Daniel McFadden stretched and then squashed himself back down under the covers. He had come home late, late during the night and had said a very quick hello to Crane and then collapsed into his bed. It felt so good to be in his own bed with his brothers snoring around him. He never thought he'd miss the sound of Crane snoring, but hearing it was comforting to him; familiar.

He pulled the covers over his head, trying to keep out the light. He knew he should get up. On a normal day, he would have been up hours ago, and already finished with morning chores, but just a few months on the road had made him lazy. He closed his eyes.

"Hey, he's still in bed!" He heard Guthrie say. "I think he's asleep still." He heard footsteps coming closer. He lay perfectly still and waited.

"Yep. He's asle- agh! Hey!" Guthrie screamed as Daniel grabbed him and pulled him onto the bed. In a few minutes, he had him pinned, but he was surprised at how much effort it took. Guthrie was surprisingly strong.

"How you doing shrimp?" Daniel said climbing out of bed.

"I'm not a shrimp!" Guthrie protested. "We thought you were never getting out of bed. It's almost 10."

"Most of the people I work with, would consider 10 pretty early. Where is everybody?" He asked.

"Well, Crane and Brian had to go check on one of the cows. She hurt her hoof a couple days ago, and they have to check it. Adam's over at the windbreak and Ford went with him. Evan's inside because he's got some report he has to finish. Hannah is cooking about fifty of your favorite things, and Izzy's helping her."

"There's food! Let's go!"

"Daniel!" Hannah said as he came in the door. She threw her arms around him and kissed him. She hugged him one more time before she released him, and looking at him said, "You are too skinny. Sit." She pointed at the chair. "Eggs and bacon first, and then you can have some cherry pie."

"You made me a cherry pie? See, Guthrie, I told you I was her favorite." He winked at Hannah. "Where are my nephews?"

"They're asleep, and if you wake them, you will NOT be my favorite any longer." She smiled. "Don't worry, they'll be up soon. They listen to your lullaby every night, so they'll know you." She reached out a hand and ruffed his hair. "We've missed you. You should see Crane, moping around this place."

"I am glad to be home. I like performing, but life on the road isn't easy." She set a plate in front of him.

"Too old for milk, yet?" She asked.

"Never." He said.

"How long are you staying? I could never get a straight answer from anyone." She sat down across from him with a cup of coffee in her hand.

"Four days." He was already half way through the plate of eggs and bacon.

"Four days counting yesterday, or starting today?"

"Starting today." He said. She looked across at Guthrie who sat beside his brother.

"You finished that science poster, right?" She asked him.

"Oh, Hannah. I'll get it done." He groaned.

"I know you will. You can get it done right now. Daniel's gonna eat and then he's gonna go find Crane, and your brothers. You know that. It would be better to get it done now, so that you won't have to do it later." She said.

"Alright. Where's Izzy? She said she'd help me color it in." Guthrie looked around.

"She went with Adam, and Ford." Hannah said. "And it's your project, Guthrie, not hers."

"She likes to help." Guthrie said with a grin.

"She likes you. If you asked her if she wanted to chase cougars with you, she would. Go on, now."

"Alright." He turned and looked at Daniel. "Better keep an eye on her, Daniel. Her Mom powers have only gotten stronger over time."

"And don't you forget it!" She said as left to go tackle his homework.

"He's gotten tall." Daniel said. "I know it's only been three months, but he seems so much older."

"Eighth grade." She said. "Next year, he'll be in high school. It's hard to believe. Did you get enough to eat?"

"Yep, for now anyway. Did they say where they were headed?" He stood and stretched.

"Crane said that they should be by the old crooked tree. He said you'd know what he meant."

"I do. Thanks for breakfast, Hannah - especially the pie." He kissed her cheek. "Those boys better be awake when I get back. Can I just go peek at them before I go?"

"Alright, but don't touch Jeb! Its all I can do to get that boy to sleep!"

***7***

"Alright, alright." Daniel said. "I have news." They had just finished the dishes, and everyone had moved to the front room.

"He's in love." Ford said laughing.

"He got married!" Brian said.

"Not yet, but when I do, I'm thinking of giving you all at least one day's notice - unlike some people here!" Daniel laughed as Adam blushed.

"Listen, there's no way on God's green earth that she would have said yes to me if she had seen this house or had one meal with you!" Adam said. "'Sides, I couldn't wait to marry her. Telling all of you would've took too long." He leaned over and kissed Hannah who sat beside him in the armchair. He held Jackson in his arms, and Jeb lay asleep on her shoulder.

"Now, that I've got you all civilized, feel free to bring any girl you want by here." Hannah said. "I could use an ally. We are outnumbered, aren't we Izzy?" Hannah said laughing.

"You know there are only eight boys in my class at school? I told my teacher that there are more boys in my house than in my class!" Izzy said and they all laughed.

"What's the news?" Crane asked his little brother.

"Well, Tommy Noma just recorded a song I wrote. We'd been performing it on the tour for awhile now, and they released a live version, which made it into the top 100."

The room exploded with noise, until startled, Jackson began to cry. They all settled down then as Adam soothed his son.

"And, he wants me to go to the studio with him for his next album and to go on the tour after that." He looked around at his family. "I haven't decided on that yet. I miss home so much. The road is pretty lonesome. But Tommy is really generous. He made sure I retained the rights to my song, and even included me in an interview."

"You were interviewed! You're famous!" Guthrie said.

"Well . . ." Daniel began.

"Do you have a copy? I want to read it." Crane said.

"I want to hear the song. Is it one we know or something new?" Hannah asked.

"It's a new one. I'll play it for you if Crane will sing with me." He looked at Crane.

"I'll sing with you if you let me read the interview."

"I'll go get it." Daniel disappeared but returned with some sheet music and a clipping from a magazine.

"Read it out loud." Adam said.

"Oh, no. There's no need for . . ." Daniel said.

"Everybody quiet." Crane said putting on his glasses. "Alright, it starts off with Tommy Noma - about the tour. Oh, here we go.

You recently released a live song that you just started playing halfway through the tour.

Tommy: That's right. We got a new guitar player in the middle of the tour and he

wrote it. You should talk to him, though, it's his song. His name's Daniel

McFadden, and he was playing the song one afternoon, and when I overheard

it, I knew it would be a hit.

"Your name is right there in a magazine!" Evan said. "There'll be no living with you now!"

"Let me read it!" Crane said and then continued:

You must be pretty excited to have the first song of your career recorded by Tommy Noma.

Daniel: Tommy's been very generous. And I've really enjoyed working with him.

Tommy: Daniel is a talented guy. He's been a great guitar player - really steady.

You come from a pretty small town in Northern California?

"How'd they know that?" Ford asked.

"They did a bunch of research before the interview. When they called and said they wanted to talk about the new song, Tommy told them that they should talk to me too, since I wrote it. So they researched who I was." Daniel said embarrassed.

"I'm trying to read!" Crane said.

Daniel: Yeah, I grew up on a ranch just outside of Murphys. It's a pretty small place.

You lost your parents at young age. Did that impact you as musician?

Daniel: My parents were both really musical people and we have always been singing and dancing. They taught us music before they taught us anything else. Losing them, I don't know. It was really hard. I guess maybe music was a comfort for me and my brothers.

You were raised by your older brother?

Daniel: Yeah. There are seven of us, and Adam, my oldest brother was not quite eighteen, so he stepped in, and raised us. It was really him and my other brother Brian, who kept us all together.

Your song, One Good Woman is already on the top 100. You must be pretty excited about that.

Daniel: I'm pretty excited, yeah, you could say that.

And is there One Good Woman back at home who inspired the song?

Daniel: Well, yes, but it isn't like you think. I actually wrote it about my sister-in-law.

Hannah looked up surprised. They all turned to her, and Adam squeezed her shoulder.

Your sister-in-law?

Daniel: Yeah, my brother Adam got married about two years ago, and she didn't just marry him. She had to take on all of us too. She's a pretty impressive lady, and I don't know, you'd have to know her, but she's been really good to all of us.

Has she heard the song?

Daniel: Not yet. I've been on the road, and haven't really been home.

I imagine the female population is relieved that you haven't found your One Good Woman, yet.

Tommy: Oh, you can bet on that!

Daniel: I don't know about that.

Thank you for your time and we are wishing you both a great end to the tour, and we sure hope to hear more from you, Daniel.

Crane looked up. The family was silent. Everyone looked at Hannah who sat quiet, blushing.

"There's a lot of time on the road, just traveling. I've got a lot of time to think. I was remembering that time when Guthrie was so sick from being in the water. Remember? It was pretty scary. I remember I woke up in the middle of the night, and had to go check on him, just to make sure he was alright. I came down the hall, and I could hear singing, and when I looked in, Adam, you were passed out asleep in the chair and Hannah was sitting with her arms around Guthrie singing. It was really pretty, and it reminded me of when I had the chicken pox and couldn't sleep, and mom sat up with me. She sang to me too. And it made me think, if you hadn't come here, he wouldn't have had that." He blushed embarrassed. "I don't know that got me thinking about a lot of things, and so I wrote a song." He sat shyly looking down at his hands.

"Here." Crane said, handing him his guitar. "Quit talking and sing." He moved and sat down at the piano.

This house is empty, four walls ain't enough

Got nothing but memories and dreams of

What I don't have yet

All this time, I'm just waiting

Looking for a healing that ain't come yet

There's nothing broken that can't be fixed

Nothing lost that can't be found

All the darkness will become light

All my hurt and all my fear will disappear

With one good woman

With you now, this house full

Of more than memories

Songs and laughter, love and joy

Just a smile, and I am healed

There's nothing broken that can't be fixed

Nothing lost that can't be found

All the darkness will become light

All my hurt and all my fear will disappear

With one good woman

She's strong enough to face all that comes her way

She's brave enough to keep on loving every day

And if she were to ever go away

There'd be nothing left

There's nothing broken that can't be fixed

Nothing lost that can't be found

All the darkness will become light

All my hurt and all my fear will disappear

With one good woman,

One good woman,

Just one good woman can change everything

The notes of the song still hung in the air, and Crane, turning from the piano reached out and mussed Daniel's hair. Embarrassed, he ducked his head. He was surprised to see Adam, not Hannah, standing in front of him. His oldest brother reached out and rubbed his cheek with a hand, that if things had been different might have held a surgeon's knife, but instead was rough from years of hard work.

"That was real nice, Daniel. Thank you." He said sniffing. "You said it just how I feel."

Daniel shrugged trying to play it off, but glanced over at Hannah who was crying.

"You made everything better." He said deciding not to chicken out. "We are all, really grateful."

She wiped her eyes, and rising, handed Jeb to Crane. She opened her mouth to speak, but found words impossible, instead she motioned with her hand, and he rose so that she could embrace him. He hugged her and said, into her hair, "I imagine, someday, Crane, and even Brian, over there, will have wives, and we'll love them too, but not like you. Why you didn't turn right around and run away, I can't figure. Adam's not that good looking. You were brave enough to stay, and kind enough to love us all. You didn't have to do that. You didn't have to be a mother to Guthrie. And we are all of us, real, real grateful." He kissed her cheek and stepped back away from her. She wiped her eyes, and tried again to speak but couldn't.

"Well, you've rendered her speechless. Good job, Daniel." Brian said laughing. "He might have written you a song, Sis, but I let you wash my unmentionables."

"Eww!" Guthrie said. "You had to ruin it."

"Well, I'm truly a blessed woman then." She said finding her voice. Adam came and put his arm around her, kissing her cheek.

"We're the ones who are blessed." He said.

"Oh, no. That's enough. I can't take anymore mush. But just for the record. I'm the one who's lucky. I was alone almost my whole life. Living in that tin can on wheels, hoping someday to have a family. And in just one day, I went from being all alone to having a husband and six brothers. I'm grateful too."

"Okay, she's right. The mush is getting out of hand. Daniel, play something else. When's the last time we were all singing together? I don't think these boys have heard how much noise McFadden's can make, yet." Brian said.

Laughing, Daniel turned to pick his guitar back up and sat beside Crane at the piano. "Get your harmonica, Brian."

Late into the night, the house glowed, all lit up, the golden light spreading out into the darkness. A lonely cow turned and lifted her head to listen to the music that floated out into the hills and fields beyond.

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