Family Secrets

By: Kristiangrace

Cast of Characters:

          Cordell Walker - Texas Ranger, Co. B

          Alex Cahill-Walker - wife of Cordell Walker, ADA of Tarrant Co.

          Angela Walker - seven-month-old daughter of Cordell and Alex

          James (Jimmy) Trivette - Texas Ranger, partner of Cordell Walker

          Sydney Cooke - Texas Ranger, Co. B

          Francis Gage - Texas Ranger, Co. B, partner of Sydney Cooke

          Mason Justin - Senatorial Candidate for Texas

Stacey Justin - wife of Mason Justin, volunteer for HOPE House, the help center founded by Alex

          Samantha (Sam) Justin - 13 year old daughter to Mason & Stacey

Katherine (Katie) Justin - 10 year old daughter to Mason & Stacey

Ritz-Carlton Hotel Ballroom Saturday 10:30 p.m.

"Alex, can we go now?  You know how I hate these things.  Not to mention, this guy is not my favorite politician."

Laughing at his comment, "Honey, you don't have a favorite politician!  You don't even like politicians!"

"Not true!  I like President Bush," he counters, knowing she's right.  There are no politicians that he enjoys being around and he really hates going to their fundraisers. But when you're married to the Assistant District Attorney for Tarrant County, you have to make nice and pretend to like these kinds of things.  Touching his face in a light caress, she smiles at him and says, "Yes, honey, we can go.  Besides, I need to get home and feed Angela.  I'm sure she's got her Aunt Sydney pulling her hair out about now."

They get up to leave and bid their good-byes.  On their way out the door, they run into Stacey Justin, the wife of the Senatorial candidate in whose honor the party is being held.  Stacey volunteers her time at the HOPE Center, which is the non-profit shelter that Alex runs.

"Stacey, hey, we were just leaving.  Will I be seeing you at the HOPE Center this week?"

"Probably.  I'm scheduled to be there almost every afternoon this week.  I promised Josie and Erika I'd put in more hours since it's getting so busy over there"

"I know they appreciate the help as much as I do.  I don't know how I'd do it without you guys."

"Oh, I love it.  Especially working with the children in the daycare.  You know that little girl of yours has the perfect name, she is an angel."

"Thank you.  We think so, too.  Actually, she is why we need to leave.  I have to get home and feed her.  I don't think I left enough bottles."

"Well, thank you for coming.  I'll see you this week."  The two ladies hug and Walker gives Stacey a kiss on the cheek.  As they walk out the door, he turns to his wife, "I don't know how she can be so genuine and have a husband who seems so fake."

"Walker!  That's not nice.  You just don't like him because he's a politician."
"No, I don't like him because I don't trust him.  He's sneaky."

"You don't even know him."

"It's a feeling I have.  Call it Cherokee Intuition."  She smiles at his reference to Jimmy's term for his sixth sense.

"Let's go," as they walk hand in hand to the truck.

Walker Ranch Wednesday 7:30 a.m.

"Walker, Jimmy's on the phone."  Alex calls into the hallway to let her husband know that his partner is calling.  When she doesn't get an answer, she heads into the nursery.  "Honey, did you hear me?  He says it's important."

"Yeah, I'm coming.  There! Just had to finish putting on little bits' diaper."  As he hands the squalling infant to her mother, he tells Alex, "She's hungry."

"I know.  I heard her all the way down the hall.  Here you go, Sunshine,” she coos to the starving infant as she settles into the rocker to nurse her and Walker hurries off to answer his urgent phone call.  He returns a few minutes later to inform her that he must leave.

"Alex, there’s been a shooting at Mason Justin's home.  I think he was killed."

"Oh my God!"  Was all Alex could think to say to show her shock.

"I gotta go.  I'll call ya later at the office, okay?"

"Please do.  I love you.  Be careful,” she tells him.

"I will.  I love you too."  He replies back as he leans over to give Angela a kiss on the top of her head and then moves a little higher to capture the lips of his wife in a deep kiss that has to end all too soon. 

Alex reluctantly breaks off the kiss and tells him, "You'd better go.  We'll finish this later tonight." 

"Count on it."  He gives Alex a wink and Angela another kiss before he turns to leave.

Later that morning at the Senator's house:

The crime scene has the Senator laying face up on the floor in the hallway outside the bedrooms.  There is a fatal gunshot wound to his chest and a bullet in the wall near a painting.

"Syd, Gage, what've you got?"  Walker asks upon seeing the younger Rangers.

"Well, it seems that the Senator was shot once in the chest and there's an additional bullet near the painting on the wall above his body.  According to Mrs. Justin, all that's missing is some jewelry and his wallet.  Looks like it may have been a burglary, but with just those items missing, I don't know."

"Where are his wife and daughters?"  Jimmy asks.

"They're downstairs still being questioned by DPD.  According to the first officer on the scene, Mr. And Mrs. Justin had an argument last night; she left and went to a friend's house about 11:30.  The girls were already in bed when she left and they say they didn't hear anything,” Gage reports to the senior rangers. "Samantha gave us the name and phone number of her mother's friend and that's where we found Mrs. Justin this morning.  According to her friend, she arrived at her house about 11:45 and was there all night."

Walker looks at Gage and Sydney and tells them, "Okay, I want you two to question Mrs. Justin again and make sure the story she gives you matches the story she gave DPD.  Trivette and I will go and question the daughters and see if we can get anything from them."

Kitchen - Justin home

"Mrs. Justin?"

"Please, call me Stacey."

"Okay Stacey, can you tell us the events that happened here last night?"  Sydney asks the distraught and angry woman.

"I've already gone over this with the other officers.  I can't believe this has happened.  We fought last night - I left - next thing I know, I'm being woken up by the Dallas P.D. at my friend's house!"

"Stacey, I know you're upset.  You have every right to be.  But we're trying to find out who did this.  Can you think of anyone who would want to hurt your husband?"

"Besides me, you mean?  Why don't you try one of the bimbos he's been sleeping with, or one of his friends that he's double-crossed?  I know no one wants to know how he really was, but if you want to get to the truth of what happened here, you're going to get an earful!"  Stacey angrily spits at the rangers.

"Okay, we know this is going to be painful to remember, but anything you can tell us will help,” Sydney calmly explains to her.  "Take your time."

Letting out a long, slow breath, Stacey Justin begins to spill the secrets about her supposedly happy marriage to a Texas ‘wanna-be’ Senator.

"He told me last night that one of his assistants, Tiffany, is pregnant.  It's his baby and she wanted him to leave me and marry her.  He told her that was out of the question. That she was going to have to abort the baby and he would find her another job somewhere.  She told him that she was going to go to the press, she wasn't going to get rid of the baby and he was going to pay for the rest of his life.  He told me all of this thinking, I guess, that it would somehow ease the blow and make me feel better if it came from him and not from the newspaper.  But I told him after his last fling that if he ever cheated on me again, I was taking the girls and leaving.  He begged me not to leave; he said it would ruin his career and any chance of winning.  I told him I didn't give a damn about his career!  That's when he hit me."  Her tears are fast and free falling now.  Gage gets up to get her some more tissues and when he returns, she finishes her story.  "He's done some awful things in the past, but I really thought he had changed.  He's never hit me before and I was shocked when he did it this time.  I just grabbed my purse and left.  I didn't know what else to do.  I was going to come back after he left for work and pack my things and the girls’ things and be gone before he got home.  I guess that's all a moot point now."   She pauses as she looks around and brings her hands to her face and cries a broken cry for all the things that could have been. 

Living room - Justin home; same time

"Samantha, can you tell me anything about what happened here last night?"  The quiet and somber teenager looks toward the floor as the tears flow. 

"I-I heard mom and dad - they were fighting.  They woke me up with their fighting again, but that's all I heard!"  She runs out of the living room and up the stairs. 

Walker reaches out to Katie and asks her,  "Honey, did you hear anything or see anything that might help us catch whoever did this?"

"No!  I didn't see anything.  I was asleep.  Sam told you everything there is!  We were both asleep!  Can I go find my sister now?"

 "Sure,” he reassures the frightened little girl.

"So whatcha think Walker?"  Jimmy asks.

"I think something's going on here.  I got a feeling about it."

"Oh no, not the Cherokee thing again."

Walker gives him 'the look' and says, "Let's go see what Gage and Sydney have found out."  As they enter the kitchen, the conversation looks intense so Walker shoots Syd a look that says "meet us at the office."

Ranger Headquarters - later that morning

Gage, Sydney, Alex, Walker, and Trivette are all gathered around Trivette's desk going over what is known about the case.  Sydney explains what Stacey said and they all agree that she is pretty much out as a suspect.  Her alibi checks out with the friend and she seems like a hurt wife.  Alex attests to the fact that she isn't the vindictive type and she is put on the back burner as a suspect unless something else incriminating were to come up. 

"Syd, why don't you and Gage find out what you can about this Tiffany person and then go talk to her.  I want to know what kind of girl she is and where she was."

"Okay boss.  We'll let you know what we find out," Gage answers as they exit the room.

"Trivette, you and I are going back to the house to see what we can find.  Alex, can you do me a favor?"

"Of course."

 "Find out whatever you can about Samantha Justin.  I think she knows a lot more than she's letting on.  She was awakened by the fighting and he was killed a short time later according to the coroner's estimation.  I think she may have heard something and is afraid to come forward."

 "Okay, I'll see what I can find out.  She seems like a nice kid.  Stacey has always said what a good girl she is, never in trouble in school or at home.  What are you looking for?"

"Find out what her teachers know about her home life.  How does she do in school, does she have friends, etc."

"Okay, can do.  By the way, since we are speaking of good girls, I'll get Angela this afternoon.  I have some errands to run and I'll pick her up after that.  I should be done about 4:00, how about you?"

"We should wrap things up here on time.  I should be home around 5:30 or 6:00."

"Okay, babe.  I'll see ya then.  I love you."  As she turns to walk away from his desk, he gives her his wink that tells her he loves her, the one he uses when other people are in the room. It's cases like this that make him realize how very lucky he is, and he plans to tell her so tonight, maybe even without words.

Mason Justin's campaign headquarters - 2:00 p.m.

"We're here to see Mr. Justin's assistant, Tiffany Warren," Gage requests of the receptionist at the front desk.

"I'm sorry, she isn't seeing anyone today."

"I'm afraid she needs to see us,” Sydney replies.  "We're Texas Rangers and we're investigating the death of Mr. Justin."

"Oh.  Well, I'll see if she can speak with you."  After dialing an extension, she gives them directions to Tiffany's office and they proceed down the hallway.

"Hi, I'm Tiffany Warren,” the young woman greets them at the door.  She is a young blond, about 25 years old, who looks like she plays the office vixen very well.  It's apparent that she's been crying and is upset about the happenings of the morning.

"Tiffany, my name is Ranger Sydney Cooke.  This is my partner, Gage."  They all shake hands and Tiffany offers them seats. 

"What can I do for you?"  she questions as she sits down.

"Miss Warren, we won't beat around the bush.  We're aware of your relationship with Mr. Justin.  We're also aware of your 'condition' " Gage states.

"I see,” is all she can say.  She leans back into her chair and they can see her whole countenance change immediately now that her game is up. 

"We need to know where you were last night between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m."  Sydney requests.

"Like most normal people, I was at home in bed!" she counters back with more than a little attitude.

"Were you alone?"  Sydney questions.

"YES!  Of course I was alone!" came the indignant response.

"You understand that we have to ask these questions, Tiffany.  Nothing is meant by them.  We're just trying to get to the bottom of this case," Gage intervenes before there is a catfight between the two women.

"I don't mean to insinuate anything by my questions.  This is standard procedure," Sydney calmly tries to explain.  "Now, can we finish the questioning?"

"Yes, I was alone last night - ALL night!  I left the office last night about 8:30, went to the grocery store on my way home, and stayed there for the rest of the night."

"Do you know of anyone who would want to see Mason Justin killed?"

"I thought this was a burglary?  The news this morning said there was jewelry and stuff missing from the house.  If anyone wanted to kill him, it was probably that sissy wife he has.  He's always saying how frumpy and boring she is.  He was going to tell her about me.  He needed a real woman!"

"Like you, right?"  Sydney responds, just as sarcastically as Tiffany has been.  Gage reaches out to touch her arm and calm her down.  Sydney doesn't like this woman or her kind and she isn't even trying to hide it.

"Yeah, like me.  I knew what made him happy.  If it weren't for that wife of his, he and I would be married.  He even said so," she responds sounding like a love-struck teenager.

"His wife said you threatened to go to the newspapers with your affair and pregnancy if he didn't marry you.  According to Mrs. Justin, he told you that was out of the question and you were very upset about that," Gage counters before Sydney has a chance to say anything.

"I did tell him that I wanted to be married and that I was pregnant - but I didn't kill him.  I wanted to be married to him.  Now I have nothing left - except a baby that I don't want - especially to raise by myself.  Good for nothing bastard!  He left me with nothing!  I gave him six months of my life!"

"As opposed to the fourteen years that Mrs. Justin gave him, huh?"  Sydney throws at her as she stands to leave.

"Thanks for your time," Gage ends the meeting.  "If you think of anything, give us a call.  Here's my card."  With that, he walks out the door.  Meeting up with Sydney at the elevator, he can't believe the way she questioned Tiffany and the attitude she took.

"Can you believe that tramp, Gage?  She's after nothing but his money, breaks up his marriage, gets knocked up, and then gets mad at his wife?!?!  What a gold-digging tramp!"

"Syd, calm down.  He's just as guilty.  She may be a little loose..."

"A little loose?" Sydney looks at him with one eyebrow cocked.

He continues, "She may be a little loose, but I don't think she's smart enough to commit murder."
Sydney concedes, "Yeah, it's probably too much for her brain to comprehend," as they step into the elevator.

Mason Justin's house - that afternoon

The house is empty except for the police officers who are working the crime scene.  Stacey has taken her daughters back to her friend's house to stay for a few days until she decides what to do.  Walker and Trivette arrive to inspect the crime scene for themselves and see what else they can dig up. 

Jimmy asks one of the investigators, "Jake, have you found anything new yet?" "No, just some fingerprints, but they are probably those of the residents.  We won't know until we get them down to forensics."

"All right, keep searching.  Maybe we can come up with something to help with this case," Jimmy answers. "You know, Walker, I just don't get it.  All the stuff in this house worth taking and the only things missing are a few pieces of jewelry and his wallet with some cash and credit cards."

"I know, Trivette.  See, my Cherokee instincts are rubbing off on you."

"Yeah, it's scary isn't it?" Jimmy grins at him.

After thoroughly checking all possible entry points and finding all of them locked, the two Rangers deduce that the house was not broken into.  Walker thinks out loud.  "So there was no forced entry.  Therefore, it was either someone already in the house or someone that was known to him that he gave access to.  Did they ever find the gun that he was shot with?"  Walker questions.

"No, but according to Mrs. Justin, the Senator had a gun that he kept in the master bedroom.  I wonder if it's there."  They head on up to the bedroom and proceed to go through all the drawers and possible hiding places for a gun.  It is nowhere to be found.

"So he was maybe killed with his own gun and the killer took it with him?" Jimmy asks.

"That's what I'm thinking,” Walker answers.

John F. Kennedy Middle School - Principal's office

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Walker.  I'm Natalie Franklin, the principal here.  I understand that you want some information on Samantha Justin."

"Yes, that's correct.  The Texas Rangers are looking into the death of her father last night and I'll be prosecuting the case when it goes to trial, so I'm trying to help them with some of the questioning."

"Well, I'll give you what I can, but I don't think it will be of much help.  She's a good kid from what I've seen.  She's only been going here since September, but she's never been in any trouble here or in her other school.  Her grades are average.  According to her records, they slipped some last year, but she's maintained passing grades."

"Does she have any friends?"
"There are a few girls whom I’ve seen her with.  She usually eats lunch with them and things.  I don’t know how much they see of each other outside of school, but they seem like nice girls too.”

“Does she have any boyfriends that you know of?”

“Not that I’m aware of.  Like I said, the only kids I’ve seen her hanging around with are Janey and Jennifer.”

“Okay, well, thank you for your time.  If you can think of anything later, please call me.  Everything at this point is helpful.”

“I will.  It was nice meeting you.”
”You, too.”

Walker Ranch – 6:30 p.m.

Alex is cleaning up the kitchen as Walker brings the last dish from the table.

"Honey, dinner was delicious."
"Thank you, Cowboy."  After placing the last dish into the soapy water, he wraps his arms around the tiny waist of his beautiful wife and begins a slow nibble on her neck.

"How about dessert?"  he suggests with a seductive tone to his voice.

"Whadya have in mind?" she seductively plays back.

"Mmmmm” I was thinking maybe something like this, " as he moves to kiss her earlobe, "or maybe this…"

WWWWAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! Comes the howling sound of a hungry infant from the nursery upstairs.

"Or that," Alex answers while trying to calm her sensitized nerves. "How about we continue this in a little while, okay?" she asks as she kisses him on his mouth and quickly moves away before anything starts again. 

WWWAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!

"I think she inherited Uncle Ray and Grandpa C.D.'s sense of timing" Walker shouts as Alex laughs while walking up the stairs to retrieve the starving infant.

Later, sitting on the couch, Alex is watching her little family.  Angela is finished eating and happily playing with her favorite toy, her father's beard.  He is lying on his back on the floor and she is laying on his chest and abdomen, her mother's favorite pillow. 
"Alex, did you find out anything at the school today?"

"Not much.  Seems she has a few friends and makes average grades.  She doesn't talk much to anyone and is rather shy."

"Can you talk to Stacey and see what you can find out about Sam?  I have a feeling something is going on with her.  I can't put my finger on it - it's just a hunch."

"All right, I'll see what I can find out for you."

"Thanks.  I owe you one.  OUCH!!!"  as Angela yanks a tiny handful of his beard.  She begins to cry because his outburst scared her.  He tries to calm her, but it isn't working with the tired baby. 

"Here, let me take her.  It's time for her bath and then bed anyway."

"If I get fussy will you give me a bath and put me to bed?" Walker asks as he wiggles his eyebrows at her. 

"Ha, how about you giving me a bath and taking me to bed.  You owe me one, remember Cowboy?" she asks wiggling her eyebrows back at him.

"Oh yeah, I remember.  You finish up with her and I'll get your bath ready."  Walker sits up with Angela in his lap as Alex kneels down to take her.  She reaches to take the baby and he leans in and grabs her upper arms to engage her in a very enticing kiss.  They are both enjoying it but Angela is demanding attention.  They reluctantly break off the kiss and Alex warns him, "That was just a preview."

"Ooohh, I can't wait for the full feature."

Alex giggles as she sashays up the stairs to tend to her baby girl.

HOPE Center - December 7th, 4:30 p.m.

Alex opens the front door and runs right into Stacey Justin who is chasing an errant two-year old running down the hall.

"Whoa!  Stacey, hi!" Alex exclaims as she almost runs her down.

"I didn't expect to see you here so soon.  How're you holding up?"
"I'm all right.  It's the girls I'm worried about.  They won't talk, especially Sam.  I know it's hard to think of their life without their dad.  I guess they'll talk when they're ready to."

"How is Sam doing?  It must be hard, especially for a girl her age.  I remember when my dad walked out.  I know it isn't the same, but he was no longer in my life after that."

"She seems to be acting okay.  She's just so withdrawn and quiet.  She has been for the last year though.  I guess it's all those teenage hormones kicking in.  One minute she's friendly and outgoing, the next she's crying.  She fights with her dad - she fought with her dad all the time."

Stacey breaks down as Alex goes to hug her broken-hearted friend.  "It's gonna be okay, Stacey.  We're all here for you, you know that, right?"

"Yeah, I know Alex.  Thank you."  The hug ends as Stacey tries to regain her composure.  "I just want to be there for the girls.  I want to protect them.  They don't need to know how he really was.  They need to keep their ideal father in their memories.  They don't want to go back to the house.  I can't say I blame them though."

"Why don't you all move in here for awhile?  I'll check with Josie to see if there are any available rooms.  You guys can stay here as long as you need, okay?"  Alex hugs her friend again and thanks the good lord for giving her a husband like Cordell Walker, a man of his word and a man of honor.

"Thank you, Alex.  I don't know what I'd do without you."

Back at the Justin house

Walker and Trivette have checked the doors and windows again.  They checked the master bedroom and discovered that the gun was missing.  Moving to the other bedrooms, they begin searching through Sam's room before moving on to Katie's.  The room is one that belongs to a typical preteen girl.  There are posters on the wall of popular bands and movie stars, cd's are scattered throughout the room, and dirty clothes lay among the 'ruins' of a teenager’s life.  While Trivette is busy sifting through a stack of laundry on the floor, he comes across something that catches his eye and he calls Walker over. "Hey, Walkman, come here." There, lying in the bottom of a pile of laundry is a pair of girl's pajamas, covered in dirt.

"What thirteen year old girl goes outside to play in the dirt in her pajamas?" Jimmy wonders.

"Not any I know," comes Walker's reply.

"You thinking what I'm thinking?"  Jimmy asks his partner.

"Let's go check outside and see what we can find."  Going outside to the spacious backyard, they begin searching for signs of a covered hole.  There, next to a rosebush on the south side of the house, is a mound of freshly turned soil.

"Get me the shovel, Trivette."  Walker begins digging until he hits something just under the surface.

"I think I found something."  He pulls up a plastic grocery store bag and in the bag are the wallet, missing jewelry, and a gun.

"I don't believe it!"  Jimmy stammers in shock.

"Why would a thirteen-year-old girl shoot her father?" he asks in amazement. "She seems like such a nice kid."

"She is, Trivette.  That's what is so sad.  Let's call Alex and see if she can get Stacey and Sam to meet us so we can find out what exactly is going on here."

"Alex Cahill-Walker," she answers into the cell phone while trying to juggle a wiggling baby, a diaper bag, and her purse.

"Hey, it's me."

"Hey, Cowboy.  Are you on your way home?"

"No, not yet.  Are you?"

"No, I'm just getting ready to leave the HOPE Center, why?"

"Can you find Stacey and Sam and have them meet us at their house?"

"Sure, Stacey's here now.  Why, what's up?" she asks as she gets a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach.

"We found the gun, jewelry, and wallet buried in the backyard."

"Oh my god!" came her stunned reply.

"Looks like Sam may have done it.  We found a pair of her pajamas in her room, covered in dirt."

"Oh no.  I'll get Stacey and we'll pick Sam up and meet you there in about thirty minutes."

"Okay, bye."

Josie agrees to take Angela home with her while Alex and Stacey go to pick up Sam.

"Alex, what's this all about?"  Stacey questions with more than a little nervousness in her voice.

Not wanting to scare her into hiding Sam, Alex lies to her friend and tells her she isn't sure why Walker insists on the meeting with them.  She also doesn't want to scare Sam anymore than she must be already.

Back at the Justin house - 30 minutes later

"Hello Sam, Stacey.  Hi honey."  Walker greets the trio at the door.

"Hi, Ranger Walker.  Can I ask what this is all about?" Stacey inquires as they walk into the living room while holding tightly to her frightened daughter.

"Sam, come here and sit on the couch with me.  I need to ask you something,” Walker suggests.  Sam looks at her mother who turns to look at Alex.  Alex nods her head that it's okay and Stacey gives Sam an affirmative nod as well.

"Okay,” Sam sits on the edge of the couch and is ready to burst into tears before the questions even start.

"I need to ask you what you know about the night your dad was shot."

"I told you! I don't know anything!"  She cries as the tears that were on the edge have now tumbled down her pink, chubby cheeks.

"You told me you heard your mom and dad arguing.  You said it woke you up,” Walker gently reminds her with a hand on her knee.  She moves her knee away slowly.

"Honey, you heard us arguing?"  her mom asks as her tears begin to fall.  The frightened girl begins crying like a child whose heart has just been broken.  Looking at her mom, she nods her head.
"Yes, I heard you.  It woke me up.  I covered my head with the pillow so I wouldn't hear you guys fighting again.  You guys were always fighting!"

"Sam, look at me sweetheart."  Walker takes her tiny shaking hands in his big strong ones and tells her, "Honey, we found the bag you buried.  Wanna tell us about it?"  Knowing she was in some serious trouble now, the floodgates open and she can't stop it. 

"What bag?  Where?"  her mother frantically yells.

"We found a plastic grocery bag buried beneath a rose bush in your backyard.  In the bag were your husband's gun, his wallet, and your jewelry.  Sam, we also found the pajamas you were wearing that have the dirt on them."  She's now sitting in an almost catatonic state as she tells them the whole sordid story.

"He hurt me,” she says innocently, as though it was coming from a third party.  Her mother gasps as Alex begins to cry.

"How did he hurt you, sweetheart?"  Walker questions.  Looking at her mom with tear filled eyes, she begins again.

"He came into my room.  He touched me - he did things to me and made me do things to him - things that were bad.  They made me feel so dirty.  He said if I told mom, she wouldn't love me anymore because I was a bad girl and moms didn't love bad girls."

"When did he do this stuff to you, honey?" her mother sobbed.

"When you were gone to grandma's house with Katie, when Grandma was sick last year.  I wrote about it in my diary.  You went away and took Katie with you for a few weeks.  Dad wanted me to stay here with him - he said it would be a special time just for us, alone."  Sam breaks down as the relief of finally telling the truth of all the things that she had been hiding comes to the surface.

"Sam, I know this is hard for you but I need you to tell me and Alex the whole story, okay?  Can you do that?"  Sam looks at the gentle face of the kind Ranger and his beautiful wife and nods her head. 

Alex asks her, "Did he come after you that night, too?"

"No, he-I heard him...” she breaks down again.  Jimmy brings her a glass of water and some Kleenex.  Alex kneels down and places her hands lovingly on the girl's knees.  After calming herself down, she finishes her story.

"He was in Katie's room.  I heard her crying and him talking to her.  Then I knew what he was trying to do - and I couldn't let him hurt Katie too.  She's a good girl - she isn't bad - and he would've made her bad like me.  I went to his room because I knew he had a gun in there.  I wasn't going to use it - I just wanted to scare him!  I didn't know it had bullets in it!  I just wanted him to leave Katie alone.  I called his name and when he turned around and saw the gun in my hand pointed at him, he came out of her room.  I backed up into the hallway as he came towards me.  I just wanted him to get out of Katie's room!  I told him to leave her alone.  She was crying really hard.  I thought he was gonna hurt me.  He kept telling me I was gonna 'get it' and be in a lot of trouble after he got me.  I kept backing up.  We were in the hallway.  He kept saying we were bad girls and that mom wasn't going to come back to get us - that she left because we were bad.  I called him a liar.  He ran towards me and I fired the gun.  The first time I shot it, I hit him and he fell.  I was so scared and I tripped and it went off again!  There was so much blood!  He was gonna hurt us, mom!  He did bad things to us!  I'm so sorry!  I didn't mean for him to die.  I just wanted him to leave us alone!"  Stacey runs to her daughter and holds her tight. 

Walker gets off the couch and goes to his crying wife and holds her.  After a few minutes, he goes back to Sam and asks her, "How come you didn't tell us this when we asked you that night?"

"I was scared.  After I shot him, I was so scared I would have to go to jail.  Katie and I saw on a TV show that a man was killed and the murderer set the house up like a burglary.  We hid his wallet and some of mom's jewelry in the bag.  I didn't know what else to do!  I'm sorry, mom!  Are you gonna arrest me now, Ranger Walker?" she asked as she held her trembling arms out to him as if to put handcuffs on her tiny wrists.

"Honey, we're not going to arrest you.   Alex is gonna check with her boss tomorrow and tell him the whole story.  You'll probably have to go to Alex's office tomorrow to tell the story again, though.  We'll decide what to do after that, okay honey?  Don't worry about it though.  You've been through a lot.  Go home and get some sleep."   Alex wipes her eyes and looks at the frightened child who has been through so much already.

"Don't worry, Sam.  I'll see what we can do to help you, okay?" Alex reassures the child and her mother.

"Yes, ma'am.  Can we leave now, Mom?  I'm tired."  She asks in an exhausted voice.  She is suddenly relieved to have everything out in the open and now she is exhausted from holding everything in.

Stacey looks up at Walker and he nods his head giving permission for her to take her daughter home.

"Come on, I'll take you back to the HOPE center."  Alex offers as she holds her hand out to Sam.  "Walker, can you swing by Josie's house and pick up Angela?"

"Sure thing, hon. We’ll meet you at home."  None of them could have predicted what an exhausting evening it had turned out to be.

 

Alex's office Friday 10:00 a.m.

Alex turns to the D.A. 

"Well, Mike.  That's the whole story."

"Wow!  That's a lot for a little kid to be put through."

"Yes, it is.  The problem is, it happens all the time to children all over the country.  What do we do with her?  She killed him by accident, she was trying to scare him and protect her little sister.  She also thought he was going to attack her again when she pulled the gun on him.  He kept telling her that her mother had left her because she and her sister were bad.  I think she truly believes she is a bad kid.  She certainly doesn't seem like the kind of kid to do this or anything like it again.  She's never been in trouble before.  Besides that, once this story breaks, her life is going to get even harder when her peers find out that she's been molested and she killed her dad."

"I know.  It's such a sad situation.  I think she's already been punished enough without having to go through another punishment by societal standards.  I think she is in need of some serious counseling though.  I'm not gonna push for any jail time, I don't think she needs it.  In fact, I think that's the last thing she needs.  What I do think she needs is a lot of love, understanding, and patience.  How do you think she'll do with her mom and sister?  You don't think she'll need foster parent intervention or anything do you?  Is her mom receptive to her story and getting her some counseling?"

"Yes, I spoke to her mother at length this morning.  She is putting herself and both girls in counseling.  In fact, she was meeting with the staff counselor at the HOPE Center to get some names of pediatric psychologists.  She also wanted some advice on how to proceed next, provided Sam doesn't end up in a juvenile facility."

"Alex, don't worry.  That's not gonna happen.  We aren't going to put her through that.  I'm not in the habit of torturing already tortured children.  Yes, she shot her father who just happened to be a rising political figure.  But she did it in defense of her sister and herself.  I think the fact that he stole her innocence and now she has to grow up with the stigma of having been molested and having no father, is punishment enough.  I will, however, insist that in lieu of a stiffer punishment, she must go to counseling for herself weekly and her mother and sister with her for family counseling until the psychiatrist sees fit to release them from treatment.  I would also like to see her do some community service for a time so that she can give something back to the community.  With all that she has been through, she is at greater risk of doing drugs and abusing herself and it would be a shame if that were to happen.  What do you think of that arrangement?"

"I think she and her mom will be very grateful.  I know I am.  I just feel bad for them.  This is a no-win situation no matter which way you look at it.  I just hope she can turn it around and make herself a stronger person because of it."

"I hope so too, Alex."

Walker Ranch Wednesday 8:00 p.m.

Jimmy, Erica, Sydney, and Gage have joined the Walkers for dinner.  The meal is over and the gang is sitting in the living room being entertained by the littlest member of the group.  The fireplace has a roaring fire in it and the ambience is quiet and very inviting.  Jimmy asks Alex, "Have you heard anything from Stacey about how Sam is doing?"  The room goes quiet except for the babbling coming from the infant who is enjoying playing with her Daddy's beard.

"I spoke with her this morning, actually.  She called to tell me that she is taking the girls and moving to San Antonio to stay with her parents.  She feels that the change of scenery and surroundings will help all of them recover better.  The psychiatrist at the HOPE Center agreed and gave her some names of some well-known pediatric psychiatrists there.  She wanted to say thank you to all of us for what we had done for Sam.  Stacey is really torn up that he was molesting Sam and she didn't know it.  She's feeling very guilty, but I think with a lot of time, they'll heal and will probably be a tighter knit family because of this."

"I hope so,” Erika states, leaning in closer to her fiancé.  "We're gonna miss her at the HOPE Center.  She was a great help."

Angela begins fussing as she is now bored with her father and is getting tired and cranky.  Walker stands up and informs them that it is time for his and Angela's bonding time through a bubble bath. 

"Walker, you're gonna take a bubble bath!!!???"  Gage is hysterical with laughter at the thought of the mighty Texas Ranger sitting in a tub full of bubbles with a seven-month old.

Jimmy begins thinking of the harassing he can give his partner. 

"No, wise guy!  I'm not taking a bubble bath, she is!  I'm supervising!"

"More like playing!" Alex kids him.  "I don't know who has more fun when she takes a bath.  There's always more water on the floor than in the tub."  She laughs at him as he shoots her a warning look that tells her she is going to get IT later.

"Watch it, lady!"  He warns Alex, breaking into a smile, knowing how much he enjoys the special time with his daughter.

After Angela's bath is done and dessert is over with, all the guests bid their good-byes.  Walker and Alex sit on the couch cuddling and enjoying the peace and quiet.

"That was a nice evening, wasn't it Walker?"

"It certainly was.  We have great friends."

"Yes, we do.  But I must say, I do enjoy alone time with you."

She looks up at his face, which is mere inches from hers.

"Oh yeah, you don't get bored?"

"How could I?"  She moves her face to touch his lips and seductively asks, "Are you ready for bed, Cowboy?"

"I thought you'd never ask."  He raises himself from the couch and takes her by the hand to lead her to their room for a second helping of dessert.

The End

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