Shoes tapped against the cold concrete, as David Lewis made his way down the narrow hall of the prison. He kept his eyes ahead, knowing that he was about to face his brother for the first time since he'd been sentenced to hang.
It was a rainy night in Boston, and David's coat was soaked. He pulled it off and draped it over his arm as the security guard led him into the room. A wooden table was in the center of the room, a guard stood watch in the corner, and John's emaciated form sat at the table.
"David!" John exclaimed, as his brother entered the room. He got up quickly to hug him. The security guard cleared his throat, and the prisoner thought better. He sat down. His cheeks were sunken in, and his eyes were dark, distant, almost hollow, reflecting the state of his heart. "It's good to see you, brother."
"I wish I could say the same," David replied.
"It took you long enough."
"It took a lot of money and a lot of pull to get you brought back to Boston. The judge would have been happy to let the townsfolk hang you, you know."
"I wanted to come home. There was nothing left for me there." David shook his head.
"There was nothing there for you in the first place. You know that." John shook his head. "You never should have gone to Colorado Springs. You only made things harder on yourself."
"I had to see her, David. You don't understand."
"Michaela never wanted you. She never wanted either of us."
"You can't tell me you never longed to be with her. You never ached to just touch her."
"I got carried away, David."
"I…I wanted her so badly, that I just…I couldn't help but want to…" He shook his head, burying his face in his hands. The months in solitude had driven him to the brink of madness, but this was one shining memory in his head. He had had her, and that was all he'd ever dreamed of.
"Tell me you didn't hurt her, John."
"I…I'm sorry, David. I know you cared for her too. I just couldn't stand the thought of…"
"John! Tell me you didn't hurt her!" David insisted again. "If you hurt her, I'll…"
"David, you don't understand…" David shook his head.
"I don't want to hear it. As far as I'm concerned, they can hang you. They can do whatever they want to you."
"David, please. You're the only one that will listen. You're my brother!" David moved toward the door.
"You're no brother of mine. Not anymore." David turned and left the room, leaving a broken and deteriorating John Lewis to his thoughts and the knowledge that any day could mean meeting his maker at the end of a long rope.
Sully paced outside of the homestead, his heart racing as his wife's screams from inside picked at his nerves until they were raw.
"I gotta go in there," he said, starting toward the door, before he felt a pair of hands on his shoulders.
"These things take time, Sully," Loren Bray said quietly. They stood outside of Abagail and Henry's old homestead, which he had given over to Michaela and Sully shortly after Abagail's funeral. He hadn't wanted the burden of the land any longer, and knowing that a family would tend to it and care for it until they had a new home of their own was enough to satisfy him.
"She sounds like she's hurtin' awful bad."
"Charlotte's the best midwife in the territory," Loren said quietly.
"I wish we coulda gotten Dr. Bernard." He continued to pace.
"She's in good hands, Sully. Don't you worry." Loren swallowed the nervous lump in his throat. As much as he had been through in the past year, he was thankful to have new friends around. Michaela and Sully had been mighty generous in helping take care of Hanna. But now that their own little one was about to make its debut, they were going to have a lot less time to help out.
"You're right," Sully said quietly. "She is. Charlotte's a good doctor."
"And that Colleen's turnin' into a mighty good nurse," Loren replied. He patted Sully on the back. "My Abby went through this for seventeen hours. I didn't think I was gonna make it through, hearin' my little girl goin' through all that trouble. But Hanna was worth the wait. Your baby will be too." He smiled. "When you look into that little one's eyes, nothin' else seems to matter."
The cries of an infant soared through the air, causing both men to stop and listen. Colleen came rushing out, a big grin plastered on her face.
"Is she ok?" Sully asked. "Michaela?"
"She's just fine. Ma's cleanin' her and the baby up." She couldn't stop grinning. "It's a girl!" Sully's heart leapt. A little girl.
"A girl," he beamed. He reached out to hug Colleen and she hugged back before pulling away to go help her mother and gaze and the new bundle of joy. Sully turned to Loren, and both normally stoic men had tears in their eyes.
"Nothin' in the world better than a new baby girl," Loren said. "Go on. Go see 'em."
"You think I should go in yet?"
"I think Dr. Mike's gonna want you there." Sully nodded, and for a moment, he felt uncertain that the ground was even beneath him. His knees were weak, and his head was light. Loren held him up for a moment. "You're gonna be alright." Loren chuckled, swallowing the lump in his throat. "You're a pa, Sully."
"Pa," Sully said proudly. "Somebody's gonna call me Pa."
"For the rest of your life," Loren nodded with a little chuckle. "Go on, Sully. Go." Loren watched the younger man head into the homestead, and he remembered when each of his girls was born. He remembered how tired and happy Maude had looked and how ecstatic he'd been to hold those precious beauties in his arms.
He thought about Hanna's birth and how quiet and still she'd been. But she was perfectly healthy, and he wouldn't trade that baby for the world. Now, he was watching someone else start life anew, and he only hoped that they would have better fortune than he'd had. Still, he couldn't complain too much. He had a healthy, happy daughter and a beautiful little granddaughter, and he was thankful that God had left him with that much on earth. If he could live the rest of his days out with those girls in his life, he wouldn't ask for anything more.
Entering the homestead, Sully saw that a curtain had been drawn to block the sight from the bed. He could hear his baby making soft grunting sounds and Michaela cooing at the little one. He realized she was probably feeding her for the first time. Charlotte came around drying her cleanly washed hands with a towel.
"Can I seem 'em?"
"Sully?" Michaela asked. "Sully, someone wants to meet you."
"Go on. Me and Colleen will come check on her in a while."
"Thanks for everything," Sully said softly, hugging the midwife.
"She did great, Sully. She was real strong."
"Always has been," Sully said with a smile toward the curtain. He felt his heart begin to pound, and when Colleen and Charlotte left, he slowly took a few steps toward the bed. He could see her silhouette. She was lying in the bed, her arms wrapped around a tiny little person whose tiny little feet were poking out of the blanket.
As Sully stepped into sight, Michaela looked up at him, tears in her eyes.
"Ya did it," he whispered. She nodded.
"I did," she whispered, a little grin playing upon her lips. "She's perfect, Sully. Look at those blue eyes. And that hair…"
"Looks like we got ourselves a little red head." He laughed as the baby grunted at her mother's breast. "She's hungry?"
"Very," Michaela whispered. "She's not even five minutes old, and she already has a voracious appetite." Sully gently sat down on the bed.
"I'm alright. Just sore." She saw the concern in his eyes and reached out to caress his cheek. "Don't worry. She was worth all of the pain. All of it." She bent down, kissing the soft hair upon her daughter's head. "Weren't you, my little sweetheart?" The baby pulled back from her breast, and she switched the child's position in her arms.
"She's pretty perfect," Sully agreed, gently caressing the baby's soft hair. He then leaned over and kissed his wife. "I'm so proud of ya." Michaela smiled as her husband.
"I couldn't have done this without you." She looked back down at her precious daughter. "We've worked awfully hard to get you here. I hope you know how much we love you." The little girl was already falling fast asleep, so Michaela gently handed her over to Sully and adjusted her gown to cover herself.
Sully took his daughter into his arms and kissed her forehead.
"Look at you," he whispered. "Perfect little fingers…" He softly tickled the bottoms of her feet. "Little toes." Gazing at his new daughter, he smiled. "You look just like your mama. You know that?" He stood up, rocking her back and forth. "You know what? I was hopin' to have the house finished by the time you got here. But it looks like it's gonna take a little longer. But you already got your very own room. It's just waitin' for ya. But for now, will ya be alright with this cradle?" He took her over to the cradle he'd hand carved for her, thanks to Robert E.'s teaching. He placed the baby down in it, and she continued sleeping like a little angel. Sully smiled and sat back down next to his wife.
"You're a ma," he said with a grin.
"And you're a pa." Sully nodded, beaming with pride.
"How's it feel?" he asked.
"It feels pretty incredible," she whispered, gazing over at her sleeping daughter. "I never prepared myself to love someone so much." She took his hand in hers. "Two someones."
"I never prepared myself for it either," he replied with a shake of his head. "But it happened. I'm so glad to have the both of ya."
"So am I," she said with a nod. He pulled his arm around her, and she rested her head upon his shoulder. "She's already so strong. I can feel it."
"She ought to be if she's anything like her ma."
"She's like you too."
"Mmmhmm," she mused.
"You've seen her eat," she grinned. Sully laughed and shook his head.
"Well, whoever she turns out to be like, she's an awfully lucky little girl to have such a great mama like you." Michael's eyes brimmed with tears at her husband's words. There had been a time when she had thought that the best thing for everyone was a fate much different than this. But now that her daughter was here, she couldn't imagine life without her. Right now, everything was pretty perfect, and she couldn't think of anything else in the world that could make her as happy as she already was.
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