Title:  Return to Dodge: Reclaiming their Heart

By: tayryn

Rating: FRAO – it’s not for kids!!

Disclaimer:  They’re not mine.  I wish they were… but they’re not.

Summary:  When Matt is injured… Kitty returns to Dodge.


Notes:  My version of RtD.  How I think it should have gone.




“Miss Kitty, this just arrived for you.”


Kitty looked up from the ledger she was working on to see her bartender, Louis, standing in front of her desk with a telegram in his hand.  She felt a sudden, strange sense of dread pass over her; much like the one that had taken her by surprise a few days earlier.


“Thank you, Louis.”  Kitty replied and took the yellow envelope from the younger man.


Louis nodded and headed back downstairs to the saloon.


Kitty stared at the envelope for several long moments, knowing instinctively that it was bad news.  She took several deep breaths then slowly opened it and pulled out the small slip of paper.














“Oh, God…” Kitty gasped and swallowed hard at the lump that had formed in her throat as she fell back in her chair.  Her eyes moved back to the telegram.




“Oh, Matt…” she whispered and dropped the telegram to her desk as she pushed back her chair and quickly got to her feet.  “LOUIS!”  She cried out as she moved to the door.  “Louis!  I want you to run to the train station and book passage on the next train to Dodge City!”




Kitty’s head whipped around to see two sets of familiar blue eyes staring up at her.


“How many tickets, Miss Kitty?”  Louis asked from below.


Kitty stared into the two anxious faces.  “Three, please, Louis.”


“Yes, ma’am…” Louis nodded and quickly left the saloon.


Kitty took a deep breath then turned to the two young children still looking up at her and gestured for them to follow her into her office.  She sat down on the small sofa and drew the children onto her lap.  “I have some bad news…” Kitty began.  “It’s your papa…”




The train sped along the track, jostling its passengers as it chugged along.  Kitty stared out into the darkness, not really paying attention to what little of the scenery was actually visible.  With a restless sigh, she turned away from the window to look at her children.


She couldn’t help but smile at the sight of them curled up together, sound asleep, under the blankets on the seat before her.  With their trip being so last minute, Kitty had been unable to obtain a sleeper compartment for her and the children, and so they had been forced to ride all the way to Dodge City, sitting up, in the passenger car.  The conductor had been very gracious and found some blankets and pillows for the children.


The children.


THEIR children.



“I’m pregnant.”


The softly spoken words seemed to echo through the quiet of the room, and the only indication she received that he’d heard her was the slight tensing of his body beneath hers.


“When did you find out?”  Matt asked several moments later in a quiet voice.


“Doc confirmed it for me this afternoon,” Kitty answered.


Matt remained silent.


“What are we going to do, Matt?”


“I don’t know, Kitty.” He answered.  “I don’t know.”


“Do you want me to…” she paused then continued in a tremulous voice, “…end the pregnancy?”


“NO!”  Matt’s response was immediate and vehement.  “This is our baby, Kitty!  Aborting it is not even an option.”


Kitty breathed a sigh of relief.  She had known, deep inside, that Matt would not want to end the pregnancy, but a small grain of fear had taken root, and she’d had to ask him.  “So, what do we do?”  She asked again.


“We stick to our agreement,” he told her.


“Oh no, Matt…” Kitty pushed herself up onto her arm so that she could look down into his face.


“Kitty…” he began.


“No, Matt, please!  I can’t… not without you,” Kitty told him.  “I… I don’t want to raise this baby alone.”


“You won’t be alone,” Matt said as he stroked her bare back.  “You know what we agreed when we got married…”


“I know… but, oh, Matt… I don’t want to leave Dodge.”  Kitty said.  “This is my home.  And there’s the Long Branch… and Doc and Festus… and you.”


“I know that, Kitty.”  Matt replied.  “But there’s also this baby to think about now,” he reached between them to lay his hand on her belly, “We have to do what’s best for our child.”


Kitty nodded.  “I know.  It’s just…”


“You’re afraid.”


Again Kitty nodded.  “Yes, I am.  Matt, that badge has had a hold on you for almost twenty years and…”


“You’re afraid I will never be able to give it up.”




“Kitty, I’ve devoted more than twenty years of my life to being a lawman.  And, as you said, almost twenty alone to that badge in particular.”  He looked over to where his shirt was hanging on the back of the chair, the badge in question shining in the dim glow of the lamp.  “One more year, honey, and then I will devote the rest of my life to you.”  Matt gently patted her stomach.  “You and this little one.”



The train lurched, and jostled Kitty out of her memories.  She looked across the seat to see that the children were still asleep as she silently berated herself for drifting off.  She leaned over and tugged the blankets up to better cover them then sat back in her seat.


“Hang on, Matt…” Kitty said quietly as she stared at their children.  “Please hang on.  They need, so desperately, to see you…” She reached up and brushed away the tears that had suddenly welled up in her eyes.  ‘I need to see you too,’ she thought.




Hannah stepped out of the Long Branch and paused a moment on the boardwalk. 


It was quiet on Front Street.


Unusually quiet.


She looked around, not at all surprised to still see a few citizens milling about the stairs that led to the doctor’s office.  These were the older townsfolk… the ones who had been in Dodge back when it was a new settlement… when the man lying upstairs, fighting for his life, had brought the law into the town and with that law, a sense of peace and order.  These were the people who were afraid that that man would finally be taken away from them.


She turned, and slowly made her way towards the doctor’s office.  Just as she reached the stairs, she heard someone calling her name.  She turned to see Bradley, the young man who worked for old Barney at the telegraph office, running towards her.


“Miss Hannah!  This is for you,” he told her breathlessly and stuck out in his hand, in which was clutched a folded piece of paper.  “It’s from New Orleans.”


Heads turned at that as Hannah took the telegram.  She opened it and read it quickly to herself.
















“Is there any response?”  Bradley asked.


“Nope.  No response needed,” Hannah replied as she folded the telegram and shoved it in the pocket on her skirt, ignoring the curious expressions on the faces of those loitering about.  “Thank you for bringing it.”


“That’s my job,” Bradley said with a smile then his eyes darted up to the doctor’s office.  “Any word on Mister Dillon?”


“That’s what I’m going to find out,” Hannah told him then began to climb the stairs.  She entered the doctor’s office and made her way through to the back room.  “Good morning, Doc.”


“Miss Hannah, good morning.”  Doctor Brady replied as he stood next to the unconscious man in the bed, checking his pulse.


“How’s the patient?”  Hannah asked.


Brady shook his head as he laid Matt’s arm down.  “There’s been no change.”


“He’s still got a fever?”


Brady nodded.  “And it’s climbing.  On top of that, the wound is showing sign of infection, which isn’t surprising.  That knife went in deep.  We also don’t know how long he was in that canoe before Oakum found him,” he told her.  “How he made it this far, I don’t know.”


“Matt Dillon is made of tough stuff.”


“You’re not kidding,” Brady agreed.  “The scars on his body are testament to that.”


They both looked down on the ex-lawman as he grew agitated and restless in the bed.  He moaned and began to mumble incoherently.


“Hannah, you’re probably gonna think I’m crazy, but if I didn’t know better, I’d say he was hanging on for someone.”


“He is,” Hannah told him.


Brady gave Hannah a quizzical look then shook his head.  “You don’t mean…”


“…Kitty…” it was the only word both understood.


Hannah smiled as Matt moaned Kitty’s name at the perfect moment.  “That’s who he’s hanging on for,” she told the doctor then stepped over to the bed.  “Hang on just a little longer, Matt.”  She fingered the telegram in her pocket.  “She’s on her way.”


“…ry, Kitty…”




“Do you see her?”




“Just keep looking.”


“Are you certain Miss Kitty is on this train?”  Newly asked as he and Hannah searched the crowd for the woman in question.


Hannah nodded.  “Yes, Newly.  The telegram said she’d be arriving today.”


“Wait… I think I… yes… there she is,” Newly said, pointing through the crowd.  “I’d know that red hair anywhere.”


“Well, come on… let’s not just stand here,” Hannah told him.  She grabbed his arm and dragged him along behind her.




Kitty stepped down from the train then turned to assist the children.  “Hold your sister’s hand,” she told her son as she reached down to grab their bags.


“Hello, Miss Kitty.”


Kitty’s head snapped up and a large smile filled her face.  “Newly!”  She stepped over to him and gave him a hug.  “It’s good to see you again.”


“Likewise, Miss Kitty.  I just wish it was under better circumstances.”


The smile left Kitty’s face.  “So do I, Newly.  So do I.” She agreed then turned to give Hannah a small smile of greeting.  “Hello, Hannah.”


“Kitty,” Hannah reached out and took Kitty’s hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.


Almost afraid to ask, but knowing she needed to know; Kitty swallowed then asked, “Is he…”


“He’s still alive,” Hannah answered.


“Thank God,” Kitty breathed a sigh of relief.


“We’ve got a buckboard waiting to take you to him.  Faster than walking,” Newly told her as he reached down to grab the suitcases beside her.  “We should be going.”


“Right,” Kitty agreed and reached down to grasp her son’s hand.  “We’re ready.”


Newly froze.  He and Hannah looked down at the children as if seeing them for the first time.


Kitty bit back a small chuckle at the shocked expressions on their faces.  “Hannah, Newly… I’d like for you to meet my children.  Gayle and Adam,” she gestured to each child.  “Children,” Kitty smiled down at her offspring, “this is your Uncle Newly and Miss Hannah.”


“Hello,” the children chorused with very familiar smiles.


“Hello,” Newly and Hannah replied quietly then looked up at Kitty.


“Yes,” Kitty nodded.  “They’re Matt’s.”


“Miss Kitty, we weren’t…” Newly began.


“Yes, you were.”  Kitty said with a small smile as Gayle moved around to grasp Kitty’s free hand.  “And I don’t blame you for being curious.  But right now, we have more pressing matters…”


“Right!”  Newly said.  “Follow me.”


Kitty squeezed the children’s hands gently.  “Come on; let’s go see your papa.”




“What happened, Newly?”  Kitty asked, ignoring the stares of the townspeople as they rode through Dodge.


“He was knifed.”


“Knifed!?”  Kitty exclaimed.  “How?  Who?”


“We don’t know for certain,” Newly answered.  “Oakum came riding in, hell bent for leather, with Matt in the back of his wagon.  Told us he’d found him face down in a beached canoe a few miles outside of Dodge.”


“And there’s no way of telling how long he was like that?”  Kitty inquired; not asking nor caring, at that point, who Oakum was.


Newly shook his head.


“Has he said anything?”


“He mumbled something about Territorial Prison when he was first brought in,” Newly said.  “But other than that…”


“He called for you, Kitty.”  Hannah spoke up from the seat behind them where she sat with the children.


Kitty turned her head to look at Hannah.  “Did he really?”


“Yes,” Hannah nodded.  “He called for you and kept murmuring something about being sorry.”


A bittersweet smile touched Kitty’s lips, but she was saved from commenting when Newly brought the wagon to a stop in front of the general store; above which, the doctor’s office was still located.


Not waiting for Newly, Kitty quickly got down off of the wagon, and was not surprised to find the children had climbed down as well.  “Stay right behind me,” she told them as she gathered up her skirt and hurried up the steps to the doctor’s office.  Not bothering with knocking, Kitty opened the door, rushed in and across the room to the back bedroom.


She looked up, startled, when a strong hand closed over hers on the door knob.


“I’m sorry, ma’am.  No visitors allowed.”


“I beg your pardon.”


“Mister Dillon has a lot of enemies…”


‘I’ll say he does!’ Kitty thought wryly.


“…who would love to take a chance and get him while he’s incapacitated,” Brady explained.  “And since Mister Dillon has no family, only those friends that I am aware of may see him.”


“Oh, he has family,” Kitty informed him.  “I’m his family.  I’m Matt’s wife.”


“Matt Dillon isn’t married,” Brady said as he once again prevented Kitty from entering the back room.


“I assure you, Doctor, he is,” Kitty said.  “Now please step aside.”


“I’m afraid I can’t let you…”


“It’s all right, Doc.”


Brady and Kitty turned to find Newly and Hannah just stepping inside the office door.




“She’s safe.  You can let her in to see Matt,” Newly told him.


“This is Kitty, Mike.”  Hannah informed the physician.


“Kitty?!”  Mike turned back to Kitty with wide eyes and dropped his hand from the door knob.  “Please forgive me, Mrs. Dillon… I was just…”


“Looking out for your patient,” Kitty said with a small smile.  “Don’t apologize for that, Doctor.  I am VERY aware of how many enemies Matt has accumulated over the years.”


“Thank you,” Doctor Brady replied then reached up to open the door.  “Your husband is just inside.”


Kitty smiled her thanks then turned back to her children.  “You two wait here until I call for you.”


“Yes, mama.” They chorused together.


With a nod to the doctor, Kitty stepped past him, and into the back bedroom.


Hanna and Newly looked at each other in confusion.


“Mrs. Dillon?”






Kitty moved into the room and stopped at the sight of Matt lying in the bed.



“If you walk out that door now, Matt Dillon… don’t you ever think of coming back!




“I’m serious, Matt.  We can’t keep living this way.  Adam and Gayle deserve better… and so do you and I.”



“I’m sorry…”


Kitty blinked.




Kitty stepped over to the bed to see Matt shifting restlessly beneath the covers.  “Oh, Matt…”


“He’s lost a lot of blood,” Brady said in a quiet voice, having entered the room behind her.


“I can see that by his colour,” Kitty remarked as she sat carefully on the edge of the bed and reached out to cup his cheek.  “He’s running a fever.”


“The wound’s infected,” the doctor told her.


“Where was he stabbed?”


“In the back.”


“In the back?!”


Brady nodded.  “Right side and very deep… but his attacker appears to have missed anything vital.”


“Thank God for that,” Kitty said as she brushed an errant lock of hair back into place.  “How bad is the infection?”


“At the moment, not bad…” Mike answered.  “I’ve managed to keep the worst of it at bay and I’m going to keep working to see that it doesn’t progress.”


“If you can stop the infection,” Kitty turned to look at the physician, “what are his chances?”


“Well, considering I didn’t think he’d make it this far, if I can arrest the infection, I would say that his chances are very good,” Brady answered, a note of caution in his voice.


Kitty breathed a small sigh of relief and nodded her understanding of all that he didn’t vocalize.  That there was still a very real chance that Matt could die.  She turned back to Matt and laid her hand on his chest to feel the steady beat of his heart.  “Gayle!  Adam!  Come in here, please!”  She called out, deciding in that moment to give Matt a reason to fight.


Adam and Gayle entered the room, Newly and Hannah right behind them.


Kitty beckoned the children closer.  “I know you don’t really remember him, but this is your papa,” she told them.


“We remember him, mama.”  Gayle told her.


“You do?”  Kitty asked, her surprise evident.


“Sure,” Adam said.


“But you never… why haven’t you said anything about him?”  Kitty asked them.


“We heard you and papa fighting,” Adam began.


“And after that, you always looked so sad when we’d talk about him,” Gayle answered.


“So we decided to not make you sad no more,” Adam finished.


“You heard your father and I… oh dear lord…” Kitty closed her eyes and hung her head.  She’d thought the children sound asleep that night so long ago.


Unaware of her mother’s inner turmoil, Gayle climbed up onto the mattress beside Matt and leaned down to press a kiss to his forehead.  “Please get better, papa.  We miss you.”


Adam nodded his agreement and reached out to lay his hand on Matt’s.  He did not speak, but gave his father’s hand a squeeze.


Kitty smiled through her tears.  Adam was so much like his father.  Showing his emotions did not come easy, and he had a tendency to play things close to the vest.


“Papa is going to be all right, isn’t he, mama?”  Gayle asked as she climbed down off the bed and moved to Kitty’s side.


“The doctor says your father has a fair chance,” Kitty told them honestly.  “But your papa knows you two are here now,” she gave them each a reassuring smile, “What better reason could he have to fight to get better?”


The children smiled at her.


“Mama, I’m hungry.”  Adam said suddenly, and as if to emphasize his point, his stomach growled.


“That’s right; we haven’t eaten yet, have we?”  Kitty said, and both children shook their heads.


“Miss Kitty,” Newly stepped out of the doorway.  “If you’d like, I’ll take them over to Delmonico’s for lunch.”


Adam turned to look at Newly.  “Will you tell us stories about our papa when he was marshal?”


Newly looked over to Kitty before he answered and at her nod, he replied, “Sure thing.”


“Are you sure about this, Newly?  They can be quite a handful,” Kitty said.


“I’m sure.  It’ll give me a chance to get to know these youngsters,” Newly remarked with a smile.  He looked over to Brady.  “Care to join us, Doc?”


Realizing that the marshal wanted to give Kitty some time alone with her husband, Mike nodded.  “As a matter of fact, I would.  I was planning on going for lunch when Mrs. Dillon here came in.  I was just waiting on Miss Hannah to come sit with Mister Dillon.”


“There, it’s all settled.”  Newly told her.  “We’ll take Adam and Gayle for lunch, and then I’m assuming you’re staying at the Dodge House?”


“Yes, we…”


“Are doing no such thing,” Hannah interrupted.  “You’ll stay at the Long Branch,” she said and held up her hand to stop the protest Kitty began to make.  “No arguments.  You’ll need someone to look after the children when you’re here with Matt, and you know it.”


Kitty sighed and nodded.  Hannah was right.  “Thank you, Hannah.”


“No thanks are necessary,” Hannah said.  “Half the place is yours anyway.”


Kitty smiled softly then turned to her children.  “You two mind your uncle Newly, do you hear me?”


“Yes, mama.”  They chorused.


“Good,” she said and opened her arms to them.  As quickly as they moved into her embrace, they moved out and followed Newly out of the room.


Mike stopped in the doorway.  “If you need anything…”


“I’ll find you,” Kitty said.  “Thank you, Doctor.”


Brady smiled then followed after Newly and the Dillon children as well.


“I’ll go get your rooms set up,” Hannah told her.  “Holler if you need me.”


“I will, Hannah. Thank you.”


The older woman smiled then left.


Alone with Matt, Kitty stood and removed her cape; laying it across the back of the lone chair in the room.  She then moved to the water pitcher, poured some of the cool liquid into the basin, grabbed a cloth and carried them across the room.  She set the bowl on the table next to the bed then sat down, once again, beside Matt.


Kitty dipped the cloth into the water, wrung it out then began to gently move it over Matt’s face.  With every pass of the damp rag, she couldn’t help but notice each new line that had found its home on his face in the years since they’d been apart.


‘The years haven’t been too kind to either of us, have they?’ Kitty thought, knowing she’d seen the addition of lines to her own face over the years.


“If you walk out that door now, Matt Dillon… don’t you ever think of coming back!


“…ry, Kitty…”


Kitty dropped the rag back into the bowl then looked down at Matt to see that his eyes were open and looking at her.


“Kitty… I’m sorry, Kitty…I shouldn’t’ve… I’m sorry…” Matt murmured, staring up at her with unfocused, feverish eyes.


“Sssh…” Kitty cupped his cheek.  “It’s all right, Matt.”


“…so sorry…”


“I’m sorry too, Cowboy…” Kitty said to him, even though she knew it was the fever talking.  She rubbed her thumb over his lips then leaned in so that her cheek rested against his, her lips close to his ear and whispered, “I forgive you, Matt.”


She pulled back to meet his eyes, and even in his delirium, she could see a sense of relief in his blue orbs.  Kitty smiled.  “Now, you fight, Cowboy!  You fight your way back to us. We need you.”


Kitty brushed a feather-light kiss over his lips then pulled back, pleased to see that he had fallen back asleep.  “That’s right, Matt… sleep… get your strength back…”


With a tender smile, she reached out and brushed a lock of graying hair off of his forehead then reached out for the cloth again.  She repeated her earlier wiping of his face then shifted slightly so that she could pull the blankets down in order to run the damp rag over his chest.


As she eased the blankets down to his waist, she involuntarily licked her lips.  Even now, after all these years, the sight of Matt’s bare muscular chest never failed to have an effect on her.  A wave of melancholy washed over her as she took stock of the scars on his body, more precisely, the scars he’d accumulated during the years they’d been apart.  Shaking her head to dispel the bad memories, Kitty rewet the cloth then began to move it over his chest as tried to focus on happier times.





Kitty smiled and pressed another kiss to Matt’s chest.  “Mmm?”


“What are you doing?”


“What does it feel like?”  She flicked her tongue over his nipple.


Matt chuckled.  “Kitty… I… we just…” he said then moaned as she covered his nipple with her mouth and gave it a nip before sucking hard on the little nub, “you do know that I’m not as young as I used to be, don’t you?”


“Mmhmm…” Kitty murmured as she licked her way across his damp chest to take his other nipple between her teeth.  She raised her eyes to meet his then released his nipple and smiled.  “However, I can guarantee that by the time I am finished here, you will be…” she wiggled her body against his, “up… for it again.”


“Under your delicate and determined ministrations, Mrs. Dillon… I have no doubt that you’re right,” Matt grinned at her.


Kitty winked and returned her attention to his chest.  She anointed the broad expanse of tanned skin with little kisses, pausing occasionally to nibble and lick at certain spots as she worked her way down.  It wasn’t long before she felt the expected pulse of his manhood where it was nestled between her breasts.


Deciding to have a little fun with her husband, Kitty drew a line with her tongue from his navel to his collarbone, shifting her body up over his as she did.  She gave his chest a quick kiss then rose up on her arms to smile down at him.  “You know… you might be right,” she drawled, her eyes twinkling.


“Hmm?”  Matt asked, distracted by the feel of Kitty’s body draped over his, and her damp curls tickling his arousal.


“You’re not as young as you used to be and perhaps we should just… go to sleep now,” Kitty said and moved as if to roll off of him.


Matt grasped Kitty’s upper arms and hauled her up so that they were face to face.  “I’ll show you old,” he told her, his eyes twinkling in response to her teasing.


Kitty squealed with laughter as Matt suddenly rolled them over and pinned her to the mattress.  She smiled up at him then moaned as he shifted his hips between her spread thighs, nestling his erection between her swollen folds.  She licked her lips, “You were saying, Marshal?”


“Yes, I was!”  Matt replied in a husky voice as he lowered his head and covered her mouth with his in a hungry kiss.  As he deepened the kiss, Matt slid his hands down Kitty’s arms to grasp her hands and drew them up over her head.  He broke off the kiss and looked down at her, pleased to note that her eyes were smoky with desire.


Kitty looked up into her husband’s face, and by the look in his eyes, she knew, that unlike their frenzied coupling earlier, this next round of lovemaking was going to be long and slow.  She licked her lips in anticipation as she felt Matt bring her hands up to the headboard and wrap her fingers around the spindles.


“Don’t let go,” Matt told her in a low voice, then with a rakish grin and a quick brush of his lips against hers, he dipped his head and rained kisses over the tops of her breasts. 


“All right…” Kitty replied breathlessly as Matt trailed his fingers down her arms to cup her breasts in his large hands.


Matt stroked her nipples with his thumbs then took the right bud into his mouth.  He suckled hard, swirling his tongue over the taut peak before releasing it and doing the same to the left.  After several minutes of going back and forth between each breast, Matt pushed the two mounds together.


“…Matt…” Kitty arched beneath him as he took both nipples into his mouth.  She shivered as the incredible sensations from Matt’s tongue shot straight through her body to pool in her centre.


Matt felt the small tremor pass through Kitty’s body and smiled inwardly.  He gave the taut peaks one last hard pull then released them.  He swept his tongue along the under swell of both breasts then began to lick and kiss his way down her body. 


“That tickles!”  Kitty laughed and sucked in her belly when Matt swirled his tongue in her belly button.


Matt chuckled and continued to nibble his way lower.  He shifted his body on the bed as he brought his face level with the auburn curls between Kitty’s thighs.  He inhaled deeply, letting the scent of her arousal fill his senses and increase his desire for her.  Matt ran his hands along the inside of her thighs and felt her body tense as he grasped her behind the knees and guided her legs up around his shoulders.


Kitty’s hands tightened on the spindles of the headboard as Matt’s arms wrapped around her thighs and she felt his fingers comb through her curls.  She licked her lips in anticipation when she felt his fingers pull her open, and felt his hot breath on her swollen flesh.


Matt licked his lips at the sight of the glistening pink flesh and with a low growl; he leaned forward and covered her sex with his mouth.  He thrust his tongue deep inside her, over and over, as his thumb began to circle her clit.


“Oh yes… Matt!”  Kitty cried out as Matt loved her with his mouth.  It wasn’t long before she was writhing on the bed beneath the onslaught of sensations.  “…yes… oh yes…”


Matt replaced his tongue with his fingers, pushing two long digits into her as he moved his mouth up to take her clit between his lips.  He sucked hard and swirled his tongue around the bundle of nerves, pleased when her legs locked on his back and her hips rose up off the bed.


“Mmm… oooh… oh, Matt!”  Kitty moaned as the pleasure from his talented fingers and mouth hummed through her body.  She could feel her release approaching and urged Matt on, pleading with him to make her come… to bring her to that moment of ultimate pleasure the way only he could do.


As Kitty’s husky voice sounded in his ears, Matt began to thrust his fingers faster into her; each stroke bringing her closer and closer to the edge.  When he felt her inner walls begin to clench, Matt grazed her clit with his teeth and curled his long fingers within her.


A low, utterly feminine sound came from Kitty’s throat, and her body, despite her hold on the bars of the bed, curled up off of the mattress with her orgasm as it rolled over her in large crashing waves.


Matt growled appreciatively as he pulled his fingers out of her sheath and replaced them with his tongue.  He lapped at her, consuming her essence with relish as his thumb continued to stroke her clit in an effort to prolong her release.  Within moments of her first orgasm, Kitty cried out Matt’s name again as a second wave of sensation washed over her.


“…Matt… oh, Matt…” Kitty whispered his name over and over as she closed her eyes and surrendered to the delicious feelings exploding from every nerve ending in her body.


Matt smiled and gave her sex one last deep kiss then released her legs.  He quickly moved his body up over hers and settled himself between her thighs.    “Kitty…” he whispered her name as he bent to brush a gentle kiss over her lips.


Kitty’s eyes fluttered open.  She smiled up at him.  “By golly, Marshal Dillon…” she said breathlessly, using her husband’s favourite expression, “you sure showed me.”


Matt laughed and rocked his hips against her.  “I’ve only just begun, Mrs. Dillon.”


“Mmm… I am so glad to hear that,” Kitty murmured and shifted beneath him.  She released her grip on the headboard and slid her hands up his arms to his shoulders as she drew her legs up on either side of him.  “Are you up for showing me some more?”


Matt grinned and shifted above her, entering her in one deep stroke.  “Does it feel like I’m up to it?”


“Most definitely…” Kitty moaned as he filled her completely then slid her fingers into his thick hair.  She gave Matt a look filled with desire and the deep love she held for him.  “Make love to me, Matt.”


“With pleasure,” Matt replied and began to slowly move inside her with gentle thrusts.


“Oh yes… yes, Matt… just like that…” Kitty encouraged him in a husky voice.


They gazed unwaveringly into each other’s eyes; their emotional connection stronger than any physical one could ever be as their bodies rocked together in that perfect rhythm that only comes to those lovers who’d been together, loving each other, for years.


Feeling a pain shoot up his, still injured, right arm, Matt quickly shifted down onto his elbows.  He clasped her head as he threaded his fingers into her red locks and stroked her cheeks with this thumbs.


“Mmm…” Kitty moaned in appreciation as the move brought Matt’s chest into contact with her breasts.  She smiled and rubbed her nipples against him in an effort to ease the ache.


They continued to move together; slow gentle thrusts of their bodies designed to gradually build the passion and tension between them.  Soft gasps and groans filled the air along with the scent of their loving.


It wasn’t long, however, before slow and gentle wasn’t enough for either of them.  “Harder…” Kitty told him and trailed her hands down his back to grasp his rear as she thrust up hard beneath him.  “…please, Matt… I need more…”


“I know…” Matt replied and lowered his mouth to hers.  “Hang on, honey…” he gave her a hard kiss then pushed back up onto his arms.  He ignored the flash of pain that shot up his injured limb and began to move his hips with purpose; intent on bringing his wife as much pleasure as he possibly could.


“Mmm…” Kitty moaned and met every drive of his hips as he stroked his length into her, repeatedly.  “Oh yes…” she encouraged him as he ground his pelvis against her with each thrust; the resulting pressure against her clit pushing her closer to another release.


Matt could feel her inner walls begin to clench around his member and knew she was close.  He pulled almost all the way out, leaving only the tip of his erection within her, then plunged back in; again and again.  He groaned when Kitty wrapped her legs around his waist, the change in the angle of her body allowing him to sink deeper inside her.


“Matt… Matt, I’m close…” Kitty told him in between gasps, her legs locking tighter around him and pulling him harder against her.


“…me too…” Matt replied as he shortened his thrusts and moved his hips faster.


“…oooh… yes… Matt… Matt, please…” Kitty pleaded with her husband as the sensations within her body grew almost unbearable.  “Matt… I need… please…”


“I know…” Matt felt the telltale signs of his release tingling down his spine, the tightening low in his stomach that told him he was close.  He fought to keep his control, wanting Kitty to come before him, “Kitty…”




“Come, Kitty…” Matt urged her as he thrust hard and ground his hips against her, putting pressure in just the right spot.


“Ma…tt…” Kitty cried out his name as she came; the coil of arousal that had been winding inside her suddenly snapping and spiraling out of control.  “Yes… oh God, Matt!!”


Feeling Kitty’s body spasm around him, Matt let go.  With a few more thrusts and a hoarse cry of her name, he came hard; his hips jerking convulsively against her as he emptied himself into her silky depths.  “…Kitty…” he groaned and sank into her embrace as he continued to rock against her in an effort to hold onto the sweet ecstasy he’d found in her arms and body.


Kitty’s arms and legs tightened around him as she felt his juices splash against her womb, bathing her with his warmth.  She nuzzled his temple as the gentle rocking of his hips continued to send small tremors through her body.  “Mmm…” she sighed happily as he nestled deeper into her embrace, enjoying the feeling of being cocooned by his body.


As much as he wanted to remain where he was, wrapped in Kitty’s arms, Matt knew he’d have to move soon; that Kitty would not be able to bear his weight for too much longer.  With a deep sigh, and a kiss to her neck, he rolled to his side, taking her with him.


“How’s your arm?”  Kitty asked; worry crossing her features as she gently ran her hand over his still bandaged appendage.


“It’s okay,” Matt told her.


“Matt, I saw you wince…”


“It was nothing, Kitty.  Just a little flash of pain… but it was worth it to be making love to you again,” he said and smiled at her.


Kitty shook her head as Matt gave her that boyish grin she’d never been able to resist and knew to drop the subject.  “All right, Matt,” she said and snuggled closer.


They fell into a comfortable silence as they cuddled, face to face, in the large bed.  Gentle touches and loving caresses the only communication they needed at that time.


A sudden low chuckle escaped Dillon and he shook his head in amusement.


“What’s so funny?”


“I was just remembering something Paul said to me before he got on the stage,” Matt answered.




“Brennan, the marshal sent to replace me.”


“Oh,” Kitty said.  “What’d he say that amused you?”


“He told me that Dodge was the unfriendliest town he’d ever been in,” Matt answered.


“And that amused you?”


“Not until now.”


“And why now?”


Matt looked down at the position they were in; their bodies still joined and wrapped around each other.  “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling right friendly at the moment.”


Kitty laughed then quickly sobered.  “I guess we weren’t too friendly to him.”


Matt gave her a curious look.


“We…” she shrugged.  “I don’t know about Doc, Festus and Newly, Matt, but I was worried about you… missing you… too much to be anything other than cordial to him.  I honestly didn’t bear him any ill will, but he was a reminder that you weren’t here.”  Kitty told him in a quiet voice.


Matt nodded his understanding.  “I know it wasn’t easy on you, Kitty.”


“No.  It wasn’t,” Kitty agreed.  “I truly did understand why you had to go.  I did.  But the hardest part was wondering when you’d come back… or if…” she finished in a whisper and lowered her eyes to his chest.


“Look at me, honey.”  Matt slipped his fingers under her chin, and caressed her cheek with his thumb.  “I was coming back.  Even if I wasn’t coming back to be marshal of Dodge City, I was coming back for you, Kitty.”


Kitty smiled through the tears that had formed in her eyes and turned her face to press a kiss into his palm.  “I love you, Matt Dillon.”


“I love you too, Kitty Dillon.”



“Mrs. Dillon?”


Kitty’s head snapped around.  “Doctor Brady.”


“I didn’t mean to startle you,” Mike said as he moved into the room.  “You seemed to be lost in thought.”


“Lost in memories,” Kitty clarified as she dropped the cloth into the basin and turned her attention back to Matt.


“I think,” the doctor began as he crossed over to the small table on the back wall and gathered up the supplies he’d placed there to clean Matt’s wound, “that your husband is aware that you’re here, Mrs. Dillon.”


A small smile touched her lips.  “The name’s Kitty.”


“Mike,” he told her as he stepped around to the other side of the bed.  He looked down at Matt.  “His colour is looking a little better.”  He nodded.  “Yep, I do believe he knows you’re tending him.”


Kitty reached out and brushed Matt’s hair away from his forehead.  “He does,” she agreed in a quiet voice.  “He always has…”


Mike smiled.


He’d heard the stories of the legendary United States Marshal and the stunning redheaded owner of the famous Long Branch saloon, even before he’d come to Dodge.  When he’d finally gotten to meet the ex-lawman, Mike had been surprised to see a sadness… a weariness about him that he hadn’t expected to see.  It was as if the life had gone out of the big man.


Mike realized now, as he watched Kitty comb her fingers through Matt’s hair, that it had.  His life had left and gone to New Orleans.


“Were the kids behaved?”  Kitty asked, breaking into the doctor’s thoughts.


“Yes, they were,” Mike answered then chuckled.  “Although, I don’t think Newly managed more than five bites of his lunch.”


“Oh no…”


“I don’t think he minded,” Mike said then switched topics.  “I need to clean his wound in order to stay on top of that infection.”


“How can I help?”  Kitty asked then seeing the younger man’s hesitation.  “Mike, I’ve seen it all before,” Kitty told him.  “So this won’t shock me.”


“All right,” Mike nodded.  “If you will help me roll him towards you, and then hold him while I clean the wound… I think that would work.”


“Okay,” Kitty replied and then together, they rolled Matt so that he was on his side facing Kitty.  She watched as Mike removed the bandage and despite her words, she winced at the sight of the inflamed cut.  “Oh my…”


Brady glanced up at her.  “Miss Kitty?”


“I’m okay.  It’s just…” she gave him a wry smile.  “I might have seen it all before, but it’s been a while.”


“I understand,” the doctor said then returned his attention to cleaning Matt’s wound.


How’s it look?”


“There’s still some infection… but it doesn’t look like it’s getting worse,” Mike answered as he finished up then re-dressed the wound.  “Okay, let’s lay him back down.”


When Matt was once again lying on his back, Kitty pulled the blankets up over his chest as Brady gathered his supplies and moved back across the room.


“You should go see about some lunch,” Mike told Kitty.


“I’m not hungry,” Kitty replied.


“No, I suppose you’re not,” he said.  “However, if you’re going to be of any help to your husband, you will need to keep your strength up.”


Kitty scowled as she realized that Brady was right.


“When I left Delmonico’s, Adam was working on his second plate of food.”


A small smile touched Kitty’s lips.  “He has his father’s appetite,” she commented as she rubbed her hand absently over Matt’s chest.  She sighed.  “All right, I’ll go get something to eat.  I need to check on the children anyway.”


Mike watched as Kitty cupped her husband’s cheek then leaned in close.  “I’ll be back soon, Cowboy…” he heard her whisper.


Kitty stood.  “I won’t be long,” she said as she reached for her cape and wrapped it around her shoulders.


“Mrs. Dillon.”


Kitty stopped in the doorway and turned back to face the doctor.  “Yes?”


“I don’t want you coming back here until after dinner,” Brady told her.


“Excuse me?”  Kitty arched an eyebrow.


“I’m not trying to keep you away from your husband, Miss Kitty.  Honestly,” Mike said.  “I am, actually, trying to look after you as well,” he held his hand up to forestall her arguments.  “You’ve just spent two days on a train.  You need to rest and relax for a few hours.  Go eat, take a relaxing bath or nap or even both… have some dinner, tuck your kids into bed and then come back.”


Kitty glanced over at Matt sleeping in the bed and her face wrinkled in worry.


“I promise you, Mrs. Dillon, he will be all right,” Mike said.  “If… and I stress IF, his condition changes, I will send someone for you.”


Kitty’s frown deepened and after several moments, she reluctantly nodded.  “All right.  You promise?”


“I promise,” Mike said.


Kitty sighed then with a last look at Matt; she turned and left Brady’s office.


Mike watched her leave then looked down at his slumbering patient.  “You are one lucky man, Matt Dillon.”




Kitty made her way, slowly, along the boardwalk towards Delmonico’s; nodding absently to those she passed. 


“Why, heaven bless me!  Miss Kitty!”


Kitty smiled at the greeting as she stepped into the restaurant.  “Hello, Hank.”


“Welcome back, Miss Kitty.”  Hank, Delmonico’s owner, replied as he reached out to take her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.  “I do wish it was under better circumstances,” he said.  He shook his head.  “It’s a right shame, the marshal being knifed that way.”


“Yes, it is,” Kitty nodded and smiled over at her children as they waved at her.


“But I’m sure with you being back, he’ll be on his feet in no time.”


“I hope so.”


Hank patted her hand then released it.  “So, what can I get you?”


“I’m not too hungry… just… a small piece of ham and some eggs,” she told him as she made her way across the floor to the table Newly and her children were sitting.  “Also, a pot of coffee, if you don’t mind.”


“Coming right up, Miss Kitty,” Hank nodded and made his way back into the kitchen to place her order. 


“Hello, Miss Kitty.”


“Newly,” Kitty gave him a small smile as she sat down.  “How have they been?”


“Good as gold,” Newly answered.


“Uncle Newly’s been telling us some real good stories about papa!”  Adam told her around a mouthful of apple pie.


“Is that so?”


“Mmhmm, it is,” Gayle said.  “Uncle Newly said that papa was the best marshal in the country.”


Kitty looked over at Newly who had the grace to blush some.  “Did he now?”


“Well, I…”


“Your Uncle Newly would be right,” Kitty said and looked up gratefully as Hank brought out her food.  “Your papa was the finest marshal there ever was.”


Adam beamed proudly as he took another bite of pie.


“How is Matt?”  Newly asked.


“About the same,” Kitty replied as she began to eat.  “Not really any better, but not any worse.  There’s still a chance…” her voice trailed off.  She shook her head, refusing to let the thought of anything other than Matt recovering fully to take root.


“Mama, are we staying with Miss Hannah at the Long Branch?”  Gayle asked hopefully, her eyes darting past her mother.


“Yes, we are,” Kitty answered then glanced back over her shoulder and grinned.  “Otherwise, I don’t believe we’d hear the end of it from Miss Hannah, right?”


“You got that right,” Hannah agreed with a smile as she grabbed an empty chair from a nearby table and sat down.


“Once I’ve got the kids settled, I’m going to go back up and sit with Matt.”


“Oh no, you’re not,” Hannah said.  “I stopped up at the doctor’s office before I came here, and Mike told me he said for you to not come back until after you’ve had a chance to rest some.”


Kitty sighed.


Hannah reached out and patted the other woman’s hand.  “I know you want to be with Matt, Kitty… but the doc’s right, you need to rest some.  You won’t be any good to him if you get sick too.”


“I know… I know…” Kitty sighed again.  She went to take another bite of her food but found she had no more appetite.  She dropped her fork to the plate and pushed it away.


“Something wrong with your lunch, Miss Kitty?”  Hank asked as he passed the table.


“No, Hank.  It was fine.  I’m just not that hungry,” Kitty answered as she opened her reticule and pulled out some money.  “How much do I owe you for all of this?”  She gestured to the empty plates.


Hank waved her off.  “On the house.”


“Thank you, Hank.”


“My pleasure, Miss Kitty,” the big man smiled.  “It sure is nice having you back in Dodge,” he said as he walked away.  “Sure is…”


“Well then,” Kitty pushed her chair back and stood.  “Let’s get going…”




Kitty released a deep sigh as she sank down into the hot water.  Loathe as she was to admit it, she needed this.  She closed her eyes and laid her head against the back of the tub.


When they’d reached the Long Branch, Hannah escorted them upstairs to Kitty’s old rooms.  Kitty had protested, saying she and the children could take one of the other rooms, but Hannah had insisted.


Kitty smiled as she remembered Hannah’s words, “I don’t use these rooms anyway.  Front Street is much too noisy for my liking.”


After that, Kitty had given in.


She settled deeper into the tub and willed her body to relax, but couldn’t stop her mind from racing.  Worry about Matt held her in its grip; a grip she’d not felt since the fight they’d had that had sent Matt off into the high country.  She also worried how the children would take it if Matt didn’t pull through.


‘How would I take it?’ Kitty thought, even though, deep in her heart, she knew the answer.


She sighed and, not for the first time, wondered on the wisdom of her decision to return to Dodge… and bring their kids.


“Please, God…” Kitty whispered softly and closed her eyes as she began a silent prayer.




Almost an hour after she’d gone into the back room for her bath, Kitty, dressed in a simple skirt and blouse, stepped into the bedroom.  Expecting to find Adam and Gayle reading as she’d left them, she couldn’t help but smile to see them both sound asleep on the big brass bed.


She walked over and lifted the books, which lay open beside each child, off of the bed; closed them and placed them on the nearby table.  She glanced over at the clock on the mantle and seeing that it was still early, and knowing there was no way she could hope to even sneak in to sit with Matt, Kitty climbed into the bed with her children.  She propped herself up on her elbow and gazed down at them.



“By golly, Kitty… look at them.  Have you ever seen such perfect babies before?”


Kitty looked at Matt then down to the two sleeping newborns lying between them on the big bed.  She smiled and shook her head.  “No, I don’t think I have,” she answered as she met his eyes again.  “We do good work, Cowboy.”


“We certainly do,” Matt agreed and the grin on his face grew.  “I still can’t believe it… twins.”


“I can…” Kitty commented with a slight wince as she shifted on the bed.


Matt reached out over the babies to cup his wife’s cheek.  “Are you okay?”


“Yeah, I’m okay, Matt.  A little sore… but okay,” Kitty told him as she nuzzled her face into his large palm.  “It was worth it though,” she said and dropped her gaze to the twins.  “From the swollen feet on up… each and every labour pain… it was worth it.”


Matt smiled.  “You are an incredible woman, Mrs. Dillon.  And I love you very much.”


Kitty’s eyes filled with tears at the emotion she could hear behind his words.  She, once again, met his eyes.  “I love you too, Matt.  So much…”


They held each other’s eyes, losing themselves in the love they had for each other until a soft whimper sounded between them.  They looked down to see one of the babies shifting restlessly in its blanket.


“Easy, son…” Matt said softly and dropped his hand from Kitty’s cheek to gently soothe his son.  “That’s a good boy.”


Kitty smiled, and felt her heart swell with the love she had for her husband.


“Ya know, we need to name these two,” Matt commented.


“I’ve been thinking about that,” Kitty said.  “I thought we could name them after Doc.  He’s been our champion right from the start… encouraging us, helping us…”


“You want to name our son Galen?”  Matt asked.


Kitty laughed and shook her head.  “No.  I was actually thinking we could name our daughter that… or rather, a version of it.  What do you think of the name Gayle?”


“Gayle…” Matt tested the name.  “Gayle Kathleen Dillon.”  He nodded.  “I like that.”






Kitty shook her head as she sighed.  “All right.  Now for our son, I was thinking of the name, Adam.  Adam Matthew Dillon.”


Matt made a face.


“You don’t like it?”


“I like the name Adam, but not with Matthew as a middle name,” Matt told her.  “How about Adam Russell Dillon?”


“First Kathleen, then Russell…” Kitty said then asked.  “Why don’t you want your son to have your name?”


“He has my name, Kitty.  Dillon.  But I want our children to have your name too.  I can’t explain it… but it’s important to me.”


Kitty smiled and nodded.  “All right…  Adam Russell Dillon it is,” she said and laid her head on the pillow.  Her smile grew into a tender one as she watched Matt watch their children with absolute wonder and awe on his face.





Still in the grips of her dream, Kitty reached out for her husband.  Not feeling him, or the children, her eyes flew open and she sat up suddenly.  She looked around the room, not recognizing it immediately.  When realization dawned, she closed her eyes and sighed.


A soft knock sounded on the door, followed by another call of her name.  “Kitty?”


“Come in, Hannah.”  She called out in a sleep-rough voice.


The door opened and Hannah entered the room.  “Are you all right?”  She asked, seeing a look of confusion on Kitty’s face.


Kitty nodded.  “Yes.  I was dreaming,” she answered as she swung her legs over the side of the bed, but made no move to stand.  “Remembering happier times…” she looked over at the clock on the mantle.  Her eyes widened.  “Have I really been asleep that long?”


“Yep,” Hannah nodded.  “You obviously needed it.”


“I haven’t slept, really slept, since Matt left,” Kitty admitted.  “Any news?”


Hannah shook her head.


Kitty sighed.  “Where are the kids?”


“Downstairs in my office,” Hannah answered.


“They haven’t been any trouble, have they?”


“Of course not,” Hannah said.  “They just came downstairs a little while ago, told me you were sleeping and that they didn’t want to wake you.  So I gave them a snack, and then they asked to see Matt?”


“Did you…”


“For a brief spell,” Hannah told her.  “Doc wouldn’t let them stay long.”


“Good,” she nodded then pushed herself up off the bed.  “Well, if I know my son, he’s chomping at the bit for his dinner.”


“You could say that.”


Kitty walked over to the bureau, grabbed her brush and began to run it through her hair.  “Adam has his father’s appetite.”  She pulled her hair back, but left it hanging down her back.  She put the brush down then turned to Hannah.  “You going to join us?”


“I’d love to,” Hannah replied.


“Good,” Kitty said and, together, the two women left the bedroom.




“Good evening, Miss Kitty.”  Doctor Brady said as he opened the outer door to his office to admit his guest.


“Doctor.”  Kitty replied as she swept into the room.  “How’s Matt?  Any change?”


“No.  But you didn’t really expect there to be, did you?”


Kitty sighed and shook her head.  “No.”


“I suppose you’re planning on staying all night?”  Mike asked and at her nod, he gestured towards the back room.  “I suspected as much.  There’s a pillow and blanket in there for you.”


“Thank you.”


“You’re welcome,” Mike smiled then moved over to where his jacket and hat were hanging on the wall near the door.  “Would you mind if I left you here and went down to the Long Branch for a beer?”


“Not at all,” Kitty shook her head.  “In fact… have one for me.”


Mike chuckled.  “I will,” he said as he pulled on his jacket.  “If you need anything…”


“I will,” Kitty nodded.  “Oh, and, Mike…”


Brady stopped in the open door.  “Yes?”


“Tell Hannah I said it’s on the house.”


“Thank you, Miss Kitty.”


“Least I can do,” Kitty replied.  “Enjoy the beers.”


Mike nodded then left.


Kitty walked into the back bedroom and moved immediately to Matt’s side.  She sat down on the bed beside him and cupped his cheek.


“I’m back, Cowboy.”  Kitty told him in a soft voice.




The door to the doctor’s office opened slowly.  A lone figure slipped in and stealthily crept across the room to the partially open back bedroom door.  A tousled head peered inside and seeing that Kitty was asleep in the chair beside the bed, the person entered the room.


Kitty peered through her lashes at the figure standing in front of her, waving their hand in front of her face.  Keeping her breathing slow and steady, she feigned sleep as she waited to see what would happen next.


Satisfied that she was indeed sleeping, the person stepped over to where Matt was still unconscious on the bed, and climbed up to sit beside him.


“Hi, papa…” a young voice said and glanced back at Kitty to be sure she hadn’t woken.  “It’s Adam.”


Kitty continued to peek through her lashes as her son, perched on the mattress, began to talk with his father.  She’d been expecting this.  Much like Matt, Adam wasn’t too comfortable expressing his emotions; especially with an audience… even if that audience was only his mother and twin sister.


“Mama says you can hear us, even though you’re sleepin’ so hard, and she tells us we should talk to you when we come an’ visit,” he said then paused.  “I know when we’re all here, that I don’t talk much, but it’s hard to say what I wanna say with mama and Gayle around.”


Adam laid his hand on Matt’s chest, taking comfort in the steady beat of his father’s heart beneath his palm.


“I miss you, papa.  Gayle does too.  Me and Gayle know you left to protect us and mama… but, papa, it just ain’t been right since you been gone,” Adam stopped and glanced back over his shoulder at his mother.  “Mama misses you too.  She needs you, papa.  She needs you bad.  She ain’t been right either since you left us.”




At his sister’s cry and the loud banging of the office door as it closed, Adam quickly slipped off the bed to his feet just as his sister walked into the room.  “Sshh… you’ll wake mama.”


“No she won’t,” Kitty spoke up, startling both children.  “I’m already awake.”


Adam’s eyes grew wide as he turned to face his mother.  “I didn’t wake you, did I, mama?”


Seeing hope warring with embarrassment on her son’s face that she might have overheard him talking to his father, Kitty shook her head.  “No, Adam… you didn’t wake me.”


“Good.  I was trying to be real quiet.”


“You were, I didn’t know you were here until just now,” Kitty said.  “Now, why aren’t you two with Miss Janet having your lessons?”


“Our lessons were done a couple hours ago, mama.”  Gayle said.


“And it’s suppertime, mama.”  Adam told her.


Kitty looked over at the clock on the wall.  “Oh my… it is too,” she said then stood and stepped over to the bed.  “Well then, we should head over to Delmonico’s, don’t you think?”


Adam and Gayle nodded their heads.


Kitty leaned over and cupped Matt’s cheek.  “See ya later, Cowboy.”


“Bye, papa…” the twins called out softly as they followed their mother out of the room.






“Yes, Adam?”


“Is papa really gonna be all right?”


“Of course he is,” Kitty answered.  “He’s still with us, isn’t he?”


“Yeah, but he’s not woken up once since we’ve been here,” Adam pointed out as he crawled into bed beside his sister.


Kitty sat on the edge of the mattress next to Gayle.  “But he’s not gotten any worse, either.”


“But when’s he gonna wake up?”  Adam asked.


“I wish I knew,” she replied.


“Mama, do you still love papa?”  Gayle asked with a yawn.


Kitty brushed a lock of reddish-brown hair off her daughter’s forehead as she answered, honestly, “Yes, honey.  I still love your papa.”


“Does this mean, when papa wakes up, that we’re gonna be a family?”


“I…” Kitty began then stopped.  She swallowed the lump in her throat.  “I hope so, Gayle.  I hope so.”


“We do too,” Adam said.




“No more questions.  No more talking,” Kitty interrupted them.  “It’s time for bed.  Go to sleep.”


“Yes, mama…”


“I love you both very much,” she told them.  “If you need anything…”


“Miss Hannah is down the hall…”


“And you’ll be in Doc Brady’s office with papa.”


“Right,” Kitty nodded then stood.  She turned down the lamps then walked across the room to the door.  “Good night, you two.”


“Night, mama.  We love you.”




The damp cloth moved absently over Matt’s chest.


“Your children, Matt Dillon, are entirely too perceptive for their own good,” Kitty told the unconscious man.  “Entirely too perceptive,” she repeated as she rewet the cloth and continued to wipe it over Matt’s heated body.


She shook her head as she thought about what she’d overheard Adam tell his father, as well as the questions he and Gayle had asked her as she tucked them into bed just a short time ago.  The more she thought about it, the more frustrated she became.


“Dammit, Matt!”  Kitty said suddenly as she glared down at him, the angry heat of her eyes hotter than the fever wracking his body.  “I know you like to do things your own way… but enough is enough.  It’s been over two weeks; it’s time for you to wake up.”


She threw the cloth across the room in a fit of pique to avoid giving into the urge to beat on his chest in a wild attempt to wake him. 


“Why must you be so damned stubborn?  Why?”  Kitty shook her head and suddenly stood and began to pace around the room.  She stopped in front of the window and turned to stare at her husband.  “Oh, Matt…” she sighed, the anger draining out of her as fast as it had welled within her.  “Cowboy… we made such a big mistake.  Such a big mistake,” she repeated.  “And we’ve suffered for it too.  Not only us, but Gayle and Adam… they’ve suffered too.”


Kitty turned to gaze out the window.


“So much pain we could have avoided,” she murmured to the stars, “if only we’d talked it over more… if only we hadn’t’ve been so stubborn.”


She fell silent and leaned forward to rest her forehead against the cool glass as she tried to gather her thoughts.  After several moments Kitty pushed herself away from the window and walked back over to the bed.  She sank down onto the mattress beside him and cupped his cheek.


“You have to fight harder to come back to us, Matt…” Kitty said quietly.  “Our children need you.  I’m ashamed that I never realized it before… but they do need you so much.”


‘I need you too,’ she thought but couldn’t bring herself to say it aloud as she unconsciously began to comb her fingers through his hair.



“Matt… please don’t go… let’s talk this over…”


“I’ve made up my mind, Kitty.  It has to be this way.”




“I’m sorry, Kitty.  I love you… please don’t ever doubt that… but it has to be this way…”


“Matt… Matt, please…”


“I’m sorry,”





“Matt?!”  Kitty’s eyes opened and she sat up in the chair she’d fallen asleep in.  When she saw that he was shifting restlessly beneath the blankets, she quickly stood and moved to his side.


The moment she sat beside him, Kitty could feel the heat radiating off his body.  She laid her hand on his chest.  “Oh, god… you’re burning up!”  Kitty gasped as she drew her hand away from him to find it wet with his sweat.  “Mike!  Mike, get in here!”


Seconds later, tugging his robe on over his pyjamas, Mike appeared in the doorway.  “What is it?  What’s wrong?”


“He’s burning up,” Kitty told him.  “His fever’s gotten worse.”


“It can’t be his wound, I checked that before I went to bed, and it’s clean.  No sign of infection,” Brady told her as he waved her aside so that he could examine Matt.  After checking him over, he stood back up.  “I think it’s just a simple matter of his fever breaking.  I expect by morning that his fever should be gone.”


“Do you really think so?”  Kitty asked hopefully.


Mike nodded.


“That means he’s going to be all right, doesn’t it?”


“Yes, it does.”


“Oh, thank God…” Kitty released a shuddering breath and sank down onto the mattress.  She rested her hand, once again, on Matt’s chest over his heart.  “Thank God…”




Matt groaned softly as he shifted then slowly opened his eyes.


His heart skipped a beat at the sight before him.


“Welcome back, Cowboy.”


Her voice caressed his ears, and he blinked, convinced she was a hallucination.  He watched, still not believing what he was seeing as she gave him a small smile then stood and moved closer.  “Kitty…”  Matt asked as she sat down beside him.  “What are you doing here?”


“They didn’t expect you live,” she answered.


Matt glanced around.  “This looks familiar.”


“It ought to,” Kitty told him.  “You’ve been patched up in here enough times.”


“Doc’s office?”


Kitty nodded.  Dodge City, Kansas.”


“You came all the way up here from New Orleans?”  Matt asked in disbelief.


“Old habits die hard,” she said.


“What about the kids?”  He tried to look around the room.


“They’re here,” Kitty said.  “But it’s late.  They’re asleep.”


Matt nodded in understanding.  “How long have I been in here?”


“Almost three weeks.”


“Three weeks?”  He repeated incredulously.


Kitty gave him a slight nod.  “Someone really put a knife in you.”


“He was a gunslinger named Logan.  He broke out of prison… came looking for me.”


“And you felt it was your duty to society to bring him in?”


“It was either that or kill him, Kitty.”


Kitty slipped her hand into his, knowing how much he hated killing, even when he was given no choice.  She gave him a gentle squeeze.


“I’m glad you came… you’re looking great,” Matt told her, a smile pulling at the corners of his mouth as he watched her blush slightly; knowing he was the only one who had ever had that effect on her.


“You cut that out…”


“What?”  Matt asked in mock innocence.


“You know what,” Kitty told him.  “You’re in no condition for that.”


“Never stopped us before,” Matt pointed out, pleased when the blush staining her cheeks darkened.


“You’re incorrigible,” she said with an affectionate smile and shook her head.  Even after their years of being apart, they couldn’t help but slip into their old habit of flirting with one another.  It felt good and it reassured them both that Matt truly was going to be all right.


Matt chuckled and affectionately tightened his grip on her hand.  “Kitty… Adam and Gayle… are they really here?  You really brought them with you?”


“Yes,” Kitty answered.  “I felt they had a right, should you not make it, to say good bye to you.”


“How are they?”  He asked, a touch of remorse colouring his voice.


Kitty gave him a reassuring smile.  “They’re fine, Matt.  And they’re very much looking forward to seeing their papa.”


“Are they really?”


“Of course they are,” Kitty nodded.  “I’ll bring them by tomorrow.”


“I can’t wait to see them,” Matt said.  “See how much they’ve grown…” his voice trailed off sadly as regret flashed in his eyes.  “I’m sorry, Kitty…”


“It’s all right, Cowboy.”


“No,” Matt shook his head.  “It’s not.  I…”


Kitty placed her fingers over his lips to stop him.  “Now is not the time for this.  We both made mistakes that night, Matt… both of us.  And when you’re up on your feet again, we’ll talk about it.  But for now, I want you to rest and get your strength back.  All right?”


“All right,” Matt spoke against her fingers.


“Your fever broke night before last,” she told him as she let go of his hand and lifted her fingers from his lips then stood, “so I don’t think you need anyone baby-sitting you anymore.  I’m gonna go check on our kids and then get some sleep.”




She stopped at the door and looked back at him.


“I really am sorry…”


“I know, Matt.  I am too,” Kitty replied as she met and held his eyes.  “Get some rest, would you.”


“I will,” he said.  “Where are you staying?”


“At the Long Branch,” she answered.  “Hannah’s given the kids and I my old rooms.  So… when and if you feel up to it, I might even buy you a beer.”  She arched her eyebrows at him suggestively, unable to resist flirting with him a little more.


Matt grinned and watched her walk out of the room.  He heard her stop and have a quiet conversation with someone, the doctor most likely, before she left the office.  Moments later, he looked over to see a middle-aged man standing in the doorway.


“Welcome back to the land of the living, Mister Dillon.”


“Thanks, Doc.”




Kitty gazed down at her sleeping children and smiled.  She leaned down and pressed a soft kiss to each of their foreheads then tugged the blankets back up over them.  She straightened up and reached out to dim the lamp.


“Mama?”  Came a sleepy voice from beneath the blankets.


“I thought you were sleeping?”  Kitty said softly as she sat on the edge of the bed and reached out to stroke her daughter’s hair.


“I heard you come in,” Gayle replied.  “How come you’re not with papa?  Is he…” she began, her eyes beginning to fill with fearful tears.


Kitty shook her head.  “No… no… your papa’s just fine.  In fact, he woke up just a little bit ago.”




“Really,” Kitty smiled.  “Tomorrow, after lunch, I’ll take you and Adam to see him.”


In spite of being more than half asleep, Gayle beamed.  “What about our lessons?”


“I think under the circumstances, you can miss a day,” Kitty answered as she slid her hand down from Gayle’s hair to cup her cheek.  “Now, go back to sleep.”


“Okay, mama…” Gayle yawned and curled up on her side.


Kitty stood, dimmed the light then left the children’s room for her own.  Feeling, all of a sudden, extremely tired, Kitty quickly took care of her nightly toilet.  Within minutes, she was washed, her hair down and brushed, and was slipping into her nightgown when the door began to slowly open.


She quickly finished pulling her nightgown down and hurried over to the door.  She grabbed it and only allowed it to open up a crack, then more fully when she saw who was standing on the other side.


“I was just checking on the children on my way to bed,” Hannah told her.  “I wasn’t expecting you to be here.  Is everything all right?”


Kitty nodded and smiled.  “He woke up, Hannah.”


Hannah’s face split into a wide grin.  “Thank God.  That’s wonderful.”


“Yes it is.”


“Well, since you’re here, I don’t need to check on the twins, so I’ll say good night and see you in the morning,” Hannah said.


“Good night, Hannah.  And thank you.”


Hannah smiled and left, closing the door behind her.


Kitty made her way to the bed, crawled in then turned down the lamp.  Once the room lay in darkness, she curled up on her side and closed her eyes.  As she drifted off to sleep, her thoughts were on the man next door.




Kitty backed through the swinging doors of the Long Branch with a food-laden tray balanced carefully in her hands and headed towards the doctor’s office.


She’d just stepped off the boardwalk into the alley between the saloon and general store when she looked up to see Matt coming down the last few steps from Brady’s office.  A frown tugged at the corners of her lips.


Matt held his hands up as he met her in the middle of the alley.  “Now, Kitty,” he glanced back up towards the office then back to her, “don’t say it.”


Kitty shook her head slightly.  “I’m not going to because it wouldn’t do any good,” she replied with a bemused smile on her face.


“Look, seems to me,” he reached out to touch her hand with his fingers, “I remember a beautiful lady telling me she’d buy me a beer when I felt better,” Matt said as he slipped his hands into his pockets.


“Well, if you don’t tell the doctor then you’re on, Cowboy,” Kitty smiled at him then noticed a rather ragged cowboy leaning up against the saloon and handed him the tray.  “Here… medium rare, enjoy.”  She turned back to Matt.  “Let’s go.”


Matt flashed her a brilliant smile as he pulled his hand from his pocket and placed it against the small of her back.  “After the beer, can we see the kids?”


Kitty nodded.  “Of course.  They’re quite anxious to see you.”


“I’m anxious to see them too, Kitty.”  Matt said as he pushed open one of the batwing doors for her to enter the Long Branch before him.


“It’s the marshal!”  A voice shouted as they entered and everyone stood, applauding and hooting with joy to see Matt on his feet.


Kitty, even as she clapped along with the crowd, watched as Matt flushed from the attention.  He’d never liked being the centre of attention, and he certainly did not consider himself any kind of legend.  But as Kitty looked around the saloon, she could see that these people… some friends, some acquaintances and some complete strangers… were in complete awe of Marshal Matt Dillon.


Matt held up his hands to still the good wishes.  “Thanks, everyone, but don’t forget, I’m not the marshal here anymore.  That dubious honour belongs to my good friend Newly,” he said as he moved further into the room and shook his old friend’s hand.  Matt looked around again and grinned.  “Now, I’d like to buy everybody a drink, but some fellas upriver relieved me of my goods.”


Chuckles sounded throughout the room.


“No way you could buy a drink in this saloon, Matt Dillon.” Hannah called out from behind the bar.  “All right, everybody, drinks are on the house!”  She shouted then looked over at Kitty and gestured for her to help out.


Kitty nodded, and with a glance up at Matt, they moved to the bar.  Kitty slipped around behind the counter and quickly poured her husband a beer.  Matt took the glass and smiled gratefully at her as he took the first sip.


“Welcome back, Mister Dillon.”


Matt turned to see Oakum standing beside him.


“Thank you, Oakum,” Matt said and reached out to shake his hand.  “I understand I have you to thank for getting me into Dodge.”


Oakum shrugged.  “I didn’t do much and nothing any decent person wouldna done.”


Before Matt could reply a loud voice suddenly cut through the noise in the saloon, “ATTENTION!”


The room fell silent and everyone turned to see a young man in uniform standing in the doors of the Long Branch.


“Sorry to intrude on the celebration, but I’m in a hurry,” he said.  “Can anyone tell me where I can find the marshal of this town?”


“I’m the marshal,” Newly said.  “What can I do for you?”


“Lieutenant Brian Dexter, marshal.  I’m supposed to meet my command here.  Twelve men equipped for hard duty and ready to ride.”


“Well, sir, your command is not coming.”  Newly said.  “I got a wire from the fort and your men were ordered back to the base.”


“Ordered back?”


“Yes, sir.  There’s some trouble with the Blackfoot.  But it says you’re at liberty to go on alone.”


“Indian trouble…” the lieutenant remarked.  “That’s unfortunate.  Then again, I never did feel that an entire detachment of Calvary was needed to hunt down one man.”




“Marshal, I’ve been sent here to hunt down an escaped convict by the name of Jake Flagg…”


At the mention of Jake’s name, Matt and Kitty’s eyes met briefly before Matt turned to pay closer attention to the conversation between Newly and Dexter.


“…who not only escaped from Black Fork prison, but shot to death the prison warden in the process.”


Hearing that, Matt pushed away from the bar and walked over to Newly and the young officer.  “What’s this about Jake Flagg?”


Dexter looked up at Matt.  “And who are you?”


“My name’s Dillon.  Matt Dillon.”


“Dillon?  I know you.  You were a lawman or something like that…”


“What do you know about Jake Flagg?”


“You know Flagg?”


“You wanna answer my question, boy?”  Matt asked with a note of annoyance in his voice.


“Uh…” Dexter looked chagrined.  “It came down through Army channels, sir.  Warden Amos Brown was a retired Army officer and I’ve been sent to bring in the man who killed him.”


Behind the bar, shock registered on Kitty’s face.


“Marshal,” Dexter turned his attention back to Newly.  “I’ve been told that if Flagg wasn’t found here, he could be found in Colorado high country.”


“Jake Flagg knows the Colorado Mountains better than any man around,” the marshal said.


“Let me tell you something, Lieutenant.  If you try to follow him out there, you’re not gonna find him,” Matt told him.  “And you might not get back alive yourself.”


“Well, I do have a map of the territory, Mister Dillon.  And I also have information that Flagg once owned a cabin up on Greenhorn Creek.  I intend to find him.  Good day, gentlemen,” Dexter said then turned and strode out of the saloon.


Newly bit back a smile.  “Dedicated, ain’t he?”


Matt shook his head as he turned back to Newly.  “He may be dedicated, but you could put his brains in a tea cup,” he said.  “He’s gotta be stopped.”


Newly nodded his agreement.


Kitty sighed as she moved out from behind the bar.


“Newly… I’m gonna need a horse,” Matt told him.


“I suspected as much.  When do you wanna leave?”  Newly asked just as Kitty joined them.


“Not until tonight,” Matt answered as he looked down and met Kitty’s troubled eyes.  “I need to see my kids first.”


“All right,” O’Brien nodded.  “I’ll make sure one is saddled and ready for you when you’re set to leave.”


“Thanks, Newly.”  Matt said then turned to Kitty.  “What do you say we go see our children?”


Kitty nodded.


Together they made their way through the crowd to then up the stairs.  They walked along the second level and through the curtain in silence until they reached the door to Kitty’s room, where Matt suddenly stopped.




“I’m a little nervous, Kitty.”  Matt admitted in a quiet voice.


Kitty couldn’t help but smile and reached up to pat his arm.  “Nothing to be nervous about, Cowboy.  These are your children, and they love you.  Just… be yourself… and don’t force anything,” she told him.  “But I have a notion you have nothing to worry about.”


Matt gave her a grateful smile.




“Yeah,” he nodded and reached out to open the door.  It swung open and he stepped into the room then stopped.


Sitting on opposite sides of the room, the children looked up together from the books they were reading.  Twin smiles filled their faces.  “…Papa…” they whispered together.


Matt watched as the children dropped their books and sprang out of their seats.  They flew across the room and into his arms.  He felt tears prick at the back of his eyes as their tiny arms wrapped around his neck and they clung to him.  Even the pain in his back from his knife wound was worth it for this moment.


Kitty placed her hand on Matt’s back, putting gentle pressure over his injury, as if sensing that it was paining him some.  She didn’t bother to hold back her tears as she watched him hold their children; the sight warming her heart immeasurably.


Still holding his kids close, Matt slowly moved further into the room and over to one of the chairs.  He sat down and settled the twins on his lap and just looked at them.


“By golly, you two have sure grown,” he said.  He reached up to tug on one of Gayle’s curls.  “I can’t get over how much you look like your mama.”


Gayle beamed and glanced over at her mother.  Kitty smiled, and winked at her daughter who turned back to her father.  “Oh, papa…” she blushed.


“You do.  And you’re going to grow up to be just as beautiful as your mama too,” Matt said as he reached up to brush his fingers against her soft cheek.  He then turned his attention to his son.  “And you, young man…”


“Mama says I look like you,” Adam said before Matt could finish.  “That this is what you looked like when you were my age.  Did you look like me?”


“Yes.  Your mama’s right,” Matt agreed.  “Although, I think you’re a mite taller than I was.”




“Yep,” Matt said then grinned as Adam puffed out his chest with pride.


As Kitty sat on the edge of the bed to watch them, she caught Matt’s eye and the two shared a smile.  In that brief moment of silent communication, before Matt’s attention was drawn back to his children, Kitty could see his gratitude to her and his pride in the twins.  She settled back on the bed and watched happily as an enthralled father got reacquainted with his children.






Kitty looked up from the book she was reading to see Adam standing before her, drowning in his father’s vest.  She grinned.  “Yes?”


“Can we go eat soon?  I’m hungry.”


Kitty glanced at the clock and her eyes widened.  “I hadn’t realized it’d gotten so late.”


“Me either,” Matt said as he stood with Gayle in his arms, both quite unwilling to let go of the other.  “But I could do with some food.  A nice thick steak sounds very good.”


Adam nodded his agreement.


“Well then, let’s go eat.”




“That was enjoyable,” Matt said as he opened the door to Kitty’s room and ushered his family in ahead of him.


“Yes it was,” Kitty agreed.  “Never thought I’d see the day we’d be able to have a meal in Dodge that wasn’t interrupted,” she said with a grin to let Matt know that she was teasing him.


Matt chuckled.  “It was certainly a change.”


“What was?”  The twins asked together, looking back and forth between their parents.


Kitty laughed.  “Never mind.  It’s time for you two to get ready for bed.  I want you to go wash up and change into your pyjamas.”


“But, mama…” Adam began.


“Do as your mother tells you, Adam.”  Matt said.


“Yes, papa.”  Adam replied.  He turned away and walked into the room he was sharing with his sister.


“You too, Gayle… go on an’ get ready for bed.”


“All right, papa.”  Gayle said and followed her brother out of the room.


Once the twins were in the other room, Matt turned to Kitty.  “We have to tell them.”


“I know,” Kitty sighed.




“It’s all right, Matt.  I understand.”


“Do you?”


“Funnily enough, yes, I do,” Kitty nodded.  “I just hope we can make the children understand.”


Matt turned to look towards the other bedroom.  “So do I, Kitty.  So do I.”




Matt finished filling his saddlebag with the few supplies he’d need when he heard the office door open.


“How are they?”   He asked, not bothering to turn around, knowing immediately who it was.


“Finally asleep,” Kitty replied.


“I hated doing that to them,” Matt said sadly, remembering the sad, tear-filled faces of his children.  “It was just as painful as all those times I had to break an engagement with you.”


Kitty heard the regret in his voice and saw it in his eyes when he finally turned to face her.


“Don’t worry, Matt.  I’ll explain it to them again while you’re gone,” she said then walked over to him and held out the gun she’d been holding in her hand.  “Newly says it shoots a shade high and to the right,” she told him as she handed it to him.


“I remember,” Matt said as he slipped it into the holster he’d put on moments earlier.


“He’s having a horse saddled for you, and the rifle’s in the saddle boot.”


“Thanks, Kitty.”


“How do you know you can even find him?”


“I don’t.  You know as well as I do that Jake’s no murderer… but he’s being hunted like one,” Matt said as he walked over to the coat tree and grabbed his hat.  He turned back to her.  “He’s my oldest friend, Kitty, you know that.  And if there’s a chance I can find him, I gotta try.”


“Yes, you do,” Kitty nodded.


At that moment, they heard the sound of hurried footsteps on the stairs.  Seconds later, the door burst open and the twins blew into the room; coming to an abrupt halt just in front of their parents.


“What are you two doing here?”  Kitty asked them, anger and worry warring inside her that they were not asleep in their bed where they belonged.  “Why aren’t you in bed?”


“We had to see papa,” Gayle answered.


“To tell him we understand,” Adam continued as he headed straight for Matt.  “We know you gotta help your friend, papa.”


“You wouldn’t be our papa if you didn’t,” Gayle spoke right on the heels of her brother.


“And we didn’t want you to leave thinking we were angry at you…” Adam continued.


“Mama always tells us we should never go to bed angry with someone we love,” Gayle pointed out with a smile.


“Your mama’s right,” Matt said.


“Papa…” Adam began hesitantly.  “When you come back, will we get to be a family again?”


Matt looked over at Kitty as he answered, “I hope so, son.  We’ll see what mama and papa can do.”  He knelt and opened his arms.  “Come here.”


The twins rushed into their father’s embrace.  Matt dropped his hat on the floor and wrapped his long arms around them.


“Papa,” Gayle began.  “Promise us you’ll come back.”


“I promise,” Matt said and closed his eyes as he held them tighter.


“You better, papa.”  Adam told him.  “We need you.”


Kitty watched them for several moments until Matt opened his eyes and locked them with hers.  She could see the plea in his blue orbs and nodded.  “All right, children, back to bed.”


The twins extricated themselves from their father’s embrace; Gayle pressing a soft kiss to Matt’s cheek.  Adam held out his hand.  “Good luck, papa.  I hope you find your friend.”


“Thanks, son,” Matt said as he shook his son’s hand then grabbed his hat off of the floor and stood.


“Adam, Gayle,” Kitty called them over.  She walked them to the office door.  “I want you two to go straight back to the Long Branch.  Go up the back stairs and no lollygagging.  I’ll be watching.”


“Yes, mama.”  They chorused and with a final look at their father, the twins hurried out the door and down the stairs.


Kitty stood in the doorway and watched them.  “You had better keep that promise, Matt.”  She said in a quiet voice as she felt him step up behind her.  Her eyes followed the children as they climbed the back steps into the Long Branch and disappeared inside.  “Those children need their father.”


“What about their mother,” Matt asked in a low voice.  “What does she need?”


Kitty closed her eyes.


Matt was so close.


So close.


Her heart began to race.  Her skin tingled from the heat of his body all along hers, and she could feel every breath he took, even though he wasn’t touching her.  Kitty took a deep breath and without stepping away, slowly turned to face Matt; the move bringing her chest into contact with his.


She met his eyes.


“She needs you too,” Kitty answered in a husky voice.  “She’s always needed you.”


With their eyes locked, Matt slowly lowered his head to capture her mouth in a tender kiss.  Kitty gave a soft sob as she wrapped her arms around his back and pressed closer; parting her lips beneath his to allow him to deepen the kiss.  Matt wrapped his arms tightly around her and they moaned as they shared their first taste of each other in what felt like forever to both of them.


After several long minutes, the kiss slowly came to an end.  Kitty buried her face in his chest.  “You damn well better come back, Matt Dillon.”  She clutched the back of his shirt.  “Find Jake, warn him, and then hurry back to us.”


Matt pressed his face into the red hair he loved so much.  “I will, Kitty.  I promise.”


Their lips came together again, this time with the passion and desire that had always been part of them and their relationship.  It was a kiss that came from deep inside their joined souls.  Their bodies pressed tightly together, neither one caring at this point, that they were standing in the open door of the doctor’s office.


Kitty was the first to pull away from the kiss.  “If you don’t go now…” she said breathlessly, “I won’t be able to let you go.”


Matt nodded and stepped out of her embrace.  He reached for his jacket, slipped it on then grabbed his saddle bags.  He stepped past her onto the landing and then, together, they made their way down the stairs. 


They walked in silence to the horse Newly had saddled and waiting for him in front of the Long Branch.  Matt did a double take when he saw the horse waiting was Buck.  “Hey, old son…” he reached out to stroke the horse.  “How’d you get here?”


“He wandered into town a few days after you were brought in,” Kitty told him as he put the saddle bags on the saddle.


Matt just shook his head in disbelief.  When he finished with the saddle, he turned to Kitty.  He cupped her cheek and couldn’t resist giving her one last kiss.


“Take care, Matt, will you?”


“I will,” Matt said.  “And I will be back.  I promise.”


Kitty nodded and watched as he climbed up on Buck.


“I promise,” he repeated and then rode off.


Kitty remained on the boardwalk, watching Matt as disappeared down Front Street.  “Please God…” she prayed quietly.  “Please watch over him and let him come back to us safely.”


Unbeknownst to Kitty, above her, in the second floor window of the Long Branch, Adam and Gayle were saying the same prayer as they watched their father ride out of Dodge.




As she poured some champagne into two glasses, Hannah watched Kitty pace back and forth in front of the batwing doors.




Kitty stopped pacing and turned to look at her friend.  “An awful lot of men have come through those doors.”


“One in particular I’m guessing,” Hannah said knowingly.


Kitty gave her a small smile.  “One in particular,” she agreed as she joined Hannah at the table and grabbed one of the glasses.


“So…” Hannah began, as she reached for the remaining glass.  “Mrs. Dillon?  When did that happen?”


“Almost fifteen years ago,” Kitty answered as she took a sip of her champagne.


“And no one knew?”


“Doc knew,” she said with a wistful smile as she thought about her old friend.  “I told him the day I found out I was pregnant.”  Kitty chuckled softly as she continued.  “He was ready to go after Matt… hell bent on making him do the right thing by me.”


Hannah laughed, knowing that Doc Adams would have done just that.  “So then, I take it you didn’t get married here in Dodge?”


Kitty shook her head.  “No.  We were married in Denver.”




“Fifteen years ago, Matt was shot in the back,” Kitty began to explain.  “Bad.  Oh it was very bad.  One the worst injuries he’d ever had.  The bullet was lodged in his spinal column, and Doc felt he wasn’t capable of removing it without crippling Matt.  So, he decided to take Matt to Denver to a specialist in that kind of spinal surgery.”  She paused to take a sip of her drink.  “To make a long story a little shorter… our train was high jacked but thanks in large part to Newly and Festus, we retook the train.  By that time, Matt’s condition had gotten worse… he couldn’t feel or move his legs… so, Doc ended up removing the bullet.”


“On the train?”


Kitty nodded.  “There was a priest on the train with us, Father Sanchez, and something he said to Doc gave him the courage to do the surgery,” she said.  “But even after operating successfully on Matt, we continued on to Denver to see the specialist.  When we arrived, Doc introduced me to Doctor Harrington as Matt’s wife.”


Hannah smiled.


“He even managed to talk them into setting up a small cot for me in Matt’s room.”


“That was nice of them,” Hanna commented.  “How long were you there?”


“Just over three months,” Kitty answered as a small grin played on her lips.  “Much to Matt’s annoyance, but even he grudgingly admits that it was time well spent.”


“So, when did you get hitched and how is it that Doc Adams didn’t know?”


“Doc came back to Dodge, with Festus and Newly, after a week,” Kitty said.  “Even though they wanted to stay, all three realized they were needed more in Dodge.  A few days before we were to come home, Father Sanchez came to visit.  I found out later, that Matt had asked to see him.  Anyway, Matt told me that he needed to talk with the father, and that I should go do some shopping,” she smiled.  “That alone should have tipped me off that he was up to something.”


“Yes, it should have,” Hannah agreed with a laugh.  “How long did you manage to stay away?”


Kitty chuckled.  “Only an hour.  When I returned, Father Sanchez was still there…”



“Didn’t I tell you?”  Matt grinned at Sanchez as Kitty breezed into the room.


“Yes, you did.”  Sanchez chuckled.  “Welcome back, Miss Kitty.”


“Thank you.”


Sanchez turned back to Matt.  “I will go take care of what you asked now, and will return shortly.”


“All right, thank you, Father.”


Sanchez inclined his head to Kitty then left the room.


“Matt?  What’s going on?”  Kitty asked.


“What do you mean?”


“Don’t give me that,” Kitty said with her hands on her hips.  “And don’t give me that innocent little boy look either.”


Matt grinned and shook his head.  “I never could put one past you.”


“No, you couldn’t.”


“Shut the door, and come over here,” Matt said.  “There’s something we need to discuss.”


Seeing the suddenly serious look on his face, Kitty quickly closed the door and made her way back to him.  She was surprised when Matt grabbed her hand and pulled her into his lap.




It’s okay, Kitty.  It’s okay.”


“Oh no, Matt… you’re still healing…” Kitty protested as she tried to get up.  “I’m too heavy…”


“You’re nothing of the sort, now stop fidgeting or you will hurt me,” Matt told her and bit back a small laugh when she stilled immediately.  “Relax, honey… you’re not hurting me in any way.  I promise.”


Kitty held his gaze for several moments.  Satisfied that he was telling her the truth, she relaxed in his embrace, laying her head on his shoulder.


“I’ve missed this,” Matt said quietly as one hand rubbed her back, while the other stroked her thigh.


“I have too,” Kitty whispered.  “So…”


“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking the last few weeks,” Matt began speaking over her.  “About a lot of things, but mostly about us, and I’ve been trying to figure out what I did to deserve you.”


Kitty lifted her head from his shoulder to look at him.  She opened her mouth to speak but at the look on his face, she remained quiet and waited for him to continue.


“You know that it was drummed into me, from the moment I put on my first badge, that a family and the badge don’t mix.  And I’ve always believed it,” he said as he continued to run his hand up and down her back.  “You know I’ve had other relationships…” he felt Kitty’s body tense slightly and watched as a slight scowl touched her lips, “but none of them were anything like what I’ve had with you.”


The scowl left Kitty’s face and at his gentle coaxing, she laid her head back on his shoulder.


Matt continued, “They tried to change me… tried to get me to give up the badge and settle down.  And, yeah, you and I have had some battles over it… but you’ve never once made me choose.  You accepted me… accepted that this badge, and my duty to it, are part of who I am.”


“I know it’s not been easy, being… being my woman,” Matt said.  “You’ve gone through so much, endured so much... all because of our relationship.  I don’t know how you’ve done it all these years… don’t know WHY you’ve done it… but I am so grateful that you have,” he tightened his arms around her.  “I honestly don’t believe that I would still be alive if it weren’t for you.”




“I’m serious, Kitty.  When I’m out on the trail… tired, weary or worse, hurt… it’s thoughts of you that keep me going.  It’s knowing that when I get back to Dodge, you’ll be there waiting for me.  That, for a short time, in your arms, I am able to forget all the ugliness my job entails,” he told her.  “YOU are the one thing in this world that’s right… that makes sense to me.”


“I’ve been thinking about what you said on the train,” Matt continued as he turned so that his cheek rested against the top of her head, “that there is not one day of the last seventeen years you would change… but I would.”


Kitty tensed slightly then ventured in a slightly shaky voice, “You would?”


“Mmhmm,” Matt nodded.  “I’d change our non-permanent relationship into a permanent one.”


Kitty lifted her head from his shoulder to look at him.


“Of course, some things would have to stay the same,” Matt continued without missing a beat.  “Just by being my woman, you’ve been used and hurt by so many people to get to me, and that’s bad enough.  I’d hate to think what would happen to you if they knew you were my wife.”


“…wife?”  Kitty’s eyes widened and her heart began to pound wildly in her chest.  “Matt, are you… what are you saying?”


“Seventeen years together and you can’t figure out that I’m askin’ you to marry me?”  Matt’s eyes twinkled as he grinned at her.


“Oh, Matt…” Kitty inhaled a shaky breath as her eyes filled with tears.


Matt became serious again.  “Before you answer, there’s one more thing… and this is non-negotiable.”


Kitty swallowed and nodded for him to continue.


“We’ve been very careful over the years to avoid you getting pregnant,” he began then smiled softly.  “Well… at least we were in the beginning… I do know that the last few years we’ve not been as careful.”


Kitty smiled sheepishly at him.  She knew that he’d figured out ages ago that she hadn’t been taking as many precautions as she had been in the early years of their relationship.  It wasn’t that she was trying purposely to get pregnant… or to trap him in any way… but more that she had decided that she wanted to have Matt’s child and that if it was meant to be, it would happen.


“But there is still a chance it could happen,” Matt said.  “And if it does… IF it does, Kitty… I’d want you to leave Dodge.”


“What?!  No, Matt!”


“Kitty… you know as well as I do, that it’d be too dangerous for you and our child in Dodge,” Matt told her.  “If you got pregnant, you’d have to leave, and then I would follow you a short time later.”


“You’d give up your badge for the baby?”


“No.  I’d give up my badge for my family… for my wife AND child,” Matt clarified.


Kitty looked at him thoughtfully.  “Not that I’m not thrilled about your asking me, and I accept by the way, but why now?  Is it because of the shooting?”


“That’s part of it,” Matt answered honestly.  “This was a very serious injury.  One that could have, very easily, ended my life.”  He felt Kitty shudder and gave her thigh a gentle squeeze.  “And I’ve been thinking these last couple of months… seriously thinking of hanging up the badge if I make it to twenty years.”


“And…” he continued, his voice taking on a soft teasing tone, “maybe I’ve just been realizing what a fool I’ve been all these years… or maybe I’ve just enjoyed hearing you being called Mrs. Dillon… or maybe,” Matt reached up to cup her cheek, “I’ve just realized how very much in love with you I am and that I want you with me for always.”


Kitty’s eyes filled with tears.  “Oh, Matt…”


Matt gently wiped the tears from her cheeks.  “So, did I hear you right?  You did say you’d marry me, didn’t you?”


“I did indeed,” Kitty nodded with a big bright smile.


A brilliant smile lit Matt’s face in response, and he could feel the happiness radiating off of Kitty in waves as he leaned in to capture her lips in a loving kiss.  It wasn’t long before the gentle kiss gave way to a more urgent one, the last few months of holding back making them almost desperate for each other.


Kitty moaned and shifted in Matt’s embrace so that she could press closer.  She wrapped her arms around his head and laced her fingers in his thick hair as she coaxed his tongue back into her mouth.  She could feel his heart pounding against her chest, and his arousal growing against her rear and it sent a jolt of need up through her.


There was a sudden knock on the door that just barely penetrated the haze of desire surrounding them.  They parted and stared at each other, breathless, as another knock sounded, followed by the door slowly opening.


Father Sanchez stuck his head in the room then grinned at the sight.  “I take it she accepted?”


“She did,” Matt grinned as Kitty quickly scrambled off of Matt’s lap to stand beside him, a slight blush colouring her cheeks.  “Were you able to get it?”


“Si,” Sanchez said as he entered the room, closing the door behind him.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small purple bag and handed it to Matt.  “I hope it is all right.”


Matt loosened the string on the bag and emptied the contents into his hand.  He smiled and nodded then looked up at Kitty.  “What do you think?”


Kitty looked down at the gold band lying in the palm of her big lawman’s hand.  She reached down and picked it up.  It was a simple gold band; nothing extravagant or pretentious… just like Matt, and Kitty loved it.  She knew Matt himself hadn’t picked it out, but she also knew that he had told Father Sanchez exactly what he wanted.


“It’s perfect,” she answered with a smile.


“Then I guess we’re ready to begin?”  Father Sanchez said as he pulled his bible from his pocket.


“Ready?”  Kitty asked as she looked back and forth between the two.  Realization hit.  “You mean now?”


“Yeah,” Matt nodded.


“Oh no, Matt… we can’t!”


“Why not?”


“For a couple of reasons…”


“Such as?”


“Well for one, we’re not even Catholic,” Kitty pointed out.


“That doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, does it?”  Matt asked.  “We’re gettin’ married in the eyes of God, which I know is important to both of us.  What does it matter what faith… as long as it’s done in faith?  And Father Sanchez knows us and is willing to keep this secret for us.”


Kitty nodded, conceding the point to Matt.


“And the other reason?”  Matt questioned.


“I’m not properly dressed for a wedding… least of all my own,” Kitty told him.


Matt smiled and reached out to grasp her hands.  “Kitty, honey, you could be wearing a flour sack and you’d still be the most beautiful woman on God’s green earth,” he said as he stroked the backs of her hands with his thumbs.  “Besides… I’m gonna be too lost staring into those gorgeous blue eyes of yours to even notice what you’re wearing.”


“Oh, Matt…” Kitty whispered and smiled.  “Father Sanchez…”


The priest looked up from his contemplation of the bible in his hands.  “Yes?”


“We’re ready.”


Sanchez smiled and stepped over to them.  “Then let’s begin.”


Matt slowly got to his feet so that he was standing before Kitty; her small hands still clasped tightly in his large ones.  Matt nodded to the father.


“As we are the only witnesses, I will keep the ceremony simple,” the priest told them as he opened his bible.  “Having been together, and loving each other, as long as you have… you both understand the meaning of devotion… of commitment.  Now, you come before God to solidify that commitment.”  Sanchez paused to regard Matt and Kitty who only had eyes for each other.  He smiled and continued.  “Marriage is sacred and not to be entered into lightly, so I ask of you both now… do you know of any reason why you should not be joined together in matrimony?”


Matt and Kitty shook their heads.


Sanchez nodded and turned to Matt.  “Matthew… will you have this woman to be thy wedded wife, to love together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony?  Will you love her, comfort her, honour and keep her in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her, so long as you both shall live?”


Matt held Kitty’s eyes as he answered, “I will.”


With a smile, Father Sanchez then turned to Kitty.  “Kathleen… will you have this man to be thy wedded husband, to love together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony?  Will you love him, comfort him, honour and keep him in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto him, so long as you both shall live?”


Kitty’s eyes were bright with tears as she answered, “I will.”


“Matt, take Kitty’s right hand in your right hand and repeat after me,” the father said.


Matt released Kitty’s hands then retook her right hand in his and repeated after Father Sanchez, “I, Matthew, take thee, Kathleen, to my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.”


Sanchez then turned to Kitty.  “Kitty, take Matt’s right hand in yours and repeat after me…”


Kitty grasped Matt’s hand tightly in hers and spoke her vows in a voice husky with tears, “I, Kathleen, take thee, Matthew, to my wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.”


Father Sanchez smiled and held out his bible.  “May I have the ring?”  Matt placed the gold band on the good book.  Sanchez blessed the ring then held the book out to Matt once again.  “Take this ring and place it on Kathleen’s finger and repeat after me…”

Matt picked up the tiny band and grasped Kitty’s left hand in his.  He spoke after the father, “WITH this Ring I thee wed, with my Body I thee worship, and with all my worldly Goods I thee endow.”


The tears in Kitty’s eyes spilled down her cheeks as she felt the cool metal slide over and come to rest on her finger.  “Oh, Matt…” she whispered as he lifted her hand to his lips and pressed a kiss to her ring and finger.


“O ETERNAL God, Creator and Preserver of all mankind, Giver of all spiritual grace, the Author of everlasting life…” Father Sanchez began.  “Send thy blessing upon these thy servants, this Man and this Woman, whom we bless in thy Name; that, as Isaac and Rebecca lived faithfully together, so these persons may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, whereof this Ring given and received is a token and pledge, and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy laws; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”


“Amen,” Kitty and Matt repeated softly, their eyes only on each other, their hands clasped tightly together, as the minister reached out and covered their hands with his.


“Those whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder,” Sanchez continued and then smiled.  “For as much as you, Matthew and Kathleen, have consented together in holy Wedlock and have witnessed the same before God, and have given and pledged your troth to each other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving of a ring, and by the joining of your hands… I now pronounce you Man and Wife together, In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen.”


Sanchez bowed his head for a moment.  He released their hands a moment later then looked at Matt.  “Marshal, you may now kiss your bride.”


Matt grinned and pulled Kitty into his arms.  “Mrs. Dillon…” he whispered just as he lowered his lips to hers.


A soft sigh of happiness escaped Kitty as they parted after the sweetest, gentlest kiss they’d ever shared.  She smiled up at Matt.  “Mrs. Dillon…” she repeated in a whisper and her smile grew.  “I like that.”


“So do I,” Matt agreed as he kissed her again; this time with more passion.


A clearing throat pulled them from the kiss and both smiled a mite sheepishly at Father Sanchez.  Kitty stepped out of Matt’s arms and moved to stand beside him.


“Sorry, Father.”  Matt said with a smile, his ears red with embarrassment.


“No need to apologize, Marshal.”  Sanchez said, smiling as well.  “It’s understandable.  Now it is time for me to leave.”


“Already?”  Kitty asked.


“Si.  I leave for Mexico tomorrow morning on the early train,” he explained.  “So I must return to the church and finish packing my belongings and get some rest.”


Kitty nodded in understanding as Matt stuck out his hand.


“Thank you, Father,” Matt said as he shook the man’s hand.  “I appreciate your doing this.”


“You’re welcome,” he said.  “Both of you.”


Kitty stepped forward and pressed a kiss to his cheek.  “Thank you.”


Sanchez smiled and moved to the door.  “I can see the love you have for each other, so I know you will be happy together.  And I will pray there comes a day when you can share the joy of your marriage with those around you.”


“Take care of yourself, Father.”  Matt said as Kitty moved back into his arms.


Sanchez nodded.  “Good bye, Mister and Mrs. Dillon.  Take care of each other.”


With that, the priest left the room, closing the door behind him.






“I noticed when I was saying my vows, that the word OBEY was missing,” Kitty told him.


“Yeah… I asked Father Sanchez to leave that out,” Matt replied.




“Kitty, you’ve not OBEYED me in seventeen years,” Matt answered, “And I don’t expect you to start doing so now just because we’re married.”


Kitty laughed and pulled back to meet his eyes.  “Oh, I love you, Matt Dillon!”


Matt grinned.  “I love you too, Kitty Dillon.”



Hannah laughed as she dabbed at the tears in her eyes.  “Who would have ever thought that Matt Dillon was a romantic?”


Kitty smiled.  “I’ve always known it.”


Refilling their glasses, Hannah nodded.  “Yes, I suppose you have,” she pushed the full glass towards Kitty then lifted her own and took a sip.  “So… what happened when you came back from Denver?”


“Life went back to normal,” Kitty said then gave a humourless laugh.  “Well… as normal as life could be for me and Matt.”  She took a long drink of her champagne then looked down at the simple gold ring on her finger.  “It’s never been easy for us… but those last few years before I left Dodge…” Kitty released a shuddering breath.  “They were difficult.  We went through so much… both together and apart…”


Hannah reached out and covered her friend’s hand in understanding.  She’d heard the stories of what they’d gone through.  “So, when did you learn that you were pregnant?”  Hannah asked in an attempt to stave off the bad memories for her friend.


It worked.


Kitty smiled.  “Three months after Matt was shot in his gun arm.”


“I’ve heard about that.  He was shot while trying to stop a bank robbery, right?”


“Right,” Kitty said.  “It was bad, and Doc was doubtful that he’d ever gain full use of it again.  So… being the stubborn man that he is… my marshal decided he had to leave Dodge.”



“Your rent’s paid up till the end of the month.”


“This doesn’t mean I’m leaving for good, you know.”


“It doesn’t mean you’re coming back either.  Look… can’t you just wait until Doc says it’s all right for you to be walking around?  You’re in no condition to go anywhere.”


“Kitty, I’m not in any condition to stay either.”


“You’ve got two deputies, and a town full of citizens, who’d stake their lives on seeing that you’re safe.  Now, you owe them that right.”


“Sure they’d stake their lives… and they might lose’em too.  How long do you think it’s gonna be before word gets around that I’m helpless?”


“Anyone who’s lookin’ could track you.”


“Well, least if they find me I’ll be alone.”


“Oh, Matt!”


“Look, Kitty… I know what you’re trying to say but… it’s just that I’ve always had to do things my way.”


“Is that a fact?  Where will you go?”


“I don’t know, Kitty.  But I’ll be in touch.”



“That didn’t go over well with you, I take it?”


“No.  Not really.  I understood why he left.  I really did… but… it hurt to watch him ride away, not really knowing if he was coming back or not…”


“So, when he did come back…” Hannah smiled knowingly.


Kitty laughed and shook her head.  “No.  We didn’t get to… celebrate his return until the next night.  Matt had to square things with Paul, the marshal that had been sent to replace him, first.”


“Must have been some celebration…” Hannah commented as she watched Kitty’s face flush with the memory.


“Oh, it was.”  Kitty replied softly as her mind wandered back to that night.



Kitty looked up into her husband’s face, and by the look in his eyes, she knew, that unlike their frenzied coupling earlier, this next round of lovemaking was going to be long and slow.  She licked her lips in anticipation as she felt Matt bring her hands up to the headboard and wrap her fingers around the spindles.


“Don’t let go,” Matt told her in a low voice, then with a rakish grin and a quick brush of his lips against hers, he dipped his head and rained kisses over the tops of her breasts. 


“All right…” Kitty replied breathlessly as Matt trailed his fingers down her arms to cup her breasts in his large hands.



“It was…” she repeated, dragging her mind back to the present.  “That was the night the twins were conceived.”


“How do you know that?”


“I just know.”


Hannah smiled.  “So, when you told Matt that you were pregnant…”


“He reminded me of the agreement we made when we got married,” Kitty finished and sighed.  “I tried to talk him into letting me stay in Dodge, but he wouldn’t have it.  He felt I’d be too much at risk here.  So… we decided the best thing would be for me to sell the Long Branch, and move to New Orleans.”


“That must have been a hard decision to make,” Hannah said.


Kitty glanced over at the bar and smiled wistfully.  “It was, and I spent more than a few nights crying in Matt’s arms about it.  Then I got your letter,” she said, “and that made it a little easier.  Knowing I’d be leaving this place in good hands.”


Hannah smiled.  “And that you only had to sell half of it.”


“That too,” Kitty chuckled.  “So, a month after I found out I was pregnant, I left Dodge City for New Orleans.”


“Leaving everyone here convinced that you and Matt had had a huge fight,” Hannah said, remembering the various rumours she’d heard about the two of them when she’d arrived in Dodge City days after Kitty’s departure.


“It worked to our advantage,” Kitty said.  “Only Doc knew the truth.”


“So, all those times he was out tracking outlaws, he was actually visiting you?”


“Well… not exactly.  If Matt said he was tracking outlaws, then he was… but if he managed to catch them quickly, he’d come see me.”


“Ah,” Hannah nodded in understanding.


“Those first months though, I think there were times Matt wished he’d stayed in Dodge.”


“Why do you say that?”


“Matt and I have always enjoyed a healthy love life,” Kitty admitted with a slight blush.  “And when I was pregnant, my need for him seemed to grow even stronger, and I found it frustrating that he wasn’t there when I wanted him.”


“I bet you did,” Hannah remarked with a smile as Kitty’s blush deepened.  “I can’t, however, see how that would make Matt wish he’d stayed in Dodge.”


“As I got bigger… I also became convinced that Matt couldn’t possibly find me desirable…” Kitty’s voice trailed off.



Matt walked out of the wash room, dressed only in his pyjama bottoms, to find Kitty standing in front of the large cheval mirror, in the corner, with a scowl on her face.  He tossed the towel in his hand back into the small room then slowly made his way across to his wife.


“Why the frown?”  He asked as he slipped his arms around her and rested his hands on her gravid stomach.


“Oh, Matt… look at me…” Kitty told him.


Matt nuzzled the side of her head.  “I am lookin’ at you.”


“Then you can see how fat I’ve gotten.”


“You’re not fat, Kitty.  You’re pregnant,” Matt responded.  “And you’ve never looked more beautiful to me then you do right now.”


“I think you’d better have Doc check your eyes when you get back to Dodge,” Kitty told him.  “I am far from beautiful right now.”


“You really can’t see it, can you?”  Matt asked.


“See what?  The swollen feet… the puffy face… the too big breasts… the huge stomach!?  Oh no, Matt, I see it all just fine.”  Kitty replied.  “How can YOU not see it?  How can you even want to…” she swallowed the sudden tears that clogged her throat.


“How can I even want to what?”  He asked, knowing exactly what she was thinking.


“How can you want to make love to me right now?”  Kitty whispered with uncharacteristic insecurity.


“How can I?  Kitty, honey… I ALWAYS want to make love with you,” Matt told her.


“You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”


Matt frowned and regarded her in the mirror for several moments.  Without saying a word, he pressed a kiss into her hair and reached for the sash on her robe then loosened it.  He slipped it off of her shoulders and tossed it onto the nearby chair then began to gather up her nightgown.


“Matt?”  Kitty asked and covered his hands with hers when the hem of the gown reached her hips.  “What are you doing?”


“Trust me,” Matt whispered as he tugged his hands free and resumed gathering up the nightgown until he was able to draw it up and over her head.


“I do,” she answered as he tossed the gown over to the chair as well, leaving her standing naked in front of him and the mirror.  She closed her eyes against her reflection and leaned back against her husband’s solid frame.  “I think I’d feel a mite more comfortable if you joined me in the all together, Cowboy.”


“Yes, ma’am,” Matt said and holding her shoulders so she wouldn’t stumble, he stepped away from her.


Kitty turned slightly and watched as Matt quickly shucked his pyjama bottoms then tossed them on top of her nightgown and robe.  She licked her lips at the sight of Matt in all his glory and felt a wave of desire rush through her to pool in her centre.


“Like what you see?”  Matt asked with a knowing grin.


“Mmhmm,” Kitty murmured as she raked her eyes hungrily over him.


“Good, but first,” he stepped back to her and grasped her shoulders.  Matt turned her so that she was once again facing the mirror with her back pressed to his chest.  “I’m going to tell you and show you just how beautiful and desirable you still are.”


The moment he’d turned her back to the mirror, Kitty closed her eyes, still not wanting to see herself.


“You are so beautiful,” Matt whispered then took a deep breath as he said a quick but silent prayer that he was able to put into words all that he felt for his wife


Kitty could hear the reverence in his voice and shook her head.  “No…” she began but was stopped by Matt’s fingers on her lips.


“Ssh…” he told her in a quiet voice.  “Just listen, all right?  You know words don’t exactly come easy to me.”


Kitty nodded, a slight smile gracing her lips at his admission.


“Thank you.  Now, open your eyes, honey.”  Matt said as he dropped his hands and spread them over her swollen belly.  “Open your eyes and let me show you what I see when I look at you.”


Kitty did as he asked and slowly opened her eyes.  She met his gaze in the mirror and watched as he raised a hand and took a lock of her hair between his fingers.


“I love your hair.  It’s one of the first things I noticed about you that first day.  It’s so soft… and it shines like a hot fire on a cold winter night.  It looks good when you have it pinned up, but I like it better when you wear it down,” Matt paused and pressed his face into the auburn tresses.  He continued in a soft voice, his lips near her ear.  “But I like your hair best when it fans out on the pillow beneath us… or when it’s falling about your shoulders when you’re straddled over me.”


Matt lifted his face from her hair and met her eyes in the mirror as he laid his hands on her shoulders and rubbed them.  “Your skin is so soft.  Never in my life have I felt anything as soft as your skin,” he dipped his head to skim his lips over her shoulder as he slid his hands down to cup her breasts.  “I can remember when these just fit in my hands, and I have loved watching and feeling them grow over the years so that they now fill my hands perfectly.”


Kitty moaned as Matt gently pinched her nipples between his thumbs and forefingers; the sensitive tips hardening immediately beneath his expert touch.  Each tug sent a wave of desire coursing through her body.


Matt breathed against her skin as he continued, “And now, they’re growing even more, preparing for our child.  I can honestly say that I am finding this to be quite a bonus,” he grinned at her in the mirror.  “I’ve always loved your breasts, Kitty.”


Kitty couldn’t help but smile at that.  “I know…” she told him.  She’d known that from the very first time they’d made love.  Matt had paid extra attention to them that first night, and had continued to do so over the years every time they made love. A small whimper escaped when Matt suddenly released her breasts and slid his hands down to frame her gravid stomach.


“All right, so you’re not as slim as you were twenty years ago…”


Kitty frowned.


“Have I ever complained?  Yes, you’ve filled out some… so have I.  We’re not kids anymore, Kitty.  But that’s only a good thing because, truth be told, I would be afraid to make love to you now if you were still that tiny thing you were when we first met.  I’d be too afraid I’d hurt you.”


Matt paused and Kitty watched as he moved his hands in soft circles over the swell of her belly.


“How can you say you’re fat?  This is our child in here.  OUR CHILD.  I don’t know about other men… I don’t know how they are with their wives when they’re pregnant, but I find seeing you like this to be quite… stimulating.  I’ll be honest and admit that I didn’t think I would… but, honey… seeing your body growing and changing in order to bring that little life we created into the world… I can’t really find the words to express all that I’m feeling about it.”


Kitty lifted her gaze to once again meet his and felt her heart skip a beat at the emotions she could see swimming in the blue depths.


“And if my words don’t convince you how very much I do want you,” Matt began as he slid his hands from her belly to grasp her hips, “maybe this will.”


She gasped when he pulled her back tightly against him and swallowed at the feel of his arousal, hard, hot and throbbing, against her backside.


“Can you feel how much I want you, Kitty?”  Matt asked her as he gently thrust his hips against her.


“…yes…” Kitty replied in a husky voice.


Matt smiled and trailed his hands up her body to cup her breasts.  He circled his thumbs over her nipples and bent so that his lips brushed her ear.  “Ready to let me really show you just how desirable you still are?”


Not trusting herself to speak, Kitty merely nodded then cried out in surprise as Matt swung her up into his arms.  “Matt!”


Matt merely grinned and carried her across the room to the bed.  He knelt on the mattress and laid her down in the middle of it, propping her up against the pillows.  “Comfortable?”


Kitty nodded.


“Good,” Matt said and stretched out beside her.  “Now the fun starts, and when I’m finished, there will be no doubting how beautiful you still are to me, Mrs. Dillon.”


Kitty felt a thrill race through her at the hungry look Matt gave her before he dipped his head and caught her mouth in a surprisingly gentle, loving kiss.  She responded with a soft moan and the kiss deepened.


Matt kissed her with all the love and desire he felt, pouring all his emotions into their oral connection.  His tongue mated with hers; teasing, tasting… coaxing her to do the same until they were kissing each other with equal appetite.




Matt smiled to himself as he broke off the kiss and trailed his lips along the smooth column of Kitty’s neck to her breasts.  He took her right nipple in his mouth and suckled hard on the sensitive tip while he reached out with his left hand and began to fondle her other breast.


Kitty writhed on the bed as Matt’s talented mouth and hands sent currents of ecstasy coursing through her body.  She always enjoyed it when Matt loved her breasts so thoroughly… as thoroughly as he loved every inch of her body… as thoroughly as he did everything he put his hand to.


As Matt’s mouth and tongue worked one luscious mound… sucking, nipping, teasing the berried tip mercilessly; his left hand worked the other… kneading, squeezing, teasing the full orb until Kitty was crying out his name in pure pleasure as a small but intense orgasm moved through her body.


“…Matt…” Kitty moaned and arched beneath him as he continued to suckle at her breasts.


Matt smiled around the nipple in his mouth and after a hard pull on the sensitive tip; he released it and began to trail his lips down to her gravid belly.  He rained kisses over the taut skin, his tongue flicking out occasionally to taste her damp flesh.


A need, intense and overwhelming, to have Matt inside of her; filling her, stretching her, being one with her, suddenly washed over her.  She reached out and grabbed a fistful of his thick hair.  “Matt…” she tugged on the locks.


Matt lifted his head and met Kitty’s eyes over the swell of her belly.  The stark need… the desire he saw in her dark blue orbs took his breath away.


“I want you inside me… now…” Kitty told him in a quiet, husky voice.


“Kitty… you can’t be ready…” Matt slid a hand down between her thighs and combed his fingers through her curls.  “Oh god… you are,” he groaned at the wetness he found.  He moved his fingers against her, dipping them into her to retrieve more of her moisture and spread it around her swollen flesh.


Kitty gasped as his touch on her most sensitive flesh sent scores of sensations shooting up through her body.  But it wasn’t what she wanted.  She tugged on his hair again.  “Matt… I need you… please don’t make me beg, Cowboy.”


Matt nodded and moved back up the bed so that he was once again face to face with Kitty.  He leaned in and pressed a soft kiss to her lips.  “The only begging I want to hear from you is when I’m buried deep inside you and you’re begging me not to stop.”


“That sure of yourself are you?”


“Yes, ma’am…” Matt replied as he rolled onto his back then reached out for her.  He drew her closer, guiding her body so that she was straddled over him.  “Just as I am sure that you’re the only person on this earth that can make me beg,” he told her as he held tight to her hips, his thumbs stroking the underside of her belly.


Kitty gave him a sly, knowing, smile as she pressed her damp curls against his eager erection.  She circled her hips against him then rose up on her knees and reached between them to wrap her cool fingers around his arousal.  She brought the plumy head to her waiting entrance and then slowly sank down onto his generous length.


“…mmm… yes…” they moaned together as Kitty took Matt completely inside her body.


Matt reached up and fingered a lock of Kitty’s hair that had fallen over her shoulder to curl around her breast.  “You are so beautiful,” he whispered then gently rocked his hips beneath her.


“…Matt…” his name came out on an exhaled breath at the feel of him moving within her.  His slow, deliberate, movements added fuel to the already blazing inferno of sensation both were burning up with.


They moved together, both very content with the slow and steady pace of their lovemaking.  Matt’s hands wandered over Kitty’s belly, stroking the damp tight flesh that cocooned his child in synch with the rocking of their bodies as his eyes followed the gentle sway of her breasts.  Kitty smiled down at Matt, reveling in the pleasure of his hands on her, the exquisite feel of his hard arousal buried deep inside her and look of utter desire and love on his face as he gazed up her.


With each passing moment, with each movement of their bodies, the ache within Kitty grew.  The need to feel all of him, to have Matt loving her with all the power his hard body possessed became almost too much and Kitty began to move faster on him.


“Cowboy… I need you… so much…” Kitty entreated him as she rose up then sank down on him, over and over, taking him in and out of her body.


“I need you too, Kitty…”


“Love me, Matt… give me all of you…”


“…the baby…”


“…will be all right…” Kitty told him.  “I need you, Matt… please…” she clenched her inner muscles around him.


Matt groaned and nodded.  He dropped his hands to her hips and bent his legs so that his feet were planted firmly on the mattress then began to thrust up into her.


“Yes… oh yes, Matt…” Kitty hissed in pleasure as Matt gave her what she’d asked for.  She could feel every hard inch of him moving inside her; the sweet friction sending the most delicious sensations sizzling through her.


Assured that he wasn’t harming the baby or hurting Kitty in any way, Matt started to drive his member faster and harder into her; unable to hold back his own need to be with her.  He loved the feel of her slick heat surrounding him, clenching and pulling him deeper inside her.


“…Kitty…” Matt groaned as their bodies, damp with perspiration, moved in total concert.  “…feels so good…


Their eyes locked. 


The special connection that they shared, and had shared from the very instant they’d met, blazed between them, igniting their passion to even greater heights.


“Oh, Matt… Matt… I…” Kitty called to him breathlessly.  “I’m close…”


“So am I, honey… so am I…” Matt replied in between pants as his hips rose high off of the mattress, lifting Kitty up with every thrust.


A sharp gasp escaped Kitty as the most exquisite pleasure rolled through her body.  Every nerve ending was on fire as she cried out Matt’s name.  Seconds later, she felt Matt’s fingers grip her hips tighter and she felt his body jerk beneath her.


“Oh god…” Matt groaned as he came.  His grip tightened even more as his release pounded through his body.  The intense and overwhelming waves rolled through him, his essence leaving his body in spasms to bathe her womb. 


Another, smaller, orgasm washed over Kitty as Matt continued to drive his hips up into her, prolonging the pleasure for both of them until he finally seemed to collapse beneath her; sinking, exhausted, back into the mattress.


Matt gazed up at his wife and the sight of her took his breath away.  Her flaming red hair in delightful disarray about her shoulders; her porcelain skin flushed with the stain of their lovemaking, her full breasts, which rested on the smooth roundness of their child’s haven, rising and falling as she sought to catch her breath.  It was an image that Matt knew would stay with him for the rest of his life.


Kitty smiled down at her husband and released a deep, satisfied, breath.  As much as she wished to stay as she was; straddled over Matt with his member still sheathed within her, Kitty knew that she wouldn’t be able to for much longer.  “Matt… I need to…” she gingerly rose up, aware that her legs were already starting to cramp.  She felt him slip from her body and muffled a small whimper at the loss.


With his help, Kitty was soon curled up on her side; Matt spooned up tightly behind her.  She sighed happily as he wrapped his arm around her, his large hand rubbing gentle circles on her belly and slipped the other arm beneath her head to serve as an extra pillow.


“Matt…” Kitty whispered into the quiet of the room.




“Promise me you’ll be here when the baby’s born.”


Matt buried his face in her hair and tightened his arm around her.  “I promise,” he spoke into her tousled locks.  “There is nothing that will keep me from being by your side when the baby comes.”


Kitty reached back to lay a hand on his hip, her fingers brushing his backside.  “Thank you,” she replied quietly.



“And was he there?”  Hannah asked.


Kitty nodded with a smile.  “He was.  In fact, he delivered Gayle.”


“He did?”


“Mmhmm…” Kitty chuckled at the look on Hannah’s face then explained.  “The children decided that they had to make their appearance on the night of one of the worst storms New Orleans had seen in years.  Louis had run to fetch the doctor, but Gayle decided she was just too impatient to wait.  So, Matt delivered her.  Thankfully, the doctor arrived soon after, and delivered Adam.”


“And that was when Matt finally turned in his badge.”


Kitty nodded.


“Well, that all makes sense now,” Hannah chuckled.  “We all tried to figure out why Matt suddenly seemed to up and quit.  Now we know.”  She poured them each some more champagne.  “So… what happened?  Why’d Matt leave?”


Reaching for her glass, Kitty took a long drink and then released a deep breath.  “Some outlaw found us.”


 “Oh no.”


“It was just a fluke,” Kitty said as she fingered the stem of her glass.  “That’s all it was…” her voice trailed off.


Hannah took a sip of her champagne and waited for Kitty to continue; which after several long moments, she did.


“I’d known that giving up his badge wouldn’t be easy on Matt.  It’d been his life for so long, even before I’d met him, and was such a part of who he was, that I knew there would be a period of adjustment.  For both of us,” Kitty told her.  “I knew living in New Orleans was difficult for him.  That it was a little TOO civilized for his liking, so when the local police would ask him to help them out on small jobs, or if he’d take off after another friend like Jake, I encouraged him, knowing that he needed to get away now and then.  But after a while, the trips became longer and more frequent.”


There was a long pause.


“It got to the point that Matt was rarely home,” Kitty said sadly.  “And when he was home…”


“You’d argue?”  Hannah asked, knowing the answer even before she asked.


Kitty nodded.  “We’d never argued so much before,” a small bittersweet smile touched her lips, “Sure we had our fights back in Dodge… but nothing like the ones we were having in New Orleans.  I knew a lot of it was because he was restless…”


“I always thought Matt would turn to ranching when he gave up the law,” Hannah said.


“I thought he would too,” Kitty replied.  “But something would always come up… some friend to go off and help… some outlaw to track down…”


Hannah reached out to lay her hand on Kitty’s.  “So… what happened?  Why’d Matt leave?”  She repeated her earlier question.  “How is it that that outlaw found you?”


Kitty took a deep breath.  “Matt had just gotten back from tracking a man for the police after three weeks, and we’d decided to take the twins to the park for some needed family time.  We hadn’t been there for more than an hour when this gunfighter appeared out of no where and called him out.”


“In the middle of the park?!”  Hannah exclaimed.


“In the middle of the park,” Kitty nodded.


“What’d Matt do?”


“The only thing he could,” Kitty explained.  “He tried to talk the other man out of drawing… but the man was set on getting Matt for sending him to prison,” she sighed.  “It was over before it started.  Jackson drew first, but his shot went wild.  Matt’s shot hit him square.”


Hannah winced slightly.  Even she was aware of how Matt detested taking a life, especially when he’d done everything he could to avoid doing so.  “And that is why he decided to leave?”


“Yes… or at least, it was the catalyst,” Kitty said then continued in a quiet voice as she thought about that fateful evening so many years ago.  “After an early dinner, and with the children in bed, I’d changed into something more comfortable then made my way downstairs with the intention of spending the night with my husband, making up for the last three weeks.”


Hannah smiled.


“When I entered the parlour… I knew right away that something was wrong…”



Kitty stepped into the living room, stopping when she noticed Matt’s coat and saddlebags hanging over the big chair in the room.  She reached for his coat, “Matthew Dillon, why didn’t you hang…”


“Just leave it, Kitty.”  Matt interrupted her as he turned away from the fire.




“I’m not staying.”


Kitty’s eyes narrowed.  “Not staying?  What do you mean you’re not staying?  You just got home.”


“I know that, Kitty, but… I have to go.  It’s not safe,” he told her.  “What happened this afternoon only proves it.”


“It was pure luck that Jackson found you, Matt, and you know it.”


“That’s just it, Kitty.  Jackson didn’t just find me.  He found US!”  Matt finished in a loud voice.  “Don’t you see the problem?!  It wasn’t myself I was worried about today.  It was you and the twins!  Any one of you could have been hurt or…” his voice grew to nothing more than a whisper as a shudder passed through the big man’s body.  “I don’t know what I’d do if anything happened to you and the kids because of me…”


“Oh, Matt…” Kitty quickly closed the distance between them and wrapped her arms around him; holding him tight.


Matt’s arms automatically went around his wife and he crushed her body to his.  He buried his face in the softness of her hair.  “You are everything to me, Kitty… I love you so much,” he breathed into the fiery locks in a voice so soft that she couldn’t hear him.  He inhaled the sweet fragrance of her hair, as if to commit the scent to memory, then with visible effort he extricated himself from her arms.  “I have to go…”


“For how long?”  Kitty asked, as she clutched at his arms.


“I don’t know,” Matt answered after several moments.


“What do you mean you don’t know?”


“Just what I said, Kitty!  I don’t know how long I will be gone… I just know that I have to go.”


Kitty’s hands clutched at Matt’s arms.  “Why!?  Why now after all this time?”


“Because it’s not safe anymore,” Matt repeated his earlier statement.  “If Jackson found me, it won’t be long before other gunslingers and outlaws follow for the chance to gun down Marshal Dillon.”


“But you’re not marshal anymore,” Kitty told him.  “You haven’t been marshal for five years now.”


“I will ALWAYS be Marshal Dillon; don’t you see that, Kitty?  It doesn’t matter if it’s only been five years and it won’t matter in twenty years… I will ALWAYS be the marshal,” Matt said in exasperated resignation.  “And there will ALWAYS be someone looking to make a name for himself by gunning down Matt Dillon.”


Kitty’s hands tightened on Matt’s arms.  “Then… then we’ll go somewhere else… somewhere no one knows us… we’ll change our names…”


“It won’t work, Kitty.”  Matt shook his head.




“I’m sorry, Kitty, this is the only way.”


“The ONLY way?”  Kitty repeated.  “Oh no, Matt, there HAS to be another way.”


“There is no other way!  Dammit, Kitty, don’t you think I’ve tried to think of something!?”  Matt swore.  “Do you think I honestly want to leave you and the kids?  My God, Kitty… I love you!  I love the twins!  But I can’t… I can’t put your lives at risk this way.”  He pulled his arms free from her grip and stepped around her to the chair where his coat lay draped over the side.  He reached for it and slipped it on.


“Matt… please don’t go… let’s talk this over…”


Matt shook his head.  “I’ve made up my mind, Kitty.  It has to be this way.”




“I’m sorry, Kitty.  I love you… please don’t ever doubt that… but it has to be this way…” Matt lifted his saddle bags from the back of the chair and slung them over his shoulder.


“Matt… Matt, please…” she grabbed his hand, gripping it tightly with both of hers as tears began to well in her eyes.


“I’m sorry,” Matt said as he pulled his hand free then turned away from her and walked out of the room.


Kitty followed.  When he reached the front door, she called out to him.


“If you walk out that door now, Matt Dillon… don’t you ever think of coming back!




“I’m serious, Matt.  We can’t keep living this way.  Adam and Gayle deserve better… and so do you and I.”


A look of profound sadness filled Matt’s face.  “Yes, you do,” he said softly as he grabbed his hat off of the peg by the door, put it on then opened the door.  “Good bye, Kitty…”


With that, Matt placed his hat on his head and walked out the door.


The tears that had pooled in her eyes began to spill down her cheeks, and she stumbled to the still open door as she watched Matt walk away.  “…Matt…” she called out to him in a choked voice as he continued to walk away.


“Oh, Matt…” Kitty moaned despairingly as she sank to the floor in the open door.  She buried her face in her hands as she began to sob uncontrollably.



“That was the last time I saw him…”


“Until you’d heard he’d been stabbed,” Hannah finished as she patted Kitty’s hand.


Kitty nodded.


“You still love him?”  Hannah asked, already knowing the answer.


“Yes,” Kitty admitted with a soft smile.  “I never stopped.”


Hannah smiled back.  “So this is a second chance for you both?”


“I hope so,” Kitty said and glanced up towards where her and Matt’s children lay fast asleep.  “I certainly hope so.”




Kitty made her way down the stairs, shaking her head slightly in amusement.


“What’s so funny?”  Hannah asked as she stacked the bar chairs on the tables.


“The twins were just asking me when Matt would be back.”


“He’s only been gone a few days,” Hannah grinned.


“That’s what I said,” Kitty chuckled as she helped put the chairs up.  “I told them that it would take a little while longer and to be patient.”


“Like their mother, right?”  Hannah asked; knowing that Kitty was just as anxious for Matt’s return as their children.


“You want me to lock up, Hannah?”


Hannah chuckled at the not so subtle subject change and nodded.  “Yeah, I’ll fix us a nightcap.”


“Oh, good…” Kitty replied as she moved towards the door; pausing to lift a chair they’d missed onto its table.  She’d just reached the batwing doors when they suddenly swung open.


Kitty froze.


“Hello, Red.”


Kitty’s eyes widened and her breath caught in her throat as she took a step back.  ‘Oh God, no…’ her mind screamed.


“I just wanted to say hello,” the man standing in the doorway said.  “I missed you in New Orleans, and now that I caught up with you… I’ll be seeing you around,” he promised then backed out onto the boardwalk, leaving the doors to swing back and forth.


“Who was that?”  Hannah’s voice broke into the terrible memories that had begun to resurface in Kitty’s mind the moment she’d seen his face; keeping her rooted to the floor.


“…Mannon…” Kitty whispered.


“Will Mannon,” Hannah said with realization.  She’d heard the stories about that man, and his visit to Dodge as well.  “We gotta tell Newly.”


“No!”  Kitty replied as she spun around to meet Hannah’s eyes.  “No.  Newly faced up to him once before right here in this room and he almost died for it… no…”


Hannah gave her a curious look, and Kitty quickly explained what had happened eighteen years earlier here in the Long Branch.  “Okay,” Hannah nodded as Kitty finished her tale, “I understand why you don’t want to tell him… but, Kitty, he’s the marshal of Dodge City now and he has to be told.”


“You’re right,” Kitty sighed then her eyes grew wide and she quickly moved to the stairs.




“The children…” was all Kitty said as she rushed up the steps then along the balcony until she disappeared behind the curtain.




Adam rubbed at his eyes as he struggled to sit up in the bed.  Beside him, Gayle did the same.


“Mama?  What is it?”  Adam asked around a yawn.  “Is papa back?”


“No,” Kitty answered as she sat down on the edge of their bed.  “But what I have to tell you is VERY important.”


“Is that why you woke us, mama?”  Gayle questioned.


Kitty nodded then took a deep breath.


“A VERY bad man has ridden into town.  A VERY BAD man,” Kitty repeated.  “Now, I want you two to listen to me closely.  Until your papa returns, I want the both of you to remain in these rooms.  No matter what you hear from downstairs, you stay up here.”


“But, mama… what about our lessons?”  Gayle asked.


“They’re not important right now,” Kitty told her then reached out with both hands to cup their cheeks.  “If this bad man found out about either of you, he would hurt you simply to get back at your papa.  Do you understand?  He would hurt you…”


“Is he someone papa put in prison?”  Adam asked.




“He’s come here to try an’ hurt papa, hasn’t he, mama?”  Gayle’s voice shook.


“I’m afraid so, honey.”  Kitty answered.  “And that is why you two have to promise me, and I mean PROMISE me, that no matter what, you will stay up here.”


“We promise, mama.”  They chorused.


Kitty gave them, what she hoped was, a brave smile.  “Thank you.  Now, I know it’s going to be hard, but I want you to go back to sleep.”


“Will you sleep with us, mama?”  Gayle asked her mother as she tucked them in.


“Sure,” Kitty replied.  “Just as soon as I finish helping Miss Hannah lock up. All right?”


The twins nodded and with a final tug on the blankets, Kitty left the room. 


When she was in the hallway, Kitty leaned up against the door and said a silent prayer for Matt.  Whether the prayer was for his quick return or for him to stay away a little while longer, she didn’t know.




The following evening found Kitty, once again, helping Hannah clean and close up the Long Branch.  As she was putting the clean glasses beneath the bar, she suddenly froze.


“Again?”  Hannah stopped her wiping of the bar as she saw Kitty stop and lean up against the bar.


“Like a nightmare,” Kitty admitted in a quiet voice.  “Seeing him, knowing he’s here in town… it all keeps coming back.”  She paused and shook her head in an effort to dispel the memories.  “It was right here…” her fingers danced on the edge of the bar, “that he hit me.”


“He hit you?”  Hannah’s voice asked.


“He did more than that…” Kitty told her as the memory of that horrible night from so long ago filled her mind.  “I was getting ready for bed, and there was this pounding on the door.  I walked out of my room, to yell out that the saloon was closed… but of course, that didn’t stop him.”


Kitty stared across the room, not seeing anything but the images in her memory.


“He wanted a drink… and… as I poured him one, I offered him seven thousand dollars to spare Matt’s life.  He turned me down…”



“Seven thousand dollars is a whole lot of money.  You can buy almost anything in the world for that,” Mannon said with a small smile as he took a sip of his whiskey, “except Matt Dillon’s life.”


Kitty stared at him, not allowing any emotion to show on her face.


“I wonder what I’ll see in your eyes after he’s dead,” Mannon said in a sotto voice as he stared at her and another small smile played at the corner of his lips.



“At that point, I reached for the shotgun I kept behind the bar, but he managed to grab it and that’s when he hit me,” Kitty said.  “Knocked me over into the cart of glasses in the corner…”


Hannah reached out and covered Kitty’s hand in a show of quiet support as she watched her friend begin to shudder.


“…he followed… and I’d grabbed one of the broken mugs off of the floor, and when he reached for me, I cut his arm but it didn’t stop him.  He… he raped me,” Kitty told her in a shaky voice.


“You mean he left you there on the floor?”  Hannah asked in disbelief.


“Not quite, the next day, he brought me flowers,” Kitty answered, some of her trademark sarcastic humour colouring her voice.



“Mornin’, Red.”  Mannon said with a smile as he entered her bedroom, closing the door behind him.


“Mannon,” Kitty acknowledged him.


He placed his hat on the table near the door and moved further into the room.  “I knew you’d make up your mind once we’d come to know each other,” he said then with a flourish, he brought his hand out from behind his back to reveal a bouquet of daisies.  “Look what I brought you.”  He placed the flowers in her lap.


“I’ve made up my mind.”


“Good.  That’ll make it easier, me staying and all.”


“You’re stayin’ all right…” Kitty said.  “Because it’s here you’re dyin’.”


“Oh?”  Mannon drew back and gave her an amused smile. 


“That’s right.”


“How’d you come by that?”


“I know men.  I know how they think, and I know how they act around their own kind…” Kitty told him, “aside from how the way they act around women, I mean.”


“Well, what’s that got to do?”


“Matt Dillon’s a MAN,” Kitty told him with an air of knowledge.


“But he’s dead,” Mannon said as he knelt down before her, his hands resting on the arms of her chair.


“Uh-uh…” Kitty shook her head and met his eyes, “You are.”



“Do you really think he’s come back after Matt?”  Hannah asked.


Kitty nodded.  “To finish what he started eighteen years ago.”


“Dear God…” Hannah whispered.




Kitty brushed the reddish-brown lock of hair off of her daughter’s forehead then leaned down to press a kiss to the soft skin.  She repeated the gesture with her son then stood and tugged the quilt up to cover both of them.


Satisfied that they were both all right, Kitty lowered the lamp then slipped out of the room.


“Are they sleeping?”


Kitty nodded.  “Thank you for looking after them, Mike.”


“No thanks are necessary,” Brady said.  “I know this situation isn’t an easy one.”


“No, it’s not,” Kitty answered.


“How long, do you think, before Matt will be back?”


“If he was able to find Jake, he should be home any day now,” she said as she unconsciously played with her wedding band.


 “You’re worried about what will happen when he gets back, aren’t you?”  Mike asked seeing the genuine fear in her eyes.


“Yes, I am.”  Kitty replied.  “Mannon’s had eighteen years of hate building up in him… and Matt… Matt’s been off living in the mountains… I…” she shook her head.  “A part of me is anxious for him to get back… and another part is hoping he stays away.”


“That’s understandable,” the doctor said.  “If it came to it, do you think Matt could take Mannon?”


Kitty bit her bottom lip and shrugged.  “I… I don’t know…” she answered in a quiet voice then turned to peer through the open door into the bedroom where her children slept.  “But I certainly hope so… for their sake.”


She gazed at the twins for a few moments more then turned and moved towards the office door.  “I’m going to go help Hannah.  It usually gets busy about this time.”  She opened the door and stepped out onto the landing then paused and looked back at the doctor.  “Thank you again, Mike.”


“You’re welcome, Miss Kitty.”


Kitty gave him a small smile then made her way down the stairs.  She quickly crossed the alley and stepped up onto the Long Branch’s boardwalk.  She entered the saloon and paused for only a moment when she found it empty save for Mannon, who was seated facing the street at a centre table.


Ignoring the man, Kitty walked over to the bar where Hannah stood, fanning herself with furious jerks of her hand as she stared with active dislike at the outlaw.


“Might as well be a swamp running through here,” Hannah said in an undertone.  “Haven’t had a customer all night.”


“I’m not surprised,” Kitty replied in matching tones then turned to face the man.  “Mannon, why don’t you ride on?  He’s not coming back.”


“He’s coming.  It’s just that he’s taking his own sweet time.  I’m getting impatient,” Mannon told her.  “You.  Barkeep,” he said as he continued to stare through the door out into the street.  “Go get that hotshot marshal and tell him I want to see him outside the door there.”


Hannah did not respond and didn’t move from her spot behind the bar.


Mannon slowly turned to face the two women.  “MOVE!”


“Do as he says, Hannah.”  Kitty told her in a tight voice, knowing that Mannon would not hesitate to do the other harm if she didn’t do as he asked.


Reluctantly, Hannah moved out from behind the bar and made her way to the batwing doors.  She paused and glanced back and forth between Kitty and Mannon then hurried out to fetch Newly.


Kitty watched as Mannon stood and strode across to the room to the doors which he pulled shut and locked.  Her eyes widened when he turned to face her.  She unconsciously took a step backwards.


“I’m sorry about this, Red…” Mannon said as he took a step towards her.  “But we’re gonna have to have another go ‘round.”


“What are you talking about?”  Kitty asked, not liking the look in his eyes as he moved closer.


“I’m going to have to rough you up some.  Just enough so that Dillon will travel quicksand over hell to get even with me… ‘cause when a man gets stirred up enough, he makes mistakes.  This time, that’ll be my edge.”


Kitty shook her head as she edged back along the bar as he continued to stalk her.  “It won’t work, Mannon.”


“Oh, I think it will,” Mannon said and suddenly lunged at her.


Kitty, having anticipated this, jumped aside, knocking over several of the bar glasses as she went.  “Keep away!”  She yelled at him as he moved to grab her again; this time she was unable to avoid him and he caught her by her wrist.  Kitty swung at him with her free hand but was unable to stop Mannon from backhanding her across the face.


“Don’t make this harder on yourself, Red…” Mannon told her as she fought against his attempts to pull her closer; the struggle between them causing them both to knock over the table he’d been sitting at earlier, the whiskey bottle and glass crashing to the floor.


Kitty cried out as he hit her again.


Suddenly there was a pounding on the saloon door, followed by Newly’s voice yelling for them to open the doors.


Mannon grabbed Kitty by the back of the neck and drew his gun.  “Don’t, Red…” he said as he pointed it at her.


Kitty stopped struggling and Mannon drew her in front of him, adjusting his hold on her throat.


“Open up!”  Newly’s voice came through the doors again.


“I’m going to open up, Marshal,” Mannon said as he slowly pulled Kitty with him towards the door, “but if I see any guns, Miss Kitty is gonna meet her maker sooner than she thought.  Back off!” He told them.  “Everybody!”


Kitty heard Newly tell everyone to put their guns down.  Mannon reached up to unlock the doors.  He pointed his gun back at her then kicked open the doors.  He thumbed back the hammer.


“You bastard!”  Newly said when he saw the marks and blood on Kitty’s face.


“Find Dillon,” Mannon ordered as he flexed his fingers against Kitty’s neck.  “Tell him I’m tired of waiting.”


Newly glared at the outlaw for a long moment then met Kitty’s eyes briefly before he gave a perfunctory nod then pushed his way back through the crowd.


“The rest of you… go back where you came from,” Mannon told the townspeople with a wave of his gun.


Kitty watched through pained eyes as the people slowly moved back and returned to their homes.  Once Front Street was empty, Mannon turned them and shoved Kitty into the saloon.  She stumbled and fell to the floor.


“Sleep well, Red.”  Mannon said then turned and left the Long Branch.


Kitty pushed herself up just as Hannah reached her.  The other woman helped her up into a nearby chair.


“You just stay there, I’ll get Doc Brady,” Hannah told her.


“No!”  Kitty grabbed Hannah’s arm.  “No.  Don’t.”


“But, Kitty, you need to be looked at,” Hannah said.


Kitty shook her head.  “He’s got the twins,” she whispered.  “No… just… help me upstairs, and we’ll take care of it.”


“All right,” Hannah said.  “Let me lock up.”


“Thank you, Hannah…”




Kitty sat at the table and stared down at the cup of tea sitting between her hands.  She was aware of Hannah pacing the Long Branch floor as she mulled over in her mind the conversation she overheard between her twins as they got ready for bed.



“Do you think papa’s really coming back, Adam?”


Adam looked at his twin and nodded.  “Of course he is.  He promised us, didn’t he?”


“Yeah… but he’s gone for so long…”


“He’s only been gone a week, sis...” Adam told her.  “Besides, Uncle Newly has gone after him…”


“…and when papa hears what that bad man did to mama…”


“Papa will kill him,” Adam finished in a tone of voice Kitty had prayed to never hear from her son.



The sound of the batwing doors swinging open pulled Kitty from her thoughts.  She looked up to see Oakum standing there. 


He quickly removed his hat, wringing the brim in his hands.  “He said,” Oakum looked down uncertainly as he continued, “you was to come to him.”


Hannah stormed over to the table as Kitty nodded resignedly.  She placed her hands on the table and leaned in towards her.  “You can’t!”


“I have to,” Kitty said.


“He’s a mad man.  He beat you up twice!  He could kill you!”


Kitty looked at Hannah then glanced upstairs.  “I have to, Hannah.”  She repeated as she met her eyes again.  “I have to try and give Matt an edge if I can.”


“Kitty…” Hannah began as the other woman stood.


“Hannah, I have to do this.  For Matt’s sake… for the twins… I have to try,” Kitty told her in a determined voice.  “If we are truly to have a second chance… I have to try.”


Hannah sighed and straightened up as Kitty walked towards the doors. 


Just before she stepped outside, Kitty stopped and looked back.  “Hannah… if something does happen…” her voice drifted off and her eyes rose towards the upstairs.


“They’ll be looked after, Kitty.  I promise,” Hannah told her.


“Thank you,” Kitty replied then squared her shoulders and walked out of the Long Branch.




Kitty stood in the open door of the front room of the Dodge House and watched Mannon as he checked his gun.  “You sent for me,” she said in a flat voice.


Mannon slipped his gun back in the holster on the bureau then walked over to her.  “Why no, Miss Kitty.  It was just an invitation so that we could talk alone,” he said as he ushered her into the room.


Kitty glanced back over her shoulder and saw him stick his head out into the hall.  “You warned everybody what would happen if you were bushwhacked.”


“There always has to be a Judas,” Mannon told her as he closed the door.  “You were mine once.  But I forgive you, Red,” he said as he moved to stand right behind her.


Kitty repressed a shudder at feeling him so close.  She turned around to face him.  “Why don’t you get out, Mannon?”


“Get out?”


“Matt beat you once, and he’ll beat you again!”


“He never beat me.  I had the time in Black Fork to figure that much out,” Mannon replied.  “He’d have been dead but for what you did.”


“What did I do?  Tell me, Mannon!”  Kitty told him defiantly.


“Don’t play games with me, Red.”  Mannon said as he moved slowly past her.  “You know.  I could have walked over him like a man walks over short grass.”  He turned to look at her.  “A man’s got to pay attention to his direction.  Got to pay close attention.  You made sure I was distracted, Red.  You distracted me.  With purpose!”


“You still lost,” Kitty jabbed.


“I didn’t lose.  I downed Matt Dillon for sure,” Mannon said.  “But that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about what you said.  What you said!”


“I forgot!” 


“You forgot?  You forgot that?”  Mannon asked disbelievingly.  “You forgot that I was down on my knees… bearing FLOWERS!?”


Kitty just glared at him; refusing to give him the luxury of knowing that she did indeed remember that morning.  That the awful memories of everything he’d done eighteen years ago had come back to haunt her with a vengeance the last few days since he showed up in Dodge.


He walked over to stand in front of her.  “Apologize.”


“For what, Mannon?  You seem to remember everything so well… tell me what I said,” Kitty told him.


Mannon took a step closer.  “You know, Red…” he said in a low voice as he leaned closer.


Kitty’s body froze as Mannon began to slowly lower his head towards her; his intent on kissing her quite clear.  Just as she could feel his breath against her face, the sound of a horse clopping down Front Street came through the window.


“He’s here!”  Mannon said and spun away from her to look out the window.


“He’s a better man than you are!”  Kitty taunted him as she moved to lean on the dresser.  “He’ll beat you!”


Mannon turned back to her and waggled his finger at her.  “Not this time, Red.”


As he looked back out the window to watch for Matt, Kitty glanced down at the gun in the holster on the bureau.  As she brought her eyes back up to regard Mannon, she slowly inched her hand towards the gun.


Mannon lunged from the window and grabbed her wrist, startling her.


“Spoil my fun?”  He said and yanked her hard against him.


Another shudder passed through Kitty’s body when she felt his arousal begin to grow against her.  She pressed her hands against his chest in an attempt to push away from him.  She was surprised when he placed his hands on her shoulders then forced her down onto her knees and pushed her hands away from him.


Mannon reached out and grabbed his gun belt off of the dresser.  He slipped it around his back and held out the ends in front of him.  “Buckle me!”


Kitty gave him an incredulous look but made no move to do as he asked.


“Do it!”


Kitty reached up and took the buckles from him.  She adjusted her hold on the belt as he lifted his arms.  Suddenly, she yanked the gun belt from around him and threw it out of the window, smashing the glass.


Mannon hauled her to her feet and Kitty saw a flash of fear in his eyes before he backhanded her across the face.  The force of the slap sent her flying onto the bed.  He dashed over to the window and looked out anxiously.


All of a sudden, the door burst open and Matt barreled into the room.  In two long strides he reached Mannon and slugged him, sending the other man hurtling out of the second story window, and into the street below.


Kitty pushed herself up just as Matt turned and took a step towards her.




“I’m all right, Matt,” she told him and waved her hand towards the street.  “Go take care of that bastard.”


Matt met her eyes.  “I aim to,” he said in a gruff voice then strode out of the room.


As she listened to his footsteps quickly disappear down the stairs, Kitty got to her feet and hurried to the open window.  She watched as many of the townspeople come out of their homes; curious about the sudden ruckus.  Kitty’s eyes fell on Mannon as he got to his feet and walked stiffly over to where his gun lay.  Her heart began to race when she saw Matt step out onto the boardwalk.




Mannon straightened up and met Matt’s eyes; his gun belt left lying on the ground.


“Go ahead,” Matt growled.


Keeping his eyes on Matt, Mannon reached down and picked up his gun belt then slipped it on.  “It’s been eighteen years, Dillon.”  He said as he turned away from the tall man.  He slowly widened the gap between them as he buckled the gun belt.  “Same town.  Same street.  Nothing changed… I’m still the best.”


“You’re nothing, Mannon.”  Dillon said.  “All you’re good for is beating up on women.”  His eyes narrowed.  “This is the second time you’ve hurt my wife… but it will be the last.  Now draw.”


“Your wife?”  Mannon remarked with a leer that Matt couldn’t seem, but one he could hear.  “Well now, that’s going to make killing you, and taking her, all the sweeter.”


Matt merely glared at the other man’s back.  “Draw, Mannon.”




Kitty watched from the window as Mannon slid his hands down his leg to grasp the ties of his holster and wrap them around his thigh.  Her eyes darted to Matt then back to Mannon.  She could sense the tension in the air… the anticipation of what was going to happen next between the two men.  A silent prayer found its way to her lips.


Suddenly, Mannon drew and spun around but before he could fire, Matt’s gun was in his hand and smoking.


The sound of the shot echoed through the silent night.


Mannon staggered back into the boardwalk post of the Long Branch.  A look of disbelief was on his face as a red stain flowered on his white shirt.  He lifted his gun and fired, but the shot went into the dirt.


Matt pulled the trigger again.  ‘For Kitty…’ he thought.




Kitty’s breath, which had caught in her throat, rushed out of her as she watched Mannon fall to the ground.  “Thank you,” she whispered with a quick glance skyward before she dropped her gaze back to her husband and watched as he walked over to the prone Mannon.




Matt lifted the gun from the dead man’s fingers.  He looked at it for a moment then tossed it away before he turned to look up at Kitty, who was still standing in the broken window.


Their eyes met.


Sadness, mingled with relief, was shared between both sets of blue eyes.


Matt gave her a slight nod then looked back down at the body in the street.




Unable to stay in the room, away from Matt, any longer; Kitty whirled around and hurried out of the room.  She raced down the stairs and out into the street just as Matt reached the middle.


“Oh, Matt!”  Kitty cried out softly as she flew into his arms.  She buried her face in his chest and wrapped her arms around him, her hands fisting in his jacket.  “Is he…?”


“Yeah, he’s dead.” Matt replied as he enveloped her in his embrace and pressed his face into her hair, not caring that the people of Dodge were watching them.  Kitty was his wife, and he’d be damned if he was going to hide it any longer.  “It’s over, Kitty.”  He whispered into her hair.  “It’s all over.”


“Finally,” Kitty said as she tilted her head back to look at him and gave him a tremulous smile.  “Are you all right?”


Matt nodded.  “I am now,” he answered and lowered his head to give her a gentle kiss.


Kitty tightened her arms around him and parted her lips beneath his in a silent request for more.  She moaned softly when he responded by deepening the kiss; his tongue pressing inside to tangle with hers.






The twin shouts of their children pulled Matt and Kitty apart just in time to see them rush out of the Long Branch, avoiding Hannah’s attempt to grab them, and out into the street.  The kids ran straight to their parents, Gayle leaping into her father’s arms and Adam moving into his mother’s embrace.


“You two shouldn’t be out here,” Kitty chastised them even as she and Matt held them tighter in the circle of their arms.


“We saw papa shoot that man,” Adam said in a matter of fact voice as he laid his head against his mother’s chest; the comforting sound of her heart beating in his ear.


“So we knew it was okay to come down now,” Gayle finished as she laid her head against her father’s shoulder.  “Please don’t be mad, mama.”


Kitty ruffled her son’s hair.  “I’m not mad.”


All of a sudden a gunshot rent the air. 


Matt thrust Gayle into Kitty’s arms and jumped in front of his family, his gun drawn as he looked around to see where the shot had come from.


The gunshot had startled the crowd of people who had been watching, with fascination, the reunion of the Dillon family… and they all jumped and moved back when the shot was fired.


Matt’s eyes fell on Mannon’s body and he frowned.  Instead of being on his back as he’d left him… Mannon was now laying face first in the dirt.  Even more disturbing to Matt was that Mannon’s gun was in his hand and his arm was stretched out in front of him.


“Matt…?”  Kitty asked in a shaky voice as she shielded the twins behind her and peered around Matt to see what he was looking at.  “I thought he was…”


“I thought he was too,” Matt said, still looking around.  He tensed when he saw four figures step out of the shadows.  “Get back,” he told her and thumbed the hammer on his gun.


“You wouldn’t shoot the man who just saved your life, now would you?”


Matt eased the hammer back and holstered his gun as he grinned with relief and shook his head.


Kitty leaned out to look past Matt then stepped out from behind him, a large smile on her face.  “Jake!”


“Hello, Kitty,” Jake said as he approached with Little Doe, Bright Water and Newly.


“I thought you were headed back to Black Fork,” Matt questioned his friend.


“I was,” Jake replied.  “In fact, we were about to head out when we saw you and Marshal O’Brien here race by the camp.  I knew you were heading to face Mannon… but I had a very bad feeling about it and,” he slipped his arm around his woman’s waist, “Little Doe agreed that we should ride into Dodge to help.”


“They caught up with me just past the stream,” Newly took up the story.  “And we rode in together.”


“I am sure glad you got here when you did, Jake,” Kitty told him as she slipped her hand into her husband’s and gave it a gentle squeeze.


“I am too,” Jake said then grinned as he looked down at the two faces sneaking looks at him from behind Matt and Kitty.


Matt and Kitty glanced down to see their children peaking around them then looked back up at Jake.  “Why don’t we go inside,” Kitty suggested with a nod towards the Long Branch.  “We can introduce everyone there.”


“Sounds good,” Jake said.


“I’ll be along in a little while,” Newly told them.  “I have a few things to take care of… including that,” he gestured to Mannon’s body.


Matt nodded his acknowledgement then ushered his family and friends into the saloon.




“Do you think that Newly will be able to persuade the judge to go easy on Jake?”  Kitty asked as she brushed out her hair.


“I think so.  Newly says that Judge Crowe is a fair man, and that he will most likely take into account that Jake had been planning on returning to Black Fork,” Matt answered as he watched Kitty in the vanity mirror.  It’d been so long since he’d been able to watch her, that he sat entranced on the end of the bed just watching her brush the red locks he loved so much.


“What do you think of Jake’s theory that it was Mannon that killed Warden Brown?”


“It’s possible,” Matt said thoughtfully.  “After that telegram Newly received about Judge Collins being found shot… and the description of the man Mrs. Collins gave, it would make sense.”


“Oh, I do hope so,” Kitty remarked as she laid down her brush and met his eyes in the mirror.


Neither one said anything for several heartbeats as they simply stared at each other.  Both were more nervous than either ever remembered being.  Suddenly, Matt broke eye contact and pushed himself to his feet then walked towards the door that led to the room the twins were in.


“Where you going?”  Kitty asked softly.


“I thought I’d go get Gayle and bring her in here to sleep with you, and I’d bunk down with Adam,” Matt answered.  “I didn’t expect… that is… it’s been seven years, Kitty.  I… didn’t want to just assume that we’d be sharing a bed.”


Kitty stood and walked over to him, her nightgown billowing around her legs.  “Matt, I know it’s late, but we have an awful lot to talk about, and I would like to have that talk before we go to sleep.  After we’ve talked,” she smiled almost shyly then reached out and laid her hand on his arm, “I would very much like to sleep in your arms.”


Matt turned so that he was facing her fully.  “Are you sure?”


“Yes,” she nodded.  “I know it’s been a long time for both of us… but after all that’s happened…” she shuddered slightly.  “I’ve always slept best with your arms around me.”


Matt smiled and reached up to cup her cheek.  “I would love to hold you… I’ve missed doing that.”


Kitty nuzzled into Matt’s palm.  “Let me just check on the twins, then we can have our talk and then go to sleep.”


“All right,” Matt nodded as he slid his hand from her cheek.


Kitty stepped past Matt and just as she was about to open the door to the children’s room, it swung open to reveal Adam and Gayle standing there in their pyjamas.


“We couldn’t sleep,” Adam said before Kitty could ask.


“We were wondering if we could sleep with you and papa,” Gayle asked.  “We’re…” she looked at her brother then back at her parents.  “We’re scared.”


Kitty glanced over at Matt and saw him nod.  She turned back to the twins with a smile and nodded.  “Go on, get in,” she gestured to the bed.  She chuckled along with Matt as Adam and Gayle ran and dove into the big bed.


“Guess our talk will have to wait till morning,” Matt said.


“I guess so,” Kitty replied as they moved to the bed together.


They stood for a moment, side by side, at the foot of the bed and watched as the twins snuggled under the blankets in the middle of the bed; both of them falling asleep almost instantly.  Matt caught Kitty’s hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze.


“You were right,” he said softly.


“I was?  About what?”


“We do good work,” he replied and brought her hand up to his lips then pressed a kiss to her knuckles.


Kitty smiled at him.  “Yes, we do.”


Matt brushed another kiss to the back of her hand then released it.  “Let’s go to sleep,” he said then stepped around to the far side of the bed.  He quickly stripped down to his long underwear, turned the lamp on the night table down then climbed into the bed to lie beside his daughter.  He watched as Kitty turned the other lamp down low then slipped into the bed on the other side to lie beside Adam.


Despite the size of the bed, with the children lying on their backs, both Matt and Kitty had to roll up onto their sides in order to stay on the mattress.


“This was a lot easier when they were little,” Matt commented quietly, a smile on his face.


Kitty laughed softly.  “Yes it was.”


“I still can’t get over how much they’ve grown and how much I’ve missed of their lives, all because I…” his voice trailed off as his face filled with a mixture of sadness and guilt.


Kitty reached out across their children to him.  “Matt, don’t!  It’s not…”


“But it is my fault, Kitty.”  Matt interrupted her.  “If only I hadn’t…” he sighed and closed his eyes.


Sensing that Matt was berating himself again, and refusing to let him continue to beat himself up over what had happened, Kitty slipped out of the bed.  She gently tugged Adam over to the spot she just vacated then moved around to Matt’s side of the bed.


“Move Gayle over,” Kitty said in a quiet voice as she reached out to turn the bedside lamp up a little.


Matt opened his eyes and turned his head back to look at her.  “What?”


“Move your daughter over then move over yourself,” Kitty told him.  When he made no move to do so, Kitty leaned over him and gently urged Gayle closer to her twin.  Once that was done, she straightened up and looked back down at Matt.  “Now you move over so I can climb in.  We obviously need to have this conversation now.”


“Kitty it’s late…”


“Yes, it is.”  She said as she reached down to grab the edge of the blanket and lifted it up.  “Move over.”


Matt rolled onto his back and simply looked up at her.  Kitty, now is not the ti…” he stopped mid sentence when Kitty suddenly crawled into the bed and stretched out on top of him. “…Kitty…” Matt moaned as his body reacted to feel of her pressed so intimately against him.


Kitty felt Matt’s arousal twitch beneath her and her body responded in kind.  ‘Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea,’ she thought as she looked down into his blue eyes, noting that they were clouding over with desire.  She swallowed hard.


“You wanted to talk,” Matt said in a tight voice.


“Yes… I…”


Kitty licked her lips.


Matt groaned. 


He reached up and pulled her head down, capturing her mouth in a blistering kiss.  A low moan sounded deep in Kitty’s throat and she pressed closer to Matt as the kiss deepened.


“Talk…” she gasped out of the kiss.  “We have to talk…”


“Right,” he nodded as he tried to catch his breath. 


Matt licked his lips.


Kitty groaned.


Her mouth crashed down onto his.  She kissed him hungrily as her hands slid into his thick graying hair and she shifted over him; circling her hips against his.  One of Matt’s hands fisted in her auburn locks as the other ran down her back to cup her rear and hold her tighter against the growing evidence of his desire.


“…Kitty…” Matt moaned in her mouth when she worked a hand into the top of his union suit and lightly scraped his chest with her nails.  “I want you…” he growled against her lips.


It had been too long since Kitty had been this close to him and his body was remembering the pleasure, passion and the peace he’d only ever found in her arms… and in her body.  He wanted nothing more in that moment than to lose himself in her once again.  To find that pleasure… that passion… to find that peace.


“Oh, Matt… I want…”


At that moment, a soft snore, followed by some gentle coughing broke through the haze of desire the two were drowning in.  They broke out of the kiss and turned to see Gayle rolling onto her side, her back to her twin as she sighed and snuggled deeper into the blankets.


Kitty looked down at Matt then buried her face in his neck as she sought to catch her breath. 


Matt rubbed his hands soothingly over her back.  “I’m kinda glad Gayle moved when she did… I do want to make love to you, Kitty… but not with our children in the same bed.”


Kitty lifted her head, glanced at the twins who were still sound asleep beside them.  Her face was flushed when she looked back at Matt.  She laid her head on his chest without saying a word.


Neither one spoke for several minutes.


“I’m sorry…” Matt said in a quiet voice when the silence became too much.  When he realized that he should be the first one to say something.  “I’ve been sorry every day since I left.  I was just so afraid that night.  For you… the children… and all I could think about was keeping you safe.  And leaving was the only way I could think of to do that.”


“…I know…”


“I came back that night,” he whispered.


Kitty lifted her head.  “What?!”


“I came back to the house,” Matt repeated.


“You… came back?”


Matt nodded.  “I got two blocks away before I turned around and came back.  I must have stood on the porch for over an hour…”


“Why didn’t you come inside?”  Kitty asked.


“Because you told me to never come back.”


“Oh, Matt… I didn’t mean… I was angry… you’d been gone for three weeks and then you…” Kitty hung her head.


Matt reached up, slipped his fingers under her chin and tilted her face up.  “I think we both made some mistakes that night.”  He slid a finger up to trace her lips.  “The question is now… what do we do to fix this?”


A small smile pulled at the corners of her mouth.  “Well, the first thing is… you need to forgive yourself.”  She placed a finger against his lips to stop him from talking.  “I’ve forgiven you.  So have the twins.  But if this is really going to be our second chance, Matt… then you need to forgive yourself.”


“I…” Matt shook his head.


“Matt…” she cupped his cheek.  “Let it go.”


Matt stared into Kitty’s eyes.  The blue eyes he’d loved and drowned in for more than half of his life.  And in those eyes, Matt found the strength he needed to forgive himself… to let go of the past and grab hold of the future.


“I can’t live in New Orleans, Kitty.”  Matt said after a few moments.  “I tried… I really tried, but…”


“It’s a little TOO civilized for you,” Kitty finished with a nod.  “I know.  I knew it then as well.  And I can’t live at your cabin in the high country, Matt.  It’s a little too UN-civilized for me.”


“So, where does that leave us?”  Matt asked.


“Well…” Kitty began but a sound from outside on the street stopped her.


They both turned their heads towards the window.  Satisfied that it was nothing, they looked back at each other.  At that moment, both came to the same conclusion.


“We could…”


“The children are happy…”


“Would you be?”


“Yes.  You?”


“Yes.  What about your saloon in New Orleans?”


“I can sell it.  I’ve had plenty of offers.”


“Are you sure?”


“Yes.  And don’t forget, I still own half interest in the Long Branch.  What about you?”


“What about me?”


“There’s your cabin…”


“It’s just an old cabin up in the mountains, there’s no need to do anything with it.  When Adam gets a little older, I can take him hunting and it will give us a place to stay.”


Their eyes held; each searching the other’s to make certain that this was what they wanted.  That they truly had found a way to grab hold of, and hang onto, the second chance they had been given.


“How would we do this?”  Kitty asked.  “I don’t think I would like to live right in town.”


“Well, we could get some land on the outskirts and finally start that ranch we’d talked about.”  Matt replied.  “That is if you think you could live on a ranch.”


“As long as it was with you and the kids, I could.”


Matt gave her a serious look as he slowly began to rub his hands up and down her back.  “Kitty… are you sure about this?  I mean, REALLY sure?  I would understand if you wanted to take the twins and hightail it back to New Orleans.  I’d hate it… but I would understand.  After everything I’ve put you through over the years…”


Kitty shifted on him and planted her hands on either side of his head then pushed herself up on her arms.  She looked down at him.  “Now you listen to me, Matthew Dillon.  I have been in love with you for more than thirty years, and I am not about to stop loving you now.  This is our second chance and I’ll be damned if I let it pass us by.”  She slowly eased down so that her face was just a few scant inches from his.  “Till death do us part, remember?”


“I do,” Matt whispered and lifted his head to catch her lips in a gentle kiss.


“No more doubts,” Kitty told him softly as she ended the kiss, “for either of us.”


Matt nodded.  “For either of us.”


“From now on…”


“…we think only of our future,” Matt finished for her as he slid his hands into her hair.  “Yes, ma’am.”


Kitty smiled down at him, her eyes bright and allowed him to pull her head back down to his for another kiss.  She pressed closer to Matt as the kiss started out soft and slow but quickly grew into a hungry, passionate exchange.


Matt’s hands left her hair to trail down her back to her hips.  He pulled her tighter against him.


Kitty pulled out of the kiss with a gasp at the fee of his arousal pressing into the soft flesh of her belly.   “Matt…”


“I know,” Matt said as he tried to catch his breath.


“It’s not that I don’t want to…” Kitty told him.


“I know that too,” Matt grinned at her.  “A few more minutes kissing you like we were, and I would have carried you into the other room to make love to you.  However, I don’t want a quickie in the other room.  When we make love again, I want us to take our time.  I want to love you slowly and properly… like you deserve.”


A radiant smile lit Kitty’s face, even as her eyes darkened with desire.  “I want that too,” she said and then suddenly yawned.  “Oh my…”


Matt chuckled then yawned himself.  “It’s been a long day and night for both of us,” he said as he yawned again.


“Yes, it has,” Kitty agreed as she too got caught by another yawn.


“Let’s get some sleep, honey.”  Matt said as he reached out and extinguished the lamp.  “We can tell the kids the good news in the morning.”


“Mmm…” she nodded and shifted so that she lay half on Matt and half on the mattress.  She released a soft, contented sigh as she pillowed her head on his chest and listened to the comforting sound of his heart beating beneath her ear.


Matt wrapped his arms tightly around her and turned his face into her hair.  He inhaled deeply and smiled as her familiar scent enveloped him. 


“I love you, Kitty…” he spoke softly into her hair as his hand found hers on his chest.


“I love you too, Matt,” she replied as she laced her fingers with his.


Within moments, they were sound asleep.




Kitty waved to the two figures galloping away.


“Where’re they off to?”


Kitty jumped at the words spoken softly in her ear as two strong arms stole about her waist.  “To the Ronniger’s,” she answered, accepting the kiss on her cheek as a silent apology for being startled.  “Your son has it bad for the Ronniger’s youngest daughter.”


Matt chuckled and rested his chin on the top of her head as he followed her gaze across the prairie to disappearing forms of their children.  “I can’t believe they’re going to be eighteen years old in a few months.”


“I can’t believe it either,” Kitty replied.  “Seems like only yesterday that they were tiny little bundles, squirming on the bed between us.”


“Time flies.”


“It certainly does,” Kitty agreed as she leaned back against her husband’s broad chest and laid her hands over his on her stomach.  “So, Cowboy… what are your plans for the day?”


“Well, I would like nothing more than to sweep my bride upstairs to our room and have my way with her,” Matt told her as he slid his hands up from her stomach to cup her breasts.  He thumbed her nipples into hard peaks as he nuzzled her temple, pleased when a soft moan escaped her and she arched into his hands.  “However, I have a wagon wheel to fix before my anniversary on Saturday, as I have plans to spend the entire day with my wife.”


Kitty tilted her head back against his shoulder to smile up at him.  “And are you going to give your wife a hint as to what you’ve got planned?”


“Nope,” Matt replied then covered her mouth in a loving kiss.  “You’ll just have to wait,” he murmured against her lips.


Kitty moaned and without breaking the kiss, turned in his embrace.  She slid her hands up his chest to his shoulders and threaded her fingers into his thick hair.  “Are you sure I can’t persuade you any?”  Kitty murmured against his lips as she pressed closer and kissed him ardently.  She massaged his scalp with her fingers.  “Not even a little?”


“Not even a little,” he smiled as he broke off the kiss then kissed the tip of her nose.  He stepped out of her arms and down off the porch.  “Don’t worry about lunch…”


“All right,” Kitty said.  “Don’t hurt yourself fixin’ that wheel… I have plans of my own for you this Saturday,” she told him in a husky voice.


Matt grinned at her.


Kitty watched him walk across the yard to the barn with an appreciative look on her face.  The last five years had been good to her husband.  All of the hard work he’d put into the ranch had made his body more muscular; much like it had been in the early days of their relationship.


Five years.


Five years since she had returned to Dodge.


Five years since Mannon had sought to once again take Matt from her.


Five years since she and Matt had reclaimed their hearts and put their family back together.


Kitty leaned up against the porch railing, and thought back to that first morning in the Long Branch, waking up in Matt’s arms after being separated from him for so long.



She was having the most delicious dream.


Matt’s arms… she was in Matt’s arms.




A low moan escaped her when she felt his hands moving over her body.  Touching, caressing and… she moaned again… arousing.


She’d not dreamt about Matt like this in years.


She felt his lips on the upper swell of her breasts… the smooth column of her neck and along her jaw and then he was kissing her.  Soft whisper-like kisses against her lips that left her yearning for more.


“…Matt…” she breathed his name with all the desire inside her.


“Kitty…” he whispered back as he covered her mouth with his.


As the kiss deepened, Kitty suddenly felt her world tilt and found herself on her back on the mattress.  In that moment, she came fully awake.


She wasn’t dreaming.


She really was in Matt’s arms.


Kitty moaned his name again and wrapped her arms around his neck as she responded whole-heartedly to his kiss.  Her lips parted under his, and she welcomed his tongue into her mouth to dance with hers.


“Matt…” she pulled back a little from the kiss.  “Matt, the kids… we can’t…”


“They’re at Delmonico’s with Hannah, Jake and the others,” Matt told her between kisses.  “I told them we’d be along in a little while…”


“Good thinkmmm…” his caught her lips in another hungry kiss, cutting off her words.  She threaded her fingers into his hair and shifted eagerly beneath him.  When his large hand closed around one of her breasts, Kitty gasped into his mouth and arched into his touch.


“Kitty…” Matt spoke in a passion rough voice as he tugged on her lower lip with his teeth.  “Honey, if you’re not ready for this… please… tell me now.”


Kitty pulled back and met his eyes.  She saw his need… his desire for her, as well as his concern that he was rushing her.  She smiled up at him and her eyes sparkled mischievously, “If you stop now, Cowboy, I’ll divorce you.”


Matt chuckled then grew serious as he continued to hold her gaze.  “Then I will never stop…” he said then closed the distance between them and sealed his promise with a gentle kiss.  “Never… I love you, Kitty.”


“I love you too,” she replied and cupped his cheek.  She slid her hand back into his hair and wrapped one of her legs around his thigh.  “Now… make love to me, husband of mine.”


“Yes, ma’am…” Matt grinned.  He brushed a quick kiss over her lips then dipped his head to take a satin covered nipple in his mouth.


“…mmm…” she arched beneath him in a silent plea for more.


Matt swirled his tongue around the stiff peak while he brought his hand up to cup her other breast.  He massaged the full mound, teasing the nipple until it pierced his palm.  He moved back and forth between her still-covered breasts, suckling each one in turn through the satin of her nightgown.


“Matt…” Kitty tugged at the shirt of his union suit.  He pulled his mouth from her breast and met her gaze.  “We need to lose the clothes…” she told him.  “Now!”


He looked down at her chest, at the dark wet spots on her nightgown, “Yes we do.”


Matt pushed himself up off of Kitty and moved so that he was standing beside the bed.  He immediately began to undo the buttons, aware that Kitty had sat up and was watching him.  He held her eyes as he released each button then shrugged out of the one piece underwear, pushing it down over his hips to the floor.


Kitty’s breath caught in her throat and she licked her lips at the sight of her husband standing naked before her.  She let her eyes drift down his body.  He was a little leaner than he had been when they’d last been together but the sight of him, standing tall and proud… in every way… sent a jolt of hot need through her.


“Like what you see?”


“Mmhmm,” Kitty murmured as she raked her eyes over him again.  “I always have, cowboy.”


“Care to afford me the same courtesy, Mrs. Dillon?”


Kitty chuckled as she crossed her arms in front of her, gathered up the skirt of her nightgown and pulled it up over her head.  She dropped the satin gown on the floor at his feet.  She lay back on the bed, on her elbows; one leg bent at the knee and gave him a sensuous smile.


“You are still the most beautiful woman I have ever seen,” Matt told her in a quiet voice as he trailed his eyes over his wife’s naked body.  He knelt on the edge of the bed then stretched out over her.  He brushed a kiss over her lips then settled his body against hers, propped up on his elbows, so that his face was level with her breasts.


“Mmm…” a low moan sounded in Kitty’s throat as Matt cupped the full mounds in his large hands.  He lowered his head to place a soft kiss to each berried tip then began to lick, nip and kiss every inch of her breasts.


Kitty writhed beneath him as the sensations from his talented mouth traveled through her body, from her breasts straight to her core.  She ran her hands restlessly over his back and wrapped one of her legs around his as she rocked up against him.


Matt groaned around the nipple he had finally taken into his mouth as she rubbed her damp curls against the hard plain of his stomach.  He curled his tongue around the turgid point and sucked it hard into his mouth.


“…Matt…” Kitty gasped when she felt him slide a hand down between their bodies to slip between her thighs.  She lifted her head to press her lips into Matt’s hair as his fingers found and began to rub her clit.  “…Mmm… oh yes…” she moaned when he slowly pressed a long digit inside her; the tension in her belly coiling tighter and tighter with every stroke.


As Matt moved his finger within her, he circled her clit with his thumb and continued to suckle at her breasts.  All of a sudden, Kitty cried out his name as a small but intense orgasm washed over her.  He released her nipple and lifted his head to watch her face as her body trembled beneath his.  He eased his finger out of her sheath then shifted his body up so that his face was level with hers.


Kitty’s eyes fluttered open and she smiled up at him when she felt him brush a soft kiss against her lips.  She shifted under him and drew her legs up on either side.  Kitty moaned when he settled his hips in the cradle of her thighs.  Her hands slid up his back to his shoulders, and she pulled him down so that she could catch his mouth with hers.


They kissed hungrily and Matt shifted so that his erection was poised at her entrance.  Aware that it’d been a number of years… for either of them, he slowly pressed forward.


Kitty broke off the kiss with a sharp inhale.


Matt paused, with just the head of his arousal inside her.  He gave her a reassuring smile.  “I know, honey…” he told her in a quiet voice as he pulled out then gently pushed back inside her.  He repeated this several times, slipping a little deeper into her with every stroke until finally, he was sheathed completely within her wet heat.


Kitty’s eyes filled with tears at the feel of him stretching and filling her again after so long.


“Did I hurt you?”  Matt asked anxiously at the sight of her tears.


Kitty shook her head.  “No… you didn’t.  It’s just been so long,” she said in a breathless voice.  “I… I didn’t think we’d… oh, Matt…” she blinked away the tears.


Matt smiled.  “I know, Kitty…” he said, the feeling of being buried inside her very nearly overwhelming him.  “Just tell me when you’re ready…” he told her as he lowered his mouth to hers in a loving kiss.  As the kiss grew more passionate, Matt felt Kitty begin to rock her hips under him.  He broke off the kiss and met her eyes.


Kitty gave him a brilliant smile.  “I’m ready, Cowboy…” she said in a husky voice.  “Make love to me…”


“For the rest of our lives,” Matt replied in a quiet voice as Kitty drew his mouth back down to hers.


The kiss was slow and full of the emotions both had kept hidden for the last five years and were now able to fully express.  As the kiss continued, Kitty shifted beneath Matt and wrapped her legs around his lower back in a silent plea for him to begin moving.


Matt rocked his hips against her gently then broke off the kiss.  He held her eyes as he rose up on his elbows, threaded his fingers into her long auburn hair and began to move with more purpose.


Kitty moaned as Matt withdrew almost completely then sank slowly back into her.  “Yes…” she hissed as he did it again, and again.  Each protracted plunge of his length into her wet heat sent a myriad of sensations coursing through their bodies.  “Yes, Matt…”


“Kitty…” Matt groaned as he moved fluidly in and out of her, “…you feel so good…”


“So do you,” Kitty replied as she trailed her hands down his sides to grasp his rear.  She kneaded the firm globes, urging him to thrust harder and faster, then slowly slid her hands up his back to clutch at his shoulders.  “Matt…”


“I know…” Matt said then groaned when he felt her inner walls squeeze him tightly.  “Oh, god… do that again…” he begged as he thrust into her, again and again; each thrust becoming shorter and less controlled.  “Kit…ty…”


Kitty’s nails dug into his shoulders as her legs tightened around his hips.  “Make us come, Matt… please…”


“Yes…” he groaned and caught her lips in a wild kiss as he began to pound into her.  Over and over, in and out; Matt drove into her relentlessly, pushing them closer and closer to the edge.


“Oooh… oh yes… Matt!”




It was like hot gold roaring through Kitty’s veins; slow, thick, bright wave after overlapping wave of sensation, cascading down to her very core and drowning in the backwash of Matt’s explosive climax.


Matt’s hips jerked spasmodically as his orgasm exploded over him as glittering shards of sensation flickered through his senses.


They clung to each other as they soared on the wings of their shared release.  When they came back to themselves, both were too overwhelmed to speak. Matt rolled onto his back, pulling Kitty with him as they kissed and cuddled in a contented silence until they were able to find their voices.


“Kitty?”  Matt whispered against her temple.


“Mmm?”  Kitty murmured as she snuggled deeper into his embrace.


“I was wondering something…”


“What’s that?”


“Will you marry me again?”


Kitty lifted her head from his chest.  “Matt?”


“Will you marry me again?”  He repeated the question.  “This is a new beginning for us, Kitty, and I can’t think of a better way to… start again, than by renewing our wedding vows.  Our anniversary is in a few days, I thought that would be a good day to do it.”  He cupped her cheek.  “The children can be our witnesses.  I know they’re a little young still… but what better way to recommit to each other and to our family?”


Tears filled Kitty’s bright blue eyes and threatened to spill down her cheeks.  “Oh, Matt… I…” she nodded.  “Yes, I will marry you again!”


Twin smiles spread across their faces.


“I love you, Kathleen Dillon.”


“And I love you…” Kitty lowered her head so that her lips brushed his, “Matthew Dillon.”



A squawking bird flying overhead pulled Kitty out of her memories and she smiled as a small wave of pleasure spread through her.


That morning had, indeed, been the start of a new life for them.


In the days between his asking and the renewal of their wedding vows, Matt and Kitty had found and bought some land a couple of miles outside of Dodge.  And then, on their fifteenth anniversary, with their children beaming happily, and all their friends surrounding them, Matt and Kitty had renewed their wedding vows.


Kitty sighed happily as she looked out over the land that was their home.  The last five years had seen their ranch become quite successful; their children flourish and their relationship grow stronger than it had ever been.


Not for the first time, Kitty found it ironic that it had taken a near-fatal knife wound to bring her back to Dodge… back to Matt.  She remembered how one particular encounter with a bullet had sent her running from him for a time.  And not for the first time, Kitty found herself thankful for Matt’s encounter with that outlaw.




The thought of her husband drew her attention to the barn where she could hear the sounds of Matt working away on the wagon wheel.  An image of Matt without his shirt on suddenly filled her mind and coupled with the still warm memories of that first morning in Dodge, sent a fresh wave of desire through her.


Kitty looked out over the field where the children had ridden off then back to the house behind her where she knew her housework waited.  Her eyes darted to the barn and in that moment she made her decision.


If she’d learned anything in the last five years, it was that life was for living.  That when an opportunity presented itself… you had to grab hold of it with both hands and hang on tight.


The twins were off at the Ronniger’s, and wouldn’t be back until after supper.  The few men they had working for them had been given the day off and were over in Dodge living it up, and wouldn’t be back until way after midnight.


With that in mind, Kitty stepped off of the porch and began to walk towards the barn; intent on grabbing hold with both hands, hanging on tight and spending the next several hours making love to her husband.  The wagon wheel and household chores could wait. 


When she reached the barn, she stepped through the open door and pulled it closed behind her.


“Hello, Cowboy.”


~The End



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