For personal use and select distribution only © August 1997 by Amber Stockton
Bonds of Love
by Amber Stockton
The sun surfaced over the horizon and filtered in through the windows of the beautiful, two-story homestead set at the foot of the mountains in Colorado. The light fell upon two sleeping forms in one of the upstairs rooms.
Byron Sully arose from deep slumber and opened his eyes. Sully had never liked his first name, and after his mother and father and brother died, he always introduced himself by his last name. So, everyone knew him as Sully. He turned slightly to look at his still-sleeping wife lying next to him. No matter how often he looked at her or how much time they spent together, he was still amazed at how beautiful she was. Every day, he wondered what he did to deserve her love. After his first wife, Abigail, died giving birth to their first baby girl, who also died, Sully had resigned himself to being single for the rest of his life. He never counted on meeting Michaela, known as the town doctor, 'Dr. Mike'.
He thought back to the first time he saw her, walking across the muddy main street of the town and falling flat on her face in the mud. Her fancy clothes and polished look seemed so out of place in this frontier town, he wondered why she was here. Then, when he met her face to face in Loren Bray's mercantile later that week and found out that she was looking for permanent lodgings which could also be used as a medical clinic, he understood. After that first meeting, something began to grow in his heart and feelings which he had long since buried came to the surface once again.
From that day, their lives became intertwined in a way his and Abigail's never had. It started with her living in his old homestead, which he had deserted after Abigail died, renting it from him for one dollar a month. Then, when Charlotte Cooper, the town midwife, died from a rattlesnake bite and left her children in Michaela's care, they provided the opportunity for Sully and Michaela to work together. The first chance came when Brian, the youngest boy, ran away and Michaela went out looking for him. She was found by some of the Cheyenne with whom he lived, brought to the camp, and left in his care after a promise by the Chief that they would help her look for the boy. That night, in a tepee, he gave her some food to eat, provided a pillow on which to rest her head, and then placed his wool overwrap around her shoulders, giving her shoulders an extra squeeze. He knew then, that his life would never be the same.
Now, as he stared at his wife, he thanked the Great Spirit for guiding their paths to cross. He would be lost without her. Sully started out of his reverie and decided that it was time to awaken and start his day. They had to be in town this morning to meet the train. Some long-awaited medical supplies would be on it, and they wanted to be there when it rolled into the station.
He leaned over and started nibbling at Michaela's ear, an action which forced her to awaken and open her eyes to look at him.
"Mornin'," Sully said, kissing her tenderly.
"Good morning," Michaela answered when they parted.
"It's time to get up and get the kids up. We have to be in town this mornin' to meet the train."
"I know," she murmured sleepily, while turning her head away from him and closing her eyes again.
"Hey, no you don't. You have to get up."
"I'm just so tired. Can't we sleep just a little more?"
"I have just the cure for that," said Sully, mischievously as he pulled his wife towards him and turned her face towards his. He began to nuzzle her neck, then made his way up to her lips, which he kissed thoroughly. Michaela immediately responded and turned more fully towards him to deepen the kiss. When they finally parted, they were both out of breath.
"Okay, now I'm awake," she told him, throwing the covers off the bed, preparing to get up, but not before she leaned over and gave Sully a quick peck on the lips. "Thank you."
* * * * *
After breakfast was cleared from the table, Sully went outside to hitch up the wagon. Michaela grabbed Katie, their youngest daughter, and along with Brian, went out to the wagon. She handed Katie to Brian and then Sully helped her up onto the seat. Brian handed Katie back to his ma and then settled himself in the back of the wagon. Sully climbed into the seat, picked up the reins, gave them a slap and they were off to town.
When they arrived, the train was just pulling in to the station. Sully helped Michaela down and she went to the conductor to ask after the supplies. He directed her to the cargo car and with Sully's help, they loaded the supplies into the back of the wagon.
At the same time, the passengers began to disembark from the train. One lady, in particular, caught the eye of many people waiting on the platform. From her expensive, midnight blue, tailored gown to her matching, lace-fringed parasol, she was a vision of beauty. Her deep chestnut hair was coiled on top of her head with some loose tendrils escaping to blow about her neck and face. As she began to descend the steps of the passenger car, she turned her head to and fro as if searching for someone or something.
Jake Slicker, the barber, and Hank Lawson, the barkeep, both noticed this woman and were about to approach her when Preston A. Lodge III, walked up to her.
"Preston A. Lodge III at your service. Can I help you with anything?" he asked her.
"As a matter of fact, yes. My name is Veronica DuBois and I wonder if you could direct me to the nearest hotel."
"I will do even better than that. I will take you out there myself. I own the only decent hotel in this town."
"How impressive." Even though she made eye contact with him, briefly, she continued to look around the station.
"Are you looking for someone, in particular?"
"No, I am merely trying to take in all of the beauty of this fine town."
"A fine town, it is, I assure you. Maybe I show you around sometime?" he invited.
"That sounds lovely. But, if you don't mind, I'd like to see the hotel, please."
"Of course. Let me get your luggage, and we will ride out there directly."
After the supplies were loaded, the four of them again got into the wagon and proceeded to head towards the clinic. As they pulled away from the station, they passed Preston in his carriage. As they passed each other, Veronica saw Sully and smiled at him. Sully, in turn, paled noticeably and couldn't help but stare at her. Michaela noticed this reaction and a look of curiosity crossed her features. Veronica's smile turned into a smug look and the two wagons proceeded on their way.
"Do you know her?" Michaela asked.
"I dunno. She sure looks familiar," Sully lied. What was Veronica doing here? It'd been almost a year since he'd seen her. Why'd she have to show up now? Sully's thoughts tormented him.
When they arrived at the clinic, he got down from the wagon and reached up to help Michaela down. Matthew, their oldest son and the town sheriff, was already waiting to help them unload the supplies. For the most part, the supplies were unloaded in silence. After leaving Katie with Brian on the floor, Dr. Mike directed Sully and Matthew where to put each box. Once they were stacked in the main room of the clinic, Matthew put on his hat and prepared to leave.
"Thanks a lot Matthew," said Sully. "We appreciate you helpin'. I know how busy you are with your job n'all."
"Ah, it was nothin'. Besides, things ain't so busy right now," Matthew responded. "I do have to get back over to the jail, though. There's some papers I need to read." With that, he left.
As Sully started opening the crates, Mike told Brian to take Katie upstairs to one of the recovery rooms to play with her. She didn't want Katie getting in the way, or hurt. Once Brian and Katie had gone upstairs, Mike turned to Sully, who had now begun to unpack one of the crates.
"That woman is still bothering me. Do you know where you would have seen her? She doesn't look the least bit familiar to me." She received nothing but silence from Sully. "Sully..." she tried again.
"Mm?" he replied without looking up.
"Look at me," she demanded. He looked up. "Who is she?"
"What do you mean, 'Who?', that woman in Preston's carriage."
"Maybe Preston knows her. I dunno."
"Sully. I want the truth."
Sully knew that he was not going to get away with not telling his wife something, so he carefully thought out his words before he spoke.
"I don't remember her name, but the only thing I can think of is that I might of met her in Nevada about two years ago."
"Yeah. Dontcha remember when I went out there to help Daniel?"
"Well, I think she was a friend of Daniel's and we were introduced to each other."
"But why was she staring at you that way?"
"As if she was hiding a secret that only the two of you knew."
"Now, where'd ya come up with that? I didn't see anythin' strange about her look."
"No," he said a little too quickly.
"Well, perhaps I imagined it..." she murmured, but she didn't sound certain. She was convinced that Sully wasn't telling the truth, and she wondered why.
"Dontcha trust me?" Sully interrupted her thoughts.
"Why would you ask that?"
"Ya just seem so unsure that what I'm tellin' ya's the truth."
"No, it's not that. I..." She wondered why Sully was avoiding her questions and was now turning this around to questioning her.
"Michaela. Don't go frettin' about it. It's nothin'. I promise." Sully really hoped that she would let it drop.
"Okay. Let's get these supplies unloaded." Michaela wasn't satisfied with the answer that she got, but she also knew that she wasn't going to get anywhere now. She still had an uneasy feeling about Sully's words and actions. He seemed to be very evasive. However, she knew Sully, and if something was indeed there, he would talk about it when he was ready. She just didn't know if she could wait that long.
They worked together for the remainder of the morning, speaking only when there was a question about where to put something. There was definite tension between them, and when Brian came downstairs with Katie, he noticed it right away. He wondered what they had talked about, but didn't ask. It was probably none of his business, anyway, so he continued to occupy Katie.
Throughout the morning, Sully was careful not to let any of his thoughts show on his face. Michaela had a way of seeing straight through him to his innermost soul and reading him like a book. He hated being dishonest with her, but he wasn't ready to talk about Veronica until he discovered why she was here. And, unfortunately, the only way he could do that would be to talk to her. He really didn't want to do that 'cause that would just bring back too many bad memories, and he wasn't sure if he was ready to face those memories again, not yet, anyway.
* * * * *
As Preston pulled up the Colorado Springs Chateau, Veronica couldn't help but be impressed. It was a beautiful building, adorned with striped awnings and a lovely veranda around the front. In addition, it had its very own hot springs on the property. Preston noticed that Veronica was impressed, so he began to list the Chateau's amenities.
"Along with its private hot springs, the Chateau also boasts a private medical clinic right on the premises as well as its own private doctor, Dr. Andrew Cook, who came here from Boston and graduated in the top of his class at Harvard. We have catered food cooked right here at the hotel and each room has its own private sitting room off to the side. Warm baths are available upon request and you will find that everything you need is here for the asking."
"About the doctor, is he the only one in town? It seems an awfully long way for some people to travel to get help."
"No, Dr. Michaela Quinn owns the clinic in town. She takes care of all of the regular doctoring. Dr. Cook works here for me, treating the patrons of my hotel."
"A lady doctor? Now, that is impressive! I'd like to meet her."
"Yes, well, as I was saying..."
Preston continued to drone on about the other fine aspects of the hotel. While Veronica would have, at any other time, loved to hear about them, right now her mind was on Sully. She couldn't believe that he was still here and that she had found him. There was only one problem. When she passed by the wagon he was driving, there was a woman with a baby sitting next to him, and a boy in the back. It was possible that there was no connection between them, but if there was, that would make it more difficult for her to do what she came here to do. She needed time to think, alone. How long would this man continue to talk?
"Preston.If you do not mind, would you please tell me where I am to be staying and excuse me? I really appreciate all that you are doing, and this hotel truly is beautiful. I hope to take advantage of its numerous amenities, but I have had a very tiring trip, coming here from San Francisco, and would like to retire to my room for a rest."
"Of course. How could I have been so inconsiderate? I am certain that your trip here was indeed a long one. I'll have an attendant take your luggage and show you to your room. I will also have a bath drawn for you, so that you may wash away the travel dirt that I am certain you have accumulated from the ride out here. If there is anything else you need, don't hesitate to ask." With that, he left.
At last, Veronica was alone with her thoughts. Finally, she could work on what she would say to Sully when she saw him. He already knew she was here, and he recognised her. That much she knew by his reaction when he saw her in Preston's carriage. And, judging 'by' that reaction, she had her work cut out for her. She knew that it wasn't going to be easy. Now that he knew she was here, he would probably go out of his way to avoid her. But she wouldn't give up. She was determined to succeed. But, first, she had to find out who that woman was with the baby. She just very well could be the foil in all of her carefully made plans.
* * * * *
Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny. The inhabitants of the Sully homestead arose and prepared themselves for church. As Michaela was fastening her skirt in the back, Sully came up behind her and fastened it for her. As she reached for her blouse, he put his arms around her waist, inhaling the fresh scent of roses in her hair.
"Mmm. Your hair smells so good," he said as he buried his face in her hair. He moved her hair aside and began to kiss the back of her neck.
"Sully, I need to finish dressing. We'll be late for church if I don't finish up."
However, Sully didn't stop. Instead, he turned Michaela around to face him and covered her mouth with his. Thoughts of dressing dismissed, the blouse dropped to the floor and Michaela's arms moved up and around his neck as the kiss deepened. When they parted, Sully pulled back and gazed into her eyes. Only then, did Michaela realize what Sully was wearing.
He was in a much more fancy suit than he usually wore to church. In fact, the last time she saw this particular suit was on her birthday, and it still looked just as great on him now, as it did six years ago.
"What's the occasion?" she asked him when she had finished perusing his outfit.
"Nothin' special. Can't a man get dressed up for his wife?" he asked with a devilish grin on his face.
"Certainly, but you've never done it for church before."
"Well, maybe it's time I changed my ways a bit. What's the matter? Don't you approve of the outfit?"
"Oh no, it's not that. It looks absolutely wonderful on you, but..."
"That's more like it," he said as he leaned in to kiss her again.
Just then, Katie decided to make her presence known with a loud cry, effectively breaking the mood. Michaela had brought her in their room after she had finished feeding her and getting her ready. She broke away from Sully and moved towards her, but Sully stopped her with his hand on her arm.
"I'll get her. You finish gettin' ready." He went over to the rug in front of the fireplace where Katie was sitting and lifted her into his arms. He sat down on the edge of the bed to bounce her on his knee, bringing a squeal of delight from his daughter. As Michaela watched the two of them, she couldn't help but feel an overpowering love swell in her heart. What did she ever do to deserve to be so blessed?
When they arrived at church, Sully hopped down and turned to help Michaela and Katie out of the buggy. Brian got down from the back, and together they walked towards the church to greet the other townsfolk before service began. When the Reverend came out to let everyone know that church was starting, they all filed into the church and sat in their pews. The Reverend opened with a word of prayer and the congregation sang a hymn from their hymnals. When the song was concluded, the sermon began.
About halfway through the sermon, Veronica slipped quietly in and sat in one of the back pews. She glanced quickly around the room and saw Sully sitting about four rows up and across the aisle from her. She also noticed that he wasn't alone. That woman with the baby and the little boy were with him. "Curse it all!," she thought. "There really must be a relationship there if they come and go from the train station together and sit in the same pew at church." This was going to be more difficult than Veronica had planned. Why hadn't she come to Colorado Springs sooner? Or better yet, why hadn't she declared her intentions in Nevada when she first met him? Her thoughts tormented her all throughout the remainder of the sermon, and she didn't even realize that it was over until she saw everyone get up from their seats and begin to walk down the aisle to go outside.
Veronica hurriedly stood up and exited the church, lest Sully see her again. As she reached the door to the church and began to descend the steps, she stopped by the Reverend, touching his hand and greeting him, pausing only a moment in awkward silence before introducing herself and thanking him for the sermon..
"I don't think I've seen you around here before. Did you just arrive in Colorado Springs?"
"Yes. I came on yesterday's train," she replied.
"Are you here to visit or just passing through?"
"I have friends nearby."
"Well, it's very nice having you here. I hope your stay is very enjoyable." With that, the Reverend turned to greet the person behind her, and Veronica walked over to the meadow where people were spreading out blankets and food was being unpacked for the Sunday picnic. Just as she was about to turn and walk away, not knowing where she would sit, Preston approached her with a picnic basket in hand.
"Miss DuBois? I would be honored if you would join me for an afternoon picnic. I have a basket of food here prepared by the staff of my hotel. I am certain you will love it." He held out his arm with an inviting smile. Veronica smiled in return and tucked her hand in the crook of his elbow.
"Thank you, Mr. Lodge. I will gladly join you."
They walked over to a clear spot and Preston spread out the blanket on the ground. He and Veronica sat down and he began to unpack the basket. Just then, Veronica spotted Sully as he walked down the steps of the church to greet the Reverend. Her eyes followed him from there to his wagon and back to the woman and two children. Preston was too involved with making conversation and talking about the beauty of their surroundings to notice that she really wasn't paying any attention.
After Sully and Michaela, along with Brian and Katie, had greeted the Reverend, Sully walked over to the wagon to get the basket and blanket for their afternoon picnic. When he rejoined his family, they all walked together over to the meadow and picked a clear spot to settle. Caught up in the beauty of the day and just being together, neither Michaela nor Sully noticed Veronica sitting a little ways away with Preston. The family just enjoyed their meal and the breeze blowing across the meadow.
After lunch, Michaela packed up the food and cleaned up the discarded dishes. As she was finishing, Brian spoke up.
"Ma, can me and Katie go over to see Miss Dorothy and Mr. Bray?"
"It's 'Katie and I', and yes, you may. But, be careful," she admonished him.
"I will. I'll take good care of her," he promised, taking Katie's hand and walking over to where Dorothy and Loren were seated.
Michaela watched them go and again that strong love she felt for them filled her heart. She let out of sigh of contentment.
"Whatcha thinkin' about?" Sully asked when he heard her sigh.
"About how happy I am with you and the children. Even with Matthew on his own and Colleen away at college, I still don't feel lonely because I have you, Brian, and Katie. It's funny how I thought that it would actually be lonely and sometimes too quiet with the other two gone..."
"Not with a one-year-old around," Sully interrupted with a laugh.
"How true. I don't know how I could have thought that things would ever be quiet with Katie around. She talks almost constantly, some nonsense, and some experimenting with the new words she is learning. The only time she's quiet is when she's sleeping."
Sully leaned in towards her ear and whispered, "Just like her ma." He moved over closer to her and put his arm around her waist. She rested her head on his shoulder and just stared out at the trees and flowers spread out over the meadow and beyond.
So content was she, that she didn't notice that icy daggers were being directed at her from a blanket a little behind her and to her right. Sully felt a little uncomfortable though, and he turned his head to see if he could see anything unusual happening. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught sight of Veronica sitting with Preston, glaring at them, with a look of pure hate in her eyes.
Sully didn't want to risk Michaela seeing her, so he shifted slightly and turned his right shoulder in so that he could shield her from the anger emanating from Veronica. He made a decision right then and there that he would HAVE to speak to her. He wasn't going to ruin this perfect day, but he would make sure that he spoke to her tomorrow, even if he had to go Preston's hotel himself and demand that she see him. He was going to straighten this out once and for all.
* * * * *
Sully awoke early the next morning, and quietly got dressed. He didn't want to disturb his wife, Michaela, who was still sleeping. The sun hadn't even fully risen yet, but he had never gone to sleep. He spent the entire night thinking of what he was going to do today and how he was going to deal with Veronica. Just from the looks she threw his way, or in his direction, he knew that she was here to see him. Why, he didn't know. When he had met her in Nevada, beyond being polite, he'd hardly said two words to her. He was there to help Daniel, and nothing else. Besides, the faster he got that job done, the sooner he could get back home to his wife. He didn't want anything to make his time in Nevada last any longer than necessary.
Daniel, on the other hand, spent most of his time either talking 'to' Veronica, or 'about' her. Sully could tell that Daniel was very fond of her, but she paid him no mind. She was always trying to engage him in a conversation of any sort, whether to talk about mining, the Cheyenne, or even nature, all about which she knew nothing. Her attentiveness to him had made him very uncomfortable, so he answered her questions with short responses and went on with his work.
By the time he was finished and ready to return home, he was happy knowing that he would not have to spend another moment with Miss DuBois. She had been nothing but a nuisance from the day they met, and he was glad to be rid of her.
Now, after more than two years, she was back. He would find out the reason today, no matter what it took.
"Sully?" Michaela said sleepily.
Sully walked over to her side of the bed and sat on the edge, resting his hand on her arm. "Michaela, I'm sorry. Did I wake you?"
Michaela propped herself up in bed. "The sun isn't even up yet. Where are you going?"
"I have some thing that needs doin' and I wanted to get an early start," was all he said. The less she knew, the better, although keeping anything from her was always difficult for him.
"When will you be back?"
"I don't know, but I should be home in time for supper. Don't worry. Now, go back to sleep." He helped her under the covers again and brushed her hair out of her face. Then, he leaned over and kissed her forehead, and left their room.
As Sully walked away from the homestead and in the direction of the Chateau, he decided that he needed some time to think. He had no idea what he was going to say to Veronica when he saw her. Besides, something wasn't right. He felt it. So, he needed to seek some guidance before facing her.
He stopped near the stream and while Wolf wandered off, Sully sat down on his calves to think.
The past two days had seemed to be moving in slow motion, ever since he saw Veronica in Preston's carriage at the train station. It wasn't enough that he had seen her on Saturday, but then he had seen her after church on Sunday morning staring icicles into Michaela's back. He was thankful that she had not noticed anything, because he just wasn't ready to face her questions yet, not until he had talked to Veronica.
Sully had no idea how long he sat there, but he decided that now was the time to go see her. So, he headed for the Chateau and prepared himself for what he would find.
A couple of hours after Sully had left, Michaela awoke again and got dressed. She then went to get Katie and Brian ready for the day. As she was fixing breakfast, thoughts of Sully went through her mind. Even though she had been half asleep when she spoke with him this morning, she could still sense that something was strange about his manner and his voice. She couldn't figure out what it was, but he seemed to have been acting strangely ever since he saw that woman on Saturday at the train station. Whenever she asked him a question, he seemed distracted. If the question was in any way related to the woman, he seemed distant and elusive, like he was hiding something from her. She knew she should trust him, but it was difficult when he insisted on acting this way.
After breakfast, she picked Katie up in her arms and headed out to the wagon. Brian had already hitched up the horses, so they were ready to go. Once Brian climbed into the seat, Michaela handed Katie to him, grabbed the reins and gave them a slap.
About halfway to town, Michaela was so deep in thought, that she didn't hear Brian talking to her.
"Ma? Did you hear what I said?" Brian asked.
"Hmm? Oh, I'm sorry, Brian. I wasn't paying attention. Now, what did you say?"
"I said that we only have two weeks left of school. I can't wait for summer vacation to begin. Colleen will be home to watch Katie and I can go play with my friends."
"Well, Colleen can help most of the time, but remember that she is going to be helping me at the clinic as well as spending time with Andrew."
"Oh yeah, they're courtin'. I forgot," he said dejectedly.
"But, maybe I can leave Katie with Grace or Dorothy on some days. That way, you will be able to spend time with your friends."
"Really, Ma? Do ya think so?"
"Sure. After all, you need to have fun over summer vacation, and I'm sure that watching your baby sister is not among your list of fun things to do."
"Oh, Ma, you know I love playing with Katie. It's just that I also want to be with my friends and go fishin'."
"I know, Brian, and that's fine with me."
They pulled up the clinic, and Brian handed Katie to Dr. Mike while he hopped down from the wagon. Then, he took Katie while Dr. Mike got down. She took Katie from Brian then kissed him on the forehead.
"Have a nice day at school," she said as he ran off towards the schoolhouse.
She picked up her medical bag and went into the clinic.
Veronica DuBois awoke that morning with a pain in her right arm. It had been bothering her on and off now for about a month. However, today it seemed to be hurting even more. She got dressed and then decided that she would head into town to see this lady doctor about whom Preston spoke. While she was sure that Dr. Cook at the hotel would do a fine job, she needed to go into town anyway for some supplies at the general store, so she would just stop in at the clinic to see about her arm.
She did not know that Sully was coming to see her, so as she left the hotel to go into town, she didn't see him coming out of the woods from the other direction.
Sully was not paying much attention to anyone walking outside, so he missed the fact that Veronica had already left. He walked up the front steps of the hotel and ran into Preston who was on his way to see Andrew Cook.
"Mr. Sully, how nice to see you on this fine morning. What brings you out here?" Although Preston sounded genuinely interested in Sully's affairs, he really could care less. He made it no secret that Sully angered him. Ever since he came to town, he and Sully had been at odds with one another. He never failed to find some way to torment Sully about his lifestyle and occupation, whatever that was. He considered Sully a misfit and a social outcast, so therefore was not worth his time.
"Good morning, Preston. Do you have a patron here by the name of Veronica DuBois?"
"Why, yes, I do. Why do you ask?"
"I have a message for her."
"Well, she just left for town. You could leave it with me, and I will be sure she gets it."
"No, thanks. It needs to be given to her in person."
"Well, I don't know when she will be back. Why don't you go to town and see if you can catch up with her there?" Preston was willing to suggest anything, just so Sully left his hotel. He had more important things to do than converse with a mountain man.
"I'll do that," he said, and with that, he left.
When Veronica arrived in town, she decided that she was going to go to the general store first and leave her list with the owner while she went on to the clinic. As she entered the store, Loren Bray approached her.
"Can I help you, Miss...?"
"DuBois, and yes, you can. I have a list here of things which I need to purchase. If you wouldn't mind, I'd like you to gather them together and total the bill. I will be back in a few minutes to pick them up." She handed her list to Mr. Bray and turned to leave.
"I will have these things ready when you return, Miss DuBois."
"Thank you, Mr....?"
"Bray, Loren Bray."
"Thank you, Mr. Bray," and with that she left.
As she was walking across the street towards the clinic, a sharp pain shot up her arm. It was almost too much to bear. She quickened her step and arrived at the clinic door. She knocked and from inside she heard someone say, "Come in," so she opened the door and stepped inside. The woman's back was to her and she was putting some medicines away in a cabinet on the far wall.
"I'll be with you in a moment," she said and Veronica closed the door.
Dr. Mike turned and said, "How may I help..." but got no further with her question when she saw who was standing there.
Veronica noticed who she was as well and a cold look passed over her face. She couldn't believe that this woman was the same woman whom she saw with Sully.
* * * * *
Michaela immediately erased the combination of shock, anger, and curiosity off her face and became the doctor.
"How may I help you?" She was glad that Katie was asleep upstairs. She didn't know what to think of this woman.
Veronica took a moment to compose herself. She couldn't believe that the woman she saw with Sully this past weekend was the town doctor!! This could prove to be very interesting indeed. She would definitely have to take great care in what she would say to this woman doctor, if she was going to get any information out of her at all.
"I have been having this pain in my right arm for the past several months, and it has just started acting up again. I was wondering if you could take a look at it."
"Veronica. Veronica DuBois."
"Why don't you take a seat in this chair, Veronica, while I wash my hands." Michaela went over the wash basin and poured some fresh water into the bowl. She lathered her hands with soap and rinsed them off. Then, she walked over to Veronica.
"Let's start with a few tests. I want you to tell me when it hurts." She proceeded to turn Veronica's arm this way and that, until Veronica let out a moan of pain.
"Okay. Now, I am going to press lightly on some areas. Again, let me know when you feel pain." Michaela pressed on the wrist and received a slight moan. Then she pressed on the forearm. When she reached the elbow, Veronica groaned.
"Would you mind rolling up your sleeve?" Veronica did as Dr. Mike asked, and when the elbow was exposed, there was a slight discoloration around it.
"How long did you say that you were feeling this pain?"
"On and off for about four months."
"Do you remember doing anything where you would have struck your elbow on anything?"
"Well, there was one time when I was out riding and was thrown from my horse. I landed on my right side, but I was okay then, with the exception of a few scrapes, so I didn't think anything of it. Why?"
"Well, it appears as if you have suffered some blood clotting in your upper arm. But, you may have also sprained your wrist. I am going to give you some salve to rub on your elbow and we're going to have to wrap your wrist to avoid further damage. You should be back to normal in a couple of weeks." Michaela proceeded to prepare the salve and the bandage.
As she was wrapping her wrist, Veronica spoke up. "What made you decide to become a doctor?"
"My father was a physician in Boston where I was born, and always allowed me to help him with some of his patients. I just took an interest in it, and when I finished medical school, I became his partner."
"How did you come to live out here?"
"My father died about seven years ago of a stroke, and all of his patients sought medical help elsewhere. I saw an ad in the paper that Colorado Springs needed a doctor, so I answered the ad, and came out West."
"All alone? That was very brave of you."
"I had nothing left back in Boston. My father was my mentor and my best friend. When he died, I knew I needed a change."
"So, you're living out here all alone?" At Dr. Mike's look of hesitancy, Veronica continued, "I don't mean to pry. It's just that you don't find too many female doctors around and I'm impressed that you have succeeded." Actually, Veronica couldn't care less about Dr. Mike's personal life. All she wanted to know was what she was doing with Sully.
Michaela sensed that Veronica was trying to find out something, so she guarded her words very carefully. "I have worked very hard to be accepted in this town. Now, I have a husband and four children. I keep myself busy."
So that's who those two children were. But, wait. She said she was married. Does that mean...? She had to know for sure.
"Well, I'd really like to meet your family some day."
"What brings you out here?"
"I have some business with an old friend."
"Where are you staying?"
"At the Chateau."
"Well, why don't you come over for supper tonight at our home. My two older children won't be there, but you will get to meet my husband, as well as Brian and Katie."
"Thank you. I think I will."
Michaela finished wrapping the wrist, handed Veronica the salve and went to open the door.
"If you like, you could ride out with me after I get off work."
"That would be nice, since I don't have a horse and buggy of my own." As she turned to leave, she asked, "How much do I owe you?"
Veronica handed her the money and left for the Mercantile to pick up her things. As soon as she was gone, Michaela closed the door and went to her desk to sit down. Maybe tonight, they will get this thing cleared up about this woman. The only problem was that she didn't know how Sully was going to react when he found out who was coming over for supper.
She didn't have to wait long. Sully came in about five minutes later.
* * * * *
Michaela looked up from her desk as Sully walked in the door. He walked over to her and leaned down to give her a kiss.
"Good morning. I see you have finished your work."
"Oh, well not quite. My work brought me inta town, so I thought I'd stop by to see ya."
"Well, that was kind of you," she said sarcastically. After this morning, she wasn't sure how to respond to him.
"Why are ya talkin' like that, Michaela?"
"Like ya don't mean what you're sayin'. Did I do something to upset ya? If I did, I'm sorry."
He sounded truly sincere, and Michaela immediately felt bad for reacting the way she did. She sighed. "I'm sorry, Sully, but I today has not started out so well."
Sully took her hand and pulled her up to stand with him. Then, he led her over to the settee by the wall and sat down, pulling her down with him. He put his arm around her shoulders and she leaned against his chest.
"Now, why don't you tell me what's wrong."
"Well, this morning, after you left, I couldn't get back to sleep, and then Katie woke up early wanting to be fed. When I had her ready and was trying to clean up breakfast, she kept getting into everything. I know this is normal, but I just couldn't take it this morning. Then, I got into town this morning and had to put Katie in the crib, since all she wanted to do was wander around and get into trouble."
"Michaela, that's normal for kids her age. They're just learnin' about their world and explorin's the only way they're gonna learn."
"I know, Sully, and truthfully, Katie's not the problem."
"Then, what is?"
"I just had a visit from that woman we saw at the train station on Saturday. She was acting very peculiar and asking me all kinds of questions. Aside from a slight blood clot and a minor sprained wrist, she was fine, but I kept getting the feeling that she disapproved of me."
Sully tensed slightly at the mention of Veronica being here at the clinic. Why was she talking to his wife and asking questions? He really needed to find her and have a talk with her.
"What kinds of questions?"
"Oh, nothing unusual. But, it was the way in which she asked them that bothered me. It was almost as if she was trying to find out something. And when I mentioned that I was married, she got this cold look in her eyes."
"I'm sure it was nothin' but you're imagination, Michaela. Why would she act that way if she doesn't even know you?"
"I don't know. That's what is bothering me."
"Well, don't let it worry you." Sully removed his arm from around Michaela's shoulders and stood up. "Are ya hungry? Why don't you and I and Katie go to Grace's for lunch."
"All right. I'll go upstairs and get her. She fell asleep about an hour ago." As Michaela was going up the stairs to get Katie, her mind wandered again to Sully's strange behavior whenever that woman is mentioned. What was going on, here? She intended to find out. Then, she remembered that she forgot to tell Sully that she was coming over for supper tonight. She'd have to tell him at lunch.