A Valentine’s Day to Remember
Cordell Walker is up with the sun, as usual. Except for the reason…he is having a hard time falling asleep. It is 6:30 in the morning on Valentine’s Day, 1995 and he is preparing to have what he hopes, will be a wonderful day with his new lady love, Alex Cahill. He has finally admitted his true feelings for her, and she has done the same for him. Although it isn’t the first Valentine’s Day that they’ve known each other, it is the first Valentine’s Day that they have been ‘a couple’. She has no idea all that he has in store for her and she is going to be pleasantly surprised, he hopes. He’s been harassed about not being romantic by his partner, James Trivette, and his former partner and good friend, CD Parker, and he’s really growing tired of all the abuse he’s suffered from these two. Besides wanting to spend some quality time with Alex and enjoying himself, he also wants to prove something to the two of them so they’ll get off his back about his ‘macho image’. So, he finds himself in the barn at his ranch at this hour of the morning having already cleaned all the stalls and fed both horses.
“She’ll be here at 10:00. It’s only 6:30? I’ve got plenty of time…” he mutters to himself as he heads back into the house. He climbs the stairs and jumps into the shower to clean the sweat and grime off of his chiseled body. ‘I hope she enjoys herself today…I don’t know why I’m so nervous. It’s just Alex’ he tells himself. ‘Alex…Alex with the cascading blonde hair…and those blue eyes…those crystal blue eyes…when she stares at me with those blue eyes, my heart melts and she gets anything her heart desires. Those legs…don’t even go there, Walker’ he admonishes himself. He turns the water on cold to try and quell the desire that’s building up in him and he finishes the shower in the cold spray.
Alex Cahill is having the same problem that Walker is having…she can’t sleep. It’s 6:45 in the morning and she never has a problem sleeping. She absolutely hates the early mornings and getting out of bed is the hardest thing she has to do everyday…except today. Today, she wants to start the day, now! ‘It’s only 6:45!’ she thinks to herself as she rolls over and stares at the bedside clock for the 12th time since she went to bed last night. ‘I’m not supposed to be there until 10:00…what am I gonna do with the rest of my time? I’ve got to get up; I’m not getting any sleep, that’s for sure.’ She jumps into the shower, eagerly anticipating what might be ahead for the day. Walker wouldn’t tell her what he had planned; only that he wanted her to wear some clothes to go horseback riding in, but to bring a change of clothes as he had made reservations at an exclusive restaurant for dinner. He wouldn’t tell her where they were going or what they would be doing between the horseback riding and dinner…that’s all right, as long as she gets to spend the time with him, alone.
It is 9:58 as Alex drives her green Sebring Convertible up the long driveway to his ranch house. She’s only driven around the neighboring ranches three times, trying to waste time so she wouldn’t get there too early. She didn’t want to seem too eager, she was afraid she might scare him off. It has taken so long for them to admit to each other how they felt, she’s afraid something will happen to jinx it. She walks up to the door and lightly raps on it as she opens it at the same time, calling out his name.
“In the kitchen…” he replies.
“Smells great in here! Watcha cooking?” she asks as she enters the kitchen and sees him standing at the stove.
“I’ve got some bacon, eggs, country potatoes, and the biscuits are in the oven. Hope you haven’t eaten breakfast yet.”
“No, actually I haven’t,” she replies, not telling him the real reason was because she was too nervous to eat anything.
“Good…cause I’m famished. If you want to set the table, it’ll be ready in about 5 minutes.”
She pulls the plates, silverware, and glasses down and arranges them on the table in their respective places. She grabs a coffee mug for herself and pours the potent black liquid into it and offers Walker a refill on his. He accepts, like she knew he would, and they sit down to a companionable breakfast together. Once they’ve finished, they clean the dishes and kitchen together and Walker excuses himself to use the restroom one more time before they get started on the horseback ride. He advises Alex to do the same while he goes and gets the horses ready. Alex joins him outside in front of the house in short order and they climb atop their respective horses and begin their Valentine’s Day together.
At 11:35 they arrive at a secluded lake on the backside of Walker’s property. It is a quiet, remote area where they first began their friendship a few years ago. Walker’s Uncle Ray tricked them into riding out there with him and then he ‘conveniently’ left them there together while he headed back to the ranch. At that point in their relationship, they weren’t exactly getting along very well. He thought she was aloof and snobbish and she thought he was pompous and arrogant. Little did they realize the feelings they were feeling for each other were much deeper than that.
“Remember when Uncle Ray brought you out here for the first time?” Walker asks her as he dismounts. She removes herself from her horse at the same time and they tie the two horses up to a tree near the lake so they have access to the water.
“Yeah, I remember,” she smiles at him. “You threw my hat in the water! That was my favorite hat!” she harasses him good-naturedly.
“I got it back for you!” he retaliates with a grin. He takes her by the hand and walks her over to a grassy area under a small tree where they spread the blanket that he has brought. He motions for her to sit down and when she does, he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small jewelry box. She takes a deep breath as she feels like all the air in the atmosphere has been taken away. He kneels down on both knees beside her and hands her the black velvet box. Looking into his blue-gray eyes, her own eyes mist over with tears as she opens the top. There, in the box, lays a beautiful silver heart-shaped locket.
“Turn it over,” he tells her. Inscribed on the back is simply, ‘W’.
“Walker, it’s beautiful!” she insists as she removes it from the box.
“Here, let me,” he offers, as he takes it from her and moves toward her to assist her in putting it around her neck. “Beautiful,” he says as he looks into her crystal blue eyes. He leans in and gives her a loving kiss on the mouth, which she gladly returns.
“Thank you,” she tells him. “It’s beautiful, and I love it.”
“You’re beautiful…and you’re welcome.”
They spend the majority of the afternoon laying in the sunshine as it was a fairly mild February day. They talk about life in general, avoiding subjects such as work and other distractions that might interfere with the mood of the day. Alex tries to get him to divulge what the day has in store for them but he is adamant about not letting her in on his plans.
“You’ll just have to be patient,” he insists. They stay at the lake for a few hours until Walker decides it’s time to head back so they can get ready for the evening. They mount their horses and ride off toward the ranch house, sometimes holding hands, sometimes just riding closely to one another. They reach the house about 3:15 and together they cool the horses off and get them settled back in the barn. Heading back in to the house hand in hand, Walker suggests that Alex take the downstairs bathroom and guestroom to get ready for tonight.
“Where are we going?” she asks for the third time in four hours, hoping he will give in.
“I’m not telling you…for the last time!” he insists. He leads her to the couch in the living room and tells her to have a seat; he has another surprise for her.
He heads off toward the kitchen and she sits on the offered couch, stunned. ‘Jimmy and C.D. keep telling me he doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body…if they could only see him now!’ she tells herself with a smile. He returns about 5 minutes later with a bottle of wine, two glasses, and a basket of goodies wrapped in red cellophane.
“Walker! What is this?” she questions with a look of surprise.
“Just a little ‘girlie stuff’ to help you get ready for tonight. I thought they smelled good and the sales lady at the store said they help you guys relax. Something about the smells help to calm and soothe…or some such thing. I didn’t understand it, but I guess it was a woman thing,” he tells her with a shrug of his shoulders.
She smiles at him and giggles at his attempts to get in touch with his ‘feminine side’. “Walker! That was so thoughtful! You know how much I love this stuff!” she replies as she removes the cellophane wrapper and digs through the small basket to discover a bottle of Lavender bath oil, lotion, and shower gel.
She leans in to him and places her hand on his cheek, as she touches her lips to his. He responds by placing his left arm around her waist and his right hand on her right cheek. He brings her in closer to his body and deepens the kiss by flicking his tongue at her lips. She opens her mouth wider and responds to his kiss by inserting her tongue in his mouth to join the dance he has started. They lie back on the couch and continue the loving assault on one another by unbuttoning shirts and allowing their hands to explore uncharted territory between the two of them.
Walker realizes that this is not how and when he wants to consummate this relationship. He was planning on a more romantic time and setting than the middle of the afternoon on his living room couch. He pushes her away and looks deeply in to her eyes that are filled with desire.
“Alex, I’m sorry. This isn’t where I had our first…well, what I’m trying to say is that I wanted us to make love…I mean, as much as I want to make love to you…” he stammers, growing more frustrated as he tries to think of what he’s trying to say. “This isn’t the time or place I had planned on making love to you for the first time.”
She tries to slow her breathing and her heart rate down while telling him that she understands what he’s trying to say, and that she agrees with him. “I feel the same way,” she insists. “Thank you.”
They move apart from one another and he reaches for the bottle of wine and glasses, as she buttons her blouse back up. He pours them each a glass of the sweet liquid and prepares to make a toast. He turns toward her and holds his glass up to hers.
“To us, and the beginning of a beautiful and long relationship,” he says as they clink glasses.
“To us,” she agrees, and they each take a sip of the wine. He moves so that he is leaning against the arm of the couch and invites her to sit between his legs with her back against his chest. He wraps his arms around her waist and they enjoy a quiet, intimate conversation in that position until Walker looks at his watch and realizes it is 5:15 and they need to get dressed if they are going to make their 7:30 reservations. Walker heads upstairs to shower in the master bathroom while Alex retreats to the guest bathroom to enjoy a bubble bath in her new Lavender bath oil.
Walker stays in his room killing time as he knows the temptation to sneak in to the guestroom would be too great if he went downstairs. Alex emerges from the guestroom at 6:50 and presents herself to Walker who is coming down the stairs after hearing her calling his name. He spots her at the bottom of the staircase and he is dumbfounded at the beauty that is displayed in front of him. She is standing in the foyer in a silky red dress that hangs just above her knees and is cut to fit her perfectly shaped figure, showing off all of her curves in just the right places.
“You look phenomenal!” he says.
“You look really handsome yourself, Cowboy!” she adds as he descends the staircase.
He is wearing a nice pair of black slacks, a black turtleneck, and a black-patterned sports coat with his black cowboy boots. When he reaches her, he places his left hand on her waist and leans in to kiss her on the cheek. “You smell really good, too,” he adds.
“Thank you” she agrees.
“Shall we go?” he asks as he grabs her wrap to place around her shoulders. He takes her hand in his and laces his fingers with hers as he walks her out to the truck and helps her into the passenger side.
They arrive at Antonio’s Lakeside Restaurant at exactly 7:20 and after valet parking the Ram, they enter the restaurant, hand in hand. They are promptly seated at a cozy table in the back of the restaurant, just as Walker has requested when he made the reservation. After they are seated and their drink orders are taken, the waiter quickly exits. Alex looks at Walker and smiles lovingly. “Cowboy, if I forget to tell you later, I really enjoyed today. It’s been the best Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had.”
“Me, too,” is all that Walker can say…it’s all that he needs to say.
Their drinks are brought and their meal orders are taken. Walker stands and after taking Alex’s hand, he walks her to the dance floor where he holds her close and they sway gently to the music, lost in each other. His left arm is wrapped tightly around her waist as his right hand cups her left hand close to his chest. She rests her head on his shoulder and they stay that way throughout two songs before either one speaks. Walker breaks the silence by backing away from her, just far enough away so he can look into her sky blue eyes.
“Alex, thank you.”
“For being so patient with me…and stubborn…and persistent…”
“You mean, for waiting for you to decide you wanted to pursue a relationship with me?” she teases.
He smiles at her. “Yes, for waiting for me to come to my senses enough to realize how I feel about you.”
Her eyebrows shoot up. She’s not sure she should ask this next question. “And, just how do you feel about me?”
“I know…it’s okay. Let’s not go there right now. This night has been too perfect.”
She places her head on his chest and snuggles back down to continue the wonderful dance they’re enjoying. Walker notices their waiter bringing their dinner and he nudges Alex and they return to their table. They enjoy a romantic, quiet dinner followed by a rich luscious dessert, shared between the two of them. After the dessert is finished, they decide one more dance is needed before heading home. One dance turns into dancing together for over an hour before they finally leave the establishment. Not yet ready to end the evening, Alex decides to ask Walker if he would like to head to her condo to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee. Since her condo is only 15 minutes from the downtown restaurant, Walker decides it’s a good idea and they head for Alex’s home.
Walking to her front door, Alex hands her keys to Walker who unlocks the door and follows her in. He turns the lock after closing the door behind him and sits on the couch while Alex makes some coffee.
“Why don’t you find some music, Walker?”
“Okay. What are you in the mood for?” he asks.
“There’s some jazz c.d.’s in there, some country, whatever you feel like listening to.”
“Anything, but opera,” he announces, knowing he’s ‘pushing a button’ as Alex loves opera.
“Don’t get smart!” she mock-angrily replies from the kitchen. “Just pick something and put it on.”
She returns with two cups of coffee and hands one to Walker, who is curled up on the couch, before taking a seat next to him. He moves so that she can sit leaning against his chest while she retrieves the afghan from the back of the couch and places it over the two of them. No words are spoken as they just enjoy the quiet time between the two of them. The smooth jazz emanating from the c.d. player helps lull them to sleep and before long, the two of them are comfortably snuggled together, exhausted from their sleepless night of wondering what the day would hold.
It is 8:15 the next morning before either of them stirs. Walker is the first to wake and he finds that he has a stiff neck from sitting in the same position for too long. However, he also finds that he hasn’t ever enjoyed snuggling with someone like this. He places a feather-light kiss on her neck and her eyes flutter open. It is a few minutes before she realizes where she is, and whom she is with.
“Good morning,” she states as she turns to look into his eyes.
“Good morning, beautiful,” he replies back, leaning in for a good morning kiss. She reciprocates before leaning against him again. She just isn’t ready to move from this warm, inviting spot.
“How’d you sleep?” he asks, with a smile.
“Great. And you?”
“I had a wonderful time last night. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. I had a wonderful time too. You’re my favorite Valentine,” he whispers in her ear.
“I’m glad I got to be your Valentine. Oh! I almost forgot!” she states as she gets up and heads to her bedroom. “I forgot to pack this in my stuff yesterday so I’ll give it to you now.” She returns to the couch and hands him a red gift bag with a big silver heart on the front.
“Alex, you didn’t have to get me anything.”
“I wanted to. You’re my Valentine,” she smiles at him. “Open it!” she says eagerly. He reaches into the bag and among all the tissue paper, he pulls out a leather bound book. Opening the front cover, he sees a handwritten message in Alex’s writing.
‘To my Favorite Cowboy on our first Valentine’s Day. Love, Alex’
He looks up at her and gives her a sweet, loving kiss.
“Thank you, Alex.”
“I know how much you love to read. And I also know how much you admire Hayes Cooper. I hope you don’t already have that book.”
Looking at the cover, he reads the title: ‘The Life and Times of Texas Ranger Hayes Cooper’.
“No, I don’t have this one. It’s a one of a kind, where did you find it?”
“At an antique bookstore in Fort Worth. They said they’ve had it for months and no one has even looked at it twice.”
“Wow! This is great. Thank you, honey. You know I’ll enjoy it.”
She puts her hand on his right knee and leans in for a kiss. “Did you see the bookmark?” she asks.
“No…oh there it is,” he states as it falls to the floor. He bends down and picks up the aluminum bookmark with a cowboy hat on top. Inscribed in the body of the bookmark are the words:
‘To my fearless Cowboy. 2/14/95’
“Alex, you are so special. Do you know how much you mean to me?” he asks her while looking in her eyes as they mist over with tears.
“You’re pretty special to me, too, you know that?” He looks down, not knowing how to take the soft words she is speaking. She places her index finger under his chin and forces him to look her in the eye. “Hey, you know that, don’t you?” she asks.
“Yes, I just don’t think I deserve it, that’s all. I waited way too long to show you how I felt and I’m just grateful that you stuck around and waited.”
“I waited…because…I love you,” she said as the tear rolled down her cheek. He lovingly wiped it away with his thumb as he fought with the tears welling up in his own eyes.
“I never thought I could say this to a woman…but Alex, I love you too…more than anything else in this world. You bring sunshine into my day every morning, and I love spending time with you. I know I don’t always say the things I should, but please know, no matter what, I love you.”
She sheds more tears as she reaches out and hugs him tight. “I love you too…so much…so much so that it hurts sometimes.”
“I don’t ever want you to hurt over me. I will never do anything to hurt you, trust me in that.”
“I do, I trust you with my life.” They hug again, for quite a long time, before they break apart. He reaches up and smoothes the hair from her face.
“How about we go get some breakfast then we can spend the rest of the day at the ranch? Maybe go for another horseback ride.”
“Not ready to end Valentines Day either, huh?” she asks, coyly.
“No, I guess not,” he smiles and winks at her.
“Okay, let me change my clothes and we’ll be all set.” She takes off to the bedroom and Walker heads out to the truck to retrieve the gym bag and extra change of clothes he always keeps on hand. He has an extra bounce in his step this morning as he realizes just how lucky he really is. ‘Maybe this WAS the best Valentine’s Day, after all. For both of us,’ he thinks to himself as he picks up his stride.