Chapter 12: Valentine's Day

At the crow of the rooster, Michaela opened her eyes only to find that the curtains were drawn and the room was dimly lit from the shaded sunlight. She frowned and looked to Sully's side of the bed. Sully wasn't there, but she found that the bed was covered in red rose petals. She smiled and sat up, looking about the room. Rose petals were scattered all over the place, and the firs thing Michaela thought was that it was one of my most romantic and beautiful things Sully had ever done for her. The second thing she thought was that Sully was going to be the one to clean all of it up.

She pulled back the curtains and saw that it was high noon. She couldn't believe that Sully had let her sleep so long. Maybe he figured that since it was the holiday, she'd want to sleep in a bit longer.

After dressing quickly and brushing her hair out, she descended the stairs in a rapid pace. She nearly cried out in shock when she was greeted with a very loud, "SURPRISE!"

"Oh my God!" Michaela exclaimed. Everyone began to sing Happy Birthday to her. Michaela looked around to see Sully, the children, Grace, Robert E., Dorothy, Loren, Jake, Hank, Myra, Horace, Reverend Johnson, and several others, including Emily Donovan and her children. When the song was over Sully walked over to the stairs and took Michaela's hand. She stepped off of the last step and hugged Sully.

"My birthday isn't until tomorrow," she noted to everyone.

"That's why this is a surprise party," Myra replied. "If it was tomorrow, it really wouldn't have been a surprise."

"You've got a point," Michaela replied with a laugh.

"Give her the present!" Loren suggested eagerly. Robert E. walked over to the front door and opened it. He pulled the something inside and unwrapped it from the blanket that was enveloping it. The sign was a large sign with Michaela's name on it.

"It's gonna hang outside the clinic," Brian pointed out.

"We figured that you've done a lot of good for this town, so we all pitched in to do somethin' nice for you," Grace said with a grin.

"Thank you all so much! This is quite a surprise!" Sully kissed Michaela lovingly and everyone clapped.

"There's one more gift outside for ya, Dr. Mike," Matthew pointed out. The townspeople looked at each other knowingly. Sully led Michaela out onto the porch. Snow Bird and Cloud Dancing were standing with a beautiful mare between them.

"It is a day early," Snow Bird said with a smile, "but I want you to have this gift of appreciation. You took care of me and my unborn child. For that, I thank am grateful. This horse is called Flash in the Sky. She only runs for me, but I know she will run for you." Michaela had tears in her eyes now. She hadn't expected any of this.

"Thank you, Snow Bird. Cloud Dancing," Michaela whispered. She hugged the both of them and took hold of Flash's reins. She patted the horse's nose. "Flash. The two of us will be great friends." Cloud Dancing and Snow Bird left as Michaela went inside to join her family.

Grace had prepared a special cake for Michaela, and while the townsfolk talked and laughed together, Michaela and Sully stole a few minutes out on the porch to hold one another.

"How long have you been planning this?" Michaela asked as she looked thoughtfully up into her husband's eyes.

"Just a couple of weeks," he answered. Michaela smiled and shook her head.

"You never cease to amaze me. I love you so much."

"I love you too," he responded, kissing her forehead, her nose, and her lips one after the other. Michaela giggled and rested her head against Sully's chest. She closed her eyes and suddenly remembered that Dr. Bernard was coming in on a late afternoon stagecoach. She realized that she should be getting back to town.

"Sully, I have an appointment in town today."

"With a patient?" Sully asked.

"Not exactly," Michaela replied, still not wanting to get Sully's hopes up. She was pretty sure he had done a good job of that by himself, however, because with each new day, more signs would become apparent. Michaela, too, was sure, but she needed confirmation in order to be extremely happy.

"You have to go now? This is your party.
"Well, not right now, but soon. I'm sure everyone will want to get back to celebrating Valentine's Day with the people they love. Grace is even opening her café today for a special Valentine's dinner for the whole town." Sully smiled and kissed Michaela's hand.

"And I would be honored to escort you there." Michaela grinned.

"The children and I will be honored to come with you, but there really is something important I have to do."

"Alright," Sully replied, kissing Michaela's hand. Just let me know when ya gotta go." Michaela nodded and went back inside. Sully was very curious as to what his wife was up to, but he figured she'd let him know as soon as she was ready to. As Sully was walking back into the house, Myra and Hank were walking out onto the porch.

"Myra?" Hank asked as they sit down on the top step.

"Hmm?"

"Are ya goin' to the town's Valentine dinner tonight?"

"I sure am," she replied. "But nobody's asked me to sit with 'em yet." Hank grew nervous, knowing that was not like his usual self.

"Myra?" Hank asked. Myra grinned to herself and her eyes lit up. She turned to face Hank. She saw that his hands were actually trembling, and she put her hand on his.

"Yeah?"

"Would you like to sit with me at dinner tonight?" Myra swallowed hard.

"I figured you'd be takin' some of your saloon girls."

"They ain't important," Hank replied shortly. "And just for the record, I don't take my girls to bed."

"I didn't ask," Myra replied looking away. But it was definitely good to know!

"I never want what happened to Zach's ma to happen to any of my girls. But they ain't as important to me as you are." Myra felt tears stinging her eyes and she stood up. She gripped the railing on the porch and Hank slowly stood up, standing behind her, and put his hands on her arms. "I didn't mean to snap at ya."

"I know," she whispered. She turned in Hank's arms and she saw how much he cared about her. She knew that the smartest thing to do was to turn away and never look back, but she couldn't do that to Hank. He meant so much to her, and she couldn't turn her back on him.

Hank couldn't hold back any longer, and he leaned down to brush his lips over Myra's. He felt her suck in a deep breath before she kissed him back with an equal softness. They heard a noise and pulled apart. When they turned around, Horace was standing in the doorway. Myra's heart broke when she saw the pain in Horace's eyes.

"Horace," she gasped. Horace swallowed hard and pushed his way between the two of them and out to his surrey. Myra wanted to run after him, but her heart told her to stay with Hank. They stood together watching Horace ride off into town in his surrey, alone and heartbroken.

"Give me that!" Colleen exclaimed as Brian ran around Grace's café with one of the centerpieces for the dinner tables. "Brian!" The children had been bickering all afternoon, and Sully heard them as he was talking to Robert E. at the livery.

"There they go again," he said with a sigh. He rushed over to do damage control, and hoped that they wouldn't break anything. He didn't want anyone to have to enforce the 'you break it, you buy it' policy.

Horace hadn't come out of the telegraph office, and when Grace went over to try to convince him to come to the dinner that evening, he politely declined and said that he had nobody to celebrate with. She carefully reminded him that even if he didn't have anyone to celebrate with, there were others in town in the same situation who were coming to celebrate with the town. Horace still declined.

Loren was sweeping the porch of the mercantile, hoping to get everything finished before dinner. Dorothy was inside dusting the shelves and polishing the glass jars and the copper tins. The only person in town who hadn't been out and about was Michaela. Sully had watched her and an older gentleman enter the clinic about an hour ago, and they still hadn't come out.

"Brian, give that back to Colleen," Sully warned as he stopped the boy in his tracks.

"I want to help!"

"No, you want to eat the candies in the centerpieces," Colleen argued.

"So?!"

"So, they ain't for you! You'll have to wait for the dinner tonight!"

"Hey! Whoa!" Sully exclaimed. He took the centerpiece from Brian and handed it to Colleen. She smiled her thanks and walked off to help Grace with the rest of the tables. Sully looked at Brian. "Come on."

"Where are we goin'?"

"You're gonna go help Mr. Bray at the mercantile."

"Why?"

"Because you need to keep busy."

"Why?"

"Because I said so." Brian sighed and followed Sully to the mercantile.

"What can I do for ya?" Loren asked as he put his broom to the side.

"Can you keep Brian busy for a couple of hours? He's trying to eat the centerpieces at the café."

"Just the candy inside," Brian complained. Loren chuckled and shook his head.

"Come on in, boy. I've got plenty for you to do." He handed him the broom and Brian looked up at Sully.

"This ain't fair."

"Life ain't fair sometimes, son." He smiled and walked away. He noticed the older gentleman leaving the clinic, and a few minutes, Michaela came out, practically bouncing as she walked. "Michaela!" Michaela saw her husband and her face lit up. Sully jogged over to her.

"Oh Sully," Michaela said with a smile brighter than the sun. Tears began to fall, but Sully knew they were tears of joy.

"Michaela?"

"That man that I had the appointment with is Dr. Bernard from Denver. He examined me and confirmed my suspicions."

"Suspicions?" Sully asked, his heart beginning to pound.

"We're going to have a baby!" She chuckled with delight and Sully's eyes grew wide and happy with pride.

"A baby?! We're having a baby? You're pregnant?" Sully asked, not sure if he had heard her right. She nodded excitedly. "I'm not dreamin'?"

"No! And neither am I! We're going to have a baby!"

"Oh . . . Michaela!" He picked her up and twirled her around, kissing her lips and her cheeks and holding her close. "Oh, I'm not hurting the baby am I?"

"No," Michaela laughed. They held onto one another and the rest of the townspeople looked on with confusion. Colleen, Brian, and Matthew, who was escorting Ingrid, came over to ask about their parents spectacle."

"What's goin' on?" Colleen asked with a grin.

"We're having a baby!" Michaela announced. Colleen screamed out with excitement and the children ran to hug their mother and father.

"I'm gonna be a pa!" Sully announced loudly. The townsfolk, all delighted with the news, began to applaud, admiring the beautiful family as they celebrated the new life that would be entering this world.

The children had all gone off to bed after the family came home from dinner. It took a lot of convincing to get the excited expecting siblings to bed, but they had somehow done it.

Michaela and Sully had celebrated their happiness in another way, and now they were lying in one another's arms under the warm covers. Sully had his arms wrapped protectively around Michaela as he thought of the new child inside of her.

"I can't believe I'm gonna be a pa."

"You already are one."
"I know that. I mean, I can't believe we created this life inside of you."

"Dr. Bernard says the baby should be here in September," Michaela whispered. "So we've got plenty of time to prepare."

"I'm not sure if I'll ever be prepared," Sully admitted. Michaela looked into Sully's eyes and she realized how worried he was starting to become.

"Sully, I'm healthy and the baby's healthy. I don't want you to worry. What happened to Abagail isn't going to happen to me."

"I don't like thinkin' about what happened to Abagail, but I know that the possibility of it happenin' again . . ." Michaela hushed him by putting her fingers to his lips.

"That won't happen. We both have to have faith that the baby and I will get through this. We'll be fine and happy, Sully. Don't worry."
"I'll always worry, but I know that this is my second chance at havin' a family, and nobody's gonna take that away from me. I love you so much."

"I love you too," Michaela whispered. Sully put his hand on Michaela's belly and splayed his fingers out. He began tracing circles on her delicate skin.

"I love you," Sully whispered to his unborn child. "Your pa loves you."

"So does your ma," Michaela replied with a grin. Sully looked up at Michaela and saw a remarkable glow about her. He looked up at the clock and smiled.

"It's midnight," he whispered. "Happy birthday." Michaela took a deep breathing, having completely forgot it was her birthday due to the excitement of the evening. Sully kissed his wife and they spent the next few hours celebrating the new life they had created as well as Michaela's twenty-sixth birthday.

The End