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A Heart Connection

By Sissy

Alex stands at the side of the road, staring down at the flat tire on her rented car. She mutters, “Damn it,” and reaches into the car, getting the keys from the ignition. Moving to the back she opens the trunk. Her shoulders droop and she cries, “No! No! No!” The spare is flat.

She looks up and down the deserted road, slams the trunk lid down and despondently, sits down in the seat, wondering how long she’s going to have to wait in this heat for someone to come down this stretch of road. She had called and left a message on Walker’s answering machine letting him know where she had gone but wasn’t sure when he was getting back. Alex is on her way home from a little backwater town to find a witness for her upcoming trial, in a rented car because her car had been in the shop.

Alex starts to nod off when the noise of a pickup that looks like it is about to fall apart comes up the road.

She quickly stands and begins waving for it to stop. The driver smiles and pulls over to the side of the road behind Alex’s car.

“Ms Cahill. What’s your problem?”

Alex walks over to the truck, “Cathy, what are you doing way out here?” It’s the waitress from the little café on the outskirts of Dallas where she has eaten breakfast a few times.   “I’m on my way back to Dallas, I was just out saying goodbye to a friend. I’ve finally saved enough to be on my way. I’m catching a bus out later this afternoon.”

“Can I get a ride to the nearest gas station? I need to send someone out here to get my car?”

“Sure, get in.”

Alex climbs in the truck, reaches for a seat belt, but there isn’t any. This truck is before seat belts. She settles in for the ride, as Cathy begins talking nonstop, which is all right with Alex, her mind is elsewhere.

Her mind snaps to attention when she realizes that Cathy is slowing down, searching the roadside, for what she has no idea.

“What’s wrong?”

Cathy grins, “I’ve got to go,” she says as she wiggles her bottom in the seat to indicate her predicament. “I guess I should have gone before I left town.”

“You mean you need to…”

“Yeah, I gotta wee,” Cathy says, “and I’m not pulling over and baring my backside for just anyone to see.” She giggles then says, “Oh look! There’s a road.” She points to a small turnoff just ahead.  “I’ll drive far enough up to be out of view of the road then I’ll do my business and we’ll be on our way.”

“Okay, but you’d better be careful where you drive. You don’t want to get stuck up in there. We’re a long way from nowhere.”

“Don’t I know it,” and makes the turn down the unused road. The truck bounces like crazy on the overgrown ruts and Alex grabs onto the seat with one hand and presses the other against the roof to keep from banging her head.

Cathy shouts, “Hold on,” then giggles when she jerks the steering wheel to the right to dodge a rabbit that dared to jump across the road in front of the rattling truck.

She laughs when she sees Alex pulling herself up from the floor where she had been thrown.

The highway quickly disappears as the road drops over a small hill and snakes down toward what once had been a homestead. There is a scattering of trees with a small stretch of rusted fence and a dilapidated gate hanging by one hinge. A leafless blackened tree is standing by a crumbling chimney.

“This will do,” Cathy says as she brings the truck to a stop./p>

Alex rolls her eyes, thankful that she’s still in one piece. She smoothes her hair back from her face and turns to look at Cathy. Shock fills her eyes when Cathy’s grasps her hair and pulls it from her head. Dropping it on the seat between them.

Alex looks up into the face that has darkened with hate.

“I know you!” she gasps, “you’re … you’re…” and then she sees the gun and starts to open the door, but stops when she realizes there is no place to go.

“Of course you do! I’m Miriam, in case you forgot, the wife of the man you murdered. I’ve been following you for quite a while.”

Alex is in shock; the hate emanating from the woman is unmistakable. Heart pounding, she tries to focus on something other than the gun barrel aimed at her face. She remembers the man that she had prosecuted the third time in a year for using and selling drugs to school kids.

Get out!” the woman shouts.

When Alex hesitates, a shot blasts past her ears and out the open window.

Knowing that Miriam means business she opens the door and stumbles as she gets out. Desperately she tries to quit shaking and think of a plan of action, but the woman is too close.

“Start walking,” she ordered.

Alex complies while trying to make sense of the woman’s wild ranting.

“Why, Miriam? I never did anything to you. No one was sorrier than I was when I heard he had died.”

“No! He’s dead and it’s all because of you!” Miriam screams again. “He couldn’t stand being stuck in a cell, it drove him crazy. You killed him!”

Her laughter is shrill and borders on hysteria as she moves forward. Alex doesn’t see it coming. Miriam kicks her foot up and then out and hits Alex squarely in the center of her stomach. Light explodes behind her eyelids as the breath is forced out of her lungs. She staggers backward from the impact, and then hears a loud crack, feels the ground sinking beneath her feet, and then she is falling. Breathless from the kick, she can’t scream.

Rotting boards that have been lying across the old well on the abandoned property gives way. Miriam dances around in a circle in delight, shaking from exertion as well as exhilaration. She’d done it! Alex Cahill is gone. And then suddenly she has to see for herself, know for certain that where Alex has gone, she can’t get back.

Miriam leans over and stares down into the dark, narrow shaft, then starts to laugh. That smooth, pretty face is streaked with dirt and blood. The body that Ranger Walker had enjoyed lays crooked and crumbled in several inches of water.

As suddenly as it had appeared, Miriam’s hysteria disappears. She straightens slowly and begins to look around, taking one last glance to make sure that they have not been seen. A dangerous glitter sparkled in her eyes as she checks their surroundings. The isolated location was perfect.

The gun hangs heavily from her limp fingers. She looks down at the weight, surprised by its presence, and blinks twice, as if coming out of a trance.

“If that lover of yours could see you now, he wouldn’t be so quick to bed you,” Miriam says, her words coming out in short, jerky hisses, and waves the gun back down through the opening to get her point across.

Then suddenly, without warning, she braces her legs and points the gun into the well. Her finger twitched on the trigger, and yet she doesn’t squeeze. She realizes that if Alex dies too fast she won’t suffer enough. Donny had suffered. She must suffer, too.

“No,” Miriam says calmly. “You don’t get off that easy, Miss Alexandra Cahill. It’s going to take you a long time to die. And while you’re down there in misery and pain, crying for your lover and begging for mercy, that no one will hear, you’ll remember what you did to Donny. Then you’ll be sorry.”

She places a couple of boards back across the hole, then turns and walks to her truck.

Without looking at the scene of her crime, she starts the truck and drives away. Less than thirty minutes later she is at the bus stop outside the Uptown Café waiting for the bus to take her to the Houston. From there she will board a flight to LA.

****

With consciousness comes pain and thoughts of confusion. Why, Alex wonders, did she feel wet and cold, and why is her bed suddenly so hard and lumpy? When she reaches out, intent on pulling the covers back over her body, she groans aloud as her hand bumps the side of the well instead. There is no way of stopping the chill that invades her bones.

“Walker … I’m cold,” she mumbles. But no one comes and covers her up. No one takes away the pain. She can’t understand why her legs won’t stretch, or why she can’t simply roll out of bed as she’d done this morning.

It was on the third aching breath that she remembers Miriam and jerks in reflex to the kick she hadn’t seen coming. But it is too late. The kick has already come and gone and she is still in the well.

“Oh, my God,” she mutters.  Reality surfaces as she becomes all too aware of her cramped and throbbing body when she tries to stand.

Movement makes the ache in her back shoot straight up her spine, into the top of her head. The scream comes without warning, bursting forth, echoing in an eerie echo as it travels against the narrow walls and then up and out of the opening above.

Tears floods beneath her eyelids as she claps a hand over her mouth in fear, terrified that Miriam might still be lurking somewhere above; afraid that her cry would alert the madwoman to the fact that she was still alive.

She has no way of way of knowing that Miriam is long gone. All she knows is that she is hurt and as alone as she’d ever been in her entire life.

“Oh, God,” she whispers, while tears make paths across the blood and dirt on her face. “Don’t let me die. Not now. Not when Walker and I are finally together.”

She looks down at the water in which she is sitting and suddenly realizes there is a good possibility she isn’t down here alone. Worrying about never being found or starving to death might be wasted if she’s fallen in the well with a cottonmouth. The water moccasin’s deadly venom would simply finish what Miriam has started.

She sits for long painful minutes, listening for sounds in the water and sounds from above. When she convinces herself that she is alone in her watery grave, she sighs with relief.

Taking a deep breath, she once again begins struggling to her feet—this time, much more slowly and carefully. Sweat mingles with tears as she tries to block out the shaft of pain that goes up her leg.

“Oh, God,” she groans, when the walls around her began to move. She lowers her head between her arms and leans against the dirt wall of the well. “Think of Walker. Think of Walker.” Digging her fingers into the hard-packed dirt of the old well, she takes a slow, deep breath and thinks about how to get out.

Somewhere in the back of her mind she can remember seeing a stunt man attempt to climb out a crack inside a mountain. She closes her eyes and concentrates on the way that he’d inched himself up the opening.

“A chimney,” she mutters. “He called the shaft a chimney,” and she remembers that the climber had used his arms, back, and legs as braces against the narrow walls. She can almost hear his grunts, as he’d push himself up with great effort, inches at a time.

“It has to work,” she groans, remembering how far they’d come off the main highway and how isolated the abandoned homestead was. “I will not die in this well.”

She thinks of the message she’d left on Walker’s answering machine and a spurt of hope surfaces

“God, help me, till Walker gets here,” she whispers, and puts her back against the wall of the well.

At first she felt like it was going to work. Her legs are long, and a more than fair fit against the opposite side of the well. Her back is sore, but it seems able to support her weight as she begins to move upward toward the sunlight teasing her from above.

Sweat pops out across her forehead, running down the middle of her spine and instantly soaking her shirt to her body. A short time into the climb, Alex begins to realize that it isn’t heat that is causing the perspiration; it’s the pain.

With each movement of her leg, she feels as if red-hot needles are being poked into her knee. She looks down, expecting to see shivers of wood through which she’d fallen, protruding through her jeans. But nothing is there but the fire spreading through her leg.

She looks up again. This time the hole has moved above her, and then as if in a nightmare, the well begins to spin. She throws her arms out in a futile effort to stop the motion, and falls back into the water.

She screams in agony as the pain in her leg travels up past her spine, clawing for a toehold in her sanity. Everything around her begins to spin faster and faster as she falls into oblivion.

Minutes, hours, even days, may have passed by the time she comes to again, and she wouldn’t have known it. Daylight still makes shadows on the edge of the well, but they are shorter, and she realizes that however long she’s been down here, another day is about to end. Night is coming.  And with it comes fear, unreasonable, impossible fear.

“Help! Help!” she screams, shouting over and over until her throat goes dry. “Someone, get me out! I’m down here! I’m down here!

She looks up at the fading patch of daylight, holding her breath against the fear that Miriam might come back. When she can think with some reason, she comes to the realization that Miriam is probably long gone from this scene of her crime. With the knowledge comes fright. Alex chokes back a scream. There is no one left to tell the world what has happened to her.     

Alex shouts and screams off and on for hours, standing, thinking it put her closer to the opening above her, to make her voice easier to hear. But she knows it will take a miracle for that to happen.

Her aching knee suddenly gives way beneath her again, dropping her back into the cold, murky water with a rude plop. With nothing in her heart but a meager hope and a prayer, she leans her forehead against her knees and finally gives way to more sobs of despair.

The sky above fades away in the darkness.

****

Walker plays the tape back on his answering machine for the second time. He checks the time of the message, then heads for the front door, grabbing his hat on the way out. “Damn, this was called in yesterday. Something’s wrong,” he mutters to himself.

He calls Trivette on his way through town, telling him of the phone call. “Alex left a message on my answering machine that she was leaving Benson, and would be home in an hour.  But she left the message yesterday and she isn’t home. C.D. hasn’t seen her, and no one at work has either.  It only takes an hour to drive back from where Alex went so something must have happened.”

 “Do you want me to go with you? I’m still at Ranger Headquarters.”

“Okay, be out front, I’ll pick you up.”

After picking up Trivette, they take off up the little used country road that leads to the small town where Alex had gone. The heat is shimmering on the blacktop in front of them, causing a glare that gives them a pounding headache

They are almost on top of the car when they make it out through the glaring sun.  Walker hits the brakes and pulls over in front of the stranded car.

He jumps out and quickly checks out the inside of her car. “No, Alex. Her purse is on the floor, too.”    

“Walker, look at this. She had a flat tire.”    

Walker moves around the car, sees the tire and says, “Damn, I’ll bet she was picked up.”

“Yeah, but by whom?”

He starts looking at the ground around the car. As he comes around the rear of the car he squats down and runs his finger lightly over the tracks there. “Trivette, I think someone did pick her up from the look of these tracks.”

“You’re right; looks like he came up behind her.”

“Well, they must have gone on toward Dallas. But where are they? Alex would have called if something had come up.”

“Yeah, she would have.” Trivette looks at Walker, “If she could.”

Walker looks up at his partner, the blood draining from his face, as he understands the implications of Trivette’s words.

He stands and jerkily begins pacing around the car. Then turns and walks down the road, then suddenly comes back. “Trivette lets see if the car went down any side roads. The tires on that vehicle are so bald they shouldn’t be hard to follow.”

“What makes you think they left the road? Maybe they went back the other way.”

“For one thing, it’s closer to Dallas then where they came from. And we didn’t pass anyone. And if Alex had made it back to Dallas, she would have called to tell me.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” he says following Walker into the truck.

Walker starts the truck and turns around, heading back toward Dallas.  Every time he comes to a turnoff, he slows down to give Trivette time to check for tracks.

After thirty minutes, Trivette sighs deeply and says, “None of these roads, or rather cow paths, show any sign of usage at all.” He mops the sweat off his forehead with the sleeve of his shirt, “Maybe they went the other … Oops, back up Walker. There are tracks on this one.”

Walker backs up, stops and both get out to check out the dusty road. He squats down and stares hard at the tracks. “Same as the ones at Alex’s car. There are two sets, one going in and one set coming out. Let’s check them out.”

He turns into the road and begins moving slowly, trying to dodge the bumps, and the ridges. When traces of the tracks stop, Walker pulls over to the side so as not to obliterate the signs of the vehicle.

“There’s nothing here Walker. Looks like an abandoned homestead.”

****

There she is again, staring down at her and laughing like a banshee. Alex begins crying and folds her arms around her knees, pulling them into her chest, hiding her face from the woman above. She’s known all along that Miriam would come back.

She can hear Miriam laugh and then cry. She catches her breath; unable to tell which direction the crying is coming from.

Maybe she’s not crying. Maybe it’s me! But she looks up and sees a face wavering in and out of focus.

She puts her hands over her ears and squeezes her eyes shut, fiercely trying to block out the vision.

Lost with the ghost in her mind, she doesn’t hear the sound of the car coming up the road. All she could hear is the wind whistling down the well and the shriek of Miriam’s rage.

****

Walker gazes out over the area, Alex, where are you? You’re here I can feel it. He starts walking toward the remains of the chimney, when he hears the crack of wood, and quickly pulling back he sees a dark hole. He drops to his knees and removes the scattered boards away, and brushing the grasses at the edge of the abandoned well. “Trivette, go to the truck and get the flashlight under the seat.”

“Oh, God,” he cries as he stares down into the darkness, but he can see the pale yellow hair and begins calling to her.

“Alex, honey, can you hear me?”

She doesn’t move and the beat of his heart stills, God, she can’t be …”

“Here Walker, do you see her?”

“Yes, get the rope, hurry.” He shines the light down the well, but she still doesn’t move.

Trivette comes running with the rope, Walker grabs it and runs to his truck, lies on his back under the front, tying the rope to the frame.

“I’m going down,” he says, tying the other end of the rope around his waist. “Back up until the rope is tight between us. When I start down, drive forward to let me down. Go slow. I’ll let you know when to pull us back up.”     

Walker watches him start toward the truck, his mind on the crumpled figure at the bottom of the well.

“Trivette, when you get in the truck, get me an ambulance up here ASAP.”

“You got it,” he said, then gets in and backs up the truck until Walker waves his hand.

He watches as Walker tests the rope around his waist then steps toward the well. Trivette holds his breath as Walker disappears over the lip of the hole. Then, remembering the order to call for help, he grabs the radio as he puts the truck in gear and begins to move.

“Alex, honey, can you hear me?” His voice is rough and shaky, echoing around the walls of the well, as he is lowered slowly down into the dank smelling hole. But she doesn’t move.

She hears his voice, but she has heard it before and he wasn’t there. All during the night she had heard him calling her name, but every time she had looked up he hadn’t been there. All she could see were the glittering stars in the night sky. It was like all the eyes of Texas were upon her but still couldn’t see her. It was going to be too late. No one could save her. She’d come to terms with dying. It was her heart that kept having a problem. It didn’t want to give up Cordell Walker.

But Walker hadn’t given up on her. When his feet bumped her shoulder, he scrambled to push away from the wall of the well, afraid that he would land on her.

“Come on, Trivette, a little lower, a little … Stop!” he yelled.

He found himself standing in several inches of water and straddling her legs.

With shaking hands, he reaches down, touching the side of her face, half expecting to feel the chill of death beneath his fingers. But even though it was cold, supple flesh gave way beneath his touch.

Tears spring to his eyes as he crouches in the cramped space, moving his hands frantically over her body in an effort to find her injuries. When he looks up to gauge the distance he’d come, he’d had no doubt that she had them. It was a long way to fall.

She moans. The touch on her body is familiar. The voice that reverberated against her eardrums makes her cry out in pain. She can’t bear to be taunted with his ghost like this again. She closes her eyes certain that once again, just like before, the image of Walker will disappear and she’d come to only to find herself still hurt and alone … and dying.

“Don’t try to move, honey,” he says softly, as he lifts her to her feet. “Let me do all the work. You just keep breathing for me, Alex. Don’t leave me now!”

He hears her gasp as her knee gives way, and he quickly slides his arms around her, letting his body bear all her weight as he prepares her for the trip out.

Trivette is on all four’s peering down into the darkened well, trying to see past his partner to the woman in his arms.

“Walker?”

“She’s alive, Trivette. Thank the Lord she’s alive. Haul us up, man, and be easy. I can’t tell how bad she’s hurt.”

Trivette gives a war whoop and runs for the truck. In seconds he shifts into reverse and begins a slow but constant pull on the rope.

Walker presses her head firmly beneath his chin and with one hand against the back of her neck to keep her immobile, and his other arms wrapped as tightly around her as he dares, they begin the ascent. As the rope tightens and the ride begins, he locks his legs around the lower half of her body, using himself for the buffer needed to get them both up the narrow shaft.

In short time, Walker’s head appears above the hole. His shoulders come next, and the hold he has on his lady not wanting to let her go.  The ambulance appears at that moment, bouncing its way up the rough, uncharted path with several patrol cars leading the way.

“Thank God,” Walker says, as he feels solid ground beneath him. He rolls onto his back with her on top, still using himself to keep her immobile.

“Alex, honey, can you hear me?”

She doesn’t answer, and when the chill of her body begins seeping into his own skin, he wills her some of his own warmth and strength. His hands shake as he traces the bloody paths across her face and arms, and he knows at that moment how fragile life is, and how dear she is to him.

He’s never wanted to kiss a woman so bad in his life, and never been so afraid to do so. There wasn’t a place on her that looks safe to touch.

He leans over close to her ear and whispers softly, “Don’t you leave me now, Alex, not now.”

Alex feels the warm, steady beat of a heart beneath her eardrum, hears the familiar rumble of his voice, and knows that if she’d died and gone to heaven it’s okay, because Walker will be there waiting for her. And if she hasn’t, if Walker has truly come, then he’s done as he promised. He saved her life. She will have to wait until later to know for sure. Right now she feels like she has a large black hole in her mind just waiting for her to fall through.

And she falls; just as the first of the rescue team gets to her side.

“Is she alive?” the paramedic asks.

Walker takes a deep breath before he can trust himself to answer.

“Yes, thank God.”

When they start to roll her from his body onto the stretcher, his gaze connects once again with the medic’s. “I don’t know how she’s still alive, but you’ve got to do your bit to keep her that way.”

“We’ll do all we know how, and then some, Walker. Now let her go.”

Reluctantly, Walker gives her up.

He bolts to his feet as they strap her down, and then runs beside the stretcher as they carry her to the waiting ambulance. When they transfer her to the gurney and then into the ambulance, he beats the paramedics inside.

Trivette watches as Walker climbs into the ambulance, stares after it till it disappears down the road, sirens screaming and lights flashing, then turns and jumps into the truck and follows after it.

Later that afternoon, Walker is sitting beside Alex’s bedside, waiting for a sign that will tell him she is on her way back to him. He lifts her limp hand to his cheek, curving it to fit around his face as if she were doing it herself.

“Be strong for me Alex. You are strong aren’t you, honey? Whatever they put you through was still not enough to make you quit. I’m so proud of you, honey. Do you hear me, baby? I’m so damn proud of you, honey, I could cry.” And the tears slowly start trickling down his face.

****

Walker paces the halls, after hearing what the doctor has told him of Alex’s injuries. She has broken ribs, and just thinking about that almost makes him sick to his stomach. Her concussion is serious, but not life threatening. She just missed pneumonia and the doctor feels that she would have been better off if she had just broken her leg instead of the torn muscles and ligaments she’s suffered around her knee. Now, he is waiting for the doctor to come out of Alex’s room with an update on her condition.

“Walker?”

He turns around to face the doctor who has just left Alex’s room.

“What is it, Doc? Is she worse? Did you get the results of her x-rays? When will you know something?”

Doctor Raymond waits patiently for Walker to finish his questions.

“Are you ready to listen?”

“I’m sorry,” the Ranger says as he sags back against the wall. “I’m listening.”

“She’s going to be just fine. All signs are leading to a complete recovery.”

“Thank God,” he says, and begins shaking the doctor’s hand with wild abandon.

Pulling his hand for the Ranger’s grasp, he says, “Now I’m not saying there won’t be some tough days ahead for her. Even after the laser surgery we did on her knee, she’s still got some rehabilitation to go through. And when she wakes up she’ll have a hell of a headache. But for someone who fell down a well, she’s in good shape.”

“She didn’t fall.” Walker reminds him, his eyes hard with anger. “Remember the shoe print in the middle of her shirt?”

The doctor nodded, he knew she had been kicked in the stomach and fallen backward. It’s a wonder she survived.

“You can go back in,” Doctor Raymond says. “But you have to promise not to cause trouble. You sit and be quiet. Let her come back to you on her own.” But Walker isn’t listening; the door to her room is already swinging shut after him.

The curtains are shut and the room is dark and cool. Walker sits in a chair by her bedside, his fingers lying over hers. His eyes are focused just above her chin where her upper and lower lip meets and remembers how soft and sweet it is to touch and how she has clung to his kisses when they made love. Now it is swollen and bruised. A cut is slowly healing on her lower lip, also a large scrape beneath her chin.

She sighs. He stands, expecting at any minute to see her eyes open. But the sigh is premature and he sits back down. He’ll wait; he has all the time in the world to wait.

She knows he is there long before she opens her eyes. There is pain, but nothing like before and the bone-chilling cold and the smell of dank water are also missing.

She opens her eyes and it is then that she sees him, sitting in a chair beside the bed and staring out the window above it. Her fingers twitch and then clutch at his hand.

He jerks and looks down. He sees her slow, steady smile, and then after that, everything is a blur.

She takes a deep breath. “You came.”

He can’t resist leaning over her bed and placing a kiss on her cheek. “I promised you, honey, remember?” he says and sinks back into the chair.

A tear slides out of the corner of her eye. She inhales slowly, and then moves her other hand tenderly across her rib cage.

“Everything hurts,” she says, and looks to him for answers

“Two broken ribs and they fixed your knee,” he says, and pats her hand, afraid to touch anything else that matters.

She closes her eyes to signify she understands, and then she snaps them open.

“Walker.”

“What, honey?” he asks, and wishes with all his soul that he could pick her up and hold her.     

“Miriam Ashley. She’s the one.”

Walker jumps. He’s been so focused on her survival that he’s completely forgotten that with her consciousness would come answers.

“Okay, Alex, I’ll take care of it.”

“Do it now,” she says, then sighs, as if she’s used up all her strength. “You go,” she murmurs, “She said something about leaving Dallas. Don’t let her get away.”

The hard look on his face is never more evident than when he leaves the hospital room and starts down the hall to the phone banks.

He calls Trivette and informs him of the person’s name, the one responsible for what had happened to Alex.

Trivette assures him that he is on it. He checks the files of Donny Ashley to locate a picture of his wife, Miriam. The picture goes out and attention is focused on all modes of transportation out of Dallas, especially busses.  At the bus station they locate the bus Miriam is on, but it is long gone. The manager relates to them where the bus is most likely to be.

Walker orders a helicopter and he and Trivette fly to the stretch of highway near Phoenix where the bus company says the bus is located. They land just ahead of it and order the driver to pull over to the shoulder of the highway.

Walker boards the bus and after spying his quarry about half-way back, walks down the aisle and looks at the woman who had left Alex for dead.

“Come on Miriam, you’re under arrest, lets go.” Walker reaches down and takes her by the arm.

She pulls out of his grip and glares at him. “What for?  I haven’t done anything.”

“For the attempted murder of Alex Cahill.  You have the right to remain silent….”

She scowls at him, the hate distorting her face. “Attempted?  You mean the bitch isn’t dead?” she snarls, her hand darting to her pocket.

Yes, she’s alive, no thanks to you, and she’s ready to testify against you,” he says as he grabs her arm and wrestles the weapon from her fingers.

He pulls her up out of the seat and drags her screaming and fighting him every step of the way.

On her way to the helicopter, the thought of Alex Cahill still alive sends her over the edge. Everything she’s been through since Donny’s death … everything she planned, everything she’d done … it was all for nothing.

She starts to laugh, and then she begins to cry. Sobs change to jerky coughs as she tries to talk. But nothing comes out that makes any sense. Tiny bits of spit froth at the corner of her lip as they strap her into the helicopter.

They are met in Dallas by the Dallas Police who take her into custody. Walker watches the patrol car pull away, the last sight of her, was mouth, open as wide as it will go, and the virulent curses and choking laughter spilling out of and into the interior of the car like filth from a broken sewer.

****

“There he goes,” one of the nurses says, and elbows her coworker, watching the Ranger exit the elevator and turn down the hallway toward Alex Cahill’s room. For the last two weeks, his visits have been as regular as clockwork. This time he has a small sack he is smuggling in.

He pushes the door open and finds Alex sitting up in bed, grinning. He leans over and presses his mouth across her smile tasting her deeply before standing back.

“What did you bring me?” she asks, arranging her new, baby-pink nightgown that he bought her yesterday as a treat. It is as close to decent as sheer silk got, and he had a difficult time choosing a style. He wanted passionate pink. He got his wish. She looks good enough to eat.

“Among other things, a chocolate shake,” he says, and sits down beside her on the bed. He takes off the lid and hands her the straw and plastic spoon.

It is deliciously cold and goes down in slow smooth gulps as she diligently sucks on the straw, draining the shake down to its last sticky slurp.

She tosses the empty cup into the trashcan and then swings the bulky cast on her leg over the side of the bed.

“Are you suppose to be doing that?” he asks, eyeing the way she maneuvers herself closer to where he is sitting. From here he can see the outlines of her breasts through the sheer silk.

“Doing what?” she asks, leaning forward for a longer, better kiss than the one she’d gotten earlier.

He can’t resist, and wouldn’t if he could. She tastes of chocolate and temptation; impossible to ignore.

“What are you trying to do, honey?” he asks, as he catches her hands about to slide below his belt.

“I don’t know what you mean,” she says, and scoots a little closer.

“Look at me, Alex.”

Her gaze sweeps across his face, the beloved features so familiar, the seductive smile firmly in place. She looks her fill.

“I love you.” He cups her face in his hands and peppers her with kisses until she is aching and gasping for more. “I will never, I can never, get enough of you. But if you don’t stop teasing me into an ache we can’t heal, then I’m going to have to slack off on the visits or they’ll be redoing your surgery, and I’ll be sending you flowers from jail. Do you get my drift?”

“Are you trying to tell me that I’m causing you discomfort?” she asks with a grin.

“I’m not trying, I did tell you. Now are you going to cooperate, or am I going to have to put the chair beneath the doorknob and pray no one comes knocking until I’ve wiped that smug look off your face?”

Her eyebrows arch as she contemplates the alternatives he has just given her.

“I think if we hurry…”

He bolts off the bed.

Seconds later an orderly walking past in the hallway outside hears a small thump, and then a giggle and a sigh. But he shrugs and continues on his way.

Nearly an hour passes and it’s time for temps and pressures to be taken. The door to Alex’s room swings open and she turns over in bed and smiles at the woman who’s just entered her room.

Walker is sitting in his usual spot in the chair beside her bed, using the underside of the frame for a footrest as he scans an ancient and dog-eared National Geographic from the waiting room outside.

“You’ll have to leave now,” the nurse says, eyeing the odd expression on the Ranger’s face.

“Yes, ma’am,” he says, and bends down to give Alex a slow, lingering kiss.

The nurse fiddles with the tray beside her patient’s table as she waits for the man to leave.

“Enough’s enough,” she says, and then sees the empty cup and the sack wadded and tossed in the trashcan beside the bed. “So, did you enjoy your little treat?” she asks Alex.

Alex grins and looks straight into Walker’s face.

“Oh, yes, ma’am,” she says, a little too breathless for the nurse’s comfort. “It was the best thing I’ve had in weeks.”
Walker laughs out loud, picks up his hat from the extra chair, and sets it on his head at a jaunty angle.

“See you tomorrow?” Alex asks, as she watches him almost swagger out of the room.

He turns and winks. “You up to it?”

“No, I think the question should be are you up to it?”

His laughter echoes down the hall, rich and vibrant with life. The nurse frowns. There was more going on here than she’s expected.

“Open your mouth,” she says, and pokes the thermometer carefully between Alex’s lips.

“Where have I heard that before?” Alex asks, and then collapses in a fit of giggles.

The End