CHAPTER SEVEN

"What say we drive up to Morrison for a couple of days," he asked as they finished off ham and eggs at the café. "We could pack a bag and just stay up there, come down Thursday. Some pretty country up there, Kit."

"It sounds wonderful! Maybe when we get back we can pick up your boots and hat? I was going to suggest that today."

"Let's do that when we get back. Want to get up there before any chance of afternoon rain, that is, if you're sure you'll go with me," he grinned.

"I've already been without you for five days on this vacation. I think that's quite enough."

By the time Matt had the buggy rented and pulled up in front, Kitty had two bags packed, and was standing in front with the bellman.

"We're not camping, are we? I didn't bring anything for camping," she smiled.

"My sweet, I know how you enjoy camping. We'll stay somewhere clean and warm, I promise." He put the case into the buggy, tossed in a duffel he had packed, along with his saddle bags, then helped her in. "Now just relax and enjoy the ride."

Once they got out of town, the big bay hit an easy trot at Matt's urging. He put the lines in his right hand so he could put his arm around Kitty and hold her close. Her bonnet puffed in the breeze, but she had it well tied down.

"This is so pretty, Matt! Gosh, the color of the rocks is gorgeous!"

"Almost as red as your hair," he smiled down at her.

After a couple of hours of laughing and enjoying the scenery, he pulled the horse back into a walk.

"Kind of figured you'd be a captive audience here in this buggy, Kitty, so I guess you'll have to listen to me talk to you."

She turned up at him and smiled. Even her eyes smiled.

"I don't have this rehearsed or anything, but I want to get this off my chest." He paused for a curiously long time.

"I'm trying to be sure about my badge, about my job. I'm having a real hard time with it. Kit, have you ever known me to be scared?"

"Only of me!", she giggled.

"Nah, I'm not joking about this. I can't ever remember being scared in my job. I've been raging mad more times than I can count, but I just don't ever remember being scared. I've told you about a lot of the things that have happened to me out there on the prairie. I've told you about guys trying to stab me, trick me, back shoot me, beat me, outdraw me. It's a job a person has to do to understand it. You've seen a lot of the bad stuff right around Dodge, you got a pretty good idea what it's like."

He was quiet for a minute. Kitty put her hand on his thigh.

"Are you scared now, Matt?"

"I don't know, Kit. Gore really got to my mind. I get dreams at night where I just see him sneering at me, pointing his gun at me, and me with no bullets. Sometimes it wakes me, and I'm sweating. I can't do half my job. I can't be half a man, half a marshal. The minute I stop being good at it, I'll be dead."

Matt was rarely this open. Kitty rubbed his thigh to let him know she was right there with him.

"When I was up at the cabin I was the marshal. I was alone with my horse and a campfire. Had a lot of time to just sit and think. I took a side trip up into a high country meadow and tested myself, see if I could still handle a gun. I proved I can do it. I know I can do it. Just not sure I want to do it anymore. So yeah, maybe I'm just scared."

He pulled the horse to a stop and turned Kitty to face him.

"I guess I need to know if you'll stay with me, no matter what. I know you'll stay with the marshal, you've done that for twelve years. But who's he? What if I was just a scared, used up man, and I quit? Would you still want me with you?"

Tears welled up in his eyes quickly, as she studied his face. His eyes were not sparkling, his face looked drawn. She put a hand on each of his cheeks and pulled him down to her in a soft kiss.

"I will love you forever, Matt Dillon. Forever. No matter what." And she kissed him softly again. "If you get scared, I'll hold you in my arms, just like you've held me so often when I've been scared. If you get sick, if you get hurt, I'll hold you. I promise. That's what love is." Her eyes searched his.

He looked down, not wanting to make eye contact right then. He took a deep breath and then looked back into her eyes. His eyes were filled with enough tears that one ran down each cheek. Kitty shivered. The thought of this giant of a hero of a man wanting to share his most personal thoughts with her, it just made her shiver. She wanted to start holding him right that minute.

"You cold?"

"No. You just gave me a shiver. Let's drive on. I'd like to be where we're going."

XOXOXO

"See you in the bar as soon as I get the horse put up."

Matt left Kitty and their gear with the desk man at the lodge. Thinking better of checking in, she decided to do exactly what he had told her to do, and head for the bar. Sure was a beautiful place. High enough in the foothills that a roaring fire kept the big room warm and inviting. Out the window, a busy creek was pounding through the rocks. She ordered a bottle of their best whiskey with two glasses, and poured herself one.

Her mind wandered. The whiskey helped. They had largely driven in silence the last hour of the trip. Matt had rarely cried in front of her, and the only times were when some outlaw had hurt her. She was completely taken with his vulnerability. This is the man she had watched slam dozens of men to the ground with one swing of his fist. The man who had come to her rescue countless times when some drover tried to maul her. The man she had watched gun down so many challengers right on Front Street. Something was going on with him.

She sipped at her whiskey as she watched him walk to the desk man. He filled out some paperwork and then spent several minutes talking with him. Then he brought their gear to the bar, reached down and kissed her on the cheek, and sat close to her.

"How's this place look to you?," he asked.

"It's beautiful, Matt, just beautiful. Even nicer than Denver." She poured his whiskey.

"Got us a cottage with a view of the creek. Figured it'd be good for talking, . . . the creek and all."

He paused, enjoying his drink.

"Got a real nice steak house here, and the desk man says breakfast is on the house. Maybe we should check out down in Denver and just stay up here. Wasn't that far. I really love being out of town."

She changed the subject abruptly.

"There's a cattlemen's dance in Denver Sunday night. I was hoping you'd take me. Charlie and Martha are going. We're invited. I bought a new dress, and . . . well, I guess you won't be able to say you got called out of town at the last minute."

"I'd love to do that, sweetheart. Really, I would. I have new boots and a new hat."

They both laughed, the first lighthearted moment since the buggy.

The desk man walked up. "Excuse me, Mr. and Mrs. Dillon, may I show you to your cottage?

Kitty grinned at Matt. Really grinned. Matt had checked them in as Mr. and Mrs.

"Sure, let's do it," and he picked up their glasses and the whiskey bottle and followed.

The cottage was more than nice. A bed actually big enough for the giant man and his woman, and a view of the creek to die for. With the front window open, the sound was hypnotic. Matt dropped their gear on the floor.

Kitty sat down on the bed. Matt looked at her for a few moments, then pushed her back, laid down next to her, and covered her face with soft kisses.

"Hey you," he said softly into her ear.

"Hey you, what?" she whispered back.

But no words came out of the big man. He buried his face in her neck and let his tears flow. She held him in her arms, and he cried.

XOXOXO

It was almost five when they woke up. Matt stirred first and rolled to her side, stroking her face to wake her.

"Mmmmm." What time is it?

"Who cares?"

"Kitty, let's get some food and sit out by the creek."

They shared a steak with all the trimmings, Kitty as usual picking enough off Matt's plate to satisfy her. But they were quiet, almost as though they didn't want to talk about the day. Finally, Kitty spoke up.

"We came to Colorado to laugh. You ready yet?"

"Yeah, we did. I'm sure sorry to ruin this trip for you. I'm going to make it up to you."

"Ruin? What did you ruin?"

"I just got stupid and told you I'm scared. What woman would want to be with a guy like that?"

"I'm not laughing," she smiled softly.

He smiled back. "Come and sit by the creek with me before we go in. You're not too cold, are you?"

"Not at all. Let's sit by the creek. You've always kept me warm."

He took her hand and led her to the water's edge. "Let's sit here," and he pointed to a hand hewn wooden bench.

But he didn't sit next to her, as she expected he would. Instead, he dropped to both knees in front of her, and put his head in her lap for a moment. Then he pulled back and took both of her hands in his, and without any hesitation at all looked in her eyes, searching them from left to right.

"Kitty, will you be my wife?"

For just a moment, the only sound was the soft gurgling of the creek. Her heart racing, she put her hands on his cheeks and pulled him to her for the softest of kisses.

"Yes, Matt."

She'd thought about this moment for who knows how long. She couldn't remember. How many years? Certainly a long time. Would it ever come? She had decided long ago that if he ever asked, her answer needed to be more simple than simple. Just "Yes, Matt."

He stood up and pulled her up into his arms. The only way they fit because of their dramatic difference in size, her head on his chest and his head in her hair. He held her tightly for a long while. He was trembling. She rubbed his back slowly, then finally leaned back to meet his eyes. Eyes, then lips. The kiss was long, and deep, and overflowed with love. So much so that he stopped trembling.

Still nothing said, he put his arm around her waist and walked her back to the cabin. The staff had prepared the room while they were gone. They had a nice fire in the stove, with an ample pile of firewood parked next to it. The room was toasty warm. The bed was turned down, and a bottle of brandy with two glasses was on the table.

Matt put her gently onto the bed. Boots, jacket and all, he put himself over her. He kissed every part of her that he could reach without moving. Ever so tenderly, he kissed her. She returned the love, to his neck, in his hair, his eyes, his nose. He stroked her, he nuzzled her. Then he rolled to her side, and continued on her breasts, her arms, and finally her belly. Without speaking, he sat up and removed his boots, pants and his jacket. Then he took Kitty's boots off and laid next to her again. These were two lovers so comfortable with each other that words didn't matter. Tonight they had moved into another dimension, a new bond. It was time to just relax and bond.

Kitty unbuttoned his shirt and stroked his chest as though it was the first time. Softly, gently, touching, exploring. His hardness was already up to the bottom button, so she explored it just as gently. Fingers dancing up and down the shaft, tenderly caressing his tip. This giant of a man who could take down any outlaw with one blow from his fist was here, with her, surrendering to her, letting her control his mind and his body. She had an expression of pure wonder on her face, and her blue eyes danced in the lantern light.

Matt unbuttoned her long skirt and let it fall to the side. She had short pantaloons this day, coming just above the knee and adorned there with the most delicate of lace. He studied them, then rubbed gently all over them. She moved one leg to the side so he could stroke inside her thighs. Then he laid down next to her for a moment, almost as if gathering his courage to go on. Her breathing was soft, rhythmic.

Starting at the bottom, he slowly unbuttoned her blouse, leaving it over her arms and shoulders while he took the five buttons on the front of her corset. Leaving it there, too, he kissed each breast softly, then took each nipple into his mouth and pulled with his lips until she moved. She was exposed like the pages of an open book. He stopped, then pulled again until she gave a soft groan. Both lovers completely ready to couple, each wanting to anticipate much longer than usual. Each preparing to become husband and wife.

Matt pulled his long drawers off, then easily lifted Kitty's hips and took her pantaloons. Immediately she felt him laying against her belly, knowing they were now skin to skin, unimpeded. And then, as if in a practiced dance, they both waited. They just waited. Thinking about what would come next, knowing what would come next, they waited. Kitty reached up for a deep, passionate kiss, and Matt returned it, pressing with his lips and his tongue. And while their lips were locked together, he began with her. The passion was overwhelming. Joined top and bottom, joined. Kitty groaned softly at his penetration. He went slowly, gently, setting enough of a rhythm that they had to break the kiss to breathe. Breathing was harder now for both of them. Kitty raised her hips up and locked her legs around him. Each with eyes wide open, studying the other, each completely silent, relishing the feeling. Kitty let him lead. So often she would get aggressive with him, but not this time. He set the pace and she followed, stroke for stroke. But as soon as he increased the speed of his thrusts, she climaxed. It always happened for her like this when she had her legs wrapped around him. He touched her in a place that drove her wild. Feeling her explode, Matt stopped. He watched her, waiting, anticipating. She hadn't cried out. This was a dance of silence. The throbbing from her body was her only cry. He found the waiting impossible, and it was playing with his mind. He eased himself as deep into her as she could stand, and began his work. Kitty studied his face, and the change in his eyes as his speed increased. His jaw locked as his whole body went rock hard and stopped moving. All except his pulsing into her.

TBC