Marjorie took the new family to the restaurant, insisting on her driving. Her argument was that having had no choice but to allow herself to be dragged away from civilization for the wedding, she should at least have the pleasure of driving a fancy car. Sully had actually convinced the mechanics at the garage to restore the BMW rather than to scrap it. Seeing Michaela's joy when she realized she had her own car back instead of a substitute was all the reward he needed.
Hannah and Katie didn't protest when they were told that they wouldn't be driving with their parents but Michaela couldn't take the sad expression on their little faces. She looked up at Sully who held the door open for her and didn't need to say a word.
"Alright." He winked at Michaela and gave her a quick kiss. Then he turned to their daughters who stood hand in hand next to his new mother-in-law. So as to take the wind out of Elizabeth's sails right from the start he chose his words carefully. Bending down to the children he explained, "Ya remember that I told ya this is an important day for your Mommy and me?"
Insecure about what their Daddy was getting at, the little girls glanced at each other but Sully was already continuing.
"Well, it means that everyone should fulfill our wishes today. And I wanna have all my three woman in the backseat of that car." He pointed with his thumb over his shoulder at the BMW.
Of course Elizabeth knew that it was impossible now for her to object. Apart from which she was still moved from the ceremony. She hadn't expected it to be so emotional, being held out in the open and not in a church. Seeing the little girls' pleading looks she gave her approval with a nod.
Hannah and Katie didn't need anything more. Quick as the wind they rushed to their Mommy while Sully smiled at Elizabeth, "It's just like you said: not proper at all." Growing serious he added, "All I want for them is to be happy. The kids have been great in keeping my secret preparations from Michaela. It's their day as much as it's ours."
Sighing, Elizabeth relaxed and agreed, "I think you're right. But now we better hurry or we'll be late."
Charlie proved herself to be irreplaceable that day. Not only had she coordinated everything before the ceremony but she also made sure that afterwards everybody found a seat in one of the cars. Leading the small caravan to the restaurant was her next task which she managed magnificently. As they arrived before the building, she arranged the guests so that Michaela and Sully with their daughters had to walk through a kind of "guard of honor" in order to reach the entrance. Everyone was clapping and Hank even let out a loud whistle. Actually it was this sound that changed the still somewhat solemn mood into a cheery one as Sully called over his shoulder, "Hey Hank, no need to exhaust yourself! We got real music inside."
The room which was prepared for them was of a size that made everyone feel comfortable right away. The table had been set along the wall across from one that consisted of floor length windows, allowing the sunlight to flood the room. Two glass doors, equally large, led to a terrace that was decorated with all kinds of pot plants, including a huge date palm.
Yet inside was a lot of green as well which contrasted beautifully with the dark red of the curtains and the light brown of the wooden wall panelling.
However, barely anyone paid attention to the beautifully decorated room because all eyes were on Michaela and Sully as the restaurant owner greeted them, smiling widely, "Welcome to Grace's."
The African American gestured for two waitresses to prepare to bring in the trays of champagne before she directed her words at the couple again, "It's a pleasure to have ya here. We've prepared the table there in the corner to put the presents on. Although," raising her eyebrows her expression turned into an almost mysterious grin, "I know there will be at least one that won't be fittin' there."
Michaela glanced at Sully, wondering whether this was another of his surprises but he seemed to be as much in the dark about this remark as she was. There wasn't time to dwell on this though because now their guests started to present them with their gifts which they had obviously already stashed at the restaurant before the ceremony. None of the packages was of an unusual large size though. Even the last congratulators, Cloud Dancing and Snowbird, proffered just a box that looked like a simple picnic hamper. The medicine man had to suppress a mischievous grin though when he suggested, "You should open this present really soon. It'd be better for everyone. Oh," he gently touched Michaela's arm when she reached for the basket, "I hope you don't mind Dr. Mike, but Sully should take care of this. As soon as you see the gift, you'll understand."
It was obvious that the Cheyenne enjoyed the situation and while his wife gave the bride a heartfelt hug in order to congratulate her again, he watched his white friend's reaction as he opened the lid. Hearing Sully's chuckle Cloud Dancing knew that they had chosen the right gift.
Hannah and Katie, standing with Colleen and Charlie a few yards away, curiously craned their necks so as to cast a peek at the contents that were still hidden. Their father, however, instantly called for them, "Hey, sweet girls! Come here, ya have to see this!"
The children didn't need any further invitation and were instantly at his side. As he carefully put the basket on the floor, they crouched down so as to get a better look. The initial gasps of surprise were quickly replaced by squeals of delight. "He's so cute!" Katie exclaimed and Hannah asked wide-eyed, "Is that a wolf, Daddy?"
Cloud Dancing smiled indulgently. "That's an Alaskan Malamute," he explained, crouching down as well. "But he will look like a wolf once he's grown. In the old times, a few hundred years ago, wolves were the Cheyenne's best friends. To honor them and your father's work for all Indians this is our gift for your family. We hope you all like it."
Speaking the last words, he rose to his feet, looking at Michaela. Everyone could tell that the children were delighted; they were already carefully patting the pup's head. Sully's eyes shone as well, and it was only Dr. Mike's reaction that Cloud Dancing wasn't sure of.
Like Snowbird had foreseen, a hundred worries instantly crossed Michaela's mind yet seeing Sully's expression she didn't voice even one of them. They could discuss later where to put a growing dog in her tiny apartment yet she already knew the solution. "Well," she said giving Sully a playful look, "Of course this dog is adorable but I guess that means someone should hurry up so we can move into the new house really soon."
Grace had placed her son's old playpen on the terrace and only after the pup had been put into to it, everyone had taken their seats, a few toasts and the new husband's words of thanks had been spoken, did Sully see an opportunity to finally talk to Michaela without being the center of attention. He kept his voice low as he asked, bending towards her, "Ya didn't take a peek into our new bedroom earlier, did ya?"
Full of questions of her own, Michaela hadn't expected this one at all. "Sully, there wasn't time to look anywhere," she replied puzzled, wondering what he was getting at.
"Good." Smugly grinning Sully laid his arm around her shoulder, squeezing her lovingly.
However, Michaela's curiosity was woken now. "Why are you asking?"
"It's a surprise," was all he gave away, never losing his satisfied expression.
"Another one, Mr. Sully?" Michaela asked, clearly enjoying the conversation yet Elizabeth, sitting right next to her youngest daughter, interrupted their little banter, "I don't want to interfere but I think at this point it is my turn to offer a surprise. I booked a room at the Antlers Hilton for you to spend your wedding night."
Astonished, Michaela shifted so she could look at her mother. This way she missed the change of Sully's expression. Elizabeth, however, didn't and assured him, holding his gaze, "You won't regret it, Mr. Sully. Trust me, you'll love it there."
Yet Sully had his reason for wanting to spend the first night as Michaela's husband in their new house. If he gave it away though, the surprise would be gone. But seeing Michaela torn between him and her mother, he quickly decided to give in. His secret would survive for another day unrevealed and he didn't want Michaela's day to be spoiled by decisions that were hard on her. Thus he at last nodded, "Alright. Thank you, Mrs. Quinn."
After a delicious dinner, the reception went on in a mix of excited chatter, laughter and dancing. Jake had offered to be the disc jockey although he hadn't brought any discs but instead his laptop where he had saved more than ten thousand songs. At least that was what he claimed. However, anyone could make his or her wishes and of course Sully had had a special request. He'd never really cared for music nor was he much of a dancer yet he knew some songs that he liked and were even slow enough so that he wouldn't stumble over his feet. In the end he had chosen a song by Aerosmith for his first dance with Michaela as husband and wife.
As he at last began to move with her in tune to the music, holding her close he whispered some of the singer's lines in Michaela's ear, "Every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure… I dont want to miss one smile, I dont want to miss one kiss, I just want to be with you right here with you, just like this… I just want to hold you close, feel your heart so close to mine and just stay here in this moment for all the rest of time…"
After this dance, it had taken all their willpower to stay with their guests. If it hadn't been for their daughters they would have left for the hotel that instant. Michaela already knew that they wouldn't go on a honeymoon right after the reception. This had been her first question as soon as Marjorie had started the car. Knowing that she couldn't afford to be away from work for longer than her regular free days, this was the only thing that had worried her about Sully's secretly planned wedding. He, however, put her instantly at ease, promising they would go at a time that was convenient for her.
As the next song started, Katie and Hannah's giggles distracted Michaela and Sully from focusing solely on each other. They started dancing first with their daughters and then with other guests. Michaela could barely take a break for every male in the room wanted to take the opportunity to hold her in his arms even if it was for a dance.
It was already quite late in the evening when her happy smile was briefly replaced by astonishment though.
"Mr. Bray," she breathed as she rose from her chair, taken completely by surprise. She had to struggle for words momentarily until she said sincerely, "It's wonderful that you came."
"Awe, ain't nothing," Loren mumbled, offering his arm to lead her to the other couples, "Couldn't ask Maude to get home in the middle of the night on her own."
"Right," Michaela nodded in understanding. They didn't speak again until he thanked her for the dance when the music ended. They both knew though that they had just started over.
Two hours before midnight Michaela and Sully were finally on their way to the hotel. They had left the reception together with Cloud Dancing and Snowbird who took their daughters to Sully's apartment. The little girls didn't have problems with that like Maude had predicted when they discussed the sleeping arrangements during their planning. Actually, since the minute Katie and Hannah realized that they were allowed to have the pup sleeping with them in the teepee they had looked forward to turning in.
After the noisy party it was strangely quiet in the car as they drove along the dark, deserted streets. Sully had known right from the start that Michaela would have some more queries as soon as she wasn't distracted anymore. Glancing at her, he could tell that he was right. Looking back at the road he chuckled. Sensing her astonished gaze he said, "Ask away."
Michaela hesitated, not knowing how Sully would take her question. She didn't want to ruin this day and possibly offend him. Yet then she screwed up the courage, knowing that they would have to talk about it eventually, "What name will I take from now on?"
Sully grinned openly. He had known that it was this what worried her the most. "I told Horace we would let him know 'bout that as soon as ya made your decision."
Astonished, Michaela turned in her seat so she was able to see him better. The relief was audible in her voice as she responded, "That's wonderful, Sully. You really thought of everything. Thank you." Her eyes sparkled with love for him and Sully pushed the gas pedal somewhat harder in order to get to the hotel sooner. He still wished though that Elizabeth hadn't meddled with his plans for his last surprise couldn't work now. However, he didn't dwell on this.
Not even ten minutes later Sully opened the door to their room. "Wait," he said, touching Michaela's arm as she started to walk in. He put down the bag with their things in and whisked her into his arms, "Gotta carry ya over the threshold."
"Sully," she giggled wrapping her arms around his neck, "This isn't even our home."
"I don't care," he replied, distracted by her face only inches away from his. "Gotta take care of my wife." He had sworn to himself to take it nice and easy yet as he watched her blushing he couldn't resist claiming her lips with his. The kiss instantly deepend but someone clearing their throat broke them apart. Continuing holding Michaela in his arms, Sully turned and noticed that the door was still open. Michaela's cheeks were scarlet by now and he quickly put her down.
As he strode to the door, he heard her exclaiming, "Oh Sully, look at this! Isn't it beautiful?"
He hastily shut the door and hurried back to her, wondering what it was that excited her so. After all, she had been in fancy hotel rooms before. Yet when he saw what she was looking at his eyes grew wide as well. Still occupied with the sight before her, Michaela didn't see his expression and went on, "What a beautiful bed! It's so large! And look at those carvings on the headboard; aren't they beautiful?"
"Yeah," was all Sully could muster, still stunned. Only when she turned her now worried look at him, a wide grin lit his face. "Actually, it's ours. It seems your mother made sure that we had it here."
Now it was Michaela's turn to be taken by surprise. "Ours? Where did you get it?"
"It's an old family heirloom. The story is that the first Sully who came to Colorado Springs made it himself. Some grandaunt bequeathed it to me."
"It's beautiful," she reiterated, whispering now.
As Sully caught her shy look he understood the change in her tone. They both knew that this bed wasn't only meant for sleeping comfortably in. Growing absolutely serious for a few moments, he held her gaze, showing her that he was as vulnerable as she was. She understood.
No further words were needed as their souls reached out for each other. The very last barrier between them was gone now and as one helped the other to shed their clothes, their mutual desire to lie skin to skin grew almost unbearable. Uniting their bodies came as easily as breathing to them and their rhythm of moving together as naturally as the ocean's waves rolling over the shore. Like the tide coming and going they loved each other again and again and even sleep couldn't part them. Melding their forms they both dreamed the same dream, that of a couple growing old together. They would keep this promise.