Hell's Kitchen


Here is another one, hope you guys enjoy it....
one of those 'living in this time' stories.

Disclaimer: Still stands true, we all know that.

Rated:PG (some language)


It was hot!

The temperature had to be at least 110 degrees
Fahrenheit. He removed the leather strap that held
his canteen securely at his side, he took a hefty
drink of its contents. Cold waters that his wife had
filled his canteen with. He wiped his mouth with the
back of his hand.

Scanning the area, all he could see was land; acres
and acres of brown dry barren land that needed to be
tilled and plowed. 

Inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly, he knew he had a
lot of hard hot hours of work ahead of him. He would
have to be out here at the first rising of the sun,
and he would return home at the setting of the sun. A
smile crossed his face briefly as he thought about his
home. Knowing that she was there, baking or cleaning
or cooking, she worked just as hard as he did, there
were times when he thought she worked harder than he
did. He knew that he was doing all of this for her,
and she definitely was worth it.

Taking another drink, he then poured some of the
contents onto his face in order to cool down his hot

Shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun he looked
up towards the sky Will Riker removed his shirt and
wiped the sweat and water from his face and brow. As
he looked down at his now damp wadded up shirt, he
knew he would no doubt be scolded by his wife for
being out in the mid afternoon sun without any
protection from it’s merciless rays. The sound of her
words began to echo in his mind. "Be sure to wear
your shirt, William Riker. "Sunburned or not, I’m
going to give you a big hug." She had teased him.

He slung the damp shirt across the handle of the
wooden splintered V-shaped plow. 

"Yiyahhh" he commanded the horse with a swat of the
reigns as it began to slowly trudge forward. He
resumed the backbreaking labor of manually plowing
the fallow acres of land. 

Land that he had purchased with money he had earned by
doing the only thing he thought at one time in his
life he could or would ever do. 

Play poker. 


"Will we’re going to be late." Deanna softly reminded
him, as she attempted to herd her husband out the door
of their small log home. "It isn’t proper…."

"I know. I know." He cut her off. "It isn’t proper
to be late for church. We should always put our best
foot forward to show the proper respect towards the
Father." He repeated the sentence he had heard her
recite every Sunday for the last year and a half of
their marriage.

"William, I can’t believe you just said that." She
almost laughed.

"Well, you can’t say that I don’t listen to my wife." 
To her surprise he suddenly grabbed her crushing her
body next to his and kissed her. 

"Well, you really should be listening to the sermon
instead of me." She whispered into his lips, as she
attempted to gather her senses from his kiss.

"I’d be more than happy to listen to him if the
preacher kissed and looked as good as you." He
smiled, letting go of their embrace.

"You are a rogue." She teased as she tied the strings
of her bonnet under her chin.

"I love it when you talk to me like that." He stated
with a lopsided grin, and a raise of his eyebrows, as
he put his black cowboy hat on his head. "Shall we,
Mrs. Riker?" He asked, with a smile and an extended
elbow. She linked her arm with his. He was on his way
to hear a sermon. A sermon that he would most
definitely find a little bit too relaxing and
dragging, only to be awakened by his wife’s sudden jab
of her elbow into his still bruised from last Sunday
rib cage.

"Plowing without a shirt again, Will?" his wife asked
as he assisted her into the awaiting horse drawn

"What?" he asked hoisting himself up into the wooden
benched seat beside her? "Why would you ask that?"

"I don’t know. Women’s intuition?" Deanna stated
with a half smile, and a cock of her head.

"Why do I hate those words?" He said lowly, as he
slapped the reigns, signaling the horse onward.

"Some of the men in town are going. Sure you don’t
want to come along?" Thad asked as the two men stood
outside of the church steps after the service. 

Thad was in his early thirties, like Will, only
Thaddeus looked more like he was in his late fifties,
and hazel colored eyes that used to sparkle with
laughter and life, now were dull and sunken back into
his head. 

Thad had been a farmer since he was eighteen years
old. And the years of hard work had taken their toll
on his body, his mind, but mostly his physical

Thad had lost his wife almost ten years ago, when she
at the young age of eighteen had died in childbirth,
along with their newborn son.

In the present day and age that they lived in, after
all it was 1833 and a woman who spent more than
thirty-six hours in labor would most likely not
survive to speak of it, and Thad’s young wife had been
no exception to that rule.

His wife and son’s untimely death had stung Thad hard;
Will had learned to really like this young man, and
had spent many hours talking and drinking with him. 
Bonding their friendship the two stayed up into the
early hours of the morning and into the late hours of
the night, as Thad talked, drank whiskey, and cried on
Will’s shoulder relaying and remembering the story of
his wife’s death.

Thad confided in Will that he swore to himself on the
day of her funeral that he would never marry again. A
promise that Riker believed would never be taken
seriously, due to his age at the time of her death.
Thad’s promise had never faded, and he never got
married again.

The thought of what Thad had gone through all those
years ago, Will’s brain flashed towards his wife
Deanna. She was so beautiful, with black ebony eyes
and shiny black hair that hung in long elegant
ringlets, which seemed to glisten in the sun. She was
small framed, and a foot shorter than he was. All he
could do was pray that when she did become pregnant
and go into labor with their first child, that the
same fate wouldn’t befall on her.

"No thanks." Riker shook his head refusing his
friend’s offer to go on the poker rally. "I’ve got a
wife now, and a farm that needs a lot of work. Plus,"
he added with a mischievous sparkle to his brilliant
blue eyes, "Somebody’s gotta stay here and take care
of the women in town."

"You’re a married man." Thad laughed, "And if your
wife heard you talk like that, she’d surely skin you

"If my wife heard of you trying to talk me into going
to a professional poker game, she’d surely skin you
alive." Will shot back playfully.

"You miss it though sometimes don’t ya, Will? I mean
the card playing, and the gambling? Hell, this is the
longest you’ve ever stayed in one town…. How long
have you lived here now? A year…almost two? Don’t
you miss the carefree life of a gambler?"

Thad’s question made Riker look at him; at first he
didn’t know how to respond. "Yes. Yes I do." Will
finally answered truthfully, as if he were almost
ashamed of admitting it. 

"I knew it. And that’s why you need to go…." Thad
placed his hand on his friend’s shoulder, and offered
a friendly smile.

Riker couldn’t leave it there; he had to explain. 
"Thad, I quit playing poker for Deanna. It wasn’t a
sacrifice. It was my choice. I was totally willing
to quit cards for her. Hell it was what I wanted
above all else to do, and that was to make her happy. 
I had to give up the cards in order to do that, you
remember how much she hated gambling."

Thad simply nodded his head in silent agreement. 

"And, that is what it took for me to be with her and
what it took for her to finally agree to marry me. 
Thad, me being here makes her happy. Believe me, I’d
rather be here in this little town with Deanna,
plowing the fields and working the land, than in some
saloon playing cards. There is no comparison." He
meant every word that he had just said. William Riker
loved his wife with a burning passion, and with such a
fierceness the idea of not being with her ran through
him like a hot steel blade. 

Looking over he saw Deanna who was standing in front
of an elderly fat stooped over woman that was babbling
on and on non-stop. He recognized the woman, it was
Mrs. Peoples, and everyone in town was aware of the
fact that once she cornered you in a conversation
about her health and all of her ailments, there was no
escape, and no way to get in a word edgewise. 

Will picked up and noticed immediately his wife as she
glanced over at him. She smiled and glanced at him
sideways. It was her very polite and unsuspecting way
of telling him, "Please get me out of here." He
winked across the church lawn at her, confirming the
fact that he understood her silent plea to be rescued
from the agonizing one way conversation.

"Look I’ve gotta go, Thad." He stated with a friendly
pat on the man’s back.

"Think about it Will. You’ve got a whole month to
decide." Thad stated softly. Riker knew he was
talking about the poker game.

"I already have decided and my place is here." He
answered. "We’re having a fried chicken dinner at my
mother-in-law’s house." Will stated wanting to
quickly change the subject. "Hey, why don’t you join
us? You’re more than welcome."

"And put up with your mother in law’s constant tongue
wagging." Thad declined the invitation with wide
eyes. "No thank you." He laughed.

"Well, if your stomach decides otherwise, come on
over." Will smiled; he was already walking towards
his wife.

"Pardon me, ladies. I hate to interrupt two beautiful
women in the middle of a conversation. But," Will
stated in the most courteous manner he could muster
without displaying the smile that hid behind his eyes.
"I believe your mother is waiting for us." He
directed his statement towards his wife.

"Will." Deanna smiled, linking her arm with his. "We
are scheduled to have dinner at mother’s house aren’t
we?" Pretending she had forgotten the after church,
every Sunday for the last year and a half ritual.

"You can stay and chat with Mrs. Peeples for a while
longer, if you wish to. I’ll simply extend our
apologies to your mother and tell her we may be a
little tardy. I’m sure she will understand." Will
and Deanna both noticed how Mrs. Peeples’ eyes lit up
with pleasure at the idea of Deanna staying longer to
listen to her complaints about her aging body.

"No!" Deanna responded abruptly, almost in a panic. 
Her language immediately changed back to a slower gate
after realizing that she had almost barked the first
word. "No. It’s wonderful of you to offer William. 
I would love to stay and chat, but we shouldn’t be
late. I really need to help mother prepare the Sunday
dinner." She directed her next statement towards Mrs.
Peeples. "Perhaps some other time."

"If you’ll excuse us, then?" Riker stated with a
slight bow of his head as he touched the rim of his
hat towards the older stooped backed woman, who nodded
and smiled in return.

Walking arm in arm with his wife towards their buggy,
Riker couldn’t hide the grin that now spread across
his face. 

"William, if you ever do that to me again." His wife
smiled and nodded at the passing patrons of the church
who were approaching them as they passed by, hiding
the look of frustration on her face. "I’ll cook you
for…" She smiled and nodded at the passing, Mr., and
Mrs. Barrymore. "Sunday dinner." 


It was quiet in the house; the dim glow of the candle
was all that lit the small room. The singing sounds
of the night crickets echoed thoughout the small
"Will?" Deanna asked as she cradled her husband in
her arms. Her chin rested gently on the top of his
head. "What did Thad say to you today?"

"What?" came the soft muffled sleepy reply.

"What did Thad say to you today in front of the
church." She took her fingernail and ran it lightly
across his broad shoulders.

"Oh, not much, men talk." It was all he could think
of to say. He concentrated on how to get out of this
conversation all together.

She silently studied him for a moment before she spoke
again. "He asked you to go to the poker gathering,
didn’t he?"

Her question made him raise his head; he had a
surprised look upon his face. Wondering how she could
of known. Looking directly into her dark eyes, he
could only stumble over his reply. "What…Deanna…. He

"Don’t lie to me, Will." His wife cut him off her
voice sounded almost scolding.

Riker lowered his head and rested upon her chest
again, he embraced his wife tighter as if he was
getting ready to nestle in. She waited for him to
speak. He inhaled slowly. "He told me some of the
guys from town were going, and said I should come
along too."

"Are you going?" She asked expecting an answer.

"I’ve got you and the farm now, I don’t need to go." 
He stated softly.

"You need to go Will." She stated bluntly.

Riker snorted a quiet laugh; the whole idea of this
conversation was absurd and a waste of valuable
sleeping time to him.

"What do you find so amusing about this, Mr. Riker?" 
Darcy asked throwing his head off of her chest. She
was beginning to get angry. After all, how dare he
laugh at her, in the middle of what she considered a
very serious conversation.

"Damn it. Deanna." he sat straight up in bed now.

Deanna sat up straight and grabbed the blanket that
lay at the foot of the bed, and quickly covered up her
breast, tucking the blanket under each arm. He had
learned to read her body language and it was her way
of saying she was pretty pissed off at him now.

"Are you cold? I’ll go build a fire, let’s see…." He
jumped out of bed and immediately put on his shorts. 
"Burrrrrr…. It’s only a hundred degrees outside." He
stated sarcastically, not knowing what else to say. 
Wishing she had never brought this up.

"Will, just listen to me all right?" she spoke softly

He stood stiff as a thick silence passed between them.

"I don’t want you to end up like Thad." 

"What the hell does he have to do with this?" Riker
snapped cutting into her conversation.
"Let me finish." She stated quietly. "Please."

"By all means, please do so." He bowed at the waist
towards her. "You have my undivided attention."

"Thad is the same age as you are Will, and he looks
years older." Deanna began ignoring his flippant
gesture of bowing before her. She inhaled and
exhaled. "Thad has put a lot of hard years in his
farm and for what?"

"For what?" Riker asked through squinted eyes, trying
to comprehend her way of thinking. "It’s his way of
life Deanna, he’s doing it for a living. He’s doing
it for his…." His sentence stopped short, as the
memory of Thad’s family dying flashed through his
mind. In one quick moment everything in Thad’s world
had suddenly vanished.

"Family? Are you doing it for your family?"

"You know I am. It’s our land, Deanna. I’m doing it
for you."

"And our land is killing you, Will. I don’t want to
be a widow at an early age."

"A widow? Why Deanna? What’s going to happen to me? 
Am I going to be out in the field and is a huge bear
going to come along and gobble me up?" His saucy
attitude had once again reared its ugly head and she
knew it, he knew it.

"You’re a gambler; it’s in your blood. It’s what you
love to do. And you miss it, I know you do."

He knew she was right. He did miss it. He missed the
cards, he missed the competition, and he missed the
nervousness and the sweating as each man had to decide
who had the best deal as they held their cards. 
Perhaps it was in his blood. 

"Will, you’ve taken pride in this land, and in this
way of life, I realize that. But if anything were to
happen to me, you’d go back to gambling. You wouldn’t
stay here. The only reason you stay is because of me.
You were never meant to be a farmer."

"First you’re going to be a widow…. And now I am?" 

Ignoring yet another one of his witty remarks, she
continued with her petition. "Will, when you first
came to town, and when we first met, I refused to have
anything to do with gambling of any form. And you
gave that up for me, and I love you dearly for the
sacrifice that you’ve made. But, it hurts more to see
you slave all day, out in those fields. It’s causing
you to age faster than your years. I know that you
long to be back in that saloon, sipping whiskey and
putting on that poker…that poker…oh when you lie
through your teeth." She pounded her fist into the
bed angry with herself for not knowing the correct
word to say. Tears were beginning to form in her
eyes, as she desperately attempted to make her
petition valid, but not really knowing how to do it.

"Poker face?" he allowed a small grin to show. 
"Deanna." he quietly whispered as he began to walk
towards her. "Deanna." He repeated again.

"Don’t Deanna me!" she snapped, Will jumped as if he
had been shot at the surprising change of her voice. 
"I want you to go." She demanded never wavering. 
"And another thing…" he knew he was in trouble, when
she said those three words. But, not this time, he
had to stop this. And he had to stop this now. 

Was she going to force him to leave? Was she going to
leave him? What in the hell was she trying to do? 
All of these thoughts ran through his head in an
instant, and then he exploded in anger. "I don’t
believe this!" He almost yelled as he threw his hands
up in the air. "Before we were married we fought over
me wanting to go to the gambling tables and now after
we get married we fight because I don’t want to go to
the damn gambling tables." He fixed his angry gaze
upon her his jaw was set. "If you think I’m going to
leave you alone on this farm. Or alone at all for
that matter. You’ve got one hell of a lesson to
learn. I’m not going anywhere unless you shoot me and
carry me out in a coffin. And you damn well need to
understand that, now!" His anger was in full force,
he picked up the pillow lying on the bed and flung it
against the wall.

She quickly glanced at the pillow that lay across
the room before returning her gaze back in his
direction. "William you’re a lout!" she huffed.

"Is that your women’s intuition again?" he mocked.

She jumped out of bed and stomped into the other room
dragging the blanket that was wrapped around her. 
"Who said anything about you going by yourself? I’d
go with you." She threw her hair over her shoulder
and walked though the doorway of the bedroom. "I’m
sleeping in here tonight." She yelled from the living
room. "For the rest of my life!" 

"Shit!" He walked over and picked the pillow up off
of the floor and threw it back on the bed.

She suddenly appeared in the doorway again, Gods he
hated the fact that she was one of those last word
monsters. If he said anything she would have to
respond. "You sleep out there, this is my bed!" She
demanded, as she stomped across the room and climbed
back into the bed. She pulled the blanket up around
her chin, and jerked her body around lying with her
back towards him.

He studied her for a moment, as she lay there with her
back to him. The sight of her made his brain flash
that maybe she was ready to go with him, maybe that is
what she had wanted to say; he looked at her through
widened expecting eyes as his anger began to subside. 
His voice transformed instantly, "Will you go with me?
You’d really go with me?" he asked.

"William." She answered politely. "If I answer you
are you going to rudely interrupt me again with
another one of your witty remarks?" She spoke to the
opposite wall, never turning around to face him.

He didn’t answer at first. He simply just stood
there. He felt like a total jerk now. She had a way
of making him realize this simple fact, although he
was too young and too proud to verbally admit it to

"All right," she said softly. She breathed in deeply
and exhaled as she composed herself to properly answer
him, she sat up in bed slightly and turned towards
him. "I wouldn’t go to a pig rally with you right
She turned back around, and with a quick puff of air,
blew out the small candle that sat on the table at her
side of the bed.

He heard her wish him a polite ‘goodnight’ as he
stood there in the pitch black bedroom.


The next morning, Will put his hands around Deanna’s
waist and helped her into the backboard wagon, he
handed her the reigns. "I’m going to the Dry Goods
store, to pick up a few things." She stated
straightening her dress. "And then over to visit
mother, she told me yesterday she wanted to speak to
me about something."

"Why didn’t she tell you yesterday?" Will asked

"You know mother; she would use any excuse to talk
with me. I’ll only be gone for a couple of hours. Do
you think you could occupy yourself that long?" 
Deanna gave him a smile. She was still slightly angry
with him, and he refused to discuss the argument they
had had the night before. 

"Will you miss me while you’re gone?" He asked.

"Not at all." she laughed. She noticed how his blue
eyes brightened at the sound of her laughter.

"Will you miss me?" He asked again, only this time he
stood on the wooden step of the wagon and whispered
into her ear, and then gave her a soft lingering kiss
on the lips. He then placed the moneybag in her
hand. "I’ll miss you." 

He watched her until the wagon was out of sight. He
turned and headed towards the barn, to do some

~ ***~

"Decorate this." Deanna stated dryly, throwing the
oil lamp onto the floor of the kerosene drenched house
shattering its contents as flames began to spread
across the room.

She turned around calmly and walked through the front
door onto the porch. The doorway of a home that used
to be hers, it used to be theirs. She slowly
descended down the three wooden steps out into the
front yard; spanning her eyes across the land that had
once belonged to the two of them. 

Land that her husband had worked hard to till and to
farm. Land now that belonged to Mr. Smith and his
very conceited wife, they had sold it to them just two
days ago. 

Deanna didn’t really care for the Smith’s but it was
good money and they offered the Riker’s twice the
amount that he had actually paid for it. She heard
Mrs. Smith talk about how she would have to remodel
the whole house. "Mrs. Riker is definitely a
beautiful woman." Deanna overheard the conversation
Mrs. Smith was having with her personal house cleaner.
"She really has horrid taste in decorating. I’ll
have to simply remodel everything." 

Word for word Deanna remembered Mrs. Smith’s snobby
remarks to her house cleaner in the other room, as she
and her husband were signing over the deed papers.

"Deanna!" She heard Will’s frantic call of her name;
she jumped at the terrified sound his voice instilled
within her. She looked over and noticed he was
running full speed towards her.

"What in the hell are you doing?" He asked urgently
as he quickly glanced at the now burning house,
secretly thankful that Deanna wasn’t harmed.
"I call it interior decorating. Do you like it?" 
Deanna asked proudly with both hands on her hips.

"What?" Will sounded shocked. "Have you lost your
mind?" He grabbed Deanna by the shoulders and looked
her squarely in the eye. "You can’t just burn it

"Like hell I can’t." she stated with determination. 
Those words shocked her husband more than burning down
the house did. She noticed as his eyes widened in
disbelief. She had never spoken one swear word in the
whole time that they had been together. "I’m the wife
of a gambler now, I can talk like that can’t I?" she
asked, waiting for his approval.

He didn’t give it. Actually he never answered; he
just stared blankly at her.

Pulling herself away from her husband’s grasp, Deanna
calmly placed her cowboy hat on her head and pulled
the drawstring securing it around her chin. And then
she began to unhitch her horse from the post.

"Where are you going?" Will asked.

Adjusting her saddle packs, Deanna hoisted herself
onto the back of her horse, turning the proud animal
around with the reigns. "To play some poker." She
stated dryly. After a sudden kick on the horses
flanks with her books. Deanna Riker took off at a
full gallop.

"Not without me." He grinned in playful retaliation,
quickly mounting himself onto his horse. "Yeeehaaa"
he commanded taking off in a ride at full speed down
the dirt pathway quickly catching up with his wife.


Five days later when Will and Deanna strolled into
town it was nearly dark; Will gave a quick nod to the
young lad who was lighting the oil lamps that hung
from the poles on every corner of the town.

His lips were dry and she was hungry and both were in
need of a bath. After spending five days with nothing
but beef jerky, a campfire, and a horse, that in
itself could take its toll on a person’s hygiene.

He slowly descended from his horse tying its reigns at
the post in front of the saloon. "I’ll be right back.
Stay here." He instructed his wife, who complied with
a nod of her head.

Entering the half double swinging doors he walked up
to the bar.

"Whiskey." He stated pulling out a coin from his
pocket placing it on the bar.

With his elbow on the bar he scanned the room with his
eyes. The music from the piano was blaring with a
happy tune, as the sweet painted lady with red plumes
on her dress sat on an older man’s lap, laughing at
what Thomas thought were probably stale jokes and
pretending not to be offended by his corn whiskey
breath. The more money the man laid on the table the
louder the woman laughed, shoving her huge bosom into
the man’s face.

"You’re new to town." The bartender asked as he wiped
off the bar with his towel.

"Here for the poker games." Will answered as he took
a full shot of his whiskey; it burned, but it was a
good burn. The slow burning liquid that descended
down his throat reminded him of his days when he would
spend endless hours inside a saloon just like this one
and gamble while some saloon whore would patronize him
and laugh at his rude jokes.

He hadn’t had a good shot of whiskey; let alone step
inside a saloon, since he had decided to give up his
card playing, get married and settle down.

"They start in three days." The slim bartender
replied. He was about as tall as Will and had about
six black hairs that covered the top of his head. His
mustache was long and had swirled tips on the ends. 

"Know where a man can get a hot bath, and a decent
meal?" he asked the thin, skinny bartender.

"Across the street." The bartender nodded, "At the
Hotel. Cost ya a quarter a tub though."

"Thanks." Will nodded towards the man, he finished his
drink and walked out of the saloon.

"We’d like a room, with a bath." Will told the hotel
clerk behind the counter. 

"Are you his wife?" the hotel manager asked with a sly
grin, directing his question towards Deanna as he eyed
her up and down. The hotel keeper was a short fat
little man whose voice sounded like he had a cold.

"Yes, she is." Will quickly answered knowing and not
appreciating what the man was implying.

"Sign here please." He handed the black leather bound
registration book to Will. Will signed and the man
quickly twirled the book on the counter in order for
him to read it. "Mr. and Mrs. Riker…. Ahhhh yes." 
He stated in a snorkeled voice not really believing
the two were married.

A young, vivacious red haired prostitute walked
through the lobby. Riker recognized her; most of her
men called her Windy. Her real name was Charlotte,
and she was from Chicago. He used to be a regular of
hers, more than he would like to admit she had
provided him with a night of entertainment and
companionship. She definitely was a beautiful woman;
she had just picked the wrong profession for his
liking. She noticed him immediately and targeted him
with a seductive gaze as she slithered across the
floor in his direction.

"Well, aren’t you a sight for sore eyes." She kissed
him on the cheek.

"Yeah?" he answered nervously. Deanna had noticed her

"Have you come to visit me again?" She placed her
fingers against his cheek; "I remember how you like
to…. Oh yes, I can’t forget you." and then she
pressed her body up against his and whispered
something, when she was done whispering, she licked
his ear.

"Pardon me?" Deanna quickly cut in, holding a tinge
of jealousy to her voice. 

"Sorry Windy." Will glanced over at Deanna with a
lopsided grin, after all he hadn’t seen the jealous
side of his wife in along time, and he thought she
looked kind of cute this way, "I’m afraid my wife
wouldn’t understand."

"Your wife?" a look of confusion and shock suddenly
spread across the red haired prostitutes face. "You
mean…you mean… you’re married?" she stammered behind
her ruby red lips.

"He is." Deanna stepped in and quickly answered. 
"Although I’m not sure for how long. By the way, are
you hiring?"

"Deanna." Will quickly cut her off.

"Just wondering." She replied with a twitch of her

"Come on." He grabbed his wife’s hand and headed up
the spiral staircase to their hotel room. 

"We’ll discuss employment options later." Deanna
called out to the prostitute, who was left standing
with a confused look upon her face.

Once inside the room Will remove his hat and flung it
onto the bed. He turned and gave his wife a look of
disapproval. "Do you have any idea of what she does
for a living?"

"Of course, I know what she her occupation is, and
apparently so do you.

"Deanna, why in the hell did you ask her if they were
hiring. There’s no way, I’d ever allow you to…."

"Got your attention didn’t it?" she cut him off. Her
voice remained calm, she stood there and looked at him
sideways, and then a smile spread across her face.

He stood and stared at her through squinted eyes, and
then a smile appeared. "You’re something else, you
know that?"

The sounds of gunshots halted their talking, as both
of their heads snapped towards the sound of horses
hoofs and guns.
Men on horses all galloped through the dusty streets
of the city, shooting guns in the air and cheering as
they shouted, ‘yip-peas’ and yih-yah’s. Will’s first
thought was that it definitely had to be payday for
some of the hired hands that worked the nearby

They would often come into town, after spending month
after month in wide-open spaces of the cattle drives. 
Their pockets would be full of several months’ wages,
and their hormones would be raging. And they would
more than likely spend their earnings in the saloons
on whiskey and women. They were rowdy, but they were
in the most part harmless. Two days later they would
all go back to the ranch, broke and most definitely
hung-over…but they always had a smile on their face.

They both watched as the rowdy men dismounted off of
their horses across the street, in front of the local

"Looks like Windy’s going to be busy tonight." Will
observed, as he watched through the dusty window.

"Disappointed? Would you be mollified if we never had
been married?" 

"What? No. No…not at all." He suddenly turned
around, "Why would you even say such a thing?"

"I don’t know. I need to take a long, long bath to
clear my thoughts…. I suppose I’m just tired." She
apologized, wishing now she hadn’t said anything.
Taking a deep breath she asked. "When do you have to
register for the poker rally?"

"Tomorrow. Go take your bath."

Will returned to the window and stared blankly through
the dirty panes, he longed for the life again of a
carefree gambler. No obligations, no one to worry
about, no one except himself. He stared down at the
gold band on his finger, and absentmindedly twisted it
around. The thoughts flashed through his mind of how
much it would be worth at a poker game…. What five,
ten, twenty dollars, maybe fifty? Enough to keep him
sitting at the table for awhile that’s for sure. Then
his mind shifted towards Windy and the thoughts made
him smile. He remembered all of the nights with
Windy, before he met Deanna, before he got married,
before he became tied down. He suddenly remembered
all of them; all of the Windy’s…. and for some weird
reason he began to miss them. He missed what they
stood for and what they represented in his past life a
carefree, totally independent, and the devil may care
bachelor. The sound of his wife’s voice as she called
his name snapped him into the present. He shook his
head as if to shake the memories of long ago away, "Be
right there." He called as he closed the window
curtains, closing out the life he once knew.


"I’ll be over at the dressmakers." Deanna stated as
she stood in front of the saloon, "you go register and
then join me, all right?"

"Okay." He said with a smile, "But, do I have to go
to the dress-shop?" he hated listening to those hen
sessions they had in those kind of places, over which
color, or which style, how much lace or the size of
the bust…. Wasn’t a place for a man he thought.

"Well, I can join you in there." Deanna said nodding
towards the saloon.

"No. No…" he stated holding up his hands in surrender
and a smile. Knowing that in 1833 a saloon wasn’t the
place for a woman, at least not a proper one. "I’ll
meet you over there."

Deanna reached up and gave him a quick kiss on the
cheek. "Riker?" 


"Thirty minutes, no longer. Or." Deanna then took
her index finger and quickly dragged it across her
throat emitting an unquestionable gesture. "Like a
chicken for Sunday dinner."

Will walked into the saloon. He stood behind four or
five other men all registering for the poker rally. 
Each man would lay down a leather pouch full of money
and sign their name. 

"Next." The man called. Will stepped up to the table,
the poker guard glanced up at the powerfully built man
for only a second. "Sign here, if you can’t write you
name put an X and I’ll witness it." He stated as he
pushed the book forward.

"That’ll be fifty dollars." Will handed him the
money, the man continued speaking as if he had been
through this thousands of times as he recounted the
money. Without feeling he recited the same speech to
each patron that stepped forward. "Games start at
eight p.m. No guns. No weapons. Cheaters will be
thrown out of the games and all of their winnings
forfeited to go into the pot. First prize is five
thousand dollars. Any questions?"


"Thank you and good luck. Next!" the man looked past
Riker as if he wasn’t there and the next man stepped

"Will? Pssssssssst. Hey Will?" he heard the female
voice from across the bar. Looking over he noticed
Rainy she was beckoning him to come over with a
crooked finger. He smiled in acknowledgement and
walked over to the red haired prostitute.

"I heard that the Callowhan boys were registering for
the poker rally." She whispered softly so no one
could overhear their conversation.


"Will, they…." She looked to the left and then to the
right before she continued with her huge secret. 
"They’ve been known to beat up all of the serious
competition and make them withdraw from the games."

"So?" he repeated nonchalantly. Not really knowing or
caring where she was going with this all he wanted to
do was get rid of Windy, and get back to Deanna.

"Just be careful." She warned.

"I’ll do that. Thanks Windy." He gave her a quick
squeeze of her arm and left the saloon prostitute

Windy stood idle and watched Will leave the saloon,
then her eye caught the sight of a young gambler and
she moved on, business as usual.


Walking out of the saloon, Will scanned up and down
the dusty streets of the town. It was hot, and the
flies were buzzing around the tied up horses as the
animals tried to swat the annoying insects with their
tails. Wiping the sweat off of his brow with the
handkerchief he had stuck in his pocket, he headed for
the dress shop.

Deanna was just coming out of the shop when Will
arrived. She was dressed in a dress, a beautiful
dress. She looked lovely, Will marveled at the fact
that he had forgotten what she looked like in a real
dress, no longer was she wearing the handmade fabric
piece dresses that she had made herself. Will noticed
how all of the men in town turned their heads towards
the young dark eyed beauty that was standing in front
of the dress shop.

"Do you like?" she asked, knowing by the expression on
his face that he did.

"Yeah. I like." He smiled. He extended his elbow for
her to take it as he escorted her across the street. 
"And by the looks of it, so do all of the other men in

"Did you register?" she asked as she walked arm and
arm with her husband. Will noticed how the men who
walked past her would tip their hats and gawk as she
gracefully walked past them. 

"Yeah." He answered not really sure if he was enjoying
all of this attention his wife was receiving from the
men in the town. He was certain that there wasn’t a
man, that wouldn’t gladly jump at the chance to be the
one who’s arm she was linked with. "Deanna?"

"Yes, Will." Deanna responded a little too nicely as
she bowed her head slightly and smiled at the oncoming

"Let’s go back to the hotel room, all right?" he
suggested really feeling uneasy now.

"Whatever for, Will?" Deanna laughed. 

"Ma’am?" a man called from behind. Deanna turned her
head towards the voice. "You dropped this Miss." The
man said handing her a very lacy handkerchief and
displaying a big over friendly smile.

"Why thank you, Sir." Deanna smiled taking the cloth.

"Callowhan, Samuel Callowhan." The man said as he
tipped his hat in a courteous manner towards her. The
man was tall and thin, dark hair and dark eyes. He
was dressed in a man’s most fashionable manner,
displaying the fact that he was well to do…. Very
well to do. Will recognized the name and Windy’s
warning rang soundly in his mind.

"Why thank you Mr. Callowhan." Deanna nodded and
smiled, handing him back the small piece of material. 
"But, I’m afraid it isn’t mine. I happen to have mine
right here." She held up her dainty bag slightly.

"If you’ll excuse us then?" Will stated just as
courteous as the gentleman standing before his wife,
not willing to give into the surge of jealousy that
was rising within him. He knew for a fact that his
wife never held her handkerchief in her hand while
strolling. The man had made it up as an excuse to
introduce himself to Deanna.

"Yes, yes…" The man quickly whipped his head towards
Will as if he had just noticed him standing there. 
"Please forgive me. I thought perchance that it might
have belonged to the lovely lady."

Linking her arm with her husband’s again, Will and
Deanna proceeded towards the hotel. "Deanna." Will
stated as he quickened his pace, "We’re going back to
the hotel room now."


Walking down the spiral staircase Will and Deanna
entered the hotel lobby.

"Tomorrow is the day." the nasal little man behind the
counter announced proudly to the couple.

"Yes, it is." Will answered pretending he knew just
what in the hell this little weasel was talking about.

"High noon. Yes, that’s when it’ll be." the man
declared as if he was announcing his wedding day. 
"Everyone from around these parts are coming. The
women are selling pie slices and fresh lemonade. 
They’ll be balloons and clowns for the younger people.
I reckon the hotel will be full up by tonight."

Now Riker was really lost, he looked at the little
man. "Big affair, huh?" was all he could think of to

"A hangin’ always is." The man stated almost proudly. 
"Not for the guest of honor though." He snorted a
laugh, behind his nasally voice.

Deanna’s head snapped at the man’s words, "A hanging?"
She quietly whispered.

"Yes. It’s a big thing around here." He answered
directing his statement towards Deanna. "Hanging a
man by the name of Myers, Virgil Myers; I believe
that’s what they said his name was. Yes, it was
Myers, been found guilty of murder. Shot and killed
two men in Wyoming." 

Deanna stood there speechless, as all of the blood
drained from her face. The thoughts of having a
celebration due to someone’s death made her stomach
churn. There was no way she could witness such an act
or comprehend it. She slowly closed her eyes and
inhaled. Will noticed how his wife’s face turned an
ashen color, he cupped his hand around her elbow and
politely excused the two of them from the presence of
the nasal voiced clerk. 

"Deanna you need to eat." Will instructed, knowing
full well that she wouldn’t. His wife sat there
dissecting the food with her fork.

"I can’t." she exhaled as she sat back in her chair. 
"Will, the thoughts of that poor man and his death
being on display like that…. Well, it’s just…. It
just seems so barbaric." She tossed the eating
utensil down on the plate.

Riker had no idea of what to say or how to answer. 
After all, these were the times they lived in and in
most areas a hanging was a big deal, although the
community in which he and Deanna had lived in; it
wasn’t really classified as a hanging town. 

"I’m not feeling well." She finally stated after a
long awkward moment of silence. She dabbed her mouth
with her napkin and began to stand.

Riker stood. "Yeah, you go lay down. And I’ll check
in on you later, there’s some things I need to take
care of."

Deanna stood there for a moment not really knowing
what sort of things he could possibly want to take
care of, although she didn’t really care at the
moment. All she wanted to do was rid herself of the
thoughts of a man being hanged and a crowd of people
cheering and gathering around treating it as if it
were some carnival. She simply nodded, "All right."
She answered as she walked away from the table.

"Miss?" a young man called as she walked down the
boarded sidewalks of the town.

Deanna turned and there stood Mr. Callowhan. "Mr.
Callowhan." Deanna greeted him with a slight smile;
he in return tipped his hat towards her.

"Are you all right?" he asked with a concern to his
voice. "I noticed you came out of the café rather

Taken off guard by this young man’s concern and proud
stance, "It’s just tomorrow’s hanging, I’ve never
witnessed such a thing. It has me just slightly
upset, I suppose." She answered truthfully. "I’ll be
all right."

He closed in on her, standing directly in front of her
now. "Are you sure? Shall I escort you home?"

"I’m staying at the hotel. My husband is a contestant
in the poker games." Glad that she could now introduce
the fact that she was married.

"Your husband?" he was the one now taken aback. "That
man you were walking with yesterday, then he was your

"Yes. That was my husband." She answered politely.

"Well, that certainly puts me in my place." He
smiled. "Yet still as a gentleman, and even so, I
would be more than honored to escort you to your hotel
then," he said with a smile and a nod as he extended
his arm towards her. "Mrs.…."

"Riker. Deanna Riker." She smiled in return as she
linked her arm into his.

"To the hotel, Mrs. Riker?" he began to walk forward. 
"I’m a contestant in the poker games also." He offered
as they walked.

"I thought that perhaps you were. And by the way you are
dressed would I be saying too much by adding that you
appear to be quite successful at the game?"

"I’ve won a few times, yes."

"A few?" she stopped and looked up at him. "Now Mr.

"All right. Maybe more than a few. And please call
me Sam." He laughed. "And by the way you are dressed
your husband appears to be a worthy opponent."

"He has won a few, in the past. This is the first
time he has actually played in quite some time."

"Really? Has he come out of retirement?"

"I suppose you could say that."

"And his name would be? I like to know who is sitting
across the table from me."

"Will. Will Riker."

"Riker?" the man pondered on the name for awhile. 
"Ah, yes…. William T. Riker. I’ve heard stories
about him."

"Stories? What type of stories?" Deanna stopped
walking and looked at the man. Not really sure of
what kind of tales were known about her husband.

"Oh nothing negative I assure you." He smiled as he
proceeded to herd her forward again. "He’s known for
his famous poker face, it’s very difficult to tell
whether the man is bluffing or not. Your husband has
a reputation for being what we gamblers call… An

"I see." Deanna answered not really comprehending
what the man was actually referring to, she proceed to
walk forward. 

The two walked the rest of the way in silence as
Deanna concentrated on the fact that her husband had a
reputation as an ace. And Samuel Callowhan
concentrated on the fact that Riker had now become a
major competitor in the games, a thought he didn’t
really care for. 

"Well, we are here." She exhaled as she stood outside
of the hotel doorway. "Thank you."

"You are quite welcome…. And it was an…." 

His words were cut short as the sounds of horses came
into town. It was a posse of men who all looked like
Marshall’s and Lawmen. All escorting a man in a flat
bed wagon, the man was inside a steel cage. Deanna
thought at first that poor man, then with a closer
look, she had come to the conclusion that this was the
man to be hanged at noon tomorrow. She gasped in
horror at the sight of the man that was held prisoner.
"Oh my gods. It can’t be…." She muttered, throwing
her gloved hand over her mouth in shock. She had
recognized him, she knew him they had been close at
one time. It couldn’t be… her mind screamed. There’s
been a mistake! There must be some sort of mistake! 
This man couldn’t murder anyone. All the blood rushed
from her face, and she began to feel light headed and
then the dizziness soon followed; she started to sway.

Sam Callowhan quickly noticed and grabbed her
preventing her from falling. "Are you all right?" he

Shaking the dizziness away and attempting to focus,
she replied softly. "Yes, it must be the heat." She
lied. Her brain was still in a whirl, it was in
shock. She stiffly stared at the mobile cage as it
headed towards the jail. Her head suddenly snapped
towards Callowhan, her eyes wild. "Please, I’ve got
to go." She cried as if she was being held against
her will.

He gently released her and she ran inside the
building, never stopping or ever looking back.

When Deanna reached her hotel room, she collapsed onto
the bed in uncontrollable sobs. 


"Deanna?" the voice of her husband followed by a knock
on the door woke her up. Quickly wiping the tears
with her hand and fluffing her hair, "Just a minute."
She called out. She straightened the wrinkles from
her dress and headed towards the door.

Opening the door, there stood Will. He was bright
eyed and very cheerful looking. "Hi." He said
merrily as he walked around her, entering into the

"Hi yourself." She answered attempting to smile,
hoping he wouldn’t notice that she had been crying.

Will walked over and swooped her up in his arms and
twirled her around, she couldn’t help but giggle as
she held onto his broad shoulders. He sat her gently
down on her feet. "You’re certainly in a chipper
mood." She smiled.

"Yep." He said, quickly giving her a kiss on the lips
and then diving headfirst on top of the bed.

She watched as the bed bounced and then he quickly
rolled over onto his back placing both hands behind
his head. She stood and looked at him in amusement. 
He took the palm of his hand and patted the side of
the bed in an unquestionable gesture for her to join
him, she looked at his hand, and then at him. He
simply gave her a lopsided grin and a raise of the

"Oh my gods, Riker." She exclaimed, standing at the
foot of the bed. "It’s in the middle of the

"So?" he stated with a twisted smile, he still had
that dumb look his face.

Deanna studied him for a moment and then the same dumb
looking grin Riker had, soon found itself plastered
across her face. She shrugged her shoulders playfully
and dove onto the bed beside him.

She had concentrated all afternoon on how to tell him
the identity of the man whom the town was actually
hanging tomorrow at noon, but came up with no easy
answer. She totally engulfed herself into her
husband, and into their lovemaking. She wanted to
remember this time; she had to remember this time. 
She forcefully unpolluted her mind of the ever
constant thoughts that this would no doubt be the last
time she and Will Riker would ever be together as
husband and wife. 
Or together at all.


But what if…. He…You know how big he is. I don’t
like the sound of this one, Sam."

Samuel Callowhan reassured his younger bother. "I’ve
got all of that figured out. Tomorrow at the hanging
way before the game starts. That’s when we get him. 
There will be too many people in town for any of them
to notice his absence. He’ll be just like the

"He’s not like the others, Sam." The younger brother
stated with a silent warning to his voice.

"Sure he is." Samuel Callowhan laughed off his
brothers attitude.

"Bull shit. This is a Riker. Will Riker… I’ve
heard, he’s a mean son of a bitch when you get him
riled." The younger brother protested.

"He’s also married now, and that has a way of
mellowing a man."

"Or pissing him off that much more, when you mess with
his woman." The younger man replied with a roll of
his eyes, not understanding why his older brother
wouldn’t take heed to his warning.

"Shut your mouth!" Callowhan ordered. Tired of his
younger brother who was contradicting everything he

The younger brothers’ mouth immediately closed. 

"So what do we do now?" the other brother asked,
picking up the slack and easing the tension between
the two bickering brothers.

"We wait." Callowhan stated with an evil growl into
his whiskey glass. "We wait." He repeated.

And that is just what they did all three of them, like
a spider waiting for a fly.


The next day Deanna awoke to the sounds and clamoring
of people as they gathered around the towns streets. 
She slowly rose out of bed and opened the window
curtain, just as the desk clerk had stated the town
was beginning to fill with people of all sorts,
shapes, and ages. The young and the old had come to
witness the main event, the hanging of a man that she
had known. A man that she had grown to love and
respect over the years.
"How could you do this to me?" She stated, realizing
that her thoughts had become spoken out in to the
silent room.

She looked over at the bed where Will lay. He was
still asleep and hadn’t heard her. She sighed a sigh
of relief. Knowing that if he were to wake up now,
there would be no way he would allow her to leave, and
she would be forced to tell him the truth. 

Her husband was a good man, a good provider,
protective, strong and yet so gentle, and kind…. And
she couldn’t have asked for a better lover, he
definitely was a good lover. 

But when it came to her even remotely thinking of
leaving him, he would simply go berserk… She smiled
to herself at the thought of their first big fight. 
She had threatened to move back in with her mother,
and Will became so angry that he took a club and broke
three window’s out of their house. It was the
angriest she had ever seen him…she realized now that
the anger was Will’s way of showing fear, a fear of
losing her. 

After spending a week’s earnings on replacing the
broken windows he learned rather quickly to control
his temper. She smiled at the thought of how they
could now laugh at that time in their life. She knew
that when he was older, less bull headed, and more
secure in their relationship he wouldn’t react in such
a way. He told her teasingly that all the Riker men
acted that way towards the women they loved. 

Quickly and quietly she began getting dressed. 

She had to speak to this doomed man one last time. 
She had to set things straight. She opened the door
as carefully as she could as not to make too much

She took one last glance at the man who lay in a
peaceful slumber on the bed, she wanted to kiss him to
tell him goodbye, but she couldn’t. She wanted to
wish him good luck in the poker rally, but she
couldn’t. "Gods." She thought biting her bottom lip.
Deanna inhaled and exhaled as if doing that would
bring up all the strength she needed to leave this

"I’m so sorry." She whispered, fighting back the lump
that was now forming in her throat. She slowly shut
the door, with bag in hand she headed for the jail. 
And then to the stagecoach on her way back home. 

Deanna half ran half walked down the boarded sidewalks
towards the stage coach station, her fears had been
confirmed, the man scheduled to be hung at noon was in
fact, who she had thought it was. But he was
different, he was cold and his heart had become
callused. His eyes were that of a murderer. She
cried openly out of anger at him and the way he simply
just blew her off as if none of it mattered. But
mostly out of anger at herself. How could she have
been so blind, so stupid? She trusted this man; she
had confined in this man. And everything he had done,
had been to her was a lie. 

All of it was a lie.

Her whole life with Will had been a lie. 

Behind the tears and her own thoughts, she never saw
the man who was hurriedly running after her, until he
grabbed her by the arm and swung her around to him.

"Where in the hell…." He began, suddenly he noticed
that she had been crying and his anger instantly
melted. "What’s wrong?" he asked.

"Will!" Deanna eyes widened, totally surprised by his
sudden appearance.

Will immediately noticed the bag she was carrying and
his eyes began to glare angrily "What in the hell are
you doing?" he asked looking down at the bag and then
his steady gaze became focused on her.

"I didn’t want to stay here and witness the hanging." 
It was all she could come up with, it was fast
thinking on her part. She couldn’t tell him the whole
truth, yet. Not like this. She stood silently
praying that he would believe her half-truth and drop
it at that. 

"Does it really bother you that much?" he asked, his
voice taking a softer tone almost a whisper. "This
really upsets you, doesn’t it?"

She nodded her head, still unable to control the tears
that were cascading down her face.

"Oh Deanna." Will said as he pulled her towards him
in an embrace, crushing her body next to his. "It’s
all right…shhhh." He held her and gave her words of
comfort; the more he comforted her. The more she
wept, for a number of reasons. Part of her weeping
was due to the relief that he had believed her words,
and another part of her weeping was because she knew
in her heart that it was over between them. Yet
another part wept because he had stopped her, and she
was too much of a coward to tell him the truth. 

A truth he deserved to know.

"Hey." He said lovingly, gently pushing her away from
him. He began to wipe away the tears from her face
with his thumb. "How about the two of us taking a
ride outside of town, maybe go on a picnic…you like
picnics I know…at least until the…" He was suddenly at
a loss for words. Did he call it a celebration? A
party? …. An execution? What in the hell do I say,
he thought…. Wanting to choose the right words, so
she wouldn’t break out in tears again. "Until the
judgement is over, okay?"

She nodded and laughed slightly knowing he verbally
stumbling and was at a loss for words on how to
comfort her.

He gently lifted her head with his hand and gave her a
gentle kiss; he then took the suitcase from her hand
offering to carry it. Still cradling his wife in his
arms they headed back to the hotel room to gather up a
few things.

They spent most of the day out in the outer rural
areas of the town. After finding a nice shady spot by
a cool stream, they decided to have a picnic.

"Sure is hot." Will said as he stretched out on the
picnic blanket, swatting the annoying flying insects
from his face. 

"Yes, it is." Deanna replied never looking at her
husband as she began to return the supplies back into
the picnic basket, to protect it from annoying

"Hey." She heard his quiet whisper. Her eyes widened
in shock, sitting before her was her husband and he
was beginning to remove his clothing…First his vest
and then his boots. "Want to go for a swim?" he asked
as he struggled with removing his boots.


"Why not? It’s hot out here, Deanna." He tossed the
second boot to the side, stood to his feet, and began
to take off his shirt; he tossed it to the side.

"William! Don’t do that." Deanna exclaimed mortified
that this man was actually planning on going butt
naked out in the middle of nowhere, and the gods only
know who could be watching.

"Do what Deanna?" he asked with a lopsided smile. 
Knowing full well what she was talking about, yet he
continued to undress ripping his belt from the loops
he tossed it to the side.

"Don’t you dare undress in front of me, Mr. Riker." 
She sounded horrified at the idea.

He looked at her for a minute with his head to the
side, as if she had just lost her mind. He’d
undressed in front of her many times, and hell after
all they were married. He decided to shrug it off and
blame it on the hot weather being the reason for her
sudden grumpiness. "Suit yourself." He ran towards
the water and dived in with his pants on…the next
thing Deanna felt was a pair of soaking wet jeans as
they landed on her lap.

She looked out into the water and began to scream an
angry remark. Her voice and anger was instantly
vanished when she saw Will’s white bare bottom shining
in the sun, right before it submerged in the cool
water. She shook her head and had to silently laugh
at herself as she hung the pair of wet jeans on a tree
limb to drip dry.

"I still don’t know why you wouldn’t go swimming with
me." Will said as he helped his wife off of the
horse. "All you did was wade in the water."

"It just didn’t seem right." She explained. "I mean
you being totally naked."

"In the water or in the bedroom Deanna doesn’t matter
to me." He smiled; grabbing her by the waist he
quickly pulled her close to him, "Just as long as you
get to see my surplus." 

"Will." She pushed him away from her. "I can’t
believe you just said that." She whispered urgently,
hoping that the man in the stables hadn’t heard him.

"He’s not here, Deanna. The stable keeper leaves at
six. Plus, I am a gambler now…. And I can talk that
way, right?" he asked as he pulled her close to his
body once again, repeating almost the same question
she had asked before they left their home.

"You are horrid." She laughed. "Thank you, for
taking me away from here this afternoon." 

"Anything for my wife." He said lowering his head
down, getting ready to kiss her.

Deanna suddenly pulled away from him; "You need to
tie up the horses." She quickly pushed herself away
from him avoiding his kiss. " And I’m going to go get
your clothes ready for the poker rally."

Riker watched as Deanna walked back towards the hotel.
Puzzled by her actions, he then turned and focused
his attention on the horses. He began to remove the
saddles, when suddenly two strong hands grabbed him
from behind. He felt as if he had been knocked in the
mouth with a brick or at least a hard rock. Four
hands held him in an up right position as another iron
fist pounded into his face; he attempted to get free,
but the strong hands held him fast. He couldn’t see
who they were; all three of the men had handkerchiefs
over their faces.

The grips of the two men holding him back were fierce;
he couldn’t move or fight back. Blow after blow, he
felt a hard first to his face and then a powerful blow
to his gut. Riker gasp for air, but there wasn’t time
to breathe before the next blow hit. Time after time
he was hit. 

The men began to take turns at beating him; two would
restrain him while the other one would deliver deadly
jabs to his stomach and face. 

He fell to the ground after they finally released him;
he coughed and could taste his own blood as it poured
from his mouth. He struggled to get up, but all he
could manage was to get on his hands and knees. Two
strong hands lifted him roughly up to his feet.

"Withdraw from the rally." One man ordered speaking
behind his scarf.

Riker attempted to focus but couldn’t. The blood, the
sweat, the throbbing of his head and the beginning of
a swollen eye was blocking his vision. Suddenly
another iron fist came into contact with his jaw, the
two men released him, and he fell to his knees. 

"Withdraw Riker! Withdraw or we’re on our way to visit
that pretty little wife of yours." The man
threatened. Riker looked up and his eyes filled with
wrath. Now he could fight back, if it took all of the
strength he had or to his death he would fight, he
would protect Deanna. He began to stand on his feet,
when suddenly the sharp toe of a boot slammed into his
abdomen, he swore he saw stars right before his eyes
shut and he spiraled into a world of darkness.


The rally was about to begin, Deanna waited inside the
hotel room for Will. Suddenly there was a wild
rapping on the door. She quickly ran to answer it. 
Standing outside of the door was Riker, all bloodied
and beaten.

"Thank gods you’re all right." He breathed a sigh of
relief, as he staggered into the room, wiping away the
blood from his face.

"Oh my gods Will!" Deanna sounded horrified at the
sight of her husband. He was bleeding from his face,
his nose, and his mouth. His left eye was blackened
and beginning to swell. She grabbed him by the arm
and sat him on the bed. "Don’t move." She said as she
ran over to the water basin and dipped a rag into the
cool water. She then began to wipe away the blood
from his face.

"Ow!" he flinched at her touch.

"Hold still." She said as she gently wiped away the
dried blood. "What happened?"

"I got beat up."

"I can see that, by whom? Why?"

"There were three of them. I couldn’t tell who they
were, they all had scarves on their faces. They told
me to withdraw from the poker rally or…. Or you would
be next." Grabbing her by the wrist he stifled the
movement of her hand and looked her squarely in the
eye. "Deanna we’re leaving. I’m not going to put you
in any danger."

"You’ve got to play in this poker game, Will. You’re
not a quitter and you know it." She pulled away from
his grasp and began to wipe his face again.

"No!" he almost yelled, noticing immediately how she jumped at
the abrupt sound of his voice. "No Deanna." He
stopped her hand again, speaking in a lower tone. "If
anything were to happen to you, I’d…. I’d never
forgive myself."

"Then play in this games Will. If you quit now, you’ll
forever be branded as a coward."

"It’s not the same."

"Let me ask you this. If this had happened, when you
were single what would you have done?" she stood up
and got him a clean shirt out of the closet.


"I repeat. If this would have happened years ago. 
You were forced to withdraw from the game by being
bullied, what would you have done?"

He stared at her blankly for a moment and then
answered, "I would have told them to kiss my ass and
beat them at poker anyway, and then after the game
probably shot them. But, this is different, Deanna. 
I didn’t have you to worry about then. I’ll be damned
if I leave you up here alone."

"Who says you have to?" She calmly asked placing the
pair of clean jeans on the bed beside him. "Get
dressed you’re going to be late."

"I’m sorry but you lost me back there somewhere,

"You’ll catch up soon, don’t worry." With that she
turned and exited out of the room, peeping her head
back in she ordered, "Get dressed, Riker!"


Walking into the saloon, it was hot…. Too damn hot. 
Will hadn’t seen Deanna in the last hour and he was
beginning to get worried. How in the hell was he
going to concentrate on the game, on where Deanna was,
and fight battles with the heat and ignore the
advances of the prostitutes all at the same time. 

Situated at the tables were men, young, old, rich, and
poor. There were at least one hundred contestants.
All sitting waiting at their designated tables, with
six men at each table. The bar was busy and the room
was filled with stale cigar smoke. There were at least
fifty bar room prostitutes in the place, all each
occupied with this one or that one, flitting from man
to man, flirting and sitting on laps. The men would
reach over and grab and handful of flesh either on
their bottoms or their breast, the girls did as they
were told and laughed at the gesture, pretending to be
virtuous and shocked at the gesture. He noticed Windy
and she was having a really good time. Windy noticed
him too and glanced up at him and smiled. He smiled
slightly in acknowledgement. 

"Name?" a young man with a face full of acne, asked at
the doorway, making Riker’s head snap towards the
adolescent sound of his voice.

"Riker…… William." 

"Spread your legs please. Hands up against the wall." 
Will did as he was told and was frisked by the young

"All right." The boy said after being satisfied with
the fact that Riker wasn’t armed with any sort of
weapon. "Table six. Over to your right in the
corner." The young pimple faced teenager pointed
towards the designated table.

Riker headed towards his table and sat down, three
gentlemen who sat directly across from him gave him a
slight nod, he returned one in return.

"What the hell happened to you boy?" an older gambler
at the table asked, noticing the bruises and cuts on
Will’s face.

"I fell down." Riker answered in a way that declared
this discussion is over. One thing you never do in a
poker game is making a friend at the table.

Scanning the room with his eyes, Riker’s eyes
instantly froze on a dark haired prostitute. He
couldn’t make out her face, but he could make out
everything else. She was dressed in a red scarlet
dress with shiny sequins and a very low cut bodice,
she had some nice cleavage that a man would have to be
blind not to notice, and a body to match.

All of the men were wanting her to sit on their lap,
they wanted to grab her, to touch her, but she dodged
every one of them with a polite smile and a wag of her

"Now that’s the one I want." One of the men at his
table gawked and pointed at the young prostitute
dressed in red.

"Little good luck charm that’s for sure." The other
man chided in his two cents worth.

"Yeah." The third man joked, "And when I win, I’m
gonna take her home to meet my mother, and then I’ll
marry her." 

As she elegantly glided across the room, the eyes and whistles of the gawking gamblers following closely behind her.

Will was one of them, he didn’t whistle or jeer. He
possessed too much class and pride for the female
race, no matter what their occupation happened to be
for that. He simply sat immobile and stared at the
bar room beauty. And down deep within him, for the
first time; he silently wished that for this one
night, he would have never gotten married.

"You look like a lot of thirsty men." The prostitute
stated as she stood at Will’s table. "Especially you….
My…my…. My…. You’re a handsome one aren’t you?"

"Yeah, I guess…. Once you get past the busted lip and
the swollen eye." He stated never taking his eyes
away from the red dressed woman, who was now standing
across the bar room floor. "I’ll take a whiskey…. 
Leave the bottle."

"He’s too serious." One man jeered directing his
statement towards Riker. "Poker is suppose to be fun,
eh Joe?" he laughed clapping the second man on the
back. They both joined together in a hardy laugh at
Will’s expense. He didn’t notice, all he could see
was the woman in the red dress.

"I’ll be your girl tonight." She stated. "If you need
anything else just ask for Honey."

"I need a little Honey." The man at the table laughed,
it was certain that this man was beginning to get
drunk. Riker looked at him and thought, ‘he won’t
last fifteen minutes.’

"All right." The girl giggled as she sat on his lap,
he began to run drunken hands up and down her body as
she giggled and laughed at the rude movements of his

standing on top of the old wooden bar yelled with his
hands forming a megaphone over his mouth.

MISSISSIPPI…with that statement all of the men began
to yell and holler as they grabbed the young women who
were standing by their tables. Will looked over to
the woman in red and she was sitting on the lap of an
older wealthier gambler. 


"They’re gonna be shot!" one man stood up and yelled.

"Or hanged!" another man yelled.

jumped down off of the bar and with the sound of a
gun…. The night had been officially started.

As Will picked up the cards his adrenaline began to
pump, he lost all sense of time and any awareness of
anyone being around him. All that was in the room now
was his cards and his opponents. One by one, the men
at this table, folded…. Quit or…. Just ran out of
money. Will reached over and scooped up the winnings.
It was back, that old feeling of lady luck; she was
on his side. The smile and the sparkle in his eye,
all of it was a reminder that Will Riker, the gambler
was back.

The man instructed. 

Will picked up his winnings and moved to another
table, as he sat down; he noticed the woman in red and
she was waiting on two or three tables over. He
glanced and noticed Samuel Callowhan as he was
scooping up his winnings from his table. Callowhan
simply nodded and smiled, Riker returned the gesture
with his most courteous smile and nod. Thinking that
when the time came to play against Callowhan, this
time he would take pleasure in competing against this
man. After the game he swore to himself he would
settle the score of what happened in the horse
stables, and the man’s threat upon Deanna.

"Deanna!" his brain suddenly whirled, "Where is
Deanna?" It had been over an hour and he hadn’t seen
her. He began to get up with every intention of
leaving "Hell’s kitchen" and finding his wife. 

"Hey." A hand rested on his shoulder stopping him from
standing. He looked over and it was Windy. She was
just as he remembered beautiful, elegant, and classy. 
She bent down and whispered into his ear, when she was
done whispering she kissed him lightly on the lips. 
He smiled at her and gave her a wink.

"Thank you Windy…and tell her I love her."

"I’ll do that." She answered, placing herself on his
lap. She wrapped two arms around his neck, trying to
make it look like business as usual. 


"I really miss the good times we had, don’t you?" she

"Sometimes. When you’re sitting on my lap like this,
and I’m sitting behind this table, I guess I do." He
confessed. "But…."

"But, you’re married now. " She quickly cut him off
as she rose to her feet. She inhaled and exhaled and
then smiled down at him. "Win some, lose some…" she
shrugged, winked at him and then turned her attentions
on the more single men in the room.

Round two, three and four went by fairly fast. And
Riker was winning…. He could fully concentrate on the
game now; knowing that Deanna was safe. Windy had
whispered to him that she was inside of her room with
four other girls and 
two huge men heavily guarded the door.

One of the rules at a poker rally was that no one was
allowed upstairs or in any room except the playing
area, until the games were over. Once you were out of
the game, if you left the premises you couldn’t

Riker smiled as he gathered up his winnings. All of
his opponents at the table slowly folded out of the
game. Some left with a nod of congratulations others
left with a scowl. Riker didn’t care how he forced
them out of the game, just as long as they did. 
Looking up at the clock he noticed it was almost two
a.m. He wondered if Deanna was awake or asleep. 
She’s probably awake and knows everything going on, he
smiled to himself.

The dark haired beauty smiled towards him as he moved
over into her serving area. He noticed that she was
very friendly towards the winners, those with the most
money. She was beautiful and had the prettiest violet

As he sat down in her serving area, she approached him
with a seductive grin. She definitely knew what she
was doing. She had the equipment and she was going to
flaunt it and torture him with it.

"You here for good luck?" he asked with a charming
lopsided grin.

"Do you need good luck?" she quietly asked, lowering
her bosom to his face. Yep, she definitely knew what
she was doing. . "My name is Lucky…. And I sure am
goooood." She purred.

This one was going to be hard to resist Riker wiped
the sweat from his brow and inhaled slowly. He was
married; he had to keep reminding himself that he was
married. Although right now, he sure as hell wished
he wasn’t. 

"I need whiskey right now, more than luck." He said
beyond the stare of her breast. He wasn’t a fool
after all, he knew that if he hadn’t been winning she
probably wouldn’t have given him the time of day. To
her he was just another customer, or was he? 

"I’ve been watching you all night." She said sitting
down on his lap; she wrapped both arms around his
neck. "Here’s just a little bit of luck." She gave
him a soft lingering kiss on the lips. "I have a
feeling you’ll get Lucky tonight." She smiled as she
slowly placed the tip of her finger in the cleft of
his chin.

She lowered her lips to his ear and whispered he
looked at her with widened eyes and then a huge grin
spread across his face. He thought he could handle the
atmosphere, the drinks, and the women. He had been
proud of himself up until now. Why did this woman
have to be here? How come he couldn’t spurn her away
just like he had done to the dozen of others that had
approached him earlier in the evening. He was failing
at resisting right now, failing miserably. He knew it
and Lucky knew it.

"Just wish me luck again." He said with a raised
eyebrow, giving into the temptation.

She did. 

It was the last round of the evening; six men were
sitting at the table as the dealer dealt the cards.

Samuel Callowhan was one of them. He was sitting
directly across from Riker. Riker looked at his cards
slowly and then back at the dealer. Riker
concentrated on his cards as Lucky stood by his side
with her hand resting firmly upon his shoulder. It
was her way of relaying a silent message to the other
girls that this property was taken.

"Two." Callowhan directed his statement towards the
dealer, as he threw two of his cards down on the
table. He looked over and gave Riker an icy stare as
he put he new cards in his hands.

"One." Riker stated calmly.

"I raise twenty and call you on twenty." An older man
who was sitting at the table stated as he placed the
chips in the ante.

One by one the men slowly folded out of the game,
leaving only Riker and Callowhan.

Riker could tell by the look on Callowhan’s face he
was sweating, not only just from the heat of the room,
but from the tension of the game.

"Getting nervous, Sam?" Riker asked as he placed more
chips in the ante. It was the first words he had
spoken to the man outside of the usual poker betting

"Not at all. By the way, where’s your wife, Riker?"
The man asked with a glare in his eye. "I raise

That got Riker’s attention and he quickly glared at
the man, Riker knew that Callowhan was looking for any
sign of weakness in him in order for him to tell if
Riker was bluffing or not…. Composing himself he
smiled. "I’ll take that raise…And raise you fifty
more. Have you and your brother’s beat anyone up
lately, Sam…say, any of the other competition?"

Silence fell all around the room at Riker’s words. 
The onlookers stared first at Riker’s battered face
and then at Callowhan.

The statement quickly got Callowhan’s attention; he
stared dumb-founded for a second at Riker. He then
wiped the sweat that was pouring off of his forehead,
"You got me there Riker." He laughed nervously. "I
have no idea what you’re talking about."

"I beg to differ my friend. You have no idea of
whether I’m bluffing or not…. But you do have an idea
of what I’m talking about." Riker stated calmly. 
"Your bet." He nodded towards the pile of chips in the
center of the table.

Callowhan stated placing the chips in the ante, he
nodded a slow nod as if giving a signal.
"Show your cards." He ordered.

"Straight…. Ace, king, queen, jack and ten." Riker
gently placed the five cards down in front of him. It
wasn’t a great hand, he had done better…but it wasn’t
bad. He hoped that the man across the table couldn’t
beat it. The room cheered quietly…. As they waited
for Callowhan to reveal his cards.

Callowhan stood to his feet and glared down at Riker,
he threw his cards on the table in a huff. He whirled
around and the sound of gunshot rang through the bar.

Quickly grabbing Lucky and pulling her to the floor,
Riker looked up to see a deputy standing on the
balcony with a smoking rifle at his shoulder. 

Callowhan stared blankly down at Riker; he opened his
mouth to speak only the words were void as blood
emitted out from behind the dying man’s teeth.

"He’s got a gun." The deputy called from the balcony
as he made his way down the stairs.

Beside Callowhan’s body lay a small handgun.


The room began to clap and slap Riker on the back,
congratulating him. He watched as they drug the body
of Samuel Callowhan out of the bar.

The room was in total chaos as the girls began to pick
out the men of their choosing and hurry them up the
stairs to their private rooms. No doubt for a night
of entertainment. Men and women were moving right and
left and the place was packed as newcomers entered the

Riker’s head was suddenly brought down and his lips
were captured by Lucky who kissed him with a
fierceness. At first he resisted and then thought
what the hell… he snapped her body crushing it against
his and kissed her back with the same amount of

When the kiss broke both of them were breathless; she
gently placed her hand in his, and looked up at him
with violet sultry eyes and headed them both towards
the stairs.

Standing in front of Lucky’s room…. Will hesitated. 
"Look, I’m sorry…. But…. But I can’t. This isn’t

"What’s not right about it?" she asked, standing on
her tiptoes kissing his neck.

He grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her away. 
"I’m married." He stated bluntly.

"So?" she laughed, "You wouldn’t be the first married
man I’ve bedded."

"I’m sorry if I’ve mislead you, but I can’t do this."

"Oh wonderful." She rolled her eyes, in disbelief. "A
married man with a conscience."

"You could say that." He smiled.

"Well, I don’t have one of those." She threw herself
into his arms and kissed him again. Clamping her mouth
firmly onto his… She was determined to have him.


Riker’s head suddenly snapped towards the voice, it
was Deanna. She was standing there and had witnessed
the two of them kissing.

Riker’s eyes widened in amazement and in shock at the
sight of his wife. "Deanna." Riker quickly wiped the
lipstick from his mouth and stood at attention.

"You needn’t explain, Will." She calmly stated. It
was a calm that scared the hell out of Riker. "I
understand. I just came by to congratulate you on
your winnings."

"Deanna." It was all he could think of to say.

"It’s perfectly all right." She still remained calm
and serene. "I’m sorry I shouldn’t have interrupted."
She turned and walked away slowly and calmly.

Riker stood there dumb-founded. This wasn’t like her
at all. What in the hell kind of game was this? What
was she doing? As she rounded the corner of the
hallway…it suddenly struck him…. And it seared though
him like a hot knife, she was leaving him. She was
walking out of his life forever.

He began to walk towards her only to be stopped by
Lucky grabbing his arm. "You heard her, she said she
shouldn’t have interrupted."

Looking at her hand and then into her eyes and then
back at her hand he jerked his arm free of her grasp. 
He ignored her remark and sped off down the hallway.

After thoroughly searching for Deanna through town he
still hadn’t found her. He had checked everywhere,
their hotel room, the café, and all of the shops that
she had loved to go into. After several more hours he
began to panic. His last stop was the stage coach

"Can you tell me if a Deanna Riker has purchased a
ticket in the last couple of hours?" he asked the man
through the glass window.


"Deanna. Deanna Riker." He stated a little more
loudly this time.

The man held up a finger and searched through his

"Don’t got a Deanna Riker, but I’ve got a Deanna

"That’s her." Riker said his voice mixed with relief
and with confusion, not understanding why she would
use her maiden name.

"Her coach left at ten thirty this morning. Headed
towards Locus Grove."

Home, Deanna was going home.

"To hell with this." He declared to himself. Placing
his black hat firmly on his head, he headed at a brisk
pace towards the delivery stables. After putting a
saddle firmly on the back of his huge horse, he
hoisted himself on its back.

Riker took off at a full speed gallop into town to
find his wife.

"Mrs. Troi?" Riker stood outside of his
mother-in-law’s house. "Is Deanna here?" he asked

"Yes, William she is." His mother stated with a
sadness to her voice. "Come in, she needs to speak to

Will found Deanna sitting quietly in the parlor, she
hadn’t even heard him arrive. After his mother-in-law
politely excused herself from the room, he slowly
walked towards his wife who was crying as she stared
out through the window. He placed a gently hand on
her shoulder. "Deanna?" he asked.

"Why did you come here?" she asked with tear filled
eyes. "I told you I understood."

"Understand? Deanna Lucky came on to me" he explained
softly. "I told her I was married, and she suddenly
attacked me."

"And she drug you up to her room too?" She asked as
she stared blankly out the window.

"No…" he sounded ashamed, "No she didn’t." he
swallowed hard.

"Will, I witnessed the whole thing." Deanna now
turned and looked at him, "I saw how you kissed her
in the bar, and not once or twice…but several times. 
I saw how she led you up to her room." She explained.
"Will, you were being yourself in that poker rally,
you were reliving earlier days and if the truth be
known you were probably wishing you had never gotten

He stared at her blankly, he couldn’t argue with what
she was saying.

"That’s what I thought." She said with a tinge of
remorse to her voice. She turned and stared out of
the window again. 

"And where were you? Where in the hell were you
Deanna?" he asked, anger was beginning to rise in his

"You advised that I stay safe, remember." She turned
towards him, her tears were turning into anger now. 
"I was sitting in the upper balcony all the time,
which was heavily guarded by the way. Windy told you

"You were sitting in a whore’s room." He glared

"I would much prefer just to sit in one." Now her
temper was flaring. "Compared to laying in one, Will
Riker." She glared back. 

There was a thick silence between the two, when
finally Deanna spoke. "Where did you want me to go to
be safe, Will? Lock myself up in the jail? So you
could casually stroll in when you were done with your
female companions and bail me out?"

She inhaled and exhaled slowly. "Will. I trust you,
I know you…. I do. I know nothing happened
physically between you and Lucky. But," she added. 
"It easily could have."

"Deanna…. I’d never…"

"No. Let me finish, please. I don’t hate you, and
I’m not angry with you…. And I certainly don’t want
to argue with you about this. It’s in your blood it’s
who you are…You can’t control that. No more than you
can control the wind. This is where you belong,
behind the tables…Both of us know that. Will, I…" she
inhaled and exhaled, wondering if should she tell him
the truth? Tell him the truth about the man that was
executed by hanging yesterday? "You need to go." She
finally said, "please I just need time to think."

"All right, I’ll give you that." He stated warmly.
"Can we talk later?"

Deanna didn’t answer him, she wanted to, but words
would not come forth. She stood to her feet turned,
and embraced him tightly.

He held her tightly and he kissed the top of her head
and reassured her everything would be all right.

"It won’t…" she began to cry again, "It won’t be all

"Yes, it will, Deanna. We’ll work through this." He
asked gently pushing her away from him to look into
her eyes. "What is it?" he asked knowing something
else was wrong.

"The man that was hung at noon, for murder." She
began, "Will, it was the town preacher, Father

"What?" there was trepidation in his voice.

"He wasn’t really a preacher, he’s only been
impersonating one, as a guise." She cried.

"Damn." He whispered in disbelief as he pulled his
sobbing wife against him again. 

"He was actually a gun slinger, named Myers. I spoke
to him." She spoke to his chest now. 

There was another moment of silence between the two;
finally Deanna spoke as she pushed herself away from
her husbands embrace, taking two steps back away from
him. She wiped the tears from her face with her
fingers and attempted to compose herself. She looked
up at her husband with big black sad eyes.

"Deanna." He whispered taking a step towards her. 
The look in her eyes was more than he could take, he
couldn’t bear seeing those beautiful eyes looking so
sad. They were ripping his heart to shreds. "Let’s
go, we can stay at the town hotel, until we can get us
a place." He extended his hand to her, all he wanted
to do now was make her pain go away.

She looked at his hand and then back at him. "No. I
can’t. This is my home now."


"We aren’t legally married, Will." She had said it,
she had stated the words that had been rumbling
through her mind all this time, and she had finally
spoken them out into the air.

"All right, so we’ll get married." 

"No, we can’t." 

"Deanna?" he was beginning to feel helpless, his whole
world was crashing around him. "Yes, we can."

She simply stood silently and stared as if she were
staring through him.

"First thing tomorrow morning, we’ll go…." He was
grasping for straws as the torture in his voice came
forth. The thought of Deanna no longer being in his
life cut through him like a knife, and was already
beginning to hurt like hell. He reached out and
grabbed her hand in desperation. "Or hell, we can go
tonight and find Judge Banning."

"No. No we can’t. I can’t." she whispered, releasing
her hand from his, and turning away from him.

"Why?" he asked softly as he took a step closer to

"You don’t belong here, Will." She answered as if she
was talking to the window; "You’re a gambler."

He had felt fear, then desperation and now anger was
beginning to swell up inside of him. "Damn it! 
Deanna, we’ve been through this!"

"I don’t want to argue." She spoke softly without
turning around.

"I didn’t come here to argue with you. You’re acting
as if it’s my fault Deanna. The preacher and what
happened to him, to us isn’t my fault. And I’ll be
damned if I allow you to turn it into that."

"Just go." She whispered. "You don’t belong here,

"I can’t pretend I’m not a gambler. I like it Deanna.
I like the cards, and in the past at times I missed
it tremendously. It was the number one thing in my
life. I liked the women. I won’t lie and say I
didn’t…. And when Lucky kissed me, all of the
memories of a carefree gambler flooded into my mind…. 
But then your memory snapped into my head and it made
me realize just how much I needed you, not the
gambling, or the women. All of the women and the
cards were what I used to be, but…. I’m not that
anymore. Its no longer my priority; you are. You of
all people should know that. Deanna you are…. You’re
my wife."

His words had stung her. She began to feel the tears
as they ran down her face cascading down her cheek.

"Where in the hell would I go, Deanna?" he continued. 
"Tell me that. Where in the hell could I go that your
memory wouldn’t follow me?"

"This isn’t about that night…. Please, Will." She
begged, as she turned and looked at him, her eyes full
of tears. "It’s what’s best. I’m begging…just go."

"Deanna, I was a jerk, all during the poker game. To
be honest, I found myself at times wishing I wasn’t
married. There have been numerous times when I’m a
jerk and a smart-ass to you. I’m one of those self
centered, arrogant bastards everyone always seems to
hate. You deserve more than that; you deserve more
than I can give you. I realize that. And I’m sorry
Deanna." For the first time in his life Will Riker
confessed what he had been too proud to admit. I’m so
sorry." He repeated. He had never apologized to
anyone in his life; he would usually just shrug it off
and be on his way. He hadn’t planned on admitting
these things they simply just dropped off of his
breaking heart. 

"If you want me to go…. I’ll go…. You have my word….
I’ll never bother you again…please just tell me…." 
The six foot four; two hundred pound powerfully built
man was breaking as he began to fight back his own
tears. "If you’ll just…. Just tell me that…you’ll

"Stop!" Deanna whirled around suddenly. Riker’s
mouth instantly clamped shut. 
She couldn’t take anymore of his words or his
heartbreak; it was ripping through her soul.

"Mother!" Deanna suddenly yelled into the other room.
"Mother!" she almost screamed "Get in here!"

"Deanna!" her mother quickly came running to see what
in heaven’s sake was wrong with her daughter. "What
is it?" she asked, holding her hand over her heart. 
"What’s wrong?"

"Did I or did I not marry William T. Riker?"

"You did but it wasn’t legal, Deanna. Father O’Hare
wasn’t an actual clergyman. I’ve explained that to

"I want you to make it legal, Mother." Deanna
demanded. "I don’t care what you have to do, where
you have to go, who you have to speak to or who you
have to bribe, lie to or charm. Just do it!"

"I can’t do that, Deanna. I wouldn’t even know where
to…" Mrs. Troi began.

"Mother, there were many couples married under the
authorization of Father O’Hare, some even have
children by now. You have a major influence over the
judge, the mayor and the sheriff." She stated
squarely, never wavering. 

Then Deanna dropped the bombshell she knew would make
her mother move to clarify the unfair situation. "So
unless you want an unwed pregnant woman, and a soon to
be bastard grandchild living under your roof." She
shook a finger at her mother. "You’d better think of
a way to fix it!"

"Pregnant!" Will and Mrs. Troi both exclaimed in

"Pregnant!" Deanna repeated soundly with a nod to
both of them.

Silence suddenly fell from the ceiling into the room.

"Yes. Yes, I see what you mean, Sweetheart. You
shouldn’t get so upset." Deanna’s mother began to
stumble over the words. 

Her face changed and the dumbfounded look was soon
replaced with anger. "How dare they do this! To say
you are not legally married. To upset you this way,
in your condition." 

There was no way she would allow her daughter’s name
to be ruined or her own for that matter. 

"This problem will be rectified by the morning. I
promise you or this town will taste the fury of a
Troi." Mrs. Troi threatened, as she stomped out of
the parlor.

Deanna followed her mother out of the room. "Thank
you mother." Deanna stated walking over and kissing
her mother on the cheek. 

Her mother was already putting her shawl around her
shoulders, no doubt ready to go bang on someone’s door
and demand results.

"Will." Deanna called walking back to the parlor
where he was still standing in shock. "William. 
Let’s go home." She ordered sounding like a mother
telling her child to eat their vegetables for the
third time.

Will looked over at Deanna with wide federal blue eyes
that seemed to stare through her. His brains still
reeling and whirling from her earlier statement. She
was pregnant? She was pregnant. She was pregnant! 
He whirled around and followed his wife out the door.

Deanna woke up to the sound of birds chirping outside.
She looked over to her sleeping husband who lay with
his back to her. She heard his heavy breathing and
knew he was still very much asleep. She laid her hand
on her stomach and a smile crossed her lips, even
though she was only about six weeks along, she was
still happy. She was going to have a baby. She
wondered if it would be a boy or a girl. A girl for
Will to cuddle and spoil and be too over protective
of. Or, perhaps a boy he could teach to fish or hunt.
She smiled at the thought of her husband throwing the
child up in the air and playing with him or her, or
chasing them in the yard. She inhaled deeply and
exhaled slowly.
She rolled over to her side and wrapped her arm around
her husband’s waist snuggling up against him.

"I guess this means you aren’t going to throw me out
of the bed." He quietly stated through a sleepy

She let out a giggle, "Not yet anyway."

"So you’re not angry with me anymore?" he asked as he
wrapped her arm tighter around him.

"That depends on how well we make up." She kissed his

He rolled over and grinned. "Just tell me one thing,
tell me you’d be happy married to a gambler."

"I’m happy married to you." She stated. "When you
first asked me to leave with you and join you in the
gambling circuit, I was afraid, naïve and my mother’s
influence was hanging so heavily over me. I had been
brought up to believe in what the clergy said, that
playing cards was a terrible sin." She laughed
slightly at the thought of how prim and proper she had

Will rolled over and propped himself up on his elbow,
with his other hand he began to play with her hair.

"I’m not scared anymore. And, I’m ready to travel
with you wherever you want to go. Will, I hate seeing
you work those fields all day. And you said you
missed it."

"Thank you for your offer." He kissed her. "But,
with a baby on the way…that isn’t the life for a
child, traveling around everywhere.

"If you were to go back to the poker, and win. Just
like you did at the poker rally." She said coyly. 
"We could afford a real doctor who could assist if
there were any real complications in the pregnancy. 
And after the baby was born, we could settle down." 

Will rolled over and exhaled. He knew what she was
saying was true. The thought of Thad’s young wife
flashed through his head, and how she had died in
childbirth. How in one instant he had lost his wife
and his son. How Thad himself had wished he would have
taken her to the city and gotten a real physician,
instead of one of the mid-wives they used in the small
rural town.

"You know how to get to me don’t you?" he said.

"Uh-huh." She smiled; the look in her eyes told him
that she truly loved him.

"Just say it." He whispered into her cheek. "I need
to hear it."

"It would make me very happy to be married to a poker

"Can we make up now?" he pushed her back onto the
pillow, his eyes were fixed on her and her ebony eyes
sparkled as she returned his gaze.

"And so would our child, you could teach him to play
poker…. Or I could." She thought out loud as his
mouth began to explore and plant kisses on her body. 
"Let’s see a jack is one of those little jester
looking things right? And a full… Two of a kind…. 
Hmmm a straight… oh my gods Will." She moaned as he
moved lower with his mouth and his hands in
exploration. "Oh, forget it…. You teach him."