A Chance Meeting

By Sissy

He walked up the ramp from the plane, feeling tired and a little depressed, not really paying any attention to anything around him until he turned and … there she was.

As beautiful as ever. But she seemed to have a radiant glow about her now. He hadn't seen her in fifteen years and she still affected him just as she did back then. He took a hesitant step in her direction but stopped when she turned and moved quickly toward two young children, a girl, about 12, with dark auburn hair, and a boy. He was younger, blonde with the delicate facial features of his mother but already had the body build that definitely leaned toward the shape of a certain cowboy.

He stepped back by the pillar, watching as she embraced and kissed the two children with the love and pride of a mother. Tears glistened in his eyes when he realized that if he had not been so stupid all those years ago, they could have been his children. He blinked, trying to dislodge the few tears that clung to his eyelashes, when movement off to the right caught his eye.

A bearded man was coming down the corridor at a rapid pace, a man he knew all too well. Ranger Cordell Walker. A man he wished he could hate. Hate, because the Ranger had what he had let get away. Maybe he had already lost her, after all, he had let her get away once before, but now he would never know if she could ever have been his.

The Ranger was holding the hand of small boy with red hair, and carrying a little girl in his arms, a little girl that looked like a miniature copy of Alex, long blonde hair and he would have bet she had blue eyes. He kept hidden as he watched the Ranger lean into Alex and kiss her with a passion, a passion that she returned, a passion that told him of the love that they had for each other.

With the two oldest leading the way, Alex picked up the small replica of her husband, slid her hand into the Ranger's and the family made their way out of the terminal.

Dalton stood and watched them. God, what a stupid fool I was. Tears filled his eyes, Why did I let her go. That could be my family, my kids.

At the rodeo that day long ago, he had asked her to let him finish out the circuit, then he would give up the rodeo and come back for her. One year later, like a damned fool, he was still following the circuit. The day after he had read in the paper about her betrothal to Ranger Cordell Walker, he had been thrown and gored by a bull, which left him bent, crippled and full of pain. He had waited too long.

He held no grudge against Alex or the Ranger. It had been his own damn fault that he had let her get away. Following at a discreet distance, Dalton Reed watched them make their way to the Suburban parked at the curb. When he couldn't see the vehicle any longer, he made his way out of the building, leaning heavily on the cane he now needed to walk.

He silently wishes her happiness, because he knows he could never have given her what she needed. Wiping the tears from his eyes, he turns and leaves the building, to return to his solitary existence. The existence he chose when he lost her.

The End