The Final Straw

By Sissy

Hearing a light tap on the door she looks up from the paper in her hand and sees Walker poking his head around the door. A smile lights up her face, “Hi, Walker. Come on in.”

He slips through the door and lets it swing shut. “Hi, are you ready to maybe grab a quick bite at C.D.’s?”

She stands, glances at her watch, then nods her head, “Okay, but it will have to be a short one. Got a witness I need to talk to at 1:30.” She grabs her purse and walks around the desk and takes his arm.

They slide into a booth and when C.D. comes over, they give him their order. They eat leisurely, while Walker tells about his morning chasing down a purse-snatcher.

“Did you catch him?”

He laughs, “It wasn’t a him, it was an old woman.”

Alex giggles, “I bet you didn’t have any trouble catching her then, did you?”

“Trivette was the chaser, he caught her pretty quick, but not before she whopped him good on the head with the purse that she had snatched.”

Alex laughs harder, “Oh, I would’ve loved to have seen that.”

“Well, it was a site to see.”

Their laughter fades, Alex sees the look that Walker is sending her way and she asks, “Walker … what is it?”

“Ah … you wanna have dinner with me this evening?”

“Sure … what time?”

“I’ll pick you up say … about seven?”

“That’s fine, I’ll be ready.” She smiles at him, lays her hand over his then stands, “but now I’ve got to get back to work.”

“Okay, I’ll take you back.”

He escorts her to her office door, and she says, “I’ll see you tonight.” Flashes him a warm smile, lays her hand lightly on his arm then turns to enter her office.

He stares after her for a minute, letting the warmth of her smile settle over him, then shakes his head and goes into Ranger Headquarters.

***

Alex has been pacing back and forth in her living room for the past two hours. She looks at the clock again, “9:00! He’s not coming. But why didn’t he call? I hope he’s all right.” She finally gives up at midnight and turns the light out just when the phone rings.

“Hello,” Alex says, her voice tight.

“Alex … it’s me.” He could feel the animosity in her tone. “I’m sorry, but I … I got held up and couldn’t get to a phone till now.”

“I … see.”

“Alex … are you mad at me?”

“Mad … no … just disappointed. I was looking forward to going out to dinner.

“I’ll make it up to you tomorrow. Shall we try it again? Same time?”

Her anger fades at the pleading in his voice. “Okay, same time. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Alex.”

She arrives at her office a little before nine the next morning, again looking forward to the evening with Walker. As she leaves her office to go to court, she runs into a yawning Trivette getting off the elevator. “Late night working?”

“No, actually we got off at a decent time yesterday. But I stayed up late watching a basketball game on TV and got to bed late.”

His answer throws Alex off stride. “You … and Walker weren’t working last night?” Trying to be as nonchalant as possible.

“No … we finally had a night off.”

Puzzled, she steps into the elevator as Trivette heads for Ranger Headquarters. “Wonder what Walker was ‘tied’ up with last night?” she mutters to herself.

All kinds of questions fill her mind, but when Alex gets to the courtroom, the thought of going out to dinner with Walker, is shoved to the farthest corner of her mind, as all her wits are needed to concentrate on the preliminary hearing of Victor Howington. She has a good case but the defense lawyer is one of the best, Chester Lowell. Howington had him brought in from New York. Alex knew she had her work cut out for her to make the charges stick against Howington.  He has been contaminating the air in and around Dallas far to long. This is the first time they’ve managed to get enough evidence … the right evidence to arrest him and bring him to trial.

The preliminary hearing becomes a test of wits. Alex, with her witnesses, manages to show just cause for the trial and she has one month to prepare. As she turns to the table to get her papers she gets an evil look from Howington that sends chills down her back. She quickly gathers them up and shoves them into her briefcase. She turns to leave when Howington steps in front of her.

“You’ll never finish this trial,” only loud enough for her to hear.

She pushes past him, “Get out of my way, your threats don’t scare me.”  Leaving him standing there, looking after her, with a scowl on his face. Then leans over and whispers to Chester Lowell, “Take care of her before we go to trial.”

It’s after 5:00 when she leaves the courthouse and Alex feels like she has been run through the ringer, her mind drained dry.  She had been kept on her toes the whole day, trying to stay one step ahead of the defense.

She remembers her date with Walker as she heads for home, and on arriving she drops her briefcase in a chair then hurries into the bathroom for a shower.

Thirty minutes later she emerges, the shower having rejuvenated her, at least temporarily anyway, ready and waiting for Walker to knock on her door. She sits down on the couch as she patiently awaits his arrival.

A loud blast of thunder shakes Alex awake and it takes her several minutes to get her senses about her enough to know where she is. Then she remembers the date with Walker and looks at her watch, “God, it’s almost midnight,” she mutters. Then her anger takes over and she storms off to her bedroom and quickly undresses. “Damn him!” she exclaims as she slides under the covers. “Twice in a row.” Finally, after much tossing and turning, she falls asleep.

The next morning she gets off the elevator and strides purposefully straight to her office. She sees Walker coming out of Ranger Headquarters but doesn’t even glance his way. “Burned twice… shame on him, burned three times … shame on me --- or something like that.”  Her body is stiff with anger as she shuts the door, hangs her purse on the coat rack and sits down in her chair, rising almost immediately and pacing to the window. A knock on the door brings her swinging around just as the door opens.

“Hi, Alex. Are you all right? You look … upset.”

“Upset?” Her voice tight with suppressed anger. “Now, why should I be upset?”

Walker’s mind is racing, wondering if he had done anything to bring her down on him. “I … don’t know, but evidently it’s something I’ve done.”

Her eyes flashing, “What makes you say that?  I can’t think of one thing you’ve done to make me angry with you. I’m sure it had nothing to do with being stood up for dinner, two nights in a row. No, it can’t be that, can it?”

“I … we … had a date for last night?” She sees the light slowly dawning in his eyes. “Oh, God, we did, didn’t we. I’m sorry Alex. I got tied up with the karate tournament and completely forgot it.” He starts toward her but she throws her arm out to keep him at a distance. His eyes turn soft, “I really am sorry Alex. Forgive me?”

Her resolve begins to soften, “Well, I guess you did have a good excuse. This time.”

“I still want to take you out to dinner but I think I’ll wait till this tournament is over.”

“I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t you come to my place on Sunday night?  Will it be over by then?”

He smiles at her, “Yes … yes, it’ll be over. What time do you want me there?”

“Oh, say … seven?”

“I’ll be there.” He leans over and kisses her on the cheek and says, “I’ve got to get back, Trivette is waiting for me.” He stops at the door, looks back at her, “See you Sunday.”

Alex stares at the door after it closes, “Hmm … wonder if that was smart. If he doesn’t show up I just may have to kill him.”

The rest of the week Alex works diligently on the Howington trial, interviewing numerous witnesses and checking out all the leads some of which might take her out of town.

By the weekend Alex is dragging and looking forward to making dinner for Walker. She spends Saturday cleaning her apartment and Sunday she has dinner under way, she takes a long leisurely bubble bath. At 7:00 o’clock she had the table set with candles, and soft romantic music playing on the stereo.

By 9:00 o’clock she is fuming, dinner is cold, the candles are burnt down to a nub and the music is making her angrier by the minute. She storms over and shuts off the stereo, then goes to her bedroom and begins undressing, slipping on a gown then a robe. Returning to the living room she turns the lights out and sits on the couch, so angry she can’t think straight.

Her mind flashes back, remembering how much time they had spent together, enjoying each other’s company and especially the nights. She thought things were great between them. Maybe he was loosing interest in her … and this was his way of letting her go.

At midnight she goes to bed and cries herself to sleep.

***

            Walker stops the truck in front of her apartment and kills the engine.  He sits sideways on the seat looking up at the dark windows as he chews on his lower lip, wondering if he dared to go up and wake her and try to explain what had happened. But if Alex isn’t mad now she will really go overboard when he explains why he didn’t make it for dinner.

            He straightens up in the seat, starts the engine, and pulls away from the curb. “No, no sense in rocking the boat tonight. I’ll … tell her tomorrow … somehow.”

***

            Monday morning is cloudy and dismal, and it suits her mood. When she gets on the elevator, Trivette dashes in, just before the doors close.

            “Morning, Counselor.”

            “Good Morning, Trivette,” she says, her voice lifeless. “How was your weekend?”

“Miserable. We were called in Sunday morning and didn’t get away till about five.” “Five?”

“Yeah, something like that. Walker was still there when I left. He was helping one of the victims.”

“What … ah … what was it, an … accident?”

            “Yeah, a truck and a bus collided out on Wilkes and Isinglass crossroads, and it was a mess. We got a call out for ambulances but Walker and I started to get the people out of the bus. The truck driver was dead and an old woman from the bus died, too. Then the ambulances and rescue personnel started showing up, and everyone was transported to the hospital to be checked out. Except … for this one lady. Walker seemed to know her and he offered to see that she got home. When I left, he was putting her stuff into his truck.”

            “Do you … know who she was?”

            “No, but you could tell they knew each other.” Just then the doors open and Trivette steps out with Alex following him.

            “I’ll … see you later, okay.”

            He turns to answer but she’s already gone into her office.

            Alex is so deep into the paper work of the Howington trial that, when there’s a soft rap on the door, she jumps. Looking up, she sees Walker coming in the door. The hurt of being stood up so many times comes quickly to the surface and it is apparent by the look on her face.

            This isn’t going to be easy,” he thinks as he looks at her. “Alex I want to apologize … for last night. There was an accident…”

            “I know about the accident, Walker,” her voice flat with, “Trivette told me this morning. But that doesn’t explain why you stood me up … again or why you didn’t even bother to call.”

            “Alex, I can explained that, by the time I got the paper work all cleared up and got by your apartment … well the lights were out and I didn’t see any reason to wake you up. I … figured dinner was a bust, anyway.” He gives her a twisted grin but could tell it didn’t fly.

             She stands perfectly still; her facial expression doesn’t change as she stares at him.

            “Alex let me make it up to you,” his voice soft, soothing, “take you to a nice restaurant, maybe some dancing. And I promise you this time I’ll be there, on time.”

            “All right, Walker, I’ll give you one more chance.” Her face softens and she gives him a hopeful smile.

            “Great,” he exclaims, “I’ll pick you up at seven … tonight.” He steps forward and kisses her quickly on the cheek before backing out the door, a warm smile on his face.

            Alex stares after him, knowing that his explanation was feeble at best. She may be sorry, but she has agreed to give him another chance.

            She leaves early that afternoon, to do a little shopping and to get ready for her date with Walker. She dresses for a night at a fancy restaurant, fine food, and romantic dancing. She is really hyped up waiting for Walker and as she takes one last look in the mirror, “I’ll kill him if he stands me up tonight.”

            At five minutes after seven, Alex is starting to build up a beautiful case of rage and is about ready to explode when the doorbell rings.

            She answers the door with a smile she saves just for Walker but when she sees him standing there in jeans and a Levi jacket over a Henley shirt, the smile leaves her face and a look of disbelief replaces it.

“Hi, are you ready?”

            She stares at him, open mouth, then glances down at the dress she has on. This is his idea of a night out, for dinner and dancing? She almost slams the door in his face but after a glance at his face, a face lined with fatigue, decides to go with him. She turns around and grabs her wrap and purse and follows him out the door to his truck. And as she expected, he drives to C.D.’s.

            After the … exotic … cuisine of Chili and crackers, he does ask her to dance but then Trivette shows up and between him and C.D. monopolizing his time, that was the one and only dance. The last straw is when a woman comes up and starts hanging all over him, thanking him for helping her with her problem, which happened to be on one of the nights he stood her up. She sits in the booth looking from Walker to the woman and starts to do a slow burn.

            Not wanting to create a scene, she slides out of the booth and heads for the door. She is pushing the door open when she hears, “Alex … wait.” But she keeps right on going. He catches her just as she hails a cab.

            “Alex … what’s wrong?”

            She turns to face him, her eyes blazing, “What’s wrong?  What’s wrong? I’ll tell you what’s wrong … you stood me up 3 times, granted you may have had good excuses, but you didn’t even have the courtesy to even call me to tell me you couldn’t make it. Then you promised me a night of dining and dancing and what do you do??? You show up in jeans and take me to C.D.’s and then flirt with one of the reasons that you stood me up!!!  All of this just goes to show exactly what you think of me. Pardon me … you don’t think about me, you’ve proven that over and over.”

            He steps closer and reaches out to touch her, “No, don’t … just leave me alone, I don’t want to even talk to you. I’m tired of you jerking me around.” She yanks the cab door open and slides inside and the cab pulls away, leaving him standing there on the curb, mouth gaping open, staring after her.

            Alex manages to hold herself together till she shuts the door to her apartment, then she leans back against the door, slides to the floor and sobs her heart out.

***

Walker tries several times to speak to Alex, but she refuses to talk to him on the phone, see him at her office or her apartment. When a Ranger is needed to go undercover, he grabs at it; maybe she’ll be a little calmer by the time he gets back and be willing to talk to him.

            For the two weeks she diligently avoids Walker, which isn’t easy, but she keeps her mind on ensuring that the evidence against Victor Howington is airtight. Then a witness surfaces in New York and Alex makes arrangements to go talk to him.

             She fills in Sarah where she will be and tells her to cancel or reschedule her appointments for the next two weeks, Telling her she is going to track down a witness for the Howington case, and plans on visiting with her dad while she’s there. And Walker? Well he can go jump in the lake as far as I’m concerned. I don’t care if I ever see him again. She then realizes that she hadn’t seen him for several days. Good, maybe … maybe he’s transferred out.

***

It takes several days to locate the witness, a Mr. John Morris, and a few more days of interrogation until he finally agrees to take the next plane to Dallas where the police will be waiting for him to put him in protective custody.

            With business taken care of, she has several days to visit with her father but even with all the time she spends with her dad, resting, going to classy restaurants and just taking it easy, she still can’t seem to get Walker out of her mind. She catches herself several times, reaching for the phone, aggravated that he is still uppermost in her thoughts.

She doesn’t sleep at all the last night at her fathers, and her body feels it. She’s sluggish the next morning as she slips on her jacket in preparation for the flight home, wondering if she is ever going to get Walker out of her mind. Suddenly Alex realizes that she’s picked up the phone and slams it back down onto its cradle. She goes into the bathroom to make sure she hasn’t forgotten anything then returns to the bedroom and looking down she finds the phone in her hand again. When did she pick it up? Why had she picked it up? Not to call Walker, surely. She needed to call her office after having decided to take another day before heading home, to leave some last minute instructions with Sarah. Finding her credit card, she dials direct. It is 7:00 in Dallas but Sarah always comes in early on Mondays. She answers on the first ring and after a few pleasantries, Alex tells Sarah that the weather is fine and there shouldn’t be any flight delays.

“How … is everything else going … in the court house?”

“Quiet … would you believe that? With Walker down in Austin, it has really been quiet.”

“Oh … well I’ll come straight to the office from the airport, and if you can have the Howington files on my desk waiting for me, I’d appreciate it. I go to trial Tuesday morning so I need to work on it tonight at home.”

“I’ll have it all ready for you. I’ve got all of the important stuff taken care of but you have a stack of junk mail a mile high.”

“Anything … look interesting in that stack?”

“Nope, except one fancy gift wrapped package. It’s marked personal.”

Personal! Her pulse quickens, probably from Walker. “Is there a return address?”

“Godiva Chocolates. Very expensive looking.”

Undoubtedly from Walker, she can’t think of any one else that would be sending her chocolates. He’s trying to make up with her. Well, she’s not sure she’s ready to make up, yet. “Go ahead and open the package. Feel free to help yourself to the chocolates, Sarah. I’ve been eating too many dinners in great restaurants since I’ve been here and I’m on a strict diet.”

“Hey, that’s great! I’ll save the card so you’ll know whom to thank. You know me; I’m a regular chocoholic. Hmmm … can’t wait.”

“For breakfast?”

“Alex, don’t you know that chocolate is the perfect breakfast? I need to just find me a knife to open this gorgeous package.”

Alex laughs, “Well, enjoy the chocolates, Sarah, and while you’re munching I’ll think of my slender hips.”

“Boss lady, you can be a pain in the you-know-what sometimes.”

Alex chuckles, her mind returns to the Ranger. She refuses to think what Walker might have written on the tag, it had better be good to make her forget the way he had treated her.

“Is there anything else you need to tell me? If not, I need to leave if I’m going to catch the airport shuttle. I’ll be back in Dallas by around three this afternoon—“

A huge crash echoes through the phone, so loud that for a minute Alex is deafened. She switches the phone to her other ear, feeling a knot forming in her stomach. What was that? “Sarah, what happened? Are you all right?”

Nothing. Alex shakes the phone. “Sarah, answer me, for God’s sake. What’s happened? Are you okay? Talk to me damnit! Sarah!”

The phone line is silent then begins to emit a busy signal. Alex hangs up and redials her office, again. It’s busy. She dials the DA’s office, and it’s busy, too.

She dials the operator and asks her to try to get through and she comes back saying that number is out of order. Alex explains that she thinks her secretary is hurt and may need assistance. The operator offers to put a call through to the emergency number in Dallas.

“This is 911—Emergency.”

Alex tells them her situation and explains that while talking to her secretary she heard what sounded like an explosion. They get the address and tell Alex to stay on the line.

When they return, “Did you find out what was wrong?”

“We have no reports directly from the site but emergency vehicles have been dispatched to the scene. We have received several 911 calls of an explosion at that location.”

“Oh, God, not Sarah! I’ve got to get home and make sure she is all right.”

“Don’t hang up Ms. Cahill. Detective Burns from the police department wants to talk to you.”

“All right.” Alex sits down on the side of the bed. Her hand is sweating and shaking and, unable to think coherently, hangs up the phone and sits staring blankly at the wall.  She knows she needs to call a cab if she wants to make her flight. She grabs her purse and suitcase and runs for the elevator.

Leaving the airport in Dallas, she tells the cab driver to take her straight to the courthouse, but he said that he wasn’t sure he could get close to it, because the police had it blocked off. “There was a bomb scare, I think.”
            “Take me as close as you can, then I’ll walk the rest of the way.”

            The police have removed the blockade by the time she arrives, and the cab driver lets her out at the front of the building. She can smell the destruction before she sees it.  When the doors of the elevator open she stares at what remains of her office and her eyes fill with tears at the thought of Sarah being caught in that. A man comes up to her, asking her name, and she manages to mumble that she’s ADA Cahill and at which time she is taken into a conference room to be questioned.

            Detective Burns comes into the room, identifies himself to Alex and asks her what she knows about what had happened.

            “I was the one who called in the 911. I was in New York at my father’s apartment getting ready to leave for the airport and decided to call my office before I left. I wanted Sarah to make sure she had a case file ready when I get back and leave her some instructions for when I arrive in Dallas. “She told me what mail I had and in my personal mail, there was a … box of Godiva chocolates. (She didn’t say she thought they were from Walker) I told … Sarah if she wanted them to help herself.”

            “Why did you do that, you don’t like chocolate?”

            “I love chocolate but I had really gotten carried away on dining out in New York and didn’t want the temptation of all that chocolate when I got back.” After being questioned for over an hour she is finally allowed to leave.

Alex arrives home too emotionally drained to think, and too tired to feel anything much beyond a numb, aching regret.  Her quiet apartment fails to work its usual soothing magic. The place has been her refuge from the outside world. Dropping her briefcase into the closest chair she wanders over to the balcony doors looking at the hustle bustle of the big city, a city that’s immune to the tragedy that has occurred.

            Feeling chilled to the bone, she takes a hot bath, but it doesn’t really help her warm up. With teeth chattering, she wraps herself in her thick terrycloth bathrobe, goes out to the living room and curls up on one end of the sofa, too apathetic to even blow-dry her hair.

            After twenty minutes of staring at the blank screen of her television, her mind begins to wonder if her next-door neighbor, Agatha, might be a psychotic maniac, building bombs in her spare bedroom. Alex realizes that she is getting dangerously close to hysteria.

            She chokes back a gasp of laughter that verges on a sob. “Enough self-pity,” she mutters, then jumps up from the sofa, and tightens the belt of her robe. “Tomorrow you’ll pay a visit to Sarah’s family and express your condolences. But remember you’re not to blame for Sarah’s death. The person who sent the bomb is to blame.” Her voice begins to rise, “What’s more, Agatha has not turned into a demented killer. She is still the same grouchy neighbor she was yesterday, before this happened. You are not—repeat not—going to drive yourself crazy wondering if she’s crazy.” Alex begins to rub her aching forehead, her voice dropping back into a more calming tone, “And while we’re discussing crazy, it might be a smart idea to quit talking out loud in an empty room.”

            Determined to get a grip on herself, she wanders into the kitchen, letting her gaze drift from the refrigerator to the stove, debating with herself whether or not she has the energy to make herself a cup of tea, or a pot of coffee.  A stiff drink seemed more in keeping with her mood, but she has no alcoholic beverages in the house. Not since she and Walker had drank the last bottle of cognac. They would take a snifter to bed with them when life seemed rougher than normal. They’d sip slowly, sharing one glass, propped up against a stack of pillows, playing some game Walker had invented and she would invariable lose. The forfeit for losing always involved being kissed in places and in ways that became progressively more erotic as the cognac disappeared. By the time the glass was empty, she was usually about ten seconds away from climax.

            Sometimes she’d had to work hard at losing, Alex feels the first small smile since early morning.

            She pours water into the kettle and sets it on the stove. Then sitting down at the table she drops her head into her hands, and cries out, “Oh, Walker, why did this have to happen between us now.  God, I need you."

When her intercom buzzes, indicating someone is at the outside door, she nearly jumps out of her skin. Hands icy cold, she stares at the house phone, paralyzed by panic. She finally unlocks her hands from their death grip on the edge of the table and picks up the phone.

            “Yes?”

            “It’s Walker. Buzz me in, Alex.”

            “Walker.”  Walker. She closes her eyes as she rests her head against the wall, weak with relief at the sound of his voice. Thank God he’s come.

            “Alex, are you still there? What’s going on? Let me in, dammit.”

            “Yes, yes, I will.” She hangs up the phone and presses the button to release the outside lock. Heart thumping, she walks into the tiny vestibule and listens for the elevator. She hears the sound of a heavy door slamming and realizes that he has run up the stairs of the emergency exit.

            “Alex, open up. Let me in.”

            She pulls the bolt back and he steps inside, kicking the door shut behind him. He turns and pulls her into his arms, his movements rough and shaky. His hands slide over her hips, drawing her up, high and hard against him. Then his mouth comes down on her, kissing her with barely restrained violence.

            When his tongue thrusts against hers, desire—instant and tense—coils in the pit of her stomach. She knows that she is hovering on the knife-edge of losing control, she responds eagerly to the dark passion of his kisses, reveling in the answering flare of her own need. Heat scorches and sizzles through her veins, but it feels wonderful after the icy chill that had enveloped her all day. She clasps her hands at the back of Walker’s head, holding his lips hard against her own, returning kiss for kiss, fevered embrace for fevered embrace, until they finally break apart, panting and gasping for air.

            He frames her face, holding her head still, his breath fanning her cheeks. “My God, Alex, when I heard about the explosion, I was in Austin, undercover. I heard about the explosion just 3 hours ago, I thought you were dead.”

            “I stayed in New York an extra day. I wasn’t in Dallas when the bomb went off.”

            “I thought I’d never see you again. Never hold you again, never wake up to find you lying in my bed.” His hands are shaking as he pushes open her robe and bends his head to trail kisses across her throat and breasts.

            Alex closes her eyes, letting the spectacular sensations run riot. She wondered how in the world she’d managed to convince herself that she could live the rest of her life without Walker’s lovemaking. God, she must have been suffering from a bout of total insanity. She manages to unfasten two of his shirt buttons before giving up and ripping open the rest. She leans close, breathing in the familiar smell of his skin, listening to the thud of his racing heart, feeling the heat inside her expand until her skin prickles and tingles with a thousand fiery pinpoints of desire.

            He unties the belt of her robe and pushes it from her shoulders. She lets it fall to the floor, and when she feels it pool around her ankles, she kicks it aside.

            “You have the most beautiful body I’ve ever seen,” he says hoarsely.

            She unbuckles his belt and slides the zipper of his pants slowly downward. Silently, she caresses the pulsing hardness of his erection. She’d forgotten how good he felt cupped in her hand, forgotten how powerful she felt when his manhood throbbed in response to her lightest touch.

            He bends her back over his arm, trailing his hand seductively down the front of her body, separating her thighs and teasing her to arousal. She shudders as his fingers play over her, stroking her to the trembling edge of climax.

            She is right on the brink when Walker speaks hoarsely, “Alex, this floor looks damned hard. We need to find your bedroom.”

            She hadn’t even noticed they were still standing in the entrance to her apartment and that she is crushed against the wall with Walker’s knee thrust between her legs. Blinking dazedly, she turns and walks into the bedroom, sinking onto her bed and pulling Walker down next to her. She lays cradled between his arms and the satin softness of her comforter, her entire body quivering in anticipation, her mind blissfully clear of everything except desire.

            He straddles her, bracing his arms on either side of her body. Looking with heavily lidded eyes into hers. She pulls his mouth down to hers and simultaneously arches her hips off the bed, offering herself in a silent but explicit invitation.

            For a second, Walker doesn’t move. Then he plunges into her, thrusting with fierce urgency, taking her on a swift, exhilarating ride to ecstasy. For a minute, she soars high above the chasm of everyday reality. She climaxes a split second before he does, spinning off into the shimmering void where only Walker has ever managed to take her.

            Afterward, she lay there, totally replete. Her eyes are closed and her body is motionless except for the random tremors that still rack it. Walker lays on top of her, sweaty, hot, his deadweight about as heavy as a truckload of wet cement. About as responsive, too. His face is buried in the curve of her neck, and as his breathing slowly returns to normal, he sluggishly rolls onto his side, pulling her into his arms.

            Alex is almost asleep when Walker, in a soft, barely audible voice, penetrates her drowsy senses.

            “Alex, I want to apologize for the way I’ve treated you. It was unintentional. I just let everything else push you aside. I don’t think I was really taking our relationship seriously until I thought I’d lost you. That scared me, scared me senseless. I can promise you that I’ll never take you lightly again. You … mean so much to me.” His arms tighten around her as he buries his face in her hair.

            Alex turns over to face him, her arms going around his neck, “Oh, Walker,” she cries as she lowers her mouth to his. “You mean a lot to me, too.”

                                    ~~~~~~~~~

            Walker gives Alex a warm look as they enter the conference room with DA Moody and the Rangers, working out a plan for her protection while she is in court.  Alex had been expected back in Dallas on Sunday and back in her office, as usual, on Monday morning. Who ever planted the bomb didn’t know Alex had decided to spend an extra day in New York. All fingers point toward Victor Howington, but proving it will take some time, time that is going to be limited since his trial will start in one week, having been postponed due to the explosion.

            Alex is put under heavy bodyguard, not to be alone at all until the trial is over which isn’t going to be easy because Howington has people everywhere. The bomb was a warning they can’t afford to dismiss.  It also tells them that Howington is scared and desperate, willing to go to any length to keep from going to trial.

            Alex leaves the conference stunned and a little upset. Hell, she’s a lot upset! Just the idea of someone following her around every place she goes, is completely foreign to her nature. Knowing that the bomb that killed Sarah … Oh, God, Sarah, I’m sorry, so very sorry … was meant for her, she knew she had to go along with the bodyguard to make sure Howington got what was coming to him, but … she didn’t have to like it.

            She pushed open the door to Ranger Headquarters and went to the desk that has been assigned to her until her office is repaired. Thankfully, most of the damage had been confined to the receptionist area, her office received only minor damage, her file cabinets which were standing behind her desk, had minor damage and all the evidence on Howington had been untouched.

            Before she can sit down, a Ranger bars her way as another Ranger does a thorough search of her desk and all it contents, and also the file cabinets. Thirty minutes later, they back away and nod, letting her go to the desk.

            She takes the papers from her briefcase and spreads them across the desk, needing to get focused on the trial again. But thoughts of Sarah and how she died force their way into Alex’s mind and tears fill her eyes. She grabs a tissue out of her purse, pressing it to her face and bows her head, trying to keep her sobs as quiet as possible.

            Sensing that she has an audience, she stifles her sobs, wipes the moisture from her eyes, and slowly raises her head and sees Walker sitting on the corner of her desk.

            “Are you all right?” His voice a soft murmur.

            “Yes, I … just keep thinking about Sarah.”

            “We’ll get them, Alex, I promise you, honey.”

            Alex looks up into his eyes as hers fill again with tears, “My putting Howington in prison will insure that.”

            “And I’m confident you’ll do just that.”

            “Walker, I want you to try and find everything you can about that bombing. Someone knows something. I want to prove that Howington was behind it.”

***

            Alex gets up from her desk and walks out of Ranger Headquarters, the Ranger assigned as her bodyguard following her. He stays with her until she enters her apartment, then takes up watch in the hall. She turns and locks the door and makes her way into her bedroom. She stops just inside the door when she hears noises coming from the bathroom. She stiffens with fear and moves silently toward the bathroom door. Her mind tells her to turn and run, to scream out so the guard in the hall will hear her. But for some unknown reason she continues to move toward the bathroom.

            Suddenly the door starts to open. She stops, petrified. Her legs shaking so much she couldn’t run if she had wanted to. When she sees the figure step through the door, her mouth opens to scream but it dies in her throat.

            Anger sets in as she shouts, “Walker!”

            He jumps at her shout, looks at her and grins, “Hi, honey. I didn’t hear you come in.”

            “I didn’t know you were going to be here. No one told me.”

            He moves toward her, taking her in his arms. “You didn’t think I’d let you spend the night by yourself, did you?”

            “I didn’t really think about it, but I’m glad you’re here,” she murmurs, lying her head against his chest.

            He tightens his arms around her as one hand begins stroking down her back. “Did you have any problems at all today?”

            “No, I just had a hard time keeping my mind on my work.”

            “So did I. My mind was on you,” he murmurs as he lowers his mouth to nibble on her neck, then licking over it to soothe any discomfort.

            He picks up her hand and brings it to his mouth.

            “Walker,” she says shakily, her voice trailing off. “I have a case to work on, lots of files to read…”

            Waves of heat shoot through her, throbbing in all the right places. She swallows, hard, savoring and fighting the sensations that begin to build in her body.

            Walker’s warm, open mouth moves against her palm in slow, teasing sweeps.

            Alex catches her breath as Walker bites down lightly on her palm, sending shock waves shimmering through her.

            He drags her fingers slowly across his parted lips, circling each fingertip with his tongue.

            “That can wait … for a little while,” he said thickly, backing her against the wall. He tugs her blazer down her arms, lowering his head and covering her mouth in a kiss that burns through them both.

            Shaking her arms free of the garment, Alex lets it drop to the floor, tearing her mouth away from Walker’s long enough to answer breathlessly, “I can … wait. I want … this.” She resumes the kiss, her palms gliding across the thick mat of soft hair covering his chest.

            He unbuttons her blouse; sending a few buttons scattering to the floor as he yanks it free of her skirt, spread the sides apart to give him access to her cleavage.

            Alex’s hands are still on his chest as she tips up her chin to look at him. “Where are the condoms?”

            “In my pants pocket.”

            “Get them.”

            His mouth comes down on hers, hard, and he tangles a hand in her hair, anchoring her head to deepen the kiss. His tongue plunges inside, rubbing against hers, and Alex tugs on the towel around his hips, letting it drop to the floor as she presses herself against the hair-roughened surface of his chest. Her nipples harden through the sheer silk fabric of her bra, burning into his skin, and Walker’s control snaps.

            He swings her up into his arms and in long strides carries her toward the bed.

            “I can walk,” Alex murmurs, burying her lips against his throat, pressing hot kisses there.

            “Takes to long.” Walker’s voice is hoarse, and he shudders with each stroke of her lips. “All that matters is getting your clothes off and getting you under me.”

            He lowers her onto the bed and follows her down, coming together without hesitation, their kisses hot and frantic, their fingers yanking impatiently at the clothes that separate them. Walker unhooks her bra, and his mouth is on her nipples, sucking them until Alex is moaning and squirming, every tug of his lips shooting straight to her loins.  He goes with the motion of her body, moving from one breast to the other as he works her skirt and panty hose off, not pausing until she is completely naked.

            Alex’s hands are equally busy, her hands seeking him. She slips her fingers between them finding and exploring his erection from base to tip.

            “Damn.” Walker exhales the word in a hiss. He vaults off the bed, grabbing for his pants, extricating the silver packet, rips it open and quickly puts it in place. Then he scoops Alex up long enough to pull back the bedding to place her on the sheets. He comes down over her, covering her, his solid weight pressing her into the mattress.

            The contact is electrifying. The entire experience is electrifying, pushing them both into major sensual overload.

            They kiss, again and again, unable to get enough of each other’s taste, each other’s touch. Alex inhales Walker’s scent—that musky cologne and soap, mixed with Walker, just Walker—his own heady masculine scent more potent now that his skin is damp with sweat, sensitized with arousal. She wraps her arms around his back, her mouth slanting under his repeatedly, hungrily, her body arches to increase the exquisite friction of skin against skin. Walker anchors her head in his hands, devouring her mouth over and over, his thighs wedging between hers as their kisses deepen, becoming hotter, more demanding. His hand slides down, caressing the curves of her body, reaching between her legs to touch her.

            Alex stops breathing at the contact, then whimpers as his fingers slide inside her, his thumb rasping over the hard sensitive nub. Her body reacts instantly. Her inner muscles loosen and tighten all at once, and everything inside her goes liquid, desire pounding at her brain as her hips lift, seeking more.

            “God, you feel so damned good,” Walker mutters, repeating the motion. “Hot. Wet. That’s right, sweetheart. Tighten around me. Like that. Again.” His fingers press deeper, higher inside her, and Alex hears herself cry out.

            Her hand moves between them, her fingers closing around his erection, feeling it pulse in her hand as she caresses it. “Don’t go slow. Not this time. We’ve got all night for slow. But this time … it has to be now … Now…” Her fingertips circle the head of his shaft, absorbing droplets of fluid. “Walker … please.”

            His control shatters.

            Walker hooks his arms beneath her knees, opening her for the deepest possible penetration. He fits his body to hers and pushes slowly inside.

            Alex sucks in her breath. “That feels … amazing. But it’s not enough.” She arches, trying to deepen his penetration.

            “Don’t …” Walker gets out between clenched teeth. “You’re tight. I’m trying not to—“

            “Stop trying, I need you all the way inside me.” Alex’s fists knot at the base of his spine, pushing him forward and anchoring herself so she can lift up—hard.

            She glides around him—slick and trembling—and Walker looses it completely.

            The muscles in his back flex, and he thrusts deep, burying himself inside her.

            Knowing how big he is and how tight she is gives way to concern when he feels her flinch. “Damn.” He drags air into his lungs. “Alex, are you okay?”

            “No … I’m …” She can barely speak, the pleasure jarring along her nerve endings is so intense. She shifts under him, her body adjusting to the incredible sense of fullness, the clawing hunger that coils tighter inside her now that he is there, stretching and filling her. “Don’t stop … Walker, please … I’m … dying…”

            A hard shudder runs through him. “Not yet, you’re not.” He begins moving, each thrust slow and deliberate, his steel shaft rubbing on her and in her, the excruciating friction pushing her closer and closer to where she wants to be. “But you will be—soon.” He lowers his head and kisses her again, his breathing hard and ragged as he eats at her mouth.

            She responds blindly, her mouth as frantic as his, her nails digging into his shoulder blades. “Faster,” she gasps, her inner muscles coiling tighter, clamping down on Walker and stripping him of his last shred of self-restraint. “God, I’m so close … I…”

            Walker gives a hoarse shout, and his hips pump convulsively, driving him all the way into her in quick, powerful motions so forceful they shove the two of them farther and farther up the bed, until they are flush against the headboard. The thick piece of cherry wood, slams against the wall with each relentless thrust, and the mattress springs groan and squeak beneath the onslaught.

            Neither of them cares. Without stopping or slowing, Walker drags a pillow up to cushion Alex’s head, and he plants a palm on the wall to brace them from the impact. Alex doesn’t even notice. She isn’t aware of anything except what is happening inside her—and what is about to happen. Her head tosses back and forth, and she sobs inarticulate words of need that don’t register any more than the heated phrases Walker is rasping in her ear.

            They go over the edge in rapid succession, Alex first—by a heartbeat. She climaxes violently, biting back a scream as the spasm boils up inside her, slams through her, spiraling out in rhythmic waves that pulse around Walker, tearing another muffled shout from his chest. He pushes into her contractions, erupting in his own mind-numbing orgasm, gripping the headboard as he comes. He continues thrusting in quick, jabbing motions, letting Alex’s climax milk him until he collapses on top of her, half-dead.

            For long minutes, their harsh, rasping breaths are the only audible sound in the room. Alex sinks into the mattress, feeling utterly replete, her mind devoid of thought, her body sated. She would have been perfectly content to lie like that indefinitely, if it hadn’t been for the dull pain in the back of her neck that began to gradually make its presence known.

            She frowns, shifting ever so slightly, and winces. “Ow.”

            That gets Walker’s attention. He raises up on he elbow, his brows knit in concern. “I hurt you. Damnit, Alex, I didn’t mean to be so rough. I should have…” He gathers his strength and lifts himself off of her.

            “Walker,” she interrupts him, squirming into a sitting position and massaging the spot where her neck throbs.  “You didn’t hurt me. The headboard did. I feel like someone took a hammer to my neck.”

            “Oh, yeah.” A slow grin twists his lips, and he leans forward and takes over the job of massaging her neck. “I tried to buffer the blows, but…”

            “Ummm.” She relaxes, her eyes sliding shut as she lets Walker ease her taut muscles. “I don’t remember slamming into it.”

            “Lets say your mind was elsewhere.”

            One eye cracks open. “Stop sounding so smug. Your mind was right there with mine.”

            They lay exhausted, curled together as they doze, until the ringing of the phone brings them back to the present.

            Groggily, Alex groans as she reaches for the instrument that is interrupting her blissful state of mind.

            “Hello,” she murmurs huskily, her body still reeling from the intensity of their lovemaking.

            “Ah … Alex, would ah … Walker been there?”

            Alex turns over to the man beside her and hands him the phone then snuggles up against him, her head resting on his chest, her arm over his stomach.

            He pulls the sheet up to cover her and mutters, “Yeah?”

            “Walker we found out that DA Moody got a call on Friday wanting to talk to Alex. He told the caller that Alex was out of town and would be back at her desk Monday morning, to call then. That was before Alex called him and told him she was staying over another day. They were waiting for her, man, Alex is one lucky lady.”

             Walker, listening to his partner, scoots up in bed, his back resting against the headboard. When Alex becomes restless, he begins to stroke her back. “Okay, Trivette, good work. Now we need to link that call to Howington. Got any ideas?”

            “Not yet, but the lab has finally sent up their findings from that blast. They found pieces of the bomb, and would you believe they found a fingerprint, just one though. We’re in the process of trying to match it up. You might want to come in, because it looks like we just might get lucky.”

            “Okay, I’ll be in there as soon as I get someone to watch over Alex.” He presses the button to disconnect and turns his attention to the lady curled up against his body, a body that is getting hard just by looking at her.

            “Alex, honey, I have to go into work. You ah … want to let me up?”

            She stirs but doesn’t raise her head, when her eyes open she sees the sheet slowly starting to tent right before her eyes. Her hand snakes under the cover, wrapping lovingly around the shaft of steel and begins to caress him.

            A soft moan escapes from his throat, and he reaches down to withdraw her hand. “Alex … Lord … you need to stop…” He tilts her head up and sees her heavy-lidded eyes full of desire.

            She murmurs softly, “You can’t go to work … like that.” And her head disappears under the sheet.

***

            Walker pushes open to Ranger headquarter one hour later.

            “Walker, I was about to give up on you. What took you so long?”

            “I told you I had to make sure Alex was looked after.”

            “Yeah … well, you probably didn’t have to … rush. They still haven’t matched the fingerprint yet. They’ve been working at it for over two hours.”

            “Let’s go down and see if we can give them a little shove.”

            They are silent as they make their way down to the lab.  Both anxious to get the man that has sent the bomb, the man who tried to kill Alex, the man who did kill Sarah.

            When they push the door open, the man at the microscope looks up and groans. “Hey, man, it not gonna help to lean on me.”

            “What makes you think we’re going to lean on you?” Trivette asks.

            “Because I know you guys, always in a hurry. But I can only go so fast. I’ve just got a few more to go. You two go back upstairs, when I get done I’ll call you.”

            “I think we’ll just wait,” Walker says quietly. They wait patiently for the next thirty minutes.  Trivette’s leaning back in the chair, his head resting against the wall, his eyes shut. Walker is leaning against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest, seeming to be deep in thought.

            I got it!

            At the exclamation, Walker drops his arms and Trivette jumps up from the chair, both hurrying toward the technician.

            “Who is it?”

***

            Heading upstairs, Walker checks his watch, wondering if Alex is on her way in to work yet. Going to his desk in Ranger Headquarters he calls Alex at home but receiving no answer he tries her cell phone, again no answer. Starting to panic, he takes off running for the door only to see Alex coming in.

            He takes a deep breath and slows his steps as he moves towards her, with a smile of relief on his face.

            “I just tried to call you.”

            “Oh, what did you want?”

            “They found parts of the bomb, with one fingerprint.”

            She turns to face him, a look of hope in her eyes. “Who does it belong to?”

            “Carl Jenkins.”

            “Who is Carl Jenkins?”

            “That’s what we have to find out. They’re running a background check on him now, and faxing a picture.”

            “I hope you can link him with Howington.”

            “We’re sure going to try.”

            “Well, you still have five days.”

            “Just you make sure to keep your body guards in sight, all the time.”

            “Oh, I will.” Her voice lowers, “Will you be my body guard tonight, too?”

            “You know it.” He wants to take her in his arms but knows that’s not a good idea considering where they are. Instead he just smiles and says, “Let me know when you get ready to leave and I’ll take you home.”

            “Count on it, Cowboy.” She reaches out to touch him, letting her hand slide down his arm and through his fingers.

            His fingers close briefly over hers as she turns to take a seat at her desk in the corner and he goes back to his desk, to wait for the fax to come in with the picture of Carl Jenkins.

            Walker is sitting at his desk; papers in his hand, with his eyes on Alex across the room, when he hears the fax machine. He turns around and watches as a face begins to materialize on the paper. “Trivette … this is it,” he says as he tears the paper off of the picture and the rap sheet and brings it to his desk.

            “Do you know him?” Trivette asks, leaning in to gaze at the picture.

            “No … don’t think so, but he looks familiar. I think I’ve seen him somewhere, just can’t remember where. ”

            “Yeah, same here,” Trivette agrees, “And look at this rap sheet. He’s a bomb maker so he could be our man.”

            “We need to make copies of this picture and put it in every squad car on the Dallas streets with an APB to pick him up.”

            “I’ll get on it right away,” Trivette says as he hurries away.

***

            The APB has been out for three days for Carl Jenkins, but so far he hasn’t been seen.  They go to his last known address but the man has been gone from there for several weeks. Alex is starting to get antsy as Howington’s trial keeps getting closer, and the security gets tighter.

            The day before the trial, Alex is escorted to C.D.’s on her lunch break. Shooting breaks out, the guard shoves her down and covers her with his body. She feels his body jerk as the bullets enter his body, and she screams and screams. Suddenly the lifeless body of her guard is pulled off of her and she looks up into C.D.’s face. The tears flood her eyes as her old friend helps her to her feet.

            “Alex, honey, are you all right?”

            “I … I think so,” her voice shaky.

***

            Walker is on his way to meet Alex at C.D.’s when the call comes in about the attempt on her life. The shooter had gotten away. He hits the siren and the gas pedal at the same time, arriving as the ambulance attendants are checking out Alex.

            He jumps from the Ram, rushing to Alex’s side.

            “Alex are you all right?” he says as his eyes rake over her, looking for any sign of injuries.

            She jumps up into his arms, tears filling her eyes, “I’m fine, but Doug was killed trying to protect me. Oh, God, Walker, it was awful, that poor man. Was he married? Did he have a family?”

            “No, honey, he was single. We’ll notify his parents.” He holds her closer, “Are you sure you’re all right, you didn’t get hit?”

            “No, I’m fine. I just wanta sit down.”

            “Come on, Alex, I’ll take you home.”

            “Walker, I can’t go home, I wish I could, but I need to work on my presentation for the trial tomorrow.”

            “Then I’ll take you back, I’m not letting you out of my site till this trial is over.” He takes her arm and helps her up into the truck.

            Walker is true to his word; he stays with her the rest of the day, that night and takes her to court the next morning, where he takes a seat in the back of the courtroom.

            When Howington is brought in the next morning, he turns and glares at Alex, with a hateful smirk on his face.

            The opening statements begin, the trial is underway, stretching out over four days.

            The evidence put on by both the prosecution and the defense sways the jury first one way than back the other with the witness from New York, John Morris, putting the lead more in the prosecution’s favor. But it’s definitely not a landslide for either side.  If only Walker could find Carl Jenkins, that would put Howington away for a long time.

            The trial is slowly winding down and Alex is worried, the evidence is too close, the jury could go either way.            Suddenly Walker jumps up and rushes from the courtroom. Alex stares after him, puzzled at his leaving. She takes a deep breath and turns her mind back to the trial, knowing this is the last day she’ll have to prove that Howington is guilty.

             The judge calls for a fifteen-minute recess after which time the closing arguments will be given. Alex returns to the courtroom and takes her seat, worry etched on her face. When the officers return Howington he stops by Alex’s chair and smiles down at her, “Well, Ms Cahill, I think you just might have lost.” He starts laughing and takes his seat at the defense table.

            The judge returns and asks if the defense if ready to give his summation and he says that he is, then when the judge turns to ask Alex the same thing, the doors are pushed open and Walker enters the courtroom with a man that she recognizes as Carl Jenkins. She turns to look at Howington whose face has drained of all color as he seems to shrink right there in his chair.

            She looks into Walker’s face, a nod and a smile and she turns to Judge Arnold and says, “Your honor, we have a new witness that we’d like to put on the stand.”

            Howington’s attorney jumps to his feet, “Your honor, we protest this irregularity. It’s too late to bring in an unknown witness. She can’t do this!”

            “Sit down Mr. Lowell, it’s my job to determine if she is out of order.” He turns to look at Alex then at the Ranger. His lips start to turn up but he quickly squelches the smile, and directs his questions to Alex. “Ms Cahill, don’t you think it’s kinda late to bring in a surprise witness?”

            “I know Your Honor, but we’ve been looking for this man for quite a while and luckily he made it before this trial ended.”

            “Your Honor…” Lowell sputters.

            “Sideboard, Your Honor?” With a nod, the two attorneys approach the bench.

            “Your Honor, this is outrageous, she can’t…”

            “Shut up, Lowell. Now Ms. Cahill can you explain this?”

            “I’m hoping to prove, Your Honor, that this witness, Carl Jenkins, was responsible for sending the package that contained the bomb that blew up the ADA office and killed Sarah Connors and that Mr. Howington was the one that ordered that bombing.”

            “Your Honor, that is ridiculous, there is no way…”

            “Lowell, shut up. Ms Cahill, I’ll let this witness testify but I don’t want any theatrics, understood?”

            “Yes, Sir.”

            Walker escorts Jenkins up to the stand, removes the handcuffs then stands back out of the way, as the prisoner is sworn in.

            Alex has the man give his name and address and where he is currently employed. He mumbles something and the Judge tells him to speak louder so the stenographer can hear him.

            “I work for Mr. Howington.”

            “This Mr. Howington? The one sitting at the defense table?”

            “Yeah, that’s him.”

            “Did you have send a box labeled ‘Godiva’s Chocolates to the Assistant District Attorney’s office on Monday, July 16 of this year?”

            Jenkins does a lot of squirming in his chair and takes furtive glances at the defense table before he finally answers. “Yes … but it wasn’t my idea, I only did what I was told.”

            “Your Honor, I object…”

            “Overruled!”

            “What were you told to do, Mr. Jenkins?”

            “Your Honor…”

            “Be quiet, Mr. Lowell. Continue, Ms Cahill.”

            “Please answer the question, Mr. Jenkins.”

            “I forgot what the question was.”

            “Why did you send the chocolates to the ADA’s office?”

            Howington jumps up from his chair, “Shut your mouth, Jenkins, so help me, I’ll…”

            “Mr. Lowell, please control your client.”

            The attorney pulls Howington back into his seat, both men looked like death warmed over.

            “I was instructed to get rid of Ms Cahill before the trial started. He told me that Ms. Cahill like Godiva chocolates so … a bomb in a box of chocolates … sounded like a good idea.”

            Alex’s eyes mist up with the knowledge that Sarah was destroyed because of that bomb, but she stiffens her back and hardens her voice as she gets in Jenkins face, “Are you saying that Howington ordered you to send that bomb to my office?”

            He darts a glance at the defense table, and mutters, “Yeah … yeah, he did.”

***

            After the pandemonium dies down, Howington and Jenkins are hauled off to jail and the court is adjourned.

            Walker moves up close to Alex and congratulates her for a job well done, unable to take her in his arms, like he wants to; he kisses her softly on the cheek and backs away.

            She smiles at him, and lays her hand on his arm, “You’re the one who cinched the verdict for me.” Her eyes soften as she looks into his. “I’ll show you my appreciation … tonight.”

            His eyes mirror hers as he nods, and murmurs, “I’m looking forward to it.”

***

            The sun has finally disappeared beyond the horizon and quiet has settled over the ranch as Walker stands by the front door, looking down the lane, looking for a set of headlights to appear. He breaks out in a cold sweat as he thinks back over the past month, of screwing up his relationship with Alex, of her leaving him, of the bombing, and then the dark fear he had felt when he thought she had died.

            He wipes his forehead with the sleeve of his shirt and his heart rate picks up as a car turns into the driveway.

            He stands still in the darkness of his house as the car pulls to a stop in the driveway. He watches her get out and walk with quickened steps toward him.

            She can’t see him but she knows he is watching her move toward him. As she climbs the steps to the porch, he pushes the door open and she walks into his arms.

            He buries his face in her hair as he holds her tight, molding her body to fit against his. Pulling her inside the house he closes the door and brushes his lips across hers.
            “Are you hungry, I can whip up some eggs, if you like.”

            “No, I don’t want to eat, I just want you.”

            He takes her hand and pulls her up the stairs, dispensing with their clothes as they hurry to his bedroom. By the time they reach the bed they are both naked. He lowers her to the bed and leans over her to cover her mouth with his.

“Can’t wait,” she murmurs as she puts her arms around his neck and pulls him down on top of her.

            He comes to her in a rush of sensual, startlingly playful energy. He grabs hold of her and rolls over and over with her until the sheets are tangled and Alex is laughing helplessly.

            He finally brings the tumbling game to a halt near the foot of the bed and braces himself on his elbows above her.

            Flushed and breathless, Alex looks up and sees the uninhibited joy in him.

            “There is nothing quite like the taste of a happy ending,” Walker murmurs. His eyes gleam in the shadows as he slides slowly down the length of her body. He settles himself between her legs.

            Alex feels his teeth on the inside of her thigh. She gasps and digs her fingers into his shoulders. He parts her gently with his fingers.

            “Walker?”

            And then she feels his mouth on her in an unbearably intimate kiss.

            Their world comes apart.

The End