THE NEXT WEDDING

NSSNTRVLR

 

July 28, 2001

Trying to be quiet he eased out of bed and made his way to the door; a sleepy voice stopped him in his tracks, “Where are you going?”

Making his way back to her side he leaned over for a kiss before saying, “It’s going to be a busy day; Trent should be here any minute to get my workout in, then we’ll probably go for a run.”

“When did the doctors clear you to start running?”

“You worry too much.”

“Walker!”

“Trent and I talked it over with Dr. Richards a couple of days ago; he says as long as I don’t overdo it I’ll be fine.”

“Please be extra careful this morning, Jimmy will never forgive you if you miss his wedding this afternoon.”

“Hon, if it makes you feel better I’ll wake him up and make him come with us.”

She smiled up at her husband and giggled as she said, “I still can’t believe you made him spend the night here.”

“I made him? You and Erica were the ones that kept harping on it being bad luck to see the bride the night before the wedding.”

Grabbing his hand she asked, “Will you go get Angela for me before you head out; you know she’s going to be demanding breakfast soon.”

Dropping a quick kiss on her lips he said, “Okay, I’ll be right back.”

Watching him leave she couldn’t help but notice the changes in his appearance and attitude in the almost three weeks since he’d been home; the good meals, regular therapy and Trent’s work were already showing results; he had gained weight and muscle, he didn’t tire as easily and blushing a little she thought about their lovemaking the night before…he was definitely back to normal. With a small sigh of resignation she knew it wouldn’t be long before he would be demanding to go back to work.

As he carried Angela into the room he saw the hint of sadness on his wife’s face and asked, “Are you okay hon?”

“I’m fine, just thinking about how much longer you’ll let the doctors keep you out of work; I know you’re anxious to get back.”

Sinking onto the bed beside her he said, “If and when I’m ready I’ll know; I haven’t made it to that point yet and before I’ll even consider it I have to be 100% sure that I’m ready to look out for myself and more importantly Trivette, Gage, Sydney or anyone else who might be around me.” Quietly he added, “Alex…there is a chance I’ll never be able to go back to being a Ranger, the doctors have all said that.”

“You mean those people with their fancy medical degrees that never expected you to live, the ones that said you’d end up brain-damaged, the ones that said you’d never make it back to the point you’re already at…those doctors? Darling, those so called experts never had a stubborn, mule-headed Texas Ranger cowboy as a patient before; you’ll do it just to prove them all wrong.”

He stared at her for a minute then both of them started laughing; shaking his head he stood up saying, “Okay, it’s getting too deep in here I’m going downstairs.”

“See what I mean…the doctors said it would be a couple of months before they’d be comfortable with you doing steps and it hasn’t even been one yet.”

“Yeah well our bed up here is a lot more comfortable than the one downstairs so I had extra incentive.” Giving her a wink he headed for the door as he said, “I love you.”

“I love you too, be careful.”

Making his way downstairs he was stunned to find Jimmy not only awake but dressed. “What are you doing up this early?”

“Waiting for you; figured I’d hang out with you and Trent this morning, see if I can lose some of these jitters.”

Pulling on his shoes Walker motioned for his friend to follow him outside and took him into the barn before asking, “Are you having second thoughts?”

Shrugging his shoulders Jimmy replied, “I love Erica and I can’t wait to be a father but it scares we ya know; what if I’m no good at being a husband or a Daddy?”

Carefully thinking over his next words Walker said, “We’ve known each other for a long time partner and there’s only one way I know of that you could mess up…The only way I know how to ask it is to just spit it out…are you sure you can be faithful?”

“What the Hell kind of question is that?”

“It’s one you need to have the right answer to before you get married; there were times in the past when you couldn’t even keep track of your multiple lady friends and if you have the slightest doubt that those days are over for you for good…”

“I suppose you’re going to tell me you’ve never even looked at another woman.”

Rolling his eyes he replied, “I’m married not dead, of course I’ve had my head turned by a beautiful woman, but I can honestly say that after Alex and I made love for the first time…I’ve never once been tempted to cheat on her.” When his friend made no reply he went on…”Erica is having twins, her doctor is going to cut her off from sex at some point and then you’ll have the time after the birth to get through…”

In disbelief he asked, “You mean Alex didn’t take care of you?”

“She offered, I declined…what I’m about to say better never leave this barn…I have never had sex with Alex, from the very first time it was making love and for me that means making sure she’s satisfied before I am. It means respecting her when she says she’s not in the mood just as she respects me when I say it; I’ve taken a lot of cold showers over the years and so has she but our love is stronger because of it.”

Amazed at the details his partner was sharing Jimmy didn’t answer, just let the words sink in and looked deep inside himself for answers; did he have what it took to remain faithful to one woman for the rest of his life? Because he knew that if he got married and strayed even once he could lose everything; he reflected on his life before he’d met Erica and how he felt now and the answer was simple. “Okay no more second thoughts, no more jitters, is the minister here yet?”

The two men laughed and walked out of the barn just as Trent pulled up; he got out of the car asking, “What’s so funny?”

With a grin of amusement Walker responded, “Oh I was just laughing at my partner’s eagerness to get hitched.”

“Yeah, I can see how unhappy you are with that ring through your nose.”

All of them laughed at that comment then began their workout for the day; Trivette kept a close eye on his friend and was pleasantly surprised at what he was seeing; maybe he’d have his partner back sooner than anticipated.

A couple of hours later Alex looked up from her seat on the swing as the three men ran back to the house; she wasn’t surprised to see Jimmy in the lead but wondered at her husband being right behind him with an obviously tiring Trent at the rear. Casually she asked, “How far did you guys go?”

“Well we were going to go for ten, but…”

“Cordell Walker…”

Shooting his partner an exasperated look he said, “Thanks a lot Trivette.” Turning to his wife he said, “We only did five and Trent barely survived that.”

Her mouth opened then closed and she turned on her heel and stalked back into the house; knowing he was in the doghouse he turned to the other two saying, “Uh-oh.”

Trent slapped him on the shoulder saying, “You better go after her; I’m going to go home, clean up and see what Mom’s making for breakfast; I’ll see you guys this afternoon.

They watched him go and Jimmy asked, “Does he know Carlos is coming to the wedding?”

“Not unless you told him; I got the impression it was supposed to be a surprise.”

“I haven’t said a word; I’m going to go get cleaned up and I promise to stay in my “borrowed” room until you give the all clear; I don’t want to interrupt while you and Alex make up.”

Laughter filled the air as the two men went inside and as promised Jimmy disappeared while Walker went in search of his wife; he found her in the nursery feeding Angela and he tried and failed to read her expression. “Alex…”

She motioned for him to be quiet then said, “Go take a shower; we’ll talk when you’re done.”

Now he was worried, he took a step forward but froze in his tracks when she looked up with tears in her eyes. “Alex?”

“Not now Walker, give me a few minutes.”

Wanting nothing more than to take her in his arms he made himself leave the room as he tried to figure out what he’d done that had her so upset.

Once he was out of the room she looked down at her daughter and said, “You know I love your Daddy with all my heart, but sometimes I want to strangle him! How dare he go out there and run five miles when he’s barely cleared to run at all.” As she said the words aloud she slowly began to smile, “But you know what…before he got hurt he was running ten or more almost every day, he was running half marathons a few times a year and the last time he actually beat Jimmy.” She placed her daughter in the crib and walked purposefully down the hallway.

Standing under the spray of the shower he didn’t hear her approach and as she stepped in behind him he spun around in surprise; one look told him what her intentions were and with a huge smile he handed her the soap saying, “I’m glad you joined me.” A little while later he breathlessly said, “Very glad.”

Her laughter was the only answer he received.

After they got dressed he hesitated then asked, “What happened earlier this morning?”

Sliding her arms around his neck she gave him a long kiss before stepping back. “”That was me being overprotective of my husband; I should know better, but there are times when I close my eyes and still see you in that hospital bed.”

“I promise I’m not going to do more than I think I should; I know you…and the doctors…think I’m pushing for too much too fast, but hon you should know better than anyone that I’ve always been this way.”

With a weary sigh she replied, “I know, I just forgot for a few minutes, it won’t happen again.”

“We better get downstairs and rescue Trivette; he vowed to stay in his room until he received the all clear.”

A while later the three of them sat down to breakfast and the married couple exchanged amused glances when Jimmy kept looking at his watch; he finally excused himself from the table and went to stand on the porch.

Joining him a few minutes later Walker said, “You could have met them at the airport.”

“I know but Simon was adamant that he’d drive out here, what if he got lost?”

“Will you relax? Carlos could find this place blindfolded; they’ll be here.”

After Alex finished cleaning up the kitchen she fed Angela then carried her outside; they joined Walker on the porch swing and he immediately put his arm around his family to pull them close.

For a couple of minutes Jimmy just watched the silent communication between his best friends then he turned away so they couldn’t see the look on his face; the Walker he had met so many years ago was a far cry from the Walker of today. With a wide grin he admitted to himself that he much preferred the current version, a man who loved deeply and wasn’t afraid to let it show or to voice it; the talk they’d had earlier was more proof of the changes.

A few more minutes passed before Walker said, “Company coming.”

When the car pulled to a stop everyone stepped off the porch to greet the two men who emerged; Jimmy hugged Simon while Walker greeted Carlos who immediately turned his attention to Alex and the baby.

She laughed at the expression on her husband’s face and said, “Obviously you weren’t the reason he agreed to come.” She handed the baby to Carlos and one look at his face had her shaking her head. “Is there anyone she can’t charm?”

Simon took his turn holding her and after giving her back to her mother he responded, “I don’t think there’s a person alive who could resist her; she’s too darned cute.”

A few minutes later Jimmy had disappeared with his brother and Walker; Carlos looked at Alex saying, “I don’t even have to ask if you and Walker are happy; just watching the two of you is answer enough, the way he looks at you and Angela…”

“I know; he’s changed so much over the years, especially since the baby was born.”

“How’s he doing physically?”

“He’s getting stronger every day, before I know it he’ll be back at work.”

“You okay with that? I know it was really touch and go for quite a while.”

“There’s part of me that wishes he’d never go back; I know what can happen, especially after this last episode…but I’m not going to tell him to quit anymore than he’s going to ask me not to go back to work. His job is more dangerous than mine, but I make my share of enemies as well, we both have scars to prove that.” Softly she added, “For better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death do us part…we took those vows together…we’ll honor them together.”

They both looked up as another car approached and when it stopped Carlos stepped forward and hugged the driver saying, “Hi Josie, you haven’t changed a bit.”

“Still the flatterer I see.”

“Always.”

She moved to Alex’s side and looked down at Angela saying, “I can’t believe how much she’s grown already; before I know it she’ll be keeping Erica and I busy at the HOPE Center while you and Walker are working.”

“Since you mentioned that…how are things going over there?”

“Great, it’s so much easier now that Erica is working with me.” Seeing the questioning look Josie whispered, “Things really are fine Alex; it didn’t click between Jimmy and I, but watching the two of them together…he never looked at me the way he looks at her; I’m happy for them both.”

Carlos had wandered off to find the other guys and finally located them behind the barn; he walked up saying, “I still owe you a favor Jimmy, I was bored out of my mind until you hooked me up with Simon.”

“All I did was mention your background, you did the rest yourself.”

“So are you ready to get hitched?”

“Hey if you can do it…”

Walker laughed at Simon’s puzzled look and explained, “We never expected Carlos to settle down either; I swear I think they had a competition going to see who could score the most.”

Hearing a familiar engine Jimmy grinned saying, “Sounds like Syd & Gage have decided to join the party.”

They all walked out to greet the new arrivals and after Carlos had been introduced he began a rapid discussion in Spanish with Syd; she allowed it for a few minutes then said, “We’re leaving our friends out of the loop; Carlos and I actually met once a few years ago, we were on an assignment together; he was just filling me in on his life since then…the new job with the FBI, the new wife, that sort of thing.”

Seeing Gage visibly relax it was all Jimmy could do not to start laughing; he hoped that the two younger Rangers got their act together soon.

Sydney stayed for a couple of minutes then said, “I’ll leave you boys to talk, I’m going to go see Angela.”

After she was out of hearing range Simon looked over at Gage and said, “Looks like there will be another wedding soon.”

The other men all laughed when Gage asked, “What are you talking about?”

Before they could tease him more Walker suddenly said, “Trent’s coming, get out of sight Carlos.”

The rest of the guys greeted Trent as he climbed out of his car and he looked from one face to the other in suspicion. “Why do I get the feeling I’m suddenly the center of attention?”

Coming out of the barn Carlos said, “Maybe because you are.”

The two friends greeted each other with a bear hug and immediately walked away to discuss what had happened in their lives recently.

Everyone else met on the porch and Alex said, “Looks like we’re only missing three people.”

Teasingly, Simon spoke up, “Maybe Erica came to her senses.” He dodged the blow from his brother and laughed, “You know I’m kidding; she’ll be here.”

A few minutes later she arrived with her father and the women immediately ushered her into the house while Fred joined the guys; he looked at his soon to be son-in-law and asked, “Are you ready for this?”

Squaring his shoulders back Jimmy said, “Yes sir, I’m ready; today is going to be the happiest day of my life.”

Looking at his watch Walker said, “Excuse me for a minute, I need to go get Angela, she’s going to stay with Angus and Betty until later tonight and they should be here any minute.”

Alex saw him when he walked in and going to his side she gave him a loving kiss before whispering, “Good luck getting her away from Erica, Josie and Sydney.”

Giving her a wink he entered the other room and when his daughter looked in his direction he held out his arms; she immediately began squirming and let out a high pitched squeal of excitement; going straight to her he took her from Erica and walking past his wife he asked, “You were saying?”

Shaking her head she replied, “Never mind.”

The older couple arrived right on time and retrieved Angela along with the bag containing all the things they might need; after offering congratulations to Jimmy they headed for home.

When the minister arrived everyone gathered together; Jimmy and Erica had decided to do a very simple wedding and had taken Walker up on the suggestion to perform the ceremony at the ranch.

The vows and rings were exchanged in short order and the couple were pronounced man and wife; after the kiss to make it all official they broke out champagne and Walker said, “I know we’re not having a reception, but as best man I’m supposed to make some kind of speech; I don’t think it will surprise any of you to hear that this is definitely not my area of expertise…”

With a voice filled with laughter Jimmy replied, “I want to hear it anyway.”

All the others started chanting, “Speech, speech!”

Shaking his head Walker began, “It was April of ’93 when I first met James Trivette, a mutual acquaintance of ours kept insisting that he would be perfect as my new partner, I wasn’t so sure about that, especially since on the first day we met he was wearing nothing but a speedo.”

Jimmy glared at him as the others erupted in laughter.

Holding up his hand for silence Walker continued, “Jimmy and I have come a long way in the eight years we’ve been together and what started out as the most unlikely pairing in Ranger history…a half Cherokee from the reservation and a black man from Baltimore…turned into something that I never expected; a true friendship.

To have a partnership as long as ours, there are a few things you need…honesty, loyalty, and most of all trust.

Those are some of the same things you need in a successful marriage…along with patience, communication, compromise, and most importantly of all…love.

Up until a couple of years ago I never thought Jimmy had what it took to make a marriage work but he was just waiting for the right woman to come along.

Erica…I know you’re the one responsible for the smile that is on his face today; you’ve changed him into a man who’s more than ready to embrace married life and fatherhood and I want to take this chance to personally thank you for making him so happy.

Jimmy…I’m honored that you chose me to be your best man on this most special day of your life and I have to say that you were right in waiting for Erica to come along, she is definitely your soul mate.”

Wrapping his arm around his wife he continued, “My greatest wish for the two of you is to as happy as Alex and I are.”

Holding up his glass he said, “A toast…Jimmy, Erica, may your life be filled with happiness, laughter, and most importantly…love.”

They all stared at him in stunned silence for a minute before they joined in, then Jimmy looked at Alex saying, “You had to have helped him with that.”

“Believe me I’m just as shocked as you are.”

Jimmy and Erica both hugged him then turned back to the small group, Jimmy said, “Thanks for being here, but we’re on our way to the airport, neither one of us plan to answer our phone for the next few days, so don’t bother calling.”

The minister left soon after the newlyweds, Carlos left with Trent a little while later, then Fred and Josie went, Simon stayed and talked for a while then he left as well. Sydney and Gage stayed the longest as they filled Walker in on what was happening at work and even asked his opinion on a couple of things; finally they took off as well.

Alex pulled her husband over to the swing and as they sat down she murmured, “That really was a great little speech you gave; I know Jimmy was pretty choked up even though he was trying not to let it show.”

“You know I meant what I said.”

“About?”

“Hoping they’ll be as happy as we are.”

“I hope they are too, I love you Walker.”

“And I love you.”

Giving him an impish grin she said, “Angela won’t be back for another couple of hours, I wonder what we can do until then.”

Standing up he pulled her to her feet saying, “I don’t have a clue Mrs. Walker.”

They looked at each other for a minute before they both started smiling and headed for the door; they paused long enough for him to lock it then headed on inside.

Their laughter almost drowned out the sound of footsteps as they ran up the stairs…almost.

 

When I first began writing WTR stories I made the decision to let Trivette be happy; as you’ve read he already has twins on the way…only my imagination knows if he will have more children. J