By Virginie Grzelczyk
"Oh, Dr. Mike!" Horace's voice stopped Michaela's walk as she was leaving the train station with her mail.
"I'm sorry, Dr Mike, I forgot this letter. It came from Boston. I don't think it has stayed in this bag too long ago, I just received it yesterday ! "He held her the letter with a small smile.
"Don't worry, Horace. I guess it has take several days for it to arrive, so there's no urge right now. Thank you". Michaela took the letter and went to the clinic. She had no patient right away so she would have time to read the letter. The weather was really nice in those spring days and a gentle wind was blowing slowly the streets. Becky was waiting at the clinic with Katie. Michaela smiled seeing her beautiful little girl who seemed to grow a little more each day. She took her in her arms and thanked Becky. Then she entered the clinic, sat with Katie on her lap, and started to read aloud her mother's letter :
Dear Michaela, Sully and the children,
I hope this letter will find all of you right on form. I can't wait to see how my grandchildren have changed. I received your last post and was very happy to know they are doing so well. It would be so wonderful if you all come in Boston to spend a few weeks of the summer. Of course, I know it will be difficult for Matthew to stay away of the town and I would understand if he couldn't come, but I really hope that with Andrew's help, you Michaela will be able to take holidays. It would be such a wonderful time to spend together as a family. I am waiting for you to tell me when you arrive. Take care, your mother and grandmother.
Michaela put the letter on the table. "Oh mother" she thought, "Why do you always have to be so direct?".
Of course Michaela was happy that she and her mother had improved their relationship. In fact, since Michaela had became a mother , they seemed to understand each other better. Michaela was thrilled at the idea of going to Boston with her family, and for the first time with Sully as her husband. The reminder of this strange time with him, when she was so undecided about her future made her smile. What a long way she, but rather they, had come since that time, but she was not very sure that Sully would appreciate the idea of going there. She knew he wasn't very happy among other people but she believed that now they were married and they had a child, her family would accept him completely. In fact her mother had, so there was no need to worry about it.
The door opening put her out of her thoughts. It was Sully. He had told her earlier he would take her for a walk in the middle of the afternoon. He smiled seeing his child, kissed Michaela and took her hand.
"Let's go for a walk, the weather is real fine."
"Sully...," she began, but when she saw his look, she decided not to go on with the conversation. He seemed very happy to spend a while with his wife and his child. She thought she could talk of the trip later on the day."...where are we going ?"
"Well, I don't really know. We will see where our steps lead us." He smiled and took his girl in his arms.
The entire family was at the homestead that night. Michaela had asked Matthew to come and they were all happy to share a few hours together. Michaela was burning to tell them the news. She had spent a wonderful afternoon walking and talking with Sully, and they had both tried to help Katie to walk as well. But she couldn't help thinking of the letter, and of her mother's proposal.
"Pa," said Brian "Can you help me building something ?"
"Sure, what is it ?"
"Well, I've been thinking, we wanted to have a swing here, and we never built it. I thought it could be great if we build it together, so if we begin now, we could have it for summer."
"We'll go tomorrow at Robert E's and get some wood." Sully was happy that Brian wanted to spend time with him.
Michaela took the opportunity to speak:
"I've something to tell you." She waited to see their expression. Her tone was a little anxious and Sully immediately knew that she was uncertain of her words.
"What ?" he asked her gently, inviting her to continue.
"Well, I received a letter from Mother today."
"Is she all right ?" asked Colleen, a little concerned about her mother's nervousness.
"Oh yes, she is perfectly fine. She seemed very interested in how all of you are doing." She glanced at each of her children, and then at her husband. She knew he was waiting for her to continue. "In fact, she asked us to come to Boston for a few weeks, in order to spend time with her. We haven't seen her for quite a time and I made us some hol..."
"We are all going to Boston!" exclaimed Colleen, "But that's wonderful. Oh Ma, Sully, we will spend time together, we will visit things and go to concerts..."
"And this time you will not have to treat Grandma like the last time Ma," Brian said enthusiastically.
"I don't think I will be able to go" said Matthew, "but I will take care of the house if needed.
Michaela was very happy at her children's reaction, but she was still waiting for Sully's. She decided to take the lead.
"Sully ? I do know you don't really like big cities, but it could be great for all of us." She took his hand as the children got up and began to tidy the table.
"I, I don't disagree, but if we go, I want you to promise me that we will spend time together as a family." He smiled at her, a little astonished by his own words. In fact, he wasn't very happy to be in society, but the idea of spending holidays with his family and especially with his wife, without patients to take care of reminded him of the wonderful time of their honeymoon in Denver. He felt a little strange to find no major objections to say, but he decided not to search for some either.
Michaela felt very happy but also very relaxed when she heard his words. She wanted so much to go there to see her family, but also to show them how happy she was with her children and especially with Sully as her husband. She said him a little "thank you" as she kissed him lightly on the cheek.
"So we're going ?" asked Brian as he went to take the last dishes on the table.
"Yeap, Brian, we're goin'" Said Sully, taking Mike's hand in both his and smiling at her.
Sully entered the bedroom after saying good night to the children. Michaela wa reading by the fire, in the rocking chair.
"All asleep," He said. "I think Katie appreciated the little play Brian and I acted for her with her dolls."
"You play with dolls now ?"she asked increadously "I can't believe I missed that!" she said, teasing him.
"Well, I'll tell you when our next performance will take place." He smiled at her. Then he sat next to the fire, took her book from her and began to stoke her feet. "Ya know, sometimes I just can't imagine how appart we were in Boston."
"Does it trouble you to go there ?"
"No, I just can't imagine that this time we'll be there as a family". He stopped rubbing her feey, took off his shirt and put it on a chair next to them. Michaela sensed he wanted to carry on.
"Do you want to talk about it ?"she asked softly.
"I just wanted to say that you were absolutely gorgeous there, and I couldn't do anything except watch you from at least five feet of distance".
"But now I will be careful not to be more than five feet away from you. I don't want all that Bostonian Ladies around my husband, marvelling how handsome he is." She looked at him with a crooked smile as she put her hands arround his neck.
"I think the best thin' to do would be to avoid any distance..."
"I don't see any objection, my Lord," They look intensively in each other's eyes.
"Let's make a try to see if it can work properly, don't you think?"
Michaela thought there was no need to add more words. She helped him get up. He pulled her closer to him and she felt happy that Katie now had her own room. She kissed his neck and went on to his lips. At that time, he scooped her in his arms without any effort and laid her down on the bed.
"Are you sleeping, darling ?" Sully asked softly. Their passion had finally gone away...at least for this night.
"No, no" said Michaela, a little vaguely, feeling the sleep coming. She interwined her fingers with his as his hands circled her waist, and she pushed her bare black closer to his chest.
"Can I ask you something ?"
"Of course you can. But if you want to know if I'll offer you a doll for Christmas, I'm sorry, but think you'll have to wait until then."
She laughed as he tickled her for punishment. "Shame on you ! No, I just wanted to invite you to the opera when we are in Boston."
He kissed her shoulder gently. "Well, I'll have to consider that...but I don't want you to let me go up the stairs alone when we get back at night..."
"Maybe I could just escort you to your door..."
Then she turned to face him and showed him what she really meant.
The sun was already up when Sully awoke. He could hear some voices outside.
Then he realized it was his three children gently arguing to find the right place for the swing. At least, Colleen and Brian were speaking, but he heard that Katie had been taken as the judge.
"Brian, we can't put the swing here, it's to sunny !"
"But we need to have a good view, what do you think, Katie?" Brian asked seriously to the baby.
"Brian, she don't even know what you're talking about. Come on darling. There. You're better in my arms, don't you think ? Now tell Brian he's absolutely wrong about the place".
Sully smiled, happy hearing their children so united. Then Michaela stirred in his arms, probably also awaken by the noise.
"Good morning" She said, squeezing his hands with hers. "I don't want to bother you but don't you think you might have a look at it before Brian begins to dig the foundation?"
"Well, I don't think he's even got a shovel, Michaela."
Then they heard Colleen's voice : "Brian, you're not going to dig there, do you ?"
Sully took a deep breath and managed to get up. He kissed Michaela's hand, dressed and went down quickly.
Dorothy was seating at the café, talking with Grace. She was meeting Michaela as usual in the middle of the morning, where the three women always had a little friendly talk. Since Myra had left, they were a little closer because they knew they had been friends longer than anyone in the whole town.
"Hello Dorothy, good morning Grace" said Michaela as she arrived with Katie.
"Good morning Michaela" said both women.
"Hello my sweet girl" said Grace, who was honoured to be Katie's godparent. "What are you doing today ?"
"Oh" answered Michaela ,"she began the day with her brother and her sister, judging where they are going to build a swing ." She paused."But we have another project before that."
"And what is it?" asked Grace, while Dorothy what playing with Katie's hands.
"Well, I received a letter from Mother yesterday. She asked us to go to Boston for the holidays. Matthew has too many things to do here so he won't come. I will talk to Andrew and ask him if he can take care of my patients."
"How long will you be going?" asked Grace.
"Well, I don't really know. Maybe two weeks, three if we count the travel. I don't want to stay too long. I know Sully would perhaps feel a little upset if we spend too much time there."
"Did he say anything to indicate he doesn't want to make the journey ?"
"In fact, he was agree to go there. You know, it was difficult for me to ask him that, but I was very happy when he said yes. I,... I'm so excited about the trip, and I should hurry if we want to pack and leave as soon as possible."
Michaela stood up and take Katie in her arms. She smiled at her friends, and asked Dorothy to put an add in the Gazette to inform the townsfolk of their departure. Then she met Andrew on her way to the clinic and discussed with him the patients he should take care of during her journey. What an exciting week it would be...
The week passed very quickly and everybody was excited on the eve of the departure. Boxes and bags where almost everywhere. It had been hard for everyone to pack all they wanted to bring to Boston. Brian and Sully had been working on the swing which was almost finished. Michaela arrived home early this evening and helped Colleen with supper. As the two of them were working in the kitchen, they heard Brian calling them to go outdoors.
"Here it is" said him proudly. Suly was behind him, holding Katie who had helped them to finish the job, as Brian had said happily.
"That's wonderful" replied Colleen." Can we try it?"
"Sure you can" answered Brian. He sat next to Colleen and began to swing the seat. Michaela put Katie between them and watched the three of them with a small smile. Sully came behind her and wrapped her in her arms.
"Everythin' fine?" He asked her just at her ear.
"Yes, everything is perfect, that's all" She took his hands. "Let's eat now," she said to the children." We must finish the packing for tomorrow."
Sully was in the barn when Michaela came in, after the kids went to bed. He smiled at her, and finished feeding the horses.
"All asleep?" he asked.
"Yes " she replied. She walked near him and watched him work.
"Matthew told me he would come here and take care of everythin'."
"Good. Sully, I wanted to say that I'm very happy to make this trip with you." she began. He looked at her as he had just finished his work.
"Come with me" he said, "I've an idea." He took her hand and lead her outside. He sat on the swing and put her on his lap. "We have been here, and we haven't tried it yet." He kissed her on the cheek. She leaned into him and took his hands in hers.
"So, what was you sayin' ?"
"Well,...yes, I said I was happy too..."
"I am too..." He said before she could end her sentence. "Please, don't talk too much. I wanna enjoy this last night at home.
"But it's not going on forever, Sully"
"Yes, but that doesn't matter". He stopped all her words with his kisses, and she totally agreed with him.
All of the Sullys' friends where at the train station this morning. After saying goodbye to everyone, the family entered the wagon. Michaela was holding Katie close to her, and was trying to make her say goodbye with her little hand. Once in the wagon, Sully took Katie and sat next to his wife, with Brian and Colleen just behind them. As the train left, everyone felt a little strange inside of them. Brian was happy to go, even if would miss his friends. Colleen was glad to be with her family, and not to go by the train alone to Denver. Sully was proud to hold his little girl and just to have Michaela near him. She took his hand as he looked intensively in her eyes.
The train-station was animated, with people yelling everywhere and tons of luggage and boxes. As they descended from the train, Michaela and Sully both thought of that very strange day when he was about to leave Boston , and when he finally told her what his feelings were. What a long way they had some since that day, thought Michaela as she watched Colleen holding Katie. The trip had been very long but they have enjoyed spending time toghether. The long hours in the train had been a perfect place for conversation. The family walked outdoors. As they were almost in the street, they heard a familiar voice.
"Michaela! Sully!" It was Michaela's mother who was waiting in a carriage. The family went towards her with big smiles, followed by a carrier.
"Oh Mother, you didn't have to come right here !" Michaela hugged her mother, quickly followed by Colleen and Brian. Sully went just after, with Katie in his arms.
"Well," he said to his mother-in-law, "I guess you don't recognise this little one." He gave her his little girl.
"She is absolutely wonderful ! Oh Sully, she has got your eyes !" Elizabeth hugged Katie and her two other grandchildren. "I'm so happy to see you again. But let us go home, you must be tired". They all took place in the carriage and went to the house.
The house was magnificent and full of maids who were taking care of even the smallest things. When the family entered the hall, they received a warm welcome by the entire staff, whom obviously didn't recognised Miss Michaela's handsome husband: the strange Mister Sully wearing buckskins, coming right from Colorado Springs in the middle of the familiar supper. Sully felt as if he had been there a very long time ago, and that so many things were now different from what they were before. He had been a lonely man for so many years, and now he was living with three children and a wife. He was a mountain-man when he first came in Boston... He had been an Indian Agent, but everything had turned so gloomy for him. It was time to think about his future, and he firmly decided to start a new step after these few days in Boston. He wanted his family to be proud of him, and he especially wished for Katie to have a secure future. His thoughts were distrupted when he felt a soft hand on his shoulder.
"Are you all right?" said his wife, as he was standing in the middle of the hall, his eyes starring at nothing but the floor.
"Oh, yes, I..." He looked at her and was amazed by her beauty which was lightened by her fancy clothes. She saw that he was disturbed. "T'was nothin' important really." He gently stoked her cheek with the back of his hand. "You're very special, you know ?" he whispered. She blushed a little, aware that they were with other people, and especially in her mother's house.
"You too" she said simply. But her look expressed all the pride she had in her family with hers, and with the man who had taken her heart so long ago.
After they had taken a few refreshments, they went to their rooms. Mrs Quinn had planned a welcome party that night, and because the trip had been very long, the family really needed to rest for a while.
"Ma" Colleen said." I would be happy to have Katie in my room."
"If you want, Colleen. I will put all her things there, and we will lay her down for a moment. She's tired from the trip, I guess," Michaela smiled to her eldest daughter.
"So you will take your old room, Michaela, and we will give Colleen a larger one." Elizabeth went near Sully and gave him Katie she was holding. "I hope you will give us the honour to see you dancing, Sully. Michaela wrote me that you had really improved your talent," she smiled at him, really wanting to put him at ease.
"Well," he answered, "as long as I can dance with the prettiest woman at the party, I guess I'll have no problem with that," He looked deeply into Mike's eyes.
They all smiled at his words. A servitor took the baggage in all the rooms, and everybody went up to rest a little while, and to prepare for the party. Brian had the same room he had when they first came here, and Colleen a larger one next to his.
Michaela closed the door of the room after she had put Katie in bed for a nap in Colleen's room. Sully was staring out the window, looking down at the animated street. Michaela came behind him and circled her arms around his waist. He was wearing a black suit, but he has already taken off his jacket and opened the collar of this white shirt.
"It feels strange to be in this room with you," she said as she leaned her head on his shoulder.
"I'm the first man who's come in here?" he said with an amused voice.
"No, the second," she answered." My father." He turned back to face her and kissed her deeply. She pressed her body against his and began to put off his waistcoat. She liked when he was wearing such fine clothes, but she was also strongly attached to his Indian look which was definitively a part of his own person. At that moment, she felt her hair falling down as his hands were in her back, already unbuttoning her dress. They fell on the bed and tried quietly to shed each other's clothes.
"Mike," Sully said, still kissing her. "I, humm, I can't open those buttons." She burst out in laughter at his words. He raised his head and also started laughing. He was not used to unbutton those fancy dresses she wore for a great occasion.
"I can't believe it," she mused. She rolled over him and decided to take the lead. They stayed still a long moment, just looking at each other, as Sully gently stroked her long, free hair. Then she leaned down and kissed him passionately. They did even not hear the knocking on the door.
"Michaela," said Elizabeth as she opened the door. I've forgot to tell you that..." She stopped when she saw the two of them on the bed. Sully was the first to realise that they were no longer alone. He put a hand on Michaela's shoulder to stop her because she was still nuzzling his neck.
"Mrs Quinn," breathed Sully. "I, we didn't..."
"No, I am the one who is sorry. I shouldn't have opened the door. I thought you were with Katie and Michaela alone in here." Mrs Quinn's cheeks was almost as red as Michaela's. "So, there is no emergency, I will be downstairs." She closed the door quickly, wondering if she was more shocked than ashamed.
Michaela was still watching the door closed when Sully helped her sit up on the bed.
"What is she going to think?" she asked her husband, as she tried to recompose herself.
"Well, that we're in love, that's all." He kissed her gently as he stood up. He got his shirt and his jacket on. "I'll go down and talk with her. I'll be right back." Michaela watched him leave, and took a deep breath. She smiled thinking of the situation. First Matthew, then Brian, and now her mother. It seemed to be a strange need for people to disturb them at quite the wrong time. She then decided to prepare herself for the party.
"Mrs Quinn," Sully said as he went near her in the little drawing-room. "I wanted to apologize for this."
"Sit down, Sully," She said quietly. "You know, sometimes I think I am really alone in this big house." She paused as he watched her calmly, waiting for her to carry on. "I'm not angry because of what I, of what you..."
It was hard for her to find her words, and Sully knew that this was not the first time she was telling him something important. In fact, even if they had met a few times, they have always had some true conversations. He also realised that it was a "Quinn-thing" to have difficulties in expressing deep feelings. Then, she found the strength to carry on:
"In fact I wanted to thank you for the happiness you brought to my daughter".
"It's not a one-way exchange," he said sweetly, as he took her hand in his. She looked up at him and smiled briefly.
"I remember Michaela sitting just right here, in your armchair, telling me she wanted to join you in Colorado Springs." She tightened his hand.
"She did ?" he said, a little surprised. He decided to carry on, feeling that his mother-in-law wanted to deepen their relationship. "Do ya think she made the right choice ?" he asked her softly.
"I have not always thought is was a good choice," said Elizabeth. She took a deep breath, and waited for Sully's answer.
"But what's important is what you feel right now don't you think?" Sully answered.
"I think I wanted to protect my children. But maybe I was too protective... And I thought Michaela was the most stubborn. I had to change my mind with Marjorie." She seemed very annoyed by all her own words. Sully tried to reassure her.
"But you have no need to worry about Michaela now. I'm here."
"Yes," she answered "And I'm so glad she choose you."
Sully felt a strange feeling. He was belonging to a family, and it was not just his wife and his children, but rather a larger group.
"So we have a lot to celebrate this evening," Michaela's voice broke the silent approbation that had come between Sully and Elizabeth. "I'm sorry, I just came in a minute before." She walked over next to Sully and sat on the armrest of his chair. He quickly took her hand in his, and the three of them joined into a silent moment which marked the beginning of their true collusion.
"Madam Quinn?" a maid interrupted.
"Yes, Martha?" Elizabeth Quinn recovered her mind after this strong moment.
"I'm sorry to disturb you, but we need your opinion concerning supper."
"I'm coming, Martha." The maid returned in the kitchen as Mrs Quinn stood up.
"Who is she?" asked Michaela. "I've never seen her before."
"She's been working for almost a year now. She lost her baby six months ago. It has been very difficult for her, but I think she feels better now."
"I suppose it must have been horrible." Mike shared a glance with Sully, and they both thought about Katie and how deeply they loved her.
"I will see you at supper." Elizabeth smiled at her and went in the kitchen.
Sully stood up and help Michaela to do so also. He kissed here on the cheek and whispered: "This time we really need to dress for tonight..."
The music was embracing all the room. There were people almost everywhere and small groups were sharing piece of conversation. Waiters were standing with cups of Champagne, and everybody seemed to be waiting for Elizabeth's daughter and family. Michaela opened the door of her room and went to Colleen's room where Sully was trying to Brian's tie straight. As she entered the room, Sully let out a "woo!" which make Colleen and Brian laugh.
"What is it?" asked Michaela, afraid that something was wrong with her dress.
"Nothin'," answered Sully. "It's just that you look absolutely..."
"Wonderful," said Brian, as he joined his mother. Katie was also ready and Sully took her in his arms.
"Well, let's go," said Michaela nervously. The children went down the stairs first as Sully came behind Michaela.
"Don't worry," she said to him. "I'll be next to you."
"Remember you promised that to me," he answered.
"Remember what you promised." she said with a crooked smile.
"The opera. I hope you didn't forget that?"
"I said I would even escort you to your room..." They smiled at each other. Michaela stroked Katie's cheek and they came down the stairs where the children were waiting for them.
All the guest seemed very happy to see Michaela again, and they all marvelled at her beautiful children, and especially at Katie, whose beauty her grandmother had already praised. Elizabeth introduced Sully to the men there and left him with them. The conversation didn't get very in depth, because it was impossible for all these people to recognise in Sully the strange man that some of them had seen at Elizabeth's birthday party four years ago.
"You are a lucky man, Mr Sully," said a grey-haired man who seemed to be one of Michaela's father's colleague. As he said that, he looked intensively at Mike who was presenting Katie to her mother's best friend.
"Yes, I am," Sully said simply. He was aware of his wife's beauty and had always been proud of it, even when they were not married.
"So, what are you doing, Mr Sully?" said the same man. The simple meaning of the question seemed trivial to him, but took a deep significant for Sully. He answered quietly:
"I've worked for the government as an Indian Agent in the Colorado Territory, but now I am in the house-building business." His answer seemed to satisfied his companion who nodded in approval. Sully felt relieved because he didn't want to get into the details. All this was enough pain for him. He looked at Brian and Colleen who seemed to be enjoying themselves speaking with their cousins. Their cousins. It still seemed strange for Sully to consider Michaela's family as his family and he was surprised that no major confrontation had occurred yet. "But after all," he thought, "Maybe destiny isn't always unfair."
"I think Katie is tired," said Michaela to her mother. "It's time for bed, sweetheart." She kissed her daughter who was rubbing her eyes with her little hands.
"Martha will put her to bed, Michaela," answered Elizabeth.
"Perfect. I will go up and check on her in a moment."
Mrs Quinn called Martha who quickly came next to them. "Would you put this little one to sleep?" she said to the maid.
"Of course Madam," answered Martha. She took Katie as Michaela kissed her baby one last time. "Oh, she is so cute, and what wonderful eyes !" "Yes, his father's eyes," Michaela said proudly.
"Don't worry, she's in good hands," said Martha to her. Then she left the room.