The Art of Control
By Mare Briere
Cordell Walker forced his clenched arms against the fence of the corral at the front of his property while he stared aimlessly into the vacant grazing fields. He roughly booted at some small stones along the fence-post, unconsciously taking out his frustrations on the tiny pieces of hardened earth.
His wife, Alex Cahill-Walker, watched helplessly from the porch-swing with regret and concern over her husband’s anguish written all over her face. She wished things had gone differently in court today. She knew that Walker was counting on her to make the flimsy charges stick against David Blaine, a lowlife criminal who had exploited young runaways in a child pornography syndicate. The evidence against Blaine was circumstantial best. Both Alex and Walker knew it when they prepared their vulnerable case to be presented to the Judge and jury. Yet still…Walker had wished for the unlikely gift of a conviction and a weighty sentence that would lock this detestable criminal up for a very long time.
The prosecution’s case had too many holes in it. Blaine had carefully camouflaged his operation and he ultimately secured his victory when he silenced the three young women who were originally slated to testify against him by delivering threats against their lives. Alex knew what the outcome would be long before she stood in front of the jury. But for her husband’s piece of mind, she’d found herself praying for a miracle. Regretfully, the evidence was extremely lean. She just didn’t have enough to work with. Alex was sure that both the Judge and jury knew that Blaine was guilty, but her prosecution couldn’t provide the solid evidence to prove it “beyond the shadow of a doubt.”
Alex rose from the swing and started towards her dispirited husband. She couldn’t let him go on like this. It was over, at least until Blaine slipped up again. She didn’t want Walker simmering in anger over what Blaine would do next. Walker was blaming himself and maybe even Alex for David Blaine’s unjustified freedom. It would eat away at him if she didn’t pull him out of it.
“Hi,” she said gently, as she placed her soft hand on his fixed and straining arm.
“Hi...” Walker didn’t move from his position, eyes still fixed forward, yet Alex could feel a slight release in the tension of his arm beneath her touch. “I’m sorry I let you down today. I tried Walker...I really tried, but without our witnesses – I just couldn’t pin him down.”
“It wasn’t your fault Alex. In order for you to do your job, I’ve got to do mine first. The truth is, Blaine had his operation buried so far underground that Trivette and I couldn’t flush out the concrete evidence we needed to put him away for good. I have no one to blame but myself.”
“Walker, it’s not your fault either. You said it yourself. Blaine had a shrewd cover and without any credible witnesses, it was definitely a long shot. If it had been anyone else but you bringing charges against him, they wouldn’t have even gotten an arraignment, never mind a trial.” Alex moved in closer to her husband and circled her loving arms around his waist. She rested her cheek against his rigid shoulder and gave him a reassuring squeeze. The stress in his body began to ease. His tight muscles relaxed as they involuntarily responded to her attempt to calm him. Her touch had always had that effect on him for as long as he could remember. Walker unfolded his locked arms and reached behind his wife to pull her in beside him.
“I guess you’re right, Alex. But I really wanted to nail David Blaine. The thought of him being given free reign to start all over again makes me crazy. I’m not taking my eyes off of him this time. When he makes a mistake, I’m going to be right at his backdoor waiting to bag him. First thing tomorrow morning, I’m going to stake out his…”
“Oh no you don’t, Cordell Walker,” Alex protested, as she pulled at his arm and turned him around so he could witness her familiar, unyielding, glare firsthand. You’ve been working day and night on this case for two months straight and you’re completely exhausted. Blaine is smart enough to lie low for a little while and if you’re caught snooping around him without good reason, he’s going to slap you with harassment charges. You, my love, are taking your overworked body and your weary wife away for the long weekend. We can leave tomorrow morning and come back early Sunday night.”
“Long weekend? Why do we have a long weekend? It’s not Christmas again already, is it?”
“GOOD Lord, honey…. You have definitely been working too hard. Easter is this Sunday. Remember? Tomorrow is Good Friday. We don’t have to go to work until Monday.”
“I thought Easter was in April?”
“It IS April. April 12th to be exact. Easter is three days away. We’re almost half way through the month and you don’t even know that it started yet? If you’re this far gone, maybe we should leave tonight.”
“Alex, I can’t go away this weekend. I’ve got tons of paperwork to catch up on and someone’s got to cover things over the Holiday. Maybe next month, when things ease up a little.”
“Walker…. I’ve known you long enough to know that things will never ease up because you won’t let them. I’ve got to pry you away with a crowbar just to get you to take a day off. Sydney and Gage are scheduled for the Holiday weekend and they can handle things just fine without you. I know you don’t want to hear that, but it’s true. And do you want to know what else is true?” Alex challenged. Her eyes were determinately fixed on his as she spoke with an adamant tone in her voice.
“If you don’t get me out of Dallas and far, far away from that courthouse and Ranger headquarters, I’m going to go by myself. I think I’ll go and pack now. Feel free to join me if you like.” Alex put the final touches on her non-negotiable declaration before she boldly turned around and strode towards the house, knowing her brusque exit would force him to make a decision. Walker hated it when someone else ended a debate without his consent. His clever wife had successfully defused his lame argument and now he would be forced to concede to her, or go crazy wondering if she would actually go off without him. She was just as headstrong as he was and he knew she would go to any lengths to prove her point with him. He figured he’d brought it all on himself. Walker was well aware of the fact that he was a difficult man to be married to and Alex instinctively compensated for that by making sure she knew all of his hot buttons and just how and when to push them. It was as if she had a secret map identifying their specific locations and the predicted results for each and every one. He was sure that it was some kind of built-in survival mechanism that woman were armed with, in order to aid sustaining such challenging relationships as theirs.
He couldn’t stand the suspense anymore. Alex was closing in on the front door of the ranch and she hadn’t made one single attempt to look back to see if he was following her. This alone forced his inevitable, defenseless reaction.
“So - where are we going, anyway,” Walker called out to his wife as he started towards her with a hurried gait. He was just a tiny bit afraid that she might be mad enough to lock the door behind her, leaving him outside to stew over his testosterone-induced behavior.
“I’m not telling you until we’re on the road, Cordell Walker. You’ll just have the keep the promise that you made to me,” she enticed him, never looking back.”
“That you’d follow me anywhere…”
“Come on Alex. I said I’d go. So, where are we going?” Walker picked up his pace, trying to gain ground before his wife slipped into the ranch house.
“That’s for me to know and for you to find out, Cowboy,” Alex yelled back at him in a spirited call of victory as she sprinted full steam ahead into the house, knowing he would follow. Her playful elusiveness always peaked his curiosity. This mighty warrior was continuously rendered powerless when his wife was his lively and mischievous opponent.
“Walker found himself charging after her, though he wasn’t sure why. After all, once inside the house, she couldn’t go very far. As he bolted through the open door, he found Alex posing at the bottom of the staircase, as if she had been waiting for him for some time. She had one arm resting casually on the railing while the other was fixed on her shapely hip. He just shook his head and gave her a broad smile, acknowledging his defeat. He couldn’t fight the captivating power she had over him.
Walker met her at the stairs and pulled her against him as he stared into her fiery eyes. “You women don’t play fair, you know,” he stated ruefully, as he willingly surrendered to her charms. “What’s that suppose to mean?” Alex asked innocently. “You know perfectly well what that means Alex. Women come equipped with more secret weapons than a war-ready military base and you use them to submarine us unsuspecting men. I never stood a chance out there, did I?” He said through a soft grin, as he rested his nose against hers.
“Nope. Which is why I don’t understand why you just didn’t go along with me from the very beginning. Why do you have to be so stubborn? You know I’m always right,” she murmured in a teasing voice, as she seductively traced the perfectly trimmed edging of his beard with her gentle fingers.
“I’ll try and remember that the next time,” Walker said playfully, as he snuggled his arms tighter around her slender waist. “No, you won’t. But that’s okay. I’m use to it. I’ve got plenty more ammunition where that came from.”
“Oh you do, do you?”
“Yes, I do!” Alex grinned, as she answered him with a high tone of assurance.
“Do I detect just a hint of over-confidence in your ability to be in total control of my actions?”
“No, I’m not overly-confident. I’m certain that I can control your actions,” she insisted. “At least where our relationship is concerned.” She pulled free from his embrace and leaned brazenly against the railing, boldly placing her hands on the banister on either side of her body.
“Are you this certain that you’re in control with everything you do?” Walker challenged, in an insinuating tone.
“Mostly!” She answered positively.
Walker suddenly pulled her body full against his before kissing her with as much force and passion as he could muster on the spur of the moment, which proved to be more than sufficient. He continued to render his commanding kiss for as long as he could without drawing a breath.
When he finally eased his lips apart from hers, he quickly released his wife from his strong arms. Alex’s eyes were still closed from the exciting intensity of his kiss. She immediately tottered back against the railing, still lightheaded from his stimulating advance. She leaned against the banister, disoriented by her unforeseen arousal.
Feeling quite pleased and satisfied with himself, Walker smiled broadly for a long moment before he broke the heavy and seductive silence. So, I guess I’ll go and pack. You can join me if you’d like.”
He was halfway up the stairs before Alex even began to digest what had just transpired. By the time she had gathered her bearings, Walker was at the top of the landing, ready to turn the corner towards their bedroom. As he slipped out of sight, she could see that he was shedding his shirt, probably preparing to take a shower. She raised her fingers to her tingling mouth where she continued to feel the residual effects of the heat of his lips on hers. Alex was still in shock over her husband’s uncharacteristic behavior. She shook her head clear and sprang up the stairs after Walker. She was afraid he might lock the bathroom door behind him, leaving her to writhe with the ache of her unquenched arousal. As she bolted around the corner towards the bedroom doorway, she was stopped cold in her tracks by the strong, lean frame of her rugged husband. As she ran square into him, Walker prevented her from staggering backward by cinching his arm around the small of her back.
“Hi,” he whispered, charmingly.
“Hi.” Alex answered, staring guiltily into his chest, unable to face his triumphant expression. “You did that on purpose, Cordell Walker! You caught me off guard, just to turn the tables on our little conversation, didn’t you?”
“An eye for an eye, Alexandra. I just wanted you to know that I can only be controlled when I want to be, when there’s something of value worth being vulnerable for. And I’m glad to see that you’re still just a little bit susceptible to me too,” He said with a complacent smile. Walker lifted her chin up to his and kissed her sweetly upon her pouting mouth.
“I didn’t stand a chance down there with you, did I?” She asked with a enthralled expression, as she reached under his un-tucked shirt to explore his warm body.
“Nope. Which is why I can’t understand why you challenged me in the first place,” Walker went over her message, in his mind, as he ran his fingers along the soft, moist lips that he had recently made full contact with.
“I’ll try and remember that next time.” She mirrored his response word for word, as she, too, graced his lips with lingering kisses.
“No you won’t. But that’s okay, I’ve got a little ammo in reserve of my own, Alex.”
“Oh you do, do you?” She played along, allowing him to even the score.
“Yes, I do!”
Walker administered yet another irresistible kiss to his wife’s previously primed lips. Her feet rose up off the floor as he held her ironfast against him. Alex wrapped her shapely legs around his waist, eagerly pressing her entire body into his practiced embrace and his enthusiastic kiss; a kiss that would surely lead to an evening of uncontrolled and unrestrained intimacy.
Tonight, the valiant art of control would have to take a backseat to the engaging art of unbridled passion. Still locked to one another, it was obvious that the Walkers would spend the rest of the night as equal partners on common ground, enjoying a truce in each other’s arms.
All the Usual Legal Disclaimers….