I felt that a subsequent episode of Kitty's recovery from Jude Bonner's abuse, etc. would have made an excellent program as would the trial. So, I wrote one. No profit is made - except for the enjoyment of revisiting the Gunsmoke characters.

Chapter I

Doc strolled down the boardwalk heading to the jailhouse for his morning cup of coffee and his daily argument with Festus. He stopped in his tracks outside the door when he heard Matt swearing. Now, Doc had heard him swear on more than one occasion, and it was usually warranted. However, Matt had never been one to curse on a regular basis so Doc was shocked to hear the words spewing so loudly out of his mouth. Doc cautiously opened the door to the jailhouse before entering to find Matt standing behind his desk with a sheet of paper in his left hand, his right hand running through his hair and curse words streaming non-stop.

Festus stood in front of the desk with a bewildered look on his face.

Doc shouted loudly, "What in tarnation is going on?!"

"Doc," Festus looked anxiously at Doc, "I give Matthew here the mail. He opened this letter up and commenced to cussing."

Before Festus had finished that sentence, Matt balled the paper up, threw it across the room, sat down heavily and put his head in his hands.

Festus picked up the wadded paper and handed it to Doc. "Doc, I ain't never seed ol' Matthew do this. What's the paper say?"

Matt looked up and uttered loudly, "You don't have to read it, Doc. It's a summons. A summons to appear at Jude Bonner's trial in Hayes in two weeks."

"What?" Doc asked, surprised, "I thought he'd plead guilty like the rest of his gang did. The prosecutor told them they'd all get life if they'd just plead guilty. If they took a chance with a trial and were found guilty, they'd hang."

"Bonner wants a trial." Matt slapped his desk, "I think he wants to put me and especially Kitty through a trial. I wish I'd killed him when I had the chance."

"Now, Matthew, you'd a been the one in jail if you'd a killed him. It'll be all right once the trial is over, and they hang him, don't ya' see."

"But don't you see, Festus." Matt explained, his voice full of emotion, "He doesn't care if he hangs. By making Kitty testify in court to all the things he did to her, he's still getting his revenge on me. He didn't kill her but this . . . . .this will be as bad as what he's already done to her."

Doc swiped his mustache, deep in thought, before firmly saying, "I think you're underestimating Kitty. She's a strong woman, and she'll be all right." But, inwardly, Doc cringed. He wasn't so sure that Kitty would be all right. He'd seen the damage done physically to her and witnessed her mental state in the past few weeks. No, he wasn't sure at all.

"Doc, I don't want her to go through this again. It's not right. She still wakes up , , ,"

Matt stopped suddenly and cleared his throat, "Say, Festus, weren't you going to go to the Miller ranch to check up on those missing horses?"

Festus, for once, realized that his presence wasn't wanted, answered, "I shore was. Matthew, I'll git on out there. Do you want me to stop by the Martin homestead and see if they're missing any horses while I'm out that way?"

"Sure, sure, Festus, go ahead and do that. If you don't mind, Festus, keep this summons to yourself." With that Matt sat down in his chair and put his head in his hands again.

"Sure thang, Matthew." Festus hurried out the door but not before casting a knowing look at Doc, who nodded at him, understanding Festus' look of misery.

When Festus shut the door, Matt looked up at Doc and began again, "She's still having terrible nightmares. And, . . . " At that he stopped and swallowed, unsure how to go on.

Doc, with years of experience behind him, guessed what Matt couldn't voice, "She doesn't want to be touched, by you or any other man?"

"Yeah, is that, well, ordinary in this situation?"

Doc nodded, "Matt, women who have been abused as Kitty has often have this problem. Usually time and patience help but some women never get over it."

Suddenly Matt stood up. "If I received a summons, so did Kitty. I better get down to the Long Branch and intercept it. I'd rather give it to her than have her open it not knowing what's in it."

Doc nodded in agreement. "I imagine I'll get one, too. I'll walk with you and go pick up my mail.

They walked out hurriedly with Doc leaving Matt at the door of the Long Branch. Sam was behind the counter wiping down glasses when Matt walked in.

"Sam, has Kitty come down yet?"

Sam looked up, the signs of distress in the Marshal's voice causing him to pause in his work, "No, I haven't seen her this morning."

"Have you picked up the mail yet?

"Yes, sir." Sam pointed to a stack of mail on the table that Kitty often sat at while doing her books.

Matt walked over, and quickly went through the stack. The bottom two letters were obviously summons – one for Kitty and one for Sam.

He walked over to Sam and handed his to him. "Sam, this is for you. It's a summons to appear at Jude Bonner's trial."

The color drained from Sam's face. "Oh, no. Miss Kitty," he whispered softly as he quickly realized what she would be facing.

"I know, Sam." Matt sighed heavily, "I have her summons, and I'm going upstairs to give it to her. Please don't let anyone interrupt us while I talk to her."

"Of course. Will she have to testify and tell what he did to her?"

"I'm afraid so."

Sam shook his head sadly, talking to himself, "That's not right. "

As Matt turned and walked up the stairs, Matt muttered to himself, "I should have killed him when I could." Sam, overhearing him, couldn't help but agree.

Matt hesitated a moment before knocking on Kitty's door. "Kitty, It's me."

"Come in." Kitty was sitting at her vanity brushing her hair and wearing a light green robe over her nightgown. As she stood up and walked over to him, her delicate perfume, which was much too expensive for him to buy for her but which he loved, wafted out. "Awfully glad to see you this early, Cowboy."

Matt, admiring her beauty, voiced his thoughts, "You look mighty pretty." He hesitated for a moment and then continued, "Kitty, I've got to tell you something. Come over to the settee."

Kitty knew from the look on Matt's face that he had something unpleasant to tell her. "What is it?"

"I've got a letter for you. Actually, it's a summons." Matt reached out and took her hand as they sat down. "Jude Bonner wants a trial – he won't plead guilty."

Kitty gasped and the color drained from her face. "Oh, no, Matt." She began to tremble as tears filled her eyes. "If they put me on the stand, they'll ask me to tell everything he did to me. I can't bear the thought."

Matt, aware of her problems with being touched, carefully pulled her to him. Finding no resistance to his embrace, he bowed his head and said sadly, "I'm sorry I didn't kill him when I had the chance."

Kitty shook her head, "I never wanted you to do that." Tears began to stream down her face.

Matt pulled out his handkerchief and gently wiped her tears away. It hurt him to see Kitty, whose strength and courage he had always admired, be reduced to tears and in such pain, especially knowing that he was the cause.

Kitty smiled weakly at him, her eyes glistening with tears, "I'll be all right. Just give me some time." She paused before saying, "I think I'd like to be alone for a while, if you don't mind."

He almost insisted on staying but decided it best to go along with her request, "I'll see you later. Let Sam know if you need me." As Matt walked to the door, he looked back to see her wiping more tears away. Hatred for Bonner engulfed him. He shut the door behind him, his heart heavy, unsure if he should have left Kitty.

Kitty stood silent and motionless for a moment as the door shut. Suddenly, she felt as if she couldn't breath. All the memories of the horrors of those hours at the hand of Bonner overwhelmed her, and she cried out.

Matt, hearing her cries, rushed back in. He gently gathered her in his arms and rocked her until the tears stopped, and she was exhausted. Finally, she looked up at him, "How did you know this would happen? That I would break down like that?"

"I didn't know. I just knew I shouldn't leave. Are you going to be alright?"

"I don't know. Matt, I know I've held you at arms length since . . . ."

"It's all right. I understand."

Kitty wiped away her tears as he led her back to the settee and kneeled in front of her. "You know I'd do anything to keep you from having to face Bonner."

She stroked his hair lovingly. "I realize that. But," Kitty took a deep breath, "I'm not going to let him destroy us. That's his goal, isn't it?"

"Yes, and in the process, get revenge on me. Bonner must know how it hurts me to see you go through this."

"Well, let's show Jude Bonner that we aren't going to let him succeed." She smiled, trying to hide the panic she felt, before asking, "Why don't you stop by for drinks tonight?"

Matt searched her tear stained face and saw the fear and anxiety in her eyes that she was trying to hide, "I'll be here. Let me know if you need me."

Kitty wiped away the last of her tears as Matt left, his mind uneasy.

Chapter 2

Before the end of the day, others in town received their summons to appear at the trial the following week: Festus, Mr. Lathrop, Newly, Doc and Sam were all recipients of a summons.

Dodge had been quiet since the news of Jude Bonner's upcoming trial became common knowledge. Most inhabitants knew what Kitty Russell had accomplished by surrendering herself to Jude Bonner. She had saved the lives of several men plus kept the town from being destroyed. Kitty was considered a heroine by most, if not all, of the town due to her actions. No one wanted to see her go through the trial.

The morning to leave for Hayes arrived. Matt walked into the Long Branch and climbed the stairs, his carpetbag in his hand. He entered Kitty's room and was happily surprised to find her packing with Beth Roniger's help. "Bess, it's good to see you."

"Oh, hello, Matt. I wanted to do something to help Kitty and helping her pack is all I could think of to do."

Kitty hugged Bess, and said, "Not only that, she's brought three baskets of food for us on the train. I'm sure Festus will empty one of them by himself."

Bess smiled at her. "Least I could do for my friends. I'd go with you but I was lucky to get away from the house today. Poor Will has the kids. I may not have a house when I get back home." She laughed heartily. Bess then looked at Matt, concern in her eyes, "Matt, you take care of this little lady."

"I will, Bess."

Bess looked around, "Well, now, Kitty, I think we're through here. I sure wish I could go to Hayes to support you but . . . . . "

"Bess, you've done a lot already. I appreciate it. You take care and give your kids a kiss from me."

Bess left and with it, Kitty's composure deserted her. She sat down on the edge of the bed fighting tears. "Sit down by me, Matt." He eased down next to her. "May I put my arms around you?"

"Do you have to ask? Well, I guess you do. I'm sorry I've been so distant. It's just that . . . . "

"You don't have to explain." Instead of hugging her, Matt put out his hand, and she took it. He squeezed her hand gently, "It's time to go. Is this all you have?"

"Yes, just a trunk and hatbox. Sam said he'd get the trunk."

Just then, Sam knocked on the door, "Miss Kitty, I'm here to take your trunk down to the station."

"Thanks, Sam." Kitty picked up her hatbox with her free hand and looked at Matt, her blue eyes bright with unshed tears. "Let's go."

Matt escorted Kitty to the train with Sam following. Festus, Doc, and Newly followed, as did Mr. Lathrop, who turned to kiss his wife before following them, when they passed his store. Townspeople began to gather and walk behind them silently in support of Kitty Russell. As they got to the train station, Matt turned around to see the large crowd that had gathered. "Kitty, look behind us."

She turned to see a group of solemn citizens standing there. One of the men stepped forward. "Miss Kitty, I was asked by the townspeople to let you know how much we appreciate what you did for Dodge. We hate you're going to have to go through the trial. Please know that everyone has you in our thoughts."

Kitty's eyes watered as she whispered, "Thank you."

Matt nodded at the group, a silent thanks in his eyes.

Chapter 3

The train trip to Hayes took several hours but to Kitty time flew by. Dreading the trial and having to testify to the horror that she had gone through began to work on her mind. Unconsciously, she began to wring her hands. Doc and Newly, sitting across from Matt and Kitty, noticed Kitty's wringing hands.

When the train reached the Hayes station, the travelers stood to exit. Sam was first out. He stopped suddenly and turned to the others. "Marshal, there's a group of men standing at the foot of the steps. I believe they're newspaper reporters."

Matt leaned over to look out a window and realized Sam was correct. One man had a camera set up and was ready to take their picture. Seeing this, Kitty began to visibly shake, her breath coming in gasps. Doc turned to her at the sound of her gasps and saw that her eyes were glazed over. He shouted, "Matt, catch her." Matt grabbed Kitty as she slowly sank towards the floor of the railroad car. Doc reached into his bag, fumbled around and brought out a bottle, which he opened and waved under Kitty's nose. Her eyes opened, and she looked around wildly, "MATT!"

"I'm here, Kitty," he whispered, concern in his eyes.

"Doc," Matt, unnerved by Kitty's reaction, looked up at him and asked, "What should we do?"

"Give me a minute." Doc took Kitty's hands into his time worn hands. Her hands were clammy and cold. Doc began to rub her hands softly until he felt them warm up. "Now, stand her up slowly."

Matt gently helped Kitty stand as the others crowded around her. Festus was swearing under his breath. "Matthew, when we git off, we'll circle round Miss Kitty, and them lowlifes won't be able to see her."

Matt nodded, "Good idea. I'll keep Kitty next to me. Newly, Sam, you two get in front. Doc, walk on the side of Kitty, and Festus and Mr. Lathrop, you two bring up the rear. Ready, everyone?" With that, they stepped off the train.

Questions began being thrown at them by the reporters as the group quickly walked in the direction of their hotel. A camera flash went off as Sam and Newly shoved the shouting reporters out of the way. Kitty continued to tremble with Matt literally holding her up.

Fortunately, the hotel was only a short walk away from the station. Newly and Doc went to register while Matt stood with Kitty as Sam and Mr. Lathrop blocked her from view. Festus stood at the door preventing the reporters from entering. With keys to their rooms, they hurried up the stairs. Once out of view of the public, Matt leaned over and picked Kitty up.

Doc opened up the door to Kitty's room, and Matt put her gently on the bed. Kitty's eyes were closed, and she was very pale. Matt turned to Doc, panic on his face, "Can you help her?"

"Matt, give me a few minutes alone with her." Matt hesitated at first but seeing Doc speaking quietly to Kitty, he decided to stand in the hallway. The other men had gone into their rooms with the exception of Festus, who stood at the head of the stairs eyeing the reporters who were now in the lobby. "Festus, don't pick a fight with them."

"I won't, Matthew. But them dudes is shore making me mad by coming at us and a shouting at Miss Kitty like that. It's no wonder she's feeling poorly."

Doc came out of Kitty's room a few minutes later, tugging at his ear. "Matt, I want Kitty to rest after she's had some food. I left something to help her get a good night's sleep. See that she takes it."

"I'll do whatever you say, Doc. I'm worried about her."

Doc looked at Matt, his distress was evident, "I know. I'm worried about her too. But rest is what she needs, and it's all I know to tell you." Doc walked to the door of his room, "Come get me if she needs me."

"I will, Doc. Thanks." Matt looked at Festus, "Can I trust you to go downstairs without getting into a fight with those reporters and ask to have the kitchen send us something to eat? I don't want to leave Kitty alone."

"Why shore, Matthew. Them fellers ain't gonna bother me atall." With that, Festus stomped down the stairs and headed to the dining area.

Doc closed the door to his room, sighing as he entered. Newly was sitting on one of the two beds in the room unpacking.

Newly, stopped unpacking before asking, "Doc, Miss Kitty was in shock, wasn't she?"

"Yes, I'd say so. I'm worried about her." Doc shook his head, "She's not recovered from the brutality as yet. I'd say she's hidden her feelings of anxiety well over the last few weeks."

Newly nodded, "I think you're right. Is there anything we can do to help?"

Doc shook his head, "No, just keep an eye on her." Doc added, worry in his voice, "I hope she can hold up on the stand, especially since Bonner's lawyer may be aggressive. I heard Bonner had money for a good lawyer instead of a public defender."

Newly sighed, "It's not right. A woman having to go through that and then having to get up on the stand and tell the world what was done to her."

"Matt keeps saying he wishes that he'd killed Bonner when he could," Doc said. "Newly, you were there. Would it have been murder or self-defense?"

"Honestly, Doc, Bonner deserved killing but I believe it would have been murder. But, not a one of us in the posse would have stopped him. He stopped himself from killing Bonner."

Doc swiped his moustache as he pulled out his watch. "Newly, I think we should get something to eat and turn in early. I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be a difficult day."

Across the hall, Matt had managed to get Kitty to eat a few bites but she wouldn't take Doc's medicine. After he hung his hat, coat, and gun belt up, and loosened his string tie, he sat down in a chair as Kitty lay quietly on the bed.

As Kitty rested, and her mind cleared, her thoughts began to focus on Matt and their relationship. He'd been there for her, every minute, every hour during her recovery. He'd understood when she couldn't bear to be touched. He had, as much as his job allowed, slept in a chair, first in Doc's office and then either in her big rocker or on the settee for weeks. Kitty knew she'd had nightmares many nights, and he'd been there when she wakened struggling against the monster in her dreams, gasping for air and screaming. There were nights when she'd awakened to see him in the rocking chair, rocking slowly, staring into the fire, his face a mask of sadness. Kitty could see he was eaten up with guilt for what Bonner had done to her.

"Matt," she whispered as she made a decision.

"Hmm?"

"Come lie down by me."

"You sure?"

Kitty nodded and reached out to him.

Matt eased onto the bed. Kitty wrapped her arms around him, "The only place I feel safe anymore is in your arms."

"Oh, Kitty." He whispered softly and sadly as he hugged her tighter. His heart ached for her, and the guilt swelled in his chest. How could he ever make it up to her, how could he make it right? "I'm so sorry, Kitty. I should never have loved you, never have wanted you, never have needed you."

Kitty drew back. "What? You're sorry you love me?"

"No, never! I'm sorry that you've suffered because of me. I can't sleep sometimes for the guilt I feel over what Bonner did to you. How could I be sorry for loving you? How could I have not loved you, that skinny young girl I first saw that rainy day? I thought you were the prettiest thing I'd ever seen in my life. I think I'd have pulled you off the stage if you'd gotten back on."

"Oh, Matt. You never told me that before." She kissed him, and for the first time in hours, he saw a bit of a smile.

She stared into his eyes. "Matt, I haven't let you . . . I mean, we haven't . . . . not since Bonner. Do you still want me?"

His eyes opened in amazement and said softly, "I . . . . I've been afraid to touch you. I didn't want to hurt you or bring back bad memories. Doc said . . . "

"Doc?"

"Yeah, I was awfully worried, and Doc said I should wait until . . . . . "

"I think," Kitty whispered into his ear, "it's time that the waiting is over." She then leaned over him, blew out the lantern, snuggled back in his arms, and soon he knew she wasn't afraid of his touch anymore.

Chapter 4

As the group trailed downstairs the next morning to the private dining room that Newly had managed to secure for them, Doc noticed a distinctive change in Kitty and Matt's behavior. Both seemed more lighthearted and happy. When Doc saw the whisker burns on Kitty's face and throat, which she had not managed to cover with makeup, he smiled to himself. It seemed his two friends had finally reached another point of healing.

While the group ate breakfast, Doc read the newspaper article about the upcoming trial to them. Since the photographer was unable to get a picture of Kitty, there was an artist rendering of her along side of Bonner's. The article was lurid even though many details of Kitty's abduction were omitted. The men glanced worriedly at Kitty as she listened. They were all, with the exception of Matt, surprised to see her straighten her back, and the fire back into her eyes. Matt smiled to himself. His Kitty was back.

The trial for Jude Bonner began later that morning. As they entered the courtroom, Matt was pleased to find Judge Paul Whitten presiding. Matt knew him to be a fair judge. The jury entered, and a few minutes later, Jude Bonner was brought in. Matt was surprised to see that he wasn't in shackles. Bonner, dressed neatly in a suit with his hair groomed, grinned evilly at Matt, and sneered at the Sam. When he saw Kitty, he leered at her, blowing kisses at her. Kitty stared at him, turning pale but not flinching. Bonner's lawyer, Horace Mayfield, leaned over and said something to Bonner who then turned away but not before laughing, a smug look on his face. Matt sat thinking how satisfying it would be to wipe the look off Bonner's face with one blow of his fist.

The judge proceeded in explaining the process of the trial to the jury and those in the court. The trial began.

Chapter 5

The prosecution called Festus to the stand to testify and Newly was next. Sam and Mr. Lathrop followed. Each testified to Jude Bonner's criminal activity in Dodge. Mr. Lathrop testified about his fear of having his throat cut by Bonner and being saved from a sure death when Kitty Russell voluntarily surrendered herself. The defense attorney grilled each of the men but was unable to shake any of their testimonies.

Prosecutor Samuel Cain stood, "Your Honor, I wish to call Kathleen Russell to the stand. And, as her testimony will be of a sensitive matter, I wish to ask those in the gallery to be respectful.

Judge Whitten agreed and admonished those in the court to be respectful.

Matt, his gut in a knot, squeezed Kitty's hand. She rose and slowly walked to the stand. As Kitty took her oath, her hand trembled slightly but there was no mistaking the determined look in her eyes.

As she sat down, Bonner yelled out, "I see the Marshal's whore is still looking mighty fine. Marshal, how about we get together for a talk about her talents. Yes, sir, mighty fine." Bonner's lawyer whispered loudly, "Be quiet!"

Matt tensed as Bonner's words reached his ears. He glanced at Kitty. She was flushed from the insult but then she straightened her back, smiled at Matt before casting an angry glare at Bonner.

The judge banged the gavel. "Mr. Bonner, I recommend you keep your comments to yourself."

"I ain't said nothing that ain't true. She ain't nothing but a cheap saloon woman who sells herself. She's probably a wishing that the two of us could get together again. I bet that Marshal ain't touched her since I got through with her." Bonner laughed wickedly.

Those in the court gasped at the crudity of Bonner's statement. His attorney jumped up, "Your Honor, I request a mistrial."

"Mr. Mayfield, sit down. There will be no mistrial. I suggest you get your client under control." The judge shook his gavel at Bonner, "One more word, and you, Mr. Bonner, will be gagged. Bailiff, prepare to gag the defendant if he utters another word."

Horace Mayfield stood up again. "Your Honor, I apologize for Mr. Bonner. He is upset over these proceedings, and being an uneducated man, did not realize that he shouldn't speak out of turn."

Festus muttered under his breath and squirmed in his seat while Doc whispered to him to hush. Sam was nearly in tears, and Matt was furious but silent. Newly, sitting next to Matt, could see the rage in Matt's eyes and was expecting Matt to bolt any second and kill Bonner.

Bonner smirked and then winked at Kitty. He turned to look at Matt, chuckling.

"Your Honor, if I may begin again without interruption from Mr. Bonner."

The judge nodded to the prosecutor. "Go ahead."

"Miss Russell, first off, I'd like to apologize to you for Mr. Bonner's outburst. Also, I deeply regret having to put you on the stand. But, in order for Mr. Bonner to receive the punishment for his crimes perpetrated on you, I felt it was a necessity. I shall endeavor to be as tactful as possible."

The prosecutor stopped and scanned the jury. The jury, being all men, was frankly admiring Kitty who was dressed conservatively and modestly. But nothing could hide her beauty. It was obvious to the jury that this was no ordinary woman sitting before them. Bonner's words about her reputation, however, were still ringing in their ears. The jury was wondering what sort of woman she really was.

"Miss Russell," Mr. Cain began again, "on the night that Mr. Bonner entered Dodge, you were in your room above the Long Branch? Correct?"

"Yes."

"What made you leave your room? And, what did you see when you left your room?"

"I heard a commotion. As soon as I walked out of my room, I saw Bonner and his gang downstairs. Bonner had a knife at Mr. Lathrop's throat threatening to cut it if someone didn't tell him the name of Matt Dillon's woman."

"What did you do then?"

"I walked down the stairs and identified myself as the woman he was hunting."

"Do you consider yourself to be Matt Dillon's woman?"

Kitty looked at Matt, who was blushing slightly, and smiled. "Yes, indeed."

"What happened next?"

Kitty's voice wavered for a moment, "I was taken by force to Bonner's camp. When he received word that his brother had hanged, he began torturing me."

Mr. Cain looked at her, regret in his eyes, "Please, Miss Russell, forgive me for asking but explain what you mean by torture."

Kitty took a deep breath as she looked down at her clenched hands. She brought her eyes up and looked at the prosecutor to avoid looking at Bonner, "First, he raped me. Then, he beat me so badly that he cracked several ribs, broke my arm, and he burned my face with a cigar." Kitty's hand unconsciously touched the place where she had been burned. "I was never fed or given water, and when he got tired of beating me, he raped me again.

Matt leaned over with his head in his hands and groaned softly. Doc shut his eyes as he remembered Kitty's injuries. Tears streamed down Sam's face, and Festus swore silently. Newly and Mr. Lathrop shook their heads at hearing Kitty speak of the horrors she'd lived through.

The prosecutor walked over to the jury to gauge their reaction, "Is this all he did to you, Miss Russell?"

"No, he brought me back to Dodge. As I was trying to go into the Long Branch, he shot me."

The people in the gallery gasped as did the jury.

"Thank you, Miss Russell. That's all I have to ask you."

The judge asked Mr. Mayfield if he had any questions.

"Yes, sir. I certainly do."

Mayfield swaggered up to Kitty. "Well, Miss Russell, you say you are the Marshal's woman. How many other men have you been acquainted with in such a manner?"

The prosecutor was on his feet. "YOUR HONOR!"

Matt was struggling to contain his emotions. He knew Kitty would have to go through brutal questions by Bonner's lawyer. But, it still crushed him to see her being put through this.

"I'll answer the question, if I may." Kitty looked at the judge.

The judge paused a moment before agreeing, "Go ahead, Miss Russell."

"Matt Dillon has been the only man in my life since I met him. He knows that. What happened before we met has nothing to do with Jude Bonner's kidnapping me and abusing me as he did. His actions were simply a way to get revenge on Matt."

"Well," Mayfield looked at her, "be that as it may, you have had women working for you that were, shall we say, soiled doves?"

Mr. Cain, "Your Honor, I object, this has nothing to do with the heinous crimes perpetrated upon Miss Russell by the defendant. I object to this salacious inference."

"You objection is sustained. Mr. Mayfield, if you have no questions in regard to the actual crime, please sit down."

"I have no other questions." Mayfield sauntered back to his chair, his body language showing how little he thought of Kitty Russell.

The judge spoke kindly, "Miss Russell, you may step down."

Kitty returned to her seat. Matt put his arm around her protectively as he scowled at Mayfield.

Mr. Cain rose, "My last witness is Doctor Galen Adams."

Doc rose slowly and shuffled up to the stand where he took his oath.

"Doctor Adams, did you see Jude Bonner shoot Miss Russell, and did you treat her injuries?"

"Yes, I saw him shoot her. He shot her down like a mad dog in the street. It was terrible shooting a woman like that. And, I also treated her injuries. I had to remove the bullet, set her broken arm, treat her burned face. It was one of the worst cases of abuse I've ever seen in all my years treating patients."

"Thank you, Doctor."

"Your witness Mr. Mayfield."

"Dr. Adams, are you a drinking man?" Mayfield looked at Doc with condescension.

Doc scowled, "I take a drink every now and then."

"I submit you have a problem with alcohol. Therefore, you have no way to medically state what you saw and how you treated Miss Russell."

Doc shook his finger at the attorney. "You can insult me all you want. But nothing, nothing you can say to me will alter what that man did to Kitty Russell. So, give it your best shot."

Mayfield gulped, defeat in his eyes. "No further questions."

Festus couldn't be restrained, "You tell him, Doc."

The judge banged his gavel. "Silence. Mr. Cain, any more witnesses?"

"No, your honor. The prosecution rests."

"Mr. Mayfield," asked the judge, "do you have any witnesses for Mr. Bonner?"

Bonner jumped up. "I wanna get on the stand."

"Sit down, Bonner," ordered his attorney.

The judge frowned before stating, "Mr. Mayfield, It is well within his rights to speak on his behalf."

"As his attorney, I recommended he not get on the stand."

"Mr. Bonner, do you still want to get on the stand?"

"Sure thing. I wanna tell my side of the story."

The judge thought for a moment. "All right. Mr. Bonner, it's your choice."

Bonner swaggered up to the stand and took the oath.

Mayfield looked weary. He had realized the fee he had charged Bonner was not worth the misery and embarrassment of having him for a client. He knew the man was guilty. "Mr. Bonner, please tell your story."

"When I heard my brother was hung, me and my friends rode into Dodge. Found his woman in the sporting house and took her with me. All she and I did was have some fun. She liked it as much as I did. I just about had to force her to leave. How she got hurt with all them broken bones is beyond me. I figure when I wasn't looking, she got real cozy with some of my men and maybe they got a little rough with her. Like I said, she seemed to like it. "

The prosecuting attorney stood to object to the vile statements coming out of Bonner's mouth. But, he caught the look of disgust on the juror's faces and decided that Bonner was digging his own grave, literally. Cain sat down.

Bonner continued loudly, "And her getting shot, why that was a pure accident. I never meant to hit her. It was just a warning shot. Why, me and her, we were getting to be good friends when I took her back to Dodge. Then, Dillon comes after me – just because me and his woman had us a good time. I figure he was jealous. She is one lively woman, I will say. That red hair shows she's a tiger. Anyway, Dillon tried to kill me. And, he would have killed me if his posse hadn't shown up. And, that's all I gotta say."

Matt clenched his teeth and began to seethe.

Kitty leaned over, "Matt, it's all right," she whispered.

Matt wiped his brow, "But Kitty, what he's saying . . . . ."

"It doesn't matter. We know the truth."

The judge instructed the two lawyers to give their closing arguments before sending the jury out to decide the verdict.

Within fifteen minutes, the jury returned. The foreman handed the judge their verdict.

The judge read it to himself first before saying, "Jude Bonner, please stand."

Bonner and his attorney stood.

"The court finds you guilty, Mr. Bonner, of kidnapping, torture, attempted murder, and rape. You are sentenced to be hanged by the neck until you are dead. Court is adjourned." The judge banged his gavel.

Suddenly a disturbance shook the courtroom. Bonner had flung himself over the rails and was coming straight at Kitty. Matt shoved her aside just as Bonner reached her. With his big fist and all his pent-up anger stored inside of him, he struck Bonner knocking him backwards. Bonner crashed into the railing and struggled to get up even dazed as he was from the blow. Matt, fury on his face, his ears roaring, reached him in two steps and stood over him. He reached down and took Bonner by the collar and shook him hard, "Get up, Bonner! I WILL kill you this time!"

Chaos reigned in the courtroom as everyone waited for Dillon to strike a killing blow.

Kitty hurried over to Matt. "Matt, Matt!" Kitty tugged at his sleeve. "Let him go! He's not worth it! Please!"

Finally, Kitty's voice broke through the roar of anger in his head, and Matt heard her. He looked up at her, his mind clearing. "Kitty, honey?"

"Yes, Matt." Kitty touched his face, "Let him go." Her eyes were pleading with him, and with the silent communication they always had, he understood and let Bonner go.

Kitty reached for his hand, and Matt took it. She looked at the man who had been there for her throughout the years and smiled, "Let's go home, Matt."

Matt smiled back at her. And with all the dignity she possessed, Kitty held her head high, her eyes shining bright and walked out with her man holding her hand and headed home to Dodge.