Disclaimer: I do not own the characters from Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. The rights to those characters and to the show belong to the creators of the show, to CBS, The Sullivan Company and to A&E.
Author's Note: This story takes place at the beginning of Season 4. I will change the timeline and some details to fit my writing needs.
By, Ashley J.
Part I: Adjustments
Friday June 3, 1870
Michaela stared out at the beautiful land she had grown to love so dearly. The mountains and plains rolled past like vast oceans. The birds soared high in the sky as if to lead the train into the depot in Colorado Springs. It wouldn't be long before the train whistle would begin to blow, and she would be reunited with her children; they would be reunited with their children.
His strong hand held hers, and when she turned her gaze to him, he gave it a gentle squeeze. She was ready to go home and start a new life with her new husband and her children, but knowing that the glorious two week stay in Denver was over seemed a bit sad.
They'd spent every day and night in one another's arms, exploring one another and getting acquainted with the intimacy they had both longed to have for such a long time. They had been patient with one another, and Michaela was adjusting well to life as a married woman. But, she was a bit apprehensive about how life would be once she got back to Colorado Springs and had to share her attention with the children. They were a family now, and though they had been one for a long time, this was the first time they would all be sleeping under the same roof in rooms right down the hall from one another.
Her heart skipped a beat in her chest, and Sully felt her tense up. He brought her gloved hand to his lips and gave it a soft kiss.
"Yes," she whispered. "Of course. I'm just a bit anxious."
"We've been gone two weeks. It ain't like we've been gone two years."
"I know," Michaela replied with a smile. "I'm just a bit nervous, because we have so much to do once we return. We have to move into the new homestead, and we have a lot of adjusting to do." Sully nodded knowingly. A smile spread across his bride's face. "I'm a bit sad that our honeymoon is over."
"It's not over, Michaela," Sully whispered, leaning in to press his lips against hers. "The trip's over, but the honeymoon ain't." Their lips touched again, and when they pulled away, they smiled at one another.
"I suppose that's true." She leaned her head on his shoulder, and they held one another as the train glided closer and closer to home. Michaela's glance slowly turned to the young man sitting a few seats away. He wore a black top hat and a very expensive suit. His hair was dark blonde, and he had a rather uptight look to him.
Preston A. Lodge III was indeed a rather uptight gentleman with expensive tastes. He was making a new life for himself out West, and he thought he was ready to face what issues were going to come his way. He was so naïve when it came to his knowledge of what life on the frontier was truly like. He had no idea what was in store for him, and all he was focused on was bringing the knowledge and opportunities that came with banking. Money was all he thought about and dreamed about. Some people who knew him personally would probably say he ate it for breakfast.
Preston's eyes moved from the headlines he was reading from a Denver newspaper to the beautiful young woman sitting with the rugged man in the black suit. He was nearly breathless for a moment as he took in the beautiful sight of her creamy skin and hazel green eyes. He noticed the way the sun made her chestnut locks glimmer a reddish brown. He was completely taken aback by her beauty.
"I'm lookin' forward to this evenin' after the children go to bed," Sully whispered into his bride's ear. She let out a giggle at his words, and Preston noticed how beautiful her smile was. God, was this the perfect woman, or what? And what was she doing with such a rugged-looking man who appeared to be playing dress up in a suit he probably wasn't comfortable in?
"Hmm?" he asked as he held his wife tightly. His wife, what a wonderful thing it truly was!
"We won't be alone anymore." Sully smiled at his wife and kissed her cheek.
"We'll just learn to be a little more quiet then," he suggested. Michaela's cheeks began to blush wildly, and Preston could only imagine what the man had whispered to her. He could tell they were newlyweds judging by the ring on the beautiful woman's finger and the way they acted as if they were two teenagers giggling and kissing all of the time. He couldn't understand what such a seemingly classy woman could see in somebody such as the man she was traveling with. A woman like that was best suited with someone like himself, Preston thought.
He felt his stomach turn at the happenings between the two. Whispers and sweet caresses were enough to make the banker from Boston a little nauseous. Thank God Colorado Springs was only a few more minutes away. Pike's Peak was now in sight.
When the train pulled into the station, Michaela and Sully made their way to the exit. They saw their friends and family waiting to welcome them happily.
Applause came from the crowd as soon as Sully stepped off of the train with Michaela's hand in his. The Cooper children immediately rushed over to embrace Sully and Michaela.
"Welcome home!" Brian exclaimed as Sully patted his back and gave Colleen a hug.
"We missed you," Colleen remarked.
"We missed you too," Michaela replied with a big smile on her face. After a few minor questions about their journey and whether or not they brought presents home with them, the crowd began to break up.
Dorothy grabbed Michaela's arm as they walked away from the train, and Sully lingered to make sure the rest of their luggage was retrieved. Jake Slicker was the first to come up to Sully with a question about the honeymoon. At least he figured that's what the man wanted to know, judging by the curious smile upon his face. Jake Slicker rarely ever smiled.
"Gotta admit it's nice havin' the both of ya back. I've been losin' my regular customers, 'cause I've been so busy patchin' up her patients," Jake explained, nodding toward Michaela. Sully chuckled. "So, uh, how was the honeymoon?" Sully couldn't hide the grin that spread over his face at the mere mention of their glorious two weeks together.
"It was great," he said plainly, wanting to be modest for Michaela's sake. He knew that Michaela didn't feel that it was proper to disclose much or any information about their intimate relationship.
"Yeah? How great?" Jake asked. There wasn't a man in Colorado Springs who hadn't dreamt of the lady doctor since she had arrived. It wasn't a surprise that Jake Slicker was bold enough to ask such a question, though Sully would have expected it from Hank.
"Real great," he replied. He began to walk off with a silly smile on his face, and Jake laughed, figuring that there was much more to Michaela Quinn than anybody ever expected.
Preston walked toward the newlyweds, eyeing the woman especially. He smiled a little and made his presence known.
"Ah, newlyweds?" he pretended to guess. When Michaela only smiled at him, he figured he was correct.
"I don't believe we've met. I'm Michaela Quinn, and this is my husband Byron Sully."
"Preston A. Lodge the Third," he replied as if he were being introduced to the Queen. Sully wasn't surprised when Preston took Michaela's hand first. His fingers lingered on hers just a bit too long, but Michaela didn't seem to notice. Sully sure did. He merely took Preston's hand and gave it a small shake. Preston looked about the crowd. "Might anyone be able to direct me to your bank?"
"We don't have a bank," Michaela replied, squinting her eyes from the sun. Preston smiled, revealing a set of perfectly white teeth that made Sully feel a little uneasy. It wasn't the teeth that bothered him, but it was the way Preston smiled. He didn't like the look in his eyes.
"You have one now." Preston moved on, and Michaela exchanged a glance with her new husband. The children didn't seem phased by Mr. Lodge's statement, and Brian excitedly looked up at his mother.
"When are we movin' into the new house?" Michaela winked at Sully and turned her attention back to the boy.
"How does right now sound?"
The afternoon went well, and many citizens of Colorado Springs came to help the family get moved into their new home. With the exception of Michaela's favorite vase being broken, everything went swimmingly. By the time the sun was going down, half of the helpers had gone home to tend to their own families. Sully was upstairs putting the bed back together, Colleen was heating Grace's casserole in the kitchen, Brian was exploring outside and in the barn, and Michaela was sweeping off the sawdust and dirt that had been tracked into the house.
Matthew and Ingrid were sitting on the porch enjoying the sunset. They were excited at the knowledge that they would be newlyweds soon enough and would be making a life of their own.
Once Michaela finished with the sweeping, she put the broom away and decided to see how Sully was coming along with the bed. She made her way up the steps, running her hand delicately along the smooth wooden wall. The house had such a warm feel to it even though it was brand new and never-before lived in.
She could hear him working on the frame of the bed, and she smiled, thinking that in just a few hours, she and Sully would be spending the first night in their new house wrapped in each other's arms.
Michaela stood in the doorway and watched silently as her husband placed the mattress into the frame. He wiped the sweat from his brow after he fitted the mattress, and she stared at his muscles as the sweat beaded down his arms. She bit her bottom lip as he walked over to the window and opened it for fresh air.
Her desires got the better of her, and she carried herself across the room and wrapped her arms around his strong torso. Her cheek rested against his back, and she heard his heart beating away. Sully smiled and placed his hands over Michaela, turning to face her.
"Supper's almost ready," she announced.
"If I get a greetin' like that every time supper's almost ready, I think I could get used to it." Michaela giggled as Sully's lips claimed hers, and he pulled her body against his. Their hearts beat next to one another, and as their kiss continued, the passion slowly began to rise.
Sully's hands moved to the top button on Michaela's blouse, and he began to kiss the little flesh that was exposed on her neck. Michaela's hands moved to slowly run through his hair, and her nails lightly brushed against his scalp. Movement downstairs snapped her out of their passionate moment.
"Sully! We can't! The children," she stammered as his tongue and lips continued to torture the flesh they had grown to desire and need.
"Matthew'll keep 'em occupied," he replied with a low chuckle as he exposed a bit of his wife's chest.
"But, dinner," she whispered as she practically melted into a puddle in his arms. She craned her neck back as his hands moved to stroke her long, soft locks, and his lips met hers again.
"So, we'll be late," he replied, tracing his tongue along her bottom lip. When he pulled away, he looked into her eyes to see that they were glazed over with passion. Oh how he loved that look! He'd seen it so many times on their honeymoon, and he knew that he was the only one who could ever see the beautiful Michaela Quinn like this. She was the only woman who could ever bring out the desires he felt so strongly. They were perfect for one another, and after consummating their marriage, it was obvious that they were completely in tune with one another. Their minds and bodies had both connected, and that had never happened for him while he was with Abagail.
"Ma?" Colleen's voice was heard coming up the stairs along with her footsteps. Michaela gasped into Sully's mouth, and they pulled away from one another. Sully knew she was merely worried about the children finding them in such a delicate and private situation.
"In here!" Michaela called melodiously as she struggled to re-button the few unfastened buttons on her blouse. Sully's fingers gently smoothed Michaela's hair, and she cast him a grateful look right before Colleen walked into the room.
"Supper's ready. Want to help me serve?"
"Yes, I'll be right down, Colleen. Thank you." Colleen smiled and turned to go back down the stairs. Michaela turned back to Sully, her cheeks blushing a wild crimson. "Sully, we should be more careful! If she hadn't called up, we might not have heard her, and the door was open!"
"We'll be more careful," he promised. "It's just gonna take some getting used to. We've had two weeks to be with each other without worryin' that one of the children would come in without knockin'." He gave her another sweet kiss before she broke away to go help Colleen serve dinner. Sully smiled as he watched his wife, and he felt that dinner couldn't be over soon enough.
Preston looked around the old telegraph office and shook his head. It definitely wasn't going to be sufficient enough for a bank. He figured he would have to order some masonry work and have a secure brick building constructed to protect his future clients' investments. Perhaps some other fool would buy the nearly run-down old office building and use it for his own purposes.
He took a puff of his cigar and stepped out onto the porch to watch the sun disappear behind the beautiful Colorado landscape. As he watched the sun set, he thought of the way its rays had shone on Michaela's gorgeous hair earlier that morning. The woman was stunning, and he had recently been informed that she was the town doctor. He didn't really like the fact that she was a woman doctor, but being from Boston, he knew there were women physicians practicing medicine, and if he absolutely needed her services, he wouldn't mind having her hands examining his body.
He took a deep breath and took another puff on his cigar. After he disposed of it, he closed up the building for the day and went into the back room. A small and rather unstable bed awaited him, and he knew he could not live in such conditions. Perhaps he would inquire about having a house built. From the talk around town, Dr. Quinn's husband supposedly had excellent carpentry skills.
Preston sat down and opened up his suitcase. He shook his head as he pulled out something to wear to bed that evening. He considered going to Grace's Café for a bite to eat, but he didn't quite feel like going out or eating for that matter.
He had come to Colorado Springs for two reasons. He, a fifth generation Lodge from Boston had come West to bring new opportunities to those who were far away from a true civilization, but of course, he would be making money in the process. But his other reason was to get away from it all. He couldn't stay in Boston any longer. His life had been turned upside down, and now that it was behind him, he never wanted to think about it again. But, the memories still haunted him in his dreams. He couldn't ignore what had happened. All he wanted to do was move on.
Everybody had a secret that haunted them to their every core, so Preston thought, and if people such as these rough civilians could suppress their pasts, he could too.
A knock came to the door, and Preston wondered who it could be. He had the urge to yell at them to leave him alone, but these people didn't know him. They didn't know what kind of memories and burdens were weighing him down. Besides, he didn't want to make a bad impression on his first evening in Colorado Springs.
He was surprised to find the longhaired bartender standing outside of his door.
"Good evening," Preston said quietly.
"Well, we're getting ready to have a poker game," Hank explained, nodding toward the saloon. "Thought ya might wanna come get to know some of the fellas?" Preston eyed Hank and looked for any reason he might want to bring himself to the dirty and unsanitary environment that most likely awaited him at the saloon. But then again, several of the most prominent citizens were over there at that very moment having drinks and cigars. If Preston could get on their good sides, he knew he would be able to obtain power in a very short amount of time. These backcountry folks didn't know much about the world, and they only allowed themselves to know what they wanted and needed to know in order to get by.
A pleasant smile spread across Preston's face, and Hank had no idea what meaning was resting just behind it. Yes, Colorado Springs was his canvas, and Preston Lodge was determined to see that it became a wondrous place for people from far and wide to tour and admire. He could practically hear the gold pieces clinking together as they hit the ever-growing pile that lay on the desk in the far corners of his mind.
"I believe I will take you up on that, Mr. . . ." Hank held out a hand.
"It's just Hank."
"Hank," Preston said with a nod. He grabbed a cigar out of his jacket pocket and followed the bartender down the street toward the saloon.
"You sure you're okay?" Sully asked as he helped Michaela pick up the last few pieces of the broken dinner plate. Michaela blushed wildly and nodded.
"I'm sorry. I'm just a bit nervous."
"I know," he replied with understanding in his voice. He helped her to dispose of the broken glass, and after they had finished with the rest of the dishes in silence, Michaela turned toward Sully.
"It's getting late," she said softly. Dinner had gone on much longer than usual that evening. Everyone had questions about the places in Denver that Michaela and Sully had visited. They had had to think of a few things they'd seen on their way to and from the hotel, because honestly, they hadn't spent much time outside of their hotel room for the entirety of their two week stay.
"We best turn in," he said with a smile, taking her hands in his and feeling how much she was shaking. "It's alright."
"I'm sorry, Sully. I want tonight to be special," she explained. "I'm so nervous, because the children are just down the hall."
"Don't worry," Sully whispered. "Everything will work out. It's just gonna take some getting used to is all." Michaela nodded and kissed Sully softly. Their kiss lingered and continued to grow more and more passionate. It wasn't long before the lamps were being turned out and the newlyweds were retiring to their bedroom as quickly and quietly as possible.
When they got inside, Michaela moved to stand next to the fireplace. Her hands were slightly gripping the sides of her skirt. An idea popped into Sully's head.
"How's this?" He propped a chair underneath the doorknob to give his wife some piece of mind. Michaela giggled as Sully moved to the fireplace and struck a match. A fire began to crackle and glow brightly in the hearth as Sully's hands moved to start with the buttons on her shirt.
He could see her face blushing, and he loved how innocent she seemed; so shy. Her hands moved to help him with his shirt, and their shirts both created a pile on the floor. Sully's hands worked with his wife's camisole, and it wasn't long before her breasts were exposed, and she felt a chill run up her spine. Sully pulled her against his chest, and he could feel her nipples reacting to the sensation of his warm bare skin against them.
They made their way to the bed, removing articles of clothing as they went, and by the time Sully placed his bride on their bed, all he had to help her remove was her shoes. They joined his buckskins and moccasins in the rapidly growing pile on the floor, and he stared over her gorgeous body and drank in her beauty.
His finger traced along her jaw and moved down her neck. His fingers stopped between her breasts, and his hands moved to massage them softly. Michaela closed her eyes, reveling in the way it felt to be caressed by Sully. She had dreamed and fantasized about making love with him, but the true act was nothing short of breathtaking. It was the most erotic feeling she'd ever had, and she especially enjoyed making him feel the way she felt.
She had been shy at first, but over the course of their first two weeks as husband and wife, she began to warm up to the fact that Sully wanted her to do the things she desired to do but felt too self-conscious to actually act out. It pleased her to know that he liked the way she touched, kissed and made love to him with every part of her being.
Sully crawled over her, and Michaela looked up into his eyes. Her hands moved to his chest, and her fingers lightly caressed his nipples and moved around to trace slow, sensuous circles on his back. He smiled down at her and bent to kiss her neck as her legs opened up to him. She felt him pushing against her, preparing her for his penetration. She arched her back as his hot tongue moved along her skin and sent sparks to every part of her body.
"Sully," she moaned, gently scraping her fingernails down his muscular shoulders and arms. Sully gasped as Michaela's hand moved down his chest and softly brushed past his manhood. She blushed and brought her hands to rest at his sides as he brought himself deeply inside of her. "Oh, Sully!" She kept her eyes fixed on his as they connected as one. Each time seemed like the first, only each time felt better than the last. Being together was so new to them, but they felt like they had been together since the beginning of time.
After they reached completion together, Sully rolled to the side and stared at Michaela, watching her breasts rise and fall with every breath she took on her decent from her passionate high. His hand joined with hers, and they felt one another's hearts beating so rapidly through the slightest touches.
"I love you so much," Michaela whispered, turning onto her side.
"I love you too," Sully replied, tracing his fingers along the contours of her lips. Michaela began to pull the sheet over them, but Sully stopped her, taking her hand in his. "Don't. I like lookin' at ya." Michaela felt a blush beginning to form over her body. "It's nothin' to be embarrassed about, Michaela. I love the look of ya, and I always will. You're the most beautiful lady I ever saw."
"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I'm still . . ."
"I know," he replied with a grin. "We've got all the time in the world, Michaela. I know ya still feel a little uncomfortable."
"No," she said shaking her head. "Not when I'm with you. I love you so much, and I want to be everything to you."
"You are," he promised. Michaela smiled and kissed her husband's lips.
"I've been raised with an entirely different way of thinking of being intimate. I know it sounds silly . . ."
"It don't," Sully replied. "It's the only thing ya were taught growin' up. Nobody can blame ya for that."
"Mother blushed if father even smiled at her in a way such as the one . . ." A smile crept over Sully's lips. "Like that!" They laughed together and quickly realized that they were being a bit too loud.
"Well, I love ya no matter how ya feel about yourself. I love the way you look when you're lying like this. You're perfect to me."
"Sully, nobody's perfect," Michaela said softly, finally pulling the blanket around her body. "Least of all me." Sully pulled her close and kissed her nose and then her cheek. Finally, he rested his forehead against hers and they smiled at one another.
Saturday June 4, 1870
Michaela had had a rather long day already. She had woken up cold and alone, worried that something had happened to Sully. But, after she'd dressed and looked out the window, she had seen him walking into the barn. By the time she reached him, he was on his way out to see Cloud Dancing. She understood that he needed to see his friend, but she only wished that he had woken her to say goodbye. But, that was Sully. He had been so used to coming and going as he pleased, and she couldn't really blame him for holding firm to that habit whether he knew he was doing it or not.
She had been planning to start her garden, but she didn't feel like it at that moment. She wanted a place to grow the herbs she used in her clinic and to grow produce that was beginning to become expensive at the mercantile. She thought it would better help their family in case tough situations with money came along. It wasn't as if most of her patients were able to pay her in cash money after all.
Now, she was sitting on the porch of the homestead while the children were inside working on the homework they had put off the day before. What had the wheels turning in her head at this moment, however, was the new banker from Boston. He had convinced Horace to pen out a loan, and unfortunately, Horace wasn't taking his wife's advice on finances. Michaela was concerned, because it seemed as if Horace was taking his wife for granted and doing as he pleased. She knew Myra was right, and Horace didn't know much about the kind of business he was getting himself into.
She had run into Mr. Lodge earlier and had had a bit of a spat with him. She had been civil, but she was beginning to see through his pleasant smile and fancy clothes. He bothered her, especially after she realized that Preston's father had rejected a loan from her father, Preston himself had expressed his belief that Josef Quinn was an unreliable investor. He didn't even know her father. Josef Quinn had been a respectable and reliable man.
Michaela closed her eyes and shook her head as she snapped beans into a bowl. Colleen was going to make something simple for dinner, because it had been a long morning, and she had other chores to tend to after her homework was finished.
It was at that point that Sully came riding up with Cloud Dancing riding limply behind him.
"Sully? Cloud Dancing!" Michaela placed the bowl on the porch and rushed to the horse. "Colleen! Come out here. I need your help!"
"He's been shot," Sully said quickly, dismounting the horse and pulling Cloud Dancing down. "Bounty hunters." Michaela looked around nervously.
"Help me get him into the barn."
After she had cleaned and sewn up the wound, she left Colleen to do the dressing, and Brian, who had come out to see what the commotion was, stayed behind to help his older sister.
Michaela needed to speak with Sully, but she didn't quite know how to begin. She had been absolutely terrified when Sully had come riding up to the homestead so quickly. She'd been worried that something terrible had happened to him.
Sully walked outside with her as she wiped the blood off of her hands. Michaela looked up at her husband.
"Your lip is bleeding."
"It's alright," he replied. "You okay?"
"I'm fine now that I know you're safe. Sully, you could have been killed out there."
"But, I wasn't."
"From what Cloud Dancing says, it could have easily been you." Sully looked away. "Sully, look at me." His eyes met her. "I hate not knowing if you're safe when you leave. I hate not knowing if I'm going to see you again. We're married now, and it frightens me, because we're a part of one another now. If something were to happen to you . . ."
"Nothin' is gonna happen to me. I'm never gonna let anything take me away from ya. We've found our way back to each other through worse problems than this. I promise ya, Michaela, I'm always gonna find a way back to ya." They pulled one another into a hug.
"I'm so glad you're alright."
"Ya know this might happen again."
"I know," she whispered. "But I can't bear the thought of losing you."
"You won't," he promised. "Not if I have anything to say about it." Michaela only nodded and let Sully's lips find hers. When they pulled away from one another, Michaela didn't want her husband to see the worry that still lay there.
"I'll go fix Cloud Dancing something to eat. I'm sure he's hungry." She walked away and hoped the tears wouldn't fall until she got inside. She made her way into the homestead and closed the door. She leaned against the table and felt the tears coming along and stinging trails down her cheek. It wasn't even a minute later that the door opened, and Sully walked in. Michaela quickly made her way over to the water basin and lathered her hands with soap. She washed them thoroughly, and Sully walked up behind her. His hands moved to rest on her arms, and his head rested upon her shoulder. He could feel her trembling as she reached for the towel to dry her hands.
"I'm sorry I worried ya." Michaela swallowed hard and stood still, feeling Sully's breath on her neck. She closed her eyes and listened. "I don't mean to worry ya. If I upset ya this mornin' when I left, I'm sorry. I guess this is part of the adjustment we're goin' through. We're so used to livin' separately, and it's pretty hard to get used to havin' somebody to come home to. It ain't just you and me. It's us and the kids. I know that." Michaela nodded.
"I understand that you're used to living alone. I was on my own for a very short time when I first came here. When Charlotte died, I was automatically the guardian of three children who didn't want much to do with me. It took a long time to adjust to having three extra people at the breakfast table and three extra people to look after with my busy schedule. Sully, you've been living completely alone for years, and I know it's difficult for you to go from one extreme to the other."
"I gotta say that livin' with my family is better than livin' alone. I don't gotta go to sleep wonderin' if somebody's gonna stumble across the lean to at night or if some wild animal might decide to attack. Besides, wakin' up to a beautiful woman in the mornin' is a lot better than wakin' up to Wolf." Michaela couldn't help but giggle, and she turned around to face her husband. "Feelin' better?"
"A bit," she said with a nod. Sully smiled.
"Good." They kissed softly before Brian came running in. He froze in his tracks when he found his parents locked in a kiss. They heard him and pulled apart immediately, but Brian stared at them as if he'd just seen a cat with three heads.
"Brian," Michaela started, "is something wrong?"
"No. I was just comin' in to finish my homework." He rushed toward the stairs, and as soon as he was out of earshot, Michaela and Sully laughed quietly together. Sully looked out the window.
"I should probably go check on Cloud Dancing."
"Please do, and tell him that I'll have something for him to eat soon." Sully gave her another kiss before he started out the door.
Tuesday June 7, 1870
So much had changed in just a few days. Cloud Dancing was healing very well and had decided to go to the Palmer Creek reservation after a small talk with Brian about keeping his peoples' spirits alive. While things seemed to be moving forward a little for the lone Cheyenne medicine man, Preston Lodge's problems were only beginning. His people skills with his new clients in Colorado Springs were not getting him anywhere. He was quite deceptive and good and covering it up with the fine print. He had also decided to cut down the kissing tree. Now, he wanted Sully to build his homestead. What kind of man was so bold as to assume that Sully would build his house? He only wanted one that would be bigger than the one Sully had built for his family. He wanted people to talk about his house and admire him. Michaela was starting to believe that Preston was jealous of Sully. Every time they saw him in town, he was rather civil to her, but he didn't hold his tongue as well with Sully around.
Preston had startled Michaela earlier after lurking about the property, and frankly, he was upset that he had frightened her.
He was sitting at Grace's and thinking over a cup of coffee. He wanted Michaela to see him as better than the rest. She was from Boston, and he knew she knew men like him. So why of all people did she choose to marry this Sully fellow? He was nothing like her! They couldn't have possibly had anything in common!
"More coffee?" Grace asked, pulling Preston from his thoughts. He nonchalantly held his cup out for her to pour the steaming hot liquid into. When she walked away, Preston took a sip and put the cup aside. Who would have thought of drinking hot coffee on a warm summer day? When did he ever start doing that? It was then that he remembered. He'd started drinking hot coffee in the summer ten years ago when he met Millicent. She had changed his life and made him a new man, and after she was out of his life forever, most of Preston changed back to the way he used to be. There were a couple of habits, such as drinking hot coffee as opposed to cool cider in the summertime that seemed to stick around, however. He had never even been a coffee drinker before she came along.
He decided that he needed to speak with Michaela again. For some reason that he couldn't explain, he felt that he needed to explain why he wasn't giving up on cutting down this so called "kissing tree." He didn't know why he felt like he needed her approval, but he sure as hell didn't want her opposing him.
He threw two bits down on the table and stood, placing his hat upon his head. He smiled at Grace to let her know he was leaving and that he'd paid, and he started off toward the Sully homestead.
As he walked, he didn't bother to stop for a moment and take in the sights around him. The sun only mattered when it was shining on Michaela's hair. The only smell that seemed to matter was not the smell of the honeysuckle and fresh flowers in the meadow. No, the only smelled that mattered was whatever floral smelling perfume or soap Michaela had used. He knew it was hers, because he had smelled it once on the train and once earlier that afternoon when he'd confronted her at the homestead. He had never seen her more angry than when she was frightened and seemed to be a bit vulnerable. Truthfully, he had a lot to learn about Michaela Quinn, and he knew that trying to get to know her seemed futile with that mountain man around at all times. Hopefully, Sully would be off feeding the squirrels and bunnies or having a Powwow with the Indians or whatever it was that he enjoyed doing.
As soon as the homestead came into view, Preston was in awe. He hated feeling jealous of the home that Dr. Quinn's husband had built, but he knew that he would never have a house built so strongly. Sully had built it for his family, so he said, but Preston couldn't help but wonder if Sully had built it to be the envy of everyone in the territory. Preston didn't know Sully, and he had a lot of investigation to do if he was going to gather information from any source other than the primary. He still couldn't see what a classy woman like Michaela could see in a mountain man.
He walked up onto the porch to see Sully's Wolf lying down with his tongue sticking out. Wolf lifted his head, and when he didn't sense a threat, he went back to sleep. Preston was about to knock on the door when he heard soft giggling coming from inside. Michaela was supposed to be alone!
He peered through the window and into the home, hoping to see her.
"Sully!" she laughed. Preston's stomach lurched. He peered toward the staircase and saw Sully holding Michaela in his arms and starting up the stairs with her. Good God! Didn't either one of them have anything better to do than stay home and . . . enjoy each other's company all day? It was a Tuesday, for crying out loud! Preston went to knock anyway, but Wolf made a noise behind him and looked up. Preston decided that disturbing the newlyweds wouldn't be the best idea at this moment after all, so he turned around and started back to town.
Michaela and Sully were lying in bed after making love. They were enjoying the time that the children were at school, because they could feel free to be a little more verbally expressive during their intimate moments.
"I feel guilty," Michaela admitted, yawning sleepily.
"Why's that?" Sully asked.
"I feel like I'm letting my patient's down." Sully couldn't help but chuckle under his breath. His wife was always weighing the pros and cons of everything, it seemed!
"They know where to find ya if there's an emergency."
"I know, but everyone else is at work, and I'm here."
"It's for a good reason," he laughed.
"Sully!" Michaela exclaimed, playfully swatting him on the arm.
"Look at it this way, Michaela. Ya worked so hard for so long, and sometimes ya wouldn't take a break for more than two minutes. You're givin' yourself a break."
"I must admit that I've never felt so relaxed before." Sully chuckled and kissed his wife.
"Good," he replied. "'Cause if ya weren't, I'd say we'd just have to try again." Michaela raised an eyebrow.
"Is that a threat, Mr. Sully?" They both burst out into laughter, and Sully pulled his wife into his arms and rolled onto his back so she lay atop him. Her lips captured his and a fiery kiss, and his hand moved to caress her bare back. He could feel her skin reacting to his touch, and her nipples began to react against his chest. She felt him hardening against her leg, and she moved a little to position herself above him.
Her hands rested on his chest as she slid herself onto him, loving the way it felt to completely surround him. She couldn't believe she had once been so afraid of this. Making love with Sully was nothing to be afraid of.
"Sully," she murmured as his head bent to surround a nipple with his mouth. Her neck lolled back, and she felt him giving her other nipple the same treatment. She pushed on his chest a bit as they moved together as one. He began thrusting inside of her, filling her completely with every inch of himself. Michaela felt herself losing control, and as Sully rolled her onto her back, her hand moved to grip the pillow behind herself as Sully's hot mouth sucked her neck.
She felt herself clenching around him, and she closed her eyes tightly as she came over the edge of ecstasy. She called his name, and he called hers as they came to completion in unison. She could feel Sully relaxing and pulling away, and she struggled to catch her breath. Sully's hand found hers as they lay together, feeling more alive than ever.
"Hmm?" he asked after he caught his breath.
"There's something . . . I need to know."
"What's that?" Michaela closed her eyes and turned to face him.
"I don't feel right about asking it."
"You can ask me anything. Ya know that, don't you?"
"Of course I do, but I'm afraid that this might upset you. I don't want to hurt you, Sully."
"I know," he replied. "Just ask me." Michaela closed her eyes and swallowed hard.
"Sully, when we're together, I can't help but think . . . well, you were married before. I don't want to pry, but I can't help but think that I'm not . . . pleasing to you." Sully's eyes fixed on his wife's.
"How could ya think that?" Sully asked, taken by surprise.
"When you were with Abagail, I can't help but think about whether or not you looked at her the way you look at me. Sometimes it gets to me, and it frightens me." Sully took his wife's hand, and they sat up in bed together. "I'm so sorry, Sully. I shouldn't have asked."
"No. It's alright. I'm glad ya did."
"You are?" Surprise coated her voice.
"I never had the kinda feelings for Abagail that I've got for you. We were young when we got married, and we didn't really know what we were getting into. We went into it blind and didn't have much of a courtship. But, with us, it took time, and I'm glad it did. I fell in love with ya so many times, but I never fell outta love with ya. The way I look at ya, kiss ya and touch ya is somethin' I've saved only for you. When we're together, it ain't clumsy or awkward at all. It feels right, and nothin' has ever felt more right to me than when we're holdin' each other and showin' each other how much we care. And, I don't ever want ya to doubt that ya please me. You do every day, Michaela. You are the most sensuous woman. So beautiful in and outta your clothes."
Michaela blushed, but she felt better after hearing Sully's words. She didn't want him to have to say things he didn't mean to make her feel better, but she could hear the truth in his words and see it in his eyes. She wanted to please Sully, and she was at ease to know that she did.
They held one another, and Michaela closed her eyes to listen to his heartbeat. It was calming to hear when the world outside of the homestead was becoming so unsettling. Michaela began to think about her friends and family and how Preston Lodge III was going to disrupt so many goings on in Colorado Springs. She had no proof, but from what he'd accomplished in the few days he'd been there already, he was surely going to make an impact on the town.
"I still can't believe it," Michaela whispered.
"Believe what?" Sully wondered. Michaela shook her head softly.
"I can't believe that Mr. Lodge . . . Preston is actually going to cut down the kissing tree. It holds so many special memories for so many people in this town." Sully mere nodded.
"Well, I figured somethin' like this would happen. Lots of new folks are comin' 'round, and they're gonna start makin' plans like Preston is. Pretty soon, we ain't gonna recognize Colorado Springs." Michaela suddenly felt guilty.
"Oh, Sully," she whispered. "I haven't realized how terrible this must be for you. I promised you once that if I ever saw your heart breaking because of the train, we would leave." Sully quickly put his fingers against his wife's lips.
"I don't want ya to have to pack up everything and leave it behind, especially since we're just startin' our lives together."
"I can't bear to see your heart breaking."
"Michaela, I don't care where we live as long as I'm with you. You were right."
"Right? What was I right about?"
"You were right when ya said that the train is just gonna keep followin' us. We can't avoid it, so I figure that if it's gonna stay here, I might as well fight for Cloud Dancin' and the rest of the Indians to keep 'em safe from whatever else the train brings." Michaela closed her eyes and brushed the tears away.
"Even though it's already brought about the destruction of something that so many people have come to cherish and love."
"The kissin' tree." Michaela nodded. "If the banker hadn't come, the tree wouldn't be getting cut down."
"I feel horrible about it, and I don't have any personal ties to it." A smile spread across her husband's handsome face. "What?"
"Let's get dressed."
"C'mon." He pulled back the covers, took her hand, and they both got out of bed to get dressed.
"I wasn't hinting at you bringing me out here," Michaela noted as Sully helped her out of the wagon. They walked hand-in-hand toward the site of where Preston's home was going to be built.
"I know. I wanted ya to have a memory from the kissin' tree though," Sully explained. "Most folks do."
"Do you?" Sully laughed.
"No. But, it'll be the first time for both of us." They settled down in the grass under the beautiful large oak. Michaela looked around apprehensively, hoping the banker wouldn't decide to come dispose of the tree ahead of schedule.
"This truly is a beautiful spot. I can see why Mr. Lodge decided to build on this land. I only wish this tree wasn't in the way. I only wish there was something we could do."
"You're good at talkin' to people. Maybe you could convince the folks in town to bargain with him, though I ain't so sure that Preston is a bargainin' man when it comes to folks who ain't like him." Michaela nodded.
"That's a wonderful idea!" she said with a smile. "When we're finished here, I'll go right into town. I'm determined to save this tree." Sully smiled.
"I'm sure you'll find some way to do it. But, even if ya can't, it ain't the end of the world."
"I know," Michaela answered. "But, I thought our children and grandchildren to come would be able to visit this place and stand with their sweethearts under this very tree. It's going to be gone tomorrow."
"But the memory won't die. The tree might, but folks won't ever forget the good times they had here." Sully pulled something into his hand and placed it into Michaela's. She looked down to see a small acorn. "We'll plant our own. It'll grow, and by the time our great grandchildren are grown, their kids can play under the tree."
"And meet with their sweethearts," Michaela said with a dreamy look in her eyes. She placed the acorn into her money pouch and took Sully's hands in hers. "It'll take hundreds of years for it to grow . . ."
"But it's gonna give lots of people as much happiness as this one did." Michaela smiled again and looked up at the sky. "Speaking of planting."
"After we plant this, what do you say we start on our garden?" Michaela asked.
"Our garden?" Sully wondered. "I thought this was your garden."
"It's no longer mine or yours. It's ours," she whispered, closing the gap between their lips.
"I think I like the sound of that," Sully admitted. He took his wife's hand, and they stood together. "C'mon. Let's go home."
Monday June 20, 1870