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A Day in Paradise

by LELANI DIXON

The alarm sounded and Ranger Cordell Walker reached over to shut it off. It was predawn and he stretched and then quietly left the bed without waking his sleeping partner. After a quick trip to the bathroom, he padded downstairs. First he flipped on the coffeemaker and then he went to the backdoor where his work boots stood just inside the laundry room. As a bachelor, he had just worn the boots on upstairs to his bedroom, but a woman changed things. He slipped his boots on and pulled on the jacket that hung from the hook above his boots. The cool morning air wiped the rest of his slumber away as he headed down to the barn.

Walker, as he preferred to be called, was greeted by the whinny of horses when he opened the barn door. He picked up the feed cart and loaded it with hay and grain. Heading outdoors, he placed the hay in the hayracks that were at the back of the barn. He then poured the grain into the feeders and tossed in a few carrots. Walker went back to check on the automatic watering system, testing to make sure the water ran clear and then returned to the barn to turn the horses out into the pasture. He watched the horses walk out to the feeders with an expert eye, making sure none showed signs of lameness or illness. They all met with his approval, so he headed back inside the barn to rake out the stalls. Walker filled the wheelbarrow and wheeled it to the compost heap where he dumped it. He had his own constant supply of fertilizer. He noticed some wild flowers growing next to the pasture fence and he walked over to collect a fist-sized bunch. After spreading fresh straw into the stalls, he replaced his tools and headed back to the house.

Once he got inside and went through the recently acquired routine of hanging up his jacket and setting his boots just inside the laundry room door, he walked to the laundry room sink and washed his hands. He stopped in the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee. He grimaced as he took a swallow; he didn't think he would ever learn to like this decaf stuff and craved the real coffee that he would get at work. Walker picked up a tray and set it on the counter. He filled another cup with coffee and set it on the tray and then laid the wild flowers next to it. He carried the tray to the entry hall and set it down on the table next to the statue he often used to hang his hat on. He opened the front door and picked up the newspaper. (He paid the paperboy, who was actually a man in a pick up, to drive on up the long driveway and toss it on the front porch.) Walker opened the paper so that the front page was on top and he laid it on the tray. He then carried his burden up the stairs to the bedroom.

Alex Cahill-Walker had slept through the alarm. She hated waking to an alarm clock and had arranged with her husband to be awoken in her preferred fashion. The smell of horses and hay filled her nostrils and feather light kisses were placed on her forehead, cheeks, nose and finally her lips. Alex awoke with a smile on her face and opened her eyes to see that the sun had come up and lit the room enough for her to see the features of her handsome husband's face. Walker smiled at her, gave her one last kiss and walked out of the room to let her finish waking up. Alex liked to wake up slowly and to enjoy her time in bed before the rushed pace of the day began. She sat up in bed and turned on the bedside lamp. Arranging her pillows, she picked up the coffee mug and took her first sip. Ugh, how she hated decaf, she was looking forward to the birth of this baby if for no other reason than to drink real coffee again, Alex looked at the tray and saw the bunch of wildflowers lying next to the paper. Her husband was such a romantic at heart. Although he didn't say the words often enough for her liking, he showed his love for her in many ways and countless times each and everyday. Alex read the morning paper while listening to the shower running in the adjoining bathroom.

Walker returned to their bedroom wearing only a towel wrapped around his waist. "Good morning, beautiful. Is it safe to talk to you now?" he asked his wife in a teasing voice. "It's safe, cowboy. Thank you for the flowers, they're sweet." Walker wrinkled his nose at her and she laughed at his expression. "The flowers are sweet, you're thoughtful," she clarified lest she wound his male pride. Walker looked appeased and walked over to his dresser to get his underwear out. She watched as he dropped the towel and stepped into his briefs. The towel lay on the floor while he walked to the closet to get a shirt and jeans. Hanging up his work shirts and jeans was another new routine he had had to adjust to this past year. He looked over at his wife and saw her looking back towards his dresser. He saw the towel on the floor and realizing his error, walked back to pick it up and place it in the hamper. His wife sat in the bed pretending to read the paper, but sneaking glances at her husband's toned physique as he dressed for work. "What's on your agenda today?" Walker asked her. "I'll be in court all day with the Smithson case." "Do you think you'll have time to have lunch with me?" "I don't know, maybe. I'll call you and let you know though." "Okay, I'm going to fix breakfast, any requests?" "I just want some Cornflakes and a grapefruit half." "I'll have it ready when you come down," he promised as he walked over to her. She handed him the paper and prepared to get out of bed and start her day. Walker laughed at her as she sank back onto the bed when her first attempt was unsuccessful. He stretched out his hand and she debated on whether or not to take him up on the offer of help. Her practical side won out over her pride and she placed her hand in his. Walker pulled her up to her feet and into his arms. Her pregnant belly kept him from getting as close as he wanted, but he managed to embrace her.

After stepping back from her husband, she said, "I guess it will be slip on shoes from now on. I'll never be able to tie my shoes at this rate." "Call me if you need any help," he offered and headed downstairs. Alex walked into the bathroom and started the shower. Walker was always amazed at how quickly Alex was able to get ready for work once she actually got out of bed. She was downstairs with her hair and makeup done forty-five minutes later. He admired her as she walked into the dining room and sat down. Despite the fact that she was in the latter stages of her pregnancy, she moved with an innate grace. If she hadn't decided to be a lawyer, she could have easily made a career as a model. She had a fair complexion to match her blond hair and blue eyes, but since her pregnancy, her skin glowed with health and happiness. There was a rosy color to her cheeks and there was a debate amongst their friends as to whether or not she had stopped smiling since they had said their 'I do's'. Alex looked up from her Cornflakes to see her husband watching her instead of reading the paper in front of him. He had finished eating, but sipped the dreaded decaf coffee as he waited for her. She raised her eyebrows at him and continued eating. He had the same grin on his face that their friends had grown accustomed to seeing since their wedding. After she finished breakfast, Alex went to the downstairs bathroom to brush her teeth. She had put an extra toothbrush downstairs, anything to avoid climbing the stairs with her extra 'baby weight'. "Can we carpool today?" her husband asked. "I don't see why not, I don't have anything planned that should interfere."

Walker held his wife's elbow as she maneuvered the front steps and he gave her a boost into the cab of his Ram. His wife ignored the fact that his hand lingered on her backside longer than was absolutely necessary to help her into the truck. She understood the need to touch as she was just as unable to keep her hands off of him. She buckled up the special 'pregnant woman's seatbelt' he had installed for her while he got into the driver's side of the truck and started the vehicle. Her hand crept over to his thigh and rested there as he put the truck into drive. As soon as he was on the main road into Dallas, he reached down and curled his hand around hers until he got into traffic as they neared the center of the city.

Walker parked on the street in front of the Justice Building and helped his wife out of the truck and up the front steps. He left the truck in a place that was marked 'no parking'. In all his years as a ranger, he had yet to be ticketed. The husband and wife team exited the elevator on the floor that housed both of their offices. Walker followed her into her office and once they were inside with the door closed, he leaned toward her and gave her a proper goodbye kiss. Gazing into her eyes and bestowing the 'I love you' wink; he smiled and turned to head to his own office.

Alex sat down and waited for her pulse to slow to a normal rate. She had the most incredibly sexy husband in the world. His red hair was the only outward indication of the fire he kept hidden from the rest of the world. She knew though that he was capable of extreme and prolonged passion. Alex chastised herself; this train of thought was not helping to slow her pulse rate. Alex's secretary came in with her messages and she was soon followed by her law clerk and then the junior ADA who would be her co-counsel while prosecuting this case. The DA had insisted that she have an assistant on all of her cases as her pregnancy progressed. He didn't want to be left in the lurch if his star prosecuting attorney was suddenly unable to continue a case. It was also a benefit to the more junior ADA's. Watching Alex Cahill-Walker in a court setting was an education. She was a skilled prosecutor and her thorough preparation of her cases was a lesson that the DA wanted everyone on his staff to emulate. Settling into her day's work, Alex tucked away thoughts of her husband for later.

Walker entered Texas Ranger Company B's Headquarters located just down the hall from his wife's office. He headed straight for the coffeemaker and poured himself a cup of 'real' coffee. He drank down half the cup like a man dying of thirst. He quickly regretted his impulsive act, as the coffee was freshly made and very hot. Walker's eyes were watering as he headed toward his desk. The rest of Walker's team had arrived before him. His partner, James Trivette, sat at his desk working on his computer. The other two rangers, Francis Gage and Sydney Cooke were bantering back and forth about a song they had heard on the radio. All three looked up as Walker entered and greeted him asking about Alex. "She's doing just fine, she's just not moving quite as fast as she used to," he answered them. These three were more than coworkers, they were family. They were nearly as excited about the baby as Alex and Walker were. "Have you been practicing your diapering skills?" Trivette asked tongue in cheek. Alex had shared the story of how Max, the baby they had fostered for a brief time, had peed on Walker the first time he attempted to change him. "Don't worry Trivette, Alex and I talked it over and we agreed that you would get to change the dirty diapers." "Not me man, that's not in the job description." "What job description is that?" Walker queried. "The Texas Ranger job description," Trivette answered.  "Well it is in the 'honorary uncle' job description, so start practicing." Before his partner could think of a comeback, Walker asked about the status of the case they were investigating.

The four rangers discussed the prostitution ring they were trying to bring down. A snitch had given them an address that was reported to be a brothel that employed teenaged boys and girls. Walker went out to track down one of his snitch's who might be able to corroborate the information while Trivette followed the electronic paper trail of the 'cover' business on his computer. Sydney and Gage were assigned to stake the place out while Walker and Trivette gathered enough information for a search warrant.

By ten a.m., Trivette was able to show sufficient cause for the search warrant and Walker, who had found his snitch and had their information confirmed, stopped by to pick his partner up. Jimmy got into the front seat of the Ram carrying a small pillow. Walker looked at him as if he had grown a tail and Jimmy just shrugged. He hopped into the seat and put on the seatbelt over the pillow that he held to his stomach. After watching his partner strap on the special seatbelt he had gotten to protect his wife and baby; Walker threw his head back and laughed. "Well partner, this seatbelt is uncomfortable. As long as I have my 'baby' here, it fits me as well as it does Alex." "I dare you to do that when Alex is around," Walker challenged. "Not me partner, I don't have a death wish." Walker just shook his head and pulled the Ram out into traffic.

Gage and Trivette entered the establishment posing as customers. It was a 'by invitation only' place and they were quickly escorted out. They had seen enough though to get the lay of the land. "Two armed guards and two more musclemen," Gage told Walker and Sydney. "Let's do it," Walker said and they began the raid. Fists and feet flew as the four rangers quickly dispatched the guards. After getting past the front room, they found twelve teenagers in various stages of undress in a large room with couches and mirrors everywhere. Four more teenagers were in the small 'bedrooms' along with paying customers. "Well, well, if it isn't my old friend Stan Slocum," Walker drawled. "I didn't know you had such a soft spot for young boys. It's so nice of you to support our youth programs." It was all Walker could do not to flatten the man. He was a successful businessman who donated money to several youth organizations. Walker had a bad taste in his mouth after the bust and he knew just who could help him get rid of it.

Just after noon, Trivette handed Walker his cell phone. "It's Alex," he informed Walker. "Hi honey," he answered. "I can't get away for lunch, but if you have time to bring something up, I should be able to eat it with you in my office," his wife said. "Any preferences?" Walker asked. After all, she was the one with 'cravings'. "Anything as long as you're dessert," his wife purred. He wished she wouldn't do that when he was surrounded by his colleagues, it was difficult to hide the effect her voice had on him. "I'll see you in half an hour in your office," Walker said as matter of factly as possible. "It's a date, cowboy."

Walker entered Alex's office with a box filled with deli sandwiches, macaroni salad and bottled water. He laid the spread out on his wife's desk and turned off the overhead light and closed the blinds so that only the desk lamp illuminated the room. His wife entered a few minutes later and Walker had everything ready. Alex walked in and stepped straight into her husbands waiting arms. "Hi," she said as she tilted her face up for his kiss. "Mmm... Hi," he answered a little out of breath from the long kiss. He walked her around to her chair and helped her sit, propping her feet up on a small stool. Then he went around the desk to sit across from her. Alex's time was short and so she immediately began eating. "How was your morning?" she asked between bites. "Pretty awful, we busted a place that was prostituting teenaged kids." "Really?" "Yeah, the kids were runaways and most are addicted to drugs, which is how they kept them working. You'll never guess who was there as a paying customer." "Who?" "Stan Slocum." "Slocum? Wow, I always said the guy was garbage under that expensive cologne he bathes in." "Yeah, you definitely had the guy pegged. Anyway, the afternoon is going to be a barrel of fun with all the paperwork and getting the kids into rehab programs. They're all at the hospital now being given thorough examinations. Between the prostitution and the drugs, the chances are that at least some of them will be positive for HIV or Hepatitis or some other condition that will have a negative effect on their life expectancy." "I'm sorry darling," Alex said as she covered his hand with hers. Walker turned his hand over and gave hers a squeeze. He had been right; sharing this with her helped. He couldn't explain it, but knowing that she cared as deeply as he did just made bad things easier to bear.

Walker decided to change the subject. "How was your morning?" "Not good, this case is getting more difficult by the minute." "What happened?" "Well, Smithson claims to have an alibi for the night of the hit and run and I thought I had poked enough holes into it. Unfortunately, the last witness for the defense appeared credible and was able to substantiate the alibi." "You think he's innocent?" "Not for a minute. I know he ran into that woman and her son in the crosswalk. I think he is threatening or possibly paying the woman to get her to testify on his behalf, even if it means perjuring herself. I get to redirect the questioning after lunch and if I can't get her to change her story, I'm sunk." "You'll do it, I have the utmost faith in you." "I wish I shared your confidence. I have my staff digging into her past and trying to find something to give me leverage. I hope they come up with something." The remainder of the lunch was spent eating and discussing trivial things. Just sharing time with each other helped to rejuvenate them. While they fed their bodies with the sandwiches, being together fed their spirits.

Alex walked back into the courtroom determined and confident. Her co-counsel decided that she must be bluffing with her confident demeanor, but he was about to see Deputy DA Cahill-Walker at her best. "So Ms. Anderson, it is your testimony that you never saw the defendant before the night of February 2nd, is that correct?" "Yes." "And despite the fact that the bar, excuse me, pub, was reported to be full that night, you are the only person there who can state that Mr. Smithson was there until two a.m." "I don't know about anyone else, but I saw him there at closing." "And how is it that you are so certain?" "He walked me out after the bartender called last round." "And you say he escorted you to your car and helped you in." "That's right." "Had you been drinking that night?" "I had a couple beers." "And yet you felt confident to drive yourself home?" "Yeah, I was okay to drive."

Alex's co-counsel couldn't imagine where she was going with this line of questioning. She seemed to be cementing the defense's case. "Now Ms. Anderson, you have two driving while intoxicated arrests on your record. Is that accurate?" "Yes." "And you have a suspended license, correct?" "That's right." "So despite this, you chose to drive yourself home after drinking two beers." "Yes." "What type of car do you drive?" "A 1995 Toyota Corolla." "And is this the car you drove home the night of February 2nd." "Yes." "How did you start the car?" "Excuse me?" "How did you start the car. It is your testimony that you had been drinking. So how did you start the car?" "Objection, your honor. This line of questioning is absurd. How does anyone start a car? Two beers is not going to prevent someone from turning a key in the ignition." "Your honor, defense counsel is absolutely correct. Two beers would not prevent Ms. Anderson from turning a key. They would, however, prevent her from passing the Breathalyzer test that is required by the device that was attached to the ignition of Ms. Anderson's car by court order after her last DWI arrest." The rest of the afternoon was a breeze. Once Alex put the first hole into the witness's testimony, the rest of her story crumbled. It was determined that Smithson had in fact paid Ms. Anderson to lie for him. After closing arguments, the jury found Smithson guilty of vehicular manslaughter and hit and run charges.

Alex entered Ranger Headquarters with a smile as wide as Texas. Walker sensed her approach and looked up as she rounded the corner that put her in view. He responded immediately to her happiness with a grin of his own. "You won." "I sure did. Boy this job can be fun." "I told you." "That you did darling, that you did. How are things with your case?" "Well, as tragic as the case is, at least the kids are getting the help they need and we got lucky and busted the husband and wife team who were behind the whole thing. It looks like it will lead to some pretty big names on their customer list as well." "I just love when that happens," his wife said. "Me too. When do you think you'll be ready to head home?" "In another hour, maybe two." "Okay, I'll see about wrapping this up as soon as I can. Why don't you buzz me when you're ready?" "Okay, I'll do that." Alex waved to Trivette who was watching the exchange between the Walker's. He always marveled at how they seem to be drawn together like magnets. They didn't seem to be able to be in the same room without touching each other in some way. In the office, they were very discreet, but Alex's shoulder brushed against Walker's or Walker's hand rested on the small of her back. He waved back at Alex and returned his attention to the reports he was filling out. Alex reached up for a quick kiss from Walker and then headed back down the hall.

At four thirty, Walker sat in the Ram and waited for his wife to buckle her seatbelt. "Trivette isn't too happy about that seatbelt." "Poor Jimmy, I guess it wouldn't be very comfortable without a large belly to fill it." "Oh, I don't know. Trivette is pretty resourceful. In fact, he came up with the idea of holding a pillow in front of him." Alex laughed; she was definitely going to have to give Jimmy a hard time the next time she saw him. Of course, she wouldn't let him know why, that would spoil the fun. As Walker merged onto the main road heading toward home, he let go of the wheel with his right hand and covered her left hand with it, magnets.

The Walker's pulled into the driveway of their home and Alex yawned. "Naptime for you," Walker declared. "I wanted to go down to the barn for awhile while it's still daylight," she protested. Walker went around the truck to help her down. He looked at her swollen ankles pointedly. "You'll have time after you stretch out and get your feet up for a while. If you don't start taking better care of yourself, the doctor is going to make you stop working." Alex pouted, but followed her husband inside. Looking at the stairs, Alex decided that there were far too many of them and she went into the downstairs bathroom and then lay down on the couch. Walker came over and eased her shoes off of her swollen feet. He then reached up under her skirt and pulled the pantyhose she was wearing down and off. Walker sat at the end of the couch with her feet in his lap and started a gentle massage of her feet, ankles and calves. Alex's eyes drooped and she was soon asleep. Walker got up and put a pillow where he had sat to keep her feet elevated. He then covered his sleeping wife with an afghan. He lay his hand on her belly and waited to feel his child stretching out. Without fail, the baby moved and kicked and poked elbows and feet against Alex's tummy within half an hour after she lay down. Walker was overwhelmed by the feeling of joy that washed over him as he watched his beautiful wife sleep and felt their baby move.

A little over an hour later, Alex woke up and stretched. She felt so much better after her nap. Her back ached a little, but her feet had stopped throbbing. She slowly got up and headed upstairs to change out of her work clothes. She noticed that her husband had carried her shoes and hose upstairs and put them away. The man could be taught. She changed into a comfortable outfit and then went into the kitchen to get dinner started. After slicing vegetables and adding them to the stew she had prepared, she lowered the temperature and headed down to the barn to find her husband.

Walker had gone out for a ride on his horse Ranger. Alex called her horse, Angel, over and groomed her. She had placed feed into each stall and was leading the horses in when her husband returned. Walker looked at his wife who was wearing a pair of soft denim overalls that were the same blue as her eyes. It was his favorite maternity outfit and his pulse rate shot up at the sight of her. "Alex, you shouldn't be doing that," he protested when he saw her carrying a bucket of sweet feed to one of the stalls. "Walker, I'm not an invalid. I haven't lifted anything heavy and it feels good to move and stretch after standing and sitting all day." Walker frowned at his wife, but didn't say anything further as he cooled Ranger down and put him in his stall. After all the horses were put up for the night, Walker walked over to the feed bins and tightened the lids and put the buckets back on their hooks. Alex smiled to herself, it had taken her six months to get him to put his dirty clothes into the hamper, but if she hung the green bucket in the red bucket's spot, he immediately corrected it. She would never figure out some things about the male mind.

"Walker, it's such a nice evening, can we go for a walk before we go in for dinner?" "Sure honey, where do you want to walk to this evening?" "Can we walk up to the hillside clearing and watch the sunset?" "That's pretty far, are you up to that?" "Yes, I could use the exercise." "Okay, let me get a bottle of water to take with us and a blanket and we'll go." Walker ran in to fetch the items from the house while Alex headed in the direction of the clearing. Walker easily caught up with her, as she knew he would and he reached for her hand as they began the hike.

Their destination took them through the wooded area behind the house. Walker slowed his usual pace to give Alex the chance to walk at a pace that was comfortable for her. They walked in companionable silence until the ground sloped up toward the rise Alex wanted to get to. Alex was breathing heavily and Walker insisted on a rest stop and water break. "I don't want to drink too much water," his wife explained, "the baby has decided to sit right on top of my bladder." Walker chuckled and said, "well if you need a bathroom break, there's plenty of places." "At this stage of my pregnancy, indoor plumbing is not a luxury, it's a mandatory requirement." "You mean we can't take any camping trips?" "No way, buster. You want to get me into the wilderness, you'll have to wait till the baby is big enough to put into a backpack that you carry." Walker laughed at his wife, but agreed that it would be his turn to lug the baby's weight around after it was born. "You ready to continue or would you rather head back and watch the sunset from the porch swing?" The question sounded too much like a challenge to Walker's stubborn wife and she turned and continued the climb.

Twenty minutes later, they came out onto a hillside that was covered in wild flowers and only had two or three trees. "Oh Walker," Alex gasped, "spring is here." While Alex drank in the beautiful sight, Walker watched her face. Her eyes were bright with happiness and when she turned and looked directly at him, his heart stopped and then jumped into his throat. She was so incredibly beautiful. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes sparkled and her lips were parted to take in the extra oxygen she needed after the hike. Walker reached out and touched her cheek, trailing his finger down her face. He traced all the features of her face and then traced the outline of her lips that were now parted in anticipation. Slowly, as if someone had pushed the slow motion button on a VCR, Walker leaned in to claim those lips with his own. Alex's hands rested on his chest and Walker's hands unclasped, dropping the blanket and plastic water bottle on the ground at their feet. He reached with both of his arms and gathered her tightly to him. He began kissing her more deeply, tasting the deepest recesses of her mouth. Alex's hands roamed up from his chest to his neck where she played with the fringe of his hair that rested on his collar.

Walker finally broke the kiss, but only long enough to spread the blanket on the ground and unhook the clasps that kept Alex's overalls up. Alex stepped out of the overalls as they dropped to the ground and kicked them aside. Walker continued to touch and taste the rest of her body as each article of clothing was discarded. He then lowered her to the blanket and hurriedly stripped off his own clothes to join her there. The two lovers were lost in a world of their own making as they shared themselves with each other. Walker helped Alex to sit straddling him as her enlarged belly made traditional positions for lovemaking impossible. Alex moaned as she took him deep inside of her and stayed still except for a gentle rocking motion as her body accommodated him. Walker's hands clasped her hips and urged her on as they established a rhythm that pleasured them both. They climaxed simultaneously and Alex collapsed onto her husband. Both lay there, chests heaving with exertion for several minutes. Alex rolled off of Walker and onto her back. She looked up at the sky that was painted orange, yellow and pink. "Oh Walker, look. What a beautiful sunset." "We almost missed it," he commented.

As they lay watching the sky deepen into lavenders, blues and purples, Alex felt her skin cool as the sweat evaporated. She shivered slightly and goosebumps began to rise. Walker felt the slight shiver as a chill ran through her and he wrapped his arms tightly around her and drew her body back into his embrace. Time stood still as the two watched the ever-changing vista stretched out in the heavens before their eyes. As the first stars appeared, Walker started to gather up their clothing. "Walker, I don't have the option of waiting till we get back to the house, I need to relieve myself now." What should have been an embarrassing moment, was just one of those things married couples live through and later laugh about. Walker helped Alex in such a way that kept her from feeling uncomfortable or shy. He then helped her dress and started hunting for his own clothes. "Alex, I can't find my underwear." "We should have brought a flashlight," his wife laughed as she joined in the hunt. "It's your fault you know," Walker accused, "if they were white, I would be able to find them with no problem." "It's worth a lost pair or two to see you in black briefs. You look so incredibly sexy in black." "Well, how do you feel about no briefs? I can't find them." "Even better, darling. Just pull on your jeans and we'll head back. You can ride up here tomorrow and find them before this weekend when the gang comes over for that picnic we promised them." "Oh that's right," Walker groaned. Now that would be embarrassing if Trivette, Josie, Sydney or Gage located the missing underwear. "Or, we could make a game out of it. Whoever finds the missing underwear wins a second helping of dessert." Alex was laughing, knowing that Walker's cheeks were red even if she couldn't see them. "You have a twisted sense of humor Mrs. Walker." Walker finished dressing, despite the fact that he was also missing a sock and the two headed for home.

The house smelled wonderful as they opened the door and were greeted by the aroma of the stew Alex had left simmering. "Why don't you go on up and shower while I finish dinner. After all, you are only partially dressed as it is," Alex suggest with a wicked twinkle in her eye and a suggestive pat to his jean pocket. "Watch it woman, keep up the wise cracks and there'll be a price to pay," Walker threatened. "Promises, promises," his wife taunted. Walker shook his head at her and headed upstairs. She was the only person on the face of the earth who could tease him without fear of reprisal and unfortunately for him, she knew it.

Alex had the table set and had dished up two bowls of beef stew with freshly baked biscuits to accompany them. Alex had discovered a stand at the Farmer's Market that sold homemade biscuits that could be kept in the freezer. She merely pulled as many out of the bag as she needed and popped them in the oven. They were heavenly and were great for dipping into the stew. Walker sat down at the table and they ate their meal while they talked about how the nursery was coming along. "Now that it's painted and most of the furniture is in, it just needs a few finishing touches," Alex proclaimed. "Honey, any more 'touches' and we're not going to be able to walk into it." "I'm not talking about furniture. I mean pictures on the wall, a mobile over the crib, things like that." "Oh, you mean, decorating," Walker said the last word as if it were dirty. Alex laughed at her husband, but took pity on him. "All right, Walker. I will do the shopping and I'll just ask you to hammer the nails in the wall, deal?" "Deal," he agreed relieved. Alex had drug him to five different furniture stores before settling on a crib. She had made him attend a baby Expo before settling on a theme. She had changed her mind about the shade of yellow she wanted on the walls four different times. He had complained through it all, but secretly, he loved watching her excitement and enthusiasm build with each decision made and each purchase installed in the nursery.

After dinner, they turned on some music in the living room and played a game of chess. They were evenly matched and their games were generally split, each with as many wins as the other. Finding a player who challenged him had been difficult for Walker and he enjoyed the competition. This evening, Alex was victorious and Walker got stuck with the dishes. "Don't get dishpan hands cowboy," Alex taunted as she headed upstairs to shower and dress for bed.

Forty-five minutes later, Walker headed upstairs in search of his wife. She wasn't in their room, so he walked toward the nursery. Alex sat in the glider he had placed in the room for feeding and rocking the baby to sleep. The soft yellow on the walls was a warm color and the bright white trim and furniture made the room look clean and crisp. Part of the reason they had struggled with a theme was that they wanted to wait for the birth to see what sex their baby would be. They had decided on decorating the room with traditional symbols of Texas. There was a light green cactus and tumbleweed border that encircled the room. The yellow walls represented the 'Yellow Rose of Texas' and the border represented the landscape. The lamp, which currently provided the only light in the room, had a rodeo themed shade with horses and cattle corralled around its base. The only decoration on the wall was an authentic dream catcher that had been a gift from White Eagle. The dream catcher hung over the head of the crib. Alex had plans to add more knick-knacks, but there was enough in the room to hint at the final product.

Walker stood in the doorway gazing at his wife. She slowly rocked the glider back and forth with her foot as she hummed a lullaby and held a Teddy Bear in her lap. The bear wore a cowboy hat and boots and sported a kerchief around its neck. It also had an imitation Texas Ranger badge pinned to its chest. It had been a gift from 'Uncle Jimmy.' Walker looked on at the scene before him with tears standing in his eyes. Soon, she would be holding their baby in her arms and Walker was looking forward to that moment with equal measure of dread and anticipation.

"I ove you," Walker stated in a quiet voice that suited the almost reverential atmosphere. Alex's eyes opened and she smiled a sweet smile of contentment to her husband. "I love you," she answered. Walker approached the glider and offered his hand to help her out of it. She stood and then turned to place the bear in the seat of the glider. "All my life I had a dream that I would one day be as happy as I am now. I can't believe my dreams have all come true." Alex stepped into her husband's arms and wrapped her own arms around his waist and tried to convey her gratitude to him for making her so happy. "We are so lucky," Walker said, "as White Eagle would say, 'the gods are smiling on us'." "Indeed they are," his wife concurred. "Let's make a pact to try to get home as early as we did today at least once a week," Walker suggested. "It's a deal. Should we shake on it?" "I have a better idea," Walker said as he dipped his head to seal it with a kiss.

They walked across the hall together to their bedroom and prepared for bed. Walker brushed Alex's hair out and he kneaded her lower back muscles so that she could sleep more comfortably. As often happened, this led to them making love again. This time it was Walker who suggested a new position for them to try. He had read through one of Alex's books on pregnancy and had found some suggested positions with illustrations.

Both of the lovers lay panting from their exertions after reaching that moment of heaven on earth. "I liked that, we'll have to try it again sometime," Alex said and then laughed as Walker groaned. "Not too soon, that was a lot of work, on my part anyway. I read that women usually have a decline in their sexual appetite in the third trimester of pregnancy." "Aren't you glad I didn't read that book?" his wife teased. "Absolutely," he concurred. Alex snuggled onto her side placing the pillow that helped her to ease the pressure from her spine between her knees. She buried her head into her husband's chest and was asleep in moments. Walker lay there fighting his own fatigue as he stroked her hair and listened to her breathe. Each day with this woman was better than the day before. Being married to her was the answer to all his prayers. His only regret was that he hadn't married her sooner. He finally lost the battle, giving in to the sleep that claimed him. His last thought as he drifted off was that he couldn't wait for his alarm to go off so that he could spend another day married to Alex. Eight hours later, the alarm sounded and Walker turned it off so as not to wake his sleeping partner. He smiled as he looked over at her and thought, 'just another day in paradise.'

The End

*All the usual disclaimers apply.