Chapter 11: Epilogue
"Wolf! Wolf, here boy!" Katie exclaimed, clapping her hands as she stood on the patio. Wolf, looking much larger and much healthier, came running toward the house from the back of the yard.
"I'm going to school today! I won't be here to play all day, but I will when I get home. I promise!" Katie wrapped her arms around his neck, and she gave him a big hug. It was Katherine Sully's first day of Kindergarten, and she was all dressed up. She wore a pretty yellow sun dress and little black shoes, compliments of her grandmother.
"Katherine Elizabeth Sully!" Michaela exclaimed. "You're going to get all dirty!" Michaela came rushing out, Katie's book bag in one hand.
"Sorry Mommy," the five-year-old said. "I forgot." She gave Wolf an extra hug anyway and hurried inside. Wolf followed. Inside, Sully was cooking breakfast in the kitchen. Elizabeth and Laura both sat at the kitchen table playing with their dolls, while Landon sat in his high chair, eating Cheerios, dropping one or two on the floor when nobody was looking. Wolf sniffed around the chair, searching for the delicious cereal bits and eating them right up. Landon giggled, clapping his hands.
"What're you laughin' at?" Sully asked, kissing his son on the top of the head. He glanced over Michaela's way, grabbed a cooling piece of bacon off of the plate near the stove and dropped it on the floor. Wolf scrambled for it. Michaela noticed but pretended she didn't. She did the same thing anyway, even though it was a rule in the house not to feed scraps to the dog. Nobody followed it anyway. He was a true member of the family since helping them find Landon over a year ago.
Officer Hammers had called them down, because the dog refused to let them bathe him. But, with Sully there, he calmed down and let them do whatever they had to do to make sure he would be strong, clean, and healthy. Just before they left, the dog jumped out of the bath, shook himself off, and came running after them, tail wagging.
Michaela had been the one to first say they should keep him. He had been their son's hero, after all. They couldn't think of a better way to repay to lovable dog than to take him into their home and take care of him. He had ridden home with them, and he'd been a part of their family ever since.
"Mommy, can I take Wolf to school?" Katie asked. She had been the one to give him his name, because as soon as they'd arrived home safely with little Landon, the dog had jumped out of the car to examine the grounds of his new home. Katie had shrieked something about a wolf, and Michaela and Sully had calmly explained that he was a dog, but Wolf stuck.
Thankfully, Michaela and Sully thought, Joey did not stick as their son's name. She'd started calling him Landon just as her parents were, even though sometimes, for fun, she'd call him by his old nickname.
"Come on. The bus is coming," Michaela said quickly, ushering her daughter out the door. "I'll pick you up after school, alright?"
"Ok, Mommy," Katie said, giving her a big hug and waving to her father. Michaela walked her little girl out to the bus stop for the very first time. They'd practiced this before, as she and Sully had told her how the bus would pull up, and she would have to step up to get on. But actually watching her get on the bus and sit down next to another little girl brought the tears to Michaela's eyes. Her little girl was growing up, and this was just another step in that direction.
Sully came to the door and stood with his wife, watching the bus pull away. Michaela sighed, and he rubbed her shoulders.
"Mmmhmm," she said with a nod. "I just can't believe our baby is going to school already. It seems like just yesterday we were bringing her home from the hospital. Now she's…she's going to school." She turned and hugged her husband. He smiled, kissing her cheek.
"Hey, it's alright. C'mon, let's go finish eatin' breakfast. You gotta be at work soon, and I gotta drop the kids off at your folks' before work."
"I know," she said with a nod. He was able to pull her away from the front door and lead her back inside.
"Mommy, I wanna go to school," Elizabeth Sully said with a proud smile.
"You will next year, sweetheart," Michaela promised.
"And Me!" Laura giggled.
"A couple more years." She laughed at the thought of each year, she'd be sending another child off to school. Landon was still the baby, and he was going to remain that way. Michaela and Sully decided that with their busy work schedules, four children was plenty for now. Maybe someday, another would come along, but they were perfectly content with their three gorgeous girls and their handsome little boy.
Michaela still worried about the kids, especially after what had happened to Landon after he was born. But, Emily McCallister was in jail, awaiting final sentencing. Michaela and Sully had been assured that she was going away for a long time. Even so, they'd gotten a newer security system, and they were much more careful about locking up the house. They'd learned the hard way that even their quiet little house could still become the scene of a horrific nightmare.
After breakfast, Michaela took Landon upstairs to dress him. He was growing tall, and he had his daddy's features. He had bright blue eyes and darker hair. As they grew older, the girls' blonde hair was beginning to brown just a bit, but Michaela knew their hair would probably one day be a shimmering auburn like hers, while Landon was likely to have his papa's hair.
"You're such a big boy," Michaela cooed, as Landon grabbed a diaper from the little rack on the wall. He handed it to his mother, and she laughed, shaking her head as she began to change him. He had thrived since they'd brought him home. He still gave his parents little scares now and again, choking easily on food and on things he drank, but for the most part, they didn't have to worry much about those kinds of things.
After her son was dressed, she put him down, and he rushed off to his sisters' room to play until it was time to leave. Michaela entered her and Sully's room, to find him buttoning his shirt in front of the mirror. Smiling and biting her lower lip, she stepped up behind him, wrapping her arms around him, tucking her hand inside of his shirt where he'd yet to button it. He smiled, placing his hand over hers and turning to pull her into a warm embrace.
"You smell good," she whispered, resting her head on his shoulder.
"Yeah? That new cologne that "Katie" got me for my birthday." Michaela giggled. Sully knew perfectly well that his wife had helped her picked out the perfect one.
"Mmm, she has a keen sense for things like that." She smiled, kissing him softly. "Do you have to work late?"
"Nope. I'm actually gonna try to get home by three thirty."
"Ok. I'll pick the kids up and Mom and Dad's then." Sully nodded. It was a good thing Elizabeth had offered her home to her grand children during the weekdays, because Becky had gotten a job opportunity out of state, and she'd taken it. It probably hadn't taken much to convince her, because handling three children at once had been difficult, but a newborn added into the mix? Needless to say, she was happy with where she was, but she still sent a card for each of the kids' birthdays and on the holidays. Over all, the Sully family was pleased with their arrangements these days.
"Alright, I have to get going. I'll see you later. I love you."
"Love you too," Sully replied, bringing his wife in for a kiss. He smiled as she walked away, and he moved to the window, watching her leave the house, get in the car and pull out of the drive. She waved up toward the window as she passed by, knowing he was watching her. This has become their little routine. Smiling, Sully shook his head, finished dressing, and hurried off to get the kids to their grandparents' house.
By the time Friday rolled around, Sully was exhausted. He was looking forward to a nice, long weekend. Monday was Labor Day, so he didn't have to go in to work, nor do his job for Mr. Marsden. And, Michaela's private clinic was closed, but open for emergencies, so she would be on call. The plan had originally been to have a cook out at Josef and Elizabeth's, but since the weekend called for rain, there was a good chance that wouldn't be happening.
Sully heard the front door open, and he smiled. He knew his family was home. But, when he didn't hear the excited chatter of the kids, he furrowed his brows and headed down the hall and down the stairs. Michaela met him halfway up the steps, smiling and stepping up to kiss him.
"Where're the kids?" he asked.
"Oh, Mom and Dad's."
"Mom and Dad offered to take the kids for the weekend. Katie practically begged, so I couldn't say no."
"Couldn't?" he asked with a grin, taking her hand and leading her up the stairs.
"Well, I could have, but you know, we don't get many opportunities to have the house all to ourselves. As much as I love the children, I love having you all to myself once in a while." She smiled, squeezing his hand.
"Oh, you do have a point, Mrs. Sully," he grinned.
"Mmm…" She kissed him softly, as they entered the bedroom. Out of habit, Michaela went to close the door, but Sully stopped her, his hand on hers as if telling her they were home alone, and they didn't need to close the door all weekend. Michaela grinned, as Sully nodded toward the bed. She made her way over, and turned toward her husband. Lowering herself onto the edge of the bed, her gaze shifted to their family portrait. Sully came over and sat down beside her. She rested her head on his shoulder.
"We have a pretty good lookin' family, don't we?" he asked.
"Mmmhmm," she mused, her eyes twinkling as she gazed at the photo, all four of the children smiling brightly. Little Landon had charmed the lady taking the photograph. He was definitely going to be a little heartbreaker someday. "We're so lucky to have them. Four beautiful, healthy kids. They're wonderful, Sully."
"Yep," he replied, "like their mama." She smiled at his words. "Wouldn't trade 'em for anything in the world."
"Me neither." She yawned, lying back on the bed. Sully lay down beside her, bringing her into his arms. Exhaustion was finally settling in. Normally, she didn't have time to think about being tired after a long day at work. Usually, she got home and went right into her mommy duties, but now, with silence filling each little corner of the house, her eyelids grew heavy.
"Would you mind terribly if…if we just took a nap?" Sully chuckled and kissed her softly.
"Sounds like a good idea to me." Yawning, he stretched out on the bed with his wife. "After all, we got all weekend, right?" She nodded, slowly slipping away into a dream, while Sully took another look at the family portrait on the wall. He hugged his wife closer, relishing the feeling of her in his arms. Still, as much as he was looking forward to this weekend, he couldn't wait for his kids to come home, just so he could hear their laughter and see the smiles on their face. Parenthood...there was nothing like it.
As they drifted off to sleep, both silently sent a prayer up to whoever was listening, grateful for all of their blessings and hoping those blessings would keep on coming for the rest of their lives.
After they'd fallen to sleep, Wolf poked his head into the room, sniffing the air and entering. He looked up to see Michaela and Sully snuggled up on the bed. Feeling sure that the room was secure, he found a warm patch of the floor where the sun was shining, circled it for a few moments, and settled down to sleep. The quiet tick-tick-tick of the clock on the mantle downstairs drifted through each room, comforting the slumbering tenants, ensuring that all was right and safe, and this comfort would last them through the rest of their days.
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