Michaela lay in bed starring up at the ceiling wishing she could venture downstairs, to be with her family and friends. Unfortunately Dorothy and Cloud Dancing bid her to rest after becoming ill, never mind that she insisted that she was fine. Life just wasn’t fair and she didn’t like that the voices downstairs were probably discussing her illness. An illness that certainly wasn’t fatal and one she wasn’t about to reveal just yet.
Rolling over, Michaela reached out a hand for the mug of willow bark tea Cloud Dancing had left on her nightstand. It still felt warm to the touch and the liquid soothing as it traveled down her throat. She then set it back down on the table before sinking back under the covers to stare at the patterns on the ceiling once again.
“Thank you, Miss Dorothy for agreeing to stay with Dr. Mike,” said Daniel in a voice that somehow seemed more nervous than confident. “It’s no problem,” Dorothy answered. “We’ll all be fine, don’t you worry.” Colleen looked nervously up at Daniel wondering if Daniel’s plan was going to work. Somehow she felt everyone knew what was happening, except for Katie.
Daniel glanced over at Colleen holding baby Katie in her arms, and gave her a warm smile before placing his hands on her shoulders. “Everything’s gonna be alright,” he said warmly with a smile in hopes of making her feel better. Colleen faked a smile to agree when really she was a bundle of nerves inside as she watched Matthew leave with her Pa’s two best friends into the night.
Sully huddled over a warm fire with his cold hands wrapped around a hot cup of coffee as he starred up at the stars above. The sky was clear tonight and the stars filled the darkness with their twinkling light. Taking a sip of his coffee, he smiled to himself remembering the time he’d first shown Michaela the stars. She couldn’t believe how many there were and how bright they’d shone. Growing up in the city hadn’t afforded her the view non city dwellers saw and he was pleased to have shared that with her.
As he gently pulled the cup away from his lips, Wolf nudged him with a whine before looking up with eyes that longed for a friend. He reached out and gave his faithful companion a gentle pat and a scratch behind the ears before letting him nestle at his feet. Wolf had always been there for him through thick and thin and now as the cold began to settle in for the night, he was glad to have him there. A moment later Sully reached out for his warm blankets, nestled down by the fire and slowly drifted off to sleep as a shooting star flashed across the sky.
Daniel had never been so nervous in his life, even though he knew Sully well enough to know the man wasn’t dead. It had taken him months of tracking with endless nights before he found what he was looking for, a cave with Sully’s things nearby. Relief had washed over him then but he couldn’t tell a soul. If the Army had gotten word of Sully hiding, they would have been all over him like a fox on a rabbit. It just wasn’t done and he had to patiently wait and play his cards right. Only then could he bring him home to the wife who missed him so and the children who needed their father.
Cloud Dancing urged his horse forward so he was cantering along next to Daniel, “Somethings troubling you,” he stated as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Daniel slowed down a moment, and gave Cloud Dancing a look. All he got in return was a knowing smile as if the man could read his mind without him speaking. “It’s a long story and I wouldn’t know where to start,” Daniel replied once he was able to find his voice and put his focus forward. “I’ve got all night,” Cloud Dancing replied with an invitation to Daniel to speak up. “Oh, all right, I’ll tell you,” said Daniel when he realized that he could trust both the men with him and that he was probably going to need their help.
Michaela slept soundly through the night and by the time she woke the sunlight was pouring through the curtains. It’s bright light casting a glow wherever it landed. She smiled to herself before rolling over to look at the empty space in bed where her loving husband should be. The man who only had eyes for her, her protector in all things, her best friend and most of all the man she loved with all her heart. As she lay there warm under the blankets she remembered back to a day he took her riding.
It had been her first time on Flash and well she certainly had a lot to learn. Flash was such a fiery horse that she’d wanted to go fast and fly through the air, when all Michaela had wanted was to just go at a slow and steady pace. Sully had seemed content with the slow pace until Flash decided to gallop off ahead, which had caused him to do a double take before he squeezed the sides of his horse to catch up. Michaela had loved that moment of being able to just fly without a care and once caught; she was too embarrassed to admit that she’d caused the sudden gallop.
She could see Sully out of the corner of her eye as she smiled to herself for the moment shared with Flash. Never mind his concerned look, Flash would never hurt her and she knew Snowbird was right, they were both kindred spirits. From that moment there was no bond that would break what she had formed with Flash.
Rolling back over, Michaela forced herself out of bed to escape the confines of her room. She didn’t like being told what to do and after surviving the night she was ready to take on the day. Bracing for the cold air to envelope her, Michaela grabbed her robe and put warm socks on her feet before descending the stairs.
The moment her feet hit the bottom step she heard the sound of horses moving at a quick pace. Michaela went to the window to look out, puzzled as to why there was no yelling to accompany the fast moving horses. Most times that happened the rider would be shouting her name followed by a medical emergency. She was so absorbed in her window viewing that she didn’t even see Dorothy standing there with Brian, Colleen and Katie all smiling at her back.
“Something the matter?” Dorothy asked breaking the spell over Michaela and causing her to jump three feet in the air. “Everything’s fine,” Michaela replied once she’d found her breath again. Her friend had given her quite a start and caused Katie to call out to her before Colleen let her go running towards her.
Michaela scoped up Katie just as the horses pulled into view with Cloud Dancing, Matthew, Daniel and one other hooded figure she couldn’t make out. Going to the door this time, Michaela opened it and stepped right outside no caring how she looked. The cold air blasted her and sent shivers up and down as she held Katie close. She looked at the three men questioning them with her eyes. All she got in return though were smiles and the revilement of the hooded figure.
Michaela wasn’t sure what happened next, only that she felt Katie lifted from her arms and familiar strong ones embracing her with their warmth. She could smell the smoke, sweat, and leather coming from the man she loved. He had returned home to her and she wanted to laugh, cry and hold onto this moment forever.
Daniel stood by his horse for a moment taking in the scene before him. All those months of hard work to clear Sully’s name had been worth it. Just to see the face of his wife the moment his hood came off. She almost looked as if she’d seen a ghost and yet by the way she was holding on to him, not about to let go of him again. He knew deep down that this was the best gift she could receive after a year of heartache; beginning a new one with hope.
Later that evening after a supper full of stories recounting all that had happened, Michaela sat by the fire with Sully’s arms around her as they watched the flames dance. She didn’t want the moment to end, but there was one more thing she had to tell him, or rather show him. Boldly she moved his hand down to her belly to let him know of the life growing inside of her with the tiny heartbeat filled with their hopes and dreams.