Envy

By: Lelani

Chapter One

Her name was Peggy. Well, really, her name was Margaret, but she had been called Peggy for as long as she could remember. She was a tall woman and thin. In her school days, her nicknames had been 'bean pole' and 'scarecrow'. The crueler kids had been even more descriptive. She had dull blond hair that was very fine and completely straight. It didn't take to perms and she had given up trying. It lay flat against her head and hung down past her shoulders, separating into strings. Her nose was a little long and patrician; her lips thin and often cracked. Her eyes were blue, but a flat color that never sparkled. Peggy had lived a hard life. Her parents divorced when she was young and she moved from town to town with her mother who had been a truck stop waitress. Peggy hadn't done well in school and when she managed to graduate from high school, she joined her mother at the diner she worked in at the time.

Peggy's experience with men was limited and she regretted the few encounters she had had. Her first sexual experience had been in high school with a boy who merely wanted to get rid of the label of 'virgin.' It was an embarrassing, painful experience and the only good thing about it was how quickly it was over. Her next experience had been against her will when a trucker had cornered her behind the truck stop and pushed her onto the ground and released his pent up frustration on the mouse-like waitress. She had finally had one boyfriend, again a truck driver, who she thought was devoted to her. He told her nice things and took her to a motel whenever he was in town. It was six months before she found out that he was married and she was just his 'rest stop' on cross-country trips. Looking back on it, their relationship consisted of hurried encounters at the motel before he rolled over and slept. He never bothered to satisfy her, but she didn't mind, at the time she thought that he was all that had mattered.

In all her life, no one had just been nice to her for no apparent reason. No random acts of kindness had ever come her way until she got a job at a diner just outside of Dallas in Springfield. One day, a tall blond woman with sparkling blue eyes and a ready smile stopped in for two orders of 'the special.' Jorge, the short order cook, was known for his turkey enchiladas and he served them every Tuesday night. The woman had placed her order and sat at the counter waiting for it to be packaged. Peggy wiped the counter and turned to get the coffeepot to refill the man at the end of the counter's coffee cup. Walking over to the man, Peggy slipped on some spilled food and poured the coffee all over the counter. It dripped onto the man's lap and he let out a war cry that would have made most Indian braves proud. He jumped up and grabbed Peggy's wrist and began yelling at her, calling her a 'stupid ugly cunt.' That's when the beautiful blond stepped into the fray. "Let go of her," she demanded. The man just looked at her and glared. "I said, let her go." There was such steel in the woman's voice that the man actually let Peggy go. "Now take your filthy mouth and get out." Peggy stood there in awe as the slight built woman spoke to the man with such authority that he responded. "I'll leave, but I'm not paying for the meal or the lousy service." "Fine, just get out." The man whirled and left in a huff.

Peggy started adding up the man's bill in her head knowing it would be deducted from her wages for the night. "Are you all right?" the woman asked Peggy. Peggy looked at her dumbstruck and nodded her head. "I'm sorry you were treated so rudely. I'm Alex by the way." Alex stuck her hand out to Peggy. Peggy looked at it as if it were a snake and then slowly extended her arm to shake the offered hand. "You're new aren't you? I thought I knew everyone who worked here." Peggy nodded, "I just started last Friday." "That explains it, I'm usually here on Tuesdays for the enchiladas. Please add the man's tab to my bill." "Oh no, I spilled the coffee on him." "It was an accident and I'm the one who agreed he could leave without settling up with you. I hope it was really hot coffee." Peggy felt a smile begin on her lips. It was the first one in some time. "Yeah, it was real hot." "Good," Alex smiled back. Jeorge rang the bell indicating that Alex's order was ready. Alex yelled back at him. "Jeorge, you need to keep a better eye on your customers, don't let them harass your employees." "I don't got no time to be lookin' out for them." "Make time," Alex said in a commanding voice. Peggy's jaw dropped when the man acquiesced and agreed to do a better job of protecting his employees.

Peggy replayed the incident in her head time and again the entire next week. She couldn't believe the way the woman had stood up to both men whom she was afraid of. Of course, if she was honest with herself and she rarely was, she would admit that she was afraid of nearly everyone and everything. Despite the importance the incident played in Peggy's life, Alex didn't even find it worthy of mention to her brand new husband, Cordell Walker. They ate the enchiladas and joked about whose turn it was to do the dishes as they tossed the Styrofoam 'to go' containers in the trash. Then Walker grabbed her and carried her upstairs to their marriage bed and unceremoniously dumped her in the middle of it and leapt on next to her. They wrestled and laughed and made passionate love well into the night.

Peggy waited for the next Tuesday anxiously and was rewarded when Alex walked in with another smile. "Hi Peggy, two of the specials please." Peggy couldn't believe it; she remembered her name! "Yes ma'am," she answered. "Please Peggy, it's Alex, I get enough formality at work." "What do you do?" Peggy asked without thinking and then stood there horrified at her audacity. "I'm the Deputy DA for Tarrant County." "Wow," was all Peggy could think to say as she turned to place Alex's order. She then dealt with two other customers at the counter and while she did this, Shirley approached Alex. Shirley was the other waitress and on Tuesday's she took care of the tables while Peggy handled the counter, cash register and take out orders. "Hi there Alex, how you been?" "Good Shirley, how about yourself?" "Well I could complain, but I won't. Not unless you want to hear about my bunions." Alex laughed while Peggy cringed at Shirley's crudeness. How could anyone talk about something like bunions with a woman as refined as Alex? "I know what you mean," Alex sympathized. I wore a new pair of shoes yesterday to court and I'm still paying for it." Shirley glanced down at Alex's leather heels and said, "honey if I wore shoes that tall, I'd fall off." "Walker always teases me about my heels too. He says that when I wear them, I'm as tall is he is and then he doesn't feel 'macho'." "So what do you do?" "I go out and buy taller heals. Who wants a 'macho' husband?" "Amen to that. How is that sexy cowboy of yours anyway? He takin' to the cinch?" "Shirley, I swear, you are the female version of C.D.! He seems to be settling in to marriage so far. We haven't had our first real 'married fight' yet though." "Oh honey it'll come, but then the makin' up'll make it worth it." "I'm counting on it." Peggy continued to work, but wished she could carry on a conversation with Alex the way Shirley did. Just then, a customer called Shirley back to work and Jorge rang the bell to let her know Alex's order was up. "Here you go Alex." "Thanks, Peggy. How are you settling in here? Are people treating you all right?" "Oh yes, everyone's been nice." Well that was a lie, but at least no one had grabbed her wrist and called her the c-word. "Well, take care. I'll see you next week." Peggy smiled and watched her leave wishing she could be a friend to someone like Alex.

As they were getting ready to close up, Peggy got up the nerve to ask Shirley about Alex. "Who is that woman who comes in here on Tuesdays?" "Alex?" Shirley questioned surprised the mouse was talking. "Yes, Alex." "Well, she's the new wife of a Texas Ranger that lives 'round here. They just married a month ago." "She seems to know this place well." "Oh, they just married in May, but she's been around a lot longer than that. They were engaged for a couple of years before she finally got him down the aisle. The man was a little gun shy." Shirley laughed at her own joke; a Texas Ranger 'gun shy'. "She said she was a Deputy DA," Peggy pressed. "Oh yeah, she's one smart lady. You see her picture in the paper pretty often. She tries all the high profile cases for the DA's office. Most say she's the best prosecutor in Texas." "She sure is beautiful," Peggy remarked. "Oh she's a looker all right, but not stuck up with it. She runs a charity for underprivileged and she has them support groups for women who been abused and such." "I wonder where she finds the time." "That's why she's in here every Tuesday. She has a support group meets on Tuesday's and then she stops in for supper. No time to cook for her man." "He must get mad," Peggy couldn't conceive of a man who didn't expect supper on the table when he arrived home. "Oh, I doubt the man notices, she keeps him pantin' after her. If you ever see 'em together, you'll see what I mean. The man eats her up with his eyes." Peggy turned to finish cashing out the register, hugging the new information to her. Shirley finished mopping the floor and thought that Peggy had said more tonight than she had since she'd worked there.

The next few weeks were very stressful and hectic for Alex. She was lead prosecutor on a trial to bring down a well-known syndicate leader, Vito 'the bull' Piccolo. The man's name meant 'small' but his nickname described him much better. He was suspected of a multitude of crimes including racketeering, extortion and several counts of murder. Alex had to bow out of her Tuesday night support group meetings three weeks in a row. She crawled home at ten or later and her husband did what he could to help her out at home. The jury got the case on a Tuesday and Alex trudged back to Walker's office. He looked up and saw the droop in his wife's shoulders. "What's wrong honey?" "Oh nothing, I'm just wiped out." "Come on, I'll take you home." "I should stay in case the jury comes back with a verdict quickly." "What are the chances of that?" "Slim to none. It was a complex case." Walker walked up to her and got close enough to whisper into her ear. "How about a long soak in a bubble bath, followed by a slow deep massage and then a quick trip to paradise before you fall asleep in my arms?" "How quick a trip to paradise?" "You just lay back and I'll do all the work. I'll take as long as you like or speed things up, whatever you want. Your wish is my desire." "I want dinner first." "What would you like?" he questioned as his arms encircled her and she leaned tiredly against him. "Turkey enchiladas, it's been three weeks and I'm craving them." "Craving?" Walker looked at her with a question in his eyes. "Please, can't you count? Remember how grouchy I was last week?" Walker remembered; she had been on her period and her 'no sex' rule had been in place, which made him grouchy. It was her personal preference though, to abstain while she was on her period and he respected her wishes. That would be one good thing about her getting pregnant, no five-day pauses in their sex life. Alex had remained on the pill until after their honeymoon and then by mutual consent, she went off of it. They didn't really expect to conceive this quickly, but they were both anxious to start their family.

Walker escorted Alex out to his Ram and drove her to the diner. She had fallen asleep leaning against the window and he left her sleeping as he went in to order their dinner. The tall gangly waitress behind the counter could have been a plain replica of Alex. Blond hair, blue eyes, tall, thin, but there was no comparison. She couldn't hold a candle to his beautiful wife. She looked as if life had been too hard and she had given in to it. "Hi, can I get two specials to go please?" Peggy looked up and stared at the man standing in front of her. He had blue-gray eyes, red hair, a beard, a rugged outdoors look and he was just about the sexiest man she had ever laid eyes on. He wasn't traditionally handsome, but oh boy, she would take him home any day and she'd never let him go. "Are you all right?" he asked her. Peggy blinked and came out of her daze. "Two specials? I-I'll get them right away," she stammered and turned her back to him. Thankfully, it was a busy night and Peggy didn't have to talk to him again until she handed him his order. She'd been waiting for Alex to come in, but this man was not a bad substitute. She hadn't seen Alex in weeks, but she had been following the case Alex was prosecuting in the paper and on television. In fact, Peggy subscribed to the paper just so that she could scour it each day for stories on Alex. She watched Walker leave and decided that the man was good enough to eat. Then she was shocked at her reaction. She had never had a gut response to a man in her life. Her whole body was on fire and he hadn't done more than nod and give her a polite smile as he left his change on the counter for her as a tip. She looked at the change and decided that he was a generous tipper.

Walker walked back out to the Ram wondering about the newest waitress at the diner. Alex hadn't mentioned anyone new and he hadn't been by since being wed. He used to stop in for coffee or dinner once in a while when he was a bachelor, but now he'd rather spend every available moment with his wife. He drove home and woke Alex and then encouraged her to eat. After dinner, he drew a hot bath for her and offered to help her undress. She had turned him down, so he left her alone and then thought better of it. Alex's eyes opened up as he slipped into the tub with her. "Don't you know it's dangerous to sleep in the tub?" he asked her. "I came to make sure you're safe." "Why do I think you're the most dangerous thing about this tub?" she questioned. "I can't imagine. Come over here and I'll soap your back." Walker scooted down in the tub so he was almost lying down with just his head and shoulders just above the water. Alex lay on top of him, her nude front pressed against his. Walker took the natural sea sponge and poured the liquid soap onto it and then used it to softly scrub Alex's exposed back. He trailed the sponge all the way down to her buttocks and back up again as she lay her head on his shoulder and allowed him to do as he pleased. After using the sponge for awhile, he switched to his hands and he massaged and kneaded her bunched muscles. As the water began to cool, he urged her up and rinsed her and himself with the detachable showerhead. He then stepped out of the tub and lifted her out and into a large fluffy towel.

Alex remained completely pliant, reveling in Walker's ministrations. After drying her, he let her hair down from its clip and ran his fingers through it, roughly combing it. He then kissed her forehead and led her into the bedroom where he pulled down the covers and urged her to lay on her stomach. Walker quickly used the same towel he'd dried Alex with to dry himself. He then straddled her and allowed his arousal to lie in the crease between her buttocks as he gave her a serious and sensual massage. Walker felt himself growing until his erection was as long and firm as it had ever been. He looked down at himself and marveled at how touching Alex could arouse him to such an extent when she did nothing to reciprocate. He shifted off of her and rolled her onto her back and began a slow and gentle massage of her front side. As his hands smoothed over her abdominal muscles, he felt her involuntary clenching and knew that her passivity was nearing its end. He moved to the bottom of the bed and massaged first one and then the other foot. He kneaded her calf muscles and slowly worked his way up to the tops of her thighs. Alex moaned as he spread her legs apart and positioned himself so that his face was buried in the silky center of her. He smiled to himself as he saw the moistness glistening on her labia and then he began massaging this erogenous zone with his hands and tongue. "Walker! Now! I can't wait!" his wife screamed in utter frustration and need. Walker was now to the point where his erection ached and he was more than willing to relieve them both. He grabbed a pillow and lifted her hips placing it underneath her to curve her hips up toward him. Then he knelt between her legs and held himself with one hand as he used his other hand to smear her fluids onto his engorged penis. Using the same hand, he spread her lips until he could see her entrance and he pressed his tip against her slowly entering and pushing himself about halfway into her. He knew that even after all their times together, he would hurt her if he didn't withdraw and lubricate himself with more of her fluids before entering her all the way. She never complained when he just plunged all the way in, but as swollen as he was tonight, she would be sore in the morning.

Again holding himself to her entrance, he touched her with his tip and stayed still waiting. "Walker! Please!" she begged him. "Open your eyes and watch Alex." Alex opened her eyes and looked into his, but he looked down at the point where they touched and her eyes followed his. She lifted her head slightly as he slowly entered her and she watched as her body was stretched to its limit as he pushed all the way into her until it looked as if their bodies were fused. When he didn't move, she lay her head back and arched up toward him. "Damn it Walker! Stop torturing me!" Walker smiled briefly and then leaned forward so that his hands rested on each side of her and he supported his weight on his arms. He then pulled out and thrust in setting a steady deep tempo. Alex gripped Walker's forearms as she held onto him and tried to allow him to set the pace. "Faster," she panted. He upped the tempo slightly. "Deeper," she begged. He increased the force of his thrusts, the tip of him touching her cervix each time. Alex had beads of sweat standing out on her forehead and Walker continued to increase the tempo as he saw her struggle to reach her climax. He knew that if he suckled her breast or used his thumb to stimulate her clitoris, she would climax instantly, but he wanted her to come from only his thrusts into her. "Are you trying to kill me? Walker!" She tried to reach for herself to stimulate the sensitive nub that would bring her relief. He grabbed her hands and stretched them over her head preventing her from seeking her own release. "Uh uh, no cheating," he admonished her as he held her hands with one of his and supported his weight with the other. Finally, the delayed climax gripped her and shook her. She screamed out as the first orgasm caused her body to spasm and then moments later, she felt another coming on and more waves racked her body. Still Walker pumped into her until a third orgasm held her in its grip, almost as powerful as the first. As she contracted around him, he finally let himself come, spilling his seed deep into her womb and depositing it at the entrance to her cervix. He then collapsed on top of her and took several moments to regain his breath. After the blood drained back out of his still erect penis, he withdrew from her and headed into the bathroom. He wet a wash cloth and brought it back into the bedroom where he wiped her brow, then cleaned the sticky fluids from her vagina and thighs. He slipped the pillow back out from under her and returned the washcloth to the bathroom. Returning to the bedroom, he switched off the bedside lamp, crawled into bed and pulled his spent wife into a comfortable embrace. She fell into an exhausted, refreshing sleep the instant her head rested on his shoulder. All of the strain of the last several weeks was erased and she slept soundly all night long in her husbands loving arms.

For the first night in many weeks, Peggy did not look at the pictures and articles she had been clipping and placing in a scrapbook. Instead of thinking of Alex, this night she thought of a man with blue-gray eyes, red beard and rugged good looks. She fantasized about what making love with such a man could be like. With her limited experience and not knowing how incredibly giving the man could be in bed, she didn't even come close to the reality Alex lived that night.

Chapter Two

It was Friday before the verdict came in and Alex was getting anxious. When she was called back to court to hear the outcome of the jury deliberation, she sat looking absolutely calm and composed, but inside the butterflies in her stomach were growing restless. The foreman of the jury read the verdicts and 'the bull' was found guilty of all but two of the charges presented. The sentencing trial could now begin and Alex was ready for it to start on Monday. The federal government had charges they wanted to slap him with, but if Texas gave him the death penalty, they would save the taxpayers money and allow the state to deal with him. Alex was determined that Texas would meat out the justice that 'the bull' deserved. His cruelty had extended to murdering his son's wife and niece to get a message across. Alex gathered up her papers and turned to accept the congratulations that were being bestowed by many in the room. As she walked out into the hall, the reporters swarmed forcing microphones into her face as they tried to get a sound bite for the evening news. Camera bulbs flashed for the morning paper and Alex remained calm and gracious throughout the melee.

It was half an hour later before Alex entered the Company B Headquarters in search of her husband. He came in dragging three cuffed men in behind him. She looked at his dusty clothes and noted the bruise on his right cheekbone. Behind him, Jimmy arrived with two more men and he looked even worse than Walker did. His shirt was torn and there was a trickle of blood on his brow. "Well, you two look the worse for wear," she greeted them. "Don't start Alex," Jimmy warned. Alex chuckled, they had obviously been successful, but they weren't too happy about it. "That 'dust for brains' husband of yours left me out in 100 plus weather on a deserted strip with these two ugly excuses for life to chase after those three. He didn't come back for two hours. Two hours! No water, no air conditioning and I had to listen to these two complain the entire time. My head hurts, my feet hurt, I'm hot, tired, dirty and to top it all off, I just bought this shirt yesterday." Alex wrinkled her forehead in sympathy and pursed her lips trying to convey her sorrow at the injustice Jimmy had sustained at the hands of his partner, who just also happened to be her husband. Gage and Sydney walked up and took the five cuffed men down to lock up as Alex poured Jimmy a glass of ice water and got out the first aid kit. She knew her husband hated to be fussed over, so she fussed over Jimmy who lapped it up. Of course, if it made Walker a wee bit jealous, well that was okay too. After cleaning up Jimmy's forehead, she got a cool cloth and wiped his face. Walker just stood there watching. "You know, I'm the one who chased after the other three for an hour on foot after they ditched the car and ran into the badlands." Alex looked up at him making sure to conceal her satisfaction at his bid for her attention. "What did these guys do that was worth all of that?" "They cut me off and put a dent in the fender." "No, not the fender?" Alex's voice conveyed a great deal of mock horror. Walker narrowed his eyes at her. "It just so happens that these are the guys who have been holding up small businesses all over the Metroplex area. We caught them red handed with some of the stolen goods." "So they were just misfortunate enough to run into a hotheaded Texas Ranger who loves his truck as much as he loves his wife?" Walker was getting heated at Alex's ribbing. "Sometimes more," he claimed. Alex burst out laughing and after a moment, Walker's glare turned into a chagrined smile. "You sure know how to push my buttons woman," he told her. "Yep and I know just which to push and when." Her look became sensuous and Jimmy moaned. "Please stop you two, I'm feeling nauseous." Alex chuckled and Walker grinned.

"Any word on the jury?" Walker asked Alex. "Well... I'm treating you all to dinner tonight," Alex announced as Gage and Sydney returned. "I want steak," Gage chimed in. Sydney glared at her partner; "Alex just brought a vicious criminal to justice and all you can think about is your stomach?" Gage shrugged, "it's been a long day." Jimmy looked over at him, "I thought you were testifying in court today." "Yeah, but they asked a lot of questions." "Walker and Jimmy, why don't you two go down to the gym to shower and change and I will take you all out to that new steakhouse that opened in the stockyards." "It's lucky C.D. isn't here, he would have your hide at the suggestion," Jimmy remarked. "That's why we're going now. When C.D. gets back, we'll all be eating chili for days." "And loving it," Gage piped in. "Of course," Alex concurred.

Two hours later, the group of friends sat around a large wooden table looking at the remains of dinner. Pounds of prime Texas beef had been consumed along with fried onions, garlic cheese toast and enough salad to say they'd had a balanced meal. Alex's credit card was handed over to the waitress that Gage had flirted with all night. Sydney elbowed him in the gut when he made as if to fall out of his chair panting after her. "Oof, Sydney, watch it, I'm stuffed." "I don't see how, you only ate your entire plate and half of mine." "I'm a growing boy," he defended himself. "Yeah, I've been meaning to talk to you about that. Your waistline is starting to hang over your belt." "It is not!" he hotly defended himself. Walker and Alex exchanged a look and a smile at the constant bickering between the two young Rangers. "I think I'm going to call it a night," Jimmy announced. "Yeah, I'm all done in too," Walker agreed. "Not too done in I hope," Alex said with a meaningful look. "Never that," Walker hurriedly clarified. "Newlyweds," Jimmy muttered. When the waitress returned with the receipt, Alex added the tip and signed the slip. The group got up to leave and walked out into the warm end of June night. "Next week is the Fourth of July," Alex stated. "You're all coming to the ranch for a barbecue aren't you?" "You're serving hamburgers aren't you?" Gage asked. "Yes Gage, you'll get your beef," Walker assured him. "I'll be there," Gage responded. They walked to their cars as they finished making plans.

Walker and Alex spent the weekend getting ready for the holiday barbecue. They were expecting thirty friends and had a lot of preparations to see to. Alex wanted to get baked beans from the diner as C.D. was still on his trip and he usually provided them. No one else had been privy to his secret recipe, so she couldn't try to duplicate it. She ran over to the diner on Saturday to talk to Jorge who made some great barbecue and beans himself. As she walked in, she smiled a hello to Joyce, the third waitress at the diner. Joyce was waiting tables and Alex walked up to the counter where Peggy had her back to her. She turned around and was shocked to see Alex standing there. "Alex! What are you doing here on a Saturday?" Peggy instantly regretted her question, but Alex only laughed. "I hate being too predictable," she said. Peggy smiled at the friendly response and asked, "what can I get for you?" "Well, I was wondering if I could order a large pot of baked beans and six pounds of barbecue beef for Tuesday." "You're having a party for the fourth?" "Yeah, nothing big, just about thirty people. Walker's going to barbecue hamburgers, but one thing you learn hanging around Texas Rangers, you can never have enough beef or enough beans." Peggy smiled politely, she wouldn't know, she didn't have three friends, let alone thirty. "Let me check with Jorge," she offered. Peggy stepped back into the kitchen area of the diner and was gone for several minutes. Joyce stepped up to Alex and chatted with her about her brand new grandson. When Peggy returned, a look of jealousy flitted briefly across her face at the easy camaraderie between Alex and Joyce. "Jorge said that it would be no problem. He said that he'd have it ready whenever you want it." "How about three? That way I can send someone over to pick it up and it'll be there when everyone arrives. "Okay, I'll tell him." "What do you have planned for the holiday?" Alex asked. Peggy shrugged, "I'm going to work. Joyce and Shirley both have families, so I said I'd work until we close early at four." "You don't have any family around here?" "No, my only family is my mother and she lives up in Kansas." Alex acted impulsively and said, "why don't you come by when you finish up here? We're just having an informal gathering in the yard, horseshoes and tug of war, maybe an egg toss, things like that. Most people are planning to arrive between four and five." "Are you sure?" Peggy was overwhelmed by the offer. She would get to see Alex's home and meet her friends and even her husband. "Sure I'm sure. Here, let me write down the address and we'll expect you sometime after four." Alex picked up the order book and pen and wrote the address on it and then gave her brief directions. "It's hard to miss, it's the only driveway for half a mile in either direction." "Thank you, I'll be there. Can I bring anything?" "No, we'll have more than enough. Just bring yourself and a friend if you like." "No, I don't know anyone here," Peggy declined. "Well it's time you met some people," Alex decided. With that, Alex said her good-byes and left. Peggy stood there gazing after her until she realized that she hadn't said anything about Alex winning her court case. She had pictures and articles from three separate newspapers cut out and pasted in her scrapbook. 'Oh well, I can say something about it when I go to her home on Tuesday,' Peggy consoled herself.

The sentencing part of the trial was brief and successful. 'The bull' was sentenced to death and he was led away to await his punishment in prison. Alex was elated at her victory and ran the gamut of reporters yet again. There was a great deal of media attention surrounding the case and its outcome. Peggy again watched the news reports and clipped the newspaper articles and pictures. She had saved enough money to buy herself a simple VCR and she taped the news segments showing Alex and began watching them over and over again. She studied the way she talked and the way she moved. She wished that she could be so confident and poised. Peggy paused the tape and looked at the frame, a close up of Alex. What did she have? What was it? Peggy herself had blond hair and blue eyes, why did Alex look beautiful and Peggy look so plain? She decided that she would try to figure it out at the barbecue. Then she had to stop and control her breathing. Her stomach muscles clenched with excitement and anticipation of the day to come.

The fourth of July was a beautiful day with blue skies and high temperatures. Walker woke up in the early morning and did his usual morning chores. He then went upstairs to shower and found his wife sitting in bed reading the paper. She had been up long enough to get ready for his return, but he was unaware of what awaited him. After Walker came out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist, his wife said, "Darling, I thought we would have breakfast in bed." Walker looked over at her and he saw a bowl of strawberries and whip cream on the nightstand. Alex pulled back the sheet and stood up. She wore satiny blue shorts that barely reached the top of her thighs with a fitted satin red top that just brushed the waistline of the shorts. As he stood and watched, she picked up a strawberry and dipped it into the whip cream. Then she dotted the cream onto the front of her blue shorts. "I was wondering if you could help me with the fifty stars to represent the states," Alex cooed. "I suppose I should do my patriotic duty," Walker responded as he walked over to her. He took the strawberry out of her hand and then dipped it into the bowl and continued placing dots of cream on her shorts. When he finished, he chewed the strawberry up and then he bent down onto his knees and licked the dots of cream up. Alex knew her husband would use his imagination once he got started. After he finished, he reached his thumbs into the waistline of the shorts to pull them down, but she stopped him. "My turn cowboy," she told him. She tugged at the towel and let it drop to the ground. Then she instructed him to lie on the bed on his stomach. She then took another berry and dipped it into the cream and began to draw on his back. "What are you doing?" he murmured. "Writing the Declaration of Independence," she answered. "Do we have time? It's a long document." "I'm just hitting the highlights," she answered. After she was satisfied, she ate her strawberry and leaned down to lick the sweet cream off his back. He turned over at her urging and she continued using her tongue to pleasure him. She grasped him and encircled his erection with her fingers, "nice of you to raise the flag in honor of the day," she whispered wickedly. "You are bad, you are so bad," he admonished her. "I learned it from you," she said and then grabbed another strawberry and spread whip cream on his 'flag'. When she ate the fruit and then proceeded to clean up the cream, he took in a sharp breath. "God Alex, what you do to me," he moaned. Her eyes twinkled with mischief as she released him and stripped off her top. She took another strawberry and placed liberal amounts of cream to each of her hardened nipples. She stripped off her shorts and placed the strawberry at her moist entrance. She then scooted up the bed so that she straddled his face. "Eat your fruit first and then you can have the desert," she instructed him. Walker used his tongue to tease and torment her before biting into the fruit and sucking it into his mouth. Alex crawled back down his body and leaned forward allowing him to suckle the cream off of each nipple. When he had thoroughly cleaned her, she sat back up and reached for him guiding him into the depths of her body. Once she had taken him all the way in, she began a slow rhythm designed to blow his mind. She held his hands out from his body against the bed as she set the pace. Walker gritted his teeth and held on for as long as he could. When he reached the point where he could take no more, he released his hands from her grip, pulled her to him and rolled her. Once he had established his dominance, he took over the pace and quickened it. Alex grinned the sensual grin of a woman who knew her desirability. She played this man so well and he always responded. Walker loved Alex's breasts and he bent down to capture first one and then the other in his mouth. He stimulated the tips bringing her that much closer to release. At some point in their joining, they ceased to be Alex and Walker and became two people lost in the mating ritual. When Walker could hold out no longer, he reached in between their bodies and rubbed that tiny sensitive flesh that would carry her over. She climaxed at the same time as he did and they rode out the sensations, prolonging them to bring the ultimate pleasure. Walker collapsed next to Alex and slowly withdrew as he strained to regain oxygen. "Did you see fireworks?" Alex asked on a giggle. "Oh yeah honey, the really big, bright colorful ones that go on and on." "Well, I wanted to be certain we started the day out right," she told him. "Oh I don't think it could be any more right," he responded.

After a brief catnap, the two lovers got up to shower again, cleaning off the sticky cream that remained on all sorts of places on their skin. They ended up getting aroused again and Walker lifted Alex up and carried her to the bathroom counter where he set her on its edge on a towel and lunged into her again bringing them both to a quick climax. They ended up getting a rather late start on preparations for the barbecue, but neither minded. Alex hung balloons and streamers, while Walker put the flagpole up and set up the horseshoe game, volleyball net and grill. They worked until nearly one with only a short lunch break and then Alex ran in and called Jimmy. She asked him to swing by the diner to get the beans and barbecue. She told him that the waitress was named Peggy and that he should be extra friendly as she was invited to the barbecue and would know no one.

Jimmy arrived at the diner with Josie in tow. The two had tried a romance and realized that they were just friends. Trivette was nursing a broken heart since Erika had left and Josie was dating a man who was out of town for the week. They introduced themselves to Peggy and collected the items Alex had sent them for. Jimmy carried the large stainless steel pot of beans and told Josie that he was going to be out of work for months while he healed the hernia it gave him. Josie just shook her head at him and told Peggy they would be seeing her later. Peggy was disappointed that Alex hadn't come herself, but she never would have been able to carry the pot anyway.

Chapter 3

Jimmy and Josie helped with the last minute preparations and the other guests began arriving around four. Gage and Sydney arrived together after they finished their shift at work. As the rookies, they got stuck with holiday duty. Luckily, it had been a slow day and they were able to leave early although, as always, they were on call if needed. Alex enjoyed greeting friends she had not seen socially since her wedding day. Shelly and Mark were there with their two-year old son Connor. Carlos arrived with his latest girlfriend, the entire Malloy family came and Trent had a pretty woman with him as well. Still confirmed bachelor's, both Trent and Carlos continued dating waiting for the right woman to come along. Kim and Phil arrived and they had their fourteen-month-old daughter, Caitlin, with them. Susan Lee brought Davie who was home for a visit and he instantly made friends with Trent's two youngest siblings and ran off to investigate the barn. Trent's brother, Tommy, had a new girlfriend as well and although she was a little shy, she had been around the Malloy's enough to know how to speak up for herself. There were also friends of Walkers, Rangers Wade Harper with his wife Betsy and Cliff Jensen with his wife Connie. Four of the women from Alex's support group with three children and three fellow ADA's besides Phil.

Looking around at all the people running to and fro in his front yard, Walker was astounded at the difference being married to Alex made in his life. At most, he would have five or six people over at a time and this was always at Alex's urging when they were dating. Now, two months into marriage and a simple barbecue brought thirty people to his home. He looked at the table loaded down with dishes all had brought, the games being played, the people talking and laughing and then his eyes searched out his wife. She stood with a group of people, smiling at the stories being told, but her eyes were on him. She had sought him out to be certain that he was okay with all of this. Crowds of people were not his thing and he didn't enjoy having his private life invaded by others. Alex was concerned that she had gone overboard for their first gathering as a married couple. Walker headed towards her and placed himself behind her, his arms slipping around her waist. Alex leaned back against him and rested the back of her head on his shoulder. He leaned toward her ear and said, "it feels lonely without C.D. here." Alex was stunned and then realized what he was telling her. It wasn't the number of people; it was who they were. These people were their friends and he would enjoy spending time with each and every one of them. No matter how many were there, those they considered family would always be missed. Alex turned her head and looked up at her husband, "I can't wait till he gets back from that cruise. I don't think we'll let him go more than an hour or two out of town once he gets back." Walker smiled and silently agreed with the sentiment. C.D. was such an integral part of their lives, that it left an empty place not having him there.

The Walker's had not heard the car pull up when Peggy arrived. They were standing in each other's arms and having a private conversation with all of the commotion going on around them. Jimmy saw Peggy though and he and Josie walked over to greet her. "Hi Peggy, glad you could make it," Jimmy greeted her. Peggy smiled shyly looking for Alex. "Alex and Walker are over near the picnic tables, I'll walk you over." "Walker, is that Alex's husband? I thought her last name was Walker." Josie laughed and answered her; "everyone calls him by his last name. Everyone that is except C.D., he calls him Cordell. Even Alex calls him Walker." "When she isn't calling him something else, like muleheaded," Jimmy chimed in. Josie just shook her head at him and laughed as they made their way over to their oblivious hosts.

Peggy had actually spotted Alex almost immediately. Her shiny blond hair caught the bright sunlight and seemed to reflect it like a beacon. She couldn't see the man she was with. Her head blocked his, but it looked as if he had very powerful arms. She could see the defined muscles in his forearms that were linked around Alex's waist. As she got closer, Alex noticed her and stood up straighter to greet her. "Peggy, you made it! Peggy, this is my husband, Ranger Cordell Walker. Walker, this is Peggy. I mentioned that she was new in town and works over at the diner." Walker held Alex with one arm as he extended his other to shake her hand. Peggy was floored; this man was Alex's husband? She flushed and stammered her way through the introduction. Josie saw that she was uncomfortable and gave her an escape as she offered to introduce her around to everyone.

After Josie and Peggy left, Walker again pulled his wife tightly against his chest and said, "another one of your strays, honey?" "Walker, that's awful. She's new in town and doesn't know anyone. I thought it would be nice to introduce her to some people." "She sure is shy," Walker noted. Jimmy had stood there watching the exchange and he added, "you know, she could be a plain version of you Alex." "What?" Alex asked, not seeing the connection. "It's like one of those old movies in black and white. Everything is dull and gray and then they colorized them and changed the whole look." "I hate it when they do that to classic movies," Alex stated. "Yeah, but I get your meaning Trivette. Peggy has all the same basic features as Alex, but it's as if she's in gray and Alex is in color." "You two need to get your heads examined. We look nothing alike. Peggy is tall, thin and blond with blue eyes, so are a lot of women." "No, it's more than that, she has similar features and facial structure, but nothing was polished or put together just right," Jimmy continued. "Can we change the subject?" Alex asked. "Yeah, I better get to the grill before the mob attacks," Walker said and gave Alex a kiss on the cheek before he and Jimmy went over to man the grill.

It was six before all the food was ready and the guests lined up to consume mass quantities of homemade food. Nearly everyone had brought a dish and there was plenty for all, although Gage attempted to ensure that there weren't leftovers. After eating, Alex and Walker captained opposing teams for a volleyball game. The teams were evenly matched and Alex served the winning point. The kids played a water balloon toss game and squealed as the balloons popped. Peggy stayed on the fringes of the activities and mostly observed.

At dusk, Walker gathered everyone around the flagpole. Alex played Whitney Houston's version of the 'Star Spangled Banner' on the CD player and then everyone said the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. Jimmy read the opening passage of the Declaration of Independence and then Tommy Malloy played Taps on the trumpet. Katie Malloy, Trent's mother, gave a small speech on being privileged to live in a country that allowed religious freedom and then led the group in a prayer. Finally, Trent Malloy with the help of Carlos lowered the flag and neatly folded it. They handed it to Davie Lee who walked it back into the house for Alex to put away. Mark and Shelley then stood up and spoke of the time Shelley and Alex had been taken hostage by a racist militia group and Shelley reiterated the sentiments that Walker had shared on television about America being a melting pot. Mark spoke of how the forefathers of the country had not included all races when the Declaration of Independence was written and signed, but he went on to talk about how the country was changing and how tolerance and integration was beginning to take hold. He then spoke of the need to continue the fight against racism and injustice. He swept his hand around and challenged them to look at those gathered and to note the different ethnic groups that were represented. The people assembled were moved by his impassioned speech.

By the time all of this was finished, it was dark and Cliff and Wade began the fireworks display. The front pasture had been cleared and the fireworks were lined up and lit. Walker had taken precautions with water and fire extinguishers, but the display was well organized and the audience let their appreciation be known. Walker, who had Alex seated in his lap, murmured in her ear, "I've already seen my fireworks for the day." Alex turned and looked at him and then leaned forward and kissed him. The kiss was filled with love and passion.

Peggy stood on the fringes and watched all of this. Her gaze focused on Alex and she noted how often Walker touched her. She also noted how everyone gravitated toward the couple. It was as if they were the center from which all the rest of the people revolved. Peggy tried to decide what it was that the couple had. What caused the magnetic influence they had on others? When the fireworks display ended, the music began for dancing. Peggy watched as Alex led Walker out onto the lawn. He didn't look thrilled to be dancing, but he certainly held her close and gazed into her eyes. Peggy saw her chance and she quietly slipped into the house. She was surprised to see that the decor reflected the Native American culture. She saw hints of Alex's influence here and there, but the house still had the feel of a man's house.

When she was certain no one would see her, she crept upstairs. She was prepared with an excuse if she was caught up there. She was going to say that she was in urgent need of a restroom, but the one downstairs was occupied so she had come upstairs seeking another. The second door she opened revealed what was obviously the master bedroom. Here, Alex's influence was stronger. She walked over to her vanity table and she looked at the makeup she used. She picked up her perfume bottle and sniffed it and then read the label. Peggy went into the master bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet and looked at the items inside. She saw the first aid stuff and she took note of the brand of toothpaste and deodorant. She then looked in the shower and found the brand of shampoo and conditioner that Alex used.

Back out in the master bedroom, Peggy opened Alex's lingerie drawer and noted the sexy silky bras, panties and gowns. She looked in the closet and read the labels on Alex's clothes. They wore the same size pants and tops, although Alex's bras were a cup size larger than she wore. Peggy stretched out on the large king-sized bed and wondered which side Alex slept on. She imagined Alex and Walker making love on this very bed. She opened the nightstand drawers and found a few 'sex toys' that the Walker's occasionally used to add diversity to their lovemaking. There wasn't anything kinky or unusual, but it gave Peggy a better idea of what their intimate life consisted of. She had also seen the massage lotions and oils on Alex's vanity table and imagined Walker smoothing them over Alex's body.

Stealing quietly out of the master bedroom, Peggy continued on down the hall opening doors and peeking in. She found one room that was an office. One desk was clearly Walker's and the other held a computer and was clearly Alex's. Peggy didn't know what a battle it was for Alex to get Walker to allow a computer into his home. Of course, once she pointed out that it was supposed to be her home as well, he had felt guilty and contrite and gone out and bought her the latest in home office computers (with Trivette's help of course.) Peggy opened and closed the desk drawers and then she found a box filled with pictures. These were the pictures that Alex hadn't selected to go into albums. They were organized by year and they chronicled vacations and special events since she and Walker had met. Peggy swiped several of Alex alone or with Walker, Jimmy and C.D. (whom she didn't recognize.) There were also some that had been taken at a reservation and Walker was dressed in Native dress. Peggy couldn't explain these, but she grabbed several indiscriminately when she heard a noise on the top floor. Replacing the lid to the box and stuffing the pictures in her two back pockets, Peggy switched off the desk lamp.

Peggy listened at the door and when she was convinced that all was clear, she snuck back down the stairs and melted back into the party not having been missed. Alex came out of the master bathroom and frowned as she looked at the bed, it looked as if the bedspread had been mussed. She couldn't imagine who could have been up there and then decided that it must have been one of the kids. She had seen them playing hide-and-go-seek earlier in the day. She thought they had limited the game to outside, but perhaps she simply hadn't noticed it extending indoors. She stopped at her vanity table and ran her brush through her hair. She picked up her perfume bottle and gave herself a light mist. Then she turned to head back to her guests.

The cake was served and it was white with a red white and blue American flag drawn on it. It held sparklers and they sang 'America the Beautiful' as they watched the sparklers burn down. After the cake had been eaten, those with younger children began to head out. By ten, all of the guests were gone except Jimmy, Josie and Peggy. Peggy had stayed on the pretence of helping to clean up. After the Walker's insisted that she had done more than enough, she thanked them for inviting her and walked out to her car with Jimmy and Josie who were also leaving.

Alex walked over to Walker and put her arms around his neck and stepped into his embrace. "Thank you for today. I know this isn't your favorite way to spend your day off, but I appreciate you being willing to let me entertain our friends." "I had fun too. You're right, it isn't my favorite way to spend my day off, that would include staying in bed all day with a tall blond lady I happen to love more than life itself." "You better mean me," she mock threatened. "No, I meant Peggy," he said sarcastically. "Stop picking on her, she was very nice and she even stayed and helped with the cleanup." "Yeah, something about her though just isn't right." "Josie thinks that there's been some pretty bad things in her life. She invited her to the Hope Center and she's hoping that she can get her to volunteer there and maybe make some friends. She said that if she sees others who have overcome misfortune in their lives, maybe she can start coming out of her shell and developing more self esteem." "I don't know which one of you is worse, you or Josie," Walker complained. "You know cowboy, I think we should leave the rest of this mess till the morning and go in and shower and make love until we can't possibly move. Then I think we should both sleep in, wake up, make love again, then maybe finish the clean up and go to work." "That's what you think huh?" "Yep, that's what I think." "Well, I think it's lucky we both arranged to not go into work until noon tomorrow." "Yeah, that was a pretty smart idea I had wasn't it?" "Yeah, you can come up with some good ideas... for a blonde." Alex let her hands drop down to the seat of his jeans and pinched both of his cheeks at the same time. "I'm going to make you pay for that remark cowboy." "Oh, I can't wait," Walker said and chuckled as he led her up to their room, turning out lights on the way and locking up.

Chapter 4

The next day, Alex and Walker stopped in at the diner to drop off the stainless steel baked bean pot and to have lunch. It was Peggy's turn to wait tables and Shirley was at the counter. They got there at eleven, so they beat the lunch rush. Alex was as friendly to Peggy as ever and she was relieved. After she had gotten home the night before, she began to worry that somehow her snooping would have been discovered. Alex ordered the cesar salad and Walker ordered a club sandwich. Peggy kept giving them furtive glances as they ate their lunches and talked together. She managed to look busy setting tables for the lunch crowd and to often get within hearing distance of their conversation. She overheard Walker tell Alex that it was going to be her turn to massage him that night as she had gotten two in a row from him. Peggy couldn't help herself, she looked over to see what Alex's response would be. Alex was gazing into his eyes with her eyebrows raised and asked, "what do you call this morning?" "You didn't give me a massage," Walker denied. "Hmm, I remember putting both of my hands on you and moving them up and down..." "You wicked, wicked woman. That is not what I meant and you know it. I want a shoulder, neck and back massage." "I have to limit myself to those areas?" she asked in all innocence. Walker wasn't fooled for a minute. "No, but you have to at least start there." Alex snickered at him and picked up her ice tea. She sucked an ice cube into her mouth and rolled it around on her tongue. Walker watched her with his cheeks starting to flush. "You're going to pay for that little demonstration later, honey." Alex just grinned at him.

Peggy was mesmerized by the interaction between the married couple. She was astounded at the confidence Alex exuded. Her husband was such a strong man, both in personality and physical strength, but Alex showed no fear. In fact, if anything, she was the one in charge of the situation. After they finished their meal, Walker settled the tab and they thanked Peggy and left to head in to work. Peggy walked over to the counter to set down the dirty dishes they had left. Shirley leaned on the counter and said, "what I wouldn't give to get my Charlie to look at me the way Alex's cowboy looks at her." "I wonder how she does it," Peggy said. "He is completely bowled over by her. She has the man right where she wants him. Of course, it's mutual. I imagine he can lay down the law when he feels the need, but within certain boundaries, he lets her have her way." "I'd be scared to death if a man looked at me the way he looks at her. I thought he was going to eat her with his eyes." "I guess we'll just have to live in our dream worlds, men like Walker don't come a dime a dozen," Shirley said and then turned to the two cowboys who came in and sat at the counter.

A month later, Peggy had only seen Alex once more. She stopped by once on a Tuesday to get some turkey enchiladas. Peggy noted that if anything, she looked even happier than the last time she had seen her. In all her wonderings, Peggy had decided that it was Alex's hair that made her special. Peggy had been saving her tips and whatever she could from her paycheck and now had enough to go to a fancy hair salon and have her hair done. She walked in with a cut out newspaper picture of Alex and told the hairdresser she wanted her hair to look like the lady in the picture. Peggy knew that a photograph would have been better, but she was afraid that it would look suspicious. She knew that a lot of people walked into hair salons with pictures of celebrities and asked to have their hair look that way. The stylist cut her long stringy hair into layers, leaving the edges blunt to give more volume. Then, he gave her blond highlights that also increased the volume of her hair as well as lightened it. He then recommended a shampoo, conditioner, gel and hairspray and taught her how to style it herself. Peggy was glad to see that he recommended the same line of hair products that Alex used. It wiped out her savings, but Peggy looked much improved when she left the salon.

Shirley and Joyce both commented on Peggy's change of hairstyle, but neither put the connection of Alex's style together. Peggy's hair was thinner and finer than Alex's, so the stylist hadn't been able to duplicate the look. Peggy was now saving for a makeover. She knew what line of cosmetics Alex used and she had made an appointment at the makeup counter in the department store to have their expert give her advice. She had another month before the appointment and she was carefully saving to pay for the expensive products.

The day before her Sunday off when she had her appointment, a man who was very familiar to her, but whom she had never met, walked in. "Howdy, ma'am, I'm C.D. Parker and I've been sent here by Cordell to get some of Jorge's famous cheesecake." Peggy gazed at the man and knew that he was the one in the photos she had taken from the ranch house on the fourth of July. "How do you do, Mr. Parker? I'm Peggy and I'd be happy to get you some cheesecake." Peggy had been working hard on being more friendly and confident. Her new hairstyle helped. Men at least gave her a first glance now if not a second. "Well Peggy, I tell you, it burns my britches to come in here, but that young fool Gage ate the entire cheesecake I made for today and I don't have time to make another." "I remember Gage's appetite, he's in great shape for someone who eats so much." "Yeah, well he better slow down or it's gonna catch up to him." C.D. patted his own well-rounded stomach; "I know what I'm talking about." Peggy smiled at him and turned to ask Jorge to get a whole cheesecake from the refrigerator. "I sure do appreciate this ma'am, you're getting me out of quite a mess. Cordell asked me specifically to bring cheesecake; it's his favorite. I left it out on the counter at my Bar and Grill and Gage just helped himself. I wanted to tar and feather him, but since I only just got back from my cruise, I decided to just yell at him instead." "You went on a cruise? Where to?" "Well, I went just about everywhere. I saw countries all around the globe. It was a great trip, but you know what I decided?" "No, what?" "There ain't no place can hold a candle to Texas. It's the best darn place in the world to live. Ain't nobody make chili or women as good as Texas does." Peggy wasn't sure how to take being lumped in the same category as chili, but she remembered people at the barbecue talking about missing C.D.'s chili. "Well here's the cheesecake. I'm sure it won't compare to yours, but it's one of the best things on the menu here." "Well thank you again ma'am, I best be gettin' on to the ranch. They seem to think they gotta throw me a welcome home party." Peggy smiled and watched as the older man exited. He sure was a character.

According to the pictures she had, he was very close to the Walker's. Maybe she should go visit his Bar and Grill sometime and see what it was like. She could look it up in the phone book. She also again considered accepting Josie's invitation to visit the HOPE Center. She thought it probably wouldn't hurt and she wanted to see the center that Alex had created. Imagine creating your own charity! Peggy was overwhelmed by Alex's accomplishments.

The next day, Peggy went to her appointment and ended up purchasing several hundred dollars worth of makeup. She wasn't going to be able to afford groceries for awhile, but she considered her spending to be worth it when she looked at herself in the mirror. Joyce and Shirley were also blown away by the changes in her. Shirley said, "what's his name?" "What?" Peggy asked bewildered. "A woman doesn't transform herself unless it's to get or keep a man, so what's his name?" Peggy got a dreamy look on her face and said, "Wa-Walter." She had nearly slipped and was angry with herself. "Well, are we going to meet this Walter? Tell me about him." Peggy shook her head, "no, I don't want to jinx it." "All right honey, but if you need any advice, you come to me. I can tell you what not to do!" Shirley laughed at her own joke as she often did and got back to work. Now when men came in the diner, they did give Peggy a second look, but she really had no interest. It did help to boost her confidence though.

Peggy clipped out the articles and taped the news coverage of Alex getting trapped in a building and Walker saving a little boy in that building. She continued to collect memorabilia, but she wasn't able to get closer to Alex and she was getting frustrated. She finally accepted the invitation of one of the regular customers who kept asking her out. Hank was nothing special. He worked at the gas station down the street from the diner and came in nearly everyday. Peggy said that she would go out with him after he asked her for the tenth time. She said that she wanted him to take her to a place in the stockyards called C.D.'s Bar and Grill. She told him that she had heard they were having live entertainment. When they arrived, the place was packed. There was a local band playing called 'The Desperados'. They were a country western dance band and the dance floor was full. Peggy looked around, but didn't see Alex and Walker. As the night wore on, she did manage to get to the bar and speak to C.D. "Hi C.D., how've you been?" C.D. was good with names and he placed Peggy right away. He noticed that she was all made up, but he figured she was trying to impress the gangly fellow she was with. "I'm doin' just fine, how 'bout yourself?" "I can't complain. I'm surprised Alex and Walker aren't here." "Yeah, they're all out of town playing a softball game this weekend." "Oh, sounds fun," Peggy answered crestfallen. "Only if they win darlin', only if they win." Peggy didn't stay much past that. She told Hank she was ready to go.

Back at her one bedroom apartment, it was clear that Hank didn't want the night to end. Peggy decided that it was time to put into practice some of the things she had been reading about. She had Hank strip and lie face down on her bed and proceeded to massage him. It wasn't long before he turned over and reached for her. He was a bit awkward, but he had enough experience to make an effort to please her as well. He wasn't successful, but Peggy felt that she had learned a great deal by the experience. The next time Hank asked her out though, she said 'no.' She had used him and gotten what she wanted from him. Now it was time to move on.

The television news covered the death of Retired Texas Ranger C.D. Parker. Peggy was sad to hear that the man was dead. He had been a nice man and she knew that Alex and Walker would be devastated by the news. She attended the funeral and then went to C.D.'s afterward. She stayed in the background and just absorbed the atmosphere. For the first time, she began to understand just how close Alex, Walker, C.D. and Jimmy had been. She listened to the stories they told about C.D. and they showed just how much time the four had spent together. Peggy left quietly when she saw Gage and Sydney start to leave. She hadn't spoken to any of them, but she was glad she had been there. She stood in the shadows of the building when Alex walked to the Ram that was parked in front and climbed in. Walker locked up and then followed her. When he got in the truck, he put his hand out as if to start it and then stopped. He turned to Alex and Peggy saw what few rarely had. Walker fell apart and began sobbing as Alex scooted over the seat and held him to her. It was some time before Walker had composed himself enough to start the truck and drive away. So this was something else Alex had, the ability to give comfort to her grieving husband.

A month later, Alex and Walker were again in the news as they had headed a special task force that brought down a criminal known as 'the chairman.' Alex was nearly blown up by the chairman and her face was on all the stations along with her husband who was being declared a hero. During this time, they both traveled a great deal and had not stopped by the diner for some time. One evening, Alex did stop in and she was surprised at the transformation she saw in Peggy. "Peggy, hello! Wow, I can't leave for a short time without you completely redoing your look!" Peggy smiled and said, "you like it? My boyfriend does." "Oh, you're seeing someone? That's great! What's his name?" "Walter." "Is he from around here?" "He lives the next town over, he's a cop." "Really? Well I'm glad that you've got someone in your life. I just stopped in for more of those enchiladas. It's been quite some time since I've had them and I've been craving them lately." "Sure, I'll be right back." Peggy got Alex's order together and handed it over. "You sure seem busy. I saw the story on the news about 'the Chairman.'" "Yeah, it's been a rough few weeks and I'm glad it's just about over." "Just about? I thought everyone was caught and put in prison." "Hmmm? Yeah, but Walker and I fly out tomorrow to D.C. to present the case before the Senate Committee. They are happy with the outcome and want to know what worked and what didn't so that they can hopefully duplicate the success in the future." "Wow, you're going to testify in front of Senators?" "I know it sounds impressive, but really they're just people and it won't be such a big deal." "Well, I think it is. How long will you be there for?" "We are supposed to meet with the Senators Thursday and Friday and then I managed to talk Walker into staying the weekend and doing some sightseeing." "That sounds wonderful! I hope you have a great time." "Thanks, I'm sure we will. The government is putting us up in a wonderful hotel very close to the Whitehouse and the Mall." So you're planning to shop?" "No, I mean the Mall with all the monuments on it. You know, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument... all that." "Oh, I see," Peggy felt very ignorant, but she had never studied much in school and she had never been to Washington D.C. "But I may do some shopping as well. It all depends on Walker's mood. Shopping isn't his favorite activity. Well, I better head home. Walker should be there soon and I want to get packed and ready tonight. We'll have chores to do at the ranch in the morning before we can leave." "What about the animals, who takes care of them?" "We have a teenage neighbor who comes over and feeds and waters when we go out of town." "Oh, well have a great trip." "We will thanks."

Peggy waited until Friday before she couldn't stand it any longer and she had an overwhelming urge to go to the ranch. She parked her car in a turnout that was about a quarter mile from the driveway and then she walked in. She walked around the house until she found a small window in the laundry room that she was able to break and managed to get in. She spent the entire weekend at the ranch. She called in to the diner and claimed to be ill. Since she had never taken any time off since she began working there, no one complained. Peggy was out on the porch Saturday afternoon when she saw a teenage boy at the barn. She turned and walked back into the ranch house and locked the front door. She crept back up to the master bedroom where she had been staying and she hid there waiting to see if the boy came to the house. He didn't and she breathed a sigh of relief and continued her fantasy. She was Alex and she was awaiting her husband's arrival from a dangerous assignment he had been on. She dressed in her sexiest lingerie and she prepared him an elaborate meal. She worked some in her office, but mostly she spent time going through old photos and the box of momentos she kept hidden in her bottom drawer.

There wasn't much in the box, but each item held special meaning. There was the card that had come on a flower arrangement that said, "See, I do know how much they cost. Love, Walker." There was a birthday card with an inscription, "I love you more each day and I want to spend everyday as close to you as I can get." Then there was a bow and ribbon from a gift. Peggy had no way of knowing that this was from the first gift that Walker had given Alex, Aunt Ruthie's silver and turquoise bracelet. There was a card with a Basset Hound on the front that said, 'Without You, I'm Miserable' and inside Walker had written, "Hurry home, I even miss your cold feet. Love, Your Lonely Cowboy." There was even a verse that was copied in Walker's handwriting that told of how much he loved her. "This is a love letter Mark Twain wrote to his wife. He is certainly better at words than I have ever been. I'm using his words, but just so you know, they express the way I feel about you My Darling Alex. 'I do love you... as the dew loves the flowers; as the birds love the sunshine; as the wavelets love the breeze; as mothers love their firstborn; as memory loves old faces; as the yearning tides love the moon; as angels love the pure in heart.' I do love you ... Alex Cahill-Walker." There was also the cork from the champagne bottle from the first night of their honeymoon in Paris and a few other items that Peggy could not possibly understand the meaning of, like the tiny fake rattlesnake. She took the love note and the card with the Basset Hound and then put the rest of the things away and replaced the box.

Peggy did not know when the Walker's would be home on Sunday, so she decided to leave at noon. She was sitting in her car ready to pull out from the turnout when she saw the Ram drive past. She was fairly certain that they hadn't seen her as she was hidden behind trees and foliage. She waited ten minutes and then, heart thumping, she drove home.

Walker noticed the window when he went down to put the dirty laundry into the laundry room at his wife's request. A further inspection of the house revealed nothing missing, at least nothing obvious. Alex was certain that someone had been sleeping in their bed as the sheets were tucked in differently than she had left them. There was also food missing from the refrigerator and the pantry. "I feel like we're the three bears and that we had a visit from Goldilocks," Alex told her husband. Walker called Jamie, the boy who took care of the animals while they were gone. He asked him if he had seen anyone and he said that he had only seen Alex when she had gone back into the house on Saturday. Walker told him that there was no way he could have seen Alex as she had been in D.C. with him. Jamie said that he had seen a tall woman with blond hair walk into the house and he had thought it was Alex. He had thought it was strange that she didn't come over and say hi, but he hadn't spent much time thinking about it and had decided they had returned early for some reason.

That night, Walker stepped behind Alex as she was standing in front of her dresser deciding which nightgown to wear. "Walker, I think someone has gone through this drawer, things have been moved around." Walker frowned and said, "I can still get the forensics team to come out and dust for prints." "No, nothing is missing, let's not make a big deal out of this. Someone probably needed a place to stay and saw that no one was home. I'll wash these things tomorrow just in case. I guess the most immediate problem is what do I sleep in?" "You don't have to wear anything on my account, but if you want something, I'll let you borrow one of my shirts. Of course, I've never been able to leave one of them on you once I see how sexy you look in them." Alex smiled and leaned back against him. "Darling, after the weekend we've just had, you can still talk about making love?" "I can do more than talk about it," he claimed as he kissed her neck and ran his hands up her ribcage to cup her breasts. Walker loved the way her breasts perfectly filled his hands. It was as if they were made just for this purpose. They almost spilled over, but not quite. He then pinched her nipples between his thumbs and forefingers and had her arching back and moaning. "If you're trying to distract me, it's working," Alex stated. Walker pressed his arousal against her backside and growled into her ear, "darling, I don't have the mind power left to be so devious. I just plain old want you!" With that, he turned her to face him and captured her swollen nipples in his mouth and suckled. "Ow, go easy, I'm extra tender for some reason." "Uh oh, is it almost that time of the month?" "I don't know, I can't remember my last period. It could just be that they've been used and abused all weekend long." Walker chuckled as his mouth again drew her breast in, but with more tenderness and care. They made love well into the night and Alex had trouble getting up the next morning, she was absolutely exhausted. So much for a relaxing weekend away!

That night, Max came into their lives. Peggy followed the story on the news and even got to meet Max briefly when Alex stopped in to get some cherry cheesecake for Walker. She said that she was trying to butter him up as he had agreed to foster Max temporarily and she had just been shopping and bought out the baby department. When Walker got home and saw what all she had bought, Alex was very glad she'd thought of the cheesecake. Of course, when she was ill that night she decided that it had been too rich for her. It wasn't until several days later that she found out she was pregnant and that was why she had been sick to her stomach, her breasts had been tender and she was extra tired. All the pieces fit and she couldn't believe her own blindness. She had been so busy; she hadn't even bothered to notice how long she had gone without a period. She just didn't expect to get pregnant so quickly and hadn't even thought of it. When she counted back, she decided that it had happened while they were in Sage the night they left the bar early to retire to the motel room. Walker hadn't exaggerated when he had said that he was "not one bit" tired. He managed to repeat his 'grand slam.'

Chapter 5

Peggy decided that she needed to somehow get better connected to Alex's life. She finally made the decision to go to the HOPE Center. Her main reason for delaying was that she was afraid they would try to talk her into some kind of counseling. Now that she looked and acted more in control and confident, she hoped that Josie would not pressure her into anything. Peggy had Wednesdays and Fridays off from the diner. On Wednesday, she looked up the address and drove herself over to see what all went on there. Josie was surprised but glad to see her. Josie was amazed in the change both in her physical appearance and her manner. She was wearing a pair of slacks with a silk top and her hair was styled around her face that was tastefully made up. Peggy had been slowly adding to her wardrobe one item at a time as she could afford it. She now was able to dress in something besides her usual jeans and T-shirts. "Peggy, hi! Welcome to HOPE Center, I'm so glad you could come!" Josie gave her a tour, showing her the daycare, the food pantry, the comfortable room where people sat on sofas and beanbag chairs for support groups, the classroom where many were tutored in various subjects and finally she showed her the office. She explained the many different services the center provided and told her that there were also rooms upstairs that housed women who were trying to leave an abusive husband or boyfriend. She didn't show her these as they were all currently occupied.

Peggy was very impressed at the scope of the services the center provided. She talked at length with Josie and asked how she could become involved in volunteering her time. They both agreed that she could be helpful with putting together 'emergency bags' of groceries. The center received donations of food items from several organizations. They were even given 'day-old' bread and produce from a local grocery store. The food was packaged into a brown grocery bag. Each bag contained enough food to feed a family of four for one day. There were families who came once a week in need of the food and there were others who never quite made it to the end of the month and this was usually their busiest time. Instead of just giving out the food though, the center had a policy that if you required food on more than three occasions, you had to; attend classes they offered on money management; donate two hours of volunteer time for each bag of food; or sit down with their money management counselor and get direct help with budgeting. The purpose of HOPE Center wasn't to aid dependency on donations, but to teach people to improve their job skills, get better paying jobs or better manage what money they did have. There were so many integrated programs that Peggy's head began to spin. She found out that they also ran an employment service matching people to jobs and helping them prepare for the interviews.

Peggy decided that she should start small and merely bag the groceries and restock the pantry shelves until she became more knowledgeable about the organization. She wanted to eventually become Alex's right hand, replacing Josie in this role, but she had a long way to go. It took time for Peggy to learn Alex's schedule, but she found that she facilitated a women's support group on Tuesday evenings and that her other visits were often unscheduled. She relied on Josie for the day to day stuff and enough funds came in to hire additional staff as needed. Alex often spent a couple of hours in the evenings, but it depended on her caseload at work. She had become much more selfish with her time since she had married. Her husband was now her primary concern and although she still enjoyed spending time at the center, that time was less frequent. Peggy found out about the annual community fundraiser that the center put on each year and volunteered to help prepare for it.

Alex began to come by more often to join in planning sessions and Peggy was very glad she had volunteered when she was put in charge of the committee to organize the refreshment booths. The volunteer position meant that she would be working directly with Alex. Peggy put many hours into making her committee organized and profitable. She hadn't realized just how much she had learned in all of her years as a waitress. She knew what food items would sale and what would make the most profit. She enlisted other volunteers to bake and she even went to local restaurants to get donations of dry goods. She was floored when Jorge agreed to donate a dozen of his cheesecakes. There had been a great hole left in the concession stand committee by the passing of C.D. and Peggy was determined to plug it.

During all of this, Peggy was plagued by constant fatigue and chronic nausea. She was worried that something horrible was wrong with her until she realized that she hadn't had a period. She then thought back to the night with Hank. Was it possible? Peggy went to the drugstore and purchased a home pregnancy test kit. She nearly fainted when the result was positive. She didn't know what to do. She thought that she should probably terminate the pregnancy, but a part of her wanted a baby that she could raise and shower all her love on. She debated back and forth as she kept her secret and continued to help with the fundraiser. Peggy was very happy with Alex's praise of all her hard work. The concession stands were a big contributor to the profit margin. Peggy had brought new ideas and Alex continued to shower her with praise. Peggy was basking in her glory when Alex and Walker suddenly left with little Faith and her grandmother, Dionne. Peggy was near tears when Alex didn't make it back until after everything was over and was being torn down. All that work and Alex hadn't even stayed to see her in her most successful moment. Peggy fumed and her whole demeanor changed. Josie was concerned, but she was too busy to address the issue. She wondered though what had happened to make Peggy so upset. There was one point when Josie saw the expression in her eyes and a chill ran down her spine.

A week after the event, all the committee heads got together with Alex and Josie to give their reports. Peggy was again basking in glory as her committee had shown the biggest profit ever since the beginning of HOPE Center. She ignored the fact that all the committees reported the same success. At the end of the meeting, everyone began packing up to head home to busy lives. Peggy found some excuse to stay and she was lurking outside of Josie's office eavesdropping when she heard Alex tell Josie that she had been so tired lately because she and Walker were expecting their first child in early June. Josie squealed her delight and the two women sat down to talk about the exciting news. Peggy put her hand on her abdomen that hadn't yet started to swell. Right then and there she made the decision to continue her pregnancy. She too would be due in early June and she wondered how close her and Alex's due dates would actually be. This would give her something in common with Alex and she tingled with excitement. Luckily, Peggy didn't know that she and Alex had conceived on the same night, the coincidence was just too bizarre.

Peggy continued to keep her pregnancy a secret until she had the chance to tell the two people she wanted to know about it. Alex came into the diner with Walker on a Sunday morning after they had been to church. As they sat and contemplated the menu, Walker was teasing her about her cravings. "Honey, you're sure you want a cheeseburger and onion rings? You will most likely be sorry later." "Walker, I didn't make you bring me here so that you could talk me out of getting what I sat through an entire sermon dreaming about. I hope God can forgive me, but I don't even know what the sermon was on." Walker laughed at his wife and told her that he was sure God would forgive her transgression. Peggy stood there with pad in hand waiting to take their order and listening to the conversation. "You have cravings?" she asked in an innocent tone of voice. "Yes," Alex answered, "but it's Walker's fault." "It's not my fault, it's your body chemistry." "That has been altered by your fetus," she accused. "If I remember correctly, you were there as well." Suddenly they remembered their audience and Alex turned to Peggy. "I'm expecting and I go from not being able to think about food to wanting to eat everything in sight." "As long as it has hot sauce on it," her husband added. "Oh yeah, could you please bring me some hot sauce?" Alex asked. Peggy saw her opening. "I know how you feel, I'm going through the same thing. Try working in a diner when you have morning sickness. Then later when I do have an appetite I'm tempted to eat off of the customers' plates!" "You're pregnant?" Alex asked surprised. She remembered having one conversation with Peggy about some guy named Walter. Peggy nodded her head and beamed, "I'm due in the early part of June." "Really?" now Walker was suspicious. This woman seemed to be living a parallel life to Alex's. She was even beginning to look like her! Not that she could ever compare to Alex. Whatever that indescribable spark that existed in Alex and made her more beautiful than physical characteristics ever could was lacking in Peggy. She had made herself more attractive and she seemed more confident, but that was all. "Is Walter happy about the baby?" Alex wanted to know. "Well, I haven't told him yet. We actually had stopped seeing each other before I found out. Well, I better get your order to the kitchen," Peggy said as she walked off. "Walter?" Walker asked. "Yeah, I never met him, but she said that she was dating a cop named Walter." "A cop?" the hair on the back of Walker's neck started to prickle. "Yeah, that's all she said. I don't know his last name or which department he works for." Walker was suspicious, but he couldn't explain the uneasy feeling. He had long ago learned to trust his instincts though and he decided to keep an eye out for Peggy.

Peggy finally had to break down and purchase maternity wear at the beginning of her fifth month of pregnancy. She couldn't afford to buy outfits for each stage of pregnancy so she had left buttons undone and shirts untucked for as long as she could. Then she bought things that would expand to fit her throughout her pregnancy. While Alex seemed to glow and radiate health and happiness, Peggy's skin became sallow. She gained weight in her waist, but her cheeks became hollow looking. Alex saw her one evening when she stopped by the HOPE Center to counsel a young couple who were having legal problems and she was concerned by her appearance. "Peggy, how are you?" she asked with genuine concern. "I'm all right, I just feel yucky all the time, but I'm sure you know how it is." "No, actually since I got past the morning sickness stage, I have felt very energetic and healthy." "Well, I guess you're just lucky." "What does your doctor say, are you taking prenatal vitamins?" Peggy thought that Alex lived in a fantasy world. 'Doctor?' Try doctors! Every time she went to the free clinic she saw someone different. After sitting for hours, they came in and gave her a five-minute exam and said that she needed to gain more weight and to rest more, as if she really had time to rest. For the first time, Peggy directed her anger at Alex; she just didn't know how good she had it!

Peggy fumed for the next two weeks, realizing that she was going to have to cut back on her volunteering at HOPE Center. She just couldn't keep up the pace of her life anymore. Her job had her on her feet all day and she was exhausted. Alex had offered to help her find another job, but she had declined. She didn't know anything but waitressing and she used that as her excuse. In reality, she didn't want to sever the connection with Alex.

Walker came into the diner one Tuesday and asked for one portion of the turkey enchiladas to go. Peggy was surprised that he only wanted one portion and told him so. "Alex is out of town. She had to go get a deposition and she thought it was too important to send someone else." "So you're a bachelor tonight are you?" "I'm afraid so, but it's just till tomorrow." Peggy's wheels started turning. She excused herself to go to the back and then she went to Shirley's purse and pulled out the sleeping pills she kept in there. Shirley took one each night just as she was leaving to go home. She said that by the time she changed and crawled into bed, she was able to sleep even with her husband snoring like a chain saw. Peggy pulled them out and saw that they were in capsule form. She compared Walker's size to Shirley's and decided to use two. She then went into the kitchen and put a helping of enchilada in a Styrofoam container and opened the two capsules and sprinkled the powdered medicine on top. Then she covered this with some extra sauce and closed the lid. She went back out front and handed the order to Walker.

At the ranch, Walker finished his evening chores and then heated up the enchiladas in the microwave. He sat down in the living room and turned on the news. He hadn't gotten to watch the Cowboy's play the night before and he wanted to at least catch the highlights of the game, it sounded as if it had been a good one. He ate the enchiladas and then after the news was over, he switched the television off. He was feeling tired, so he decided to take a quick shower and go on to bed early. He and Trivette had been on stakeout two nights in a row now and he was bushed. He found himself falling asleep in the shower. He barely managed to dry off and pull on a pair of briefs before falling into bed. As he drifted off, he thought that it was lucky that Alex was out of town, he wouldn't have been much company.

Peggy closed up at the diner and then went home to prepare. She showered and did her hair and makeup. She then dressed and drove out to the turnout near the Walker's house. She walked up to the house and let herself in. Walker hadn't even bothered to lock the front door. Peggy went upstairs to the master bedroom and looked at the sleeping form on the bed. She walked over and brushed his hair back from his forehead, he didn't even stir. "Poor darling," she murmured, "you must be really tired, you didn't even wait till I got home." She then went to the dresser and opened the drawer pulling out a maternity nightie. She went into the bathroom and changed into the nightie and then walked back into the room. She went to the vanity and picked up the bottle of perfume and sprayed some on. Afterwards, she went to the bed and pulled back the covers and climbed in. She snuggled up to the warm body that was already there and he instinctively wrapped his arms around her and buried his head into her sweet smelling hair. Peggy lay there and basked in the feel of Walker's arms around her. For the first time in her pregnancy, she felt her baby give her a solid kick. She lay there grinning. "Did you feel that honey?" she whispered. "Our baby knows its daddy." She snuggled closer as Walker's hand made a soothing motion over her distended abdomen. Peggy drifted off to sleep.

Early the next morning, before the sun came up, Walker began to stir slightly. He felt the warm body curled into him and smiled in his sleep. He recognized the scent she wore and his hand began groping her. Peggy awoke as Walker's hand moved up her body to her breast, she held her breath as he cupped it. Walker's brow furrowed as he held the breast. Even in sleep, his body knew that something was wrong, it didn't fill his hand. He pulled his hand away and rolled so that his back was to her. Peggy ached to have his hand back on her. She wanted to seduce him, but some part of her knew that she risked everything if she tried. She couldn't help doing some groping of her own though. She turned so that her belly was pressed against his back and she let her hand trail up his bare chest. She played with his chest hair and then she squeezed and pinched his male nipples. Her hand then trailed down the line of hair that led to his briefs and she cupped him through the cotton material. She was surprised at the size of him, even though he wasn't fully erect. She played with his genitals for a brief time, but then his breathing changed and she was afraid that he would wake up. Peggy released him and scooted backwards out of the bed. She went into the master bath and hurriedly dressed tucking the nightie under her arm; she took it with her and quietly let herself out of the house. She got to her car and started the engine driving herself home. Once there, she took the nightgown out and held it to her face breathing in his scent that had transferred to it. She would wear it each night and not wash it until his scent was completely gone.

Walker woke with a horrible headache. He groaned as he sat up in bed with his hand to his head. Finally, he gave up and lay back down on Alex's pillow. He could smell her shampoo and perfume and the scents combined to arouse him fully. "Great," he muttered to himself, "now I have a headache and a hard on. Alex you better get home fast!" He pulled himself out of bed and took two aspirin and a cold shower. Trivette dealt with a very grumpy partner all day and was glad that Alex was due home that night. "Jeez Walker," he told him, "if this is what you're like when she's gone for just one night, I hate to imagine what you'd be like if she was gone for a week!" "Shut up Trivette, no one asked you," was all the response he got from Walker.

Chapter Six

Alex went into the diner one Wednesday to get something to eat. She and Walker had both been working frantic schedules and she was too tired to think of something to fix at home. She looked at the menu and ordered the Pasta Primavera that Joyce promised was excellent and had fresh vegetables in it. Alex sat at the counter to wait for her order and Shirley stopped by to chat when she had a minute. "Alex, you're looking wonderful, pregnancy suits you." "Thanks Shirley. I actually feel pretty good. My back isn't used to the extra weight in front, but otherwise, I've been surprisingly unaffected. Of course now that I'm in the last trimester, I imagine that's about to change." "Well, you're sure ahead of Peggy when it comes to feeling good. That girl looks like a rung out dishrag. I gotta tell ya, I'm worried." "Yeah, it's been awhile since I've seen her. She stopped volunteering at the HOPE Center because of her health. I'm afraid I've been negligent. I should have stopped in to check on her sooner." "Well, Joyce and I try to help. We give her all the sit down jobs like rolling silverware and filling ketchup bottles, but I don't think she should be working." "Whatever happened to Walter? Is he helping her at all?" "I never met the man. There was a time there when I thought she made him up, but I guess she has the proof that he was real." "So he's not involved?" "No, I tried to get her to ask him to help her, but she refused. There was a boy in here, Hank, from down at the gas station. He offered his help, even said he'd marry her, but she turned him down flat. She told him he wasn't the father and her baby wasn't gonna be raised by no substitute. Poor boy looked crushed. He moved on to another town and I haven't seen him since." "Why would he want to marry Peggy and raise her child as his? Is he in love with her?" "I don't rightly know. He followed her around like a puppy dog there for awhile. She finally went out with him once, but then wouldn't go again." "Well, I will stop in and see her and see if she'll accept my offer of help. She wouldn't last time, but she can always live at the HOPE Center if she needs to so that she can have a healthy baby." "You're just too good to be true Alex. I bet there's lots of jewels in your crown when you get to heaven. Oops, I better get back to work." Alex took the dinner home to Walker, but remained concerned about Peggy.

Peggy was angry the next day when she worked with Joyce and she mentioned that Alex had been in. She hadn't seen her for weeks and she couldn't believe she had missed her. She had wanted to compare pregnancy notes with Alex, to talk about all the things that they were both experiencing and to bond. Peggy was dragging by eight o'clock that night when Alex came in. She was surprised to see her, but after Alex took one look at her, she told Jorge that she was taking her home. Peggy was silent as Alex walked out of the diner with her. "Peggy, this can't be right, you don't look well." "I'm pregnant Alex, it's hard to be beautiful when you're pregnant, but I guess you wouldn't know about that. You'll probably be beautiful when you're dead." Alex had experienced enough mood swings to forgive Peggy her rudeness and instead took her to her car. "Peggy I'm going to take you home and tomorrow, I'm going to come by and take you in to see my doctor. You need to take better care of yourself, for your sake as well as the baby's." Peggy allowed Alex to drive her home, but didn't let her come in. She made the excuse that the place was a mess and she didn't want Alex to see it. In reality, she had pictures of Alex and videotapes of her and didn't want to chance Alex seeing them.

The next morning when Alex knocked on her door, Peggy had hidden all of the evidence of her infatuation with Alex's life. Alex drove her in to see Dr. Bates who had agreed to see Peggy. After a thorough examination, Dr. Bates was concerned. "Peggy, you are very underweight, your blood pressure is high and your baby has not grown to the extent that it should. I'm going to order an ultrasound so I can get a better idea of what's going on." "I don't have insurance, I can't afford an ultrasound, I can't even afford this visit." "Yes you can. I take on a certain number of pro-bono cases and Alex has asked that I make you one of them." "What does that mean?" "It means that I have a very lucrative practice and I can afford to not charge some women for my services. Alex and I have worked together before on other cases of women who could not afford proper prenatal care and had high-risk pregnancies. When Alex told me about you, I agreed to see you free of charge." "Thank you," Peggy answered. "You're welcome, now let's go see if we can arrange an ultrasound as soon as possible." As luck would have it, there was an opening an hour later. Peggy sat with Alex in the waiting room and drank as much water as she could hold. When the time came to go into the room, she asked Alex to accompany her. Soon there was the image of a tiny baby on the screen and Peggy could see the heartbeat. "Look Peggy, there's your baby," Alex said to her as she squeezed her hand. "Is it a boy or a girl?" Peggy asked. "It's a girl Peggy," Dr. Bates answered. "What are you having Alex?" Peggy asked her. "I don't know, I want to be surprised." After cleaning the gel off of Peggy's abdomen, Dr. Bates told Peggy she wanted to see her in her office and that she could ask Alex to come if she wanted to.

In the doctor's office, Peggy was so happy to be sharing this experience with Alex that she didn't see the look that the doctor gave Alex. Alex sat next to Peggy and held her hand in a reassuring grip. "Peggy, I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but your baby is not doing well," Dr. Bates began. "What does that mean?" Peggy was floored. "The baby is quite small for her developmental stage. There are also signs of a heart defect. I would say that the odds of delivering this child and having her survive are small." Doctor Bates was being kind, she didn't go into all the technical terms about what was wrong with the fetus, but based on what she had seen on the ultrasound, the baby's health was even graver than Peggy's. "I'm going to order complete bed rest for you and I would also like to see you every week, more often if there are further complications. I will give you a strict diet to follow, but I mean it when I say that you are going to have to stay off your feet." "We'll be sure that she does," Alex promised. Doctor Bates nodded at Alex knowing that she would see that Peggy received proper care and nutrition. "Why did this happen doctor? What did I do wrong?" "Peggy you did nothing wrong. I can't begin to tell you how many factors play a role in bringing a healthy baby into this world. There are just times when things don't go right. Blame it on Mother Nature, genetics, whatever, but sometimes there are just complications. A great many miscarriages occur because nature knows when a fetus isn't viable and naturally terminates the pregnancy. I don't want you to give up all hope, you have carried the pregnancy this far, but I also don't want to lie to you." Alex helped escort a shell shocked Peggy out of the office.

"What's Walker going to say?" Peggy asked as she sat in Alex's Sebring. "What?" Alex asked. Peggy seemed to snap back to reality. "I was just wondering what Walter would say if he knew that the baby wasn't right," she quickly covered her slip. "Have you told him about the baby?" "He's not a part of my life anymore, I don't want him to be," Peggy claimed. "Peggy, he has the right to know that he has a child on the way and a responsibility to both of you," Alex told her gently. Peggy's mind quickly searched for an excuse that Alex would accept. Her time at HOPE House had given her the perfect story. "The reason I stopped seeing him is because he became assaultive." "He hit you?" "Yes, I didn't want to tell you because I was embarrassed, but he hit me so I stopped seeing him." "Walker and I have dealt with cops who abuse the women in their lives, but it makes me ill to think that someone whose job it is to protect would use his power against a woman. I wish you had pressed charges, you still can you know." "I can't. I'm dealing with enough now with this baby..." Peggy allowed her voice to break and tears to seep from her eyes. "Of course, I'm sorry. The most important thing is to get you well and to take care of this baby. I'll call Josie and arrange to have you move into HOPE Center where they can keep and eye on you." "No! No, thank you, but I want to stay in my apartment, please." Peggy couldn't imagine living at HOPE House and having people come in and out of her room constantly. If she was going to lie in bed, then she would want to read her scrapbook and watch her videos, something she wouldn't dare do there. "All right, I'll see about organizing volunteers to come over to cook and clean. HOPE House will also see to paying your bills for now and I will get state assistance for you as well." "Thank you Alex, you're such a good friend." "You just follow doctor's orders and we'll see about getting you healthy."

True to her word, Alex had an army of volunteers scheduled to come in and help Peggy at home. She also got one of the volunteers who worked for an insurance company and was great at handling forms get started on helping to file for disability for Peggy. By the evening, Peggy was settled in bed with books piled on her nightstand, a two way radio that would be monitored by staff at HOPE house, water and an assortment of healthy snacks. After finishing her meal, Peggy looked done in and Alex decided that it was time to leave and let her get some sleep. She had talked with Joyce and Shirley and they planned to stop by frequently to check on Peggy. Jorge had promised to hold her job for her and Alex had done all that she could. Alex told Peggy that she was going to have to go to work the next day, but she would stop by on the way home. After arriving home, Alex called Dr. Bates and got the whole story. "Alex, if the baby lives, she will be severely disabled, probably mentally as well as physically. I didn't think that Peggy's emotional state was such that she could process all the details of her baby's condition, but I will try to fill her in next week. I really don't expect the baby to live and if Peggy's health continues to be jeopardized, I may recommend that we take the baby early. She is technically at a point in her gestation that the fetus should be viable, although based on what I saw today, I'd say that is highly unlikely." "Why do these things happen?" Alex asked rhetorically. "Alex, your baby is fine and it's important that you don't start thinking the worst because of this." Dr. Bates was a very astute woman and she knew that Alex would begin to doubt the health of her own baby. "Thank you, I appreciate the reassurance." "Frankly, if Peggy had been receiving proper prenatal care, this would have been discovered much sooner and most likely, the pregnancy would have been terminated in its early stages." Alex couldn't imagine making a decision like that and prayed to God that she would never be in the place to have to.

Walker came home late that night to find his wife on the couch surrounded by tissues and with swollen red eyes. "Honey, what is it? Are you all right?" He and Trivette had been unreachable that day. He knew Alex had arranged to take the day off to take Peggy to the doctor and he couldn't imagine what had caused this incredible sadness in his wife. "Oh Walker, it's just awful," she sobbed against his chest. "What is honey?" "Peggy's baby, she's probably not going to live. Dr. Bates said that even if she does, she will be severely disabled." "I'm sorry honey, no wonder you're so upset." "Walker, why are we so blessed? Why is our baby healthy and normal and Peggy's doesn't even have much chance for life?" "I don't know baby. I only know that someone besides us decides these things. Come on, let's go on up to bed for now and we'll do what we can to help Peggy, okay?" "Okay Walker and thank you." "For what?" "Well, I know you don't care for Peggy, but you're still willing to help her." "I don't dislike her, I just don't trust her. I can't tell you why, it's just one of my feelings that I get sometimes. I certainly don't wish her ill though." "I know you don't." They went upstairs and Walker held her tight and felt blessed as he lay with his abdomen pressed to hers feeling his child twist, turn and stretch against him.

Peggy was eight months pregnant when her blood pressure skyrocketed and they were forced to deliver her baby by cesarean. Peggy named her baby Hope, after the center where for a brief time she had felt good about herself. Hope lived for two hours before she was no longer able to struggle to draw breath. Peggy lay in the hospital bed gazing into space. No one was able to break through the wall of grief that she had built around herself and when Alex walked into the room, Peggy stared at her rosy complexion, her sparkling eyes, her shiny hair and her very pregnant abdomen and she began screaming. Alex left immediately, but the doctor was forced to sedate Peggy, as nothing would calm her.

Peggy didn't want a funeral for her infant, so there was no ceremony to mark the brief life. Josie spent time with her and so did one of the counselors from HOPE Center, but they both advised Alex to stay away. Josie told Alex that Peggy seemed to feel that Alex embodied everything that she had lost and it was just too painful to see her. Alex tried to be understanding, but Walker could see the hurt in his wife's eyes. He went once to see Peggy hoping that Alex would feel better if he did. He made sure to wash all the pink paint off of his skin that was there from painting the nursery. He felt almost guilty enjoying the time before his daughter's birth. When he walked into Peggy's room, he didn't understand her response to seeing him. She just kept muttering, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." The doctor said that Peggy was still in a state of shock and was talking nonsense. Walker didn't believe this, but he still didn't understand it. He didn't tell his wife though. He just told her that Peggy was still grieving and was still in shock.

The Walkers' lives was suddenly disrupted by the reappearance of L'Avocat and the discovery that their friend CD had been murdered and had not died of natural causes as they thought. When Alex confronted Walker after Jimmy was critically injured, she doubled over in pain as a strong contraction hit her. When Dr. Bates examined her, she found that she had a prolapsed umbilical cord. Since the umbilical cord had come out, the baby's blood and oxygen flow were cut off. The only thing they could do was an emergency cesarean section. Walker paced the halls desperately worried about his wife and child. When Dr. Bates came out of surgery and told him that his wife was going to recovery, he breathed a sigh of relief. The next news made his heart plummet. His newborn daughter was in critical condition. They weren't sure that she would make it and if she did, it was unclear if there would be any permanent brain damage. Walker stayed by Alex's side and when he had a dream or a vision or whatever it was that showed him that his daughter was going to be fine, he felt a tremendous rush of relief and gratitude. Alex awoke and immediately asked about the baby and he was able to reassure her that she was going to be fine. When Dr. Bates came in to tell them that all the tests showed that she was perfectly healthy and had not suffered permanent brain damage, she couldn't understand Walker's response that they knew.

Alex and Angela stayed in the hospital for three days. Alex was sore from the surgery, but she was feeling fine and regaining her strength and her figure rapidly. Walker drove his two ladies home and friends and members of their extended family greeted them. Walker and Alex both knew the gift they had been given and were grateful.

Peggy had returned home, but remained a shut in. She refused visits from anyone and had lost even more weight as she was barely eating. A pile of newspapers greeted her and in the latest one, there was a birth announcement that stated that Alexandra and Cordell Walker welcomed the birth of their first child, a daughter they had named Angela. She began to feel a burning hatred for Alex and she couldn't stand to look at pictures of her face. She tore the pages out of her scrapbook and she threw them all around the floor. When she heard the news that Alex and Walker had brought home their perfect little girl, something in Peggy snapped. She decided that she would no longer be Peggy. Peggy was a loser. She was Alex and she had a loving husband and a beautiful little girl named Angela.

Chapter 7

Alex and Walker had spent two very happy very tiresome days with their new little bundle of joy. Walker couldn't believe how much a newborn slept and he sat and watched her for hours wishing she would wake up and do something. Then when she did wake, he would immediately call Alex. Alex was tolerant of his nervousness and amused by his reluctance to hold Angela and comfort her. She knew that it would be only a matter of him becoming comfortable with holding an infant who was so tiny and then she feared she wouldn't be able to get him to let her go. Walker's favorite thing in the whole world was to watch Alex nurse Angela. He would sit behind Alex on the bed and she would lean against his chest and then bring the tiny infant up to her breast and allow her to suckle. Walker would wrap his arms around Alex and hold Angela and Alex at the same time. Alex still tired easily and many times both of his ladies would fall asleep in his arms. These were the happiest moments of Walker's life.

Alex was sleeping in on their third day home; she had been up three times during the night to tend to Angela. It was 9:30 in the morning and Angela began to fuss, just a little bit, but Walker darted straight into their bedroom to get Alex. "Alex, Angela's awake, I think she's hungry." "Well, change her and bring her in and I'll feed her." "I think you should get up to get her." "Well, I don't think I should. You stayed home from work to help me, so help!" "But honey, she's so tiny, I don't think I should change her diaper." "Walker, she's a girl, so the chances of her peeing on you are zilch." "I'm not worried about that, I don't think my hands can do the strips on that tiny diaper and what if I do it too tight?" "Walker, you got great at diapering Max, it's the same thing only smaller." "But honey..." Angela was now wailing. "If you want her up, you're going to have to get her, I'm not getting out of this bed." Alex turned her back on her husband taking his pillow to cover her ears. "Alex," Walker implored her and then walked over to the bed and tried to remove the pillow, "Alex?" "Just go get her!" his wife shouted at him and clamped her arm down tighter on the pillow. "Fine!" Walker was angry, but his anger was based on nervousness. He felt so big and awkward around Angela. She was not much bigger than his two hands put together.

Walker entered the nursery cautiously. It was lucky Trivette wasn't there to see him, he would have laughed and asked him if he thought there was an armed suspect inside the nursery. Walker made it to the crib and peeked over the side. Angela lay there with her face all screwed up in anger and she was making the god awfullest noise. He reached in and slid both hands underneath her and gently lifted her out of the crib carrying her like a serving tray over to the changing table. There he lay her down and carefully undid the tape on her diaper. She was more than wet. Walker grimaced at the sight and smell of what lay in the diaper. "How can you turn something as pure as mother's milk into toxic waste?" he asked his unhappy daughter. He peeled the diaper off and got out the wipes to wipe her tiny backside. Angela's little legs continued to kick and he had to dodge in and out to try and clean her. He needed to lift her legs up, but he was afraid he might pull one of them out of the socket. Finally, he gently tugged her legs up high enough that he was able to clean underneath her and slip a clean diaper in under her bottom. He threw the dirty diaper and wipes into the can next to the changing table and was glad when the airtight lid sealed them in. Next, he powdered her with just a light sprinkle as he had seen Alex do. He then tucked the diaper between her round thighs. "You better hope you grow into those," he told his daughter. He then pulled the edges of the diaper around her waist, tucked it under the drying umbilical cord and fastened it with the strips of tape. He was amazed at how easy it was once he got started. He then scooped his two large hands under her and carried her in the palms of his hands toward the master bedroom; one hand supporting her head and the other cupping her freshly diapered bottom.

Alex was sitting up in bed waiting for them. "Honey, she not a turkey you're serving for Thanksgiving dinner, hold her close to your chest." "Alex, I'm doing the best I can." "No you're not, you held Max against you, now do the same for Angela. She needs to feel secure and she can't possibly being held like that." "Here, just take her," he thrust the child toward her. "No, you get her to stop crying first and then I'll take her. I don't want her to think that I am 'dairy queen on demand.' She needs to be able to be comforted by something other than food." Walker glared at his wife, but did as instructed. Once he held her against his chest, the crying stopped. Alex giggled at the expression on his face. Walker looked stunned and proud. "Okay, I'll take her now," Alex said to him. Walker looked reluctant to let her go, but he finally relinquished her to Alex. Alex opened her nightshirt and exposed her breast and then placed Angela against it. "Ouch," she said as the tiny mouth latched on. "Hurts huh?" "Yeah, I'm so tender I can't believe it." "We did all the things they recommended in those birthing classes to toughen up your nipples," Walker said sounding as if he had somehow failed her. "Actually honey, I think you were more than helpful in that particular assignment." Walker grinned at his wife. The teacher of the class had instructed the women to go braless whenever they could and to have their husband's practice suckling their nipples so that their nipples would toughen up and nursing wouldn't be so painful. Despite Walker's enthusiastic attitude to the homework assignment, she was still tender, especially when Angela latched on.

Walker sat and watched Angela tug on Alex's breast causing the milk to let down and then proceed to suckle as if she was starved. The other side of Alex's nightshirt was damp as she leaked from her other nipple. Alex pulled Angela off and handed her to Walker, "burp her for me," she instructed as she tucked one side in and pulled out the other. Walker held Angela to his shoulder and rubbed and patted as he had been shown in the birthing class. He had refused to use the practice dolls because he felt so silly, a grown man holding a baby doll to his shoulder and patting it's back. With his own daughter though, he looked right at home. He grinned from ear to ear when he heard the tiny belch sound she made and handed her back to Alex. Alex let her attach to the other side and leaned back to get comfortable. Walker reached his hand out and cupped her breast that had just been emptied. "It doesn't fit my hand anymore," he complained. "Well, it's just temporary, it'll go back to its normal size after I wean her. Most men like to have their women a little more endowed." "Uh uh, I like it when you fit my hand perfectly, that's how I know God made you just for me." "You sound so pompous," Alex said with tears in her eyes as she gazed adoringly at her husband. "He did Alex. He made you for me just like he made me for you. We fit together perfectly, that's how we made this perfect little angel." Alex's tears had now spilled over. "Walker, sometimes you just amaze me," was all she could manage to say.

Later that afternoon, Alex finally convinced Walker that he needed to go grocery shopping. She needed several items and she didn't feel up to the trip just yet. Her stitches were healing and they were very tender. Walker stalled and fussed over her and Angela until Alex was ready to throttle him. "Walker, just go! We'll be fine." "I'll be gone for less than an hour," he promised as he tore his gaze away from Angela who was asleep in the bassinet in the living room and headed out the door. "I remember when he used to look at me so adoringly," Alex told her sleeping daughter. Alex got a glimpse of herself in the hall mirror and decided she knew why he didn't gaze adoringly at her. She also decided that she reeked. The milk that leaked from her breasts soaked the front of her nightshirt and had then soured. Alex scooped her sleeping baby up into her arms, "let's go put you up in your nursery while mommy takes a shower. When daddy gets home, he's going to see a new and improved version of mommy." She headed upstairs to place Angela in her crib and then leaving the door cracked headed into the master bathroom where she again left the door partially open so that she could listen for her.

Peggy sat in the turnout for the third day in a row. She knew the Walker's were home. Ever since the birth announcement in the paper, Peggy had planned for this. She had seen the Ram heading to the ranch three days prior as it brought Alex and Angela home. Now she watched as the Ram left with only Walker inside. She left her car and headed the quarter mile up to the ranch. She stayed low and hid behind buildings and bushes whenever possible. She went to the back door and again broke the laundry room window and let herself in. Creeping silently to the foot of the stairs, she listened. She could hear the shower running and she silently slipped her shoes off and went up the stairs. Peggy knew where the spare rooms were and figured that the one across from the master bedroom would be the nursery. She was right. Tears gathered in her eyes as she took in the pink walls and the white furniture. She crept over to the crib and peeked at the sleeping infant. "Mommy's here," she whispered to her. She went to the changing table and grabbing the diaper bag, she shoved extra diapers, wipes and outfits inside. She then picked up the car seat from the floor and quietly lifted the baby into it. Angela remained asleep as she lifted the carrier and the diaper bag and headed back to the bottom of the stairs. She was putting her shoes on when she heard the shower turn off. She quickly laced up and darted out and back to her car. After carefully buckling the infant seat into the seatbelt, she got in and started the engine. "Okay baby, daddy's out of town and he asked us to come join him. His misses his girls. We'll be there in a few hours Angela." She pulled out and headed toward the highway.

Alex finished her shower and listened to make sure Angela was still asleep. She didn't hear a sound, so she combed her hair out and blew it dry styling it for the first time since Angela's birth. She went into the master bedroom and put on makeup and then decided to go all out and put on clothes. She pulled out a skirt that had an elastic waist and pulled it on and then added a summer blouse that hung loosely over it. She stood and gazed at her appearance in the mirror. The blue of the blouse highlighted her eyes and she looked at the blue and yellow flowered print skirt, at least her legs looked good. She also was glad that she could now reach them to shave them, Walker had had to do that chore for her recently. Alex stood sideways and smiled at her profile. There was a slight bulge in her tummy where she hadn't yet regained her figure, but she decided that she didn't look bad. Her breasts were certainly larger than they had ever been and despite Walker's complaints, she decided that she would enjoy the extra cleavage for awhile. Alex slipped some sandals on and headed in to check on her sleeping baby.

When she looked into the crib, she couldn't immediately process that Angela wasn't there. Then she decided that Walker must have come back and taken her out. She headed downstairs to find them, but when she got there, all was quiet. Alex began walking more quickly looking into each room. When she got to the laundry room and saw the broken window, she began screaming. She tried desperately to get herself under control; she knew that time was crucial. She ran to the phone and called dispatch. "This is Alex Cahill-Walker, my baby has been kidnapped! Get units here right away and patch me through to my husband in his truck!" Alex waited as she was patched through and Walker answered. "Walker! Angela's gone!" "What?!" "I was in the shower and..." Walker could only hear a sob, the rest of the words were garbled. "I'm almost home honey, I'll be right there!" he promised as he turned on his lights and raced the rest of the way to the ranch.

Walker was the first to arrive and he leapt out of his truck and raced up the porch steps to where a hysterical Alex stood. He grabbed her arms and asked her what happened. "I put her in her crib and then went to take a shower. When I went to check on her, she wasn't there!" "Did you hear anything? Did you see anything?" "No! No! Oh Walker, someone stole our baby!" Walker had never seen Alex like this; she was completely hysterical. She had twice been strapped to bombs, she had survived LaRue and the Trammel brothers in Utah and many other horrifying experiences and always stayed together, but this time she fell apart. "Alex! Alex, you have to get a hold of yourself. Did you look everywhere?" "I checked the house, the laundry room window was broken, that's how they got in." Bells went off in Walker's head. This is how the intruder got in when he and Alex had been in D.C. He walked into the house and settled his wife on the couch and went to the laundry room to investigate as he heard the sirens converge on his property. The window looked much the same as it had before. He headed back to the front to greet the officers who had just arrived. "My six day old daughter has been stolen from her crib," he informed the uniformed officers. "The person broke a window in the laundry room to gain access. Spread out and search the property, they couldn't have been gone more than half an hour." Walker barked out commands and the officers obeyed.

A Lieutenant from the local station arrived to take command of the scene. He went into the living room to question Alex while Walker traced the kidnapper's footsteps. "So you were alone in the house ma'am?" "Yes, my husband had just gone to the grocery store." "My wife and I have two kids. When they're newborns, they can sure cry a lot." "Angela doesn't cry much, only when she's hungry." Alex was in a daze and not following the Lieutenant's line of questioning. "But when they do cry, it can just about drive you crazy when they don't stop." Walker came back down the stairs and realized where the officer was heading with the questions. "My wife did nothing to harm our baby, get the hell out of my house." "Now Ranger Walker, I'm sorry, but she was at home alone with the infant, she's the most likely suspect." "You're obviously new and don't know your head from a hole in the ground, so I won't make you eat your words. But if you ever insinuate that my wife is involved in this again, you won't walk for weeks!" The Captain arrived on the scene and assumed command from his Lieutenant. He sent the man out to drive up and down the street and look for anywhere the kidnapper could have hidden a car. It was obvious that if they weren't on the property, they had to have gotten away by car.

Hours later, the only lead was tire tracks that had been found a quarter mile down the rode in a turnout. It would be a perfect place to hide a car and the tracks showed that the same vehicle had come and gone several times. It was a compact car, but that's all they really knew about it. Alex sat on the couch held in Walker's arms as the police continued to search. Something was nagging in the back of Walker's mind, but he couldn't figure it out. Finally, it came to him. Jamie had said that he had seen a blond woman that he mistook for Alex when they were in D.C. What blond woman would live in their house while they were away and then return to steal their baby? Peggy! Suddenly, he had complete clarity. The uneasy feeling he got around her, the way she made herself look and act more like Alex. The day he had gone to her in the hospital and she kept apologizing to him. That was it! She had lost her baby and she had taken Angela as a substitute. Walker looked up at the Lieutenant who was conferring with the Captain. "I think I have a suspect," he announced. "Who?" Alex wanted to know. "Peggy," he said." "But Walker, she just lost her baby..." suddenly Alex saw where he was heading. "But we don't have any proof," she reminded him. "That's what I love about you honey, always thinking like an ADA! I'm going to her apartment to get proof." "I'm coming with you." "No honey, I think you should stay here." "I'm coming," she said in a tone that brooked no argument. The Lieutenant drove his car with the Captain at his side and the Walker's in the back. Alex directed him to Peggy's apartment.

The door was locked and no one answered. Walker wanted to break the door down, but Alex managed to get him to wait. She didn't want there to be any question about evidence if Peggy was guilty. She went to the manager who recognized her from her visits when Dr. Bates put Peggy on full bed rest. He agreed to let her and the police in. They entered the room and found the torn scrapbook pages littering the floor. "Oh my god!" Alex breathed. Walker picked some of the pages up and noted that many of the cut out articles were from months ago, back to when they had first met Peggy. "It seems she has been infatuated by you for a very long time," he said as he showed her the pictures. "Walker, look! The love note you wrote me, 'I do love you... as the dew loves the flowers; as the birds love the sunshine; as the wavelets love the breeze; as mother's love their firstborn...'" Alex's voice broke on a sob as she read the quote. Walker's face became a little heated as the officers looked at him, but he didn't say anything. Alex collected herself and then began asking questions. "How did she get this? And the photographs, those are from my office. When did she go in there?" "Was this woman ever at your house?" the Captain asked. "Only once last year for a Fourth of July barbecue." "Could she have gotten them then?" "I suppose so, but the love note and this card, I keep these in a box in the bottom drawer of my desk. You would have to really hunt to find it. I can't believe she was in the house long enough to do that. Wait... I remember when I went up to the master bathroom at one point, I thought someone had been lying on the bed. I decided that it was just the kids playing hide-and-go-seek, but now after seeing this..." "Remember when we were in D.C.?" Walker asked his wife. "Oh my god! That was Peggy?" "Well Jamie said he saw a tall blond woman." "What are you talking about?" Captain Jenkins interrupted. Walker filled him in, "we went to D.C. after the special task force took down 'the chairman.'" "I remember hearing about that. That was you?" Lieutenant Snodgrass asked. "That was us. When we got back home, it was apparent that someone had been staying in our house. They broke in by breaking the laundry room window. They slept in our bed, ate our food and Alex's nightgowns had been gone through. We didn't notice anything missing, so we didn't report it. Jamie is the neighbor kid who feeds the animals when we are out of town. He saw a blond woman whom he mistook as Alex on the porch going into the house." Walker looked around and found a picture of Peggy that had been taken at the HOPE House fundraiser. It was of Peggy and Alex standing side by side, both were smiling. "You can see the physical resemblance to my wife," he said as he handed it to the Captain. Lieutenant Snodgrass looked over his shoulder at the picture. "There's a resemblance, but she is no where near as beautiful as your wife," he said and then blushed as he realized how it sounded. "No she's not," Walker agreed, "but she seemed to try to emulate her." "So was there anything that would have triggered her to take the baby?" the Captain asked. "She lost a child a few weeks ago. The baby only lived two hours, it was a girl," Alex answered. "Well, I think we have a good suspect. What about her car, what did she drive?" "It was a gold colored Toyota Corolla, an older model," Alex answered. "Lieutenant, let's get an APB out on this woman and her car," the Captain ordered. "Yes sir," Snodgrass answered and went down to the cruiser to make the report.

"Do either of you know where she could have gone?" Captain Jenkins asked the Walker's. "She said that her only family was her mother, she lives in Kansas I believe." "What about her baby's father?" "She said that his name was Walter and that he was a cop, but she never said which department he worked for," Walker informed him. "All right, I'll get my men researching all cops named Walter in the area." "Wait," Alex said. "One time..." she paused as she thought about it. "One time, when she found out that there was something wrong with the baby, she said something like, 'What will Walker say?' or something like that. When I questioned her, she changed it to Walter." "What are you saying?" Captain Jenkins asked. "You couldn't have been the father could you Walker?" "Of course not, but... maybe that's what she meant when she said that she was sorry." "What are you talking about?" his wife asked. "That time I went to see her in the hospital after her baby died, she kept saying 'I'm sorry' over and over again. The doctor said that she was in shock and not making any sense. Based on what we've seen here, what if she convinced herself that she was my wife and she had lost our baby?" "She'd have to be one mentally ill woman," Captain Jenkins said. Walker looked at him, "she just stole a newborn baby and look around you, do you think she's mentally stable?" Captain Jenkins didn't bother to respond except for a nod acknowledging Walker's point. "So then was there really a Walter? I mean, someone got her pregnant." Alex looked at Walker and responded to the Captain's question. "Shirley said that she thought Peggy had made Walter up until she found out that she was pregnant. She also said that Peggy had dated a man from the gas station, I don't remember his name. She said that Peggy only went out with him once and that after she was clearly pregnant, he offered to marry her. She told him that the baby wasn't his and that she didn't want a substitute father for her baby." "Well, if he was the father of her baby, she may be willing to accept him as a substitute for me. After all, she has a substitute baby." Walker reached out for his wife as she began to cry.

Two hours later, the crime scene investigators had matched Peggy's prints that they had taken from her apartment to ones found in the nursery on the dresser drawers and to ones on the box where Alex kept the cards and special items that Walker had given her. They now were certain that Peggy was the kidnapper, but they still hadn't found her. Shirley was able to tell the police Hank's name and direct them to the gas station where he used to work. The gas station didn't have a forwarding address, but gave them names of his friends and the places he used to hang out. Trivette was still on the mend from his run in with L'Avocat, but he went to work on his home computer, linking into the system at work and searching for Hank Sweeney. Texas Ranger's Company B had suffered devastating losses with the deaths of Cliff Jensen and Wade Harper. With Trivette out of action and Walker on leave, the rest of the department was stretched thin and all leaves had been cancelled. Captain Price didn't revoke Walker's leave only because he thought that he wouldn't be effective in his job after all the losses he had recently suffered. He believed that he needed the time at home with his wife and child. When he heard that Angela had been kidnapped, he directed all of Ranger Company B's resources to finding her.

Alex was forced to express her breast milk using a pump that Josie brought her to use. She stayed with Alex as Walker buried himself in the investigation frantically searching for his missing daughter. Josie stored the milk in tiny bottles in the refrigerator and held Alex as she sobbed. "She must be hungry. What is she feeding her? Oh god, please, we have to find her." Josie held Alex and tried to reassure her. She had never seen Alex like this. This was Alex Cahill-Walker and she had stared down death more than once. This woman wasn't intimidated by anyone and yet here she was devastated. Josie was worried about her and wondered what would happen to her if they didn't find Angela soon. She tried to take comfort in the thought that Peggy would take care of Angela. When she tried to tell this to Alex, she had lashed out and said that Peggy was a sick woman and there was no telling what she would do. There was no comforting Alex and Josie was relieved when Walker came in and saw the state his wife was in and lifted her into his arms and carried her upstairs. Walker lay in the dark master bedroom with Alex held tight against him on top of the covers. They were both fully dressed, ready to jump up if there was any news, but they both just needed to hold each other and draw strength and comfort from the embrace.

Lieutenant Snodgrass watched the videotapes that Peggy had made of news reports of Alex. The more he watched the competent confident ADA on the tapes, the more of a jerk he began to feel. He had been overzealous jumping in and questioning her as if she was a suspect in her child's disappearance. He hadn't realized just whom he was dealing with. He had relocated from Houston and didn't know Alex's reputation. He of course had heard of Walker and when he threatened him, he knew that it wasn't an idle threat. The man's feet and fists were lethal. He was going to do everything he could to find that little girl; it was the least he could do. It was a sentiment that was shared by countless officers involved in the search. They all wanted desperately to reunite Angela with her parents.

Sydney and Gage arrived at the truck stop diner where Peggy's mother worked about midnight. They went in and found an older version of Peggy with gray streaked brown hair behind the counter. "Are you Margaret Thompson?" Sydney asked. "Well, everyone calls me Maggie, but yes I'm she." "Well ma'am do you have a daughter Peggy?" "Yeah, I got a daughter named Peggy. We named her Margaret after me and my mother, but called her Peggy so there wouldn't be any confusion." "Have you heard from her lately?" "No, I don't hear from her except maybe at Christmas time, why?" "Well ma'am, she's a suspect in a kidnapping," Gage informed her. "Peggy? Peggy wouldn't hurt a flea, she's too scared of 'em." "Ma'am did you know your daughter had a baby about a month ago?" "No, I didn't. You mean I'm a grandma?" "Well, I'm sorry to tell you this, but the baby died after only two hours." Maggie looked genuinely sad and concerned for the first time. "What happened?" "I don't know the details, but there was something genetically wrong and she wasn't expected to live. Peggy took it very hard though and we think she took another couple's baby as a sort of replacement." Gage looked at Sydney wondering if she should resume the questioning, he felt awkward talking about all of this. It felt like it needed a woman's touch. Sydney caught the look and took the lead. "Is there anywhere you can think of that Peggy would go? To a friend or a place where she felt safe?" "Peggy never had any friends and she never felt safe anywhere. She was always scared of her own shadow." "Well, if you see her or hear from her, please contact us. This is my card and you can reach me twenty-four hours a day." With that, the two Rangers walked out of the diner. "What do you think?" Gage asked his partner. "I think she was telling the truth, but I still think we should have the local police tail her and stakeout her home and work." "Great minds think alike," he agreed as they headed to the local Sheriff's office.

Chapter 8

The next morning, the Walker's both showered and dressed and headed downstairs. They knew there was no news, they would have been informed. Their house looked like a command post. There were police and FBI agents everywhere. Captain Price had called in the FBI to take the lead in the case as their resources crossed state lines. Hank Sweeney had been traced through his Social Security number to a gas station in Houston, but he had left there two days before and no one seemed to know where he had gone. Further leads suggested the possibility that Peggy had contacted him and they now had an APB out on both Peggy and Hank as well as their cars. Alex walked around the house like an automaton. She couldn't sit for more than a minute. Just the mention of food turned her stomach and each tiny bottle that she filled with expressed milk and placed in the freezer seemed to drive another stake into her heart. Erika had come out to spend the morning with her while Walker went into headquarters to try and put together the different pieces of the puzzle. He could have done what he needed to at the ranch, but he felt the overwhelming need to get away, to take action. No one who knew Alex and Walker recognized the aimless people who looked like the walking dead. They hadn't spoken to each other in hours. Despite holding each other through the night, they felt separate, empty and alone. They both had so much grief, anger and guilt that they were unable to reach out for each other emotionally. Their friends could understand Walker walling himself off from others, but not Alex. No one had ever seen Alex so emotionally barren. There were emotions, they were just so overwhelming, that she kept a tight lid on them and was afraid to allow herself to feel anything for fear of being swamped by them.

Peggy had called Hank and told him that she needed to see him before she had taken Angela. She said that she had a surprise for him and that she needed him to meet her. She also told him that he couldn't tell anyone where he was going. Hank debated on whether or not to follow her directions, but he needed to find out once and for all if her child was his. He knew how to count and he was fairly certain that Peggy wasn't seeing anyone when he had gone out with her. He finally agreed and they planned a rendezvous in Austin. There were some really nice areas in Austin; they weren't in one of them. They both lived paycheck to paycheck and neither could afford to pay for a nice motel. Hank had found a place that he could afford for a week, maybe two and he rented a room. Peggy had arranged to have him call her when she reached a diner fifty miles outside of the city. She walked in with the car seat and an unhappy Angela strapped in. She sat in a booth and fed the baby a bottle of formula and ordered pancakes for herself. She and Angela had spent the night in her car behind an abandoned building. She didn't know why the baby kept crying so much, but she had diarrhea and spit up frequently. Peggy was already getting weary of the constant crying. Finally, after spitting most of the formula back up, Angela fell into a fitful sleep. The waitress approached her and asked, "are you Peggy?" Peggy looked up and nodded. "There's a call for you, a guy said that it was real important he talk to you." Peggy stood up and left Angela in the booth as she went to take the call. "Peggy, it's Hank." "I know, who else would know to call me here?" Hank wasn't used to this sarcastic side of Peggy. "Look, I found a place, it's a dump, but it's the best I could do. Are you going to tell me now what all this is about?" "Give me the address and I'll tell you when I get there." Hank told her the address and how to get there from the 35 freeway. Peggy said she'd see him in a couple hours and hung up. She walked back over to the booth and saw the waitress looking at Angela. "She's a beautiful baby," the woman cooed. "Thanks, my husband thinks so too." "She seems colicky, what kind of formula do you have her on?" Peggy showed her the can of powder. The waitress frowned at the powder. "Shouldn't you be using the premixed cans?" "They're awful expensive," Peggy defended herself. The woman decided not to press the issue. "My grandson was on that for awhile, he couldn't digest it. The doctor switched him to another brand and he's doing much better." "Do you know the name of it?" Peggy asked. "No, but the pediatrician told my daughter-in-law that you shouldn't change formulas without checking with the doctor first." "Well, we're traveling and we're no where near our doctor. I'm meeting my husband who's down in Austin on a case." "A case?" "Yeah, he's a Texas Ranger and he just missed us too much." "Well I can understand that, but I can't imagine traveling with an infant so young." "You do what you have to," Peggy shrugged. "I guess. Well, good luck honey." "Thanks," Peggy answered the kind but slightly nosey woman. Peggy was used to women like her, she had known many in her day as a waitress in places like this one. She paid her bill, picked up the car seat and headed out.

It was a little over an hour later when Hank heard the knock on the motel room door. Peggy had to knock for quite some time as the train tracks were right behind the motel and a train was passing just as she arrived. The sound woke Angela back up and she started to cry loudly. Hank opened the door and saw Peggy standing there with the infant seat in one hand a diaper bag over her shoulder and a small suitcase at her feet. "Hello darling, well here she is, Angela." Hank looked at Peggy and then at the infant. He looked back at Peggy and was awestruck. Peggy laughed and said, "what's the matter? Don't tell me you have nothing to say. I bring your daughter all the way down here and you don't even invite us in?" Hank stepped back and watched Peggy walk into the dingy motel room. "She's mine?" was all the poor man could stammer. "Of course darling. I told you I was going to surprise you. Well, here we are." It was hard to keep the fantasy going that she had driven to Austin to meet Walker who was on assignment. There was probably a picture of this motel in the dictionary next to the word 'fleabag.' Peggy quickly extended her fantasy to include the plot twist that Walker was undercover and that he was forced to stay in this place as part of his cover. He was playing a drug dealer named Hank and she had come up with their baby, but was going to have to hide out in the room if she wanted to play it safe. She had adopted the name 'Peggy' to help conceal Walker's identity from the drug cartel he was investigating. She managed to stay in her fantasy world most of the time, but the passing trains were very disruptive!

Hank eased Angela out of the carrier and pulled her up to look at her. She continued to cry and she was in need of a diaper change. He took her in to lay her on the bed and told Peggy to bring the diaper bag over. Peggy came over and went into 'the perfect mother' mode. "Oh, that damn pediatrician, I told him that the formula didn't agree with her." "Why don't you nurse her?" Hank asked. "I wanted to, but there were complications with her birth and by the time she was released from the hospital, she refused to nurse." "Is she all right?" "Oh sure, she's fine. She's a beautiful healthy baby." "Why won't she stop crying?" "Oh she just has colic. If you don't mind, maybe you can go to the store and get her a different brand of formula." "What kind should I get?" he asked. "Anything but this," she said showing him the can she had. "She could also do with more diapers, do you mind?" Hank was suffering from shellshock. He had a baby daughter and it looked as if Peggy wanted to try and make a go of things. Well, he was willing to try. He believed in facing up to his responsibilities. He wished she had agreed to marry him when he asked before, but it wasn't too late, there was still time. He headed out to get the necessary items.

It had now been more than twenty-four hours since Angela was missing and they still didn't have any solid leads on where she might be. Alex walked up to Walker and spoke directly to him for the first time that day. "I want to go on national television and make a plea to the public for information. Maybe there's someone out there who knows something that can bring our daughter home." "Alex, are you sure? We'll have all sorts of crackpots calling with false leads and we may just muddy the waters. Besides, what if there's someone out there who wants to get revenge on one of us, it wouldn't be the first time. We'd be handing them a golden opportunity to make us sweat." "I am not going to live in fear my whole life. If someone wants to come after you or Angela, they'll have to go through me first." Walker looked at his lioness who was quite capable of roaring when she felt her mate or her cub was threatened. He momentarily felt a twinge of pity for Peggy. If Alex ever got the opportunity to get her hands on her... This was not his pragmatic Alex who weighed all the sides of an issue. She didn't care that Peggy was mentally unbalanced. She threatened Alex's baby and Alex would make her pay! For the first time since the frantic call on his truck radio from Alex, Walker gave a ghost of a smile. "That's my Alex." "Does that mean you'll agree to let me go on air and ask people to call with any possible leads?" "On one condition." "What?" Alex asked ready to argue with him. "That I'm there by your side asking with you." Alex nodded once and they went to speak to the FBI agent in charge to present their idea.

Alex called Shelley and asked her to come out with a film crew to film her and Walker's plea. Shelley's television station would air the plea and also share the videotape with any other station that wanted to pick up the story. There was already a great deal of media interest in the story and Shelley got all the major networks to agree to air the clip on the national news that evening. The FBI set up a hotline and prepared to man the phones. Walker and Alex sat on the couch in their living room, they had their hands clasped tightly and their thighs pressed together from hip to knee as they sat side by side on the couch. Shelly set up the crew and prepped the Walker's for the interview. Walker felt Alex's nervousness and he shared it. This was so important and so risky. They didn't know how Peggy would react if the heat was turned up and she felt threatened. Shelley began by introducing the story explaining that a woman who had recently lost a baby had kidnapped the Walker's newborn daughter. The history between Peggy and the Walker's was not discussed and Shelley merely stated that Peggy had been positively identified as the kidnapper. Next, Shelley turned the microphone to the Walker's and Alex made a brief statement. This was something Alex had done countless times in her job. She was mobbed by reporters outside of the courtroom each time there was a big case with a lot of public interest that she was prosecuting. At first, the DA had had her handle the press because of her beauty and poise and it was good PR. As Alex's career progressed and she became the lead prosecutor, she was usually involved in all the big cases. The courthouse reporters knew her and knew she would be gracious and answer those questions she was able to answer. This was different. She wasn't talking about some case; she was talking about her daughter's life. "My husband and I are asking for your help in locating our daughter. She is a week old today and she was stolen from her crib yesterday." Alex's voice broke and she swallowed a sob. Walker noted her distress and he jumped in. "Peggy is a disturbed woman who needs psychiatric help. It is believed that she took Angela as a substitute for her baby who died. If you have any information, if you've seen Peggy or Angela or her car, please call the number on the screen. We think she may have been going to meet a man named Hank Sweeney, but his involvement is unclear." Alex had gathered herself together enough to resume speaking. "Our baby means the world to us and we ask that you help bring her home safely, thank you." Shelley ended the taping and decided that the first take was perfect. She wanted the raw emotion that the Walker's felt to show through and it did. She went back to the station and cut in pictures of Peggy, Hank, and Angela as well as descriptions of both cars and their license plates. The story went out all across the United States and parts of Canada.

Alex and Walker were just as tense, but they had come together to take some positive action and it helped. The switchboard was flooded with hundreds of phone calls. Many were crank calls, some people called to say that she had been abducted by aliens, others called to give false leads, one man called to say that she had been murdered and he could lead them to the body. There were psychics offering their services and well meaning folks who just called to offer their prayers. Some leads were ones that warranted investigating; most were not. By ten o'clock that night, nothing substantial had been learned. Walker led Alex upstairs to lie down. He lay with her and held her close. "Walker?" "Yeah Alex," he answered as he stroked her hair. "I'm sorry." "For what?" "I should have kept a closer eye on her. I shouldn't have let her be taken." "Yeah and I shouldn't have gone to the grocery store and left the two of you alone." "I told you to go." "So that's your fault too?" "What?" "Alex, what good does it do to blame ourselves? You took a shower while the baby slept in her crib, in her nursery right across the hall. You were in your own home, you had no reason to think someone would break in and take her." "Logic doesn't seem to get very far right now." "Alex, I love you. It was not your fault that Angela was taken. I don't blame you and I don't want you to blame yourself. We will get our daughter back. We will!" Alex clung to Walker and sobbed out her fear and anger and he cried along with her.

Nancy was dead tired. It had been a long day and all she wanted was a cold beer and to watch a little television to unwind and then to go to bed. She sat on the couch and put her feet on the coffee table. She picked up the remote and turned on the television. It was already eleven and she might as well watch the news before catching Leno's or Letterman's monologue and heading to bed. It was depressing all the bad things that were happening in the world. She hoped the monologue was funny tonight, she could use a good laugh. She alternated between the two, it just depended on what channel she happened to be on. As the broadcast continued, she saw a good-looking redheaded man sitting with a beautiful blond woman on a couch. 'Lucky lady,' she thought as she took a swig of her beer and smacked her lips, her eyes checking out the man's well toned physique. Then she focused on the story. It seemed their baby had been kidnapped. 'Well, usually they find that a family member was involved,' she decided. Then a picture of the suspect was put up on the screen and she recognized her. That was the woman who came into the diner with the baby! She could have been a plain version of the beautiful lady on the screen. Maybe she was her sister? Nancy realized that she had seen the baby that belonged to the good-looking couple. Well, it was easy to see where the baby got her looks. She jumped up and frantically searched for a pen to write the phone number down. After she succeeded, she muted the volume of the television and dialed the phone. "Hello," she began when the phone was answered and Agent

Douglas greeted her. "I'm calling because I saw the woman and the baby that was on the broadcast tonight." "You're name ma'am." "Nancy Sutton," she supplied. 'Well she gave her name, that's the first test to check to see if it was a crank call, there were many more,' thought Agent Renee Douglas. "Where did you see them?" "At a diner where I work called 'Get your Grits', it's in Holland outside of Austin." 'Giving a location and place of employment,' thought Renee 'good.' "Can you describe what happened?" "Well, this woman came in with the baby and she ordered breakfast and fed the baby a bottle. Then there was a phone call for a woman named Peggy. The man described her and I went over and asked if she was Peggy. She said she was and she went to take the phone call and left the baby in the booth. I was concerned that she would do this and I stayed to watch the baby. After she finished the call, she came back and we talked about the baby having colic and the brand of formula she was feeding her. She told me that she was traveling to Austin to visit her husband who was a Texas Ranger up there on a case." "Can you tell me what the baby was wearing or describe the car seat?" "It was a white car seat with a navy blue cushion with tiny pink flowers. The baby was wearing a light pink onesie with darker pink hearts all over it." "Ma'am I'd like to send someone over to your home to ask you further questions, would that be all right?" "Sure, whatever I can do to help." "Thank you ma'am. I need to verify your address and phone number and I'll send someone over."

Agent Douglas had her supervisor listen to the tape along with Sydney and Gage who were manning phone lines as well. Gage grabbed the address and the two flew out before verifying that they would be the ones to go meet this Nancy Sutton and get further details. The supervising agent shook his head and went up to inform the Walker's. Alex and Walker listened to the tape for the fifth time. "She's feeding her formula and she has colic, she must be miserable," Alex lamented. "She'll be back on mother's milk before you know it," Walker reassured her as he rubbed her back. "I take it you've alerted the police in Austin to be on the look out for their vehicles? Especially at motels." "Yeah, they're doing drive-by's of the parking lots of all the motels." "I have some Ranger friends in Austin, I'm going to get them out of bed and get them pressuring their sources. I want faxes out to all motels and hotels and flop houses that have faxes." "We're on it Ranger, we're covering all the bases. They'll find them." Walker nodded and he and Alex spent the rest of the night pacing the living room and drinking copious amounts of coffee. Luckily, it was still the decaf that she had been forced to drink during her pregnancy. She still had to be careful while she was nursing.

At five a.m., they got word that Peggy and Hank's cars had been spotted in a fleabag motel. The police surrounded the motel, but were waiting for further instructions. "I want to be there when they go in," Walker stated. "I'm going too," Alex added. Walker looked at her and was nearly frightened by the fierceness he saw in her eyes. He decided not to argue. "The helicopter is warming up now, let's go." They ran out to the front pasture where there was a helicopter waiting to take them wherever they needed to go at a moments notice courtesy of the Governor.

They landed a mile from the motel and were driven to it by a fellow Ranger. Walker walked over to the officer in charge, a Captain Dylan of the Austin Police Department, and asked for details. "There hasn't been any activity Ranger. We used an ultra sensitive microphone and heard a baby crying and a man talking to her trying to get her to quiet down. There was a woman's voice, but she only told the man to make the baby stop crying. It's been an hour now and we can still hear the baby." Alex had listened to the report and said, "I want to hear her." The officer motioned his audio man over and instructed him to give the earphones to Alex. She listened and tears streamed down her face. Alex's body recognized that sound instantly and her milk letdown when she heard it. She looked at Walker and said, "it's Angela, but I've never heard her like this. She's crying uncontrollably." They had discussed the best way to proceed and it was decided that Walker and Alex should go and knock on the hotel room door. This was not standard operating procedure, but there was nothing standard about this case. As the Senior Ranger on the scene, Walker had the right to call the shots. Captain Dylan bowed to his authority, but didn't want Alex included. Walker told the man, "my wife said that she is going and I've never won an argument with her, so I'm not going to waste my breath. If you want to try, be my guest." Captain Dylan looked at Alex's face and thought better of it.

It was not yet seven when they stood outside of the motel room and heard the sound of a newborn crying without the benefit of a microphone. Walker knocked on the door and called out, "Peggy, we know you're in there, open the door." It was Hank who opened the door and asked, "can I help you?" "Yes, we've come for our baby," Walker answered calmly. "What? The only baby here belongs to us," Hank answered bewildered. "No, Angela is our baby." Hank turned to Peggy who was standing in her nightgown holding Angela tightly and backing up away from the door. "What's going on?" Hank asked her. Alex couldn't wait any longer; she marched up to Peggy and demanded that she hand over Angela. "Give me my daughter Peggy." "No! She's mine!" Peggy screamed wildly and took a swing at Alex. It was all the opening Alex needed. She grabbed the arm that still held Angela and bent her thumb back causing her to loosen her grip. Angela began to fall, but Alex was ready and she scooped her up and backed away from Peggy. The action was fluid and to the two men watching, it almost looked effortless. "Walker, you can't let her take our baby!" Peggy screamed at Walker. "She's not your baby Peggy," he told her and started toward her. Hank stepped in between them and momentarily blocked Walker's path. Peggy looked briefly at Alex who cradled her now quiet daughter to her chest and Peggy's fantasy world came crashing down around her. Her fantasy was shattered and her reality sucked. She didn't want any part of it. She whirled and ran out the back where a young cop grabbed her and tried to restrain her. She pulled away with Herculean strength and ran straight for the railroad tracks where an approaching freight train barreled down the tracks. The only sound anyone could hear was that of the train. The engineer didn't even have time to reach for the brake as the woman threw herself into the train's path and was swept under the wheels. What was left of Peggy was strewn for a full mile before the train was able to come to a complete stop. Peggy had succeeded in escaping reality for all time by killing herself.

Hank stood completely still as the police cuffed him and read him his rights. He looked at the Walker's and said, "I thought she was my daughter. What happened to my baby?" Walker empathized with the man. He was fairly certain that he had been unaware that Peggy had given birth and lost the baby. "I'm sorry, but Peggy's baby only lived a couple hours." Hank hung his head and wept. He had known that something was wrong. Peggy acted like she loved the baby, but her maternal instincts just weren't there. There had been times during the last twenty-four hours when he had been gravely concerned about the way Peggy reacted to the baby's crying. He had tried to blame it on fatigue and being a new mother, but it was more than that and he knew it deep down. It was also strange the way she wouldn't allow the TV or radio on. It made sense if she was worried that he would hear of the kidnapping. Now he had lost both Peggy and his baby without ever knowing he had had one. "Was it a boy or a girl?" he asked Walker. "She was a little girl and Peggy named her Hope." Hank looked at Angela who had fallen into an exhausted sleep in her mother's arms. He saw the way Alex cuddled her to her chest and spoke to her in a soft and loving voice. This is what had been taken from him by a sick woman. "I'm sorry," he managed to say to Walker. Walker nodded and walked out with him to the squad car. He spoke to Sydney and Gage who had arrived on the scene. "I want you to make sure that Hank is treated well and that he is presumed innocent. I think he was an innocent pawn in all of this and he's lost a great deal. See to it will you?" "Sure boss," Gage answered. He was amazed at Walker's ability to see the other man's plight after all he had suffered himself. Walker had looked at Hank though and knew that if he had lost Alex and Angela, his own life wouldn't matter. He was afraid the man wouldn't defend himself out of grief and then would later discover himself blamed for a crime he didn't commit.

Walker and Alex took Angela straight to the hospital in Dallas via the helicopter. Doctor Bates was waiting for them along with their pediatrician, Doctor Collins. Dr. Collins gave Angela a thorough examination and decided that apart from some dehydration from the constant diarrhea, she was fine. He hooked her up to an IV to rehydrate her and along with Alex's nursing her, the fluids were soon replaced. Dr. Collins wanted Angela in the hospital until the diarrhea that had been caused by the formula was stopped, so she spent the remainder of her eighth day in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). Dr. Bates insisted on giving Alex an examination while she was there. She was only a day early for her post op exam anyway. She found that Alex too was dehydrated and that she was hypoglycemic from not having eaten. She checked Alex's incision site and deemed the stitches ready to come out. She told Alex that she wanted her to eat and drink and rest as much as possible and to come see her again the next week. She warned Alex that she had to get plenty of fluids while she was nursing or she would have trouble. Alex promised to do better and then raced back to be with Angela.

Walker went home after Alex was back from her check up and able to stay with Angela. He thanked all those who had been involved in the search for his daughter as they packed up and left his house. He fed the horses and did a few chores and then showered and changed and started to head back out when there was a knock on the door. He opened it to find Gordon Cahill standing on his front porch. "Gordon, we weren't expecting you till the weekend." "Well, I handed the case over to my colleague as soon as I could." He had been defending a woman who was accused of murdering her husband and he was convinced that she was innocent. As soon as the jury went out for deliberation, he had left his junior colleague in charge and headed to Dallas. "I wanted to be here for my daughter. I wish I could have gotten here sooner. I was so relieved to hear the news on my way in. How's my grandbaby and how's Alex?" "They're both fine. They're at the hospital, but they will probably release Angela this evening. They just wanted to keep an eye on her for the day." "Good, good. I guess that's where you're heading?" "Yeah, why don't you put your suitcase in your room and come with me." "No, you go on. I have a feeling that your family needs to be together right now and I'll just be in the way." "You sure?" Walker asked. "I'm sure son. Go on, I'll make myself at home and be here whenever you get back." "Okay, you know where everything is. The place is a mess, there were so many people here the last two days." "I'll be fine, now go on." Walker agreed to go and headed on out. Gordon walked on into the house and knew that Alex would not be a happy camper if she came home to the house in its current state. He went to find the phone book and found a housecleaning service. They didn't normally do rush jobs, but Gordon had amassed a considerable amount of money throughout his lucrative career and he couldn't think of anything better to spend it on than his daughter and her family. Two vans arrived an hour later. One carried the house cleaning crew who tackled the house in a methodical manner. The other carried a grounds maintenance crew and they mowed trimmed, edged pruned and watered until the yard looked like a well-groomed park. Gordon decided that his money had been well spent when he walked through the house two hours later and could see his reflection in all the surfaces. He had called a florist and there were flower arrangements strategically placed around the house. Now he could unpack and settle in to enjoy his visit.

Walker returned to the hospital to find Trivette and Erika seated in the waiting room on the pediatric ward. Trivette began to try to stand up, but Walker waved him back when he saw him struggle with his crutches. He had been healing from his run in with L'Avocat, but he had sustained broken bones and internal injuries and he wasn't up to much movement. "What are you two doing here? You should be in bed," Walker admonished his partner. "That's almost funny coming from you," he retorted. "We're so happy that Angela is okay, we just had to come see for ourselves," Erika interrupted the two men. "Yeah, the nurses would only let us in one at a time and just for a few minutes, but we both got to see her. Alex said you would be back anytime, so we waited. How are you?" "I'll tell you Trivette, it's been hell. I never want to live through something like that again as long as I live. If we hadn't found her soon, I don't know how much longer I could have held it together." "I talked to Gage and he filled me in on what happened in Austin. He said you don't think Hank was involved." "No, I think Peggy told him that Angela was his and of course he assumed she was hers. The guy was used and now he's lost everything. A part of me feels sorry for Peggy, but I have trouble regretting that she's dead." "I don't know how anyone could go through what you and Alex went through and not feel that way," Erika said. Walker smiled, "you should have seen Alex. You'd think she was the martial arts expert in the family. The way she applied pressure to Peggy's hand at just the right point making her lose her hold on Angela. I tell you, I will never do anything to make my wife that mad at me, she's a force to be reckoned with." "I tried to warn you years ago man. Remember that time she was shot and that couple came to her home to finish her off? She has a mean right hook and the woman isn't afraid to use it," Trivette said with a smile. "Well, I better get in there and check on my beautiful ladies and you should get home and rest. I expect you back up and running soon. I need my partner." "Yeah, I guess Captain Price will be glad to get us back to work, he's been left pretty short handed." "Yeah, they're transferring a Ranger over to us temporarily and the Captain is threatening to make you and I break in a couple of rookies in the near future." "Make Gage and Sydney do it. They could use a break from each other anyway, all they do is bicker." "Yeah, Alex has her own theories on that." "I know, we discussed it last time we went shopping together." Walker shook his head at his partner. He hated shopping himself, but Trivette and Alex enjoyed an occasional day at the mall together and Trivette had finally begun admitting it in public. "Get this injured man home Erika and thank you both for coming, it means a lot to Alex and I."

Walker entered the nursery styled hospital room quietly. He was glad to see that they had disconnected the IV's from his daughter. He crept closer and found that Alex had her against her breast and both had fallen asleep, Angela with her mouth still wrapped around Alex's nipple. Walker's eyes filled with tears as he stood staring at the precious sight. He reached a finger out and ran it gently over Angela's cheek watching as it caused a reflexive suckling motion from his tiny daughter. He finally pulled a second chair over next to Alex's and he to fell into an exhausted sleep. The nurse who came in quietly left again without disturbing the sleeping family. They had been through so much in the last forty-eight hours that they needed sleep more than anything else, except maybe to just be together.

That evening, the doctor did rounds before leaving for the day and said that the Walker's could take Angela home, but should come back in if there were any more problems. He said that now that she was back on her mother's milk, she should be fine. He warned Alex that she may not be able to take formula and that she should try and nurse her for as long as possible. Alex was willing to do whatever she needed to as long as she had a healthy baby. Walker drove the Ram home with Alex seated beside him and Angela strapped into the car seat in the back seat. He told Alex that her father was at the house and Alex had mixed feelings. After the madhouse she had lived in for the last two days, she was looking forward to peace and quiet and just the three of them. On the other hand, she was anxious to see her father and to introduce him to his granddaughter. After parking the Ram, Walker unstrapped Angela and handed her to Alex. He then went around and opened the door and helped Alex down. He walked with her to the house and they were greeted by Gordon who had heard them arrive. Gordon was blown away by his beautiful grandbaby and Alex was blown away by her beautiful home. Everything looked so clean and fresh and inviting. She took back everything she had thought about wanting to be alone, she was glad her father was here to do things to pamper her. Walker pampered her, but in a different way. Some things were a dad's job and after years of estrangement, she finally had one of those. Gordon had also prepared dinner and they ate together while Angela lay in the bassinet next to the table. Every time Alex looked up, she found her husband staring at his daughter. "Look Alex, she's waving her arm in rhythm to our conversation." Alex just grinned at her husband and enjoyed seeing his joy in fatherhood.

That night, Alex was afraid to leave Angela alone in the nursery. She knew that her fears were irrational, but they were no less real. Walker turned on the nursery monitor and put the speaker on Alex's nightstand with the volume turned all the way up. He insisted that Alex lay down and after they got quiet, they could hear Angela's breathing over the speaker. Alex snuggled close to Walker and fell asleep to the sound of her daughter's rhythmic breathing. When Angela awoke around two that morning, it was Walker who got up to change her and bring her in to Alex. Alex lay in bed waiting for him to bring her in and listened to what he said to Angela as he changed her. "No crying Angel, you're home now and your mommy is just across the hall waiting to feed you. I can't tell you how sorry I am that you were taken from us and that you had such a scary two days. I promise you that I will always do everything in my power to protect you. Your mommy will too. We love you more than we will ever be able to tell you, but we will show you every single day just how much. If you ever need us, we'll be there for you. Okay, Angel? Come on now, your mommy is waiting for you and there is nothing I like more in the whole world than to hold you and your mommy while she feeds you."

Alex had sat up in the bed and was ready when Walker handed Angela to her. She waited until Walker settled himself behind her before allowing Angela to latch on and begin to nurse. "Walker?" "Yeah honey." "I love you more every single day. Sometimes I don't know how I can possibly love you more than I already do, but everything we go through together, good and bad, makes me love you more." "I know, I feel it too. I think that the only time I can ever understand the concept of infinity is when I think of it in terms of loving you. My love for you is infinite. It grows each day and it will continue to grow because there are no limits, no boundaries." "Walker?" "Hmmm?" "When did you get so good at expressing yourself?" "I have a good teacher." "We're going to be okay aren't we?" "Alex, together, we can do anything." "Yeah." With that, Alex switched Angela to the other side and lay her head against Walker's shoulder. She lay there enjoying the tugging sensation at her breast, the smell of baby powder, the soft bundle in her arms, the hard chest against her back, the heartbeat against her head, the strong arms around her waist and the soft kisses he placed on her hair, ear and neck. 'This must be what heaven is like,' she decided.

Epilogue

It was the Fourth of July and the Walker's were getting ready for their second annual barbecue. This one was much smaller and only included 'family.' They were keeping their entertaining to a minimum because between a two month old infant and work, they led hectic enough lives. Alex had just returned to work and was adjusting to leaving Angela at HOPE Center during the day. She was expressing milk so that Angela continued to only receive her milk. This made Alex's life more hectic, but it was worth the small sacrifice. Alex's career had always been so important to her and she continued to get a great deal of satisfaction from it, but her husband and her baby would always come first.

Gordon was flying out for a long weekend and Trivette promised to pick him up at the airport on his way to the barbecue. Alex had fed Angela and put her down for her morning nap when her husband came up behind her and literally swept her off her feet. Alex shrieked as he swung her around and carried her into their bedroom and dumped her on the bed. "Walker! What are you doing?" she asked. "I thought we could have our own 'flag raising' ceremony," he answered. "Walker! How disrespectful," she said and then giggled. Walker didn't seem to care. Between Angela's feedings and both of their work schedules, getting ready for the barbecue, HOPE center functions, KDOOA functions and her father's visits, their sex life had suffered and he was determined to rectify the situation. He untied her tennis shoes and slipped them off and pulled her anklet socks off to join them on the floor. He unbuttoned her shirt and removed it, unzipped and removed, unhooked and removed and finally, just removed until she lay on the bed stripped, no fuss no muss. He then quickly stepped out of his own clothes and joined her on the bed. There were no preliminaries as he spread her legs and got into position to enter her. "Hey cowboy! What? You think you can just hop on and ride until the buzzer sounds?" Walker was intent on his task and it took a moment for her rodeo analogy to sink in. When it did, he began to laugh both at what she had said and his own eagerness that had stripped away all his finesse. "If the lady wants to ride first, that's fine with me." "The 'lady' wants to be romanced!" Walker grinned at her and lay on the bed next to her not touching her. His erection stood straight up in the air throbbing with anticipation, but he made no move toward her. He waited all of sixty seconds before she couldn't stand it any more and straddled him, cupping his erection in her palms. "Well, don't maul me woman," he said as she positioned him and with one decisive thrust impaled herself on him. Alex cried out with the pressure she felt as he filled her completely, but she was as anxious as he was and she set a frantic pace that brought them both to an explosive climax. Alex toppled off of him and lay on the bed next to him breathing hard. "Well, I feel as if I've been rode hard and put away wet," Walker stated. Alex began laughing in embarrassment at her own incredible need that had taken over her like wildfire.

The two turned to face each other on the bed and Walker said, "while I enjoyed that, I think we can do better." "Mmm hmm," Alex agreed as he reached for her and began kissing her. His tongue soon pushed passed her lips to plunge in and draw her sweetness into his mouth. Their tongues danced and stroked and soon their hands began their own explorations. Walker reached behind her and splayed his fingers into the nape of her neck at her hairline and softly tickled that sensitive spot. Alex's hands trailed up and down his chest and tugged on the hair that curled there. After long minutes of deep wet kisses, the two broke apart and then began raining kisses on any body part that presented itself. Alex won dominance as she kissed and licked his male nipples making him throw his head back and moan his surrender. She kissed a path down his torso and eventually found his reanimated manhood. Walker clenched fists of her hair as she licked, kissed and sucked up and down his shaft leaving him aching for release. Not to be outdone, Walker reached under her arms and dragged her body back up so that she was splayed on top of him. He rolled her and then took his turn exploring her body with his mouth and tongue until he reached the moist folds of flesh that hid the female counterpart to his erection. He plunged his tongue deep into her depths and then rolled it up so that it applied moist pressure to that sensitive nub that generated so much pleasure. He continued his torment until she climaxed, bucking her hips against him.

After she quieted, he stretched back up her body and slowly pushed himself into her. "Open your eyes Alex. Watch what you do to me," he commanded her. Alex watched as he began to set a slow steady rhythm. Their eyes locked and Alex saw the love and passion that he had for her shining in his gray blue eyes that looked into hers so intently. Alex's eyes widened as her body began climbing back up toward the heights of passion. Walker watched her eyes dilate with pleasure and he knew that she was near her third orgasm of the day. He deliberately slowed his pace and then sat back on his heels still impaling her, her hips lifted so that her buttocks rested on his thighs. He caught his breath and watched as the realization dawned that he was going to torment her. "Walker, please don't stop." "I wanted to be sure that you felt appreciated and loved. I don't want you to ever think that I only want your body for my pleasure." "I don't think that, please!" Walker's hand stroked her abdomen. He found the fading scar and followed it with the tip of his index finger. "With the baby and everything, we've been neglecting each other lately. Let's make a promise to put aside time just for each other." "I promise!" Walker chuckled, it was killing him to hold off his own release, but he was determined to make her pay for suggesting earlier that he planned to just 'ride her.' His index finger trailed down to just below her curling hair and it found that pleasure spot and stroked it softly, increasing her torment rather than providing relief. "Walker, if you don't..." she broke off with a moan. "Don't what? What do you want Alex?" "You! I want you!" "Well, you have me baby. What in particular do you want from me?" "Walker, you know what I want!" "No, I don't think I do. Why don't you tell me." "I'm going to make you pay for this," she threatened as her hips bucked in a vain attempt to get him to resume his thrusts into her. The position that he sat in prevented her from forcing him into her any deeper. "Now Alex, I don't think you're in any position to threaten me." "Walker, I want you to make love to me," she finally conceded. "I am Alex, don't you like it when I take the time to show you how desirable you are? I thought it was all about foreplay for women." Alex clenched her fists into the bedspread and knew that she wasn't going to get out of this one. "I do like foreplay, but I also like it fast and hard. I like it any way with you darling. You are the world's best lover and I am your slave." Walker grinned and then leaned forward and kissed her before resuming his deep thrusting tempo into her body. "As long as you remember that darling," he told her. They both lost the capacity for speech as their need for release superceded all else. Walker had prolonged it for both of them to the point where they had to build up all over again. They both were sweating and panting when finally she and then he plunged over into ecstasy. "Damn you Walker!" she complained. "Was it good for you?" he asked laughing. She thumped him. "Ow!" he exclaimed. "I have only one thing to say to you darling," Alex said as she flounced off the bed and scooped up her clothes. "What's that?" he asked with a triumphant grin on his face as he enjoyed watching her naked body. "Revenge is sweet," she stated and headed for the bathroom to shower. He heard the lock turn in the door and lay on the bed laughing at her.

The guests arrived and the barbecue began. Walker grilled the hamburgers and Alex stood watching Angela being passed from one set of eager arms to the next. Angela was wearing a red white and blue onesie with stars and stripes on it and everyone enjoyed making over her and her patriotic outfit. Gordon put his arm around his daughter and said, "you look great honey, motherhood suits you." "I'm loving every exhausting minute of it." "I can tell, you're positively glowing. How are things with you and Walker? Having a newborn in the house can make it difficult, especially when the parents are still newlyweds." "Dad, we've been married for more than a year now." "In the grand scheme of things pumpkin, that's not a very long time. Forty years from now when you're sitting on your front porch with your grandkids playing in the yard, you'll remember what I said. Of course I'll be watching the grass grow from the roots by then, but you'll see what I mean." "Walker and I are doing just fine dad. We just made a pact earlier this morning to make time for ourselves." "That's good honey, it's important. Marriage isn't easy; it takes a lot of work. You two are best friends and you obviously love each other, but you still have to work at it and keep things fresh." "I know dad, you're right. I'll keep it in mind." Gordon walked off reassured that his daughter would take his sage advice to heart.

Jimmy and Erika played Sydney and Gage a game of horseshoes. The winners were slated to play Alex and Walker who remained the undefeated champions. Alex went in to nurse Angela before she would have to play horseshoes. She sat in the nursery in the large white glider Walker had placed in there for her. She couldn't believe how much her tiny baby had grown. She enjoyed the alone time with her daughter. These moments were even more special as she had gone back to work and it was harder to find them. She missed staying at home with Angela every day, but she knew that she needed to continue her career for her own sake. She was a firm believer that it was the quality and not the quantity of time that was important in being a good parent. She sang a lullaby to Angela as she finished nursing and drifted off to sleep, Alex kissed the soft skin of her hands, cheeks and forehead. Hugging her sleeping daughter close, she carried her downstairs to place her in the bassinet that sat in the shade on the porch. 'Grandpa Gordon' appointed himself babysitter as Walker and Alex were called to come over and play Syd and Gage for the championship. Erika complained that Jimmy had a natural handicap due to his birthplace when it came to the game. Jimmy's heart squeezed tight as he thought of C.D. and his verbal harassment about his lack of talent at the game. Suddenly, a smile lit Jimmy's face as he felt a brush against him that brought him intense joy. He couldn't see him, but he knew C.D. was with them.

Walker didn't catch on at first, but it seemed that every time he and Alex switched positions to take turns tossing the metal horseshoe, she brushed up against him in some way. She stood close as she gauged the distance her shoe had landed from the pole and her breast pressed lightly against his arm. She swung her hand back in a practice swing and her hand cupped his crotch briefly. The touches were all done with a look of innocence and he watched her closely to see some sign that would let him know it was all done with intent. They won the game and when she gave him a victory hug, her hips 'accidentally' rubbed against his. She never said a word or looked directly at him, but he was convinced that she was playing him. The three couples and Gordon and Angela spent the afternoon and evening enjoying each other's company and laughing at jokes, stories and put-downs. The moment that made the day as far as Alex was concerned was when her father presented them with his latest in overpriced impractical gifts for Angela. He brought out a hot pink battery operated Barbie convertible riding toy. It was made for children over four, but of course he had gone ahead and purchased it because he had seen it and decided his granddaughter should have it. The look on Walker's face as he saw the pink mode of transport was priceless. Alex fell into a fit of hysterical laughter as his mouth gaped like a fish and he stood there speechless. "Didn't they have it in another color?" he finally managed. "I like it," Alex said wiping the tears from her eyes. "Maybe I can get my convertible painted that color." "Don't you dare! You will not be parking it in this driveway if you do!" Walker warned. The entire group fell into laughter as Walker's cheeks turned red. The car was large enough to hold four small children and Walker could think of no where to store it except to give it its own barn stall. It galled him to have to use a perfectly good stall to house the pink contraption... er convertible.

The evening continued with much hilarity as they talked about their first driving experience, their first ticket, and their first car. Gage had them holding their sides as he described his first romantic experience in a car. It was not successful. Alex chimed in; "the Ram isn't exactly designed for romance either." "Well, based on 'evidence' I'd say that you and Walker have managed to overcome the obstacles," Jimmy stated. Gage and Sydney tried to get him to tell them what the evidence included, but all Jimmy would say was that Alex had great taste in undergarments. It was Alex's turn to have red cheeks, but it was dark and so no one noticed. Alex sat in Walker's lap and shifted frequently. When Angela, who was being held by Erika, decided to let them know she was hungry, Alex stood up to collect her and then used a blanket for privacy and sat back in Walker's lap to nurse her. Walker was convinced that the flashes of breasts that only he was privy to were intentional.

The evening wore down and everyone except Gordon and Alex, who wanted time with her dad, had work the next day. Gordon headed on into his room to read and Alex put Angela to bed and then showered while Walker did some clean up downstairs. When he came to the room, he found Alex in bed with the lights already out. He hopped into the shower and washed quickly. He was hard again and he had been tormented by his sexy wife's touches all day. He was determined to seek relief in her arms. When he climbed into bed, he scooted up behind her so that his arousal pressed up against her and his hand began exploring her front. Alex's breathing was deep and even, but he wasn't fooled, he was sure that she was awake. As his hand grew bolder, Alex shifted and turned back toward him, "What is it? Does the baby need to be fed?" "No, but I need to be tended to." "Walker, go to sleep. I'm tired, it's been a long day." "Not gonna happen lady, I need you and you've been playing me all day long." "What are you talking about? We made love just this morning." "Alex, admit it, you've been trying to get revenge for this morning." "Whatever Walker, now goodnight." Walker chuckled and rolled her onto her back. He pinned her thighs to the bed with his forearms and used his fingers to slide the crotch of her panties to the side. His fingers found what he expected; she was already moist. He breathed in the scent of her and then proceeded to lap her with his tongue. Alex's breathing changed and when he inserted two fingers into her, she moaned and began lifting her hips to meet him. Walker inserted a third finger and leaned down to tongue her sensitive nub. He played her and refused to satisfy her need until she begged him, "please Walker, I need to feel you inside me." Walker shifted to strip off her panties. Her nightgown was up around her waist and he entered her and plunged deeply until they both cried out their simultaneous releases. "Admit it Alex, you may win most of our arguments, but when it comes to making love, I'm in control." "Whatever you say darling." "Alex..." "Walker, not that I'm counting, but I believe I've had four climaxes to your three today. Who's in control?" Walker laughed at her and pulled her into his embrace. "Who said I was done yet?"

The End

*All the usual disclaimers apply.