For personal use and select distribution only © by Linda Blake 2003

Forgive and Forget
by Linda Blake

Chapter One

Michaela turned her back on Sully and stormed out of the church, Sully quickly followed behind his eyes and hands raised heavenward in supplication for some understanding of what had just happened. Outside the church Michaela was grateful for the sun’s glare as it hid the tears she was about to shed.

I will not let him see me cry I will not thought Michaela as she turned to mount Flash. Sully leapt forward to Michaela touching her arm to help her up on flash.

"I’ll take ya home" he carefully proposed.

"No thanks I want to be on my own" and wrenching her arm from him she mounted Flash.

Sully looked up at her gently stroking her knee and asked "what about supper?"

Without a backward look she said " I want to be on my own" and rode off leaving Sully standing there.

Sully watched Michaela as she rode away, then he spun around and banged his fist against the church wall, his deep blue eyes filled with anguish, his thoughts confused.

Michaela why won’t you forgive me about Katherine, she meant nothing to me, can’t you see how much you mean to me you’re the only person I love.

He turned to see Michaela disappear in the distance, and mounting his horse he rode off in the opposite direction with tears streaming down his face.

Back at the homestead Colleen was getting supper ready as Michaela walked through the door, " good evening ma where’s Sully" she asked without turning round.

"He will not be joining us for supper tonight" Michaela whispered, her voice hoarse from all the tears she had shed on the way back to the homestead.

Alerted, Colleen turned to face Michaela, "What’s wrong ma?" she asked looking at Michaela’s tear stained face.

" We had a quarrel and I don’t think I can go through with the wedding" replied Michaela as she wearily sat down at the table.

Colleen knelt in front of Michaela, took her hands in hers and gently said "come on ma tell me what happened it can’t be that bad".

Michaela explained what had occurred during the discussion with the reverend. Sully had talked about how they had met and fell in love and all that had happened to them in between She told Colleen how Sully had said she was afraid to show her feelings and to kiss him. She sobbed as she spoke about the quarrel over Katherine "How can I marry him Colleen when I cannot get this feeling of betrayal out of my mind?" she questioned emotionally.

"Do you love him still ma?" Colleen asked softly.

"Yes of course I do, I will always love him, that is not the problem, the problem is this feeling I have over Katherine I know in my heart that Sully loves me but I need time to think things through. Oh Colleen, what am I going to do?"

"Speak to him ma, speak to him" answered Colleen tugging and shaking Michaela’s hands in worry

" I can’t Colleen not at the moment I can’t" she cried as tears continued to roll down her face

After leaving the church Sully made his way to the lean-to but his mind was on the homestead, his thoughts whirling and tumbling.

What can I do to convince Michaela that there was nothing between Katherine and I? True I felt sorry for her but that was all there was to it. She could never stir me the way Michaela does. She only has to look at me and I want to take her in my arms and make love to her for the rest of my days.

His thoughts made him restless, his horse sidestepping as it felt it’s masters agitation. Sully began to turn his horse back towards the homestead as his thoughts continued to whirl. I’ll go to the homestead right now and tell her I did not mean the things I said to her earlier as I’m sure she did not mean all what she said to me. We all say things we don’t mean at times.

He halted his horse and gazed in the direction his heart wanted to go, emitting a loud sigh, he turned back to towards the lean-to.

His mind flashed back to when he first saw her, how beautiful she was and how he fell in love the minute he saw her laying flat in the mud and when he told her he loved her on the train, how she left him without giving him a answer. He smiled when he thought about her coming back to Colorado Springs a few days later and telling him she loved him too It was one of the happiest days of his life.

Sully sat looking into the fire outside his lean-to and thought of the day he asked her to marry him, when she said yes, He kissed her with such passion he thought his heart would explode with love. When she kissed him back with the same passion he had finally found out what love was really about. Oh yes I loved Abigail but it was a different love, I never had the feelings for Abigail that I have for you Michaela. This love is more powerful then even I can explain. Michaela please don’t let your feelings about Katherine and I come between us.

"I love you Michaela!" he shouted out loud looking with pain filled eyes towards the homestead, hoping Michaela could hear him, then, decisively to himself "we’ll talk tomorrow".

Chapter Two
Next morning Michaela woke with red tear stained eyes, having slept fitfully during the night, praying for the dawn to come so she could get up and not think about anything. Not Sully, not Katherine nor the wedding. Her mind was not about to let up as it continued to dredge up her greatest fears and her blue eyes mirrored her tumultuous thoughts about Sully.

How can I marry him when I cannot get Sully and Katherine out of my head?’ I know I should trust him, and I know he loves me as much as I love him, but what if she had stayed? Would things have been different? Would Sully have chosen her instead of me? How would I have been able to stay on in Colorado Springs knowing he was in love with someone else?

Then there’s Abigail will he compares me with her? I am not like her I am different in so many ways, she was sweet and gentle, not like me opinionated and frank in my thoughts and deeds. How can I cope if he compares me to Abigail? I don’t think I could.

She bent her head in defeat releasing a cracked sigh I cannot marry Sully. Why did we go and see the Reverend? We were happy till we went to see him. We had no problems till then. She struggled form her bed, as her thoughts continued to distract her. Sully was right we are picking at old wounds and making them bleed. Rotating her head to ease the tension in her neck and shoulders she concluded. I won’t see Sully till I have sorted out what to do about the wedding until then I cannot possibly see him.

Sully stood in the clearing near the homestead hoping to get a glimpse of Michaela to see if by her actions she had, had a better night's sleep then he had. Sleep had not come easy to Sully, he had tossed and turned most of the night wondering what had gone wrong since their meetings with the reverend had started. They were happy, getting married in a few weeks for goodness sakes! No problems! Since these meetings with the reverend all these bad feelings he did not think he and Michaela had were coming out from nowhere. I said they were a bad idea. I must talk to her we’ve got to sort this mess out! We’ve just got to!

Sully silently watched Michaela come out of the homestead with Brian

"Come on Brian you will be late for school" she was trying to hurry him along but Brian was reluctant

" But ma! Sully said he would take me fishing after school, only he wasn’t here for supper last night so I don’t know if I ‘m still going" Brian cocked his head to one side as he asked "I am still going ma? The Brian saw her red rimmed eyes and frowned.

"Ye ok Ma?" He asked cautiously. He noticed a familiar figure from the corner of his eye. He turned his head and smiled "Mornin’ Sully" he called as he saw Sully approaching them from the clearing.

Horrified, Michaela spun around to see Sully closing in on her, his eyes keeping contact with hers as he came nearer. What is he doing here? She panicked. I can’t see him now! I can’t!

"Mornin’ Michaela, Brian" Sully nodded in Brian’s direction, as his eyes bored into Michaela’s. She looked at Sully in the same way he was looking at her with all her love in her eyes. Why has he come? I cannot see him now, I can’t! Her breath shuddered as she replied

"Morning Sully what are you doing here? Then turning, she instructed, "Come on Brain ride Taffy to school this morning and tell Colleen to close the clinic and go to school, I won’t be long. Brian hurried to do her bidding.

"OK, Ma sees ya later." He looked at Sully " Are we still going fishing after school Sully?" he questioned

" Not today Brian maybe tomorrow? Now go to school I will see you later."

He had still not taken his eyes off Michaela’s face "OK, Sully, sees ya later Ma, Sully," as he mounted taffy and rode off waving unaware of the tension between Michaela and Sully.

Chapter Three
Sully could see that Michaela had spent a restless night. Her eyes had dark circles under them and she looked as if she had been crying all night. He ached to take her into is arms and tell her that everything would be alright, that Katherine had never happened but he knew that was not possible. "Michaela" he whispered, " are you alright? " talk to me please!" he pleaded. "Let’s try and sort out this thing about Katherine, I never had feelings for her Michaela, you’re the only one I have ever wanted to be with since Abigail died. I could talk to her, we had something in common, like living with the Cheyenne. The feeling was on her side, I told her, my heart was with you. You are my heart song Michaela speak to me please" He held the top of her arm gently as he turned her to look at him. "Speak to me Michaela please" the pain and hurt in his voice.

Michaela’s eyes mirrored his anguish as they roamed his face. Oh how I love you Sully, she thought, but she could not be with him, not until she had sorted her feelings out about Katherine and Abigail.

Her voice low as her body stiffened in resolution, "I am sorry Sully but I can’t, not now, the hurt I feel about Katherine at the moment is too raw. I thought I had buried the hurt, but when we where talking with the reverend the hurt and uncertainty came back. I find myself wondering if there really is a place in your life for me after Abigail. Do you still love her Sully? Will I ever live up to your memories of her? Or, will you always be comparing my actions to hers? Could you love me as much as you loved her?" Heart breaking tears trickled from the corners of her eyes.

Sully tightened his grip on her arm, desperate she might bolt and not hear what he had to say "Michaela listen to me I have told you before I love you. What I had with Abigail is not the same as what I have with you, the feelings I have for you go a lot deeper. With Abigail it was a gentle love, a love of a young man for his wife. With you Michaela it’s deeper, more adult, you have my soul Michaela ". Her took her hands in his and tenderly kissed her fingers before placing her hands to his heart. " You fill me with a love I never thought I could ever have, the love I have for you is beyond imagining, more than I ever had for Abigail".

Michaela looked at him wanting to believe him but her feelings were too tender, " I am sorry Sully, I want to believe you but at the moment I can’t, when we had our meeting with the Reverend yesterday and you said I was afraid, the hurt I felt come back, until I can sort my feelings out I cannot think about marrying you Sully"

Chapter Four
Sully snatched his hands away, reeling at the shock her words had given him. "What do you mean you can't marry me!" raising his voice a few decibels higher then he normally would. "Everything is planned we have only a few weeks to go!" his voice lowered trying not to upset her more then she already was.

"I can’t Sully! I can’t! I will always be wondering what if? Until I sort out my feelings it would not be right"

"Do you love me still Michaela? Do you?" His voice grew louder and panic made his breathing erratic.

"I told you I do and I always will" she cried passionately looking into Sully eyes which were now dark with hurt and anger.

"Then why Michaela WHY?" he questioned.

" I’ve told you why!" she screamed at him.

" Not good enough Michaela!" he shouted back at her. Michaela could take not more of this torture.

"That’s it Sully, that’s all I have to say, please go," she tried to wriggle from his iron grip.

"No I am not going till you tell me what is really wrong!" he declared glaring at her.

"I’ve told you Sully, and now we’re talking in circles" holding her head up high holding on to unshed tears.

Sully pulled in a deep breath, trying to calm his rage and fear. "What about the reverend Michaela we have another meeting with him on Wednesday morning are we still going? I know I did not think this was a good idea going to see him but maybe he’ll be able to help us"

Michaela sadly shook her head. "I don’t know Sully I really don’t know?"

"We will go and see him as planned O.K Michaela? O.K?" his eyes entreated.

Michaela felt incredibly weary "O.K" she sighed.

Sully placed his palms gently on her face and stroked her with his thumbs making Michaela look up at him, his gentle caress made her want him to take her in his arms and tell her it was all a bad dream and she’d wake up and everything would be alright. No memories of Katherine or Abigail intruding on them.

As if reading her thoughts, Sully tenderly held her close to him gently rocking her in his arms. He put a finger under Michaela’s chin and lifted her face to look at him, locking his eyes with hers. Then he bent his head, and feathered kisses on her eyes, her ears, her nose, he paid particular attention to the corners of her mouth, all the time, keeping his eyes locked with hers.

Michaela’s heart was beating so fast she thought it would burst, she could feel Sully’s heart beating just as fast through his jacket. She lifted her head to look closer at him their love for each other showing in both their eyes. Sully bent his head and kissed her softly on the mouth. At first Michaela tried not to respond, but her heart ruled her head. The need to comfort and be comforted reverberated through her. She pulled Sully’s head down and ran her fingers through his long curly hair, her mouth opened to invite his tongue to meet hers and Sully responded by pulling her closer to him his tongue playing with Michaela’s their kisses deepened their mouths and tongues exploring, their hands entwined in each others hair their bodies fused together, not an inch between them.

As they pulled apart their foreheads touching, Sully looked at Michaela’s lips swollen from their passionate kisses and light as a feather he gently rubbed his fingers over her lips he smiled at her and softly whispered as he nibbled at her ear. "Does this mean we have made up?"

Michaela ached to say yes, but knew that a few passionate kisses would not solve the problem. Also she felt completely embarrassed at the way she had conducted herself, what must Sully think of her?

"No Sully it doesn’t mean we’ve made up, I am still not sure about going through with the wedding."

"What!" He pulled away from her and the hurt returned to his eyes. "Why, Michaela? The way you kissed me just now I know you love me and I love you please Michaela tell me why"

"I do love you Sully I will always love you but I need time to think about things"

"About what things Michaela" his voice and temper rising.

"Things Sully, Katherine and being frightened of intimacy with you"

"Frightened! You did not seem frightened when you kissed me just now, I thought you where enjoying it, because I know the hell I was!" he said more hurt then he could care to remember.

"I think that was uncalled for Sully" she said with tears in her eyes

"Do you? Well I don’t think so Michaela I’ll see you in church on Wednesday IF you bother to show up!" he turned stormed dejectedly away thinking what more can he do.

Michaela wretchedly watched Sully as he walked away wanting to call him back to say sorry but could not. She turned around towards the homestead, ran up the stairs, fell in the bed and cried till all her tears were exhausted.

Later that day Michaela made her way to the clinic hoping she did not meet anyone. She wanted to go to bury herself in her work, to blot the pain out and think for a while. As she closed the door to the clinic and was about to hang up her coat there was a knock on the door "come in" Michaela shouted and turned to see Dorothy enter and close the door

"Morning, Michaela you alright? I thought there was something amiss as the clinic been closed nearly all morning" Dorothy asked breezily.

I ‘m fine Dorothy" Michaela replied no louder then a whisper.

Dorothy’s glance took in Michaela’s whole sorry state "Michaela what’s wrong tell me" concern written over her face

"Oh Dorothy" sobbed Michaela and fell into Dorothy’s arms and weeping uncontrollably.

Dorothy guided Michaela to the nearest chair "Sit down and tell me what’s wrong, start, at the beginning".

It was some time before Michaela restrain herself "Well you know Sully and I have been going to the reverend for talks before we get married to see if we have any worries about getting married. I thought we didn’t have any and as we got talking a lot of things came up. Things I thought were forgotten, and a few new ones"

" Like what?" inquired Dorothy, puzzled. She thought Michaela and Sully were the perfect couple.

"Katherine and being afraid of you know what, and kissing, Dorothy I don’t think I can go through with the wedding"

"Michaela everybody gets wedding nerves look at Maria she wanted to elope when she thought everything was getting too much for her. But she didn’t, now look at her married with a baby and happy, have you spoken to Sully about this Michaela? Have you?

Lowering her head, she replied "yes I have"

"What did he say?" asked Dorothy worry seeping across her face.

" Not a lot and yes a lot, we quarrelled and I told him I could not think about getting married till I had sorted things out. He said he’ll see me at the church on Wednesday for the meeting with the Reverend, if I turn up. Dorothy what am I going to do?" she implored.

"You are going to that meeting on Wednesday and sort this out, you and Sully are meant to be together he loves you Michaela the way his eyes follow you when you are together make me blush and you Michaela love him. What did that photograph fellow say? ‘ If a woman looked at me the way Dr Quinn looks at you Mr Sully. I would get down on my knees and pledge my love forever’ isn’t that what Sully told you as well Michaela?" answered her friend forthrightly.

Michaela nodded, then looked at her friend and said

"I’ll go Dorothy I’ll go"

Satisfied that she’d as she promised Dorothy lifted her out of the char and said briskly " Well, let’s go over to Grace’s and have a coffee as you don’t have many patients this morning".

Chapter Five
Sully seemed to have walked miles not caring where he went after his quarrel with Michaela. His turbulent thoughts whirling. What is the matter with her? How many times do I have to tell her I love her and to stop comparing herself to Abigail? When I saw her earlier I thought we had sorted things out when we kissed, I only wanted to let her know I was there for her and that everything would be alright, but when she looked at me with those eyes telling me she loved me, he sighed yearningly. She kissed me back with so much passion I wanted it to go on forever. He frowned as his reflections continued. Now she is wondering what I think of her, I will tell her what I think, I can‘t wait to marry her, if this morning is anything to go by. Oh Michaela I do love you, but what do I do? His brow cleared as he came to a decision I’ll go see Cloud Dancing and ask for guidance from the spirits.

"What troubles you Sully?" Cloud Dancing queried greeting his friend. Sully looked at his friend through troubled eyes

" Michaela. She says she can’t go through with the wedding at the moment, so I have come to my brother to seek guidance from the spirits".

"The spirits cannot help what ails you my brother, only what’s in your heart, but come Sully we will talk"

Sully sat outside Cloud Dancing’s lodge prodding the fire with a stick thinking about the day’s events and wondering what he could do to make Michaela understand about Katherine and Abigail. What happens if she doesn’t turn up for our meeting on Wednesday? What would I do if she decides she doesn’t want to marry me? I don’t think I could cope without her. She and the children are my life. With that he threw the stick in the fire I will go hunting with Cloud Dancing if I stay out of the way till Wednesday she may change her mind.

Michaela kept busy at the clinic seeing to her patients and perversely wondering why she had not seen Sully about. She knew she had hurt him about the wedding and was worried that no one had seen him for the last 3 days. Where is he? He would not stay away this long without letting me know where he was, maybe he is hurt or has decided that he doesn’t love me as much as he thought. She finally gave in to her worries, I’ll go and see if Robert E has seen him or heard where he is.

"Good morning Robert E have you seen Sully, she enquired I have not seen him for a couple of days and was wondering where he is" Michaela continued trying to sound calm and relaxed instead of being tied up in knots inside.

Robert E shook his head " No I haven’t seen him since Monday he come to the livery said he was going away for a few days". He never said much only he had to get away sorry Dr mike"

" Thanks Robert E" she stared dejectedly into the distance.

" O. K Dr Mike are you alright Dr Mike?" asked Robert E looking at her woeful face

" Yes I’m fine" without looking at him saying in a whisper "No I ‘m not"

Chapter Six
"Where's Sully ma? He's not been to supper for three days now and he is always here. He promised to take me fishing ma", demanded Brian disgruntled. "OUCH! What you kick me for Colleen I ain’t done nothing" he glared at Colleen rubbing he shins.

Thin-lipped Colleen glared back, warning him to keep quiet.

"I don’t know where Sully is Brain, I wish I did" with that Michaela got up from the table and ran out of the Homestead to shed some more tears.

" Now look what you’ve done Brain you made ma cry again, why do you think Sully’s not been here?"

" I don’t know, I know they have had a quarrel and it seems like Ma doesn’t know where Sully is, nobody tells me anything because I am the youngest"

" It is not that Brian. Ma is upset haven’t you heard her crying into her pillow at night hoping we can’t hear her? I haven’t said anything to you because you’d only ask awkward questions and make her cry again."

"No I wouldn’t!" he said touchily.

"Yes you would" Colleen reiterated.

"Oh alright! I only wanted to know why Sully hadn’t been to supper"

"BRIAN" She glared a see-what-I-mean look at him.

"WHAT?" He caught the look. "Oh alright." with that he got up from the table and went and played with pup in front of the fire, while Colleen cleared the table, while observing Michaela standing on the porch, looking up the stars the moon glow revealing her tearstained face. Colleen, shaking her head sadly, thought, Sully where are you?

Michaela lifted a shaky hand to wipe her wet face as she continued to look at the serene spangled heavens, a contradiction to the misery that consumed her.

Sully where are you? I know we quarrelled. I do love you Sully and am still uncertain about the wedding. We will talk to the Reverend tomorrow. She tucked her arms around herself wishing they were Sully arms and remembering their kisses from the other morning. Yes Sully was right I did like it and I was not frightened, I love you. With that thought in her head she want back into the homestead.

Out in the wilderness Sully continued to agonise over the situation between himself and Michaela and turned troubled eyes to his friend.

"The hunting was not such a good idea Cloud Dancing I thought being away from Colorado Springs and Michaela would help but it ain't, since we got engaged I have always told her where I would be. But these last three days she hasn’t known where I have been. So she will be more worried than she was before. She’ll probably never speak to me again"

"Go see her Sully, as I said the spirits can’t help you only you and Michaela can heal what ails her. You’ll have to fight to win back her trust over this Katherine, Go my friend go" Cloud Dancing urged pushing his shoulder to send him on his way. With an uncertain look at his friend he turned and made his way to the homestead.

Sully stood nervously outside the homestead door, it was very late well past midnight, but a light was still on. Michaela must be reading one of her medical journal’s, he thought hopefully. She likes reading after the children have gone to bed, I should be there with her talking about our future together, Michaela trying to teach me all those funny long names in her medical journal. Taking shaky breath he gently knocked on the homestead door.

Michaela heard the knock and rose from her chair, having sat there for hours looking at the fire. " Hello who’s there?" she asked, thinking it could be a patient who needed her help.

"It’s me Michaela, open the door please" Sully’s voice pleaded through the wood.

OH he’s back is he? Anger and relief stormed through her over-riding her hurt and worry. She opened the door to let Sully in, turning her back on him as she returned to stand by the fire, glaring into the flames trying to hide her relief at his safe return. Looking at her rigid back Sully hesitantly crossed the threshold.

As Sully closed the door quietly, mindful not to wake the children, Michaela whipped around her face mask-like, trying to show none of her feelings. They looked at one another across the room, silently gauging the others’ thoughts. Despite Michaela’s endeavours, Sully could see she had been crying and was still hurting. Oh Michaela I love you he said to himself.

Michaela could take the silence no more and launched into a furious diatribe. "WELL Sully where have you been? You usually tell me where you are going, but this time you went not saying a word! Nothing! Sully!" Turning her face back to the fire.

" I have been with Cloud Dancing" he returned evenly. "Anyway you told me you did not want to see me till you sorted your feelings out over Katherine. What was I supposed to do? Wait around like some dog till you decide what you wanted to do? It’s not on Michaela I love you and want to marry you and spend the rest of my life with you. You keep saying you hurt about Katherine. Well how do you think I felt over William and then David Micheala? Did you ever consider MY feelings?" frustrated and helpless he couldn’t stop himself from lashing out at her. Looking at him, she went to speak, but Sully put his hand up in a gesture to stop her. He looked at her as if committing her to memory, then hung his head dejectedly. "No I thought not. Goodnight Michaela I’ll see you at the meeting with the Reverend, if you decide to come, but to be honest Michaela, I don’t care anymore" saying it, but knowing it was not what he felt in his heart. Without looking at her, her opened the door and walked out, silently closing the door behind him.

When he got to the clearing he leaned his head on the old oak tree " damn you Michaela! Damn you!" then sank to his knees with and his body shuddered as he cried out his torment.

Michaela stared at the closed door and thought of what sully had said about William and David. It was true she had never considered how Sully must have felt. He never reproached her about William and David, she suddenly felt mean and petty why can’t I do the same? She wondered.

Chapter Seven
Michaela spent another restless night thinking about what Sully had said to her about William and David. What must he have been going through, being Sully he never said a word just kept it all inside him, hurting like I am. We both have some healing to, do, maybe we should do it together, she mused. I will go get ready for the meeting with the reverend she decided, more hopeful of their future together.

Sully made his way into town not sure why he was going to the meeting. The way Michaela reacted to him last night still ever present in his thoughts. She told me she didn’t want to see me, then she wants to know where I’ve been, like it was my fault because I stayed out of her way as she asked. I didn’t mean what I Said about the meeting today that’s why I'm here ain't it?

He strolled over inattentively to the Grace’s cafe and bumping into Robert E

"Morning Sully where you been folks have been looking for ya".

"WHO" Sully asked

"Folks like Dr Mike, she was real worried, but made out she wasn’t, known her too long now, come into the livery yesterday morning asked me if I seen ya"

"What ya tell her?" Sully asked warily.

"Told her I saw ya on Monday and you were going away for a couple of days" Robert E shrugged

"What she say?" Sully eyed him, cautiously hopeful.

"Just ok" Robert shrugged again " I asked her if she was alright she said I am fine, but as she walked away she said " no I am not". Are you two alright Sully?" Looking into his friend’s face, noticing his tired and pained eyes.

"NO" Sully took a painful breath and explained, "Michaela doesn’t want to through with the wedding. So I want away for a couple of days hoping she would change her mind. We have a meeting with the Reverend this morning and honestly I’m not sure she’ll turn up"

"Come on Sully", `Robert E placed a gentle arm across his shoulders. "Grace has just made me some coffee in the livery would you like some? You can tell me what’s going on in there".

Sully nodded, grateful for Robert E’s support as the walked into the livery, not noticing Micheala arrive in town with Brain and Colleen and head for the church.

The church was empty when Michaela arrived. She walked steadily along the aisle and carefully sat on one of the bench’s, wondering if Sully would turn up. I don’t blame him if he doesn’t. I have been selfish only thinking about how I have been hurt. She sat, head bent, nervously twisting her fingers in her skirt, the waiting seemed to take hours.

Suddenly, she heard the door open, afraid to turn round she heard Sully stride to where she sat, he looked down on her bent head.

" Oh your here then" his voice cold and hard.

"Yes I am here Sully" she answered him quietly, lifting her head to glance at him.

Sully sat down on the bench opposite her and stared straight ahead. They both sat in silence, Michaela looking at her hands, Sully with his arms crossed looking at anything but Michaela.

Not in the mood to argue, they continued to sit in silence like two strangers. Michaela looked at Sully the same moment he turned his head to see if he could see what she was thinking. As they were looking at one another sully gently asked with hurt and unhappiness in his eyes "are we ever going to get back what we had Michaela? The love and trust we had for each other."

" I hope so Sully I hope so" she replied softly, putting her head down to look at the knot on the church floor. The both returned to their silence for what seemed like an eternity. Lost in their own thoughts, they did not hear the reverend come in.

Looking at them from the door the Reverend could tell by their faces all was not well between them and wondered what had gone wrong. Taking a bracing breath he said breezily, "good morning nice day, how are you both?"

Michaela answered "o k" twisting her fingers in her skirts, while Sully just mumbled " fine" The Reverend then started talking about trust in a marriage and people coming between them. Sully’s head reared back as he thought that’s it, I’ve stayed quite too long. Michaela wants to play silly games so can I, "you would now about that wouldn’t you reverend" he sneered.

"What do you mean Sully?" the Reverend inquired, taken aback by Sully’s attitude.

"While Michaela and I were courting you proposed to her"

" We where not courting Sully" Michaela interposed.

Not taking any notice of what Michaela was saying, all the pent up hurt and anger spewed out from his lips as he continued on. He talked of how the Reverend proposed to her, so they could adopt and make a home for the orphan children who came to town and nobody wanted. When Sully had been waiting at the homestead for Michaela to come back from a picnic she had gone on with the reverend and the orphan children, then seeing the Reverend kissing her.

" I'm sorry it was about the orphans" the Reverend interrupted. Sully put is hand up in a gesture telling the Reverend that’s it no more.

"You weren’t the only one to propose to her" he resumed his diatribe. He told of how he went to Boston to find her because he was worried and how William had been filling her head about staying in Boston. When they went to that posh restaurant and had that fancy food, which he did not like very much but did not show it, (what normal person eats snails oops! sorry escargot).

He spoke of the pleasure he found when they danced holding her in his arms, (that one two, one two, the waltz that’s what Michaela called it). She looked so beautiful and we only had eyes for each another. He went on to tell of their night at the opera. Thinking back he remembered how Michaela told the story about the opera explaining it to him, he was so moved by the story, so overcome that anyone could write something so beautiful, or was it the way Michaela told it to him.

Michaela was also remembering, listening to what Sully was saying it brought back how her mother had been taken ill and she and the children had gone to Boston. How she met William Burke assistant to her mother’s doctor. He had treated her like another doctor and helped her when her mother had hepatitis from eating bad oysters. Then, how he lost his job for helping her, he had asked her to stay on in Boston and be his partner. She recollected how flattered she had been because he had such faith in her abilities.

When Sully turned up saying he was worried, it seemed to frighten her she became uncertain. Not knowing if she wanted to go back to Colorado Springs or stay in Boston where she could put into practice what she had learnt from Cloud Dancing.

Sully carried on talking, his memories in control now, he talked about arriving back at Beacon Hill and discussing how beautiful the opera was and asking if she would go for a walk with him the next day. He remembered how his gut had twisted when she replied, she would love to but she going to a meeting with William and that he was welcome to go if he wanted to. He recalled the empty feeling as she walked up the stairs to her room with him standing there just staring up at her.

He had gone to the meeting and watched William introduce Michaela to the audience telling them about her remedies and Indian cures, some heckled her and walked out, others clapped and cheered her. At the end he was so proud of the way she carried on especially when they heckled her. He spoke of looking for her after the meeting and seeing her behind the curtain talking to William. He had reached the top of the stairs just as William was proposing to her. He had just turned around and walked away without them seeing him.

Michaela was astounded at Sully’s tirade. He had never opened up as much as he was at this moment. I never realised how much grief sully had inside him. He had never ever said anything. Oh Sully! She thought, horrified at the unwarranted torment she had put him through. Sully, his head bowed his hands gripping his knees as if keeping some other fearful force in check, went on telling what happened in Boston. How he asked her if she was going to marry William and was told it was none of his business. At this he lifted his head and looked at her with tortured eyes.

Michaela felt nauseated, disgusted at how callously she had treated this proud brave man. She desperately wanted to get out of her seat and hold him and tell him she was sorry, that she did not mean to cause him such pain.

He told the Reverend about sitting on the train ready to go back to Colorado Springs to try and forget about her if he could. When Michaela had leapt into the carriage shouting at him for leaving without saying goodbye and of how the discussion ended with him telling her he loved her. He remembered the train jolting them and running his hand along her arm. The heartbreak of watching her turn without saying a word and run back to Beacon Hill and wondering if he would ever see her again.

Chapter Eight
Michaela arose on unsteady legs and went and sat next to Sully. Taking his hand in hers she put it to her face and gently rubbed it against her cheek. She looked into his eyes and saw all the hurt had vanished, only love shone there now.

Taking his hand away from her cheek she turned it and tenderly kissed his palm, folding his fingers over to seal in the kiss. Then she quietly said, "I’ll tell what happened next"

Nodding, he took both her hands in his and played with them, looking at her face as she started to speak.

Michaela told how she went back to Beacon Hill confused, when she had arrived home her mother was waiting to tell her how William could give her and the children a better life in Boston. Michaela had argued that she didn’t love William. Her mother had continued saying Sully couldn’t give her as good a life as befitted her station and how she had a limited choice in men of her social standing from Colorado to Boston. Michaela had finally convinced her mother that she wanted no other man but Sully and she would be returning to Colorado Springs. Her mother had grudgingly given in and wished her well asking her to visit again soon.

Michaela’s fear and desperation came through as she described their journey home, catching a train to St Louis and the stage coach to Denver hoping she was not too late and Sully had not gone away.

Sully caressed her fingers with his thumb before gently placing his lips to the back of her hand. Michaela continued on how discouraged she’d been, When, reaching Colorado Springs she could not see Sully. Only Ingrid was at the coach station. She had felt as if her whole world had fallen apart. As she collected their luggage Colleen had tapped her on the shoulder, she turned around and Sully was standing there. She had not known what to do.

Questions flew through her brain, did Sully want her or not? Her relief was indescribable when Sully opened his arms and she ran into them and Sully held her. It was one of the happiest days of her life.

Sully stood up pulling Michaela up with him, taking her in his arms his hands framing her face and said "it was one of mine too, when you left me on that train Michaela, I thought I would never see you again I thought you would marry William he could give you what I could not, a position in life, Boston. All I had is myself. I know now, he could never love you the way I do. I never thought I could love again after Abigail died. Then, I met you, you turned my life upside down"

"You did mine too Sully" Michaela breathed, with that Sully bent his head and gently kissed her mouth. It was a kiss of comfort and reconciliation. Michaela looked at him, cherishing him with her eyes. She was equally lost in the tenderness in those blue eyes of his. Everything around them became blurred as the continued to look at one another not caring nor wanting to care about what was going on around them. Sully’s eyes darkened passionately as he bent his head and pulled her close to him and kissed her tenderly. Oh how I have missed her he thought. With that his kisses grew deeper, he pulled her closer to him and their mouths and bodies seemed to mould into one.

He tangled his hands in her hair she did the same not letting go of his mouth as their kisses went on and on. Sully finally broke them apart and started to kiss her ears, her face, nibbling her neck while saying "I am lucky to have you".

"I am lucky to have you", she whispered back, kissing the side of Sully’s face not wanting to stop.

"You where meant to be together" the Reverend said realising they had both forgotten he was there, having been so wrapped up in each other. Sully smiled at the Reverend "true" he said.

"It feels right now" Michaela added on.

" No one could come between you, not even David" the Reverend declared.

Michaela felt Sully’s body suddenly tense as his gentle touches stopped. She looked at him and saw the torment come back into his eyes, her blood chilling as she thought not now please.

"David it must have hurt" Sully could hear the Reverend saying

"Yeah it hurt, it hurt alright!" Sully said to himself. Recalling how after being ill with that head ache, (migraine that’s what Michaela called it), the pain unbearable he could not sleep. He had woken Michaela up because she had decided to stay with him until he felt better. She had asked what would Could Dancing do as something was out of balance. He told her Cloud Dancing would have built a sweat lodge.

So next morning with Michaela’s help he had built a sweat lodge. While she tended the fire, he prayed to the spirits for some guidance,

As he closed his eyes Cloud Dancing appeared in a vision holding out his hand to him, pointing to Michaela in white as she walked toward him. He held her in his arms as they kissed in the grass as he went to kiss her again she walked away from him.

He called to her, "Michaela!"

" I'm here Sully" she had answered.

" You ain’t leaving?" He questioned fearfully.

" No Sully" she had replied quietly.

"Don’t leave I need to be with you Michaela, I will love you all my days will you marry me?" he’d implored passionately.

" Yes!" she had answered joyously.

When he’d kissed her and she returned his kisses with equal ardour, it had been the happiest day of his life. Now having sorted everything out between himself and Michaela the good Reverend had to go and mention David!

"He was my fiancé before the war, I thought he had been killed" listening Sully could hear the Reverend talking.

"It must have been hard"

"Yes" they both agreed. Sully stood with his arms folded in front of him his eyes two chips of ice as he looked at Michaela. The Reverend’s gaze shifted from one to the other, "it was" he agreed.

That’s it! Sully said to himself SHE found it hard?

Michaela couldn’t believe what Sully had just said "You found it hard? What about you and the Indian woman?"

"What? Katherine? There was nothing in It Michaela" Michaela was remembering how Sully ran after her after they had seen Katherine off on the stage coach, after she had found out about him and Katherine kissing she had been so hurt that she could not bare to talk to him or be with him. He had said he was sorry, that he did not have feelings for Katherine, but she would not listen. She told him she could not be with him at the moment he had quietly replied that he would always be there if she needed him, then turned and walked away.

" You walked away Sully" she stated passionately "What did you want me to do? Eat dirt? Crawl?"

" "There must have been more to this Sully or you would not get so angry" Sully steadily looked at her, resignation written in his face "there wasn’t, I told you this would cause trouble, I’m quitting" with that he marched to the church door, walked out slamming it behind him with such a force that the windows shook.

Outside Sully walked over to the stream his hands resting on the railing of the bridge that ran over the stream. His head bowed he contemplated. Now what have I done?, Michaela you bring the best out of me, but also the worst. He shook his head sadly.

Maybe we’d be better off not getting married after all, "Damn you Michaela!" He growled aggressively. His chin rested on his chest as he watched the stream ripple beneath him, his faithful wolf whined as if knowing his master was troubled.

Chapter Nine

Sully had stood by the stream till his temper had cooled down a bit, reflecting how his life would have been without Michaela in it. He probably would have been lonely and lost. She has done so much for me he thought. Looked after me when I got beat up by Rankin (the man who had come to kill the buffalo for the railroad). Then watching over me when I had migraine. I could not go back to that life again. He smiled as he thought about the arguments they’d had over completing the Homestead. `I can’t live without her, he concluded with a heartfelt sigh. He turned and headed back to the church knowing that it held his future and very soul.

As he walked back to the church he thought about how David had come back into Michaela’s life just days before he had asked her to marry him. Using the name Andrew Strauss, he had befriended him telling himself and Michaela that he was interested in the same things Sully cared about. Things like, the welfare of the buffalo and the deer but mostly the use of the land. The sad part about it all was, he really liked David. When it came to light, as to who he actually was and he’d asked Michaela if she still had feelings for him. Stating that if she didn’t, he would leave right away. You could have knocked him down with a feather when she told him to stay. He had never disliked anybody so much as he did him at that moment.

When Michaela said she needed time to think and he told her the engagement was off, he was sure he saw David smirk. That was the unhappiest time of his life. I am sorry Abigail, he mentally apologized but I never felt that much pain when you and Hannah died. It was the worst time off my life seeing her with him, knowing she might prefer him to me. I thought the jealousy I felt in Boston about William was bad, it was nothing to what I felt regarding David.

He considered when he had gone to her at the homestead a few days later, to tell her that he loved her, that he would do anything for her but most of all he wanted to marry her. He had given her instructions to think carefully about who would make her happy. He had stated that he would stand by her decision. The next few days seemed like they had forty eight hours in each of them, waiting to see what the outcome would be had become unbearable.

His trepidation when she turned up at the lean-to, to tell him of her decision. He had steeled himself, thinking she had chosen David, determined to wish her all the luck in the world and equally determined that she would not see his heartbreak at her decision. Instead she said she would always love David but he was the past, they were the present, if he still wanted her.

"Will you Sully?" She had demanded

" Will I what?" He had questioned her, getting a little revenge for the agony she had put him through.

" Will you marry me?" She looked both fearful and aggressive.

He had walked over to her took her hands and placed them over his heart. "Yes" he’d whispered as he kissed her tenderly.

David left the next day for Washington.

Back in the church Michaela stared at the door Sully had just walked out of. Wondering what to do now. She thought they had finally sorted out their feelings and probably their jealousies. Now they were back to square one. Only it was Sully who had doubts. She couldn’t understand why he’d stormed out. She wondered if he still had feelings for Katherine, then dismissed her worries as she thought about Sully’s impassioned speech earlier, She knew in her heart that Sully loved her intensely.

She could hear the reverend talking about the wedding and her answering "Will there be a wedding?"

"Do you want this wedding to take place?" The Reverend had asked watching her heartache cross her face.

"Of course I do!" She cried. Thinking, I realise that marrying Sully is the most important thing in my life. That is if he comes back and still wants to marry me.

Michaela was telling the reverend how Sully was the kindest and gentlest person she knew. About how he nursed her when she was ill and his abiding love for the children. Why didn’t I think of these things before, she moaned mentally. He had always been there when she needed him.

" You have taken care of him too", the Reverend pointed out.

"I know! We seem to know what the other one needs and is thinking, I can depend on him"

As he reached the door Sully could hear Michaela talking to the Reverend and singing his praises, so she still loves then? A cocky smile curved lips as he opened the door to hear her say to the Reverend "I can depend on him".

That was all the impetus he needed, with that he walked into the church saying " and I can depend on you" striding purposely toward Michaela he lifted her to his lips ardently kissing her. This is what I want in life he thought, nothing else matters except Michaela and I being together.

Their kisses continued for some time, scattered with murmured endearments, heartfelt apologies and promises of a golden future. While the Reverend looked on becoming decidedly hot under the collar.

Michaela looked at Sully telling him how they where good together how they could help people, while all the time Sully caressed her. She was looking at Sully asking him if he could remember when he came to her a few days after they broke their engagement and said to her how he loved her and wanted to marry her, but she had to choose who could make her happy.

"I chose you Sully because I love you"

" I love you too Michaela" he replied earnestly.

"I know I hurt you Sully, about Katherine, can you forgive me?" she asked contritely.

" Yes if you can forgive me all the pain I have caused you Michaela. I didn’t love Katherine. Yes we could talk and I felt sorry for her, but there is only one woman I love"

" Yes completely" she sighed rubbing her fingertips across his mobile lips.


"Hmm" he hummed enjoying the feel of her fingers brushing his lips.

" You were right I am frightened of intimacy. I have never been married but you have." She stated uncertainly.

He smiled wolfishly as he thought about Michaela as his wife. " We’ll take it easy honey, don’t you worry about a thing". He dotted tender kisses along the side of her face and whispered in her ear " trust me".

" I do", she whispered back enjoying the frissons that those kisses were sending through her body. My only regret is that we never married sooner. Wrapping his arms around her melding her to him, he kissed her voraciously. Michaela held on to him and give him the same love back. Neither of them heard the reverend say "glad I could help you" as he waved and left the church leaving them locked a feverish embrace.

Later Michaela and sully were sitting on the Homestead steps. Michaela was perched between Sully’s legs, his arms wrapped around her as he contentedly nuzzled her neck. Michaela looked round at him, "Sully" she called softly.

"Hmm?" He hummed against her skin she felt it all the way to her toes.

"I am sorry I put you through so much pain these last few days"

He lifted his head and focused on her contrite eyes. "It’s ok, we have sorted it out, everything’s alright now"

Smiling, she tenderly feathered her fingers across his face, paying particular attention to his lips, the feel of which, she was growing exceedingly fond. His lips puckered as he kissed her fingertips, teasing her into wanting more.

"It’s not sully I still have to say I’m sorry for the hurt I caused you over William and David I never realised how tortured you were. I only thought of myself. You never spoke about it, you kept it all inside, why didn’t you say something?" she asked remorsefully.

"What was there to say Michaela? I was happy you chose me instead of David. I honestly thought you would have chosen him. You had so much in common, your doctoring, Boston. As I said earlier, all I have to offer is myself, that’s all and my love for you.

With William I was way out of my depth where he was concerned. We were in Boston not in Colorado Springs your home Michaela! How could I compete with that? You looked so happy with William making you feel accepted as a Doctor in a mans world, what could I do?. I was jealous it was eating me up inside, all the way back on the train I was thinking I had left it to late you had looked so happy

When the coach pulled into Colorado springs I thought you had come back to settle your business and was going back to Boston and marry William. You looked so lost when you looked at me, I couldn’t help myself. I held out my arms, I was astonished when you ran to me and told me you loved me too. I was glad you had chosen me I put all the worry at the back of mind and tried to forget it"

Michaela reached up and pulled Sully’s head closer to hers. She placed affectionate kisses around the edges of his mouth, trying to soothe his pain and show him she was not afraid anymore. Sully breathlessly watched her as she became more confident. Michaela began to tease him with her tongue, slipping it between his lips to duel with his. She tangled her hands in his hair as her kisses become increasingly passionate. Sully pulled her on his lap as he took over, devouring her.

Gasping they pulled apart, foreheads together " I love you Michaela, I will love you always, so lets forgive and forget, lets us enjoy the weeks up to our wedding, no more tears, no more recriminations "

"I love you too, this is supposed to be the happiest time of our lives, so lets us enjoy it. Sully kissed her once again and then placed back between his legs on the Homestead steps, just holding her, " yes let’s" he replied.

Six weeks later on a hot spring day in Colorado Springs Sully stood waiting for Michaela as she walked to him, a vision in white. He thought about the dream he had in the sweat lodge, of Michaela, walking to him in white and then walking away, she was not walking away now. She looked beautiful as she came nearer to him, her lips lifted in a secret smile. He took her hand in his and walked with her to the Reverend to become man and wife.

The End