I deeply apologize for my leaving so soon. I would like to wait until you have awakened, but I couldn't bear to see you in pain and for that I suppose I am a coward. Last night was the most amazing night I have ever had, honestly. By no means am I leaving because I do not wish to be with you, it is quite the reverse. If I stayed I would only be in the way of your job and I do not want you to have to worry about me. I have fallen in love with you Ezra, and that's the last thing you need with your job. I will be going to California to see some friends of mine. I believe they are in San Francisco but I will send you a telegram to let you know that I have arrived safely. Again, I am sorry for leaving you like this, but trust me, it's for the best.
All my love,
Kat left the letter along with the ace of hearts on Ezra's nightstand and quietly slipped out of his room. She fought back a few tears that had threatened to roll and made her way to the stables. There, she strapped her belongings to her horse and made her way to the saloon to bid farewell to the six other men she had befriended in the past two months.
Vin was the first of the men whom she saw. He was sitting out side the jail drinking coffee. JD came out of the jail to join him. 'Two birds with one stone,' she thought sadly. She dismounted, "Hey guys, how are you doing this fine morning," she was trying to sound cheerful.
Vin tipped his hat to her, "Just fine Miss Brown. What brings you out so early?"
Kat took a deep breath, "I have come to say good-bye. I am leaving to join some friends in California. Besides, I believe it's time I moved on anyway."
Vin and JD were a little shocked to hear this. She seemed to really enjoy Four Corners, and Ezra's company. "Well, I wish you luck on your trip," JD managed, "Four Corners will not be the same without you."
She smiled and shook their hands. With not much left to be said she continued on her way to the saloon where she found Buck and Chris having breakfast. It was pretty much the same conversation as she had with JD and Vin. Next was to the church were she expected to find Josiah and Nathan.
"May your God look after you with the greatest of mercy." Josiah said and gave her a small hug.
Nathan just shook his head, "If you are ever headed back this way, stop in and say hello, will ya?"
"Of course. I wouldn't pass through with out gracing my favorite guys with my presence," she laughed and gave him a hug. 'Here I go.' She thought to herself as she exited the church.
She galloped out of town, hoping to be long gone by the time Ezra read the letter. She knew that if he came after her and found her that he would have no problem in charming her into returning to Four Corners. She loved him did not believe she would be able to refuse the offer if he was given the chance to make it.
Ezra ran out of his room and to the saloon, not even bothering to shave or wash first. His eyes met Chris's, "Where is she?" he said, not attempting to hide the desperation in his voice.
Chris, Buck and Vin were all surprised by the tone in his voice. "She left over an hour ago, said she was head out to California," Chris answered.
"Oh great," Ezra said in defeat, "So much for that."
"So much for what?" Buck teased.
"Never mind," he replied and left the saloon. He wanted to go after her, to tell her that he wanted her to stay but feared that she would reject him. Besides he wasn't sure if Chris would grant him leave to go looking for love.
"What was that about?" Buck asked.
Vin and Chris both shook their heads. They all had some idea, but no way to confirm it.
Eight months later and still no letter.
Ezra had given up checking to see if he had a telegram. If she hadn't sent him one yet, she was never going to. Or at least that was how he thought. At least once a week the dream would return to him. It was a dream of him being able to reach out and touch her face, run his fingers through her long strawberry blonde hair. Kissing her gently on the lips. When he woke up from it he almost never got back to sleep.
With dark circles under his eyes due to the lack of sleep he entered the salon. JD was the first to show his concern, "Ezra you look sick, you should really see Nathan."
"I am fine, young man, just had a little trouble sleeping that's all," he ordered a coffee. "Have you seen Chris this morning?"
"Yeah, he went over to see Mary about an article she wrote about us. I swear sometimes I can't tell if he wants to kill or kiss her," JD finished the coffee that was in his cup. "Why did you want to see him anyway?"
Ezra gave him a sharp look, "You know not to pry into my business, but I suppose it also affects you. I will be leaving tomorrow for a month, maybe two. Personal business that needs tending to, or as Josiah might put it, a spiritual journey."
"You're leaving us?" JD sounded hurt.
"Only for a sort while. This is something that I should have done a long time ago, and it does need to happen. I do not think it would be very wise of myself to wait much longer."
The young man nodded in understanding and Chris Larabee walked through the doors. Ezra's stomach jumped. "Mr. Larabee, could I have a word with you?"
"Of course Ezra, what is it?"
"Well, I will be departing tomorrow for some time. I have business that has gone neglected for too long and I must tend to it right as soon as I am possibly able to do so," he held his breath while waiting for Chris's reply.
"How long you think you'll be gone for?"
"A month and a half, I will send a telegram if I will be longer."
Chris did not seem to take this news to his liking. "If this is something you must do then I will not keep you. I do expect a telegram if you are gone any longer."
A small smile crept up on Ezra's face, "Thank you," he went to his room and began to pack. 'San Francisco her I come.'
+ + + + + + +
Dear Mr. Larabee,
I have sent you this because I will be arriving in town two weeks late. There are reasons that I cannot rejoin you sooner that I am sure you will understand once I am back in town. Please give my regards to every.
Ezra returned to the room were Kat lay sleeping. The doctor had just finishes stitching her up and left them alone. He smiled down at her peaceful face and brushed a piece of hair from her face. "Why didn't you tell me sooner?" he whispered. He looked across the room as tears began to fall from his face. He was so happy to have found her, even if she was in a doctor's bed, at least she would be ready to travel in a week. Then they could be together at Four Corners.
He had sent two telegrams out, one to Chris and one to his Mother. He neglected to put the important information in them, but figured that they could live with the information he had given them.
Kat made a soft sound and opened her eyes. "Ezra? Is it really you?"
He smiled, "Yes my dear. I have been looking everywhere for you. Why didn't you tell me sooner, I would have come for you."
"I did not even know until I reached California and became very ill. I was in a hospital for five months and could not get out to send you a telegram, or trust me I would have. I was trying to make it back to see you, but things didn't want to wait that long. How did you find me?"
"Luck, I was headed back for Four Corners and I needed a place to stay for the night. I got to talking to a guy in the bar and he told me that a woman fitting your description had been brought here to see the doctor. I just wish I hadn't waited so long to find you," he took her hand in his and kissed it. "I really missed you."
The doctor came back into the room, "Mr. Standish, please sir, she needs her rest."
The last thing Ezra wanted to do was leave her, "Would it be possible for me to sleep on the floor then, I really do not wish to leave here." After paying the doctor five dollars Ezra was given a cot. He walked over to the other side of the room and set it up.
Two weeks later
"Hey Buck," JD yelled, "isn't that Ezra's horse?" He pointed to a horse that was traveling next to a wagon.
"Sure looks like it. Let go check," the two walked over to the hotel where the wagon had stopped. The watched as Ezra exited the wagon and gave him a big smile.
"Well hello my friends! Come over here, I have some one I want you to meet," he said and waved them closer.
"Kat!" JD exclaimed, "But Ezra, we already know her."
Kat laughed, "Not me JD," she uncovered what she was holding, "His name is Kyle."
"Don't tell me that's your kid Ezra," Buck said in an unsure tone.
"Well Mr. Wilmington, he does have my eyes," Ezra smiled proudly as he carefully took his son into his arms.
"Oh lord help us, he does," Buck confirmed with a chuckle.
JD turned to Kat, "Why didn't you come back sooner?"
"I grew very ill for many months and could not leave the hospital in California. I came back as soon as I could," she smiled at the two men who had come to greet them. "Is Nathan around by any chance? I brought something back for him."
"He should be up in his room," it was Josiah. "Now, that is one beautiful child," he said and smiled down at him.
"Ezra, will you take care of our son while a pay Nathan a visit?"
"Of course my dear," he gave her a small kiss on the cheek and then turned to his friends, "Would you fellas be kind enough to help me with the luggage?"
Josiah spoke up, "Here, I will hold Kyle while you men help Ezra," he wasn't about to let Ezra stand around and let them do all the work. It was agreed upon and Ezra allowed Josiah to hold Kyle for few minutes.
Chris and Vin saw the Buck and JD helping Ezra and went to investigate. "What you got there Josiah?" Vin asked when he noticed Josiah still by the wagon. Both Chris and Vin could have died from shock when he turned around and told them that the child was Ezra's. "Well, it does have his eyes," Vin said and lifted the child up.
Chris looked puzzled, "Ezra's a father?" This idea more than slightly disturbed him. "Who's the mother?"
"I reckon that would be Miss Kat Brown Standish, seeing as how she came in with him," Josiah stated.
"He's married too?!" Chris was in disbelief.
"Well, I'm not sure about the marriage part, but she is the mother."
+ + + + + + +
Kat knocked on the door to Nathan's room. "Come in," he told her. He turned around and smiled, "Well, welcome back Ms. Brown!" He gave her a hug.
"I brought something back for you. They are more for back up incase you lose one or something happens," she handed him a package full of medical tools that she had bought in California as soon as she got out of the hospital.
"Why thank you Mss. Brown. If there anything I can do for you, just let me know."
"Well, actually Nathan, there is. I had a child two weeks ago," she paused, "The doctor used some rusted tools to sew me up and I fear I may have an infection."
Nathan nodded, "I can take a look at it if you will allow me." She nodded and lay down on the bed. "Well, good new is there does not look like you have an infection. However, I should remove those stitches. I think they are the reason for your discomfort, you healed very well in two weeks," he quickly removed the stitches from her.
"Thank you Nathan," she sighed with relief. "I should go see how my baby is doing, care to join me?"
"I would love to. If you don't mind me asking, who is the father?"
"Oh, Ezra. You should see him with Kyle, he's truly a wonderful father, despite the other parts of his personality which other may not like."
Nathan stopped in his tracks, "Ezra? You're telling me that Ezra, the gambler, the con man, is permanently in charge of the well being of a another human being?" Nathan had mixed feelings about his. Ezra seemingly had never cared for anyone, besides himself, but maybe things was about to change. "Well, I am happy for you, for both of you. This could be a positive change for him." They left the clinic with out another word.
That night the guys wanted to have a small party for Ezra at the saloon, but he turned them down at first, "I really should be with Kat and Kyle, but Kat insisted that he go and have a fun time."
"So daddy," Buck joked, "how's it feel to have a family of your own now?"
"Wonderful my dear man, you should really try it," he smirked and finished his second drink. The bar tender poured him another one.
"I might," he then raised his voice a bit, "if the lovely Inez would allow me to take her to dinner for once."
"Not a chance senor," she yelled back from across the room laughing.
"Can't blame a man for trying," Vin teased. He looked around and noticed that Chris still wasn't here, but Vin knew that no one would blame him if he did not show up. Dealing with family matter was still very hard for Chris since he lost his wife and child in that fire.
"So," JD finally asked, "when are you two getting married?"
Ezra almost choked on his drink. He knew that it would come out sooner or later, "Well, soon. We were planning on talking to Josiah about that tomorrow."
"I'll be in the church all day, just come on down," Josiah nodded.
The doors to the saloon opened and Maude walked in. The men all tipped their hats to her and Josiah kissed her hand. "What's all this talk about me being a grandmother?" She did not seem too happy with the news.
Ezra knew he would be in deep water with her for this, "Well, I have recently become the father of a very adorable baby boy. Would you like to meet him and his mother?"
"Yes, I would like to see what type of tramp you hooked up with this time," she spat and watched a flash of anger appear in her son's eyes.
"Kat is not a tramp Mother, she is a very beautiful and respectable lady who I love very, very much," the anger in his voice prevailed. The other men nodded their head in agreement to Ezra's statement but for the most part did not wish to get in between these two.
"In any case, I think I shall wait until morning to meet this Kat of yours," she was angered by his lack of control over his emotion, she had taught him better than to show anything but his poker face. But what she failed to realize was that Ezra didn't care about hiding his emotions when it came to Kat, he loved her and was proud of that.
After a few more rounds Ezra insisted on rejoining his son and Kat for the night. As Ezra reached the door he could hear Kat talking to someone and she sounded pissed. He pressed his ear to the door to listen.
"Sorry I have to be the one to break this to you but your son is a grown man who can make his own decisions about how he does and does not associate himself with. You have no right to come here and tell me to leave and take his son with me! If anyone needs to grow up it is you, Maude. Now please leave, I just got Kyle to sleep and I really do not wish to wake him."
Maude was in shock, "Not only are you a worthless tramp, but you are also going to pay dearly for talking to me that way. Once Ezra hears what you said to be he'll drop you like the bad piece of meat you are."
Ezra entered the room, "Mother! I have heard enough, get out."
"What! Ezra, you can't just throw me out, I'm your mother."
"I can and I will. Don't ever talk to her that way again, do you hear me?" Blood started to drip from Ezra's hand because of how hard of a fist he was making. Maude stormed out of the room and slammed the door behind her, waking Kyle up. The infant started to scream.
Ezra's expressions softened and he picked his son up to comfort him. He looked over at Kat who was sitting quietly on the edge of the bed. "I'm so sorry darling. Do not listen to her, I love you and that's all that matters."
Kat looked up at him with teary eyes, "I love you too. Here, hold his head near your heart, it might help him relax."
Ezra smiled down at his baby boy and kissed his head. "We will talk to Josiah tomorrow about the wedding." Once Kyle had stopped screaming and had fallen back to sleep, they laid down together in Ezra's bed. "When you left me, I was scared I would never be able to hold you again," he held her close to him as if he never intended on letting go. "Good night my love."
"Good night Ezra," Kat replied and kissed his lips.
+ + + + + + +
Maude was outraged by her son's emotions for another person. She was heading over to the church to see Josiah to ask a favor.
"Maude, you know that I would go to the end of the earth for you, but if I say no to marrying them, they will just find someone else who will," Josiah shook his head and looked away from her stare.
"Maybe, if they see that you disagree with it, that he will rethink staying with her," Maude took Josiah's hand in her's.
"Maude, did it even occur to you that I do not disagree with the idea of them getting married?" Josiah knew he was digging his own grave. "Ezra is one of my partners. If I deny him this, the trust could be broken and that's not safe practice in our business," the preacher stated and waited for Maude to react.
"My dear Josiah, you just do not see this clearly, please think it over. I will be back in the morning," she spoke and gracefully left the church.
Josiah waited until she was gone to pray for guidance. He did not want to lose Maude or Ezra's friendship but he had to make a choice. "Ezra is stepping up to his responsibilities, am I going to be the one who to step down?" Josiah asked himself and began to prepare for telling Maude that he was turning her down.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra awoke to see Kat feeding their son. He smiled, not trusting his voice to work that soon after waking up. Kat returned the smile, "It's about time you got up, I was about to do it myself," she teased and pulled Kyle away from her breast.
"Well, I offer my apologies for my lack of consideration to your needs while I slept," he moved to her side and planted a kiss on her cheek. "What time is it?"
"Just after nine, I thought we should go see Josiah around ten." She placed Kyle back on the bed and began to change her clothing.
"Sounds like a marvelous idea," he looked down at his son and felt tears attempting to form in his eyes with pure happiness. "How about you Kyle? You think we should go see Josiah?" The kid just looked at him with wide happy eyes and Ezra picked him up. "It's hard to believe how small he is," Ezra whispered.
Kat just nodded as she put her hair up in a clip that her mother gave her. "He won't stay that small for very much longer, I heard they double their size in the first year."
Ezra place Kyle back down and began to do his morning grooming which would take a half hour. "Ezra, youpay more attention to your hair than I do mine," Kat laughed, "and I have more of it to deal with."
"Well my dear, I always say that looking your best for every occasion pays off. And unlike you, I have to try much harder to look good ."
"You are very charming, I assure you, but you were very handsome before you started playing with your hair."
Ezra laughed, "If you are finished making jokes about my hair, can we go see the preacher?"
Kat nodded and went to pick Kyle up, "Oh my dear, I insist, allow me to carry our child. I would be a great pleasure."
+ + + + + + +
"Maude, I am truly sorry I can not help you, but I would be doing them and the team a grave injustice by following your heart and not my own. I hope that you can someday find it in your heart to forgive me for this," Josiah spoke before turning around.
"Mr. Sanchez, I am sorry to have gotten you confusing me for someone else," Ezra stated. "I see my mother has spoken to you already, which does not really surprise me."
Josiah smiled in relief, "Welcome my brother. You are correct, your dear mother paid me a visit last night, but I promise you that it will not affect you in any negative why. Now what may I help you with on this fine morning?"
Kat spoke up first, "Josiah, we would be honored if you would agree to marry us."
"Why of course I will, I think that it is a blessing that the two of you found love and peace, not to mention a child, within each other. How soon?"
Ezra and Kat looked at each other, they had yet to discuss a date, "How soon would this be possible?" Ezra questioned.
"May I?" Josiah asked and lifted Kyle from his father's arms. "I can perform the service as early as one week. Is that too soon?"
Kat's heart jumped and she looked at Ezra for his reaction, "No."
"That would be wonderful, my deepest thanks to you," Ezra smiled.
Maude entered the church, she had heard everything. "Mr. Sanchez! You cannot be serious!" She shot an evil glance at Kat.
"Mother, I think you should be leaving town now if you can not improve your attitude toward my family," Ezra was trying not to sound bitter.
"Ezra, son, they are not your family. How can you even be sure that Kyle is your son? I am sure that there are plenty of other men she was sleeping with that could be the father."
Kat's anger was quickly growing, "Maude, I love your son. He is the only one I have been with in years. This is his life and I think it would be best if you stopped trying to live it for him."
"Mother, I think it's time you left," he repeated.
Maude was no longer convinced that she was going to win this battle. "If that's the way you want it, just don't expect me to be at your wedding." She left the church cursing Ezra for defying her.
Josiah looked at the couple, "Everything will be just fine. One day she will come to realize that she was wrong, though she may never admit to that," Josiah looked at the child in his arms. "You are doing the right thing, for you and Kyle," he reassured them.
+ + + + + + +
JD entered the saloon, "Hey you guys hear the news?"
"Ezra actually has three other children?" Buck joked.
"No Buck, Ezra and Kat are getting married in one week from today."
Chris and Vin almost choked on their drinks. "Wow, one week?" Vin said, "I never thought Ezra would every settle down with anyone, let alone go through with a marriage."
Chris leaned back in his chair, "Fatherhood can do a lot of unexpected things to a man." The other men agreed as Ezra walked through the doors.
"Well, well, well. Looks like daddy could use a drink."
"Thank you Buck, but I have merely come to invite you all to the wedding."
"JD told us, one week from today he said," Nathan informed him.
"Well, Mr. Dunne was correct and I hope that I can count on your attendance?"
"Of course Ez, you know we wouldn't miss it for the world," JD promised and the others had pretty much the same response.
+ + + + + + +
Kat looked at herself in the mirror and sighed, "How does it look?" she asked Mary Travis.
Mary smiled, "You look wonderful, I am so happy I could help you with the dress. Are you nervous?"
It was no use denying it, "Oh yeah, I don't think my heart has ever beat this fast in my life."
"Well, tomorrow is the big day, I just hope that you are able to get some sleep tonight," Mary said as she played with Kat's hair trying to decide what to do with it.
"Mary, are you sure you don't mind me wearing the dress that you used for your wedding?" Kat hated the thought that she might be stepping on Mary's toes.
"Of course not, I am just glad that it is getting put to good use. Besides, it truly looks great on you," she gave Kat a hug, "Now, let's figure out what to do with your hair."
+ + + + + + +
Ezra was a nervous wreck, he couldn't stop pacing the room. "Calm down Ezra," Chris pleaded with him. "Everything is going to be fine."
"Thank you for you vote of confidence Mr. Larabee. I do hope that you are correct," he looked at himself in the mirror and ran a comb through his hair. "I'm just worried that she will change her mind."
Chris shook his head, "Believe me, I know how you feel. Just trust that she isn't going to and stop pacing, it's driving me insane."
Ezra sat down and started to shuffle his cards, "I am truly sorry, I just have never done anything that meant this much to me before. I am fearful that I will screw it up somehow."
Vin finally spoke up, "Just do what we rehearsed and it will go off with out a problem."
+ + + + + + +
The next day the town's people started to enter the church. The team of seven had been there long before anyone else, setting things up and preparing for the wedding. Buck, JD, Nathan and Vin, took it upon themselves to escort the ladies to their seats. Josiah made sure he had everything in order. Chris was still trying to calm the gambler down. Casey had offered to hold Kyle during the wedding. Everything was falling into place.
Just as it turned noon, Kat appeared in the church doors in the dress that Mary had lent her. The seven men could barely believe that it was her. Her hair was put up beautifully and the dress fit her perfectly. She truly the most beautiful thing this town had seen in a long time.
Ezra could feel his heart jump into his throat and a smile creep up on his face as she walked towards him. She was now half way there and Ezra caught sight of his mother taking a seat at the back of the church. When Kat reached the alter she turned toward her husband to be and smiled. They both released a breath that neither had been aware that they were holding and Josiah began the service.
After they spoke the famous, 'I do' and kissed, their friends began to clap. Ezra could feel a tear escape his eye as he pulled away from the kiss. Kat had tears too and she reached up and wiped them away. "I love you Ezra," she whispered and kissed him again.
As they left the church Maude greeted them and offered her apologies, which were more than welcomed considering she rarely admitted to being wrong. They stepped into the sunlight to see a gang of riders entering town. Shots rang out and the seven gunslingers drew their weapons and fired back. The battle only last five minutes, but when the dust cleared Buck saw Ezra cradling a body in his arms. The dress had turned from white to red and brown.
Nathan made his way to them but knew he was too late. It took all six men to take Ezra away from his dead wife. "Why, why, why?!" he cried and dropped to his knees.
Chris took Vin aside, "Do you know who those me were?"
Vin nodded his head, "Remember when I pointed the gang out to you in Purgiturio? Well that was them."
Casey was crying as she held the screaming child in her arms. Mary and JD went over to her, Mary took Kyle and JD held her, telling her that it was going to be alright. There was barely a dry eye in the town.
+ + + + + + +
Two months later Ezra still wasn't himself, he hadn't touched the poker table or conned anyone out of their money. He stayed in his room most of the day with his son. It seemed to get harder and harder to get up in the morning, and despite the attempts from his co-workers to lighten his sprits, it seemed that nothing was going to help the man.
He barely slept anymore due to nightmares, but this night would be different. He was in the middle of a field and he was with Kat. She told him to move on, to stop feeling sorry for himself. That she still loved him and always would. She also told him that their son needed him to get better and that the town also needed him. "I don't blame you for what happened to me, I don't blame anyone and I don't want you to either. Please Ezra, don't let this hate build up inside of you any longer, it's killing you. I do want to see you again, but not any time soon. You have our son to raise and I know that you will do a good job. I love you Ezra."
He awoke in the morning with a smile on his face. He looked over at Kyle who was looking back at him, "Come one buddy, let's go get breakfast. I'm sure Inez has cooked something worth eating." He got himself and Kyle ready and left the room.
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