"Charlotte? How are you feeling?" Michaela asked as she carried a tray into her patient's room.
"Much better, Dr. Mike," she replied.
"Good! I've brought you some tea." She handed Charlotte the cup of warm liquid. Charlotte took a sip and coughed a little.
"Thank you. Have you seen the children?"
"How are they?"
"They're upset, but I think between the two of us, Colleen is starting to accept the situation. Matthew seems to be holding it together, and Brian's confused. But they understand what's happening. But to tell you the truth, I'm not quite sure that I do."
"What do you mean?"
"This shouldn't be happening. You should still have so many years ahead of you."
"I've told you before, Dr. Mike. If God says it's my time to come home, it's my time. There ain't no arguin' with him." Michaela smiled a little.
"I'm going to miss you."
"Heavens, Dr. Mike, I ain't gone yet. I feel like I'm startin' to get my second wind. Maybe I'll be here when it comes time for you and Sully to marry." Michaela blushed.
"Charlotte, he hasn't even asked me yet."
"Well, that don't mean he ain't gonna ask soon." Michaela shook her head and shrugged.
"I suppose it will happen when it happens." Charlotte coughed a little bit. "Charlotte?"
"I'm alright," she said with a smile. "Colleen came up here earlier, and she told me that you told her you'd never take my place."
"It's true," Michaela replied.
"Dr. Mike, don't let the fact that the children don't want another ma to get in the way of lookin' after 'em. Now if you don't want them, just tell me."
"Of course I want them, but I wish it wasn't under these circumstances."
"I'm glad you want to take them, because you're the only one I trust enough to be their ma."
"I'm not going to be their mother. They told me I won't be."
"No. They're just confused, but I've let them know that I won't begrudge it if they want to think of you as their mother too. I want them happy and comfortable. I want that for you too."
"I hope it works out, Charlotte."
"You may not know it yet, but you're a wonderful mother."
"I don't have children, Charlotte."
"You're about to inherit three of them, and I'm sure you'll be havin' your own babies someday. You'll be a wonderful mother."
"I hope you're right." Charlotte smiled.
"Trust me. I have intuition about these kinds of things." She noticed a light in Michaela's eyes, and Michaela knew it. She felt guilty about being so excited about one thing and so sad about the other. "What's on your mind?"
"It's not important right now," Michaela replied. "What's important is you focusing on resting."
"Come on, I know something's going on." Michaela paused for a moment and grinned a little. A big smile spread over Charlotte's face. "It's about Sully?" Michaela nodded.
"He invited me to dinner tonight. Hopefully it goes better than the last. I nearly burnt the homestead down." She and Charlotte laughed together. Charlotte didn't even seem to be sick, and it made a lump form in Michaela's throat. Charlotte was such a warm, caring person. Why was she being taken away, and why she suffering? At the moment she wasn't in pain, but what about later? Michaela hoped that she could make her friend as comfortable as possible.
"You have a light in your eyes, Dr. Mike. I can tell that you're expecting something."
"I shouldn't get my hopes up, Charlotte," Michaela admitted. "Sully told me he's going to propose to me someday. He wants it to be special for me. He also said he doesn't want to rush anymore. But the look on his face when Mr. Donovan brought Emily over . . . he was thinking of Abagail. Then he asked me to have dinner with him tonight."
"Do you want to marry him?"
"Of course I do! I just don't want him to do something on impulse; something he's not really ready for yet."
"Maybe he is ready," Charlotte replied. She yawned and Michaela smiled.
"I'll let you get your rest." Charlotte nodded and closed her eyes. Michaela left the room and walked across the hall into Emily's room. Emily was sitting up in bed with her baby girl in her arms. "Emily? How are you feeling?"
"I'm a little sore," Emily replied. "But it's worth it to see this little one's face." Michaela smiled.
"You have a beautiful little girl."
"Thank you so much. My husband tells me that you saved our lives."
"I did what I could." Emily smiled at the doctor. "You're feeling alright otherwise?"
"Oh yes. When can I go home?"
"I'd like you to rest here for a few days. Your body has been through a great deal, and I want to watch for signs of infection." Emily nodded. "I'll let you get your rest now." Michaela left the room and came face to face with Matthew in the hallway. "Oh! Matthew!"
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare ya."
"Oh that's alright."
"Can we talk?"
"Sure. Let's go downstairs," Michaela suggested. Matthew followed the doctor downstairs, and they entered the main room. "Is everything alright?"
"I just want to say thank you for takin' care of my ma. She's really sure that you're gonna be a good ma to us after she's gone."
"The important thing is what you children want. If you don't want me, I can talk to Charlotte."
"No. You're the only one she trusts, and Colleen, Brian, and I trust you too. We know it's going to be alright." Michaela smiled a little and pulled Matthew into a hug.
"I just don't want you children to be unhappy. Neither does your mother."
"Well, it's hard to lose someone you love, ya know?" Michaela nodded. The way Matthew doted on his mother made her miss her own family, yes, even her mother. Matthew turned to leave and Michaela sighed heavily, her heart breaking for the children.
That evening, Michaela checked on Emily, the baby, and Charlotte before she started home. She offered to let the children sleep at the homestead, but they wanted to sleep at the clinic to be near their mother. Myra was also rooming at the clinic just in case she had to run out to the clinic in the middle of the night if something happened.
Michaela was now at home, sitting on her bed, brushing her hair. She had dressed in a beautiful blue gown, and she couldn't wait to see Sully when he arrived at the house. She wondered where they were having dinner, but she didn't mind where it was as long as Sully was with her.
It was starting to get late, and it was already dark. Michaela was starting to worry about Sully, but she knew he could take care of himself. A few moments later, she heard a knock on the door and was relieved when she heard Wolf barking.
"Dr. Mike?" Sully asked. Michaela walked over to the door and opened it up. She smiled when she saw Sully standing there in his Boston suit. She blushed at the look in his eyes when he saw her. "You look beautiful."
"You're looking very handsome yourself." Sully smiled.
"Thank you. Are you ready?"
"Where are we going?"
"It's a surprise," he replied. He held out a black cloth.
"What's that for?"
"You can't see where we're goin' till we get there."
"What?!" she asked with a chuckle.
"You trust me?"
"Of course I do."
"Then turn around," he replied, kissing her cheek. She bit her bottom lip and turned as Sully fastened the blindfold around her eyes. He took her hand and led her out of the homestead, whispering for Wolf to stay there.
They walked in silence, and Sully would kick stones out of the way so Michaela wouldn't trip on them. The woods were getting colder and darker, and Sully reassured Michaela that they would be there soon. Michaela was feeling nervous because she couldn't see anything, but with Sully's hand in hers, she knew she was safe.
"We're here," he whispered into her ear as they reached their destination. Sully's hot breath against her skin sent shivers up and down her spine. She could hear echoing and was briefly startled. Sully removed the blindfold and Michaela's eyes went wide. She found herself standing in a candle-lit cave where a beautiful dinner awaited her.
"Oh Sully," she whispered. "It's breathtaking." He smiled and kissed her hand.
"I hope you're hungry. I paid Grace to fix us a nice dinner. She's a good cook. I told her she should open a café." Michaela laughed and Sully helped her sit.
"Everything smells delicious."
"I would have cooked, but I wasn't sure how good it woulda turned out. So I figured I'd let somebody else do it." Michaela laughed and reached out to graze Sully's cheek with her fingers.
"This is wonderful, Sully."
"I'm glad you like it. I wasn't sure how to surprise you."
"Yeah," he replied with a nod, taking a sip of water. He looked around and Michaela realized that he was starting to get nervous.
"Sully, are you alright?"
"Mhm," he replied with a quick nod. Michaela saw a grin appearing on his lips as he looked at her.
"What's on your mind?" Sully stood up and held his hand out to Michaela. She took it and he gently pulled her to her feet. Their lips met and they were connected as one for a moment. Michaela's mind was racing as she felt Sully's lips against hers. This kiss was much more passionate that usual, much more loving. She was just amazed at how many emotions Sully could stir up inside of her.
"I thought about Abagail a lot today," Sully admitted. "I couldn't help but think about how Emily came close to dyin' like Abagail. When I thought about that, I thought about how much you meant to me, and how much I want us to have our own family one day." He kissed her once more.
"Sully? What . . ."
"You wanted it to be special, I know." Michaela couldn't think at the moment.
"What?" She looked into Sully's eyes, searching for an answer, but didn't have much time to find one before he got down on one knee and pulled a small box out of his pocket. Michaela's heart began to race, her hands began to sweat, and she felt like time had completely stopped around her.
"Michaela Quinn," he began, "I never thought I could feel this way about anyone in my entire life. You have brightened up my world when I thought it would always be dark. You are one of the most powerful forces of nature that has ever come my way, and I love you with all of my heart. I'll love you all my day's Michaela. I know I said I didn't want to rush anymore, but when that girl nearly died today, I realized that time is short, and I don't want to waste another moment. I want you to be my wife. Will you marry me?" He opened the small box to reveal a beautiful ring with a small diamond. It was amazing, and Michaela's eyes went wide when she saw it. The light from the candles reflected on it, making it shine like a star in the night sky.
"Oh Sully," Michaela whispered, her hand going to her chest as her heart began to pound. "How did you . . ."
"A man's gotta have his secrets," he said with a chuckle. "Are ya gonna answer me? 'Cause I'm kinda nervous here." Michaela chuckled and knelt down so she was face to face with Sully.
"Yes, Sully. I will be your wife." They grinned happily at each other and met in a lover's kiss. Sully couldn't believe that Michaela was officially promised to him. Michaela was absolutely amazed that the man she loved was now the man she was going to marry.
"I spoke to Cloud Dancin' this mornin', and he told me that the spirits told him that a near-tragedy would bring us closer. I s'pose he was right."
"He was," Michaela agreed. For a moment, she wondered if she was dreaming, but when Sully pulled her up to stand, she saw the truth and the reality reflecting in Sully's eyes. "I love you."
"I love you." They held onto each other, not wanting to let go. But now they knew that they had a future together. They were promised to each other, and they would marry soon. They were eager to start their new life together, and even more eager to have a family of their own.