Here's a story, I've been working on for awhile, but finally had time to clean up and post. I hope you enjoy it. I really have loved not only all the friendly encouragement and suggestions, but also the growing list of stories about the boys. Please read and review.

. . . The Harder They Fall

By Willful Redhead

"Get back in bed!" Adam said seeing Hannah turn the corner and step into the kitchen.

"No." She wrinkled her brow and crossed her arms.

"Hannah, go back to bed. You were up all night last night." Adam was exhausted himself and had no ability to hide his irritation with his wife.

"No." She said again.

"Guthrie, what kind of sentence is 'Get back in bed'?" Adam asked his youngest brother who had the misfortune of still sitting at the breakfast table.

"Imperative." Guthrie said weakly avoiding his sister-in-law's eyes, but not daring to cross his oldest brother when it came to proper grammar. Adam was always correcting their grammar - an old holdover from their mother who had been an English teacher.

"Adam . . ." She said. "Leave Guthrie out of it."

"Imperative Hannah, not interrogative. It doesn't require a response. Go back to bed!"

"I know what imperative means, Adam." She sounded pretty pissed off Guthrie thought.

"I'm gonna go." Guthrie said slinking out of the room as fast as his feet could carrying him.

"Wait!" Hannah said. "Guth, do you even have a lunch?"

"I'll buy. I got money. Don't worry Hannah." He rushed down the back steps the screen door banging behind him.

"See, nothing left for you to do." Adam said.

"You got as much sleep as I did."

"Yeah, but you just got over that pneumonia." His voice was harsh and clipped. If it had been in the first month she'd married him, his tone would have frightened her. But she had quickly learned that Adam always opted for anger over worry or fear; and given his harsh entrance into adulthood, he was usually worried about one of his brothers.

She stood where she was determined, her arms crossed. She stared him down and could see him grind his teeth in frustration.

"I can pick you up, girl. It's more work carrying a sack of grain that carrying you. I'll sling you in that bed myself."

"You can, but I feel like you should know, I'm a kicker."

"Oh, I'm aware of that darling. Now, take that pretty little backside of yours upstairs and go back to bed."

She sighed, knowing that once his mind was set, there was very little she could do to persuade him. "Come back to bed with me." She said blinking up at him with wide eyes.

He laughed. "You are mean girl. You don't even fight fair." She grinned at him, glad that he'd relented from his harsh mood even if it was just a little bit.

"Honey, you are so tired too. Come on. There's no way you won't hear the phone." She reached for his hand.

"Nah, I'm going to the sheriff's office again." He looked down chewing the inside of his lip. "I'll lay down when I get back." Holding onto her hand he pulled her toward him. "Please, honey. I can't have you sick too." He rubbed her cheek with his hand.

"Daniel will come home, Adam. He's just hot-tempered. Just like another McFadden, I know. He's nineteen. He can manage." She said wrapping her arms around him and leaning her head against his chest. The familiar thump of his heart was comforting to her.

"I shoulda kept my temper." He said softly for the hundredth time since Daniel had slammed the door shut the night before. "It's my fault."

"He's not a child, Adam. He's a grown man who ought to know better. You aren't responsible for him storming off. That's a choice he made." She loved Daniel but there was no way she'd let her husband suffer for the choices of his impetuous younger brother. She squeezed him protectively.

"I know, but he's young still."

"When you were the same age, you'd been raising Daniel and his brothers for two solid years! And you say I baby them!" She shook her head at him.

"That isn't a fair comparison." He said sighing. "Danny's always been so difficult. He feels things so deeply." Adam sighed thinking again of Daniel at nine trying to process the loss of his parents. "Mom understood him best. Losing her was hard. But it was the worst for him, I think. She had a way of helping him. She could always make it better and just wish I could ask her. She'd know how to talk to him." He sighed.

Hannah said nothing, but simply kept her arms around Adam. She was such a comfort to him. He couldn't imagine facing these last few days alone. But sometimes he wondered if the life he'd given her wasn't too hard; the weight of his family burdens and responsibilities too much for her soft shoulders. In the last two months alone, they'd suffered a miscarriage and then she'd ended up with pneumonia after standing in the rain with another McFadden brother. She had been so lovingly, sweet to his broken-hearted baby brother, and he knew she would do the same for his hothead brother Daniel.

"Hannah Joy, you go and get some rest now." He said but this time his voice was soft and gentle.

"Okay but after you talk to the sheriff promise you'll rest too." She looked up with big brown eyes, and he was done for. She could've asked him to eat a live snake and he would've said yes.

"I promise it, girl." He said smiling in spite of the fact that everything was in chaos.

"Alright then." She stood on tiptoe and kissed him. "Everything's gonna be okay." She rubbed his chest with the flat of her hand.

"How can you be sure?" He asked her.

"Because you are a good dad, Adam J. Daniel knows right from wrong."

"I love you, you know that?" He rubbed her cheek, thinking that there were really no words fit to express the depth of what he felt for her. "Go on, girl."

She kissed him once more and then turned and went up the stairs to their room. He watched her thinking that the smartest thing he could do would be to follow her upstairs and climb into bed and curl up next to her. He sighed and rubbed his hand over his face. He turned and walked out the door.