For personal use and select distribution only © July 1998 by Hilary Winn

Seasons of Change
by Hilary Winn

Michaela stood facing the mirror gazing at her tired reflection and extended belly. It had been a busy few months since Colleen and Andrew's wedding and now that things were finally settling down, the letter from her mother had arrived. Michaela sat down and began to think about all the changes that had taken place since that beautiful spring day when she had watched her daughter become a married woman.

She remembered watching Colleen board the train to San Francisco as a na‹ve young bride, much like herself, and step off of it three weeks later as a confident young wife. She smiled as she remembered that oh-so-important talk about doing her "wifely duty" that she'd had with Colleen. She had been somewhat embarrassed, but Colleen had taken it in stride and made her feel more relaxed. Of course she and Colleen had talked about it much more frankly than Michaela had with her mother.

During the three weeks of their honeymoon in San Francisco, Colleen had visited her biological father, Ethan Cooper, and finally made peace with him. When Colleen had stepped off the train there was a new light that shone from her eyes, and at that instant, Michaela knew that getting married then instead of waiting until Colleen had finished medical school had been the right thing for her to do.

But now, Colleen and Andrew were gone having begun their new life in Philadelphia. Colleen was finding medical school challenging but rewarding, and Andrew's medical practice was flourishing (thanks to help from his uncle's friends as well as friends of Michaela's father). Andrew and Colleen had only been gone three months but to Michaela it seemed like three years.

A week or so after Colleen and Andrew had left to begin their new life, Michaela had discovered that she was again pregnant. At first she had felt a tremendous fear that she would lose this baby like the last one, but the first three months had passed uneventfully except for her awful nausea, and now she felt very content and happy. Of course Sully, Matthew and Brian were overjoyed and wouldn't stop doing things for her. Katie, on the other hand, didn't seem to understand yet especially since Michaela hadn't really started to show. She wouldn't admit it to them, but she enjoyed all the attention and help, and she definitely needed it, since she found herself being forced to rest much more often than she had had to with Katie.

Now, just when she was adjusting to not having Colleen around and to being pregnant again, mother had sent her and Sully two train tickets to Boston inviting them to the ball she was giving in Colleen and Andrew's honor.

"Oh mother," thought Michaela. " Why did you have to do this now just when I was looking forward to some peace and quiet?"

But, she and Sully had talked about it and much to her surprise, Sully had said that they should go. He had reasoned that with two young children, they wouldn't be going anywhere for a long time. Secretly though, he loved seeing Michaela in the beautiful fashions of Boston society. He had also pointed out that it would give them some time alone together which had been in short supply ever since that night in the cabin when they had reminisced about the past. They had also decided to leave Brian and Katie at home as well. Brian really couldn't afford to miss that much school and Katie, they had reasoned, was too little to travel that far on a train.

"Mama, mama" cried a tiny little voice from the next room startling Michaela out of her reverie.

As Michaela went into Katie's room and saw her beautiful little girl reaching out for her, she couldn't help but feel a little twang of guilt because they were leaving her behind. Michaela knew that saying goodbye to her tomorrow would very very difficult.

The day went by much too quickly as Michaela was consumed with packing and seeing last minute patients. She also had to endure the grumbling from the townspeople, well mostly Loren and Jake, that there was no one to take care of them with her away. She had to smile in spite of herself at that because it was a far cry from the prejudice she had experienced when she first came to town.

"How things have changed," she mused as she patted her slightly swelling stomach.

The next day dawned warm and sunny as the family and various townsfolk stood around the train station to see Michaela and Sully off.

"Don't worry Dr. Mike, we'll take real good care of Katie and Brian," said Grace as she took Katie out of Michaela's arms. " After all, we need the practice," she said with a smile.

"And I'll be lookin' out for them too," said Dorothy as she gave her best friend a fierce hug.

"Be sure to give Colleen a hug for me an' Brian," echoed Matthew as he pecked his mother on the cheek and shook Sully's hand warmly.

"Don't worry Ma, Pa. I'll take good care of all the animals and the homestead," chimed in Brian.

"We'll miss you all very much," returned Michaela, as she turned to climb up the train's stairs.

"Don't worry, we'll be back `fore ya know it," said Sully, as he winked at Brian.

Finally with all the good-byes said, Michaela and Sully found themselves alone at last. The train ride to Denver was uneventful with Michaela sleeping on her husband's shoulder the entire way, and Sully watching the beautiful landscape fly by wondering how much longer it would stay this beautiful and uninhabited.

"Michaela, Michaela. You need to wake up, so we can change trains," Sully said nudging Michaela with his elbow.

"What Sully?" Michaela said letting out a yawn. "We're in Denver already? It sure went by much more quickly than on our honeymoon," she said teasingly.

With a laugh, Sully escorted his beautiful wife down the stairs and onto the other platform. After about a five-minute wait the train that would carry them all the way to Boston, with a short stop in St. Louis, arrived.

"Here we are," Sully said as he stopped in front of compartment number one. Opening the door, he and Michaela were overwhelmed at the lavish accommodations facing them. The room was quite grand, with a large double bed and a couch and coffee table and even their own private bathroom. Michaela went over to the table, which had a beautiful fruit basket sitting on it with a note addressed to her sticking out of it.

Opening the note, she began to read out loud: "Dear Michaela and Sully, I hope you find this compartment suitable. Mr. Browning, the owner of this railroad line and an old friend of your fathers, arranged for you to stay in his personal cabin. See you soon. Love, Mother"

"Well, Mother has gone overboard again," Michaela said turning to Sully to gauge his reaction.

"There's nothin' we can do about it now, so we might as well enjoy it," said Sully amicably. He didn't care what kind of room they got as long he and Michaela got to be alone together.

"Well," said Michaela. "Should we go to the dining car and have supper? It's nearly seven, and I'm famished," she added with a smile.

Dinner wasn't exactly what Sully had on his mind, but he knew Michaela had to eat regularly, and he remembered how voracious her appetite had been when she was carrying Katie.

"Sure, that sounds good. As long as it don't take too long," he said with a twinkle in his eye.

"Sully," Michaela said exasperatingly, pushing him out into the corridor. Secretly though, she didn't want dinner to take very long either.

The couple enjoyed a nice quiet meal without the usual noisiness of the children or the mess that Katie usually made of her food. They spoke lightly of some of the changes that had occurred in the last few months and of how different this trip to Boston would be. They had often discussed what it would be like if they ever returned to the city that had sparked their courtship, and now that they were actually doing it there was a twinge of excitement that they both felt. Not to mention the fact that they would get to see Colleen again after such a long separation.

Finally with the meal over, they made their way back to their cabin. As Michaela fished around in her purse for the key, she was suddenly swept off her feet and into Sully's arms, as he opened the door with his own key.

"Sully," she squealed. "What if someone sees us?"

"There's no one around. Besides what's wrong with me wantin' to carry my wife over the threshold?" he said as he closed the door and deposited his wife in the center of the bed. Slowly, he began to take out the pins in Michaela's hair and run his hands through the soft curls. He moved on to her fancy traveling dress and began to undo the buttons all the while kissing her softly on the lips. Michaela found herself wanting more, so as Sully struggled with the seemingly millions of buttons on her dress, she quickly unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it over his head.

"A little anxious?" Sully said teasingly.

"Well, only because you seem to be having a little trouble with my buttons. I thought I'd show you how its done," she retorted.

"If you weren't wearing such a fancy dress, there'd be no problem at all. But I think I've solved it," he said as he undid the last button and helped Michaela step out of the dress.

Standing in front of him in just her camisole with her hair falling around her face, Sully couldn't help but take a deep breath. It still amazed him sometimes that she was his. Now, with her stomach bulging slightly as the reminder of their coming baby, he felt that his heart was about to burst.

"Something wrong?" she said gazing at him quizzically. Putting her hand on her stomach, she said softly "I know, I know. I'm showing more than I did with Katie at this stage. Is it that bad?"

"Oh, Michaela. You are so beautiful even more so when you're pregnant. I'm sorry but every time I see you it just makes me catch my breath."

"Oh Sully," she whispered taking his face in her hands and kissing him long and deep. It had been a long time since they had been truly alone and able to enjoy each other thoroughly, and they were relishing that now. As they lay in each others arms letting the effects of their lovemaking wear off, they began to talk about the past and the future.

"Ya know, Colleen and yer Ma are going to be very surprised when they see ya, since ya haven't told them about the baby."

"I know but I wanted to wait until I was sure everything was all right. I was so frightened that I would lose the baby when I first discovered I was pregnant that I almost didn't want to believe it," Michaela said softly.

"I remember Michaela. You kept throwing up every morning and first ya insisted that it was from all the pain and turmoil of sayin' goodbye to Colleen and then ya said you had some kind of catarrh."

"But I never seemed to get any better did I," Michaela said with a smile.

"Well I began to suspect what it was before ya told me because I had a little talk with Dorothy," Sully said mischievously.

"You didn't," Michaela said punching him lightly on the arm.

"I was worried about you, but when I began describing your symptoms, the nausea and tiredness, Dorothy just smiled and said that I most likely didn't have anything to worry about."

"You helped me so much through the first three months. Loving me and doing things for me. Telling me everything was going to be all right. I had my doubts, but you reassured me. I couldn't have gotten through it without you. I love you so much."

"I gotta say that I was a little scared too. After ya told me what you went through when ya had the miscarriage, I didn't think I'd be able to stand it if I had to watch ya go through it again. You and the kids and the baby mean everything to me," Sully said lovingly caressing Michaela's stomach.

"I'm so happy Sully," Michaela said letting out a yawn.

"Ok enough talk. You need your rest, doctor," Sully ordered as he turned over to let her head rest on his chest.

"Yes sir." Michaela said as she listened to his steady heartbeat. Within minutes she was fast asleep dreaming of a beautiful baby boy that looked like Sully. Sully lay caressing her back for a few minutes, as he thought about how lucky he was and soon he was dreaming of dancing in an expensive Boston restaurant with his beautiful wife.

The remainder of the train trip passed uneventfully with the happy couple just enjoying being together. They spent the days in the Observation car or in the game room playing lively games of chess. Sully had improved considerably since the last time they had played when Daniel was staying with them. He even managed to beat Michaela once or twice, but he had a feeling it was due to her having to abandon the game for a terrible onset of nausea. At night, they would retire to their cabin early and just enjoy being with each other and talk about how much their lives had changed in six short years. The time just flew by and before they knew it, they were pulling in to the Boston train depot.

As she stepped out onto the platform, Michaela glanced around at all the people and tried to get a glimpse of her family. At last she spotted her mother and Colleen and began hurrying towards them with Sully close behind.

"Ma," Colleen said eagerly as mother and daughter rushed into each other's arms. I've missed you so much," she said burying her face in her mother's shoulder.

"Oh Colleen, I've missed you too. Terribly," Michaela said as her eyes began to tear up.

"Now enough of this nonsense," ordered Elizabeth. "It hasn't been that long."

"Oh mother," said Michaela disentangling herself from her daughter and reaching to lightly hug her mother.

"How are ya doing Dr. Cook?" Sully asked playfully.

"Just fine, Pa. I've missed you too," said Colleen as she gave Sully a fierce hug.

"I think it's time we-" Elizabeth began to say when she suddenly stopped in midsentence looking at her daughter thoroughly.

"What's wrong, Mother?"

"I think I should be asking you something along those lines."

Grasping Sully's hand, Michaela smiled and answered, "Yes, it's true. We are going to have another child."

"Oh, Ma," squealed Colleen.

"That's wonderful. Congratulations, dear. Sully. When will it arrive?"

"In `bout five months time," Sully said proudly.

"I'm a little surprised that you knew, Mother, since I haven't really started to show yet," Michaela said as they walked towards the carriage.

"A mother always knows," Elizabeth said with a knowing look.

"Where's Andrew?" Sully asked as he and Colleen walked behind mother and daughter.

"He decided to stay at the house, so that there would be room in the carriage. I'm so happy for you and Ma. I can't wait to have another baby sister.or brother. Has it been hard for Ma so far?" Colleen asked worriedly.

"Not too bad. She's had an awful upset stomach, but that's been the worst of it. No bleedin' or anything," Sully answered truthfully.

"What were you two talking about back there?" Michaela asked as she stepped into the carriage.

"Just catchin' up," Sully said winking at his daughter.

Andrew and Rebecca who were overjoyed at Michaela's news greeted them at the house. After about an hour of catching up, Michaela excused herself to take a much-needed nap before dinner. Colleen also decided a nap sounded good too, since she had been up late studying for her semester exams, which had just ended. After dinner where Michaela's other two sisters and their husbands had joined them, the party retired to the parlor to discuss the reception.

"We have it planned for the day after tomorrow, since I know you can not be away from your burgeoning practice for very long, Andrew," said Elizabeth.

"That sounds great, Grandma," said Colleen. "Ma, wait until you see the dress I picked out. I got it from that same store where you bought your dress the last time we were here."

As Michaela started to answer her daughter, she suddenly felt a wave of nausea rush over her and had to jump up and run out of the room.

"Ah, the joys of pregnancy. I remember them well," commented Elizabeth.

"I think I'll go check on Michaela," Sully said rising from his chair.

The rest of the party decided that it was time to retire and said their goodnights. Colleen and Andrew happily went up to their luxurious room to enjoy some "holdin'" and to talk about the party.

"Michaela, are you ok?" Sully asked as he walked into their room and found her curled up in her nightgown on her side of the bed.

"I feel much better now," she said as she sat up. "I'm so embarrassed though. What must people think?"

"Probably that you're pregnant."

"Do you know that you're the first man to come in my room besides my father?" Michaela said changing the subject.

"Really," Sully said smiling. "Well, don't ya want to give me the grand tour?"

"Why don't we start with the bed," Michaela said teasingly to let Sully know that she truly was feeling better.

"Sounds good to me," Sully said as he climbed in next to her wearing only his buckskins, which were soon discarded as Michaela gave him her own very personal "tour."

The next morning, Sully rose early and decided to let Michaela sleep in since she had been so tired lately. Going down to breakfast, he was surprised to discover that only Andrew seemed to be awake.

"Morning, Sully," Andrew said warmly.

"Mornin' Andrew. Where's everybody?"

"Well, Colleen is still sleeping. She's been extremely tired lately. As for Elizabeth, she had some errands to attend to for tomorrow's party. Where's Michaela?"

"Sleepin' too. It seems lately that all she wants to do is sleep."

"Really," Andrew said curiously. "Has she been examined since she found out she was pregnant?"

"Well, no. Thing is, I wanted to talk to ya about that. I think it might be good if ya took a look at her just to make sure everything is ok like she says it is."

"I'd be happy too if it wouldn't bother you, Sully."

"No, I know ya examined her before when she had the miscarriage, so it's all right by me. Convincing her might be another story though."

"Well my uncle has requested that I come and spend the day at his clinic, so why don't you have her come by later?"

"Sounds good. Thanks Andrew."

"Well, I should be on my way now," Andrew said rising from the table. "What are your plans for the day?"

"I was thinkin' I'd take a walk until Michaela is up and dressed."

Leaving a note for their wives, Sully and Andrew set out on their respective paths.

Opening her eyes, Michaela looked over at Sully's side of the bed and discovered it empty. Disappointed, she began to sit up in bed just as there was a knock at the door.

"Who is it?" Michaela asked letting out a yawn.

"It's me, Ma. May I come in?"

"Of course," Michaela said as Colleen opened the door. "I just found this note from Sully and Andrew. Seems Andrew has gone to visit his uncle's clinic and Sully is out taking a walk. So I guess it's just you and me for a while."

"Come sit down," Michaela said patting a spot on the bed next to her. "Tell me honestly, how are things going?"

"Oh, Ma. I knew from watching you and Sully that marriage would be good, but it's better than I ever hoped. I'm so happy. I love Andrew so much. School takes up a lot of my time, but Andrew's so understanding about it. Even though he has a lot of patients, he always makes it home for dinner, so we have nights all to ourselves."

"That's wonderful, Colleen. I was a little worried because you look a little tired," Michaela said ever the concerned mother.

"Oh, it's just from exams, and not sleeping too well. I had a mild catarrh about a week ago, but it's gone away now."

"Really," Michaela said nonchalantly trying to keep her voice steady, but her mind was spinning. She leveled a steady gaze at her daughter, as Colleen chatted on about some of the friends she had made, not noticing her mother's piercing gaze. Michaela saw her daughter's rosy cheeks and bright eyes and suddenly she knew just like her mother had known.

"Oh Ma, I almost forgot. Sully left you another note. Here," she said handing the note to Michaela. Michaela quickly scanned the message all the while thinking about what she'd just discovered about her daughter.

"Sully seems to think I should have Andrew examine me to make sure everything is in order. He wants me to meet him at ten at his uncle's clinic," Michaela said trying to keep the anger out of her voice. "Since when is it his decision?" she thought to herself, but then she realized that he was just looking out for her and it really wasn't a bad idea.

"Are you going to go Ma?"

"What? Oh, well it wouldn't be a bad idea, that is if you don't mind my going to see Andrew."

"Not at all. I mean, he did take care of you after the miscarriage. He's such a good doctor."

"Yes he is," Michaela said smiling at her daughter's obvious pride towards her husband.

"I'll go on one condition. You have to come with me. I'd really like to make sure that you're over that catarrh."

"All right Ma, but I really am fine. But, if it will make you feel better, I'll let you examine me."

Opening the clinic door a few hours later, Michaela was astonished at how luxurious the inside was. It rivaled the beauty and richness that had been her father's clinic.

"How nice it must be to practice medicine in such a clean and beautiful environment," she thought to herself.

"Wow," Colleen stammered echoing her mother's sentiments. "I had no idea that clinics could look like this. I thought Andrew's offices were nice, but this is incredible. Is that what your father's practice was like Ma?"

"Yes Colleen," Michaela said smiling wistfully at the memory.

"Michaela," a voice said behind her bringing her back to the present.

"Sully, how was your walk?"

"Fine, I see ya got my note," he said slowly trying to gauge her reaction.

"Yes, and I decided it was a good idea. Colleen's come along too because she's just getting over a mild catarrh, and I want to make sure that she's ok. Although I suspect that the real reason she accompanied me was to see Andrew," Michaela added teasingly.

"Michaela, Sully," Andrew said coming up next to them and kissing Colleen lightly on the lips.

"Shall we step into Dr. Jones' office?" he asked Michaela gesturing to a door on the left.

Andrew performed the necessary task and all seemed to be in order until he placed a stethoscope on Michaela's stomach to listen to the heartbeat. A worried frown creased his brow, which did not go unnoticed by his very observant patient.

"Andrew, what's wrong?" Michaela said almost hysterically.

"I think that you'd better listen. I've never heard anything like this before," he said perplexed. Grabbing the stethoscope out of his hand, Michaela hurriedly put it in her ears and listened intently. At first she heard the normal heartbeat of her unborn child, but then she began to hear something else. It almost sounded like a second heartbeat but it was a little fainter.

"What do you think?" Andrew asked her slowly.

"Well, I've never heard anything like this either but I'm sure-" she stopped in midsentence as a conversation that she'd had with her father came back to her. She had just started working with him, and she was helping him examine a very pregnant woman, and he'd had her listen to the heartbeat of the baby, which sounded a little irregular. Unable to diagnose the cause, her father had told her that this was usually an indication of twins. He had told her that even though it hadn't been scientifically proven, it proved to be the case more often than not. Now as she lay listening to the heartbeats, she was certain that this was the same thing.

Slowly she turned to Andrew and said almost disbelievingly, "My father had a case like this, and he said that a double heartbeat is usually an indication of twins."

"Twins?" Andrew exclaimed. "Oh that's wonderful, and it does seem to make sense. Congratulations Michaela. Why don't you get dressed while I go get Sully, and you can tell him the news."

Stepping back into her dress, Michaela's mind was racing. Twins at her age? She had been prepared for one child, but two? How would she and Sully cope?

"Why am I thinking these thoughts?" she said to herself. "This is wonderful news. Our love is so great that we've created two lives." Suddenly her shock turned to overwhelming joy, so that when Sully entered the room, he found his wife in tears.

"Michaela what is it? What's wrong? Whatever it is we'll get through it together," he said taking her tenderly in his arms.

"Oh Sully. Nothing's wrong. In fact everything couldn't be more right." Looking into his eyes she said softly, "I think we're having twins."

"Twins? How do you know?"

Michaela proceeded to explain what her father had told her while Sully stared in disbelief at his beautiful wife. After what the spirits had taken from him they were now giving so much back in return.

"Twins," he said leaning in and kissing Michaela long and deep. "No wonder you've been so tired and nauseous lately."

"Oh Sully, I can't believe it. After thinking that I'd never be able to conceive and then losing our second baby now this. We are so lucky," she said resting her head against his strong chest.

"Well, I know that you're definitely going to be takin' it easier once we get back to Colorado Springs, and I don't want no argument. Ya gotta keep our kids safe," Sully said hugging Michaela to him. "Ma, Sully, may I come in?" Colleen asked from the other side of the door.

"Certainly," Michaela said as she pulled out of Sully's embrace.

"Oh Ma," Colleen said as she rushed through the door. "I'm so happy for you and Sully. I can't believe it. Wait until Brian and Matthew find out. They're going to be so surprised."

"I know, I can hardly believe it myself. What a blessing," Michaela said trying to hold back her tears. "I suppose that we should be leaving now, so Andrew can get back to helping the other doctors," she added.

As the group headed out of the office, Michaela remembered the other reason that she had come to the clinic. Stopping just inside the door, she called after Colleen, "Colleen, I almost forgot, I wanted to make sure that you really are over that catarrh. Can we use this office for just another couple of minutes Andrew?"

Andrew turned around surprised. "Certainly, but I've been keeping a close eye on Colleen and everything appears to be fine," he said a bit puzzled.

"Allow me a little motherly concern. I'm sure she's fine, but I would feel better if I examined her," Michaela said arching her eyebrows. Ushering her daughter into the office, she proceeded to give Colleen a very thorough going over which left Colleen a little suspicious.

"Ma, I really didn't need a complete exam. I've been taking good care of myself. This really isn't necessary," she added with just a hint of annoyance in her voice.

"Obviously not that good of care." Michaela said tersely as she washed her hands and turned back towards her daughter. "You're pregnant."

A look of complete and utter shock radiated across Colleen's face as she took in the news. "What? Are you sure?"

"Positive. I suspected it this morning, which is why I wanted you to come with me, and now I see my suspicions are correct," she said adopting her doctor's demeanor.

The look of shock on Colleen's face had turned quickly to one of joy but then to uneasiness as she realized that her mother didn't seem to share her enthusiasm. "Ma, aren't you happy for me?" she asked trying to hide the anger that was creeping into her voice.

"Colleen I want to be, but we talked about this. How are you going to be able to handle a family and medical school? You've come so far in your schooling, and I hate to see you have to give it up in order to start a family. You have so many years ahead of you when you can have children. What are you going to do now?" Michaela said her voice rising.

"I can't believe you're saying this," Colleen said her voice shaking. "Just because my life isn't going the way you wanted it too doesn't mean I'm making a mistake. I don't know what Andrew and I will do, but we will get through it together," Colleen said and then turned and ran out the door slamming it behind her. "Come on Andrew," she said trying to steady her voice. "We're going home," she said grabbing his hand and pulling him out the door.

Michaela stood shaking in the middle of the office staring at the closed door. Suddenly, it opened and for a split second she thought it might be Colleen, but it was Sully who strode into the room.

"Michaela what just happened? Me an' Andrew were sittin' out there and all of a sudden we heard yellin' and then Colleen came barreling out and dragged Andrew outside."

"Oh Sully," Michaela said bursting into tears. Sully quickly gathered her in his arms and pulled her into a chair and into his lap. He let her cry for a few minutes until she began to calm down and was able to speak.

Taking a deep breath to get control of her emotions, Michaela related the news of Colleen's pregnancy and the harsh words between the two of them.

"Why Michaela, that's good news. We're goin' to be grandparents and parents all at the same time. Just think of the two of you bein' pregnant together. I bet that don't happen every day."

"Sully, don't you see? This is not good news. Colleen can't handle a baby and medical school at the same time. She's going to have to give up her dream for something I know she's not ready for. And as for us both being pregnant, what kind of strange ordeal is that? It's not supposed to happen this way," Michaela said jumping out of his embrace.

"Hold on Michaela. You don't know that she can't handle it. As far as I can see, Colleen is perfectly responsible and knows how to handle difficult situations, and as for her not being ready, well, all I know is that she does an awful good job with Katie."

"Sully, I'm not going to let you rationalize this. She has no idea how she will handle this, and she obviously doesn't want anything to do with me, so as soon as the ball is over, we're going home"

Taking a deep breath, Sully realized that this was probably Michaela's raging hormones talking, so he decided that the best thing to do right now was to take Michaela's mind off of the situation. A walk and picnic by the river sounded like a good distraction.

"Michaela, there's nothin' we can do about this now. Colleen and Andrew need to work it out among themselves. What do ya say we take a walk and have a picnic by the river?" Sully said enticingly.

Michaela was in no mood to take a walk, but she realized that Sully was right about them not being able to do anything, and she did want to see the river again. An hour later, as they sat on the bank of the river, Michaela finally began to relax. Sully was teasing her about names for their babies. (Babies! She still couldn't believe it). She found herself actually laughing at what he was saying.

"What's wrong with the name Leslie or Les for short?" Sully said teasingly.

"Isn't that the name of that mayor from California who tried to run all the women and people over 55 out of his town because he believed that young urban males were the only ones who amounted to anything?" Michaela said trying to recall the whole story.

"Yeah, I think you're right. Well, I was just teasin'. I would never name a child of mine that. It's kind of like Ezra," Sully said with a smirk. "Anyways, we got plenty of time to come up with names, and I think it's time for the mother of my children to get her proper rest," he added when he noticed her drooping eyelids.

"All right, you win. At least now I know the reason for why I've been so exceedingly tired. I hate to admit it but if this keeps up I may have to cut back on my practice," Michaela said with an air of defeat. "That's not a maybe, that's a for sure," Sully said pulling Michaela to her feet.

The house was very quiet when they returned with no sign of Colleen or Andrew anywhere. Michaela had to admit to herself that she was glad about that. She didn't know what she was going to say to her daughter when she saw her. They had had disagreements before, but Michaela had never had such a strong opinion as she did now. She had always been able to see both sides of the issue, but now she was convinced there was only one side to this problem: hers. Dinner came and went with congratulations all around on Michaela and Sully's news. Michaela barely heard the good wishes though because she was too consumed with the two empty places at the table. Colleen and Andrew had sent word that they had been asked to dine with Andrew's uncle at one of the fanciest restaurants in Boston. Michaela knew though that Colleen was trying to avoid her and more arguments. Michaela had no energy left to argue, but she knew she had to get through to her daughter somehow.

The newlyweds returned just as Michaela and Sully were heading upstairs to bed, and for an instant Michaela thought everything was going to be fine, but all she got from Colleen as she went up the stairs was an icy stare and a curt "Dr. Mike, Sully."

Although exhausted from the day's events, Michaela found herself unable to sleep. The harsh words between she and Colleen kept replaying themselves in her mind even though she desperately wanted to be able to concentrate on her own good news. Tossing and turning did little to calm herself down, but did manage to awaken Sully.

"Michaela, you want to talk about it?"

"I'm sorry Sully I didn't mean to wake you, but no I do not want to talk about it."

"Ya know it always helps to let it out. Now c'mon, what are ya really feelin'? Are ya really mad that Colleen's pregnant or is it that she ain't livin' the life you want her to?"

"Absolutely not," Michaela said quickly, but as soon as the words were out of her mouth she knew that Sully was right as usual. "Maybe it is that her life isn't going the way I thought it would, but it's just that I found medical school so difficult I can't imagine having to complete it with a baby."

"Well, unlike you Colleen's not alone. She and Andrew are real responsible, and can handle just about anything. They'll be able to work it out together just like we do," Sully said taking Michaela in his arms for a long leisurely kiss.

"I suppose you're right," Michaela said when their kiss finally ended. "I just don't know what to say to her now. She is so angry with me. I just want her to know that I'll always be there for her especially now with her pregnancy. Oh Sully, I can't believe it. Our little girl is having a baby. I want her to know that even though this is unexpected, it is a blessing too," Michaela added as the more she thought about it, the more excited she became. Even though this was much sooner than she had expected or wanted this to happen, she had often thought of the day when the two of them could share the experiences of their pregnancies.

"Just tell her exactly what ya just told me. You and Colleen have fought before and ya always have been able to forgive each other. I have a feelin' that she's gonna need ya these next few months. But that can hold till mornin'. Right now, I want to show ya my gratitude for our news," Sully said taking her in his arms and kissing her passionately. Before long, Michaela's only thoughts were of Sully and their remarkable love that had created the precious lives she was carrying inside her.

The morning of the ball dawned warm and sunny. Michaela opened her eyes to find Sully's hand resting on her stomach as if trying to protect the unborn lives inside her. She smiled and gently rolled over and gave him a good morning kiss. He stirred but didn't open his eyes, so she proceeded to trace a trail of butterfly kisses all across his muscular chest. That action caused him to finally open his eyes.

"Oh, I thought I was dreamin'" Sully said reaching down to pull Michaela's head up to his lips for a leisurely kiss.

"Well it's not a dream," Michaela said and then kissed him passionately playfully touching her tongue to his.

"You sure seem to be in a better mood this mornin'," Sully commented.

Michaela smiled and said, "This is the first morning I've felt completely well since I became pregnant, and I want to take full advantage of it. Now, haven't we had enough talk?" she added as she reached to unbutton Sully's nightshirt.

A little while later, the couple finally made their way down to breakfast only to discover themselves alone in the house. A note from Michaela's mother informed them that she was out seeing about last minute details for the party, and Andrew and Colleen had decided to spend the day away from the house so as to not be in the way. Michaela's heart sank when she heard the last part of the note because she had had her heart set on being able to have a long talk with Colleen.

"Well, it looks like we didn't need to rush getting' dressed," Sully said teasingly before noticing Michaela's depressed face. "Michaela what's wrong?"

"I was hoping to speak to Colleen this morning but I suppose it can wait till later. Well, what shall we do today?" she said quickly changing the subject.

"Well, last time we were here, I seem to remember wantin' to see the ocean, but a certain someone didn't have time for it," Sully said arching his eyebrows. "Ya think you have time now?"

"I'll have to check my schedule but I think I'm free," Michaela answered teasingly. Sweeping Michaela up into his arms, Sully carried her out the door and onto the streets of Boston with her protesting the entire way. He set her down on the sidewalk, and they proceeded to walk hand in hand towards the sea. The day was balmy with just the hint of a breeze; a perfect day for a leisurely stroll. The couple enjoyed a leisurely lunch along the wharf and then spent the afternoon wandering the streets of Boston as Michaela pointed out different things that she remembered from her childhood. They were so caught up in it that they had to rush home in order to have enough time to prepare for the ball. The house was very quiet when they returned and Harrison, the butler, informed them that everyone was upstairs getting dressed. As Michaela and Sully hurried up the stairs, she felt a twinge of guilt for not having talked to Colleen yet. Sighing, she realized that she'd probably have to wait until tomorrow.

Sully changed much quicker than Michaela and watched her amusedly as she tried to squeeze into her beautiful royal blue ball gown.

"I can't believe that this almost doesn't fit," Michaela said exasperatingly. "I tried it on before we left and it was only a little snug."

"Well I think ya must have grown a little since then," Sully said coming over to do up the buttons in the back.

"Can you tell?" Michaela asked worriedly. "I just don't want anybody talking about us."

"Na, not really. Not unless somebody knew what they was lookin' for," Sully answered truthfully. "You look beautiful," he added breathlessly as he planted a kiss on her cheek so as to not ruin her makeup.

"Why don't you go downstairs and wait, so I can finish doing my hair. I'll be down in a minute," Michaela said literally pushing Sully out the door. Just as she sat down at the vanity, there was a knock at the door. "What does he want now," she thought to herself Opening the door, she was shocked to find Colleen standing on the other side. Catching her breath, Michaela couldn't help but notice how radiant and beautiful her daughter looked. The emerald green dress she was wearing offset her features perfectly and with her upswept hair Michaela didn't think she'd ever seen her daughter look more beautiful.

"Colleen, I thought it was Sully," Michaela stammered not sure what to say.

"Can we talk, Ma?" Colleen asked hesitantly but with determination.

"Of course. In fact, I've wanted to speak with you all day but you haven't been around," Michaela said pointedly.

"I know and I'm sorry for avoiding you," Colleen said sincerely. "It was childish and wrong."

"No Colleen, I should be apologizing to you. Discovering that you were pregnant put me in a state of shock and I didn't handle it very well. I must admit that I did want you to do what I wanted, but you are an adult and able to make your own choices. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that you are one of the most responsible people I know and can handle any situation. With that said, I want you to know that I love you and will always support your decisions no mat

ter what," Michaela said with tears shining in her eyes. "Oh Ma, I'm so sorry we fought. This isn't what I planned, but I'm so happy and so is Andrew. He was so excited when I told him. He told me we'd find a way to work it out because he wants me to stay in medical school as much as you do and I think we found a solution," Colleen said excitedly. "Grandma overheard us talking and offered to provide us with a nanny once the baby arrives, so I can continue school. But she suggested that until then, I go back to Colorado Springs and have you teach me," Colleen said hopefully.

"Me? I would like nothing better, but I wouldn't know what or how much to teach. And what about Andrew and his practice?"

"I thought of that and I'm going to go speak to all my professors and get the assignments that will be covered. And Andrew will speak to the other doctors at the clinic to see about taking a short leave. I'm certain that it will be fine because he only recently joined them and they are very understanding," Colleen said as she brought her eyes up to meet her mother's.

"I have to admit that you seem to have thought of everything, and with the due date sometime in February from what I've observed, you would only be missing a little over one semester," Michaela said as she thought it over. "Oh Colleen," she said unable to control her emotions any longer, "I would love to have you home. I want to be there with you, as you, or I should say as we go through this together. I love you so much and am so thrilled for you and Andrew. I can't believe it, my little girl is having a baby," she finished as the tears began to flow. Opening her arms, mother and daughter rushed into each other's embrace and held each other for a long time. Finally, Colleen pulled away and said that they had probably kept Andrew and Sully waiting long enough. Agreeing, the two women walked arm and arm down the stairs to greet their respective husbands. The evening was warm and clear with thousands of stars twinkling in the sky; a perfect night for a party and the party was perfect. Everyone danced the night away and oohed and ahaad over Andrew and Colleen and their wonderful news. But eventually, the night had to come to an end and the two exhausted couples retired to their rooms. The next morning saw Michaela and Sully packing for their return trip. Michaela had exchanged their tickets during her disagreement with Colleen and instead of exchanging them again, she and Sully had decided that it would be best to leave now anyways. With Colleen and Andrew returning to Colorado Springs, there was a lot of preparation to be done and Michaela wanted to get started on it. She and Sully had also decided that they missed their daughter as well as Brian and Matthew too much to stay any longer, so today they would begin their journey home.

As they stood on the train platform, Michaela tried to keep her emotions from overwhelming her. Her mother embraced her and said that she would be coming out for the delivery and waved off Michaela's protest that that wasn't necessary. At last, it was time to depart. Michaela embraced her daughter and didn't want to let go.

"Ma, it's all right. We'll see you in a couple of weeks once we get everything settled for our trip home," Colleen said as she saw the tears well up in her mother's eyes.

"I know. I just hate to leave you, especially right now, but you are right," Michaela said stepping onto the train.

"Be sure to kiss Katie for me, Ma and give Brian and Matthew a hug for me too," Colleen called as the train began to pull away. Holding tightly to Sully's hand, Michaela waved to her family until she couldn't see them anymore. Turning around, Sully led her into the car and into two vacant seats. As she watched the land rush by, she mused over all the changes that had occurred since they had boarded the train in Colorado Springs. She looked over at Sully, who was watching her, and smiled and then gently laid her head on his shoulder. As she closed her eyes, she wondered what the future held in store for her and her family...

The End