfe Lonetree. A fourth lived among the Utes, writing down their language and legends before they, too, passed from the land.
A fifth stood with an ancient journal in one hand, a broken cinch ring in the other, and all around him the elegant, enigmatic stone ruins left by a civilization so old that no one remembered its true name. His sister stood beside him, her eyes filled with wonder. In her hands was a sketchpad filled with the mythic landscapes of the stone maze whose deepest mysteries only God knew.
In time, each in his own way, the children of Eve and Reno Moran took the measure of dreams made and dreams lost, pain endured and pleasure remembered. But above all, each child discovered the truth of stone ships and dry rain, and the name of transcendent light that casts no shadow.
And the name was love.