As Doc had requested, Sam locked the office and took the key to Kitty. He wanted to talk to her, and this would be a good way to start.

Kitty was standing at the far end of the bar, as she often did. It gave her an excellent view of her customers coming in the swinging doors, and she could size up most anyone with a quick glance for trouble or not. When she saw tall Sam looking in over the top of the doors, her own heart ached at the pained look in his gentle eyes.

He pushed through the doors and walked over to her, as his customers and friends called out to him or slapped him on the back as he went by. Several whistled at his "courting" clothes.

"Miss Kitty." Sam didn't even try to fake a smile, knowing by the sadness in her big blue eyes that she already guessed the result of his proposal.

"Oh, Sam." She took his left arm and led him back to her office. Once more they sat facing each other in the two chairs by the desk. She waited for him to gather his thoughts and begin.

"She would have loved this, Miss Kitty, I know it." He took the diamond and ruby ring from his vest pocket and handed it to her. He was thinking about the diamond and ruby choker and matching earrings Chiara had worn.

Kitty sat very still, staring down at the ring, unable to understand how the tangible love she had sensed between those two could have been false.

"Miss Kitty, I don't want you or anyone to think anything bad about Chiara. To be brief, she was forced into a loveless marriage when she was only seventeen. Her family is well respected and Catholic, so divorce is not even a choice in Italy." As an irate Kitty was about to tell him to just haul her away anyway, Sam held up a big palm.

"The so-called husband has always had mistresses, so never needed a wife, but he got into an argument with Chiara's father about not having a son yet. The bastard, excuse me, Miss Kitty, went out and got drunk, then came home and forced himself on her. She has a ten year old son who would never be allowed to leave his father or grandfather. And she said she won't write or answer letters from me. She is carefully watched and it would be too painful for both of us, she thinks, to do anything but make a clean break."

This 'clean break' is a bloody and cruel one, Kitty thought.

Not knowing what to say, Kitty reached up and put her small hands on top of Sam's big ones, now clenched in his lap.

"Why don't you take some more time off, Sam, and go fishing, maybe? I'm sure Freddy would love to earn more money."

"No, please, Miss Kitty. I need to come back to work tomorrow as planned. And I'd appreciate it if you would explain to the Marshal, Doc, and Chester what happened. I know they won't talk, and I couldn't stand repeating this again."

She sadly nodded her head, tears in her eyes as her heartbroken friend gently disengaged her hands from his, stood up, and left, headed for the back door this time.

One Month Later:

Sam had been polishing the same beer mug for at least ten minutes, a far-off look on his face.

"Miss Kitty."

"Yes, Sam?" Kitty amusedly watched her barkeep polishing the mug until it shone.

"Miss Kitty, how far away is Italy?"

"About a heartbeat, Sam, about a heartbeat," she said in a soft voice, looking at the big man who she knew had not heard her, his heart already miles away.

End.

"Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart."

-Khalid Gibran