Chapter 1

"Now Kitty." Matt began.

Kitty hated it when he started a sentence that way. He of all people should know that by now. She turned and shrugged his hands that were on her hips off. "Matt." His name came out as a hiss. "Don't."

He hated when she said his name that way. The way sounded so cold and untrustworthy. He liked it better when she said his name soft and smooth, like the good whiskey she kept just for him and not the cheap stuff for the dollar a day cowboys. "Honey," he began again. This time his hands claimed her shoulders but she soon wiggled herself free.

"Just tell me Matt." Kitty looked at him hard. "Don't make excuses or pretend. Just tell me."

How should he start? This part was always his undoing. Can't start with the job or badge that might get him locked out of their bedroom. Matt settled on the truth no matter how much it would hurt her and it would. The name scared them both.

"Dirk Jones." The name stopped her arguments. "He's out and coming this way. I got a wire this afternoon and came right here." He watched her wither at the news. This time when he took her by the shoulders she didn't shake him loose, but grabbed him around the waist.

"Oh Matt. Oh my god. Matt." she cried. As much as she wanted to be strong and brave her knees shook and she let go long enough to sit down on the bed taking him with her.

"I know sweetheart." He said rubbing her back. "Festus is here now and couple of other men will be here soon and stay with you while I'm gone." She looked up at Matt, "Festus? He needs to go with you Matt. The other men can stay here with me but you can't go alone. I won't let you go alone."

"Kitty I don't trust anyone but Festus to look after you. I trust him with you honey. Please don't ask me to leave you without him protecting you and SamB because you know I won't do it. I can't do it." Matt said looking into her eyes. She knew he was right but was so afraid for him. The name Dirk Jones shook her as only one other name could. He was the dog soldier who got away.

"You here with me Kit?" Matt gently asked as he put both of his hands on her face trying to bring her back to him. Kitty didn't hear him, but instead was transported back to that terrible time when the only thing she remembered was pain. It would have been better if it had just been physical pain but the pain the she remembered was worse. It was the taunts, the cruel inhuman barbs that plagued her always. "Dirty bitch, filth" and the worst of all "Dillon's whore." Even now there was hardly a day she didn't hear their voices. She tried hard but she never forgot and didn't forget who they thought she was, who she really was.

She had two lives. The hateful life that came in waves breaking across her mind when she was least expecting it. The other cherished life that tried to stand against the horror of that time. That cherished life had Matt, Doc, Festus, Sam, Newly and now SamB to help turn the tide. But to her shame and horror sometimes they weren't enough and she would run. Sometimes she ran only in her mind when she went about her every day tasks. But when that was not enough, she would run either on foot or on a horse. It didn't matter as long as she got away fast.

It had been a long time since the need to flee was so strong. Kitty tried to tamp it down, clenching her teeth and hands but she couldn't and the panic came fast. Shaking off Matt's hands she fled out of the bedroom, out of the back door flying away from the memories that overwhelmed her and running away from her sanctuary that was her home and life. She was a fool to believe that time was ever gone from her. She was always going to be that woman, that whore, that filth.

Matt let her go. He knew and respected the need try to out race the demons that plagued her. He knew because he was with her for every one of her attempts to run away from her pain, but it wasn't just her pain, it was his, Doc's, anyone who loved her. So he watched from a distance and let her go. He never let her know he watched and waited. Sometimes it was a short time of only a hour or so but there had been times that he waited a long, cold, night for her to come back to herself, the Kitty that he cherished and loved. The running Kitty as he called her in his head, also had his love but that Kitty was hard as steel. It was that steel that allowed her to survive and so he loved that Kitty too since it brought both Kitty's home after Bonner. He understood because he was also two people. He was a killer when needed and he was also the man, the friend, the husband and now father the other times. Rarely did they meet but when they did, he was never sure which Matt would win out.

More than anything he wanted a time when the running Kitty would cease to exist but knew that was never going to happen. Kitty would always have to run and the least he could do was be there for her when she did. Today might be the time to let her know she wasn't alone on these escapes.

Checking on SamB before leaving and making sure Festus was near Matt ran after his wife.

He spotted her near the pond on their ranch on her hands and knees clutching and tearing at her hair, her words angry and pitiful to his ears. Gasping for breath she spat hateful foul words. "Whore, bitch, fifth, trash. Don't pretend. He doesn't love you. He hates you. Just die." He started to speak but then heard her fight. "No. No. Not. He loves me. He loves me. I'm here. Oh God, I'm here. They love me."

Matt grabbed her and pulled her body close and spoke. "Yes, Kitty. I'm here and love you. I love you honey. I'm here. Feel me Kit. I'm here and love you. Please honey. Remember how much I love and cherish you." Matt gently cradled her and smoothed her hair and back with gentle touches. Then turned her so she was facing him and took her face in his hands and pulled her close so that their noses were touching. "I'm looking at you honey, open your eyes and see me Kitty." He commanded.

Kitty kept her eyes squeezed shut and shook her head back and forth. "Don't look at me Matt, please don't look at me." She pleaded. She never let Matt see her this way, this weak broken woman who rarely came out but when she did, she was hard to put away. Matt's heart nearly broke.

"Kitty." Gently commanding again as he gathered her closer and his lips left fluttery kisses upon her closed face. "Kitty I got you sweetheart. I love you Kathleen Dillon. Nothing and no one can stop that. I got you honey. Please open your eyes. I love you Kitty." Kitty felt his tears on her face and she didn't want to open her eyes but she could never refuse Matt.

She opened her eyes and saw him, saw him seeing her. All of her and that he still loved her. "Oh god, Matt. Please." She said. She didn't even know what she was asking him. Was it to let her go or forget about her? She didn't know. Matt would know.

Kitty opened her mouth to Matt and let him kiss her deeply. Their tongues joined and argued for control. Moans and cries of desire mixed with their shared tears. Matt wanted to be slow and gentle but Kitty wouldn't have it. She needed him and the need couldn't and wouldn't wait. Matt felt her need and quickly rid himself of his pants and union suit while Kitty hiked up her skirt and rid herself of her undergarments. It wasn't tender or slow but quick and hard.

Afterwards they lay entwined both heaving with exertion neither wanting to speak, not wanting to face what lay before them. But Kitty being the strongest this time spoke quietly. "Cowboy. You knew?"

Matt, reaching for and holding a curl in his hand, muttered into the red flame "Yes honey. I've always known and been with you each time. I'm sorry Kitty." He didn't know if he was apologizing for Bonner or for watching her when she ran. It didn't matter, he was sorry for both.

Chapter 2

Kitty and Matt walked back to the house both a little ashamed of the secrets they kept from each other but understanding each other a little more. There would be a time soon once this immediate peril was over that they would discuss her running and his watching but for now there was the acknowledgement of both.

Matt and Kitty saw Festus on the front porch rocking SamB on the swing and heard him singing in his distinctive twang and it brought a smile to both of their faces.

Camptown ladies sing dis song, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Camptown race-track five miles long, Oh, doo-dah day!
I come down dah wid my hat caved in, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
I go back home wid a pocket full of tin, Oh, doo-dah day!

Festus saw them and spoke quietly. "Miz Kitty, Miss Samantha is sleepin peaceful like. I hope you don min me havin her out in the air."

"No Festus, thank you for watching her, I will take her now." Kitty said reaching and holding her daughter close to her. "Thank you Festus." Kitty said again and gave his whiskered dear face a kiss and quickly went inside.

Matt looked at Festus and then inside the house where his wife and daughter were. Samantha Willehima or SamB to those who loved her called her. She was the sun and stars to her parents and the moon and rainbow to everyone else in Dodge, especially to her Pop Adams and Uncle Festus for who she was named, along with Uncle Sam. SamB was a much loved and cherished addition to Dodge.

"Festus, I'm leaving in the morning to hunt Jones. I need you to stay here and watch Kitty and SamB." Before he could protest Matt put his hand on Festus' shoulder. "Festus, I need you old friend. I need you to be here and protect them while I'm gone. Jake and some of his cowboys will be here too but I need you. I need you to guard them, do for them what I would do for them if I was here." Festus knew what that meant, killing and possibly be killed. He loved Kitty and now SamB the child of his closest friends and who was partially named for him. He would let nothing harm either of them and Matt knew it.

"I'll do her Matthew don't you fret."

"I know you will Festus. There is no one else I would trust with them." Matt said quietly and then walked into the house. Festus needing a moment walked to the barn.

Chapter 3

Dirk Jones hiding in the Dillon barn heard the deputy approach and as soon as Festus entered the barn, he hit him square in the face with a shovel. Festus dropped quickly and silently to the ground. Dirk dragged him across the barn floor and tied him up in the stall that was reserved for the Marshall's big horse. Dirk sniggered a bit like the big buckskin as he left the deputy hog tied in dirty hay. "Try to get out of that you ole bag of bones." He said to the unconscious man as he left the barn.

"I'll do her alright." He muttered to himself, thinking back to when the Marshall's woman was at the camp and how he didn't get full taste of her. He was not done with her before Bonner pulled him off her and completed his act for him in front of the other men. He had taken too long and Bonner was not a patient man. Each man was given 10 minutes and if you didn't complete your business by then, well it was too damn bad. You were left hard, unsatisfied and had to see to your own release. The men in Bonner's camp thought it a sense of pride of how quick they could be done with a woman and had side bets to see who to finish the fastest. Lafitte always won. Everyone but Jude. He was allowed and expected to take his time. And with this woman Bonner had taken more time than ever before.

Bonner took her first in his tent and Jones could still hear her cries of anguish, hurt and surprisingly anger. He had never heard a woman berate Jude like that in all the years he had ridden with him. He had seen, heard and done a lot of things and still the Marshall's woman stayed in his thoughts. He didn't know if it was because Jude didn't kill her or that he didn't get a chance to finish with her or for revenge since all of his comrades were dead by the Dodge posse or the gallows. All he knew is that he just wanted at both of them. He wanted the woman and he wanted the Marshall dead. Just as dead as Jude and his companions. He would have his revenge.

Jones crept quietly on the porch and listened. He didn't hear the marshall but did hear the woman sing quietly to the child. She sang the same song as the deputy had done earlier but this time the song had a softer and different meaning. It had a mother's love.

Chapter 4

After Matt walked into the house and saw Festus walk to the barn, the hair on his neck stood on end. He didn't question it, he knew. His hunches had saved him many times before. He loudly whispered. "Kitty."

"Matt?" Her head snapped around from where she was cooing SamB. Too many times in their lives had she heard that tone.

"Take her down to the root cellar and stay there until I or Festus get you." Matt said, taking her arm and walking her to the cellar.

"No Matt. I won't leave you. I will take SamB down there but I'm coming back up with you. I can't run anymore. I'm tired of running Matt." She said and her eyes implored him to understand. He did but didn't want her anywhere near the carnage he thought was about to happen.

There wasn't time to argue, Kitty kissed Matt on the lips and Matt leaned down and gently kissed SamB, his large hand massaging the baby's head. Kitty looked at him and walked quickly and quietly to the cellar.

She was back in a few minutes after cocooning her child in blankets in the dark cellar that would now protect her like when SamB was in her womb. When Kitty discovered she was pregnant, she wanted to run, she wanted to shout to the world that her cherished dream was a reality; she wanted Matt. Always Matt.

Matt loved her and that made her strong. She was tired of being scared. Tired of hiding. It was time now to give up being tired.

"Matt." Kitty quietly said as she came into the kitchen. Matt was by the window looking out the window. Waiting. Matt turned to her and handed her a gun.

"Kitty stay there, put your back to the wall and do what I say when I say. I mean it." He growled and just has he said that, the front door directly in line with the kitchen burst open, the door slamming into the wall. The loud offensive noise startled Kitty but not Matt. He shot his gun towards as Dirk Jones burst into his house. He was faintly aware of SamB cries from the cellar and Kitty's gasp. He ignored them both and waited. He was patient.

Dirk Jones was hit by one of Matt's bullets but took coverage in the living room. He shouted "Dillon I had her and I will have her again as you watch me take her on the floor." He shot again at the kitchen. His bullets whizzed past Matt's head. "You're a dead man Jones. I will kill you and then leave your body for the dogs."

Matt wondered where Festus was and since he was not here, he could only assume Jones had found him first. He hoped that he was still alive. Matt's thoughts were coming and going in a furious pace. He considered and abandoned

options. Kitty. Kitty was going to have be part of it.

Jones was still shooting. His house was being blown away by bullets.

"Kitty." Matt said. "Stay there and keep shooting. I am going to go around and come in the through the door. You need to cover me." Matt looked at her to see if she understood. She nodded her head at him looking deeply at her husband, lover and friend. He saw her deep blue eyes understanding what he was asking of her and accepting it.

"I love you." He said he made his way outside. All the while Jones was shooting and taunting the pair.

"Hey Red remember me? I remember you under me as I took what I wanted. I will do that again and this time you won't get away. I know you're missing me. He said has he grabbed his crotch. "I'm goin take you and make you scream."

Kitty was silent. She could not speak. She waited for Matt and kept shooting. Jones felt the silence and stuck his head around the corner just as Kitty shot her gun from the kitchen and Matt shot from the front door. Both bullets hit their mark. Jones fell to the floor his blood staining the floor.

Kitty and Matt eyes searched and found each other. Each hyper aware of the other. Matt stepped over the dead man and met Kitty halfway. She was in his arms quietly shaking. Matt smoothed her hair, her back and tried to block her view of the man lying dead in their house. It hurt him that the man was in his house but he had to get going. "Kitty," pulling her from him. "I got to find Festus. Go get SamB." She didn't need Matt to tell her that.

Chapter 5

Kitty sat on the front porch shelling peas for dinner. Festus and Doc were here to dinner for SamB's 6th month birthday. Matt wanted to celebrate life and she wasn't going to deny him that. Festus had slowly recovered and Kitty had insisted that he stay with them and just this past week he moved back into the bunk house. She thought about what Matt really wanted to celebrate as a secret smile flew across her face. Just at that moment SamB sleeping in a basket near Kitty's feet stirred and Matt came into view from the barn. Her loves. Both loves. She felt secure has she picked up the baby and caught Matt eye. He returned her gaze and held it as he walked to her.

"Festus settled alright Matt?" Kitty asked smiling knowing Matt knew what she was really asking. He smiled back at her bending for a kiss. "Yes honey. He and Doc are arguing over a checker game and will be finishing up soon. Can't wait for dessert tonight." He whispered in her ear, making her shiver.

She looked up at him and deepened the kiss. "Me either." She said into his mouth.