The Naysayer

By Lelani

 

Alex looked at her watch and then the phone. She’d done the same thing at least five times in the last three minutes. A voice startled her out of her intense concentration on the receiver.

 

“Give it up, Alex; he’s never going to call.”

 

Alex looked up at the speaker and realized she’d been caught. Her office mate had noticed her watching the phone and had obviously correctly guessed that she was awaiting a call from the dashing Cordell Walker. Alex studied the woman. She was shorter than Alex, more rounded; she could have been pretty if it wasn’t for the sourpuss expression that forever resided on her face. Her name was Kathleen, but she preferred to be called ‘Kat’. The name suited her, she definitely had claws. She had taken up residence in Alex’s office while her own office was being remodeled. It had been a week and Alex felt as if it had been a month. She longed for the day when she could close the door behind the woman once and for all.

 

Knowing that to answer her would only continue the persecution; Alex looked down at the open file on her desk. This ploy was also unsuccessful though.

 

“You’re never going to nail that guy, better DA’s than you have tried and no one has ever made anything stick. Dan Butler is smarter than you.”

“Maybe, but I’m going to give it a shot,” Alex answered mildly, determined not to be drawn in.

 

Time passed and Kat decided to give up and concentrate on her own work. The phone did ring and it was Walker, but he was calling, not to ask Alex out, but to tell her he had to go out of town for a few days.

 

“Walker… again? You just got back,” Alex complained into the earpiece, forgetful of her audience.

“I know, but I got a lead on that case you’re working on and I thought I’d better follow it up.”

“The Butler case?”

“That’s the one. I hear he has an ex-girlfriend and I think I know where to find her.”

“You think she’ll talk?”

“I’m going to give it my all.”

“You better not, Cowboy,” she warned.

Walker chuckled in her ear. “I’ll save the best for you.”

“What do you know about her?” Alex asked, trying to steer the conversation back to safe and professional ground. She’d noticed that Kat was all ears.

“Not much, but I saw her picture…”

“And?”

“Well, I can see why Butler was smitten. She has the biggest… well let’s just say that this woman could never drown.”

“Huh?”
”She has built in life preservers.”

Alex immediately pictured Pamela Anderson – after the breast implants, but she knew better than continue with this line of questioning when she couldn’t speak freely. Kat was undoubtedly hanging onto every word she said and would no doubt critique anything she felt she could as soon as Alex hung up.

 

“When do you expect to be back?” She asked, steering the conversation back to safe territory once again.

“I hope I’ll get in Friday late or Saturday maybe.”

“Okay, but just remember, you will pay for that last remark.”

“Really? I can’t wait. I’ll talk to you when I get in.”

“Okay, be safe.”

 

Alex would have liked to say more, but she was acutely aware that Kat was listening to every word she said. Her assumption was proved accurate by Kat’s next words.

 

“What did he say that he’ll pay for?”

“Oh, just one of those typical chauvinistic remarks. I think I’ll go get some coffee, want anything?” Alex quickly changed the subject.

“No thanks, I have too much work to do to take time out for coffee.”

 

Alex just rolled her eyes as she walked away. As if sipping coffee while she researched the case she was preparing would really impede her progress. She chastised herself as she opened the door and walked into the anteroom where her secretary sat. She needed to be more circumspect in her relationship with Walker, especially when Kat was around. She didn’t need to fuel the office gossip about their relationship. It was the worst kept secret around. Of course, it was all just speculation as no one had any proof as of yet. Despite the time Jimmy had found her underwear in Walker’s truck one Monday morning.

 

Janice looked up and smiled as she entered and held up a fresh cup of coffee.

 

“Reading my mind again, Janice?”

“I thought you might be coming out for a break from the barracuda. I don’t know how you manage to put up with her.”

 

Alex thought about chastising her secretary, but just couldn’t put the effort required into coming up with some reason to defend Kat. She had been exceedingly rude to Janice. Her own secretary, Susan, had used the office remodel as an excuse to ask for a vacation and so Janice had been doing double duty.

 

“I better get back to work. I still have at least two hours worth of depositions to go over before lunch,” Alex said, choosing not to comment on Janice’s observation.

 

The day continued as Alex worked feverishly to find some chink in Dan Butler’s armor. He was a smooth operator and had his fingers in all sorts of pies. He had been arrested for drug trafficking, but he had been caught in a friend’s car and pleaded ignorance of the cocaine that lined the wheel wells of the car. Alex thought that he probably was innocent of that particular charge. The man hired others to do his dirty work for him and it was most likely that he’d been set up. The fact that the owner of the car, Sam Myles, had later been found with his throat slit lying on top of a pile of refuse at the county dump had Alex trying to link Butler to his murder.

 

Alex had an afternoon appointment with the DA to discuss her progress on the case. She had little new to report, but did let the DA know that Walker was following up the lead on the former girlfriend. It was like jumping from the frying pan into the fire though as the DA was very anxious to put Butler behind bars. He grilled Alex even more than Kat had done about every little detail. It was clear to Alex that Kat had been in to see him earlier to let him know that Alex hadn’t made any significant breakthroughs on the case. Alex didn’t mind when the woman’s comments were directed at her so much as when she went behind her back and tried to erode the trust her boss had in her. Alex finally convinced the DA that the case was in good hands and he let her go with a worried, but resigned, look.

 

Alex went home determined to put the day behind her and get some much needed rest. She pulled on some jeans and drove out to Walker’s ranch to ride. Ever since their trip to find the Swan Song, Alex had begun to spend more and more time at the ranch and she had an open invitation to go out there to ride whenever she liked. It was nice to have an excuse to come out to the ranch even when Walker was out of town. She felt closer to him by just being there.

 

Alex finished her ride and then went inside and lingered there. She absorbed the peaceful atmosphere that was Walker’s home and finally curled up in a chair and dozed. It had been a long week and she was tired from the constant negativity that came from Kat. She was startled out of her light doze by the ringing of the phone. She debated on whether or not to answer, but finally decided it just might be Walker.

 

“Hello,” she answered tentatively.

“I thought I might catch you there,” came the warm voice back in her ear.

She grinned and curled back up to talk to Walker. “I was just dreaming about you.”

“Were you? Are you curled up in my big lonely bed?”

“No, I came in to wash up after riding and curled up on the lounge chair. I must have fallen asleep though.”

“I’d rather imagine you in my bed.”         

“Walker, are you propositioning me?”

“Hey, I’m a little too far away for that.”

“I meant phone sex.” Her statement was met with silence and she just knew he was blushing.

“What are you wearing?” he asked in a husky voice. Clearly he’d decided to play along.

Alex looked down at the dusty jeans and grass smeared t-shirt she was wearing and decided to fabricate. “I came in so dusty that I took a nice long shower and then put on one of your denim shirts.”

“Is it buttoned?” he managed around the lump in his throat as he imagined her long sexy legs beneath the shirt.

“Oh… one or two buttons are done up, but since I’m here all alone, I didn’t see the need to do them all up.”

“Which ones are buttoned?”

“Let’s see, the one that keeps me decent and the one just below that.”

“Oh god, Alex, stop!”

“You started it lover,” she said in her lowest sexiest voice.

“Alex, I’m going to have to go now. I’ll call and talk to you tomorrow. And don’t you dare be in my bed or be wearing anything remotely sexy!”

 

Alex laughed in his ear and quickly changed the subject. She missed him so much and just hearing his voice did wonders for her morale.

 

“Trust me, if you could see me all dusty and smeared with Amigo’s grassy green slobber, there’s nothing sexy about me, I promise.”

 

“Now there’s one promise I know you can’t keep. The sound of your voice is sexy if nothing else.”

 

“Did you find Butler’s girlfriend?”

“I’m on my way out to track her down now. She works as a stripper at a bar called; get this, “Wet Dreams.”

“No way! That’s indecent!”

 

“That’s what I’m hoping for,” he teased.

 

“Cordell Walker, I want you to promise to close your eyes if anything below the chin or above the knee is on display.”

 

“Hell Alex, I’ll bump into things if I have to keep my eyes closed all the time.”

 

“I don’t care. Use that damn Cherokee sixth sense thing Jimmy’s always complaining about.”

 

“How about if I promise to think of only you?”

 

“Yeah, sure. After the way you described the woman, seeing her with her top off is not going to remind you of me.”

 

“You’re all the woman I want. I promise my mind will be strictly on business. If I’m lucky…”

 

“What? You better not get lucky!”

 

“I was going to say, if I’m lucky, I’ll get the information I need and get back tomorrow night. I’ll call you tomorrow to confirm, but plan to stay the weekend at the ranch.”

 

“Okay, I guess I’d better let you go. I need to drive back into the city anyway.”

 

“Why don’t you just stay at the ranch?”

 

“No, I need to get home. I brought some homework with me and I should do some reading before I go to bed.”

 

“Don’t work too hard.”

 

“Ditto for you. I miss you.”

 

“Yeah, ditto for you.”

 

Alex smiled, knowing this was the part he struggled with, sharing his intimate thoughts and feelings.

 

“I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” she said and hung up, letting him off the hook.

 

The next day, Alex was on pins and needles waiting for Walker to call. Every time she looked at the phone and willed it to ring, Kat seemed to notice.

 

“Hasn’t anyone told you that a watched pot never boils, Alex?”

 

“I’m just hoping that Walker got a lead on that girlfriend of Butler’s. I could really use a break in this case.”

 

She’d been in to see the judge earlier and as Kat had predicted, he’d thrown out her best piece of evidence against the man as being prejudicial. She’d expected as much herself, but it was worth the shot. Unfortunately, Dan Butler had the money to hire the best attorneys around and he’d used his money wisely. Richard Stanton was known for chewing up DA’s and spitting them out. He was the man the crooks called IF they could afford him. He really wasn’t all that different from her father, except that he was younger and had fewer scruples. In fact, as they’d left the judge’s chambers, the man had had the gall to proposition her. He’d couched it in polite terms, but the meaning was there all the same. Between having to remain civil to Richard Stanton and putting up with Kat’s constant negative remarks, she was ready for a nice long weekend.

 

Kat’s phone rang and she realized that she’d only seen the good side of the woman. After a scathing conversation, she slammed the phone down and began to tell Alex just what had transpired.

 

“That ungrateful wretch. She can go back to the typing pool for all I care.”

Alex knew she was expected to say something, so she braced herself and asked, “Something wrong?”

 

“There sure is something wrong. That was Susan.”

 

“You’re legal secretary?”

 

“My former legal secretary. She was calling to say that she’s found herself another job and is quitting with absolutely no notice.”

 

Alex considered that poor work ethic, but considering who Susan’s boss was, she couldn’t help but empathize with the woman. She’d put up with a great deal according to Janice, Alex’s own secretary.

 

“I’m sorry she did that. She really should have given you some sort of notice.”

 

“After all I’ve done for her. She goes on vacation and comes back with another job. I didn’t have to let her take that vacation you know.”

 

Alex knew that she did in fact have to let her take the vacation. She’d kept her from going on vacation for so long that she’d accrued the maximum vacation time allowed. Alex admonished herself, realizing how much gossip she’d listened to from Janice.

 

“Well, I’m sure you’ll find another secretary soon.”

 

“Even if I do, it’ll take months to train her. I’m not like you, willing to put up with sloppy work. Not to mention the attitude that girl Janice has. I really don’t know why you haven’t fired her.”

 

Alex counted to ten and then said, “Janice and I get along very well and she’s always done wonderful work for me.”

 

“Well, I guess if you’re willing to accept substandard work, it’s fine for you, but I demand a great deal more from my secretary.”

“Well good luck finding someone to suit you,” Alex said between clenched teeth.

 

She finished the motion she was filing and left the office to try and get some fresh air, deciding to deliver the paperwork to the judge’s clerk herself.

 

When she returned to her office, Janice informed her that she’d had a call from Walker, which only made her want to kick Kat harder for making her miss the call. She went into the office and listened to the voice mail that confirmed he would indeed be back that night and would see her at the ranch. After hearing his voice on her answering machine, Alex’s usual cheery mood was restored and she finished the day and managed to be cordial to Kat as she wished her a good weekend and left.

 

Alex prepared a full meal and had the table set with the candles lit by the time Walker came in.

 

“Wow, this looks and smells great,” he said as he came into the dining room to find her arranging flowers she’d picked up on her way over. He leaned in and gave her a quick kiss, deliberately refraining from deepening it. “I’m going to run upstairs and take a quick shower. I’ll be down in ten,” he said with a quick peck on her cheek.

 

She watched him race upstairs and smiled knowing what it had cost him to remain so casual. They hadn’t been together alone in a week and they both missed the intimacy of being together, just the two of them without the rest of the world knowing about the secret life they shared. Well, people might not know, but she was sure many had guessed; especially their two nosiest friends, Jimmy and CD. Still, they hadn’t gone public. Walker occasionally held her hand or put an arm around her, but they still kept it low key when others were around.

 

“Penny for your thoughts,” a voice whispered in her ear, sending a chill all the way down her spine. Walker’s arm reached around and he laid his palm flat against her belly and pulled her back against him, inhaling the scent of her hair.

 

“I was just thinking about how we’ve managed to keep ‘us’ a secret.”

 

“I’m pretty sure it’s a poorly kept secret,” he murmured as he nuzzled her ear.

 

She shivered, “Still, most people don’t know that we’re together and I kind of like having this special time when we don’t have to share what we have with anyone. No one else can make judgments or put in their two cents about us.”

 

“Who would do that anyway? Even if we shouted that we’re together from rooftops, who would care?”

 

“Oh you naïve man. Can you just imagine what Kat would say if she had any hard facts to go by? As it is, she’s been hounding me for info for a full week now and I still have another week to go.”

 

“Getting to you, is she?”

 

“Yeah, I guess she has been.”

 

Walker reached for her hip bone and used it as leverage to spin her around into his embrace. “Can I help you forget about her?” He bent his head forward and gently kissed her lower lip.

 

“Maybe, but you’ll have to try a lot harder than that,” she said with a smile in her voice.

 

“Then feed me woman! I need sustenance!”

 

Alex giggled and stepped back out of his arms and went into the kitchen to transfer the food to the table. “Eat up, you have a long night ahead of you,” she said with another giggle.

 

Walker looked at her, she was so happy, her mood was infectious. “I already chopped all of the wood for winter, what other chores do you have for me?”

“The most important chore of all.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“It’s your job to make me feel loved - every single inch of me.”

 

“Sounds like quite a job. Are you sure you don’t have more wood that you need chopped?”

 

“Would you get off the wood subject? We’ll be making our own fire tonight.”

 

“You are forward, aren’t you?”

 

“This is a silly conversation. Tell me how your trip went.”

“I met with Betty Boobs and I…”

 

“What? What did you call her?”

 

“That’s her stage name I’m sure, but she wouldn’t give me another name. Anyway, I got her to agree to meet with you on Tuesday at a secret location. She won’t come here, she’s afraid of Butler, really afraid, which makes me think that she knows enough to be that afraid. I’ll take you out to meet with her on Tuesday, but I don’t want to talk about work for the rest of the weekend.”

 

“What makes you think she’ll show? I mean if she’s that scared, she’ll probably run.”

 

“She has a child, a little boy about four. She wants Butler behind bars where he can’t touch the boy. She never said it, but I gather he’s the father. I believed her when she said she’d help, but she won’t testify. She’ll never agree to that.”

 

“If she knows where the bodies are buried, I may not need her to testify.”

 

“Alex, we’ll have to keep her safe, and the boy. They’ll need to start a new life away from here, but she knows she can’t unless Butler is no longer a threat. We’ll play it her way for now. Okay, ready to agree not to talk about work?”

 

Alex had a million questions, but after looking into his eyes, she was ready to agree to anything. “Okay, I’m all yours, no questions until Monday.”

 

“I know you and you won’t be able to wait that long.”

 

“I can too.”

 

“Wanna bet?”

 

“What do you have in mind?”

 

Walker waggled his eyebrows at her. “If you mention work before Monday morning, you have to kiss me.”

 

“I’ve had worse punishments.”

 

“I get to decide where you have to kiss me,” Walker grabbed her gaze with his and looked deeply into her eyes until the heat rose up her cheeks.

 

“And what about me? What do I get if you mention the ‘W’ word?” she asked in a choked voice.

 

“What do you want?” he asked, leaning in so that his breath stirred her hair.

 

“A massage,” she answered.

 

“You got it.”

 

“I get to say where,” she added with haste.

 

“Anywhere you like,” he answered.

 

Alex held her hand out to shake and seal their bargain. She then leaned back to get some oxygen and took a sip of her wine. Licking the moistness off of her upper lip, she smiled when she caught him staring fascinated.

 

“Eat your supper before it gets cold.”

 

Walker began to eat like a man starved, but it was doubtful he tasted anything he ate. He was determined to finish the mundane chore of eating so that he could spend the night tasting her. When he finished and noticed that she too had had her fill, he stood up and held his hand out to her.

 

“We need to clear and do the dishes,” she demurred.

 

“I’ve waited as long as I can wait. I’m about to explode. So, we can either go upstairs and make love in comfort, or you can take your chances. But as I remember, you complained about the kitchen countertop the last time we tried to do dishes first.”

 

“Okay, I guess they’ll wait ‘til tomorrow. Let’s go.”

 

Walker took her at her word and bent over, swinging her over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry.

 

“Walker! Walker, put me down!” she complained as he raced her upstairs.

 

He ignored her pleas until they reached the master bedroom and then he bent over and dumped her unceremoniously on the bed. He stood over her and all playfulness left his body and face as he held her gaze with his and began to strip off his clothes. Alex lay motionless in rapt attention, watching his rough hewn features that seemed to have the skin stretched tautly over them. With a conscious effort, she forced her eyes down to look at his bared chest and then her attention was caught by his fingers grappling with his fly. She watched as he lowered his jeans and briefs in one swift motion. He stood there a moment out of time as she feasted on the sight of his nude form as he stood proudly aroused in front of her. Her stomach fluttered with nervousness, wondering again how her body could accommodate such raw power. And yet, she knew from experience that her body not only welcomed, but demanded every inch of him.

 

Walker waited until he saw Alex’s pupils dilate and then expand again, seeing the fear enter and then leave her eyes as she remembered that all of his muscle would be restrained and gentled when he touched her. He leaned forward and undid the fly on her jeans, tugging them down her legs along with her panties until they slipped off her bare feet.

 

“Walker,” she moaned, waiting for him, knowing she should remain passive in this particular dance of seduction.

 

“Patience,” he murmured, his fingers starting at her ankles and trailing up her legs until they reached the apex and he slid them under her top, tugging it up as she lifted to allow him to draw it up over her head. He tossed it away and then his fingers made quick work of her bra clasp as he shed her of the last garment. “Let me look at you,” he said as he gently pushed her back to lie flat on the bed. “Wow, where to begin,” he said as he feasted his eyes on her.

 

Alex couldn’t lie dormant any longer and took the decision from him as she pulled him down to her, seeking his full lips. Walker reciprocated, opening his mouth and tasting her fully. His tongue probed and received access to her warm mouth as his hands sought her full breasts.

 

He cupped her breast, lifting it up gently and drew his mouth back from hers to speak. “Like I said, you are just the right amount of woman for me,” he told her as he leaned forward to suckle the ripe nipple into his mouth.

 

Alex gasped as her neck arched back allowing him full access. He nuzzled both breasts and up her neck to her mouth and then back down again. Her fingers stroked through his thick hair and then grasped his wide shoulders, her nails digging in slightly as he lapped her tight nipples.

 

Walker’s hands trailed on down to her flat stomach and over her trim hips. He cupped her buttocks and pulled her so that she faced him and he could fit against her. His hands eased between them as he played with the silk curls covering her intimate core. Probing more deeply, he felt the wet slickness that told him she was ready for him. Turning slightly so that he hovered over her, he lined up for the plunge to ecstasy.

 

Alex spread her legs to accommodate him and reached down to guide him to her entrance. She waited with her breath held as he bore down, pushing into her velvet walls until he was completed sheathed within her. Her breath was released on a sigh that told of her trepidation of his conquering and her joy at his joining. She moaned deeply as he began a slow withdrawal before plunging back in deeply. The rhythm was as natural as breathing as they found the tempo that their hearts dictated. It was a perfect melding of two bodies, two hearts and two souls. No words were needed, they both knew that this was their eternity and they both thanked the heavens for the perfection of their union.

 

Walker’s moan signaled his release and she followed right after him, gripping tightly to his shoulders as the waves rippled through her. Walker rolled slightly so that his weight rested beside her rather than on top of her, but she was glued to him, not letting even air come between them as they lay there regaining their breaths. His hand stroked the silk of her hair and occasionally she felt the light kisses he placed on the top of her head.

 

“I don’t know how I made it through this week without you, without this,” she told him in husky tones.

 

“I don’t know how I made it to this point in my life without you and what we share. I still pinch myself sometimes; I have trouble believing this is real… that I’ve found the other half of my heart.”

 

Alex’s tears landed on his chest, his words moved her and she was already emotionally vulnerable from their lovemaking. “I didn’t realize how much Kat was affecting me. She is by far the most negative person I’ve ever known. She never says anything positive about anyone. For some reason, she thinks that she has the right to critique everyone and everything around her. My mother always taught me that if you didn’t have anything nice to say, not to say anything at all. Obviously that’s a lesson she never learned.”

 

“Alex, you’re not talking about work are you?”

 

Alex chuckled lightly, “No Walker, I’m trying to share with you how I’ve been feeling. I never realized the power of other people on me. She has me coming home each day in a bad mood and leaving my apartment each day with a feeling of dread in my stomach. I never thought of myself as being this sensitive to others, but it hurts to be criticized and it hurts even more to have people you care about be criticized. I needed this; I needed you, to reaffirm my faith in myself… to remind me of how positive my life is.”

 

“Are you sure you’re not talking about work?”

 

Alex looked up from watching her own fingers tangle in Walker’s thick chest hair and laughed, knowing that he had heard her, but was trying to refocus her on the present, where she was, who she was with. “Maybe I am. Where would you like that kiss?”

 

Walker’s cheeks flushed with heat and he didn’t need to say a word as she leaned back from him and took the lead. She kissed down his chest, playing with his hard male nipples and then laving his skin with her tongue as she eased down his torso, following that arrow of hair that led to his growing erection. Sliding up onto her knees, she grasped his shaft between the palms of her hands and held it up to her lips as she lightly kissed the tip. “Is this the spot?” she asked as she didn’t wait for an answer, but kissed the sensitive spot just beneath the bell shaped hood. “Or here?” she asked and continued to place tiny light kisses up and down the length of him as he grew longer and harder before her very eyes.

 

Soon, her tongue reached out to taste him and skim up and down the length of him until she placed her mouth once again at his tip and slowly sucked him in until she had to relax the muscles at the back of her throat to counteract her gag reflex. She swallowed, making him cry out, and then she slid him slowly back out until there was a popping noise as he left her mouth and his shaft swayed away from her. Repositioning herself, she again took him in, this time, just that little bit more and swallowed before sliding him back out with even greater suction. She reduced the depth at which she consumed him, but increased the speed and suction until she knew that he was about to explode. Straddling him quickly, she took him into her core until he bottomed out and then she squeezed her pelvic muscles and remained perfectly still except for that small motion.

 

Walker’s hands reached up to pinch and rub her nipples, his mind so focused on what she was doing to him that he had no independent thought. She guided his one hand down to that sweet spot and urged him to pleasure her so that they could reach their climax together. Just as she was reaching her own peak, Walker broke, unable to remain still and he began to buck up against her until he shouted out with the intensity of his orgasm, his fluid milking her walls as she collapsed in an exhausted, replete slump onto his sweat moistened body. They both panted for breath and it was minutes before they regained the power of speech.

 

“Did I kiss the spot?” she asked with a cheeky grin.

 

“Oh yeah, baby, and then some,” he said with a light swat to her backside. “Now let’s get under the covers and rest for a bit before continuing this. I tell you, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to go again tonight or not.”

 

“It’s okay, we can just sleep, there’s always the morning.” She moved to allow him up and then they pulled down the covers and slipped beneath them. Alex turned so that her back was to Walker and wriggled back so that her backside fit tight against him.

 

“Keep that up and there won’t be any waiting ‘til morning,” he warned.

 

Alex laughed, but was content to lie still while he curled his body around hers and laid his arm over her, cocooning her with his body the way he cocooned her with his love.

 

The rest of the weekend was spent together at the ranch doing the everyday things couples do. They went horseback riding, did mundane chores, talked, laughed, ate, made love, slept, made love again and just enjoyed being together.

 

Monday morning, Alex sat at the breakfast table with a morose expression on her face. Walker brought over a plate with poached eggs and toast on it and set it in front of her before sitting across from her to dig into his own breakfast.

 

“You look like you just lost your best friend,” he commented.

 

“I feel like I did. This weekend was so wonderful; I don’t want to face the real world again.”

 

“By the ‘real world’ I take it you mean Kat? I’ve never known you to not want to go into work before, that woman must really be having an effect on you.”

 

“I guess she is. One more week, just one more week.”

 

“Maybe you should arrange to work out of the office this week, at least as much as possible.”

 

”We do have that field trip tomorrow.”

 

“Yes, to go meet Betty. I’ll take you out to lunch today if you like.”


”I like, but I really can’t stand the comments she makes about us.”

 

“Like what?”


”Oh, I don’t know. If I look at the phone, she says, “He’s never going to call,” stuff like that.”

 

“I’ll call you as many times today as I can, just to throw her off.”

 

“Then there’s the Butler case, I know that she went to the DA and planted doubts in his mind about my ability to handle the case.”

 

“I’ll call you with leads all day long even if I have to make them up as I go.”

 

“Thanks, you’re a real help,” she said sarcastically, but smiled to let him know that she did appreciate his efforts.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me about this before?”


”I was afraid I’d have to kiss you if I talked about work before the weekend was over.”

 

“You kissed me an awful lot this weekend; I didn’t know it was such a chore.”

 

“Well, I’m willing to sacrifice myself for a good cause.”

 

They looked at each other and smiled, both knowing that the physical side of their relationship brought them both a great deal of pleasure.

 

“Eat up and we’d better go. I’ll pick you up at your office at noon for lunch. C.D.’s all right with you?”

 

“Sure, I haven’t seen him in days.”

 

They said goodbye and parted, driving separate cars into work as her car was at the ranch. Besides, they didn’t want to arrive to work together and fuel the gossip. When they were alone with their close friends, they made it clear that they were developing a relationship, but in public, they remained professional.

 

Alex wasn’t surprised by the surly greeting she received from Kat. The weekend had apparently been unpleasant for her. She was also still stewing about the fact that Susan had quit with no notice and she was now searching for a new legal secretary. Word was out though that she didn’t make a pleasant boss and few competent applicants wanted to work for her. She was going through the resumes submitted and making scathing remarks about each and every one.

The phone rang within ten minutes of Alex arriving.

 

“Hello,” she said. It was the direct line, so she was fairly certain she knew who was calling.

 

“Hi, just wanted to make sure you made it in safely.”

 

“I did, thank you.”

 

“Remember yesterday at the lake?”

 

The question instantly conjured up an image of her pale naked form reflected in the water with Walker’s larger slightly darker complexion wrapped around her.

 

Smiling at the image, she answered, “Yes.”

 

“Keep that in mind. I’ll talk to you later.”

 

“Okay,” she hung up with a smile on her face that she wasn’t able to wipe off even with Kat’s dark looks thrown her way.

 

Alex worked diligently on the Butler case, reading and rereading grand jury testimony, trying to find some hole in his defense. The drug trafficking charges had been thrown out because there was no way to link him with the drugs, only with the car. Her attempts to add the murder charges had been unsuccessful because without the drug charges to provide a motive, she couldn’t link the crimes. At ten, the phone rang again and she answered it gratefully, her neck was starting to feel the strain of being hunched over the files on her desk for so long.

 

“Hello,” she answered.

 

“Hi beautiful, I just wanted to make sure I still had a date with the best pair of legs in the DA’s office.”

 

“After the morning I’ve had, any port in a storm.”

 

“Thanks, you’re making me feel very special.”

 

“You are you know.”

 

“I take it you’re alone.”

 

“Yes, Kat had a deposition and she’s been gone for over an hour, I expect her back any moment.”

 

“Okay, well I should be able to get away at noon. I’ll come by your office and pick you up.”

 

“I’ll be waiting with bated breath.”

They hung up and she got up to stretch. She walked to the window and looked out over the city skyline while she did neck and shoulder rolls, trying to ease the tension in her upper body. She was definitely going to get Walker to give her a neck massage later, otherwise she was sure to end up with a tension headache. She leaned her forehead against the window and sighed, closing her eyes to rest them a moment. The door opened behind her and she straightened up as she heard the voice that she’d been dreading all morning.

 

“Well, I guess it’s easy to see why you haven’t found any new leads on the Butler case,” came Kat’s greeting.

 

Alex sighed and turned to greet her tormentor only to find that she wasn’t alone, she had DA Moody in tow.

 

“I thought Alex Cahill was your star because she’s known for her preparation and research for her cases. I tell you, after sharing an office with her for over a week now, I don’t see it,” Kat continued.

 

“Alex is also the star ADA for another reason. I do believe she’s known at the ‘pit bull in heels’. I’m not sure who started that nickname, but if you see her in action in the courtroom, you’ll know why. Maybe you should make it a point to watch her in action sometime,” the DA answered mildly.

 

He’d known Alex for too long to believe insinuations that she was slacking on the job. He had a huge respect for her skills and his concerns with the Butler case were in that they had little to go on, not in his prosecuting attorney. “How’s it going, Alex?” he asked.

 

“It’s not, I’ve torn this grand jury testimony apart and I just can’t find any chinks in this guy’s armor. I just hope that the ex-girlfriend has something I can use.”

 

“So, Walker tracked her down?”

 

“Yes, I’m meeting her tomorrow. She’s very afraid of Butler though, so it’s a secret meeting. Even I don’t know where it’s going to be held.”

 

“I imagine she has good reason to be afraid of the man. He doesn’t seem to have many ex-friends or ex-girlfriends. They all seem to disappear after he’s finished with them.”

 

Alex didn’t say that he might not have killed this one because she was the mother of his child. She wasn’t sure that was true and she figured that the fewer people who knew there was a child in the mix, the better.

 

“Well, I’ll let you know if anything useful comes out of the meeting. In the meantime, I’m just hitting my head against a wall.”

 

“Is that what you were doing when we came in?” he asked with a smile.

 

“No, just trying to relieve the muscle aches. I think I’ll take a trip downstairs. I’ve got Stewart going through old cases trying to link something to what we’ve got now.”

 

“Okay, keep me posted,” the DA said as she turned to leave.

 

Alex was fuming that Kat would insinuate that she wasn’t doing her job. She had worked so steadily all morning that she was nearly assured of a headache from a combination of eye and muscle strain. She was even madder at herself though for letting the woman get to her.

 

Alex didn’t return to her office until ten minutes before Walker was due to pick her up for lunch. Stewart didn’t have anything concrete, but he’d found some information on Betty after Alex had asked him to focus on her. She wanted to know as much as possible going into the meeting. She knew that her son’s birth certificate listed the father as unknown, but she was even more convinced that he was Butler’s child after getting a timeline for their relationship.

 

The door to the office opened and Walker entered like a breath of fresh air. As angry as Alex still was with Kat, she just couldn’t contain the smile that spread across her face and lit her eyes when she looked up to see his handsome face smiling at her.

 

“Hello fair lady, I came to take you to lunch.”

 

“Okay, I’m ready. I’ll see you later Kat,” Alex said as she pulled her purse out of her desk drawer and stood up to leave with Walker.

 

“What time should I expect you back?” Kat asked, insinuating that she would be taking a longer than allowed lunch break.

“Oh, I don’t know. I have to fill Walker in on all the stuff I learned from Stewart, it’ll depend on how long that takes. Bye,” she said as she closed the door firmly behind her.

 

C.D.’s was busy with its usual lunch time rush. Walker led Alex back to their booth that C.D. had reserved for them when Walker had called to say that they were coming. He slid in across from Alex wanting to be able to see her face as they talked. After the waitress took their order, Walker sat back and studied Alex.

 

“You look tired; I take it your day didn’t get any better after I talked to you?”

“It was a long morning. I did too much reading and didn’t come up with anything new. I did have Stewart do some research into Betty though. I have enough information to piece together the associates Butler was dealing with during the time he was with Betty. One name stood out. Remember Charles Strathern III?”

 

“The banker’s son who went missing?”

 

“That’s the one. It was about three months before Betty’s son was born. She didn’t hang around long after she had the baby. I’m wondering if maybe she has some information about Strathern’s disappearance.”

 

“I guess we’ll have to ask her tomorrow.”

 

“My thought exactly. Oh good, lunch,” she said as she looked up with a smile.

 

C.D. had brought their orders over himself and slid in to join his friends.

 

“Well Alex, Cordell, how’ve the two of ya been? Haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays.”

 

“C.D., I ate dinner here twice last week,” Walker denied.

 

“And I was here for lunch last week myself,” Alex added.

“And how long has it been since the two of ya were in here at the same time?”

 

“Uh… the week before that,” Walker decided.

 

“Far too long for good friends to stay away,” C.D. decided.

 

“We both apologize, but frankly we’ve both been very busy and Walker’s been out of town twice in the last two weeks,” Alex explained.

 

“Well, don’t forget an old man sittin’ here waitin’ for some news,” C.D. laid on the guilt.

 

“You’re far from old, now tell us what’s been happening,” Alex cajoled.

 

“Oh, nothin’ new ‘round here. How about with you two? You get anywhere on that Butler case you been workin’ on?”

 

“Still too soon to tell, but we may have a lead. As soon as we have something solid, we’ll let you in on it,” Alex told him.

 

“How’s that roommate you done been saddled with?”

 

“Oh, she’s about as much fun as a toothache,” Alex told him.

 

“Sorry to hear that darlin’, but I’ve never heard anyone say a nice thing about the woman. She’s as sour as unsweetened lemonade.”

 

“Yes, but I just have to make it through the week. I went down and checked on the renovations of her office and I threatened the contractor with bodily harm if he didn’t finish on time.”

 

“I’ll be happy to back you up if you need me,” C.D. volunteered.

 

Alex reached over and gave him a kiss on the cheek, all the payment he needed. “I’ll be sure and call you if I need backup.”

 

“Well, as much as I’d like to sit here and jaw with the two of you, I have a business to run.”

 

“Yes, you do, but I’d like to invite you to dinner next Saturday night. I thought I’d ask Jimmy too.”

 

“At your place or the ranch?” C.D. asked.

 

Walker jumped in, “Why don’t we make it out at the ranch? Come early and we’ll get Trivette on a horse. We can all use a good laugh.”

 

“Walker… that’s just mean,” Alex chastised him.

 

“Plum mean,” C.D. concurred, “I’ll be there.”

 

Alex shook her head at C.D. as he climbed from the booth and headed back over to the bar. As she turned back to look at Walker, she noticed that he was staring at her intently. “What?”

 

“Hmm? Oh, just admiring the view,” he told her.

 

“You flirting with me, Cowboy?”


”I was beginning to wonder if you’d ever notice.”

 

The two flirted and talked about non-work related things for the rest of the lunch hour and then headed back to the Justice Building. They both went down to visit Stewart to see what all he’d come up with since Alex had directed him to focus on the Strathern disappearance. He gave them copies of all he’d found and Walker invited her to join him in his office to go over them together.

 

Once they reached Company B Headquarters, Walker escorted Alex to the conference room and invited Jimmy to join them. He brought his partner up to speed on the case and the three of them used the grease board to establish a timeline that included all that they new of Butler for the last ten years, including his friendship with Strathern and his relationship with Betty, whose name it turned out was Elizabeth Williams. They continued their timeline to present time, including his arrest for drug trafficking and the murder of Sam Myles. They had a great deal of information, but nothing to convict Butler with. Their only hope was that Betty would give them some way to connect the events listed on the grease board.

 

Jimmy and Walker got called away on another case they were working on and Alex gathered up all of the papers they had been working on and headed back upstairs to her own office. It was after four and she really didn’t have much left to do. She brought all that she had to Janice so that she could organize it all into a file for her and went on into the office. She’d almost forgotten Kat, but unfortunately for her, Kat had clearly not forgotten Alex.

 

“That must be some kind of record for the longest lunch ever. I don’t know how you manage to charm DA Moody, but you’ve sure got him snowed.”

 

“I haven’t been out to lunch; I’ve been in the conference room in Ranger’s Headquarters. I am; however, heading home early today. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

Alex had steam coming from her ears as she gathered up her belongings and walked out. She hadn’t actually intended to leave early, but decided that she might as well. She didn’t want to have the Rangers investigating a homicide in her office and she’d had just about all she could take of Kat and her insinuations.

 

Since she suddenly found herself with extra time, she decided to go get a manicure and pedicure. It was one of those luxuries that she enjoyed indulging in. Afterwards, she decided to head over to C.D.’s. He was better at laying guilt on a person than most Jewish mothers. She didn’t mind though, she knew that he cared about her and she was closer to him than to her own father. She enjoyed an early dinner and stayed around to see if Walker had also been guilted into a return visit. She smiled as she saw him and Jimmy walk in later that evening.

 

The two men wanted dinner, so she joined them in a booth and later C.D. slid in on Jimmy’s side, leaving her sitting next to Walker and trying like the dickens to keep her hands off of him. Walker enjoyed his meal and then basked in the glow of being with people he was so comfortable with. He wasn’t unaware of Alex though and when the music turned slow, he nudged her and asked her to take a twirl around the dance floor with him.

 

Alex was more than happy to be back in Walker’s arms and leaned comfortably against him as he guided her around the dance floor. She knew without looking that they had an audience, but she just didn’t care. They weren’t at work and she wasn’t about to waste energy hiding her feelings for her cowboy lover. When the music turned to a quick two step, Walker took her around for a few circuits of the dance floor and then back to the booth. C.D. had gone back to tend bar and Jimmy had found a pretty companion, so they didn’t feel too bad when they made their excuses and left.

 

They took their separate cars to her apartment, but there was no question as to whether or not Walker would be making the drive out to the ranch that night. He’d called his teenage neighbor and had him feed the horses before dark, so there was nothing to hurry home for. Alex led him up the stairs to her apartment and unlocked the door, inviting him in with a smile that held promise.

 

Walker stepped into the foyer and pulled the door closed behind him. He locked the door while Alex went on in to prepare some coffee. While she was in the kitchen, Walker lit a fire in the fireplace and slid off his boots before making himself comfortable on the couch. Alex handed him his coffee and then excused herself to go change into comfortable clothes.

 

They sat on the couch sipping their coffee and just enjoying the closeness. There wasn’t the urgency to make love that they’d had over the weekend after a long separation. Instead, there was a comfortableness that was new to their relationship. There were no more questions, they had committed to an exclusive, long term relationship. The words, ‘I love you’, hadn’t yet been spoken, but they both felt it and knew that this was forever. It was a nice place to be in, new and yet old. They had been friends for so long that they knew each other intimately and yet their lovemaking was still a new addition to their relationship.

 

After an hour of just being together on the couch, they prepared for bed.

Alex slid between the covers and over to where Walker lay. He opened his arms to accept her and she turned so that he had easy access to her lips. His kisses were gentle, probing. The message was clear, making love was an option, but if she just wanted to cuddle and sleep, he was offering that as well. Her response told him that she wanted more, wanted to feel him on her, inside her, and he deepened the kiss in answer.

 

Alex wore only a long T-shirt (one of Walker’s) and it was quickly removed. Walker spent a great deal of time gently wooing her. He kissed her face, down her chin to her neck. His hands made light strokes over her breasts and down to her taut abdomen.

 

Alex pleasured the tips of her fingers by running them over the rough of his chest hair. Her hands explored his shoulders and down his muscular arms. She loved the way his arms were so tight under her fingers and yet held her so gently, so lovingly. She wriggled her body closer to his, her pelvis finding his and matching them precisely. They were close to being the same height, but when they were in bed, she felt tiny against his frame. It was a new feeling and it made her feel cherished that someone who could so easily overpower her allowed her to retain such control over their lovemaking.

 

Once Alex signaled that she was ready for the next stage, Walker rolled her over onto her back and reached down between the lips that covered her moist core. His fingers reached in to stoke the fire building within her. This was going to be a one time joining and he wanted her there with him when he attained his own climax. He waited until she was biting her lips and making little whimpering sounds before slowly sliding his body over hers and settling into the cradle of it.

 

Alex sighed with relief when she felt his weight bear down on her. She was all for foreplay, but she didn’t want to be strung along too long tonight, she wanted a gentle joining and didn’t want to wait until she was frantic for his invasion. Her legs eased open, almost of their own accord, as he slipped between them. She reached down and grasped his pulsing erection between her hands, sliding her fingers over the tip and spreading the moistness she found there over the bell shape of it. Then she lifted her hips and guided him to her entrance, taking time to rub him against her lubricating fluids before placing him at her opening.

 

Walker gently pushed against her until he felt himself slipping inside, inch by inch. Once he was fully embedded, he pulled gently back out and slid back in again, making sure that she was fully ready for him. He paused, deeply inside her, and began to kiss her, his tongue establishing the rhythm his hips denied her. Again, he waited for her signal, waiting for her hands to reach around him, her hips to rise up to join him, her tongue to match his in its questing duel. Once her hands reached down to his tight buttocks and squeezed, he knew that she was ready. He began to exit her body only to plunge deeply back in over and over again. Alex lay pliant, matching his rhythm, but taking time to note the warmth of his breath as he panted against her cheek, the slide of his hips as they rubbed hard against her pelvic bone, increasing the sensations shooting through her lower body, the friction of his chest hair against the tender ripeness of her taut nipples.

 

“Walker, Walker, yes, oh Walker,” she moaned, making no sense, but communicating none the less.

 

“Alex, god, Alex, you’re so…” he answered her.

 

Their mutterings continued as their passion rose until he felt her tighten and make the high pitched noise that signaled her surrender to the waves of pleasure that rose and crashed over her body. Walker felt his own body tighten and plunged deeply as his seed spewed from his body into hers. His own moan of release was followed by light kisses that she planted on his face, his shoulders, any part of him that she could reach as she thanked him for an unforgettable ride straight to heaven.

 

He had barely finished spilling into her when her head fell back onto the pillow and sleep claimed her. She was wrapped in his arms, cocooned in his love and she relinquished everything to sleep.

 

Walker smiled to himself as he rolled slightly and pulled her against him, nestling her cheek into the curve of his neck. It was moments later that his own breath evened out in sleep.

 

Walker woke just before dawn and snuggled his face into the silky hair that lay on the pillow next to him. His arm snaked around Alex’s body and he pulled her close and held her for a long minute. He got up, dressed, ran down to the small garden at the front of her building, and then back up again while the coffee perked. He filled a thermos and then reset the pot to be ready for Alex.  He then let himself out to go to the ranch to do his morning chores.

 

Alex awoke nearly two hours later and stretched, instinctively seeking Walker’s warmth. When she only encountered cold bed sheets, she knew he had already left and spent a moment wishing desperately that he hadn’t. She stumbled nude from the bed and made her way nearly blind to the kitchen to hit the switch on the coffee maker. She went back to the bathroom and finished waking up in the shower. Fifteen minutes later, she came out of her bedroom in her robe, with wet hair, to pour herself some coffee. That was when she noticed the water glass sitting on the counter filled with Mr. Poston’s daisies. She knew just where he’d taken them from, but didn’t care because it was the thought that counted. There was a note scribbled on a napkin just under the glass. It read, ‘Be ready to leave the office at ten, I’ll come by to get you. Last night was… Wow. C.W.’ Alex smiled at the note and couldn’t help agree with his assessment of the previous night. It had been… Wow.

 

By ten o’clock, Alex was ready to bash Kat’s skull in. The woman had been trying to find a replacement for her secretary, Susan, and she went on and on about the inept people the Human Resources Department was sending her. When Alex slipped into her light jacket and picked up her purse, Kat immediately had to know where she was going.

 

“Walker is picking me to go talk to a potential witness.”

“Don’t tell me, your mystery witness who’s going to blow the Butler case wide open?” Kat said with sarcasm.

 

“Just because I’ve let you share my office, doesn’t mean I’m willing to let you blow my case. That is privileged information that you were accidentally privy to. I suggest you not mention it to anyone outside of this office.”

 

There was more bite to Alex’s voice than usual, but she was sick to death of the woman and after looking at her calendar, she realized that she was also PMS’ing. She just didn’t have the patience to put up with Kat. Of course, neither would Mother Teresa, Alex defended herself.

 

Walker knocked and opened the door to the inner office before Kat had the chance to do more than stand there with her mouth gaping open. Few people had the guts to speak to the woman as Alex had just done and she wasn’t quite sure how to respond. Walker nodded to Kat and then put his full attention on Alex.

 

“Ready to go?” he asked, noting that she already had her jacket on and looked ready to run out of the room.

 

“I sure am,” she confirmed and he turned to let her lead the way.

 

The two walked down to the street where Walker had parked his Ram just in front of the Justice Building. Alex was always amazed at the fact that he got away with doing that. She’d seen a judge given a warning for doing the same thing, but no one messed with Walker. They drove out of the city in silence until Alex finally broke it.

 

“Thank you for the flowers, you’re so sweet. I could really mess up your reputation if I shared with everyone what a considerate lover you are.”

 

“But then I’d have to tell them what a wildcat you can be in bed and ruin your reputation as an ice princess.”

 

Walker looked away from the road long enough to share a smile with Alex. They both knew that neither would share their intimate secrets with anyone and they were making empty threats.

 

“I got the feeling that things had gotten ugly just before I came into your office.”

 

“I tell you, that Kat has the biggest mouth and she doesn’t have the sense to keep it shut.”

 

“What was it this time?”


”This case, this witness, to be exact. I was just telling her to keep her mouth shut about it when you came in.”

 

“If she talks and the wrong person hears…”

 

“I know, that’s why I was pretty strong in the way I told her off. That and she caught me on a bad day.”

 

“Bad day?”

 

“Yeah, sorry, but you’d better watch your step as well.”

 

Walker smiled wryly, “I’ll remember.”

 

They drove nearly two hours until Alex was certain that they were in the middle of nowhere. Walker pulled the Ram into a falling down barn and closed the doors behind them. Alex didn’t ask questions, but trusted that he knew what he was doing. Someone like Betty who was afraid for her life wasn’t going to want to meet with them where they might be spotted. Butler had eyes everywhere.

 

Walker got out of the truck and motioned for Alex to do the same. He didn’t seem to be concerned that they were in any danger and after they were standing in a beam of light for a minute or two, she understood why. Betty was up in the hayloft with her son. They had remained hidden until she was certain that Walker had kept his word and also that they hadn’t been followed. Alex waited while the woman climbed down the ladder, but Walker went over to assist her and the little boy.

 

Alex got her first good look at Betty and her initial thought of Pamela Anderson and her days on Baywatch were confirmed. The woman was extremely beautiful, if artificially enhanced in the breast department. She looked frightened though and Alex could only imagine the risk she’d taken to come here. Walker had told her his argument though, if he’d found her, so could Butler. In fact, it was likely that Dan Butler knew right where she was.

 

“Betty, this is Alex Cahill, the Assistant District Attorney I told you about,” Walker said as he made the introductions.

 

“It’s very nice to meet you, Betty,” Alex said politely. She then looked at the little boy standing next to Betty and smiled at him.

 

“This here is Jake,” Betty introduced her son.

 

“Jake, how would you like Ranger Walker to show you the radio in his car while I talk to your mom?” Alex asked.

 

Jake was enthusiastic to spend time with Walker and Alex gave him a grateful smile as he escorted the little boy over to his truck to show him all of the gadgets it came equipped with.

 

Alex gestured to Betty to sit on the straw bales that were at the far end of the barn. Betty kept looking over to where Jake was, but clearly she had developed a trust in Walker. Alex wondered if he was aware of the trust he engendered in people who needed help.

 

Alex refocused herself onto Betty and sat down to take notes. She talked with Betty for over two hours. Walker stayed with Jake and played games with him, mostly ‘cops and robbers’ at Jake’s request. Alex and Walker had stopped and picked up some deli lunch on the way to the meeting and Walker broke out the sandwiches for he and Jake while the women continued talking.

 

Finally, Alex felt that she had all of the information that she needed. At least, all that Betty knew. She looked up to Walker and nodded, letting him know that she was ready for him and Jake to join them. Her only fear was that once she used the information Betty had given her, she and her son would undoubtedly be in serious danger. She couldn’t just walk out of this barn and leave them to their fate. She should have known that Walker had a plan.

 

“Betty, that car I told you about will be here ten minutes after we leave. They’ll take you to that ‘safe’ place I told you about. The people there will take very good care of you until we can get Butler put away. If the information you just gave Alex helps put him away on a Federal charge, then I think we’ll be able to get the Justice Department to put you in their Witness Protection program. Until then, I’ll make it my personal task to see that you and Jake are safe, just like I promised.”

 

Betty looked at Walker and despite all she’d been through and the fact that she really had no reason to trust him except her instincts, she clearly did.

 

Alex piped up to add, “I’ll see what I can do to get the Feds to add on their charges based on the information you gave me. They’ll definitely be interested if we can find the key piece of evidence we talked about.”

 

Betty looked at Alex and Walker and smiled. She was clearly frightened, but for their first time since she’d had the misfortune of meeting Dan Butler, she had hope for a positive outcome. She hugged them both goodbye and it was clear that Jake was sorry to see his playmate leave. Walker would have liked to have given him some sort of memento, but he was afraid that it could somehow lead one of Butler’s goons to Jake.

 

As they drove away, Alex couldn’t help but wonder what Walker had planned. She looked at him and decided it wouldn’t hurt to ask. “Where are you going to hide them until I can get this to trial?”

 

“I’m not going to tell you. I figure, the fewer people who know, the better. If someone manages to kidnap you, you won’t be able to tell them.”

 

“What are the odds of that happening?” Alex asked.

 

Walker looked at her, “With your history? Not to mention that Dan Butler doesn’t play by any rules. It’s best you not know.”

 

Alex decided that arguing was a waste of breath, even if she did think it unlikely that Butler would kidnap her to find out where Betty was hiding. She filled him in on what Betty had told her and they discussed their next steps on the ride back to town.

It was quitting time by the time they returned to Dallas. Walker took Alex straight out to the ranch and they spent a quiet evening together. They enjoyed a ride out on his property, letting the sway of the horses and the fresh air rejuvenate them after all of the driving they’d done. When they returned to the barn, Alex went on in to fix dinner while Walker stayed outside to groom and feed the horses.

 

The two enjoyed a pleasant evening and Alex fantasized that they were married. She hoped that this was what married life to Walker would be like… until they had children.

 

Walker caught her daydreaming and asked, “Where’d you go?”

 

Alex blushed, but smiled and merely said, “I was just thinking how heavenly this evening has been. It feels like we spend so little time together, but this week has been wonderful. I mean, I know that we’re working on a very tough case and I’m sharing my office with a shrew, but I’ve seen more of you this week than I have in a month.”

 

“Would you like to see more of me?” Walker asked with a wag of his eyebrows.

 

“Let’s do the dishes first… and then I need a shower. You wouldn’t know someone who’s good at scrubbing backs would you?”


”I think I know a guy who would fit the bill.”

 

“Good, send him up; I’ll be sure and tip him well.”

 

The rest of the evening they remained playful and sassy until they met under the covers. They were freshly washed and they had both grown passionate as they’d taken turns soaping and rinsing each other’s bodies. They made love and then snuggled together to sleep a deep peaceful sleep.

 

Alex was appalled the next morning to discover that she had started her period and stained Walker’s bed sheets. She got up after he had already gone out, so she didn’t know if he was aware of the situation or not, but this had never before come up and she just didn’t know what to do. She stripped the bed and piled the dirty sheets on the floor while she showered quickly and dressed. Thankfully, she had something in her purse that could get her by until she got a chance to stop at the drug store or her apartment, whichever came first. After she came out of the bathroom, she found the linen closet and made up the bed with fresh sheets. She took the pile of dirty ones down with her. As she walked through the kitchen on her way to the laundry room, Walker saw what she was carrying.

 

“You didn’t have to do that,” he said.

 

“Yes, I did,” she answered with her eyes averted.

 

“Alex, I wash the sheets pretty often, they weren’t dirty.”

“Walker, trust me, they needed to be changed.”

She didn’t stop to argue, but instead went on into the washroom and started the machine, adding bleach when the water level was high enough and then putting the sheets in.

 

Walker approached her and put his arm around her waist from behind, laying his hand on her stomach and pulling her back to him. “Are you okay? Did you get sick?”

 

“Walker, I hate to have to be the one to tell you this, but every 28 days or so, a woman ends her reproductive cycle with something called a p…”

 

“Stop, okay, got it, sorry, I didn’t mean to embarrass you, I was just concerned. Are you feeling okay?”

 

“It’s not a disease you know,” she snapped.

 

“Right, back off and maintain a safe distance. What would you like for breakfast?” he asked from outside of the laundry room.

 

“I’ll get something later,” she said.

 

She really didn’t want to sit down across the breakfast table from him just now. This was something new in their relationship. As intimate as their lovemaking was, this seemed for some reason to be even more so. She knew that she was being an idiot, but she was having trouble talking about this to Walker.

 

“I’ve already made biscuits and sausage gravy,” he told her.

 

The meal wasn’t one she usually had, it was too high in fat and carbohydrates for her liking, but it sounded like heaven just now. She relented and sat down to breakfast. He was sensitive enough to steer the conversation to safe topics. They talked about their respective plans regarding the Butler case. By the time they were ready to leave, Alex was feeling more comfortable around him.

 

The day was a hectic one. Alex spent the day getting warrants signed and Walker and Trivette followed up on the leads Betty had given them. They found human remains right where she said they would. After calling out the Crime Scene Unit, they waited anxiously to be told if the remains were in fact those of Charles Strathern III.

 

The day ended with them being closer than ever, but still with no smoking gun. Trivette suggested they all get something to eat over at C.D.’s and both Walker and Alex agreed to the suggestion. The three friends debriefed and brought C.D. up to speed on the case. Jimmy had suggested dining at C.D.’s because he knew that his friend would want to be kept up to date on the case and be given a chance to add his own words of wisdom.

 

The night ended with Alex saying goodnight to the three men early. She made the excuse that she was just tired and needed an early night, but Walker had seen her shift several times in her seat and knew that her back was probably bothering her. He waited about a half an hour after she’d left to avoid rousing the other two men’s suspicions, but then he headed out and drove straight to Alex’s apartment.

 

When he knocked on the door, Alex was standing there in her robe, clearly having showered earlier. She frowned at him and asked the obvious, “What are you doing here?”

 

“We’ve spent the last several nights together and you ask me that?”

 

“I know we have, but I thought I made it clear that tonight was not an option.”

 

“Alex, I’d much rather have this conversation inside, I don’t really care to discuss this where your neighbors might overhear us.”

 

The door down the hall opened as Mrs. Carson, an elderly woman who loved to gossip, opened the door to get a better look at who was standing at Alex’s door. Walker couldn’t have timed her appearance better if he’d staged it. Alex stepped back to let him in and then closed the door.

 

“So?” she asked mutinously as she headed back in to where she’d been sitting on the couch with a quart of ice cream and a spoon.

 

“You know, I don’t just want to be with you because of sex. I’ve been your friend for a long time and I enjoy just talking to you and being with you.”

 

“Well, I’m not very good company at the moment.”

 

“That’s okay, I brought something that might help with your backache and I thought I could help you sleep better.”

 

“What backache, how did you know I have a backache?” she asked defensively.

 

Walker smiled and said, “My keen observation skills. Finish your ice cream and then go stretch out on the bed and I’ll give you a massage. I brought some of Uncle Ray’s special salve with me, guaranteed to make you sleep like a bear in winter.”

 

Alex looked at him skeptically and then took another bite of ice cream and decided to trust him. She knew that some women enjoyed sex when they were menstruating, but she wasn’t one of them. She’d been with a man who had tried to insist that she had an obligation to meet his needs regardless of how she was feeling. But she had to remind herself that this was Walker and although their relationship was changing, he was fundamentally the same man she had known and trusted for years. In fact, she couldn’t imagine him doing something without taking her feelings into account. She was being an idiot and she was smart enough to realize it. Still, she couldn’t let the bear comment slide; the events following them finding the Swan Song were still very fresh. “I thought we had an agreement about not bringing up bears.”

 

“Sorry,” he said, doing his best to look sincere, but the twinkle in his eye belied his efforts.

 

After putting away the ice cream, Alex made a quick trip to the bathroom and then came out wearing a t-shirt and underwear. She removed the shirt and lay face down on the bed.

 

Walker had lit a candle and held the salve over it to warm it until it was liquefied. He then smoothed some on his hands and began at Alex’s lower back. He rubbed the salve into her skin while gently kneading her muscles. His hands were warm and smooth on her skin and the salve created its own heat warming her tense muscles and causing them to release their tight grip. Alex sighed deeply and Walker smiled in response, knowing he had been successful in his mission.

 

After concentrating on her lower back, Walker extended his massage to include her shoulders, arms and finally legs. Alex was all but asleep when he urged her to sit up and he slipped the t-shirt back over her head. He had her lay down on her back and then he lifted the bottom of the shirt and took more warm salve that he gently soothed over her abdomen. It felt as if she had a heating pad against her belly and her back. He pulled the t-shirt back down and then he got himself ready for bed and slipped between the sheets next to her. His hand gently played with her silky hair and they both fell deeply asleep.

 

The next morning, Alex was feeling much friendlier toward Walker. He had been the perfect mate, understanding of her needs and willing to take care of her without asking for anything in return. She decided then and there that she would find a way to repay him once she had finished her cycle.

 

Walker left early again, needing to head out to the ranch to care for his horses. They didn’t see each other again until they both got a call in the afternoon to go to the coroner’s office. Alex was once again grateful for the opportunity to leave Kat behind. She never thought she’d rather be in the coroner’s office over her own, but the dead don’t talk, let alone gripe incessantly.

 

Walker was glad to see Alex, but he maintained an appropriate staid expression. He had much reverence for the dead and although he was fairly certain that Charles Strathern III was crooked, if this indeed was his corpse, he’d more than paid for his mistakes. Dr. Fuller, the lead county coroner, had handled this case himself. He spent about fifteen minutes explaining the procedures he’d used to verify the identity of the corpse. In truth, he was just blowing his own horn and Alex was fantasizing about giving him a good swift kick in the shins to hurry him along when he finally made his declaration.

 

“So I have concluded that these are the remains of Charles Strathern III.”

 

“And there is absolutely no doubt?” Alex questioned to verify his claim.

 

“Haven’t you been listening? I just explained how I came to that conclusion.”


”Doctor, your findings will be the catalyst to get warrants I have spent months trying to get. This is about to blow a major case wide open. I know that you don’t know the ramifications as yet, but the fact that you took this case on yourself tells me that you’re aware it has something to do with a high profile case. I can’t risk any missteps. So… are you willing to stake your reputation on the fact that these remains are in fact those of Charles Strathern III?”

The doctor was nearly gleeful after hearing that his hunch had been right and this case would bring him more notoriety. “Yes ma’am, I’m damned certain of my facts.”

 

“Thank you,” Alex said and then turned to Walker, “I’ll need you and Trivette to follow up on the next step. I should have the warrant signed in half an hour. It’s been prepared and just waiting for this news.”

 

“I’ll meet you in your office in forty minutes,” he said.

 

“No, I’ll bring it to you,” she countered.

 

 The last thing she wanted was for Kat to get wind of what was going down. She didn’t think she would intentionally leak something to the press, but then again, she trusted her about as much as she would a coiled rattlesnake. They parted, Alex to find a sympathetic judge and Walker to round up Trivette.

 

When they met again in the conference room of Ranger Company B Headquarters, they discussed their plan of action.

 

“I’ll talk to Strathern Senior and see if he’ll cooperate now that we have so much evidence. I think he holds the key to what transpired between Butler and his son. Walker and Jimmy, finding Butler won’t be difficult, but taking him into custody will be. Promise me that you’ll take the greatest of care. I don’t want a scratch on either one of you.”

 

“Yes, ma’am,” Walker said with a wink to her.

 

“Don’t get cocky, I mean it!”

 

Jimmy promised that he would keep Walker out of trouble, earning rolled eyes from Walker. They left to arrest Butler for Strathern’s murder while Alex tried to get Strathern Senior to open up his son’s financial records.

 

Alex was met by a man in his 60’s whose intelligence shown in his eyes. She didn’t try any tricks, but simply gave him the facts. She had information he had waited years for; what had happened to his son and the identity of his murderer. But she also needed him to agree to release information that wouldn’t show his son in a very good light. He had to choose between possibly letting Butler go free because of lack of evidence to tie the case together or letting the truth be known about his son’s weak character. Alex knew that it was a difficult decision. She wanted to remind him that Butler had killed or ordered killed more people than just his son, but she held her tongue and respected the battle that waged within him. Ultimately, he agreed to cooperate with her and she was glad she wasn’t going to have to play dirty. Butler had done enough damage to this man without her adding to his grief.

 

Walker and Trivette were met with a different response. They tracked Butler down to a restaurant where he was enjoying a late lunch. He frequented most places during their off hours and mixed business in with his meals. Finding him hadn’t been difficult as he had three main haunts for dining out. Once they got there though, serving him with an arrest warrant proved very difficult. Not only did he have his own burly bodyguards, but the owner of the restaurant saw a very loyal customer about to be pulled out of his restaurant and he added his two bouncers to the battle.

 

Trivette used his Baltimore street fighting style to subdue the bodyguard, but the bouncer seemed to have grown up on the same streets. They were evenly matched and so he threw in a few moves Walker had taught him. They took the man by surprise and he bested him, but stood there panting for breath and nursing a bruised hand. He looked around to see how Walker had faired and wasn’t surprised to see that Walker had taken both men who had challenged him out without messing his hair or getting out of breath. It irked him that Walker was always so damned successful in hand to hand combat, but then again, it had kept his butt out of a sling on more than one occasion.

 

The Dallas PD provided back up and they took everyone except Butler into custody. That honor went to the Rangers. Walker had Trivette read the man his rights, after he’d regained his breath, and when Butler tried to interrupt, he elbowed him in the solar plexus so that his breath was knocked from him. “The right to remain silent, it’s really good advice,” he told Butler as he cuffed him and led him out.

 

Alex was back in her office going through the financial records that Strathern Senior had provided. She was nearly gleeful as she finally had the motive for the murder. She hoped that she could also try Butler for the Myles murder some day, but for now, she knew that she had enough for the Strathern murder. The only problem was that she was going to hand this one over to the Feds. Not because there weren’t charges to prosecute him in the state of Texas for, but because she’d made a promise to Betty and her son Jake. They wouldn’t be eligible for the Witness Protection Program unless the Federal charges were brought in.

 

Some of the air went out of Alex’s bubble of joy as she realized she was going to have to hand this case over after all of the hard work, but she was still happy it had finally come to a conclusion. Of course, the DA was going to be less than happy with her when she handed this one over. She decided to make the necessary phone calls before the DA got wind of what she was up to.

 

She had barely hung the phone up when DA Moody came storming into her office. “Cahill! What’s this I hear about you passing the Butler case off to the Feds? I’ve given you all sorts of time and leeway with this and you’re just going to hand it over?”

 

“Sorry, but I made a promise and it’s one I have to keep.”

 

“Your first loyalty should be to this office.”

 

“Look, I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere in this case without the witness. She is a young woman with a young son and we both know that their lives aren’t worth anything if Butler gets wind of the fact that she cooperated with us. I have to hand it over so that they have a chance at a new life, safe from Butler and his cohorts.”

The DA was fuming, but after an hour of laying everything out for him, he was forced to concede that Alex was right. She appeased him by promising that if the opportunity arose, she would bring Butler back to Tarrant County to stand trial for the Myles murder, which was what had prompted her to take on the case in the first place. She didn’t say that she had a feeling that they would never know what had happened there. It was always possible that one of Butler’s accomplices would cut a deal and give Butler up… not likely, but possible.

 

Alex finally got DA Moody to leave her office when Kat walked in looking as if she had just enjoyed a bowl of cream and was ready to lick the leftovers off of her paws. It didn’t take Alex more than two seconds to put together the fact that the DA had known about her phone call before she’d finished it. Her secretary Janice had been out of the office and she’d felt safe calling from her private office as Kat was out for once. Clearly, Kat had eavesdropped on her conversation by using Janice’s phone. Alex had had enough of the women. She’d been as patient as she could be. She was tired and cranky and after the grilling she’d gotten from the DA, she was through with being Ms. Nice.

 

“You are the most conniving, opinionated, pessimistic… WITCH it has been my displeasure to know. You have the rest of the day to clear your things out of my office. I don’t care if you suffocate from paint fumes or set up shop in the women’s room, but you are not going to be welcomed in my office another day longer. You obviously never learned the lesson ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’ In fact, I can’t think of one sincerely nice thing that has ever come out of your mouth. You are entitled to your opinion, but I am entitled to not have to listen to it. You have bad mouthed every single person they have sent to replace your secretary. Well, the reason Susan left is because she couldn’t stand working for you and the only people applying for the job are those desperate enough to put up with you. You have a reputation and no one with an option is ever going to work for you. So my advice is to take what you can get and be grateful for it. And my last piece of advice is, stay the HELL out of my way!”

 

Alex didn’t wait to see if Kat recovered enough to say anything back. She turned and exited her office at such a rapid pace; she nearly bowled over Janice, the DA, Walker and Trivette. All had apparently heard her tirade and she was embarrassed at having been goaded into saying the things she had said. She was known for keeping her cool, but Kat had pushed one too many buttons. The woman thought that because she lived in America, she had a right to her opinions. What she failed to realize was that she also had a responsibility to voice her opinions only when they had the potential to do good. Saying something mean just for the sake of saying it could never be anything but damaging to others. Alex had tried to hold her tongue, but her sense of justice had finally won out and she could contain herself no longer.

 

Janice stood there beaming at her, Trivette was trying to hide his smile, Walker winked at her and the DA didn’t seem to know just how to react. Alex took the bull by the horns and said in a tone of confidence and finality, “I’m taking the rest of the day off. I’ll be in to wrap up the remainder of the Butler case in the morning.” She turned and walked out as fast as she could without running.

 

It was a little after six when she heard a knock on her front door. She knew who would be standing there, so she didn’t even bother to ask, but opened the door to let Walker in.

“Hi,” he said, waiting to gage her mood.

 

“Hi,” she answered.

 

“I thought maybe we could go out to dinner - maybe try someplace new.”

 

Alex was surprised to say the least. “Really?”

 

“Well, we have a lot to celebrate. We’ve both put a lot of work into this case and now that our star witness is safe, I thought I’d take you out to a nice restaurant and buy you dinner.”

 

“I’d like that, I need to change…”

 

“Okay, I took off a bit early and worked out at the gym and then showered and dressed before coming over. I wouldn’t mind sitting on the sofa and watching the evening news for a bit.”

 

Alex appreciated the fact that he wasn’t going to rush her. She waved him to the living room and then went into her bedroom to change and do her hair in an up-do. She came out a little over half an hour later looking as if she’d spent hours at a salon being pampered and prettied. Walker saw her come out of her room and switched off the television. He stood up and took in her beauty letting his eyes meander from the top of her head down to the low slug sandals she wore.

 

“Dear god in heaven, you are the most beautiful woman in the world. How did I ever get so lucky?”

“I’m the lucky one. Even if it did take me years to snag you, I’m glad you finally stopped running.” Alex knew that she was oversimplifying her relationship with Walker, but they’d both been there, it didn’t need rehashing.

 

Walker picked up his suit jacket and slid it on. He approached and took her hand. He was afraid to mess up her makeup, but there was no way he could look and not touch. He leaned in and gave her a gentle kiss that warmed her all the way to her toes. He pulled back slightly and said “Let’s go, I’m starved.” His eyes told her that he wasn’t talking about food, but he knew that food was the only thing on the menu at the moment and so he was going to settle for that.

 

They went to a quiet restaurant that served excellent food, but wasn’t showy or overly crowded. It was one of those places where the waiters appeared just when you wanted something, but then faded away and left you alone the rest of the time. They enjoyed their meal and the company of each other. Walker filled her in on Betty and Jake, telling her that he had housed them with a former Marine buddy of his and his wife. His friend had been injured in Vietnam and was wheelchair bound. Rather than letting it get him down, he had come back and married his high school sweetheart and made a career as a CPA. They had been unable to have children, but they had foster children and Walker told Alex that they were famous for taking in strays of all kinds. Betty and Jake had thrived there for the few days they’d stayed and the Feds had picked them up and moved them to a new state with a new identity and a new life.

 

After enjoying their meal, Walker suggested they stop by C.D.’s just to say hi. Alex was always agreeable to seeing C.D. and smiled at the whistles that she and Walker got when they walked in all dressed up. They walked on over to their special booth and sat down. C.D. brought them drinks and congratulated Alex on telling Kat off. Jimmy had filled him in and he was proud of her.

 

“Darlin’ that woman needed to be told what’s what. You did the world a favor.”

 

“I don’t know, C.D. I lost my temper and mouthed off, but I doubt any of it made an impact on her. Some people just always think they’re right.”

 

“Imagine that,” Walker said to her with a sly grin. Alex promptly kicked his shin. “Ouch, what’d you go and do that for?”

 

“I guess I’m just putting everyone in their place today,” she told him saucily.

 

They sat and chatted for a bit and then C.D. went back to work and Walker asked Alex to dance. He limped over to the dance floor, pretending that her little kick under the table had done him some damage. After a couple of songs, Alex pleaded fatigue and they left to go on home. Walker dropped her off, not staying the night because he had chores to do in the morning. He’d been neglecting his horses and his teenage neighbor wasn’t available to pinch hit for him.

 

Friday was very busy for Alex. She had to wrap up the case and finish transferring all she knew over to the Feds. She hated to give up a sure win so easily, but she also wanted to make sure that Betty and Jake were safe and this was the best way she knew how to do that.

 

Walker and Trivette were assigned another case that took them out of town. Alex postponed the dinner she’d planned until the next weekend and went to eat with C.D. She had moved out to the ranch to take care of things for Walker over the weekend.

 

Sunday afternoon, Alex took Amigo out for a ride to the back of Walker’s property. The horse was getting old, but he enjoyed an outing as long as the pace was leisurely. They made it to the lake and she ground tied him and spread out a blanket to lie down and soak up the sun’s rays. She didn’t plan on staying long, but she drifted off and was awoken by something tickling her nose. Her eyes opened and she looked up to see that Walker was lying next to her tickling her face with a long blade of grass.

 

Alex was instantly awake and she smiled at her tormentor. “I didn’t hear you come up, how long have you been here?”

 

“Just a few minutes. I was enjoying watching you sleep, but then I remembered that you’re much more fun when you’re awake.”

 

Alex started to smile, but Walker leaned in and kissed her, putting her lips to better use. Walker’s kiss of greeting rapidly heated up. They’d been apart for several days and nights and the eternal flame that had been burning low burst into a conflagration as soon as their lips touched.

Alex’s hands seemed to have a mind of their own as she ran them up and down his back, into his hair and down his arms. It was as if they were trying to remember him through touch.

 

Walker’s body had grown instantly hard and he shifted slightly, letting his mouth explore her face, her neck and her ears. He moved his weight to one arm so that he could free his hand, unbuttoning her cotton blouse to expose more of her silky flesh to his seeking mouth.

 

Alex cried out as his mouth closed over her breast and he suckled her deep. She pushed him away from her so that she could sit up slightly and rid herself of her bra. She wanted to feel his warm mouth directly on her sensitive skin.

 

Walker quickly accepted the invitation and began to suckle at her ripe breasts. His hands continued down all the while, unbuttoning her jeans and pulling down the zipper. His hand slipped inside, but was limited by her jeans in its quest to find her core. He moaned and pulled away, swiftly shedding his own clothes while she worked feverishly to pull her clothes the rest of the way off.

 

Walker nearly dove on top of her in his haste. He covered her body with his and all semblance of foreplay was over. He hoped she was ready, because he was going to plunge into her and he didn’t think he could stop himself.

 

Alex gritted her teeth as Walker invaded her delicate recesses. He usually paused once inside, but this time, he began to pump his hips immediately upon reaching the depths of her sweetness. Moaning in pleasure, Alex threw her head back and closed her eyes as she went along for the ride. Her legs wrapped around his waist and pulled him into her as he pushed against her. Her hands grabbed his forearms and squeezed as she concentrated on getting enough oxygen to complete this tempestuous coupling.

 

Walker felt the deep tingling that preceded his ejaculation. Not waiting for her, he released deep inside of her and then collapsed down on top of her.

 

Alex lay there frustrated and not about to let him get away with not taking her all the way with him. He was usually an extremely considerate lover, and in theory, she was willing to overlook an occasional lapse, but in reality, her body was screaming out for completion.

 

“Don’t you dare fall asleep on me!” she shouted as she dug her fingers into his hair and yanked his head back.

 

Walker looked sheepish, but then had to laugh at the urgent look on her face. He buried his face in her neck and kissed, licked, and nipped his way down her body until he reached the part of her that was screaming out for his touch. He used his fingers to expose her tender flesh and then his mouth covered her in the most intimate of ways. He licked and suckled, gently ravishing her core and bringing her closer and closer to the peak. When he knew that she was all but there, he slid his fingers deep inside her and pressed down on just the right spot, knowing how to maximize her climax. He suckled her sensitive flesh and rotated his fingers until she had tears streaming from her eyes and her breath came in short gasps. He then pressed his tongue firmly against her sensitive nub and felt her body convulse in wave after wave of feminine orgasm. Using his mouth and fingers, he was able to prolong her orgasm until she sincerely believed that she was going to pass out. He finally eased off of her and climbed back up to lie beside her on the blanket, pulling her into his arms and gentling her with his touch and his words.

 

The two spent lovers fell asleep and when they awoke, they once again made love, this time a gentle slow joining that was more spiritual than physical. The chill in the air hastened their dressing time and they rode the horses back to the ranch. After grooming and feeding the horses and eating dinner, they sat on the front porch swing snuggled together under a warm blanket. Walker looked out at the stars as he rocked the swing with one foot.

 

“They’re smiling,” he said.

“What? Who’s smiling?” Alex asked in a sleepy voice.

“Our ancestors. They’re looking down on us and smiling. Two parts have come together to make a whole and they’re smiling. See? Some of them are even winking at us.”

 

Alex smiled herself and snuggled her face down into his shoulder. Walker was a man of few words, but he was deeply spiritual and if he believed that their ancestors were looking down upon them from heaven and smiling, she was more than happy to go along with it. She herself didn’t seem able to stop smiling since giving her heart to her stoic cowboy. Come to think of it, she’d noticed him smiling more himself as well. Sometimes he only smiled with his eyes, but that made the smile that much more special, because she knew it came from his soul and shown through his eyes directly into her heart. Her last thought as she drifted off to sleep was a philosophical one. Mean things had to be said aloud in order to be heard, but the really nice things could be said without a word being spoken.

 

The End