Michaela reached into her apron pocket and lifted the envelope which Horace had given
her earlier in the day. After a busy morning at the Clinic, it was the first opportunity
she had to open it. She sat down, grateful for the chance to finally be off of her feet.
She glanced at the handwriting and smiled, "Sully wrote this. What is he up to?"
Unsealing the flap, she slipped the folded paper out and began to read:
"To my beautiful wife. I was wondering if you would do me the honor of accompanying
me to Denver on Monday. Before you start thinking of a list of reasons why not,
hear me out. It would only be overnight, and I was kind of hoping to steal you away
to myself for a little romance. What do you say? Just you and me?"
"Romance," she sighed wistfully. "I thought your trip is on government business."
She warmed at the notion of just the two of them, but then her mind turned to the children.
"Before you start thinking of a list of reasons why not...." she reread his words
She folded the paper and returned it to the envelope. Standing, she walked to the
window and gazed out toward the meadow. She suddenly thought of.... how long ago
has it been? Ten years. Ten years since she came to Colorado Springs.
How different things were then, she mused. Ten years since I first met.... Sully.
Her body tingled at the thought of his name.
"So, Mr. Sully," she glanced at the envelope again. "It's an anniversary for us,
in a sense. Yes, I'll accompany you to Denver."
Brian anxiously opened the letter from his grandmother. As he read, a smile appeared
on his face.
"Good news?" Dorothy noticed.
He quickly folded it, "Just a note from my grandma."
"She must've written somethin' that made ya real happy," she smiled.
"Nothin' for sure," he was vague.
"Somethin' promisin' then?" she probed.
"You could say that," he returned to his desk.
"So, ya think Dr. Mike will come with ya?" Bridget questioned.
"I'm plannin' on it," Sully winked.
"Good. I been a bit worried about her, I don't mind tellin' ya," the nanny confessed.
"Why's that?" Sully questioned.
She responded, "The lass doesn't get enough rest. She's exhausted when she gets home
from the Clinic. She's been real distracted, too."
Sully swallowed hard, "I... I haven't noticed."
"You were busy workin' on gettin' well yourself, lad," she smiled. "Then ya been
away on your new job. Besides, Dr. Mike hides it when she's around ya."
Sully pondered her words, "I'll see that she takes better care o' herself. Thanks."
He began to contemplate the nanny's concerns as he turned and headed upstairs. He
had been absent a number of days recently. And even when he was home, his moments
with Michaela were mostly dinner and sleep.
Reaching his bedroom, he washed his hands, then walked to the cribs of his napping
children. At six months old, the babies were chubby and mostly cheerful. But when
he returned from his most recent trip two days ago, Michaela informed him that the
infants were teething and not sleeping well.
Sully whispered as he smiled down on the little ones, "No wonder your Ma ain't gettin'
"Sully?" Michaela entered the bedroom. "Are they all right?"
"Yep," he slipped his arm around her. "You finally finished at the Clinic?"
"Yes," she smiled. "I received your invitation."
He anticipated, "That mean you'll come with me?"
"Yes," she kissed him.
"Good," he grinned. "I gotta file some papers at the capitol, then we'll have the
rest o' the time t' ourselves. Now, I want ya t' take a nap before supper."
"Where are Katie and Josef?" she hedged.
"Brian took 'em for a walk," he answered.
"But it's very chilly out," her brow wrinkled.
"They're bundled up nice an' warm," he guided her to the bed.
"Sully, I really shouldn't," she hesitated. "I have so much to do. And if we're
going to Denver...."
Noah chose that moment to begin fussing.
"I'll check him," Sully volunteered.
"Poor darling," her heart went out to their son. "Katie and Josef never had such
a problem with teething."
Sully leaned the baby against his chest and rubbed his back, "It's okay, Noah. It's
Carrying the child to the bed, he sat beside his wife. Noah's little eyes were red
from crying. Sully kissed the top of his son's head. Then from the other crib,
Annie began to wail.
Michaela rose to tend to her.
Returning to Sully with the infant in her arms, she asked, "Are your hands clean?"
"Yea, why?" he wondered.
"Take your finger and massage Noah's gums like this," she demonstrated on Annie.
Sully did as she requested. Finally, both babies calmed and quieted.
"I'm not certain that I should leave them," Michaela had second thoughts about their
Sully reached over to Annie and offered his finger. The baby clasped it and smiled
slightly at her father.
"Say Mama," he spoke low to the babies.
"I'm afraid all they do is babble," Michaela smiled.
"I'm determined Mama's gonna be their first word," he grinned.
"And break with tradition?" she teased. "For Katie and Josef it was Papa."
"Look how beautiful an' healthy they are, Michaela," his eyes gleamed. "After how
tiny they were when they were born."
"They've come a long way," she agreed.
"So have we," he smiled.
Matthew hitched his horse at the rail in front of the homestead. He could smell the
aroma of supper from the bottom of the front steps. Smiling, he bounded up the stairs
and entered the house.
"Mattew!" Katie and Josef ran to him in unison.
"Hey," he lifted each of them for a kiss. "Sorry I'm late."
"How was your trip to Denver?" Michaela smiled.
"Good," he removed his hat and coat. "Real good."
"Sounds like it was more than a business trip," Sully perceived.
"I met up with Lily," he sat down beside his father. "Had dinner with her."
"Lily Walsh?" Michaela recalled.
"Yep," Matthew nodded. "It's been three years or so since I saw her. She's doin'
real good for herself. Has a nice job."
"I take it this is a lass from your past?" Bridget inquired.
"I was sweet on her," he confessed.
Katie spoke up, "Ya gonna marry her?"
Matthew nearly choked, "Don't go movin' so fast, Katie."
"I'd like t' meet her," the nanny said.
Matthew turned his attention to Brian, "You're awful quiet, little brother."
"Just listenin' t' everyone," he smiled.
"I don' rem'ber Lll-ily," Josef attempted to speak correctly.
"You were a baby when she lived in Colorado Springs, Sweetheart," Michaela indicated.
"Baby's not rem'ber people?" he tilted his head.
Sully spoke up, "They remember when they see 'em over an' over."
"I make babies rem'ber me," the little boy pledged.
"You're hard t' forget, Joe," Sully grinned.
Michaela spoke up, "I hoped we might discuss Colleen's graduation from Harvard Medical
School. The Commencement ceremony is one of the most prestigious in the nation."
"I'm not gonna be able t' make it, Ma," Matthew informed her.
"What?" she was disturbed. "Your sister is...."
"They moved that trial I been workin' on from Denver t' Colorado Springs, an' it starts
that week," he explained. "The chief counsel says the change in venue makes my role
even more vital now."
"But she's worked so hard," she pointed out.
"So's Matthew, Michaela," Sully interceded. "We'll be there t' support her."
"I can't wait t' go to Boston!" Katie was excited. "Where is it?"
"I'll show you on a map later, Sweetheart," Michaela offered.
"I get t' see big boats?" Josef hoped.
"I told the lad about the harbor and ships," Bridget noted.
"You'll see the boats," Sully winked.
"Are we takin' the babies?" Katie inquired.
"Everyone," Sully nodded.
"Except Matthew," Michaela spoke to herself.
Michaela was quiet as she prepared for bed.
Sully went to her and massaged her shoulders, "He's got a career now, Michaela."
"A career that puts work before family?" she spoke.
"Is that my doctor askin'?" he stopped.
"I.... I realize that there are times when my work has kept me from my family," she
sat at her vanity. "But those were emergencies, when someone's life was in the balance."
"Work's kept me away from you, too," he noted. "Like recently."
"Sully," Michaela brushed her hair. "What do you think about Matthew's seeing Lily?"
"Don't see any harm in it," he removed his shoes. "Why?"
"I don't want him to be hurt again," she watched his reflection in the mirror.
"He'll take things slow," he pulled his shirt over his head.
"She had a crush on you," a hint of jealousy was in her tone.
He smiled, "Only 'cause I pulled her off that ledge."
"Come here, please," she beckoned.
He approached her and knelt down, "Why?"
She touched the scar on his chest, "I wanted to see how this is."
"This," he put his hand over hers and held it above his heart. "This is doin' fine.
Ya can hardly see the scar thanks t' your fine stitchin'."
It was at that moment that Sully noticed only her engagement ring on her hand, "What
"What?" she was puzzled.
"Your weddin' ring," he indicated.
"Oh," she glanced down. "I'm afraid it's become rather loose on my finger. I remove
it on occasion so I don't lose it. It's right here on my vanity."
"Michaela," he grew more concerned. "You lost that much weight?"
She avoided looking at him.
"Michaela," he repeated her name. "Ya gotta eat."
"I do eat," she defended. "You saw me at dinner."
"But...." he began to argue.
"Sully," she assured. "I'm fine. I've lost some weight because I no longer nurse
the babies. That's all."
He knew he could not win the debate, "I'm gonna keep an eye on ya, just the same."
"I'll like that," she smiled coyly.
Michaela awoke in Sully's arms. The babies had roused only once during the night,
and she felt a bit more energized by her sound sleep.
Resting her palm on her husband's chest, she glanced at his peaceful expression.
Her heart skipped a beat at the look and scent of him. His frequent absences recently
made their time together even more precious. She sighed in contentment.
Sully moved slightly.
"Morning," she kissed his chest.
"Mornin'," he opened his eyes. "Sure do love wakin' up like this."
"It's still early if you want to sleep," she informed him.
"My beautiful wife kissin' me like that...." he grinned. "You think I wanna be sleepin'?"
She lightly entwined the hair on his chest with her finger, "Your children managed
a good night's sleep."
"How 'bout their Ma?" he spoke low.
"She slept well, too," she smiled.
Sully ran his hand down her back, "Good. How's your appetite this mornin'?"
"That depends on what sort of appetite you're talking about," she turned up the corner
of her mouth.
"Michaela Quinn!" he raised an eyebrow. "What kinda man do ya think I am?"
"The most wonderful man I've ever met," she brushed back a lock of his hair from his
"How 'bout this appetite?" he caressed her stomach.
"Please don't worry about me," she requested.
They heard Noah begin to waken in his crib.
"I'll get him," Sully sat up to pull on his buckskins.
Michaela watched him with a full heart as he walked to their son's crib and lifted
the little boy into his protective embrace. Sully kissed the baby's forehead, then
Noah kicked his legs playfully at his father's gesture.
"Come on," Sully whispered. "Say Mama."
Michaela sat up to hold the baby, then noticed Sully's walking toward the door.
"Where are you going?" she wondered.
"Gonna fix ya breakfast," he replied.
She tapped his side of the bed, "Stay a bit longer?"
"Be right back," he winked.
Michaela kissed and cuddled with Noah. Then she heard Annie begin to stir. A light
knock at the door caught her attention.
"Dr. Mike?" it was Bridget.
"Come in," Michaela beckoned.
"Sully said Noah was up," the nanny entered. "I'll take him an' Annie if ya want
t' sleep a bit longer."
"That's all right, Bridget," Michaela commented. "I'll keep them with me. Could
you bring Annie over?"
"That I can, lass," she approached the crib and lifted the little girl. "No sign
that the other wee ones are up yet."
"I'd like to discuss something with you," Michaela accepted Annie from her.
"What's that?" she busied herself by straightening the sheets and blankets.
"Sully and I are going to Denver tomorrow," Michaela announced. "I'm going to ask
the boys to stay here to help with the children."
"I'm glad you're gettin' away for a spell," Bridget smiled. "An' don't ya go worryin'
about the children."
"Not even Josef?" she chuckled.
"Well, him ya can worry about, yes," Bridget laughed.
Annie gurgled and tapped her brother's leg. Noah looked at his mother alertly, then
squeezed her finger.
"I do feel rather guilty about leaving them when their teething becomes painful,"
"I been around many a babe who's gone through it, dearie," she assured her. "We'll
manage just fine, the boys an' me. I'm just glad you an' that husband o' yours can
have a little time away."
"We used to have some adventures," she spoke wistfully.
"Ya don't say," Bridget remarked.
"Before the children...." Michaela looked down at the babies beside her.
"Do ya miss that?" the nanny wondered.
"Adventures?" she raised her eyebrows. "Danger, intrigue, defying the odds?"
"Ya went through all that?" Bridget was amazed.
"When you're married to a man like Byron Sully...." she paused.
Sully entered the bedroom with a tray, "To a man like Byron Sully, what?"
Michaela continued, "When you're married to a man like Byron Sully, every day is an
Bridget chuckled, "I imagine it has its perks, as well."
Michaela eyed her husband with a glint in her eye, "One might say that."
"Well," Sully set the tray down and sat beside her. "Bein' married t' the only female
doctor in town ain't exactly been borin'."
Lifting a piece of bacon, he held it before Michaela.
"I'll go check on Katie an' Josef," she sensed their desire to be alone.
"Thank you, Bridget," Michaela expressed.
Hearing the door close, Sully touched the bacon to her lips. She chewed it a little
at a time, drawing his fingers ever closer until they, too, were against her lips.
"Mmmm," she reacted.
Sully found her irresistible and leaned forward to kiss her.
"You have quite a way with.... cooking," she smiled.
"Got a way with other things, too," he replied provocatively.
As Sully's pulse quickened, he felt a tapping sensation on his arm. It was Annie
craving her father's attention. Glancing down at the baby girl, he smiled, then
lifted her up and down toward his face.
With each pass near him, Annie reached for his lips.
"Say Mama," he urged his daughter.
"Sully, they're too young to speak words yet," Michaela advised.
"Gotta start on 'em young," he cradled the baby and reached for the toast.
"Another bite," he offered it to Michaela.
"Are you going to stay in bed and feed me all morning?" she asked as Noah reached
up for the toast.
"If that's what it takes t' put some weight back on ya," he replied.
"Sully, I've spent the past year with a great deal of weight on me," she reasoned.
"That was different," he countered. "You were pregnant."
"Please, let's not argue," she sighed.
"We ain't arguin'," he leaned closer. "Unless ya wanna make up."
"Pardon me?" she wondered.
"Well, when we argue, we always make up," he smirked. "An' I like doin' that."
"You're incorrigible," she shook her head.
Suddenly Josef's cries could be heard.
"What on earth?" Michaela jumped.
Bridget appeared at the door holding the little boy, "Dr. Mike."
Sully lifted the babies from the bed so that Michaela could tend to Josef.
"He fell runnin' down the steps," the nanny informed them.
Michaela began to feel along her son's limbs.
Then she felt a fracture in his left tibia, "Broken."
"I'm sorry, Dr. Mike," Bridget regretted. "I wasn't keepin' a close enough watch."
Katie spoke up, "Joey knows he shouldn't run in the house, Miss Bridget."
"Sully," Michaela looked to her husband. "Could you help me take him to the Clinic?
I'll need to set this."
"Sure," he agreed.
"I bwoke it?" Josef's tears began to subside.
"Just like me," Sully told his son. "Your Ma fixed me up, too."
"It huwt, Papa," he glanced up at his father.
"I know, big boy," he smiled. "Mama will make it better."
As Michaela completed applying a cast to Josef's leg, she sighed.
"It seems as if one thing after another is happening to prevent my going with you
to Denver," she commented.
"I understand," he assured her.
"Oh, Sully," her eyes moistened.
"It's okay," he slipped his arm around her. "We'll have other opportunities."
"But it's our anniversary," she leaned her head against his shoulder.
"No, it ain't," he said. "We were married in May."
"The anniversary of when we met," she specified.
He smiled at the memory, "Oh, that anniversary."
"I'm sorry," she stroked Josef's forehead.
"Don' be sad, Mama," the little boy attempted to sit up. "I okay."
She kept him in place, "You must lie still, Sweetheart."
"Can we go home?" his blue eyes widened.
"Not yet," she replied.
"What ya put on my leg?" he glanced at the drying substance.
"It's called a cast," she explained. "It's to protect your leg and help your bone
get better. You must wear it for about six weeks."
"Six weeks!" he exclaimed. "That a long time?"
"For you, yes," she touched his nose. "Now can you remain still while Papa and I
"Yep," he pledged.
Sully hoped to allay her anxiety, "I'll go up an' back t' Denver in the same day.
Then I can help with the kids."
She shook her head, "So much for stealing away for a little romance."
He spoke low near her ear, "Denver ain't the only place where that can happen."
"I'm not even certain now if we should go to Colleen's graduation," she contemplated.
"You're gonna see your daughter graduate from Harvard," he was certain.
"But the children," she agonized. "Josef will still be in a cast, the babies will
be quite miserable on a train all that distance and...."
"We'll think o' somethin'," he interjected.
Sully, Matthew and Brian tended to the animals in preparation for the evening.
"I wanted t' talk t' you boys about the trip t' Boston," Sully spoke.
"I really can't go, Sully," Matthew pitched some hay. "I'm sorry."
"I understand," he raised his hand. "But now your Ma ain't so sure she can get away,
what with Josef's broken leg and the babies' teethin'."
"I'll stay at the homestead with Bridget and help with 'em when I can," Matthew offered.
"I'm sure Grace an' Dorothy will lend a hand, too."
Brian swallowed hard, "If ya want me t' stay, Pa, I will."
"You gotta represent me, too, little brother," Matthew insisted.
"Then it's settled," Sully nodded. "Joe an' the babies stay. Now, all I gotta do
is convince your Ma."
"I'll not desert my children when they need me," Michaela asserted. "You and Brian
can go and ...."
"Ya won't be desertin' them, Michaela," Sully folded his arms. "They'll be in good
"But...." she began.
"No buts," he interrupted. "This is important t' our daughter an' t' you. This is
our Colleen.... the girl who idolized you an' wanted t' be just like you. Next t'
her weddin', this is the biggest day o' her life. An'.... I think it's important
for Katie t' be there, too."
She read his mind, "So that she can see what a woman can achieve when she has strength
of character and determination."
"How'd you know that's what I was gonna say?" he grinned.
"Because it's what Father said to me when I wasn't certain I could endure the prejudice
against female doctors," she looked at him adoringly. Michaela reached for the commencement
announcement on her night stand, "Who would have thought...."
"Lots more joys in store for us, Michaela," he touched her chin.
"I do want to see Mother again," she noted. "She'll make such a fuss over Katie and...."
"So you'll go?" he raised his eyebrows.
"Yes," she agreed.
"Now, come with me," he took her hand.
"Where are we going?" she wondered.
"Gonna check on the kids, then have a little romance," he smiled.
Room by room, they assured themselves that Brian, Katie and Josef were soundly sleeping.
Returning to their bedroom, they looked in on the twins.
Sully lightly rubbed his children's backs, "You two try t' be good t'night."
"If only it were as simple as telling them," Michaela linked her arm in his.
Sully drew her around into his embrace, "They're gonna be fine, Michaela."
"How shall we explain to Josef?" she had trepidations.
"We'll find a way," he answered. "An' maybe it wouldn't hurt t' bring back a present
"Present?" she inquired.
"How 'bout a little boat from Boston?" the idea occurred to him.
"That would certainly give him something to look forward to," she liked the notion.
"There's somethin' I'm lookin' forward to also," Sully leaned forward to kiss her
Michaela caught her breath, "A little romance?"
"Hold that thought," he raised a finger. "I gotta go get somethin'."
"What?" her brow wrinkled.
"Be right back," he winked.
Michaela began to prepare for bed while awaiting Sully's return. She heard the front
door open and close. By the time she finished slipping into her nightgown, his footsteps
echoed on the stairs.
Sully opened the bedroom door. He stood shivering with his right hand behind his
"Where did you go?" she questioned.
"Had t' go get somethin' for ya," he returned.
She attempted to look behind his back, "What is it?"
"This," he drew his hand around.
Lightly, he began to apply mud from his palm to her face and neck.
"Sully!" she resisted.
"Shhh," he kissed her. "It's our anniversary, remember?"
"The mud," she chuckled.
"Yep," he kissed her again, getting the dirt on his face, as well.
"A most appropriate gift," she ran her hands up and down his sides.
Continuing to kiss her more deeply, Sully began to bunch up the material of her gown
until his hands could freely explore the nuances of her body.
"If I knew then what I know now...." he whispered.
Her cheeks blushed as her body warmed next to his, "What adventures we have shared since
that first glance, Sully."
He uttered tenderly in response:
"I will not look upon the quickening sun
But straight her beauty to my sense shall run;
The air shall note her soft, the fire most pure,
Waters suggest her clear, and the earth sure."
"I'll guess, John Donne," she was breathless.
"Right," he traced her lips with his finger.
Unable to contain his ardor any longer, Sully scooped her into his arms and gently
lay her upon the soft mattress. Then he went to the basin to dampen a washcloth.
Returning to her side, he began to wipe away the muddy streaks from her face.
"Nothin' can hide your beauty," he spoke with a rasp.
Their movements began to intensify as each aroused the others passions. Soon, wave
after wave of ecstasy engulfed them in a wondrously satisfying experience. Holding
fast to one another, they lightly kissed while their bodies calmed.
She stroked the sides of his face, "Happy anniversary."
"It sure is," he kissed her more deeply.
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