CLUES

By flybye and Dakota

Walker woke up and looked out the window from where he was lying.  The

sky was clear with not even a puff of a cloud to disrupt its magnificence.

The sky was like a watercolor painting with the varied colors flowing into

One another as the sun slowly rose in the east.

Walker rose from the bed and opened the window slightly.  It is going to

be a beautiful day, he thought.  He inhaled the fresh cold March air.  He

watched the bare trees dance as a gentle breeze blew.

It was such a glorious morning and Walker had awakened earlier than

usual.  He decided to take Amigo for a long ride before heading to the office.

He dressed pulling on a pair of old jeans, a comfortable red long sleeved

long john shirt and then his favorite worn cowboy boots.  With a slight lilt

in his step, he hustled down the stairs wearing a smile.  He grabbed his hat, jacket, and gloves and headed through the kitchen and out the door towards the barn.

The air smelled fresh and clean.  The morning air was brisk and revitalized his being as he strolled to the barn.  He drew open the door and began gather his riding equipment in a pile near the barn door.  When all he needed was gathered, he quickly fed and watered Cookie, Ranger, and Little Ranger and then headed for Amigo's stall.  He poured feed into his bucket and gave him fresh water without paying him much mind.  He would give him plenty of attention in just a few moments.  He returned the pails to their proper place and then returned to Amigo's stall.

Amigo nodded as if to welcome Walker as he opened the stall door and stepped inside.  Walker extended his hand and stroked Amigo's nose.   "Good Morning Boy," he said as he moved around to Amigo's side to stroke his neck.  It was then that he noticed a blood red envelope tied about Amigo.  Walker frowned...someone had been in the barn.  He cautiously looked around.  The horses seemed fine; and, he didn't notice that anything had been disturbed.  Why didn't the horses alert him that someone had been here?  He knew he would have heard them.

"Who was here Amigo?" he asked his friend quietly.

Amigo just nudged him looking for attention.  Walker rubbed Amigo's neck

and then removed the necklace that had been placed about him.  Amigo was

unaffected by the tensing of Walker's body and the smell of fear that

began to exude from him has he removed the note.  Amigo had smelled the few

sugar cubes Walker had slipped into his pants pocket as he passed through the

kitchen and was sniffing them with excitement.

Walker slowly opened the red envelope.  He removed the note and opened

it.  The message was hand written in black ink.  It was just barely legible

as if the writer was crazed or unstable.  As his eyes passed over each word,

his fear and anger grew.

Your love is tucked away

Less than 8 hours away.

You are the one who must come

To rescue the one whose heart you have won.

Six yellow roses are the gift you should bring

'Cause in 16 hours the final bell will ring.

The sound of bells will fill the air

Leaving only 25 minutes to find her there.

Two more clues you will get

The first will arrive at 9:18, on that you can bet.

Stay at the ranch until it arrives,

After then, you can drive.

Only a single chance you'll get

Or today will be a day you will sorely regret.

Consultation is okay,

But, no Ranger C.D. or Trivette may come this way.

It is you and me...alone at last,

Hurry Ranger, hurry fast!

Alex!  Someone has Alex! his mind screamed.  They want to play games!

They are using her as a game piece!  They are playing with her life...and their

own as well.  If they hurt her.... his mind trailed off.

"Sorry Amigo, our ride has been postponed."  He patted his neck and as he handed over the sugar cubes.

Trying to calm himself, Walker went over the note again, memorizing each word, searching each word for a clue. He had time before the second note would arrive; until then he could do nothing but wait and think.  He did his chores quickly and in an automatic fashion leaving his mind fixated on thoughts of Alex.  He wondered if she had been harmed, where she was, who had her....His mind continued to race through the possibilities of people who would want to kidnap her and hurt her.  He thought about her case load...were there any possibilities?  All this thinking was making his fear and anger grow into a raging inferno. A raging inferno of not only anger, but one of great fear for Alex's life too. 

*****

Alex paced the dark room.  She was thinking about Walker.  She was wondering what he would be thinking by now.  Would he be coming to find her?  Of course he would, Alex thought.  He loved her.  He would do anything for her.

The question was...would he be in time.  She sat down heavy hearted on the

lone piece of furniture in the room.  There was nothing left to do but think and wait.  Oh Walker, please hurry, her mind pleaded.

*****

His mind found the images, sounds, and feelings he would never forget, even though he wished them away.  He heard Alex screaming through Jimmy's cell phone as LaRue began ripping her clothes.  The shear pulsating of anger that raged through him and the sound of his own voice promising to rip LaRue's heart out if he hurt Alex filled him.  He remembered her trembling body in his arms after he had rescued her from the car crusher. A shiver ran down his spine.  Could this person be as sadistic as LaRue?   Would they harm her the way LaRue tried?  His anger raged as his thoughts and questions continued on.

Not if I can help it, he thought.  No one will hurt her like LaRue...ever again.  Not as long as I have breath in my body.  With those words echoing in his head his fist slammed through several boards leaning against the side of the barn.  He stared at the barn wall for a moment; then, he looked down at the pile of broken boards.  Alex was always used as a game piece. She was like a toy to those who wanted revenge on him.  Why did he let this continue? His mind taunted him.

His brain continued to fumble through the why's and what if's as he headed to the house to call Jimmy and C.D.  The message said they could be involved just couldn't come to rescue her.  Why was the message that specific about that detail, he questioned.  It could be a trap, his inner voice responded.  He didn't care.  He just wanted Alex to be safe; and, he would give his life to ensure it.

*****

"C.D.'s."

"C.D., it's Walker.  Is Jimmy there yet?"

"Right here," C.D. said as he handed the phone over to Jimmy.

"Yeah," he said swallowing his bite of breakfast.

"You and C.D. need to come out to the ranch.  Alex has been kidnapped."

"What?" Jimmy replied, knocking over the bar stool that he had just been

seated on.

"They left a message behind.  Bring your computer."

"We're on our way, Walker."  He hung up the phone, grabbed his coat and hat.

"Come on C.D., Alex has been kidnapped."

"Oh Lord Jimmy.  I thought Walker's tone was unusual.  Is she okay?"

"I don't know, C.D.  I don't know, but it doesn't sound good."

C.D. and Jimmy made good time getting to Walker's.  Both men traveled the

distance in silence each concentrating on Alex and worrying about Walker's state of mind.  Jimmy recognized his tone.  The tone was rare; and, the first time he had heard it was the day LaRue had taken Alex and several other hostages in an elevator of a hotel where she was to have an interview for a very lucrative job.

Jimmy and C.D. pulled up to the house, got out of the car, and started toward the porch.  Walker was on the edge.  Jimmy and C.D. could both sense it as Walker came towards them.  His presence was different...dangerous.  His gait as he closed the distance was determined and with a purpose.  His face showed no sign of anger or worry; but his eyes did.  His eyes were dark and serious.

They headed into the house to begin examining the first message Walker had received.  As they examined the message, Walker watched the clock.  "Not much longer before the second message should arrive," he said. "It is almost 9:00 now."

"Son," C.D. began, "don't worry.  She's gonna be just fine.  She's a fighter, she is.  Besides, we'll find her.  I know we will. I'll go make us a pot of coffee to help calm our nerves."

Walker said nothing.  He just nodded and started reading the message for what seemed like the hundredth time.  There has to be something in here.  There has to be a clue, he thought.

Jimmy had scanned the message into the computer.  He was working on a handwriting match.  He was also reviewing the log of Alex's case load and recent released convicts that she had prosecuted.  He was keeping himself busy and quiet.  Walker was not in a conversational mood.

Jimmy, for the first time, was nervous sitting near Walker.  His being was vibrating with anger and Jimmy was afraid if something happened to Alex, he wouldn't be able to stop him from killing the person or persons responsible.

Alex had stolen Walker's heart.  Jimmy had watched Walker over the years become more protective of her.  He had convinced her to get a security system installed in her house and car, get a tracking system installed in her car, and insisted she check in with him or Jimmy if she was going out hunting for clues or investigating a case so someone would know where she was.  He constantly looked out for her well being.

Jimmy had yet to figure out why Walker had not asked her to marry him.  He looked up at Walker.  Walker was staring at the message he held in his hand.  He was frowning in frustration.  This is the reason why Walker hadn't asked Alex to marry him.  She would become more of a target than she was now.  It was too risky.  He wouldn't want to loose Alex like he had lost Ellen.  Jimmy had answered his own question about why there had not been a marriage between those two.  It was sad too, he had never known a more perfect couple than Walker and Alex. They complimented each other so well. Walker's strong, silent personality, and Alex's openness and love of life.

There was a knock at the front door.  Walker looked at the clock...9:18 on the dot.  He rose and headed toward the front door with his gun drawn.  He opened the door to find a young man wearing a Quicky Delivery uniform shirt and black jeans.  He was wearing a smile like he was having a good day.

"Delivery for Ranger Cordell Walker," he said cheerfully.

Walker grabbed the front of the young man's shirt and pulled him in the door.  His eyes flashed a dangerous warning of his great anger. The young man's eyes stared back at him with extreme fear.  The bright envelope he held in his hand fell to the floor.

With controlled anger in his voice, Walker growled, "Who sent you?"

The young man stuttered, "I....I....I....don't know....I was just given....the envelope.....and ttttttold ttto deliver it."

Jimmy picked up the envelope.  The front just said "Ranger Cordell Walker."

"Who paid for it?  You should have a record," Walker spoke shaking the young man slightly.

"I....I....didn't tttttakke the ccccalll.  I...I...was jjjjjust gggiven the envelope," he gulped. "IIIIII cccccould cccccalll mmmmy boss," he continued trembling.

"Do that!" Walker said as he released him.

Jimmy handed the young man the phone.  His hands were shaking so badly as he tried to dial the phone, that Trivette finally had to dial it for him.

"Jean-Ann," he started with a shaky voice, "Can I speak to Bob please.  This is urgent."

There was a few moments of silence while they waited for Bob to pick up the line.   The young man was trying to control his breathing and regain his composure while he waited.

"Bob?  I need to find out the information on the envelope being delivered to Ranger Cordell Walker."

...... "I need to know who sent the envelope."

...... "If you don't, I think he is going to kill me."

With that, Walker grabbed the phone impatiently from the young man.

"This is Cordell Walker, Texas Ranger.  The Assistant District Attorney, Alex Cahill, has been kidnapped and the envelope being delivered is evidence.  I need to know who sent the envelope.  I need to know now," he said in a quiet demanding voice.

He listened quietly as the man spoke and then hung up the phone.  C.D. and Jimmy knew that Walker didn't like the information he received.  He was frowning and his eyes growing even darker with his anger.

"The person paid cash.  There is no record," Walker said looking at Jimmy.  Then he turned to the young man, "Sorry about that son.  You are free to go." Walker reached out his hand to the young man, to shake his. Walker felt terrible when the young man jumped away from his hand, the look of terror still filling his eyes. "I really am sorry."

Walker's words filled the young man with relief and it showed in his face. As if being freed from the jaws of death, the young man turned and raced out the door.

Jimmy handed the bright sun yellow envelope to Walker which bared his name. Walker quickly opened it and began reading it out loud.

The map in your truck will lead the way

To the blonde for whom your heart pines away.

If you hurry, she'll be just fine

Start your search column "E" on page twenty.

Eight years ago her heart beat to a new band

As she saw you sitting before her on the stand.

Less than four days later your lips touched hers,

Claiming her heart to be forever yours.

One more clue to help you find your way

'Cause you must find her today!

Check D2 on page 5

To keep this game alive.

You'll find your next clue dressed in blue

at the corner near the Zoo.

Walker handed Jimmy the message and ran out to his truck to find the map book.  A brand new map book was lying on the front seat with a big metallic green bow on it.  He picked it up and headed back into the house.  He found Jimmy scanning the new message in the computer and C.D. pacing nervously, looking over the first message.

Walker sat down and opened the map book to page twenty.  He found column

"E."  There was one block  highlighted with a yellow marker.  He placed his finger on it.  There was nothing there.  It was empty.  "There is nothing here!"

Jimmy looked up from the computer.  C.D. leaned in closer to get a better view.  Both looked at where Walker's finger was sitting on a barren yellow square.

"Damn it Cordell, there has to be something there! What kind of sicko pervert...something in blue...that could be anything...a post man...a cop...I just don't believe this."

"Calm down Big Dog...we'll find her." Jimmy said out loud, only wished he could believe in his own words.

"Check page five, D2," Jimmy offered, grasping to find an answer to this ever growing mystery.

Walker flipped back to page 5.  The Zoo was circled with a red pen.  He looked at C.D. and Trivette, shaking his head in confusion. Quickly he flipped back to page twenty.

"This doesn't make any sense," Walker said as he stood up picking up the two original messages.  "I'm heading to the zoo. I will call you when I get the next message."

"Walker, I am going with you," Jimmy said rising from the chair and grabbing his laptop.

"No.  The first message said for me to come alone.  I don't know what we are up against.  I am not risking Alex getting killed because I didn't follow the instructions.  I have a bad feeling about this Trivette," he finished looking almost terrified.  He started toward the front door and stopped for a moment.  "I will call you at the office Jimmy.  In the meantime, maybe you and C.D. can piece these clues together."

"Good luck son," C.D. said.

Jimmy and C.D. watched Walker as he headed toward the truck and got in.

"I am worried Jimmy.  This person isn't right.  Playin' games like this.

Cordell...he's right this doesn't make any sense," he said pointing at the

mess on the dining room table.

"I am worried about HIM AND ALEX," Jimmy said pointing to the front

door. "I honestly thought he was going to rip that kid apart. He really scared

me.  I saw him look like that one other time...with LaRue...he had that same

look then. It scared the hell outta me Big Dog. Then and Now."

"Love certainly has a hold of him.  I think Ellen's death scarred him more than any of us will know.  He couldn't prevent her death.  He will do anything to prevent losing Alex. I just hope he gets to her before, well...you know. He couldn't take it if anything happened to that little lady, neither could I."

"I know C.D. Let's get this stuff together and head back to the office.  Maybe we can come up with something, no...we HAVE to come up with something!"

*****

The bars on the windows stared back at her as she peered through the glass looking for a sign of Walker.  She had stood watching and hoping for two hours and still no sign of him.  Walker where are you, she worried.  What if something had happened to him?  She loved him so much; she prayed nothing had.  A lone tear slid down her cheek as she remembered the man she loved.

*****

Walker pulled up to the corner near the front of the zoo.  His mind kept repeating... "You'll find your next clue dressed in blue at the corner near the Zoo." He stopped the truck in front of the zoo.  He wasn't sure which corner so he opened the map book again looking for a clue to which corner he should search.  There was a small loop at the top of the drawn red circle, near the west corner near the back of the zoo.  He decided to take his chances and head there first.  He left his parking space and drove to the back side of the zoo.  He parked and got out, taking with him the first two messages and the map book just in case the loop wasn't a clue after all.  He walked to the corner and looked around. "Your next clue dressed in blue,"  he

spoke to himself quietly.  He noticed nothing blue.  Maybe it is the wrong corner, he thought.  He opened the map book again.

******

Alex had curled herself into a tight ball in the corner of the darkened room.  The only window available was on the west side of the house and would not have sunlight until later.  She thought about Walker's state of mind.  She knew he would be frantic by now.  She knew his mind would be replaying the nightmares brought about by LaRue.  He had told her once, and only once in the quiet of the dark, that LaRue hurting her or killing her scared him more than anything.  And whenever, she had been accosted his mind returned to thoughts of LaRue.  Those thoughts forced him to stop at nothing to find her and bring her back safely.

The memory of Walker's words and the thought of LaRue brought back the

nightmares of long ago.  Her first meeting with LaRue.  His hands touching her...the sound of her clothes ripping...his lips touching hers...the sound of Walker's voice echoing from her cell phone.

LaRue's release had been scarier than their first encounter.  She remembered him laughing at her and Walker as they sat at their table in a banquet hall.  The evening was supposed to be joyous but had turned into a nightmare with LaRue's idea of a delectable feast of a dead rat so beautifully displayed on a bed of watercress and LaRue's very presence.  She remembered his eyes as they read into her  soul...searching for the fear he so longed to see.

She remembered being tied to a bed in Walker's house.  LaRue had taken time to place candles on the bed and prepare wine for both of them.  He had teased her and forced her to drink the wine.  He had forced her to kiss him.  She remembered the pain of her teeth scrapping the back of her lips as he forced her to kiss him and how she resisted.  She remembered the feel his lips and the taste of his mouth...she remembered his scent...his eyes, dark and evil...his touch.   A shiver ran down her spine.  That day LaRue had almost succeed in killing Walker with the scorpions.  Walker fought to the bitter end that day to rescue her.  He had done it that time and many others times since they had met.

For her and Walker both, she thought, LaRue had been their worst and biggest nightmare.  Together, however, both had survived and continued on.

******

"Jimmy, that computer of yours come up with anything?" C.D. asked.

"No, Big Dog.  Look, I have printed out each of the messages let's put them together and look at them.  Maybe if we read them together we can find a clue.  Maybe we'll see something we didn't see before," Jimmy said as he picked up the messages and headed over to an empty table with his cup of coffee.

"Well what is taking so long Son? We need to find something to help Cordell.  If anything happens to Alex, you know there will be hell to pay.  You know as well as I do, he'll stop at nothing to bring the kidnapper to justice."

"I know C.D.  I'm trying as hard as I can. I'm worried about Alex too you know. Calm down. Come on.  Let's see what we can figure out."

"I'm sorry Jimmy. I love that little lady and I know you do too. I just feel so damn helpless. We have to find her."

"I know C.D. We will find her. It is just taking longer than we want it too.  Let's go over these notes again."

C.D. poured another cup of coffee and joined Jimmy at the table.  They began examining the messages in detail.

"Do you think the colors have something to do with the answer?" Jimmy asked realizing that the original notes were red and yellow.

"What could they possibly mean Jimmy?"

"I don't know.  Let's just keep looking.  It was just a thought."

*****

"Excuse me?" a friendly male voice said.

Walker looked up from the map.  He found a jolly looking clown dressed in a blue and white polka dotted costume wearing blue hair with a blue star painted over one eye with a tiny yellow star sitting on top of the blue one with a smile drawn inside.  To top off the costume the clown was wearing big floppy blue shoes, walking an invisible dog and holding an immense blue balloon bouquet.

"Are you Ranger Cordell Walker?" the blue clown asked wearing a cheerful

red painted smile.

"Yes," he said shaking his head no.  He was in shock.  A kidnapper with a sense of humor.  Great, he thought, what kind of wacko am I dealing with?  He decided not to take down the clown like he did the delivery man.  A small girl holding hands with her mother was pointing at the clown and smiling happily as they passed by.  He didn't want to scare the girl or worse make her cry for beating up a clown.

The clown pulled from his big blue and white clown pants a large blue envelope and handed it to Walker along with the huge bouquet of blue balloons.

"Here you go.  Don't let go of the balloons sonnie.  Smile...it is going to be a beautiful day," the clown said then honked his bright red nose as he turned and waddled away.

Walker looked up at the balloons.  He almost started to laugh.  This was getting weirder by the minute.  Well, I guess if they sent in the clowns Alex can't be in too much danger.  Maybe this whole thing is a big hoax."

He shook his head as he headed back to his truck with his bouquet of balloons, three bright colored messages, and map book in hand.  He shoved all of the balloons in his truck, got in himself, and then opened the large blue envelope.

You've read two out of three

If you make it in time, you will both be set free.

Do not fear for the one you love

She is cooing for you like a dove.

You and she will become one

Before the rising of the next day's sun.

Twenty one more miles to go

Then you will finally know.

Out in the middle of God's beauty,

You will find your number one, favorite cutie.

Don't be angry Ranger Man

For she and I are your biggest fan.

A black t-shirt and tight jeans

Is always her favorite scene.

Five miles out there is a shop

One Betty's Flower Shoppe is your next stop.

Pick up 8 more roses.  This time they need to be white

You will need them for the great surprise that awaits you tonight.

Please hurry, my patience is gone

Time will run out before too long.

Walker's heart fell and his inner alarm started to go off again as he read "Please hurry, my patience is gone  Time will run out before too long."  He found the message from the red envelope and read it again. ...'Cause in 16 hours the final bell will ring. The sound of bells will fill the air leaving only 25 minutes to find her there."   The message had changed.  The kidnapper was losing patience.  He didn't want to wait or play the game anymore.  Time was running out faster now.  I should have at least 8 hours or more left, he thought. "Leaving only 25 minutes to find her there," what did that mean?  Was she going to be moved?  Was "...fill the air" a clue about would happen if he didn't get there in time?  The roses...what was that about?  Flowers for a kidnapping?  Maybe the kidnapper is planning on killing

Alex as soon as I arrive.  The roses could be for remembrance, he thought.  Walker shook his head trying to get rid of the thoughts bring his fear to the surface.

*****

Alex couldn't let go of the nightmares of LaRue.  Some days she had to fight those thoughts.  Days when she smelled cologne similar to his or when she would see a man looking similar to him.  She would see LaRue in all his evilness; and, she would eventually seek out Walker for comfort.  He had rescued her from his evil not once but three times.

Her mind released itself to relive the last encounter with LaRue.   The day in the court room.  A judge had been killed and so were others.  LaRue had tortured a family, had Jimmy shackled, and had forced Alex to sit on the stand.  Forcing her to sit on the stand was nothing compared to the nightmare she had to face as he forced her to kneel before him.  He had promised her he would have his way with her before killing her and to make Walker watch.  He had forced her to unbutton her blouse, "Nice and slowly," she heard his voice echo in her mind.  Then came a thunderous crash as Walker kicked through the court room door, she hung her head in shame as Walker shot LaRue.  Walker had never said anything about her state that afternoon.  She could see in his eyes he harbored anger for LaRue's sadistic acts and that there was no remorse for having to kill the man who forced Alex to do what he wanted.  Walker had come to the rescue at the last possible moment that day.  He would do the same today...she knew in her heart he would find her in time.

*****

He picked up his cell phone and called Trivette.  He read the message slowly enough for his partner to type it in the computer.

"You and C.D. come up with any ideas yet?"

"No.  We are still working on it though.  One question Walker...what is the color of the new message?"

He opened the map to page twenty as he talked to Trivette.

"Blue...why?"

"Just getting all of the information on each of the messages.  We don't know what might trigger an idea for clues."

"Trivette, Betty's Flower Shoppe,  I need the address and phone number.  Can you pull it up?"

Jimmy relayed the information Walker requested.  "What's next?"

"I have a five mile ride to the flower shop, I am heading there now.  Then I will figure out where in the heck Alex is in this block on page twenty. Call if you and C.D. come up with anything."

"Will do pard."

*****

The fears Walker had tried to shake away refused to leave.  His mind wandered into territory he did not want to go.  He pictured Alex's wrists and ankles tied to the bed at his ranch with LaRue hovering over her; and, Alex's eyes filled with terror as she knelt before Victor LaRue in the court room.  He remembered how she looked kneeling there unbuttoning her blouse with LaRue wearing an evil smile and his gun pointing at her.  His anger roared and his adrenaline coursed his blood as the image of LaRue's face remained in his mind.

He remembered entering Alex's house finding her strapped to a chair with a bomb attached to her.  Her fear showed in her eyes and features.  His fear had filled his being.  Her remembered the kiss.  He thought of the unspoken words left between them.  The love that had never been shared.  All the thoughts and feelings he had that day replayed in his mind now.

'Stop it! You can't think that way. Alex is fine. You'll find her. You have to find her. You Love her. I can't go through this again...like Ellen...losing another...I can't lose Alex! I have to figure this out. There has to be something. Anything! There's  a clue in these messages, somewhere.  There just has to be!"

Over and over in his mind, he kept willing her to hold on. She had to hold on. No matter how many times he told himself this, all Walker could do is think about other times that Alex had been in danger.

Walker was driving on auto-pilot.  His mind was completely on Alex and the nightmares of the past. He didn't realize with his rage he had his foot all the way down on the gas pedal.  He almost passed Betty's Flower Shoppe he was driving so fast.  His eye caught sight of the sign just as he began to pass the store.  He slammed on the brakes causing Ram to skid and pull to the left.  His automatic pilot skills corrected the skid without causing him to withdrawal from his world of thoughts until he got out of the truck and headed into the store.

A very young woman, wearing a bright yellow shirt and hunter green pants, was fixing a vase of flowers behind the counter.

"Excuse me, ma'am," Walker said politely.

"Oh, hello.  What can I do for you today?" she said in a extremely happy voice as she approached him.

"I need six yellow..."

"You need six yellow roses and eight white roses," she interrupted. 

"You must be Ranger Walker.  I will fetch them for you right now."

She turned and headed toward the back of the store without giving him a chance to ask any questions.  Walker stood in surprise.  How did she know what he was to pick up and who he was?

The young woman returned carrying a large vase of long stemmed roses, six yellow and eight white roses, and two red roses.

"There are two red roses in that bouquet," Walker stated.

The young woman said nothing but handed him an bright orange envelope.

As Walker reached for it, he began firing questions at her with great impatience. "How did you know what I needed?  How did you know I was Ranger Walker?  Who gave you the order?"

The young woman looked at his face.  His tone was not as it was when he came in and his eyes were frightening. "Ranger Walker...I just filled the order, I didn't take it.  I remember the number of flowers because it is unusual to get a request like that," she said nervously.  She took a breath and thought for a brief second, "Now that I think about, your name was on the order form and they are paid for."

"Find me the order please," Walker stated wearing a frown

The young woman searched the order file.  She pulled the file marked "Walker" and handed it to him.  The order was marked with his name and paid in cash.

"Where is the person who took this order?"

"She went on vacation two days ago.  The order was placed...um.....a week

ago.  See," she said pointing at the order date.

Walker was exasperated.  He handed the woman back her slip, picked up the bouquet, said thank you and returned to his truck.  After securing the flowers so they would spill water all over the inside his truck, he pulled out the bright orange envelope.  He opened it quickly.

You are so close, yet so far

I wonder how close you really are.

If your reading this note, your on the right track

Continue straight ahead and don't look back.

Your Cherokee instincts and heart will lead the way

Watch as the sunsets this day.

I am wondering if you figured out my clues

There is a message in them for you.

Read the letter clues again

And think about them.

A connection you will make

Will help keep you sane for your sake.

Hurry, hurry Ranger dear

The time for the bell to ring is very, very near.

Walker sighed.  The notes were beginning to get on his nerves.  The rhymes and the riddles were taxing his mind.  And what were the two red roses for?  The kidnapper had said nothing about two red roses.  His patience was now gone.   He picked up the cell phone and called Trivette.

"Trivette."

"It's me Walker, there is another note...this time orange," his tone of voice showing his exasperation.

"Read it and I will type it in."

Walker relayed the message as he had done before to Jimmy.  Watching the road and thinking about what the message said.

"I have it Walker."

"Any ideas yet?"

"No not really.  None of these messages make sense.  C.D. and I noticed that the kidnapper knows a lot of personal stuff about you and Alex.  Whoever is behind this knows both of you well."

"Keep at," he said and quickly disconnected the call.

Walker pounded the steering wheel with his fist in frustration. Every time things seemed to be going their way, something would happen to one of them.  Now this had happened. She was missing, being held by someone and he didn't know where.

"I Love you Alex! Hold on! I'll find you! I promise!"

He read the note again.  This time dissecting it.  "If your reading this note, your on the right track, Continue straight ahead and don't look back.  Your Cherokee instincts and heart will lead the way, watch as the sunsets this day."  Okay, I keep going straight. "Watch as the sunsets this day."  Hmmmm?  I wonder if this is another clue.  He picked up the map book, turned to page twenty looked at the highlighted block in column "E".  There was only road off that broke off to the west about five miles from where he was.  Walker closed his eyes for a moment.  His instincts told him he was on the right track.  Walker made a mental note of where the road broke off, placed the map book open on the passenger seat, started the truck, and headed straight out of town.

*****

Alex was back to pacing again.  She couldn't sit still.  She kept watching the small antique clock on the mantel of an old empty fireplace.  It was growing late and the sun was nearly setting.  The warmth of the late afternoon sun had taken the chill out of the room; but now, the room grew cold with the night air as it settled around the old abandoned house.  She rubbed her arms bringing warmth to her cooled body.  Soon, she thought, he will be here to warm me.  He will be here soon, she thought trying to convince herself the wait was almost over.

"Walker, where are you?" she spoke aloud looking out the window for a sign or for his silhouette.  "I know you are near by.  I can feel it."  She stood thinking about her words for a minute.  "I can feel it," her inner voice spoke again.  Walker's presence was something she never missed.  She just realized she always knew when he was near.  As long as that feeling was with her, she knew everything was going to be all right.

*****

C.D. had to take a break.  He and Trivette had read the messages a thousand times and picked apart every word.  They had come up with nothing.  C.D. was pacing like a caged animal.

"Dag gummit Jimmy!  No one is that smart.  The kidnapper said there were clues!  What clues!  We have been over and over these messages and have come up with nothing!  If something happens to that little darlin' those kidnappers will have to deal with me as well as Cordell!"

Jimmy looked up and watched C.D. rant and rave.  He knew he loved Alex like a daughter.  He had never seen him this upset over her being in danger.  He let C.D. continue his yelling without interruption.  He knew he had to do something to release his anger. He continued to work on the clues at hand.

"C.D.!"

"What is it Jimmy?" C.D. snapped, hurrying to his side.

"Take a look at this," Jimmy said pointing at a his laptop.

C.D. walked over to where Jimmy sat.  He looked toward Jimmy's screen.  He

blinked several times.  "Oh My!  Good LORD, Jimmy!"

*****

The ride was longer than he had anticipated.  Walker's mind was warring as he fought off the negative thought that he was going to be too late.  There were no exact times given to him.  He had his eye continuously on his clock.  Time seemed to race and he seemed to be standing almost still.  His foot was all the way down on the gas pedal and his truck was shimmying from the speed.

He spotted the dirt road that headed west and almost rolled his truck trying to turn right, still at top speed.  He had to slow his speed down due to the fact the road was unpaved except with gravel and was causing his truck to slide as if he were driving on ice.

"Your Cherokee instincts and heart will lead the way, watch as the sunsets this day," his mind echoed as he drove.  The road suddenly vanished and Walker slammed on the brakes.  He was in the middle of nowhere and there was no longer a road for him to travel.  "Damn!" he exclaimed as he hit the steering wheel fiercely with his fist again.

He got out of the truck and closed his eyes. "Your Cherokee instincts and heart will lead the way," his mind repeated.  Walker focused all his energy on Alex.  He pictured her in his mind searching and longing for the feeling he got when she was near.  He tried to be patient and focus on Alex; but, his mind kept hearing bells ring...the bells that would only give her 25 minutes.  His heart pounded against his chest and he took a deep breath.

*****

Frustrated Walker hopped back in his truck and pulled out the messages.  He pulled out and looked at the bright orange message first. "I wonder if you figured out my clues, There is a message in them for you.  Read the letter clues again, And think about them.  A connection you will make, Will help keep you sane for your sake."  Clues?  What clues?  He thought about the clues that had lead him this far. "Read the letter clues again, and think about them," he read again.  Walker read each clue carefully again.  He didn't see the clues except for those he had already figured out.  What is the kidnapper talking about?

*****

Alex has resolved herself to curling up in a tight ball on the lone piece of furniture to keep herself warm and feeling comforted.  Exhausted from the day, sleep consumed her.  She hadn't slept long when the antique clock began playing music.  The broke silence startled Alex and she sat upright.  She started to shake.  The bells had begun to ring...only 25 minutes left, she thought, and the game will be over.

*****

Suddenly Walker sensed fear.  "Alex!" he called out.  Still holding the messages in his hand, he jumped from the truck and began running into the woods letting his Cherokee instincts guide him through the darkness.

*****

Walker's pace was that of a race horse.  His feet barely touching the ground as he traveled through the pitch black woods searching for the woman he loved.  He let his Indian instincts guide him through the forest; dodging fallen trees and stumps that tried to block his way. His heart pounded hard and fast in his chest, not only from the fierce running but from fear that he would be too late.

Walker didn't know how long he had been running or where he was...but something had forced him to stop.  His heavy breathing and the pounding in his ears were the only things he could hear.  He wasn't sure what had made him stop, but he stood in the silence listening and waiting for his invisible guide to lead him onward. The one note had said "Let your Cherokee instincts and your heart"...this was strange. How did the kidnapper know he was part Cherokee; only his closest friends knew that. The mystery of Alex's disappearance was getting more baffling by the minute.

His eyes now accustomed to the darkness of the forest he could see the silhouettes of trees and brush.  He could see nothing resembling a place for Alex to be hidden unless...unless, she had been buried.  He looked around. He would never be able to find her buried in the night.  Please, he prayed, please help me find her.  He sunk to his knees, offering the spirits above his silent prayer.

*****

Walker, please hurry, Alex prayed silently as she moved through the darkness of the room.  She knew time was growing short.  Walker, I love you, I need you! Please hurry, she repeated.

*****

It had only been a few moments since his knees had touched the cold damped earth.  His eyes filled with tears.  The fear of losing Alex was still with him and stronger than before.  It was with the realization that he may lose her forever this time burning strongly in his mind, that Walker began to sense someone was near. He listened.  There was no noise; but he sensed someone.  He rose from his knees gauging the direction he should travel. He headed in the direction his instincts had guided him to go with long, purposeful strides.  The sense grew stronger and suddenly he knew...he knew it was Alex.  His pace increased yet he was very careful not to make any sound.

After several minutes, he noticed in the darkness an outline of what appeared to be a small building.  He stopped dead in his tracks.  He carefully looked at the outline. It indeed was a small building.  Scanning the surrounding area, Walker looked to see if there were any movements in the woods near it. None. He surveyed the area again to see if he could pick out any hidden traps that would set off an explosion or anything else that would harm Alex.  His mind raced through the endless possibilities.

Suddenly he recalled the messages.  "DAMN!!!" He was supposed to bring the roses with him.  He had left them in the truck.  They didn't seem important right now, Alex's life was what was important.  Time was growing short...he could feel it. He would have to handle the kidnapper with or without the roses.  He would get Alex back...one way or the other.

*****

Several miles away, the phone was ringing in Walkers' truck.

Trivette looked wearily at C.D., "He's not answering Big Dog. Wonder where he is? Do you think he figured out the clues? Do you think he found where Alex is yet?"

"I don't know Jimmy. But I sure hope he did figure out the clues. If he did, everything will work out just fine. If he didn't, he is going to be madder than a scalded dog. Jimmy, if he didn't figure out the clues by now, well, it is just too late now to warn him." C.D. said shaking his head.

*****

Walker moved close enough to the house that he could see the details of it.  He stepped behind a tree and watched for a moment.  There was no sign of movement...no lights...nothing.  He decided to move toward the house and did

so as a predator would do, sneaking up on his prey.

There were no windows on the east side of the house, nor the front or back.  No wonder the kidnapper chose this place, he thought.  He approached the west side of the house and found one barred window.  He cautiously peered in but could see nothing, the inside of the house was pitch black.  He sighed.

He moved back around to the front of the house, pulled his gun out, and walked quietly towards the front door.  He carefully stepped up on the porch and stepped up to the door.  He placed his hand on the handle; but, he stopped. "Please don't let there be an explosion when I open this door," he prayed in a soft whisper.  He closed his eyes just for a second, took a deep breath, and then opened the door slowly.

*****

The sound of the door made her stop in her tracks, as she had been pacing about the room.  He is here, she thought.  Thank you, she said silently as a brilliant smile crossed her face.  She stepped back into a corner to wait.

*****

Walker slowly stepped into the room, ready for whomever and whatever was

awaiting him.  He could sense someone. His adrenaline was pumping as fast

as his heart.  He heard nor saw anything.  He looked around the room with his gun ready in hand; his finger on the trigger.  He could barely see an outline of a large box or piece of furniture.  He couldn't see anything else.  He moved slowly toward the large object wondering if Alex had been trapped inside.

He placed his hand on the top of the object.  It was soft and cushioned.  He pushed down on it carefully.  It moved with him.  He grabbed a handful of the material he felt, leaned over closer to it, and lifted it to his nose.  He could smell Alex's perfume. She had definitely been here. He stood up looking around letting the material fall.

Still standing in the dark hollows of a corner she was suppressing her urge to speak.  She stood motionless trying to control herself. 

"Alex?" he whispered, still not being sure if the kidnapper was still here or not.

She remained silent and motionless.

"Alex?" he called out louder this time.

He leaned over the object again and started feeling around.  He felt nothing other than the soft, satiny fabric.  He knelt down to see if she was under it.  His hand meet with something solid all the way to the floor, probably wood.

As he stood up he called her name again, "Alex?"

With no answer, he decided to search the room further.  He holstered his gun and using both hands started at the door he had entered. He felt the walls looking for a closet.  He found a handle and quickly opened the door praying he would find Alex there. All he found were thick cob webs.  He continued feeling the walls around the room searching for Alex or some kind of clue in the pitch blackness.  Suddenly his hand touched something soft, warm, and very familiar.

"Alex?" he said softly as his hands found a face.  He placed his fingers on her mouth looking for tape or a gag.  Neither was found. "Alex?"

Without speaking a word, her hands slid up his chest and found his face. She pressed her body against his and began kissing him.  He frowned as confusion consumed his mind.  For the briefest of seconds he wondered who was kissing him, then he realized the woman kissing him was indeed Alex.

They both allowed the kiss to deepen and become more passionate. Walker

was so relieved to find her alive that all thoughts of her abduction left his mind.  He let his hands caress her face gently, before letting them slide down her neck, to her shoulders, before stopping them on her upper arms.  The kiss lingered for a moment before Walker realized that this really WAS Alex.  When that realization hit him, questions began to scream in his head, demanding immediate answers. He pulled away abruptly, wrapping his hands around her arms holding her away from him.

"Alex!"

Alex let out the giggle she had been suppressing since he had come through the door.  She could feel his anger and that wasn't exactly unexpected; she knew he would have been extremely worried about her.  Obviously his anger proved he hadn't figured out the clues she had left behind.  She would have to share that secret with him later.  Now, she knew her task would be to reassure him she was fine and to get rid of his anger.

Walker held her away from him, his mind filled with confusion and his

face showing a deep frown.  "Are you all right?  Where is the kidnapper?" he

asked anxiously.

"Kidnapper?" she started to giggle again.

"Alex!"

She pulled him to her tightly and kissed him passionately.  He found a sense of relief in losing himself in the kiss momentarily; but, then realizing she had been laughing at him brought him back to the matter at hand and he pulled away.  He stood in silence waiting for her answer.

He is really angry, she thought, as she felt his body tense before he pulled away.  This could call for some extra loving, she thought as a smile crossed her lips, not realizing the true depth of his anger.

She moved away from him and approached the old fireplace.  She felt around the mantel and found the matches she had placed there.  She struck one of the matches and lit the array of candles she had so carefully placed there.  The candles illuminated the room gently.  She turned around and saw the look on Walker's face.  He stepped closer to her looking her over making sure she was all right.

He didn't even notice...he is still angry.  He'll notice soon enough....Now,

I have to get rid of his dark mood, she thought.  Smiling and trying to lighten his mood, she stepped closer to him and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling his body tightly against hers.

His eyes were squinted through a deep dark frown.  "Alex, what is going on?" he asked in a usual tone of voice.  She couldn't help but to giggle.  He was still worried even though she was trying to prove to him she was fine and to forget his fears.  The giggle forced his anger to suddenly grow even more and it showed in his eyes.  Alex didn't back away from him; she stood facing him staring into his eyes.  He suddenly unleashed all the fear, frustration, and anger that had built up inside him throughout the day; and, it was all directed right at her.

"Alex!" he shouted pulling away from her, "What is going on?  I thought you had been kidnapped...Jimmy and C.D., they have been working on figuring out who kidnapped you, where you were, and what the messages meant!  We were all

worried that you were it great danger!  I have been frantic all day!  I have driven half way across Texas!  I attacked a young man!  I almost attacked a clown and florist!  Alex!  I want to know what is going on and I want to know now!"

Alex's eyes showed shock.  She knew he would be upset finding her in no danger; but, she had no idea he would be this upset.  He was actually shouting.  Walker never shouted.  His eyes were warning her that he was close to the breaking point.

"Okay, Walker. Just calm down. I'll explain everything to you." Alex started quietly, "I wanted you to myself today...so I cooked up this little idea to get you out of Dallas and get you alone.  I just wanted to spend some time with  you...ALONE."

"What!  All of this running around!  Making me believe you had been kidnapped!  Making me believe you were going to be killed!"

Alex interrupted, "Nothing ever said anything about a kidnapping or me being killed."

Walker pulled a ball of colored paper from his jacket pocket.  He pulled out the red message.  "It says right here," he said pointing, "Your love is tucked away, Less than 8 hours away.  You are the one who must come, To rescue the one whose heart you have won.... The sound of bells will fill the air, Leaving only 25 minutes to find her there."

"It still never says anything about a kidnapping Walker. And the 25 minutes, well, that was how long I was going to give you from 9:00.  I have to be in court tomorrow morning.  It is a long drive back to Dallas you know," she replied.

"Whatever gave you the idea to do something like this!  DAMN IT ALEX!

You scared us all to death. ME...TRIVETTE...AND C.D.! We were all frantic. All

I could think of since I got that first message this morning was that someone like LaRue had you. You DO remember him don't you? Or how about the madman that strapped a bomb to you Alex? How about him? Did you even once stop and think that all any of us would be able to think about would be these things? DID YOU?"

Alex watched as Walker stormed to the other side of the room, his back turned to her and his anger more than evident. "How could this have gone so wrong?" she thought to herself. She had expected that Walker would be upset with her when he first found out about her little scheme; but, she had never imagined he would be this infuriated with her. Her whole plan had stemmed around Walker figuring out the clue to her messages shortly after he received her third note. She had never even considered that he wouldn't figure it out.

"Walker, PLEASE let me explain. I never meant to cause you such anxiety.  I only wanted..."

Walker spun around so fast, cutting off her words with his angry glare, that Alex jumped. He felt extremely bad that he had made her jump; but, he still couldn't stop the angry words that kept coming out of his mouth as he replied, "ANXIETY? What I have been through today has been a whole lot more than anxiety Alex. I didn't know what kind of person I was dealing with.  I was scared to death I wouldn't find you in time. I didn't know if you were even still alive. You of all people should know what that feels like.  Waiting. Worrying. Not knowing if someone is dead or alive. How could you do that to me Alex?"

Walker waited for a response to his angry words. He knew he was being extremely rough on her, but the fear that had eaten away at him all day and had started a tidal wave of emotions surging through him that could no longer be denied. He continued to wait for an answer. After time had flown by so quickly all day, now it seemed to be at a stand still.

"Alex?"

 Walker could barely hear her whispered, "I'm sorry Walker," as she began to cry.

Walker covered the distance between them in a split second, gathering Alex's trembling body tightly against his. Her body shook with sobs, as she clung to him. All she could manage to say was, "I'm so sorry...please forgive me," over and over again between sobs.

Walker stroked her hair, kissing her head, trying to calm her down. He felt horrible that he had made her cry. That was the last thing he had wanted to do. He held her wishing he could turn back time and take back all the cruel things he had said to her.

"It's alright Alex. Please don't cry. I'm sorry I let my anger get the better of me. Shhh...don't cry. Please?"

Alex tilted her head back to look into Walker's eyes. The tears from her eyes, ran freely down her cheeks, before falling onto the front of his shirt.

"I am so sorry Walker. All I wanted to do was be alone with you today. I have made such a mess of everything. It started out so right and now everything is ruined. How can you ever forgive me? I thought you would figure out the clues...I never stopped to think that it would go this far. I didn't mean for this to happen. I just wanted for us to be alone today.  We never have any time alone. I never meant to put you through this. I wanted everything to be so perfect...so special. Oh Walker, I'm SORRY! Please forgive me?"

Walker cupped her face between his hands, brushing away the tears that continued to fall. He looked deeply into her beautiful sky blue eyes.

"It's all right Alex. I forgive you. I know you are safe now. And we are here...together. I didn't mean to upset you like this either. I guess we have both learned a lesson today. Do you forgive me for making you cry?"

Alex nodded her head yes, as fresh tears tumbled from her eyes.

Walker once again wiped the tears from her cheeks, as he slowly pulled her lips to meet his. Ever so gently their lips touched. Alex trembled with emotion. Walker could taste the salty tears that had fallen on her luscious lips. Once again he regretted being so angry towards her. Their kiss deepened; each of them letting it say they were sorry again for everything that had happened between them.

*****

Jimmy had left the office and headed towards C.D.'s. It had been a very long day. He had been so relieved when he had decoded the messages that had been sent to Walker. He had also felt pretty stupid that it had taken him so long to figure them out. He had never imagined that this would all turn out to be a prank on Alex's part. When he had finally broke through the code and discovered the hidden message, he and C.D. both had roared with laughter.  When they had finally calmed down, he had tried to call Walker to make sure HE had figured everything out. It really bothered Jimmy that he hadn't been able to get ahold of him.

As soon as he walked into C.D.'s, C.D. was hollaring to him over the noise of the juke box.

"Did you hear anything from Cordell, Jimmy?"

"Not a word Big Dog. It is kinda bothering me too. Do you think I should try to find them? What if Walker didn't find Alex? What if...?"

"Now son, we have to stop and think about this a minute. Alex went to a whole heck of a lot of trouble to set up this little "Gotcha" of hers. To take the chances that she did, of upsetting us all and such; you know it must of been awful important to her. Surely Cordell would have figured it out, probably way before we did even."

"Then why haven't we heard anything from them C.D.? Walker knew you and I

were both worried too. He surely would have called us to let us know."

"Ah Jimmy, we have to think positive here. They are probably together right now. Having a nice romantic evening together. Those two never have any real time alone. We wouldn't want to spoil that for them now would we?"

"Yeah, you're probably right C.D." Jimmy replied. "Do you think Walker was mad at her? I mean, he was really scared and angry the last time we saw him."

"Well now, I have been thinking about that all afternoon.  He probably was.  How mad I don't know for sure.  I have great faith in that little lady of ours. I'm sure she figured out a way to make him forget his anger. She can be mighty persuasive when she wants to be. Hell son, just last week she talked him into taking her to the opera."

Jimmy laughed. He knew C.D. was right. Even though his partner was the toughest man he knew, when it came to Alex, his partner didn't have a chance. One look from those blue eyes of hers, and a pout of her lips, and Walker could be talked into just about anything...even the dreaded opera.

"You're right C.D. I guess I'm worrying for no reason." Jimmy chuckled.

"Well, I could be wrong in my thinking. But...there is one thing I am sure of."

"What's that?"

"If we did go running after them, and they are having a romantic evening...Cordell would kick the tar outta both of us for interrupting them!" C.D. answered as his laughter filled the room.

Jimmy's laughter joined C.D.'s. YES...Jimmy knew for a fact that C.D. was right about that.

*****

As their lingering kiss ended, Walker pulled back to once again look into Alex's eyes. Her tears had ended during the kiss. What he saw in them now was a burning passion and desire.

"Do you feel better now?" he asked brushing another kiss against her cheeks.

Alex nodded yes, as she wiped the last of the tears away.  "Walker, I really am sor..."

Walker placed his finger tips against her mouth, stopping her words.

"No more apologies. Everything has been settled. You are safe, and we are together. I just want to hold you and enjoy being alone with you. Isn't that what this was all for anyway, us being alone together?"

"Yes it was", Alex smiled, giving him a peck on the lips. "Would you make a fire? It is getting really cold in here. I brought a basket of food with me.  It has all your favorites."

Walker pulled Alex back toward him, pressing her tight against his body.  He hugged her as he whispered against her ear, "I have my favorite thing in the whole world right here...in my arms...YOU!" Then he kissed her, letting his kiss once again speak for him.

*****

Walker kneeled before the fireplace, staring into the flames of the newly born fire. As he watched the flames start to consume the log, he thanked the Spirits again that Alex was not and had not been in any kind of danger.  He turned to see Alex sitting on a blanket behind him. She had set out the food that she had brought with her and was pouring them each a glass of champagne.

For the first time since he had found her today, Walker took the time to really look at her. What he saw, took his breath away. She was so beautiful.  Her hair was pulled up with little wisps of curls framing her face, and she was wearing the  sexiest negligee he had ever seen. He shook his head, he couldn't believe he had missed the way she was dressed. The negligee she wore was a silky, shimmering pale lavender and it clung to her body hiding none of her curves from his approving eyes. The top was lacey and very low cut, accentuating her full breasts. As he sat watching her, he felt a stirring in his body...a stirring that he knew would never go away when it came to Alex...a stirring that had been left unanswered longer than it should have been.

Sensing Walkers' eyes on her, Alex raised her head slowly to look in his direction. As their eyes met and held, he rose from where he was to make his way to sit beside her. Alex held out a glass of the chilled champagne, offering it to him; a smile on her lips. Walker smiled back as he accepted the champagne.

"I love you, Alex."

"I love you, Walker."

Three words. The most beautiful words either had ever heard. Straight from their hearts. So honestly spoken. Left unsaid far to long.

They touched glasses, before each took a sip of the sweet liquid. As they lowered their glasses, they moved towards each other, letting their lips touch ever so slightly in a gentle kiss; sealing the words they had just spoken for all eternity. They both realized that tonight would end up being a very special night; one that neither of them would ever forget.

*****

After they had finished their meal Alex produced a bowl of fresh fruit cut into bite size chunks. She smiled at Walker seductively, as she picked up a piece of a juicy peach; knowing that peaches were his favorite. She kneeled before him, placing the fruit into his mouth, watching as a drops of its sweet juice slid onto his full bottom lip. Leaning over, she proceeded to lick the juice away; slowly, tantalizingly, before completely drawing his lips to hers; kissing him with abandon. When she pulled back, she could see the passion beginning to flicker in Walker's eyes.

Walker could not believe the emotions that began to assault his very soul.  They were like the waves of the ocean, rolling slowly into the shore; their momentum building with every passing moment. His breathing quickened, as his heart rate increased. Over and over again, she repeated her actions; teasing him...seducing him.

As she reached to pick up yet another piece fruit, Walker reached for her pulling her into his arms. He looked deep into her eyes.

"You are playing with fire Lady," he growled; his voice was low and heavily laden with desire.

"I happen to like playing with fire Cowboy," she whispered back to him.

Walker looked at the beautiful woman he held before him. Her eyes sparkled with the love she had for him. Her breasts rose and fell with the passion that was rapidly growing inside of her. Walker knew in that instant tonight would indeed be one that they would never forget; tonight would be the night they made love for the very first time.

Reaching to the bowl of fruit, Walker selected a piece, deciding it was his turn to play Alex's little game of seduction.

"I like playing with fire too," Walker stated, as he raised the fruit to her lips. He methodically outlined her lips with it, making her lips glisten with its juices, before finally placing it in her mouth. As soon as the fruit passed between her lips, his lips followed. Catching her lips with his own, Walker slowly explored them. Licking...tasting. He had never tasted anything so wonderful in his life; the combination of the fruit; and, the taste of Alex's luscious lips, proved to be intoxicating beyond belief.

As he withdrew from the kiss, Walker heard the soft little "mmm" that escaped her lips.

"I love you Alex...and I want to make love to you...right here...right now."

"I want that too. More than anything I have ever wanted in my life Walker. Make love to me...Please?"

"Your wish, is my command, my Lady," Walker slowly stated.  Then he claimed her lips once again; rejoicing in the fact that the deep emotions he felt for her, where returned by her in kind.

Their passion and desires grew, knowing no bounds. They kissed. They touched. They let their hearts take control. Walker slowly broke off the kiss. Rising to his feet, he held out his hands to her. As Alex placed her hands in his, he helped her to her feet, only to quickly sweep her off of them, carrying her to the bed. Savoring the feel of holding her like this, Walker lowered his lips to hers once again. He could feel her body begin to shiver with emotion; gasps of passion escaping her lips.  Walker slowly set her back on her feet, letting her body slid down his. He placed his hands on her cheeks, feeling her soft, smooth skin, looking deep into her eyes.

As their eyes locked, Alex could not believe the desire that was running wild through her body. No one had ever evoked these feelings in her before; and, she knew that no one but Walker ever would.

As their eyes bore into each others souls, Alex placed her hands on his chest. She could feel his heart pounding. It was strong and steady, beating out his love for her. Gently she reached for the bottom of his shirt, pulling it out of his jeans. When she had it loose, she placed her hands underneath it on his firm flat stomach. Tantalizingly she moved her hands upward to his furred chest, bringing the shirt with her. Walker took over, quickly pulling the shirt over his head, and the rest of the way off of his body.

Alex slowly began to move her hands over the light red hair that covered his muscular chest. She memorized every scar, every muscle. She lowered her head, letting her lips follow her hands; kissing and tasting his skin as she moved, making sure she left none of his chest untouched by her hands or her lips. She moved to his shoulders and down his arms to his hands. His hands.  They amazed her. They were so strong, so rough; but yet so gentle when he touched her. She lifted them each in turn to her lips; kissing the backs of them, then his palms and each finger tip.

Alex walked slowly around to his back, proceeding to kiss and touch it as she had his chest. She kissed his neck and shoulders, massaging them lightly as she did. She breathed in the manly scent of his cologne. She wrapped her arms around him, pulling his body close to hers, rubbing ever so slightly against him, feeling his muscles twitch at the contact. She nibbled on his ear lobes as she whispered, "I love you", into each of them, before continuing her way back around him, to his waiting arms and his waiting lips.

Walker quickly drew her snuggly to him. As they kissed, he ran his hands up and down her bare arms. Her skin was so smooth and soft. The negligee she was wearing felt cool and seductive against his bare chest, sending shock waves of sensations through his body as her breasts rose and fell with her increased breathing. He let his hands wander further; up to her shoulders, her neck, down to her back. He massaged and caressed her accepting body, placing his hands on her buttock, loving the way she giggled as he gave them a firm squeeze.

Pulling his lips from hers, Walker caressed her lovely face; tracing her lips with his finger tip. She was so very beautiful, and she was willing to give herself to him; heart and soul, no questions asked, being very secure in their love for each other.

"Alex...you are a temptress...do you know that?"

 "I am?" she replied as she took a few steps away from him; raising her eyebrow and cocking her head to the side as she smiled. Walker smiled, knowing he was in for it now; when Alex did that it always meant she was up to something.

"Are you sure you want to do this? You do know, if we don't stop now, there is no turning back, everything will change for us. You do realize this...don't you Alex?" Walker asked becoming serious once again, wanting to make sure she was certain about her decision to make love with him, without the formalities of a marriage...at least for now.

Alex's reply was to slide the strap of her negligee down her one arm, before reaching for the other strap, repeating the process again. She held the bodice of the negligee, to keep it from falling. With desire burning in her eyes, she slowly released the gown letting it float softly to the floor.

"Yes Walker, I'm sure."

Walker watched as the negligee landed softly on the floor at Alex's feet. He let his eyes wander over her naked body. She was so beautiful; her long slender legs, her flat stomach, her firm breasts. All beautifully proportioned, and all his beautiful Alex. Walker lifted his hands and caressed her cheeks, kissing her luscious lips, before picking her up and carrying her to the edge of the bed and lovingly placing her on it.

Walker hurriedly removed his jeans and the rest of his clothing before he climbed on the bed realizing for the first time that it was a waterbed. He smiled as the movements he made, caused the bed to move like the gentle roll of a wave. Laying beside her, Walker finally allowed himself the pleasure of touching, tasting and kissing the rest of her alluring body.

They explored each other, like lovers do; touching, feeling, fondling, kissing. They learned every thing there was to know about each others bodies. They memorized every scar, every freckle, every beauty mark.  They let their passions build; letting themselves be carried to new and glorious heights of feelings and emotions.

When they could not hold back their raging desires any longer, Walker moved over her. Alex opened herself to him, raising her hips; begging him with her eyes to end their loving torment of waiting so long for this wonderful event. Walker entered her sweet body slowly, so they could both savor the overwhelming emotions of their union. It was more earth shattering than either of them had ever imagined could be possible.

Walker began to move; slowly at first, letting their passions build to new and greater heights. The movements that he made, were enhanced by Alex's movements and the movements of the waterbed itself. They were like the

waves of the ocean; gradually building, knowing that all to soon, the wave

would crest...shattering against the shore line.

As they surfed their wave of passion, Walker and Alex whispered their love to each other, as they kissed, touched and caressed one another's sweat covered bodies. Their moans and soft sighs of pleasure, filled the cabin.  Their hearts raced; their breathing intensified. They rose higher and higher, in their quest to reach that final moment of total fulfillment...total satisfaction...wanting it...needing it so badly...but yet, wanting time to stand still...not wanting this moment to ever end.

As they reached the crest of their lovemaking wave together, time did stand still. They were one. One heart. One mind. One body. They experienced bursts of sensations so intense, so gratifying, that they clung to each other; holding each other tightly, not ever wanting to let go. They had reached the ultimate height of passion. The ultimate height of undying, eternal love.

*****

As Walker and Alex laid in the aftermath of their lovemaking, waiting for the sensations to totally end, they continued to caress each other, wanting tonight to last as long as possible. Alex laid on her side with her head on Walker's chest, one leg thrown possessively over his muscular thighs, rubbing her hand across his furry chest. Walker held her, running his fingers up and down her spine. They both gazed into the remaining embers of the fire that once had burned proudly in the fireplace. Both totally satisfied. Both happier than they could of ever imagined. Both very much in love.

"Walker?"

"Hmm?"

"I really am sorry you didn't figure out my clues and that I upset you so bad."

"I told you Alex, all is forgiven. By the way, what were the clues Alex?  I have been thinking about that. I can't believe I missed them." Walker stated. He had to admit, his curiosity was getting the better of him.

"Where did you put my notes?" she laughed, raising up on her elbows.

"They are in my jacket pocket, I think."

Alex climbed out of the bed searching for Walker's discarded denim jacket.  When she found it, she removed the one of the messages and a pen that was also there. She searched the floor, finally finding the other two that he had dropped during their kiss. She then headed back towards the bed. She saw that Walker was watching her, a sly little smile on his face.

"What?" she asked grinning.

"Nothin'. So, show me how to solve your little mystery." Walker replied, with a sly little wink. The truth was, he was enjoying the sight of Alex walking around naked very much.

"Ok. Did you ever use numbers to write messages when you were a kid?"

"Numbers?"

"Yeah. You start with number one...that is "A"...number two is "B"...number three is "C" and so on...every letter of the alphabet is assigned a number.  Instead of using the letter when you are spelling something out...you use the letter's number...get it?"

"So you used numbers to spell out your clues."

"Right."

"Let me see those messages again." Walker could not believe he had missed something as simple as what Alex was telling him. He stopped, wondering if Trivette and C.D. had figured this out. And if they did, why they hadn't called him to let him know.

Alex handed the three messages to Walker as he rolled onto his stomach, laying the notes on the bed in front of him. He picked up the first one, scanning for the numbers that were in it. "H...the first number equals H right?"

"Yep. Keep going." Alex giggled, sitting cross legged on the bed beside him, peering over his shoulder.

Quickly Walker wrote down the numbers and then he figured out the letters that corresponded to them to spell out the first word of Alex's clue. He turned to look at her, with a look of confusion on his face, still not realizing what the whole message was.

Alex giggled again, nodding her head, as she watched Walker pick up the second note.  He wrote the numbers down and decoded them as before...this one was a little more tricky; but, he was patient and figured it out too.  Alex guessed he had made it half way through the message when it finally dawned on him what she had been trying to say. He picked the third note up, quickly scanning it to make sure his assumption was correct.

Before Alex had time to think about what was happening, Walker had rolled over, grabbed her and now had her securely pinned to the bed; his one hand holding her arms over her head, his legs pinning hers.

"Gotcha!" Alex laughed, wiggling, trying to escape his tender hold.

Walker looked at the woman before him, a frown forming on his face, as the full realization of the mystery being solved hit him full force. How could he have been so blind?

"Are you mad at me Walker?" Alex asked worriedly, not liking the looks of the frown on his face.

"No." Walker answered, keeping his face masked from her prying eyes.

"Why are you frowning then?"

"I can't believe I forgot what today was. I can't believe that I didn't figure this out sooner...AND...I can't believe you 'Gotcha'd' me so good woman; but, what about the roses? How did they tie into all of this Alex?"

"Well...the 8 white roses were for the years that we have known each other; the next 6, the yellow ones, were for the years that we have been best friends; and the last two, the red ones, were for the years that I have known beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am in love with you. Besides," Alex continued with a giggle, "that was the only way I could figure out how to get you to bring me roses...You NEVER do, you know!"

Walker proceeded to tickle Alex. Her squeals of delight, mixed with Walker's booming laughter, filled the tiny cabin, as they tussled with each other playfully on the bed, until they were both out of breath. As they laid wrapped in each others arms, they realized that their lives would never be the same again. As Walker had stated...there would be no turning back now.  They would now, from this day on, start a wonderful new life...TOGETHER!

*****

Jimmy had a lot of energy left over from their long worrisome day.  He had decided to stay late and help C.D. close down the bar. They had both decided that Walker had surely found Alex by now and that they were having a romantic evening together. As he finished turning the last chair upside down on the final table, C.D. called him over to the bar where he was pouring them each a cold glass of beer.

"What's this for Big Dog?"

"Well Jimmy, I've been thinking. We know almost for certain that Cordell and Alex are together by now. I figured we didn't get to spend to much time with Cordell today, with everything that happened and all, but I figured we should at least have a toast to him." C.D. raised his glass of beer as Jimmy followed suit. "So here's to you Cordell...where ever you and that little trick playing Alex of ours ended up....May your life always be happy and healthy...we love you son!"

As they clinked glasses, Jimmy added Alex's secret message...."HAPPY BIRTHDAY WALKER!"

The End