Author: LadyofDodge PM
Even with her back to the nearly empty room, the rapid acceleration of her heart told her the exact moment the biggest and best looking man in the U.S. Marshal's Service stepped up to the batwing doorsa missing moment to black and white Hostage, 1965.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Words: 2,982 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 2 - Published: 10-29-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3863757
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
MAKING MEMORIES---MM to b/w "Hostage"
It was late afternoon when Kitty Russell stood facing the well-scarred bar of the Long Branch, turning the pages of her big black ledger with one hand and holding a half-eaten hard boiled egg in the other.
She had lost several pounds in the last few weeks, and Doc had been after her to eat more...or to just eat. Now that the telegram had arrived from Amarillo saying that Matt Dillon was alive and well and on his way home, she was devouring everything in sight in an effort to hide that tell-tale sign of worry.
The telegram had been pure Matt...sparse on words, but uniquely comforting:
All safe here. Sorry I'm late. Home soonest.
It had been addressed specifically to her and she fingered it once again, tucked safely in the pocket of her simple dark blue skirt. It had been sent several days ago, and she knew that he, along with Festus and Thad, could be riding in at any time.
Even with her back to the nearly empty room, the sudden rapid acceleration of her heartbeat told her the exact moment the biggest and best looking man in the entire U. S. Marshal's Service stepped up to the batwing doors of the saloon.
Willing herself to remain calm, not to spin around and leap into the big man's arms, lacing her fingers into his shaggy curls, pulling his face down to hers and wrapping her long legs around his hips as she so desperately wanted to do, Kitty casually turned to the next page of the ledger, feigning extreme interest in the long column of figures.
With just a few long strides he crossed the room, and she felt his warm breath tickle the back of her neck as he scrunched his big frame down to her level and said in a deep, low voice, "Am I too late for that nightcap?"
"Oh, Matt." All other words in her vocabulary flew right out of her head as she turned to look into his dearly beloved face, his incredible steel blue eyes. A large purple bruise covered his left temple, and dried blood still clung to the cuts and scratches across his nose and under his eye. He looked saddle weary and tired, but dirty, bruised, scruffy and unshaven, he had never looked as good to her as he did at that moment.
She tried again, "Oh, Matt; how are you?" This time her hand reached down into the narrow space between them and her soft fingers entwined themselves around his calloused ones.
"I'm fine, Kitty...kinda dirty, but unharmed underneath the dirt." He smiled gently into her spectacular sapphire eyes, fighting the almost desperate need to take her into his arms and bury his bruised and aching head against her soft, sweet breasts.
She had lost weight, he noticed, no doubt a result of worry over him, and for that he felt a twinge of guilt, but she had never looked more beautiful than she did at this moment.
"You all right?"
She nodded and rubbed the palm of her other hand tenderly against his broad chest. "I am now."
"Well, I just stopped in to let you know I'm back. I need a bath and a shave. Then I need to write up a report about my, uh, little trip. How 'bout I pick you up for supper about seven?"
"Supper's fine, Matt, but let's not go out. I'll cook or pick something up at Delmonico's. I imagine a nice rare steak would be all right with you?"
His voice went even deeper and lower. "Anything's fine so long as you're on the menu, too. See you later, Kit." He squeezed her hand and exited into the chilly October afternoon.
Kitty glanced at the clock behind the bar. Nearly four o'clock. That gave her just three hours to prepare herself and a special meal for what she was hoping would be a romantic reunion with the man she loved. Deciding that Tony, the cook at Delmonico's, would have to be the one in charge of the way to her man's heart tonight, she moved quickly out the door and down the street to place her order.
Returning to the Long Branch, she told Sam that the town appeared empty, so she thought she would treat herself to a night off, beginning immediately, and she asked him to bring some hot water up to her room.
The old barkeep raised his head from the newspaper spread out before him on the bar. "Sure thing, Miss Kitty...I'll put it on right now." Then he moved into the tiny kitchen area off the bar, where he allowed a huge, knowing grin to spread across his craggy face. He'd neither seen nor heard the giant lawman, but he knew the marshal was back in Dodge, and apparently unharmed...knew it as surely as if the big man were standing before him.
While she was waiting for the water, Kitty stripped the big brass bed and put on the new soft sheets and pillow cases that had just arrived from St. Louis. 'Real Egyptian Cotton' the catalogue had declared, not the usual coarse muslin found at Wilbur Jonas's General Store.
A knock on the door told her that Sam was there with the water, and she directed him to pour it into the enormous green bath tub, the biggest tub he had ever seen. He bid his boss a pleasant evening and left the room remembering the first time he had seen that tub and had wondered why such a little lady needed such a large tub. By now he knew the answer, and his weathered cheeks warmed at the mental image that flashed before him.
Kitty's bath was long and leisurely, and she washed her red curls in tudor rose water, a new scent, also just arrived from St. Louis.
After looking at virtually every dress in her closet, she finally decided on the previously worn, but extremely becoming dark green silk with its off the shoulder sleeves and low scooped neckline. The dress had a row of tiny jet black buttons down the back, and she chose dangling earrings to match. The red curls were swept up in a simple chignon. A cameo on a band of thin black velvet wrapped around her slender throat and completed her outfit.
She arranged the table settings and lit the candles. The basket of food arrived from Delmonico's, and she placed the dishes on the cast iron stove for warmth, but not before pouring a very generous splash of wine into the mushroom gravy that accompanied the thick t-bone steaks and mashed potatoes.
There was nothing to do but wait, she thought, as she re-arranged the table setting one more time, turned the lamps lower, checked her face again, and glanced around the ornate sitting room. She giggled to herself and thought, "I'm giddy as a school girl on her first date."
Promptly at seven, familiar footsteps sounded on the back staircase, followed by a soft knock on her back door.
Crossing the room, she called "come in" and propelled herself into the big lawman's arms even as the door swung closed behind him. He tossed his hat onto the side table and lifted her to his eye level, or more accurately, his lip level.
Her arms tightened around his neck and his mouth covered hers in a deep, hard kiss--tongues touching, twisting, tasting, teasing in a rhythmical dance that left no doubt as to their overwhelming desire and overdue need for each other.
Finally, when the need to breathe became acute for both of them, he slid her down the length of his long, muscular body and stood her several inches in front of him. "Kitty," he gasped, "it wouldn't, uh, take much right now, so we better..."
She blushed and moved toward the stove. "Oookay. Let's see how Tony came through for us tonight."
During the meal, Matt told her many of the details of his disappearance, and of his wild and dangerous ride almost to the Mexican border.
"...and so Amos Hockley had a posse line stringing that road far as the eye could see. That put a quick end to my kidnapping. 'Course I had to persuade him it was all right to let Festus and Thad out of his jail. I don't know if I was all that convincin' or if he just thought about havin' to listen to Festus every day and decided it was to his advantage to let them go."
Matt swirled the very special Napoleon Brandy around in the snifter and smiled into Kitty's sparkling blue eyes and radiant face. He carefully placed his glass on the table and, with his own darkening blue eyes never leaving hers, walked slowly to the other end, where he took her hand and drew her from her seat, raising her hand to his lips as he did so.
"I missed you Kitty...so very much. You're what kept me going out there. I never stopped thinking about you, never stopped believin' that I'd be coming back to you."
Her arms tightened around his waist. "I was so scared this time, Matt...more than usual. The closer you got to the border, the harder it was to believe you'd be okay. And I was sure if they made it into Mexico...well...they...they wouldn't need you any more, and you'd just be excess baggage and so..."
"Shhh, it's all right, sweetheart. I'm here. Everything's fine."
He held her close against him with one arm, while his other hand reached for the pins holding the simple hair style in place. As the last one fell to the floor and shiny auburn curls cascaded about her slender neck and bare shoulders, he buried his face into the sweet fragrance of...he didn't know what. He had been expecting lavender, but this was something different.
"Hmmm, something new?" His lips moved against her hair.
She nodded against his chest. "Tudor rose; like it?"
She had already divested him of his courtin' coat and her hands were busy working their way down the buttons of his clean white shirt, her mouth leaving soft kisses on the little patches of warm skin exposed by each opened button.
"I do; it's...uh, softer...sweeter than the lavender."
Finished with the visible buttons on his shirt, she reached deep inside the waistband of his dark dress pants, searching for his incredibly long shirt tail. Her soft fingers skimmed the hard planes of his stomach, causing an involuntary groan and sharp intake of breath.
"Exactly. I'm surprised that you noticed. Impressed, too."
His own long fingers were working their skillful way along the tiny jet buttons lining the back of her dress.
His lips moved under her chin and down her soft throat. "I try to notice, Kitty, honest I do. I try to notice and remember everything about you, and I store all those memories right here." He pointed to the left side of his chest.
Finally extracting the stubborn shirt tail, she undid the bottom buttons and pushed the shirt from his massive shoulders.
"That way, when I'm out on the trail, or in a little trouble like I just was, I can see you...the way your hair curls against your neck when it's damp...the way your eyes sparkle and dance when you're happy...the way you feel in the mornings, all soft and warm in my arms. And when I think about you, I always smell lavender."
He sat down on the dining room chair and removed his boots and socks.
She looked at him in wonder and amazement. This very private, reticent man had never revealed so much of himself to her as he had just done.
"I had no idea, Matt. That's so beautiful, so sweet."
"That's what I was talking about earlier when I said I never stopped thinking about you. And I picture you at work, too...going over the books...having coffee with Doc. Sometimes I even treat myself to a vision of us skinny dippin' at Silver Creek."
He stood again, and she left a trail of tiny kisses down his chest as she began to work on his big silver belt buckle.
He chuckled deep in his chest. "Course that one makes it kinda hard to sleep, if you know what I mean."
She worked his pants and underwear low over his flat hips, and he leaned against her as he kicked them free.
"Whatever are you talking about, Cowboy?" She murmured, moving her now tingling body against his.
Somehow he managed to undo the remaining buttons and lowered the dress to her waist, where he caught the tapes of her petticoats and pantalets and sent the multiple layers of material to the floor in a heap of creamy eyelet and dark green watered silk.
"I'm talkin' about this," he groaned, pulling her as tight as possible against him so that she could feel not only the well-defined muscles of his long thighs, but also the hardness of his arousal straining between them.
Long after Matt had fallen asleep, his body still tightly entwined with hers, Kitty lay wide awake, staring into the cool darkness of the room.
Never in all their years together had he been as open, as revealing of his feelings, as comfortable in discussing their relationship as he had been tonight. She couldn't help but think this latest encounter with danger had been a bad one, leaving even the imperturbable marshal slightly shaken.
While his words surprised and thrilled her, they also frightened her. For she knew that if his mind strayed from his job for even one second to think of her, he could lose the edge he needed. That one second could mean the difference between life and death...his life and death.
Two weeks ago when things were looking pretty bleak, she had lain awake all night, trying to remember his face, trying to imagine what Dodge would be like without him...and what she would be without him. She couldn't imagine.
Now with Matt asleep and safe in her arms, the first one was pretty easy. The War Department would simply pin a badge on another man and send him to take over the position of U. S. Marshal assigned to Dodge City, Kansas. Dodge was a good town, a growing town, and it was settling down...not nearly as wild and lawless as it had been even five years ago. Yes, the people of Dodge would rally behind the new man as they eventually had rallied behind Matt Dillon. Dodge was resilient. Dodge would be okay. Dodge would go on.
But what would Kitty Russell be without him? Would Kitty Russell be okay? Could Kitty Russell go on?
Ten years ago he had taken the young saloon girl into his arms and into his heart. His body craved the release she provided for him, but even more his troubled soul needed the solace she provided for it. She was his refuge, his only safe haven from the turmoil of the ugly world he faced every day of his life.
In return, he had given her a sense of decency and worth such as she had never known. He treated her like a lady...his lady...and if she never had anything more, that would have been enough.
But over the years, they had become so much more to each other, to the point where in the deep, dark recesses of the night their bodies joined, and in the light of day their hearts and souls as well.
For her, it had been like that from the very beginning, a love so deep, so passionate that even after only a few hours apart, her body ached for his touch. And always with the desire came the fear, the nearly overwhelming fear that one day this strong, courageous, good and gentle man would ride out in the early dawn in pursuit of some low life piece of humanity, never to return.
As the years and his reputation grew, so did the danger. There were two-bit gunslingers everywhere, each only too eager to earn his name and fame as the one to bring down the legendary lawman.
And the fear grew, too. The fear she could never share with him...would never share with anyone, for to give it voice might tempt the fates that moved like rolling tumbleweeds across the Kansas prairie.
And so tonight, as the warm proof of his love drained from his body into hers, she had clasped him close and silently made a memory, another memory to add to that collection of special moments she had created deep in her own heart, created for the day she prayed would never come, the day Matt Dillon would make love to her for the last time.
She thought she couldn't live without him, wouldn't want to live without him, but maybe, just maybe...
Would memories be enough? Could memories sustain her?
She really didn't want to know.