After Katie had settled down and fell asleep, Sully and Michaela had turned in. Michaela had had a long day, so it hadn't taken long for her to fall asleep, but Sully lay flat on his back, eyes focused on the moonlight that played across the wall next to the bed. He sighed heavily, knowing he would have to get up in a few short hours to get chores started. There was no way he was going to be able to sleep feeling so antsy about what this job offer entailed, and how he was going to bring up the subject with Michaela.
Eventually, he got out of bed and dressed before heading quietly down the stairs. There was no use just lying there, letting his thoughts get to him. He might as well get started on the morning work. Maybe he'd feel like sleeping after cleaning out the barn.
As he made his way to the front door, he heard his faithful companion, Wolf, stir next to the door.
"Move, boy. It's ok. It's just me." Wolf whined a little but moved from his guard at the front door long enough to let his human, Sully, outside. Sully pulled on his buckskin coat and headed out toward the barn.
The wind was chilly. It almost felt like tiny needles pricking his skin. He lowered his head, hurrying into the barn and closing the doors so the horses wouldn't be spooked.
Flash was the only one awake, and she raised her head to see the visitor, recognized him as the human that her human seemed to like quite a bit.
He went right to work, shoveling and laying down new hay. He went ahead and filled the feed bags and made a mental note to stop by the feed and grain in the morning.
By the time he was finished, the darkness had turned into a navy blue hue. The sun would be up within the hour. He suddenly felt exhausted. It wouldn't be long before Michaela would be getting up and getting ready to head into town. He was supposed to take Katie today, while he worked on Mrs. Gibbs' broken fence. The older lady had about seventeen grandchildren of her own, and she never saw any of them, so taking Katie with him always brought a smile to the old woman's face.
Making his way into the homestead, he settled down in a wing-backed chair in front of the fire place. He got a good, high flame started so the house would be cozy when his two favorite ladies woke. But as he was sitting there, meaning to head back up to bed, his eyelids grew heavy, and he was soon fast asleep in front of the warm fire.
When Michaela woke, she was surprised to find herself alone in bed. She reached over, touching the spot Sully always slept in, finding it cold. Frowning, she got up, pulled on her robe, and headed down the hall. She poked her head inside Katie's room, finding the child snuggled up in her bed, holding her favorite doll.
She could already feel warmth from the fire downstairs as she stepped onto the landing. Creeping down the stairs, she found her husband sleeping soundly in front of the fire. She wondered why he'd come downstairs in the middle of the night.
But, she decided not to wake him up until she was about to leave. He looked as if he was sleeping so peacefully now, and she considered taking Katie into town with her today in order to let him sleep. But, she knew he had promised Mrs. Gibbs to bring the little girl for a visit.
She began to fix breakfast, figuring the smells would wake him. Luckily, her cooking had improved since they were first married, thanks to Ms. Grace's help in town, and Sully wouldn't be waking to the scent of burning.
It wasn't long before Sully was stirring, and when he opened his eyes, he realized he'd fallen asleep downstairs. He knew Michaela would be concerned, and when he got up, his eyes met hers, and he saw the questions before they left her lips.
"Mornin'," he said, stretching a little.
"Good morning. I suppose I don't need to ask if you slept well. I didn't hear you get up last night."
"I couldn't sleep. I got up to do some chores, and when I came in, I guess I fell asleep before…"
"Are you feeling alright?"
"Sure," he said with a nod, moving across the room to kiss his wife good morning.
"Are you feeling well enough to go to Mrs. Gibbs'?"
"I feel fine, Michaela. Don't worry." Michaela eyed him for a moment.
"You'd tell me if something were wrong, Sully, wouldn't you?" Sully sighed, kissing his wife's cheek again.
"'Nothin's wrong. Just couldn't sleep is all. He glanced toward the stairs. "I'm gonna go get Katie." Michaela nodded and watched Sully head up the stairs. Deciding that if something were bothering him, he'd tell her when he was ready, she went back to preparing breakfast.
"Everything alright, Dr. Mike?" Grace Smith asked, as she sat down at the table in her own café. With the chill in the air, many were electing to stay home in front of a cozy fire to eat their meals. Times were tough this time of the year, but Grace and her husband Robert E. always managed to see it through.
"Hmm?" Michaela asked, poking the potatoes around on her plate with a fork.
"You ain't touched your food, except to poke it around. What's wrong?"
"I don't know," she said with a sigh. "Something's bothering Sully."
"He said that?"
"No, he says nothing's wrong, but I'm not so sure."
"You ask him about it?"
"Of course," Michaela replied. Grace grinned a little. Michaela wasn't one to let something go so easily. "I found him sleeping downstairs this morning. I don't think he's upset with me. If I did anything…"
"If ya did anything to upset him, I think you'd know. He's the same Sully around ya?"
"Yes. He seems to be avoiding talking about whatever's bothering him…to…"
"Keep ya from worryin'?"
"Then it ain't nothin' you done. Just wait for him, Dr. Mike. He's a man, and men don't like to be pushed into talkin' 'bout what's on their mind." Michaela knew this all too well. Though sometimes, she could be just as stubborn. She and Sully had often butted heads over the little things since they met, but it had never been something that could come between them.
"Dr. Quinn?" Michaela looked up to see Daniel Smith standing there, hat in hand. Grace quietly excused herself, and Michaela motioned for the man to sit down.
"Mr. Smith. How is your brother feeling this morning?"
"Oh, much better, ma'am. I just came from seein' him. Is your husband anywhere around?"
"Sully? He's out repairing a fence. He'll be gone until later this afternoon."
"Where could I find him? There's somethin' I need to talk to him about."
"If it's urgent, I can…"
"It's about the job offer."
"Job offer?" Michaela asked, immediately alarmed. "Sully didn't say anything to me about…"
"Well, we ain't exactly offered it to him yet. I started talkin' to him, told him we were there to talk to him about a job, but you came out, and…well, my brother said it'd be ok to talk to him about it now." Michaela swallowed hard, and she felt her palms begin to sweat. "Where can I find him?"
"The Gibbs' farm. Take the road out of town and at the third road, take a left. It's the first house on the right."
"Thank you kindly, Dr. Quinn." Daniel got up and hurried off to borrow a horse from the livery. Michaela couldn't believe that Sully was going to be offered a job, and he hadn't said anything. Obviously this is what had been bothering him, and even though she knew he didn't want her to worry, she was frustrated and hurt that he'd kept this from her.
Sighing, she put fifty cents down on the table to cover her meal, and she headed off to busy herself with reading a surgical text.