This is short and a tame one. I want you all to realize that not one time did I mention her name. Enjoy.

The Aftershock
By Vonnie (sissy@svs.net)

Alex moves across the crowded floor to an empty booth on the back wall, away from the crowd of happy people dancing to the music. She slides in, dropping her purse on the bench beside her and looks up as C.D. sits down across from her, setting a mug of coffee in front of her.

"Hi hon, I thought you could use this."

"Thanks C.D."

"Are you all right, Alex. You look tired."

"I've had some trouble sleeping lately." She picks up the coffee mug and murmurs, "I … probably shouldn't drink this, but…?"

"You haven't seen him since she left?" C.D. looks at her, knowing she's still smarting over the way Walker just pushed her feelings to the side. Never considered what his actions were doing to her.

"Oh, I've seen him. He just doesn't act like he wants to see me. I knew that woman was gonna hurt him, but what could I do?"

"She's only been gone a couple of weeks now. Maybe he isn't over her yet."

"Yeah, well, maybe he is. I saw him having dinner with Susan Billings last night, and before that he was with another woman I've never seen before. Evidently he's decided to play the field now."

"But … he's never said anything to you?"

"No … he hasn't talk to me at all."

"If you ask me, I think he's ashamed of himself for treating you like he did. He can't face you."

"I … don't think so. He sure doesn't act ashamed."

"Well, he should." He stands, looks down at Alex, "I need to get back to the bar. … Why don't you let me send you over something to eat, honey, might make you feel better?"

"No, you go on, C.D., I'm fine. I'll drink this coffee, then I'm going home."

"Well, if you want anything, just holler, okay?"

"I will, C.D." She watches him return to the bar, then brings her eyes back to mug of coffee. Thinking of the times she has shared a cup with him, either here or at the office, hers and his. She thought they had something going … evidently it was just on her side. To be brushed off that easy by someone who sings? She pulls a tissue from her purse and dries her eyes, wouldn't do for him to come in and find her crying. She wouldn't give him that satisfaction. Just then she feels someone touching her arm.

"Miss, would you like to dance?"

She looks up to see a nice looking young man standing at her side. "No, thank you." The smile leaves his face as he walks away. Why can't the one I want, ask? She picks up her coffee and takes a small sip, more to keep her hands busy then anything.

Suddenly a single rose appears in front of her, held by the same man who had asked her to dance. He slides in across from her. His voice polite but soft, "Maybe we could just talk. You look kinda lonesome sitting here by yourself."

"No, I don't want to talk either."

He looks into her blue eyes, "I bet your boyfriend stood you up, huh? Forget him, he evidently doesn't know what a gem you are. Maybe we could go somewhere else. Just you and me? Maybe I could help you forget about your friend for a little while. Maybe I could put a smile on your face. I'll bet you have a pretty smile. What do you say, wanna go?"

"Listen, I'm sorry, but I can't seem to get through to you! I don't want to dance, I don't want to talk and I'm not going anywhere with you. So would you please go? … Just … go!" As her eyes begin to mist up, the young man mumbles, "Sorry" and slides out of the booth, leaving her alone.

Sorry. That's what I am, a sorry mess. Maybe I should do what he's doing. Start going out with other men. Serve him right if I did. She dries her eyes again. But she knows she won't. Her feelings for him are still too strong. She remembers the kiss between them when he rescued her from that cult and he came so close to telling her that he loved her just before he went after that self-proclaimed Ranger, Bodine. I thought we really had a growing relationship. Wrong! The tears start filling her eyes again and she knows she won't be able stop them this time so she stands and hurries toward the door. Pushing the door open she slams it into a person just coming in. She mumbles, "Sorry," and keeps right on going, dabbing at her eyes as she makes her way to her car.

A soft, "Alex?" startles her enough to pause, but when she realizes who it is, she continues to her car. Digging in her purse for her keys, she feels his hand on her arm. "Alex, are you all right?"

"Please … just go … away." She frantically jabs the key at the keyhole but she's trembling so hard, it slips from her fingers and falls to the ground. She leans heavily against car, praying that he would leave her alone. Of all the times to want to talk to her. Why now!?

"Alex, please." He's standing close, she can feel him, smell him. Oh, God, Walker, please go away before I make a fool of myself. "Just tell me you're all right."

"I'm all right. Now go away."

"You don't sound all right." He reaches out and slides his knuckles down her cheek.

At his touch, her knees give and she has to hang on to the door handle to stay upright. "Oh, God, Walker, can't you just leave me alone?"

"You're crying." His voice so soft, it's doing to her what it always does, turning her insides to mush. In self-defense she turns on him.

"Yes … I'm crying. Are you satisfied? Now, just leave me alone. Go away." She tries to turn away, but he stops her, holding on to her arms.

"Alex, I'm sorry." At the tremble in his voice she looks up. "I can't explain what happened. It … just did. I never wanted to hurt you. My feelings for you haven't changed, but I can understand if you don't believe that. I realized it was all a mistake shortly after she'd left. The feelings I felt for her were gone too fast, for them to be real. I wanted to talk to you, but I kept remembering the way you looked, I couldn't get that … hurt out of my mind. I even began … dating other women, trying to pretend there never was anything between us. It didn't help. Then I was just too afraid to look at you. Because I was afraid your eyes would tell me that you never wanted any thing to do with me, ever again. And I … didn't want to … face that."

Her tears were flowing freely now and she could see the moisture in his. "We … never had a … commitment. So … you were free to love anyone you … wanted." He lays his hand at the side of her face, his thumb brushing the tears away.

"I know, but I had always felt … that maybe in time … there could be. But … I guess I've thrown that away, haven't I?"

"Oh, Walker, when you acted like there was never anything between us at all, that's what really hurt, you just pushed aside everything we had. I'm not sure how I feel. I need time … Can you give me time to 'heal'? Then, maybe we could just … start over? Slowly?"

"You'll never know how much I regret that." His eyes fill with tears, "I'll give you all the time you want. Just tell me I still have a chance."

She moves into his arms and touches her lips softly to his. The tingle is still there, but that secret would be hers alone. With that tingle still there, she could heal pretty fast.

"Yes … I think … you still have a chance."

The End