Authors note: When two people, who are destined to be together to fall in love and share their lives, meet, they don't always know instantaneously that this is the one, their one true love, their soul mate. What follows are some of the moments that have defined the relationship between two fictional characters whose on screen love has captured the imaginations of many and has inspired some, myself included, to write stories that continue the story seen on television. There are certain moments in the relationship that bring the two characters closer together and other moments that cause them to separate until fate (or script writers) bring them back together to try again. These special scenes that have been recorded on countless VCR's and played time and again are referred to as Walker/Alex moments or WAM's. Some of the WAM's here occurred during the course of the show and I have simply given them more depth than an hour-long television show could. Others exist only in my imagination or were inspired by scenes that seemed to end too soon. Those of you who are fans of these moments will have many favorites of your own; here are many, but not all, of mine.

Moments W

Part 1

By: Lelani

LELANI.DIXON@worldnet.att.netW

     Ranger Cordell Walker tugged at the tight collar of his dress shirt and grimaced. He was scheduled to testify in court at a pretrial of some wannabe bank robbers and he had been forced to wear his 'court clothes.'  Give him Wranglers, boots, a Henley shirt and cowboy hat any day. He tugged at the collar again and walked over to the coffeepot in Ranger Company B Headquarters. Rangers Collins and Morse were standing around the coffeepot talking and greeted him when he reached them. "Hey Walker, you get a look at the new ADA?" Collins asked grinning. "Now why would I care about a new ADA? The only reason God made lawyers was to make my life miserable. They just want me to fill out paperwork, follow procedures and dress in these clothes that no man should have to wear except to weddings and funerals." "Nope, he hasn't seen the new ADA," Morse informed his partner. "Man Walker, this lady will make you change your mind about lawyers and fast. She's got the best set of legs I've ever seen." "Collins, you spend half your life in strip joints. I know, I know, you say it's surveillance, but I bet you've seen better legs than some lady lawyer could possibly have." "Oh no Walker, this lady, her legs are... classy." Walker was forced to grin, although he tried to hide it. He had a reputation to maintain, the gruff and grumpy 'Lone Wolf' Ranger. Ever since his last partner, C.D. Parker, had retired after an injury in the line of duty, he had stayed solo, teaming up on cases with different Rangers when needed, but mostly going up against the bad guys without backup. Collins must have it bad, how could a man describe a woman's legs as classy? Especially an old rough around the edges Ranger like Collins? "Collins, you spike the coffee?" Walker asked the older Ranger who actually blushed. "You just wait Walker, one look at her and you'll eat your words." Walker just gave him his patented raised eyebrow look and headed back to his desk to continue with some of his dreaded paperwork.

     Alex Cahill puffed her cheeks with air and blew it out in a rapid 'whoosh'. It was her first day on the job and she was assigned to shadow ADA Stark. Troy Stark was a good enough lawyer, but the man had twice 'accidentally' touched her and they hadn't even finished saying hello. Alex wasn't worried; she could handle men who got too friendly. Soon after entering the courtroom for one of four pretrial hearings Stark had on his schedule that day, Stark had turned green and fled the courtroom. Alex had stalled and after twenty minutes, a law clerk came in and informed her that Stark was 'indisposed' and requested that she present the cases. Alex was floored; she hadn't even read through the files. She prided herself on preparation and here she was; her first day on the job, presenting four cases she knew nothing about. The first one was a simple assault charge and she was able to read almost as fast as she spoke. The second was a weapons charge and again she managed to slide through. The third case was more complex and involved several parties charged with possession and selling drugs to minors. By the time she finished presenting the case, she was really feeling the pressure. Finally, she reached for the fourth and final file. It was a charge against seven men who had attempted to rob a bank. They apparently barely made it inside as they were arrested by a Ranger who was entering the bank on personal business. As Alex rapidly jotted down notes about the case, the judge said, "Call your first witness." Alex stated, "Ranger Cordell Walker" and then stood flipping through the files on the table in front of her looking for the one she needed. She was vaguely aware of someone walking past her and up into the witness box. "Miss Cahill," the judge prompted as she continued to search. "Yes your honor," she stalled and then found what she needed, "the people are ready." Alex walked toward the witness box frantically reading the top page of the file, the witness's statement. Finally, she was forced to look up to question the man and she stopped as she looked into the eyes of the man sitting in the box. Her heart stopped and she stared, momentarily thrown. Gathering her wits, she looked back down at the file in her hand and took a steadying breath. She glanced up at the man again and quickly realizing her mistake, again looked at the file in her hands. 'This is ridiculous Cahill, pull it together.' She decided to fall into 'prosecuting attorney mode', something she was comfortable with as she began asking the man questions about the case.

     Walker had delayed going to court until the last possible moment. He hated the hard benches and was reminded of Sunday Sermons by long-winded Baptist preachers that he'd been forced to attend with his mother when he was a young boy. When Walker entered the room, he saw long blond hair pulled back and held in a clip. The lady ADA was seated and so he didn't get to check out her legs. So far, he didn't see anything to get worked up over. As she called his name, he walked to the witness box and took a seat. He watched her flip through files and stall, clearly she wasn't prepared for this. He thought it strange that she was alone presenting the case. He had spoken to ADA Stark, known by the women in the office as 'ADA Shark', about the case. Then, she looked up and their eyes locked. Blue eyes. Clear skies, wildflowers in a field, blue blue eyes. He felt himself drawn into them and he was helpless to stop the fall as he sank deeper into her gaze. Suddenly, she broke the eye contact as she glanced down at her file. He quickly rearranged his face into an expressionless canvas and vowed not to look into her eyes again, but his hands had a mind of their own as his fingers played with each other, dreaming of running through her silky blond locks of hair. Her lips, they were thin and parted and the lower lip was moist from her tongue... her tongue, he could just see it's pink flesh lying between her parted lips. And then she spoke and he was yanked back to the reality of the courtroom.

     She started by clarifying the facts of the case and his role in apprehending the suspects. "Excuse me Ranger, there were seven suspects, the other officers involved?" "I was the only officer." She looked down, disbelief evident in those eyes he had vowed not to look into. "You are aware that this is a very serious case." "I'm very aware, I brought it to you." Was that really him sounding so defensive? "How then?" "How what?" irritation in his voice. "How did you possibly apprehend seven felons single handedly?" This brought a smile as his confidence returned. "Well, do you want me to give it to you blow by blow or would an overview be okay?" There was actually a smirk on his face, which only made her blood boil. Who was this 'too good looking for his own good' cocky man who seemed determined to completely ruin her very first day? "I'm trying to present you as a credible witness. Now will you explain to me how you expect this court to believe that one Ranger apprehended seven suspects?" "You never heard of 'One Riot One Ranger,' Counselor?" There was a challenge in his voice that answered the challenge in hers. She let her emotions peek through, something she rarely, if ever, did in court. Now she was mad and determined to make this man regret tangling with her. "Sometimes Ranger, people think a little too highly of their ability and perhaps you just forgot some of the details." Now she had done it. Talking to him as if he were a precocious child bragging about his exploits. "I don't forget details Miss Cahill and don't you forget, I'm your witness." "Oh I'm very aware of that." "Who's the DA hiring nowadays?" Walker asked in a voice just loud enough for her to hear him. Now he had gone too far. "You don't have to be evasive and rude." "I'm not rude." "You most certainly are." "Well, you're calling me a liar." Damn, he almost sounded petulant. What was with this woman? "It's not possible to arrest seven burglary suspects alone." "Ask them. Who arrested you?" he shouted out to the defendants. "You did," they all answered. "Objection your honor," the defense council interjected. "Sustained. Counsel, approach the bench." Walker wasn't afraid to look into her eyes now, he glared at her and tried to stare her down, she didn't back down though, she glared right back. The judge decided to break for lunch and Alex happily dumped the case back in ADA Stark's lap. He apparently had recovered from his sudden illness that she suspected involved a late night at a bar the night before.

     The rest of the pretrial, she sat quietly at the prosecutions' table and watched Stark present the case. He practically worshipped Ranger Walker and Alex just got madder. Later, Stark invited her to go to a local Bar and Grill where many of the others from the office hung out. She accepted only because it was a group date and she drove herself. It didn't take long for Stark to have a couple of beers and try to make his move on her. It was almost funny how quickly she slapped him down. C.D. Parker, owner of the establishment, watched with amusement. The lady didn't even break a sweat as she made her lack of interest clear to the amorous man. C.D.'s interest was peaked and he never minded talking to a pretty lady, so he struck up a conversation with her. Alex was glad for the distraction. Here was a man who knew how to treat a lady and she began talking to him and telling him things she hadn't told anyone else here in Dallas. She found herself describing the man who had capped off her first day and she told C.D. just what she thought of the muleheaded Ranger. Alex went back several times to the Bar and Grill and C.D. invited her to the New Year's Eve party he was throwing. She initially was reluctant to go; she really didn't know anyone and wasn't looking forward to New Year's without a date. C.D. insisted and assured her that she wouldn't find herself alone for long. Several others from the office were going and she finally agreed to come. C.D. promised her, "if no man is kissing you by midnight, I'd be happy to oblige." Alex had laughed, knowing that the man was all talk and no threat.

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     New Year's Eve found Cordell Walker at his usual hangout with his old partner. Parties weren't really his thing, but he felt he should support his former partner and so he showed. He spent most of the night complaining to C.D. about the new ADA. She had really stuck in his craw and the more he complained about her, the more justified he felt in his anger. He would never stop and analyze the true motivation for his anger, which was that he found the woman far too appealing and he needed to deny that instant attraction he had felt toward her. This wasn't the kind of woman you had a brief fling with and then cast aside. If you let a woman like her under your skin, you were in for a life sentence. Walker didn't know that C.D. had met Alex and had orchestrated a reunion between the two. C.D. hadn't seen Cordell so twisted up by a woman; well... he'd never seen him so twisted up over a woman. Walker had enjoyed a gentle love with sweet Ellen who had died so tragically. C.D. had never told Walker that he thought Ellen was too sweet for him. He hadn't shared with Walker that he thought he needed a woman who could stand up to him, a woman who could make him mad enough to spit nails. After all this time, C.D. thought that the good Lord had seen fit to bring such a woman into Cordell's life. And just like the Lord was wont to do, he left it up to his helpers to carry out his plans. C.D. was a willing helper to bring these two hot heads together. This had the makings of a passionate romance, if he could keep them from killing each other.

     Alex found that she was enjoying herself despite her worries. She had danced with several different men and had made it a point not to dance with the same man twice. She wasn't looking for romance, just a fun evening. As the clock counted down to the New Year, Alex finished a dance and headed toward the ladies room. She didn't want to be in a position where someone would feel that they could kiss her just because she was standing near them when the hour struck. She missed her step and bumped into a man who was holding up the bar. "Excuse me," he muttered as they turned and looked fully at each other. "You!" they both exclaimed as Alex gazed into the gray-blue eyes of her nemesis and Walker fell back into the blue eyes of the beautiful pit bull who had tried to tear him apart in court. "You were completely out of line Ranger." She started in determined to tell him just what she thought of him. "I was out of line? That's some of the dumbest questions I ever heard." "Dumb questions!" "Yeah!" "The next time I get you on the witness stand, I want you to act in a professional manner. You were arrogant. You were rude. You embarrassed me in front of..." But Walker had stopped listening to her tirade as everyone started cheering the New Year in. Acting on impulse, with no thought behind his actions, Walker grabbed her upper arms and pulled her into his chest as he leaned forward and kissed her squarely on those lips. Alex froze for a moment and then her eyes closed and she began to respond. They touched and tasted and it took all of Walker's will power not to deepen the kiss and search out the tongue he had woke up dreaming about three nights in a row. They both suddenly realized what they were doing and he pushed her back away from him at the same time she jumped back. He looked at her and said, "Happy New Year," as if that explained his actions. "Happy New Year," she responded. "Now what was I saying?" She glanced around searching for the thought process he had interrupted and then glanced back at him and was so afraid that she wouldn't be able to stop herself from jumping back into his arms, she said, "excuse me" and hustled away. Walker grinned, 'she responded' he thought to himself. He watched her walk away and noted that Collins had been right, she did have 'classy' legs. He had a look of pure male conquest on his face. He had been the victor in that showdown. 'Wow,' he thought, 'the woman can kiss and she tastes even sweeter than in my dreams.' C.D. looked on and chortled. His plan was working. Of course, he didn't get to kiss the pretty lady, but he and God, they had a plan and it was working.

   It was the next day before Walker realized that C.D. had said that Miss Cahill had called him muleheaded. C.D. had met her and Walker was willing to bet that she wasn't at the party by accident. He knew C.D. and he was certain that the old schemer was up to something. Walker vowed to stay clear of the dangerous woman.

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     For several weeks, encounters between Alex and Walker had been hostile and brief. Alex had asked enough questions to discover that C.D. Parker was Walker's former partner and she made a decision to steer clear of his Bar and Grill. She regretted having to avoid a man who she had felt an instant kinship for, but now that she knew Walker hung out there, she didn't feel safe going in. It was Walker's Uncle Ray who forced the next step of their relationship. After joining his nephew at work to determine what had caused his chronic foul mood, he noticed the sparks between him and a beautiful fair-haired woman. He approached her after she finished chewing out his nephew and soon had invited her to the ranch for a ride and a picnic. Alex pulled into the ranch driveway cursing herself for all kinds of fool for having allowed Uncle Ray, as he asked her to call him, to convince her to step into Walker's territory. She spent the early part of the horseback ride speaking to Uncle Ray and avoiding Walker. When Ray set them up and said his horse was lame and he had to return to the barn, Alex knew she had been shanghaied into spending 'alone time' with Walker. She was furious. How dare the man use his relatives to try and get on her good side? He probably thought that a little picnic and a little wine and she would be putty in his hands. Her traitorous body had chills at the thought, but she quickly clamped down on the erotic images flashing through her mind and decided to make him regret his actions.

  Arriving at the lake where they were to picnic, Alex loosened her horse's girth strap and ground tied her near Amigo, Walker's horse. She then walked to the edge of the lake admiring the beauty and putting distance between herself and Walker. Cordell Walker was in a quandary. He had tried to get on Alex's good side and he was frustrated at her continued resistance to his charm. C.D. was mad at him and blamed him for her not going to the Bar and Grill anymore. Uncle Ray was sick of his bad mood and he was tired of getting little sleep, images of long legs, slim hips and softly rounded breasts causing him to wake up aching on a nightly basis. Now he had a new image of her sitting astride a horse burned into his brain. It was rare that Walker was unable to deal with situations, he simply went full steam ahead in nearly all circumstances, but when it came to this woman, he was lost. Just as he contemplated his next course of action, she screamed and he flew to her side where a rattlesnake lay coiled shaking its rattler and poised to strike. Alex had tossed her hat onto the rock where it was sunning and the snake was not happy.

     Thinking quickly, Walker scooped the snake into the hat and tossed both across the lake. He looked in concern at Alex to see that she was all right and that's when she hit him! Walker looked astounded at this little slip of a woman who had dared to punch him in the shoulder of his right arm. It hadn't hurt, but... she had hit him! "That was my favorite hat! Now look at it!" Walker refocused his astounded glance to take in the hat floating on the other bank of the lake. The rattler was crawling out of it and onto dry ground. Walker swung away from Alex and marched around the lake to retrieve the hat. After checking the area for more snakes, Alex sat down in amazement at her own actions. She had never hit a person before in her life! She was thoroughly embarrassed. What had come over her? She knew she would have to apologize, but she had no explanations for her unforgivable behavior.

   Twenty minutes later, Walker returned with her hat in his hands and handed it to her. "Thank you," she stammered. "I don't know what to say, I'm so sorry for hitting you." Walker just shrugged his shoulders, "it's all right, you were pushed to the limit. I'm sorry my meddling uncle forced you into this picnic. Please don't blame him, he really does mean well. I haven't been the easiest person to live with lately and he was trying to help." "Why haven't you been easy to live with? Oh, I'm sorry, that was a personal question." "No, it's all right. I've been mad at myself for the way I treated you and for making you so mad at me that you do everything you can to avoid me. C.D. is mad at me too. He really likes you and he blames me that you don't come by anymore. Is there anyway we can bury the hatchet? Preferably not in my skull." This brought a smile from Alex. 'God, she's even more beautiful when she smiles,' Walker thought. "I haven't been exactly happy about the way things are going either and... I'd like to start again if we can. Do you think we could... I don't know, try to be friends?" Walker looked at this woman as she appealed to him to begin a friendship and he wondered if friendship would be possible between them. He reacted so strongly to her, just the sight of her could make his body send out all sorts of signals. Maybe friendship would be the answer to his problem though. If they were friends, maybe the mystery would be gone and he would be able to look at her like he did everyone else without completely losing all rational thought.

   Alex turned red and looked down when Walker took so long to answer her. 'He probably can't imagine being friends with a woman who has acted like such a shrew.' "I'm sorry," she said, "I guess that's asking for a bit much. Maybe we could just be civil?" "No," he realized his mind had wandered too long, "I'd like to be your friend." Alex looked into his eyes and smiled, it would be hard to deny the obvious physical response she had to him, but she really would like to be able to call him friend. "I'm glad," was all she said. They enjoyed their picnic and spent the day talking, finding that despite their disparate lifestyles, they had a great deal in common. By the time they returned to the ranch house, it was dusk and they had cemented a friendship between them.

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     C.D. Parker was grateful that the feud between Alex and Walker had been settled, but he was a little frustrated at the friendship they had established. They were very careful never to touch the other, even casually. The topics of conversation centered primarily on work and horses. Alex had wanted to move her horse Amber up to Dallas, but had not known where to keep her. Walker offered his ranch, but Alex thought this could create too many tempting situations, so she had declined, saying she wanted somewhere closer. She was living in a house owned by a friend who was on a six-month sabbatical. It gave Alex a chance to get to know Dallas before deciding on a place, but it was in the opposite direction of Walker's ranch and gave her story credence. Walker helped her find a stable and even hauled Amber up from the stable in Southern Texas where Alex had left her when she moved to Dallas. He had insisted that Uncle Ray accompany him though to help ease the sexual tension that still burned just below the surface whenever he was near Alex. Professionally, the two became colleagues and their collaboration meant longer sentences for lawbreakers. Walker was able to go to Alex when he felt someone deserved leniency or to have the book thrown at them. Alex was able to get Walker to focus his attention on cases she was struggling with and he often helped her get convictions or protect witnesses when going through the normal channels failed to get results. One of these favors led to the next significant step in their relationship.

   Alex was prosecuting three men accused of raping a sixteen-year-old trapeze artist who toured with a circus. The men were threatening the girl and the two witnesses to the assault. Alex knew she would never get a safe house arranged for them, so she went to Walker. He had just lost a good friend in the line of duty and wasn't immediately responsive to her request, but all she had to do was look into his eyes with that pleading gaze and he melted. Whatever she wanted, whatever she needed, she had the power to get him to agree to help her in any way he was able.

     It was during this time that the next most significant person in their lives entered the picture. A new Ranger, a rookie, had been befriended by C.D. and through strings and a few twisted arms; C.D. managed to get him partnered with Walker. C.D. saw the potential in the young man and felt he needed a strong mentor and he knew that Cordell could fill the role. He also saw the future in the young rookie, James Trivette. Jimmy, as C.D. called him, knew about computers and all that went with them. Modern crime solving was going to become a part of the Texas Ranger's just like pickups had replaced horses. For Cordell to stay abreast of all of this, he would need a partner who could use a computer and properly fill out paperwork. It was a tough match at first, Walker was less than thrilled to be saddled with a rookie partner, but with the mediation of C.D. and Alex, the two found a common ground.

     After the three suspects tried to ambush the young rape victim, Lisa, and the witnesses at Walker's ranch, they were prosecuted by Alex and found guilty. Walker watched as Lisa and Alex descended the stairwell at the courthouse. Alex informed him of the outcome of the case, but he had trouble focusing, she was wearing a figure hugging skirt and the stairs showed off her legs. He refocused on Lisa as she thanked him for his help with a hug. Alex watched as he looked at the young girl with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. 'If he ever looked at me like that, I would melt on the spot,' Alex thought. After telling Lisa that they needed to get going, Lisa hugged Walker again. "If you don't mind, I'll take one of those," Alex said. It broke the 'no touching' rule, but she couldn't help herself and Walker wasn't able to resist the opportunity to pull her into his chest as he hugged her with one arm. He kept his body turned slightly sideways just to be sure that she wouldn't feel the effect her closeness had on him. After a quick hug, Alex turned to walk away. "I could get used to that," Walker drawled in a teasing voice belying the truth to his statement. "Terrific, all I need is a crazy cowboy," Alex joked back trying to get her heart rate back under control. After accompanying Walker to a charity rodeo and watching him ride a bull, Alex's impromptu nickname for Walker stuck. From then on, she either referred to him as 'Walker' or 'Cowboy'.

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     Alex dated other men determined to fight the effect Walker had on her. She had survived two disastrous relationships one after the other and she wasn't ready to fall in love. Alex's mother had died suddenly of a congenital heart defect while her daughter was away in law school. Her mother's death had come as a complete shock. In her grief, Alex had agreed to marry the man she was dating at the time. Unfortunately, he turned out to be a toad and not the prince charming she had thought he was. The marriage lasted about as long as the civil ceremony that began it. Alex realized as soon as she recovered from the paralyzing grief of losing her mother that she had made a monumental mistake. Ending the marriage as quickly as she could, she threw herself back into her studies and completed law school. Then she met Tony Seville. He swept her off her feet with romantic gestures. He treated her like fragile china. He bought her expensive meals at a time when eating was a luxury she could barely afford. He took her to fancy functions, introducing her to influential people. Everything seemed like a fairytale until he started using drugs and his personality radically changed. The night he hit her, she called 911 and ended the relationship. She also made a vow to herself that she would never again be dependent on a man. This promise was one of the reasons she was so determined to resist Walker's pull. She could so easily allow his strong personality to overwhelm her and take over her life. She was determined to be independent and if this meant she was referred to as stubborn, well so be it. It was this 'stubbornness' that caused the next clash between them.

     Alex ran into Walker as she was hurrying down the Justice Building steps on her way to meet Uncle Ray at the stable. Walker apologized for being late and offered to give her his statement regarding his and Trivette's arrest of Benny Carl Devlin, but she told him that she was concerned about Amber and was on her way to check on her. "You treat that horse just like a baby," Walker accused her. "She is my baby. She almost died when she was born, so yeah, I suppose I do treat her like a baby. That's why I borrowed Uncle Ray." "My Uncle Ray?" "You always said he knew more about horses than most vets." "Yeah, he does." "So he's going to take a look at Amber for me. Actually, he seemed really happy that I called." "He didn't mention anything about grandchildren did he?" Alex was shocked, not that Uncle Ray was hoping that she and Walker would get together and start a family, he had made his hopes well known, but that Walker would admit it to her. "What's that supposed to mean?" she asked deciding to play dumb. "Never mind." They agreed to meet at C.D.'s for breakfast so that Walker could give her his statement about arresting the cop killer. 

     Later, at the stable, Walker approached silently and startled Alex. "Walker, can't you learn to make noise like normal people?" Walker apologized, but he had come on a mission. Captain Price had informed him that Dewey Baker had been released from prison and had been seen in Dallas. Alex had prosecuted Baker years before she met Walker, but the case was well publicized and he knew that the man was vindictive and mean. He was concerned for Alex and determined to keep her safe. Alex was already jumpy because Baker had confronted her in the parking garage and threatened her. Alex down played the incident, but Walker didn't buy it. "What'd he say?" Walker wanted to know. "That I had nice legs and he thought about me a lot in prison." Walker had to agree that she had nice legs, but it made his blood boil to think that a man could think of Alex in a filthy way. He tried to get her to let him protect her, but this made warning signals flash like crazy for Alex. Independence, self-reliance, these were more than words to her, they were how she chose to live her life. "Okay tough guy, but I'm still going to follow you home," he told her. She had to smile at the 'tough guy' reference; she liked that Walker saw her that way. "I'm not going home, I have a date." "With the tennis pro?" "He has a name." "I know, Timmy." Just then, her date arrived and called for her. "You behave," Alex warned Walker. She knew that Timothy wasn't the love of her life, but she enjoyed his company and he treated her well. It was the nice safe relationship she could handle at this point in her life. Walker's over-protectiveness frustrated her and she referred to him as 'my self appointed guardian' to explain his actions to her date. Walker took the opportunity to malign the man's green belt in judo, but Alex felt she had gotten off lightly considering what Walker was capable of.

     Later that night, Alex was grabbed after letting herself into the house she was living in. The man threw her aside and after getting up, she went into the bedroom where she found pictures of herself arranged on the bed in the shape of a body with her intimate apparel being 'worn' by the picture person and more strewn around the bed with lit candles everywhere. She had no choice now, she knew that she had to report this and she may as well call Walker, someone else would if she didn't. Walker confronted Baker and assigned a team to tail him. The next evening, Alex was putting the final touches on the meal she had prepared for her and Timothy when there was a knock on the door. Opening it, she was shocked to find Walker standing there, sleeping bag in hand. "Walker?" Walker updated her on the case as he threw his sleeping bag on the couch and closed the blinds. "What do you think you're doing?" "I'm staying here tonight." "Absolutely not." "Look, I've got Baker under surveillance, but you're not safe until he's put away." "Walker, I appreciate your concern, but let me ask you something. If I were a man, would you come out here and throw down your dusty sleeping bag?" Walker looked squarely at her registering the outfit she wore. He noted the skintight blouse that outlined her breasts and clearly showed she did not wear a bra. As his eyes noted this, he saw her nipples begin to harden in response. There was no question about her being a man. "If I have to, I'll sleep out on the porch, but you're not staying alone tonight." She began to respond when a second knock at the door answered for her. Alex felt like she had entered an I Love Lucy episode as she tried to have a dinner date with Tim while Walker babysat her. To add to the situation, Trivette showed up with his own ideas about keeping her safe. The comedy stopped when a phone call informed her that her horse had been murdered.

     Walker took her to the stables and ran the crime scene while Alex sat on the tailgate of his pickup looking lost and forlorn wrapped in his spare jacket that he had insisted she wear. As Walker approached, she vented her frustration and anguish about what had been done to her defenseless horse. "I should have listened to you. You're right about me you know. I'm too stubborn for my own good." "That's not a bad thing to be, sometimes." Alex tried to explain why she was the way she was. She told him of her struggle to get where she was and even mentioned her failed attempt at marriage. "Why the hell am I telling you all this?" Alex was embarrassed; their friendship had never extended to include their past. Walker wanted to pull her into his arms and comfort her, but he knew that she wouldn't want him to. She needed to stand on her own two feet, especially after what had happened. "Well," he answered her, "maybe because you're in pain." "What happened? I thought Baker was being watched." "He slipped surveillance. And there's something else, his alibi for the break in checked out." "How can that be?" "There's only one way, he had help. Someone covered for him last night. The same someone who broke into your house and now there's no sign of him anywhere. Alex, I have a feeling the preliminaries are over. The next time he comes after you will be for real. I want you to go into hiding until I can find him." "I can't." "I can't watch over you twenty-four hours a day Alex. You are in danger." "Walker, believe me, the way I'm feeling right now, I would love to run and hide. But if I leave now, Benny Carl Devlin is going to get dumped on another prosecutor and he might go free. He might walk. There is no way I'm going to take that chance." Alex walked away from Walker and then turned to him and asked, "am I being too 'independent'?" "Yes, you are," he said, "but I admire you for it." The feeling of warmth that flowed through Alex at his words was almost her undoing. It was all she could do not to throw herself into his arms and give up her struggle for independence right then and there.

     Baker did carry out his threats and despite precautions and bodyguards, he managed to kidnap Alex. Luckily, Walker and Trivette were able to get to her before he seriously hurt her. It was the first time that Walker saved her life, but it wouldn't be the last. Alex was successful in prosecuting the Devlin case she was so worried about. Walker had a surprise for her though before taking her to the victory party. He really admired Alex's strength and he wanted her to know it, but he didn't think he could say it with words. He led her into the stable where Amber had died and took her down to a stall that held a beautiful paint yearling. "I bought this little critter for the ranch, but she's just too dadgummed independent. So I'd really appreciate it if you'd take her off my hands." "Oh, she's beautiful. Yes you are aren't you? You're just beautiful you sweet baby." Alex was overwhelmed by emotion and she used his first name, something only C.D. ever did. "Cordell, Cordell, sometimes you just amaze me." "Well Alexandra," Walker responded, "truth is, you're pretty amazing yourself."  Alex looked at the ribbon tied in the foals forelock. "Love your pink bow," she told her as she stroked her muzzle. Walker's gesture was just one of the countless times his generosity was directed toward Alex. If he couldn't tell her with words how much he admired and cared about her, he would find other ways.

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     The next taboo in their relationship was permanently broken by, of all things, another woman. Walker had been dating a woman for about two months when the woman, Stacy, asked him to take her to a country western dance club where her brother would be performing with his band. Walker sat at the bar at C.D.'s in a panic. "C.D., I can't dance. How am I supposed to take her to a dance club?  She's going to expect me to dance." Just as he finished this statement, in walked C.D.'s favorite lady lawyer. "Alex honey, we've got a problem and you're just the person to solve it." "Sure C.D., what can I do for you?" "Actually honey, it's Walker who has the problem. He needs to learn to dance by the end of the week. Now, I could teach him, but it would look a bit odd. What do you say? Can your feet put up with his big old boots trompin' on 'em long enough to teach him a simple two-step?" Alex looked over at Walker and sized him up. He was red with embarrassment and she was enjoying watching him squirm. "Sure C.D., I guess I can sacrifice myself to bring some culture to the man." Walker glared at her and responded to the challenge in her voice.

     C.D. went over to the jukebox and selected an upbeat country song that would be easy to dance to. Alex held her hand out to Walker and he took it, engulfing it in his own. Walker allowed her to lead him onto the floor where she turned and faced him, placing his one hand at her waist and the other on her shoulder. They stood with plenty distance between them and she instructed him to watch her feet and to mirror what she did. Walker had a natural grace and his years of martial arts made him coordinated. He easily followed the pattern and when she told him to use the music to set the rhythm, he was able to add that to the list of things he was coordinating. Trivette walked in and saw what was going on and sat down to enjoy himself. Walker still enjoyed giving him a hard time and he was going to milk this opportunity to harass his mentor. All was going smoothly until Alex decided that Walker had the hang of it and instructed him to look up into her face. The minute Walker's eyes locked with hers, his brain started misfiring and all his body parts went different directions. He stepped on her feet several times and all the progress he had made went flying out the window. C.D. chuckled to himself. Served those two right for trying to maintain a 'friendship' when any blind man could see they were totally smitten with each other.

     Alex finally put a halt to having Walker abuse her feet. "Stay here," she commanded and walked to the jukebox to select a different song. A slow country ballad began and Alex walked back up to Walker and this time stepped into his embrace, pulling his body close to hers. "Now just listen to the music and move with it," she instructed him. Standing this close to her, it was all Walker could do to breathe.  She gave him no quarter though and soon the song took over Walker's body as he two-stepped her around the dance floor. Alex stayed in his arms for a full two hours, giving him as many tips as she could. They made plans to meet the next evening and continue the lesson. By the end of the week, Walker was able to take Stacy to the dance club and not make a complete fool of himself.

     The night after his big date, Walker found himself at C.D.'s telling him about the evening. Alex walked in and he didn't even let her get something to drink. He walked up to her and pulled her onto the dance floor and into his arms. Swaying slowly to the music, Alex asked, "how did it go?" "Fine, I managed to dance with her and she's still able to walk." "Great, so when are you seeing her again?" "I'm not. Holding her like this just isn't as much fun as holding you." Alex was shocked, she couldn't believe her ears, but Walker pulled her in even closer and held her as they danced for another hour. C.D. kept playing slow romantic songs one after the other until the other patrons complained and he had to put something faster on. Walker escorted Alex to the bar and ordered them drinks. From that night on, whenever they were close enough to be touching, they usually were. Alex felt comfortable leaning a shoulder back against him. Walker felt comfortable placing his hand at the small of her back or around her shoulder. Sometimes, they just sat and held hands. People began to label them as a couple, even though they both dated others and except for the New Year's Eve fiasco, they still hadn't kissed or even officially dated.

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     Walker had surprised Alex with his impulsive kiss on New Year's Eve a few days after they first met. The anger that consumed her afterward had deterred him from repeating the gesture. They had not kissed since that time, even casually, until her twenty-eighth birthday. Walker had arranged a surprise party for her in her office and she had gone around the room giving hugs and kisses to everyone. Walker had gotten his kiss on the cheek and Alex had managed to keep it casual. Since she had kissed everyone else, it didn't stand out as odd or unusual and no one could possibly make a big deal out of it. Then he surprised her by giving her a silver and turquoise bracelet that had belonged to his Aunt Ruthie, Uncle Ray's wife. Alex was touched by the gesture, especially since it was something so very personal that had belonged to a member of his family. The gift had earned him a second kiss on the cheek, but again, it was done in such a way that no one present could possibly claim that there was anything beyond friendship between the two.

    The next day when Alex didn't show for an arraignment, Trivette and Walker went to the renovated warehouse, where she had recently rented a furnished apartment, to look for her. Trivette teased Walker about knowing where the spare key was, but he and Uncle Ray had helped her move some boxes of her personal items in when she took the place. It was actually Uncle Ray who had suggested she hide a spare key in the crevice in the wall. Walker had also been by on more than one occasion when they worked together on an abuse case that Alex needed his special help with. When they didn't find Alex, but found evidence that she had been there since the birthday party and a phone message that indicated she was working on a case, they began a search. It took little time to trace her steps and find that she had gone to speak to a cult member whose father felt was being held against her will. While searching the cult's compound, Walker felt something he had never before experienced. He knew that he had some unexplained abilities, but he had never before shared a bond with someone that enabled him to know where that person was. As he walked around the complex, he actually felt Alex's presence and her fear. His newly discovered empathic ability was something he accepted without question, but he declined to share with Trivette why he was so certain Alex was there. Trivette would just say he was going 'Cherokee' on him again.

     The cult leader, Deacon Bodie, was indeed holding Alex captive and she was heartsick when she saw Walker leave the compound. That night, she dreamt that he rescued her and pulled her into his arms telling her that he loved her and began kissing her. She made a concerted effort not to analyze the meaning of the dream. After a showdown with Bodie, Walker did in fact rescue her and she went straight into his arms similar to what had happened in her dream. The similarities ended there though. Walker grabbed her and held her tightly against his chest with both arms wrapped around her and her face pressed into his neck. As soon as he felt his body responding to her closeness, he jerked her away from him with both hands on her upper arms and scolded her saying, "What do you think you're doing going on a dang fool mission like that without letting me know? Don't you ever do that again!" He looked at her and realized that he was yelling at a woman who had just spent two days locked up and terrorized. He softened both his voice and his look and said, "Okay?" He hadn't said that he loved her like he did in her dream, but his obvious concern said more than words. Alex waited and when Walker didn't make a further move, she said, "If you won't, I will." With that, she placed her hands on each side of his face and held him still as she placed a kiss directly on his lips. Walker's eyes opened wide in surprise, but then he relaxed into the kiss and shrugging his shoulders, he pulled her back against him and deepened the kiss, his arms wrapping around her back and waist. Alex laughed softly against his mouth as she felt him respond and take the kiss one step further. A loud noise behind them caused them to jump apart and look toward the door as members of the swat team entered.

     After filing reports and filling out statements, Walker looked at Alex. She hadn't eaten in two days afraid that the food was drugged. She still wore the same clothes and she had gotten very little sleep. He walked over to Trivette and told him to finish up and to drive Alex's car back into town, as he didn't feel she was up to driving. Walker told his partner that he was going to take her home and Trivette smiled, but held his tongue. As the adrenaline left her system, Alex's body crashed. She fell sound asleep in Walker's truck as he drove her home. He woke her when they got to her apartment and helped her in. Walker guided her toward the bedroom and bathroom as he went into the kitchen to fix her something to eat.

     Twenty minutes later, Alex came into the kitchen wearing a terry cloth robe with her face scrubbed clean and her hair combed, but wet. "I made omelets," Walker offered as he helped her into a chair. Alex was starving, but the effort to eat was almost more than she was capable of. Walker prompted her to eat the entire meal and drink a full glass of orange juice. She managed to finish with his help, but by the end of the meal, it was all she could do to prop her head up. Walker realized that if he let her, she would fall asleep right there at the table. He stood up and lifted her into his arms, cradling her against his chest. Walker carried Alex up to her bed and pulled the blankets down with one arm. He set her on the side of the bed and eased her robe off revealing a satiny lilac nightgown. Walker shifted Alex onto the bed and under the covers. He brushed the drying hair back from her forehead and began to back away. Suddenly, her hand reached for his wrist and stopped him. "Please don't go, I'm afraid." Alex's voice was tremulous and Walker knew she had to be extremely exhausted with all her defenses down to reveal her fears to him. "I'm not going anywhere," he assured her, "go to sleep." Alex held his hand against her cheek and snuggled into the pillow trapping his hand. Walker sat on the bed and watched her sleep until she rolled over, releasing his hand. He then took the second pillow off the side of the bed and grabbed the afghan that lay at the end of her bed and lay down on the floor next to her.

     Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, Alex had a nightmare and her thrashing woke Walker up. He immediately called her name waking her and held her against his chest stroking her hair and reassuring her that she was safe. After she fell asleep again, he lay her back down and set her alarm to wake her as late as possible and still give her time to make the postponed arraignment that had made him realize she was missing. He quietly let himself out of her apartment and drove back to the ranch to shower and get ready for another day. He contemplated the events of the previous night. Alex had kissed him, he had responded, he had fixed her a meal, tucked her in bed, slept in her room, comforted her after a nightmare... It was going to be hard to keep things in friendship mode and it was going to take all his willpower to take their relationship back to where it was.

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     Walker decided that Alex needed to take self-defense classes after her run in with Deacon Bodie. He began by teaching her some basic self-defense moves, but working out with her in the gym proved to be a very erotic experience. Throwing her to the mat, touching her, being close to her, sweating and laughing, it all became far too tempting. When he threw her once and she retaliated by sweeping his legs out from under him as he had taught her, he landed so that he was lying on top of her. "This would defeat the purpose Alex," he scolded her. "Sweep your leg in the direction that forces your opponent to land away from you." 'It doesn't defeat my purpose,' Alex's treacherous mind thought. Aloud she said, "Walker, you weigh a ton, get off so I can breathe." This brought his eyes to her chest to watch her chest rise with her next breath. Big mistake. He was wearing gym shorts and they did nothing to hide his male response to her femininity. Walker managed to get off of her, but had to keep his back to her. He walked over to the water to get them both a glass and debated pouring his down his shorts. He decided against the idea and instead grabbed a towel. He tried to casually hold it in front of him as he brought her the water and sat with one knee bent blocking her view. Alex wasn't stupid; she had seen enough men aroused to know the symptoms. She had to play along though; embarrassing Walker would not help her cause. "So what did I do wrong?" Alex asked trying to steer the conversation to safe territory. 'Absolutely nothing,' Walker thought. While aloud he described how she should have reacted to his attack. The episode inspired Walker to find a class for Alex to take. He enrolled her and promised to work out with her if she needed extra help, but he was determined to curb the opportunities for temptation.

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     With some effort, Alex and Walker had managed to return to the friendship status they had shared before the events following the cult incident. They continued to work together and to meet with their friends, C.D., Trivette and Uncle Ray. They began to feel comfortable in their friendship and it surprised Alex at how quickly things could unravel when Walker decided to go against her wishes. Walker had arrested two suspects in a shooting, but one of the suspects was in the witness protection program and it had fallen to Alex to tell Walker and Trivette that there would be no booking or even a record of the arrests they had made. Alex was not allowed to tell them why and she knew that Walker wouldn't let it rest, so she tried to recruit Jimmy to help her keep Walker out of trouble. It hadn't worked; Walker and Trivette had continued full steam ahead with their investigation of the case. Their meddling endangered the sister of their primary suspect. She was the one in the witness protection program and her brother was also protected at her request. Walker caused so much trouble that it took Alex all night and phone calls to all her contacts to save his job.

     She drove out to the ranch early the next morning and sat on the hood of her car waiting for him. He came riding up on his horse and his face showed his surprise at seeing her there. "Good morning," she greeted him with a smile. "Stay Amigo," he instructed his horse with a pat and then walked to meet her, "good morning." She reached into the brown bag sitting next to her on the hood of her car and handed him a donut and coffee, "here, for you." Walker looked at it suspiciously, "and what is this for?" "A donut and coffee and there's not even a favor attached." "Mmm hmm, that'll be a first. So what are you doing up so early?" "Up early? I haven't been to bed yet. I have been on the phone with everyone from the Attorney General, to the Governor, to the head of the FBI. You kicked over a heck of a hornet's nest." Alex could have happily strangled him when he smiled as if proud of the mess he had made and left for her to clean up. "All in a days work." "That's not funny. I almost lost my job helping you keep yours." Walker was unimpressed and no amount of reasoning would get through to him. When Walker chose a side, he stayed with it to the bitter end. Alex felt like she was talking to a brick wall, there was no give. Finally, she put their friendship into the mix, appealing to his loyalty to her. "I guess I am asking you for a favor. I'm asking you to sit this one out, so we can continue our work together after it's all over." "A favor Amigo, what do you think?" Walker asked his horse. "You can have your donut back," he said as he handed her the half-eaten remains. He'd walked away from her determined to follow his own path. The case ended with the witness being killed by her own brother at Walker's ranch. Walker would get his justice, but at a very high price.

     It had been nearly two weeks and Alex had not had a conversation with Walker that was not absolutely necessary for work. She was angry and hurt that he would treat her in such a cavalier manner. She understood his drive to see justice served; she shared it. She just knew that no matter how badly you wanted something to come out right, there were sometimes mitigating circumstances that got in the way. Walker wasn't willing yet to admit that and it would be several more years before he would lose his renegade image and begin to keep his work within bounds. He would always make exceptions to the rules; he just got better at being diplomatic about it.

     Walker knew that he was in the doghouse with Alex and he didn't know how to fix things. He knew she felt betrayed, but it wasn't his intention to hurt her. He had just plotted out a course and wasn't willing to deviate from it. When she used their friendship as a bargaining tool, he had thrown it back in her face and now he had to pay the price. After two weeks of being treated like a coworker, Walker had had enough. Alex had been avoiding him by not stopping by C.D.'s in the evening and now he had all of his friends mad at him. Even Uncle Ray was giving him the silent treatment. He suspected that Amigo was on Alex's side as well, but the horse was too loyal to let it show. Walker finally called Alex at home on Saturday and asked her to come to the ranch for a ride and a picnic. Alex told him that she had plans and turned him down. He asked her for Sunday, but the answer was the same. Walker didn't believe her, so Saturday evening, he headed over to her apartment determined to have it out with her.

    Standing at the door to her apartment, Walker wasn't sure that this was the best idea, but he decided he was there and he might as well make the most of it. After knocking, he waited quite some time and he finally raised his hand to knock again when the door swung open. Alex was standing there covered in a robe and judging by the skin peeking through, nothing else. "Hi," he began. "Walker, what are you doing here?" Not exactly the warm greeting he was hoping for, but he was determined to change that. "I really wanted to talk to you. To apologize and try to make things right," he told her. "May I come in?" he finally asked as she stood there like a deer caught in headlights. "This really isn't a good time..." she began. "Cahill, who is it? Aren't you coming back to bed?" a man's voice could be heard from Alex's loft bedroom. Emotions chased themselves across Walker's face, shock, dismay, embarrassment, and finally resignation. Alex wasn't paying attention; she was too embarrassed to notice his reaction. "I'm sorry Walker, but this really isn't a good time. I told you I had plans for the weekend. We'll talk Monday." Walker gave one brief nod and stepped back out of the way, allowing her to close the door.

     "Who was it?" Dalton Reed asked as he descended the stairs dressed only in a pair of unbuttoned jeans. "Just a coworker who needed some information," she explained. Alex had met Dalton when he acted as a witness in the DeMarco case she had prosecuted to a conviction. They had started dating and things had heated up fairly quickly. He was a man of honor and he was one sexy cowboy. She didn't know what it was about the breed that attracted her; it must just be her curse. Dalton had come back into town after having been gone and spent the previous two weeks wining and dining her. The effort had paid off as Alex had finally consented to taking their relationship a step further, or rather several steps, all the way up to her bedroom. They were just about to make love when the knock on the door interrupted them. Leave it to Walker to kill a mood. Alex and Dalton did continue their relationship for several more weeks, but he finally left to rejoin the rodeo circuit. He didn't tell her he was leaving, one morning the toothbrush wasn't on the edge of her sink and she knew. She didn't know if it was her unwillingness to commit to him fully or just his restless spirit, but once again she was looking at a failed relationship and she was beginning to wonder if she would ever find the right man to spend her life with.

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     Walker and Alex never did discuss fully the rift in their friendship after his surprise visit to her apartment. He respected the fact that she was involved with someone and he appreciated the fact that she didn't bring Dalton by C.D.'s. The others continued to blame him for her absence, but Alex and Walker had managed to put the past behind them and resume their friendship. She didn't tell him when Dalton left, but suddenly she was once again coming by C.D.'s and was accepted back into the gang with no questions asked. Any residual coolness was swept away when a man who called himself Ranger Bodine targeted Walker.

   The man had not managed to make the cut to become a Ranger and he decided to prove his worth by taking out criminals Walker wasn't able to because of legal restrictions. Finally, the man kidnapped a young secretary who worked at Ranger Headquarters, Evie, and challenged Walker to a showdown. When Alex heard what was going on, she drove like mad to Walker's ranch to try and talk some sense into him. She didn't even knock, but strode right into the house and into the living room where Walker was cleaning his gun. "Trivette told me what you are planning to do. You cannot go after him alone," Alex confronted Walker. "I have no choice." "What is it with you macho Texas Rangers? Why do you have to turn everything into a life or death struggle?" "Bodine started it, not me." "So what? That doesn't mean you have to finish it on his terms. Bodine is obsessed with proving that he is better than you and he is not going to play by the rules." "He wants to prove man to man that he is better than me and that's his big mistake." "How do you know that for sure? You're going to get yourself killed because of your stupid foolish pride." Alex's anger had begun to leave her and tears were nearing the surface. She was scared. Walker recognized this and tried to explain the way his mind worked to her. "If I backed down every time a guy like Bodine entered my life, how would I live with myself? Look, you've got to understand, every time I put on this badge, I've got to believe I'm making a difference. Who I am, what I am, a Ranger, is part of me, the best part of me. Look, the only part that makes sense to me." He stepped closer to her and he placed his hands on her upper arms. "Can you understand that?" he asked as he looked deep into her eyes. "Yes, I know, but I just wish..." "Shh," Walker said as he placed his fingers over her lips to quiet her. "I wish," he began in a whisper, "I wish I knew how to express myself better. To tell you how much you mean to me, to tell how special you are to me. Probably more than you'll ever know." Alex's eyes were filled with tears, but they were tears of happiness. Walker had finally admitted that she was important to his life. All the misunderstandings and distance that had existed between them over the last two months seemed to melt away as they drew their heads together for a kiss. "Washo," Uncle Ray interrupted just before their lips met, "it's time," he announced. Walker gazed into Alex's eyes and silently promised that he would return. Uncle Ray came in and put his arm around Alex. "Don't you worry yourself none, Alex. Washo is in good hands with the spirits." "I couldn't bear to lose him, Uncle Ray." "I know," he told her as she leaned her head on his shoulder seeking comfort.

     Walker did best Bodine and after seeing Evie safely home, he turned and drove back to the ranch. It was quite late when he arrived, but he wasn't surprised to see Alex's car still in the driveway or to see his uncle stand from his silent vigil on the porch. "She is asleep on the couch, goodnight nephew," was all Uncle Ray said. "Goodnight Uncle Ray," Walker answered as he watched his Uncle head to his room. Walker entered the living room and found Alex curled up on the sofa, half-sitting and half-lying down. Uncle Ray had covered her with a blanket, but it had slipped down to her waist. Walker reached over to pull it up, when Alex stirred. "Walker?" "Yes, it's me Alex. Everything's fine. Why don't you stretch out and try to get some rest." "I should go," she stated, not very convincingly. "No, it's late. I'll wake you after sunup so you can get home and get ready for work." "Is Evie all right?" "She's fine. She'll need friends, but she'll be fine." Alex nodded, "Walker, would you just sit with me for a while?" Walker hesitated and Alex rushed in, "I'm sorry, you're tired." But Walker shook his head, "no, I'd like to sit with you." She sat up and he sat behind her and shifted her so that her back rested against his chest, her legs stretched out along the length of the couch and his face resting against her hair. They didn't speak, they merely sat holding each other until they both gave in to the fatigue they felt and they slept the rest of the night that way.

     The night after the ordeal with Bodine, Walker again pulled back to a safe distance in his relationship with Alex. They were at C.D.'s giving Evie the support she needed. Alex had asked him if he meant what he said at the ranch and he had played dumb, scratched his head and asked what it was he had said. She laughed at him and called him a coward with her eyes. She knew he wasn't ready to take the next step with her and truthfully, she wasn't ready either. They were great friends and after her recent experience with Dalton, she was afraid of risking that.

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     The next encounter that gave hope to a future between them also happened at C.D.'s. Walker had gone to the reservation and into a sweat lodge to ask the spirits to guide him in his search to find David, a young man from the reservation who had witnessed a murder committed by two FBI agents. David had escaped into the woods and was in hiding. Walker had found David and protected him against the corrupt agents. Walker sat with Alex at a table talking about his experience and the vision of the eagle that guided him to David. It was fitting that his spirit guide took the form of an eagle as his Indian name was 'Washo' which meant, 'lone eagle'. Alex asked him if he had seen anything else in his vision besides David and the eagle. He looked down at his drink and got a shy grin on his face. "Mmm... well, uh... maybe." "Something maybe more personal?" "Maybe." "Well?" "Well, what?" "What did you see?" "I (embarrassed laugh) you know it's kind of hard to explain this you know." "Well, what did you see?" "No, I really can't tell you." "Walker." "All right, I saw you and me Alex." "What were we doing?" He looked down and didn't respond. "Walker, what were we doing?"  "We were uh...." Walker looked at her and then reached for her hand, enfolding it into his own larger ones. His pause and the way he held her hands had her eyes widening expecting his response to be that they were doing something intimate. That is until Walker finished his sentence, "...fishing." She looked at him, realized that she had been set up and said, "fishing?" "Yeah, fishing." She then pulled her hand out of his and pushed him and then backhanded his arm as he began laughing. She laughed as well admitting that he had played her well.

   What Walker didn't share with Alex was that he had seen them fishing, but the scene was also very intimate. They stood in a river casting a fly fishing rod. He stood behind her with his arms wrapped around her. She wore a blue shirt that was unbuttoned halfway down showing a fitted white shirt underneath. She leaned her head back against his left shoulder, her golden curls resting against his off-white shirt as she turned her head looking up at him. He gazed into her eyes as his mouth slowly descended to hers, her mouth opened inviting him... It had been such a powerfully erotic image that he had made a joke out of it. He couldn't handle the ramifications of that vision. At least, not yet.

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     Trivette joined C.D. and Uncle Ray in their campaign to get Walker and Alex together. All three men knew that these two people were destined to be together and they weren't willing to wait around for them to realize it. Trivette tried to get Walker to act on his jealousy when Alex introduced the man she had started to date, Professor Peter Needham. Walker and Trivette helped stage a mock crime for Alex's law class that she taught at the University in the evenings. Peter stopped in to reschedule his date with Alex and the two men got a look at Alex's 'latest.' As they walked to their cars, they heard a scream. A young woman in Alex's class, Susan, had been mugged. Peter drove Alex to the hospital, but when Walker arrived, Alex stepped directly into his arms for comfort. She pressed herself into his chest as his hand stroked up and down her back. Anyone watching could see the way the two fit together. When they forgot their respective pasts and the rest of the world, they were so very right together. The moment gave Trivette hope and dashed Peter's.

    Despite the moment in the hospital, Alex remained aloof from Walker and continued to see Peter. Trivette sympathized with Walker and told him he had waited too long to make his feelings for Alex known. At C.D.'s, Alex tried to get Walker to admit that he was jealous of the fact that she was seeing Peter. This was the first man in some time that she had openly dated. He was another of her 'safe' men. Men she had no intention of sleeping with, but with whom she enjoyed a casual dating relationship. Their conversation had occurred in shorthand. "You want to talk about it?" she asked. "What?" "It." "It?" "All right, him." "Who?" "You know." "No." "Walker," she said ready to strangle him. "What?" he continued to play dumb. "Okay, forget it." "Okay," he agreed as he picked up his coffee for a sip. Alex left angry and frustrated. C.D. and Jimmy put their heads together determined to find a way to help Walker come out of the protective shell they decided he hid behind to protect himself from hurt. Walker would have rolled his eyes had he heard them.

     The janitor at the University approached Alex at night as she unlocked her car door and she responded instantly with a kick to his abdomen. As the man bent forward and fell to the ground, Trivette and Walker drove up. While Trivette went to arrest the janitor, Walker went to Alex, pulling her into his embrace. Trivette watched Walker hold Alex close to his chest as she rested her head against him. 'What is wrong with these two?' he wondered.

     The same man, who had attacked Susan and others on the campus, assaulted Alex in the stairwell. She put to good use the self-defense techniques she had learned from Walker and the class he had enrolled her in. She kicked and punched the man and by the time Trivette and Walker rushed down to where she stood, her assailant was lying moaning on the stairs. Trivette again went to make the arrest as Walker again put his arm around Alex's neck and pulled her to him. Their embrace was brief as Alex went to check on Peter who had been struck in the back of the head with a pipe.

     Walker met Alex at the hospital after booking the campus rapist. Trivette commented that it was a good thing she had listened to Walker and taken those self-defense classes. She couldn't help but agree with him. Trivette stepped away to answer a phone call and C.D. feeling very extraneous as Walker and Alex had eyes only for each other, excused himself and stepped away. "So um... how's Peter?" Walker asked her. "He has a concussion and they're going to keep him overnight for observation, but I'm sure he'll be fine." "Let's go see him," Walker suggested. Alex looked up at him surprised, he had been jealous of Peter and then suspicious of him, suggesting that he was a suspect in the case. "Any friend of yours..." Alex melted, she knew this was as close as Walker would get to apologizing. Walker reached for her, bringing her back into his arms. As Trivette approached to inform Walker of the phone call he had just received he thought, 'these two spend more time holding each other than most married people'.

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     Her name was Marilee Summers, but she didn't bring any sunshine into Alex's life. Marilee was a country western singer who had an abusive ex-husband who didn't know how to say goodbye. Walker met her and as C.D. said, he was 'smitten' by her. She was in trouble and she needed someone to take care of her. Walker appointed himself her knight in shining armor. Their romance was brief, but she had certain advantages that Alex couldn't compete with. For one thing, she had a daughter and Walker was very drawn to kids. She also needed Walker to protect her. She wasn't a woman who could solve her own problems, or even care to try. Independent, self-reliant Alex Cahill could not compete with that. Marilee's sultry voice also managed to put Walker under her spell. Alex tried her very best to stay neutral. She tried to get a restraining order against Marilee's ex, but she was unsuccessful and Walker blamed her to some extent. While at C.D.'s one night, Walker vented his frustration to his friends and Alex defended herself saying she had done her best. C.D. and Trivette said that he had fallen for Marilee and that he had all the signs, including, Trivette said, a washed truck. "You washed your truck?" Alex said, her anger coming through. She had ridden around in Walker's mud spattered truck for months. She wasn't even sure what color it was.

     Marilee's husband was killed in a car wreck (of his own making) and Marilee left to pursue her singing career. The short-term affair between her and Walker had a long-term affect on his relationship with Alex. Weeks passed and Alex continued her friendship with him, but it was strictly 'hands off.'

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     After many weeks with no hint of romance between them, Walker was absolutely floored when Alex walked into C.D.'s and told him that he had better be on time for their date that night. A date he knew nothing about. To make matters worse, she talked about it openly in front of C.D. and Trivette who watched the exchange with glee in their eyes. "I just came by to remind you about dinner tonight." Walker looked blank. "At my place." "What are you talking about?" "Cordell," she only used his first name when he was in trouble, "don't do this to me. You said you were coming, now I'm expecting you." "Dinner? You and me? Tonight?" "Yes, that's kinda what I had in mind. Candlelight, rack of lamb... You remember how this works. Eight o'clock, don't be late." She turned to C.D. and Trivette who were hanging onto each word. "See ya guys." Alex started to walk out and Walker turned to her for clarification. "Wait a minute Alex..." "Eight o'clock," she said as she left for her appointment. Walker turned to C.D. and Trivette and seeing the looks on their faces, knew he was in for a lot of teasing. He denied any previous knowledge of the date, but C.D. and Trivette planned to be sure he did things right this time. Trivette made him wear a suit and tie with cologne. C.D. insisted he bring Alex flowers.

     Walker stood outside of Alex's apartment door tugging at the collar of his dress shirt. He placed the bouquet of flowers behind his back and rang the doorbell. Alex opened the door with a smile and her eyebrows shot up when she saw him, "wow!" "Am I dressed to uh...?" "No, you look wonderful." They leaned together to kiss each other on the cheek. "Smell good too," she said as she ushered him in. Walker stopped in his tracks as he saw another man in Alex's apartment. He had flashes of coming to Alex's apartment the night she was with Dalton Reed. The man standing in front of Walker was definitely not a cowboy. He was also dressed in a suit, but he looked as if he belonged in one. "Grant Wallace, this is Cordell Walker." "Nice to meet you Ranger," said Grant Wallace as he approached Walker, his hand outstretched. Walker brought his hand from behind his back to shake the man's hand, but he startled as he remembered the flowers he was holding. He switched them to his other hand and shook Wallace's outstretched hand. "Pleasure." "I've heard a lot about you," Wallace said. Alex watched the exchange, privately enjoying seeing Walker flustered. She had a wicked gleam in her eye as she asked, "Are those for me?" nodding to the flowers. "Oh... uh... yeah, C.D. wanted you to have these," Walker claimed as he handed them to her. "I'll have to thank C.D. next time I see him. They're beautiful." She headed toward the kitchen area to place them in water. Walker turned to Wallace, "so um, you staying for dinner?" "Dinner? I'm not sure I understand." Alex turned back to the two men smiling, " Um, I can explain. Why don't we all sit down?" "Sure," Wallace said as they all headed toward the sitting area. Alex was now looking a little apprehensive. She was going to have to explain her ruse to Walker and he was probably not going to be too happy. It had gone further than she expected, the suit, the cologne, the flowers... oops. "Trivette, I'm going to kill you," Walker mumbled under his breath. "What?" "Huh? Oh nothing." Alex turned to Walker to explain. "Grant works for the Justice Department and he wanted to meet you without anyone else knowing about it. Um... we went to law school together and he knew that I knew you and so he asked me to set it up. It had to be done quickly." "So we're not going to have dinner?" "I'm sorry if I threw you a curve." She smiled at him with a question mark on her face, asking to be forgiven. "But um... if you're hungry, I think I have half a turkey sandwich in the fridge." "Oh, no, no, that's okay. I had a big lunch today, thanks though." Walker thought about the fact that C.D. and Trivette wouldn't even let him eat a peanut so that he would have an appetite for dinner with Alex.

     Grant Wallace was getting tired of the exchange between Alex and Walker. There was obviously something between these two. He had known Alex since law school and he had been interested in her, but she never returned the interest. "Great," he interrupted the two; "can we get down to business?" "What business?" Walker asked. "Well Ranger, you're aware that there have been a large number of these vigilante style assassinations around here in the last six months." "I'm aware of it, why?" "Well, we're beginning to suspect it's an organized group." "You have any leads?" "Well, not enough. What we need is somebody to get into this group, we need to get somebody to infiltrate the organization." The light dawned and Walker looked over at Alex and said, "now I know why I've been invited here tonight." Alex smiled apologetically, "I'll make it up to you, I promise." "You will?" Walker asked and waggled his eyebrows at her suggestively. Alex's eyes widened in surprise at what he was alluding to. "Only kidding," he said grounding the electric current that passed between them.  

     The next two hours consisted of the three of them putting their heads together and coming up with a plan to tarnish Walker's reputation and get him invited into the group of vigilantes. Grant Wallace gave Walker all the details he could and finally stood to take his leave. Walker was about to follow him out when Alex stopped him with a hand on his arm. No words were needed as she silently asked him to stay. She led him back over to the sitting area and he sat waiting to hear what she had to say. "When I excused myself a little while ago, I made a phone call..." they both looked up as her doorbell rang. Alex got up and walked to the door. When she opened it, a pizza delivery person stood there with a pizza in his hand. Alex paid him and took the pizza into the dining room. "The least I can do is feed you after tricking you into coming over here," Alex told Walker as she went into the kitchen to get them some iced tea. Walker opened the pizza box and saw that she had gotten him his favorite pizza, lots of meat and no vegetables. Alex returned with plates, forks, tea and napkins. "I can make a salad to go with it, it'll just take a minute." "That's okay, this is perfect." Alex smiled as Walker inhaled the first two slices. "Not hungry huh?" she challenged him. He looked up in the middle of taking a third slice and looked chagrined. "Well, that was two hours ago," he explained. Alex chuckled and took a slice for herself.

     The two ate a companionable meal and Alex expressed her concern over the dangerous assignment he had agreed to accept. She didn't like being the person to help place him in so much danger, but it was part of her job. When Walker finally stood to leave, Alex felt closer to him than she had in many months. It seemed that one thing or other kept conspiring to keep them apart. She walked him to the front door and her body swayed towards his as they stood there. They looked hungrily at each other, but neither spoke. Finally, Walker raised his hand and stroked his finger from her brow down her cheek to her chin. He didn't dare kiss her; just the touch was making it hard for him to maintain control. Alex felt as if he had trailed a lit match down her face. Her nerve endings were heightened and she felt every ridge of his fingerprint as he touched her. They both stood there acknowledging that if they ever lit the fuse, there would be an explosion between them. Walker stepped back, his breathing shallow and fast. "Goodnight," he murmured as he turned and nearly fled into the safety of the hall. "Goodnight," she whispered as she watched him walk away. They both suffered from erotic dreams that night that kept them from getting much rest.

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     Walker and Alex continued to keep their relationship platonic. They flirted occasionally, but nothing ever came of it. There was a reunion scheduled for a bunch of retired Rangers and C.D. was hosting many of the festivities at his bar. Walker and Trivette had been assigned to guard Senator Julian Knox. As they walked through the airport behind Alex, Trivette grumbled about how Alex always volunteered them for 'special assignments'. The two men were surprised at the warm greeting between Alex and the Senator. They soon discovered that they were old friends from law school. Alex didn't share with them that Julian was one of two men she had been involved with during her law school days. Julian and then later, the man she had married briefly. Julian was an older man who had returned to the school to work on a research project. He had political aspirations at the time and he was so confident and handsome. Alex had fallen head over heals in what she now knew was infatuation and hero worship. He'd managed to get her to bed and that wasn't an easy feat. She had only had one previous sexual encounter at that point in her life and it had not been something she cared to repeat. Julian had been nothing if not persistent and he was the first man to teach her the pleasure that could be found in bed. When he finished his research project and returned to run for mayor in his hometown, Alex had gotten over him, but never forgot him.

     Julian was still a flirt and he overwhelmed Alex again with his confident demeanor. She wasn't the young naive law student anymore though and she was determined to keep her distance. The senator was a married man with kids. He might forget that, but she couldn't. When it became evident that Alex was not going to give in to his charms, he changed tactics and suggested a career for her in Washington. Alex agreed to meet him for dinner and discuss it. Walker watched the interplay between Knox and Alex. He was jealous, but he wasn't about to admit it. After she had dinner with Senator Knox, he brought her back to his suite where he told her he had a sterile loveless marriage and he began to try to seduce her. Julian's personal assistant interrupted him with a phone call. She then intentionally left the door open so that Alex would hear him talk on the phone with his wife and know what a toad he really was. Alex left upset and Trivette, who was standing guard at the door, let her out.

     The next day, Walker saw Alex on the steps of the Justice Building. She had seen him with his friend Laredo, but she continued walking hoping she wouldn't have to talk with him. Walker called her back and asked her how her evening went. "I think you know how it went," she said in a slightly accusing tone. She didn't need him to rub salt in the wound and she knew that Trivette would have filled him in. He agreed that he was aware and then he asked her if she was okay. Inherent in the question was a promise of his unwavering support. She said that she was okay and continued on her way. She wasn't ready to discuss it with him. Frankly, she was embarrassed that she had been so gullible. As Alex walked away, she realized that Walker was a man of honor and that was what Julian and others she had been involved with lacked. One thing she did know with absolute certainty, was that Walker did and always would, deserve her friendship and trust.

     Laredo had observed the exchange between Walker and Alex. He had to agree with C.D. that these two were meant to be together. He hoped that Walker would realize that before it was too late. He himself had lost more than he could say by not being the type of man capable of making a commitment to the woman he would love to the day he died. He decided to make a comment to Walker about not waiting too long, but as predicted, Walker told him to mind his own business.

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     Even though Walker had told Laredo to mind his own business, his words had struck a chord in him and when he found out just what Laredo had lost, he made a decision. It took a little time, but Walker slowly worked up to asking Alex out. At first, he just asked her to dance every once in awhile. He was actually getting better as she teasingly informed him when he returned from transporting an escaped prisoner back to Dallas. He then had to testify in a trial that Alex was prosecuting. After the long day in court, he asked Alex if she would like to go to dinner. She assumed that he meant for them to meet at C.D.'s as they often did. "No, I was thinking we should try to have a more balanced diet. Chili's fine five or six nights a week, but maybe we should have something else tonight." Alex raised her eyebrows in surprise as she realized he was asking her out on a date! "Should I meet you or do you want to pick me up?" she asked just to be sure. "How about I pick you up about seven?" "All right," she agreed still stunned.

   Alex changed her mind on what to wear five different times. She didn't want to dress too formally; she didn't even know where Walker was taking her. On the other hand, if she wore casual clothes, he might think she didn't think enough of his invitation to make a special effort. Alex finally settled on a burgundy dress. She pulled her hair up in a pile of curls on her head with ringlets hanging down around her face. The dress she wore relied on her figure to give it shape. It was simple and elegant without being formal. When the doorbell rang, she was so nervous, she felt as if she were going on her very first date. She moistened her lips with her tongue and then went and opened the door. Walker was still dressed in the black suit he had worn for court, with a white shirt and a bolo tie. His red hair lay below his collar. Black was one of her favorite colors on him, he looked good enough to eat and she was tempted to suggest they skip dinner and stay in. Luckily, sanity returned before she could get her tongue to form the words. Walker held out a small bouquet of peach roses. Alex refocused her gaze to the flowers and smiled as she leaned in to inhale their fragrance. "Come in," she offered as she took the flowers and walked into the kitchen to find a vase.

     Walker managed to get his legs to work to follow her into the apartment, but it required a conscious effort. Alex was stunningly beautiful and his palms were sweating he was so nervous. "Thank you for the flowers or should I thank C.D.?" Alex asked with a teasing voice. "No, he doesn't know about tonight. If he knew we were being traitors and going somewhere besides the Bar and Grill, we would probably both get tongue lashings." Alex smiled and knew that Walker was as aware as she that C.D. would be ecstatic if he knew they were going on a date. "Where are we going?" she asked him. "I made reservations at Carlton's." Now Alex's eyebrows shot to her hairline. Carlton's was a very exclusive restaurant and was known for fabulous food and high prices. "Have you been there?" he asked. "No, I never have." "Good," he murmured. "Are you ready to go? The reservations are for eight." Alex nodded and grabbed her handbag. It was a warm night and she wouldn't need a wrap.

     As Alex stepped up into the Ram, she couldn't help notice that Walker must have taken his truck to have it washed and waxed between the courthouse and picking her up. Her eyes teared at the gesture, she knew that he wanted this evening to be special. After valet parking the Ram, Walker escorted her into the restaurant and they were immediately shown to their table. After twenty minutes of not being able to find anything to talk about that didn't sound stilted or relate to work, Alex was getting frustrated and flustered. The waiter took their orders and then Walker stood and held out his hand to her. She thought, 'he's so disgusted he's not even going to wait for the meal to come.' Instead, Walker said, "would you like to dance?" Alex placed her hand in his and allowed him to escort her to the secluded dance floor. A quiet jazz number played and he pulled her into his arms and slowly circled the small floor. After several minutes, Alex tilted her head back and looked up at him. "You've been holding out on me Cowboy." He smiled, but didn't explain that he had taken the dance lessons she had accused him of. He had enrolled in a private lesson with a dance instructor who taught him enough to do a simple jazz square and a few other basic steps. He wasn't willing to try a fast song, but holding Alex close and swaying to the music was within his abilities.

     Walker placed his hand in the small of her back and guided her back to the table when he saw their waiter return with their meal. The nerves Alex had felt before the dance had melted away in his arms. They said little as they ate, but their eyes kept returning to look at the other. If someone had asked Alex what she had eaten that night, she would never have been able to say. After the meal, Walker ordered them coffee and a rich chocolate pastry for himself as she had declined dessert. He took a bite and then held a small bite out to her with his eyebrows raised in question. Alex leaned forward and he placed the spoon between her waiting lips. As the flavor exploded in her mouth, Alex closed her eyes and savored the taste. "You like it?" Walker asked as he watched the sensual expression on her face. "Mmm... it's heavenly." "Would you like another bite?" "Maybe just one more," she answered. This time, she locked gazes with him as he repeated the motion of feeding her the dessert. "I think I need to work off some of these calories," Alex declared. The color in Walker's cheeks heightened as he had a sudden image of her looming over him in bed sweating from the exertions of making love. "Dance?" Alex suggested to keep from having her meaning misconstrued, not knowing it was too late. Walker realized that dancing would mean standing up and that would be rather embarrassing in his current state. "Let's finish our coffee and then we'll dance before we head out," he suggested. He then intentionally cooled things down, not offering to feed Alex anymore of the dessert and steering the conversation to more mundane topics.

     Alex drifted across the dance floor in Walker's arms for close to an hour. He held her so that their bodies touched only lightly, but his cheek rested against hers and he tucked one of her hands against his chest while his other drew tiny circles in the small of her back. The cool night air did little to sober them up from the romantic haze they both suffered from as they stood waiting for the valet to retrieve the Ram. Walker drove her home and walked her to the door of her apartment. "Would you like to come in for coffee?" Alex offered. "No, I better go," Walker declined. She turned and unlocked her door and stepped inside turning to face him. Walker stepped toward her and gathered her close to him, closer than they had danced. "I'm going to kiss you Alexandra Cahill. I don't want you to be surprised or angry afterward. All right?" "Yes," Alex breathed in a whisper. Walker placed his finger on Alex's lower lip and stroked it gently. He traced the edges of her lips and then put his finger under her chin and gently tilted her head to the angle he wanted it. Reaching in toward her with his own face, Alex stood mesmerized by his lips as they came slowly, painfully slowly, toward her own. Walker brushed her lips with his own in a feather light kiss that teased and didn't satisfy. Walker shifted his body, pulling her even tighter into him and then he proceeded to thoroughly explore her lips with his own. He touched and tasted and drank in her sweetness. It was Alex whose tongue touched his lips with the lightest of touches. The tip of her tongue slowly circled the outline of his lips. Walker had spent many nights dreaming about that warm moist pink flesh and all the places on his body he wanted to feel it. He groaned and pulled her into him deepening the kiss into an opened mouth explosion of sensation. Finally, he pulled back away from her; both of them gasping for air that they hadn't realized they lacked until their lungs forced them to separate. Walker reached his hand out to her hair and curled one of the ringlets around his index finger. He kissed each of her cheeks and then the tip of her nose. Lastly, he brushed a brief kiss against her swollen lips. "Thank you for tonight," he said and stepped back from her. Alex just looked up, unable to find words at that moment in time. Walker smiled at her speechlessness and then winked at her. The wink was slow and sexy and Alex's heart did a complete somersault in her chest. Walker then turned and strode down the hall. 

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    Walker and Alex again backed off from the intensity that surrounded their relationship. They had both been stunned at the conflagration they had ignited with just one kiss. Despite the fact that they avoided going out alone and stayed in group settings, there was an unexpected result of their passionate kiss. Alex had developed an empathic sense about Walker similar to the one he had in regards to her. If one walked into the room, the other turned and their eyes locked. It was uncanny and those who witnessed it time and again could not explain it. It came with a price though. When Walker was in danger, she was able to sense it, sometimes even before the danger occurred. The first time this happened was when she began having dreams of Walker in a strange room with metal tanks surrounding him. A man with a gun aimed at Walker and shot him. Night after night she awoke in a cold sweat as she saw him die. Her dream revealed more and more until she finally saw the face of the shooter and it was Jimmy.

     Alex spoke of her dream to C.D., but she didn't want to tell Walker about it afraid that it would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. C.D. asked her why she thought she was having the dream and the most she would admit to was that she worried about Walker. When she was awakened by a phone call telling her that Walker had been hurt, she rushed to the scene. While tracing a lead to the maker of a new lethal drug on the street called 'Silk'; Walker arranged a meeting with his snitch, Frank Swain. A car bomb had exploded killing Swain. Flying debris had injured Walker, although not seriously. Alex told Walker that she had been having a 'feeling' that he was in danger. Alex's nightmares continued and he noticed how tired she looked when he saw her as he stepped off the elevator a few days later. She admitted to not getting enough sleep, but didn't tell him why. She did ask him to be careful, especially around Trivette. Ironically, it was Alex who sent Walker to the setting of her dream when she tracked down a possible lead. At the icehouse, Walker discovered that Frank Swain had not died, but was in fact the manufacturer of 'Silk.' Trivette raised his gun aiming it at Walker, only to the extent that Swain was on the other side of Walker. Trivette saved Walker's life when he shot Swain.

     Later, the group of friends sat at C.D.'s reviewing the recent events. "That icehouse sounds like the place in Alex's dream," C.D. suggested. "What dream?" Jimmy asked. "More like nightmares," Alex clarified. "What nightmare," Jimmy asked. "Is that why you told me to be careful?" Walker asked. "I kept seeing you shot in this really strange place and I even dreamt that Jimmy shot you." Alex explained. Walker laughed dismissing the relevance of her dream. He may have special Cherokee abilities that he couldn't explain, but he wasn't about to admit that Alex might share them. "Well, next time, leave me out of your nightmares," Jimmy complained. "Gladly, at least now maybe I can get a good nights' rest." "Well, you could really use it," Walker said. Alex's eyes widened as she absorbed the insult, "what does that mean? You think I look terrible or something? I did my hair." Jimmy swiveled his barstool looking for an avenue of escape. When Walker and Alex came to blows, he wanted to be on the other side of the room out of harms way. "That's not what I said," Walker backpedaled. "Yeah, but that's what you were thinking." "That's not what I was thinking." "Well, you know this is all your fault." "Why is it my fault?" "Because you were the one that was getting shot in my dreams." "But Trivette was the one doing the shooting." Jimmy made his escape. "Jimmy..." Alex began turning only to find him missing. She swiveled back to the other side and said, "Walker..." "Let's dance," Walker said as he stood and scooped her up off the barstool. Alex squealed with surprise as he swung her around in his arms carrying her to the dance floor and then let her slide down his body until she stood on her feet snuggly held in his arms. "Walker..." she began again in a whisper only to be silenced by his lips. The kiss was brief and chaste; after all they were in public. He gathered her close and lay his head on the soft hair that was piled so beautifully on her head, inhaling the fragrance. Walker kept her tightly held against his body for several songs. Alex didn't complain; she was where she needed to be, in the arms of the man she had spent night after night dreaming about. She needed the reassurance of his arms holding her.

    Walker realized that she was falling asleep standing up in his arms. He guided her back over to the bar where he collected her purse and then he walked her out the door. Alex had her car at C.D.'s, but he didn't feel safe letting her drive. She really was tired. Walker drove her home in the Ram and guided her up to her apartment where he unlocked her door and escorted her inside clear to her bedroom. He stopped at her bedroom door and Alex's eyes widened when she woke up enough to realize where they were. Walker smiled softly at the look of surprise and nervousness in her eyes. He bent down and kissed her softly. She moaned as she reached her arms up around his neck and deepened the kiss. Walker was only human and he knew that he was not going to take advantage of the sleep deprived fog that surrounded her brain and interfered with her thought processes, so he needed to make his exit. "I'll pick you up in the morning at seven to go to breakfast at C.D.'s and get your car. Sweet dreams beautiful lady," he kissed her once more softly and then gave her a little shove toward her room. Walker turned and exited the apartment, turning off the lights and locking the door behind him.

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     Alex walked into C.D.'s after the play she had attended with some of the women from her abused women's support group that she facilitated. She had invited Walker, but he hadn't wanted to go, big surprise. As she approached the bar, C.D. told her that she had a phone call. Alex took the call and it turned out to be a rather disturbing message from a man who said he was a friend of Thelma Beck. Alex knew Thelma from helping her with legal matters for her charity to save wild mustangs. Hank Sweet was desperate and wanted Alex to meet him at the fountain on Field Street. Walker asked her who was on the phone and she explained and asked him to accompany her. When they arrived, they spotted a man being accosted in the fountain by three men. Walker jumped in and began beating the men off of Hank Sweet, but when Hank turned to run, he was shot by one of his attackers. Alex jumped in the fountain to help Hank and he handed her the pictures and tape he was trying to get to her. While Walker kicked and punched two of the men, another jumped down to where Alex was and attacked her, grabbing the things Hank had given her. Walker turned and headed toward Alex when he heard her scream. By the time he got to her though, the man was gone and Hank was dying. "You gotta save the horses," were his final words.

    At Alex's apartment, Walker stood in front of the fireplace with a mug of coffee in his hands. He was wet and was trying to dry off as much as possible and also to warm up. He waited for her to come out of her room. She had jumped into the shower to get warm and then she had pulled on some silk panties and a short taupe colored robe that reached to the middle of her thighs. She knew she was playing with fire, but after the adventure they had just had, she still had adrenaline racing through her veins and she was feeling daring. Walker tried to mask his reaction to seeing her with so little on. She had a towel in her hand and was drying her hair that she had recently cut to chin length. With her arm up, the silky robe grazed her unfettered breasts and Walker sipped his coffee as his mouth longed to close over the tip of her breast.

     Alex was attempting to act as nonchalantly as Walker. She spoke as she dried her hair and walked toward him. "You know, I was thinking. All I could see were pictures of horses and that tape." "Audio tape?" "Think so, it all happened so fast." Alex headed to the couch and Walker followed her. They both sat down on her overstuffed couch to discuss what had happened. "Well, one thing we know for sure, whatever's going down involves horses. Did he mention anything on the phone?" Walker asked. "Just to have Thelma Beck call me, that's it." Alex crossed her leg causing the robe to draw up to the top of her thigh. Walker looked down at her leg and decided he'd better cross his legs or she was going to know exactly what effect she was having on him. He crossed his left leg over his right and shifted slightly away from her. "Thelma Beck, the name sounds familiar." Alex nodded, "you remember her, she was all over the news a couple years ago. They call her the mustang lady." Walker made the mistake of looking at her, "oh yeah, I remember." Now how to get his eyes turned back away from her without checking out her bared leg. He tried, he really did, but his eyes had a mind of their own or maybe it wasn't a mind that was in control, but another part of the male anatomy. Alex noticed the stolen glances at her legs and felt suddenly female and powerful. It was about time she made this cowboy squirm. He was always so in control, well she was about to take away some of his control. "More coffee?" she offered. "No, I should go," he didn't sound very convincing. Alex was having far too much fun. "I could whip us up some eggs or... whatever." She began swinging her leg and all of Walker's willpower couldn't keep his eyes straight ahead. "No, I gotta go," he said with a nervous smile as he leaned forward and put his coffee cup on the glass coffee table. "You sure?" she leaned forward the top of her robe separating just a little. Walker rubbed his hands together and took one last look at what he was leaving. "I'd better go," he said as he restrained himself from running out. "Don't forget your gun," she reminded him. "What?" He looked back and she used her eyes to point out the gun belt hanging on an urn shaped lamp. "Oh yeah, yeah," he said smiling in embarrassment. He grabbed the gun and this time he couldn't help himself as he charged out of her apartment. She sat on the couch gloating. She had managed to ruffle his feathers; she hugged the moment to herself. Walker stepped out into the cool evening air and shivered as it hit his wet clothes. Damn her, she had known that he was aroused and she had played him. He cursed her all the way home as his arousal pressed against the tight fly of his jeans. He couldn't think of anything more uncomfortable than wearing tight wet jeans and being hard. He was going to be chafed by the time he got to the ranch.

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     After a reckless driver caused a multiple car pile up, Walker climbed into a car that hung teetering on a bridge to rescue a young girl. He just managed to hand the child out to Alex when the car shifted and plunged over the side to the mud flats below. Alex handed the child to her mother and looked over the side of the bridge. She raced down the embankment and opened the door of the upside down car. She reached in for Walker and tried frantically to pull him out. The rescue crew arrived and began working to get him out after pulling her out of the way. The car was smoking and the men were going to give up, but she insisted they get him out. They just cleared the wreckage as the gas tank blew. A helicopter transported Alex and Walker to the hospital. Alex was unaware of her mud stained clothes and it took a nurse handing her slippers to make her realize she had lost her shoes. C.D. and Trivette arrived and the three waited for word from the doctor. Walker was in a deep coma and only time would tell.

   Trivette went to track down the driver responsible for the hit and run that had involved so many vehicles. C.D. collected a change of clothes for Alex as she refused to leave the hospital. When he returned, he kindly told her that she was 'pretty gamey' and convinced her to go take a shower. While she was gone, Walker suffered a seizure and she determined not to leave his side again. She had an irrational feeling that her presence would keep him alive and keep him fighting. Several days passed and except for the visits from Trivette and C.D., Alex spent her time reading to and talking to Walker. C.D. finally made her confront her fear. Making her admit to herself that she believed that he would die if she left his side. The only relief from worry came from stories C.D. and Jimmy shared of their friend. C.D. encouraged Alex to remember happier times with Walker and she thought back to special moments they had shared.

   Alex stretched and then leaned over Walker's bed holding his hand between hers and rubbing his fingers under her chin. "You know what I really wish we were doing right now? You and I running wild on the beaches of Tahiti." "Promises, promises," he murmured as he opened his eyes and smiled at her. She slowly stood up in surprise still holding his hand, but now it was pressed against her chest. "Welcome back," she said breathlessly and then turned to the door, "guys." Her shout brought C.D. and Trivette hustling in. Walker surveyed three of the most important people in is life and said, "don't you guys have anything better to do than to hang around a hospital?" "Not lately," C.D. answered.

   After tests were run and it was decided that Walker suffered no permanent damage, the doctor insisted he stay one more night in the hospital. Walker was clamoring to get out, but Alex blew up at him and seeing the worry and strain she had been under, he agreed to stay without further argument. After everyone had left, Alex told Walker she was going to go home as well. She was embarrassed about yelling at him and also because of what her outburst revealed. "Alex?" "Yeah." "Were you here the whole time?" She wouldn't meet his eyes, but nodded her head yes. "I felt you with me. I heard your voice. All I remember is darkness... and your voice. At first I thought it was the voice of an angel." He looked at her and then said, "maybe it was." Alex looked up and smiled. He reached his hand out to her and she took it in her own. Tugging her to him, Walker pulled her until her upper body rested against his chest. He hugged her tightly against him and stroked his hand down her back. When she finally pulled back, he pulled her face to his and kissed her lips. "Thank you," he murmured and kissed her again. "For what?" she asked puzzled. "For caring about an insensitive, ungrateful, cowboy." She smiled and reached down to initiate the next kiss. "I can't help myself," she admitted. "I've been bitten by the 'Walker bug', maybe I should ask the doctor if there's an antidote." "Don't you dare," he warned. They shared another smile and then she did leave so that he could rest and she could try to put her life back together.

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     Luckily, Walker had a hard head, because it was only weeks later that he was landing on it again as he fell out of a helicopter during a bust in Louisiana. After returning to Dallas, Walker resumed work and didn't tell anyone that he was suffering from flashbacks to his days in Vietnam. Alex sat at the bar refereeing yet another argument between C.D. and Trivette, this one was about fishing. When the phone rang, she answered it and told Murphy that she would give Walker the message. Walker sat staring at the countertop in a daze. Alex got his attention and told him that the doctor in Louisiana had spoken to the department surgeon who spoke to the chief and he was off duty until he went in for a check up. "You do look exhausted Walker," Alex noted with concern. "Alex, I feel fine, now get off my back!" he all but shouted at her. "Excuse me," she said stunned at his outburst. "I don't have time for this," he stormed as he slammed his coffee cup on the bar and turned to leave. "You got nothing but time," Alex shot back, never one to be intimidated. Walker turned and looked at her as she continued. "You're on medical leave until you get a clean bill of health." Walker glared at Alex, definitely wanting to 'kill the messenger.' He then turned and strode off. Alex turned back to C.D. and Trivette and whistled and said, "testy." Both men were shocked that Walker would speak to Alex in that manner, but they tried to explain it away saying he was tired and burned out.

   The doctor insisted that Walker take some time off and he finally accepted his fate. He planned a fishing trip down in the Louisiana bayou with C.D. and Trivette. As they were preparing their rods and flies, Alex watched and joined in the 'Trivette bashing'; Trivette wasn't there to defend himself. "I'm the one you should be taking, I actually know how to fish," Alex stated. Walker looked up at her and smiled, "yeah, but you may catch all the fish and then I'd have to be rude again."  Alex smiled back at him and said, "apology accepted." They shared a look and a smile that acknowledged the brief rift in their friendship. The three men did go on the trip, but as often happened when they tried to relax, they ran into a bunch of goons who seemed bent on ruining their respite. After arresting all the people involved in the drug manufacturing business in the bayou, Trivette and C.D. were forced to return to Dallas. Walker though, was able to stay and actually get some time to fish and sort things out in his head.

   Alex sat at C.D.'s looking at the ruined pictures from C.D.'s camera that had gone for a swim in the swamp. Walker walked in beaming and stepped up to Alex enveloping her in a bear hug with one arm while he shook Jimmy and C.D.'s hands. "Hey Cowboy, you look great," Alex stated as he released her. "Thanks, I feel great." C.D. then presented him with a gift. The three friends had chipped in to buy him a new sidearm to replace the one that had been ruined on his trip. C.D. and Trivette each got a handshake, but Alex got a 'thank you' kiss on the cheek. "So I don't hear any invitations for a fish dinner," Alex challenged. "What happened to you out there this week, did you get skunked too?" Walker looked at her and smiled, "Well, I'm not going to tell you guys all a fish story and tell you I caught a fish this big," he held his hands up. "It was this big," he claimed as he spread his arms wider and laughed. Alex pushed him away with a flat hand to his abdomen and he grabbed her and hugged her close with both arms around her shoulders. "Welcome home," she told him.

   The friends enjoyed the evening together catching up and swapping fishing stories. They made plans to get together at Walker's ranch on Saturday to barbecue fish. At ten, Alex looked at her watch and said, "I'd better go, I have a deposition early tomorrow morning." "I'll walk you out," Walker offered. As they approached her car, she turned to Walker to say goodnight. "Do you think you could eat fish two nights in a row?" he asked her. "Sure," she answered wondering where this was heading. "I don't go back on duty until Monday. I thought maybe you could come to the ranch tomorrow when you get off work and we could go for a ride and then I'll fix you dinner." Alex's eyebrows shot up; "you're going to cook for me?" "Don't worry, I won't give you food poisoning." She smiled, "it's a date cowboy. I'll try to get off early and be there by four." He nodded and then leaned in for a gentle kiss. After she drove off, he went back in to spend more time with Trivette and C.D.

     Alex arrived at the ranch a little after four. She had stopped at home and put on a pair of jeans with a baby blue fitted T-shirt to ride in. She had also stopped and purchased a bottle of white wine to accompany the fish dinner. Walker was in the barn saddling the horses when he heard her pull up. He went out to greet her with a smile and a hug. "Are you ready to head on out?" he asked. "I could use a pit stop and I should put the wine in the fridge," she answered. "Okay, I'll bring the horses out and we'll ride up to the lake." Alex nodded her head in acknowledgement of the plan and let herself into the house. She came back out after using the restroom and peaking into the refrigerator when she put the wine in. He had made a fresh salad and she saw a rice dish and the fish were marinating. Everything looked good to her!

     The two enjoyed the ride and went to the same place where they had first begun their friendship. He teased her about there being a rattlesnake behind her and she hit him. "You sure are violent," he complained as he rubbed his arm. "You bring out the worst in me," she accused. "If this is the worst, God help me if I ever see the best," Walker said. Alex's eyes widened at the declaration. They spent the early dusk skipping stones and talking. They shared an easy relaxed friendship and they both ignored the sexual tension that radiated between them. They headed back to the barn just before dark and Walker left her to curry the horses as he went in to start dinner. She heard him in the kitchen as she stopped by the downstairs bathroom to wash up. She smelled of leather and horses, but so did Walker and they both liked those smells. He looked up and smiled at her when she entered the kitchen. "Anything I can do to help?" she offered. "You can set the table if you want, you know where everything is." The two worked together getting the meal on the table and sat down to enjoy it. Walker had baked the marinated fish as they were planning to barbecue the larger fish the next day. They enjoyed their meal and then cleared and washed the dishes. "I don't usually make my date work for her meal," Walker protested when she began helping. "I'm not just 'a date,'" she declared. He couldn't argue with her there.

     Walker started a fire in the living room and sent her in to select some music. He then came out carrying two wineglasses and the remainder of the bottle she had brought. He also had a bowl of freshly pealed and sliced peaches. They sat together on the couch and he handed her a glass of wine. He then picked up a peach and dipped it into his wineglass and held it out to her lips. She opened her mouth and took a bite. "Mmm... that's a great combination, dry with sweet," she murmured. Walker leaned toward her and kissed her. "Mmm... there's another great combination of dry and sweet," he said causing her to laugh. They sipped their wine and ate the peach slices while watching the fire and listening to the music. After they finished the wine, Walker took her glass and set it down with his on the coffee table. He shifted her so that she leaned back against his chest while they watched the flames consume the log. He reached up and stroked her hair as they sat and enjoyed the closeness. Alex began to drift off as the soothing rhythmic motion of Walker's hand combined with the wine, the music, the fire and the beat of his heart beneath her head. "Hey beautiful, don't fall asleep on me," he chided her. "I can't help it, I don't know how I'm going to make it home." "I should have told you to bring something to sleep in and to plan to spend the night. You're going to be here tomorrow anyway." He actually never thought of it because he couldn't imagine the temptation of having her stay the night without the buffering presence of Trivette, C.D. or Uncle Ray who was at the reservation. He shifted her and slipped out from behind her, leaning her back against the pillow. He then went up to his room and got his largest softest shirt and brought it down to her. Shaking her awake, he gave her the shirt and told her to wear it to sleep in and to take the downstairs guestroom. Walker cleaned up the living room and put out the fire before heading up to bed. He only wished it were as easy to put out the fire in him. He spent a restless night thinking of her sleeping in the room downstairs wearing his shirt. His mind unbuttoned the buttons and drew apart the sides exposing her to his gaze. "Damn," he muttered as he climbed out of bed and into a cold shower. It was a long night.

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     Walker was not happy; the Oiler's and Cowboy's were tied in overtime when Alex had called him. She asked him to pick her up to meet Arnette who refused to speak to anyone but him. He let her know that he wasn't happy as they waited for Arnette to show. When Arnette arrived, he told them a story about how cocaine was being switched out and replaced in the evidence room. There was more to the story, but he never got the opportunity to tell them about it as a pickup squealed through the parking garage and gunned him down. Walker leapt out of the way of the speeding vehicle, taking Alex with him as they dove for cover. It was only the first time that week they would be shot at.    

     Alex was fuming, she had finally had the opportunity to take Mitch Cutter down and her witness had recanted on the stand. She walked with Trivette and Walker down the stairs of the courthouse still reeling from the botched trial. Then her world exploded. Walker shoved her toward the stairwell and as she fell, she heard a loud noise and felt a burning sensation in her left shoulder. Walker was there in a flash, pulling her back against him as he checked the wound and then put his hand over it applying pressure to slow the bleeding. Trivette had taken off after the shooter. The shooter! She had been shot! She took deep breaths trying to control the pain. "So this is what it feels like to be shot," she observed through gritted teeth. "Thank God you're alive... to feel it," Walker said. Alex turned her face toward him grimacing in pain and he tucked her face between his chin and collarbone as he held onto her waiting for the paramedics. 

     The local anesthetic the doctor used on her shoulder to numb the area as he removed the bullet and stitched her up took away the worst of the pain. Her shirt was ruined, so the hospital gave her a surgical gown to wear home. Her arm was in a sling and they insisted she leave in a wheelchair, but at least they hadn't admitted her and made her stay overnight. Walker insisted on pushing the wheelchair himself, but with the pain temporarily numbed, Alex had regained her spunk. "Can you believe it? I get shot in the courthouse, witnesses everywhere, cops everywhere and no one saw a thing." "The question is why? Why would anyone want to shoot you?" Walker asked. Alex tilted her head back to see him; "I do have some enemies you know."  "I wonder if it had anything to do with that meeting with Arnette. You guys remember that kid in the courthouse? The one pointing his finger at the shooter like he knew who he was?" "Yeah I remember him, he was shouting something at his father," Trivette answered. Walker nodded, "something about a belt buckle. "Well, obviously the family had business there. I'll just check and see what cases were being heard," Alex stated. "No we'll do that," Trivette declared. "Guys, I'm okay." Alex assured them with a smile. "Alex, you're not checking anything for a few days," Walker declared. "What? Did women suddenly lose the vote?" Alex asked. "The vote's two to one, majority rules," Walker said. "I have three cases I'm preparing," Alex argued. "Then maybe you should prepare them behind closed doors," Trivette suggested with an edge of steel rarely heard in his voice. One of his best friends had just been shot and he wasn't going to take any chances with her life. "Trivette! Walker!" Alex exclaimed in exasperation. "End of discussion Alex." This was one argument Walker was not going to lose. He didn't care how mad she got at him, as long as she was alive to get mad. "Who do you guys think you are?" Alex asked in amazement. "The majority," Walker answered her. Trivette didn't bother to respond. Alex had never had two men double team her and win. She wasn't sure what had hit her.

     C.D. protected Alex at her home while Walker and Trivette investigated the shooting and the missing drugs. A woman showed up at Alex's house to finish her off and an armed man followed her in. C.D. and Trivette subdued the man, but the woman tried to escape. Alex stopped her with a well-placed punch. The woman fell back into C.D.'s arms and Alex said, "God, that felt good." C.D. grinned at her and said, "you been hanging around with Cordell too long." Alex just grinned back at him. When Trivette briefed Walker on what had transpired at Alex's house, Walker asked, "what about Alex?" "Let me tell you, she's got a great right hook." "What?" Walker asked, "she okay?" "Oh yeah, safe and sound, everybody's accounted for." Walker and Trivette managed to solve both cases, which turned out to be one. Mitch Cutter was behind the entire thing. Alex went back to work still sporting a sling and Walker saw her approaching him in the hall. He stepped to her left and stood a little off to the side facing her. The move was very deliberate and she looked at Walker strangely.
"What are you doing?" "Staying out of range," he answered, "I'm told you've got a mean right hook." "And don't forget it Cowboy," she told him saucily as she continued on down the hall. Walker shook his head as he admired the view as she walked away from him.

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     A prestigious practice had recruited Alex to join their firm. She had an appointment scheduled to interview with the senior partners. She had mixed emotions, this was a chance of a lifetime, her career would skyrocket, as would her income. She loved her job though and she wasn't sure it was worth the sacrifice of the intrinsic reward she got when she helped a victim of a crime or got a slimeball put behind bars. There was also the problem of her relationship with Walker, such as it was. It was hard to work together and be involved in what she had once described to Elaine Portugal as 'maybe a little more than friendship.' Elaine had said that Walker looked at her 'like a wolf looking at a pork chop'. Alex would like to believe that, but weeks later she still had no more encouragement from him. If she was on the opposite side of a case from Walker, she was afraid that the tenuous relationship between them would be forever doomed. 'Damn it Cahill, you promised yourself you would never again let a man dictate your career choices.' Finally determined to go through with the interview, she had shared the news with her three friends. C.D. was disgusted and wouldn't even talk to her about it, saying she was wasting a perfectly good mind and sense of right and wrong. He left for a trip and would be gone a week, telling her she had better come to her senses before he got back. Trivette was a little more supportive, but Walker was clearly rattled by the whole idea. He felt panicked at the thought of her leaving the DA's office. He knew that he wouldn't see her everyday and when they did see each other, they would have to guard their tongues to avoid sharing 'inside information' on cases they were working on. After harassing Alex while having coffee and waiting for her appointment time, Walker and Trivette walked her to the elevator. Walker wanted her to know that she had his support, no matter what. Most of this was said with his eyes, but he did manage to say, "they'd be stupid not to take you." She smiled back into his eyes thanking him for his vote of confidence and then said, "I'll meet you back at C.D.'s and let you know what happened." Walker agreed with a half wink and then they stood just gazing at each other, both knowing the next hour could alter the course of their relationship. Finally, Walker turned to step out of the way of the sensors to let the elevator doors close. Just before they closed, three men entered the elevator.

     Alex rode up in the elevator with Mr. Trask, a wealthy oilman, his male personal assistant and the three men who had entered. As the elevator stopped on her floor, another woman entered and when Alex started to step off, a man with a gun stopped her. Meanwhile, Walker had recognized one of the men as he passed him to get on the elevator. When it finally registered who he was, he ran back to check on Alex. "Victor LaRue, that's who that is. He's bad news Trivette!" He then watched as they exited the elevator several floors up and Alex managed to look over the railing at Walker. The look on her face told him that she was in danger. "He's got Alex," Walker stated as he and Trivette turned to rush to her aid.

     After reaching the roof and killing Trask's helicopter pilot, LaRue ordered everyone into the helicopter. They were flown to a hanger and then searched before being loaded into a van. Alex managed to slip her cell phone in the waist of her skirt before getting out of the helicopter where she was searched by LaRue who made lewd comments. At one of his comments, she swung to hit him across the face and he grabbed her arm. "You tried to hurt me," he said in a petulant voice. Her actions disrupted his search and prevented him from finding the hidden phone. She was then blindfolded and loaded into the van with the others. After being driven to an estate where LaRue told them they were being held until Trask's company paid the ransom demand, Alex managed to convince them to let her use the restroom. Once in the restroom, she dialed Jimmy's cell phone. Jimmy handed the phone to Walker and Alex described the van trip and where they were being held. Walker knew that LaRue always killed his hostages and he was determined to find Alex. He sat in the helicopter gripped with fear as he asked Trivette, "What if they caught her making that call Trivette?" Jimmy could hear the fear and worry in his partner's voice and he knew it was a rhetorical question, so he didn't answer. There was nothing he could say anyway.

     The rescue attempt at the estate was unsuccessful, but they managed to take out some of LaRue's people and force him to flee. He found a closed donation center, where donated clothes were sorted, to hide in. Alex managed to get out of sight and call Walker, but LaRue discovered her before she could tell Walker where they were. She set the phone out of sight and Trivette had Maisie trace the call as Walker listened. The next several minutes were some of the worst Walker endured in his lifetime. His feeling of impotence consumed him just as it had when he was a boy witnessing his parent's murders. He listened as LaRue hit Alex and then start tearing her clothes off in an attempt to rape her. Alex cried and screamed and fought as hard as she could, but she was losing the battle. As soon as Trivette got a location, Walker yelled loudly into the phone to get LaRue's attention. "Come to the phone you son of a bitch!" LaRue turned from Alex and seeing the cell phone said, "Of course, that's how they knew how to find us." He picked up the phone and Walker said, "touch her again and I'll rip your heart out!"

     The hostages were again moved, this time to a junkyard. Walker and Trivette managed to trace them there, despite the decoy LaRue set up with a bus. The four hostages were tied and inside a van that was in a car crusher as Walker finally went hand to hand with LaRue. Walker defeated LaRue, but only just in time as the roof of the van was pressed ever closer to the hostages. When Walker and Trivette yanked the van door open, Alex lay there tied up and covered in glass. Walker helped her out and untied the ropes, "it's all right, just watch your head." Once she cleared the van, he asked, "are you all right?" He tried to look at her face to check her injuries, but she collapsed against him crying, "just hold me." Walker was happy to comply. Alex rarely allowed any weakness to show through and he just wanted to comfort her. She had been through hell and she grabbed on to the reassuring strength she found in him.

     The police swarmed the area and everyone was arrested and the hostages taken to the hospital. Mr. Trask tried to claim that Alex's actions had endangered his life, but his personal assistant had had enough of the pompous man and punched him in the face, breaking his nose. This occurred at the hospital, so medical treatment was readily available. Alex sat in the exam room staring blankly at the wall. She had been examined and x-rayed. Her wrist was placed in a brace, as there were some torn tendons from LaRue's manhandling. She had bruises on her face and arms, but there was no permanent injury. Walker entered the room to take her home. "Come on Alex, let's get you out of here." "What about my statement?" "It can wait until tomorrow, you're out on your feet." He helped her off the table and placing his arm around her waist, walked her out to the parking lot and loaded her into the Ram.

     Walker again placed his arm around her waist as he helped her into her apartment. She insisted on showering and headed to her bedroom. Several minutes later, she came back out into the living room wearing a robe and staring at the carpet. "Walker?" she began tentatively. "Yeah Alex, what is it?" "I can't..." Her voice petered out. Walker's eyes squinted as he tried to discern what was wrong. "What Alex? What can't you do?" he asked her in a gentle voice. "I can't undo the clasp..." Again her voice petered out. Walker looked at her and could see that she had removed her clothes, but had not yet showered. "The clasp?" he asked still bewildered. Alex bit her lip and looked at the floor nodding. This time, Walker took in the brace that supported her swollen wrist. 'Clasp' he thought and then it dawned on him. He approached her and she risked sneaking a glance up at him. He gently grasped her elbow and guided her through the bedroom and into the bathroom. He reached into the shower stall and turned on the water adjusting the temperature. Then he stepped behind her and pulled the robe down her shoulders exposing her back and bra clasp. Alex stood there cursing herself for not wearing a front closing bra that day as she felt Walker's fingers undo the clasp for her. He then stepped back and left the bathroom closing the door behind him.

     Twenty minutes later, Alex rejoined him in the living room in the same robe, but this time with wet hair. Walker had heated some soup and made toast with tomato slices and cheese melted on it. He had prepared a meal that required only a spoon to eat. He pulled the chair out for Alex and helped her get seated. He then sat across from her and they ate in companionable silence. When they finished, Walker suggested that she go on to bed. He had brought up his gym bag that he kept in the Ram with a clean change of clothes. "I'm going to stay here tonight, I'll be on your couch if you need me," he informed her. "I'm not in any danger, you arrested all of the people involved in the kidnapping." "Alex, you just went through a very traumatic experience. I'm not leaving you alone in case you wake up during the night and need a friend. If you want to call someone else, I'll understand. Otherwise, I'm here." Alex was touched by his caring and sensitivity. She went to the closet and brought out a spare pillow, sheet and blanket. "This couch is really comfortable," she told him. "If you want to shower, everything you need is in the guest bathroom, towels are in the linen closet next to it." "Thanks," he said and then leaned over to place a gentle kiss on the side of her mouth. He then turned her toward the bedroom and gave her a gentle shove.

     Alex did have nightmares and at one point, she cried out for Walker. He was there instantly, holding her shaking body, soothing her with his words and stroking her back. Alex awoke fully to find herself held in his embrace. His breath tickled her ear as he spoke to her, telling her she was safe and that he wouldn't let that bastard near her again. Alex lay against his chest and dreamed of staying there forever. Realizing that this wasn't the time to tell him that, she drew in a deep breath and let out a huge sigh. She pulled back out of his embrace and settled back down on the pillow. Walker tucked the blankets back up around her and just sat with her as he watched her eyelids close and her breathing become deep and regular. As he sat watching her sleep, the images of that animal touching her and hurting her raced through his mind. Thank God she had been spared the horror of being raped, but he knew that the attempt could have long lasting scars as well. He would make sure she got involved in a support group. He knew she worked with victims of domestic abuse and he decided to call the therapist that Alex worked with to let her know what Alex had been through and ask her to help Alex deal with the trauma.

     Three days later, Alex walked into C.D.'s and announced that she had turned down the job offer from the law firm that she had interviewed with. After much soul searching, she decided that her happiness was far more important than money. She enjoyed helping victims of crimes and there were many ways of doing this, but for her, putting the criminals in jail was the most rewarding. It was several years later that she expanded on her role through the creation of the HOPE Center. For now though, working with Trivette and Walker made her feel a part of the solution to crime and she needed that in her life. She watched as LaRue was sentenced and she knew that she could never work for a firm that defended men like him. She never mentioned the intimacy she had shared with Walker the night of the kidnapping. His touch had set fire through her when his fingers brushed the skin of her back as he fumbled with the clasp of her bra. A part of her that she held in the most secret of places wished he had stayed. He had been such a gentleman though, turning and walking out of the room. What she didn't know was that when that same scene played out in Walker's mind, he saw the reflection of her firm white breast with it's dusky nipple in the chrome of the shower door. He had walked out to give her privacy, but in his fantasies, he stayed.

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   Walker taught Alex many things about the Cherokee Indians as he shared his culture with her.  Soon after they resolved the case of Indian burial grounds being raided and looted, Alex sat with Walker in C.D.'s. Lee Greenwood's song 'Between a Rock and a Hard Place' played on the jukebox and Alex remembered seeing all the different Indian faces as they held the fundraiser for the Tribal Alliance. "I miss Uncle Ray," Alex stated seemingly out of the blue. "He misses you too, he just doesn't feel he can leave right now," Walker answered her. The tribal council had asked Uncle Ray to return to the reservation to fill a role he had prepared for his entire life. Ray's role was to teach the young the old ways and teach the old to be more accepting of new ways. He was a man who had successfully combined his native culture with the white man's world and then passed on this ability to live in both worlds to his nephew. So many of the youth in the tribe had mixed heritage or lived at least part of their lives off the reservation. As each generation matured, many left to live their lives integrated into the outside world. The elders asked Ray to come and counsel those who wished to leave and those who recently returned. He also taught a class to young children of broken marriages and mixed blood. He taught them the way of the Indian and told them that they would always have a home on the reservation, but if they chose to live outside the reservation, their skills would be useful there as well. He used his nephew, 'Washo' as an example to many of these children. Walker was already a legend amongst his people and Ray Firewalker fed the stories.

     Walker thought about Alex's statement about missing Uncle Ray and he realized that he too could use his company. He looked at his caseload and made a decision. Alex looked up at the knock on her office door. "Come in," she called and smiled as her favorite Ranger entered. "Hi, what can I do for you Cowboy?" Walker returned her smile. "I'm planning a long weekend at the reservation. I thought I'd trailer Amigo down on Thursday and come back late Sunday. Would you like to accompany me? I can haul two horses as easily as one." Alex was stunned and thrilled at the suggestion of the two of them going away together. "I'd love to," she said, unable to hide her eagerness. "Your caseload must be as overwhelming as mine," he said. "I could use the break," she agreed deciding not to let him in on the real reason she was so excited.

     Thursday morning, Alex pulled her car into the ranch driveway at 5:30 as they had arranged. Walker was in the barn feeding and preparing Amigo and Cookie for the trip. Alex unloaded her belongings and put them into the back seat of the Ram. She kept her saddle at the ranch and Walker had already loaded it, so she only had her clothes, sleeping bag and backpack. Walker said that they would stay the first night at Uncle Ray's cabin, but they would probably sleep out at least one night. To go to the reservation and not take the time to admire the beautiful land it was located on went against everything Walker believed in. Alex headed on up to the house to load up the cooler with ice and drinks. They planned to drive straight there and not stop to eat, so she made them some breakfast burritos to go. After cleaning the kitchen up and making a last minute bathroom trip, Alex headed out to find Walker loading the horses into the trailer. "Hi Cowboy," Alex greeted him with a huge smile. "Hi yourself, you're looking pretty chipper for this time of the morning." Walker knew that mornings were not Alex's most productive time. She grinned at him and replied, "even the sunrise looked brighter than usual this morning, I really need this trip. Besides, I get to spend time with my favorite man." Walker's eyebrows lifted, "I didn't know I held that honor," he said. "Not you, Uncle Ray." Walker growled at her and made as if to lunge and tackle her. She squealed and moved out of his range. With both horses loaded, Walker returned to the house to get the cooler and wash up. He locked everything up and joined Alex who was already in the cab of the truck. Alex handed him the scrambled eggs, bacon and salsa wrapped in a flour tortilla after he started the truck and got them headed down the road. "Mmm..." he mumbled around a mouthful, "this is just what I needed." He finished off the burrito in record time and turned to her; "you only made me one?" He had such a disappointed look on his face that she burst out laughing and handed him the second one she had kept out of view. He grabbed it and took only slightly longer to consume it. "Coffee," he said as if he were in a desert begging for water. Alex chuckled at the playful attitude he had so bright and early in the morning and handed him a spill proof coffee cup. "Lady, you sure know how to please a man." It was Alex's turn to raise her eyebrows while she thought to herself, 'if you only knew.'

     Several hours later, they pulled into the driveway of Uncle Ray's cabin. He heard them drive in and stepped off the porch to greet them. Alex jumped from the cab and flew into Uncle Ray's extended arms for a warm bear hug. Walker watched as his Uncle greeted Alex with all the love he would a daughter. 'That's what she is to him,' he realized, 'the daughter he and Aunt Ruth never had. Just as I'm the son they couldn't conceive.' Realizing this brought a tear to his eye and a lump to his throat. "Uncle Ray, don't squeeze too hard, I drank way too much coffee and Walker wouldn't stop." "I wouldn't stop! You were the one who didn't want to take advantage of the scrub grass that lines the road," Walker defended himself. "Go on in Alex, make yourself at home while I help Washo settle the horses in the corral." The men settled the horses and unloaded the truck while Alex put together sandwiches and poured lemonade. The three spent a companionable day catching up. They made plans to head out the next morning for a two-day camping trip. Alex packed what she would need in her backpack and set it and her sleeping bag near the door. She knew these two men and they believed that sleeping in was a horrible crime.

     Friday morning, Walker knocked on Alex's door to wake her. "I'm up," came the muffled reply. Walker grinned imagining her grumpy expression at being woken so early. There really was no reason why they had to leave before sunup; it was simply a choice, his not hers. Alex stumbled out thirty minutes later, showered and dressed and ready to ride. Uncle Ray insisted they eat a full breakfast and then they went out and saddled the horses. They had ridden past the houses that dotted the countryside before the sun began to rise. Alex had to admit it was a spectacular sight, almost worth keeping her eyes open. They rode out to the river and set up camp. Alex put a line into the river to see if she could catch any fish while Walker and Uncle Ray went hunting. Alex managed to catch three good-sized fish and she had cleaned them and had them cooking over the campfire when Walker and Uncle Ray returned. She looked up when a shadow fell across her where she sat cooking the fish. "Washo, it is a good thing you brought Alex, I'm hungry," Uncle Ray declared. Alex noted that they had not had a successful hunting trip and she smiled, secretly gloating. "There's enough for everyone and I also boiled some rice." The men sat down to eat the filling meal and they topped it off with wild strawberries they had gathered during their hunting expedition. "Beats rattlesnake any day," Alex declared finishing her meal. Uncle Ray began to clean up the dishes and Alex and Walker headed off for a walk. The evening was spent listening to Uncle Ray tell stories, Indian legends and some tall tales. With encouragement from Alex, he told some stories of Walker's childhood. Walker sat in tolerant amusement as Alex listened intently to Uncle Ray tell of all his misdeeds as a child.

     Uncle Ray tired first and climbed into his sleeping bag. Alex walked up around the curve in the river and decided to take a dip and wash in the clear water. She stripped off to nothing and dove into the cold refreshing water. Walker respected her privacy and bathed closer to the campsite. When she didn't return after an hour, he began to get concerned and headed toward where she had gone. Rounding the bend, he saw her sitting on a sandbar in the middle of the river. She had stretched out with legs in front of her resting back on her hands. Her face was turned to the sky as if she was soaking up the sun, but it had long since gone down. Walker's breath caught as the full moon peeked out from behind the clouds and shone brightly on her white skin. From where he stood, he couldn't make out each feature, but it was enough to know that she was nude and to see the glistening of water as it dripped from her skin. Walker felt his body respond in a distinctly male way and when she began to wake from the trance she was in and turn to head back to shore, he quietly stole back to the campsite.

     The next day, Uncle Ray left them to head back to town. He said he had a tribal council meeting to attend Saturday night and it was important that he present his latest idea of pairing up an elder with new children returning to the reservation. He wanted the elders to act as mentors to help the children fit into the extended family of the tribe. Walker and Alex were both surprised that he was leaving and offered to return with him, but he insisted they stay and enjoy themselves. 'Uncle Ray missed his calling, he should have been a matchmaker,' Walker thought. Both he and Alex were a little nervous about being alone together. It was ridiculous, they were such good friends, but whenever they were put in a situation that had potential for romance; they felt pressured and nervous. They had many reasons to avoid a romantic involvement, jobs, friends, past loves, etc. When there were others around, it wasn't too hard to remember these reasons, but when they were alone...

     They decided to leave their camp set up and to go exploring on horseback. They saw wildlife and Walker taught her some of the plants and their medicinal or nutritional purposes. He explained how he tracked their dinner, a rabbit, and he gave her survival lessons. They returned to the campsite at dusk and Alex built the fire as Walker had taught her while he dressed the rabbit. They made a rabbit stew with the meat from the rabbit and plants they had gathered. The herbs gave off a mouthwatering smell and by the time it was ready to eat, Alex had gotten over her aversion to eating a fluffy bunny. It was weird, but when she bought a package of meat in a grocery store, she had no compunction about eating it. Hunting and all that went with it made the process much more real.

     After dinner, Alex decided to return to her private swimming hole. She loved the feel of swimming nude and she took the organic soap she had brought to cleanse her skin and hair. She felt decadent sitting on her sandbar in the moonlight shaving her legs. Walker took his own bath near the campsite. He was having a problem though; the water wasn't cold enough to counteract the effect the mental image of her swimming nude caused on his body. He gave up and returned to the campfire dressed in nothing but sweatpants to sleep in. Alex returned some time later wearing an oversized T-shirt with her hair plastered to her head. She had on panties, but nothing else and the cool air caused her nipples to harden. The T-shirt material clearly outlined the hardened nipples and Walker gave a silent groan as his body took notice.

     Alex sat near the fire combing her hair to dry it. Walker watched each stroke until he simply couldn't take it any longer. He stood and walked behind her, taking the comb from her fingers and used it to glide through the still damp hair. Soon after, he abandoned the comb and used his fingers to caress her hair, then her scalp and finally her shoulders. "That feels good," Alex murmured as her stiff muscles relaxed under his gentle kneading. "Lay down on your stomach and let me do your back," he urged her. She did as he instructed, lying down on top of her sleeping bag. Walker massaged her through the fabric of her T-shirt for awhile, but eventually he needed to feel her skin under his fingers. He lifted the bottom of the T-shirt up and over her head so that it remained on her upper arms and she used it as a pillow. Alex moaned softly as his fingers made contact with her skin. He stroked lightly from her neck to the top of her panties and then back up again. He alternated between deeply massaging her muscles to lightly tickling her exposed skin. Alex was on fire. Her breasts throbbed beneath her and her panties were soaked with the liquid her body made in preparation for his entry. When she simply couldn't stand the torment a minute longer, Alex turned over onto her back discarding the T-shirt as she went. Looking up at Walker, she knew that he was aching as badly as she was. His eyes were dark pools, his chest heaved with his wanting and when she let her gaze wander lower still, his erection lay firmly against his belly molded by the material of his sweat pants.

    "You are so beautiful," Walker murmured as he touched her face and then lowered his fingers to her chin and neck. He continued to trail down to her chest. He brushed the back of his hand against her breast and she gasped as her vaginal muscles clenched in reaction. "Please Walker, please kiss me," she pleaded. He lowered his body so that it lay next to hers and using both arms to pull her tight against his body, he answered her plea. Their mouths touched, pulled apart, touched again and then opened to receive the other. They tasted and then drank deeply of each other's mouths their tongues probing and exploring the deepest recesses. Walker pulled back gasping for air as they lay with their eyes locked and their mouths opened panting. Alex watched as his eyes lowered to her breasts that were glowing in the bright moonlight. She saw his pupils contract with pleasure as he regained enough oxygen to lower his head once again, this time to pull her nipple deep into his mouth. His tongue swirled the tip and then he suckled on the engorged flesh until she thought it would be raw. At her whimper, he lifted his head and looked at her and then lowered his head to latch onto its twin.

     Alex had never been so aroused in her life. All logic, all reason, fled as she gave into the sensations that coursed through her body. Pushing away from him and at the same time, pulling his hair to force him to raise his head, she took her turn to taste the male counterparts to her breasts. She pulled the hardened nubs that topped his developed pectoral muscles into her mouth alternately laving them with her tongue and suckling them in imitation of what he had just done to her. He dug his fingers into her hair as she had dug her fingers into his. This time, he tugged her head away as his body craved so much more. His hand trailed down her body, touching her abdomen, stroking it softly and flirting with the elastic of her panties. He finally probed his fingers down into the soft hair that curled there and he gently touched and stroked her outer lips. Alex's hands followed a similar course on his body, following the arrow of hair that led to the throbbing shaft pressing for release. As her fingers dipped into the waistband of his sweats, they brushed the tip of his pulsing manhood. As his mind swirled out of control, hers grasped onto the last threads of thought. "Walker, do you have anything with you? For protection?" Alex asked on gasping breaths as her hips bucked up to force his hand into even more intimate contact. Her words penetrated the fog that surrounded his mind and he realized what she was asking. "No, but Alex I know that I don't have anything you need to worry about, I just had a physical." "I'm not... worried about that, this is the worst possible time for me. I'm in the... middle of my cycle. I should ovulate... today or tomorrow." Alex struggled to make the words come out in some semblance of order. She thought she would break into a million pieces if she didn't release the tension he had built in her, but she also didn't want to become pregnant accidentally.

     Thoughts swam through the haze until her meaning finally penetrated Walker's brain. "You mean, you're not on the pill?" Walker asked in a moan. "No, I have no reason to be. Or at least, I had no reason to be." "Alex, I want you so badly I would love to just throw caution to the wind and let tomorrow take care of itself. I guess we can't do that though can we?" It was almost as if he were asking her to make the final decision. He didn't wait for a response though; he simply plunged his index finger deep into her moist core. She cried out and convulsed against him as he withdrew and plunged a second finger in with the first. Finally a third finger joined the other two stretching her beyond anything she had previously experienced. He plunged in and out of her while running the pad of his thumb against the tiny engorged flesh that contained the sensitized nerve endings that multiplied her pleasure. Walker watched her face as she was lost in the throes of passion, mindless and only able to feel. He knew that if he spread her legs and entered her now, she would not protest. He couldn't though, he wouldn't do that to her. She meant far too much to him. Walker was mesmerized by the intent expression on Alex's face as she cried out in a long high pitched cry of release. Her inner walls contracted around his hand and even more moistness rushed down his fingers to the palm of his hand.

     Alex lay there completely spent as Walker withdrew his hand and pulled her panties back into place. She watched as he brought his fingers to his mouth and licked the moistness off tasting the intimate juices. This simple act brought Alex back to life and it was his turn to gasp as her hand reached back down into his sweat pants and sought out his most pleasurable part. Alex's fingers curled around him as she pumped slowly up and down, bringing raspy breaths from his throat. Her fingers teased his tip and then returned to the pace she set as his hips bucked in rhythm with her hand. Alex watched his face as he closed his eyes focusing on the pleasure she was giving him. It wasn't long before his hoarse cry signaled his release as his body spewed his life giving fluid. Some of it landed on his abdomen and as Walker watched, Alex leaned over and licked it up. He felt himself begin to harden again as her tongue lapped his stomach. He thought that what was happening to his body was a physiological impossibility. Apparently, not when you added the magic of Alex. Suddenly, Alex leapt up, grabbed her T-shirt and raced back around the bend to her private pool. Stripping off her soaking wet panties, she plunged into the cool water gasping as it hit her sensitized flesh. Walker lay still for several more moments and then went for his own dip.

     When Alex returned, Walker was already in his sleeping bag clear on the other side of the campground from hers. She climbed in and the two of them lay awake awaiting morning. The ride back to Uncle Ray's house was uncomfortable for Alex. Her muscles were sore from Walker's hands and she kept shifting her weight back trying to ride more on her seat. Her breasts were raw as she had predicted and her bra rubbed the sensitive flesh. If Walker noticed her fidgeting, he didn't comment about it. By the time they reached Uncle Ray's cabin, Alex was sore and exhausted. She barely managed to untack Cookie and groom her before she headed into the house for a soak in a warm tub. Uncle Ray's presence helped to defuse the tension between them. They loaded the horses into the trailer and drove back to Dallas late that afternoon. Alex feigned sleep most of the way. She wasn't ready to talk about what had happened between them and Walker didn't seem anxious to broach the subject either. Back in Dallas, they fell back into their usual routine. Each made one modification though. Walker went to the drugstore and bought several foil packs that he placed in his wallet, his survival kit, his glove box and his nightstand drawer. Alex made an appointment with her doctor and got a prescription for birth control pills that she began taking as soon as her next cycle ended.

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     It was only a few weeks later that Walker and Alex shared a hotel room. The circumstances were not conducive to romance though. They shared the room with little Naomi, a young girl whose father had been taken and held prisoner by some military men with their own secret agenda. The next time Walker and Alex slept together was even less romantic. After Walker managed to thwart the assassination attempt on Colonel Mendoza and Trivette rushed in to free the hostages, C.D. was rushed to the hospital with a knife wound to his chest. C.D. had been unable to give his acceptance speech for the award he was supposed to receive before all mayhem broke loose and he insisted on saying it in front of Walker, Alex and Trivette. Unlike C.D. though, the threesome had been up all night filling out reports and pressing charges. They sat in the hospital room trying to listen to C.D.'s speech, but soon Walker felt Alex's head drop to his shoulder. Next, Trivette lost his battle with sleep and finally Walker also succumbed. C.D. was none too happy with them when they woke up and Alex blushed slightly when she realized she had gotten cozy with Walker in front of the other two.

     Sleep became Walker's enemy when he met the 'skin walker,' an Indian who could assume the forms of different animals and who wanted to kill those related to a construction site that had unearthed a burial ground. Walker fell asleep and his dream began pleasantly, he had set up a special romantic evening with Alex and he wished her a happy birthday. In his dream, he then told her that she knew what a big role she played in his life and that he wanted her to play an even bigger role. He then asked her to marry him. Alex was shocked by his proposal, but when the skin Walker invaded his dreams, he tried to kill Alex using Walker's own hands. Walker managed to resist him, but even after he had killed the man in real life, Walker still feared sleep for weeks after. He tried to analyze his dream and he decided that he was feeling guilty for wanting to make love to Alex without making some kind of commitment. There were so many things that he needed to tell her though before a commitment was feasible. As far as he knew, she didn't even know about his former fiancée, Ellen.

     C.D. and Trivette watched the two closely during all this. They knew something was different, something had changed with their trip to the reservation. The question was, what? There were definite sparks between the two. There had always been sexual tension, but sometimes it felt as if you could cut it with a knife. C.D. and Jimmy sat at the bar watching the two dance to a slow tune one night. C.D. told Jimmy that he was going to stop paying his electric bill and just plug into those two since they were generating so much electricity. "What do you think Jimmy, did they finally sleep together?" "I don't think so Big Dog. If they did, they sure don't look happy about it." "I can't ever figure those two out, just when I think they're going to make an announcement, they back off and act as if they barely know each other. Then suddenly you turn around and they're looking into each other's eyes as if that's where all the tomorrows are." "I know Big Dog, but I've been thinking." "What's that Jimmy?" "Well, do you think maybe it's a little pathetic the way we sit and watch and speculate about those two instead of getting lives of our own." "Bite your tongue Jimmy. Watching two people fall in love is one of the best parts of life. If you're one of the two people, that's even better, but if not, it's still a worthwhile pastime." "If you say so Big Dog, if you say so."

     Alex swayed in Walker's arms and knew that he was aroused. She had suggested they return to the bar, but he blushingly admitted that if they tried to separate at this point, it could prove embarrassing to both of them. She didn't mind staying in his arms, but she didn't know how they were ever going to make it back to the bar, she was just as aroused as he and she had unfortunately worn a silk blouse that clung and showed just how aroused. It took her awhile to realize what Walker was doing, but he danced them into a back corner to a booth and then helped her slide in and slid in next to her. Seeing them seated, C.D. and Jimmy headed over. Alex crossed her arms and lay them on the table and leaned against them to cover any tale tell signs. Walker's problem was hidden by the table. Jimmy and C.D. may have suspected that there was a reason they chose the booth over the bar, but they had no proof. So began the tradition of Alex and Walker sitting in their 'favorite booth.' In reality, it was just a means of remaining discreet.

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     When Max Kale escaped from prison, he had a list of people he was determined to kill. The judge who sentenced him was first and Trivette was injured in the explosion. Kale promised Walker that he would save him for last and Walker knew that as the prosecuting attorney, Alex would also be on his list. Walker insisted that Alex be given protection, but Kale managed to enter her apartment and kill the officer guarding her and then strap her to dynamite and a chair. He then contacted Walker to let him know that Alex was in danger. Walker entered the apartment triggering the timer on the bomb. Walker pulled the duct tape from her mouth and she told him that there were only two minutes from the time the door opened to the detonation of the bomb. As the clock ticked down, Alex urged Walker to get out. Instead, he got scissors from the kitchen and looked at the colored wires attached to the timer. "There's three wires Alex. If I cut the wrong one..." He left the sentence unfinished and gazed from her eyes to the wires. Alex looked at him and knew that he wasn't going to leave her. They both survived together or they both died. Walker knew that he had to do whatever he could to save Alex. It didn't even cross his mind to leave her. He had to kiss her though, just in case it was for the last time. He stood up enough to reach her lips and latched on to her mouth trying to convey his feelings in the few seconds he had. He then squatted back down to the wires and again tried to determine which to cut. Finally, he chose the darkest colored one and cut it. They both took deep breaths as the timer stopped and they absorbed the fact that the bomb had not exploded and killed them. Walker untied Alex and she leapt into his arms hugging his neck so tightly he had trouble breathing. Walker encircled her in his embrace and tried to comfort her. "I'm sorry," she said, "I was just so scared." He admitted to being a little worried himself.

     Alex wanted to stay with Walker at his ranch that night, but he knew that he was also on Kale's list and he didn't want her in further danger. He arranged to have her put up in a hotel room with armed guards protecting her. She didn't sleep as she relived the trauma time and again throughout the night. She wished she were with Walker at the ranch. She needed to reaffirm that she was still alive and she wanted desperately to do so by making love to him. The next day, he walked into the office and pulled her into a tight hug. He too had wanted to hold her the night before and for the first time in the history of their relationship he openly acknowledged his need to hold her in front of everyone in the office. He asked her how she was and she admitted that she hadn't slept and that she was worried about him. As they walked toward his desk, he kept his arm around her waist, his hand resting on her ribcage as she placed her hands over his and pressed his into her. It took a great effort to let her go, but C.D. walked in to share new information and then Trivette hobbled in determined to help. They managed to refocus their attention back on the case.

     They discovered Kale's plan to blow up all the houses in his old neighborhood and Walker managed to best him. Walker rescued Kale's daughter whom he had kidnapped and Kale accidentally blew himself up. Again Walker and Alex were hugging each other right there out in the open. He clung to her hand as they dealt with the ramifications of all the devastation Kale had wrought. Houses burned up and down the street and people stood huddled together trying to absorb the shock of losing their homes. They watched the bearded Ranger and the beautiful blond as they made their way through the confusion. He never released her hand and kept her close at his side throughout. The people who did not know them just assumed that they were either married or engaged. They were clearly a committed couple. The onlookers would have been amazed to find out that they in fact still described their relationship as a friendship.

     After a very long day of paperwork, Walker drove Alex back to her apartment. She invited him up for coffee and to her surprise, he accepted. They sat together on her living room sofa and he held her in his arms. Occasionally she would feel soft kisses on her hair and she finally turned so that she faced him with her mouth mere inches from his. Walker accepted the invitation and they began to kiss deeply and passionately. Walker's hands stroked her back and her hands made circles on his chest. Alex's mouth opened to accept the thrust of his tongue and the spark quickly burst into a red-hot flame. After a long passionate kiss, Walker pulled back and looked at her. He groaned as he saw the answering longing in her eyes. "I want you," he moaned as he leaned forward and again captured her lips with his. "Yes," she whispered against his mouth. The ringing telephone shattered the moment. Alex struggled to regain her breath and her senses as she reached out and answered it. "Alex honey, it's C.D. I just wanted to make sure you got home safe and sound." "Yes C.D., I'm fine." "Honey, are you going to be all right? You've been through an awful lot the last few days." "I'm just fine C.D., don't worry about me." Alex kept looking at Walker as she tried to get C.D. off the phone. "Well, I'm over here at Jimmy's, I just got him all tucked up back in bed where he should've been all along. I can come by your place if you don't want to be alone." "Thanks C.D., but... I'm not alone." Silence. C.D. absorbed her statement and then cursed himself. If he had interrupted something and it sounded like he had, well he just couldn't forgive himself. "I'm sorry honey, I was so worried about you, I didn't think." "It's all right C.D., I'll see you tomorrow." "Goodnight darlin'." Alex hung the phone up and could tell that Walker had made a decision not to stay. "You're leaving," she said matter of factly. "I am. You've been through a lot, we both have. If we do..." He had trouble saying it aloud. "Well, I want it to be special and because it's the right thing for us to do, not something that happens as a reaction to events that happen to us." She understood what he was saying and he was right, the first time they made love should be their choice, not a response to an intense situation. It didn't make her feel better though. Walker leaned forward to lightly brush her lips with his and then stood to leave. "I'll be by in the morning to pick you up. We'll go to C.D.'s for breakfast." Alex just nodded as her eyes followed him out. 'I'm going to have to take action,' she decided. She spent several weeks fantasizing and plotting how and when, but it was nearly three months later before the perfect opportunity presented itself.

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     Walker was stabbed in the abdomen during a bust. The knife had not damaged any vital organs, but his abdominal muscles had been damaged. After ten days of sitting around the ranch house, he was going stir crazy. That's when Alex shanghaied him and took him on an eight-hour drive without telling him where they were going. He was secretly glad of the diversion, but he grumped and complained anyway. Part of his mood had to do with nerves; alone with Alex in the wilderness could be dangerous.

     Alex had thought long and hard about how she could get Walker to herself. She enjoyed foreplay as much as the next woman, but two years of it was about all she could take. She decided to act. The whitewater-rafting trip had been a stroke of genius. It combined several of the elements from their last trip together that had turned out to be so incredibly frustrating. This time though, she was going to be sure and end up satisfied, not frustrated. She just had to bide her time and wait for the right moment. If she came on too strong, she knew Walker would go running. She remained matter of fact about the trip and made no overt gestures. After the first day of paddling down river, Walker was beginning to relax.

     It was Walker who suggested that she learn to fly-fish. She had fished many times, but fly-fishing wasn't something she felt confident at. She had never had an expert teach her and she secretly enjoyed Walker touching her as he guided her wrist and arm. Part of her was feeling anxious though; worried that her plan would fall apart and she would damage the friendship they shared. Her fear made her act contrary with him and rebel against his helping her. Her emotions were all a jumble. She felt spirited, defiant, frightened, elated, all at the same time. She wasn't sure if she wanted to laugh or cry, hit him or kiss him and all he was doing was teaching her how to fly-fish.

     Walker had recognized the setting from his vision he'd had way back near the beginning of their relationship. He knew that they were at a turning point. Alex had called him 'darling' for the first time in the car ride down. Since then though, her confidence seemed to waiver and she had backed off. He was getting mixed signals and he was getting frustrated. "You got to keep a solid base Alex, or you're gonna lose your balance." "You're the last man on earth that should be talking about balance, look at your life." "What's wrong with my life?" he asked as he helped her cast while she hopped around trying to find her footing. She rolled her eyes at him and decided to answer him with brutal truth, smiling all the while. "You're a workaholic, you're egotistical..." When he interrupted what sounded like the beginning of a tirade saying, "relax the wrist." She snapped back at him, "okay, okay, I can do it," as she aimed an elbow back at him. Walker frowned and stepped back releasing her; this wasn't how he remembered the vision going. Alex wasn't finished critiquing his character. "You're self righteous, you're stubborn as the day is long and you think you know...oh!" Alex lost her balance and stumbled backward on the slippery rocks her waders not allowing her to get traction as the water swirled around her legs. Walker grabbed her around the waist and lifted her back against him, balancing her in the current while he shifted his arms into less intimate contact with the undersides of her breasts. After he had a good grip on her, he decided to throw in his own barb. "Well one thing I do know, you don't have any balance." Alex knew she was being a brat, but leaning her head against his shoulder with her body pressed back against him, she looked into his eyes and all the orneriness left her. "You're also right about needing a solid base to start from," and with that statment, she acknowledged that their friendship was that solid base and it was worth the waiting and the wondering to reach this point. From now on, regardless of what happened between them romantically, they would always be friends. All this rushed through her mind in mere seconds as he gazed into her eyes and let her see his desire for her. She shifted her gaze to his mouth and her face lost its smile and instead took on a look of longing. His head lowered toward hers and her mouth opened to receive his as his opened to cover hers. Just as they touched, the sound of loud music playing startled them out of their trance and with the moment lost, they walked back to camp to investigate.

     Walker and Alex had set up camp away from the other people on their rafting trip. These were not people they would normally choose to spend time with and they had their own reasons to place their sleeping bags side by side next to the rushing river that would drowned out any sounds they might make. They both knew without a doubt that they would make love that night there under the full moon with the stars shining brightly overhead and the river rushing swiftly past. The problem was that they were so awkward, neither saying aloud what they knew was on both their minds. Instead they talked about the moon, the river and the stars and Walker admitted to her that he was starting to relax. Alex asked him when he last took time off work and he said that he couldn't remember. She didn't call him a liar, but she knew that he was as aware as she that it had been their trip to the reservation. She knew now that he would be thinking about it and she had planted the seed. She wasn't about to announce that she was now prepared, having been on the pill for several months. She settled for the subtle approach. Alex announced that she was going to get ready for bed. She stepped behind a large bush and stripped off her clothes, leaving only her panties and a forest green nightshirt on. Walker, in the meantime, walked over and stretched out on his sleeping bag wondering how he could break the tension. Then he remembered the day at the lake when the rattlesnake had startled her. He had thought that she would jump into his arms to thank him when he rescued her, instead she had hit him. He decided to see what would happen all this time later.

     Walker threw a rock into the bushes near where Alex was and hollered "snake!" Alex shrieked and came running out, "where, where?" as she hopped and skipped over to the sleeping bags landing on her knees beside him. He couldn't help but laugh, noting the difference in her response. Alex realized she been had, "oh you, I could kill you for scaring me like that," she said as she began wrestling with him. He kept laughing until their wrestling brought their chests together and their faces level. They both stopped and merely stared into the other's eyes as their breathing quickened. Alex crawled the rest of the way up his chest and they began a passionate kiss as he tangled his fingers into her hair holding her head as his mouth explored hers. The kiss deepened and Alex was lying across the upper half of his body, her nightshirt climbing up her thighs as she rubbed her leg up and down his.

     This time the interruption came in the form of their guide 'checking up' on them. They leapt apart, Alex sitting with her legs out, tugging her nightshirt down. Walker sat up and bent his knee up to hide the effect her kiss had had on him. It was all Alex could do to be civil to the man. Her mind screamed at him to leave as he and Walker exchanged small talk. Finally, he apologized for the interruption and left. The spell broken and neither knowing how to begin again, Walker announced that he would get ready for bed. Alex sat there fuming until it hit her that he wanted to resume their lovemaking as much as she did and this did not call for originality. She smiled and tossed a rock hollering, "snake!" Walker rushed out with a stick asking, "where?" He poked at the sleeping bag with the stick and Alex rolled into it and away from him as they both laughed. As he stopped, she rolled back over and opened up the bag giving him a clear view of her legs and said, "come back here and finish what you started!" With that, Walker leapt onto her and they rolled and laughed until, once again, they began kissing.

     They both took things slowly, savoring the feel and the taste of each other. Walker stood and pulled her up as he unzipped both sleeping bags and then zipped them back together again creating one. He left one side open and pulled her into his arms while still standing. They touched and caressed and peeled off articles of clothing. Walker's shirt was the first item to go, followed quickly by her nightshirt. He held her back away from him as he looked at her standing there clad only the bikini styled white panties she wore. Her body flushed with heat, but it wasn't embarrassment, she knew that she was beautiful and that he admired her body, it was there in his eyes. Her body was flushed with excitement and wanting. Alex's hands went to his waist and unbuttoned his fly sliding his pants down over his hips. He stepped out of his shoes and socks and she finished pulling the pants off and tossing them away. "Not too far," he said, "there's something I'm going to need in the pocket." "No, you don't need anything, it's all taken care of." With that said, she stepped back into his embrace and began touching his chest. She stroked her fingers across his chest, tugging gently on his chest hair, pinching his nipples and tracing the arrow of hair to the top of his briefs. She let her hand continue down, stroking him through the material of his cotton briefs. He stood there for as long as he could and then he made a sudden movement, lifting her up so that her breasts were level with his mouth and her feet dangled in the air. Moaning, he bent forward and captured first one tip and then the other, suckling, licking and nibbling them into hardened aching peaks. He then allowed her to slide, slowly down, until she was on her toes, his erection cupped in the juncture of her thighs. His mouth found her lips and he kissed her as she began grinding herself against him.

     Walker set her down and pulled her panties down to her feet. As she stepped out of them, he pulled her to him, pressing his face into her moist center. His tongue explored and teased, finding the tiny nub of sensitive flesh. Alex threw her head back and moaned as her body was racked with an explosion that took her completely by surprise. He kissed her once again intimately and then stood up holding her against him as she regained her breath. He kissed her, allowing her to taste herself on his lips and Alex began to feel the excitement building again. This had never happened to her before. In the past, she had trouble reaching orgasm and when she did, she was finished and had no desire to continue. Apparently, someone hadn't been doing something right she decided as her excitement continued to build. Alex kissed down Walker's body, stopping to spend extra time on sensitive spots. She placed a gentle kiss on the bandage that covered his healing wound and continued down to his navel, dipping into it with her tongue. She then grasped the edges of his briefs and pulled them down to his feet. As he stepped out of them, she held his erection in her hands and kissed the tip, then licked all the way down the shaft and back before placing him into her mouth and sucking him in as deeply as she was able. Her head moved up and down him as she pleasured him until he grasped her hair and pulled her off of him. He scooped her up and carried her to the sleeping bags. He lay her down and followed right after, touching her body and spreading her legs to stroke the moistness between them. His fingers dipped into her until he again had her stretched to her limit with three fingers. Once he was satisfied that she was ready for him, he lay down on his back and lifted her up and onto him. Alex placed herself so that the tip of him pressed against her entrance and she slowly took him into her. As her body strained to accommodate him, she understood why he had used three fingers to prepare her for his entry. She had never been so filled before, it was pleasurably painful to stretch herself and force him into her. She managed to get about half of his length in and then stopped, panting, as her muscles stretched to their limit.

     Walker had purposefully placed her on top so that she could control the speed of his entry. He knew that he was both thicker and longer than most men were and that her body would probably have difficulty accepting him. As her tightness enveloped him, sweat sprang out on his forehead with the effort not to force himself on into her. He grasped her hips and pushed her up and off of him, positioning her to again slide onto him. He then used his thumb to stimulate her most sensitive spot to encourage her to continue to try and take him all the way inside of her. This time, Alex managed to get about two thirds of him into her and he lost all control. Gripping her hips firmly, he thrust up and pushed himself into her burying himself to the hilt as she cried out with a mixture of pain and pleasure. Alex collapsed onto his chest and he rolled her underneath him and cupped her with his hand under her buttocks as he plunged deeply into her over and over again. Alex's head arched back as her body forgot the pain and climbed closer and closer to ecstasy. Finally, with a hoarse cry, Walker spilled himself into her causing her to again plunge off the cliff, free falling into intense joy. Walker remained inside her as he again rolled her, this time onto her side. He cradled her against his chest and stroked her hair. "I'm sorry I hurt you. I wanted to go slowly, but I just couldn't hold back any longer." "It's okay, I may have trouble walking tomorrow, but I won't have any regrets, I promise you." "I know how to make it feel better," Walker offered. "I don't think anything could feel better," Alex said in a voice filled with awe. Walker chuckled and withdrew from her. He kissed down her body and used his tongue to massage the muscles that had been so abused. It wasn't long before Alex was again begging him to enter her and once again they climaxed, this time Alex beating him by a few seconds.

     Walker tucked Alex up in the sleeping bag and held her against his chest, he kissed her hair and urged her to give in to the sleep that she was fighting. "Thank you Walker, I never knew it could be like that." "I never knew either," he said as he kissed her hair and stroked her back. Twice more they woke in the night and again satisfied their bodies' need for the other. By morning, they were closer than they had ever been and all the awkwardness and distance between them had vanished as if it had never existed. They washed in the cold water at the edge of the river and then dressed. Walker kept trying to convince Alex to ditch the rest of their group and strike out on their own. "We could hike back the way we came," he suggested. Alex's prediction of being too sore to walk was nearly true and she said, "and I told you why we couldn't." Walker chuckled, his male ego completely satisfied.

     Unfortunately, their night of passion was then followed by hours of fear and worry as they discovered that their guide was an escaped killer, Garland Briscoe. He killed off members of the group one by one and Walker was pushed into the rapids and presumed dead. At one point, the man forced himself on Alex and kissed her and it was all she could do not to vomit. The disgust she felt being touched in such a way after what she had shared with Walker sickened her. Walker managed to surprise Briscoe and rescue the remaining survivors including Alex. Walker went hand to hand with Briscoe and finally knocked him senseless into the river. He half-dragged and half-carried Briscoe to shore where he dumped him. C.D. and Trivette had been searching for them, hot on the trail of Briscoe and they landed their helicopter nearby as Alex rushed into Walker's arms. "Oh, I thought you were...," she sobbed as she gripped him tightly around the neck. He stepped back unable to hide the smile that forced itself to his lips as he looked at her with her helmet on and drenched to the skin, she didn't have any apparent injuries. "I know," he agreed with her cut off statement. "Are you okay?" she asked as she surveyed the damage. He too was wet and had a long scrape on his cheek and another on his forehead. He had not faired as well as she. "Yeah, I'm fine," he assured her with a nod.

     Jimmy rushed up to check on his friends, noting that they were once again embracing. "You guys all right?" he asked and then getting a close look at Walker, "you look terrible man." "No, I'm okay," Walker said as Jimmy rushed toward Briscoe. C.D. lumbered up next, "are you doin' all right? You look terrible." "Well it's all your fault," Walker accused jabbing a finger into C.D.'s chest. "This trip wasn't my idea," he defended himself with a meaningful glance at Alex before he moved on to assist Jimmy. Walker turned to look at Alex as he realized she had masterminded the entire trip herself. "Oh?" he asked with an accusing tone. Alex knew when to surrender. She threw her hands up, "next time I take you to Disneyland," she said. "No way, I'm afraid of the rides," Walker replied as she laughed and threw her arms back around his neck. She stepped back and they looked deeply into each other's eyes, Alex cupped the sides of his face with her hands and Walker leaned his forehead against hers or rather against her helmet. They stood that way, just gazing at each other, their faces inches apart.

   Their private moment was interrupted by all the commotion around them and soon they were helping to load Briscoe on the helicopter along with the Trivette, C.D. and two of the rafters. The helicopter left and Alex and Walker helped to load everything into the raft and paddle it along with the father and son who had volunteered to stay behind. They reached the ranger station in less than an hour and the medic there examined Walker. It was determined that his opened knife wound would need to be treated at a hospital and Alex and Walker were parted as he flew out in the ranger helicopter to the hospital. Alex assisted the rangers in locating the bodies of the four people Briscoe had murdered during their rafting trip. It was a gruesome task, but she knew the landmarks better than anyone except Walker who was unavailable.

     The doctor treated Walker's wounds and said that cleaning the knife wound and putting him on antibiotics was all that he could do. The wound was too old and would have to continue healing on it's own, it couldn't be restitched. It was late when Alex returned to the ranger station and she bunked there for the night. Trivette, C.D. and Walker gave their statements to the local authorities and then Walker and Trivette accompanied Briscoe back to prison. C.D. was dropped off at the campsite where Alex's car was parked. He drove to the ranger station and picked her up and then filled her in on all of the events during their eight-hour drive back home.

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     Walker arrived home excited and nervous. He wasn't sure just where his relationship with Alex was, but he was glad they had finally made love and had no regrets. He wanted to see her as soon as possible so that they could continue where they had left off and see where this new path took them. Friends and now lovers, his stomach clenched in anticipation as he thought about her while he fed the horses and turned them out. Suddenly, he stilled his movements as he felt the presence of a familiar person. He turned and looked at White Eagle, the spiritual leader of his tribe. He knew from his expression that the news White Eagle brought was not good. "Washo, it is good to see you," White Eagle said. "It has been a long time since I last saw you White Eagle. What brings you here?" "It is your Uncle, he has need of you." "Uncle Ray? What is it, what's wrong?" "He is ill Washo. I have prayed to the spirits, but their answer is that he will cross the river in three moons." "Uncle Ray has only three months to live? What is it? What's wrong?" "The white medicine man calls this sickness cancer. He said that he has powerful medicine, but it will only buy your Uncle a small amount of time and he will be more ill from the medicine than from the disease." Walker wanted to scream at the injustice, every single member of his family was taken from him one by one. Uncle Ray was the last blood relative he had left on the earth. In his grief, Walker went inside where he showered and packed for a trip to the reservation. He called the Captain and took some of his accrued personal time to go to see his Uncle. He trailered his horse Amigo and White Eagle rode with him to the reservation. Uncle Ray spent time with his nephew and tried to heal the hurt that he felt. He knew that Washo would be left alone in the world, but he also knew that he had friends who would be there to help him. Uncle Ray had seen a vision of the future and he knew that Walker and Alex would marry and have children. He believed the vision and it gave him peace. Walker stayed two weeks with his Uncle and then finally left to return to work. Before he left, he promised to bring C.D., Alex and Trivette to the reservation to spend time with Uncle Ray before he became too ill to enjoy their visit.

    Alex knew that Walker had gone to the reservation, but she didn't know why. She fluctuated between believing that Walker would come back and they would continue their love affair to thinking that he regretted what had happened and was intentionally avoiding her. When Walker passed her in the hall at work one day without even seeing her, the worst of her fears were realized. He had returned to Dallas and to work and hadn't even contacted her. That evening, she went to C.D.'s hoping to see Walker and have it out with him, but he never showed. Jimmy said that something was bothering Walker, but he didn't know what it was. This went on for several days until Alex stepped into the elevator at work and found him already there. "Hi," she began. Walker seemed to be very far off and he struggled to focus on her face. "Hi," he responded. "How have you been?" she asked. "Fine, you?" "The same," she said as the doors opened and more people stepped in.

     Walker came to C.D.'s that night, but no one was able to get him to open up and talk. A few days later, he seemed to return to his usual self, but he made no attempt to be with Alex and she took his lack of interest as rejection. Alex cried herself to sleep nightly until she decided that she had gambled and lost and it was time to get on with her life. That part of her that was able to be rational, decided to do whatever she could to rescue the friendship they had shared. The irrational part of her wanted Walker to suffer as much as she was.

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     Walker and Trivette strode into Alex's office to tell her that another witness in the DeMarco case had been murdered. This left Dalton Reed as the only surviving witness. Walker asked Alex if she knew where he was and she admitted that they had lost touch. "Walker, you have to find him." "We'll find him," he promised as he and Trivette headed back to their office to start the search. Trivette commented on the fact that Alex had seemed rather intense about finding Dalton. Walker said that there was history between them, but didn't elaborate. After tracking down Dalton, Walker convinced Alex to accompany him to ask him to go into protective custody. He tried to get Alex to tell him what had happened between them, but she just alluded to the fact that things hadn't ended well, but she still wanted Walker to do his best to protect him. As expected, Dalton declined protection. Alex was fuming and asked Walker if he was going to go after him, but Walker said that there would be no way to change his mind. "I seem to have a thing for exasperating men. It's really a habit I'd like to break," Alex exclaimed as she strode away from Walker in frustration. Walker paused and thought about what she had said, his only comment was 'hmm."

     Walker didn't give up and followed Dalton to the next rodeo site in Austin. He and Alex checked into a motel and as Alex walked to her room, it took all of her willpower not to rush back to Walker and throw herself into his arms. Walker still nursed the grief of knowing that his Uncle was dying and although there was a strong pull to be with Alex, he focused on the case and called Trivette and C.D. to come join them. Alex knocked on his motel room door the next morning with forced cheerfulness. She had decided to try again to make their friendship work and to forget the romance. She was surprised to see Trivette, C.D. and two other Ranger's there conferring on the case. Walker assigned Alex to stick close to Dalton and later regretted doing so. Walker knew Dalton from the rodeo circuit and had competed against him in the past. Dalton insisted that Walker ride bulls in the rodeo as a condition of his cooperation with the Rangers. Walker was thrown and popped his shoulder out of socket. Alex grimaced as he handed her his hat and popped it back into place. He loved the bull riding and the dirt and the sweat. It made him feel more alive than he had felt since White Eagle had told him about his Uncle's illness. He motioned for Alex to massage his aching shoulder as he got on the two-way radio to check with the other Rangers. Alex just shook her head in disbelief as she gently manipulated his shoulder.

     Dalton clearly had feelings for Alex and she reveled in the attention he showered on her. Her wounded pride needed just what he was offering. When they danced together, she was ashamed of the fact that she was dancing closer than she normally would in an attempt to make Walker jealous. Her flirting had aroused Dalton and he took her to his trailer where he continued his seduction. Alex felt guilty for using him and her need for affection after the rejection she felt from Walker combined causing her to make a decision she regretted almost immediately. Alex agreed to stay the night with Dalton and he used all of his experience and skill to get a response from her. She didn't tell Dalton she had gone on the pill. The only man she had made love to without the benefit of a condom in her entire life was Walker and she didn't plan to change that. As he entered her, she still felt empty. She craved the feeling of Walker making love to her, the way his every touch sent her sky rocketing toward ecstasy, the way he filled her so completely. She finally faked an orgasm so that Dalton would stop trying. After he found his own release, she curled up next to him and feigned sleep, feeling lonelier than she had ever felt.

     The next morning, she quietly dressed and snuck out of the trailer. It wasn't just bad luck that she ran into Walker. He had taken the early morning watch relieving the night shift guard who informed him that Dalton wasn't alone. Walker's heart plummeted when he saw Alex step from Dalton's trailer with guilt written all over her face. She tried to brazen it out, but the next few minutes were the most difficult and painful the two of them had been forced to live through. "You're up early," Walker greeted her. "I couldn't sleep," she responded. "Look, I'm not going to let anything happen to Dalton," Walker promised. "I'm not worried about Dalton. I mean... I am, but that's not why I couldn't sleep," she said and then realized that she had said too much. She wasn't about to tell him that she couldn't sleep because she realized she was completely in love with him and if she couldn't be with him, she didn't want to be with any man. Now she had to cover up and pretend that she was concerned about her relationship with Dalton. "It's just never going to work, it can't," she said. "Why?" he challenged her. 'Because I love you, you thick headed Cowboy,' she thought to herself. Aloud she said, "this is his life, he loves it. This is what makes him happy." "You make him happy too." "Not as much as the circuit. That's why we didn't work out the first time." She wouldn't even admit to herself that that was only partially true. Dalton had wanted more than she could give him. She was already committed to Walker when she met Dalton; she just hadn't admitted it to herself yet. "Well, he can't ride the circuit forever. He does love you. You can see it in his eyes." Alex looked up into Walker's eyes thinking, 'thanks, now I feel even worse for using him.' She said, "oh Walker, what am I going to do?" She stepped into Walker's embrace and he held her tightly to him in comfort hoping she wouldn't notice how fast his heart was racing. Alex really didn't know what to do. She wanted to just tell Walker that she loved him and had made a tremendous error in judgement, but he was the one who had rejected her, not the other way around. While these thoughts swirled in her mind, Walker was having regrets of his own. 'Why did I shut her out? I've been so eaten up with anger and grief at the thought of my Uncle's impending death that I shut out the people closest to me. I must have hurt her when I never even acknowledged what had happened between us on the river. I treated her as if it was just sex and it was so much more. I love her and if that means watching her find happiness with another man, I'm going to have to do just that. Even if it kills me.' If the two had been able to read each other's minds at that moment in time, they would have saved themselves months of sadness and frustration.

     They did manage to track down the assassins DeMarco had hired to kill Dalton and he again testified against DeMarco, ensuring he would not get out of jail. With the threat gone, Dalton was able to resume his rodeo career. He asked Alex to give him one more season and she didn't have the heart to tell him it was useless, she loved Walker. Instead, she kissed him and laughed and secretly hoped that he would meet someone in that year's time. She joined Walker in the stands to watch the rodeo and gripped his thigh with her hand when Dalton was riding. When Dalton had a good ride, they clapped and cheered and Walker put his arm around her and gave her a squeeze of encouragement. They both needed to touch each other, but Alex decided that she would have to go back to being just his friend and to try to regain his trust. Walker decided that if she needed a friend, he would be there for her, no matter who she decided to choose to be with. He just wished it could have been him.

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     Two weeks later, Walker received word that his Uncle was getting weaker and he needed to honor the promise he made to bring C.D., Trivette and Alex to the reservation. He didn't want to tell them about Uncle Ray's illness, so he just said that he had asked them to come. Alex initially declined, thinking that it would just be too painful to be with Walker at the reservation, but when he told her that Uncle Ray had specifically requested her presence, she complied. The four drove down in C.D.'s SUV and for once they didn't pull a trailer with horses. When they arrived at Uncle Ray's, he greeted them with great pleasure and only Walker noticed the decline in his health. The weekend was spent sharing stories and just being together. Uncle Ray filled them in on the progress he had been able to make in getting the tribe to accept people who had lived in the outside world and to be more realistic in what they taught the young ones, mixing the old lessons with new. He believed that their people should be prepared to live in either world. He had set up programs that could now run themselves without his guiding hand. He found people to fill the different roles he filled in the tribe. Now he wanted to get C.D., Trivette and Alex to fill the role he played in Walker's life.

     Sunday night, the group walked out to an open field and Walker built a fire and they sat in a circle around the fire at Uncle Ray's request. "My friends," he began, "the spirits are calling me and I will not walk this earth for much longer." Everyone heard Alex's gasp as she absorbed the news. C.D. was not surprised, he knew something was up. Trivette was saddened by the news, mostly because he now knew what had plagued his partner these last two months. "Washo came to me when he first learned of my illness and tried to get me to come back to the ranch with him, but I had work to finish here. I have now completed that work and I have asked you here because I have a request to make of each of you." They all looked from Walker to Uncle Ray and each nodded in agreement to hearing the request. "As you know, after I am gone, Washo will be the last Firewalker. When my brother died, he asked me, through a will, to become father and mother to his son. I did my best to fill these roles. Now, I am asking you to become the family that my nephew has lost. C.D., you are a man whose years have brought wisdom and understanding. I ask that you guide my nephew as a father would." C.D. looked at Uncle Ray and then staring directly at Walker, he said, "I consider him my son, he is my flesh and blood." Uncle Ray nodded, knowing that in C.D.'s heart, this was true. "Trivette, I ask you to be Washo's brother, to argue with him, to support him when he needs it, to share with him the joys and the sorrows." Trivette had a huge lump in his throat and barely managed to say, "I would be honored." Uncle Ray again nodded, knowing that his words merely sealed a relationship that had already been forged. "Alex, you have the gifts of a compassionate heart and a quick mind, gifts my nephew also shares. I believe that you are Washo's soul mate and that one day you will be his wife and you will give him children. Until that day, be his confidant and his comfort. You know his heart better than any woman has. I have seen my nephew share things with you that he has kept hidden from everyone else. He trusts you and he loves you." Alex had tears streaming down her face and Walker's head was bowed as his tears fell also. "Washo, these people are not family by blood, they are family by choice and it makes me happy to know that you have chosen your family wisely. Do not mourn me nephew, I have had a good life and it is a good day to die."

     Walker drove back to Dallas the next day with his three friends who had agreed to be his family. They all sat quietly with their own thoughts until Alex spoke. "The things that Uncle Ray asked, that we be family, I for one already consider each of you my family and I love every single one of you." "Amen," Trivette concurred. "That's right honey, we are family and don't you forget that Cordell or I'll give you a tongue lashing you'll never forget." Walker looked in the rear view mirror at C.D. and Trivette in the back seat, then he looked over at Alex next to him. "Thank you," he said simply, but with tremendous emotion behind the words. It was a month later that Uncle Ray crossed the river. Walker was with him and he followed traditional Cherokee burial rituals as Uncle Ray had requested for the benefit of the young members of the tribe who were unfamiliar with them. Standing at the burial site saying his goodbye to his Uncle, he felt sad, but he felt a peace steal over him. He was surrounded by his family and they would share his burden and help him to get through the difficult time. He felt Alex's hand steal into his and he gave it a squeeze.

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     Alex now had a new role in Walker's life. She was still his friend and she managed on occasion to flirt with him, but mostly she worked to rebuild his trust in her. She never dated, not even casually. She stopped going to functions unless she could go without an escort or Walker consented to take her. For the next several months, Alex simply tried to be there for Walker as he dealt with the loss of his Uncle. She was able to read him and there were days when she saw him leaving work and knew that he was deeply grieving his Uncle's loss. On these days, she would drive out to the ranch and either get Walker to go for a ride with her or sometimes they would just sit on the porch swing. Often, there would be a comfortable silence between them, but sometimes she forced him to talk about his feelings with her.

     During this phase of their relationship, Walker finally opened up and shared stories about his past. He told her of his Indian father and Irish mother who had fallen in love and married. He shared childhood memories and the tragedy of watching his parents murdered. He talked to her about the difficulties of adjusting to life on the reservation. Walker told Alex how he had come into Uncle Ray's life soon after his wife Ruth had died. Uncle Ray himself was still in mourning and it was difficult for him to take on a sullen lonely outcast boy to raise. Ray's brother John, Walker's father, had chosen to live in the white man's world and at the time, Ray had no tolerance for anyone who left the reservation. It was one of the reasons Uncle Ray had worked so hard to reconcile the two worlds first for his nephew and then for others like him. Walker explained things about himself and his family that she had always wondered about. There were times when Alex was amazed at how much of himself he shared with her. The horseback rides and talks on the porch swing became an integral part of their relationship, one that would endure for many years to come.

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     When Walker went to prison undercover as a hired killer to gather information on another prisoner, things became very dangerous and Alex went into the prison in disguise to get him out. She was dressed in a tight fitting red dress and black wig. She had on more makeup than she was used to wearing and she removed her black leather jacket to reveal the figure hugging dress. Walker decided to stay in character and let his eyes wander up and down her body as the prison guard looked on. He got an eye full before she took the seat and leaned her chest forward revealing an ample amount of cleavage. He didn't know why she had risked coming and his tone was ironic as he asked her without blowing his cover. "What are you doing here?" "I had to see you Darnell. Jimmy is out of the picture, gone. It's only you baby." Jimmy had left his prison guard cover earlier in the day. "How so?" "I'm not going to see him anymore and I want you back. I need you. I'll make you real happy, you'll see." She leaned even further forward as she clasped his hands trying to convey that it was time to come out and abandon the cover they had established for him. Things were just too dangerous. She couldn't help but smile as she flirted blatantly with him. Walker's hands immediately began to play with her fingers. He felt a familiar tightening south of his belt buckle as she poured on the charm. "I'm sure you will baby, but I can't leave just yet." He didn't have the information he needed. "No Darnell, I need you. I need you now." Alex was giving him an order. "I said, I can't leave just yet." Walker's voice took on an intense whisper quality as he refused to follow orders given by the ADA who just happened to be Alex. "You're so stubborn. You never listen to me," she accused as she got up and swayed her hips back and forth out of the room. "Win some lose some," Walker commented to the guard. He knew that if he survived the assignment, he was going to have to also survive the wrath of Alex.

     Walker did get the information he needed on tape and despite a tornado hitting the prison and attempts on his life, he did get out. Trivette drove him out of the prison grounds and he was hot dirty and desperately tired. Trivette drove him straight to the ranch where he showered and fell into bed wearing only his briefs. Hours later, he awoke with a start to find Alex sitting in a chair at the foot of his bed staring at him. "Why don't you ever listen to me?" she began as soon as she saw that he was awake. "I do listen," he defended, "I just don't always follow orders." "You know I could write you up for not following my orders don't you?" He looked at her and smiled, "and just what would that accomplish?" "Maybe when your thick headedness gets you killed, no one will blame me." Walker knew she was angry because she had been frightened. "I'm fine," he said and then moaned in pain grabbing his ribs. Immediately, Alex jumped to her feet and rushed to his side. "Walker, what is it?" She leaned over him and he grabbed her and pulled her down onto the bed next to him and then loomed over her. He pinned her arms with his hands on either side of her head. "So you want to write me up do you?" he challenged. "How are you going to do that with your hands pinned?" "Let go of me you macho Texas Ranger." "Uh uh, I like you like this." Alex warred with herself. She wanted to stay angry, she really did, but another more basic emotion was beginning to take over. "You think you can use your sexual magnetism to get everything you want?" she asked him. "You do it all the time," he accused. "What are you talking about?" "Come on Alex. You have men falling all over themselves to do your bidding. Just because I didn't fall for that sexy display you put on in the jail, you're angry." "I am not! If anyone uses sex to get what he wants, it's you. Have you ever watched yourself when you ask a woman a favor? You get that little boy smile on your face and your eyes go all soft and then every woman within ten miles is dropping at your feet!" Walker began to laugh. He released her hands and rolled off of her. "Maybe we're both guilty of using what the good Lord gave us to get our way and maybe we both have met our match." Alex pushed herself up and onto her side and then rolled her body over his and off the side of the bed. She stood up and looked down at him. "Dream on, Cowboy. You're no match for me." With that, she flounced out of the room. Walker lay back and laughed. The woman had spunk; you had to give her that.

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     Alex worked very hard to strengthen laws protecting women from spousal abuse. In addition to the support groups she facilitated, she testified at hearings in Austin trying to get support for laws against men who stalked their wives. She also campaigned to raise funds for shelters for women trying to leave an abusive husband. Empowered Women, a very strong political women's group was honoring her for her efforts and she was to receive an award at a luncheon held in her honor. She begged Walker to escort her and finally won. He didn't like any type of function that required a tie, even a bolo tie, but he was proud of her and wanted to support her. She was extremely nervous and he enjoyed seeing her less than confident and teased her unmercifully. The enjoyment of the day fled as Victor LaRue approached their table and announced that he was out of prison. Neither of them could believe it and after looking at the man's papers, Walker called Trivette to determine how and why LaRue was free. When Alex's meal came and the cover was removed, a dead rat was laying in the middle of her plate. Walker jumped as she let out a blood-curdling scream. Walker arrested LaRue and they left immediately.

     Walker discovered that LaRue was released on a technicality and he informed Alex. As they stood outside of the interrogation room, before confronting LaRue, Walker questioned whether or not she should meet him face to face. "Are you up for this?" "You are not talking me out of confronting him, I have earned the right." "Just tell me you're okay." "You want to know the truth?" "Yeah." "No, I'm not." They looked into each other's eyes and he saw determination mingled with fear. She saw support and compassion in his. They did confront LaRue, but had nothing to hold him on. Walker investigated LaRue as he stalked Alex. After Walker broke into his motel room and threatened him, LaRue paid a man to beat him up and then filed a claim against Walker saying he had caused his bruises.

     C.D. convinced Alex to take the afternoon off and go home to rest. Alex fell asleep on her couch until LaRue called her at home. Walker's hands were tied by LaRue's claims against him, but he remained determined to protect Alex. When Alex got home to find her apartment ransacked, LaRue came out of the next apartment and told her he was moving in. Alex sat on the couch and held a ceramic horse in her hands. It had been broken. Walker entered and surveyed the damage and then went over to where she sat while the crime scene investigators dusted for prints. "You gave me this horse for Christmas two years ago." "I'll get you another one," he whispered. She looked over at a painting that had been cut with a knife. "That's a painting my father painted for me and now he's gone." Alex had shared with Walker that she too was an orphan. Her father was alive, but he had left her and her mother when she was sixteen. He was an alcoholic. He had paid child support until she reached her eighteenth birthday and then he severed all ties. Alex's mother died of a sudden heart attack when Alex was twenty-one and in law school. The autopsy report said that her mother had a congenital heart defect, but Alex believed that she died of a broken heart. The painting reminded Alex of happier times, when her parents loved each other and her. "It's no use Walker. Victor LaRue is everywhere, even in my own home. I can't escape him," her voice broke and the tears coursed down her cheeks. There was no fight left in Alex. He had never seen her so defeated and it killed him to know that he hadn't been able to protect her. Walker looked at the pain and devastation on Alex's face and said, "I'm getting you out of here, you're going to my ranch." Walker stayed with Alex as she packed a weeks worth of clothes in a suitcase. He then drove her to the ranch and carried her bag to the upstairs guestroom right across the hall from his room.

     Alex showered and changed into pajamas and a terry robe. She came downstairs to where Walker sat reading in the living room with soft classical piano music playing. He had a fire in the fireplace and the scene was warm and cozy. He looked up at her and offered to get her a hot drink. She agreed to hot chocolate and he fixed it and added marshmallows on top the way she liked it. Carrying two cups back into the living room, he handed her one and sat on the couch next to her. With gentle encouragement from him, she told him about her parents and how they had drifted apart until their love turned to anger and hatred. Her mother had been devastated when her father left. The house Alex had grown up in was sold and Alex left for college when she turned eighteen. Alex's mother hadn't worked throughout her marriage, but found it necessary after her husband left. She managed to get a job as a bank teller, but it left her mother tired and numb and the only bright spot in her life were the home visits from her daughter. Alex watched as her mother sank deeper and deeper into a depression. She felt so helpless and couldn't reach her mother. By the time she graduated from college, her mother was a shut-in except for her work, which she missed more and more often. She was fired because of her attendance and Alex was trying to decide what she could do to help her mother when the call came telling her she had been found dead in her apartment. Alex had not been able to reach her mother by phone and had called the landlord to check on her. The return call began a time of grief and guilt that had prompted Alex to marry the fellow law student she was dating at the time. The man had considered himself fortunate to capture the beautiful Alexandra Cahill, but his innate sense of insecurity had caused him to be progressively possessive and to make himself feel better, he continually demoralized her. It wasn't long before she woke up to what she had done to herself by acting out of grief and not rational thought. How else could she have married a man she hadn't slept with because she wasn't sexually attracted to him? During their brief marriage, he had not once moved her sexually and she suspected that she was merely a trophy wife for him, the marriage was all but sterile. She left him and filed for a divorce five months into the marriage. By the time she finished talking, Alex was curled up in Walker's arms resting against his chest. He stroked her hair and she succumbed to the fatigue she felt. They never did make it to bed that night as they slept on the couch the entire night. Alex felt safe for the first time in days and Walker finally felt as if he was doing something useful, knowing that she slept peacefully because he was there.

     The next day, Alex received a phone call informing her that the two detectives assigned to tail LaRue were found dead. She rushed out to where Walker was working with Amigo in the front corral and told him the news. He decided she wasn't safe at his ranch and told her to pack. When she took longer to pack than he expected, he went to investigate. He walked into the bedroom to find her spread eagle on the bed, chained with leather cuffs to the four corners of the bed. As he reached for his gun, Walker was hit on the head from behind and fell unconscious to the floor. LaRue removed the gag from her mouth and she begged him not to hurt Walker. "Please don't hurt him." Her pleading only incensed LaRue more. "Hurt him? I've got you tied up and you're worried about me hurting him? Well, isn't this interesting Walker, the lady has special feelings for you." He then started to rant and rave that she hadn't begged Walker not to hurt him when Walker had beaten him to a pulp after he had kidnapped her. Alex lay on the bed sobbing as LaRue kicked the unconscious Walker several times in the ribs. LaRue came over and sat on the side of the bed. "This isn't easy for you is it? Watching as the man you love finally gets what he deserves. You do love him, don't you?" Alex glared at LaRue. "I can tell by the hate you have for me in your eyes." Alex's sweater just reached the top of her jeans, with her hands tied above her head; it was raised exposing her abdomen. LaRue lay his head on her bare stomach and said, "I think that's what I like most about you. It isn't your beautiful face or your sensational body. What really appeals to me is that passion inside of you." Alex lay there thinking of the irony of his statement. All of her life she believed that she lacked passion. She had it for her career and causes that she believed in, but she had never had what she would consider a passionate affair with a man. That is until she met Walker. The few times they had lost control and had given in to the sexual tension that was a constant between them had introduced her to an entirely new side of herself. She was passionate and capable of reaching heights she never thought possible. This sick psychopath had somehow seen that in her. Or maybe he had simply made it up in his own mind. He had accurately guessed her feelings for Walker though, she did love him. After all this time, Walker still couldn't see it, but Victor LaRue could. Go figure.

     All of these thoughts raced through her mind as LaRue continued to taunt and torment her. He forcibly kissed her and then told her he would be back after he killed Walker. She pleaded with him not to kill him, but he replaced the binding over her mouth to prevent her from screaming and he dragged Walker out to go kill him. Walker was slung over Amigo's back and LaRue led him out into the pasture away from the house. He staked Walker to the ground and poured scorpions on his bare chest. He then left to return to Alex. Walker called Amigo over and told him to pull at the ropes. Amigo managed to loosen one rope enough that he could get out of it. He swept the scorpions off of him and ignoring the welts on his chest and abdomen, he swung up on Amigo's back and galloped back to the ranch house. LaRue forced wine down Alex's throat and then prepared to rape her. He undid the top buttons of her shirt and held a knife to her neck telling her that the better she was the longer she would live. Walker burst into the room and a fight between the two men ensued. They tumbled down the stairs and Walker kept fading in and out. The scorpion venom and the concussion combined to cause him to be dizzy and unbalanced, but he still managed to kick LaRue through the front window out onto the porch, causing him to lie there unconscious. Alex screamed Walker's name and he raced back up the stairs. She was so happy to see him in the doorway. "Oh Walker, oh Walker," she breathed. "Are you okay?" he asked as he undid the manacle around her right wrist. "Yeah, what about LaRue?" "He'll never bother you again," he promised her. After he released her one hand, she turned over to release the second while he dialed the phone and called for a medivac helicopter. Alex closed the top of her sweater and looked at him, noticing the large welts on his chest. "Are you sure you're okay?" he asked again. "Yes," she answered and then he fell onto the bed next to her, unconscious.

     Alex managed to release the bindings on her ankles and she checked Walker's pulse. She then took the manacles that she had been tied with and raced down the stairs, attaching LaRue's wrists to the porch railings to ensure that he wouldn't escape if he woke up. Alex got ice from the freezer and applied it to the welts on Walker's chest. She also used it to cool his brow. The sound of chopper blades was the most welcome sound she could remember hearing. Sirens soon followed and LaRue was taken into custody as Walker was loaded into the helicopter with Alex right behind him. Walker was given epinephrine and Benadryl to reduce the reaction of the poison. They gave him fluids and corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation and by the time he reached the hospital, he was fairly stable. Alex was reassured that he would make a full recovery and Trivette took her back to headquarters to make her statement while C.D. stayed at the hospital with Walker.

     The next day, Alex entered Walker's hospital room to find him looking much better. After checking that they were each okay, they talked about how they would make sure LaRue never again left prison. She looked at him and was amazed at how good he looked. The doctor had said that it was really close and that if he had gone another hour without treatment, he wouldn't have made it. "You sure don't look bad for a man who just got stung by scorpions." "You look pretty good yourself." She leaned toward him for a hug and he kissed her cheek. As she stood back and looked into his eyes, he rubbed his thumb over the arm of her leather jacket. Alex couldn't help herself; she leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss to his lips. "Thank you for coming to my rescue," she said.  He smiled and pulled her back for another kiss. She knew that she could use this to her advantage. She wouldn't though. She wanted Walker to want her as a strong independent woman. She didn't want to act all weak and helpless so that he would become protective and get closer to her that way. They talked about what happened and months later, she still called him when she had a particularly bad nightmare and couldn't shake the pervasive fear that accompanied it. Just the sound of his voice on the telephone helped.

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     Walker went undercover in a private gambling club and during a fight, he hit his head against a table and when he woke up, he had amnesia. A woman helped him escape, but he was wounded when a bullet sliced through the flesh of his upper arm. The woman, Leann, took him to a condo and helped bandage him. He was having flashes from his life, but he couldn't focus enough to remember details. He saw a beautiful blond woman with beautiful blue eyes and he knew that she was special to him.

     Trivette, Alex and C.D. were becoming more and more concerned about Walker. He didn't check in when he was supposed to and as they waited to hear something, they grew more morose. Alex complained that it was New Year's Eve and that was a very special time for them. He had kissed her that first New Year's and then the next year he asked her to dance just before midnight and kissed her again. Then last year, he had actually asked her to go with him and had driven her to and from C.D.'s kissing her at midnight and again at her door. This would be their fourth consecutive year and with all they had been through the last several months, she wanted to have the opportunity to kiss him and try to let him know that her feelings for him were still strong.

     Walker continued to have more and more flashes and he knew that the blond woman was named Alex and that she was very special to him. He didn't think that they were married, but he knew that he loved her. As he and Leann searched for the recorded evidence he had gone undercover for, he put all the pieces of his life together and remembered who he was. He also remembered that Alex Cahill was the woman he loved and he was determined to make her his one day. After getting the evidence and Leann to safety, he wrapped things up and headed to C.D.'s and to Alex.

     Alex sat at the bar becoming more depressed as the New Year struck and still no sign of Walker. Suddenly, an arm came around her and she turned into the man she had been thinking about. She opened her mouth to speak, but his mouth covered hers in a deep passionate kiss. The kiss was interrupted by Trivette's arrival on the scene. C.D. got Walker a drink and then insisted on hearing his story. "I couldn't remember anything, but I knew there was a beautiful woman who was always telling me that I was stubborn and muleheaded." Alex hit him on the arm and he bit back a yelp of pain as she connected with the wound he had there. "Oh, I'm sorry, what's wrong?" she asked in concern. "I guess I skipped that part of the story," he said and filled them in. Throughout the entire telling of the story, Walker kept his arm firmly around Alex. He couldn't conceive of letting her go and she seemed to share the feeling. At two, the Bar and Grill started emptying out as the bar was closed and couples drifted off to celebrate in private. Walker went to the jukebox and selected a slow romantic song and asked Alex to dance. He pulled her into him and they swayed to the music. "Alex?" Walker said. "Hmmm," she replied sleepily. "I know I teased you earlier about remembering you, but you were the one thing that I could remember, you, Trivette, C.D. and Uncle Ray. I guess even with amnesia, family is still such an integral part of me that it kept breaking through the fog." "I'm glad, I can't imagine starting over again." Alex thought about how long it had taken them to get this far. "Maybe if we did start over, I wouldn't make the same mistakes," Walker suggested. "There's a few I would have avoided myself," she confessed. Walker looked into her eyes. "Miss Cahill, you have the classiest legs I've ever seen and I'm not the only man who thinks so." Alex looked at him puzzled. "Before I met you, Ranger Collins said that when he described you to me." Alex smiled, but still looked puzzled. "I remember thinking that he was right that New Year's Eve after I kissed you and made you so mad," he explained. "Do you think if I kissed you now, you'd get mad?" he asked. "There's only one way to find out Cowboy, you feeling daring?" she challenged. Walker gathered her close into his arms and leaned in to begin to gently kiss her. Alex's response was anything but gentle and the kiss soon became passionate. After several minutes, they surfaced to realize they were the only ones left in the bar. Even C.D. had left knowing they would lock up. Walker stroked Alex's face and said, "I hope you're not mad, because I liked that and I may have to do it again sometime." Alex just smiled into his eyes and he escorted her out to her car and saw her safely in before leaning in through the window and giving her a gentle kiss goodnight.

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     Trivette drove while C.D. navigated the SUV to the fishing lodge at Sawtooth Park. Walker sat in the back with Alex asleep, leaning on his shoulder. She had just finished one of the most grueling cases of her career and taking her on this fishing trip was nearly a mission for the three men who felt duty bound to help her recover and relax. After weeks of testimony, one of Dallas' largest drug cartels was a thing of the past. There had been indictments against people all the way to the top of the organization. Alex had been working nonstop as the lead counsel for the prosecution. She not only tried the case, she also organized all the smaller connected trials that were being prosecuted by her colleagues simultaneously to her prosecution of the top echelon of the cartel. Walker and Trivette had been actively involved in the busts that led to the fall of the entire organization. Walker nudged Alex awake as Trivette pulled into the long wooded drive leading to the lodge. Alex sat up and looked around at her surroundings and Walker could feel the tension leave her body as she absorbed the peace and quiet of the beautiful park.

     Everyone climbed out of the vehicle as Jimmy parked close to the lodge. Walker rounded the vehicle and wrapped his arm around Alex pulling her into his side as she said, "Walker, it is so beautiful out here." "Yep, it sure is," he agreed. C.D. and Walker had been coming to the lodge at the end of the season for years. Hank Cotton was an old army buddy of C.D.'s from his Korea days. C.D. was the Godfather of Hank's only son, Bobby, who had recently become a park ranger. After introductions, Walker helped C.D. set Jimmy up for a snipe hunt. Alex chided Walker, "snipe, I can't believe you guys." "You went along with it." Alex just laughed; admitting that she enjoyed winding Trivette up as much as the other two. Walker helped carry her bag into her room and then stood looking at her. "Your orders, whether or not you choose to accept them, are to relax, rest, enjoy yourself and relax." "You said that," she smiled at him. "I mean it, Alex. You're exhausted and I intend to see that you get plenty of rest and fresh air this weekend." "Yes sir," she saluted. "Are you mocking me?" he stepped toward her in a challenging posture. "No, not me," she quickly recanted. "I didn't think so," he nodded in satisfaction. "Unpack and I'll see you downstairs." Walker left and Alex smiled to herself. She could have carried her own bag up, it wasn't even heavy. She had a feeling that by the end of the long weekend, she was going to want to dump all three of her 'knights in shining armor' into the freezing lake.

   Walker and C.D. took poor clueless city boy Trivette out snipe hunting after dinner. Hank gave Alex a tour of the lodge and she commented on the decor of animal heads mounted on the walls. He explained that it used to be a hunting lodge and then regaled her with stories of his time in the army with C.D. Alex was not a vain woman, although she had every reason to be. She did acknowledge that Bobby had a crush on her though. It wasn't exactly well hidden. If she thought about it, most people would probably think it odd for a single woman to be staying alone with five unmarried men in a lodge in the woods. Alex decided that she better stick close to Walker to avoid complications, especially when Bobby invited her to go for a drive in the morning to see the rest of the park.

   When Walker and C.D. returned laughing at Trivette and his gullibility, Alex saw her chance to establish that she was not completely 'unattached'. Walker sat on the couch and stretched his arms up over his head. Alex sat next to him so that the cushion dumped her towards him and almost into his lap. Walker never minded having her up close against him and he wrapped his arm around her shoulder tucking her into his side. The men began telling 'fish stories' and Alex just sat watching and listening, laughing at the tallness of some of the tales. Walker was a very observant man and he saw the star struck look in young Bobby's eyes. When the other four men left to go make coffee, cocoa, and snacks, he looked at Alex and said, "you've managed to snag another heart haven't you?" "Don't tease me, I didn't do anything to encourage him." "Honey, have you looked in a mirror lately?" "What's that supposed to mean?" "It means that you just have to walk into a room to 'encourage' any red-blooded male to fall for you." "Don't start with me Cordell Walker. I'm wearing jeans and a denim shirt, I hardly have on any makeup and my hair is pulled back in a clip, not exactly fashion model attire. I'm not seeking attention from any man." 'Okay, so that wasn't completely true, she didn't mind attention from him,' she admitted to herself. "Alex, you could wear a potato sack and get every man's attention. And just so you know, your rearview is very appealing in jeans and the blue of your denim shirt makes your eyes practically pop out of your face." "I can't believe this is coming out of your mouth. You never tell me I look good." "That's not true. I call you beautiful all the time." She just sat there shaking her head at him. "Well, if I don't say it, I certainly think it several hundred times a day." Walker was pleased to see the blush stealing into Alex's cheeks; it was hard to knock Alex off balance. She was the most confident self-assured woman he had ever met. Before she could respond, C.D. walked in carrying a tray with hot drinks on it. He was followed closely by the others who each carried their own drinks and an assortment of munchies. "Here you are honey, I put marshmallows on top just the way you like it." "Thanks C.D.," Alex murmured as she took the mug he offered.

    Alex tried to take a sip of her drink and found that it was too hot. Walker had taken a large gulp of his coffee, so she decided that it must not be so hot. She set her mug on the coffee table in front of her and then took his mug from his hand and sipped it. Bobby watched the action and noted that Walker didn't even seem to notice as she drank his coffee. The conversation continued with Hank and C.D. telling war stories. Alex picked her mug back up and began drinking the cooling chocolate mixture. Some marshmallow remained on her upper lip and Walker took a finger and wiped it off for her, putting his finger in his mouth to lick off the sweet goo. Alex alternated sips between hers and Walkers mugs enjoying the combination. Walker was accustomed to this particular habit of Alex's and he paid it no mind. They often shared drinks and it never occurred to either of them that an onlooker may find the act very intimate and very telling. After finishing the drinks, Alex took both mugs and sat them on the coffee table and then settled back against Walker. C.D. and Hank showed no sign of slowing down when Bobby and Trivette stood up to head on to bed. Walker glanced at Alex who had fallen asleep on him for the second time that day and decided that she looked comfortable enough. An hour later, C.D. and Hank wound down enough to realize the time and decide to call it a night. "Cordell, you need any help gettin' Alex up them stairs?" C.D. offered, tongue in cheek. "I can manage, thanks C.D., I'll see you both in the morning."

     After the two men had left, Walker began stroking his hand up and down Alex's arm. When she didn't even stir, he knew that she was deeply asleep. He turned on the couch so that he faced her and scooped her up into his arms. He carried her easily up the wide staircase to the door of her room. He set her gently on the side of the bed and removed her jacket. She started to stir as he undid her jeans and pulled them off her long legs. He had laid her back on the bed as he pulled them down to her ankles and then tugged off her shoes and jeans. Walker lifted her into his arms again as he pulled back the covers. Alex's arms went around his neck and when he lay her onto the cool sheets, she tightened her grip on his neck, her body instinctively preferring the warmth of his. Walker was pulled down with her as he lay her back against the pillow. He reached up and unhooked her arms from around his neck and realized that she was really tired to have slept through his undressing her and putting her to bed. He kissed her forehead and pulled the blankets up tucking her in and then with one last look, he left the room and pulled the door shut behind him.

     Alex awoke to a knock on her door early the next morning. She called out that she was awake and Bobby told her that he was leaving in ten minutes if she still wanted to come. Alex said she'd be right down and looked around at her strange surroundings. She had no memory of coming to bed the night before and she realized that she was partially undressed. When she saw her jeans lying at the end of the bed, she knew that Walker had tucked her in. She shook her head at herself thinking that she had lost another opportunity. Ever since Walker had talked about starting over again, she waited for him to make a move. There was something holding him back and she had no idea what it could be. Alex pulled on her jeans, changed her shirt and brushed her hair back into a ponytail. She decided she could shower later and settled for a quick trip to the bathroom to brush her teeth and then joined Bobby downstairs.

Alex wished she had brought a pillow to sit on after the truck hit another bump and she bounced down on the hard seat. She asked Bobby about his job as a ranger and he eagerly filled her in. She then asked him if he had a girlfriend and was relieved to hear that he planned to be married in June. Now she was certain that he merely had an innocent infatuation. When he asked, "are you married or anything?" She did not hesitate to say, "no, well... maybe to my work." Bobby still couldn't figure the relationship between her and Ranger Walker, but he was certain there was something between them and he considered the Ranger a very lucky man. It was then that he spotted the seaplane and the trouble began. He followed the plane to the landing at the lake and witnessed a drug deal going down. Instead of heeding Alex's warning, he went out to confront the drug dealers and was shot. Alex drove the truck up to him so that he could climb in and raced back to the lodge crashing into a woodpile as Glen Larkin, one of the major heroin suppliers in Dallas, pursued them. Alex couldn't believe her luck; she had just taken down one of the major crack suppliers and now heroin? Was her life ever going to include something besides drug dealers?

     They were surrounded in the lodge and communication was cut off. Bobby had lost a lot of blood from the gun wound to his belly. Luckily C.D. had the same blood type. Bobby's father had been a medic in the army and he was able to set up a blood transfusion from C.D. to Bobby. Since they couldn't get help for him, they made him as comfortable as possible. Meanwhile, Walker reduced the number of men that surrounded the lodge using tactics he learned in his special warfare training for Vietnam. He set traps for the remaining men and with the help of the others, managed to take out the entire gang. Bobby was taken to the hospital by helicopter. Trivette, Alex and Walker stayed to clean up the lodge while C.D. bummed a ride from the local police into town to rent an SUV to temporarily replace the one that had been destroyed in the battle. When he returned, the four friends headed back to Dallas. Walker again sat in the back with Alex's head resting against him. "So much for you getting any rest," he said to her. "Yeah, but at least the Larkin bust happened outside of my jurisdiction so I don't have to prosecute them." "I thought you liked prosecuting drug dealers," Jimmy threw over his shoulder at her. "I could use a change of pace. I'm looking forward to a nice jay walking charge." The men laughed at her and they drove back to Dallas joking and exchanging insults with each other. Alex smiled as she snuggled her forehead into Walker's chest and closed her eyes. If the only way she could get any sleep was in his arms... well there were worse things.

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     Walker was holding back waiting to begin his romance with Alex. He wanted to start over, but until the issue of Dalton Reed was resolved, he wasn't willing to risk being hurt again. Trivette had shared with him that Alex had told him Dalton had asked for one more year. If she was biding her time waiting for Dalton to make good on his promise, he could really be hurt if things heated up between them again. He had to know. Then he heard that Dalton had suffered career-ending injuries when he was trampled by a bull in a rodeo up in Calgary. Alex seemed unaware of the news; at least she never said anything to him. Walker was setting up a charity rodeo for his Kick Drugs Charity and he decided to get in touch with Dalton and see if he would offer his help. He knew that he was risking everything setting up a meeting between Alex and Dalton, but he needed answers. Dalton had bought a cattle ranch nearer to Austin than Dallas. He had a cow/calf operation raising Brangus cattle. He bred Brahma bulls with Angus cows creating leaner meat that supplied the public demand for foods lower in fat. Dalton was happy with his new life, but when he got the call from Walker asking him to help coordinate the charity event, he couldn't help but be interested. Dalton was involved with a woman and he considered asking her to marry him, but he felt that he needed to make sure that what he and Alex had was truly over. He suspected that it was. The last time he was with her, she was in Walker's arms every time he turned around. The morning after they slept together, she had snuck out early and he had looked through the curtains and saw her hugging Walker. Again, when Walker pulled the bomb from the side of his camper, she jumped out and immediately hugged Walker. It was time things were resolved.

   Alex was blissfully unaware of all the plotting taking place and she offered to help in any way she could with the charity event. Walker put her in charge of donations, Trivette was in charge of publicity and C.D. was in charge of food and concessions. Walker arranged the entertainment and talent with Dalton arranging for the bulls, horses and riders. The event day dawned bright and sunny and Alex walked into the arena with a bounce in her step and a smile on her face only to literally run into Dalton Reed. "Dalton!" she gasped surprised to see him. "I didn't know you were coming. Are you riding?" "No, I got injured end of last year, ended my career." "I'm sorry, I didn't know." "I know, I should have gotten in touch, but I had some sorting out to do." Alex nodded in understanding. "So what are you up to these days?" "I got myself a spread outside of Austin. I like it." Alex stood there not sure how to respond. She was glad that he seemed to be getting on with his life, but she hoped that he didn't expect her to be a part of it. 'Was that why he was here?' she wondered. As if reading her mind, Dalton said, "Walker asked me to twist some arms and get some cowboys out here to ride today." "Walker contacted you?" "Yeah." A light bulb went off in Alex's head and she realized what Walker had been waiting for. He still wasn't certain about her feelings for Dalton. She briefly toyed with the idea of making Walker sweat and play that she was interested in Dalton. That wasn't her style though, she didn't play games. She wished that Walker had just asked her. This could prove difficult for everyone involved. "Well, it's good to see you again, Dalton. Maybe we can get together and talk later? I have to meet some people right now, but I'd love to take you to C.D.'s tonight for some chili and beer." "It's a date Cahill." With that, the two parted and went about their respective duties.

   The rodeo was a tremendous success and in addition to proceeds from the actual event, Alex had managed to arrange some corporate sponsorship of future events. She didn't get the opportunity to talk to Walker until the end of the day as the last of the horses and bulls were loaded to return home or to go to the next stop on the rodeo circuit. Walker was elated, the day had been such a success and he had enjoyed riding in both the bronco riding and bull riding events. He walked up and lifted Alex into his arms swinging her around in the air. She squealed and begged him to set her down, which he eventually did. Dalton approached them and watched the playfulness between them. "Hi Dalton, you ready for that chili I promised you?" Alex greeted him. "Sounds good, but I think the cold beer sounds even better." Alex looked at Walker, "are we ready to head back to C.D.'s for some dinner?" "I think we've earned it," Walker agreed. They gathered Trivette and C.D. and they headed over to the Bar and Grill. Lupe had been running things at C.D.'s in his absence and the atmosphere was that of a typical Saturday night. The friends ate and talked about the success of the rodeo. Dalton asked Alex to dance and she agreed. Once they were on the dance floor, he began to talk. "You love him don't you?" Alex didn't try to play dumb; she needed to set things straight with both men. "Yeah, I think maybe I always have. I'm sorry if I hurt you. I care about you a great deal and I only want you to have the best." "And that isn't you?" "No, you deserve someone who loves you as much as I love Walker." "There is someone actually. I just needed to see you again to be certain that things were over between us." "I'm glad you have someone special in your life. I wish you the best." She leaned forward and kissed Dalton and then they headed back off the dance floor. Dalton collected his hat and went over to shake Walker's hand. "Take good care of her, you're one very lucky man." With that, Dalton walked out of the bar and out of their lives.

   Alex walked up to Walker and grabbed his hand pulling him onto the dance floor. She stepped into his arms and they danced in silence until the song ended and a new one began. "You should have just asked me," Alex began. "Maybe," he conceded, "but I had to be sure." She nodded in understanding and then reached up and kissed him. This kiss was very different from the one she had shared with Dalton. This wasn't a closed mouth farewell kiss, this was an open mouthed, passion filled, promise of a future kiss. Finally, Walker had his answer and he was ready to start wooing Alex Cahill. He decided that he was going to do this properly this time. No room for error, this time things had to work.

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     The new District Attorney wasn't happy. He was being forced to drive a great distance to get a deposition that he thought should come to him. ADA Alex Cahill may be a beautiful woman and from all reports, she was a damn good prosecutor, but the last DA had let her do pretty much what she wanted and he felt she needed to be roped back in. He had challenged her on just about everything and so far, she had been right each time. He wasn't satisfied yet though and she was well aware of the fact. When they arrived at the seedy motel where the deposition was to take place, her Ranger Walker wasn't there and he was getting impatient waiting. It seemed ADA Cahill had a thing for Walker as she defended him against each assault the DA made. "What is this with your constant defense of Walker? Is he someone special to you?" he asked. "Yes, as a matter of fact he is. He's family. Do you know what family is Mr. Sutton?" She didn't expect the silence that greeted her question. Her cell phone rang and the DA walked away as she answered it. Jimmy told her that a little boy fell down into a drain hole and Walker had gone down after him. Alex told the DA she was leaving and when she told him why, he said that he was going with her. When Alex overheard a reporter ask Mr. Sutton about the death of his own young son, she felt extremely guilty. She apologized to him and he told her the story of how his son had gone into the street chasing after his ball and been killed by a hit and run driver. The conversation ended the antagonistic relationship between them.

     A cave in trapped Walker and after a fear filled night; he and the boy were rescued. Walker wasn't breathing and Alex held his hand, kissing his fingers and begging him to breathe. When he finally took a breath, relief flooded through her. They had once again been given the chance to be together. After being released from the hospital, Walker checked in with the young boy he had rescued and his family, then he took Alex out to dinner at the cafe in town. They had begun dating and Alex smiled privately to herself at the way Walker treated her. He was attentive and if the word could be applied to him, she would have to say that he was charming. He took her out at least once a week and he always walked her to her door and gave her a chaste kiss goodnight. This night, Alex had a room in the same motel Walker was staying in. He walked her to her door and opened it for her. She was just about to ask him in when DA Sutton came down the hall toward his room. "Goodnight," Walker said hurriedly and turned to go to his own room. Alex was chagrined, but said goodnight to both men and stepped into her room and closed the door. Leaning back on it, she thought, 'foiled again.'

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     Walker asked Alex to go to the carnival with him and she was happy to accept. A daytime date, this was a new step in their relationship. It was a little frustrating the way Walker was acting so gallant, the perfect gentleman. Okay, it was a lot frustrating. It was as if they hadn't slept together in the past and he was leading up to that step very very slowly. She wanted to scream. Instead, she went to the carnival and screamed on the rides. Walker was attentive and he held her hand or wrapped his arm around her waist kissing her occasionally. They met Susan Lee, her son Davie and Master Rin when some ignorant cretins tried to harass them. Alex was sorry to see the day end, but she enjoyed meeting a woman who would become a close friend. Susan Lee allowed her son to travel to Tibet when it was decided that he was a reincarnated Tibetan Monk.

     Alex didn't have a lot of women friends, except through her support groups. Not many women were confident enough to befriend another woman who was not only beautiful, but was also intelligent and had a successful career. One woman who was not intimidated by Alex was her friend, Shelly Preston. Shelly was part owner of a television station and she asked Alex to be a guest on the evening news that she anchored to discuss the subject of domestic abuse. Alex was very nervous and Walker didn't help. He just rolled his eyes and said that she would do well because she was a blabbermouth. Alex got him in a hold that he had taught her and forced him to take it back, but he laughed at her nervousness. She was always so confident; he enjoyed seeing her feathers ruffled. When a racist militia group took the station and the people inside hostage, Walker was desperate to get Alex out safely.

     The leader of the group, Hawkins, hit and kicked Shelly for talking. Alex struggled to get free from the hands that restrained her. As Hawkins drew his gun to shoot the unconscious Shelly, Alex broke free and covered her with her body. Hawkins couldn't believe that a white woman would risk her own life for a black woman. Later, when Walker managed to take out all of Hawkins men and then confront him and beat him in hand to hand combat, Hawkins wasn't surprised to see Walker take Alex into his arms. It figured that the two were together, they shared the same idealistic outlook. Shelly was treated for a concussion and broken ribs, but she was going to be fine and she had her friend Alex to thank for that. When Shelly tried to thank Alex, Alex just shook her head and said, "I'm sorry that there are still people in this world who think that a persons' worth can be defined by their skin color. If my actions helped in anyway, then it is small compensation for what Hawkins and the others tried to do to you." Shelly watched a tape of the speech Walker made on air stating that America was a melting pot and was built on tolerance. She certainly looked at Walker and Alex from a different perspective than Hawkins did, but she agreed that they were a good match. She for one was glad that they shared an idealistic outlook on life. If anyone knew the underbelly of the world, it was these two. They were confronted with it daily in their professional lives. It renewed Shelly's faith that people like Alex and Walker could see what they did and still have hope for the future.

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     Walker and Alex had dinner plans. He had asked her to go out with him to a quiet little Italian Restaurant they had tried a month before and found that they liked. He maintained the pace he had set with one dinner date a week and if they were both free, they spent one weekend day together as well. Usually, they went riding or attended an event of one of the charities they supported. There were occasions when they went camping for the weekend, but they always included Trivette and C.D. Alex wasn't sure why he insisted on keeping their relationship platonic, but she was willing to let him set the pace, for now. He came into her office to ask her if she was ready to go, but she was watching a story on Carl Mays whom she was scheduled to prosecute. The trial was set to begin in a week and she was putting her case together with the witness Walker and Trivette had collared for her. As she watched Mays answer the reporter's questions, she said, "something's wrong here. With all the evidence we have against him, he's too cocky. It's like he knows something." As she and Walker continued to watch, the reporter asked Mays who he would be hiring to defend him. Mays answered, "Gordon Cahill." "Cahill?" Walker asked stunned and looked at Alex to see if there was a connection. "Oh my God, he's hired my father."

     Walker took Alex to the dimly lit restaurant and when she was unresponsive to the waiter's request for her order, he ordered for her. Walker poured her a glass of the Chianti he had ordered to go with dinner and decided that he was going to have to get her to open up and talk about the bombshell that had just been dropped on her. "Alex, honey, tell me what you're thinking." Alex seemed to come back from a long way off and refocused on his face. It was nice to see the warmth in his eyes and she looked at each of his features, enjoying the way his face was put together. She loved the softness of his beard and the lines around his eyes. After she had stared at him for several minutes, he began to get uncomfortable and he reached out and picked up her hand, enveloping it in his own. "Hey, where'd you go?" Alex smiled, she hadn't realized she was staring and knew that he must feel uncomfortable. "I'm sorry, I was just thinking how lucky I am. You have something, I don't know how to explain it, but you engender trust. I don't know if it's your eyes or your smile, whatever, I just know all the way down to the core of me that I can trust you." "You can trust me. What brought this on?" Alex sighed, "I used to think I could trust my father. When I was a little girl, I thought the sun rose and set according to his whim. He was so strong and he had a great big laugh. I remember going camping and fishing and rafting with him. Mom never liked the outdoors and so it was just the two of us. He said that he was glad I was a girl because he was going to teach me that girls could do all the things that boys could do. Things were wonderful until I was about fourteen. That's when his law firm took on a huge case that kept him gone for about six months. They won the case, but the publicity brought them new clients and there was more pressure. I don't know exactly when he started drinking, but by the time I was fifteen, I rarely saw him and he and my mother fought all the time. Mom decided that I should have a sweet sixteen birthday party. I guess she figured that if my father wasn't going to have time to turn me into a tomboy, then she was going to try and turn me into a proper young lady." Walker smiled at this and pulled her hand up to his mouth to kiss the back of it. Alex returned his smile, knowing that her parents had each gotten their wish. She still loved the outdoors and she tried cases as well as any man. But... she also liked the finer things in life and she enjoyed getting dressed up and being feminine. The waiter arrived with their meals and the conversation was briefly interrupted.

    "You told me once that your father left when you were sixteen, was the party your mother gave you part of all that?" Alex wasn't surprised at Walker's perceptive skills. "Yeah, there were probably thirty teenagers at the house and it was quite the party. At eleven, my father came in and he was completely drunk. My parents yelling drowned out the music and people started leaving. I sat on the stairs listening and then my father swept past me going up to his room and packed his bags. When he came back down, he seemed to realize I was there for the first time. He said, 'have a happy life, pumpkin' and he walked out. My mother fell apart after that. We had to sell the house and my mom started working at a bank. I decided to live at school when I went off to college because I couldn't stand to watch her simply exist. She stopped caring about life and I was too young to understand that she was clinically depressed. I finished college and went straight into law school. I was paying my own way and even with scholarships and grants, I had to work nearly full time to make it through. I had school loans both from undergrad and law school. When mom died, I arranged a private service. My parents were both only children and my grandparents were all dead. My mother had ended all of her friendships and I was the only one besides the pastor at the graveside. I think that was when I actually hated my father. I believed that he had caused her death and he hadn't even bothered to come and pay his respects." Walker stroked her hand, as their food grew cold. "Have you seen him since then?" "He came to my graduation from law school. I don't know why he came, I didn't invite him. I had married and divorced since my mother's death and I was at one of the lowest points in my life. I saw him standing there and couldn't imagine why he came. He hadn't supported me either financially or emotionally my entire post high school education. He came up to me and said that he was proud of me and that he knew I could outdo all the boys. It was like he took credit for the fact that I graduated top in my class. I was numb." "Did you tell him what you thought of him?" "No, I couldn't be bothered." "So you haven't seen him since then?" "Actually, I have seen him a couple times at some hearings I testified at in Washington and then again at a seminar I went to in New York. He treated me to dinner each time and asked how I was. Things are civil between us, at least on the surface." Walker encouraged her to eat some of her dinner and actually just telling him about the difficult relationship she shared with her father helped.

     Alex soon discovered that her father continued to drink. When Mays had the witness killed, Gordon Cahill told him he would not defend him, but his secrets were safe with him because of attorney client privilege. That all changed when Mays ordered Gordon Cahill killed. It was just happenstance that Alex and Walker were with him when the shooter tried to gun him down. They avoided injury, but Gordon agreed to protective custody and to testify against Mays. Alex and her father stayed at Walker's ranch and the lack of alcohol caused her father to have mood swings and other symptoms of withdrawal. He grabbed the keys to Alex's Sebring and headed out in search of a drink. Walker picked a distraught Alex up and went to find him. He was in a local roadhouse extremely drunk. When Alex tried to reason with him, he swung wildly and connected with the side of her face spinning her around and into a parked truck. Walker immediately gathered her up and helped her stand checking to make sure that she was all right. He then stepped back as Gordon crumbled into a sorry heap at her feet begging her forgiveness.

     Back at the ranch, Alex sat in the rocking chair in Gordon's room. Walker snuck in quietly to check on her. He saw that she wasn't covered and brought the quilt up and tucked it around her shoulders. Gordon said, "she's a good girl." Walker nodded in agreement, "the best." "She certainly thinks the world of you." Walker answered with love in his eyes; " well I think the world of her too." Walker turned to leave and Gordon called him back. With everything Alex had told him about Gordon and with everything he had seen him do, Walker refused to give up on him. He knew that it was extremely important to Alex that he give her father a chance. That night when Mays' men came in with semi-automatic weapons to kill the three of them once and for all, Walker managed to defend them. Despite now having Mays' right hand man in custody, Gordon feared that he would somehow manage to get out of the charges. He used himself as bait and managed to set Mays up so that there was no chance of him getting out of the charges against him.

     Alex was very happy when her father agreed to check himself into rehab. He had hit rock bottom and he knew it. After checking him in, Alex drove Walker in her Sebring out into a wilderness area. Walker sat quietly beside her allowing her to take him where she wanted. Finally, she parked the car at a vista point overlooking the vast Texas countryside. She switched off the engine and turned to face him. "I know that you had a lot to do with my dad finally seeking help. I can't tell you how much I appreciate everything you've done for me this last week." Walker just shook his head at her, "one day, I'll tell you why I would do anything to make you happy lady." "What's wrong with today?" she asked, excitement sparkling in her eyes. "No, not yet, but someday soon, I promise." "I'll hold you to that Cowboy." Walker grinned at her and then leaned in and kissed her. The kiss was sweet and filled with promise. Alex had read the love in his eyes, it was reflected in hers, but neither was ready to state the way they felt, not just yet.

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     Walker walked up to the bar to ask C.D., "is everything all set for Alex's surprise birthday party?" Trivette chimed in, "what is with you guys? Alex specifically said she didn't want to have a bir..." Alex walked up and said, "hi, Alex said what?" Trivette was busted and didn't know how to get out of it gracefully, so he was very glad that his cell phone took that moment to ring. He just said, "goodbye Alex" and walked away to answer it. Alex looked at the remaining two men. Walker just shrugged his shoulders and Alex asked, "what are you two talking about?" C.D. came to the rescue, "Alex, we're just trying to tell Jimmy how to deal with the fairer sex." Alex looked concerned, "you two are teaching him about women?" Walker nodded and said, "yeah." C.D. chimed in, "absolutely." Alex couldn't help herself, she laughed. "Hey, what's that supposed to mean?" Walker asked as he grabbed her and pressed her tightly against him so that their faces were inches apart. Alex looked at him innocently, "oh nothing Romeo." They both laughed as she smoothed her hands up and down his arms. Jimmy returned to tell Walker that he was needed at the army base to respond to a code blue. A stealth helicopter had been stolen by an old nemesis of Walker's from Vietnam. He was using it in the service of a drug cartel and several agencies were involved in trying to recapture the helicopter. When Walker made things extremely difficult for the cartel, the man used the helicopter to fire a missile destroying Walker's truck. Walker managed to beat him though when they fought hand to hand and despite the delay, he still intended to have a party for Alex's birthday. They were two days late, so it was a real surprise when Alex opened the door to find C.D., Jimmy and Walker standing there. Initially, she was embarrassed, as she had put on an avocado facemask that was green in color. She couldn't help but laugh though when Walker pulled her into him and tried to kiss her without getting goo on his face. She kissed him hard, smearing the green stuff in his beard and on his nose. The friends laughed and she invited them into her apartment.

    Once inside, Alex excused herself to go wash the mask off her face and pull on some clothes. Her terry robe was comfortable, but not what she usually entertained in. Walker used the guest bathroom to clean up his face and when the two reemerged, C.D. had gotten out plates and drinks for everyone. They ate cake and Alex opened presents and then Jimmy and C.D. took their leave. Walker lingered determined to get a birthday kiss that didn't include avocado facemask. As Alex saw Jimmy and C.D. out, Walker lit a few candles, dimmed the lights and put on some romantic music. Alex turned to see her apartment transformed into a romantic setting. Her heart beat faster wondering where this would lead to and knowing it couldn't go far. Walker held out his hand and she stepped into his arms as he danced her around the living room. He began kissing her and soon they were both lost in the passion that always burned just below the surface. Walker finally pulled back just enough to speak. "I want you Alex, please say I can stay." Alex groaned and bent her neck laying her forehead against his chest. "I'm sorry, but you can't." Walker was puzzled, he knew she was as turned on as he was, he could feel her breasts pressed against him and her nipples were hard buds. "What is it? What's wrong?" he asked unable to hide his disappointment. "If you had been on time and come on my birthday, nothing would have been wrong, but two days later, it's not a good time for me." Walker stood there puzzled. Alex knew that like any typical male, there were things that he didn't spend time thinking about until they slapped him in the face. "I started my period this morning, that's why I was already in my robe and treating myself to a facemask. I'm bloated and have horrible cramps and..." "Okay, okay, I get the picture," he surrendered. He gathered her back into his arms and pulled her abdomen against his, she could feel his arousal pressing against her, but he ignored it as his hands went down to massage her lower back. "Oh God, that feels good," she moaned. Walker chuckled in her ear, "see, I'm not such a clueless male after all." Alex wrapped her arms around his neck and stretched herself up and into him as he relieved the ache she felt in her back. "You're going to make someone a wonderful husband," she murmured. Walker smiled and continued his massage until she was limp in his arms. He kissed her cheek and said, "go on to bed, we'll talk tomorrow." "Hey wait a minute, you missed my birthday, that means you owe me." "What are you talking about? I couldn't help it, duty called." "Doesn't matter, if you miss my birthday then you have to grant me one wish." "All right Alex, what is it?" "You have to take me to my favorite opera." "No way, uh uh, not going to happen." "It's because of you that I'm having to go to bed completely frustrated." "And you think I'm not suffering here?" "Doesn't matter, I'm the injured party here. You missed my birthday, I didn't miss yours." "All right Alex, I know better than to argue with a woman suffering from PMS." "Them there's fightin' words Walker, you better hightail it outta here." "I can't, I don't have my truck and I rode over with C.D. and Jimmy." "What? Were you planning to announce that you intended to stay?" "No, I told them that I was going to borrow your car to get home and I would pick you up in the morning. I'll even let you come with me to help pick out my new truck." "Oh please, I know you. You'll get the same gray Dodge Ram as you had before." Walker grinned at her and said, "yeah, but do I get it with or without a CD player?" "Out! You know where the keys are. Oh, it's almost out of gas," she threw over her shoulder as she headed toward her bedroom.

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     It was Friday and Alex took the entire day off to pamper herself. First she went to her favorite boutique and shopped for an hour until she found the perfect evening gown. Of course she also had to buy the sexiest undergarments she could find to match it. She found a pair of shoes that made her legs look great and she then splurged on new earrings that would mean she definitely had to wear her hair up. She debated on a necklace for the plunging neckline of the gown, but decided that her bare neck and cleavage would be more dramatic. Everything had to be just perfect. After a light lunch, she went to a spa that her friend Shelly had recommended. She had an all day appointment and planned to have 'the works' done. She started with a massage and then an herbal body wrap. Her 'beauty consultant', Claire, was a bit over the top when it came to such things as 'exfoliating' and other such words that were not a part of Alex's usual vocabulary. She scolded Alex about how she wasn't properly caring for her skin, hair and nails and gave her a lecture on the evils of not following a beauty regime. She outlined a complete plan that Alex decided would require her to quit her job if she wanted to have the time to do all the things on the list. Alex just smiled and thanked the woman. Afterwards, she had a facial and then had a pedicure and a manicure. She then left to go home and take a nap. Two hours later, she felt completely rested and relaxed, except for the tight knot of anticipation in her belly. She then took a shower and applied her favorite body lotion and powder. Next, she dressed and went to have her hair done. After describing the dress and showing the hairstylist her earrings, the 'up do' began to take shape. Her hair was pulled dramatically back from her forehead and she had such a beautiful hairline, she could get away with the severe look. Her hair was piled high and curled and pinned at the crown of her head. She suggested that tendrils be pulled down to soften the look, but was convinced that she could pull off the dramatic look with her high cheekbones and amazing bone structure. Alex headed home feeling an increasing tightness in her abdomen. She sat at her vanity table and applied her makeup. She wore more makeup and darker colors than usual. This was evening wear makeup and she had to give her face the same dramatic effect that her hair and gown created. She darkened the beauty mark that was to the left of her mouth, then gave herself one last sprits with his favorite perfume. She disrobed and began pulling on the sheer silk stockings. Over these, she slipped on the one-piece lace teddy that gave her breasts the only support they would get tonight. Finally, she slipped the gown over her head and strained to fasten the back. If all went according to plan, she wouldn't have to worry about unfastening it. She stepped into her shoes and looked at herself in the mirror from all angles. The doorbell peeled and she scooped up her handbag, placing the essentials inside and then walked out to open the door.

    He stood there tugging at the bow tie of his tuxedo and looking incredibly sexy. Alex smiled as his eyes widened taking in her appearance. "Wow," he breathed as his eyes swept up and down the vision that stood before him. "Wow yourself," she replied as she took in the red hair that lay neatly trimmed against the high collar of his black tuxedo. "Are you ready?" he gathered his wits enough to ask. "Let me just grab my wrap," she replied turning to walk to the coat closet and giving him a chance to see the rearview. He helped her put her cloak on and then gave her his arm. She pulled the door closed and locked it, dropping the key into her evening bag. "Trivette is going to meet us there," Walker told her. "You have the tickets don't you?" she questioned. "Damn, I knew I forgot something. I left them on the counter at the ranch. I put them there so I wouldn't forget them." "Walker! We don't have time to go all the way back out to the ranch to get the tickets!" Walker grinned as he reached into his breast pocket and pulled out the tickets to show them to her, "gotcha!" Alex hit him. "Woman, if you were a television show, you'd get a 'V' rating for violence!" he stated moving his shoulder to make sure it still worked. "That wasn't violence, that was action, there's a difference. Besides, you asked for it," she defended her actions.

     Walker was driving her Sebring as she complained that she couldn't climb into the cab of his brand new Ram in the long dress she was wearing. He handed the keys over to the valet and then escorted Alex up the stairs to the opera house. He was not looking forward to this evening and couldn't wait until it was over, at least the first part of the evening. If he had counted right and he was sure he had, Alex should be about mid-cycle and he planned to finish what he had started the night of her birthday party. Alex spotted Trivette and his beautiful date and they glided over to them. "Wow Counselor, you outdid yourself tonight," Jimmy admired. "Thank you Jimmy, you look awfully sexy in your tux," Alex replied. "Hear that Walker? I look sexy, whereas you look... uncomfortable." "I am uncomfortable. Who designed these ridiculous suits?" Walker grumbled. "He's such a romantic," Alex opined. Walker rolled his eyes at her and they headed up the staircase. "You got to tell me how you got him to come here Alex," Trivette said. "He stood me up for my birthday, he had no choice," Alex explained. Walker continued to complain until his cell phone rang. "You brought your cell phone to the opera?" Alex was not a happy woman. "Alex, I don't work nine to five," he defended himself. Alex snatched the tickets from his hand and walked off in a huff. Walker watched her and rolled his eyes, 'great' he thought. The phone call was from a Forest Ranger named Sheridan. He was in the Cradle Mountain Range in Utah and had spotted a plane that might be the wreckage of the Swan Song. Alex could only hear Walker's side of the conversation, but her ears perked up at the mention of the plane. Walker had shared the story with her one evening and she knew it was something that still ate at him. Trivette asked her to explain and she told him that the plane had been used in a bank robbery and how Walker's friend Sheriff Cates had been killed along with six other people. Walker was there, but the plane and the robbers Cothran and Berbich had disappeared with the money, three million dollars, never to be heard from again. Alex then overheard Walker say that if he left right away, he could be there by the next afternoon. "Walker, the opera?" "I'm sorry Alex, this is important. Trivette I'll be gone for a few days." "You want me to come along?" "No, stay on the Fishman case." "Well, I don't have a case, so I'm going with," Alex announced. "Alex, I'm not going on a picnic or to the opera, I'm going to be packing it up into the mountains for two days." "Sounds exciting." "No." "I'm a great rider." "No." "What could possibly go wrong?" "For the last time Alex, NO!" Alex sat quietly as the opera began and Walker sat next to her wondering what she was plotting. He managed to sit still thinking about what he would need to take and how long it would take him to drive there.

     By intermission, he was ready to head out and asked Trivette if he would take Alex home. "I'll go on home with you." "Alex, you shouldn't have to miss the rest of the opera, Trivette will take you home." "The evening's ruined anyway, I might as well leave." She headed toward the staircase and Walker followed feeling like a complete heel. By the time they reached her apartment, he was feeling incredibly guilty. He walked her up to her apartment and turned her toward him, "I'm sorry Alex, I'll make it up to you." "Tonight was already a makeup, remember?" Walker sighed, "what can I do to make it better?" "Take me with you." "Alex, it could be dangerous." "Yeah right, you're going to ride a horse into the mountains to investigate a wrecked plane. It's no different from some of our trips into the woods." She had him there, just because he had this strange feeling that it was going to be dangerous, there really wasn't any reason to think it really would be. He looked into her eyes and saw the hurt and disappointment in them. That was it, he was hopelessly lost. The one thing he couldn't stand was hurting Alex. Against his better judgement, he said, "all right. Change and pack, I'll be back to pick you up in an hour." Alex jumped into his arms and kissed him soundly. Walker almost forgot to regret his decision.

     The drive took all night and most of the next day. Walker allowed Alex to drive for a few hours while he slept after she had slept most of the night away. Alex looked over at him and smiled to herself, she had planned to spend the night with him, but this wasn't exactly what she had in mind. Walker drove the last leg and they pulled into a quaint tourist town. After going to the Ranger station and finding out what they needed to know, they headed for the hotel to check in. "Two rooms," Walker told the desk clerk. "You want to waste your money?" Alex asked him. He looked over at her and read the message in her eyes. "Make that one room, your best suite." The young desk clerk looked at the beautiful lady with the Ranger and envied the man. "Our best suite is the same price as two rooms," the clerk informed Walker. "That's fine," he said. He wouldn't be turning a receipt in for this particular expense. The bellhop took their bags up to the suite and Alex was very pleased with the accommodations. The room was large and in the center was a king-sized bed. Sharing a bed with Walker, now that would be a novel experience. After the bellhop left, Alex moved to unpack her bag. She had only brought a couple of things and she really needed to buy a new pair of long underwear. It was colder up here than she had expected. "Let's go shopping," Alex suggested. "Shopping? Isn't there something else you'd rather do?" "No, I want to shop. I need a few things before we head out on horseback." Walker frowned at her, but gave in. He drove her over to the Outfitter's store he had seen in town and stood outside waiting. She tried to talk him into going in with her, but he put his foot down and she gave in. The two Forest Rangers, Poston and Sheridan, who would be acting as their guides, spotted Walker standing out by his truck and they began chatting with him. When Alex emerged, she had on a new outfit and carried a bag. Walker grumbled about how long she had taken, but she didn't pay him any mind. She said that the store clerk had told her about the legend of Bigfoot. The men all laughed at her, but Lou Poston agreed that it was dangerous up there if you didn't know what you were doing. "You know he's right Alex, maybe you should stay here," Walker tried again. "Not a chance," she retorted. "I didn't think so," he said, accepting her decision. After Lou and Sheridan left, Walker said, "I'm hungry, let's go get something to eat." "Sounds great. Afterward, let's go dancing." "No way Alex." "Oh come on Walker." "I said no way."

     Back in their hotel room, Alex insisted on showering and changing. Walker had showered before they went out shopping knowing that she would want to shower before dinner and not yet sure how they would work all of this out. Sharing a hotel room seemed so much more intimate than sharing a sleeping bag. While she was in the bathroom, which included a dressing room, Walker called to check in with Trivette. When Alex emerged, she was wearing a black lace dress that only covered enough to make a person imagine what couldn't be seen. Walker held his tongue and walked her out to the restaurant. After they finished a hearty meal, Alex looked at him and then at the dance floor. He knew that he wasn't going to be able to get out of there without dancing with her, so he finally asked her to dance. She was looking very smug as he turned her around the dance floor. "I told you," she chuckled in a sexy voice, "I knew I could get you to dance with me," she gloated. He merely looked at her tolerantly. "Admit it Walker, you can't resist me. Remember when you said that we had both met our match? Well you certainly met yours." "Little girls who play with fire, often get burned," he warned. "Promises, promises," she taunted. They danced some more and she brushed herself against him as often as possible, making him focus all his attention on her. Finally, he pushed her back away from him slightly and looked at the sexy dress he had yet to comment on. Every other woman there wore jeans or at most a skirt. Leave it to Alex to draw attention. "You look... nice," he finally said. She laughed at the comment; "well I was hoping to get your attention." "Well you got my attention and everyone else's in here." "Do I note a hint of jealousy?" she teased. "Jealous? No way," he denied as he pulled her back into him. She laughed into his ear and stayed snug against him. They danced cheek to cheek for awhile and then she pulled back and told him with her eyes that she was ready.

     They had barely made it into their hotel room and closed the door when he pulled her back against him. "I told you, you shouldn't play with fire," he growled in her ear as he unzipped the back of her dress and pushed it forward off of her arms. The dress slithered down to the floor leaving Alex standing there in black bra and panties. Walker pulled his jacket off and dropped it onto the floor beside her dress and then unhooked her bra before she could turn around. It too was pushed off her shoulders. He then pushed her hair off of her neck and began to nuzzle her neck, moving to capture her earlobe between his teeth. Alex gasped as shivers went through her. Walker stepped out of his shoes and reached into the waistband of her panties and pulled them off along with her nylons. She lifted each leg as he slipped off her shoe and discarded the remainder of her clothes.  Walker then scooped her up into his arms and carried her over to the bed, dropping her onto it. He paused long enough to strip his shirt, pants, underwear and socks off and then climbed onto the bed with her. "I hope you're ready, because I can't wait another second," he stated as he pulled her up against his body and began kissing her with a deep urgency. Alex gasped as he parted her legs and checked to make sure that she was wet and ready for him. She was. He then entered her and muffled her scream with his mouth. Alex was more than ready and met each thrust with one of her own. She reveled in the feel of him filling her to capacity. Each stroke brought it's own pleasure that built on top of the other until moments later, they both dove into the deep abyss that shook them to the core.

     Laying on her and panting, Walker began to apologize. "I'm sorry, that lacked finesse. I wanted you so badly that I gave little thought to your pleasure." "Mmm... well regardless of how much thought you gave it, you gave me plenty of pleasure. Do you think we could try pulling the covers down and actually getting into the bed though?" Walker chuckled as he realized he hadn't even bothered with the covers. They both stood up and he pulled the covers down with a flourish and then picked her up and spun her around until she was dizzy and plopped her into the middle of the bed. He came down next to her in one bound. It was rare to see this playful side of Walker and she was enjoying it immensely. They laughed and giggled and tickled and frolicked until they both were ready to begin the process of building to the ultimate pleasure again. Alex trailed her hand from Walker's lips, down the softness of his beard and stroked his neck. He hadn't known that his neck was so sensitive. He knew it was one of her erogenous zones, but this was the first he knew it was also one of his. Her hands continued to his chest as she leaned forward and followed the path her hands forged with her lips. As her hands teased his male nipples, her mouth suckled his neck. "Don't you dare give me a hickey woman," he warned her with a swat to her naked backside. Alex giggled and moved her hands down to his abdomen as her mouth pleasured his chest. Down her hands went to stroke his growing erection as her tongue investigated his navel. When her lips covered the tip of his maleness, her hands cupped the silky sack below it. Walker could take no more and pulled her up to straddle him. He plunged into her and then held still as she contracted herself around him. Walker's hands cupped her breasts and rolled her nipples between his thumbs and forefingers. Alex arched her back bringing him deeper into her as he stroked his fingers down her body and played with the curls that nestled at the juncture of their joined bodies. As his hand stroked her most sensitive spot, she moaned and leaned forward allowing him to suckle first one nipple and then the other into his mouth. Her hands were braced on either side of his body and he was free to touch and taste her, giving her increasing increments of pleasure. Her control finally broke and she sat back up and began moving her hips in a circular pattern. Walker gritted his teeth as he tried to maintain control waiting for her to reach her climax. Just as he had reached the limit of his endurance, Alex shuddered and cried out as her body convulsed around his time and again, drawing every drop of his release from him.

     Alex collapsed down onto him and he stroked her back, down her spine and over her buttocks dipping down to where they joined. He explored every inch of her and after her last release, she truly believed she was spent, but he somehow managed to draw a response from her exhausted body. Walker slipped from under her and left her lying on her stomach as he kissed her neck and shoulders and then followed the trail of her spine. When his hand reached up underneath her and stroked her moist flesh, she cried out for more. He plunged his fingers inside of her and watched as she writhed on her belly begging for still more. Finally, he pushed her legs apart and sat on his knees between them and then pulled her hips up to him and entered her from behind. This time, it was he who set the tempo and each thrust pushed deeper into her than anyone had ever been. She didn't know how her body managed to accommodate him as he buried himself completely into her. There was a slapping sound as his body met hers again and again. As was his custom, he waited until he felt her inner muscles contract involuntarily as the climax took over her body. He moaned as he pumped into her one last time and allowed the contractions of her body to milk his orgasm from him. It was his turn to collapse onto her and then he realized she was crying and he slipped off of her and turned her into his arms cradling her face into his neck. "Shh honey, please don't cry. I'm sorry, did I hurt you?" He spoke quietly stroking the hair back from her face. "No, you didn't hurt me. It's just..." she trailed off as another sob shook her. "What honey? Oh please Alex, don't cry." "It's okay, I'm happy, it's just that I never thought I would ever be this happy." She continued to sob as he stroked her hair and back and held her tightly to him. "Why didn't you think you would be happy?" Alex took a deep cleansing breath and tried to explain. "No man has ever been able to make me feel the way you do. In and out of bed. I thought that there was something wrong with me and that I wasn't designed to enjoy sex." Walker couldn't help himself, he laughed. He had never known any woman so designed for sex. She was insatiable and so incredibly sexy. "That first time with you, on the river, was the first I knew I was capable of multiple orgasms. I thought once was all you got and that was only if you were very lucky. Oh God, I can't believe I'm telling you this. I thought that I had a low sex drive and I was never going to reach the heights you read about in romance novels. Then... you came along and shattered that belief and then... Oh God Walker, I thought I lost you and then I blew it, taking up with Dalton again because I was so hurt and so lonely and I thought you didn't want me. I didn't know about Uncle Ray and I thought that I had been a disappointment to you," she was crying again. "You are the most incredibly sexy lady I have ever met. You have an endless well of passion and you simply hadn't tapped it yet. I never knew that making love to a woman could not only bring physical pleasure, but pleasure that goes all the way to a man's soul. I know that I hurt you when I shut you out after that night we shared on the river. Please believe that it wasn't my intention. I came back from that trip ready to build on the beautiful romance we had begun and then I got the news about my Uncle and my whole world shattered. Later, when I was able to think again, I realized what I had done to you and I hated myself for it. It was too late though, or at least, I thought it was. You seemed to be happy with Dalton and I wanted your happiness more than I wanted mine. I have never been that unselfish in my life. You bring out the very best in me." "You bring out the best in me too." Alex said and then blushed as she realized all the implications of her statement. Walker realized them as well and chuckled.

    "Will you do something for me?" he asked. "Yes of course, what is it?" "Lay back and let me bring you pleasure. This is just for you and I don't want you to reciprocate, at least not tonight. I want you to just enjoy and then I want you to fall asleep in my arms and to wake in the morning with you still in them. Okay?" "Okay," she whispered. Walker pushed her over onto her back and then he got up and went into the bathroom. He came back with a warm washcloth and cleaned her with it, wiping all the drying fluids that had pooled from their night of passion. After he finished, he tossed the washcloth back onto a chair and he lay between her legs and used his lips, tongue and teeth to pleasure only the intimate core of her. Alex lay there panting in short gasps trying to get enough oxygen as his beard and mustache added to the other sensations his mouth was creating. Finally, when she didn't think she could stand anymore, he thrust his tongue deep into her core and then pulled back out and suckled the swollen nub of flesh that lay hidden in folds of skin into his mouth. He alternated between the thrusting and suckling motions until she screamed out her pleasure and her body dove into the intensive waves that racked it. Walker then climbed back up to the top of the bed and wrapped his arms around her, bringing her spent body up against his. They both fell instantly asleep.

     Walker gently woke Alex early the next morning. They slipped into the shower together and quickly soaped each other. There wasn't time to give in to the passion they both felt, but they enjoyed the touching nonetheless. Alex dressed in her skintight long underwear and the outfit she had purchased the day before. She dried her hair and pulled on her jacket and boots. Her pack was ready to go and Walker had his ready as well. They only took a change of clothes and a few personal necessities; most of the supplies were already packed with the horses and the rangers. They met Sheridan and Poston at the Ranger's Station and mounted. Walker rode a large palomino gelding and Alex had a smaller paint mare.  Both rangers led a packhorse each with their gear attached to the wooden packsaddles. They headed out at first light and Walker couldn't resist one last ditch effort to get Alex to stay behind. "It's gonna be cold up there." "You're not getting me to change my mind," she retorted. He had known that, but he still had to try. 'If anything, I'd stay because I'm so sore,' Alex thought to herself. Maybe she shouldn't have wound Walker so tight last night before they went back to their room. She had been celibate for months now and her body complained at the athleticism they had engaged in the previous night. She wasn't about to let on though and rode alongside the other's keeping pace. The sound of the wind through the canyons startled her and Walker offered to let her turn back. She was getting tired of his comments, but the further they rode, the more the hair on the back of his neck stood on end.

     They reached the ridge as dusk settled over the mountain and they stopped and made camp. Alex gathered wood for the fire, while Walker found soft pine needles and made a bed of them to put their sleeping bags on behind an outcrop of rock. He had placed them as far from the rangers as possible without being conspicuous. They ate a canned dinner and drank coffee and then turned in for the night. Alex lay in her sleeping bag next to Walker wearing only the long underwear she had purchased. "Wa...Wa...Walker, I'm c...c...cold," she said through teeth that chattered. He didn't know how she could be cold, the underwear she wore was warm enough for snow and her bag was of the latest insulated material. He decided that she was probably overtired, they hadn't had much sleep the night before and they had driven all night the night before that. "All right Alex, I'm coming." He unzipped his bag and then hers and zipped them together as he had done the night they shared on the river. As he slipped in the enlarged bag with her, she clung to him as if he were her lifeline. It was a few minutes before Walker registered the fact that she wasn't shivering at all now. "Alexandra Cahill, are you winding me up again?" "Mmm hmm..." she said as she began to kiss him. Walker thought about scolding her, but her hands had already been busy and all thoughts of her duplicity were quickly lost. They made love gently and quietly trying to make sure the two men sleeping a hundred yards away didn't hear them.

     The next morning, Alex struggled to get back into her figure hugging long underwear that had ended up at the bottom of the double sleeping bag. She was panting when her head emerged and when she looked into Walker's face, he had an expression that clearly said, 'serves you right.' Alex stuck her tongue out at him and climbed out of the bag to finish dressing. They broke camp and mounted the horses to complete the journey to where Sheridan had spotted the wreckage. It was nearly noon when they arrived and peered over the cliff. There was a sheer drop and the quickest way down was to repel to the bottom. Walker had to be sure that it was the Swan Song and Sheridan had brought along climbing gear. "I want to go with you," Alex said as she came up beside him. "No," came his standard answer. "I ran the ropes at my abused women's retreat, remember?" "I remember, no." "Come on, please. Please?" "Alex, can't I win one argument?" "No," she laughed knowing she would once again get her way. They repelled down to the wreckage and when Walker shifted a piece of metal, they discovered a skull underneath. Walker decided that it was Cothran because Berbich was a much larger man. Alex regretted asking what might have happened to Berbich when Walker suggested he had been drug off by an animal. She hit him again. There had been a fire and the money was burned up, so mystery solved, they were ready to head back to town.

     Unbeknownst to them, three men had overheard Lou Poston bragging to a pretty woman at the bar the night before and had been following them. They were searching for three million dollars in stolen money and their greed was much stronger than their sense of wrong and right. They killed Poston and Sheridan by shooting them in the back. Walker drew Alex against the cliff face as Sheridan's body fell over the cliff toward them. Walker had his gun, but it wasn't much use from where he stood. He gave it to Alex and told her to shoot anyone who stuck their head over and then he circled around to come up behind them. One of the three men rode off in fear and the other two were knocked back by Walker's flying feet. Something made a growling noise near to where Alex crouched against the cliff face. She shot at the noise until she ran out of bullets and then shouted to Walker, "Walker there's something down here, pull me up!" The two remaining men fled as Walker began hauling Alex back up the cliff. When she finally reached the top, Walker wrapped her into his arms. She clung to him and said, "I've never been so scared in my life." He answered her, "you're okay Alex, everything's all right." They heard a man scream as something in the woods killed him.

     All the horses were gone and they had nothing but what they carried. Walker and Alex walked to the river's edge and set up a crude camp. Walker bent some scrap metal into a bowl and spoon and after building a fire, he made a soup of sorts. Alex was less than thrilled to learn that the ingredients included snails and worms. After watching Walker eat a spoonful, she gamely tried some and found it wasn't bad. Alex was exhausted and Walker suggested she lay down and rest awhile. He covered her sleeping form with his jacket and sat against a tree stump to think about what she had told him the night before. He couldn't believe that the confident woman he had known all this time was so insecure about her sensuality. How could she be so blind to her own appeal? He knew that her track record with men wasn't the greatest. The ones he knew about included Senator Knox, a womanizer, her ex-husband, an insecure cretin, and Dalton, who actually was a great guy, but not the right man for her. He didn't know if there had been others, but for Alex to have had a minimum of three lovers before him and still believe herself to have a low sex drive amazed him. The woman he had bedded was insatiable. He himself was not promiscuous, but it took more than one hand to count the women he had been to bed with. None of them compared to Alex. Not even his sweet Ellen. There was simply a chemistry or an electricity or maybe it was physiology, whatever, they were explosive together. No woman had been able to arouse him time and again the way Alex did. The previous night's joining in the sleeping bag had been another new experience as they went so very slowly and made gentle love to each other. He had a feeling that years hence, he would still discover new pleasures with Alex. Unfortunately, Alex was in need of reassurance about her desirability and he had never been good with words. Walker grinned privately to himself, they did say that actions spoke louder than words. A roar was the only warning he had as a large bear attacked him, undoubtedly the mother of the cub who had wandered into camp earlier. Walker fought with all his strength, but he wasn't sure what caused the bear to stop and leave. His only serious wound was from a swipe of her powerful paw against his chest. The gaping wounds were bleeding and the exhaustion and shock caused him to fall to the ground unconscious.

     Alex rushed over to him and assessed the damage. She quickly ran to the river and washed out the makeshift bowl and filled it with clean water. She then tore the arms off her shirt and long underwear tearing them into strips. She used the material from the underwear to dab and cleanse the wounds. After cleaning the area, she got more water and set it to boil as she applied pressure to the deepest cuts. When the bleeding slowed, she washed the bandages in the hot water and again cleansed the area. Finally, she dragged him inch by inch until he was under the thick limbs of a pine tree. She bandaged the wounds as best she could and wrapped herself around him to give him her warmth. Later that night, a lightening bolt struck a dead tree and woke Walker. He tried to get up, but Alex held him down and told him not to move as she had just got the bleeding to stop. Walker relaxed against her and the two slept despite the snow that fell all around them.

     The next morning, Walker got Alex to help him find healing herbs and she built a fire and boiled water with the herbs inside, adding the bandages. She cleaned his chest again and then took the strips of cloth that had soaked in the herbs and approached him to apply them to his wounds. "This looks like it's going to hurt." "That's okay, go ahead," he said. She carefully applied the strips to the torn flesh on his chest. He looked at her face and knew that she felt the pain more than he did. "You're beautiful," he stated reverently. "Yeah, right. I've been up on this mountain for two days, I'm really beautiful." "You could spend a year up here and you'd still be beautiful." He reached up to brush a snowflake from her hair and push the loose tendrils back from her forehead. Alex looked up into his eyes, amazed that he had made such a claim. "Now you get romantic," she said. He smiled at her and her heart did flip-flops in her chest.

     As they began their hike off the mountain, they discovered one of the men who had ambushed them impaled on a jagged tree trunk. Walker knew that whatever had done this was not an animal. They continued to follow a trail that led to a cave. Inside the cave they discovered bones and part of the plane as well as the third man who had ambushed them, also dead. Alex insisted that they leave quickly, but Floyd Berbich, who had survived the wreck, but been badly burned, attacked them. He threw Walker off the ledge and choked Alex into unconsciousness and then carried her to his lair. Walker finally managed to reach the lair and attack Berbich, but it was a losing battle until the bear entered the cave and finished Berbich off. As they hurried down the mountain, Alex said, "Walker, I will never ask to go along on a trip again." "Promise?" he asked. "No," she answered in her sauciest voice.

     The remainder of the day took them to where they had camped the first night. On the way there, they found one of the packhorses with its lead line snagged in a fallen log. Alex led the horse to the area where they had camped and was glad to find a medicine kit and canned soup in one of the packs. She set up a crude camp and they huddled together around the fire she built and ate the soup before laying down to sleep. The next morning, it was clear that infection was setting in to Walker's wounds. She insisted that he ride the horse as she led it toward the town. Just after noon, they were met by the Sheriff who had decided to come looking for them when their horses finally made it back to town riderless. Walker was flown by medivac helicopter to the nearest hospital and treated for deep lacerations and infection. Alex gathered their belongings, filled out reports and packed the Ram to drive it to the larger town where the hospital was. Alex called Jimmy and filled him in on how things had gone, leaving out what she considered to be the most significant parts. She then spent the night on a cot in Walker's room and by the morning, he was clamoring to be released. The doctor finally consented and they began the journey home with Alex at the wheel.

    "Alex?" "Mmm..." "I can't believe I'm letting you drive my new Ram. I haven't even let Trivette drive it yet." "You've never gone to bed with Trivette." "No, that's true. I still can't believe I'm letting you drive." "Walker, it's just a piece of metal." "Alex, how can you say that? It's my truck! My last one saved my life on more than one occasion." "Well, I'm a good driver, so relax and get some sleep. I didn't wreck it when we were going in the other direction did I?" He did give into the fatigue he was feeling and was shocked to find that they were within a few miles of the ranch when he woke up. "Alex, you haven't stopped?" "Just for gas and a potty break. You didn't wake up so I let you sleep." "Oh honey, I'm sorry. I would have taken a turn driving." "No, I wouldn't have let you. We're almost to the ranch and then you can get some real sleep." After unloading, showering and eating, the two exhausted lovers barely managed to climb the stairs to the second story master bedroom. "I don't know if I want you to sleep with me," Walker said. Alex was shocked and hurt and turned to leave as he gripped her arm. "Wait!" he said tugging her back toward him. "I didn't finish." Alex stood there with so much hurt on her face, he realized that he was going to have to be very careful with what he said to her for a long time until she built up her confidence in this new relationship they had finally begun in earnest. "I wanted the first night you spent in my bed to be filled with passion. Instead, I can hardly move without flinching. Do you mind just snuggling?" Alex was stunned; did Walker actually use the word 'snuggling'? If only Jimmy and C.D. could hear him now. She looked up and smiled at him, the light back in her eyes. "I would love to snuggle with you." He smiled back at her and they climbed into bed, Alex being careful not to jostle him. They slept until afternoon the next day and Alex called work figuring, as it was already Thursday, she would take Friday off and return on Monday. She left Walker alone at the ranch on Friday as she went home to get some clothes for the weekend. On a whim, she called the spa she had been to the previous Friday and asked if they had time to do a manicure and facial. Alex decided that Claire's face was priceless as she looked at Alex's torn and broken nails, wind burned cheeks and sunburned nose. She nearly had an apoplectic fit. Alex thought to the moment when Walker told her she was beautiful and she knew that all the fancy creams in the world could never make her look better than she did when she looked at him with the love she felt for him shining in her eyes.

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To be continued...

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