As the sun rises in the east, and the room begins to lighten, a slash of sun crawls across Alexís face, catching her square across her eyes, she squints, and then turns on to her side, burying her face into Walkerís neck. She snuggles closer to her husband, inhaling the scent that has become almost an aphrodisiac for her. She feels desire starting to coil deep inside her as her breathing becomes heavier and her heart picks up the pace. Her fingers begin to move of their own accord through the hair on his chest, her tongue flicks out against his throat, and her leg slides slowly, deliciously over his, her knee pressing against his already engorged manhood. Startled, she looks up with smoldering eyes and sees him watching her.
"Hi," his voice husky with sleep Ö or is it desire.
"Hi," she whispers as she comes up on her elbow and lowers her head to cover his lips with hers. Her tongue pressing deep into his mouth as his hand closes over her breast, caressing, filling his hand with the soft flesh.
Before she realizes it, Walker has taken the initiative and she is lying flat on her back and he is leaning over her, his mouth and hands has her soon soaring to the heavens. The rasp of his beard over and across the delicate skin of her breasts has her tingling, he laps at her nipple, wetting it, and then blowing on it to make it crest even more and she is literally panting by the time his mouth finally closes over one turgid peak. He suckles, and nips, and wraps his tongue around it, leisurely toying with her, displaying a finesse sheís has come to appreciate so much. He treats the other breast to the same slow, sweet torment as her fingers tangle in his thick hair, holding him close, wanting more. Then suddenly, he draws the nipple further into his mouth, suckling so strongly that she lurches upward with a desperate cry, feeling the tug deep within her. Her insides coil more tightly and she feels like she ready to explode. Then, gripping one of Alexís thighs, he opens her to his touch. She gasps when he strokes her. She is wet and yielding beneath his palm.
As his fingers continue their gentle invasion, his mouth maps a trail of kisses down her stomach, on a direct path to the golden curls at the juncture of her thighs. She knows where he is headed, what he intends and her body begins to tremble with anticipation.
"Iíve got to taste you, or die thinking about it." His tongue finds that tiny button as his fingers delve deeper inside her. For Alex, it is blissful torture. She begins to writhe beneath him. "Stop!" she whimpers. Then, "Oh, more! More! Harder!"
His fingers, slick with dew, push into her, twisting. His tongue flicks deftly back and forth, his lips tugging at her with wickedly exquisite skillóand she can only hiss. "Yess! Walker, yessss!"
Within seconds he has her soaring even higher, feeling as if sheís going to split apart at the seams. She canít tell up from down, and no longer cares. She is on a runaway carousel ride, spinning round and round Ö on and on it goes. And just when she thinks sheís reached the pinnacle, Walker and his magic mouth sends her flying higher.
Barely missing a stroke, Walker straddles her and plunges into her torrid, quivering depths.
With a sigh bordering on a sob, he plunges into her in one single, swift stroke. Itís heavenlyóand hot as hell. He can feel her silken muscles pulsating around him, and his own frantic pulse echoes hers.
They move with a rhythm as old as time, increasing their pace when the swelling crescendo building within both of them demands it. When the explosion comes, it rocks them, and they shout out each otherís name at their release.
Walker curls his arms around the limp form of his wife, and rolls to her side. "Honey, are you all right?"
"Mmmm Ö Oh, yes, Iím more than alright. Iíve just been to heaven and back. Canít start a day better then this."
He chuckles softly and nuzzles his lips through her golden hair. "Youíre right, this is the only way to start the day. Maybe we should try to end it this way, too."
"Iím all for that, but Ö I think Iíd better get up, got another busy day in court." She rolls over and sits up facing him. "How about you Ö do you have anything special Ö going on?"
"Not that I know of, but you know as well as I do that anything can happenÖ"
"And usually does." She finishes for him as she rises and enters the bathroom to start another day as the Assistant District Attorney of Tarrant County.
The day goes at expected but just before noon, Josie calls from the HOPE Center and tells Alex that she wonít be able to man the phones tonight, her scheduled night, because of an emergency at home.
Alex tells her not to worry, sheíll find someone to take her place and if not sheíll do it herself. Itís been awhile since she has pulled that duty, since Angela was born, but she can still do it if need be. And not one person Alex calls is able to jump in at the last minute so Ö Alex assigns herself to the job. Sighing deeply she dials the number of her husband to tell him the bad news.
"Hi, babe, whatís up?"
"It looks like Iím going to be working tonight. At the Hope Center. Josie called off due to an emergency at home and I canít find anyone with this short notice." She listens to the silence on the other end. "Iím sorry, honey," she says is a soft voice. "But it just canít be helped."
"Well, I canít say that I like it, but I can live with it. What time do you have to be there?"
"Around 6:30, no later than seven oíclock. We could still have dinner together."
"Okay, Iíll go pick up Angela and meet you at that new place on First Street."
"Thatís good, Iíve been wanting to try it out, heard a lot of good things about it."
"Iíll see you there, say Ö 5:30?
"Hmm Ö yes, I can make that. See you then honey. Love you."
"I love you, too. HmmmÖ"
"I was just thinking about our vow Ö to end the day the same way we started it."
"Iíve been thinking about it all day," Alex purrs back at him. "Tomorrow is Saturday, weíll make it up then."
Alex can almost see the grin spread across his face as he says, "Iím going to hold you to that."
The phones are dropped into their respective receptacle, and each are thinking of tomorrow, as they both return to their work at hand.
After having an early dinner with her husband and daughter, she returns to the Hope center shortly before 7:00, with briefs to work on to help pass the night.
Itís too quiet in here, she thinks. Some of the women were usually watching television and would poke their head out to greet whoever came in, and many times a baby would be fussing in the distance. But for some reason, the door leading to the living room is closed.
She canít ever remember such total Ö silence at the shelter.
A shiver courses through her and Alex shakes her head to dispel the silly thoughts running through her mind. Everyone is just occupied somewhere else at the moment, thatís all. And all the kiddies are happy at the same time for a change.
Well, Iíd better get to the office and get ready to answer the telephone, because Josie had already gone, leaving only the women living there to listen for the phone.
As Alex turns and starts for the office, the door to the living room opens and slams against the wall, causing her to spin around in shock at the sudden noise, her heart beginning to race.
Then everything comes to a stop. Alex is frozen in place by a chilling fear and her briefcase slips from her fingers, landing on the floor with a thud. She hears her breathing echoing in her ears and black dots flit across her vision as she sways unsteadily on her feet.
Itís Micky, Aliceís husband. She recognizes him from the time that heíd tired to break into the shelter and the police had arrested him. It was Micky.
And he has a gun gripped in both hands, and is pointing the weapon directly at her.
She is hot, so unbearably hot that the heat is stealing the breath from her body, making it nearly impossible to breathe. No, no sheís cold, shivering, and her legs are trembling and Ö
"Pay dirt," Micky say gruffly. "I saw you in the doorway after the cops grabbed me when I came here to get my wife and son. You were the one I was hoping to fine and I did. Whatís your name?"
"IÖ" Alex starts, and then takes a shuddering breath of much-needed air.
"Alex," she whispers.
"Well, Alex," Micky says, "come right in here and join the party. Youíre the one Iíve been waiting for and here you are. This is meant to be. This is the night I get my family back because youíre the one who took her away from me. Get in here. Now."
Alex moves forward, telling herself to put one foot in front of the other. At the doorway to the living room, she inches around Micky and enters the room. Her heart sinks as she sees that Micky has gathered all the women and children staying at the house into the room. They are huddled together, terror evident on their faces.
Donít faint, Alex orders herself. Donít cry. Donít do anything stupid. This isnít a nightmare she will wake from, this is horrifyingly real and she has to gather courage from deep within herself. Somehow.
"Micky," she says, trying hard to keep her voice from shaking, "youíre making a terrible mistake by doing this, but itís not too late to realize that. Put the gun down and leave. Alice and your son are not here. You know that, Micky, because you have everyone who lives here in this room. Alice and the baby arenít here. Please, put down the gun."
"Not a chance, lady," Micky says. "Youíre going to tell me where Alice and my boy are. You sent them away where I couldnít find them, but weíre going to fix that, you and me. Iíll leave as soon as you tell me what I want to know."
Alex wraps her hands around her elbows. "Iím not telling you anything until you let the others go. They have nothing to do with this, Micky. They have no idea where Alice and the baby are. This is between the two of us, just you and me."
"Let them go?" Micky barks out with harsh laughter. "Yeah, right. The minute theyíre out the door theyíll call the cops."
"So? What can the police do?" Alex says. "Youíre the one with the gun and a hostage. You have the power. Theyíll have no choice but to stand around outside and try to figure out what to do. Youíre in control. They canít make one move toward this house because it would put my life in jeopardy. You canít keep track of all of us at the same time, Micky. Let the others leave. I wonít tell you one thing about Alice unless you do."
Micky swings the gun around to point it at the group of women and children, then whips it back in the next instant toward Alex.
"See? Thereís too many of us, and like I said, they donít know where Alice is."
"Yeah, yeah," Micky says, nodding. "Itíll be just you and me and Ö wait, wait, I have to think. I donít want some rookie cop doing something dumb out there. There were big shots here that night. I saw them. Texas Rangers. They came in here. Two of them, tell them theyíd better not come close to this building or youíre dead. You got that, Alex? Dead. What were their names?
Rangers Cordell Walker and James Trivette. Alexís mind screams, Please, Walker, help me. Come to me. Iím so scared and Ö Walker
No, she cries out in the next instant. She isnít going to divulge Walkerís name. She isnít going to do anything to put the man she loved in potential danger. No. But, oh God, what choice does she have? If she makes up a name and Micky realizes it Ö Oh, Walker.
"Names!" Micky yells, causing Alex to jump.
"Yes, all right." She looks at the women. "Kathy, you make the call to Ranger Headquarters when you leave the shelter."
"But, Alex," Kathy says, "you canít stay here withÖ"
"Listen to me carefully, call Ranger Headquarters and ask to speak to either Rangers Walker or Trivette. Have you got that? If neither of them are there, tell them to find them. Tell them that Micky has a gun and Iím a hostage here. Tell them heís not going to release me until I tell him where Alice and his son are. Understand!"
"Yes," Kathy nods. "Walker or Trivette. Okay."
"Good. Thatís good," Micky says. "And tell those jerks that if they make one move toward this house that Alex is as good as dead. Go. All of you. Get out of here before I change my mind."
The women hurry from the room, with Kathy looking helplessly back at Alex as she leaves. Alexís legs refuse to hold her up another second and she sinks down onto the sofa. She hears the front door close and looks up at Micky.
He didnít make a move to lock the door, she realizes. She has to divert his attention before he thinks of it.
"There, youíre very smart, Micky. Now you donít have to worry about keeping control over a whole group of people. Oh, yes, youíre clever, one step ahead of the police."
"Damn straight," Micky boasts, sitting down in a chair opposite the sofa and pointing the gun at Alex. "Iím calling the shots here. You tell me where Alice and my boy are and we leave together. The cops wonít be able to do a damn thing about it. In fact, weíll be long gone before they can ever get here. Yeah, thatís the ticket. Weíll go now. Theyíll show up and find this place empty. Ha! This is great. Okay, Alex, tell me where Alice is. Right now."
Alex lifts her chin, "I Ö I donít know."
Walker, after watching Alex get in her car and leave to go to the HOPE House, nestles his seven month old daughter to his chest and remembers some papers he had left at his desk. Knowing he will be without his wife for the rest of the evening, he decides to go back to Ranger Headquarters and get them. It will give him something to concentrate on; maybe he wouldnít miss her so much. If you believe thatÖ
As he enters the room, Angela lets out a happy squeal at seeing her Uncle Jimmy and Walker smiles, enjoying the loving relationship that his partner has with his daughter. After relinquishing his daughter to Trivette he goes to his desk to find the papers that he had left behind.
He finds the papers and looks over to where his daughter is being cooed and baby talked to by the Rangers still on duty. His phone rings just as he starts to get up. He chuckles at the way his daughter has wrapped half the force right around her finger and picks up the phone halfway through the third ring. "Walker."
The chill that sweeps through Walker is so intense it causes a throbbing ache in his head and chest as he grips the receiver tighter and tighter.
He listens intently as he gets to his feet. "Okay, I understand," he finally says. "All of you stay right there by the convenience store. Weíll meet you there. Weíre on our way." He drops the receiver onto the base of the phone and looks at Trivette.
"Letís go, Iíll radio for backup and SWAT on the way."
Then he realizes he has Angela, he canít take her with him. As he freezes an instant wondering what to do with her, Ranger Buckley takes her from Trivette, saying, "Iíll take care of her. Go on. Weíll be all right till you get back."
Walkerís face relaxes for an instant, his voice softens, "Thanks, Jim. Alex is in danger or I wouldnítÖ"
"I know Ö go."
Not wasting another second, Walker barrels out of the door with Trivette at his side.
"Where are we going?" Trivette yells.
The HOPE House," Walker says, "do you remember that incident there about three weeks ago where that scum Micky went there with a gun to get his wife and son back? Well, heís there now. Heís holding Alex hostage until she tells him where his wife and kid are."
"Damn," Trivette mutters under his breath.
"He has Alex," he cries as he picks up speed, "Damn it to hell, he has my wife!"
Micky looks at Alex with narrow eyes, gripping the gun with both hands as he points it at Alex.
"Donít play games with me lady," he stands, moving closer. "Iím going to ask you one more time and youíd better give me an answer. Where are Alice and my boy?"
"I Ö donít Ö know," Alex says, flinging out her arms. "When a woman wishes to relocate, only one person becomes involved in the process for the sake of secrecy. I have no idea where she and the baby are."
"Youíre dead," Micky cries, "Iím going to shoot you dead as a post."
"And then what? Youíll never find your wife and son if you kill me. The only way to discover where your family went is for me to determine who was in charge of setting them up in a different town. Iíll have to telephone those who do that, call them all until I get the right person."
"How many people are we talking about?"
Alex knows there are only four. Calling four people wouldnít give Walker enough time to put together a plan, providing she didnít get the right one on the first try.
"How many?" Micky shouts.
"Twelve," Alex says quickly.
"Damn it," Micky growls, getting to his feet. "Okay, get up. Weíre going to the office and youíre going to start making those phone calls. Donít try anything tricky, Alex, or Iíll kill you. Understand?"
Alex stands, "Yes, Micky, I understand. I ÖumÖ I have to find the list with all those names and phone numbers, though. The filing system here is really a mess and Ö but, believe me, I know youíll shoot me if Ö please donít hurt me Micky."
And oh, dear God, please donít hurt Walker. She couldnít bear it if anything happened to Walker. Heís my world. I couldnít live without him.
Trivette looks up at the cold rage on Walkerís face, fears what the fallout will be if anything were to happen to Alex. "The ah Ö SWAT team will meet us at the convenience store as well as every patrol car in the area Ö coming in with no lights, no sirens."
Walker doesnít answer, his mind strictly on his driving, whipping around the corners on two wheels.
If it were possible for a black man to turn white, Trivette would look like a sheet. Heís not sure if his terror is from the way Walker is driving or what Walker will do if Alex is hurt.
"I-Iíll tell them to go easy. Not sure how Alex will handle this. She could be falling apart, making Micky even more wired."
"No, youíre wrong. Alex is all right. Scared but sheíll be strong, until I come to get her out of there."
"Well, you two always were in tune to each other. Love will do that to you."
Yes, love does do that to you. Please, God, watch over her. I canít lose her. I love her so damn much.
"Hurry up," Micky yells, as Alex takes another file from the cabinet and flips through it.
"I canít find the list," Alex says. "Youíre watching every move I make. You know Iím trying. Weíve been meaning to get this filing system in proper order, but thereís never enough timeÖ"
"Shut up and keep looking," Micky says. "You better not be playing games withÖ" Bright light suddenly flooded the room through the window in the small office. "Whatís that?"
"Micky!" a voice bellows in the distance, amplified over a speaker. "Micky, this is Ranger Walker. Iím here, just like you wanted me to be. Let Alex go and come out with you hands up."
"Okay, okay, so we donít leave before the cops get here, but the big shot is running the show. Good. Thatís good. He wonít do anything stupid. Heíll know Iíll kill you unless he does exactly what I say. Yeah. Everything is going just fine."
"MickyÖ" Alex pleads.
"Quiet. Donít say another word." Micky crosses the room and Alex gasps as he wraps one arm around her neck and pulls her back against his body. "Walk Ö over to the window. They canít take a shot at me without hitting you. Ha! Iím running this show. Big time."
At the window, Micky tears the curtain rod off the wall and raises the bottom pane of glass up. He centers Alex in front of the window, the bright spotlights causing her to narrow her eyes. It is impossible to see beyond the glare. He presses the end of the gun against Alexís temple.
"Let her go," Walker shouts, using the bullhorn. Good God, he has a gun to Alexís head. He could see her so clearly in the bright light, and he wants to run to her, to grab her out of that scumís hands and Ö "Give it up, Micky. The entire building is surrounded and you canít win this one. Toss the gun out the window before someone gets hurt."
"Not a chance Walker," Micky yells. "The someoneís whoís going to get hurt is this lady if you donít do exactly what I tell you. I want to know where my wife and boy are. Understand? You have sources. You can get what I want. Thatís the deal, Walker. Tell me where my family is or this woman dies."
Walker looks to the heavens with anguish in his heart. This is it, he thinks, feeling a cold fist in his gut at it tightens to the point of pain. Please, Alex, understand what Iím saying to you, please.
He lowers the bullhorn and looks at the leader of the SWAT team.
"Okay, you know the plan. If Alex gets the meaning of my message, you should have a clean shot. Donít shoot to kill unless you have to."
"I got you, Ranger Walker.
"Here we go." He raises the bullhorn to his mouth. "Micky, the women you released earlier told me you wanted to know where Alice and your son are. I have that information. Let Alex go, Micky and weíll talk."
"You think Iím stupid, cop? I let her go and youíll blow me away. You tell me where my family is, then Alex and I are walking out of here together. Weíll get in my car and drive away. If anyone follows me, or is waiting where Alice is, Alex dies. When I have Alice and my boy, Iíll let Alex go."
"The woman I talked to didnít have the exact address, but she said Alex would be able to give you directions of where Alice and your son were taken."
"Yeah, yeah, okay, hurry up," Micky yells.
Please, Alex, Walker pleads silently. Please understand this, baby.
"Micky," Walker says into the bullhorn. "Alice and your son are down where Angela lives. Got that? Thatís where they are. Down Ö where Ö Angela Ö hangs out."
What? Alex is puzzled. Angela? Baby Angela? What on earth is Walkeró Wait! Yes of course. Angela spends her time on the floor because she canít walk yet and Ö I hear you Walker, I hear you, darling.
"I canít take anymore," Alex says. "I feel Ö faint. Black dots are Ö oh-h-h."
She goes limp, her entire weight pulling against Mickyís right arm around her neck as she crumbles. Micky is so startled by the sudden motion that he releases his hold on her and she lands with a thump on the floor.
In the next instant a shot rings out and Micky falls backward, blood spreading on his left shoulder. He hits the floor, drops the gun and clutches the wound, moaning in pain.
Alex doesnít move, staying huddled on the floor, and hears shouting in the distance, then what sounds like an army converging on the house. A moment later Walker sweeps her up in his arms and carries her across the hallway into the living room. Alex wraps her arms around his neck and buries her face in his shoulder.
In the living room, Walker stands silently, his hold on Alex tightening.
"You understood what I was saying," his voice gritty with emotion. "About Angelaís world being the floor right now and Ö you were wonderful, so damn brave and Ö oh, God, if anything had happened to you, I donít know what I Ö ah, Alex, I love you, I love you so much."
"I know Ö I was so afraid of the danger this would put you in. I couldnít stand it if anything Ö Walker, take me home."
"You bet. I left Angela at Headquarters, Ranger Buckley is taking care of her." He lowers his lips to hers in a kiss that conveys what he is feeling in his heart. Then stepping back, "Come on, letís go get our daughter and go home."
"Tomorrow, Iím going to see about getting a better security system in here."
"Good idea, honey, good idea." He pulls her against him and they walk out the front door.
After picking up Angela, who was asleep in Ranger Buckleyís arms, they head to the ranch. Angela is asleep in her car seat, and Alex is sitting up against her husband, relieved that the day was over and had ended on a positive note.
"Maybe Ö when we get home Ö we can still end the day like we started it." Alex murmurs softly in the quiet of the cab.
Walker chuckles softly, "Yeah Ö maybe we can."