Matt Dillon, former US Marshal, felt no guilt at all. He was abed past sunrise, and the day promised to be a clear, temperate morning, in Kansas.
His daughter, Lena Dillon, had left the day before, heading back to Louisiana to finish her studies there. Her mother and he had seen her off at the train station in Dodge City. He was sad to see her go and would miss her in the next months more than he ever thought he could. His wife and her mother, Kitty Russell Dillon, was excited that her daughter was finishing her education, but she was still taking Lena's leaving quite hard.
Anticipating as much, Matt Dillon had a surprise waiting for his wife at their new ranch. With Festus and Hannah's help, he had arranged for two chilled bottles of champagne, which his wife enjoyed, fresh flowers, and a new nightgown (which Festus had definitely NOT helped choose).
Since their whirlwind marriage, newly established family and ranch, there had been little time for a honeymoon stage. They had married in early spring, and it had taken them all summer to prepare for winter and get a start on making needed repairs on the house, fencing, and the barn. They also needed to look to the feed situation for humans and animals for the harsh months ahead.
Needless to say, they'd been busy even with Lena's and Festus' help and the few random hired hands they'd managed hire.
Festus had his own little house on the ranch. The Dillon family needed him, and Festus needed to be of use. His days as a rolling tumbleweed had ended when he'd become a deputy under Matthew. After that job ended, he'd found little pleasure in being so footloose, which came as somewhat of a surprise considering his early life. The fact that he adored the Dillon women sealed the deal, not to mention his friendship with his former boss, when he was asked to stay on, both as help and family.
Matt Dillon was determined to allow his wife and himself some semblance of a short honeymoon. So, arriving back at the ranch the evening before, Kitty immediately noticed the lights on inside their home and porch. Matt told her that he had left instructions for Festus to take care of that ahead of their arrival along with the feeding and care of the little stock they had bought so far.
Still suspecting nothing, Kitty allowed her husband to help her down from the buggy. Taking her by the elbow, he negotiated her into the house, opening the door for her and allowing her to enter first. She didn't notice Festus surreptiously take the horses and buggy around to the barn.
She gasped in surprise.
Turning to look up at him, she stammered, "What-? Matt? You did this?"
Matt removed his hat and helped her out of her jacket. He looked a little embarrassed. This kind of romantic gesture really wasn't his specialty. He sincerely hoped he hadn't messed up.
"Well, Kitty….I….we never….I never took you away anywhere to celebrate our getting' married and I kinda wanted to surprise you. I hope you like it," he finally managed to get out. "I want you to know how special you are and that I'm happy about Lena."
His wife turned to him, noticing his reddish face even in the dim lamp light and that shy way he had of dipping his head just so.
Instead of answering him, Kitty pulled him down by his bolo tie. "Come here, Cowboy. I'll show you just how appreciative I am after we eat this wonderful looking meal."
"Yes, ma'am," he said, still looking a bit bashful, but he took her by the shoulders and held her so that he could look her in the eyes.
"I love you, Kitty. I'm sorry I was such a dang fool for waitin' so long."
"Better late than never," she whispered in a husky voice, as she wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him the most searing kiss that she could muster.
That was the evening before. Surprising even himself, frankly, after dinner and champagne, Mr. and Mrs. Dillon had spent the night making love as loudly as they pleased because it was the first time that they'd actually had the house entirely to themselves. Now, as Matt looked at the woman in his arms that he'd loved since he was a wet behind the ears pup, he didn't give a damn about getting up early and getting to work. Nope. Instead, he began kissing his wife behind the ear and down the back of her neck where he knew it drove her crazy. Gently he traced his hand down her arm, her waist, then her hip, and he felt her begin to stir as she moved against him.
Today was Sunday. Matthew Dillon intended to give thanks.