The following takes place during the episode "For Better or Worse."
by C. Foust
May 19, 1870, early evening. . .
Sully and Michaela stepped off the clinic porch to unhitch their horses. They had spent the last hour meeting the needs of Mrs. Quinn, Marjorie, and Rebecca, and now that the three of them were comfortably settled, Michaela anticipated going home to last-minute packing and an early bedtime for everyone. She had hoped to find the children waiting and ready to go.
"I suppose the children are at Grace's."
"I asked Matthew to take Colleen and Brian on to the homestead. I want you to come with me for a while."
"Alright," for once not questioning Sully's intentions.
He smiled to himself, enjoying her compliance. It pleased him when she quietly trusted and met his requests.
Sully set a leisurely pace for the horses as they headed up the mountainside. Clopping rhythmically along the trail, Michaela felt her spirit ridding itself of the burdensome anxiety of recent days. A sweet, soothing sense of peacefulness settled in its place, and she offered a silent prayer of gratitude. From this new state of tranquility, she decided to put aside her concerns about where they were going and that it was quickly getting dark.
With just a few moments of daylight remaining, Sully reined in his horse, quickly touched his feet to the ground, and helped her dismount. Looking around, she saw that they were near his special place—the place he reserved for those times when he had lost his way. She wondered what was on his mind, tonight especially, just hours before their wedding.
Hand in hand, they climbed the rocky footpath to stand as they had the first time he brought her here. Now, as then, the sun was sinking slowly below the distant mountains, casting its soft golden glow on their faces. In all its beauty, it looked very much the same. In fact, Michaela realized, it looked exactly the same. At once she saw this place through Sully's eyes—as an unchanging landmark for getting his bearings. In his words, "for findin' my way again." She remembered the turn their path had taken from this place. There had been other turns, some of them difficult, but they had come far together—with no maps.
"It's still so beautiful," she whispered.
"This is the first time I've come here with no doubts, knowin' exactly where I'm headed. I've found my way—in you."
"How 'bout from now on we come here for celebratin' the sure and certain things in our lives."
Leaning in to fit under his arm, "I think that's a splendid idea."
As they watched the fading remnants of daylight disappear with the sun, Sully took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"Michaela, I wanted to talk with you…about the weddin' night…about youbein' frightened…are you still?"
"No, not frightened…just a bit nervous…I…I don't want to disappoint you."
"And I don't want to disappoint you."
"Oh, but you couldn't, I know…but…well…you've always shown such confidence…I just assumed that… that since you've had experience that you would expect to…I mean…I don't know what I mean."
He curled his fingers under her chin and turned her face up to brush his lips lightly across hers. He placed another gentle kiss on her cheek and another just under her ear. Looking into her eyes he asked, "Do you enjoy me kissin' you?" With a sheepish grin she quietly answered, "Yes."
Pulling her close, he held her in his arms, one hand cradling the back of her head. As she relaxed against him he moved his hands down the back of her shoulders to her waist and up her sides, stopping just under her arms, the heels of his palms pressing in lightly. "Do you enjoy me touchin' you?" Again she quietly answered, "Yes."
Aware that her hand was resting on his bare shoulder, just inside his open collar, her fingers gently stroking his neck, he asked, "Do you enjoy touchin' me?" "Yes," she replied with a playful smile. Stretching up to meet his mouth with hers, she kissed him eagerly. "—And, yes! I enjoy kissing you."
"How do you feel when we touch and kiss?" he enticed with low voice.
"Well…I experience rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, a general weakness all over...and…'mmm…a few other physical effects not described in my medical books."
"And what do you find yourself thinkin'?"
"That I could quite happily spend the rest of my life in your arms."
"And…something very unusual…something that seems beyond words, beyond possibility…that somehow I could actually become a part of you…that wecould become one…forever."
Sully smiled. "After tomorrow you're gonna know all about that "somehow" and as to what I expect, it's that neither one of us will be disappointed."
"But…but I don't know what to do…"
He touched her lips to quieten her. "Don't be worryin' yourself about doin' somethin'. Just think about bein' with me. Trust me…we'll both know what to do when the time comes. I'll help you and you'll help me. It's just the beginnin' of our learnin' together how to love and please…just another way we'll grow in our understandin' of each other."
Caressing his face tenderly, she responded, "I love you so much. You are so wise and wonderful...and I do trust you…completely."
"Good," he replied, offering a feathery kiss to her forehead. "Now, I know that tomorrow we'll be sayin' vows with the Reverend, but tonight I want to make some promises with just you and me." He seated her on a large stone and knelt to his knees in front of her. He took her hands in his, looked deeply into her eyes—into her very soul and spoke from his heart.
"Michaela, I promise I'll always love you no matter what troubles or trials come our way. I promise I'll always take care of you and protect you. I promise I'll always listen to you and try to understand your thoughts and feelin's about things. I promise with all my heart to try to make you happy and to make our home a happy place to live and raise our family."
Tears formed and slowly streamed down her cheeks. "Oh, Sully…you do make me so happy. I will treasure your love…and your promises…always. And with all my heart I promise to love and cherish you...to listen to you...to comfortyou in times of trouble."
She slipped to her knees and into his arms. The gentle kiss they had intended lengthened into a very passionate one. With difficulty they willed themselves to their feet. Carefully they made their way down the path to the waiting horses. Sully helped her into the saddle, unable to resist a caress to the small of her back as she settled in.
The moonlight led them safely to the homestead porch. He opened the door for her, but she lingered at his side, not ready to leave him. Once more, Sully welcomed her into his arms.
"Next time we do this you'll be my wife."
"And you'll be my husband."
They stood together, swaying gently. She pressed her face against his chest, inhaling deeply to enjoy his familiar scent. He lovingly stroked the length of her flowing hair, its fragrance thrilling his senses. Abruptly, but tenderly, he released his embrace.
"Michaela—it's time I was goin'."
She held onto him tightly, her love for him—the yearning for oneness, stronger than she had ever felt.
She reluctantly dropped her arms from his waist and weakly took a step back. Looking up into his face she found his eyes fixed on hers. They leaned their foreheads together and in unison uttered a low sigh.
He lifted her hand to his lips for one last kiss. "Until tomorrow…"
She smiled and kissed his hand in return. "…Until tomorrow night." ~ Continued May 20, 1870 ~ in the meadow—and on the train. ~