Crane found Daniel underneath the jeep and cursing.
"We'll, good morning to you too!" Crane said laughing.
Daniel slid out and looked at his brother. "I gotta tell you big brother, I'm starting to hate all things with engines!"
"Least the ones with Circle Bar Seven stamped in 'em!" Crane said. "You missed breakfast. I brought some coffee."
"Thank you!" Daniel said accepting the steaming cup.
"Hannah saved you some eggs. She put it in a tortilla so it'd be portable." He hand his brother a tortilla wrapped in a paper towel.
"I'm starting to like her." Daniel said with a grin.
"Well, she's a little on the fence with you - seeing as how you skipped breakfast this morning."
"I wanted to get an early start. I promised Adam I'd help him later, and I wanted to get a jump on this contraption." He said kicking the tire of the jeep.
"Plus you got to head over to Sonora later to meet with that agent." Crane said.
"I don't know about that." Daniel said. "Who told you about that?"
"I heard you on the phone. You should do it, Daniel. You've got talent and you enjoy it! You are just meeting an agent. Maybe nothing will come of it."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence." Daniel said laughing.
"Listen, I'm your brother. It's my job to squash your ego." Crane said. "I read all about it in this psychology class I took. I keep you grounded."
"You're real good at it." Daniel said with a grin.
Guthrie rose from the breakfast table with one eye on the clock. He put his dish in the sink and accepted the lunch that Hannah handed him.
"Can you write me a note for math?" He asked her.
"Why?" She asked suspiciously.
"I didn't get all my problems done." He said nervously.
"Well, I've been so overwrought about Adam and all. It's hard to focus." He said to her with great hope that she'd buy it.
Ford came up then, and took the lunch that Hannah handed him, shaking his head as he did.
"Really? Really? Guthrie! You think Mom's gonna buy that!" He laughed and shook his head giving Hannah a kiss. "You try and raise 'em right, but you can only do so much." He left Hannah stunned and laughing as he dashed out the door to catch the bus.
Guthrie chased after him. "Thanks a lot Ford!"
"Did Ford just call you Mom?" Adam asked from where he still sat at the table nursing a cup of coffee.
"Yeah." Hannah said with a grin. She walked over to the kitchen door and yelled out into the yard.
"Bye boys! Have a good day. If it's raining I'll meet you at the bus stop!"
They paused in their run out to the bus stop and turning back to her, with arms wrapped around each other's shoulders they yelled in unison, "Bye Mom!" They turned and ran, but not before Guthrie knocked the books out of Ford's hands.
She turned back into the kitchen still laughing and shaking her head. She was nearly knocked down by Evan who raced to catch his brothers.
"See ya later!" He hollered as he raced out the door.
"Your lunch!" Hannah said and he doubled back to grab it, pausing to kiss her.
"Thanks!" The screen door slammed shut for the third time, and he was gone.
"When did he start doing that?" Adam asked surprised.
"A lot happened while you were on your little adventure." She said. "Still hungry?"
"Uh uh." He reached for his cup, but missed his mark, and knocked it over, spilling coffee across the table. "Damn it!" He said reaching for a towel to mop it up. The doctor had been correct and he had suffered no permanent damage with his hands, but they felt awkward and clumsy. He had not fully regained feeling in the outer layer of his skin, and he often knocked things over or dropped things. It was driving him crazy.
"Easy there, cowboy." Hannah said helping him clean it up. "You know you were still in a hospital bed just a week ago. You might want to give yourself a break."
"It is just frustrating." He said with a sigh. He looked down and said softly. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have cursed."
"I forgive you." She said pouring him the last bit of coffee. "Why don't you take it easy today? You could crawl back into bed and rest up a bit more."
"I gotta get some work done. I'll crawl into bed this afternoon." He said looking at her.
"Well, that's fine, but I'm teaching a first aid class this afternoon, so you'll have no one snuggle up to you and keep you warm." She grinned at him.
He rose and carefully lifted his coffee cup and set it in the sink. "Well, the last time, I disobeyed you on this issue, it didn't go to well for me." He held his arms open to her, and she went to him, resting her head on his chest. "I should always listen to you, girl."
"I'm gonna remember you said that. Dang it! Why weren't your brothers around to witness that sentence!"
"No witnesses." He grinned at her.
"Come on, I'll tuck you in." She said stepping away from him, but holding on to his hand very gently.
He stayed where he was looking her up and down.
"What?" She asked blushing. "Adam!"
"I was just seeing if you had buttons because I'm not so good with buttons just yet." He said with a wolfish grin.
She laughed and said, "Well, you know what my piano teacher always told me?" He shook his head at her. "Practice, practice, practice!" And laughing still she dropped his hand and dashed up the stairs ahead of him.
Laughing he followed her upstairs calling out, "Listen here, girl! You know I can't run!" But he took the steps two at a time.
Daniel collapsed on the couch next to Brian who was looking at an old catalog.
"Hey, watch it! You trying to sit on my lap?" Brian said giving him a shove.
"I'm beat! How long you gonna milk the whole I-almost-died thing, Big Brother?" He looked over at Adam who sat next to Hannah in the armchair. They were reading the paper together.
"Long as I can." Adam said.
"Great! Don't worry about us." Daniel said sarcastically. "We can do your chores and ours, no problem."
"Well, it's all settled then." Adam said with a grin.
"Crane!" Guthrie yelled from the kitchen table. "Crane! I forgot what I was supposed to do with the negative ones."
"He won't listen to me!" Evan yelled from where he sat beside him. "He doesn't like the way I explain it!"
Crane rose shaking his head. "It's like trying to lead a stubborn bull trying to get that boy to understand algebra." He crossed the room saying, "Hold your horses, little man. We can work through it together."
"Good! 'Cause Evan doesn't make any sense." Guthrie hollered back.
"I'm in calculus! I know what I'm talking about." Evan said back.
"I'm gonna start charging for the tutoring." Crane said as he went into the kitchen where the brothers sat working.
"Well, I'm not hanging around here all night with you folks. That jeep dependable, Dan'l?" Brian asked rising.
"It is for now. Where you going?" He asked him.
"Into town. Gonna see if I can't put the old McFadden charm to good use."
"Let me tag along." Daniel said.
"No way. You''re tired out from all those extra chores. I can't have you begging to come home early. I'm not babysitting tonight."
"You're just afraid the ladies will prefer me and my McFadden charm." Daniel said.
"Please!" Brian said shaking his head. "I'm not trying to date children. I'm looking for women my age."
"Oh, so you are going out to the rest home?" Ford said surprising everyone.
"Ford!" Brian said shocked. He turned to Adam who was nearly doubled over laughing. "Did you hear that? Did you? I spend my whole life raising him, and he goes and turns on me! You better watch yourself there Ford. You are just lucky I'm too stunned to chase you down."
"Ford Edward McFadden, you are my hero." Daniel said laughing.
Ford grinned, but seeing Brian's face he said, "I'm gonna go check on that lamb. She looked a little bit weak earlier." He turned and nearly ran out the back door.
"I can't believe it!" Brian said. "You know I blame you." He said pointing at Hannah.
"Me? What did I do?" She asked.
"You had to go build him up. He's all full of confidence now. There will be no living with him. I tell you what Adam, that girl of yours is nothing but trouble. Yesterday, I found myself humming. Humming! And it was some godawful cheerful song. Do me a favor Adam, if you hear me suggest that we change our brand to flowers and rainbows, just push me off that cliff, alright?"
"I can push you off one right now, if you like." Hannah said smiling at him.
"I'm going into town." Brian said reaching for his hat. "I gotta find me a wife of my own. Yours is gonna be the death of me."
"Good luck with that!" Adam said laughing at him.
"If you can manage to bring home a wife, I can certainly do it - and I won't have to hide my brothers from her either! When you are good-looking as I am, a girl doesn't mind a pack of brothers being part of the deal."
"It wasn't the pack of brothers, that was the problem." Hannah teased. "It was just the one." She winked at him.
"You coming or not, Danny boy?" Brian said rolling his eyes at her.
"Let's go already. They don't allow visitors at that rest home after eight." He said and dashed out the door.
Brian stood in the center of the room, his shoulders slumped. "Good night, everyone." He said tipping his hat at them. "It is time for me to leave you all and kill my little brother." He turned and heading out the door. "Listen here, Dan'l. I put up with that from Ford because it was pretty impressive coming from him, but you are gonna pay for that, son!" He paused and stuck his head back in saying, "You sure kicking him out was a bad idea?" And then he was gone.
"Well, looks like another quiet boring evening at home." Adam said to Hannah.
"Yep, looks like it." She agreed.
Just then there was a crash and shout and Guthrie came running through the room with Evan close behind.
"You wanna see problem solving? I'll show you problem solving!" Evan yelled pinning Guthrie to the floor.
"Knock it off you two!" Crane said following them.
Evan paused still holding Guthrie in a choke-hold. "You thinking what I'm thinking, little brother?" Guthrie grinned, and nodded. They both turned and ran at Crane, Guthrie using the nearby couch to catapult himself through the air and onto Crane's back. "Attack!" He yelled.
"Just another, quiet evening on the ranch." Hannah shouted over the noise of the three brothers wrestling.
"It's like a dream, isn't it?" Adam shouted back to her.
"Yep, you and me, the stars, a nice fire in the fireplace, and six of your brothers." She said laughing.
"Don't exaggerate, sweetheart, three of them aren't here right now." He said.
Ford came running up the front steps just then. "Hey! Something spooked the goats! Two of them jumped that fence - now they are in with those cows! Come on!" Evan and Crane sprang into action with Guthrie close behind. They ran down the steps and out into the yard.
"I forgot to mention the cattle, the chickens, the goats and the sheep." Hannah said rising.
"Oh, this is so romantic!" Adam said crossing the room and holding open the door for her. "You, me, moonlight, and missing livestock!"
"It's just like our wedding night!" She said laughing and followed her husband out into the cold night wrapped not in her parka, but his.
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