Walker held Alex close as Trivette helped the rest of the people out of the partially crushed van, just a few more seconds and he would have been too late, the beautiful woman in his arms would have been gone from his life and the very idea of a world without her was so devastating it nearly dropped him to his knees.

She clung to him and nestled closer into the warmth of his body, reaction was setting in and she couldn’t stop the violent trembling of her body. The only thing that had kept her sane during the ordeal was the knowledge that the man holding her would find her.

Trivette had freed everyone from the crumpled van and turned his attention to the couple who remained in each other’s arms; the naked emotions on both faces verified the suspicions he had thought for some time. Maybe the two of them didn’t know it, but they definitely loved each other, he was sure of it. “Sorry to interrupt, but the ambulances will be here any minute to take everyone to the hospital.”

Pulling back slightly she looked at Walker as she replied, “I don’t want to go to the hospital, I’m okay.”

Gently he turned her face and studied the bruises that were already forming. “You’re going if I have to drag you there kicking and screaming; you need to get checked out; soon as I finish up I’ll come see you.”



Looking from one to the other Jimmy said, “I can finish up here Walker, go on and take Alex, I’ll catch a ride back with DPD.”

“You sure you don’t mind?”

“Geez, just go already.”

Giving him a look filled with gratitude Alex said, “Thanks Jimmy.”

They walked over to the Ram and he helped her into the passenger seat before going around and climbing in. She immediately reached for his hand and held tight the entire ride to the ER.

She was whisked away from him when they arrived and he paced up and down the corridor as he waited for word. Finally a doctor stepped out saying, “Ranger Walker? Ms. Cahill would like to see you.” He followed the doctor to where Alex was and as she held out her hand to him he immediately went to take it in his asking, “Are you okay?”

“He wants to keep me here overnight for observation; I need to go home Walker, I have to write down everything that happened while it’s still fresh in my mind; no way am I going to risk Victor Larue going free!”

The doctor said, “Ms. Cahill, please calm down, you had a very traumatic day and I don’t think that being alone tonight would be a wise idea.”

“Doctor is there any physical reason she can’t go home?”

“No, there are no signs of broken bones, she’s just going to be very sore and bruised for a few days.”

“Then let her go, she can stay with me.”


“Your choice Alex, you can stay here or at the ranch.”

Sighing in resignation she said, “Okay Cowboy, you win…this time!”

He signed the discharge papers and took her to her apartment saying, “Pack whatever you need to stay at the ranch for a few days.” Placing a finger across her lips to stop the protest he knew was coming he added a kiss as he said, “I’m not joking about this, now get busy.”

When they got to the ranch he said, “Why don’t you go take a shower and I’ll order us some dinner.”

“Sounds good to me; how about Chinese? You know what I like.”

As he watched her head for the bathroom he replayed her words in his head and realized that she was right; in the time that he had known her they often shared meals while working on cases and they had teased each other many times about what foods they liked. He called and placed an order for a variety of dishes figuring they could share and still have enough for the next day.

She undressed and threw the clothes she had been wearing into the trash can, no way she would ever be able to put on anything that reminded her of earlier today; she removed what was left of her make-up then stepped into the shower and scrubbed her body for what seemed like forever as she tried to erase the feeling of Larue’s hands on her. A little while later she heard the doorbell and realizing that dinner was there she got out of the shower and donned a pair of PJ’s before going out into the kitchen. She looked at the food he was spreading out and asked, “Are we expecting company?”

Giving her one of his trademark half grins he replied, “Well we’re always stealing food from each other so I decided to get plenty…besides neither of us has eaten since this morning and I’m starving!” He grabbed a plate from the cabinet as he asked, “So what would you like to start with?”

Once they both had their plates loaded he poured her a glass of wine and grabbed himself a bottle of beer. They ate and as always bantered about the food; taking turns sampling from each other’s chopsticks and laughing. Just as they finally admitted they were both stuffed the phone rang and she rolled her eyes at him saying, “It has to be Jimmy.” She picked up the phone saying, “Hello.”

“Hi Alex, now I know why you didn’t answer your phone at home, are you okay?”

“I’m okay Jimmy, Walker and I just finished dinner.”

“Can I talk to him?”

Handing the phone over she mouthed, “Have fun.”

“Yeah Trivette.”

“How is she really?”

“She just told you she’s okay.”

“Is she staying at the ranch with you tonight?”

“Trivette…not that’s it any of your business…but yes; I’ll see you in the morning.”

She watched him hang the phone up and said, “I have the feeling you’re in for some heavy duty teasing Cowboy. Why don’t you take a shower and I’ll put these leftovers away. Then I really need to work on my statement.”

“Okay.” Walking upstairs he grabbed something to change into and stepped into the shower, as the water beat down on him he found himself reliving the events of the day. They had been getting closer, even dating, but he had still held part of himself back…foolishly believing that if he didn’t allow himself to get to close it wouldn’t hurt him if something happened to her. Today had blown that theory completely out of the water. Wondering exactly what he was going to do about his newfound knowledge he turned the shower off, toweled himself dry and dressed in a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt before heading back downstairs.

She was sitting at the table trying her best to put into words what had happened during the day but the panic she had felt was making a comeback. All she could think of was how close she had come to being raped and killed.

One look was all it took for him to realize she was close to losing it and he stepped up behind her placed his hands on her shoulders and said, “It’s okay, I’m here and I’m not going to let him hurt you.” He felt her relax slightly and slowly began to massage her shoulders; he paused for a second when he realized she didn’t have anything on under her pajama top but when she moaned in protest he began again.

With his hands working magic on her she quickly wrote down everything she remembered from the day and after rereading it she put her pen down saying, “Thank you, there’s no way I could have done that without you…” she turned her head back to look at him and forgot what she was going to say. He was wearing a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt that molded to him like a second skin accentuating his muscular frame.

Seeing the look in her eyes he pulled her to her feet and wrapped his arms around her before lowering his mouth to hers. He’d already discovered that kissing her was addictive and while he had a very strong feeling that she wasn’t averse to taking their friendship to the next level he knew he wasn’t ready to take that step yet.

Wanting nothing more than for the kiss to lead to much more she felt his hesitation and forced herself to step away saying, “I want my fortune cookie now.” Turning her back on him she rummaged through the bag came up with two and held them out so he could choose first.

He broke his open and pulled out the slip, “Never give up on someone that you don’t go a day without thinking about” Sounded like good advice to him.

Opening hers she read, “When true love is your future, it is worth waiting for.” She smiled to herself and totally agreed; Cordell Walker was definitely worth waiting for. Stepping forward she kissed him gently before saying, “I’m going to bed, it’s been a long day, good night.”

Watching her walk into the guest bedroom he shook his head in bemusement; would he ever be able to figure out Alexandra Cahill?

Later that night he heard a noise and was instantly awake; it took him only a second to remember that Alex was spending the night in his downstairs bedroom; at least that’s where she was supposed to be; but the sounds were definitely coming from his living room. A quick glance at his clock told him it was 1AM and he climbed out of bed pulled his t-shirt back on and without bothering with shoes he made his way downstairs and found her sitting on the couch, staring off into space. Wordlessly he settled in beside her and placed his arm on the back of the couch behind her shoulders.

For a couple of seconds she resisted the temptation then she turned into him and let the tears fall. She welcomed the feeling of his arms closing around her and relaxed as she realized she was safe; she hated admitting fear or weakness, but she knew that Walker never judged her and that she could lean on him, just as she was doing now.

Gathering her even closer he cursed himself for not realizing how much the day’s events had taken a toll on her; sometimes he forgot the tough persona she presented to the world was not always her true feelings. 

Even after she managed to get herself back under control she made no attempt to put distance between them; she sighed and said, “Thank you; you always seem to know what I need.”

“You’re welcome; do you want to talk about it?”

“Nightmares; as if almost getting raped wasn’t bad enough; I almost died in that van. Every time I close my eyes all I can see is the face of Victor Larue and it’s making me paranoid; every little sound has me ready to scream and I HATE feeling this way.”

Knowing there was only one thing he could do he stood up and gathering her into his arms he started for the stairs as he said, “Come on; I’m taking you upstairs with me.”


Shh no arguments; you can yell at me tomorrow if you want to, but for tonight we both need rest.” He settled her onto his bed, climbed in beside her and pulled her gently into his arms as he said, “Go to sleep Alex.”

For the first couple of minutes she was stiff as a board; but then she relaxed into his arms, put her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. The only face she saw now was that of the man who was holding her and she drifted off to sleep.

Having her in his arms he figured he would be in for a sleepless night; but as he listened to her steady breathing he realized he was actually relaxing as well; with a slight smile on his face he allowed himself to kiss the top of her head before joining her in slumber.

When he opened his eyes again he realized they were still in the same position; normally he was a restless sleeper but apparently her presence had kept him still; but what really surprised him was the fact that it felt natural to wake up with her in his arms this way. Carefully he climbed out of bed and going downstairs he put on his socks and boots before heading out to take care of the horses. As he worked he couldn’t stop thinking about her and with a rueful grin he looked over at Amigo saying, “If I don’t stop thinking about how good she felt in my arms I’m going to be taking a very cold shower this morning.” His stallion bobbed his head up and down and with a shout of laughter Walker responded, “You don’t have to agree with me!”

After he was done he went back upstairs and finding her still asleep he gathered what he needed and after starting his coffee maker he went to the guest bathroom to take a shower and get ready for work. A few minutes later he poured himself a cup of coffee and inspected the contents of his refrigerator; pulling out what he needed he made omelets and buttered toast, put that on a tray, added silverware, orange juice and coffee then carefully carried it upstairs. Setting it beside the bed he pulled the chair closer and sat down as he said, “Hey sleepyhead, rise and shine.”

She woke to his voice and the smell of coffee, rolling towards him her eyes widened when she saw that he had made breakfast. Sitting up she swung her legs over the edge of the bed and accepted the cup of coffee he handed her. “You are full of surprises.”

They ate in silence then he looked at his watch saying, “If I don’t get out of here I’m going to be late for work. I want you to relax today; take a ride if you want to, make yourself at home.”

Looking him in the eye she said, “Walker…thank you for last night and this morning.”

“You’re welcome.” He started to say something else, thought better of it then leaned over and gave her a quick kiss. He grabbed the tray with the dirty dishes walked over to the door and deciding to admit what he was thinking said, “You remember what I told you a while back about hugging you…the same thing applies to waking up with you in my arms.” He quickly retreated from the room.

“I could get used to that.”  She remembered very well and raising her fingers to her lips she thought to herself, “That makes two of us.”