Michaela blew her nose yet again, the handkerchief rubbing against the raw skin between her nose and her mouth. She cursed herself for being so stupid as to ride out in such rainy, cold weather. It served her right that she should get a cold as a result.
The clinic had been quiet for most of the day. The town seemed to know that Michaela wasn't feeling her best and they leaved her alone as much as possible. They all figured that ailments could always wait another day. Although Michaela insisted that she was fine, everyone knew that that secretly meant that she needed a break. The only man who had gone in to see Michaela that morning was a man who had gotten into a bar fight at Hank's. Eight stitches later and Michaela was alone yet again. The children had insisted that she rest but she hadn't. Then again, with no patients, she wasn't exactly overexerting herself, either. Colleen had offered to take the day out of school to watch the clinic but Michaela had sent her off, knowing that school was the highlight of Colleen's day.
Michaela looked up from her desk as the bell outside the clinic door rang. The door opened and Dorothy appeared.
"Dorothy!" Michaela exclaimed, happy to have someone to talk to.
"Michaela," Dorothy said, walking over to her with a large basket in her arms. "Ya should be restin'."
"I have been resting," Michaela insisted. Dorothy looked at her with that 'I know you're lying because I'm your best friend' look. "Well, I've only had one patient. That's rest."
Dorothy placed the basket on Michaela's desk.
"Grace's best," she said, beginning to unpack the basket.
"Seems like everyone's always bringing me food recently," Michaela realized. "I feel like I haven't sat down for a meal in weeks."
"That's because you haven't, Michaela."
"It's only been six days," Michaela replied.
It had only been six days since the Frost children had left with their Ant and Michaela hadn't stopped thinking about them. Although she had put on a strong front for Sully and the children, she had thought about the Frost children every minute of every day. Michaela knew that Sully could see beyond her "front" but he didn't say anything.
"How are you doin'?" Michaela asked.
"Well, the cold's getting better. It wasn't anything big. No fever, just a runny nose."
"I didn't mean how are you with your cold. I meant how are you?"
Michaela sighed. "I just can't help but wonder if they're alright. Children need love and affection, especially after they just lost their parents."
"Ya can't underestimate them, Michaela, children can be strong people. And that Annemarie, she'll make sure that they're all alright."
"I wish I could just see them. Really make sure that they're fine."
From the pouch around her wrist, Dorothy pulled out a piece or paper.
"Well, now you can," Dorothy said, presenting the paper to Michaela. Michaela took the paper curiously and looked at it.
"The whole town pitched in ta buy it for ya. Figured we were better off missin' a doctor for a few days than havin' a depressed doctor sittin' here all day wonderin' 'bout those kids." Michaela smiled. "And we already cleared it with Sully and the children. Colleen's gonna watch out for the clinic and Sully'll stay with the kids."
"Oh Dorothy…I…I don't know what ta say," Michaela said, gripping the stagecoach ticket in her hand.
"Just say thank you and don't put up a fight."
"Would I ever put up a fight?"
This time it was Dorothy who smiled.
"Stage leaves tomorrow mornin' and then ya can take the train right on through to St. Louis. You'll be seein' those kids 'fore anyone here even misses ya." The door opened and Sully burst inside. "Well, maybe someone will miss ya."
"Dorothy, Michaela," Sully said.
"Sully, what is it?" Michaela asked, not expecting Sully. He had said that he was going to be at the reservation all day, going hunting with Cloud Dancing and some of the younger members of the tribe. His sudden outburst made her think that something was wrong.
"Just got this," Sully said, handing Michaela another piece of paper.
Michaela took it. "Another surprise?" Michaela looked over at Dorothy who shrugged her shoulders. She obviously had no idea what was going on.
Michaela read the paper and then looked up at Sully with tears in her eyes.
"Michaela?" Dorothy questioned.
"What about them?" Dorothy asked, wondering if something was wrong.
"They're not living with their Ant anymore," Michaela announced.
"Then who are they living with?" Dorothy asked.
"The telegraph operator."
"It's a letter from Annemarie. She says that their Ant decided that she didn't want them anymore and she was going to send them to an orphanage but the telegraph operator, her late husband's brother, decided to take them. He and his wife have been married for five years now and haven't been blessed with children so they welcomed the chance to raise them. They have a large cabin with some chickens and goats and the wife's a school teacher and has been teaching them all kinds of things."
"Oh, Michaela that sounds wonderful!" Dorothy said, hugging her friend. "Wait 'til I got tell everyone. They'll all be so happy."
Dorothy headed for the door but Michaela called out her name, stopping her.
"I won't be needing this anymore," Michaela said, holding out the stagecoach ticket.
"Ya don't want ta go make sure they're alright?"
Michaela shook her head. "I know they're alright. Besides, my family needs me here." Michaela looked over at Sully and they gazed at each other.
"I'll just see if we can get a refund back on that ticket." Dorothy took the ticket and excused herself. She knew that when a couple who was in love as much as they were got that look in their eye, there was no choice but to let them be together. Sully closed the door behind Dorothy and then walked over to Michaela.
"This is good news," he said.
"Very good news," she replied.
"If ya wanna still go, Michaela, I…"
"No. I don't want anything more than to be here with you and our children. Besides," she said, showing him the telegram, "the children are fine."
"And how do ya know that?"
Michaela pointed to a line of very small print at the bottom of the letter. Sully took the paper and held it closer to his face.
"Thank you, Dr. Mike," he read aloud, "we're where we belong." He smiled. "I told ya everythin' was gonna be alright."
She hugged him. "Sully…"
"When you found me in the woods and you said that you wanted to adopt Colleen and Brian after we get married…did you…did you really mean that or were you just saying that bec…" He quieted her with a kiss and he didn't have to answer.
"Have I told you recently that I love you?"
She shrugged playfully. "Yes but I wouldn't mind hearing it again."
"I love you," he whispered into her ear.
"I thought you were going hunting with Cloud Dancing today," Michaela stated as they held each other.
"I rode out there but Cloud Dancin' said that didn't belong there. He said that I belonged somewhere else."
"He said that the spirits were telling me that good news was coming to me. Said that I wouldn't know what that good news was unless I got back into town."
"I've always liked Cloud Dancing," Michaela joked.
"So have I."
"I know where I belong," Michaela said quietly.
"Oh yeah? Where's that?"
"Right here. In your arms."