Chapter 9: Life Goes On

Another week had passed, and a lot had happened. Michaela seemed to be doing much better. She was working at the clinic again, and Sully was staying close by with the boys so they could be fed every couple of hours. Colleen seemed to be doing much better with her jealousy over Becky and the boy she liked. She was still jealous, but handling it. Matthew and Brian were being especially attentive to their mother, helping her out when Sully would go out to feed the horses and cow. They would take care of the boys to the best of their own abilities while their mother would rest upstairs. Little did they know that she wasn't resting at all.

Rebecca, Marjorie, Maureen, and Claudette were leaving in the morning to start back toward Boston. They were reluctant to leave their father, but they knew he had made up his mind about staying in Colorado Springs. Besides, they had to get back to their own families anyway.

Today was a very special day indeed. At the very moment, Michaela was standing up as Myra's maid of honor at her wedding to Hank. The Reverend was pronouncing them husband and wife, and all the while, Michaela's eyes were locked on Sully's. The way he stared at her was just the way he stared at her the day they were married. She smiled back at him, thankful for his patience during her grieving period. She was still extremely upset about her mother's passing, but she knew now that her family could help her through it.

"You may kiss the bride," Reverend Johnson proclaimed. Myra grinned and wrapped her arms around her husband's neck. Hank planted a soft kiss to her lips and everyone clapped and cheered. Most of the women cheering were cheering because something had finally gotten Hank to settle down. They hoped he would stay settled!

Everyone began to leave the church behind the bride and groom. Sully found Michaela's free hand as she used her other to push the babies' buggy.

"Seein' them up there today brought me back to the day we were married."

"Me too," Michaela admitted. "That was one of the happiest days of my life." Sully smiled and gave Michaela's hand a squeeze. Hank walked off to the saloon to change out of his suit while Myra went to the clinic to change into a regular dress. They hadn't wanted a reception, because Hank had a surprise for Myra that he wanted to give her right after the wedding. He told her to put on her best walking shoes and a warm coat before they went. She was excited that he had a surprise for her, and even more excited that Hank was being so mysterious about it. "I'm going to go speak with Myra. She needs some advice."

"Ah," Sully replied with a knowing nod.

"I'll take the boys with me." Sully nodded again and kissed Michaela's cheek. She walked off and he found the kids. "Who wants pie at Grace's?"

"Me!" Brian exclaimed.

"I'll race ya," Matthew challenged. The boys rushed off, and Colleen wanted to join in on the fun. She hurried after them and Sully laughed, shaking his head.

Meanwhile, Horace was walking beside Holly. They hadn't been speaking much lately. Hank had been so very quiet and nervous around her. At first she thought it was sweet, but not it was becoming frustrating. She was starting to think that he was losing interest in her. She'd give anything to have an interesting conversation with a man.

Jake was walking next to Holly. Mary had become especially fond of him since he patched up her leg when she was nearly trampled. She was walking at his side. He was surprised when she reached up and held his hand. He looked down at her, about to snap something at her. He didn't exactly like children. But he saw Mary smile at him and he couldn't help but smile back.

Over the past couple of weeks, Jake had started to feel something for Holly. He wasn't exactly proud of it because he knew that she and Horace were courting. But on the other hand, Horace and Holly hadn't been out in public together. Horace had been keeping himself busy at the telegraph office. Jake had noticed how frustrated Holly was, and he began to wonder if perhaps she and Horace weren't an item anymore.

Horace had ordered the ring, and it was in his pocket. He was ready to propose to Holly, but he didn't know how to say it. He was afraid he'd scare her off, and she'd turn him down. He didn't want to go through that again. Myra had already moved on from their relationship. She and Hank were married, and he was happy that she was happy. But he knew now that Holly was who he was supposed to spend the rest of this life with. She was beautiful and sweet. She cared deeply for him, and he loved her very much.

Holly let out a soft sigh as her walk with Horace continued on in silence. She wondered if he even wanted her around anymore, and sometimes she wondered if having Mary in her life made him uncomfortable.

Jake decided that since Horace didn't seem to be talking, he'd take this as an opportunity to get to know Holly a little better.

"Um, Miss Tucker, may I talk to you?" Jake asked. Holly looked at Horace when they stopped walking. Horace's face turned a slight shade of pale. Holly decided that Horace wasn't going to mark his territory like most men. She loved that about him, and she wanted to turn Jake down. But, she figured that by taking time to speak with Jake, Horace would get jealous and snap out of whatever phase he was in, if he was in a phase, if he still had interest in her.

"Of course. Horace, would you mind watching Mary?" Now that stung.

"Sure," Horace replied. He took Mary's hand and she reluctantly let go of Jake's. "C'mon, Mary. Let's go have lunch at Grace's." Mary nodded and they walked off. Jake waited until the rest of the wedding guests had left before he smiled at Holly.

"What is it, Mr. Slicker?"

"Please call me Jake."

"Only if you'll call me Holly."

"Alright, Holly," he replied. "I was wonderin' if maybe you'd want to join me for dinner tonight." Holly inhaled slowly, thinking about her options.

"You know I'm courting Horace."

"Yeah, but he didn't seem too worried 'bout it when I asked to talk to ya." The man had a point. Holly decided that the best way to get Horace to come around again would be to go to dinner with Jake. She thought of Jake as a friend and nothing more, but she knew that he could help her get Horace's attention again.

"Alright," Holly decided.

"Dinner sounds lovely."

"Hank, where on earth are ya takin' me?" Myra asked as Hank led her down a freshly plowed path in the woods. His hand was holding hers much like the night he proposed, but this time his grip was much more gentle.

"You'll see," Hank said with a smile. Myra sighed. Hank loved to be mysterious.

"While we're walkin', we better figure out where we're gonna live. I know you love stayin' at the saloon incase somebody tries to break in, but it ain't big enough for the two of us."

"I know."

"You know. So what are we gonna do?" Hank stopped and pointed out through the trees.

"We're stayin' there." Myra turned her gaze to a beautiful two story house. It was smaller than the Sully homestead, but she could see that it had several rooms upstairs. Her eyes lit up at the sight of it. "I had some men start buildin' it when we started courtin'."

"You musta been pretty sure of yourself thinkin' that I was gonna spend the rest of my life with ya." Hank chuckled and Myra squeezed his hand.

"I knew I was gonna spend the rest of my life with ya. I was never the kind of man who expressed much emotion before you came along. Nobody ever thought I could change, not even me, but you proved me wrong. I love you."

"I love you too, Hank," Myra whispered. She stood on her tiptoes to give him a kiss.

"This is where we're gonna spend our honeymoon."

"It's ready to be lived in?"
"Has been for weeks now." Myra laughed.

"You're just full of surprises, ain't ya?" Hank smiled and took her hand. They walked up to the house and Hank picked Myra up to carry her over the threshold. Once they were inside, Myra gasped in awe of how wonderful her new home was. She couldn't believe that Hank had kept this secret for so long. He was obviously taking tips from Sully or something. She never pegged Hank as the kind of man who would build a house for a woman he wasn't even promised to. But now that they were married, she knew that he had had faith in their relationship all along.

Hank let Myra down and she began to explore the house. He watched her with amusement in her eyes as her fingers roamed over the stone mantle. She went about every part of the lower floor, checking out all of the rooms, and the beautiful furniture Hank had ordered from Denver and Soda Springs. He loved the way her eyes lit up when she saw something she really liked. He couldn't help but stare at her beautiful face. Her long brown hair was hanging down her back, part of it coming around to frame her face loosely.

Myra started up the stairs, so Hank decided to follow behind. They came upon the washroom and Myra's hands lingered on the porcelain wash basin. She moved to the next room, the master bedroom.

"This is our room," Hank pointed out. Myra bit her bottom lip nervously. Never in her wildest dreams had she expected that she'd be spending her first night with a man with Hank. She looked around at the beautiful bed, the chairs in front of the fireplace.

"It's beautiful," Myra whispered. "I can't believe you've done all of this for me."

"You deserve it. I don't."

"'Course you do. Hank, you are a wonderful person, even though you don't show it sometimes."

"I never thought I'd change. I was set in my ways, but you proved me wrong."

"Good," Myra said with a grin, kissing his cheek. "How many rooms does this place have?"

"Well, there are three bedrooms."

"Three?"

"Yeah. That's what I wanted to talk to ya about."

"Okay," Myra replied gently. Hank led her over to sit on the bed. He sat down beside her and squeezed her hands softly. "Whatever it is . . ."

"Well, I figured we might have kids one day, so I added a room, but I thought that maybe . . ."

"Yeah?"

"I thought maybe my son could come to life with us."

"Zach?"

"Yeah," Hank replied. "He ain't never had a family, and he's in a special school. I just thought he might do better with a ma and a pa."

"You think it might do him some good?"
"Yeah. His school sent me a letter and they said he's not doin' real good right now."

"You don't know how to read."

"Dorothy's been teachin' me."

"Another surprise!" Myra laughed. Hank smiled.

"Would you mind it too much if he came to live with us? I wanna get to know my son." Myra swallowed hard.

"Hank, I don't know your son, but I'm sure that he's a sweet boy. He's what, ten?"

"Goin' on eleven."

"Well, I've never had a son before, but if he's like his pa, I'd love to get to know him."

"Ya don't mind?"
"Nope," Myra replied. "I think it might do us some good." Hank smiled and kissed Myra appreciatively.

"You ready to go back into town?" Hank asked.

"Why are we goin' back?"

"I just thought you'd want to get some things." Myra smiled and put her hand against Hank's cheek.

"The only thing I want right now is to spend my honeymoon with my husband," Myra whispered. "Ya think you can do somethin' about that?"

"I can try," Hank replied with a grin. With that, they began to consummate their new marriage, promising themselves to each other forever.

Sully was out at the Reservation talking with Cloud Dancing. He had left the boys at the mercantile, because when Cloud Dancing came for him, he said it was urgent. It turned out that Snow Bird was still having mood swings even though Early Sun was four months old.

Michaela was dusting off her desk at the clinic while the children were upstairs helping her out by straightening up the room Myra once occupied. Now that she was with Hank, she'd no longer be needing the room. Mary was helping the children as well, because Holly was at the mercantile, picking up some fabric to make a Christmas dress for her little girl.

As Michaela was working, she started to feel dizzy. She was about to sit down when the door opened. Grace walked in.

"Good afternoon, Grace," Michaela said with a smile, swallowing hard, trying to get over her dizzy spell. "How are you feeling?"

"Not too hot, Dr. Mike," Grace admitted. "I was wonderin' if you could give me somethin' for my stomach ache." She walked over to sit on the examination table. Michaela walked over to her.

"How long have you been feeling this way?"

"A week," Grace admitted.

"Alright," Michaela replied. "Would you mind if I examined you?
"Go ahead. Just tell me what's wrong." Grace changed into a gown, walked back over to the table, and laid back before Michaela began to examine her.

"Have you had your monthly?"

"No, but I don't rely on that anymore. Every time I think I might be pregnant, it comes the next day. I hate bein' disappointed." Michaela wished there was something she could say to her friend that she hadn't said already, but she was running out of words of encouragement.

After Michaela was finished with her examination, Grace changed into her regular clothes while Michaela washed her hands. Once Grace had changed, she walked out from behind the curtain and looked at the doctor.

"What is it? I ain't got the grip, have I?"

"No," Michaela replied with a smile. "Grace, I have some news you've been waiting to hear." Grace's eyes went wide.

"You mean . . ."

"Yes! You're pregnant!"

"Oh!" Grace exclaimed. She jumped up and down before she hugged Michaela excitedly. Michaela laughed as Grace pulled away. "You should be having your baby in early April or May."

"Oh! Thank you, Dr. Mike! Thank you!" Grace rushed out of the clinic to tell her husband the exciting news. Michaela smiled, but just as she was about to go close the door Grace had forgotten about, she felt dizzy. Jake was walking in, about to complain of a sore throat when he saw the doctor starting to topple over.

"Dr. Mike!" he exclaimed, rushing over to catch her before. Michaela was out cold, and Jake knew that he needed to find Josef. He also needed to find Sully, because a husband always wants to know when something happens to his wife.

Jake hurried Michaela upstairs to the room the children were fixing up.

"Ma!" Brian exclaimed.

"What's wrong with her?" Colleen demanded.

"She just passed out cold. I'm gonna go fetch your pa."

"Matthew," Colleen began, "go get me some cold water and a clean cloth." She knew that the best thing to do right now was to try to wake her mother up and keep her comfortable. Matthew did as his sister asked, while Jake hurried out of the clinic and down the street to the mercantile. He rushed in to see Dorothy and Loren both sitting and holding the twins.

"Where's Sully?"
"He left the boys here," Loren grumbled. "There was some kind of emergency at the reservation."

"What's wrong, Jake?"

"Dr. Mike just passed out cold."

"Oh, you best get out and find Dr. Quinn," Loren said worriedly, referring to Josef. Jake nodded and rushed off to mount his horse and ride out to the Quinn homestead.

Later that afternoon, the Sully children, Michaela's sisters, and several of the townsfolk were gathered outside of the clinic, waiting on word about Michaela from Josef. Colleen had managed to get her mother to wake up, but she was worried because she had been so weak.

The children were especially worried about their mother, and they were wondering when their father would return from the Reservation. Jake had considered riding out there, but then again, he didn't want to stir anything up with the Indians.

Horace was sitting at Holly's side with Mary on his lap. Mary was clutching the doll that Colleen had given her. Holly smiled when she saw Horace with her little girl. She knew he'd be a good father to Mary, and she hoped that one day, he would be.

Josef stepped out of the clinic and everyone who was sitting stood. They all waited for Josef to begin speaking about his daughter's condition.

"How's ma?" Brian asked.

"Mike is fine. She's just exhausted from everything that has happened recently. She's made herself ill, and she needs a lot of rest."

"Can I take the babies to her? They need to eat."

"Of course. She isn't sick in a contagious way. She's just very weak right now. But I do think it's best that the twins go to her right away." Dorothy nodded and took both babies into the clinic. Now that everyone knew of Michaela's condition, the crowd began to dissipate. Jake looked at Holly and extended an arm.

"Shall we?" Holly smiled and linked her arm with his. Grace took Mary's hand.

"Come along, sweetheart," Grace urged. Robert E. had agreed to watch her for the evening while Holly and Jake ate dinner together. Ever since Grace told him the news, he figured he'd need the practice now that a little one was on the way. Holly smiled at Horace and she and Jake walked off to dinner. Horace sighed heavily and retreated back to the telegraph office. Holly had filled Jake in on her plan, and though he liked her, he was willing to do anything to make Horace jealous. He knew Holly cared for Horace, so if making Horace jealous was a part of it, he could enjoy himself in the process.

"I hope you know this isn't going to go anywhere, Jake," Holly informed him as they walked. "I think you're a wonderful man for helping my little girl, but that's as far as it goes."

"Yeah, well, ya can't blame a guy for wantin' to spend time with a pretty lady." Holly chuckled and she and Jake continued on toward Grace's Café.

In the morning, Michaela was sleeping. Sully had been sitting at her side all night, but she had yet to wake up. He figured it was because Josef had given her something to help her rest. Sully had rushed up to Michaela's room at the clinic as soon as he had found out what happened to his wife the evening before, and he hadn't left her side since.

Michaela could feel the sunlight on her face, and when she opened her eyes, she felt much better than she had in a long time. She yawned and looked at Sully. He smiled when he saw her eyes open. His hand took hers and he kissed it tenderly.

"How are ya feelin'?"
"Better," she whispered. "How long have you been here?"

"Since last night. Sorry I wasn't here."

"It's alright."

"Your pa said you passed out from exhaustion." Michaela sighed heavily.

"I have a confession to make." She paused for a moment. "I haven't slept since mother passed away. Maybe a few catnaps here or there, but nothing substantial. I've been faking sleep at night to make you feel better, but I just haven't been able to sleep. I suppose I just haven't gotten over the fact that I didn't get to say goodbye to her. Now that I've slept some, I feel so much better."

"Ya should've told me, Michaela. I could've talked to Cloud Dancin'. Maybe he could've found an herb for ya to take."

"I didn't want to worry you."

"Next time somethin' like this happens, tell me. I don't want ya endin' up weak again like this. You need to get away from here for a while. I wanna take ya to Denver."

"Denver?"

"Yeah. Just for a week or so. Ya need a break. I talked with the kids last night, and they think it's a good idea. You, me, and the twins will go and relax for a week or two."

"I can't just leave everything."

"I talked to Grace, Holly, and Dorothy. They'll keep an eye on the clinic to make sure everything's all right. Your pa will be around in case anything happens."

"No I won't," Josef said from the doorway. Michaela and Sully both looked over at him.

"What?" Michaela asked, sitting up in bed, leaning against the headboard.

"I'm going back to Boston."

"What?!" Michaela asked again. "What about the homestead? Mother's buried here."

"Your mother is buried here, but her memory lives in my heart, and in the house we shared for so many years in Boston. I want to take my practice back, Mike. I want to go back to Boston, because I don't want to stay here and practice medicine. I don't like stepping on your toes."

"But you're not."

"I've made up my mind. I'm going to buy back the house in Boston, because your mother and I spent many happy years there."

"Father, I wish you'd reconsider."

"I'll come back to visit, my dear. But, I am leaving with your sisters on the stagecoach. They're waiting on me. They wanted me to tell you goodbye, because they didn't want to crowd you while you're resting."

"I can't believe you're leaving," Michaela whispered, her eyes starting to tear up.

"I know I said I was staying, but last night, I decided that it would be best for me to go back home. I'm not needed here. Your patients have the best doctor there is."

"I need you. The children need their grandfather."

"You're a strong woman, Mike. Your children are lucky to have you." He leaned down to kiss his daughter's forehead. "I had better be going. I love you."

"I love you too, father," Michaela cried. She hugged her father and squeezed her tight. Before he left, he hugged his son-in-law. Once they were alone, Michaela began to sob. Sully pulled her into a hug.

"It's gonna be alright, Michaela," he whispered.

"I know," she whispered. She took a deep breath and pulled away from him. "Last night, while I was sleeping, mother came to me in a dream."

"She did?"

"Yes. She told me that she loved me and that it was okay that we didn't get to say goodbye. In a way, that dream made me feel better because I know my mother can hear my thoughts."

"I'm sure she can," Sully agreed. He kissed Michaela's forehead.

"Perhaps a trip away would do me some good. As long as my patients won't need me, I'll be happy to accompany you to Denver." Sully smiled at his wife's decision.

"Good," he whispered, kissing her hand. "I promise, Michaela, you're going to feel much better very soon. It's gonna be alright, because no matter what happens, life will go on."

THE END