Doubts

By: Lelani

Chapter One

     Mrs. Alexandra Cahill-Walker stood in her bedroom and looked in her full-length mirror. She turned to one side and then turned to the other side. 'This dress must have been made by a tentmaker,' she muttered to herself. The image that stared back at her did not look any happier than she felt. Accustomed to being tall and slim and turning male heads everywhere she went, she currently felt like a circus freak. 'Come see the fattest pregnant lady ever seen on earth!' said the sideshow announcer's voice in her head. 'Maybe I should change,' she thought to herself although her choices were slim. She only had two other dresses that fit her and were acceptable for work. Shopping for clothes, usually one of her favorite pastimes, currently held little appeal. "Honey, we need to get moving, are you about ready?" Her husband's voice carried up the stairwell and into the room. 'Can't I just stay home and hide from the public?' she muttered sotto voice. "I'm coming," she answered her husband, her sense of duty getting the best of her. She blew her cheeks up with air and crossed her eyes at herself and then turned to head downstairs. She carried her shoes in one hand and held the rail with the other. "I can't get my shoes on," she grumped to her husband who stood at the bottom of the staircase. "Hang on Cinderella, I'll be happy to put on your glass slipper. If it fits, I'll marry you and take you to live in my castle," her husband teased. Alex hated that he was in a good mood; it contrasted with her bad mood. Husbands should know when to act grumpy so their wives didn't have to feel guilty.

     Walker knelt at his wife's feet and began slipping on the shoe for her. He had seen the steam coming from her ears and knew that he was in for a difficult morning. His first try at putting the shoe on was unsuccessful. He pulled it off and stretched the leather out to try again. "Honey, I could make this fit, but if it's this tight first thing in the morning, you'll be miserable when your feet start to swell as the day goes on." "This is the only pair that match this dress," his wife complained. "What about the pair you wore to church yesterday?" "Those are navy blue, I need black shoes for this dress." Leave it to a man to not be able to figure out the simplest things in life. "Well, as I see it, you have two options, wear the navy blue with this dress or wear another dress." Alex looked at her watch and said, "fine, I don't have time to change, I'll wear the navy blue and give people something to talk about besides my waistline." Walker wisely withheld comment and went upstairs to swap the shoes.

     After the shoe dilemma had been resolved, Walker asked Alex what she wanted for breakfast. "I think I'll just skip breakfast," Alex stated. "The hell you will. I know that you're feeling fat and uncomfortable, but you are not going to jeopardize your health or the baby's because your ego is suffering." "Great, so you finally admit that I'm fat. Well, since there is obviously no point in denying it, I'll have eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and biscuits, with butter and honey." "I never said that you were fat and I'll fix you a bowl of cereal." Walker had grown tired of arguing about her weight and wasn't going to be drawn into yet another dispute. He went into the kitchen and poured some cereal into a bowl and added milk. Afterward, he went outside to wait for her out of the line of fire. Alex joined him ten minutes later and they headed into Dallas in his Ram pickup. Walker had insisted on driving Alex home Friday evening when he had found her crying in her office and her car had been left at work.

     When they arrived at the Justice Building, Walker escorted his wife to her office, kissed her on the cheek and wished her a good day. He then left to go down the hall to his own office. Ranger's Trivette, Cooke and Gage were gathered around Trivette's desk and they all looked up when Walker strode in. "Hey partner, you look beat. Did you and Alex have a rough weekend?" Trivette asked concerned. "My advice to all of you is to duck and cover," Walker warned. "Alex is still having trouble dealing with what happened Friday, huh?" Sydney Cooke asked. "I guess that's what started it, but it seems to have mushroomed." "That Ramona is a bitch. I'm sorry I didn't know in advance what she was going to do or I would have put a stop to it," Sydney declared. "I know Syd, it's not your fault and under any other circumstances Alex wouldn't have let it get to her, but she's feeling very insecure just now." "I learned some fun ways to get revenge on vindictive people like Ramona when I was a kid, I'll make sure she regrets what she did to Alex," Gage vowed. "Don't do anything illegal," Walker warned. "Nah, just a little cruel," Gage said. "A lot cruel would be even better," Walker said, surprising the other three.

     The previous Friday, a surprise baby shower had been thrown in Alex's honor by the women who worked in the DA's office and the Ranger Company B office. Unfortunately, the woman who had planned the shower games was Ramona Hughes. Ramona was a woman who couldn't be happy for others and who always coveted what someone else had. She was a heavyset woman who had always envied Alex's thin physique. She had also had a crush on Ranger Cordell Walker and had been jealous first of his friendship with Alex and later of their romance. She was one of the few people from work who had not been invited to their wedding as she had made some cruel remarks to Alex within hearing of Walker and he had forbade her attendance at their wedding.

     When the women in the office had gotten together to plan a surprise shower for Alex, no one wanted to be rude and exclude Ramona. Most of them had their reservations about her, but she seemed so sincere about wanting to plan the perfect shower and she had suggested some shower games. At the time, the games had seemed harmless enough and they were all in fun. They held the shower in the conference room during what would normally be their lunch break. Alex was called to the room by her secretary and everyone yelled surprise and threw streamers. The room was decorated in pink and blue with balloons everywhere and a beautiful cake that read, 'Congratulation's Alex!' The party had started off well and everyone had fun and plenty to eat. Alex opened all the gifts of baby clothes, pacifiers, diapers and other assorted baby things. Alex's secretary had given her a beautiful negligée 'for after'.

     After the food and gifts, Ramona had started the games. The first game involved a tray with twenty-one 'necessities' for babies on it. The tray was passed around the room and then hidden out of sight. Everyone had to write down the items that had been on the tray and the person with the most won. Sydney had won the game with twenty items. She had missed one item because she called it 'the bulb thing for cleaning out babies noses.' Ramona hadn't accepted the answer saying that the proper name was necessary. No one was surprised that a woman who had been trained to notice details as part of her job won that game. The next game had started when a piece of paper with Alexandra Cahill-Walker & Cordell Walker written at the top was passed out to everyone. The person to come up with the most possible baby names from letters from the parent's names in three minutes won. A law clerk won with eighteen names in the allotted time. The next game was played with string. A ball of string was passed around the room and each woman was supposed to cut off the length that they thought would equal Alex's waist. Ramona took a great deal of pleasure measuring each string around Alex's waist and making comments with each string. If a string came up short, she would say, "well, I guess Amy would rather be nice than win." If a string was too long, she said something like; "You wouldn't be able to clear the door frame if Sarah had been right." The glitter of happiness in Alex's eyes dimmed with each comment. The final straw had been when Ramona measured the string that had fit around Alex's waist and announced the length to the crowd of women. Ramona announced that the next game would be to guess the expectant mother's weight. The other women had refused to participate claiming that they needed to return to their jobs. Everyone could see the hurt in Alex's eyes and they all felt horrible that what had been intended as a gesture of good luck had turned so ugly. None of them knew how to fix it though.

     The rest of the afternoon, Alex was visited by each of the women one by one as they came to check on her and to apologize. Their sympathy had only made things worse. By 5:00 p.m., Alex had all but barricaded herself in her office. She told her secretary not to let anyone in. She finally let down her guard and sat in her chair crying. Her husband had walked in at this point and insisted they go home. He later called Syd to get the details. His first instinct was to go over and deliver a well placed roundhouse kick to Ramona's jaw and have people guess how many teeth she had left. Fortunately, he was already at the ranch so he hadn't confronted the woman and allowed her to bask in her victory.

     Alex stayed in her office Monday morning preparing briefs. She had a great deal of research to do on a case she would be prosecuting Tuesday afternoon. Walker had called her from the field to check on her at lunchtime. He told her he wouldn't be able to meet her for lunch like he had hoped and she told him that it was fine as she was swamped. Her statement had been true and she asked her secretary to get her a sandwich that she ate at her desk. Janice, Alex's secretary, kept everyone out of her office that day. She told each person who stopped by that Alex couldn't be disturbed. She felt that it was the least she could do after the ugliness on Friday.

    When Walker still hadn't heard from his wife at 7:00 p.m., he decided to beard the lion in its den. Janice had long since gone home for the day and Walker let himself into Alex's office. She sat bent over her desk reading with a pencil in her mouth. "Hi honey," Walker said startling her. Alex looked up with the first smile Walker had seen in three days. Alex's sunny personality had begun to reassert itself. "Hi, what time is it?" Alex asked as she looked at her watch. "Wow, I didn't realize it was so late." "Are you ready to go?" Walker asked. "Well, I guess I'd better be, I should be able to finish this in the morning." Walker walked around behind Alex's chair and started a gentle massage of her shoulders. Alex hadn't realized how much tension was there until his hand started loosening the knots. He then used long sweeping motions down her back. Alex arched her spine in pleasure as her husband expertly relieved the ache she had there. "Honey, you need to get up and walk around periodically. Your back is so tight," Walker chastised her. "I know, I just get focused on what I'm reading and forget about the rest of the world." "Well come on and I'll take you out for a quiet dinner and then home to bed."

     Walker took Alex to a new French Cuisine restaurant called Je T'aime (I love you). They were escorted to a table for two next to a window. The lighting was low and romantic and the music was soft and seductive. They chose items from the menu that they had tried while in Paris on their honeymoon and reminisced about all they had experienced while in France. This was what Walker had missed most over the weekend, sharing things with Alex. He told her about the new case that the Captain had assigned him and Trivette that day. An extremely wealthy oil Sheik was in town with his sixteen-year-old daughter and threats had been made against the Sheik. Of course, he had his own security detail, but the Rangers were to coordinate his security while he was in Dallas meeting with the CEO's of several Texas oil companies. Walker was supposed to meet with the Sheik's Personal Assistant, someone named Madison Anthony, to coordinate the itinerary the next day. "I hope he isn't one of those stuffy protocol types," Walker said. Alex smiled at her husband, "just use your charm on him darling, I'm sure you'll have him eating out of your hand." "Uh uh, you're the one who does that so well, remember?" Walker smiled into Alex's eyes and they finished their dinner and headed home.

     Once they reached the ranch, Alex headed in to prepare for bed while Walker checked on the horses. He had phoned his teenage neighbor, Jamie, earlier in the evening and had him feed and put the horses away for the night, but he liked to check one last time before turning in. When he reached the bedroom, Alex had fallen asleep and he crawled in behind her and gently massaged her lower back to ease the pressure there without waking her.

Chapter Two

     The next morning, Alex had regained some of her confidence and was in a better mood. She again rode to work with her husband and they parted with a kiss in her office. Alex got right to work finishing her preparation for the case she would be presenting beginning at 1:00 p.m. that day. She was prosecuting an abusive husband who had been stalking his wife since she had obtained a restraining order. The police had arrested the man for violating the restraining order and she was determined to get him some jail time so that Tina Fuller would have a chance to create a new life for herself and her children without having to constantly look over her shoulder. Alex knew that she had her work cut out for her, as Judge Barton was less than sympathetic when it came to the victims of spousal abuse. For some reason, the female judge seemed to think the women were at fault. Alex was determined to prove her wrong.

     Walker was sitting at his desk when a woman, who was so amazingly beautiful that all conversation in the room stopped, walked in. She spoke quietly to a file clerk who was positioned near the door and then proceeded to Walker's desk. "Ranger Walker?" she asked with a smile on her full lips colored in wine colored lipstick. "Yes, may I help you?" Walker asked politely. "I'm Madison Anthony, I was told that you would be coordinating security for my employer, Sheik Achmed, while he is in Dallas." So much for 'one of those stuffy protocol types'. This woman was... amazing. She had extended her hand to Walker and he took it in his own marveling at the smoothness of her skin and the length of her fingers. She had a firm handshake, a woman with confidence. Then again, why wouldn't she have confidence? "Yes, I'm sorry, I was expecting a man." "Oh yes the name, it can be used for either male or female." "Maybe you should add it to the list of possible baby names," Gage chimed in as he approached clearing intrigued by this woman. Walker shot him a glare and turned to speak to the woman whose hand he still held. "It's very nice to meet you Ms. Anthony, I'm sure we'll be able to provide excellent security for your employer." He released her hand and turned to introduce the rest of his team. "Ranger's Trivette, Gage and Cooke, this is Ms. Anthony our liaison for the security detail for Sheik Achmed." "Please, call me Madison, I deal with enough formality in my line of work." "I'm James, it's nice to meet you," Jimmy extended his hand obviously not immune to the woman's charms. "Francis Gage, although everyone calls me Gage." Gage stepped in to shake the beautiful woman's hand. Sydney rolled her eyes at her male coworkers and stepped forward and introduced herself in a crisp business-like fashion. "Sydney Cooke, I too have a name that can be used for male or female. In fact, I suggested it as a possible baby name for Walker's baby that his wife is expecting very soon now." Sydney recognized a man-eater when she saw one. This was a woman who ate men and spit them out leaving all kinds of carnage in her wake. She was determined to champion the cause for women everywhere by not letting this woman get her hooks into any of the three men standing gawking at her. Sydney was a little surprised at Walker's reaction, but she expected the response Gage and Trivette had to her.

     Walker escorted Madison to the conference room and the rest of the Rangers filed in behind. Gage and Trivette were not exactly subtle about trying to sit near her. The most disturbing thing as far as Sydney was concerned though was that the woman seemed fixated on Walker. She gave the Sheik's itinerary to them and acted professional throughout the meeting, but Sydney's radar was still activated. The sheik would be spending most of his time in meetings, but he had brought along his sixteen-year-old daughter, Jasmine. The girl attended boarding school in England and was very westernized according to Madison. She was interested in touring Dallas and Fort Worth and would have a schedule independent of her father's except for specific functions. Madison made it clear that the Sheik would require protection for his daughter as well as himself. If his daughter was kidnapped, she could be held for ransom and he would be in an untenable situation.

     The meeting adjourned with the Ranger's promising to fill in the security gaps left by the Sheik's private security force. They would coordinate security with different agencies including the Dallas Police Department and also with the private security companies of the various hotels and other places the sheik and his daughter would visit. Madison stood up to leave and she placed her hand on Walker's forearm. "I feel much better now that we have met. I know that we will work well together and I will be able to tell Sheik Achmed that both he and his daughter will be provided with the best possible protection." "It's been a pleasure meeting you, I'll be in touch," Walker said. Sydney looked at the woman's hand still resting on Walker's arm. Just because she was tall, slim and had curves in all the right places, didn't mean she could be so familiar with Walker. What would Alex say? Well normally, Alex would laugh at the suggestion that her husband had shown a spark of interest in another woman, but with the way Alex had been feeling lately? Sydney knew trouble when she saw it and this woman was trouble with a capital T!

     Gage could not seem to get his mind off the meeting with Madison. Did you see that woman's...hair?" he asked Trivette. "Gage, there is very little about that woman that hasn't been surgically altered or enhanced," Sydney stated. Sydney was remembering how well the woman filled out the scooped neck of the dress she had worn. No one that thin had breasts that large without the help of a plastic surgeon. "What's wrong Syd? Little green-eyed monster got you?" Gage asked his partner. "I just can't believe you men, drooling over a creature like that. She is plastic from her dark brown curls to her perfectly manicured toenails." "Have some cream with that venom Syd." Sydney looked at the three men surrounding her and said with as much disgust as possible, "men!" She walked over to her desk and picked up the phone to call the hotel security at the Dallas Palace where the Sheik and his daughter were staying.

     Alex left the courtroom with a very disheartened attitude. She had apologized to Tina Fuller, but she carried around a great feeling of guilt. Judge Barton had run true to form and had dismissed the charges against Tina's ex-husband. She had basically told Tina to settle her own domestic disputes and had been unimpressed with Alex's recital of statistics telling how many women were seriously injured or killed by men who stalked them. Alex hated to wish evil on anyone, but she hoped that something in the Judge's life would happen to make her more sympathetic to the plight of women like Tina Fuller. Since Alex had been unable to get Sam Fuller put into prison, she suggested that Tina move into HOPE House with her kids for the time being. Tina was at such a low point that she wasn't able to take any positive steps for herself. Alex decided to call Jill Ransom who was a survivor of a similar situation and who facilitated an abused women's group that met at HOPE House. Alex herself did not have the time or energy that would be required to help Tina. As much as Alex wanted to save the whole world single handedly, she knew when she was overwhelmed and had learned to delegate. Simply put, Jill Ransom was the best person for the job and had the best chance of doing the most good. Acknowledging that was the most sensible thing Alex could do, it also made her feel incredibly inadequate.

     To make matters worse, Alex ran into Ramona Hughes while she was on her way back to her office. "Alex, I just heard, how sad that you weren't able to get that creep locked up." Ramona was nothing if not good at rubbing salt into open wounds. "I sure hope that woman and her kids are all right. You just never know these days, you hear so many tragic endings to these types of stories." Alex didn't even bother to respond, she just nodded her head and continued on toward the sanctuary of her office. Ramona was not to be put off though; it wasn't a coincidence that Alex had run into her. "Who was that gorgeous creature fawning all over your husband today? You must be one confident woman to not mind your husband spending time with a woman who looks like her. Of course you've always been so beautiful yourself, I guess you don't know how to be jealous. I just so admire you for your ability to allow your husband such free rein." Alex stopped and looked at Ramona directly for the first time. As much as she wanted to ask her what she was talking about, she wasn't about to give her the pleasure. "Did you know that you have toilet paper attached to your shoe?" Alex asked instead and walked off as Ramona looked down at the offending paper. When she picked up her shoe, there was gum stuck to the bottom of it which is what caused the paper to stick. She couldn't understand how it had happened, she hadn't been to the ladies room since lunch and she knew it wasn't there then. Her cheeks red, Ramona headed back to her desk.

     Once Alex reached her office, she gathered up several files and a few law books. She placed what she could fit into her satchel and then buzzed the DA to inform him that she planned to work at home the next day. The DA wasn't about to argue the point. He counted himself lucky that Alex continued to work at all. She could certainly go out on an extended maternity leave if she decided working was too much for her. Allowing her 'work at home' days was a small price to pay to keep her happy. Alex then rang Walker's desk and left a message that she had finished up her day early and had decided to head home. Picking up her satchel and books, Alex headed down to the garage where her car had been parked since the week before. 

     When Walker arrived home, Alex was clearly in a depressed mood. She told him of the case and how badly it had gone. Walker was supportive, but he knew that Alex always felt guilty when a case had not gone the way it should. She had a bad habit of blaming herself. Walker promised to keep an eye on Tina Fuller for her. After Alex shared her news with Walker, she asked him about the 'gorgeous woman' he had been rumored to have spent time with that day. Walker answered, "but I haven't seen you all day." "Not me and you know it. Stop joking around and tell me who she is." "I did have a conference today with the Sheik's personal assistant. Madison turns out to be a woman's name. The conference included Trivette, Gage and Sydney, hardly something to get jealous about, but I'm glad that I can still make you a little jealous." "So was she really beautiful?" "Only if you like tall women with creamy white skin, long dark brown hair, green eyes and a body that..." "Okay, I get the picture. So you men were all drooling were you? Poor Sydney had to watch you all make fools of yourselves." "Sydney said that she had been surgically enhanced." "Gotta love Sydney."  Walker grinned at his wife and they spent the rest of the evening relaxing at home and talking. Alex went up to bed early as she was tired from her day. Walker stayed downstairs and read the chapter in one of Alex's books on pregnancy about mood swings in the third trimester. He figured he best be prepared, Alex's moods were fluctuating more than they had in the earlier months.

Chapter Three

     Alex enjoyed her day at home. She was able to wear comfortable clothes, nap when she felt like it and work when she wanted. She called Josie at the HOPE Center and learned that Tina Fuller had been persuaded to move in with her children. Alex felt a little better. If she couldn't help the woman through the usual legal channels, she was glad that she could at least help to provide her and her children shelter through a charity she had founded. Late in the afternoon, Alex felt ambitious and knowing that she had not been the easiest person to live with lately, decided to prepare a romantic dinner for her handsome husband.

     Alex went to the store and purchased filet mignon steaks. She also bought the fixings for a salad, ears of corn, and potatoes. She prepared rosemary roasted garlic potatoes, one of Walker's favorite side dishes. She chopped the vegetables for the salad, boiled the corn and got the indoor grill hot to cook the steaks. She had also bought strawberries and fresh cream for dessert. After everything was ready, including the romantic music and candle light, she went upstairs and slipped into a beautiful midnight blue silk gown with matching robe that she had purchased on a whim the last time she was in the maternity clothes store. Walker hadn't seen it yet and she thought tonight would be a good time to show it to him.

     Walker had spent the day in the company of Madison Anthony. They had gone to the airport to greet the Sheik and his daughter Jasmine. It was readily apparent that Jasmine was less than thrilled with her trip to 'cowpoke country' as she called it (out of hearing of her father). Walker immediately decided to assign Sydney to her, as he knew she was good at dealing with troubled teenaged girls. Gage was assigned to accompany the Sheik on all of his meetings outside of his hotel room and Trivette was assigned to remain in the hotel, coordinating everything with the help of a state of the art computer system. This left Walker free to meet with those who provided security for the events the Sheik and his daughter would attend. As the Senior Ranger, Walker would be given more respect by the other agencies. Madison was very helpful in providing him with all the names and numbers of people he would need to contact.

     Walker looked at his watch and realized that it was after seven. He needed to head home and since the Sheik and his daughter were safely ensconced at the hotel, he felt that he could leave. Sheik Achmed had other ideas though. He was very interested in Walker's job and had heard stories about his prowess in the martial arts. The Sheik was himself a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He invited Walker to dine with him and his daughter and Madison. Walker tried to beg off saying that his wife was expecting him, but the Sheik wouldn't take no for an answer. Walker finally gave in and went to call Alex. He could tell by her voice that she wasn't happy with the situation. Alex had known that his job was unpredictable though and she didn't say too much.

     After an enjoyable evening with the Sheik, Walker was impressed by the man. He had a well-rounded knowledge and was able to discuss a wide variety of topics. His daughter was smart enough to be polite in her father's presence and Madison was as charming as ever. Walker drove home after ten and let himself in quietly. The porch light had been left on for him, but the house was dark and he assumed Alex had gone on to bed. Alex had cleaned up the dinner preparations and it wasn't until Walker opened the fridge to get a cold drink that he saw what had clearly been a special meal. Walker sighed to himself, now he knew he would be in the doghouse. He drank down his cold water and went on upstairs. He could tell by her breathing that Alex was indeed asleep. Walker debated on whether or not to wake her up, but decided against it. She needed her sleep and frankly, he was tired as well.

     The next day, Walker and Alex left the ranch in separate vehicles, as Walker wasn't able to predict what type of day lay ahead for him. He had apologized to Alex and although she was disappointed, she understood the demands of his job. Alex did not have any further cases going to court until the next week. She spent her day preparing for those cases, going over depositions and meeting two judges in chambers to argue having evidence admitted into the two cases. She also spent time wrapping up cases she had completed except for the final paperwork. Janice, Alex's secretary, was kept very busy, as was her law clerk. Alex was satisfied with the work she had accomplished and she decided that she could take files and books home with her and have another 'work at home' day on Friday. Her stamina had diminished as her pregnancy progressed and any time she could stay home with her feet up was a definite plus. Alex decided to go down the hall to check on her husband's whereabouts. She hadn't seen him since she left the ranch that morning.

     Walking toward the Ranger Company B Headquarters, Alex had the misfortune of again running into Ramona. "Alex, dear, my how are you? I understand you've been taking time off, such a wise decision. I'm sure it must be difficult for you to carry all that extra weight around. You certainly look exhausted. Oh, that didn't come out right did it? I certainly didn't mean that you don't look wonderful." Alex just stopped and stared at the woman. 'How is it that she is allowed out in public?' Alex wondered. Out loud, Alex merely said, "excuse me Ramona, but I was going to speak with my husband." "Oh dear, you probably don't want to do that just now. That gorgeous creature who's been monopolizing all of his time is with him. They looked rather cozy." Alex digested this and then said, "are you aware that you have white out all over the skirt of your dress?" Ramona looked down and blushed crimson, "yes, I can't imagine what happened, it was as if the bottle was defective or something, it just wouldn't stand up and spilled right into my lap. Of course it won't come out." Alex made a sympathetic noise and walked past her to see Walker.

     Alex swung the door to the office open and strode past the desks of people she knew and liked. She smiled and nodded at those who met her eyes and was curious about the almost guilty looks they gave her as they glanced back toward Walker's desk. Alex reached Walker's desk in time to see a busty brunette bent over it so that his nose was all but in her cleavage. The two had their heads bent down as they looked at the papers spread on the desk and the woman stretched even further in front of Walker as she reached across him to point to something on the paper furthest from her. She said something in a low seductive purr that Alex couldn't quite make out and the two began laughing. Alex took an instant dislike to the woman and decided to make her presence known. "Hi honey," Alex said in a voice as natural as she could make it. Walker's head flew up and nearly smashed into the brunette's breasts that were still dangling in front of him. He pushed his chair back and jumped up as if a firecracker had gone off in his seat. The guy who never lost his cool was red-faced and flustered and his reaction only made matters worse. "Alex, what's up honey? Did you need something?" Silently Walker cursed himself, he knew he was digging his own grave with each syllable.

     Alex looked pointedly at his companion and said, "I'm sorry, we haven't been introduced, I'm Alex Cahill-Walker." Alex stressed the last name as she extended her hand to the woman. Looking her full in the face, Alex had to admit that she was indeed beautiful. No one should have cheekbones that high and lips that full. The green eyes and creamy white skin were just too good to be true. Alex hadn't felt inferior to any woman since she could remember. She was a confidant, capable woman and she knew that she had her own physical attributes. At this present moment in time though, she felt like she was back in the fourth grade, a foot taller than any of the boys in her gym class and the last to get picked to be a square dance partner. Luckily, Walker had gathered his wits and smoothly stepped in to complete the introductions. "Darling, this is Madison Anthony, she is the personal assistant to Sheik Achmed." Madison interjected, "it's nice to meet you. I understand that you are expecting your baby soon." "In a little more than a month, yes." "Well, congratulations. I can't imagine being a mother, but I'm sure you'll make a wonderful one. I should apologize for monopolizing so much of your husband's time; we've just been so busy with all of the security details. The Sheik is such a busy man and his schedule is quite full. Cord has been so good about coordinating everything." 'Cord?' Alex wondered. No one called her husband by his first name since C.D. had died and then he had used his full name, Cordell. She didn't know anyone who used the diminutive. She had suggested it once back at the beginning of their relationship, but he said that he preferred to be called Walker. It was years later that she learned that his former fiancée, Ellen, had called him Cord. When she had been shot and killed, he had decided not to have anyone call him that in memory of her.

     Alex decided to let the name issue pass, she would take it up with her husband in private. Walker walked around the desk and came to stand next to her, his hand on her arm. "You look tired darling, are you headed home?" Walker was not earning himself bonus points with his concern, pointing out that she looked tired in front of this amazingly beautiful woman. "I am actually, any chance you can join me?" "I'm sorry, sweetheart, I just can't leave yet. In fact, it will probably be another late night. The Sheik is attending a dinner party tonight and won't be back at the hotel until late. I won't feel safe until he is back there." Alex barely heard his excuse; she was busy counting the endearments he had called her since she walked up, honey, darling, sweetheart... the man had a guilt complex a mile wide. "Okay, I'll try to wait up, but wake me if I don't make it," Alex said. "I'll walk you down to your car," Walker said and then turned to Madison telling her he would be right back. Walker placed his hand in the small of Alex's back and escorted her out of the office. Many eyes followed their exit.

     After stopping at her office to collect her things, the Walker's headed to the car park. When they reached Alex's Sebring, Walker opened the door and placed her belongings inside. He then turned to his wife and tried to gather her in his arms, but she resisted. Looking into her face with a question mark on his, Walker waited for her to speak. "I meant what I said about waking me up, we need to talk." "Why can't we talk here?" Walker asked. "Because if I start now, I will undoubtedly end up yelling and I know that you would hate it if someone heard what I have to say to you." Walker sighed, he knew this side of Alex and it was best not to cross her when she was like this. It was rare that Alex got as mad as she clearly was now, but when it happened, he knew to respect her wrath. "All right, we'll talk when I get home." He held the door as she maneuvered herself into the driver's seat and then closed it for her. He stood and watched her pull out and drive away.

     It was after midnight when Walker pulled into the driveway of the ranch. He shut off the ignition and rolled his shoulders to loosen the tension he held there. He was beyond tired and he wasn't looking forward to what lay ahead with his wife. He entered the front door and saw her sleeping form on the couch. He was tempted to just let her finish the night there, but that was the coward's way out and he just wanted to get this whole mess sorted out. He hadn't done anything wrong, but with his wife's current mood swings, he had a feeling that wouldn't matter. He walked into the living room and sat on the edge of the couch. Walker reached out to shake her awake, but stilled his hand as it hovered over her shoulder. He tangled his fingers into her hair and bent over to smell its fragrance. He brought its silkiness to his face and rubbed it against his cheek. It seemed like an age ago that they had shared a romantic evening together. He missed her terribly. He felt that the closeness they normally shared had been missing for more than a week and it was causing him more heartache than he thought possible. He released her hair and stood, scooping her into his arms; he carried her up the stairs to their bedroom. Maybe he was a coward, but he just needed to hold her. He didn't want to deal with her anger and hurt feelings tonight. He just wanted to feel her in his arms. In her unconscious state, Alex snuggled into his chest and sighed a deep sigh of contentment.

     When he reached their bedroom, Walker pulled down the covers and lowered his wife onto the cool sheet. He had to gently disengage her arms from around his neck. He quickly stripped off his clothes and climbed in beside her. Walker spooned his body against his wife's and pulled her back toward him so that her head rested on his shoulder where he could breathe in that fragrance he so loved. Her body rested in the curve of his and he placed his hand on her hip. Walker felt so at peace when she was in his arms, he soon fell asleep with a contented smile on his face.

Chapter Four

     The next morning, Walker finished his morning chores and showered and dressed. He then went to the bed and gently awakened his wife with feather light kisses. In her sleepy state, she forgot that she was mad at him and she responded to him, returning the deep kiss he bestowed on her mouth. Slowly the sleep fell away and by the time she was fully awake, she was also fully aroused and all higher thought processes had shut down. The two lovers kissed and caressed each other enjoying the sensations created from touching and from being touched. As Walker stretched out on the bed to get more comfortable, the phone rang and shattered the spell. Walker swore under his breath and reached for the phone. "Walker." "Ranger Walker, this is Agent McDonald from the Dallas office of the FBI. I have just received a report that a terrorist known to have targeted Sheik Achmed in the past may be in Dallas. I'd like to meet with you and discuss the situation as soon as possible." "Where would you like to meet?" "It's my understanding that there is a tactical computer room set up at the Dallas Palace Hotel. Can we meet there?" "Yes, I'll be there in about forty-five minutes." "All right, I'll see you then." Walker looked at Alex and it was clear that her memory was back up and running. "Honey, before you say anything, just let me say that I didn't wake you last night because I thought we were both too tired to have a rational discussion. I had every intention of hearing you out this morning, but that phone call is something I just can't ignore. I'm sorry and I promise I'll make it up to you. I'll call you later at work and we'll set up a time to meet." "I won't be at work, I'm staying home today and if you manage to squeeze me into your busy schedule, you'll know where to find me." Walker looked at her and regretted having to leave her. He so wanted things to be right with her. She was his world and he hated that she wasn't happy. He was especially bothered by the fact that he was part of the reason why she was upset. He reached forward and kissed her even though she didn't respond and then he walked out of the room.

     That was the last time Alex saw him for three full days. The threat to the Sheik proved to be real and Walker stayed at the hotel tightening the security around the Sheik and his daughter. Jasmine was less than happy having to stay in the hotel. The meetings with the oilmen were held as scheduled, but there was an amazing amount of work that went into ensuring the safety of those who attended the meetings. Long hours were spent screening people, places, food, drinks and all other things that the Sheik would come into contact with. Longer hours were spent tracking the whereabouts of the terrorist who had managed to slip into Dallas despite the extra precautions that were taken.

     On Monday, Alex returned to work. She had had phone calls from Walker, but he sounded distracted and tired. It was clear that any real discussion between them was going to have to be put on hold indefinitely. Their conversations were stilted and they both hung up the phone more frustrated than before he called. At least back at work, Alex had something to focus on other than her unhappiness. Alex prosecuted her first case on Monday and by the end of the day, she had a conviction. She had prosecuted a man who robbed the home of an accountant and his wife. He had bound the couple and their two young children in the downstairs entryway while he stole jewelry and other items of value. What the man didn't know was that a security camera had recorded the home invasion robbery. After Alex won the right to submit the tape as evidence, which was one of her Thursday meetings in the judge's chamber, the case was fairly open and shut.

     Alex sat in her office at the end of Monday, reviewing her file on the case she had scheduled to go to trial on Wednesday. Sydney knocked on her door and poked her head in. Alex was glad to see a friendly face. "Hi stranger, how are you?" she asked Sydney. "Completely fed up. I begged to be allowed to stop by and pick up the bag of clothes Walker asked you to bring in today." "What's going on? I've never seen you this exasperated, unless it was with Gage." "I have been cooped up in a hotel room since Friday with Jasmine, her royal pain in the..." "A teenager who doesn't like to be on house arrest, what a novel idea," Alex interrupted Sydney's tirade. "I wish she was under arrest, then I could cuff her and possibly gag her. Not only is she a spoiled rotten brat, but she has decided that Gage is the love of her life and I have to listen to how wonderful she thinks he is. She is making my life a living nightmare. And if she wasn't bad enough, I have to deal with the plastic protocol person." "Wow Sydney, alliteration, you must really like her." "I tell you Alex, I have seen more men salivate these past few days than at a Pavlov bell response trial." "Huh?" "You know Pavlov, the psychologist who rang a bell and then fed some dogs and finally the dogs would start to salivate from just hearing him ring the bell?" "Oh yeah okay, Psych. 101, long time ago." Sydney actually started to smile. There was something about being around Alex that just made a person feel like life wasn't as bad as you first thought. Alex asked, "so how is our dear friend Madison?" "Oh she's holding court with all of her consorts. It's amazing how that woman can bat her eyelashes or jiggle in just the right places and the men come running." "Any man in particular?" Alex asked. "She doesn't discriminate," Sydney answered. She was wise enough not to mention that Madison had an obvious preference for a certain red-bearded Ranger who also happened to be Alex's husband. In his favor, he seemed pretty oblivious to her and her charms. In fact, something was bothering Walker and she didn't know what it was, but she was pretty sure it had to do with Alex. "Well, I can't stay, I really do need to get back. I'll take the bag of clothes to Walker. Any messages you want me to deliver?" "No, it's okay, we've been talking on the phone." Sydney nodded and didn't mention that she had overheard Walker's end of one of their conversations and it didn't sound like talking was an accurate depiction of what they did.

     Sydney had an errand to run for Gage. His campaign against Ramona had been put on hold due to the new case they had been assigned. Other than the gum and toilet paper on her shoe and the defective white out bottle, he had only been able to rig her pen to leak ink all over her and to soak the seat of her chair with skunk scent. After she had sat in her chair, the odor clung to her clothes and skin for hours. Sydney had been dispatched to deliver a message that would hopefully be clear. She made sure that Ramona wasn't at her desk, then she left a 'pooper scooper' and brown baggies on her desk. There was also a sign that read, 'if you're going to shovel it, be sure and bag it.' Gage had picked up the items at a local pet shop and Sydney arranged them so that anyone walking by her desk would see them and read the sign. It was Ramona's misfortune that she was out that day and the entire office was buzzing with the prank by the time she returned the next day. People from other floors and departments stopped by to see the small shiny shovel and brown baggies. Ramona got the message.

     After Sydney left, Alex sat in her chair and thought about how much she missed her husband. The bed was so big and lonely without him at night. Her appetite was almost nil, it just wasn't fun eating alone. Walker had called Jamie to take care of the horses and Alex really had nothing she had to do at the ranch. She was a little frustrated with herself. She had always been a very independent capable woman. Here she sat feeling lonely, bored and depressed just because Walker was on assignment. What was wrong with her? If she were honest with herself, she would admit that she was jealous of Madison. Why a woman who looked like her had to show up just when she was feeling her least attractive was beyond her. The fact that she hadn't been able to talk to Walker about the whole thing just made it worse. She decided to go to HOPE House and visit with her friends there. Alex stood up and collected her things heading out to her car.

     Just after she walked out of the office, the phone rang. It was Walker who had called just to hear the sound of her voice. He knew that she was angry with him, but he still craved to hear her, see her and to hold her in his arms. He was pretty well fed up with this assignment. The FBI still hadn't been able to track down the terrorist they suspected to be in Dallas. If the man had been a hired assassin, Walker would at least have some idea of what to keep his eyes out for. Unfortunately, a terrorist would use a method that would be difficult to plan for and prevent. He could resort to the use of a bomb that was planted before a meeting, poisonous gas in an air duct, or some toxin in a food or water supply. Only diligent checking of everything would help to keep the Sheik safe. Walker hated terrorists and considered them cowards. He believed that if a person wanted to make a stand against something, then they should let the world know who they were and why they were making the stand. Walker would much prefer to deal with a frontal assault than a sneak attack.

     Madison approached him and broke into his thoughts. "Cord, you look worried, is there something I can do to help?" "Convince the Sheik to return home where he can be better protected from threats on his life." "After meeting him, do you really think anyone could persuade him to do something he didn't want to do?" "No, but if someone could, it would be you." "Why I do believe that is a compliment." "Madison, you know what you want and you go after it until you get it. That's a fact, not a compliment." Madison looked consideringly at Walker and didn't share her thoughts with him. Instead, she suggested they go in to dinner. The Sheik had guests and Walker was expected to dine with them to keep an eye on things. Luckily, the hotel had been able to supply him with appropriate clothing for the occasion. When he asked his wife to pack him a bag, the last thing he wanted to ask her to do was to include a dress suit.

     Alex arrived at HOPE House and was invited by Josie to join her for dinner. Josie had an apartment that had a private entrance. It allowed her to be on the premises twenty-four hours a day without having to interact with anyone when she wanted to be alone or to entertain friends. Alex enjoyed her meal with Josie and the two spent a pleasant evening catching up on each other's lives. Even though they were friends, their conversations were often limited to HOPE House and the people it served.  They avoided 'shop talk' by mutual consent, but Josie did update Alex on Tina Fuller. Tina had moved into one of the small apartments upstairs with her two children, six year old Nate and eight year old Tammy. "She is still very frightened and she hasn't relaxed her guard. She is convinced that her ex-husband will track her down. It's hard to see a woman in so much fear. The kids are feeling the effects too. They have had to leave school and their friends and they can sense how frightened their mother is." "I so wish that case had come before another judge. There is no reason why I shouldn't have been able to get that man put into jail. Judge Barton has a definite blind spot when it comes to women in jeopardy from former spouses. I don't know why she can't seem to understand that these women are truly in danger. After meeting Sam Fuller, I believe that he is capable of violence against Tina and possibly the kids as well."  Alex had no idea how prophetic her words were. Both she and Josie jumped as they heard a door being smashed in.

     Sam Fuller had done some digging and had finally found out where that bitch Tina and his kids were. He had sat in a bar and downed shots of whiskey while he plotted what he would do to her. Eventually, his anger had boiled over and he drove to the address he had been given by a man he paid to track his ex-wife down. When he arrived at HOPE House, he didn't bother to knock on the front door. He smashed through the door and then stood in the entryway with the rifle swinging wildly and bellowed Tina's name. Josie and Alex hurried out of Josie's apartment to investigate the noise and found themselves looking down the barrel of a rifle aimed at them by Sam Fuller. "Well, well, if it isn't the bitch DA who tried to put me in jail. And who's your friend? I seen a picture of you, you're the one put Tina up to this ain't ya. I oughtta shoot the both of you and be done with it. I ain't gonna though. Not yet, I want to let Tina watch while I get rid of all you people who took her from me."

     There were sounds upstairs as the women who lived in the apartments used the rear exit to escape the house and run down the street to get help. Sam heard the noise and he gestured with his gun for Alex and Josie to head upstairs. When they got there, Tina and her two children as well as one other woman were still trying to escape. Sam yelled at them to freeze or he would shoot them where they stood. He then rounded everyone up and forced them all down to the walk-in food pantry. There was only one exit from this room and he forced the four women and two children to sit on the floor against the wall furthest from the exit. The sound of sirens heralded the arrival of the police, but they were unable to do anything more than attempt to negotiate the release of the hostages.

     Sam was drunk and he was mad. He had been backed into a corner and he was not willing to accept any responsibility for his situation. Tina approached him pleading with him to let the others go and promising that she would stay with him. This earned her a backhand across the face that sent her flying into a heap on the floor. She sat there holding her face, sobbing and rocking. Little Nate lunged at his father, attacking him with arms, legs and teeth. The boy managed to sink his teeth into his father's arm and he was flung off smacking into the wall and sliding down. Josie ran to retrieve him and brought him over to his mother who gathered him in her arms and rocked him. For her part, Alex had gone into counselor mode. She used the skills she had learned from all of the victims support groups she facilitated and the seminars she had attended. She tried to get Sam to talk about his anger and she presented a sympathetic face to him. Susan Wilson, the other woman who had not been able to escape, threw a can of soup at Sam's head in a vain attempt to knock him out.  The can grazed his shoulder and he swung the rifle in her direction and fired, but his aim was poor and the bullet ricocheted and struck Tammy in the calf. The little girl screamed in pain and Alex gave up on trying to rationalize with the man and instead tended to the girl. The bullet had shattered the girl's tibia and Alex and Josie moved two fifty pound bags of flour to lay on either side of her leg. This helped to immobilize the leg and also to slow the bleeding.

     Sam refused to talk with the police negotiator and the standoff continued. Tina cradled Nate in her arms, while Alex cradled Tammy. Josie and Susan sat in front of them trying to shield them from Sam. Susan had lived through enough harrowing experiences with her former husband that she was determined to stand up to Sam. She had worked too hard and too long to allow this man to take away her hard-earned self-esteem. Josie took over the role of counselor and tried to get Sam to relax a little. He paced back and forth in front of the door and alternated between hurling invectives at Tina and threatening them all with the gun. Josie didn't know where this stand off would lead, but she was convinced that Sam would not surrender.

     Trivette was in the tactical room that had been set up at the hotel. He monitored the computer screens, seeking any clue as to where the terrorist might strike. He had a television turned on with the volume down low occasionally glancing over at the local news. This is how he learned of the situation at HOPE House. Trivette entered the suite where the Sheik was dining with two oilmen, their wives, Walker, Madison and Jasmine. Walker looked up when Trivette walked in and seeing the look on his partner's face, he immediately excused himself and went to him. "It's Alex," was all Trivette said as he walked with his partner out of the room. "What happened?" Walker demanded. "That case Alex lost last week, the one where she was trying to get an abusive husband put into prison," Trivette reminded Walker. "Yeah, I remember." "Well, she got the woman and her two kids into HOPE House. Apparently, she stopped by this evening and according to one of the women who escaped, Sam Fuller, the ex, burst in with a rifle. He is holding Alex, Josie, his ex-wife, their two kids and another woman hostage. The police have not been able to get him to talk and at least one shot has been fired." "Let's go," Walker said. He turned and looked at Gage and Sydney who had entered the room and heard what was happening. "You two stay here and keep watch over the Sheik." He then turned and rushed out of the hotel, Trivette right behind him.

     Alex sat on the floor stroking Tammy's hair; the child was finally asleep. She had lost a fair amount of blood and was clearly in a great deal of pain, but her exhaustion had finally put her into a fitful sleep. Tina held Nate who lay very still, bruises forming on his arms, legs and back. Tina herself had a large red welt on her left cheek. Josie was nearly hoarse from talking to Sam. Susan merely glared at the man who was terrorizing everyone. Sam continued to pace while he ranted and raved and claimed he had been mistreated by the judicial system. He spouted profanities and waved the rifle for emphasis. Alex didn't know how much longer she would be able to remain in her current position. Her back ached and she desperately needed the restroom. She prayed that Walker had been informed of the situation. If anyone could get them out of this, it was Walker and Trivette. Suddenly, from the corner of her eye, she saw a slight movement from under the door. There was a thin black cable that snaked under the door and moved from left to right. Alex realized that a surveillance camera had been threaded under the door and was being used to survey the room.

     Walker watched the monitor as Trivette swept the entire room with the camera. Walker had to admit that there were times when Trivette's little gadgets were useful. "We have to somehow get him closer to the door. If I can knock him down kicking the door in, the rifle should fire into the floor if it goes off." They wondered how they could possibly accomplish this, when they saw Alex call to Sam to get his attention. He looked at her and then he started backing up. He took one step backward and then another. He was backing up into the door. Just as he was nearly touching it with his shoulder, the door crashed in under the force of Walker's kick. Sam Fuller was knocked forward and the rifle did go off, the bullet piercing the wood floor. Walker continued into the room and kicked the man in the head, knocking him unconscious with the impact of his boot. Reaching down for the rifle, Walker picked it up and handed it to a Dallas policeman who followed him in. Sargent Rice of the DPD cuffed Fuller's hands behind his back and hauled him up and out to the unit parked out front. He read him his rights on the way out, but had to repeat them later when the man regained his senses.

     Walker called in the medics who immediately tended to the wounded children and their mother. Jill Ransom, who had seen the story on the news and come over, helped Susan Wilson up off the floor and they headed to the hospital to provide support to Tina. Trivette went to Josie and pulled her up and into his arms. She hugged him tightly as she began to shake with reaction. Walker knelt in front of Alex and looked into her eyes. "Honey, are you all right?" "I will be after I get up off this floor and get to a bathroom." Walker grinned in relief and helped his wife to stand. He practically had to lift her to her feet; her body had stiffened so badly she could hardly move. As soon as she was up, she turned away from him and hustled to the restroom. When she emerged, he wrapped a blanket around her and escorted her out to his truck. Walker gave Trivette his key to Alex's car and told him he would not be back at the hotel until he was certain Alex was all right. Trivette would drive Alex's car back there after he wrapped up the investigation at HOPE House and made sure Josie was all right.

     Alex insisted they go to the hospital to check on Tina and the kids before they went home. When they got to the hospital, she began having cramps in her lower back and abdomen. The hospital staff seeing her distress insisted on hooking her up to monitors to determine if she was going into premature labor. It was several hours later before they determined that the cramping was stress related and would not lead to labor. By this time, Tina had been examined and released with some facial bruising. Nate was bruised and had suffered a mild concussion and would be held overnight for observation. Tammy had undergone surgery to remove the bullet, set her bone and repair the soft tissue damage the bullet had caused. She was expected to make a full recovery, but would be in a cast for many weeks.

     It was two in the morning when the Walker's finally arrived home. Walker helped his wife upstairs where he removed her clothing and slipped a nightgown over her head. He helped her into the bathroom and then led her to the bed where he positioned pillows around her to ease the pressure on her back. She lay on her back facing the middle of the bed. Kneeling beside her on the floor next to the bed, he massaged her back and worked on easing the muscles that had spasmed from the stress and position she had had to sit in for so long. Alex quickly fell asleep and Walker crawled into bed beside her, facing her and laying his hand so that it covered hers on the pillow. He too fell asleep and was later awoken by her cries as she relived the trauma in a nightmare. "Honey, it's all right, I'm here, you're safe." "Walker, oh Walker, I was so scared. I prayed that you would come. I knew you and Jimmy could get us out of there." "Shh honey, I was scared too. When I knew that you were being held at gunpoint, I just couldn't get there fast enough. I'm so glad that you're all right." "Hold me," she pleaded. Walker needed no further urging. He gathered Alex to him and she lay her head on his shoulder, rubbing her forehead against his chest. Walker smoothed his hand down her back in rhythmic strokes until he felt her relax back into sleep. He then fell asleep and slept soundly for the first time in three days since he had left the ranch.


Chapter Five

     The next morning, Walker was the first to awaken and he quietly left the bedroom and did his morning chores and then called in to check on the status of the Sheik and the search for the terrorist. Gage filled him in saying that there had been little change. The FBI had a possible lead that had turned up a former hideout the terrorist had been using, but they had not found any leads giving an indication as to where he might be or what method he planned to use in an attempt on the Sheik's life. Walker told Gage that he would return to the hotel later that day if he felt Alex was all right. He had had quite a scare the evening before and he wasn't all together convinced that there wouldn't be lasting effects from the ordeal she had been put through. She was too far along in her pregnancy for something like what she had been through to be taken lightly. He planned to take her to her OBGYN later that day for a thorough check up. In the meantime, he wanted to let her sleep as long as she would.

     Walker had showered and dressed and fixed breakfast before Alex had stirred. She opened her eyes to see her husband standing with a breakfast tray next to the bed. "Hi," she greeted him. "Hi, I brought you some breakfast, I hope you're hungry." "Thanks, I need to use the restroom first though." Walker nodded as she got out of bed and padded over to the bathroom. When she returned, he had her pillows arranged and the covers pulled back. Alex climbed back into the bed and pulled the covers up so Walker could place the tray on her lap. "I'll never be able to eat all of this," Alex commented looking at the tray filled with fluffy white scrambled eggs, bacon and biscuits. There was also a glass of milk and some decaf coffee. "Eat what you want, no pressure," Walker responded as he sat on the edge of the bed to watch her.

     Alex began eating and the food tasted good for the first time in days. Walker didn't say anything as he watched her consume over half of it. Finally, she looked at him and raised her eyebrows. "Are you planning to just sit there or were you going to say something?" Alex asked him. "I'm kind of afraid to say anything. I don't seem to be able to say the right things to you lately and I don't want to make you mad." Alex sighed and wasn't sure how to respond to that. Leaving Alex speechless was quite an accomplishment and in happier circumstances Walker would have been gloating. He wisely decided that it wouldn't be prudent to do so now. "How are you feeling this morning?" he asked her. "A little stiff, but I'm all right." "I want you to get a thorough check up today, I'll take you in later, okay?" Alex considered, but if he were going to take her, then at least she would have him with her. That was definitely a step in the right direction. "Okay, but I really do think everything is fine." "I just don't think I could handle it if anything happened to you or the baby..." Walker said with so much emotion that Alex felt the tears welling in her eyes. "Nothing is going to happen. We're both fine and regardless of what happened last night, we are going to have a beautiful healthy baby and live happily ever after." Walker looked into Alex's eyes and his eyes asked her to make her statement into a vow. She returned the look with one of certainty and determination.

     Walker stood up and lifted the tray from her lap. "I'll call Janice and tell her you won't be in. Then I'll make an appointment with the doctor for you. Why don't you get some more rest." "I have to go in to work today. I have a case that goes to trial tomorrow. I have everything pretty well prepared, but I need to go over my notes." Walker frowned at her, but he knew his wife and arguing would be a waste of breath. "All right, I will try to get you a morning appointment with the doctor and then depending on what the doctor says, you can do a half day at work." Alex couldn't argue with his logic and decided to compromise. She knew her husband and arguing would be a waste of breath. Walker smiled as she scooted back down under the covers and closed her eyes.

     Walker scheduled an eleven o'clock appointment for Alex and she showered and dressed in time for him to drive her to it. On the way in, he asked her about the case she had coming up. "It's that drug dealer, Carson, that Rangers Morales and Hopkins took down." "Right, I remember, he was using that street gang to market his drugs until one of them sampled the merchandise and died. The gang turned him in right?" "Yeah, he was selling bad stuff and the gang members would have just killed him for killing one of their own, but they didn't want the stuff to find it's way on the street again. They decided that if they gave us Carson, we might be able to take down his supplier." "And Morales and Hopkins were successful in closing down the warehouse where it was being manufactured." "Yeah, there are some really stupid people in the drug business. They didn't have the formula right and they were making a lethal concoction. It's amazing they didn't blow up the neighborhood." "So how solid is your case?" "If I can't win this one, I might as well turn in my law degree." "Well if it is such an easy case, why not let a junior ADA handle it?" "Because some meddling husband went to the DA and asked him not to give me any difficult cases that would require more than a day or two in court until after I have this baby." "The reason said meddling husband did that was so you could bow out of a case if you weren't feeling up to it." "But I feel fine and I plan to take Carson down. That kid who died was thirteen years old. He was the younger brother of one of the leaders of the gang, but there was still hope for the boy." "Well, we'll wait and see what the doctor says." Alex felt the childish impulse to stick her tongue out at her husband, but bit it instead.

    "Well Alex, you seem fine to me. The baby's heart rate is normal, your heart rate is normal, except when your husband is near and I guess that's not only normal, but healthy, and you are not dilated at all at this time." The doctor's comments about her reaction to Walker were said in jest. Alex and Walker had a very obvious love for each other and Walker had attended the vast majority of her examinations. Still, Alex would rather the doctor hadn't mentioned her response to her husbands proximity just now. They still hadn't resolved the issues around his current case and Madison. She looked over at Walker and decided that he looked a little too smug. "So I can go back to work?" "Yes, I don't see why not, but I still want you to take it easy and take half days off whenever possible. You will probably begin experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions in the near future. Don't let them worry you. You don't need to respond unless they become regular or your water breaks." "Okay doctor, thanks." "I'll see you in a week's time. I want to check you weekly from now until the time you deliver." "Okay, I'll make an appointment on the way out."

     Walker took Alex to the Cafe Marina for lunch before taking her to the Justice Building. He spent the lunchtime filling her in on the case he had devoted so much time to recently. He told her that he would probably have to return to the hotel that evening, but he would work at the Justice Building until she was finished and then he would drive her over to the Dallas Palace Hotel where Trivette had her car. Walker tried to reassure her that he had no interest in Madison without being too obvious. A public restaurant was not the place to let her know that he couldn't even conceive of wanting another woman when he had everything he had ever hoped for with her. He knew that she knew that and he decided that it must have something to do with hormones that she could even begin to have doubts.

     Alex asked Walker to take her by the hospital to visit Tina Fuller and her two children. With Tina's permission, she took pictures of her and Tammy and Nate. Walker asked her why she wanted the photos while they headed to work. Alex responded, "I plan to show them to Judge Barton and tell her that she is the person responsible for putting that man back out on the street." "Is that wise?" "At this point, I don't care. She always takes the side of the abusive husband in a domestic violence case and I want her to see the consequences." "That reminds me, what did you say to Sam Fuller that caused him to back toward the door just when I needed him to?" "When I saw the camera, I knew you and Jimmy were there and I figured out what your plan would be. I started telling Fuller of the charges that he would be facing if he killed any of us and then I started to describe the process by which people are executed in the state of Texas when they are sentenced to death. He was drunk and paranoid and it wasn't difficult to play with his mind." "You never cease to amaze me," Walker said awed by his wife's many talents.

     The afternoon passed quickly, with Walker following up on the terrorist hideout the FBI had discovered and Alex finishing her preparations for her case. Walker phoned the hotel and spoke with Trivette filling him in on Alex's condition and that of the Fuller's. Alex had also spoken with Josie and everyone at HOPE House was recovering and pitching in to repair the damages. Just prior to leaving, Alex placed a sealed manila envelope into Judge Barton's mail slot. In it, she had enclosed a summary of the case and the newspaper clippings of the hostage situation she and others had endured. She included the photos showing little Tammy with her leg in traction, Nate with his back to the camera the bruises on his arms evident and Tina looking at the camera with the bruise coloring her cheek. Under a family photo taken in Tammy's room, Alex wrote in red letters, 'This was predictable and preventable'. She hoped that the contents of the envelope would have some impact.

     Walker stopped by Alex's office at 5:00 to see if she was ready. She was and he helped her carry her satchel, filled with the files she wanted to review at home, to the Ram. Walker wasn't sure how to broach the subject of the rift between them, but he wanted to get some resolution on the subject before he returned to duty at the Dallas Palace. "Honey, why don't you come in with me and see Gage, Sydney and Trivette. I know they would love the visit. It's been a pretty intense few days." As much as Alex wanted to see her friends, she didn't want to be subjected to another meeting with Madison. Alex chastised herself for being a coward and agreed to go upstairs with Walker. The elevator that allowed access to the top floor, which was currently occupied solely by the Sheik and his entourage, was guarded by two hotel security guards. Despite being with Walker, Alex was still checked with the hand held wand that would let them know if she carried a weapon. "Relax gentlemen, it's all baby," she joked when they swept over her protruding abdomen. The men passed them on through and Walker pushed the button that sped them to the top floor.

     When they stepped out of the elevator, they were greeted by two of the Sheik's personal bodyguards. As they reached the tactical room, two Dallas policemen guarded it. Inside, they found Trivette and Agent McDonald discussing the Sheik's evening plans. He had been scheduled to go to the opera, but this was deemed too accessible for potential assassins, so he instead would be staying at the hotel and inviting the Texas Senator, his wife and teenaged son to join him. Dinner would again be served in his suite. Trivette brightened when he saw Alex and came over to her to give her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Hi counselor, it's good to see you. How are you feeling?" "I'm fine, thanks. The doctor said that there were no lasting effects from last night. I plan to stop by and check on Josie and Susan Wilson on my way home." Walker looked at her, she hadn't mentioned this to him and he would prefer her to head straight home. He decided to bring it up later. "Agent McDonald, this is my wife, Alex." "It's nice to meet you ma'am. Now I know why Walker has been so grumpy. I know that he isn't known as Mr. Congeniality, but I didn't expect him to be such a grouch. After seeing how beautiful you are, I can understand why he wouldn't want to leave you alone to work on this case." Alex actually blushed and Walker could have kissed the man. If he had asked him to say something, he couldn't have planned it better. "Thank you and I'm sorry my husband has been so difficult. He's usually the life of the party." This elicited an astonished laugh from Trivette, which earned him a glare from Walker. Agent McDonald looked at the three and seeing them all together, he could tell that they were very close. His job demanded that he relocate every two or three years and he envied the well-established friendship that these people obviously shared.

     After getting the most recent update, Walker escorted Alex to the Sheik's suite where Sydney and Gage were stationed. Two more of the Sheiks personal bodyguards guarded this door. They recognized Walker and allowed him entrance with his wife. On the other side of the door, Gage sat at a table with a laptop computer on it. He logged in all the comings and goings from the suite. He stood up when he saw Alex walk in and gave her a bear hug. "Jeez Alex, I thought you would look tired after what happened last night, but you're just glowing. How's Walker junior doing?" "We're both doing great. It's good to see you. Looks like you've been having fun." "Oh yeah, this assignment is just a barrel of laughs. If someone had told me that I would be locked in a luxury suite with one of the world's richest men and his beautiful daughter, I wouldn't have believed that after four days I would consider that torture." "You poor man," Alex sympathized. Just then one of the bedroom doors opened and a teenage girl flounced out. "I thought the opera sounded dull, but at least it would get me out of here. Now you're telling me we're staying in again?" Jasmine was not happy and Sydney was taking the brunt of her wrath.

     Walker stepped in and gave her a stern look. "You're safety is more important than your pleasure right now. I'm sure your father will make it up to you as soon as he can. Please stop harassing Ranger Cooke." Jasmine wasn't happy, but she wasn't about to cross Walker. She had once before and Walker had been in a bad mood and let her know what he thought of spoiled sixteen-year-olds. Alex watched and decided that if their baby was a girl, she was going to have to have better manners than Jasmine if she wanted to get her daddy on her side. "Come over here and meet my wife," Walker commanded. Jasmine walked over to Alex and extended her hand. "How do you do?" she asked politely. "Fine thank you, it's nice to meet you." "When is your baby due?" the girl asked. "Not for several more weeks." "Does it hurt to have your skin stretched out so much?" she asked. Obviously the school Jasmine attended didn't teach the social graces. "The only thing that hurts is my back after a long day." Alex was used to dealing with sullen teenagers and wasn't about to take offense. Walker breathed a sigh of relief at Alex's response.

     Sydney rushed in to avert further inappropriate questions from her charge; she had enough experience with the girl to know that she was capable of them. "Alex, you look wonderful. I was so worried about you and the baby last night. I'm glad that all the reports have been good." "Yeah, it was a rough night, but I was lucky, other's weren't so lucky." The two women moved off to the side of the entry hall to a couch there and they chatted while Gage and Walker conferred and Jasmine pouted. She wasn't used to not being the center of attention. "Oh look, here comes Cruella DeVille," Jasmine announced in a loud voice. All heads looked up to see Madison exiting from the Sheik's private office. What Jasmine didn't know was that her father was right behind her and he looked none to happy. "Go to your room," he ordered in a tone that brooked no argument. Jasmine ducked her head and walked to her room closing the door. Sydney went to follow her, but the Sheik stalled her with a hand raised. "She does not require company at this moment." The Sheik felt confident that Jasmine was safe as long as she was in the suite. "Sheik Achmed, I would like to introduce you to my wife, Alex." Alex walked over to stand next to her husband and extended her hand in greeting toward the Sheik. "It is a pleasure to meet you," Alex said. "More likely, you would like to see the last of me. I have monopolized your husband's time and I am sure that you would like him home with you, especially now," he glanced pointedly at her belly. "My husband's job is very demanding and I was aware of that when I married him," Alex stated. "As Deputy District Attorney of Tarant County, my wife is also familiar with overtime," Walker added. Alex looked at him and smiled. It was a long running playful argument between them as to whose fault it was they didn't get to spend more time together. They kept a running tally of who broke the most dates. Walker was ahead, but not by much. "Well, let me extend an invitation to you to join me for dinner. Your husband was going to be odd man out and your presence will even up the numbers," he added persuasively. "I'm not dressed appropriately and all of my clothes are at the ranch." "That is no problem. Madison, have the hotel bring up several dresses for Mrs. Walker to choose from along with accessories." Alex realized that this man created his own tornadoes and it was best to stay out of the path of them. "Walker has a private room and you are welcome to stay there with him this evening. Frankly, you can stay as long as you like," the Sheik finished. "Thank you, that is very kind of you, but I have to be in court tomorrow. I will take you up on your offer this evening though." Walker was glad that Alex had agreed, now they would have a chance to talk. "Honey, why don't we go there now and you can rest before dinner," Walker suggested solicitously. They left the suite together and headed down the hall to Walker's room.

     Sydney stayed out of Jasmine's room and used the excuse to sit and visit with Gage. They were both feeling the strain of this assignment and they missed the opportunity to talk about anything and everything, something they usually did without thinking about it. Madison went off to make arrangements for the hotel to send up clothes for Alex. She wasn't happy with the turn of events, but her job was too important to her for her to do anything that would jeopardize it. Sheik Achmed knocked and entered his daughter's room to have a word with her about her attitude.

     Walker helped Alex to sit on the bed with her back resting against several pillows. He helped her take her shoes and nylons off and sat at the end of the bed massaging her feet. "Alex, can we talk about us?" Walker asked tentatively. Alex took a deep breath and let it out slowly and then nodded her assent. "I know that you're feeling vulnerable right now, but honestly honey, I don't understand how you could ever believe that I don't love you more than life itself." "I know you do darling. I haven't been very rational lately, blame it on hormones or just plain not feeling good. I can't explain it, but I feel unattractive and when I see you admiring someone like Madison..." "She is a beautiful woman, but as I've discovered over the last several days, her beauty is only skin deep. Whatever instinctive reaction I had toward her when I first met her has since been replaced with, well if not dislike, at least disinterest. You know that you are the one and only woman in the world for me. I don't know why you feel unattractive, it's all I can do to keep from making love to you right now." "What's holding you back?" Walker looked up and smiled, the color had risen in his face, "only the fact that I know you're tired and I want you to get some rest before this evening. I want you to sparkle tonight so that everyone in the room, including Madison, will have no doubt why and how much I love you." "Oh so she's coming on to you and you want me to shield you from her advances. You have never been good at deterring determined women." "Isn't that how you got me?" he teased and then continued. "Alex, I have had to put up with men making passes at you the entire time I've known you and it hasn't stopped just because we're married. Hell, it hasn't stopped and you're clearly carrying my child. It was all Agent McDonald could do to close his mouth when he saw you. Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?" Alex's eyes glistened with tears and she said in a voice that was brutally honest and bared her deepest feelings. "I don't feel beautiful. I feel fat and awkward and tired and bloated and ungainly and..." Walker shifted on the bed pulling her into his arms and silencing her with a deep passionate kiss. "You don't feel beautiful?" he asked as he kissed every inch of her face. "You feel fat?" he repeated as his hands cupped her swollen breasts. "You feel awkward?" he continued as his mouth followed the path his hands had taken. "You feel tired?" he murmured against her breast as his mouth closed around her nipple through the fabric of her blouse. "Bloated?" his mouth shifted to the other side paying it equal attention. "Ungainly?" his hands reached around her and he toppled them onto the bed, pulling her with him so that she lay partially on top of him as his fingers thread through her hair and his hands searched under her clothes.

     A knock on the door interrupted their foreplay and Alex righted herself against the pillows as Walker went and opened the door. Madison breezed in followed by a cart with several articles of clothing hanging from it. There were shoes and purses and other boxes at the base of the rack and the woman who pushed it into the room was clearly there to help Alex select an outfit. Madison took one look at the bed and her face set to stone. Alex's hair was out of place, her blouse was damp and stuck to her breasts which were clearly aroused, the bedspread was rumpled and it didn't take a great deal of imagination on her part to figure out why. What she couldn't understand was what the man saw in this pale whale-sized woman. She had convinced herself that her instincts had been wrong and Walker was not a passionate man. Clearly she was deluding herself. Well, she would have to step up her campaign. She was determined that the man would be in her bed before she left Dallas and she rarely if ever failed to bed a man she had set her sites on. "Cord, you'll have to leave so we can help Alex find something appropriate to wear this evening." Walker was no fool; there was no way he was going to let this woman get Alex alone without him to protect her. He had made too much headway in helping Alex regain her self-esteem to chance it. He sized up the woman with the clothes cart and said, "Alex has always been extremely good at selecting her own clothing. I'm sure with this woman's help they will find something suitable. Why don't we go on out and let them get to it?" Madison would have liked to convince Alex to select the one outfit that she knew would be the least attractive on her, but she saw her chance to get Cord alone, so she seized it. Not quickly enough though. "Madison, my husband would never be rude enough to tell you this, but he hates being called Cord. He lost someone very dear to him who called him that and it brings up painful memories. If you haven't noticed, everyone calls him Walker." Score one for Alex. Walker had trouble keeping his grin from showing; she was definitely regaining some of her old spunk. "Is this true?" Madison asked Walker, clearly not believing it. "Yes actually, I much prefer to be called Walker." "Well you just needed to say so." Madison walked out of the room, not a happy woman. Walker looked at Alex and gave her a penetrating look with a slow wink that Alex correctly interpreted as 'I love you.'

     After he left, Alex looked at the well-dressed woman standing in front of her. "Hello, my name is Alex." "Margaret ma'am and now that I've seen you, I don't believe anything on this rack will do. You shouldn't wear these colors, they're all wrong. They're better suited to a brunette. I'll ring down and have another rack sent up." Twenty minutes later, a second rack was wheeled into the room. Margaret had asked Alex for her size in shoes and bra as well as the brand of makeup she preferred to wear. It took the two women minutes to select a black dress that was shot through with navy blue threads. The dress hung long and loose from a high cut waist and the neckline drew the attention to Alex's face and cleavage, minimizing the attention to her waistline. The skirt was short enough to show off Alex's legs and Margaret found a pair of low-heeled shoes that fit Alex comfortably. She selected the necessary makeup and jewelry to accent the outfit. She then pulled out something she had included unbeknownst to Alex and handed it to her. It was a white negligée and it was absolutely beautiful. Margaret was an observant woman and it was clear that Alex's husband was very interested in his pregnant wife. This beautiful piece of silk would only raise the temperature in the room. She helped Alex into it and combed her hair out around her face in a very sexy style. Then she put away Alex's selections, turned down the bedclothes and told Alex she would return in two hours time to help her dress.

     Walker had gone straight to the tactical room and spent his time there until he saw Margaret leaving. She sought him out and informed him that his wife would like him to return to their room. Walker headed toward the door to the room they were sharing and when he opened it, his heart stopped and then raced a mile a minute. Alex stood facing the door with her hair down and soft around her face the way he liked it. She was wearing the sheerest white gown he had ever seen and it did all sorts of things to his body. He closed the door deliberately and after it clicked shut, he reached behind him and locked it, never taking his eyes from her. He approached her slowly and reached out to touch her hair feeling its softness. She took a step toward him and was in his arms, her lips meeting his in a passionate kiss that shook him to the core. Walker looked over at the bed and remembered how difficult it was for them to make love these days. The last thing he wanted was for his wife to feel awkward tonight. He stepped back from her, "wait, I have an idea," he said and walked into the bathroom.

     There was a large round sunken tub in there that was made for two and came equipped with whirlpool jets. He turned the water on and tested it for temperature. He then added some of the bubble bath that sat on the side. Walker hadn't used the tub while staying there, the shower suited him, but he knew his wife would like it. While the tub filled, he removed his clothing and placed it out of sight. He then picked up the large fluffy bath towels and lay them near the tub. Once the bath was filled to near the top, he turned off the water and turned on the jets. The bubble bath was rich and creamy and coated the surface. He then returned to the bedroom where his wife had seated herself on the bed. "Your bath awaits milady," he said in his best butler's voice. The image was rather ruined by his clearly aroused nude form, but she smiled at him and allowed him to help her off the bed. "Let's leave this here where it won't get wet. It would be a shame to ruin something so incredibly sexy," he said as he helped her slip the negligée off. She stood there as nude as he and he led her by the hand into the bathroom.

     Alex looked at the sunken tub that looked like a lemon meringue pie with all the bubbles on top. She allowed her husband to help her step into it and then waited as he joined her. The buoyancy of the water made her feel light and graceful. Walker took over the task of making her feel beautiful and sexy. An hour later, Alex sparkled in a way that no nap could have achieved. She was happy and felt loved and secure in that love for the first time in several days. Her hair was wet from having ducked under the water to pleasure him and his was wet from returning the favor. The two were closer than they had been in over a week and they both were in the best mood they had been in in some time. They touched and held, kissed and caressed each other long after their initial passion was spent. Walker shaved Alex's legs for her as she was unable to reach them and they finally emerged from the bath to get into the shower where they shampooed each other's hair. Wrapped in the large bath towel, Alex sat at the vanity table to apply moisturizer to her face, neck and arms. Walker quickly dressed, as he needed to check on things before the Senator arrived. He came back to Alex and bent down to kiss her slightly swollen lips. His tongue tasted and teased her mouth until he heard a discreet knock on the door to the outer room. He stood back up and said, "I can't wait until dinner is over, I'm going to need another bath." He then waggled his eyebrows at her and pulled the plug on the tub as he headed out.

     Margaret entered the room shortly after and set about styling Alex's hair. She pulled it up into an elaborate 'up do' piling it high on her head and softening the style with curls hanging from it and a few tendrils at her temples. She then expertly applied Alex's makeup highlighting the glow in her cheeks and eyes and outlining her recently kissed lips making them appear even fuller than they currently were. Next, Alex slipped into the sexy under things they had chosen together and then Margaret helped her with the dress. Alex wore stockings with a garter belt instead of nylons and the shoes slipped comfortably on her feet. Margaret then hung the dangling faux diamond earrings in her ears and clasped the matching choker around her neck. Alex looked at herself in the full-length mirror and she didn't need anyone to tell her she looked beautiful. It was obvious for all to see that she was a woman in love whose love was returned. Margaret gathered the items they hadn't used and Alex thanked her profusely. "Ma'am if you don't mind my saying so, I think you are the most beautiful woman I have ever helped dress. It's been an honor assisting you." Alex was touched by the woman's statement and she gave her a hug and thanked her again. "If you wouldn't mind doing me one favor?" Margaret asked. "Of course anything," Alex responded. "Make that man-eater eat crow tonight. She gives women everywhere a bad name and I wish I could be a fly on the wall tonight when she meets her match in a woman who uses kindness to slay her." Margaret smiled at Alex and then headed out.

     Walker returned to their room after seeing Margaret and receiving a thumbs up from her. Walker decided that he liked the woman. He went into the bedroom and stopped dead in his tracks. He closed the door behind him and leaned against it. "You look gorgeous," he said. "Yes I do and it's about time you noticed," his wife answered back with all the confidence she had had in the past. Walker smiled and held his hand out to her. "I am the luckiest man on earth. We may be dining with a man who has more money than I have and another man who has more power than I have, but neither of them could possibly have more love in their life than I have. That makes me richer and more powerful than either of them could ever hope to be." "Damn it Walker, don't make me cry, I'll ruin my makeup." Walker chuckled at his emotional wife and reached over to kiss her ear so as not to mess up her carefully applied makeup. "Let's go in to dinner, I can't wait to show you off." Walker led her out of the room and down the hall to the Sheik's private suite.

     When they arrived, the Senator, his wife and son were just stepping off the elevator. They all entered the suite together and the Sheik was the ultimate host. Madison played the role of his hostess and Jasmine was on her best behavior after the talk with her father earlier. The talk centered around politics during pre-dinner drinks and Alex was quite capable of holding her own. Walker just stood back and admired his lovely wife. They moved into the opulent dining room for dinner that was sent up from the five-star restaurant the hotel boasted. The meal was superb and the Senator's wife, Kathryn, began asking Alex about her job, where they lived, how she liked Dallas and a multitude of other questions. The two women began a friendship and Kathryn spoke of how she missed living on a ranch and having horses. She had given up her family home when her husband moved to Washington and they now lived in a condo in Austin when they were in Texas. The talk turned to horses and Walker and the Sheik joined in. Jasmine loved horses also and spoke of her Arab that she had back home. Alex invited her to come out and ride when it was safe and Jasmine was sincerely excited by the idea. The Senator's son, Brent, was a freshman in college and he was planning on going to law school. He asked Alex where she had attended and then asked if she had worked with a DA by the name of Mark Clark. "Yes actually, he had me arrested for murder once." This set off all sorts of questions as Alex explained what had happened and how she had been framed for a murder of the defense attorney of Lane Tillman who was currently serving a life sentence. She told them of how the videotape of the murder had been found, clearing her of all charges. "So you know Mark?" Alex asked Brent. "He teaches a pre-law class at the university and I thought of taking it." "You should, he's a good lawyer and knows his stuff." "Then why isn't he still the DA?" "He committed political suicide when he arrested someone of Alex's stature," his father explained. Alex looked up surprised, the Senator seemed familiar with the case. "Alex's father, Gordon Cahill, defended her and Mark made the mistake of playing hardball thinking it would earn him political points. If he had been successful in winning the case, he probably would have profited, but the tape made him look like a jerk who had no loyalty toward his best prosecuting attorney. He had no chance of retaining his office after Alex was cleared." Walker knew that the Senator's assessment was correct. The man was willing to sacrifice Alex if it meant furthering his career. It had taken a great deal of restraint on Walker's part not to follow the man into a dark alley one night and cause bruises similar to the ones Alex had gotten from a beating she had received while in jail.

     Madison sat and stewed as all the attention remained on Alex throughout the night. If Jasmine wasn't asking her about horses, Brent was asking her about cases she had tried. Madison was getting more and more determined to bed Walker and then make sure his wife knew about it. The evening finally came to a close and everyone continued to shower Alex with attention. They told her how beautiful she looked and wished her luck with the new baby. Walker couldn't seem to keep his eyes and hands off of her. He was always touching her in some way and they shared several long looks when everyone else in the room clearly ceased to exist for them. At one point, the Sheik even commented on it. "Walker, the way you look at your beautiful wife reminds me of how I felt about Jasmine's mother. She too was an extraordinary woman and I have never met her match. You have found yourself a love that will last a lifetime and nothing will change that. I love my wife as much now as I ever have and she died nearly five years ago. It is one of the reasons my daughter is such a spoiled child, she looks so much like her mother that I can't deny her anything." Even Jasmine looked touched by the way the Sheik spoke of her mother.

     Walker and Alex returned to their room and he again filled the bath with warm water and bubble bath. He stepped behind his wife and lowered the zipper of her dress helping her to step out of it. She was wearing a black lace teddy that showed the garter belts that held up her stockings. Still wearing the jewelry, she looked incredibly sexy and it was all Walker could do to continue undressing her slowly and not just tear the clothing off of her. Alex assisted her husband out of his clothes and finally after much touching and tasting, they were both free of all clothing and ready to step into the water. Walker had let Alex's hair down and the ends of it trailed in the water as she submerged up to her neck. Walker captured her chin and brought her mouth to his kissing her until she gasped for air. She smiled as the bubbles clung to his beard and they began a playful teasing game spreading bubbles on each other. She piled some high in his hair and he gave her her own 'bubble beard'. Their laughter changed to sighs as they gave in to the need they had for the other. Alex lay back floating in the bubbles as Walker stood between her legs and buried himself inside her. The sensation of floating weightlessly in the water, their only connection, his hands on her hips controlling their motion and their thighs gliding against each other as their pelvises met in the most intimate of acts, was overwhelming. Alex lost all inhibitions and screamed as she reached one of the most intense climaxes she had ever experienced. Walker soon followed her over and they sat on opposite sides of the tub panting and looking at each other. "We are getting one of these," Alex stated and Walker began to laugh. "Your wish is my command," he said between chuckles. "Then get over here, I'm not done with you," she commanded. He happily complied and the two continued their lovemaking well into the night.

Chapter Six

     Alex awoke the next morning to find herself still held in her husband's embrace. They had slept that way after they had finally gone to bed waterlogged and utterly spent. Alex had always been very satisfied by their lovemaking, but they had reached new heights of intimacy and pleasuring during the previous night. If she didn't have to use the restroom so badly, she would stay in her husband's arms forever. Unfortunately, the larger the baby got, the smaller her bladder became. She gently disengaged herself, but Walker immediately awoke when she shifted to climb out of bed. "Stay here, I'll be right back," his wife said. Walker grinned as he watched her head toward the bathroom. He was definitely going to have to look into installing one of those sunken whirlpool tubs at the ranch.

     Alex tiptoed back in and was about to crawl back into bed when she glanced at the clock. "Oh Walker, I have to be in court in less than an hour!" Walker reacted to his wife's panicked voice and jumped up to help her get ready. Margaret had taken the outfit Alex had arrived in to have it cleaned. In its place, she left a dress that fit Alex perfectly and was a warm peach color that flattered her complexion. Alex wondered if she could clone Margaret and take one of them home with her, the woman was a godsend. Quickly dressing and pulling her hair up into a no-nonsense prosecuting attorney style, Alex applied a minimum amount of make up and downed the croissant and jam her husband brought her. She drank a glass of milk and sipped some decaf coffee and then kissed her husband goodbye and headed down to the lobby where the parking attendant had her car ready and waiting. Alex arrived at work with twenty minutes to spare and she used the time to glance over her opening statement. Years of experience got her through the case without her usual level of preparation. By the end of the day, she was feeling confident that the trial would wrap up the following day and she would have another check mark in her win column.

     After helping Alex rush through her morning, Walker finished getting ready himself and returned to duty at the tactical room. Trivette walked in minutes later yawning and the night crew briefed them before leaving. Sydney walked out asking if anyone had seen Jasmine, as she wasn't in her bed when she checked on her after getting up herself. No one had seen her and a search of the entire floor began. Within twenty minutes, the Sheik had been woken up and it was decided that Jasmine was no longer on the top floor if she was indeed in the hotel. Trivette and Gage began reviewing security tapes from the night before and Gage spotted how Jasmine had slipped past everyone. She had hitched a ride on one of the carts returning to the restaurant after the dinner dishes had been loaded on them. The only reason Gage knew she was hidden under the cart was that he saw a lock of her dark hair curled around the edge of the white tablecloth. Knowing she had left of her own accord eased some of the panic, but everyone was still greatly concerned. Jasmine was a target of a terrorist and now she was more vulnerable than ever.

     Agent McDonald had the only good piece of news for the day, they had found a second hideout the terrorist had used and this time they found the items required to make a bomb. Somehow, the terrorist seemed to stay one step ahead of them. Walker concentrated the Ranger's and Dallas PD on searching for Jasmine. Sydney led a team to places Jasmine had expressed an interest in seeing. Gage accompanied the Sheik to several possible places she could have gone as well. Walker tried to contact Alex to let her know what was going on, but she was in court and he wasn't able to reach her. She didn't get the message until she was leaving and when she tried to reach Walker, he had gone out to aid in the search.

     Alex stopped by HOPE House on her way home that evening as she had intended to do the day before. She spoke with Josie and Susan Wilson and they were both doing all right. Susan was actually doing better than before the ordeal. She had finally proven to herself that she could stand up to an abusive man and this was an important step in her effort to build a new life for herself. Tina Fuller and Nate were back at HOPE House and Tammy would be joining them in a couple of days. Sam Fuller was in prison and Judge Barton had signed the order keeping him there without bail until his trial. Alex decided that there was hope for the judge after all. It was dusk when Alex arrived at the ranch and she pulled in hoping to hear from Walker that Jasmine had been found.

     Alex noticed someone walking over by the barn and decided that Jamie must be feeding and putting the horses away as he did when Walker was away from home. She walked over to the barn to say hi to him when she realized that it wasn't Jamie grooming Angel, but Jasmine. "Jasmine, what are you doing?" The teenager looked up with guilt written all over her face. Her day of adventure had seemed like a bad idea hours before and she would have called her father if she wasn't so afraid of his reaction. She initially tried to play it tough with Alex, but soon crumbled under her false bravado and was sobbing in Alex's arms. "I just couldn't take it anymore. I hate being cooped up and I wanted to have a little fun. Now I've ruined everything and my father is going to be so angry he'll never let me go on a trip with him again." Alex alternated between wanting to wring the girl's neck and feeling sorry for her. She walked her up to the front porch swing and sat her there while she went in to call Walker and let him know that she had found Jasmine. "Walker, it's me. I have a certain sixteen year old here with me." "What? Is she okay?" "Yeah, I'm not exactly sure how she got here, but she was in the barn when I got home. She's none the worse for wear, but she's very afraid of what her father is going to do to her." "He'll be lucky if there's anything left after I get through with her. She's had half the city's police force looking for her." "Calm down, she's sixteen and she's lonely and..." "She's gotten to you. You and that marshmallow heart of yours." "Listen, I think it would be a good idea if she stayed here with me tonight. I'll bring her in to the hotel in the morning. She needs to talk to someone and I'm probably as close to a mother figure as she'll find right now." "I'll have to come home and protect her. She is still in danger and I can't risk her and you being there alone. I think I can get the Sheik to let me handle it though. I'll talk to him and call you back." Alex returned to the porch and handed Jasmine some hot chocolate. "Drink this. Walker is talking to your dad and he's going to ask him if you can stay here with us tonight." "Really? Why would he do that?" "Because I asked him to. I think you need to talk to someone and I'm willing to listen. What do you say?" Jasmine sighed and was contemplating the offer when the phone rang. Alex answered the phone and Walker said that he would be home within the hour.

     Alex returned to the porch swing and looked at Jasmine and said, "well?" "What's it like to have sex?" the girl asked Alex. "What?" "What's it like to have sex? You must know," the girl looked meaningfully at Alex's stomach. "I do know actually, but that's not how I got this way." "What?" now it was Jasmine's turn to look surprised. "Having sex and making love are two totally different things. One is a pale shadow of the other. The first time I was with a man was when I was in college. I had sex with him because I thought that I was supposed to. I had fooled myself into believing I was in love with him and I decided that it was the right time and the right thing to do." "You waited until you were in college?" "Yeah and to tell you the truth, I didn't wait long enough. My first experience was pretty awful. He wasn't mean or anything, it's just that I had built up this fantasy of how wonderful it was going to be and then it was a big letdown when it wasn't." "Didn't he know what he was doing?" "Yes, he was experienced, but I found out I wasn't in love with him. I never really knew what making love was until I met Walker. We waited a long time and when we finally made love it was better than any fantasy I ever had. And it keeps getting better and better. When I found out we were going to have a baby, I was so happy I couldn't believe it. I deal with teenagers who are single mothers all the time at the HOPE Center. I watch them struggle to make ends meet while they try to finish growing up and raise a baby of their own. Almost all of them have no contact with the father of their child and many of them have been forced out of their parent's homes." "I get it, you're saying I should wait until I get married to have sex." Alex smiled, "no, I'm saying you should wait until you're ready. When I say ready, I don't mean that you're ready for the act of having sex, but ready for all the consequences that go along with it. I know that my baby is going to have a mom and dad who love it and I know that Walker and I will always be there for our baby." "My mom loved me, but she's still not with me." "Sure she is. You may not be able to see her, but she's with you. She left you to your dad to take care of you and raise you. From what he said last night, he loved your mother very much." "I know, I just wish she was still here. I get so confused and I can't ask my dad questions and I need to know the answers. I know my dad loves me, but he doesn't know what to do with me. He has me in a school that's almost like a prison. There aren't any boys and the girls are all rich and most of them are mean. They're only nice to me because my father has more money than their fathers do." "Jasmine, have you ever heard the expression that you attract more flies with honey?" "Who wants to attract flies?" Alex smiled, "it just means that if you're nice, people will be nice back to you." "Then how come Madison is mean to you? You're nice to her and she is trying to steal your husband away." "So you think she could steal Walker away from me?" "No, I saw the way he looks at you. I wish a boy would look at me that way." "There are some people in this world who just don't know how to be nice and Madison is one of them. Most people will be nice to you if you're nice first. I saw the way Brent was looking at you last night. If you had been even a little nice to him, I bet he would have asked you out." "I was nervous. He was so cute and I didn't know how to act." "So next time you don't know how to act, just try being nice instead of all prickly like a porcupine and I bet you'll get better results." "Like my dad is ever going to let me see the light of day again." "Oh, I think once he gets over his initial anger, he'll be fine. Just remember, he's mad because he was so afraid that something bad would happen to you." Jasmine nodded her head and Alex let her think about it while she went in to start dinner. 

    When Walker arrived home, Jasmine was helping Alex set the table. Walker suspected that it was a new experience for the girl, but she seemed to be enjoying it. The three spent the evening talking and doing the things that families all across America were doing. They ate dinner, washed the dishes, watched a television show, played a game of scrabble and finally got ready for bed. Alex had Jasmine help her make up the bed in the downstairs guestroom. Alex gave her a nightshirt to wear and then sat on the edge of the bed and talked to her answering questions that most girls had the answers to by the age of twelve. Alex could see that not having a mother during her early teen years had significantly impacted Jasmine's development. Alex decided that she was going to have a talk with the Sheik about getting a female role model for Jasmine. There must be someone he could get to take the girl under her wing, an aunt or someone. He probably thought that Madison was able to provide the female company that Jasmine needed, but Alex couldn't think of a worse person for that role. To her credit, Jasmine realized this on her own.

     After making sure that Jasmine had everything she needed, Alex headed upstairs to the bedroom where Walker was reading. "I really do feel sorry for that girl," Alex told him. Walker rolled his eyes at her and said, "you are such a softie." "Oh come on, tell me you don't feel the slightest bit sympathetic." Walker wanted to give Alex a hard time, but truthfully he felt sorry for Jasmine as well. "You're all bark and no bite cowboy," Alex taunted him. "Want to bet?" he challenged her as he leapt unexpectedly from the chair and grabbed her up in his arms and sat on the bed rolling and trapping her underneath him. Alex shrieked and laughed and finally moaned as he started nibbling on her neck. All talk of the poor little rich girl was forgotten as the two lovers got lost in their own world where no one else existed.

     Alex awoke at two a.m. and knew that she was going to have to get up and use the restroom. She decided that the interrupted sleep for trips to the bathroom was one of the more annoying aspects of pregnancy. She got up quietly and started walking toward the bathroom when she heard a slight noise downstairs. Chances were that it was Jasmine and she was simply having trouble sleeping, but experience told Alex that she should wake Walker just to be safe. She went back to the bed and whispered his name. "Mmm... What is it honey?" "Shh... Walker, I hear someone downstairs." Walker was instantly awake and he silently got out of bed and pulled his jeans on. He reached for the gun that was stored in his nightstand and gripped Alex's arm firmly and told her in a stern whisper, "stay here." Alex nodded her agreement and Walker headed downstairs using his Cherokee skills to walk without making a sound. He was at the landing when he saw a figure carrying Jasmine in a fireman's carry over his shoulder. Walker leapt over the banister and hit the man square in the back with both feet. The man fell forward and dropped Jasmine who lay perfectly still, unconscious. The man reached for a weapon and Walker jumped and somersaulted as the man fired. The bullet missed and Walker didn't give him a chance to aim a second time as he used his own weapon to stop the man cold. He went down as the bullet entered his chest, the impact forcing him backwards. His weapon fell from his lifeless fingers. Alex had called the police for back up as soon as she realized that it was an intruder. Walker did a sweep of the downstairs and outside to make sure the man was acting alone. There was a car parked down the road, but no sign of an accomplice. Walker returned to the house to check on Jasmine.

    "Alex, it's safe to come down," he called up the stairs as he turned on a light to examine Jasmine. He found a cloth that the intruder had used and smelled it. He looked up as Alex joined him, "chloroform" he told her. She nodded and knelt awkwardly next to Jasmine. Walker lifted Alex back up to her feet and then lifted Jasmine in his arms and carried her to the couch.

     The sound of sirens shattered the quiet night minutes later. The rest of the night was spent filling out reports, cleaning up from the crime scene investigators and explaining what had happened to the Sheik. The Sheik sat in the chair that Walker usually sat in to read in the living room and waited for his daughter to regain consciousness. Madison sat in the other chair in the living room looking tired and irritable. Her gaze took in the comfortable furnishings of the ranch house and the Native American art pieces that Walker decorated his home with and she curled her lip in disdain. She was interested in getting Walker to bed, but this domestic scene was not her thing.  Gage, Sydney, Trivette and Agent McDonald sat with Walker at the dining room table discussing the events of the night. Alex made pot after pot of coffee and sat on Walker's lap joining in the conversation with the others. Walker thought she looked adorable with her soft mussed hair and sleepy eyes. She wore a flowing nightgown with a robe that hung to the ground brushing her bare feet. Walker held his coffee in one hand and rubbed her back with the other. Occasionally, Alex guided his hand with the coffee cup up to her own lips and took a sip. Walker would indulge her an occasional sip from his cup without relinquishing his hold. This was regular coffee and she wasn't supposed to drink it, he decided a little wouldn't hurt her though.

     Agent McDonald received word from the Coroner's Office confirming the identity of the intruder. He was the terrorist they had been seeking and a team was dispatched to the address they found in the man's car. Evidence found at that address linked him to an organization that had made attempts on the Sheik's life in the past. Alex stood up from Walker's lap and filled a cup of coffee to take in to the Sheik. He sat so still watching his beloved daughter. "She's a sweet girl," Alex said as she handed him the cup. "I don't think that many people would describe her as 'sweet'," he said. "She is though. She's mixed up and confused and she acts tough to hide her fear and uncertainty. She asked me a million questions tonight. She's not happy at the school you send her to." "I know she doesn't like it, but I thought she would make friends." "She said that the girls who are nice to her are only nice because of your money. Whether or not that's true, she'll never make friends if she believes it." The Sheik looked at Madison who had fallen asleep. Her hair was perfect and she wore make up despite the hour she had been awoken. He then looked at the natural beauty of Alex and realized that he had made a mistake in choosing a companion for Jasmine. "I had hoped that Madison could help her with all the questions she would have at this time in her life. In all the time the two have been together, Jasmine has never asked her so much as the time of day. One evening with you and she asks you questions she has probably been bottling up for years. Thank you for opening your home and your heart to my daughter." Alex smiled, "I was much older than Jasmine when I lost my mother, but I still feel the void that her passing left. Isn't there someone in your life who would make a good role model for Jasmine? Do you have a sister or someone?" "I have actually been contemplating remarrying. There is a woman who I have considered taking for a wife and she would be very good with Jasmine. I just have had trouble letting her into my life. After losing my wife, I didn't think I would ever find a woman I could share myself with again." "You remind me of a certain Texas Ranger I know and love." The sheik looked at her with a question in his eyes. "Walker was engaged before he met me and she was killed. He kept me at arm's length for years after we met. I know that it isn't my place to give you advice, but if you're interested..." "I am, I value your opinion. You are a wise woman who uses her heart as well as her mind." Alex blushed slightly at the compliment. "I would introduce Jasmine to this woman and not let on that you are interested in her romantically until Jasmine feels comfortable with her and accepts her. Once they have established a relationship, it will be easier for her to accept a relationship between you and her. It would also help if Jasmine could spend more time with you so that she doesn't feel so possessive of you." The Sheik nodded and agreed that what she said made sense.

     Walker entered the room in search of his wife. He found her seated on the footrest next to the Sheik talking earnestly to him. He couldn't help compare her appearance to that of Madison's. How Alex could ever believe he could prefer Madison was beyond him. Just looking at his wife made him want to cuddle her close to him and... He refocused his thoughts. There were too many people in the house to let his thoughts stray there. A noise from the couch captured his attention and he realized Jasmine was beginning to wake up from the drug. The Sheik also heard the noise and he went over to the couch and knelt next to his daughter talking reassuringly to her. Walker sat in the chair the Sheik had vacated and pulled his wife into his lap. Time passed as Jasmine struggled to surface and shake off the effects of the drug. She slowly opened her eyes and saw the face of her father looking very concerned. Her eyes traveled around the room and she saw Alex asleep, her head tucked under Walker's chin as she sat curled in his lap. Next, her eyes rested on Madison who looked out of place in the comfortable love filled home of the Walker's. "Daddy?" "Yes Jasmine, I'm here." "Daddy, you need to find a woman to love like you loved mom. Being with Alex and Walker tonight made me so homesick for the old days. Remember when we used to just spend quiet evenings alone together, just the three of us?" "I remember." "I miss that. I know it didn't happen often, but those were the times that I remember as being the happiest of my life. I don't want you to be alone daddy. I want you to have someone to share your life with like Walker shares his life with Alex." "When did you get so old and wise child?" "Daddy, I'm sixteen, I'm not a little girl anymore." "No, you are a young woman and I plan to start letting you make some of your own decisions from now on. That is after you get off restriction for the stunt you pulled last night." Jasmine wrinkled her nose at her father and smiled. She knew that he loved her and that was more important than being on restriction.


Chapter Seven

     The sheik had several more meetings to attend in order to wrap up his business in Dallas. The Ranger's continued to provide him with security while he finished these meetings. Gage accompanied him and Sydney escorted Jasmine to several places she wanted to see. Her father decided that she had spent enough time in the hotel room and her punishment could wait until they returned home. Alex managed to finish the case she had been prosecuting and after the guilty verdict came in, she went home to catch up on her sleep. Trivette and Agent McDonald dismantled the computer room leaving only one station that would be manned until the Sheik left. Walker met with people from the various agencies who had provided security and made arrangements for the Sheik to be protected through the remainder of his stay. Walker intended to take the rest of the week off and spend time at home with his wife. He had earned the break and he was going to take it without guilt.

     Two days after the terrorist had attempted to kidnap Jasmine from the Walker's home, an investigation revealed that one of the Sheik's own bodyguards had been providing him with inside information. A phone call from the hotel suite to the number where the terrorist had been hiding led them to arrest the man responsible for calling and telling the terrorist where to find Jasmine. The Sheik sent the man back home to be tried in the courts of his home country. The outcome would be much harsher than a sentence in the American system. Walker went to the hotel one last time to collect the remainder of his belongings. The man who manned the computer station gave him the most recent update, which indicated that everything was running smoothly. The Sheik and Jasmine were scheduled to depart the next day after a reception held in his honor. Walker went to the room he used and began packing his personal items away in a bag. Madison walked in and closed the door behind her. "Well Walker, I guess I won't be seeing you again for some time." Walker looked up at the woman, "I guess not." "I'm sorry we didn't get to spend more time together," Walker didn't even bother to respond to this. Madison was getting frustrated when her eyes settled on the cup of coffee on the bedside table. Walker went into the bathroom to collect his toiletries and when he returned, Madison was gone. He was relieved, as he didn't think the woman would ever get it through her head that he wasn't interested.

     It was over an hour later that Madison slipped back into the room to find Walker sprawled over the bed. She quickly undressed him, rolling his unconscious form until she managed to get him under the covers. He was heavier than he looked. Madison had been busy in the hour she had been gone. She had Margaret contact Alex and tell her that the Sheik had asked her to get together a package of the clothing she had worn the night she had stayed. She asked if Alex could stop by and pick up the package at the hotel. She told her that it would be left in the room her husband had used. There was enough truth to the story that it was plausible. Margaret was an unwitting pawn in Madison's scheme. The Sheik had given her instructions to package the clothing items up for Alex. He had also instructed her to include additional outfits and Margaret enjoyed selecting them for Alex knowing what she liked and what suited her. She didn't know that the package of clothes was not the only surprise Alex had in store for her. Madison had timed the drug to the best of her ability. It was a fast acting drug and it also wore off quickly.

     Alex was allowed into the suite by the guards who recognized her. She walked down the hall and opened the door to the room she had shared with Walker. She stopped dead in her tracks at the sight that greeted her. Walker's back was to her, but she heard him moan as Madison kissed him. The two were covered by the bedclothes, but it was clear that they wore no clothing. Alex swayed as darkness reached up to claim her, but she fought back and gripped the doorknob willing herself to remain standing. "Walker," she managed in a strangled cry. Madison looked up and immediately assumed an expression of guilt. There was something in her eyes though, Alex saw it briefly, but she processed what it might mean. Alex was used to reading people's eyes. It was a skill that helped her to know when someone was guilty or when someone was telling the truth. What she saw in Madison's eyes was triumph. Why would Madison look triumphant being caught in bed with her husband? Because she wanted to be caught and she was enjoying the reaction on Alex's face. Alex set her face in stone and let her brain begin to function again. Walker was an honorable man. If he wanted to end their marriage, he would tell her. He would never sneak around behind her back and have an affair. Besides which, Walker loved her. She was absolutely certain of that fact. Regardless of the doubts and insecurities she had felt recently, she was completely confident in his love for her. Something was wrong here and she was going to get to the bottom of it. She walked over to the bed and grasped Walker's shoulder rolling him away from Madison and toward her. Walker's eyes were unfocused and his pupils were enlarged. He had been drugged, she was sure of it. "I guess I should have told you Madison, that the way I was framed for murder was that they drugged my tea and put me in bed with the man I was supposed to have killed. If you knew that it had been done, you might have come up with something more original." Walker was able to follow Alex's words, but he didn't know what they meant until he realized where he was and with whom. Madison looked at Walker and feared for her own personal safety, the man was furious. It took every ounce of Walker's self control not to physically harm the tramp who had tried to destroy his marriage. Madison scrambled out of the bed and wrapped something around herself and fled down the hall running straight into the Sheik. Realizing something was very wrong; Gage and Sheik Achmed both rushed to the open door to the bedroom. They walked in to see Alex sitting on the side of the bed and Walker holding her in his arms.

     When the Sheik started to back out of the room apologizing, Walker called him back in. "I'm sorry to tell you this, but your employee has apparently drugged my coffee and then set up a scene for my wife to walk into." They talked until they had pieced together the entire plan. The Sheik looked at Alex and said, "how did you know it was a set up?" Alex looked into Walker's eyes and said with absolute certainty. "My husband would never jeopardize what we share for an affair with another woman, regardless of how beautiful she is." "I know that I'm the luckiest man alive, there is no way I would ever be tempted to be with another woman when I have Alex." "I have envied the love the two of you share, but Walker, to be trusted by the woman you love enough so that she would question what her own eyes tell her, well you are truly blessed. I apologize for Madison's actions. If you would like to press charges, that would be fine with me. Otherwise, I assure you, she will be dealt with." "What did you have in mind?" Walker asked. "I will of course fire her and I will also make sure that she does not get a similar job with anyone of my contacts and I assure you, I have many." Walker looked at Alex and he wanted to spare her having to testify to what Madison had done. He was pretty certain that the Sheik would make her regret her actions for the rest of her life. He agreed to the Sheik's plan and he and Gage left closing the door behind them.

     "Alex, I can't thank you enough for believing in me." "It wasn't hard, darling. Once you've had the best, there's no way you would accept a cheap imitation." "That's my confident, beautiful, sexy wife. Where have you been lately?" "I just had a brief bout of insecurity, but I'm over it now. Let's go home and I'll show you just how confident I am." "Actually darling, I was thinking that maybe we could stay here awhile. I really could use a bath." Alex smiled into his eyes and kissed him before getting up to go run the bath water and add the bubble bath. She quickly took off her clothes since her husband was already without his and they stepped into the warm water together. "Are you sure the Sheik won't mind us enjoying his hospitality awhile longer?" she asked her husband as she picked up the bar of soap and watched it create a lather as her hands rubbed it over his chest hair. "He owes us and I suspect he would encourage us to spend as much time in this tub as we think necessary to wash the memory of Madison out of our minds." "Who?" Alex asked as she cupped his face and brought his lips to hers.

The End

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