Disclaimer - I did not invent nor do I own these characters. I just like to make up stories.

This story has references to the episodes "The Bullet" and "Kitty's Love Affair"

Ballard Kansas

Claire Hollis sat in her saloon, The Golden Nugget, looking around. She was keeping an eye on a group of strangers sitting together at a table in the rear of the saloon drinking. They weren't rowdy, and were just talking, but she had been around saloons long enough to recognize trouble. There was something about them that made the hairs stand up on the back of her neck. She overheard the name of someone they were waiting for, Brad Johnson. She had never heard of him, but she'd make a point of remembering his name.

Dodge City Kasas

It was the end of the cattle drive season, and Dodge had seen a lot of action. Weeks of drunken cowboys, barroom brawls, random gunplay and street fights.

By the last Sunday of the month the town had settled down with the last of the cattle herders finally gone. It was noon when Doc and Kitty were sitting in Delmonico's having lunch.

Doc just shook his head, "Kitty that may have been the wildest month this town has ever seen, with just one herd after the other coming in. Best I can say about it is that you probably made a lot of money. The Long Branch has been overflowing with business,"

"Doc, that's a laugh. Yeah I had a lot of business, but also a lot of busted tables and chairs, broken glasses. bullet holes in the ceiling and floor, and last night the windows got busted. I'm shutting down for a week or so to get the repairs done, so I'm lucky if I break even. You must have made some money though, seems like you were treating a lot of patients."

"Oh, sure, I treated lots of broken bones, cuts, knife wounds, and bruises. A few paid, most didn't and I had a lot of promises of payment from trail bosses who didn't return."

Kitty shook her head, "Speaking of injuries, how are Festus and Newly?" A week earlier, in a major brawl, Festus had ended up with a sprained ankle and Newly with 3 cracked ribs.

"They are both recovering nicely, Festus will be on crutches for another couple of weeks and Newly just has to continue to take it easy and let those ribs heal. I'll tell you though Kitty, with Festus and Newly unable to be of much help for the past week, I just don't know how Matt handled it all. It was hard enough when those two were well. Somehow he managed to keep things from getting totally out of control, and nobody got killed." Doc rubbed his mustache before continuing, "Speaking of which, where is Matt? I hope he's not still dealing with drunken cowboys."

Kitty shook her head, "No, as a matter of fact he's asleep. He let the last of the cowboys out of jail at about 8:00 this morning and finally was able to get to bed."

Doc nodded, "I'll tell you Kitty we can all use some rest after the past month, but Matt more than anyone. I don't see how his head could of even hit a pillow for more than a couple of hours at a time for the entire month. Maybe you should talk him into taking a little trip with you."

Kitty shook her head with a half smile, "Doc, remember about 4 months ago when we tried that? The result was Will Stambridge, and we both what a mess that was. Anyway, I don't think Matt would take a trip with Festus and Newly both laid up. I'm going to though. The Long Branch will be closed and Sam can oversee the repairs. I'd like to get away, so I'm going to visit my friend Claire, in Ballard.

That Night

After sleeping for 12 hours Matt woke up feeling stiff and sore, but refreshed. He turned over to see Kitty standing half undressed, in the process of changing into a fresh dress for the evening.

"Ya know Kitty, maybe you don't need to put clothes on at the moment, maybe taking the rest off would work better off.'

Kitty turned and smiled, "Well Cowboy, you sure seem to have a lot more life in you now than you did this morning."

A half naked Kitty walked over to Matt. He pulled her on top of him and removed the few articles of clothing she had on. He kissed her neck and shoulders and caressed her breasts. She kissed him back and felt lovingly smothered by his warmth. They made love tenderly and passionately.

They finally came up for air, and Matt's stomach growled loudly. Kitty giggled, as she lightly rubbed his stomach. His stomach was concave and his hip bones protruding. "Cowboy it seems you need to get some food in you. Let's get dressed and go to Delmonico's"

They had just sat down when Kitty reached into her bag, "Matt, I'm sorry, I forgot until just now. Newly gave me this to give to you. He said it wasn't urgent."

Matt took the telegram, opened it and read, "Brad Johnson and gang may be heading into Kansas territory." Matt shrugged, folded the message and put it in his shirt pocket."

"Who is that Matt?"

"Don't know much about them Kitty. I just know that a guy named Brad Johnson, along with his 4 brothers and another man have been robbing stage coaches over in Oklahoma territory. According to this message, it's not even a sure thing they are coming this way."

The waiter brought their meal to the table, and conversation turned to the events of the past month and how busy they had been. Kitty looked up from her dinner, "Matt, that's why I've decided to take a little trip, just to get away for a week or two.

She saw the look on Matt's face and continued, "Matt this is not about us, it's about me. I'm not leaving you Cowboy. After my episode with Will Stambridge, I know I will never leave you, never. I just need a little time away, after that month of craziness."

Matt didn't look too happy, "Where will you go and for how long?"

"I thought I'd visit Claire in Ballard. You set things there on the right path there a few years ago, when you made sure things were in the hands of the law and I haven't seen Claire since. You could come with me you know."

"Kitty, you know I can't right now with Festus and Newly laid up. How long will you be gone?"

"I'm not sure, but not more than two weeks. The Long Branch is going to be closed for a week to be put back together, so now is a good time for me to get away."

Kitty could tell that Matt wasn't happy, but she also knew he wouldn't try to stop her.

"Matt, let's go back to the Long Branch. We can go upstairs and have a night cap and then a little something more something more. In the morning we'll have time for a big breakfast before I get on the stage to Ballard."

Matt trying to make the best of it answered, "Most of that sounds good. Just promise me you'll send word as soon as you get there to let me know you're arrived safely."

Kitty nodded, "Of course Cowboy, now let's go. I'll explain what I mean by 'little something more' and believe me it doesn't involve playing checkers."