What Doesn't Kill You Conclusion
I don't own these characters; I just like to spend time with them. No other profit to be had.
Author's note: Just one more time I wanted to say thank you to those who've read this and stayed with me. I appreciate you. And I would be remiss if I did not send out a special thank you to my beta. God Bless her she's the best.
Matt remembered one time seeing a fly caught in a jar of molasses and how every move the insect made had been exaggeratedly slow as it struggled to escape the trap it had flown into. Matt now knew how that fly had felt.
As he threw himself across the room at Clay, he had seen the gun up and aimed at his chest but he was helpless to stop himself.
Hearing a shot as he flew across the room, he expected to feel the familiar sting of the bullet as it entered his body wreaking damage on his flesh. But he felt nothing and as with the fly in the molasses, the world slowed down and he watched Clay fall forward in slow motion to land face down with a bullet through his heart.
For a moment all motion in the room slowed to a crawl for the stunned lawman as he turned his head and saw Harmon, Warren's second in charge, with his gun drawn and pointed at the other three men in the room.
"Cut a snakes head off and the rest of him dies," Harmon said with a grin. "Drop your guns, boys." Harmon turned his attention to the three miscreants in front of him. "I'm not in a mood to put up with much more."
The hired hooligans were as stunned as Matt as they pulled their weapons and threw them on the floor.
Finally catching his breath and his forward momentum, Matt instantly set about seizing the weapons, hazarding a glance at Harmon who stood unmoving, his pistol still aimed squarely at the bandits. "You got them?" Matt asked.
Harmon nodded. "Check on your woman, Marshal." He said. "These three aren't going anywhere, are you fellows?"
All three men, sweat running down there faces despite the coolness of the room, shook their heads.
Quickly Matt crossed the room and knelt down by Kitty who hadn't moved since she had landed on the floor, tossed there by Clay Warren. "Kitty, honey, are you alright?" Matt's heart was in his throat at the thought of her being seriously hurt.
Kitty nodded, still trying to catch her breath and make sense of what had just happened. When she had seen Clay taking aim at Matt, she reached for the little derringer she still had with her. But before she could even put her hand near the pocket in which it was concealed, Harmon had fired, killing Clay instantly.
"What just happened, Matt?" she asked confused by this turn of events. "I thought Clay was going to kill you."
Matt looked up at Harmon, his brow raised in the same confusion.
"I'm a lawman, just like you." Harmon answered his unspoken question. "I've been trying to get enough dirt on Clay and his organization for two years now to shut him down."
Kitty and Matt exchanged puzzled looks, before looking back at the tall man with dark hair and a gap toothed smile.
"I'll explain it all to you later, Marshal." Harmon told him. "But how's about we get these creeps back to jail in Dallas first."
Matt and Kitty sat contentedly besides each other in their room late that evening. Both of them exhausted and glad to at last have their adventure behind them.
Harmon, it turned out, was actually a Texas Ranger by the name of Ace Hawkins. He had been assigned the task of taking Clay Warren down about two years prior and had steadily worked his way deeper and deeper into Warren's business. Making himself invaluable until, at last, Clay made him his second in command.
During his time as Clay's employee he had seen a lot of horrible things, but through it all he had maintained his cover until Clay took Kitty and made an attempt on Matt's life. By that time he'd had enough and decided he had to step in.
"Besides," he told Matt. "I figured if I didn't stop him, I'd be just as guilty as he was. Guess I just got tired of playing the bad guy."
Looking over at Kitty, Ace dropped his head regretfully. "I do need to apologize to you too, ma'am. What Warren did to you, well it wasn't right. And I should've found a way to stop him before it got to that."
Kitty smiled genially. "It's alright. I understand. And besides," she looked happily over at Matt, "you did stop him when it counted the most."
Ace nodded and stood from the office chair he'd been sitting in at the Dallas Sherriff's office. "Well, I don't know about you two, but I'm tired and I'm glad this whole thing is over. I'll get all the paperwork on this mess taken care of Marshal. You and the lady go on and try to enjoy the rest of your Thanksgiving."
Matt and Kitty shared stunned glances as they realized what day it was. They had forgotten completely about it.
Hawkins noticed the expressions. "Guess you two been kind of too busy to think about that, huh?"
Matt nodded, "Yeah you could say that."
"Well, I ain't got a proper place to take you to or I'd invite you to come home with me." Ace said. "But I do know a boarding house that's nice and Mrs. Tutwell, that runs it, would probably have some turkey and such left over and could fix you a pretty good supper. It's better than that hotel you two were staying in."
Matt and Kitty looked up in surprise. "You knew where we were?"
Ace nodded. "I needed to know, Marshal. Who do you think kept Clay's people off you for so long? It was just a fluke that Spratt saw you. So what do you say, I fix you up with Mrs. Tutwell?"
Matt saw the answer in Kitty's expression and nodded to Ace. "That'd be nice, Ace. We'd appreciate it."
Ace had been correct. Mrs. Tutwell, who reminded the couple of Ma Smalley, not only prepared them a wonderful meal but also allowed them to have that meal in their room undisturbed for the rest of the evening.
Kitty leaned back and rested her head on Matt's arm. "We'll need to wire Doc in the morning." She said. "I figure by now he and Chester and Sam are probably wondering where we are."
Matt nodded. "Yeah, guess they are. I bet there are a lot of people wondering where we are." Matt inwardly cringed, thinking of how he was going to explain this to his superiors when he finally did make it back.
Kitty looked up at with a twinkle in her eye. "Do we have to tell them?"
Matt chuckled and pulled her close. "Not tonight we don't."
Kitty sighed as she pulled down for a kiss. "Good, cause I have plans for tonight."
Matt pulled back for a second and looked at the woman in his arms. Bruised and battered, she was still the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Standing up he pulled her up with him. "Tell you what," he muttered as he bent down and picked her up. "You tell me your plans," he carried her over to the bed and gently sat her down, "and I'll show you mine."
Kitty giggled. "You mean like show and tell?" She reached for the buttons on her dress but Matt shooed away her hands and worked them loose himself.
"Kind of," he answered. "Only a lot more show," he finished with the buttons and pulled the dress up over her head, "and a lot less tell."
Kitty smiled brilliantly and reached for the buttons on his pants. "I like that plan very well."
Several hours later, sated and content, the two lay side by side musing on all that they had endured in the last three weeks. Neither one wanted to remember or concentrate on all the horrible things that happened but both of them knew that those things had made them stronger. Not only as individuals but as a couple.
They knew if they could come through bandits and wolves and fires as well as the pure evil that was Clay Warren, they could come through anything as long as they were together.
What didn't kill them made them stronger, together.