Hannah McFadden stood facing a mountain of laundry. She sighed and reached into the pile. She couldn't have expected them to keep up with the laundry with Guthrie missing, but still . . .
Back to real life. She thought.
"Hannah!" Guthrie called from the other room. "It's your turn."
"Let Adam take my turn." She called back . "I'm going to start a load."
She began loading jeans into the washer, checking every pocket. Her first load of laundry here had been ruined because she hadn't checked their pockets. She reached down and realized she was holding Guthrie's jean jacket. It was filthy and she could see a dark stain; blood. Shuddering, she checked his pockets finding a small stub of broken pencil and a hall pass. She turned to drop it in the trash and saw writing covering the back.
I'm sorry. I'm just so tired. . .
Hannah put a hand to her mouth, her face twisted in pain. Oh, God. Guthrie! She stood frozen.
"Hey hon, you landed on his hotel so . . .what? What is it? What's wrong?" He crossed to her and she fell against him. She was shaking.
"Baby? What?" She held the note out to him and he reached for it, but she covered his hand with her own. Crumpling the note.
"No, Adam, sit down first." She said softly.
She led him into the kitchen, and he sat down in a chair, but she didn't sit across from him. She sat in his lap, resting her head against his shoulder as he read it.
Crane stepped into the kitchen a few minutes later, and stepped back embarrassed to see Adam and Hannah locked in a tight embrace.
"Sorry." He said awkwardly and turned right back around.
"No, wait Crane." Hannah said letting go of Adam and sitting up. She'd been crying.
"Hey, what's?" He stopped seeing Adam had been crying too. "What's wrong?"
Hannah rose and handed him the note. He sat down heavily reading it. Hannah stood beside him and held onto his hand.
"Oh my God." Crane said looking up at her. "Where . . .?"
"It was in his pocket." She said softly.
Adam rose and stood beside her. His arms around her.
"He must have been so . . ." Adam sighed resting his cheek on the top of her head. He looked down at Crane.
"I'm really sorry, Hannah." Crane said again for the hundredth time in the past three days.
She reached out and ran a hand through his hair. "You owe me another ten." She said forcing a smile across her face. "That's got to be seventy dollars now, Crane. You better stop apologizing."
"Hannah!" Guthrie called from the other room. "Where did everybody go?"
"I better not hear you hopping around, young man." She called back to him. She wiped the tears from her face, and smiled sadly at Adam, patting the side of his face gently, and went back into the front room.
"Adam, what should we do?" Crane asked.
"Let's wait for Brian." Adam said. "Daniel and the others, they don't need to know. Danny, he'd be crushed."
"We play monopoly." Adam said.
Guthrie knew something was up when Hannah let him have a third piece of pie. He set his fork down.
"What is it?" He asked.
"Guthrie." She said sitting beside him on his fold out bed.
He set the tray aside. "Am I sick?"
She smiled then, "Oh no, Guthrie you're fine. Another couple days I'll even let you out of this bed for more than an hour."
"Then what is it? They are all talking, and you've been crying."
She sighed deeply, and reached for his hand. "I was doing the laundry, hon. I found your note."
"Oh. I uh, forgot about that." He looked up at her. "I was just so tired and hungry and cold. I thought . . .I was just scared." He looked down embarrassed.
"I bet you were. I'm sorry, Guthrie." She said reaching out and brushing his hair away from his face.
"I'm the one who's sorry. Adam always says, 'McFadden's never quit.'" He sighed. "I'm ashamed Hannah." He looked down.
"Oh, no. You've got nothing to be ashamed of, Guth. Doesn't Adam always say that 'a man takes care of his own'? Leaving us a note like that, you were making sure we were taken care of - just like you should." She said. "It is just hard for us, for me, to think that you were that sure you wouldn't be with us anymore. It's hard to think about, Guthrie."
"Yeah." He said. He sat quietly, thoughtful. He reached for her hand. "Hannah?"
"Can I have permission to get out of bed? I want to go talk to them." He looked up at her, and her heart felt so full. He was such a gentle, loving boy. She was grateful to the mother-in-law she'd never known for this boy; this gift to them all.
"Put your robe on." She said. She watched him, climb out of bed, put on his robe and handed him the crutches.
"Come on." He said looking back at her. "You too." She smiled and followed him into the kitchen where Adam, Brian and Crane sat discussing Guthrie's note.
"What are you doing out of bed?" Adam asked seeing him, he raised his eyebrows in question at Hannah who stood just behind him. She winked and smiled at him.
Brian moved and helped Guthrie sit in a chair at the table. Brian sat at the head of the table with Adam and Crane to his left, and Guthrie sat on his right. Hannah moved across the room and stood between Adam and Crane her hands resting on their shoulders.
"I guess you found my last will and testament." Guthrie said with a grin.
"Guthrie," Adam said.
"I can see how it would upset you, and make you feel guilty all over again." He smiled at Hannah who gave him an encouraging wink.
"But you gotta remember, I was dehydrated, sick, and exhausted too. My brain was confused. I just thought about how important it is to say things. You never know what could happen. You taught me that." He said sighing.
"It was a really nice note Guthrie." Brian said reaching over and holding onto his hand.
"It is just a little hard to think about you writing it all alone." Crane said.
"But right after I wrote it, right after, you found me." Guthrie said. "You found me Crane." He looked up at him with his big eyes. Adam could remember all the times that Guthrie had brought them back together. It wasn't easy for a bunch of boys to keep things together, but one thing had always, always unified them; Guthrie.
"You all keep talking guilty about me being lost, but I'm the one who ran off without telling anyone. You ought to be mad at me. You should ground me, Adam! I'm not supposed to go off without telling anyone. That's Rule One."
"Okay," Adam said through tears. "You're grounded for two weeks, starting last week."
"Good." Guthrie said with a grin. "That's better. Brian, aren't you gonna yell at me for all the trouble I caused?"
"You did. I was scared. Crane was scared and you can't know how upset Daniel was. Not to mention Hannah, here. You know how upset she was?" Brian said softly.
"I'm sorry." Guthrie said. "I really am."
"Good." Brian said still holding Guthrie's hand.
"I better get back in bed, hadn't I, Hannah?" Guthrie said, and she nodded unable to speak just then.
He rose slowly, and taking up his crutches, he moved to hobble back to his bed. "You found me; not Search and Rescue; not the sheriff's department. My brothers found me. And even when I wrote that stupid note, I knew you would." He left them stunned and silent. Adam, who'd been holding the note in his hands, gently folded it and tucked in his breast pocket, putting it close to his heart.
"He's not a baby anymore." Crane said softly.
"No, sir." Brian said looking up, and seeing Hannah's tears. "Hey, that's enough of that, Mrs. McFadden. If you are gonna fine us for every time we apologize, I'm gonna start fining you for those tears. Adam, put your arms around her, for God's sake." Brian rose and Crane followed him out of the room, as Adam pulled Hannah down and into his arms.
Hannah watched Guthrie walk slowly out to the bus with his brothers. She hated the thought of sending him back to school where he might get jostled in a crowded hallway, or be tempted to play a game of basketball. He was well that was what she kept reminding herself, but it was still difficult. She sighed and went back inside. Everyone was out at school or working and it was the first time she'd been alone in days and days. She glanced at the calendar and seeing the date, she furrowed her brow. The 23rd? She was surprised, and somewhat confused. Then suddenly, she realized it. She went to the phone and looked up the number, dialing it.
"Dr. Meyer's office." His secretary said cheerfully.
"Hello, this is Hannah McFadden." She said already smiling.
"Oh, how is Guthrie?"
"Much better. Back in school, to his sorrow." Hannah said.
"How can we help you?" She asked.
"I think I need to come in for an appointment."
"Okay, let's see. I have one open for next Thursday. Is that soon enough?"
"That will be fine." Hannah said.
"Can I put down the nature of the visit?"
"Pregnancy test." Hannah said with a grin.
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Thanks for all the great reviews. I love hearing from everyone and try to answer anyone who leaves a signed review, but sometimes I have to tackle my mountain of laundry too. Real life often gets in the way. Hope you've enjoyed my take on the brothers and Hannah. I sure have enjoyed reading all of yours and can't wait for more - willful redhead