THE STORY OF US


       BY SISSY & CHRIS

 


Alexandra Cahill
and Cordell Walker
And Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Index

The First Date…………………………………………………………………..Page 3

 

My Elusive Dreams……………………………………………………………..Page 11

The Beginning…………………………………………………………………..Page 15

 

Surprise…………………………………………………………………………Page 19

Ghost Busters…………………………………………………………………...Page 20

 

Sequel To Surprise……………………………………………………………...Page 43

 

Jimmy’s Wedding……………………………………………………………….Page 51

 

Second Edition…………………………………………………………………..Page 66

Family Affair……………………………………………………………………Page 80

Difficult Choice………………………………………………………………….Page 100

Under Control…………………………………………………………………..Page 115

 

In The Nick of Time 1 & 2……………………………………………………..Page 131

The Ultimate Fear………………………………………………………………Page 137

Sounds of Silence………………………………………………………………..Page 142

Officer of The Court……………………………………………………………Page 144

 

Sleepless in Dallas………………………………………………………………Page 156

 

Full Circle……………………………………………………………………….Page 158

 

      

 

 

 

The First Date

 

When he walks into C.D.’s, he finds himself automatically looking to see if she is there. If she is, his weariness would disappear and his heart would beat a little faster and he’d make every effort to get as close to her as possible without being too obvious. If she isn’t, like tonight, he feels the disappointment, and finds himself constantly looking toward the door hoping she will come in.

 

His feelings for her had come upon him so gradually that she had him hook, line, and sinker before he knew what hit him. He isn’t sure he can go through this again, but he knows it is too late now. At first, he had tried to deny the feelings existed, but all he had to do was hear her name and his heart rate accelerated.  If she looked at him with her sky blue eyes and smiled, he was lost. The few times that he was alone with her, he felt like a teenager. Like that night they both got wet in a fountain when they had gone to meet a man about some mustangs. He had gotten so flustered when he saw her beautiful bare legs, he almost made a fool of himself, but managed to leave before he did.

 

She was so beautiful and she seemed to like him. She always came up to him when she came into C.D.’s.  That was another thing. How could this beautiful, intelligent, soft-spoken lady want anything to do with a rough, sometimes loud, cowboy that was an unorthodox diehard Texas Ranger?

 

Walker sat in the booth, watching the door, with all of these thoughts running through his mind. Wanting to do something about how he felt, but afraid to take the chance. What if she said no? What if she laughed at him. He didn’t think she would, that wasn’t her style. When they were together, she seemed to be attracted to him, but maybe she was only interested in being friends. Maybe it would be a mistake to take their friendship to the next level. He wouldn’t want to jeopardize their friendship. It was too important to him.

 

When Alex comes in the door, she heads for the bar. About halfway to the bar, she sees Walker in the booth. She changes direction in mid stride and goes directly up to him.  “Hi, cowboy.” She smiles, “This seat taken?”

 

“Ah…No…” She slides in beside him, looking into his eyes.  He starts to ask her if she wants coffee or something else, but just then C.D. and Trivette come over and they slide in across from them and C.D. does the asking. The conversations stays light, with talk of Alex’s court case, Trivette telling about the high speed chase he and Walker had been in and C.D. telling about the new juke box he is getting.

 

C.D. finally gets up saying he had better go tend bar, and Trivette leaves saying he is calling it a night. That leaves Walker alone, sitting beside Alex. Both become quiet, unsure of what to say, then both start to talk at the same time. They laugh and Walker says, “ Please, you go first.”

 

“I was just going to say I’d better be going too. It really is getting late.”

 

“Well, okay…Alex?…Ah…”

 

“Yes?” He’s been awfully quiet this evening like he has something on his mind.

 

“I…ah…I’ll walk you to your car.”

 

She looks at him with a quizzical expression, “Okay.” She slides out of the booth, with him right behind her.  He places a hand on the small of her back and they walk out the door.

 

As they come up to her car, “Thank you. Will you be at C.D.’s tomorrow night? Being Saturday, he’ll have a band.”

 

“Yeah, I’ll be there.”

 

“Well…goodnight, then. I…guess I’ll see you tomorrow.” She turned to get in the car but felt his hand on her arm, and turned back to face him.

 

“Alex…ah…Would you…ah…I’d like…ah…Would you care to have dinner with me tomorrow evening?” He finally blurts out.

 

A tender smile and a soft reply, “Walker, I’d love, too.”

“Well, great! I’ll…ah…I’ll pick you up about 7:00?”

 

“I’ll be ready.” Alex leans in and kisses him softly on the cheek, turns and gets into her car.

 

He stands back and watches her drive away. His heart beating hard, and a warm smile on his face, he turns and walks, on air, to the Ram.

 

*****

 

Walker is waiting for Trivette at the gym Saturday morning to give him another workout on the mat. He has already gone through his karate exercise routine and worked out on the bench for an hour before Trivette finally shows up.

 

“Hey, Walker, how long have you been here? You’ve already worked up a good sweat.” ‘Man, if he’s tired, maybe I can finally get him to tap out.’ “I’ll get changed, and be right back.” He disappears into the locker room and returns in a few minutes, ready for his workout.

 

Two hours later; Trivette taps out, AGAIN, and Walker rolls off of him, laughing, “Well, Trivette, are you finally ready to call it quits.”

 

Looking at Walker, sitting cross-legged on the mat, looking like he could go another two hours, Trivette shakes his head, “Man, I don’t know how you do it. Must be something in the water you drink.”

 

“No, Trivette, it’s just a dedication to a rigorous routine of exercise. Whenever you want to start one, let me know, and I’ll map one out for you.”

 

“Well, Walker, one of these days I just might take you up on that offer, but right now, all I want is a hot shower!”  He wearily pulls himself up and starts toward the showers in the locker room with Walker following. “How about we go to C.D.’s for lunch after we clean up. My treat.”

 

“You’re on, Trivette.”

 

*****

 

Alex is sitting at the bar helping C.D. choose songs to put on the juke box, when, upon hearing voices in argument coming through the door, they turn to see Walker and Trivette playfully jabbing at each other.

 

“Hey, you two, what’s going on?”

 

“Well, Big Dog, Walker here is trying to tell me that it has taken him years to accomplish everything that he knows about martial arts.”

 

“I imagine that’s right, Jimmy. Why?”

 

“Man, I don’t think I could wait that long to learn something. I’d want to do it now.”

 

“Trivette, I could teach you a few basic moves that would come in handy in our line of work but it takes years to master the art. I’m still learning new things. It’s an ongoing thing, one that you have to practice every day.”  Walker turns to see Alex watching him very intently, with a beautiful smile on her face. He immediately feels a warm glow spreading through his body. No one, not even Ellen, has ever had this kind of an effect on him.  Just being near her made him lose his train of thought. He smiles than quickly turns to sit on a stool on the other side of Trivette, hoping that his face doesn’t show his reaction to Alex’s smile.

 

She sees the slight tinge appear on Walker’s cheeks, ‘he’s shy, he’s really shy’. Alex turns back to face C.D., realizing that Walker is hoping that she won’t say anything about their date for this evening.

 

As usual, Walker and Alex end up sitting together at the bar after C.D. gets busy setting everything up for the entertainment that he has arranged for the evening and Trivette leaves with a pretty girl that had come in looking for directions.

 

“I take it Jimmy didn’t do too well during your workout, this morning?”

 

“Trivette always sets his sights too high. I can’t seem make him understand that he needs to prepare his body in advance to be able to do a workout like that.”

 

Alex looks at him with an impish grin, “Maybe I should learn a few self-defense moves, what do you think?”

Walker stares at her for several heartbeats, “I think every woman should know self-defense.” Placing his hand over hers as it rests on the bar. “And I would be glad to teach you.”

At his touch, she sees the tender look on his face and her impish grin fades and is replaced by one of longing. She’s never had a touch to affect her this way. Before she can say anything C.D. walks back in talking to one of the waitresses, and Walker quickly removes his hand.  They can’t, however, seem to take their eyes from each other.

C.D. calls to Alex, “Alex, what do you think of this? Do you think it looks all right this way?”

“It looks fine C.D.” But her eyes never leave Walker’s. She finally pulls away, but her eyes remain locked on Walker’s, “Well…I’ve got to go.” Lowering her voice to a murmur that only Walker hears, “Gotta get ready for a special night.” She moves over to C.D. and kisses him on the cheek, “I’ll see you tonight, C.D.” She glances back at Walker one more time before she goes out the door.

C.D. stares after her, his hand touching his cheek where she kissed him. “Well, I wonder what that was for?”  

Walker moves over to the window and watches her as she gets in her car and drives away.

“Cordell, are you leaving, too?”

“Yeah, C.D., I have some chores to take care of at the ranch, I’ll see you tonight.” The warm feeling is still with him as he walks out the door.

 

*****

 

Walker spends the afternoon taking care of chores in the barn--mucking out the stalls, brushing the horses, then taking Amigo for a ride out to his favorite spot by the lake, Uncle Rays cabin. Letting Amigo graze, he sits down on a large rock and, as he stares out over the lake, the image of Alexandra Cahill takes over his mind. Now that he has made the move, he can think of nothing else. He’s hoping that he hasn’t misread the message that her eyes seemed to be sending to him at C.D.’s.  When he looked into her eyes, he felt like he could drown in them and, even now, if he closes his eyes he can still see them. He shakes his head from side to side, “Lord, what is that woman doing to me!”  He stands and scratching his head, smiles to himself, “Well whatever it is, it’s already done.” He moves over to Amigo, mounts and heads back to the ranch.

 

*****

 

After Alex left C.D.’s, she went home and puttered around the house, picking up several items and moving them around, only to end up putting them back in their original spot. She makes a cup of tea and carries it to the balcony, sitting down in the glider and thinking about the cowboy that has finally asked her out to dinner. She had been afraid it would never happen, but it hadn’t stopped her from hoping. She smiles as she remembers the way their eyes had locked as if in a spell. The look she saw in his eyes was so tender and soft. A look that she hopes she isn’t misreading. She had a feeling that this cowboy didn’t let his emotions come to the surface very often. Her heart kinda did a flip-flop, knowing that, just briefly, he had let her see this side of him. Noticing that the sun is sinking in the west, she glances at her watch, jumps up, “My God, I’ve been sitting out here all afternoon daydreaming. I’d better start getting ready for my special evening with Walker.” She giggles like a schoolgirl on her first date and moves inside to begin getting ready.

 

*****

 

By 6:45 p.m., Walker is parked in front of Alex’s apartment.  Not wanting to take any chances, he had left the ranch early to make sure that no matter what happened, he wouldn’t be late. At 6:55 p.m., he went to her door and rang the bell. As he waited, his nervousness was very apparent.  He pulled on his sleeves, ran his finger around his shirt collar, fidgeted with his tie and shifted his weight from one foot to the other.

When Alex opens the door, he just stands there, amazed at the beautiful woman standing before him. She’s wearing a sleeveless dress of black velvet. It is simple, yet elegant and beautifully complimented her slender figure. The dress is short, ending about mid thigh. And is worn with black hose and black high-heeled sandals. Her hair is swept up in a French Knot with small tendrils hanging loosely around her face. “WOW, you look gorgeous!”

“Why, thank you, Walker. You look pretty handsome, yourself.” He is wearing black slacks, a white shirt with a bolo tie and a black sport coat. She stands aside to let him enter, “Come in, I’ll be ready in just a minute. There’s coffee in the kitchen, if you want some.” She disappears back into the bedroom.

He goes to the kitchen, finds the coffee and pours him a cup, then moves to stand by the balcony doors, starring out over Dallas. The view is fantastic.

He turns as he hears her enter the room. All he can do is stare at the vision in front of him. When she moves toward him it shakes him from his trance, “Oh…uh…Are you ready?”

 

“Yes, I’m ready,” She takes his arm as he turns towards the door.

 

*****

 

When they leave the apartment building, Alex looks around for the Ram, but doesn’t see it. “Walker, where’s your truck?””

 

“I…kinda borrowed a car, figured it would be nicer. My truck was kinda dirty.” He stops beside a black mustang, opens the door and helps her in, then quickly walks around to the other side and gets in.

As he pulls away from the curb, “Where are we going, Walker, anyplace special.”

“I thought we’d go to the Cattleman’s in Ft. Worth if that’s okay?”

“That sounds just fine. It’s a nice place. I’ve been there a few times. The food is good, too. Have you ever been there?”

“I think I’ve been there a couple of times a few years ago. I kinda liked it.” The rest of the drive is in silence. His mind goes blank. He can’t think of anything to talk about. He keeps sneaking looks at her to see if she is upset or just plain bored. ‘God, how could I have thought I had anything in common with this beautiful, intelligent lady.’

When he parks at the Cattleman’s, he gets out and goes around to open the door for Alex, offers his arm as she gets out of the car. He hears a murmured “Thank you” and he escorts her inside.

After being seated at a table, they place their order and thirty minutes later, after a silent meal, over coffee, he looks up into Alex’s face when he feels her hand cover his.

“Walker, is there something wrong?  You’ve been so quiet all evening.  Have I done something to upset you?” She looks into his eyes wondering what has happened to turn this evening upside down. After all this time, she’s finally with the man that has filled her mind for so long and she’s determined not to let it end like this.

As he looks into her face, he sees her eyes sparkling with unshed tears, and his heart nearly breaks.  “I’m sorry, Alex. Maybe this was a mistake. I’m just an uneducated cowboy. Maybe it was a mistake to think that we could be more than just friends.” He looks down at the table and when she takes her hand off of his, his heart drops to his stomach.

In a soft, low voice, “Walker…please…look at me.” When he raises his eyes to meet hers, “I don’t want this to be a mistake. I’ve waited a long time for you to ask me out, to show you that I do care about you and hoping that maybe in time you could care for me, too. Who you are, the way you live your life is what has drawn me to you.  You’re not ‘just a cowboy’, you’re a remarkable man with more honor and integrity than any other man I know. I hope you don’t think that I’m the kind of woman who would base my decision on whether to have a relationship with a man on ancestry.”

“You’re beautiful.”

She smiles, softly whispers, “Walker?”

When she smiles at him it gives him renewed hope, “Are we having a relationship?” He covers her hands with his.

“Maybe not yet, but we could sure work on it, if you want.”

“I want.” The air surrounding them suddenly takes on a different feel. The conversation flows easier, they become more relaxed, more like the two people that were drawn to each other in the beginning.

 

*****

 

The ride back to Dallas and to C.D.’s is the complete opposite of the ride to FT. Worth. They chat easily and even the silence is comfortable. By the time they arrived at C.D.’s at 9:00 p.m. the relationship has progressed nicely.

Finding the street full Walker pulls around in back, and as he shuts the engine off, he turns to Alex, “Are you ready? Our going in together is really going to turn some heads. Especially C.D.’s and Trivette’s.”

“I feel honored to be seen with Cordell Walker. This is something I’ve wanted for a long time.”

Walker gets out, hurries around and opens the door for Alex, takes her hand as she gets out. He shuts the door and they walk into C.D.’s with his arm around her waist.

The place is really in full swing, and they find it hard to move let alone find a place to sit. “Alex, would you like to dance?  I’m not much good at it, but I think that’s the only place open right now.” She nods and they move out onto the floor. He takes her in his arms and pulls her close. With her cheek touching his they begin moving to a soft country ballad.

Pulling back slightly and looking into his eyes and smiling, “I thought you said you weren’t good at this. You seen to be doing just fine.”

Smiling back at her, “Maybe it’s the company.” He feels her shift closer and he tightens his hold slightly, surprised at how natural it feels to have Alex in his arms.

Standing behind the bar, C.D. looks up gazing out over the crowd, smiling about how successful the night is going. When a couple of dancers turn and he sees Walker and Alex dancing his mouth gapes open, “Well, I’ll be…!” He moves down the bar to where Trivette is standing, “Jimmy, looky there. Am I seeing things or is that Cordell and Alex, dancing! Together!”

Trivette finally locates them, turns back to look at C.D., “Wow, when did all this happen? At noon, today, he acted like he hardly knew her.”

“I know, Jimmy…Boy, something musta changed in the last few hours or I’ve been awfully blind.”

“You and me both and I work side by side with him everyday!”

“Jimmy, I think this is great. Cordell’s been alone for a long time. He really needs someone and I think Alex would be perfect. He’s had some pretty rough times in his life. He certainly deserves some happiness.”

As they move around the floor, they are getting curious stares from all around, but they’re in a world of their own and when Alex happens to open her eyes, “Oh, oh. I think we’ve been spotted by C.D. and Jimmy.”

“Oh, God! Now we’re in for it. Be prepared, Alex, you know C.D. He can be pretty direct.” Just then the slow ballad ends and a faster song begins.  They turn and with Walker’s arm around her waist they weave their way toward the bar where C.D. and Trivette are standing.

C.D. and Trivette watch as their friends work their way through the crowd toward the bar. “Now, Jimmy, I don’t think we should make a big deal out of this. You know Cordell. If we make a fuss, he’s liable to crawl back in that shell of his and never come out.”

“You’re right, C.D.”

“Cordell, Alex. We didn’t even see you come in. How long have you been here?”

“We just got here, C.D. The dance floor seemed to be the only open place in here. You’ve got quite a crowd tonight.”

“Well, Alex, you know how it is when you have the most popular bar in Dallas.”

Walker rolls his eyes and looks at his mentor with a sly grin on his face, “And the most modest bar owner in Dallas!”

The comment brings laughter from Trivette and a few regulars at the bar. C.D. just snorts at the wise crack and turns back to tending bar.

Alex, Walker and Trivette spend the next couple of hours laughing and talking, with C.D. joining in whenever he can and Alex and Walker break away for a dance every now and then. As the evening wears on, Walker keeps waiting for the ribbing to begin about he and Alex being together this evening, but it never comes. Both Trivette and C.D. act as if it is perfectly natural for he and Alex to be together.

It’s nearly closing time before the crowd thins. Trivette meets a young lady at the bar and offers her a ride home, leaving Alex and Walker alone again. The band announces it’s last song and Alex and Walker join the remaining patrons on the dance floor.

As the song comes to an end, Walker pulls back and looks at Alex, “Guess we should probably head out?”

“Yes. It is getting late.”

They exit the dance floor, stop by the bar and say goodbye to C.D., then head out the door. The short drive to Alex’s apartment is in a comfortable silence with Walker holding Alex’s hand, absently caressing the back of it with his thumb.

When they arrive at Alex’s door, Walker takes her key, unlocks the door, pushes it open but does not enter. Looking back at her, he hands her the keys. “Do you want to come in? I could fix us some coffee.”

“It’s pretty late. I should probably go.”

He sees a flash of disappointment in her eyes, “I guess you’re right. Walker, I had a wonderful time tonight. Thank you. I hope we can do this again, soon.”

“I had a great time, too. I’m sorry things started out a little rough.” Placing his hand gently on her cheek, “I’d definitely like to do this again.” He hesitates slightly, then lowers his head to gently kiss her lips. The instant his lips touch hers, her heart skips a beat and a warm feeling comes over her body. He breaks away and looks deep into her eyes. When he sees that the passion in her eyes equals his, he takes her in his arms, lowers his head once again and claims her lips in a sweet, mind-numbing kiss.  She responds immediately, wrapping her arms around his neck and melting into his embrace. When he finally breaks free, both are breathless. Smiling at her, “I think I’d better go.”

She returns his smile and nods, “Goodnight, Walker.”

“Goodnight Alex.”

She slips in the door and closes it gently behind her, leaning heavily against it as she tries to control her breathing and steady her legs. A slow smile appears on her lips as she thinks, ‘Well, Walker, looks like we’re headed for a relationship after all!’

In the hallway, Walker is leaning against the wall next to Alex’s door trying to recover physically from the effects of her kiss. Forcing himself to move, he starts walking down the hallway toward the elevator. He feels alive again for the first time in a long time and, although the prospect of a relationship still frightens him, he is sure that Alexandra Cahill is the woman he is destined to be with.

 

THE END

 

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

    My Elusive Dream

“Alex will you marry me?” He murmurs softly, watching her eyes light up, and as they fill with tears, she circles his neck with her arms and he holds her gently as she whispers, “Yes … yes … oh, yes.” Then he pulls back slightly and kisses her softly. She can’t ever remember being as happy as she was when he asked her to marry him.

Walker brushes her hair back and places another cold compress on her forehead. He watches as a smile appears on her face, then fades away, only to return again. He wonders what she is remembering that makes her smile that way. She starts mumbling and, as a single tear escapes her eye, he leans close trying to hear what she is whispering. Holding his breath and listening carefully, he hears her quiet ‘yes’ repeated twice more. He gently wipes the tear away with his thumb and kisses her softly on the cheek.  As his lips feel the heat of her skin, he replaces the compress on her forehead.

 

‘I now pronounce you Husband and Wife.  You may now kiss the bride.’  “I love you Alex,”  He lowers his lips to hers in a soft kiss that promises everything. As they part, she looks up at him with love in her eyes, “I love you, too, my husband.”  As she watches, Walker begins to fade away. She reaches out to him, “Don’t go Walker, I love you.” The vision of the wedding disappears as her mind slides back into the darkness.

 

Alex suddenly seems restless, rolling her head from side to side and mumbling again. He hears her plead, ‘Don’t go, Walker, I love you.’    “Alex, I’m right here. I’ll never leave you. I’m here, honey.”  He keeps reassuring her until she gradually relaxes again.  He replaces the compress and touches her cheek allowing his fingers to linger there. Her eyes flutter, open and gaze at him for just a split second before slowly closing again. He relaxes a little as she settles into a more even breathing pattern. He takes her hand in his, gently rubbing the back of it with his thumb.

 

The nurse enters the room with a cooler filled with cold compresses and leaves it near him. She goes to the other side of the bed and checks Alex’s vital signs, the IV in her arm and then adjusts her pillow. “She’s doing fine. She’s strong; she’ll be just fine. The next time I come in I’ll change her gown and freshen her up a little.  Keep changing the compresses, it’ll help her fight the fever and I’m sure it feels good against her hot skin, too.” She touches Walker’s arm, smiles, and then leaves him alone with Alex.  He leans over and lays his head on the edge of the bed next to hers sending a silent prayer to the man upstairs to watch over her. His body slowly relaxes and he falls asleep.

 

She smiles as she sees Walker looking down on his son for the first time. As Walker picks him up and holds him close, tears fill his eyes as he looks from the baby to Alex. When she touches his cheek to wipe the tears away the vision of Walker and the baby fade away into the darkness. “Come back, Walker, come back!”

Walker wakes up to Alex’s restless movements and mumbling. He can only hear bits and pieces of what she is saying. ‘Come back!’ and ‘Walker’ are a couple of phrases that he picks up, and he also thinks he heard the word ‘baby’ once, but isn’t sure. He wipes her face and digs out another cold compress from the cooler. Just as he places it on her forehead, the nurse comes back in.

“How’s our girl, doing?” She moves to the front of the bed, makes sure everything is working properly, and feels her forehead.

“She’s awful restless. Like she’s having dreams, some bad, some good. She’s doing a lot of mumbling, too.”

“That’s the fever. A fever can conjure up all kinds of things in the mind. The past, the present, and even the future, if that’s something she thinks about a lot. I notice she’s wearing an engagement ring. Have you two set a wedding day?  If you have, that could be one of the more vivid images in her mind. She could also be experiencing things from deep in her past. There’s just no way of knowing what visions the fever will produce.” She takes a clean gown from the closet and turning to Walker, “If you’ll step outside, I’ll freshen her up a little, get this sweat soaked gown off. That’ll make her feel better.”

Walker leaves the room, pulling the door closed behind him. He leans back against the wall, thinking about what the nurse had said about her dreaming. No wedding day has been set, could that be what’s uppermost in her mind.  I should never have let her go by herself. I should have taken off and gone with her. The nurse opens the door and sees Walker leaning against the wall with his eyes shut, walks up to him and touches his arm,  “You can come back in now. She seems to be sleeping peacefully so you should try and get some rest, too.”

“I will, I promise.” He gives a half smile, turns and goes back into the room. Moves up to the side of the bed, looking down into her face, “Alex, I love you. I’m sure you know that, but I should say it to you more often. It’s such a little gesture but I know those words mean a lot to you. I know how I feel when you say them to me.”  He picks up her hand, brings it to his lips, and kisses her fingers gently, “I love you so much. You are my life.”

Alex sighs deeply and leans back into the arms of her husband as they sit in the swing watching their children playing a game of tag football.  Jimmy has been drafted to be the referee and C.D. the scorekeeper. Two redheads, two blondes, two boys, and two girls. Almost like they had been special ordered. She looks up into Walker’s eyes, smiles as he lowers his head to kiss her softly on the lips. It’s the perfect day. A day she has been dreaming about forever. She takes a deep breath, thankful for the scene in front of her, when she realizes that everything is vaporizing right in front of her eyes. No, not this, too. Tears flood her eyes, as all before her darkens.

Walker wakes to Alex’s restless movements and incoherent babbling. He wipes her face and kisses her softly. “Shh … it’s all right, honey. Go back to sleep, I’m here. Shh … I love you.” He brushes her hair back then puts another compress on her forehead, but wanting to take her into his arms and hold her close to his heart. Her body looses its rigidity and as she relaxes, her breathing calms, too

 

Earlier in the day:

Alex pushes open the door to Ranger Headquarters and strides up to his desk, “Walker, I pulled a dumb stunt yesterday. I left the folder on Jenny Lipscomb at the camp. Now, I’ve got to go get it because I need it when her case comes to court tomorrow.” She flashes one of her beautiful smiles at him, one that always melts him, “Would you, by any chance, be able to go with me?”

“I wish I could, Alex. But I’ve got to finish this paper work then I’ve have to pick up a prisoner in Ft. Worth. Sorry.” He looks at her with regret in his eyes, knowing he would much rather spend the day with her and the trip out to the camp would be … nice.

“Well, I thought I’d try. I’ll see you when you get back, then?” She reaches across his desk and touches his hand, giving it a light squeeze.

“You bet.” He catches her fingers before they can leave his hand and holds them for the briefest of moments as he looks deep into her eyes. His voice lowers, “Be careful.”

Her voice just loud enough for him to hear, “I will. I love you.” He mouths the same words back to her and as he lets go of her fingers, she turns and walks out of the room.

The day was warm so the drive to the camp was very enjoyable giving her plenty of time to daydream about her cowboy. When she reaches her destination, she glances around at the beauty and serenity of the place in the late morning hours. Moving to the door, she unlocks it and pushes it open, gasps, “Oh, no! What in the world happened in here.” Looking around the large room at the total destruction of the place. Couch cushions, ripped and stuffing pulled out, broken dishes, and bottles, papers scattered everywhere. “Papers! Oh, God I hope Jenny’s folder isn’t in this mess.” She moves over to the desk and pulls open the top drawer. Breathes a sigh of relief as she picks up the folder. “Thank God.” Just then something large and furry drops down in the middle of the desk. Startled she jumps back, trips over some debris on the floor, and falls backward, cutting her arm on broken glass as her head hits the floor with a resounding thud, knocking her out.

This is where Walker finds her late in the day. When he returned to Dallas with the prisoner, it was after 4:00, the task taking longer then he figured. He finds Trivette huddled over a table full of papers with two other Rangers. “Trivette, have you seen Alex? I stopped by her office and Amy said she hasn’t returned yet.”

“No, man, I sure haven’t.” As his attention is returned to the table, Walker turns and walks out of the room. Realizing that it shouldn’t have taken her all day to drive to the camp and return. The closer he gets to the camp, the faster he drives. When he sees her car parked in front of the lodge, he jumps from the truck and rushes up to the door. He hesitates for just a second then pushes it open.  The first thing that crosses his mind when he sees the destruction of the room is that Alex has been attacked. But as he scans the room with his eyes, a large furry animal, seeing the open door, rushes past him out into the yard. “A raccoon!” He finally sees Alex huddled on the cushionless couch, a rag tied around her arm, covered with blood, and her arms wrapped around her head. As he gets closer, he hears her moaning softly. “Alex?” No response. “Alex?”  He touches her shoulder, she jumps, opens eyes that are glazed and weakly says, “Walker?” She straightens her legs and attempts to stand but instead starts to fall. Walker catches her, and brings her into his arms. Noticing the large bump on her head, he says,  “God, I’ve got to get you to the hospital.” He scoops her up in his arms and carries her to the truck and races back to Dallas. He notifies the hospital by radio that he is on his way in with Alex.

*****

He pulls up to the emergency entrance just as a gurney is wheeled out. As they wheel Alex into the hospital, Walker is right beside her. When they push her into a room, they block his path and tell him he’ll have to wait outside. He turns back toward the waiting room and sees Dr. Jerry Matthews hurrying toward him. “Can you tell me anything about what happened Walker?”

“All I know is the way I found her. A raccoon had ransacked the lodge and there was broken glass and paper everywhere. She was curled up on a couch when I got there. Somehow, she had bandaged her arm, but it had bleed a lot before she got it stopped.”

“A raccoon. I don’t like the sound of that but I’ll let you know what I find as soon as I can.” He turns and enters the emergency room leaving Walker to wait alone. C.D. is away visiting relatives and Trivette is deep into a manhunt for a cop killer.

When Walker sees Jerry coming down the hall, he stands and starts walking toward him. “How is she, Jerry? Is she going to be all right?”

“She has a bad infection from the dirty broken glass so she’s going to be fighting a fever for awhile, probably most of the night. The x-ray of her head shows no trauma, so I’m not worried about that. We’ll keep a close eye on her, though. The infection is going to be our biggest worry. She’ll be given antibiotics through the night, and I’ve left word if any problems arise they are to call me. I take it you’ll want to stay with her?” When Walker nods his head, “I thought as much, so I’ve had another cot set up in her room for you.” He calls to a nearby nurse to come over, leaves instructions with her and as he turns to leave, hesitates, than facing Walker again, says, “She’s going to be fine, Walker. She’s one tough lady.” He then turns and walks down the hall as Walker is taken to Alex’s room, where he has been ever since.

*****

“Snake!” She squeals, comes out of the bushes, sees Walker on the sleeping bag, laughing, she jumps on him, and as he puts his arms around her, “I …could … kill you …for scaring me …like … that.” She lowers her lips to his as his hand goes up behind her head, holding her close. As the scene slowly fades, the smile on her lips remain as she remembers the rest of that evening of ‘finishing what you started’.

Walker sees the smile on Alex’s lips, feels the tension leave her body as she relaxes, and smiles when he hears her murmur, snake.  There is no doubt what she is remembering this time, the first night on the Whitewater trip. He brings her hand to his lips, kissing it softly, as he also remembers that night. He leans over, lying his head next to hers and whispers softly, “I love you, Alex.” He feels her hand grip his and stands up to look into her open eyes.

Weakly, “I love you, too.” Then her eyes close as she falls in to a restful sleep.

He touches her face and, finding it cool, he removes the compress and leans over to kiss her forehead. “You’re going to be all right, honey. We’ve made it through another one.” Walker pushes the call button and when the nurse appears, he explains that the fever has broken.

The nurse checks Alex’s temperature, “You’re right, it’s gone.  Now she should be able to get the rest she needs.  By morning, we should see a very noticeable change in our girl.” She looks at Walker, “Now, would be a good time for you to get some rest, too.”

After she leaves the room, Walker stands by the side of her bed for several minutes, then leans over and kisses her gently on the lips. He moves over to the cot, lies down and falls into a restful sleep.

*****

When Alex opens her eyes, the first thing she sees, is Walker asleep on a cot at the side of her bed.  She closes her eyes, trying to remember what had happened to put her in the hospital. As the vision of the lodge appears, everything falls into place. She vaguely remembers that it was Walker who found her but from there it’s just disjointed pictures.

She vividly remembers dreaming of Walker’s proposal and a part of a wedding but that fades before she can really see much of it. She remembers dreams of a baby, Walker holding a baby, but it too, is fleeting. Another dream scene of four children playing with C.D. and Jimmy while Walker holds her as they sit in a swing appears just long enough to see that the children are two boys, two girls, two redheads and two blondes, than it is gone as well. A soft smile forms on her lips as she whispers, “My elusive dreams.”

A soft murmur, “They won’t be elusive forever, Alex.”

Her eyes open quickly to see Walker at her side, “Oh, I’m sorry, honey, I didn’t mean to wake you. I was just trying to remember what happened.”

“I know. Me, too.” He pushes the button to raise the bed so that Alex is sitting up.

She looks at him with a puzzled expression, “I don’t understand. What …?”

“I’m not sure I do either. Your fever kinda brought a lot of things out that I think I’ve lost sight of.” He picks up her hand and sits on the side of the bed.

“What things, Walker?”

“Things … like us, our life together, our future.  I think I was too content with things the way they are. But after last night, you brought things into perspective.”

“I did?”

“Yes, honey, you did.” He leans forward and kisses her softly on the lips. “After you get out of here, why don’t we do something about your ‘elusive dreams’?”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Beginning

 

“C.D., what are you and Jimmy arguing about now?”

 

“Cordell, I’m just tryin’ to tell this kid from Ball-t-more the secrets to successful rabbit hunting.”

 

“Big Dog, how hard can it be to catch a bunny?”

 

Walker looks at Alex with a half smile and a slight nod towards the door.  Together they turn, grab their coats and sneak out the door as quietly as possible.

“Those two can argue about the dumbest things.”

“I know darling, but it makes them happy. Where are we going? It’s cold out here.”

“I thought we’d check on Amigo and Angel. I managed to grab a couple of carrots for them on the way out.”

With an arm around each other’s waist, they head for the barn. Walker opens the barn door just wide enough for them to squeeze through flips on the lights and goes over to the stalls.

Amigo gives a soft nicker and sticks his head out for some attention as Walker approaches. He strokes Amigo’s neck as he gives him the carrot, and Alex gives the other one to Angel.

“They sure seem content, don’t they?”

 

“Why shouldn’t they, they’ve got each other for company and they’re close enough to touch if

they feel like it.”

 

“How about you, Cowboy?” Putting her arms around his waist and pulling him close. “Are you content?”

 

“Oh, yes ma’am, I sure am. I’ve got you, that’s all I need.” Circling her shoulders with his arms, drawing her close, and looking into her eyes, he slowly brushes his lips across hers, barely touching them.  He moves back slightly then brushes them again before pressing his lips to hers,  this time with more pressure. As he repeats this seductive gesture, Alex slowly brings her hands up to the back of his head.  With a gentle push, he applies more pressure and she returns it. He brings her closer, deepening their kiss.  As her lips part, his tongue enters her mouth, finding hers and touching it with gentle caresses.

She feels her body responding to these caresses, as is his. She moves her hands down and inside his coat, pulling him tighter against her.  Moving her hips against him brings a soft moan to his lips.

He releases her slightly to look into her eyes and, seeing the desire she has for him, leans into her again capturing her mouth with his.  A tiny cry escapes her lips and, holding him more firmly, she pushes harder against him. Their kiss deepens and grows in intensity. Alex brings one hand around to his stomach, resting it on the top button of his jeans.  He gasps as her fingers slip between the denim and skin.  As she moves her hand back up behind his head, she feels the heat from his body, feels his desire pressing against her stomach as she melts into him.

He releases her lips and, looking into her eyes, sees them reflecting the same need that’s in his. He begins to move backward toward the hay pile in the empty stall, removing her coat, as she removes his. They fall into the hay, removing each other’s clothing, each needing to touch the other.  He hesitates and, grabbing his wallet from his pants takes a small packet from it.  Alex takes it from him, “Here, let me do that,” she murmurs as she takes the packet from him.

As they fall back together on the hay, finally skin to skin, he rolls on top of her and slowly thrusts into her. She whimpers as she moves against him.  His low groans of pleasure quickly turn more frenzied, as they move as one toward the edge.  Waves of pleasure roll through them as their bodies reach the peak of desire. With a sharp cry, they fall away into the fires of ecstasy.  As they lay spent in each other’s arms, their heartbeats and breathing slowly returning to normal, he whispers “I do love you, you know.”

“I know.” The soft breath came out through half opened lips. He grins, kissing her lightly, as he rolls to one side.

As they contentedly lay in each other’s arms, Walker says “You know, this is not exactly what I had in mind for our first time.”

“Oh, I think this is perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing. We’ll just file this as a special time in our book of memories.”

“I’ll agree with you there. But right now I think we’d better be getting dressed before C.D. and Trivette come looking for us. That could be a special in our memory book, too.”

Alex gives a small giggle as they both quickly dress.  Pulling on their coats, they turn out the lights, leave the barn and walk arm in arm back to the house. As they reach the porch, they sit in the swing quietly reflecting on what had just happened a few minutes earlier.

“You do realize that after tonight things are going to change, don’t you?”

 

“Change? What do you mean?” panic filling her eyes.

 

“I mean I’ll have a harder time keeping my hands off of you.”

 

“Oh, darling,” the relief evident in her voice, “Maybe we should move the date for the wedding, preferably in the very near future.”

“Tomorrow would be fine with me ‘cause I want you all over again, right now.” He pulls her tighter and leans in to kiss her just as the door opens.

“I don’t know where they went Big Dog, but I’m sure they’re fine, and I really don’t think they want us interrupting them.”

“They’ve been gone an awful long time, Jimmy, something might have happened to them.”

Walker replies, “Nothing’s happened, C.D., we’re right here. Just enjoying the peace and quiet.”

“Don’t you think it’s kinda cold to be sitting out here? You kid’s will catch your death of cold, Cordell.”  Walker looks at Alex and winks as they both remember how hot things were just minutes before.

“Are you two done arguing about rabbit hunting? If you are, then maybe we’ll come in for some coffee to warm up, before everyone turns in for the night.”

“Good. I’m about ready for bed. Got to get up early if we’re going rabbit hunting. C’mon Jimmy, let’s get the coffee.”

Walker and Alex slowly get up and head into the house.  “Well, all good things must come to an end.”

*****

The next morning, as Alex is coming down the stairs, she sees Jimmy and C.D. heading out the back door with rifles and knapsacks. “Morning, Alex. Honey, we’ll see you later. Cordell’s out to the barn tending to the livestock.”

A smile comes to her lips as she thinks of what was tended to last night in the barn. She fixes herself breakfast and is just starting to clean up the dishes when Walker comes in the back door. He sees Alex and a smile brightens his face.  He walks up to her, looking around to see where C.D. and Trivette are, before taking her in his arms and kissing her tenderly.  “Where are they?” he murmurs in her ear.

“They’ve already left to go hunting, sweetheart, we’re all alone.”  The words have no sooner left her mouth and the phone rings.  Walker looks at it in annoyance then decides he’d better answer. “Walker.”

As he listens, his face becomes stern and his body stiffens. “Alright, I’ll be there in 30 minutes.” He hangs up and, turning to Alex says, “When Trivette comes back, send him to headquarters. There’s been a bank robbery.  A guard was killed.” He pulls Alex into his arms, holds her close and lovingly kisses her. “I’ve got to go.  Hopefully I’ll be back this evening, if not, I’ll call. This might be a good time for you to start planning our wedding, hon. Just make it real soon, okay?” He kisses her again and then heads upstairs to get his gun and hat. Alex is standing by the front door holding his coat when he comes down. She puts her arms around him, pulls him close, and kisses him softly saying, “Be careful, okay? I love you.”

“I’m always careful, Alex.  I love you, too.” He takes his coat and Alex watches as he goes out the door and drives away in the Ram.

Two months later:

C’mon Alex, let’s go sit in the swing before it gets any cooler outside. We’re all done in here aren’t we?”

“Yep, dishes are all done and put away.” She takes his arm and together they go out to the porch and sit in the swing.  Alex nestles into Walker’s side and his arms hold her tight.

“It’s so beautiful here in the spring with Mother Nature bringing the trees out of hibernation, flowers blooming and the grass turning green again. This is the time for new life, a new beginning, don’t you think so, darling?”

Walker tightens his arms around her and murmurs contentedly, “You’re right. I think Spring is the best time of the year. But as long as I have you, every day is like a new beginning for me. I love you.”

“Darling, I love you, too, and I think we’re going to really enjoy this spring.”

“Oh, and why is that?” He wonders as he snuggles closer.

“Another special for our book of memories, darling, I’m pregnant!!

 

The End of  The Beginning

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

                                     SURPRISE!

 

 

“But Alex…How…” Walker stammers.

 

“Walker, I think that’s obvious.”

 

“Are you sure about this? You could be wrong, you know.”

 

“I’m not wrong, Walker, not this time, and not about this.”

 

“But, Alex, I thought,………..”

 

“Walker, it happens, it’s done. There’s nothing we can do about it.” She reaches out to touch him.

 

He just shakes his head back and forth. His face a picture of complete confusion, “But it was my responsibility.”

 

“I don’t know how you can say that. I think it’s a responsibility that has to be shared.”

 

“But it’s all my fault, Alex. I should have known better than to trust those…”

 

“Walker, stop it! This is not your fault!  This isn’t something you can blame on anyone.  Her voice softens, “Walker, aren’t you the one who has always said that everything happens for a reason.”

 

He nods.

 

“Well then, maybe this was meant to be”

 

“Are you all right with this, Alex?”

 

She looks at him with one raised eyebrow, “A little stunned at first, but I’m adjusting.”

“You?”

 

“I don’t know, I don’t think it’s hit me yet.”

 

Alex shakes her head as she takes his hands in hers and looks deep into his eyes.  “Walker, if you’d have known that this would be the result, would you have done anything differently?”

 

As he looks at her, he sees all of the love she has for him reflected in her eyes.  He pulls her tightly into his arms and whispers, “No. Not a thing.”

 

Alex smiles at him, “Well, then. Get ready to be a Daddy, Cowboy.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

       Ghost Busters

 

Walker looks up to see Alex coming through the door of Ranger Headquarters with a stern look on her face. He doesn’t say anything until she stops in front of his desk. “What’s wrong, Alex?”

“Walker, have you had any … words with Cranston?”

“With Bill Cranston? No, why?”

“Well, something’s up. He’s called a meeting and wants you, Trivette, Captain Price and me at this meeting. So if you have any idea why, I’d appreciate hearing about it before the meeting.”

“Alex, believe me, I really don’t know. As a matter of fact, I haven’t even seen the DA for over a week. When is this meeting, and where?”

“Tomorrow morning at 9:00 a. m. in my office.” She watches as he pencils the meeting on his desk calendar.

“Do you want me to talk to Capt. Price? Would that help?”

“I doubt it.” She picks up his coffee cup and takes a sip, “I’ve already tried to talk to Cranston and he’s basically said that I’d find out what it’s all about when everyone else does.”  She puts the cup down, “No one is saying anything, but the whole office is jumpy.”

“Alex, don’t you think you might be reading more into this then you should?”

“Well, possibly but my boss and your boss have had their heads together all week and it’s got everyone on edge.  The tension is so thick around the office you could cut it with a knife.”

“Come on, hon, it’s almost lunch time, let’s go to C.D.’s and relax.” He smiles, eliciting one from her and he feels his body growing warm as she holds her hand out to him. He walks around the desk, gets his hat and takes her hand in his, pulling her close as they walk out of the door.

When they get to C.D.’s they take a booth in the back away from every one. They place their order and as Alex picks up his hand, he leans over and kisses her softly. He pulls back slightly, looking into her eyes, then lowers his lips to touch the corner of her mouth then brushes his lips across her cheek.

She whispers his name as his lips return to claim hers again. She can taste the passion and longing he has for her but she knows this is not the place. Since they both have to return to work she pulls back “Honey, maybe we should wait till later.” She looks at him with a slight smile and lays her hand on his cheek, then just barely touches his lips with hers.

He whispers, “Later.”

 

*****

Unfortunately, later won’t come because late that afternoon Walker and Trivette are called into Capt. Price’s office and given orders to escort a prisoner to Austin. Walker knows this assignment will cause ‘later’ to be much later.

Walker stops by Alex’s office to give her the news.  He can see the disappointment in her eyes. He takes her in his arms and kisses her tenderly, trying to keep it light, but as she raises her arms to his neck and presses against him the kiss deepens. As their passion rises, his hands move over her, caressing her softly. “I want to make love to you,” he whispers. She can taste his hunger as his lips press against hers and the kiss lights a fire between them.

She can feel his need for her even through their clothing. “I know,” she whispers against his lips, “tonight … wake me when you get home.”

He murmurs, “It’ll be late.”

She pulls back from him slowly, “It doesn’t matter.  Wake me, please?”

He smiles softly, “Are you sure?”

“I’m sure.” Just then the intercom on Alex’s desk buzzes, “Ms Cahill, Ranger Trivette is waiting for Ranger Walker.”

“I’ve got to go.” He kisses her softly then reluctantly walks away, knowing she will be the only thing on his mind until he can hold her in his arms again.

As the door closes behind him, she slowly sits back down at her desk, She can still taste his lips on hers and her cheeks are warm from his touch. ‘This is going to be a very long evening.

 

*****

 

It’s just after 2: a. m. when Walker enters the front door of his ranch house. He closes the door quietly, stops, leans back against it, and inhales deeply. Her essence fills his nostrils and he smiles as he starts up the stairs, knowing his wife is waiting for him. He remembers when he last held her, his body immediately responds to that memory.

He pushes open the door, to see the sleeping form of his wife in bed. He closes the door, removes his clothes on the short walk to the bed, then raises the blankets and slips in beside her. He leans over her and kisses her softly on the lips, then again, until he feels her respond then he pulls her nude body into his arms.

“Hi,” he murmurs into her ear as his hand slides up her body in a soft caress. He feels her body come alive under his hands as they move sensuously over her.

“I didn’t think you would ever get here,” she whispers against his lips. When his hand cups her breast, she moans softly and presses closer eager for his touch. He drops his head down to take her nipple into his mouth, suckling gently, bringing soft moans from her. She runs her fingers through his hair as he moves to the other breast giving it the same attention. Her hands reach down to cup his face as she pulls him up to her kiss. He pulls her close as he probes the soft interior of her mouth with his tongue.  Then as they part, she lowers her head and begins moving her lips over his face, neck, and down to his chest. The flicking of her tongue over his nipple brings a growl from her lover. She slides her hand up and down his hips, then gently caresses his manhood before moving back up to his chest.

At her touch he almost looses it, but pleasing her pleases him and he moves lower to cover her bare stomach with kisses, and a thrill shoots through him when her body arches up to meet his mouth. 

His hand ventures lower, stroking the soft triangle of hair between her legs.  He hears her slight catch of breath and is surprised when her hand moves down to cover his, stilling the motion of his fingers against her tender flesh. 

Alex is on fire.  Every touch, every kiss, sends her deeper into the agonizing heaven of wanting more. He takes her hand and slowly moves back up to her lips, caressing them tenderly with his tongue as he covers her with his body. Parting her legs with his knee, he enters her in one smooth motion, then stops, savoring the feel of her around him. As he slowly begins moving, she joins him, matching him move for move. As their passion increases so do the thrusts which bring them ever closer to the pinnacle of ecstasy.  He feels her spasm as she cries his name. He gives one final thrust, driving deep, as he explodes within her. Their bodies slowly relax as their heartbeats return to normal. He withdraws and rolls to her side. Then without a word, they snuggle into each other’s arms and fall asleep.

 

Alex stretches and rolls closer to Walker, kissing him softly.   He stirs and pulls her tight against his chest, molding her body to his. “Good morning, darling.” He listens to the sound of her voice...the fact that she tastes like heaven and that every breath he takes is filled with her fragrance, makes her his dream come true.  With every breath, he feels the swell of her breasts against his chest.   He begins caressing them with exquisite care, teasing them to a sensitivity that is nearly unbearable. As he returns to her lips, she begins rubbing her fingers over his chest, feeling the power in the muscles there. As she touches his nipples he quivers and she drops her head down to take one in her mouth, nibbling gently with her teeth. He pulls her up beneath him and covers her in one easy motion and, as he enters her, she presses up to meet him. Soon the wave of pure sensation arrives lifting them both into the realm of ecstasy, exploding on their senses in a pulsating crescendo, draining them completely. He withdraws and rolls them both to their sides, facing each other.

 

He kisses her softly, whispers, “I love you so much.” As he buries his face into her hair, he notices rays of sunshine around the blinds. He turns quickly to look at the clock, “Alex, it’s 7:30. Isn’t that meeting at 9:00?”

 

Alex sits up quickly, “Oh, no. I forgot all about that meeting. She jumps up and starts for the bathroom, stops, and returns to place a small kiss on his lips, “Last night and this morning were wonderful.”

 

“They were, weren’t they.” They gaze into each other’s eyes for several minutes, “Why don’t you shower while I tend to the horses.”  He blows a kiss at her, puts on a pair of jeans and a shirt and leaves the room.

 

By the time they are both dressed and ready to leave, he is already hungry for her beneath him again and her eyes speak of the same longing. She is a need so deep he could spend a lifetime trying to satisfy it and die still wanting more. He silently chastises himself again for waiting so long to admit his love for this beautiful woman.

Arriving at the courthouse, they split up, Alex going to her office and Walker into Ranger Headquarters. He pushes the door open just as Trivette is coming out.

“Hurry up, Walker, you’re going to be late.”

“I’ll be there in a minute, Trivette.” He takes his time, moves over to his desk, hangs up his hat then fills his coffee mug before finally turning and leaving for the meeting.

When Walker enters the room he glances at the woman he had just spent the morning making passionate love to and tries to adjust his mood and his eyes to the stark atmosphere of her office. He can still feel her body pressed against his, the fiery touch of her kisses on his skin. As he looks at her, he sees her lips are still slightly swollen from their passionate kisses.  When his eyes meet hers, he sees that the morning is still fresh on her mind, too, and he wonders if he’s going to remember anything about this meeting except the vision of his wife. He moves to stand as far from her desk as possible trying to keep his mind on what Cranston is saying.

Standing behind and to the side of her boss, Alex watches Walker move to the side of the room leaning against the wall behind Trivette.  He can touch her heart like no man ever could, with nothing more than just a look. Alex can feel the heat climbing up her body as if he was still touching her. She forces her eyes away from him, trying to concentrate on what her boss is explaining but is hearing only half of what is being said.

“I know everyone is anxious to find out why this meeting was called and I apologize for the secrecy but we didn’t have any choice. This matter will only involve the individuals in this room, and I’d like to keep it that way.” He stops and his eyes scan the room looking at each person in the eye. When he sees Walker back against the wall, “Ranger Walker, since you will be one of the key players in this operation, would you please come closer. I don’t want you to miss anything?”

 

When Alex hears that Walker will be a ‘key’ player, her stance immediately changes to one of worry. She catches his eye as he moves closer and he can see the fear in her eyes. Cranston also notices the change in Alex’s attitude and he turns to face her with, “Alex, you will be a key player, too, but it’s not  ...”

 

Cranston’s statement jolts Walker back to reality and he moves closer to the desk.  Not waiting for Cranston to finish, he opens his mouth to vigorously voice his objections to Alex being involved in any kind of police action.  Capt. Price moves up next to Walker and places a hand on his shoulder, “This is not a cut and dried operation, Walker, let him finish before you do battle.” Walker turns to face the Captain ready to shake his hand off, when something in his eyes tells him to wait.

 

Walker looks at Alex, and when he receives a small smile from her, he finally relaxes slightly. He feels Trivette move up beside him. His partner’s body language is enough to get Walker to back down just a little. Trivette glances at his partner’s face and wonder’s if Cranston realizes how close he came to meeting Walker’s full wrath. When anyone brings Alex into a conversation, he had better know what to expect from Walker. He grins slightly, ‘maybe he knows Walker better than I thought. Maybe that’s why Captain Price and I’m here.’

 

“We don’t expect there to be any danger involved in this but there are never any guarantees.” Looking directly at Walker, he continues, “just hear me out before anyone starts panicking. It seems the county owns property north of Dallas.  They acquired it through unpaid taxes, and have decided to put it up for sale before it deteriorates any more than it has. It consists of several acres with a large house situated in the center of the land. An individual came forward a week ago and has made a very generous offer for the place, but the offer has one condition.” He stops, waiting to see if anyone has any questions before he continues.

 

“What condition?”

 

“Well, Walker, the condition is, and I know this is going to sound crazy, but the prospective buyer wants the rumors about the place put to rest before he completes the sale. Now, this is the part that must not be discussed outside of this room. He wants to turn this old estate into a house much like the HOPE house.” He looks at Alex as he says this, “the difference being, it will be used to house troubled teenagers that can’t seem to find their niche in the world.” The District Attorney turns to Captain Price.

 

“My part in this is to enlist the help of you three to investigate and dispel these rumors.  In other words to clear the air surrounding this house and give it a clean bill of health.”

 

Trivette moves up, “Captain, just what are these rumors?”

 

“Well …” Captain Price’s face breaks into a grin, as he glances at Cranston who is also grinning, “it seems that this house comes alive after dark. It has a night life.” Turning to look Trivette directly in the eye, “In other words, it’s haunted. Ghosts or whatever you want to call them, come out to play after dark.”

 

Laughter fills the room, as the tension is defused.  “To make sure that nothing complicates this mission, which is very possible if it is discovered that my best Rangers, and my best ADA are involved in a ghost hunt, we’ve developed a cover for you. You two (he points to Walker and Trivette) are being sent to Florida to help set up a Camp Justice in Dade County, which by the way, is in the beginning stages there now.”

 

Bill Cranston turns to look at Alex, “And you Ms Cahill, are going along with your husband as a … say, a second honeymoon but also to help set up a HOPE house that is also in the beginning stages.” He smiles when he is awarded with a smile from his beautiful Assistant. Turning back to face Walker and Trivette, “Now, do you two have any questions?”

 

Walker turns to look at Trivette, then back at Cranston.  “Well, first, when does this start to begin with? And second, I’d like to get as much background as possible on this place before we leave.”

 

“All the information that we have on this estate, from the time it was built until now, is in this folder.” Cranston hands him the folder.  “You can read it on the way there. You’ll leave immediately so you’ll be established in the house long before it gets dark. I would suggest that you familiarize yourself with each floor, including the basement, and all15 rooms plus the kitchen. Sleeping bags and provisions have been provided so all you have to do is go home and pack enough clothes for two or three days.” He starts to dismiss them then says, “Oh, we were going to include C.D. Parker in this, since he is a good friend to all of you, but he went on vacation before we could get this all set up.”

 

“Try to be back here by noon and please, just bring essentials.  Remember this house hasn’t been lived in for years. We’re not sure what works and doesn’t work so plan accordingly. He looks at the three of them, “If there are no more questions you’re free to go.  Good luck.”

 

The three of them leave Alex’s office and go to the elevator. Being the only ones on it, Trivette turns to face Alex and Walker with a large grin on his face, “Just call us the Ghostbusters!” All three of them start laughing. They’re still laughing when the door opens on the main floor, causing everyone to look at them.

 

At the parking lot, they each get in their vehicles with the promise to meet back at the courthouse by noon.

 

At the ranch, Walker follows Alex into the house, “Honey, if you want to start the packing, I’ll see if I can get the neighbors to take care of things till we get back.” He kisses her before she goes upstairs and he heads for the phone. After making arrangements for the care of the horses, Walker goes upstairs to help Alex finish packing. When he enters the bedroom, he sees two suitcases lying open on the bed but no Alex. Looking at the suitcases he sees that they are already pretty well packed. He looks in the bathroom but she’s not there either. “Alex?”

 

“In here, hon.” The voice is low and his blood starts rushing through his veins as he opens the door to the spare bedroom. The room is dark when he enters, but he feels Alex close to him as the door is pushed shut. He turns as she slides her arms around his waist pulling him close, feeling her lips touching his, whispering, “This may be our last chance before we get back unless we can figure a way to ditch Jimmy.”

 

He dips his head bringing his lips hard against hers. Finally releasing her, he murmurs, “No way, my love. We’ll figure out a way, I promise.” He pulls her up close, feeling desire coursing through his body as he presses his lips to hers again, probing with his tongue until she parts her lips, letting him enter to wind around hers in a sensual caress.  They quickly undress, knowing time is of the essence. They feel their way to the bed, falling together in a tangle of arms and legs. They begin caressing each other with light touches, moaning with the pleasure that rages through their bodies. He covers her with his body, his manhood probing then sinking into her sweetness. The pace starts slow but with their blood already boiling, the thrusts quicken bringing Alex over the edge first followed quickly by Walker. Laying together, basking in the glow of their love, he withdraws but remains on top of her, kissing her softly. “Nice but way too fast.” Kisses her again. “Maybe we can lock Trivette in a closet or something for an hour or so.”

 

“You think so?” She brings her arms up around his neck, pulling him close, kissing him deeply. Then reluctantly pulling back, “Right now, I think we need to shower and get dressed if we’re going to get back to town by noon. Don’t you think?”

 

“Shower? I think we have time for a shower, come on.” He stands, pulling her up with him, and taking her hand he leads her back to their bedroom then into the bathroom.

 

They manage to get showered, eventually, dressed and back into Dallas before noon. When they get off the elevator, “Darling, we did make it, but, just barely. It’s one minute till 12:00.”

 

“Come on, but get ready for some of Trivette’s teasing. You know how he is. I wish he’d get married, then maybe he’d leave us alone.” Alex giggles as they push open her office door only to find it empty. “Alex, this is where we were suppose to meet, isn’t it?”

 

“As far as I can remember, he said, “Meet back here by noon” but my mind did take to wondering somewhat this morning as was yours, I think.” She smiles and puts her arms around his neck pulling him close for a kiss. Suddenly the door swings open smacking Walker in the back. They quickly separate as Trivette walks in with Josie on his arm.

 

“Oh, hi, Walker, Alex. I was wondering if they left without us.”

 

“Us? I didn’t know Josie was coming.”

 

“Well, Walker, I figured since Josie runs the HOPE house here in Dallas, it would make sense that she come along and help Alex set up the house in Florida. Besides, we can always us another Ghostbuster! I’ve already talked to Cranston and Capt. Price and they gave their approval, so … here she is!” Trivette stands there looking at them like the cat that swallowed the canary.

 

“Welcome aboard, Josie. Has Jimmy told you the whole story?”

 

“Yes, for the most part. We talked on the way to my apartment to get my clothes and then on the way here.” She leans in closer to Alex and in a whisper, “Are we really going to a haunted house?”

 

“I’m afraid so, Josie. At least that’s what they told us.” Just then the door is pushed open and Captain Price and Bill Cranston walk in.

 

“Is everyone ready?” They all nod. “Okay, lets go. There’s a van parked in back that we’ll use to transport you four and the provisions to the house. Grab your suitcases and let’s go.” Walker picks up his and Alex’s luggage and Trivette carries his and Josie’s.

 

The ride out to the ‘Haunted House’ is friendly with light conversation and questions like ‘What  are we to do with the ghosts if we catch one’ and ‘Reckon they’ll be friendly like Casper’. All are in a very good mood by the time the van parks in the back of the house. When they get out of the van and look around, they see a very large three-story house with gables and turrets like they have on castles. The house is very rundown and looks as if hasn’t been lived in for ages.

 

“God, Alex wouldn’t you hate to have the job of washing the windows in this place.”

 

Alex giggles, “You better believe it, Josie. This place will take a lot of work before it’s even close to usable.”  She starts to turn toward Walker, “Look, Josie, there’s someone up there in that window.”

 

“Where Alex, I don’t see anyone.”

 

“They’re gone now. Wow, that one didn’t wait till dark.”

 

“Come on Alex, you didn’t see anything, right? You’re just trying to get us in the mood, huh?”

 

“No, Jimmy, I really did see someone.” She looks at Walker, who is grinning at her, “Stop it, Walker, I did see someone in that window.”

 

“Honey, I didn’t say anything.” He goes to the back of the van and gets their suitcases and follows Trivette and Josie toward the house. After the provisions have been unloaded, they stand on the back patio and watch as the van disappears form sight.  They look around the grounds noticing that the yard is so overgrown it gives the place the total look of abandonment. Walker looks toward the sky and sees storm clouds rolling in. “Well, guys, it looks like our first night in this old house is going to be spent with a thunder storm.”

 

“Hey, that’s great, that will really set the mood, huh.” Trivette chuckles, and starts after Josie with his hands in front of him, “Booooooooooo.” She turns and runs back into the house with him chasing her.

 

Walker turns to Alex and takes her in his arms, murmurs, “Maybe, we won’t have to lock Trivette in a closet, maybe Josie will keep him occupied so we can find some time alone.” He brushes his lips across hers, then says, “Come on, let’s find us a place to set up our sleeping bags and see what we have to eat. Since we didn’t have time for lunch,” he wiggles his eyebrows at her, “I’m hungry and we need to keep our strength up if we’re going to go ghost hunting tonight.”

 

They find a small room off of the kitchen in which to put their sleeping bags, zipping both together to make one large one. “Honey, I’ll bet this was the maids room, it has it’s own bathroom.”

 

“Could be, hon, come on lets find something to eat.”

 

They discover that they have running water and the refrigerator works but the lights do not.  Fortunately, an ample supple of flashlights and batteries had been provided.  After fixing themselves a couple of sandwiches they sit at the kitchen table that has definitely seen better days as have the chairs. They are almost finished eating when Trivette and Josie enter the kitchen.

 

“Hey, Walker, we have a problem.”

 

“What’s that, Trivette?”

“There ain’t but three sleeping bags, man.”

 

Walker grins, remembering another time when they were one sleeping bag short. “Well, Trivette, I guess you do have a problem.” He turns to look at Alex and winks.  She also remembers, and is trying hard to hide the smile on her face as she looks at Josie who seems to be thoroughly enjoying Jimmy’s predicament.

 

“Come on, Walker. Since you and Alex are married can’t you share one bag?”

 

“Trivette, I’m not the one who made the last minute changes. Why should we be uncomfortable?” As Walker looks at Jimmy he swears he can see a blush creeping up Trivette’s neck. “That puts you and Josie in the same fix that Alex and I were in the last time.” 

 

Trivette looks at Josie. Her expression silently asks what fix that was. Jimmy is definitely blushing now and Walker loves it. He gets up from the table, takes Alex by the hand and they walk into the room where their sleeping bags are.

 

Walker!” They listen as Josie tries to get Jimmy to tell her about the fix that Walker and Alex were in. All they hear, though, is a lot of hemming and hawing as he tries to sidestep the question. Alex starts giggling and Walker pulls her away from the door and they go out the second door in the room that opens into the dinning room.

 

“Darling, are you going to let Josie have one of our sleeping bags?”

 

“Yes, but I want to make Trivette sweat a little first.  Besides, the last time we shared a sleeping bag was kind of fun.”

 

Alex giggles, remembering, “Yeah, but I had to persuade you to have ‘fun’.”

 

“Yeah, well, as I recall you didn’t have to persuade to hard.”

 

“Well, that’s true. Honey, where are we going?”

 

“I just want to look around, check out the rooms like the Captain suggested. Let’s go up to the third floor and see if can find that window where you thought you saw someone.”

 

“Walker, I did see someone.”

 

When they get to the third floor, they go through each room on one side of the hall, then turn around checking out each room on the other.  “Walker, this is the room, look, you can see where we were standing on the patio.”

 

“You’re right and, look here, the dust on the floor and the window sill has been disturbed. Hmmm … Alex I think we owe you an apology. Someone was up here.”

 

“I’d just as soon be mistaken. That’s scary, knowing someone else is in this house.”

After thoroughly checking the room, the look through the rest of the rooms then decide to find Trivette and Josie and tell them what they found.

 

Upon reaching the kitchen, they find that Trivette and Josie have left, “Maybe they decided to try out the sleeping bag early.”

 

“Walker, stop it.” She gives him a playful slap on the arm, “I would feel more comfortable if we knew where they were, especially since we know someone else is in this house.”

 

“Hmm … you’re right, honey. But lets stay here for awhile, maybe they’ll return soon. As big as this house is, we could look for them all day and never find them.”

 

They sit down at the kitchen table, discussing their adventure, “I don’t know who is buying this house, but it would be a great place to set up for trouble kids. Lots of rooms, and I noticed a large barn out back for livestock. I don’t know how many acres go with the house but there must be quite a few, maybe they could even raise crops. There’s a lot of possibilities for an old ….

 

“eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”

 

“Alex, that sounded like Josie, come on. Stay close to me, I don’t want to lose you, too.”

 

*****

 

Walker moves fast in the direction of the scream. When he enters the large room at the front of the house, he sees Trivette holding Josie in his arms. “Trivette, what happened? Is she all right?”

 

“I think so. She was looking at the books on that shelf and when she moved one, she says she saw two eyes looking back at her.” He continues holding Josie tight in his arms, slowly caressing her arm with his hand, as her shaking slowly subsides.

 

“What book did she move Trivette?”

 

Josie raises her head from Jimmy’s shoulder, and points at the shelf and says, “Moby Dick. That big book laying on its side.”

 

Walker picks up the book, looking at the wall behind it then taps on it. Solid. He moves several more books but the wall is the same behind all the books.

 

“Can’t find anything, huh. I didn’t either but she sure saw something. Looking at a blank wall isn’t going to scare someone like this.” Josie straightens up and he relaxes his hold on her, but doesn’t release her completely.

 

“But I did see something, Jimmy, eyes, two of them and they moved.”

 

Alex comes up to her and places a hand on her shoulder, “I know Josie, and I believe you. And I did see someone in the upstairs window. We found proof up there a little while ago. So you probably saw the same person I did.”

 

Trivette looks at Walker for confirmation, “She right, Trivette. The dust up by that window was disturbed. So, whether we like it or not, someone else is in this house. I don’t want anyone to go off by himself. No one! We stay in pairs, at least.”

 

Before leaving the large foyer, Walker stops and glances around at what use to be a very impressive room. Looking up he sees a very huge chandelier hanging down in the center of the fifty foot ceiling covered with dust and long hanging strands of cob webs, he turns shakes his head and walks out of the room.

 

All four make their way back to the kitchen, sit down at the table while Alex hands out soft drinks to everyone.

 

“We need to eat something, then get some sleep so we’ll be ready when it gets dark. I’ve got a feeling this is going to be a long night.”  He turns to Trivette as Alex and Josie get up and fix sandwiches for everyone, “How accessible is this room where you’re going to sleep?”

 

“There’s only the one door, and one small window, it must have been used for storage. Why?”

 

“No reason, just be careful. We don’t know if this visitor is a man or a woman, but he knows this house a lot better than we do. Check the room thoroughly before you turn in.”

 

“Yeah, you’re right.” He looks up into Josie’s face as she hands him a sandwich. “Are you feeling better?” She nods and sits down beside him. “This looks good, and I’m starved.”

 

Walker looks at Trivette with a smile on his face, ‘In more ways than one!  He glances at Alex when she hands him a sandwich, and the look he receives from her, warms his heart. He can feel his desire building. When she sits down beside him he moves his leg over to touch hers. He lowers his hand beneath the table and lays it lightly on her leg as he talks about their plan of action when darkness falls. Alex almost chokes on the food in her mouth as his touch moves slowly up her thigh. She reaches across in front of him for her soda, letting her breast brush against his arm slightly, causing him to stumbled over his words and silently letting him know how his action is affecting her.

She drops her hand down to cover his, stopping its progress up her thigh.  Each slight touch brings a glow to her cheeks and puts a twinkle in his eyes. When they finish their sandwiches, Walker stands, pulling Alex up with him and without saying a word, they push open the door of their room and move inside. Several minutes later Walker comes back to the door carrying a sleeping bag, drops it on the floor, then retreats back into their room, closing the door quietly behind him.

Josie noticed the play between her friends but was sure that Jimmy hadn’t, at least not until Walker dropped the sleeping bag on the floor because then he just stared at the closed door for several minutes not saying a word.

He stands, picks up the bag and looks at Josie, “I think we should follow their lead, and …” he realizes what he has just insinuated, and begins stammering, “ah … well … I mean … ah”

Josie smiles at him, “I know what you mean Jimmy,” she stands and slips her arm through his, “come on, since we’ll probably be up all night, we need to get some … sleep, too.”

As they make their way to their room, Jimmy notices that the closer they get to the front of the house the more nervous she becomes. He slides his arm around her waist, “It’s all right Josie. I won’t let anything happen to you.”

She gives a small scared smile, and snuggles close. He pushes open the door and makes sure the room is empty before closing it behind him. He unrolls both bags laying them about three feet apart. “Come on, Josie, maybe a little rest will make you feel better.” He guides her to one bag and gently persuades her to sit down. She takes her shoes off, but doesn’t attempt to get down into the bag.   Jimmy leans over and kisses her softly on the lips then moves over to the other bag.  He sits down, takes his boots and shirt off and slides down into the bag. When he lies down, he turns on his side facing her.

She watches as he slides down into the bag. After several seconds she does the same, turning on her side to face him, her head resting on her arm, she shuts her eyes, finally drifting off to sleep.

Trivette watches her as she sleeps, thinking she is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Suddenly, lightning flashes and he looks up at the tiny window as thunder rumbles loudly and large drops of water begin beating against the window. When he glances back at Josie she is just starting to sit when a blast of ear splitting thunder rolls overhead. A lightning flash lights up the room and Josie’s scream “Jimmy!” brings him to her side almost instantly.

Holding her tight against his chest, “Shh … it’s all right, honey. It’s just the storm.”

“Jimmy, don’t leave me. Stay with me, please.” She takes his hand and moving over, tugs gently. After a moment’s hesitation, he slides into the bag with her. He pulls her close, bringing her head to rest against his chest. As she quiets down, he notices that the storm clouds had darkened the sky, and the little room grew dark as the storm raged outside.

But that wasn’t the only storm raging.  Jimmy could feel a storm building up inside him, almost equal to the one outside. Her soft breath against his chest was stirring up emotions that he knew he was going to have a hard time dealing with. She stirred against him, pulling herself closer, loving the warmth of his chest. She began running her fingers through the soft hair there, slowly letting them drop to trace over the ridges of muscles across his stomach. When she touches the top of his jeans, her fingers hesitate, then slowly make their way back up to his chest. Moving her head slightly she touches her lips to his, bringing a soft moan, and a murmur, “Josie …” She silences him by pressing her lips tightly against his, and molding her body into his.

Unable to hold back any longer he tightens his arms around her. He moves his hips slightly against hers bringing a moan from her against his lips. He probes with his tongue until she parts her lips allowing it in to softly caress hers. He brings his hand up to cup her breast, squeezing gently through the fabric. As she presses against his hand be begins fumbling with the buttons. Pushing the fabric to the side, he releases the front catch of her bra. When it falls away, he hesitantly, almost reverently lets his finger brush the softness of her breast then begins rubbing his thumb over the nipples until they harden from the passion that’s building within her.

She drops her hand back to the waist of his pants, deftly unbuttons them, and slowly slides the zipper down. Touching his erection through his briefs just about causes him to lose control. He stops her by lying his hand on top of hers, then whispers, “Josie, are you sure about this?”

A murmur,  “Yes Jimmy … very sure … make love to me …  please.” He releases her hand and begins removing her jeans as she tries to remove his. The sleeping bag causes some restriction of movement but the clothes are finally removed and tossed out of the bag.

He slowly caresses her with his hands as he traces her throat with his lips, bringing soft moans of pleasure from her. As he moves his lips over her face then down her throat to her breasts, the warmth turns to fire, pulsing through her like heated blood. She gasps as he draws one into his mouth, sucking gently. When he releases it, she turns just enough for him to take the other into his mouth, giving it the same attention. He moves back up her body, leaving a trail of fire as he touches her with his lips never stopping until they find hers. She can taste the hunger in him as his lips press against hers and the kiss turns to fire between them. Her bottom lip trembles against his mouth, silently begging for more.

He senses her need and moves over her but as he pushes into her, tightness causes him to hesitate, not wanting to hurt her. “Josie …?”

Writhing beneath him, “Jimmy … don’t stop … please.”  She puts her arms around his neck pulling him down and kissing him, at the same time pushing her hips up to him. He resumes slowly easing into her, bit by bit until he’s fully buried inside of her. He holds her tight against him then slowly withdraws almost completely before sinking into her warmth again.  When she arches up to meet his thrusts, the passion starts building and the pace increases rapidly and when he hears her say his name, he drives down hard bringing her to the brink of ecstasy. With one final thrust, he pushes them both over into a sea of bliss. As their bodies relax, he withdraws and rolls to her side, and she turns with her back to him, melting into his embrace. They are silent for several minutes basking in the aftermath of their love. He nuzzles his face into her hair, murmurs, “Did I hurt you?”

She whispers, “Maybe … a little …”

“I’m so sorry, Josie. I wanted our first time to be special not on the floor in a haunted house.” He tightens his arms around her.

“It was special, Jimmy. We were together. I’ve waited a long time for this moment. Don’t regret it, please?”

“Oh, Josie … I could never regret this with you. I think I’m the luckiest man alive to have found you. I … love you, Josie. I have for a long time.”

She rolls over to face him, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because I wasn’t real sure how you felt and I didn’t want to lose you by speaking to soon.”

“Oh, Jimmy,” she touches her lips gently to his, “I think I fell in love with you the first time I met you.” 

He pulls her close, and she puts her leg over his, as they face each other. “I never knew love could be like this. I always thought what Walker and Alex had was a rarity, and had always envied what they had.”  He tilts up her head, looking deep into her eyes, and whispers, “But no more, I’ve found what I’ve been searching for. A lifetime with you is all I want.” He starts caressing her with his lips, moving slowly this time. She begins caressing him with her hands down his back to his bottom pulling him closer to her, and the fires of passion are lit again…….

 

*****

 

After Walker takes the sleeping bag out of the room, and shuts the door, he turns to find Alex already removing her clothes. He quickly undresses and follows her as she slides down into the bag. Pulling her into a tight embrace, he lowers his lips to hers. Feeling her tongue probing, he opens his mouth and pulls it in. His hands begins caressing her breasts softly, bringing the tips to fullness. He releases her lips, and dropping his head down, he draws one tender mound into his mouth, tasting her sweetness, seeming never to be able to get enough. He feels her hands moving lightly over his chest, pausing as they touch his nipple. His body shivers at the sensation it causes knowing that passion is rapidly consuming them. He moves his mouth back to hers as he moves over on top of her and into her. She arches up to accept him, pulling him in fully. She finds his rhythm and they move as one. They start slow, wanting the sensation to last, but as desire grips them, their pace increases until the final plunge when their passion explodes sending rippling wave after wave of pleasure flowing through them. Walker crumples on top of her, then he quickly rolls the both of them over, still intimately joined, until she is on top. He pulls her head to his chest, holding her tight, as he hears the sound of their heartbeats merging then slowing, resuming their normal rhythm.

After their bodies relax, she feels him becoming soft within her. “I love you.” She murmurs as she listens to his slow steady heartbeat. When she moves her hand down between them, she feels his heart rate increasing, feels him coming alive inside of her.

He growls, “Lady, you are a hard one to satisfy, but oh, how I love trying.” His hands start caressing down her back to her bottom, holding her hard against him. Feeling her muscles constrict around him, he feels himself responding.

“Are you complaining, my darling?”

“Me? Never, baby, not in our lifetime.” He pulls her head down for his kiss as the passion rises again.

 

*****

 Alex nestles close to Walker, his arm across her stomach. After their vigorous … exercise, they had fallen asleep.

A massive blast of thunder brings both of them straight up, “God, Walker, what was that!

He rubs his hand up and down her back, “Just thunder, honey.” He looks at his watch, “Maybe we should get up anyway, it’s almost 8:00 o’clock.” He stands and helps her up, and after quickly dressing, “I’ll go see if I can find Trivette.”

“Uh huh, cowboy, not without me. Orders, remember, no one goes off alone.” She loops her arm through his, “Besides, Jimmy and Josie may be … ah … well, you know.” They rummage around in their packs and come up with flashlights then start out to find Jimmy and Josie.

Chuckling, Walker says, “Come on, Alex, we’re talking about Trivette. He was the one hollering about the sleeping bag, remember?”

“Walker, you may not know it, but Jimmy is in love with Josie. And I’ll bet that she’s in love with him, too.”

“Well, I think we can quit worrying about how we’re going to find them. Here they come.” The couple is caught in the beam from the flashlights.

Alex turns her flashlight on Walker, “Walker, be nice. You hear me?”

“Me, I’m always nice.”

“Yeah, right.  I see that look on your face.  Just think back to when we were young lovers.”

He turns and takes her in his arms, whispers softly,  “We’re still young lovers, honey. You make me feel that way.” Kisses her quickly then turns as the ‘other’ young lovers stop in front of them.

“Hey, did you hear that thunder? It’s turning into quite a storm.  Guess it goes with the house, huh, partner.”

“I think you’re right, Trivette.  It doesn’t seem to be letting up any, either. This may last most of the night.”

Another crash of thunder splits the night in half and Alex looking past Josie’s head, “Ohhhhh ….” Then whispers softly, “Walker, did you see that?”

“What Alex, all I can see is Trivette’s head in front of me.”

“Down there in the foyer.  In that last flash of lightening. It looked like a woman in a white nightgown.”

Josie wraps herself around Jimmy, making it almost impossible for him to move. “Come on, honey, just stay with me, okay?” Walker and Alex begin walking slowly toward the foyer, flashlight beams cutting through the darkness but they find nothing when they enter the large room. The room is empty except for dust and spider webs. As the four of them stand in the center of the room, shining their lights into dark corners, Walker hears a slight snapping and cracking sound. Looking up, he sees the chandelier crystals swishing in the ray of his flashlight.  He screams “Trivette”, and throws his arms around Alex shoving her back into the darkness at the edge of the room. When it crashes down on the floor directly behind them in a massive explosion, all that remains of the once beautiful light fixture is crystal slivers and bits of broken glass spread over the entire room. As he stands and pulls Alex up with him, “Alex, are you alright?”

She nods, not able to get words past the lump in her throat. He takes her hand, “Trivette, Josie, are you two okay?” Hearing nothing, they move around the shattered remains of the chandelier, “Trivette, Josie?” Shining the light around the room, he sees Josie struggling to get out from under an unconscious Trivette who is lying almost on top of her at the other side of the room.  Kneeling down beside them, he puts a finger under Trivette’s chin, feeling for a pulse.  Trivette moans and rolls partially off of Josie.

 “Jimmy!”

“He’s all right, Josie, just knocked out. Looks like he hit his head when he went down. I can’t find any cuts on him so he wasn’t hit by any of the flying glass.” He turns to look a Josie, “Did you get hit by any glass, Josie?”

“No, I’m fine. Jimmy knocked me out of the way before I even knew what was happening. Are you sure he’s alright?”

Jimmy starts struggling to sit up, raising his hand to head, groaning, “Oh …” Then remembering what had happened, he turns, frantically looking for Josie. “Josie … are you alright?” she nods at him and he pulls her into his arms, holding her tight. As Walker and Alex try to bring him to his feet, “Walker, I thought Cranston said this wasn’t going to be dangerous.”

Walker chuckles, “Well, Trivette, if you remember right, he said there were no guarantees.”

“Yeah, well.” He looks up where the chandelier use to be and asks, “Did it just give from old age or did someone cut it loose?”

Walker, with Trivette at his side, moves over to the massive light fixture lying on the floor and look for the chain that had held it up. “No way to tell from this Trivette, but I think we had better stay on our toes from here on.”

“I agree. This is getting spookier by the minute.” Suddenly it seems that every light in the old house comes on.

Alex quickly moves into the protection of Walker arms, as Trivette pulls Josie close. Then just as suddenly the lights go out. A shaky murmur, “Walker,” from Alex, at the same time Trivette feels Josie mold herself to him.

“Trivette, I think someone is trying to scare us out of here. Come on, let’s go to the kitchen, We need to do some talking.”

 

*****

 

The get the lantern and turn it on to save the flashlights, and sit at the table to make plans on how to proceed. “Trivette, didn’t I see some walkie-talkie’s in with the flashlights?”

Trivette scrounges around in the box, “Yeah, there’s two pair, good up to two miles. This is great, at least we can keep in touch as we search this place.” Moving back to the table, “Where do you think we should start, Walker?”

“The basement. And since that’s going to be the spookiest, I think we should all go down there.”

“I’ll be with you all in just a minute, I’d like to wash some of this dirt off, first.”

“No, we’ll all wait on you Alex.” The stand at the open door to the basement, waiting.

“Okay, I’ll hurry.” She move to the sink and turns on the water, picks up the bar of soap and holding her hands under the water to work up a lather, she screams and back away from the sink. Walker is at her side instantly, “Alex, what is it.”

All she can do is point. As he looks back at the sink, he sees the water running blood red, but before he can touch it, it starts turning clear.

Trivette and Josie hurry over, “What is it, Alex?”

In a very thin voice, “The faucet … was running … blood.” Trivette looks at Walker, who just nods his head. Alex watches it run clear for several minutes, then quickly washes the soap off her hands and turns it off. Moving up to Walker, he circles her with his arm and they start down to the basement, taking the lantern with them.

Walker hangs the lantern in the center of the room, “Don’t anyone wander off alone.  There may be some hidden rooms down here.  If you find one, make sure it’s safe before you go in.”  The room is large with numerous boxes and barrels stacked by the walls. Several closets and cabinets also line the walls.  They begin searching through the cabinets, opening boxes and barrels.  They find a lot of junk but nothing that helps solve the ‘ghost’ mystery.

Josie and Trivette are moving along one wall when Trivette bumps against what looks like a pump handle.  When he does, a section of the wall swings open in front of Josie.  As she looks up, a skeleton in the opening slowly starts falling toward her.  She screams, and screams until Trivette turns her away from the sight, pulling her head down into his chest.

Alex and Walker join them.  When they see the pile of bones on the floor, Walker pulls Alex into his arms as she covers her mouth, stifling a scream that’s starting to build. After moving both women over by the stairs, Walker and Trivette bend down and begin examining the skeleton. “Walker, this is the real thing, it’s not a fake.”

 “Yeah, I know. There’s a wedding ring,” he slides it off the finger, holds it up to the light, “It says, ‘My Love Forever, Tim’. Trivette, look in there, see if you can find anything else.”

When Trivette returns, “I found this under the pile of rags in there. Looks like a letter.”

Walker examines the letter.  It has no address but is still sealed.  He walks over to Alex, “Honey, hang on to this.  We’ll finish searching down here then go back up to the kitchen and read it.” They continue their search, finding only a thick door that seems to be locked.  When they can’t find anything to use to pry it open, they decide to call it quits and move back upstairs to the kitchen..

 

*****

 

They sit down at the table listening to Alex read the letter:

            My darling, Angie

My time here is almost over, darling, by this time next week, I’ll be in your arms.

I know that my being away has been hard on you, but I’ll soon be hone and we’ll claim my heritage and start our family. I love you with all my heart, and miss you with every beat of it.

                        Till we’re together next week

                                    All my love, Tim

When Alex finishes reading the letter, everyone is silent. “There’s a date at the top, July 10, 1969.” “Darling, do you know who used to own this land, I mean originally? We have first names here, so that should be a big help in identifying the remains in the basement. I think we need to get in touch with Captain Price.”

“I think you’re right Alex. Where is your cell phone, I’ll call him now.”

She goes into the room where their things are to get the phone from their luggage but returns in just minutes, “Walker, it’s gone!”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’ve looked through everything, your stuff, too. It’s not here.”

“Walker, I don’t like this. This little ghost hunt has taken a nasty turn. It’s a good thing we’re carrying our weapons or they’d probably be gone, too.”

“I think the four of us need to stay together and search this house from top to bottom. But first let’s go back to the basement.”

As everyone troops back down to the basement, “Hey, partner, why did you want to come back down here?”

“To put that skeleton back into the wall if possible.  I don’t want anyone to know we found it or the letter.” The ladies stay by the stairway while Walker and Trivette seal the skeleton back into its hiding place.

Leaving the basement, they make their way to the top floor and begin their room to room search. The most they find in any of the rooms on the third floor are a few empty hangers in the closets and maybe an empty box or two in a few of the rooms. Moving down to the second floor, they hear the low rumble of thunder off in the distance, indicating that although dissipating, the storm is still close by. The first door they open is a completely furnished bedroom, dusty and dank smelling but still showing the luxury that once adorned this place. They move quickly through the room, opening every drawer, every door, looking behind every picture and even under the rug. Finding nothing, they move to the next room, which is almost the exact copy of the last room except for the color of the décor.  This one is done up in blue whereas the last room was red.  They search it just as thoroughly. Coming back out into the hallway, Walker looks up and down the hall, trying to understand why there are half as many rooms on this floor as the third flood. As he pushes open the door, he gets his answer.

“This is the ballroom, darling. Oh, I bet they had some grand balls here.” Just then all the lights come one placing the ballroom in a bright glow. Alex looks around at the huge room and starts twirling around as if she had on a fancy gown and was dancing with her beau.

Walker watches Alex pretending and smiles.  In his mind, he sees her in a beautiful gown, hair piled high on her head, an absolute vision.  And her heart belongs to him.  He moves out into the room and as Alex comes close, “May I have this dance, My Lady?” He bows, takes her hand and they begin waltzing around the room, with eyes only for each other.

Trivette and Josie watch for several minutes, large smiles on their faces, forgetting everything else. Jimmy then turns to Josie, bows, and holds his hand out, “My Lady?” She curtsies, takes his hand, and they too, begin the grand waltz around the room.

Barely audible, the strains of Johann Strauss’ Blue Danube drift across the huge room. The dancers on the floor don’t realize they have music until it fills the room. Walker slowly pulls his eyes from Alex’s and looks over at Trivette, wondering if he’s the only one who can hear it.  Trivette glances at him, shrugs his shoulders and brings his eyes back to Josie. When Walker looks back at Alex, she’s smiling. His eyes lock on hers and they continue dancing until the music slowly fades away.

The two couples meet by the door, “That was really strange, wasn’t it Josie? Very beautiful but very strange.”

“Yes, Alex, but I loved every minute of it.”

Alex turns in Walker’s arms, touches his lips lightly, “Darling, I didn’t know you could waltz.”

“I can’t.”

Alex gives one of her, ‘I don’t believe you’ looks, “Walker, you were dancing beautifully. What do you mean you can’t?”

“Just what I said, Alex, I can’t. Don’t ask me to explain what I did tonight because I can’t. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard a waltz let alone danced to one.”

“Hey, man, I believe you. I’ve never danced to a waltz before, either.”

Lightning chose that moment to flash blindingly through the large un-boarded windows of the ballroom, causing the ladies to let out a shriek and the men to jump. 

Walker pulls Alex into his arms, “Let’s get out of here. Away from these windows.” As they turn to leave, the room goes dark.

“Walker this place is starting to give me the ….” She is interrupted by a faint sighing moan that rolls through the room followed closely by the sound of chains dragging across the floor upstairs.

Josie instantly closes the distance between she and Jimmy with a shaky “Jimmy?” She puts her arms around Jimmy’s neck hanging on for dear life.

“Walker, did you hear …?”

“Yeah, I heard it. Someone has sure gone to a lot of trouble to scare us. What I can’t figure out is how they knew we were coming.”

“Maybe it’s been set up like this for a long time, for this very reason, to keep people out of here. Something must have happened to trigger the start of the rumors.”

“You’re probably right, Alex. Let’s get back downstairs. It’s the only floor we haven’t really searched.”

Upon reaching the first floor, “Hey, Walker, how about taking a break. It’s going to be daylight in about an hour or so, and I’m thirsty.”

“Okay, Trivette, I guess it wouldn’t hurt. We need to replace the batteries in these flashlights, too. The ones in here aren’t going to last much longer.” As they walk toward the kitchen, Alex and Walker’s flashlights give out completely, and they are left only with the ones that Trivette and Josie are carrying.

Walker lights the lantern in the kitchen, while Trivette gets sodas for everyone and Josie and Alex get fresh batteries for the flashlights. Walker turns to his partner, “Trivette, why don’t you gather up your and Josie’s belongings and bring them in here with ours.” He looks at Alex, grins and shrugs his shoulders, “I think we’d better all stay together until we figure out what’s going on.”

“You really think that’s necessary, Walker?” He glances quickly at Josie: she returns his look with a soft smile. “I mean, I guess we could if you think we should.”

“Yeah, I think we should, Trivette. At least until we know what’s going on around here. You know what they say.”

“No, Walker, what do they say?” He puts his arm around Josie and they start out the door to get their sleeping bags.

“There’s safety in numbers.” He turns to Alex as they leave and sees the questioning look on her face, “I know, honey, but there are too many weird things going on around here. I’d feel better if we all stayed together.” He pulls Alex into his arms kisses her softly. “Maybe we ought to eat something before we start out again.” Kisses her again.

Alex leaves the warmth of his arms and goes to get some lunchmeat from the cooler on the back porch.  She shines the light around the area to make sure she’s alone. As she does she notices a chest freezer in the corner of the porch. Curious, she lifts the lid. It takes a few seconds for her brain to comprehend what her eyes are seeing. When it does, she jumps, backs up, and screams, long and loud.

Walker comes charging out the door, gun in hand, and bumps into her “What? What did you see?” he asks, a little breathless, as he takes her into his arms.

She turns and buries her face into his chest, shaking violently. Without looking up, she points toward the freezer. As Walker moves over and shines his light on the freezer, he sees what scared Alex so badly.  It takes a lot to get to Walker but even he has to choke back an exclamation and a gag when he sees the contents of the freezer.  It’s a corpse, the half rotted skeletal remains of what use to be a man, according to the clothes, is curled up in the bottom of the freezer.

Walker takes Alex into his arms and they move back into the kitchen just as Trivette and Josie come rushing into the room.

“I heard a scream.” As Trivette sees Alex trembling in his partner’s arms, he asks,  “What happened, Walker.”

Walker motions toward the back porch.  When Josie follows Trivette, he reaches out and grabs her arm, “Josie, don’t. You don’t want to see what’s out there.”

She stops then moves over to hold Alex, as Walker joins Trivette on the back porch. “Alex, are you all right? Come over here and sit down.”

Walker stands next to his partner as they take in the sight of a partially decomposed corpse—most likely male—curled up in the bottom of the freezer. “God, Walker, I think I would have screamed if I’d open this up. What’s going on here, man?  This is a hell of lot more than a haunted house. This looks like murder to me.”

“You’re right, Trivette, and I think it’s time we start working this like a crime and not just a haunted house. It’s gonna be light soon and we’ve got lots to do before it gets dark again. Come on, let’s get started.”

“Don’t you want to check this guy out?”

“No, I’ve got a pretty good idea who it is but without your computer, we can’t follow up on it.”

Going back into the kitchen, Alex moves into Walker’s arms, “What’s happening around here, Walker?  This isn’t fun anymore. Did you figure out who that was?”

“No, hon, but I’ve got a pretty good idea.” He sits down at the table and pulls Alex onto his lap. “Any other time, Trivette would have brought his computer, I wish he’d …” Suddenly a laptop appears on the table in front of him. He looks up to see Trivette grinning back at him.

“Your wish is my command.”

“Trivette, I could almost kiss you!”

“No, thanks, Walker.” He takes Josie in his arms, gives her a quick kiss on the lips then pulls her in a tight embrace. “I’ve got a better offer.” He releases her and they sit together at the table. “Now, partner, what was it you wanted to look up?”

 

*****

 

Walker and Trivette spend the next two hours hunched over the laptop checking ownership two papers, and running down lead after lead. Trivette finally stretches his arms over his head, flexing his fingers. Looking up, he sees that morning has arrived.  “Hey, man, my fingers are cramped. How about we take a break?”

“Yeah, we’d better stop and get some sleep. As long we’re up by 4:00, we should have plenty of time to get everything done before dark.”  He takes the chair that he was sitting on and motions for Trivette to do the same. They enter the room where he and Alex had slept and see Josie asleep in a sleeping bag on one side of the room and Alex curled up in a sleeping bag on the other side. Walker takes his chair and shoves it under the knob of one door while Trivette does the same under the knob of the kitchen door. Walker sets down, pulls his boots off, lays his gun belt next to the bag and slides inside next to Alex. When she feels his warm body next to her, she rolls against him, sighs contentedly when he pulls her close.

Trivette watches as Walker slips into the sleeping bag. Looking back at Josie, he shrugs his shoulders, takes his boots off and slides into the bag with her. He turns, takes her in his arms and shuts his eyes.

 

*****

 

By 4:00 that afternoon, they were ready to put their plan into effect.  Since they had spent the previous night searching the inside of the house, they wanted to take a quick look around outside before it got dark.  They paired up and started off around the house in opposite directions, agreeing to meet at the front of the house.

“Alex, don’t react to anything I may say or point to anything we find.  I just want to look.  If someone is watching us, I don’t want them to know if we find anything, all right?” She nods and slips her hand into his, needing to feel his touch.

“Okay, but what are we looking for? Anything in particular?”

“Any place that looks as if it’s seen a lot of traffic, you know, a worn dirt path, grass tromped down, anything that might tell us how they are entering the house.”

They walk slowly around the house trying hard to give the appearance that they are just out for a stroll, “Walker, those basement doors look ….”

“I know, I see them.  Look at me, Alex and smile.” She does as he asks, even leaning over and kissing him lightly on the cheek, but Walker sees the fear in her eyes. “That’s fine, honey, you’re doing great.  There’s Trivette and Josie.   Let’s keep the conversation light until we get back inside.”  As they approach Jimmy and Josie, Alex sees the forced grin on Josie face.  It somehow makes her feel better to know that she’s not the only one scared around here.  Walker and Trivette walk together, talking and laughing, discussing things to do to fix up the house.

When they get back to the kitchen, Walker turns on the water in the sink and quickly tells Trivette about the path leading to the basement doors.

“But we didn’t see any outside doors in the basement, man.”

“I know.  They must be on the other side of that huge door we couldn’t get open. Trivette, we need to think of something that will draw them out.”  He shuts off the water and turns toward Alex, “Honey, maybe we should eat something before we get started. Come on, I’ll help you fix up some sandwiches.”

“Come on, Josie, let’s get some fresh air while they fix up something to eat.” He slides his arm around her waist and they slip out the back door onto the patio.

 

****

 

“There, sandwiches all made. You want to step out there and get Jimmy and Josie?”

“Okay … but first…” He takes her in his arms, pulls her close and lowers his lips to hers in a soft sensuous kiss.  He releases her, looks into her eyes, then kisses her again.  She prolongs their kiss as long as possible not wanting it to end. He finally pulls away, murmuring softly, “Woman, you’re starting a fire that we can’t put out right now.”

“I know,” She gently pushes him away then turns to set the plate of sandwiches on the table.

Walker eyes her for a few minutes then turns to go out the back door.  Standing in the cool air, trying to clear his thoughts, he starts to call to Trivette and Josie when he sees their silhouette in the shade of the patio. Kissing. He watches for a few seconds, ‘Sorry, Trivette, I can’t, you can’t’ “Trivette, chow’s ready.” He watches as they part and when they turn to come inside, he heads back into the kitchen.

They keep the conversation light as they eat their sandwiches then just sit quietly making small talk as Walker doodles on a piece of paper.  His doodles, however, are in fact a message to Trivette.  After making sure that Trivette had read it, he crumbles it and slips it into his pocket. He then stands and reaches for Alex’s hand, “Come on, hon, let’s take a walk before it gets dark.”

They walk with their arms around each other’s waist, talking quietly.   They stop once in a while for a kiss before walking again.  Speaking softly, “Alex, do you have that letter that we found in the basement?”

“Yes, it’s in my pocket.”

“If I pull you back into my arms, can you take it out of your pocket and get the letter out of the envelope?

“I think so, why?”

“Because when we get back inside I want you to ‘accidentally’ drop the envelope on the floor. Which pocket?”

“Front.”

“Okay. Come here.” He pulls her close and as her hand slips into her pocket, he kisses her deeply drawing it out as long as he dares.  Finally pulling back, “Alex?”

“All done.” He kisses her gently then they turn back toward the house.

When they return to the kitchen, Trivette and Josie are waiting for them. “Well, are you two ready to search the rest of the first floor.”

Alex reaches into her pocket and pulls out a tissue.  As she does, the envelope falls to the floor.

“Ready as we’ll ever be, Walker.  Come on, GHOSTBUSTERS!” The laughter can be heard as they go down the hallway to the foyer.  After the laughter dies down, they quietly go into the dining room and then into the room where they had slept earlier that day.

They wait silently in the dark hoping the dropped envelope lures their ‘ghosts’ out into the open. The wait is short, as they see beams of light slicing through the dark and hear a whispered, “I saw a letter fall, I swear it … there it is, see I told you.”

Walker and Trivette move silently into the kitchen, turn on their flashlights and catch their ‘ghosts’ with very shocked looks on their faces.

“Texas Rangers, don’t either one of you, move, we’re armed.” Within a matter of minutes, the ghosts are tied and as the lantern is lit, they see a middle-aged couple whose faces show the result of the hard life they had chosen.

 

****

 

A week later, they are all gathered again in Alex’s office listening to Cranston fill in the details of their adventure.  This time, however, everyone is much more relaxed.  Walker stands with his arm around Alex’s waist and Jimmy stands with Josie at his side.

“The skeleton in the basement was that of Angie Cunningham and the body in the freezer was that of her husband, Tim.  They were murdered to prevent Tim from claiming his inheritance. What the killers didn’t know was that there really was no inheritance.  The estate consisted only of that house and its grounds. There was no money.  It was gone.  The couple you apprehended was the Johnston’s.  They were Tim’s father’s servants and they were looking for a treasure that they thought the father had hidden in the house.  They searched the house every night for years, desperately searching for a treasure that didn’t exist.  Apparently, people in the area noticed the lights going on and off at odd times throughout the house and occasionally would see shadows in the windows.  This, of course, was the start of the ‘haunted house’ rumors.  The house and grounds had been abandoned for several years.  When no owner could be found, the county seized the property for payment of taxes. When the county put the property on the market and a buyer became interested, the Johnston’s tried to keep up the ‘haunted’ atmosphere to give them more time to search for the treasure.  Their biggest challenge came when you four moved in to dispel the rumors.  The Johnstons had no idea they were dealing with the Texas Rangers.  They rigged up all kinds of theatrical tricks to scare you and even to trying to kill you with the chandelier.  Little did they know that their efforts were for nothing because there never was a treasure hidden in that house.

Now that the house is rid of its ‘haunted house’ reputation, the buyer, who has insisted on remaining anonymous, has finalized the sale and is already making arrangements to start renovations next week.   Thanks to the four of you, Dallas will be getting yet another way to help our young people get back on the right track.  You all did a great job.” 

As everyone mills around shaking hands and joking about the Ghostbusters, Captain Price clears his throat and with a wink to Walker, says, “Ah hmm … I … understand that we have an event coming up in the spring.”  He looks around, staring deviously at everyone in the room, before his eyes stop on Trivette. “I understand that you are getting married.  Is this lovely lady?”

“Yes, sir, I am, and she is but how did you all find out?  We just made the plans last night.”

Capt. Price lays his hand on Trivette’s shoulder, “Son, you’re one of ours.  You should know by now that you can’t hide anything from the Texas Rangers.

Alex’s office echoes with laughter as everyone congratulates Trivette and Josie on their upcoming nuptials.

 

THE END

                   

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The Sequel to The Surprise

 

 

“Daddy.” He almost whispers the word. “Daddy.” He repeats softly with a sense of wonder.

“Daddy!” A smile lights up his face. “You know Alex, I think I’m gonna like the sound of that.” As he pulls Alex closer, he asks, “How about you, “MOM?”

“Oh, darling, I thought the day we said,  ‘I Do’ was the happiest day of my life, but this is certainly coming in a close second.  I love you so much.”

He looks into her eyes, tightens the embrace and kisses her tenderly. “C’mon, let’s go in, it’s getting chilly out here.”  Taking her hand and helping her from the swing, they go into the house arm in arm.  “I’ll start a fire, if you want to get the coffee.”

“Do you want anything to go with it? A snack, maybe?”

“No, just coffee, unless you’re on the menu!”

Smiling and shaking her head, Alex heads toward the kitchen.  Moments later she returns with one cup of coffee. “You’re not having a cup with me?”

“Nope, my coffee drinking days are over. At least for the next several months.” She sits down next to him on the couch, snuggling up to his side.

“How far along did the Doctor say you were?” He asks as he slides his arm around her.

“A little more than two months. If my calculations are right, I figure it happened the night we made love for the first time, out in the barn.  Our first special memory, remember?”

“I could never forget that evening, hon.  Our first child conceived the first time we made love.  Guess it really was meant to be.  It doesn’t get more special than that.  Ya know, Alex, I’m really beginning to get excited about this.” He stands, pulls her up and starts dancing around the room with her. “I can’t believe we’re going to be parents, sweetheart.  A new life that’s a little bit of both of us.”  He pulls her tight and kisses her several times with little butterfly kisses.  “God, how I love you, wife.”

“Walker, I don’t think I have ever seen you so happy!”

“I’ve been in heaven since the day I fell in love with you, and it seems like life just keeps getting better.”  They stop dancing and Walker begins kissing her again, deeply.  As their desire starts building, Alex breaks away just long enough to get the quilt off the back of the couch and spread it out on the floor in front of the fire.  Kneeling, she tugs on Walker’s hand to join her.  He drops to his knees taking her in his arms as they lie down entwined together.

Alex begins to pull Walker’s shirt out of his pants as he trails kisses over her face and down her throat, bringing a soft moan from her.  He helps her remove his shirt and, watching her eyes, he slowly unbuttons hers.  She places her hands on each side of his face, bringing him closer to her lips.  She slowly traces around his lips with her tongue before taking his mouth fully in hers. Their movements become more hurried as their need for each other grows.  They swiftly remove the last of the clothing between them as Walker positions himself over her.  Alex quivers as he enters her, slowly and deeply, moving together as one.  Both are carried away on a wave of desire.  She clings to him as he increases the pace.  They rise to the height of the wave, finally crashing at the final thrust and falling over the edge.  Slowly floating down from the crest and collapsing together, they lay exhausted in each other’s arms.

As Walker’s mind returns to reality, he looks to Alex with concern in his eyes.  “Alex, I wasn’t thinking, are you okay?”

“Of course I am.  What are you talking about?”

“Well, this, the baby, is it okay?”

Laughing, Alex pulls him close.  “Shh…Everything’s fine.  There’s no reason that we have to stop making love just because I’m pregnant.  The doctor said as long as I feel okay, there’s no danger to me or the baby.”

“But you’ll tell me if there’s a problem, right?  I don’t want to hurt you or the baby.”

“Walker, I promise, I’ll tell you.  Now stop worrying and kiss me.”

“Mmm…my pleasure!”

He brings her closer and kisses her softly.  Pulling back and staring lovingly into her beautiful blue eyes, he whispers, “I hope she has your eyes.”

“And what makes you think it’s a girl?”

“I don’t know, but if it is, I hope she has your eyes.”

“Well, I hope HE has your smile.”

“So, when do we tell “Grandpa C.D.” and “Uncle Jimmy”?  You know that they’re both going to fall over!  They know that we want children but I don’t think they expected us to get started so soon!  Neither did we I guess!”

Alex laughs and says “Well, we could invite them both out here for a ride this weekend and tell them then.  That is, if you think you can keep a secret for three days!”

“I can, if you can!”

“Okay, then, we’ll invite them over on Saturday and make a day of it.  I’ll pack a picnic and we can take a ride out by the lake.”

“Sounds great.  I assume that there’s no problem with you riding, at least not for the next couple of months.”

“No, the doctor said I can do whatever I want as long as I feel good.  I’m sure that I’ll have to give it up eventually but for now, everything’s fine.”

As the fire dies down, Walker and Alex snuggle together, happily talking about the prospect of becoming parents.

 

*****

 

Keeping a secret for three days proved to be a lot more difficult than either Alex or Walker had imagined.  Both were walking on Cloud 9 and it showed!

 

“Walker, come on, man, are you gonna tell me what has you so happy?”

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Trivette, I’m always happy.”

 

“Happy, yeah, but not like this!  I haven’t seen you smile this much since the day you proposed to Alex.”

 

“Okay, Trivette, I’ll make you a deal.  You come out to the ranch on Saturday and I promise I’ll tell you exactly what’s going on, okay?”

“Saturday!!  I have to wait until Saturday!  Can’t you tell me now?  I promise, I won’t say a word.”

 

“Yeah, right, Trivette, you can’t keep a secret if you life depends on it.  No way.  You’ll just have to wait until Saturday.  Now stop bugging me because it’s not going to work and you know it.”

 

“Okay, okay, I’ll wait til Saturday, but I’m not going to be happy about it!”

 

Later that evening at C.D.’s, Trivette and C.D. are standing at the bar watching Alex and Walker on the dance floor.  They are wrapped tightly in each other’s arms and both are smiling brightly.

 

“Look at them, Jimmy.  I can’t remember when I’ve seen Cordell so happy.  It’s so great to finally see those two together.  Never thought I’d live to see the day!”

 

“Yeah, I know what you mean, Big Dog.  It sure took him a while to finally admit how much he loved her but, from the looks of it, it was worth the wait.  Hey, do you know what’s going on with Walker?  He’s been grinning like a Cheshire cat all day and he won’t tell me what’s going on.  Asked me to come to the ranch on Saturday and he’d tell me all about it.”

 

“I know what you mean about his mood today but he hasn’t said anything to me.  He did invite me to the ranch on Saturday to go fishing.  Guess we’ll just have to wait ‘til Saturday.”

 

“Yeah, I guess.”

 

*****

Saturday at the Ranch:

 

“Alex, you finish packing the picnic basket and I’ll go saddle the horses. C.D. and Trivette will be here any minute.  Don’t carry it out; I’ll do that, okay?” Wrapping his arms around her, looking into her eyes for her promise.

 

“Walker, are you going to start mother-henning me already?   I’m not sick, I’m just pregnant.  The Doctor said I go about my normal routine as long as I feel good. I’ll know when to slow down.”

 

“I’m sorry, sweetheart, I’m new at this; have patience with me.”  He kisses her tenderly and starts running his hand up inside her loose shirt.  Just then they hear a car pull up outside. “Darn, what timing!” He kisses her again, turns and goes out the door.

 

The ride to the lake seems short with the talking and kibitzing that goes on with good friends. As they near the lake Trivette yells, “Hey, there’s the place.”

 

Alex smiles and says, “It’s always so beautiful here. Especially in the spring when everything’s so new and fresh.”

 

“C’mon, Alex, before you give everything away.” Walker says just loud enough for her to hear.

 

The men tend to the horses while Alex spreads a blanket on the ground beneath a tree and spreads out the items from the picnic basket.  Everyone joins her on the ground and begins enjoying the delicious meal that she had prepared earlier.

 

Once lunch is over, C.D. stretches out on the ground and is soon sound asleep.  Trivette goes down to check on the horses leaving Alex and Walker alone. “Come on, Alex, let’s see if we can walk off some of this food.  I’m stuffed and if I don’t watch it, I’m going to start gaining weight now that someone else is helping out in the kitchen.”

 

They stroll down along the bank of the lake arm in arm enjoying the beautiful scenery and each other.  As they continue along the bank, Alex pace slows and rests her head on Walker’s shoulder.

 

“Hey, you okay?”

 

“Yeah, I just don’t seem to have quite as much energy as before.”

 

“Why don’t we head back.  I’m sure Trivette is going to burst if we don’t tell him the secret soon.”

 

They return to find C.D. and Trivette arguing about fishing.  Walker and Alex walk up arm in arm listening to them for several minutes.  “If you two can stop arguing for five minutes, there’s something that Alex and I would like to talk to you both about.”

 

“We weren’t arguing, Cordell, we were just discussing the finer points of fishing, right Jimmy?”

 

“You got it Big Dog.  But we can finish our discussion later, I’ve been waiting three days to find out what’s been making you two so happy.”

 

Alex takes a deep breath and smiles at both men.  “Well, we’re expecting a new addition to the family in about 7 months, and we wanted you two to be the first to know, except for my Dad.”

 

Both men’s mouths drop open in shock.  “A baby, really?” says Trivette.

 

Alex and Walker both nod.  “I know it’s kind of sudden.  We always said we wanted children but really didn’t expect it to happen quite this soon. 

 

C.D. stands and walks over to Alex and Walker placing a hand on each of their shoulders and pulling them both into a hug.  Tears glistening in his eyes, he says “Cordell, Alex, this is wonderful news!  Looks like I may get to be a Grampa after all, huh?”

 

Trivette quickly joins in the hug, “And I get to be Uncle Jimmy!  Man, this is so great.  I couldn’t be happier for you two.”

 

“Thanks guys, we knew you’d be as excited as we were.  There is one favor we’d like to ask, though.”

 

“Sure, anything,” says Trivette.

 

“You know we’d do anything for you two, Cordell.”

 

“Well, we’d be honored if you would both agree to be Godfathers to the baby.”

 

“It would be our honor, right Big Dog?”

 

“You better believe it, Jimmy.  Boy, what a day.  It doesn’t get any better than this, huh.”

 

“Sure doesn’t, C.D.,” says Walker as he pulls Alex close and kisses her lightly on the cheek.

 

C.D. and Trivette spend the rest of the afternoon fishing down at the lake and arguing over whose technique will catch more fish.  Alex lies down on the blanket and is soon fast asleep, leaving Walker alone with his thoughts.  As he sits propped against the tree, he silently thanks the spirits for all the blessings they have graciously bestowed upon him.  A beautiful, loving wife, two of the best friends anyone could ever ask for and soon a child to make their “family” complete.

 

*****

 

7 months later

 

Alex finally sits up, unable to find a comfortable sleeping position.

 

“Alex, are you alright?” Concern fills his voice as he touches her arm.

 

“I’m alright. Just can’t seem to get comfortable tonight. Go on back to sleep, hon. I’m fine.”

 

“You sure?”

 

“Yes, I’m sure. You’d think after so many restless nights, I’d be prepared for this. No sense both of us losing sleep.” She leans over and kisses him softly. “I think I’ll go sit in the chair for awhile. You go to sleep.”

 

“Yes, ma’am.”

 

Sitting in the chair doesn’t help either so she decides to go downstairs for a glass of milk.  Moving slowly, she finally makes it to the kitchen.  As she opens the refrigerator, a pain hits. Groaning, she grabs the back of the chair, holding it tight. When the pain finally passes, she sits down, wondering if this is still false labor or the real thing. She’d had several slight twinges throughout the evening.  She finally decides it was another false alarm and gets up to go back upstairs.  As she leaves the kitchen, another pang, this one meaning business, shoots across her back. Holding her back, she leans against the wall, as she waits for it to pass.  As the pain slowly fades, she realizes that the baby is on the way.  She moves toward the foot of the stairs when another pain strikes, nearly doubling her over.  Hanging on to the railing to keep from falling, she knows she won’t make it back upstairs.  As the pain passes, she feels a flooding of liquid.  Panic sets in and she yells, “WALKER!”

 

He jumps up instantly, grabbing his sweatpants from the foot of the bed. Hurrying for the stairs and pulling on the pants at the same time he yells, “Alex, I’m coming,” He flies down the stairs to find her standing in a puddle, shaking slightly, holding out her arms for him.

 

“Darling, I think it’s time.” She smiles tenderly at him as he pulls her into his arms.

 

“We’re not going to make it to the hospital are we?”  Just then he feels her stiffen, signaling an oncoming contraction. “Hang on to me, Alex, breathe, just like in Lamaze class.”

 

Alex tries to breathe as she was taught in class and after several minutes, the contraction slowly fades.

 

“Alex, you need to lie down.” He takes her arm and helps her into the guest bedroom. Throwing the spread and blanket off the bed, he helps her to lie down and get in position for birthing.

Walker has delivered babies before, just not his own.  He puts a pillow under Alex’s head and takes her hand. “Looks like it’s just going to be you and me, babe.”

 

“Just like always, darling. We can do it.” She caresses his beard and kisses him softly.

 

“I’m going to call for the paramedics just to be on the safe side. Rest while you can, I’ve got to get some towels.”

 

He finishes the call just as another contraction starts. Walker takes her hand in his and she squeezes as the pain worsens. “Breathe with it Alex, breathe with it.” As the contractions ease, she leans back exhausted.

 

Walker kisses her forehead and says, “Let me check to see how things are going.” He moves to the foot of the bed and raises the sheet.  What he sees brings the biggest smile to his face.  He looks back up into Alex’s eyes, and with love in his eyes, “I see red hair, Alex.”

 

“Oh, Walker,” she murmurs just as another contraction starts, “Walker……………..ahhhhhhh,”

 

“It’s coming, Alex, it’s coming. Come on, one more push, baby, here…..it…..comes.” Walker is quiet as he cuts the cord and wipes the baby off.  He cleans its mouth out, smacks it on the bottom and as the baby cries, Walker looks to Alex and softly says, “It’s a girl, Alex! We’ve got a baby girl!” He wraps the baby in a blanket and gently places her on Alex’s chest.

 

He sits beside Alex with his arm wrapped tightly around her and both gaze at their new baby daughter. “Oh, darling, she’s beautiful.”

 

“Yes she is, just like her Mom!  And you know something else, she has your eyes”

 

“I love you, Walker”

 

Leaning down and kissing her passionately on the lips, he replies, “And I love you.”

 

They lie together holding each other and their new addition to the family.  Watching the baby twitch, eyes flickering, hands flexing, and lips puckering, simply fascinates the new parents.

 

The phone rings and Walker reluctantly leaves his family to answer it. As he hangs up, he turns to Alex, “That was the paramedics. There’s been an accident on the interstate. I’m afraid it will be awhile before they get here. He said to go ahead and get everyone cleaned up and they’ll be here as soon as they can.”

 

“That’s alright. We’re fine and we’re not going anywhere.”

 

Walker takes the baby from Alex and gets her washed, diapered, gowned and placed in the cradle that he had brought down from upstairs.  He then helps Alex get cleaned up and changed into a fresh gown.

 

“Alex, do you want to move back upstairs?”

 

“It might be better to stay here, since the paramedics will want to take us to the hospital, anyway.”

 

“You’re right, let me move you to the chair so I can change the bed.” He gently picks Alex up, kisses her softly and places her in the chair.

 

After he has remade the bed, he puts Alex back in the bed, propping her up with pillows and then after kissing the baby, places her back in Alex’s arms. “The paramedics said to let the baby nurse, if she wanted to; it will help bring your milk in.”

 

Alex bares her breast and places the baby close.  Feeling the slight pressure on her cheek, the baby turns her head and begins hunting for the nipple, finds it and begins sucking.

 

“Oh, God, Walker, I’m so happy!” Alex’s face radiates her happiness, which in turn makes Walker feel like he’s sitting on top of the world.

 

Walker sits beside Alex and murmurs, “You know, hon, we need to name her, and quit calling her baby. You know the name that we had picked out for a girl, are you still OK with it?”

 

“You mean Jessica? Yes, if you are?”

 

“Sounds good to me.” Placing his hand on the baby’s head, “I dub thee, Jessica Alexandra Walker.” He then leans over and kisses Jessica lovingly on the head.

 

“Darling, I’ve got an idea. Since it’s going to be awhile before the paramedics get here why don’t we call C.D. and Jimmy and have them come out to meet their new godchild?”

 

“That’s a great idea.  Reaching for the phone beside the bed, Walker makes the call. “Trivette? Hey, pard, something’s come up.  Can you pick C.D. up and come out to the ranch?  No, nothing’s wrong, I just need to talk to you two about something and don’t want to do it on the phone.  Okay. See you soon.”

 

*****

 

They’re here, Alex. Now, be quiet, let them come to us. Okay?”

 

Trivette approaches the front door.  “Wonder where they are? Walker, you in there?”

 

“Well, Jimmy, see if the door is locked.”

 

Jimmy turns the knob, “It’s open.  Reckon we ought to go in?”

 

“For God’s sake Jimmy, open the door.” As they push the door open, they hear Alex’s distinctive giggle.

 

“Cordell, where are you?”

 

“In here, C.D., come on in. Took you guys long enough to get here.”

 

“Well, what are you two doing hidin’ in here?” C.D. pushes the door open and what he sees brings the biggest smile to his face. “Oh, my Lord.”

 

“C’mon C.D., move, what’s going on?  Oh, my god, oh my god. Would you look at that.” Both walk quickly to the bed, beaming from ear to ear.

 

“C.D. would you look at that. Ain’t that the prettiest sight you’ve ever seen? A little Walker. What is it, Alex, boy or girl?”

 

“C.D., Jimmy? We would like for you to meet your godchild, Jessica Alexandra Walker.”

 

THE END

 

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

Jimmy’s Wedding

 

 

In mid August following the ‘Ghost Busters’ case, Alex and Walker really are sent to Dade County in Florida.  Walker to help the authorities to set up a Camp Justice and Alex for consultation on a new HOPE Center that is in the beginning stages.

 

Trivette is beside himself with joy as his impending marriage to Josie grows near, and he is very much into the planning of the wedding and everything that goes with it. They have set the date as the first Sunday after Easter.  The biggest obstacle, the guest list, has already been finished. Now, they just have to wait for the invitations to arrive, get them addressed and ready to mail. With only seven months till the big day, the only time Jimmy doesn’t look like a nervous wreck is when he is working on a case for the Texas Rangers. Then, he is calm, cool and all business.

 

The dining room table in Josie’s apartment is stacked high with books on everything from flowers, wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and tuxedo’s to wedding protocol. Next to all the books lies a notebook containing the names of the matron of honor, best man, ushers, and bridesmaids plus notes jotted down concerning nearly every aspect of the wedding.

 

 “Jimmy, when are Alex and Walker coming back? I sure could use some help with deciding on dresses and flowers.”

 

“Well, they expected to be gone for a month. It’s been three weeks so I think they’ll probably be gone at least another week, anyway. Hmm … Your dad is giving you away; Walker is my best man; and Alex is your matron of honor. Where is C.D. going to fit into this event?”

 

Josie looks at him with concern, “I know how much he means to you, honey. We’ll think of something, I promise.”

 

Jimmy moves close to her, and takes her in his arms, kissing her lightly.  “Big Dog’s done so much for me, Josie. He was the one who helped me get my head on straight after I was forced to quit football; he’s responsible for getting me into the Rangers. Hell, he’s more of a father to me than my own father was.  I know it would hurt him deeply if we didn’t include him in our wedding.” He chuckles as a weird thought enters his head; “hey, maybe I could have him walk me down the aisle.”

 

“Jimmy!”

 

“I know. I was only kidding but we have to come up with something, Josie!”

 

“We will, Jimmy. When Walker comes back maybe he can help us think of something.”

 

“I hope so, this is really bothering me.” He picks up her hand, brings it to his lips kissing it softly, “Come on, Josie, let’s go to C.D.’s for dinner. Maybe something will come to mind there.”

 

********

 

Just as they are finishing their dinner, C.D. comes over and slides in across from them, “Hi, kids, how’s the wedding plans going? ”

 

“We’re still deciding on the flowers and the color scheme but it’s slowly coming together.”

“I could never understand about all this brouhaha. It would be a lot simpler to just elope.”

 

“Because Josie’s parents want her to have a big wedding, C.D..” He turns to look at Josie, tightens his arm around her, “Who knows, we may decide to elope any way.” Kisses her softly on the lips, and seeing the surprise look in her eyes, “I’m only kidding, honey. Only kidding.”

 

“Well, kidding or not, it sounds like a good idea to me.” Gives a low “Grummff” and leaves them sitting alone again.

 

“Jimmy, do you want to elope?”

 

He pulls her against his side, lying his head against hers, “I’ve thought about how much simpler it would be. Find a justice of the peace, say our ‘I do’s’ and come back to just one apartment, instead of going our separate ways every night.”

 

“We don’t go our separate ways … every night, Jimmy.”

 

Huskily, he murmurs, “I know, but it’s not the same. I want you beside me every night, all night.  And I want to wake up every morning with you in my arms, not just once in awhile, but forever.”

 

“That’s what I want too, Jimmy and we’ll have it, very soon.  Since I’m the only child, I can’t disappoint my parents by eloping.”

 

“I know Josie. That’s why I’ve never said anything. You’re right, our wedding is only seven months away. This time next year, we’ll be an old married couple.”

 

“Oh, Jimmy, I love you so much.”

 

He turns his head so his lips are to her ear and whispers softly, “And I love you, too. Are you ready to go home?”

 

Josie leans over and kisses him on the cheek, “I’m more than ready. I’ll probably have nightmares about flowers and dresses, tonight.” 

 

Jimmy slides out of the booth, takes Josie hand to help her out, slides his arm around her waist, and with his lips against her ear, “Not tonight, honey, no nightmares tonight.” They turn to wave at C.D. and walk out the door.

 

 

********

 

Monday morning dawns sunny and warm.  As Jimmy and Josie walk out the door, Jimmy turns to lock it then they walk arm in arm towards their cars. “Josie, you know what I’d like to do, maybe sometime this week?”

 

“What Jimmy?”

He turns her to face him, “Look for a place of our own. So it won’t be your place or my place, it’ll be our place. An apartment or house, I don’t care as long as it’s our place.”

 

She looks at his face, eyes bright with excitement, “Oh, Jimmy … I think that’s a great idea.” She kisses him on the cheek, “Why don’t you come to the HOPE Center for lunch today. I’ll round up some newspapers and we can go through some ads, okay?”

 

“Okay, you’ve got a deal.  I’ll see you around noon.”  They kiss goodbye then go their separate ways.

 

********

 

Trivette doesn’t make it for lunch, though. By 12:30 Josie is chewing on her fingernails wondering why Jimmy is so late. When the phone rings, she is hesitant to pick it up. She lets it ring three times before she can bring herself to answer it. “Josie Martin.”

 

“Josie, this is Captain Price, I’ve sent a car over to pick you up and take you to Methodist Hospital.  Trivette was in an accident and is on the way there now. I don’t know how bad he’s hurt, but he is alive. I’ll meet you there as soon as I can get some answers about what happened. Okay?”

 

“O … okay.”  She feels numb as tears fill her eyes. When she hears a knock on the door, she shakes off the numbness and quickly wipes her eyes.  She tells Nancy to take care of things until she gets back, then opens the door. Seeing the patrolman waiting for her, she grabs her coat and follows him out to his car.

 

When she arrives at the hospital, Ranger Willis meets her at the door. With an arm around her shoulder, he takes her to the emergency room where Capt. Price is waiting for her.

 

“What happened? How bad is he hurt? Can I see him?”

 

“Come over here and sit down, Josie.” Capt. Price puts his arms around her and steers her over to a chair and sits her down then sits down beside her. “He was hit by a drunk driver. He pushed a young boy out of the car’s path but didn’t make it himself. We don’t know how bad it is yet. They’re still checking him over. So … for now, we just wait.”

 

When Capt. Price has to leave another Ranger takes his place. She is in awe at the number of Rangers that has come by to offer their support and to wait for information on her Jimmy. Before long the room is full of Rangers. Even a few wives have come to offer her their support, too.

 

After what seems like hours, the doctor finally comes out, looks around the crowded room and asks, “Who’s the next of kin for Ranger Trivette?”

 

Josie stands and walks slowly toward the doctor, and in a quiet voice says, “I’m his fiancée,”

 

“But, you aren’t the …” The doctor hesitates as the Rangers close in around Josie.

Ranger Willis speaks up, “She’s the one you’ll be dealing with, doc, or you’ll be dealing with us.”

 

He stares at them for a few seconds, then takes Josie’s arm and leads her away from the group, “Ranger Trivette has a broken arm along with multiple bruises and contusions over most of his body. There’s no evidence of internal injuries and a brain scan shows no head trauma but we want to keep him overnight just to be on the safe side.”  He watches as relief replaces the fear in her eyes. Her face breaks into a smile and he smiles back at her, grateful that he was able to give her good news. He softens his voice and says, “As soon as his arm is set, we’ll move him to a room and you can see him. Okay.”

 

Josie reaches out and touches his arm, “Thank you, Doctor, thank you very much.” He nods and walks away. She turns to face back to the room, tears in her eyes, a smile on her face, and announces to her friends, “He’s going to be all right, he just has a broken arm. He’s going to be fine.” Then the Rangers, one by one, move up to offer her help if she needs it then slowly  return to work knowing that one of their own is going to be all right.

 

********

 

When Josie pushes open the door she sees Jimmy, his bed raised slightly, eyes closed, fast asleep. She moves quietly to stand next to the bed, looking down at the man that she has promised to marry and loving him more then she ever thought possible. Not wanting to wake him, she pulls up a chair, gently picks up his hand and sits down to wait for him to wake.

 

When Jimmy wakes up, the first thing he feels is someone holding his hand. He turns his head to see a pair of beautiful brown eyes looking at him, filled with unshed tears and a little worry. She smiles, stands, and moves closer, “Hi, honey.”

 

“Hey, I’m all right.” He whispers as the tears trickle down her cheeks. He tightens the grip on her hand, and gently pulls her to him. “I’ll be up and out of here before you know it, baby.”

 

“I know … but … I just hate to see you like this.” She lays her head on his chest feeling his warmth transfer to her.

 

He gently strokes her back and, with apprehension, asks, “Josie, I know this may not be the time, but I’ve … got to know.  I’m a Texas Ranger; my job’s inherently dangerous. Are you sure … do you … think you can handle that? I mean … I love you so much but I don’t think I could take it … if you left me because of my job.”

 

Josie pulls away from him, anger flashing in her eyes. “James Trivette. When I agreed to marry you, I knew you were a Texas Ranger and I knew that danger went with the job.” Her voice softens and tenderness fills her eyes, “So if you want to get rid of me, you’re going to have to do better then that.” She leans down and touches his lips in a soft lingering kiss.

 

The joy that fills him when he hears her answer makes his heart feel as if it will burst.  When the kiss ends, he looks into her eyes and sees the love she has for him. He pulls her close and as he kisses her, he tastes the passion he loves so dearly in this woman. She is the only woman he’s ever met who can stand as an equal at his side and he plans to hold on to her forever.

A cough from the door brings the kiss to an abrupt end.  Josie quickly slides off the bed and turns to face the door.  There stand Walker and Alex, smiling at their embarrassment and enjoying the fact for a change it’s Trivette and Josie who got caught.

“Hey, partner, welcome home! When did you get in?”  His face sobers, “But … what are you doing back so early? I thought you’d be gone at least another week.”

“Thanks. We just got in and the first thing we hear is that you’re in the hospital.” The two of them move up to stand on the other side of the bed, “It looks like we should have come back sooner.  I leave you alone for a couple of weeks and you can’t stay out of trouble, can you?”

“Hey, man, it’s good to see you but I don’t need you to hold my hand.” He grins at them, “But seriously, how come you’re back so early?”

Walker puts his arm around Alex, brings her up to his side, “The heat was horrendous and it got to be a little to much for Alex. So … we cut our trip short.”

He looks at Alex and sees the swollen belly, “Hey, how is our little mother? You look great, by the way. Motherhood sure does agree with you, counselor.”

“Thank you Jimmy. Now that I’m out of that terrible heat, I’m doing great. How are you doing? What happened, anyway?”

“Well, I zigged when I should have zagged.”

 

“I thought we talked about that after the last time you zigged whey you should have zagged?”

 

“Yeah, I know we did.  Guess I forgot. It’s nothing serious though, just some bruises and … this.” He holds the arm up with the cast on it. “But otherwise, I’m fine.”

 

“Jimmy, don’t make light of the situation. You could have been killed.” Josie looks over at Alex and Walker. “He got hit by a drunk driver.  He shoved a little boy out of the path of the car and took the hit instead.” Tears fill her eyes, as she smiles at him. “I’m proud of him.” She closes her hand over the fingers on his broken arm.

 

“Did they catch the guy, Trivette?”

 

“Yeah, they did. He’s been charged with vehicular assault, drunk driving, driving without a license and being uninsured. Looks like he’s gonna get the book thrown at him.”

 

“Maybe I’ll have him come up against me, Jimmy. If he does, I’ll see if we can’t give him a little vacation for however long the law allows.”

 

“Way to go, Counselor!”

 

“How much longer are you going to be in here, Trivette?”

 

“I was hoping this afternoon. But I think they’re going to make me stay overnight. Hey, Walker you wouldn’t want to help me bust out, would you, this place is starting to get to me.”

 

“Jimmy, you’re starting to act like Walker.”

 

He just grins and winks at Alex, “Maybe he’s starting to rub off on me.”

 

“Josie, how about we go to the cafeteria for something to drink. Let these two catch up.”

 

“I could use a cup of coffee.” She leans over and kisses Jimmy softly on the cheek, squeezes his hand then follows Alex out of the room.

 

********

 

Josie gets her coffee and Alex gets some juice. They find a table back in the corner and sit.

 

“Alex, how have you been feeling? Any problems?”

 

“No, no problems and I’ve been feeling great but that heat in Florida was something else.”

 

“Oh, I know. I was down there once in July, and I thought I was going to bake before I left.” She picks up a napkin and plays with it, twisting it continually while she talks. “When … when is the baby due, Alex?”

 

“In November, around Thanksgiving.” Alex watches as Josie mutilates the napkin, then laying her hands on top of Josie’s and looking into her eyes. “The first time is always the worst.”

 

“I don’t know what you …” Tears fill her eyes, “When he was late coming for lunch, I had a feeling … and when the phone rang … and Capt. Price told me … that he was hurt … I don’t think I have ever been so scared.”

 

“I know and I won’t tell you that it will get easier because it won’t. You will get use to it, in time.”

 

“You know, Alex, from the time that Capt. Price called until the doctor came out, I was never alone. Capt. Price stayed for a long time and when he left another Ranger sat with me. That room was full of Rangers and even some of their wives came to sit with me. I felt … I don’t know …”

 

“Like you were with family?”

 

“Yeah, I guess so.”

 

“That’s because when you marry a Ranger, you become part of that family.”

 

“It felt really … awesome … that’s the only way I can describe it. It really made the waiting so much easier. The way they all stood behind me when the doctor wanted the next of kin and well, we weren’t married. But Ranger Willis … I think that’s who it was, said the doctor would deal with me or with them.” She gives a small chuckle, “I think the doctor thought I would be easier to handle then all of them. Anyway, the doctor turned out to be very nice.”

 

“Being a Ranger’s wife isn’t easy, Josie. It takes a strong commitment to make it work as you are finding out. But if you love him, like I think you do, half the battle is won. When I met Walker, I thought the last thing I needed in my life was a crazy cowboy that was a Texas Ranger. But I would never change anything about him, I love him just way he is.”

 

********

 

After filling in Walker about what has been happening in the Rangers since he left, the room gets quiet.

 

“How’s Josie taking all this, Trivette?”

 

“She took it hard, but I think she’ll be alright. She’s quite a gal. I think she’ll make a very good … no … a great Ranger’s wife.” He looks up into Walker’s face, “She’s everything I’ve been looking for, man. She’s made my life complete. I never knew it could be like this.”

 

“Remember what I told you once, Trivette? A good woman at your side can make it all worthwhile. Alex is the reason I wake up every morning.” Walker turns away, embarrassed by letting his emotions show.

 

Hearing Walker speak of his love for Alex, Trivette knows that he has seen a side of Walker that not many people see. Not wanting to embarrass him further, he changes the subject quickly, “Hey, Walker, I’ve been meaning to ask you something ever since we finished up with the Ghost Busters case.”

 

“What’s that, Trivette?” Breathes deep, thankful for the change in conversation.

 

“How did Capt. Price know about my engagement? You told him, didn’t you?”

 

“No, Trivette, I didn’t tell him.”

 

“You didn’t? But you knew about it didn’t you?”

 

“Yes, I knew about it.”

 

“Josie told you, didn’t she?”

 

“No, Josie didn’t tell me, Trivette.”

 

“Well, how did you find out, then?”

 

“Think about it, Trivette, and I’m sure it will come to you.”

Trivette stares at him for several minutes, then he smiles knowingly, “Josie told Alex, and Alex told you.”

 

“You got it. You ought to know by now, that love, marriage, babies, or engagements are one thing that a woman cannot keep secret.”

 

“What can’t we keep secret, darling?” Alex asks as she enters the room with Josie right behind her.

 

He turns and takes her in his arms, “Anything, sweetheart.” Kissing her quickly knowing a playful hit is coming his way.

 

********

 

Two days later Walker and Alex are sitting in a booth at C.D.’s when Josie and Trivette come in the door, walk over and talk to C.D. for a few minutes then make their way over to sit down across from them.

 

“Trivette, when are you going to quit goofing off and come back to work?”

 

“Partner, I’m ready, but they won’t let me.”

 

“Actually, it’s been kind of nice having him around. We’re really moving along with the wedding plans.”

 

“That’s true. Oh, Walker, we’ve got a little problem.” He stops and looks around the room, making sure C.D. is out of hearing range, then lowers his voice, “How do we work C.D. into this wedding?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Well, Josie’s dad is walking her down the aisle, Alex is the matron of honor, you’re my best man, and … well, what do we have C.D. do?”

 

Walker, stares at him for a minute, then looks to Alex for help, “Jimmy, why don’t you make him your best man, too.”

 

“Really, Alex, we can do that?” He looks at Josie with hope in his eyes then frowns and looks back at Alex. “But won’t that make the line uneven. You know, best man, matron of honor, best man, … who?”

 

“That’s easy, get another bride’s maid. Maybe Sydney?”

 

“Do you reckon she would, Alex?

 

“I think she would be happy to, Josie. All you have to do is ask.”

Sydney is thrilled to be a bridesmaid, and when Jimmy asks C.D. to be his best man, he’s flabbergasted, “Jimmy, I thought Cordell was gonna be your best man?”

 

“He is, C.D., but I want you to be my best man, too. Would you?”

 

Jimmy sees the old man’s eyes get bright with unshed tears, “Son, I would be honored to be your best man.” Pulls Jimmy into a grand hug, as Walker, Alex and Josie watch with faces all aglow with smiles.

 

The next weeks before the holidays are busy ones; Trivette gets his cast off, and returns to work.  The wedding is pretty well set, except for the dresses, which have been ordered. They located a house and are waiting for the closing before it is theirs.  Alex takes maternity leave two weeks before her due date and Walker is walking on air waiting for his first child.

 

A week before Thanksgiving, Josie’s parents ask her to come home for the holiday and to bring Jimmy with her. She finally gives in to their pleading but Jimmy is unable to get away.  He has to testify in a court case that goes to trial two days before Thanksgiving.

 

Jimmy walks into C.D.’s looking like he’s lost his best friend. He looks around for Walker and Alex but since they aren’t there he sits at the bar. C.D. brings his milk and Oreo cookies, “She’s only going to be gone a week, Jimmy. Surely you can live without her that long.”

 

“Yeah … I can … but it ain’t easy. Where’s Walker and Alex tonight? They’re usually here on Friday night.”

 

“I don’t know, maybe Alex don’t feel to well, with it getting close to her time.”

 

“You’re probably right.” He turns around and gets down from the stool, “I’m going home, C.D., I’ll see you tomorrow. Goodnight.”  He slowly walks across the room, dragging his feet as he goes out the door like he was on his way to his own hanging.

 

C.D. watches him leave, “That kid has it as bad as Cordell. God help them both.”

 

********

 

Trivette pushes the blankets back off his face, listening for a minute trying to figure out what woke him up so early on his day off. Then he hears it again. The phone. He reaches over and picks it up, “Trivette.”

 

“Trivette? Hey, pard, something’s come up. Can you pick up C.D. and come out to the ranch?”

 

Trivette sets up quickly in bed, “What’s the matter, Walker, is something wrong?”

 

“No, nothing’s wrong, I just need to talk to you two about something and don’t want to do it on the phone.”

 

“Yeah, I guess I can go get C.D.. I don’t have anything else planned for today.”

 

“Okay. See you soon.”

 

Jimmy hangs up the phone, calls C.D. and tells him that Walker wants them out to the ranch.

 

“Whatever for? Didn’t’ he say?”

 

“No, C.D., he didn’t.  I’ll pick you up in about 30 minutes.”

 

“Okay … Boy, this had better be good.”

 

When they arrive at the ranch, there is no sign of life. Getting out of the car they walk up on the porch.

 

As Trivette approaches the front door,  “Wonder where they are? Walker, you in there?”

 

“Well, Jimmy, see if the door is locked.”

 

Jimmy turns the knob. “It’s open.  Reckon we ought to go in?”

 

“For God’s sake Jimmy, open the door.” As they push the door open, they hear Alex’s distinctive giggle.

 

“Cordell, where are you?”

 

“In here, C.D., come on in. Took you guys long enough to get here.”

 

“Well, what are you two doing hidin’ in here?” C.D. pushes the door open and what he sees brings the biggest smile to his face. “Oh, my Lord.”

 

“C’mon C.D., move, what’s going on?  Oh, my god, oh my god. Would you look at that.” Both walk quickly to the bed, beaming from ear to ear.

 

“C.D. would you look at that. Ain’t that the prettiest sight you’ve ever seen? A little Walker. What is it, Alex, boy or girl?”

 

“C.D., Jimmy? We would like for you to meet your godchild, Jessica Alexandra Walker.”

 

“This is the greatest thing, ever. God I wish Josie could be here.”

 

“We’re not going any where Jimmy, bring her out when she gets back. She’s coming back next weekend, right?”

 

“Yeah. She’s gonna love this. She was hoping you’d wait till she got back.” He looks up into the new parents faces, “I guess when they get ready to come, there’s no stopping them, huh?”

“You’re right there, Trivette, and this one was definitely in a hurry.”

 

“Looks like you two did a great job delivering her by yourselves. I don’t think I could ever do that.”

 

“You’d be surprised what you can do if you have to Trivette.”

 

********

 

Trivette’s court appearance and the couple of cases he and Walker are handling keep him pretty busy during the day, but the nights are a different story. His first choice, after work, is going to C.D.’s but seeing all the young couples dancing makes him miss Josie that much more.  So, he jumps at the chance when Alex invites him out to the ranch for dinner one evening. He finds that just being in a family atmosphere has a calming effect on him.  He is also fascinated when he sees a side Walker that he never knew existed.  The way his eyes take on that certain sparkle when he looks at his daughter, how he reaches in the bassinet and barely touches her whenever he walks past or the gentleness in his hands when he holds her. The very same hands that are capable of snapping a man’s neck.

 

Trivette looks up once to see Alex watching him, watching Walker. She smiles at him knowing exactly what he’s thinking. Who ever would have thought that all of this tenderness was buried under the tough exterior of this complex man?

 

Friday evening, Trivette is in heaven knowing that his love will be home the next morning. He is a different man in every way, and Walker and Alex pick up on it immediately. “What are you so happy about, Trivette? You haven’t smiled like this since you announced that you were getting married.”

 

“Honey, surely you can guess why Jimmy is so happy?”

 

“Well, it sure isn’t our company … so it must mean that Josie is returning tomorrow. Am I right, Trivette?”

 

“All right, you two. So I missed her. I seem to remember several occasions where I’ve seen one or the other of you acting the same way when you’ve been separated.”

 

*******

 

Trivette is at the airport on Saturday morning long before the plane is due. By the time it finally lands he can hardly stand still.  When he sees her come through the door, he stops, letting her find him. As her eyes light up, he smiles and moves quickly toward her, takes her into his arms and holds her close. After several minutes, he leans back, looks into her eyes and whispers, “I’ve missed you so much.”  As he lowers his lips to hers in a tender lingering kiss, she whispers his name against his lips.  When he releases her mouth, he murmurs, “Let’s go home, honey.” 

 

She holds open the door to her apartment so that he can bring her luggage in.  She closes the door as he places the luggage on the floor then melts into his arms. “I think this has been the longest week of my life.” Lowering his head, he caresses her face with his lips, touching everywhere but her lips. He wants to touch her everywhere, kiss every inch of her. When his lips finally take hers, the fire in her is already out of control. When she feels his tongue probing, she opens her mouth, letting his tongue stroke hers.

 

When he pulls her up hard against him, she feels his desire and rubs herself against him in a sinuous caress. She feels his hands caressing her, until every nerve in her body is on fire. He slides his hand up between them, unbuttons her shirt and unhooks her bra.  He cups her breast, his gentle touch kneading her swelling flesh, his thumbs brushing across her nipple teasing it to hardness. She moans against his lips and he reaches down, scoops her up into his arms and carries her into the bedroom.

 

Quickly removing each other’s clothes, she pulls the blanket back on the bed then turns to look at him. Taking in his manliness, she murmurs, “You’re beautiful,” then moves toward him she raises her arms to his neck and presses against him before placing a light kiss on his lips.

 

Gently he lowers her to the bed, moving over her slowly, kissing her lightly, caressing every part of her, until her body is alive with desire for him. She moves her hand over his chest, brushing her hand over his nipples, bringing a moan to his lips. She lowers her hand down between them touching his manhood in a silent invitation.

He moves over her and when he enters her, her body reaches out to enfold him. He touches heaven as he always does when he’s in her arms. He pushes deep into her and feels her arch to meet him, her breasts flattening into the hardness of his chest. As they move together in a rhythm of perfect timing, Jimmy feels alive for the first time since he can remember. Each thrust sends them closer and closer to the brink of ecstasy. One final deep plunge pushes them over the edge into blissful euphoria.

He catches her cry of pleasure in his mouth and kisses her gently as she floats back to earth in his embrace. As he lies with her wrapped in his arms, he knows without a doubt that this is the one he has been looking for all his life. He finally withdraws, rolling to her side, taking her with him. As their eyes meet and he sees the love she has for him, he murmurs, “I love you very much.” He then lowers his mouth and kisses her slowly, sweetly, deeply.

 

She snuggles closer, letting her face rest against his neck, she whispers, “I love you, too, more than I thought possible.” They lay entwined in each other’s arms as they fall asleep.

 

********

 

The last week before the wedding finally arrives and as the final touches are made, excitement runs wild through the willing participants. Josie’s parents arrive and with them staying at Josie’s apartment, their evenings are spent moving as much as possible into their new house. They work hard to make it as perfect as possible for when they return from their honeymoon.

 

Sunday morning finds Trivette trying to get dressed, but having difficulty. His fingers are like Jello and he seems to have a hard time with buttons and strings.  A knock on the door makes him jump and knock over the coffee table.  With one shoe on, he hobbles to the door, pulls it open and finds Walker and C.D. standing there staring at him with silly grins on their faces.

 

“Jimmy, I thought you’d be ready hours ago. Come on, son, let’s get a move on. You don’t want to be late for your own wedding, do you?”

 

“Yeah, Trivette. We can’t have that.” Seeing the panic in his eyes, he can’t resist teasing him. “Are you sure you’re ready for this, Trivette? Marriage is a big commitment, you know.”

 

Trivette turns on him with eyes blazing, “Yes, I’m ready.” Looking into his partner’s face he sees the sly smile and realizes that Walker is trying to lighten his mood. “I’ve never been more ready for anything in my life.” He sits down and finally gets his other shoe on and his handkerchief in his breast pocket.

 

“Good. Now give me the ring, before we forget it.”

 

Trivette starts patting down his pockets, than stops, trying to remember where he put it. He turns to take it off the table but the table is turned over on the floor. “Oh, no. It was on the table.” He gets down on his knees, frantically looking all over the floor for it. Feeling a poke on his shoulder, “What?” He turns to see Walker holding the box with the ring in it. “Thank God.”

 

When Jimmy stands, C.D. moves up to him holding his coat. “Come on, son, let’s get you out of here before you totally fall apart.

 

As he slips the coat on, Walker straightens out his collar and buttons one button, “Let’s go.” Sliding his arm around Trivette’s shoulder, and C.D. on his other side, they usher him out the door.

 

*******

 

The wedding is held in a small church just outside Ft. Worth.  The location is kept as quiet as possible to avoid any chance that someone or something would try to ruin the day.  Josie and Alex had scoured every bridal shop in the area to find the perfect wedding gown.  After months of searching, they finally found it at a small shop in Garland.  It was a beautiful white satin sheath with a detachable train.  It had a sweetheart neckline, fitted bodice adorned with pearls and sequins which flowed gracefully down to the floor.  The detachable satin train was less ornate than the dress but accented it beautifully.  She wore a headband headpiece rather than the traditional veil and when the ensemble was put together, she was truly a vision.

 

The bridesmaids are dressed in lavender satin dresses with spaghetti straps, long flowing skirts and short-sleeved, waist-length jackets.  Jimmy is wearing a white tuxedo with tails and the groomsmen are dressed in black tuxes with lavender cumber buns and ties.

 

As the wedding march begins to play, all eyes are glued to the back of the church for their first glimpse of the bride.  Jimmy can not take his eyes from his bride as she walks slowly down the aisle on the arm of her father.  A smile lights up her face.  She is nervous until she looks down the aisle and sees Jimmy waiting for her.  One look from him and all her nervousness disappears.  She has the same effect on him and by the time her father places her hand in his, they are both calm, relaxed and ready to commit themselves fully to each other.

 

After the minister pronounces them husband and wife, he tells Jimmy, “You may kiss the bride.” Jimmy takes Josie in his arms and kisses her softly. He turns as Walker reaches for his hand, saying, “Congratulations, Jimmy.” Then C.D. is there with a hug, and Alex gives him a kiss, “You did it, Jimmy.”  He looks at her, a large smile covering his face, “Yeah, I did, didn’t I?”

 

Josie in turn accepts Walker’s kiss, C.D.’s warm embrace, and Alex’s hug with, “You’re exactly what he needs, Josie.” The group moves to the basement for the reception. After they cut the cake, and throw the garter, they finally share their first dance as husband and wife.

 

As the rest of the guests join them on the dance floor, Walker takes Alex into his arms. “Reminds you a little of our wedding, doesn’t it?”

 

“More than a little. I’m so happy for them. For all they have to look forward to—like their first child.”

 

“Whoa, honey, they’ve just barely said their ‘I do’s’, and you’ve got them having children. He tightens his arm around her but silently agrees with her. Knowing how he felt when he first learned he was going to be a father and how the birth of his daughter just a few months ago had totally changed his life. He’s been in seventh heaven since that day and wishes the same for his partner.

 

After the wedding dance, the newlyweds announce that they have a flight to catch and need to leave but they encourage their friends to continue the celebration without them.  Sometime during the reception, Walker, Alex and some of their friends sneaked into the parking lot and decorated Trivette’s car with paper flowers, streamers, tin cans and, of course, the mandatory “Just Married” banner fastened to the back of the car.

 

Jimmy and Josie exit the reception hall amid well wishes from all of their friends and after settling down in the car, Jimmy turns to Josie, kisses her softly and whispers, “I love you, my wife.”

 

Josie giggles and returns his kiss, “I love you, too, husband.” 

 

Jimmy starts the car and as they pull away from the curb, they smile at each other and give a final wave to all their well wishers, knowing they are starting the greatest adventure of their lives, together.

 

Final Scene: Jimmy’s car with streamers flying and tin cans rattling, disappearing down the street.

 

The End

 

   *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

   The Second Edition

 

 

Alex walks up the sidewalk to the HOPE house, climbing the steps slowly as she feels the wear and tear of a long day.  Before she can open the door, it swings out and a small tornado descends upon her, grabbing her around the knees, giggling and crying, “Mommy, Mommy, hurry, come see.”  The child grabs Alex’s hand and tugs, trying to get her to hurry inside.

 

“I’m coming Jessie! What is it, honey?” Alex smiles at the child’s exuberance and finds it very contagious as her weariness slips away and she quickly follows Jessie inside.  Suddenly Jessie stops, turns to face her mother and places her finger at her lips then tiptoes up to a basket that’s sitting on the couch.

 

Alex peers over Jessie’s shoulder and sees a sleeping baby, maybe two months old. Alex smiles as she looks down at the tiny bundle.  She reaches out and puts her finger in the baby’s curled fingers, which instantly wrap around hers.

 

As Alex kneels down at the side of the basket, Jessie moves closer and puts her arm around Alex’s neck, whispering, “Mommy can we get one? Please!”

 

*****

 

Alex is sitting on the couch staring into the flames in the fireplace as Walker comes down the stairs after tucking Jessie into bed. “Alex, if we could bottle the energy Jessie has, we’d make a fortune.”

 

“I know what you mean, darling.” She reaches a hand out for him; he takes it and sits down beside her. “Did she tell you what she saw at the HOPE house today?”

 

“Um … no, I don’t think so.  She was talking about so much, I’m not sure what she told me.” He leans over and kisses her softly on the lips. “What was it she saw today? Ten to one, she wanted one, didn’t she?”

 

As she snuggles back into his arms, “Well … yes, she did.  How did you know?”

 

He kisses the top of her head, “Because Jesse wants anything new she sees.  Now, tell me what she saw that seems to have filled your mind as well.”

 

She softly murmurs, “A baby.”

 

“A baby! I didn’t know they had any babies at the HOPE house.” He tightens his arms around her, pulling her closer.

 

“This one was just temporary, just in the afternoon for the next couple of days. She was beautiful, about 2 months old and so soft.”

 

“And Jessie said she wanted one?”

 

“Yes, she ask me if we could get one.”

 

Walker murmurs into her ear. “Well, maybe its time to think about another one, hon, Jessie’s past two now and the nursery has been empty a long time.”

 

“Honey, I think it’s a little late to think about it.”

 

“Why, baby, don’t you want another ba….”  What she said finally sinks in, “Alex …” he turns her around to face him, “Honey, are you telling me…!”

 

She leans in and kisses him softly, “Yes, darling, our second is already on the way.”

 

“Honey, that’s great!” He pulls her into a tight hug, then pushes her back and sees the brightness in her eyes, “Alex, I love you so much.” He kisses her again, a tender, lingering, kiss. “How soon before …?”

 

“About mid-July, darling.” She snuggles back into his arms, “that’ll give us time to get the nursery redecorated.”

 

They sit, snuggled together staring into the flames, thinking about the new baby on the way. Walker murmurs into her ear, “When should we tell Jessie?”

 

“Why don’t we wait until I start to show.  As it is, the wait will seem like years to her but I think we should tell her before we tell anyone else, don’t you?”

 

“I agree.” Walker begins nibbling at her ear that turns to soft kisses, then his hand slips up under her shirt, cupping her breast, massaging it gently. Murmurs softly, “You’ve made me a very happy man, honey.  I sure do love you.” Alex turns in his arms as he lowers his lips to hers in a soft sensuous, lingering kiss.

 

As Alex feels his desire against her, she brings the kiss to an end and, to his surprise, stands.  She reaches down, takes his hand and murmurs, “Come on, sweetheart, let’s take this upstairs.”

 

He quickly comes to his feet, smiles softly at her as he touches his lips to hers, then slides his arm around her waist.  He turns the lights out as they leave the living room and start up the stairs.

 

*****

 

Walker wakes up with a smile on his face that is still there when he pushes open the door to Ranger Headquarters.  He tries to stop smiling, knowing Trivette is going to badger him to find out why he is so happy, although he has been like this since the day he and Alex were finally married.  Then when Jessie was born, it had just added to his happiness.  He finally gets rid of the smile but he can still feel the happiness in his face whether he smiles or not. It just isn’t going to be contained.

 

He hangs up his hat and coat and pours a cup of coffee before sitting down at his desk. He picks up the folder lying on the desk in front of him, but his mind is still on the tiny bundle that is on the way. As he stares at the folder, Trivette turns around from his computer.

 

“Walker, that’s the guy …” He stops as he sees something different about Walker, but not to sure just what it is. When Walker doesn’t look up at him, he knows something is brewing. “Walker, are you all right?” But Walker still doesn’t move. “Walker!

 

He jumps, “What, Trivette.  You don’t have to yell, I’m right here.” As Walker looks up at him, he sees a shine on his face that he can only remember seeing maybe twice before.

 

Trivette mumbles, “Well, that’s debatable.”

 

“What’s that suppose to mean?”

 

“You’ve got that look on your face again.”

 

“Trivette, what are you talking about?” Walker is having a hard time keeping the news to himself.  Every bone in his body is alive with the knowledge that another addition to his family is on the way.

 

“Come on, Walker. I’ve seen that look before.  I just can’t put my finger on when.”

 

“Trivette, are we going to play 20 questions or are we going to get some work done?”

 

“Okay, man. Have it your way but it’ll come to me eventually.” He turns back to his computer but keeps one eye on Walker.

 

“Trivette, I’ve got to see Alex for a minute then we’ll go check out a few places and see if we can find this guy. Okay?”

 

“Okay, Walker, I’ll be ready.” He replies as he watches his partner walk out the door. ‘Man, something is definitely going on.  I just wish I knew what’.

 

*****

 

Walker pushes open the door to the ADA’s outer office, “Is she busy, Amy?”

 

“No, sir, she’s alone.”

 

He nods his thanks, taps on the door and pushes it open.

 

When Alex hears the door open, she looks up to see her husband coming toward her with a huge smile on his face. As he comes around her desk, she stands and when he pulls her into his arms she slides hers around his waist. “Darling, if you keep walking around with that smile on your face, everyone that sees you is going to know our secret.”

 

“I can’t help it, Alex. I think we need to tell Jessie tonight because I don’t think I’m going to be able to keep this to myself for much longer. Trivette is already suspicious. I just hope he doesn’t figure it out before we tell Jessie.”

 

She kisses him lightly, “Honey, I think you’re almost as excited about this one as you were when you found out Jessie was on the way.”

 

He pulls her closer and murmurs, “Well, the first is always a little special, but only because she is the beginning of our family.   All the babies from here on just makes our life richer.”

 

All the babies? Walker, just how many babies are you planning on?” She leans back and looks at him with wide eyes.

 

He pulls her back into his arms, chuckles slightly, “As many as the good Lord sees fit to let us have.” Kisses her softly. “Besides, what about your elusive dream?  Weren’t there two boys and two girls?”

 

“Oh, Walker, that was just fever induced rambling.  You don’t really believe that’s going to come true, do you?”

 

“Well … if it does, it’s would be just fine with me. How about you?”

 

“Walker … I … who …?” She stops rambling and just stares into his eyes. “Well, I guess I’d have to agree.  If God sees fit to give us that many babies, who am I to argue with him.”

 

He pulls her close, and kisses her gently, “Then we tell Jessie tonight?”

 

She nods as their mouths meet lightly in a soft kiss that leaves them both breathing hard when she slowly pulls away. “Honey, I think you’d better get back to work, for both our sakes?”

 

“Umm … I think you’re right. Remember where we left off; we’ll pick it up again, tonight, okay.” He touches her lips lightly again, then releases her and starts for the door.

 

“You can count on it. See you at C.D.’s for lunch?”

 

“If I can, but don’t wait on me, okay?” He watches her nod her head then he goes out the door.

 

*****

 

Walker somehow manages to make it through the rest of the day without saying anything to Trivette or anyone else, for that matter, about the impending arrival, although Trivette keeps after him to explain his easygoing manner even with the bad guys. His partner is in a good mood and nothing that happens seems to dampen it.

 

When Walker leaves Ranger Headquarters to head home for the evening, Trivette is still scratching his head trying to figure out what could be causing the change in his partner. Trivette follows Walker to the door, staring after him.  He sees Alex come out of her office, take Walker’s hand in hers and head for the elevator.  Just as the elevator door closes, it hits him.  He finally remembers the last time he saw Walker like this. ‘Well, I’ll be.’  He’s filled with joy for them but decides it’s better not to say anything and let Walker be the one to break the news.  He turns and chuckling softly gives a very happy “YES”.  When everyone still in the office turns to look at him, he quickly pulls himself together and goes to his desk, grabs his hat and leaves Ranger Headquarters.

 

*****

 

Alex kisses Walker lightly, “Will you pick up Jessie?  I need to stop at the store before I go home.  It’ll give you two more time together.”

 

“I’d like that.” He starts for his truck, then turns back, “Tonight’s the night, right?”

 

“Yes, darling. We’ll tell her right after supper, okay?”

 

He smiles at her then they get into their respective vehicles and go in different directions. As Walker pushes the door open at HOPE house, Jessie is right there waiting for him. He reaches down and picks her up, giving her a hug as she kisses his cheek. “Daddy, can I show you something?”

 

“You sure can, baby,” he stands her back on the floor, “lead the way.”  She takes his hand and leads him into the living room. When he looks into the basket, at the sleeping baby, the big tough Texas Ranger in him melts into a puddle. Walker kneels down, takes Jessie in his arms, and they both seem to be mesmerized with the small bundle. Walker reaches in with his free hand and gently touches the baby’s cheek, causing her head to turn toward his touch.  He smiles, then picking up Jessie as he stands, starts for the door. Walker lets Josie know that he has Jessie and after telling her good night, he goes to the truck, belts Jessie in and starts the trip home.

 

The trip to the ranch is quiet until, “Daddy?”

 

“Yes, honey.”

 

“Do you like babies?”

 

“I sure do, honey. Why?”

 

“Do you think Santa Claus will bring us one if I’m real good?  That’s all I want. Do you think he would, Daddy?”

 

The question really stuns Walker and it takes him a minute to gather his wits about him to answer her. “Well … I don’t know, baby. I’m not sure bringing babies is in Santa Claus’ power.” He watches her face fall, then, “Honey, why don’t we talk this over with Mommy after supper tonight. Okay?”

 

Her face brightens at the idea of talking to her mother about babies, cause her mom was as fascinated with the baby as she was. “Okay, Daddy.”

 

*****

 

Walker cleans up the kitchen while Alex is giving Jessie her bath and getting her ready for bed. Walking to the door he turns to make sure everything is done then turns out the light and hurries upstairs.

 

He enters Jessie’s bedroom just as she climbs up into bed. When she sees him, “Daddy!”

 

“Hi, Princess.” He sits down on the edge of the bed next to Alex sliding his arm around her waist, “All ready to say your prayers?”

 

Jessie stares at him then says, “Daddy, you forgot.”

 

“Forgot what, honey?”

 

“You said we could talk to Mommy tonight.”

 

“Oh, I did, didn’t I. All right, you ask Mommy what you asked me this afternoon?”

 

Alex glances from Jessie to Walker, then back to Jessie, waiting for her question.

 

“Mommy, I want Santa Claus to bring us a baby for Christmas but Daddy said, he … what did you say?” as she looks to Walker for help.

 

“I said I didn’t think it was in Santa’s power to bring babies.” He looks at Alex and she smiles at him then she leans over and kisses Jessie on the forehead.

 

“Honey, I don’t think Santa can bring us a baby but what if Mommy and Daddy took care of that wish.  Would that be all right?”

 

Jessie looks from one to the other in complete bewilderment. “Really? Can you do that?”

 

“Yes, honey, really, but I’m afraid it wouldn’t get here by Christmas.”

 

“When, Mommy, when would it get here?”

“Well, probably not till the middle of summer. Do you think you can wait till then for a sister or a brother?”

 

“This summer? That’s a long time, isn’t it Daddy?”

 

“Yes, Princess, that’s a long time. Is that all right?”

 

“Our very own baby?” They watch as her eyes get brighter, “It will live here and everything?”

 

When they both nod at her, the tornado hits. She comes up out of the bed and begins jumping up and down, laughing and saying over and over, “A baby. A baby, we’re getting a baby!”

 

It takes Walker and Alex a good hour to calm her down enough to get her back under the covers and even then she is still asking questions as they go to the door and shut the light out. “Shh … Jessie, go to sleep now. We’ll talk more tomorrow. Good night sweetheart.” They close the door and walk away, still hearing her chattering.

 

*****

 

They park side by side at the Courthouse parking lot.  Walker joins Alex as she gets out of her car, “Alex, when do we tell C.D. and Trivette?”

 

“Well, I don’t know. You want to do it now before work?” Alex smiles at him knowing that he is just busting to tell the news.

 

“Yes, that sounds good. I’ll call Trivette and have him meet us at C.D.’s, okay?”

 

She barely gets, “Okay,” out before he is dialing his cell phone.

 

“Trivette, can you meet me at C.D.’s? There’s something I need to tell you before we start work this morning. Okay?” He closes up his cell phone and turns to Alex, “My truck or your car? You drive, my truck is already locked.”

 

Trivette is looking out the window at C.D.’s when he sees the two of them park in front and as they get out and start toward the door, he quickly moves back to the bar and sits down on a stool just as they push open the door. He is having a hard time containing his smile, knowing why Walker had called this meeting. He feels like patting himself on the back for not saying anything to anyone else, especially C.D..

 

When Alex and Walker come up to him, C.D. comes up from the back, “Hey, don’t start without me. I’ll bring the coffee.” Bringing 4 mugs, he sets them on the counter, fills each one, then, “Okay, Cordell, what was it you wanted to tell us?”

 

Walker looks at Alex with a puzzling expression because he can’t remember saying anything to C.D., only to Trivette. 

 

He shrugs his shoulder, grins, “Trivette, C.D., we wanted to let you know that…”

 

C.D. and Trivette ask at the same time, “When’s the baby due?” Trivette and C.D. turn to look at each other, neither one knowing that the other knew the good news.

 

Walker turns to Alex, grins and takes her in his arms, “Well, so much for the surprise.”

 

“Well, when?”

 

Alex laughs and says, “July. Boy, you guys are no fun.”

 

“Well, when you two walk around with the news just aching to bust out, it’s kinda hard not to know.”

 

“Yeah, Walker, I figured it out right after you left work yesterday. Have you told Jessie, yet? How did she take it?”

 

“I’m going to let you ask her that question, Trivette.” He turns to Alex, “Come on, hon, let’s go to work.” They start for the door, but Alex turns back, “We’ll be back this evening for dinner and you can ask Jessie your question, then.”

 

After they go out the door, C.D. looks at Jimmy, and as smiles cover their faces, they do a HI-FIVE and give a loud, “YES.

 

*****

 

C.D. is standing behind the bar talking to Jimmy when a little red headed girl comes running into the room shouting, “Grampa, Uncle Jimmy, we’re getting a baby! A brand new baby!”

 

Jimmy leans over and picks her up, sitting her on his lap, “A new baby? Well, how about that? I can tell that you’re not to happy about it.”

 

She turns to look up at him, “Yes, I am. Very happy.”

 

Jimmy gives her a hug, “I know, honey, so am I.”

 

She turns around looking at C.D., “Grampa, we’re getting our very own baby.”

 

C.D. leans over and kisses her on the cheek, “That’s great, honey.”  He looks up then to see Walker and Alex approaching the bar.  Looking at Jessie’s smiling face, “You decided which you want, a little girl baby or a little boy baby?”

 

Jessie is quiet for a minute, then as she look at all the faces standing around her, announces, “I don’t care, just a baby.”

 

*****

As the months pass and Alex’s shape takes on a new dimension, and Jessie, as well as her father, can’t seem to walk past her without laying a hand on her tummy hoping to feel movement. It had been quite a challenge to explain to Jessie why her mother was carrying the baby inside her and not just going somewhere it get it. Whether she really understood the explanation or not, she readily accepts the fact and makes it top priority every morning, or whenever she got close to Alex, to lay her head against her mother’s stomach, hoping to hear the baby cooing like she had heard the baby at HOPE house.

 

One evening Walker and Alex are sitting on the edge of Jessie’s bed, answering her never-ending questions concerning the baby, when Alex suddenly gasped, “Ohhh.”

 

“What is it, hon?”

 

Alex quickly takes Jessie’s hand and lays it on the side of her stomach and then places Walker’s hand on top of it. Watching their faces as they feel the baby move, brings moisture to her eyes.

 

Walker leans over and kisses her tenderly, and his eyes moisten, too, as Jessie very softly whispers, “The baby?” and when Alex nods, Jessie’s eyes sparkle with the knowledge that there really is a baby growing inside her Mommy’s tummy.

 

*****

 

At the beginning of her ninth month, Alex finally agrees to take a leave of absence from her job although she feels fine and believes that she could continue for at least two more weeks.  Walker, however, insists that she slow down and take it easy the last month.

 

Jessie is thrilled to have her Mommy at home and knowing it won’t be long before the baby arrives, she is constantly at Alex’s side waiting for something to happen.  After all, she was told the baby would be here in the summer and this was the summer, wasn’t it. The days were hot and the nights stayed warm so Jessie was beside herself wanting something to happen.

 

As the days pass, Alex is glad she quit working because the heat is really starting to get to her.  The closer she gets to her due date, the more uncomfortable she becomes.  Walker persuades her to stay at the HOPE house while he’s at work but as the due date comes and goes, everyone is on pins and needles.  Every time she stands, they think this is it. Even at home, Walker watches her like a hawk until her nerves are ready to scream.

 

“Walker, will you stop it?”

 

“Stop what?”

 

“Stop looking at me like I’m ready to explode any minute.” Tears fill her eyes as she slowly and with much effort stands, “Walker, take me to town.”

 

He jumps up, hollers for Jessie, then turns to his wife, “Is it time, honey?”

 

As he comes up to help her stand, she says angrily, “NO. I just want to get out of here. You’re making me a nervous wreck. Let’s go to C.D.’s.  I need a change of scenery.” When she sees the concern in his eyes, “I’m sorry, darling, but you’re making me crazy!  Sitting there staring at me like that makes me feel like a watched pot.” She puts her hand to his cheek, kisses him softly and whispers, “And you know what they say about a watched pot.”

 

He smiles, “I’m sorry, sweetheart.  I know you’re as anxious as I am, probably more so.”   As Jessie comes running into the room, “Jessie, let’s go for a ride.  We’ll go see C.D. for a little while then maybe get some ice cream?”

 

“Oh, boy,” and she runs out the door.  Walker helps Alex into her car (she hasn’t ridden in the Ram for three months) and they take a slow drive into Dallas.

 

*****

 

Unable to sit in a booth any longer, Walker guides Alex to a table in the back of the room and helps lower her into a chair. “Oh, that’s fine, honey.” Looking around, she notices that Jimmy is dancing with Josie.  She smiles, knowing that one of these days soon Jimmy would be popping the question. “Look, honey. The love birds are here, again.”

 

He scans the room and when he spots Trivette and Josie, he smiles, too, “I think we’re going to be going to a wedding before long.”

 

They sit quietly holding hands and listening to the juke box for the better part of an hour.  Alex starts feeling the discomfort of sitting on a straight back chair and as she turns to tell Walker that she’d like to leave, a loud voice interrupts the friendly atmosphere. She looks over to see a man at the bar, obviously very intoxicated, insisting that C.D. pour him a drink.  When C.D. refuses, stating that he has already had too many and he needs to go on home, the man slams his fist down on the bar and threatens to tear the place apart if C.D. doesn’t give him a drink.

 

Walker stands and walks up to the man arriving at the same time as Trivette, “Come on, fella, its time to call it a night.” With Trivette on one side and Walker on the other, they quickly escort the man out the front door.  Outside they offer to get him a cab but the man refuses and shaking free of their hands, stumbles away from them, mumbling under his breath.

 

Coming back inside, Trivette returns to Josie’s arms on the dance floor and Walker rejoins Alex at their table. Before he can sit down, “Honey, I think I’m ready to go; this chair is starting to get to me.” Walker helps her up and with one arm around her and the other around Jessie, they bid C.D., Jimmy and Josie goodnight and walk out the door.

 

Walker has his arm around Alex’s waist and she is holding Jessie’s hand.  As they step outside, Alex stops and takes a deep breath, “Ahh … fresh air.  It smells like rain, doesn’t it, darling?”

 

“Hmmm …. Yes, I think you’re right. It’ll be nice, maybe cool things down a little.” As they continue their stroll down the sidewalk toward the car, Walker looks at Alex when he feels her tense up. Out of the corner of his eye he sees a man lunge toward her out of the shadows, his arm raised with a knife in his hand. Alex sees the man at the same time Walker does and pulls Jessie around in front of her as the man swings the knife leaving a slash in her arm.  Walker drops around behind her and grabs the man as he slashes down again, this time at Walker. He blocks the swing with his arm and fires a fist into the guy’s midsection dropping him to the ground.  Walker quickly puts handcuffs on him then rushes over to Alex sitting on the sidewalk, holding Jessie in her arms. He checks Jessie over quickly, “Baby, are you alright?”

 

“Uh huh but Mommy’s hurt.”

 

Walker looks at Alex and sees the blood running down her arm. “Alex, what …”

 

In a tight hushed voice, “Walker … get … Jessie … out of here.” She groans and bends over.

 

Trivette comes running up, “Walker, someone came in saying you were attacked. Are you all right?”

 

“Alex, honey, let me help you up.” Walker takes her by the arm but she pulls away.

 

With clinched teeth, “Get … Jessie … out … of here. My water … just … broke.”

 

“Oh, God.” He looks for Trivette, grabs him by the arm, “Trivette would you take Jessie back into C.D.’s … and call an ambulance. HURRY!”

 

It only takes a split second for Trivette to assess the situation, as he sees the puddle forming under Alex, “I’ll take care of Jessie and call the paramedics.” He picks up Jessie in his arms and runs back into C.D.’s.

 

*****

 

As Walker kneels down beside her, he sees the slash on her upper arm, pulls his clean handkerchief out of his pocket and ties it around the wound, then puts his arm around her holding her close, bringing her head back against his shoulder. “Hang on, honey, the medics are coming.”

 

As Alex looks up into his face, he touches his lips to hers softly.   She squeezes her eyes shut and moans, “Our baby is coming, darling. Ahhh … Ahhh …Oh, God … Walker … not here … in the street.” She grips his arm tightly until the pain subsides.  As she relaxes her hand, she feels stickiness and brings her hand up to where she can see it, “Walker, you’re hurt!  She struggles against him, wanting to see how bad it is.

 

“Alex, I’m all right, it’s just a scratch.  Please, honey, take it easy.  I’m fine.” He looks up when he hears a siren, “They’re here, baby.  Hang on, we’ll get you to the hospital.” When the medics arrive, they put Alex on a gurney and load her into the ambulance and Walker climbs in to ride with her.

 

As they shut the doors to the ambulance, Alex insists that they look at Walker before she’ll let them touch her. Finally, one of the paramedics agrees to look at Walker if she’ll let the other one take care of her. When she sees Walker roll up his sleeve for the medic, she lays back on the gurney.  By the time the ambulance stops at the emergency entrance, Walker’s arm is bandaged, Alex’s arm is bandaged, and she’s groaning from the pain of her insides shifting to make a passage for the baby.

 

*****

 

After Alex has been prepped, they let Walker back into the room. He moves up to her, takes her hand, leans over and kisses her softly, “This is it, baby.”

 

“Are you all right? Ahhhh ….” Before he can answer, a contraction starts and she takes his hand in a bone-crushing grip. As it eases, she releases his hand, and lies back against the pillows, eyes closed, trying to relax between contractions.

 

Walker wipes her face with a cool cloth, then picks up her hand and kisses it, just before she grips it again, so tight that it brings tears to the eyes of the mighty Texas Ranger.

 

As the pain ebbs, she looks up into Walker’s face, tears in her eyes, “I can’t … do this … Walker … I’m so … tired.”

 

He pulls her head back onto his shoulder, and wipes the tears from her eyes. “Yes you can, honey. It’s almost over then our baby will be here. And from the way you’ve been squeezing my hand, you’ve got lots of strength left.  If I could trade place with you, baby, I would.”

 

Her eyes fly open, and she looks up into his face, smiles and says, “Yeah, right.”

 

“Alex, when the next contraction hits, I want you to push, hard, okay? This baby is on the way. Can you do that for me?”

 

“I’ll try, doctor, but … ahhh ….. ahhh … ahhh.”

 

“That’s it, Alex, you’re doing fine. The next one should do it. Walker, wasn’t your first a redhead?”

 

“Yes, she was.”

 

“Well, this one isn’t. This one, I think is a blonde.”

 

“Alex, did you hear that?”

 

Before she can answer, another contraction grabs her, and with Walker’s encouragement, she pushes hard. As she feels the baby leave her, she lays back against Walker’s shoulder. When she hears the baby cry, she smiles and tries to sit up to see.

 

“It’s a boy, Alex, a blonde-haired boy.” The doctor places it on her stomach as another contraction hits her, expelling the afterbirth.

“Walker, if you’ll step outside just long enough for us to clean her and the baby up, when you come back in, you can bring your daughter with you.”

 

Walker leans over and kisses her tenderly and holds her close, “Alex, I love you so much.”

 

He kisses her again and starts to back away to leave, but she hangs on to his hand, “I love you, too, darling.” Another quick kiss then the nurses usher him out the door.

 

*****

 

When Walker enters the waiting room, he sees C.D., Trivette, Josie and Jessie.  When Jessie sees Walker, she rushes up to him grabbing him around the legs and hangs on for dear life. Walker picks her up and sees tears in her eyes. He sits down in a chair holding her close, “Jessie? Honey, why are you crying?”

 

“I saw Mommy get hurt and you, too.”

 

He pulls her tight against his chest, stroking her back with his hand.  “Honey, Mommy and I are fine. We got a scratch that’s all.” He holds her close until the crying turns into sniffles then tilts her head up with a hand under her chin, “Would you like to go see the new baby?”

 

Her eyes light up, “The baby is here? Really?” She turns in his lap, “Grampa, Uncle Jimmy, the baby is here! The baby is here!”

 

“Honey, that’s great. Cordell, is Alex alright?”

 

“Yes, C.D., she fine, tired but fine.”

 

“Well, come on man, what is it, a boy or a girl?”

 

“It’s a boy, Trivette, a little boy.” He stands with Jessie in his arms, “Come on, baby, let’s go see your baby brother.”

 

*****

 

When Walker goes back into the room with Jessie, he sees Alex lying in bed with her eyes closed and the baby in a bassinet at the side of the bed.  He and Jessie move as quietly as possible over to the bassinet, and with looks of awe on their faces, watch the baby sleep. Walker stands Jessie down on the floor and he kneels down beside her. He glances up and sees Alex watching them with tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. 

 

Walker moves over to sit on the edge of the bed, leans in and kisses her softly. He picks up her hand, murmurs, “How are you feeling, hon?”

 

“I’m fine. A little tired but I’m fine. How’s your arm? Was it very bad?” She lays her head against his chest.

“Probably not as bad as yours.  It really was just a scratch.” He nuzzles his face into her hair and watches as Jessie very slowly reaches out to softly touch the baby’s arm.

 

A whisper, “Mommy, he’s so soft.” She turns then and moves up to Walker.  He picks her up and holds her on his lap. “Is he really ours, Mommy?”

 

Alex touches Jessie’s face, picks up her hand and holds it to her cheek, “Yes, honey, he’s all ours. To love and take care of.”

 

“What are we going to call him?”

 

Alex looks up into Walker’s face, and murmurs, “John. John Cordell Walker.  After your grandfather and your daddy.”

 

Later, after Josie agrees to take Jessie home and stay at the ranch and until Alex is released from the hospital and C.D. and Jimmy have seen the baby and gone home, Walker is finally left alone with Alex and the baby. He sits on the bed with Alex leaning back against his chest, while she nurses their son.  Walker rubs his finger over the baby’s hand letting it softly caress the soft skin. “He’s beautiful, just like his mamma.”

 

“Walker, I thought I had everything I ever wanted when we were married but then Jessie came along, and I didn’t think life could get any better.  Now with John, my heart feels like it could burst from happiness.”

 

“I know.  That’s exactly how I feel too.  But remember this is only half.  Didn’t your elusive dream call for two more.” He tightens his arm on her shoulder and when she looks at him he lowers his lips to hers in a soft caressing touch.

 

Alex giggles, and says, “Honey, it really does look like my elusive dreams are coming true. So far we have one redhead and one blonde. One girl and one boy.” She looks up into his eyes, and with a sparkle in hers, “I just hope you’re in no hurry for the next one, honey.”

 

“No, honey, no hurry at all.  How should I put it?  Right now, the next one is just a twinkle in my eye.”

 

“Better make that a very dim twinkle, honey, unless you plan on having the next one.”

 

The End

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~      

     Family Affair

 

“Mom, I’m home!”

 

“I’m in here, Jessie.”

 

The little redheaded, hazel-eyed girl runs into the kitchen with the exuberance of a typical six-year-old.

 

Alex sits down at the table as Jessie comes running up to her, throwing her arms around her mother’s neck.

 

Alex returns the hug and kisses her on the cheek.

 

“Where’s Daddy?”

 

“He isn’t home yet, honey. How was school today?”

 

“Fine. I got an “A” on my writing and reading.  We didn’t do math today.”

 

Jessie stands back and gently pats her mom’s stomach. “Has he been a good baby today?”

 

“Pretty good, although he has been kicking quite a bit today.”

 

Jessie leans down and kisses Alex’s belly saying, “You’d better be good in there, or I’ll tell Daddy.”

 

“You’ll tell Daddy, what?” Walker comes through the door and scoops Jessie up into his arms for a hug and a kiss.

 

He leans over, still holding Jessie, and kisses Alex tenderly on the lips. “Hi” he says softly.

 

“Hi yourself, Cowboy.”

 

“Now, Jessie, what were you going to tell me?” He asks as he sits down in a chair by the table and places Jessie on his lap.

 

“I told the baby if he didn’t stop kicking Mommy, I was going to tell you.”

 

Walker looks at Alex who nods and smiles in agreement.

 

“Well, honey, all that kicking just means that he’s getting anxious to join the rest of us.”

 

“How soon, Daddy? Tomorrow?”

 

Walker laughs, “No, I’m afraid it’s not going to be that soon, although your mom probably wouldn’t mind. You’ll probably have to wait about thirty more days. Tell you what--go get a calendar and we’ll mark today and the day when the baby is due and every day you cross one day off. That way you’ll be able to tell when the baby gets close.”

 

Jessie runs off in search of a calendar leaving Alex and Walker alone.

 

He moves over and kneels on the floor by Alex, pulling her close to his chest. “Has the baby really been that bad?”

 

Giggling, she pulls back slightly and kisses him deeply.

 

“Whoa, lady, we have small fry present.”

 

“I like kissing you, besides this baby is not any different than the others.” Kissing him again.

 

“That reminds me, where is John?”

 

“He’s taking a nap in his room—should be up soon. You want to go check on him for me?”

 

“Sure, be right back.” Kisses her again and goes in search of his son.

 

As he looks in the bedroom, he sees the blond boy lying on his stomach crossways on the bed. He walks in and sits down on the edge of the bed. The motion wakes the boy.

 

He rolls over, sees Walker, “Daddy!” he yells and jumps into his arms. Laughing, Walker and his son enjoy a gentle tussling on the bed.

 

Jessie runs in and yells, “Me, too, Daddy. Me, too.” jumping right in the middle of the fracas. For the next thirty minutes, Walker has his hands full playing with his kids.

 

“Hey, can I get in on this too?” Alex asks laughingly as she enters the room. “I kinda figured this had happened.”

 

Walker picks up both kids, one in each arm, and stands up laughing. “Okay, okay. That’s it for now.” Setting them down on the floor, he continues, “It’s time you got washed up for dinner.”

 

“Come on, John, let’s go.”

 

“Yeah, John, show Daddy how big you are.”

 

“He’s not as big as me, Daddy, he’s only three, I’m six.”

 

“That’s right, you’re the big sister. Now, why don’t you take little brother and go get washed up? Maybe after dinner we’ll take a ride.”

 

“Yippee. C’mon John.” They dash for the bathroom and Walker collapses exhausted on the bed.

 

“What’s the matter, Cowboy, getting outta shape?”

 

Smiling up at her, Walker replies “I guess so.  I’ll have to spend some more time in the gym if I’m going to keep up with those two, not to mention a third!”

 

Alex offers her hand to help her husband up off the bed.  Grabbing it and gently pulling her onto the bed with him, he kisses her passionately.

 

“Don’t get started, you! You’ll have to save it till later.  Dinner’s almost ready and I’m sure the kids are just about done washing up.”

 

“Party pooper!”

 

Rising from the bed arm in arm, they head toward the bathroom to check on the children.

 

                                                **************************************

 

As they move gently on the porch swing, Alex leans back into Walker’s arms, murmuring contentedly, “The kids are asleep and all is quiet in the Walker house. We’ve been married almost eight years, and have two great kids with one almost here. It can’t get any better than this, darling.”

 

“Alex, you really are amazing, you know that?” Turns her face towards him and kisses her softly. “And I love you more every day. Do you realize how many kids we’d have if I had proposed sooner?”

 

Alex laughs, “And we’d love everyone one of them. Come on; let’s go to bed. It’s been a long day.”

 

                                                **************************************

 

“Mrs. Walker? Can you come to school and pick up Jessie? I’m not sure, but I think she has the mumps. It’s been going around the school a lot lately.”

 

“I’ll be right there.”  Turns to Josie who is visiting her today. “Josie, I have to pick up Jessie at school. Would you mind staying and watching John till I get back? Oh, by the way, have you had the mumps?”

 

Josie laughs and says, “Yes, I have.  Do they think Jessie has them? What about you and Walker?”

 

“Well, it’s been going around school. I had them when I was a kid, but I’m not sure about Walker.”

 

                                                **************************************

 

3 weeks later

 

“Walker, come on, its time to get up. You don’t want to be late for your meeting with Jimmy, do you?”

 

“One more minute, Alex.”

 

“Boy, this is a switch. That used to be my line.”

 

Alex leaves the bedroom to make sure Jessie is up and getting dressed for school. When she returns to the bedroom, Walker is finally getting dressed, his hair still wet from the shower. He turns toward Alex and pulls her into his arms, “Come here, woman.”

 

Giggling, she snuggles close as he kisses her.

 

“Darling, don’t you ever get tired of kissing a fat, pregnant woman?”

 

“Nope, not this one. Besides, it’s lots of fun making you a fat, pregnant woman.”

 

“Don’t you say the nicest things.” She kisses him, then pulls back looking at him closer.

 

“Walker, do you feel alright?”

 

“Sure, I feel a little sluggish, but, yeah, I’m fine. Why?”

 

She puts her hands on each side of his face, moving them down his neck.

 

“OH, OH!”

 

“Oh, Oh What, WHAT?”

 

“Walker, you’re not going to work today. You’re going right back to bed.”

 

“No way, woman. I’ve got to go to work. I’ve got to meet Trivette in an hour.”

 

“Not today, honey.”

 

“And why not, Alex.”

 

“Because, my Cowboy, you have the MUMPS!”

 

MUMPS??  Alex, what are you talking about?  You can’t be serious?”

 

 “I’m very serious. Now get your clothes off and get back in bed.” She starts unbuttoning his shirt; he pushes her hands away and begins buttoning it again.  She picks up his boots and puts them in the closet; he takes them back out.

 

Almost in tears, she says, “Walker, you’ve got to go to bed. Don’t you know what mumps can do to a man?”

 

“Alex, how can you be sure it’s mumps?” As he takes her in his arms he can tell by the tone of her voice that she is worried.

 

“Because Jessie just had them three weeks ago, remember? Honey, I’ll make a deal with you. You get undressed and back into bed and I’ll call Dr. Wilson and have him come and check you out. If he says it’s not the mumps, then you can go to work. But mumps can be very serious for an adult male. They can also be pretty painful.” She comes up to him, kisses him softly and smiles slyly, “I may want another baby one of these days so please take care of yourself. Mumps can go down on a man. After you get in bed, check and see if you have any swelling in your….”

 

“I know, Alex, I’ll look. How long, if this is the mumps, do they last?”

 

“The swelling usually only lasts 2 or 3 days but you should stay quiet and in bed for at least a week. That means, if we’re lucky, you’ll be up by the time the baby arrives.”

 

“Oh, God, Alex, that’s right. You’re only about a week away, aren’t you? Boy, I sure pick a fine time to come down sick.”

 

“It’s not your fault, Jessie brought them home, but that’s not her fault either. Evidently the vaccination didn’t take with her. We’ll just have to make do.” She puts her arms around him and pulls him as close as possible. “If this is the mumps, you’re going to feel pretty miserable for the next few days. So please, honey, do this for me. Bed and Quiet?”

 

“Okay, Alex, I guess there’s no sense taking any chances. I may want to make you a fat, pregnant woman again one of these days.” Kisses her softly and holds her tight.

 

“You get in bed; I’ll check on the kids real quick and then call Dr. Wilson. You’d better call Jimmy and let him know.”

 

“God, Trivette’s never gonna let me live this down,” he groans as he starts undressing.

 

He finally takes his clothes off, except his underwear, and sits on the edge of the bed, but even they feel uncomfortable, so he takes them off, too.

 

He slides in between the sheets and scoots back till his back is against the headboard.

 

‘Alex said to check to see if I’m swollen.’ He takes the sheet in his hands, almost afraid to look. But reluctantly he raises the sheet.

 

‘Damn, I think she’s right.’ A frown crosses his face. ‘This shouldn’t happen to a man. Any man.’

 

As Alex walks back into the room, he drops the sheet.

“Well?”

 

“I guess you’re right, Alex. Sorry I was such a pain.”

 

“I’m sorry I was right.  The Doctor will be here shortly to explain it all to you. Are you swollen very much? Can I take a look?”

 

“Alex, right now, I don’t need that kind of stimulation.”

 

“I wasn’t going to touch, just look.” She says with a mischievous smile.

 

“Coming from you Alex, a look is all it takes” He says softly as he pats the bed for her to sit beside him. “ Has Jessie left for school, yet?”

 

“No, she wants to come in and kiss you goodbye and to tell you she’s sorry.”

 

“Sorry? What did she do?”

 

“She thinks she gave you the mumps and she feels pretty bad.”

 

“Oh, God! Poor kid. Bring her in so I can explain that this isn’t her fault.”

 

Alex leaves the room and in a few minutes’ returns with a very sad little girl, chewing on her lower lip, her eyes full of unshed tears. Jessie walks very slowly until she looks up and she sees her Daddy holding his arms out to her. She breaks into a run and leaps into his arms sobbing for all she’s worth saying, “I’m sorry, Daddy, I’m sorry.”

 

He pulls her close, tucking her head under his chin, “Jessie, Jessie, honey, it’s alright, baby. This isn’t your fault. Don’t cry, baby, please? You know Daddy doesn’t like to see his girls cry.”

 

As the sobbing slowly quiets, she pulls her head back to look into his eyes. “You don’t have girls, Daddy, just one girl and one boy.”

 

“Well, your Mommy is my girl, too.”

 

Jessie looks at her Mother with a puzzled expression that quickly changes to a beautiful smile. “We’re Daddy’s girls, Mommy!”

 

“Yes, honey, we sure are.” Alex comes up to stand beside the bed with her hand on Jessie’s shoulder.

 

Jessie looks back at her Daddy, “Are you sure I didn’t give you the mumps, Daddy?”

 

“Yes, sweetheart, I’m sure. That shot that they gave you a long time ago, wasn’t any good, that’s how come you got them and how I got them, too. Okay?”

 

“Okay, Daddy,” She reaches up and kisses Walker on the cheek and turns to Alex who leans over to get a kiss, too.

 

“C’mon, Jessie, the bus will be here in a minute, hurry now.” As Alex walks Jessie to the door, Jessie turns and says, “Bye, Daddy.”

 

“Bye, baby. Enjoy school.”

 

After Jessie leaves Walker ponders the ago old wisdom of children. It’s a shame all problems can’t be solved as easily.

 

“Well, I’ve put it off long enough. I’d better call Trivette. I think I’d rather be shot.” He picks up the phone on the nightstand and dials Trivette’s number.

 

“Trivette.”

 

“Trivette?  Walker, I’m not going to be in today or all week for that matter.”

 

“What’s wrong, Walker? Alex going to the hospital?”

 

“No, I’m sick, probably be in bed all week according to the doctor.”

 

“God, Walker, what in the world is wrong?”

 

“Well, Trivette,” Oh, God. “I’ve got the mumps.”

 

“What? What did you say, Walker? I didn’t hear you.”

 

“I said, I’ve got the mumps.”

 

“Walker, you chewin’ on something, man. I still didn’t hear you.”

 

“I said I’ve got the mumps.”

 

THE MUMPS?  Walker, are you kidding me?” Trivette looks around the room and notices everyone looking at him.

 

“You don’t have to shout it out, Trivette.”

 

“The mumps. Oh, God, Walker. I mean, I’m sorry. But the mumps?” Hehehehe, hohoho, whew. I’m sorry pard, but isn’t that kinda rough on a man? I mean on…..you know?”

 

“I know, Trivette. I know. Look I’ve got my hands full what with Alex almost due and me down with this “mumps”. So cut me a little slack, okay?”

 

“Sorry, Walker, I forgot about Alex being close and I know mumps are nothing to laugh about. But I just can’t picture you with MUMPS. Hehehe.  Hey, I know Josie will be glad to help Alex out anyway she can, till you’re back on your feet.  Our baby isn’t due for six months yet so we’ll both be glad to help out. Have you told C.D., yet?”

 

“No, I haven’t. You tell him, I don’t think I can take any more ribbing. Okay? And I’ll have Alex give Josie a call, too. I know this is a bad time leaving you to handle that gang of car thieves we’ve been after, but maybe the Captain will assign someone to help you till I get back.”

 

“Yeah, I’ll talk to him. I gotta go Walker, here comes Randy, looks like he’s got some good news for a change.”

 

“Trivette?”

 

“Yeah, Walker?”

 

“Watch yourself out there, okay?”

 

“I’ll do that, Walker. Josie and I’ll be out later. Bye.”

 

*****

 

“Was that Jimmy on the phone?” Alex asks as she sees Walker hangs up the phone.

 

“Yeah, I called him.”

 

“Well, what did he say?”

 

“About what I expected.”

 

“Honey, you feel like breakfast?”

 

“Alex, why don’t I move downstairs? You don’t need to be climbing those stairs all day looking after me.”

 

“That would probably be easier but lets wait till the Dr. gets here.  Oh, John would like to see you, are you up to it?”

 

“Hon, I’m always up to seeing my kids. I’ll have a talk with him, though, and explain why we won’t be rough housing for the next week or so.”

 

“Here, you’d better put these on, there loose, so they shouldn’t bother you.” Alex hands him a pair of his lightweight workout pant. “You’ll have to have something on when they move you downstairs.”

 

********

 

From the way the little blond boy enters the room, he has already been told that his daddy is sick. He walks up to the bed and Walker smiles at him and pats the bed for him to climb up.

 

“Daddy, are you real sick?”

 

“Well, John, I can’t do any wrestling for awhile, but I could probably read you a story once in awhile, okay?”

 

“Okay. ……..Are you gonna be sick a long time?”

 

“I hope not, John. But it will probably seem like a long time. Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Josie will be coming by this evening.  Maybe, if you ask him real nice, Uncle Jimmy will wrestle with you a little since Daddy can’t.”

 

“Oh, boy, Uncle Jimmy’s coming over!  I gotta go tell Mommy.” He jumps down and runs out of the room.  Seconds later, he pokes his head back around the corner, “See you later, Daddy. Bye.” And he was gone.

 

Walker laughs then leans back into the pillows and closes his eyes.  He’s set the minds of both his kids at ease, which always sets his mind at ease as well.  In a matter of minutes, he is fast asleep.

 

*****

 

Walker slowly wakes to a gentle kiss on his lips and a whispered “Honey.” He opens his eyes to see Alex and Doctor Wilson standing at the bedside.

 

“Well, Walker, you really did it this time, huh?”

 

“I guess I have, Doc. I think we could have saved you a trip. From the way I feel, I’m finally willing to concede that it’s the mumps.” As he sits up and slides back against the headboard.

 

“Sure looks that way. Let me take your temperature.”  He places a thermometer in Walker’s mouth then places his hands on each side of Walker’s face, feels down the sides of his throat, nods and looks at Alex. “He definitely has a fever; I can feel the warmth.”

 

“I know, I felt it when I kissed him.”

 

“100.1 degrees, Walker. Not too high, but high enough. I’ll give you something to help bring that down but I want you to stay in bed, light meals, lots of liquids, and absolutely no exercise. Total bed rest, bathroom privileges only.  Of course, when this really sets in, you’re not going to feel much like doing anything, anyway.”

 

“Doc, I need to move downstairs so Alex isn’t climbing these stairs so much.”

 

“That’s probably a good idea, but I want you to get help getting down there, okay?”

 

“Trivette’s coming by this evening; I’ll get him to help me, okay?”

 

“That will be fine. Here, take two of these right now and two every four hours, as needed, for the fever.”  Turning to Alex, “Now, young lady, I’d like to check you over before I leave. Getting pretty close aren’t you?”

 

Alex nods, “My due date is next Wednesday.”

 

“Come over here and sit down on the bed, Alex.” The Doctor checks her over thoroughly and then listens to the baby’s heart. He sees Walker watching intently and hands him the stethoscope to listen, too. As he listens to his baby’s heartbeat, a tender smile comes on his face and he looks over at Alex and kisses her softly.

 

“When do you see your OB again, Alex?”

 

“Tomorrow, why?”

 

“I’d like you to have someone come and stay with you until the baby comes. I’d say you are very close.  Now Walker, if she should go into labor, it is very important that you stay in bed.  Do you understand?”

 

“But, doc!”

 

“No buts, Walker. You could cause more harm than good if you tried to help her.  I want your word that you’ll stay in bed.”

 

“Alright, Doc, I give you my word.”

 

Giving Walker a very determined look, Alex says, “Don’t worry, he’ll stay there; I’ll make sure of it.”

 

*****

 

When Jimmy and Josie arrive around mid-afternoon, the first thing on the agenda is getting Walker moved downstairs to the guest bedroom.  As Trivette enters Walker’s bedroom, he sees Walker sound asleep. He turns to look at Alex who had followed him upstairs.

 

“He’s been sleeping all day. Guess that tells you something, huh.”

 

“Do you think we ought to wake him, Alex?”

 

“I am awake Trivette. You make enough noise to wake the dead and right now, I feel like I’m pretty close.”

 

Alex sits beside him on the bed and kisses him softly on the cheek, “Darling, it just feels that way; believe me, you’re a long way from being dead.”

 

“Trivette, did you call C.D.? I figured he’d be out here to heckle me, too.”

 

“Oh, I’m sorry, darling, C.D. did call but things have been so hectic, I forgot to tell you.   He said to tell you that you wouldn’t be seeing his face around this place until the threat of mumps has completely disappeared.  Apparently, he’s never had them either.  So I guess we won’t be seeing him much before next weekend.”

 

“Well, at least I’m not the only one who’s never had them.  And he’s right; don’t let him anywhere near me. At C.D.’s age, it would be doubly hard on him. It’s hard enough on me.”

 

Not used to hearing his partner admit he’s beaten, Trivette says, “Why, Walker, are you admitting that something has finally gotten the better of you? You really are sick.”

 

“Watch it, Trivette.  I won’t be sick forever and you know what they say about payback!”

 

“Okay, okay.  Now, you about ready to make the trip downstairs man?  I think Alex has the bed all set up.  Alex, why don’t you tell George to come on in, it’ll take both of us to get him down there.”

 

“I just need you to lean on Trivette, I can walk. We don’t need George; he’s just here to help with the livestock until I get back on my feet, not to be my nursemaid.”

 

“C’mon, grouch, you’re not walking. So just settle down and relax. George, you get on that side and with me here, between the two of us, we’ll get him down those stairs.”

 

“Trivette, I told you I could walk, now cut this out!”

 

“Walker, stop arguing unless you think you can take on George and me at the same time?”

 

Walker looks up at George, who must weight at least 220, starts to stand up and immediately falls back on the bed. “God, I’m as weak as a kitten.”

 

“Let’s go George, while he’s pondering the situation.” The two men hoist Walker up, George wrapping his arms around Walker’s chest from behind and Trivette taking his legs.  Within ten minutes, Walker is tucked in the guest room bed.

 

“See, Walker, nothing to it when you know what you’re doing.” Trivette smiles at him and turns to George, “Thanks, man. Couldn’t have done it without you.  Walker, you can go back to sleep now, I’ve got some serious wrestling to do. Catch you later.” With a wave, Trivette disappears out the door.

 

Alex sits down beside Walker on the bed, leans over and kisses him softly. “I think it’s about time for another dose of medicine. You feel awfully warm.”   She gets up to get water for him and watches him swallow the pills. “Feeling pretty rotten, aren’t you?”

 

“Well, I’ve felt a lot better.  I take it John has already asked Trivette to play. Don’t let Trivette get to rough with him. God, I hate this.”

 

“I know you do, darling, but it’ll be over before you know it. Then you’ll have your hands full with a third one.”

 

“How are you feeling Alex? The doctor seemed to think you were pretty close to delivery. Have you found someone to stay here with you until then? What a time for me to get sick.”

 

“Honey, everything’s fine. Jimmy and Josie have both agreed to stay here until you get back on your feet or the baby comes, whichever happens first. I thought they could use our room and I’ll stay in here with you, if that’s alright?”

 

“Whatever is easier for you, hon. Boy, this sure puts a load on you, and you don’t need that now.  God, I hate this.”

 

“Walker, there’s nothing we can do about it so why don’t you just relax for a little while.  I’m sure the kids will be in to see you soon and I’m going to go and get dinner started. I love you.” She kisses him deeply, slowly rises and leaves Walker to reflect on his fate.

 

*****

 

Soft groans and Alex sitting up in bed awaken Walker. “Alex, are you alright?”

 

“Mmmmph, oh, God!  Walker, I don’t think the baby is going to wait till next week. Aaaaaahhhh….. I think it’s coming tonight. You better call Jimmy.”

 

“Alex……”

 

“Please, darling, now………oooooo.aaaaaahhhh.”

 

Trivette!  Trivette!

 

Before he can yell again, Jimmy and Josie come rushing through the door. “What, Walker, oh my God! It’s the baby, isn’t it? Oh my God! Josie get the car started, I’ll bring Alex. Walker, you stay put. I’ll take Alex to the hospital and Josie will stay here to take care of Jessie and John.” He goes over to Alex, takes a blanket from the chair and wraps her in it, scoops her up in his arms and is headed out the door before Walker can protest.

 

“I love you, darling. Aaaaahhh.”

 

“Oh, God, take care of her Trivette. Alex, I love you.”

“You know I will, Walker.”

 

*****

 

At the hospital, Alex is admitted immediately, and wheeled directly into the delivery room. The doctor is waiting for her. “I want Jimmy in here. Please. Aaaaahhhh.  Oh, Please Doctor.”

 

A few minutes later, Jimmy comes through the door in a hospital gown and mask. He stands beside Alex and, taking her hand in his, says “Just like in Lamaze class, right?” He’s sweating profusely and talking to himself. “Man, I can do this, I can do this.  This is great practice for when Josie has ours. Oh, God. Oh, God.” He starts shaking like a leaf. “I can do this, I can.”

 

Alex tries to comfort him.  “You’ll do fine, Jimmy, just relax. ….aaaaahhhh.”

 

“Oh, man, Walker? I can do this.  Oh boy.  Alex look, I’ve got my cell phone. I’ve called Josie and she’s with Walker, he’s on the other end. So you talk to him just like he was here. Okay? Maybe he won’t worry quite so much if he hears you. Okay?”

 

“Okay. AaaaahhhhHHH”

 

“Walker, talk to her man, she’s listening.”

 

“Honey, just like the last ones, breathe with it Alex. I’m right here. You can do it, baby.”

 

“Oh, darling, we’re doing fine, ohhhaaaaahhh.”

 

“That’s right Mrs. Walker, you’re doing fine. This one is in a hurry.  Looks like we have another redhead. Push with it, you’re doing fine.”

 

“Alex, I love you.  Did I hear the Doctor right, another redhead? Oh, God, I wish I was there.  C’mon Alex, I know you can do it.”

 

“Darling, I love…. you, too. Mmmmphhh.  Tell the kids…… another redhead. Aaaaaahhhh”

 

“That’s it, one more push, and we’ll have a new baby with us.  Here we go……..You’ve got another boy, Walker, congratulations.”

 

As the doctor places their new son on his mother’s chest, an exhausted Alex whispers, “Darling, it’s a boy, I love you.”

 

“Alex, are you all right? Trivette, is she all right? Somebody talk to me, dammit.”

 

“She’s fine, Walker, just has her hands full right now.  Hear him crying; he’s got a healthy set of lungs, man.”

 

Talking the phone from Trivette, “Walker, this is Dr. Morrison. Everything’s fine.  We’re going to get them cleaned up and into a room. We’ll set the phones up where you can talk some more, but right now, let’s hang up so that we can get mom and baby settled, Okay?”

 

“Okay. Dr. Morrison, are you sure she’s okay?”

 

“She’s fine, Walker, just mighty tired. She’ll talk to you later, okay?”

 

“Sure.” Walker hands the phone back to Josie, leaning back in bed with a million-dollar smile on his face.  “She’s fine, Josie. We have another son. A redhead, too. How about that? You reckon that means the fourth one will be a blond?  Man, I’m beat.  I’ll bet Alex is too. God, I love that woman.” Closing his eyes, he is soon sound asleep, still wearing his million dollar smile.

 

*****

 

Riiiinnnnggg, “Hello?”

 

“Josie?”

 

“Alex! How are you, hon? How’s that new baby?”

 

“He’s fine Josie. I’m a little tired, but I’m fine, too. Is Walker still awake?”

 

“No, Alex, right after he hung up earlier, he got this huge smile on his face, said, ‘God, I love that woman’ and fell sound asleep. Do you want me to wake him?”

 

“Maybe you better, Josie, it’s probably past time for his medication.  It’s for the fever. That might be why he’s sleeping so much. I’ll talk to him after he takes it.”

 

“Walker, Walker? Wake up. You need to take your medicine and Alex wants to talk to you.”

 

Walker’s mind slowly comes awake.  He feels hot, sore and disconnected. He practically has to will his eyes to open and when he finally manages to open them, he sees Josie standing beside his bed holding a glass of water.  He finally sits up and leans back against the headboard, “What, Josie?”

 

“I said you need to take your medicine.” He takes the pills and the water, emptying the glass completely.

 

“Alex wants to talk to you if you feel up to it.” She passes him the phone.

 

“Alex?”

 

“Hi, sweetheart, how are you feeling.  You sound pretty bad. I just wanted to tell you I love you and wish you sweet dreams.”

 

“Alex, is everything okay? You? The baby?”

 

“We’re both fine. I’ve got an exact copy of you lying here in my arms. If he had a red beard, he could be a miniature you.” Alex giggles at this thought. “I miss you, honey.”

 

“I miss you, too. Alex, I’m sorry I couldn’t be there for you.  I always promised myself that I would be there when my kids were born.” 

 

“Darling, please don’t beat yourself up over this.  You were there when Jessie and John were born.  I know you wanted to be here and I wanted you to be here but it just wasn’t possible this time.  Hey, you know we still need to name this little guy.”

 

“I’ve been thinking about that.  How about James, since it was his Uncle Jimmy who helped deliver him?”

 

“Oh, Walker, that’s a wonderful idea!  I’m sure Jimmy will be thrilled.”

 

“When do you think you’ll be coming home?”

 

“According to the doctor, I—I mean we—could be coming home as early as Friday.”

 

“Is it going to be okay to bring the baby back here with me still sick with the mumps?”

 

“That’s why the doctor decided to keep us a few days.  He figures by Friday you’ll probably be over the worst of it, and the extra couple of days will give the baby time to pick up some immunity from my milk.  Do you realize that this is will be the longest we’ve been separated since we got married?  I love you, darling. I should let you rest, you sound exhausted.”

 

“Alex, I miss you, too. I like the way you wake me up. By the way, how did Jimmy do?”

 

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so flustered, but once we got underway, he did just fine. I may have broken some bones in his hand, from the way he was acting. No, really, he did great. He got some great practice for when Josie delivers.”

 

“Yeah, nothing like first hand experience.”

 

“Get some rest, darling, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.  You will call C.D., won’t you?”

 

“Of course.  I think I’ll wait until later this morning, though.”  You get some rest too and take good care of our little boy.  I love you, Alex.”

 

“I love you, too, Walker.”

 

The next morning, Josie brings both Jessie and John into Walker’s room so that he can tell them about their new baby brother.  Jessie seems a little disappointed at the idea of another brother but is soon all smiles again when Walker reminds her that she and Mommy are still “Daddy’s girls” and that she will always be the big sister.  John is happy to now be the big brother and wants to know when he can wrestle with his new brother. 

 

The next few days pass by quickly and as Walker begins to feel better and regain his strength it becomes harder and harder for Trivette and Josie to keep him in bed.  He and Alex talk to each other several times a day and both are anxious to see each other and get their life back to normal.  Dr. Wilson comes to see Walker on Thursday and noting his agitation at still being confined to bed, gives him the okay to start moving around but warns him against overdoing it.

 

“Now, Walker, I’m allowing you to move around but you’ve been in bed for nearly a week and it’s going to take a few days to get your strength back.  If you push yourself too hard, you’re going to find yourself right back in that bed.  I want you to take it slow and easy and I absolutely don’t want you back at work for at least another week.  Understood?”

 

“Don’t worry, Doc.  Believe me, the thought of being laid up again is more than enough motivation not to overdo it.  Besides, I planned to take a week off after Alex had the baby anyway so they’re not expecting me back at the office.  George is still here to help with the animals and I know that Trivette and Josie will be stopping by to make sure we’re doing okay.”

 

“All right, then.  I’ll see you in my office next Friday for a final checkup and release to go back to work.  If you have any problems, you let me know and take good care of Alex and that new little son of yours.  When are they due home?”

 

“Thanks, doc.  Alex and Jimmy are coming home tomorrow, FINALLY!  I gotta tell you, this has been real torture not being able to see them.”

 

“Well, take care and I’ll see you next week.”

 

“Okay, doc.  Thanks again.”

 

That evening, as Walker, Trivette and Josie relax in the living room after having gotten the kids to bed, Walker leans back in his chair and briefly closes his eyes.

 

“How ya, feeling, pard?”

 

“A little tired, but otherwise, I’m fine.  I just can’t wait to see Alex and little Jimmy tomorrow.”

 

“Yeah, I know Alex is pretty anxious to introduce you to your son.”

 

Sitting up and looking at both Trivette and Josie, Walker continues, “Hey, guys, I don’t know how Alex and I can ever thank you both for everything you’ve done for us over this last week.  I can’t imagine what we would have done when Alex went into labor if you guys weren’t here.  You’re the best friends, no the best family, anyone could ever ask for and I wanted you both to know that we love you.”

 

Both Trivette and Josie are a little taken aback by Walker’s words, knowing that it is not his nature to express his feelings to others.  They have both seen a change in him over the years since he and Alex have been married but his expression of emotions was still rather rare.

 

“Hey, pard, you know that we’d do anything for you guys.  Besides, helping out around here and having the kids around just gives us practice for what’s to come.”  He reaches over and gently rubs Josie’s belly.

 

“Well, you know that we’ll be there for you whenever you need us.  All you have to do is yell.  You guys are going to make great parents.  I see how great you are with our kids.”

 

Josie replies, “Thanks, Walker, that really means a lot to us.”

 

“Well, tomorrow is a big day and I’m kinda beat so I’m going to head to bed.”

 

“Hey, you want your room back?  We can move down here.”

 

“No, I’m fine where I’m at.  Hey, would it be too much to ask you guys to hang here for the weekend?  I just need a couple more days to get back up to speed.”

 

“No problem, man.  We’d be happy to stay.”

 

“Thanks.  Well, goodnight, I’ll see you both in the morning.”

 

Both reply, “Night, Walker.”

 

“Hey, Trivette, how about a light workout in the morning?”

 

“Walker, are you sure you’re up to that so soon?”

 

“I won’t do anything real strenuous, just some stretching and some light weights.  I promise I won’t overdo it.  What ya say?”

 

“Okay, I’ll see you in the morning.”

 

******

 

The following morning, Walker is up with the sun and feeling great.  Trivette finds him deep in thought on the front porch.

 

“Hey, you’re up early.  Must be feeling better.”

 

“Yeah, I am but I think part of it is that I’m just so excited to see Alex and little Jimmy.”

 

“Well, you still want to get in a light workout before we head to the hospital?”

 

“Sure, let’s go.”

 

They spend the next hour in Walker’s gym joking and working out.  Walker keeps to his word and doesn’t push it too hard, opting instead to coach Trivette on some of his martial arts lessons. 

 

Heading back to the house to shower and get ready to go to the hospital, they notice C.D.’s car approaching.  They wait for C.D. by the porch.

 

“Mornin’ fellas.  How ya feelin, Cordell?”

 

“I’m doing great, C.D., but what are you doing here.  I thought you said you weren’t coming round until you were sure all traces of mumps were gone.”

 

“Yeah, I talked to Doc Wilson this morning and he told me that he had given you the all clear and that Alex and the baby were coming home today so I thought I’d drop by.”

 

“I’m glad you did, C.D..  We’ve missed having you around.  The kids especially have missed their “Grampa C.D..”

 

“Well, I sure have missed them too.  Where are they?”

 

“I was just on my way to wake Jessie for school and John should be up shortly.”

 

As Walker and Trivette get showered and dressed, C.D. helps Josie get Jessie ready for school and keep John out of trouble.

 

Walker calls the hospital and Alex lets him know that she and the baby will be ready to leave by 11:00 a.m.  He can tell from her voice that she has had her fill of the hospital and was anxious to get back home to the ranch.  Trivette and Josie had taken Jessie and John to see Alex one evening but other than that she hadn’t seen Walker or the kids in nearly a week.

 

Trivette headed to the office and C.D. agreed to stay with Josie and John while Walker went to pick up Alex and Jimmy.  Arriving at the hospital, Walker found himself somewhat nervous but he didn’t know why.  He stopped by the nurse’s station and completed all the necessary paperwork to get Alex and the baby discharged.  While there, Dr. Morrison happened by.

 

“Well, Walker, it’s good to see you!  You’re looking well.  Alex tells me you had quite a bout with the mumps.”

 

“Hi, doc.  Yeah, it’s been a rough week, but I’m feeling much better and can’t wait to see Alex and my son.”

 

“Well, I just left them both.  They’re waiting for you in Alex’s room—Room 212.  They’re both doing well.  As much as Alex hates to admit it, I think these extra couple of days in the hospital did her a world of good.  I need to finish my rounds.  You take good care of those two.  I told Alex I want to see her and the baby for a check up next week.”

“Okay, doc.  Thanks for everything.  I’ll be off work for another week so I’ll make sure she takes care of herself.”

 

Walking purposely toward Alex’s room, he hesitates and takes a deep breath before entering.  Quietly opening the door, the sight before him warms his heart like nothing else could.  There, sitting up in bed is his beautiful wife with their new son sleeping contentedly in her arms.  She glances up when she hears the door open and rewards him with the biggest smile.  Extending her hand toward him, he slowly walks toward her never taking his eyes from hers.  As he reaches her side, he takes her hand is his and with his other hand, gently cups her face, leaning forward to softly kiss her lips.  “Hi.”

 

“Hi, Cowboy.  You look much better.”

 

Sitting next to her on the bed and glancing down at the sleeping baby, he smiles at her, “Who’s your friend?”

 

Alex giggles and proceeds to introduce Walker to his son.  Gently taking his son in his arms, Walker is overwhelmed with emotion as a single tear escapes his eye.  Looking back at Alex, he says “he’s beautiful and so are you.  I’ve missed you.”

 

Touching the side of his face and gently wiping away the tear, she says, “I’ve missed you, too.”

 

“You two about ready to get out of this place?”

 

“Oh, we’re more than ready!”

 

Walker and Alex arrive home with Jimmy to find Josie, C.D. and John waiting anxiously on the porch.  At the first sight of Alex, John bolts off the porch and runs toward her “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!”

 

Alex is barely out of the car before he reaches her.  She kneels down and gathers her son in her arms, “Hi, baby!”  Squeezing him tightly in her arms, “Ohhhh, I’ve missed you soooo much.”

 

“I missed you too, Mommy.  Where’s my brother?”

 

Laughing, Alex takes John’s hand and leads him around to the other side of the car where Walker has just taken Jimmy from his car seat.  Lifting John into her arms, she introduces him to his new baby brother.

 

“He’s really little.  When can I wrestle with him?”

 

Walker chuckles and says, “I’m sorry, big guy, but I’m afraid it’s going to be a long time before you and your brother can wrestle.”

 

“That’s okay, Daddy.  You’ll still wrestle with me, won’t you.”

 

“You bet I will!”

 

Placing John back on the ground, Alex says, “How about if we get inside and let baby Jimmy take a nap while we have some lunch?”

 

“Okay.”  John takes off running toward the house.

 

Walker, Alex and Jimmy are greeted warmly by C.D. and Josie and after only a few minutes, he’s settled in his cradle in the guest room and the group is enjoying the lunch that C.D. prepared.

 

Alex, Walker and John all take a nap after lunch only to be awakened by Jessie returning from school and anxious to see her new little brother.  She bounds into the guestroom and pounces on the bed.  “Hi, Mommy!”  She throws herself into Alex’s waiting arms and receives a huge hug.

 

“Hi, honey!  How are you?  I’ve missed you.”

 

“I’m fine.  I missed you, too.  Did you bring the baby home?”

 

Grabbing his daughter and giving her a hug, Walker responds, “We sure did.  Do you want to see him?”

 

“Yeah!  Can I hold him?”

 

Glancing at Alex who nods her head, Walker says, “Well, okay but you need to be real careful, okay?  I’ll tell you what, why don’t you go out in the living room and sit on the couch and I’ll bring Jimmy out to you.”

 

“Okay.”  Bounding off the bed, she heads out of the room and into the living room.  “I’m ready, Daddy!”

 

“Okay, baby, I’ll be right there.”

 

Rolling over and taking Alex in his arms, he kisses her deeply.  “Well, so much for peace and quiet!”

 

The remainder of the day is spent with the children and Josie and C.D.  Trivette arrives just after six and they all enjoy a wonderful dinner prepared by C.D. as a welcome home for Alex.

 

Sensing Walker and Alex’s need for some time alone, C.D., Trivette and Josie make themselves scarce shortly after dinner.  Walker finds Alex standing over Jimmy’s cradle watching him sleep.  He approaches her, takes her hand and leads her out the door to the porch swing.  He sits down and cradles Alex in his arms with her legs extended the length of the swing.  She places her head on his shoulder and they spend the next hour just swinging together silently enjoying being back in each other’s arms.

 

Looking into Walker’s eyes, Alex says, “It’s so peaceful right now.  How long do you think it will last?”

 

Smiling down at his beautiful wife, Walker replies “Not long enough, I’m sure.”

 

As if on cue, baby Jimmy’s cries are heard throughout the house.  Alex sighs, “Well, looks like things are back to normal in the Walker house.”

 

THE END

 

        *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

 

A Difficult Choice

 

Walker finishes the last of his paper work and tosses it into his out basket.  With a long sigh, he picks up his coffee and leans back in his chair, thankful to finally be rid of that chore.  Now, he can go home, knowing that he won’t be facing a mound of paperwork in the morning.

 

Trivette turns around and sees him all relaxed in his chair, “Walker, if you’d learn how to use a computer, you would have been done that paperwork a long time ago.  As it is, your kids will probably know how to use one before you do.”

 

“You’re probably right, Trivette.  Jessie is already good at it and John is starting to play around with it. But Jimmy, he’s like me, he could care less.”

 

“Yeah, but he’s what seven, eight months old? Just give him time, pard, he’ll still beat you.”

 

“Almost ten months.  But you’re probably right, Trivette.  The paperwork still gets done, though, doesn’t it?  Besides, if I had gotten done any earlier, I would still have had to wait on Alex.  This way I keep busy till she’s ready to leave.” Glances at the clock on the wall, “Which should be any time, now.”  Just then, the door swings open and he hears the clicking of heels on the hardwood floor.  He looks up and smiles, “There she is now,” stands, gets his hat, “See you tomorrow.  Give my love to Josie.  Hey, how’s that baby doing?”

 

“He’s doing great.  Just turned four months old yesterday.”

 

Alex comes up to him and kisses him softly, Walker puts his arm around her waist, turns to Trivette, “Enjoy him, Trivette, once he starts walking, your life will never be the same.”

 

“Walker, I thought you enjoyed having your kids around.”

 

“Oh, I do Trivette. I didn’t say you wouldn’t like it, I just said your life would never be the same.” He turns Alex around to face him and whispers, “I wouldn’t go back for anything in the world.”

 

He kisses her on the tip of her nose, and she murmurs, “Neither would I darling. Neither would I.”

 

“Let’s go home,” They turn and head for the door. “Goodnight, Trivette.”

 

< * >          < * >         < * >         < * >

 

While Alex is upstairs getting Jimmy and John ready for bed, Walker and Jessie are in the process of cleaning up the kitchen. “How’s school, Jessie? Any problems?”

 

“No Daddy. School is alright.” Jessie is quiet for a minute, then asks, “Daddy, do they have girls in the Texas Rangers?”

 

He senses a discussion coming so he sits down in a chair and pulls Jessie up on his lap. “Sure they have women in the Texas Rangers. Why do you ask?”

 

“When I told Billy Marshall I wanted to be a Texas Ranger like you, he laughed at me and said they didn’t take girls, just boys.”

 

“Well, he’s wrong. There are lots of women in the Rangers.  As a matter of fact, you know one. She works with me sometimes. You remember Sydney, don’t you?”

 

“Oh, yes, I remember her.”  Jessie leans back against his chest, “Is it hard?”

 

“You mean hard to become a Ranger?  Well, no, not if you prepare yourself ahead of time.”

 

“How do I do that?”

 

“By going to school and studying hard.”

 

She smiles and says, “I’m already doing that.”

 

Walker gives her a big hug, “You sure are, princess. Now, don’t you think you should get upstairs and get your bath?”

 

“Okay, Daddy.” She kisses him on the cheek then jumps down and races upstairs.

 

*****

 

Alex is coming from the kitchen with two cups of tea on a tray as Walker is coming down the stairs. “Everyone tucked in?”

 

“Yeah, finally.  I though I’d never get Jessie settled down. But they are all quiet now.” He follows Alex into the living room and sits down next to her on the couch.

 

“I think I overheard a little of why she is so wound up.” Alex pours the tea and hands him a cup, “something about the Texas Rangers?” She picks up her cup and leans back into his arms.

 

“Yeah, I guess Billy Marshall told her that they didn’t take women into the Texas Rangers and that upset her.”

 

“I take it you straightened her out.”

 

“Yes, I did.” He hears concern in her voice, “Alex, are you upset about Jessie wanting to be a Texas Ranger?”

 

“Aren’t you?”

 

“Not right now.  Maybe when she gets older and is really serious about it, it may concern me but right now, I guess I’m kinda proud that she wants to be like me.”

 

“I know and you should be.  If she does make it into the Rangers, I’ve got a feeling she’ll be just like you and I’d be very proud of her but I would still worry about her, just like I worry about you.  It’s not exactly the safest profession.”

 

He sets his cup on the table and pulls her close, nuzzling his face into hair and murmuring, “And the District Attorney’s job is?”

 

Alex giggles, “I guess I asked for that, didn’t I?”

 

“Yes you did.” He kisses her hair, “Honey, have you been feeling alright?  You looked awfully tired when you came into Ranger Headquarters this evening.”

 

“I’ve feel alright, maybe a little tired.  It’s been pretty hectic trying to get back up to speed at work.  I’m sure that’s probably all it is.”

 

“Why don’t you make an appointment with Dr. Wilson.  Maybe he can give you something or maybe you need a vacation.”

 

She turns around and with a twinkle in her eyes, “Honey, I’ve only been back to work for five months since my maternity leave.  I think they’d frown if I took a vacation now.”

 

Walker chuckles, “Well, you might be right. But promise me you’ll call Dr. Wilson tomorrow, okay?”

 

“I promise.”

 

“Come on, hon, you’re exhausted.  Let’s turn in early tonight.” He helps her up and they walk arm in arm up the stairs.

 

*****

 

As Walker and Alex sit together in a booth at C.D.’s having lunch, “Honey, I’ve got an appointment with Dr. Wilson at 4:00 so I’ll probably go on home rather than coming back to work. I’ll pick up the boys and Jessie.”

 

“Okay, honey.  Do I need to pick up anything before I come home?” He watches as Alex finishes her salad and starts eating his french fries. “Like more groceries?”

 

“Why would you say that?  We just got groceries yesterday.” She looks up at him, seeing the smile on his face. “Oh, you.” She elbows him and drops the french fry. “I guess that salad wasn’t very filling.” She glances at her watch, “Oops, I’ve gotta run.  I’m going to be late for a deposition if I don’t hurry.”

 

He stands and lets her out then pulls her tight for a tender kiss, “Drive carefully, baby.”

 

“You, too, honey. See you at home. Bye.”

 

*****

 

When Walker pushes open the door, the first thing he notices is how quiet it is. He stands by the door listening until he finally hears quiet chattering from upstairs.  When he hears a clink in the kitchen, he heads in that direction and finds Alex pouring tea into a cup.

 

When she looks up and sees him, a smile lights up her face.  She sets the teapot down and moves into his arms.  He kisses her softly and holds her close. “Sure is quiet around here, everything all right?”

 

“Yes, honey, everything is fine, now.”

 

“Now?”  He remembers her doctor’s appointment and leans back to look into her eyes. “Alex, what did the doctor say?”

 

She pulls away from him and takes his hand, “Come on, let’s go sit in the living room.”

 

When he sits beside her on the couch, she sees the worry in his eyes. “Honey, please,” she touches her lips to his lightly, “I’m fine but we do have a small problem.”

 

“A problem? You’re fine but there’s a problem? Come on Alex, what did Dr. Wilson say?”

 

“Well, after reading me the riot act, he told me that … I’m pregnant ... again” She watches his face closely for his reaction.  She breathes a sigh of relief when she sees his big beautiful smile.  He pulls her into his arms holding her tight against him.

 

“Oh, honey, is that all? You had me scared to death.” Then his face sobers, “Alex, are you sure you’re alright? Isn’t this awfully close to Jimmy?”

 

“Well, that’s why Dr. Wilson chewed me out but I checked out fine. I’m about two months, due in early fall!”

 

“Honey, that’s great.”  His emotions bounce back and forth between being thrilled to being worried. “Are you sure you’re all right?” He pulls her close and kisses her tenderly, letting it take them where it will.

 

But the kiss is interrupted by, “Mommy, Daddy, I think Jimmy needs a diaper change, he stinks.”

 

Alex and Walker laugh and pull Jessie into their arms, hugging her against them.

 

“What are you guys so happy about?”

 

*****

 

Later that evening, they gather the kids in the living room to tell them the news.  John’s only comment is “Hope it’s a boy.” whereas Jessie’s is, “Another one?”

 

After tucking everyone into bed, Walker and Alex sit on the couch snuggled together, “Honey, you haven’t stopped smiling all night.  You’re as excited about this one as you’ve been with of the others.”

 

“I can’t help it, baby. Each one is a product of our love.  I would be as thrilled with the tenth one as I was with the first.”

 

“Whoa, cowboy.  I think you’d better settle for four and I’m betting this one’s a girl.”

 

Walker is silent for a minute, then “Your elusive dream! Could be, honey, maybe a little replica of you this time?”

 

“Time will tell.”

 

*****

 

“Congratulations, partner. I don’t know how you do it.” He smiles and gives Walker a congratulatory pat on the back.

 

For once, Walker manages to get one in on Trivette.  “Yeah, you do, Trivette, you’ve got one at home.”

 

“Ha … Ha.  I meant how you manage everything like being a Ranger, the Kick Drugs program, helping out at the HOPE Center with Alex, managing the ranch and being a father and a husband all at the same time.  It’s got to be wearing on you.”

 

“No, not really. When you love what you’re doing and have a good woman at your side, that’s all you need.”

 

*****

 

As the pregnancy progresses, Alex seems to breeze through it just as easily as she did with the other three.  All of her previous pregnancies had been easy, although she would probably disagree.  She seems to be a natural, whether it’s because of the way she’s built or just her attitude toward motherhood.  Of course having a caring husband is definitely a plus.  The farther along she gets in the pregnancy, the more of the load Walker takes on.  He does it so discreetly, though, that she doesn’t even realize he’s doing it until the ninth month when she discovers she is hardly doing anything other then walking and eating and sometimes he even helps her walk!

 

At about 8 months, she is still carrying a full workload as the District Attorney (much to Walker’s displeasure). He has convinced her to cut back some at the HOPE house.  With Walker in Ft. Worth, and it being Friday, she decides this would be a good day to take Jessie to the mall so she leaves work early and picks Jessie up at the HOPE Center.  She had been bugging Alex all week about a pair of shoes that she wanted.

 

*****

 

Walker and Trivette are just sitting down at their desks after returning from giving their depositions when Ranger Willis rushes into the room, yelling, “Walker, your wife has just been taken to Methodist Hospital.  She’s been shot.  You’d better hurry, it looks bad.”

 

Walker is out the door before Willis finishes his sentence and Trivette is right behind him, knowing that his partner is going to need his support.

 

When Walker arrives at the hospital, Patrolman Dobbs meets him at the door.  “Follow me, Ranger Walker, I’ll take you up.” He leads Walker and Trivette to the elevator and bars anyone else from getting on.  After the doors close, Walker turns to him, “Were you there when it happened?” The patrolman nods.  “What happened?”

 

“Your wife was coming out of the mall with your daughter, Jessie.” Walker’s head jerks around at the mention of his daughter’s name.  As he opens his mouth to inquire about her, Dobbs cuts in, “She fine. Officer Jenkins took her over to the HOPE Center and Mrs. Trivette is taking care of her.  Anyway, when they walked out of the mall, they walked right into the middle of a gang rumble.  When your wife heard the shooting start, she pushed Jessie to the ground and covered her with her own body.  A stray bullet must have hit her. By the time I got to her, she was bleeding pretty badly.  I had Jenkins get Jessie out of there as quickly as possible.  I didn’t want her to see all the blood.”

 

“You saw all of this?”

 

“Yes, sir, I did.  I was responding to a call about a disturbance at the mall.  I just didn’t get there soon enough. I’m sorry.”

 

Just then the elevator doors open.  As Walker rushes out, he sees Dr. Jerry Matthews coming up to the nurse’s station, “Locate Ranger Walker immediately…”

 

“I’m right here, Jerry.  How bad is it?”

 

“Walker! Thank God, you’re here. I’m afraid it’s as bad as it gets.  They’re prepping her for surgery now.”  Seeing the despair in his friend’s eyes, he regrets what he has to say next.  “Walker, you know I will do everything in my power to save Alex and the baby.  I’ve already paged Dr. Wilson and he’s on his way, but…”

 

“But what?”

 

Matthews sighs heavily, finding it difficult to go on.  “If things start to go bad, a choice may have to be made between Alex and the baby.  Walker, I’m sorry, I hate to do this to you but I’m afraid you have to make that choice.”

 

As the words sink in, Walker begins to feel physically ill.  He can’t believe what he is hearing.  They are asking him to make a choice between his wife and his child.  How can he do that?  His legs begin to feel weak and he stumbles back slightly, right into the arms of his partner and best friend.

 

“Easy, partner.  I’ve got you.  Come on, let’s find you a place to sit.”  Trivette and Dr. Matthews help Walker to a nearby waiting room and guide him into a chair.

 

“Walker, I know this is devastating and I hate to push you but we don’t have much time.  I need your answer now.”

 

His voice is barely audible as he looks up and says “Alex.”

 

“I promise you that I will do everything I can to make sure that it doesn’t come to that.”  Dr. Matthew turns instantly, heading toward the operating room doors. 

 

The look on Walker’s face when he looks at Trivette nearly tears the younger man apart.  Trivette places a hand on Walker’s shoulder as Walker lowers his head into his hands.  A few minutes later, Walker gets his emotions in check and begins pacing from the waiting room to the operating room door and back.  He goes to the window and stares wondering about the decision he had made and how Alex will react if they lose their child.  Looking up to the skies, he closes his eyes and prays to God to spare his wife and child then turns and resumes his pacing.

 

“Walker, they’ll be all right.  Alex is a fighter, man.  She won’t give up.” Trivette sits back down, not even sure that Walker heard him.

 

When C.D. arrives, Trivette fills him in on what had happened and the decision Walker had to make.  C.D. sees the despair in his friend’s eyes.  “Cordell, you did what you had to do, son.  Don’t beat yourself up over it.”

 

“But…what if…I lose them both?”

 

“Cordell, you stop thinkin’ like that right this minute.  That little lady in there is one of the toughest people I know.  Hell, she married you, didn’t she?  It’s gonna take a lot more than this to take her away from us.  You just gotta have faith, son.”

 

C.D. comment elicits a small smile from Walker.  “I do C.D., I do.”

 

After nearly four hours of pacing, Walker suddenly stops and turns to look at C.D. and Trivette. “She’s okay…they both are.”  Tears fill his eyes as he looks up and mouths the words, ‘Thank you’.  He finally allows himself to sit down as he watches the door for the doctor.

 

When Dr. Matthews comes through the door, Walker rushes to him, “Can I see her?”

 

“How did you know…? Never mind, that was a dumb question.  I guess you knew about the same time I did.  Yes, Alex is fine and so is the baby, a little girl, by the way.  And yes, you can see her as soon as she comes out of recovery in about an hour.” He places a hand on Walker’s shoulder, “But you can see your daughter now. Come on,” He looks at C.D. and Trivette, “all of you.” He turns and takes them into a small room off the nursery. He hands all three of them gowns and masks to put on then leaves momentarily.  He returns shortly with a small bundle in his arms. “She’s small, just barely five pounds but she’s quite a fighter.  She’s perfectly healthy, though.” He moves up to Walker and places the baby in his arms.

 

As Walker takes his daughter in his arms, tears fill his eyes.  He gently moves the blanket back from her face and sees the blonde hair and blue eyes.  He whispers, “A perfect copy” as he leans over and places a light kiss on his daughter’s forehead. He then turns to proudly show his friends the newest addition to his family.

 

*****

 

“Walker, you can see Alex now, but there’s something I need to tell you before you go in.”

 

“What is it, Jerry? You said she was all right?”

 

“And she is, Walker. She should make a full recovery. But … the bullet did quite a bit of damage and she was hemorrhaging badly.  I’m afraid we had to remove … what I’m trying to say is that she won’t be able to have anymore children. I’m sorry.”

 

Walker takes a deep breath and releases it, “But, otherwise she’s fine?”

 

“Yes, Walker, she’s fine.” Dr. Matthew’s stands aside and pushes open the door to let him enter.

 

When he enters the room he sees Alex lying in the bed with the head slightly raised. She has her eyes closed and Walker notices how pale and very still she is. He hesitantly moves up to stand beside the bed, reaches down and picks up her hand bringing it to his lips, touching it softly.

 

When Alex feels him pick up her hand, she opens her eyes, and seeing the tears in his eyes, she murmurs weakly, “Hi, Cowboy.”

 

“Hi, baby, how are you feeling?” He caresses the back of her hand with his thumb.

 

“I’m fine.” As he sits on the edge of the bed. “Jessie … they told me she wasn’t hurt.”

 

“Jessie’s fine. She’s with Josie and the boys.”

 

“Our daughter, have you seen her yet? She came so early … how is she? Is she all right?”

 

He sees the worry in her eyes and as she becomes more upset, “Shh … Alex, she’s fine. I’ve held her and she’s fine.  She a little small but she has all her fingers and toes and Jerry says she’s healthy.”

 

“You’re not just saying that are you?”

 

“No, honey. I promise. She’s fine and beautiful, just like her mother. Our blonde-haired, blue eyed baby girl.”  He pulls her gently into his arms, holding her against his chest. “The doctor says you’re fine, too, except …”

 

She pushes back slightly, “Except what, Walker?”

 

He pulls her back into his arms, “When they operated they had to … you … we can’t have any more children, Alex.”

 

She snuggles closer, “We have four of the most beautiful kids in the world.  I think our family is complete.  I can handle it as long as it doesn’t affect our love life.”

 

Just then Dr. Wilson enters the room, “You don’t have to worry about that Alex.” He grins as the blush creeps up her neck into her face. Walker slips off the bed to stand with his arm around Alex’s shoulder, grinning at her embarrassment. “They’ll be bringing your daughter in a few minutes and if you feel up to it, you can begin nursing her.”

 

Tears spring to her eyes, “Yes … oh  yes. Can I?  I feel fine. I need to hold her, please. I haven’t even seen her yet.” She reaches out to place a hand on Dr. Wilson’s arm, “Please?”

 

“If you’re sure you feel up to it. I don’t want you passing out on me. You’ve lost a lot of blood and your body needs time to recuperate.”

 

“Alex, maybe you should wait …”

 

“Please, I promise if I start feeling faint, I’ll tell you. Walker’s going to be here with me.  He can watch me and help me. Please, Dr. Wilson.  I just want to hold her for a little while.”

 

“Well … Walker you’re going to stay right here with her?”

“Right here, I promise. I won’t let either one of them out of my sight.”

 

Just then the door is opened and a nurse pushes in a bassinet with a very small bundle in it. “Here is your daughter, Mrs. Walker. If she wants to nurse, you can try it for a little while, okay?”

 

With eyes full of tears, she reaches out to take the tiny bundle and bring it to her chest. Holding her gently, she pulls the blanket away from her face and for the first time sees her beautiful baby.

 

“Well, I’ll leave you two alone.  She’s small but she won’t break.”  Dr. Wilson leaves the room, knowing that they’ve already forgotten about him.

 

Alex rubs her finger over the baby’s cheek and she instantly turns into it. “Oh … she’s hungry, darling.” Alex tries to move the gown around without much success.  It is definitely not a gown conducive to nursing a baby.  With Walker’s help, she finally bares a breast and the baby knows exactly what to do.  As she begins to nurse, Alex looks up into Walker’s eyes, seeing them bright with tears.  She smiles up at him and reaches for his hand as he leans over to kiss her lightly on the lips.

 

Walker sits on the edge of the bed by Alex’s side, his arm around her shoulders.  They watch as their daughter takes her first meal.  Since she’s small, the baby doesn’t nurse long but Alex is reluctant to lay her down so Walker brings his arm under hers for more support and just lets Alex hold her.  When he notices Alex’s eyes start drooping, Walker takes the baby and, kissing her on the cheek, lies her in the bassinet.  Turning back to Alex, he lowers the bed down so she can sleep more comfortably.  With Walker holding her hand, she reluctantly gives in to sleep.

 

      <*>            <*>            <*>            <*>

 

Just as Alex drifts off, Walker hears a soft knock on the door.  He looks up and sees Trivette peaking through the door.  He motions for Walker to join him in the hallway.

 

As he exits the room, he sees C.D. standing behind his partner, “What do you need, Trivette?”

 

“Walker, I just talked to Josie.  I think you need to get over to the HOPE Center.”

 

“Why?  What’s wrong?”

 

“Well, from what Josie is saying, Jessie hasn’t spoken a word to anyone since Jenkins dropped her off.  Josie’s been trying to get her to talk but she won’t.  This thing must have really gotten to her.  About the only thing she’s said is that she wants her Daddy.”

 

“Oh, God.  I was so worried about Alex and the baby I didn’t even think how all of this must have affected Jessie.  You’re right I should get over there.  I just hate to leave Alex.”

 

“Look, why don’t you go over to the HOPE Center and talk to Jessie and the boys.  Let them know Alex and the baby are okay.  I’ll stay here with Alex and then when you come back, I’ll go over and Josie and I will take the kids for tonight.”

“Jimmy, hold on there a minute.  You and Josie have your hands full with that little one of your own.  You don’t need three more.  Cordell, I’ll follow you over to the HOPE Center and then I’ll take Jessie and the boys out for some ice cream and then back to your place.  I’ll just wait there until you get home and if you wanna stay here with Alex tonight, that’s fine.  I’ll be fine at your place.”

 

“Thanks, you guys.  I don’t know what I’d do without you.  Trivette, you’re sure you don’t mind staying here with Alex until I get back?

 

“Not at all.  Now go, your kids need to see their dad.”

 

******

 

C.D. and Walker arrive at the HOPE Center about 30 minutes later.  When they enter, Josie gives Walker a hug “How’s Alex and the baby?”

 

“They’re both doing fine.  I understand Jessie’s pretty upset though.”

 

“She’s in the play room.  Walker, it’s so sad.  She won’t talk to anyone.  I tried but all she would say was that she wanted you.”

 

“I’ll go talk to her.  I’m sure she’ll be fine.”

 

As he enters the playroom, he sees Jessie sitting in the corner of the room on a stool, hands folded in her lap, head down.  He walks up and squats down in front of her.  “Hey, princess, you okay?”

 

Jessie looks up and as soon as she sees him, she throws herself into his arms crying.  “Daddy, I’m sorry.  It’s all my fault.  I’m sorry.”  Walker nearly falls backward when she throws herself at him but somehow manages to keep his balance.  He wraps his arms around her and picks her up holding her tightly and speaking to her softly.  “Shhh…princess…it’s okay.”  As she calms, he sits on the couch and places her on his lap.  “Why do you think this was your fault?”

 

Jessie tries to calm herself down enough to talk.  “Because…I…wanted…a pair of shoes.  That’s why we went to the mall.”

 

Walker chuckles slightly as he pulls his daughter back into his arms.  “Sweetie, this is not your fault.  There’s no way you could have known that something bad was going to happen when you came out of the mall.”  He pushes her back slightly and looks into her swollen eyes.  “It’s okay, baby.  Everything’s gonna be okay.”

 

“Is Mommy hurt bad?”

 

“She was but the doctors made everything better.  She’s going to be just fine and guess what, you have a new baby sister!”

 

Jessie eye’s grow wide with excitement.  “A sister?  Really?”

 

“Yes, really.”

 

“But Mommy said she wasn’t going to be born until next month.”

 

“I know, honey, but when Mommy got hurt, they had to deliver the baby early.  She’s a little smaller than your brothers were when they were born but she’s gonna be just fine.”

 

“What’s her name?”

 

“Well, to tell you the truth, your Mom and I hadn’t really decided on a name yet.  Would you like to name her?”

 

“Really.  Can I.”

 

“Of course, you can.  What would you like to name her?”

 

“Chrissy.”

 

“Chrissy, huh.  That’s a very pretty name.  How about we name her Christina but we call her Chrissy?”

 

“You mean like you call me Jessie but my name is really Jessica?”

 

“Yep, just like that.  Would that be okay?”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Okay, princess, Christina it is.  Now, how about if Grampa C.D. takes you and the boys for some ice cream and then home while I go visit your Mom again.”

 

“Okay, Daddy.  Will you be home before we go to bed?”

 

“I’m not sure, hon, but if I’m not, I’ll check in on you when I get home.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Walker gives her another hug and then rounds up the boys and turns all the kids over to C.D.  He thanks Josie again and promises to send Trivette home as soon as he gets back to the hospital.

 

******

 

Walker enters Alex’s room and finds Trivette standing by the window.  He turns when he hears the door and puts a finger to his lips to let Walker know Alex is sleeping.  They go out in the hallway so as not to disturb her.

 

“Everything okay with Jessie?”

 

“Yeah, she’s fine now.  She got it in her head that this was her fault because she made Alex take her to the mall to buy shoes.”

 

“Oh, man.  No wonder she was so upset.  You got her calmed down?”

 

“Yeah.  C.D. took her and boys for ice cream.”

 

“Hey, I meant to ask you what’s the little one’s name?”

 

“Well, truthfully, we hadn’t decided on a name but when I told Jessie she had a new baby sister, she was so excited I told her she could pick the name.”

 

“Yeah, what’d she pick?”

“Chrissy but we decided together that her name will be Christina but we’ll call her Chrissy.”

 

“Chrissy.  I like it.  You gonna tell Alex?”

 

“Yeah, when she wakes up.  Hey, Trivette, I wanted to thank you for today.  It meant a lot to have you here and I appreciate you staying with Alex until I got back.”

 

“No problem, partner.  I’m gonna head out.  Josie’s probably waiting.”

 

“Yeah, I told her I’d send you home as soon as I got back here.”

 

“I’ll talk to you tomorrow.  Try to get some rest tonight, huh.”

 

“I will.  I’m just gonna sit with her a little while and then I’ll head home.”

 

******

 

Alex wakes to the touch of her husband’s hand against her cheek.  “Hi, beautiful.”

 

“Hi.  Jimmy said you went to see the kids.  Is everything okay?”

 

“Everything’s fine.  Jessie was a little upset but we talked and she’s fine now.  In fact, she was so excited about having a new little sister than I told her she could pick her name.  I hope you don’t mind.”

 

“Of course not.  What name did she pick?”

 

“Chrissy but we decided that her name will be Christina but we’ll call her Chrissy.”

 

Alex smiles.  “I like it.”

 

“Now we just have to come up with a middle name.”

 

“I already have.  Elizabeth after your mother.”

 

Walker smiles down at her.  “You’re amazing, you know that.  Okay then, Christina Elizabeth it is.”

 

       <*>            <*>            <*>            <*>

 

A week later, Dr. Matthews releases Alex on the condition that, “You take it easy.  Find someone to come in and help you with the other children. I don’t want you doing any heavy lifting.  That means anything over 15 pounds, you let someone else handle. Okay?” He looks at Walker, “And I want your word that you’ll make sure she follows my orders.”

 

He puts his arm around Alex, “You got my word, doc.  I’m taking a short leave so I’ll be there to make sure she doesn’t overdo it.”

 

Jerry reaches over and takes her hand, “Good. Alex, you’ll have plenty to do just taking care of Chrissy.  Other than that, I want you to relax and pamper yourself. Your injury was very serious, now give yourself time to heal.  I want to see you back here in a week for a check up.” He backs away then and turns to Walker, “If you’ve got her release papers signed, you’re free to take her home.”

 

When he turns to leave, Walker catches him at the door and takes his hand in his, “I can never begin to tell you how grateful I am, Jerry, for taking such good care of Alex and Chrissy.  I hope I never have to make a decision like that again.”

 

“I’m glad I was able to do it, Walker. And … I hope I never have to ask anyone to make that decision again.” Their eyes lock for a few seconds then, placing a hand on Walker’s shoulder, a slight grip, he turns and walks away.

 

Walker watches him for a few minutes, then brushes his sleeve across his eyes and turns back to Alex. “Well … let’s get out of here. You ready?” He moves close to her, and takes her into his arms, just holding her close.

 

“Honey, are you alright? What was that with Jerry?”

 

“I was just thanking him for taking care of you and Chrissy. I owe him more than I’ll ever be able to repay him.” Just then the nurse comes into the room pushing a wheelchair.  She helps Alex into it, then gently places Chrissy in her arms. Walker picks up the luggage and the flowers and follows the nurse to the front exit.

 

        <*>            <*>            <*>            <*>

 

When Walker stops the car in front of the house, everyone is standing on the porch waiting for them. Walker took the boys and Jessie in to see Alex only once while she was in the hospital so everyone is anxious to welcome mother and baby home.

 

Getting Alex inside was quite a job.  John wanted Alex to pick him up for a hug, and if Trivette hadn’t been holding Jimmy, he would have been pulling on her, too. Jessie hovered over her mother like she was in charge of her care, making Walker wonder if she was still feeling as if she is to blame for what happened. He made a note to talk to her later after everything settled down.

 

After getting Alex settled on the couch with Jessie sitting on one side of her and John on the other, Trivette stands Jimmy on the floor and, with a big grin on his face, he toddles up to Alex with his hands up for her to pick him up. When she reaches for him, Walker scoops Jimmy up and places him on Alex’s lap since he is definitely over 15 pounds.

 

Finally, after getting all the kids to bed and saying goodnight to Trivette, Josie, their son, and proud Grampa C.D., Walker puts an arm around Alex and they climb the stairs to their bedroom. Knowing that Alex is more exhausted than she lets on, he helps her undress and get into bed then he quickly undresses and joins her.  He puts one arm around her, drawing her into his side.  She lays her head on his shoulder, an arm across his stomach, and brings one leg up across his. She tilts her head up and kisses him softly on the lips, then snuggles in close.

 

“I missed you being next to me.”

 

Walker tightens his arm slightly, and caressing her arm that’s across his stomach, kisses the top of her head, and whispers, “I missed you next to me, too. Welcome home, honey.”

 

The End

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Under Control

 

“Walker?”

 

“No, Alex, I want you to go.”

 

“But, Walker…..?

 

“No, buts, Alex, I want you to go.”

 

“Well, if you’re sure?”

 

“I’m very sure. Now are you going?”

“Well, I guess so. But I’m not sure I should.”

 

“Alex, this trip will be good for you.  You need to get away for a while; it’s not like you’re going to be gone a week. You’ll be back day after tomorrow. I think I can handle things that long. Have a little faith in your husband. Okay?”

 

“Well, I guess I should get packed if I’m going to make it on time.” She gives him a quick kiss, turns and goes upstairs to pack. She goes to the nursery first, where Chrissy is asleep in the crib. Alex stands and watches her for several minutes then leans over and kisses her softly on the forehead. She then goes into the boys’ bedroom where Jimmy is also asleep on his bed. Alex sits on the side of his bed, and taking his hand in hers, rubs her thumb across the back of it as she watches him sleep then leans over and kisses him on the cheek, lingering with her cheek against his. Alex stands and turns to see John watching her. She takes his hand and pulls him up on her lap as she sits on his bed.

 

“John, can you be a big boy for me and help your daddy with Jimmy and Chrissy while I’m gone?”

 

“Are you going to be gone long, Mommy?”

 

“No, not really, just two days, but I’m sure going to miss all of you.” She hugs him to her tightly, looks up to see Walker watching from the doorway, with a smile for her.

 

“Us guys will take good care of Chrissy, Mom. Okay?”

 

“I know you will, honey, I can always depend on my men, right?”

 

“Right, Mom.” He returns her hug then jumps down and sits down on the floor to finish working on a puzzle that he has spread out. She stands and going up to Walker, he puts his arm around her waist, kisses her softly and wipes away the tear that’s making it’s way down her cheek.

 

He walks her to their bedroom and stands to one side as she packs her clothes. She looks around to see if she has forgotten anything and then closes the suitcase. He turns her around and wraps his arms around her and kisses her deeply. Pulling back slightly, he whispers, “It’s just two days, hon, you’ll be back before you know it. I can manage the kids for two days…but I’m not sure if I can manage without your kisses for that long. Or without this,” he slides his lips across her cheek to her ear then down her neck, “or this,” his hand cups her breast through her shirt, “or what I’ll do about this,” he pulls her tight against his body so she feels his arousal against her stomach, “while your gone.”

 

“Darling, you keep this up, and I’ll never make it out of this bedroom, let alone all the way to Waco.” She murmurs as he is plying her with his kisses and his touches.

 

He steps back, eyes dark with desire, “Sorry, but you always have this affect on me in the bedroom.” Kisses her softly, turns and picks up her suitcase.

 

“Bedroom?” She looks at him with disbelief.

 

“All right. You have this affect on me every time I look at you.”  Kisses her again before walking out of the bedroom.

 

She follows, “Walker, if you have any problems, you will call me, won’t you? You have the number where I can be reached, right?”

 

“Yes, Alex, I’ve got it, but I won’t need it. What can be so hard about taking care of kids?”

 

“Well, nothing really, if you’re use to it. Which you aren’t. I know! I know! You can do it.” She accedes to his wishes, but is still just a little apprehensive about this arrangement. “But Walker, sometimes they’re a handful for me, and I’m the primary caregiver. Especially John. He’s at that age where he wants to try to do everything. At least you’ll only have John, Jimmy, and Chrissy since Jessie is staying at Jody Williams’ till I get back, but they’ll keep you plenty busy, believe me.”

 

“Alex, if I can handle big bad tough guys, I think I can handle my own kids.” He gives her an exasperated look that says, ‘They’re just kids for crying out loud.’ Seeing the look of concern on her face, he softly adds, “Honey, if I run into any problems I’ll call Josie and Trivette, alright?” He puts her suitcase in the back seat of her car then takes her in his arms, and softly kisses her. “They’ll be all right, really.”

 

She puts her arms around his neck, pulling him close for another kiss, “I know they will, darling, but this will be the first time I’ve been away from them for more than a couple of hours since Chrissy was born. I guess that’s the mother in me, huh?”

 

“Probably, but I wouldn’t want you any other way. Now, promise me, you’ll enjoy yourself. You haven’t seen this friend for two years, and she wants you at her wedding. So relax and have fun. I want you to call me when you get there, though, so I don’t worry about you. And call me just before you start back, okay?”  He pulls her close and just holds her. “You can also call me anytime you want, if it will make you feel better, okay?”

 

“I’ll call when I get there. I know you’ll do just fine but, I’m going to miss all of you so much.” Her eyes tear up and she hides her face in Walker’s neck, holding him tight.

 

“Come on, Alex.” He pulls back slightly, softly brushing her tears away with his thumb, “I know, but you really do need a break. Now get in the car, and please, be careful.” He opens the door, she sits behind the wheel and after he shuts the door, she whispers,  “I love you.” He kisses her deeply and whispers back, “I love you, too.” Then he steps back as she starts the car and pulls away.

 

He stands there, watching, until her car disappears from sight. He gives a large sigh. As he turns back toward the house, he hears a very loud crash from inside.

 

He takes the steps up to the porch in one leap, rushes through the door and pulls up short. He lets out a deep sigh of relief when he sees John sitting in the middle of the foyer, a sheepish look on his face, “Oops!”

 

“John, are you all right?” He bends over and starts feeling the boy’s arms and legs, checking to make sure nothing is broken or sprained.

 

John slowly gets up on his feet, “I’m all right, Dad. I just kinda misjudged the stop a little.”

 

“What in the world were you trying to do, anyway?” He looks around and sees the coat tree broken and a large pillow lying on the floor. He turns and looks at John, and a slow smile crosses his face. “The banister again, huh?”

 

John meekly nods his head, but looks his dad straight in the eye. “Yes, sir.”

 

“How many times does this make, now? Eight or nine?”

 

“Eight. But I almost had it this time, Dad. I really did.” Excitement shines on his face.

 

“Looks like the coat tree didn’t make it, though. What are we going to do about that?”

 

“You can take it out of my allowance. I’m really sorry. I’m not sure how that happened but it’s my fault so I’ll make good on it, okay?”

 

“Okay, John. Maybe you ought to take some down time and contemplate the folly of what you did, maybe an hour?” Walker tousles John’s hair and directs him up the stairs toward his room. “Don’t wake Jimmy and Chrissy, John, they haven’t been asleep very long.”

 

“I’ll be quiet, Dad.” Then he disappears around the corner.

 

‘Alex was right. He’ll try anything. Got to keep a closer eye on that boy.’ But he has a smile on his face and pride in his heart for his son. Knowing it would just about break John’s heart if he told him to stay away from the banister now. He was proud of him for having the courage to keep trying. And he knew that one of these days, John would accomplish what he has set out to do, whatever that is!

 

He heads for the kitchen to figure out what to have for dinner. He checks the refrigerator and decides on hamburgers on the grill, french fries and left over coleslaw. Maybe before bedtime he’ll make up some popcorn for Chrissy and the boys. With the menu for the evening meal taken care of, he sits down at the table with a cup of coffee. He doesn’t get too many days like this with the kids and he’s actually looking forward to it. Thinking of his children and the way his life has turned out always amazes him. Finally marrying the woman of his dreams, then the joy of his first born, Jessie. She’s nine now, red hair with blue eyes. She’s quite the tomboy, very strong willed and has already decided she wants to be a Texas Ranger, just like her Dad. Then there’s John, blond with blue eyes, having just turned six and quite a handful. He always sees everything as a challenge and does his best to enjoy each challenge fully. Jimmy, his mumps baby, was born when Walker was down with the mumps.  Alex says he’s her miniature Walker, red hair and steel gray eyes, and at the age of three he has all the characteristics of his father.  He has a hard time expressing how he feels and a strong sense of right and wrong.  Then there’s Chrissy, a joy to both of them, but very much a surprise. At twenty-one months she already has the other three wrapped around her little finger. She’s the spittin’ image of Alex, right down to the blond hair, blue eyes, and independence streak. Each one has his or her own individual place in his heart and right now his heart runneth over with love for his children. He sits, drinking his coffee, and has a hard time remembering what his life had been like before he married Alex and the babies began coming.

 

His daydreaming comes to an end as he hears a soft thud coming from upstairs followed by excited babbling and soft laughter. He rushes upstairs and as he enters the nursery, he sees Chrissy sitting on John’s lap and Jimmy half under John. All have smiles on their faces as they look up at him.

 

“Hi, Dad. Chrissy woke up and me and Jimmy was helping her out of the crib. She started laughing and we kinda got tangled up and fell.” Walker reaches down, picks up Chrissy in his arms and kisses her, “Are you alright?”

 

She nods, still grinning. “Down, Daddy. Go potty.” He quickly puts her down and she runs to the bathroom.

 

“Are you guys alright? Why didn’t you come and get me to help?”

 

“Chrissy wouldn’t wait. She started climbing out of her crib. I didn’t want her to fall so me and Jimmy tried to help.”

 

“Well, you both did good. We wouldn’t want Chrissy to fall would we?” The boys nod in agreement. Chrissy comes back into the room with her shorts twisted and John goes up to her and straightens them out for her.

 

“Barn, Daddy.” She takes Walker by the hand and start tugging to get him to follow her.

 

“What do you want to go to the barn for, Chrissy?” This child of his has a great love for the horses. She would spend every waking moment with them if she could.

 

“See Mego!”

 

He picks her up, “Well, I guess we can for a little while. Coming boys?”

 

Yea, lets go. Maybe we can ride Amigo? Please Daddy.”

 

“Well, I guess you’ll have to ask Amigo if he feels up it, huh?”

 

As they enter the barn, they are welcomed with whinnies and neighs from Amigo. Walker puts a bridle on Amigo and leads him out of the stall. All three children run up to shower Amigo with love. Walker starts to say something but notices that Amigo stops moving when the kids come up to him. He lowers his head and Chrissy gives him a kiss on his nose, mostly because that’s the only part she can reach. Jimmy walks under his belly, coming up on the other side and begins scratching Amigo on the neck, while John gets a currycomb and starts brushing the horse’s already gleaming coat. It isn’t hard to see that Amigo is enjoying every bit of this attention.

 

“Daddy, ride Mego.” Chrissy starts chanting. “Ride, Mego. Ride Mego.”

 

“Let me get him saddled, okay? John, run inside and get a carrot out of the fridge. I think he ought to have a treat if he has to work.” John takes off in a flash. When he returns, Walker has Amigo saddled and standing outside. Walker watches John as he breaks the carrot into three pieces, giving one piece to Chrissy and one to John.

 

“Mego, here.” Amigo reaches down and deftly lifts the carrot from her hand. Then takes the one offered from Jimmy and John.

 

“Who’s first?” The boys point to Chrissy. Chrissy looks at the boys and grins, “Me, first!” Walker lifts her up onto the saddle then climbs up behind her. He hands her the reins and, holding her close, nudges Amigo in the ribs with his heels. Chrissy, grinning from ear to ear, guides Amigo all around the house and barn for nearly thirty minutes. The boys, also with big grins, patiently wait for their turn.

 

“Chrissy don’t you think it’s time to let the boys have their turn?” She turns and looks at Jimmy and John, nods and tries to get down. When she starts moving to slide off, Amigo stops. Walker hands her down to John then reaches down for Jimmy. After Jimmy has his turn, Walker dismounts and hands the reins to John. He leads Amigo over to a barrel, climbs up on the barrel and then into the saddle. He rides Amigo around for thirty minutes, also.

 

After being thoroughly brushed and rubbed down, Amigo is led back to his stall by the children and then they all head to the house to get supper started.

 

While Walker grills the hamburgers, the three kids play on the swing set in the back yard. He notices that the boys are very gentle and protective of their little sister. Enjoying the view of his children playing, something that he doesn’t see nearly often enough, he hears the phone ringing inside the house. He quickly gets the portable from the kitchen and returns to his chair by the grill.

 

“Walker.”

 

“Hi, Cowboy. Miss me?”

 

“Alex! Hi, babe.” His voice lowers to a whisper, “You’ll never know how much. Like part of my heart is missing.”

 

“I miss you, too, darling. How is everything? I tried to call earlier, but you must have been outside.”

“We were. After the naps we went out to ride Amigo. How was your trip, hon?”

 

“Everything went fine. What are the kids doing?”

 

“They’re playing on the swing set. Want to talk to them?”

 

“Of course, for a few minutes.”

 

“Hey, gang, Mom’s on the phone. Want to talk to her?”

 

Alex talks to each one of the kids for several minutes then John hands the phone back to Walker, whispering, “She sounds like she’s crying, Dad.”

 

“Alex?” He hears a few sniffles, “Alex? Hey, are you alright?”

 

“I’m fine, darling, just a little homesick I guess. Jimmy was telling me you’re fixing ‘grilled burgers’ for supper. And Chrissy was telling me about ‘Mego’. John also said you were going to have popcorn later. Sounds like you have everything under control. You’re doing so well, maybe I’ll stay a couple of days longer.”

 

“Alex, now don’t get carried away. I’m not sure I can stand you being gone that long.”

 

“I’m only kidding, Walker, you know I could never stay away that long.  I’ll probably leave here Sunday morning around 9:00, and should be home by 11:00 anyway. I’ll call you before I leave. I guess I’d better go, Susan wants me to go see their new house. I’ll try and call later tonight, okay? I love you.”

 

“I love you, too, Alex, I’ll be waiting for your call. Bye now.”

 

John came up and stood in front of him, “Is Mom alright, Dad? Why was she crying?”

 

“Mom is fine. She just misses you guys, that’s all.” Pulls him close for a hug, “Go get the other two, I think the hamburgers are done.”  He scoops the burgers onto a plate and follows the kids into the house. He decides on potato chips instead of fries and after eating, the kids take off in different directions and he cleans up the kitchen.

 

Daddy! Daddy!” He rushes outside to see John pointing up into the tree in the backyard. Getting closer he sees Jimmy about half way up, clinging to a branch, that doesn’t look like it’s big enough to hold him.

 

“Don’t move, Jimmy, I’m coming up. Stay still.” He starts climbing up the tree and gets within three feet but the branches are getting to small to hold him. “Jimmy, look at me!” As the boy slowly turns his head, he sees Walker below him. “Don’t be scared, just do what I say, okay?” Jimmy nods, but when the branch that he is on starts bending, Walker can see the panic rise in his eyes. “Jimmy, keep looking at me. When I reach up, see if you can take my hand.” Walker extends his arm above him as far as he can, “Now, Jimmy, slowly lean down and take my hand.” The boy starts to lean down but stops when the branch starts bending again. “Come on, son, I won’t let you fall.” Walker keeps his voice calm and quiet, “Lean down just a little more.” Jimmy leans down again, just barely touching his father’s fingers,

 

Daddy? I can’t!” His voice is shrill, full of fear.

 

“Yes, you can, son, just a little more.” As Jimmy stretches just a little more, Walker grabs his hand, just as the limb that his son is on breaks. He pulls the boy close, holding him tight against his chest. He feels the boy shaking, but he isn’t crying, “It’s all right, son, I’ve got you.” Jimmy slowly stops shaking, and Walker can feel him relaxing. “Now, how about we get out of this tree and go fix that popcorn. You ready?” He feels the boy nod into his chest, then Walker slowly makes his way down the tree.

 

Back on the ground again, Walker kneels down on the ground, and holds the boy away from his chest to look him in the eye. “Are you alright?” Jimmy nods. “Why did you go up into that tree anyway?”

 

“Poptart went up the tree and couldn’t get down. I was afraid she’d fall.” His eyes were bright but not a tear fell.

 

“Poptart? But, son, cats climb trees all the time. See there’s Poptart over there. She got down all by herself. Promise me that you won’t do that again, okay?”

 

“I promise, Daddy.” Walker gives him a final hug, stands, and takes a deep breath, thankful everything turned out all right.

 

Daddy, I can’t find Chrissy.” John was tugging on his pants.

 

‘Oh, Lord,’ He turns and looks around the yard, no sign of her. “John, go look inside the house, the bathroom, bedrooms, anywhere you think she might be. Okay?”

 

John turns and disappears into the house as Walker turns and with Jimmy at his side runs around to the front of the house, looks on the porch, in his truck and doesn’t see her anywhere, “Oh, God, where is she!”

 

John comes running out the front door, “She’s not in there anywhere, Daddy. I couldn’t find her.” Tears building up in his eyes.

 

Chrissy!….Chrissy” He listens for her to answer. Silence. “Chrissy!” Suddenly he hears Amigo whinny. Walker turns as do the boys, and all three rush out to the barn. Seeing the door open, “Oh, no.” He darts inside, looking toward Amigo’s stall, sees that the door is open, and the horse is gone.

 

“Daddy, look.”  Jimmy whispers. Walker turns to look, and sees Amigo lying down in the paddock just off the barn, and Chrissy is sitting on his back. Grinning like her fondest wish has come true.

“Whoa, Amigo, Whoa.” He soothingly murmurs, as he nears the horse. Amigo stays perfectly still, as Walker comes up to him and takes Chrissy from his back. As Walker backs away, Amigo stands, shakes then moves up to Walker, nudging his arm. “Amigo, you did good, ole fella.” Lays his head against Amigo’s for an instant, he then turns and walks into the barn with the horse following, and as Amigo enters his stall, Walker shuts the door. Still carrying Chrissy and with the two boys leading the way, they head for the house.

 

Walker fixes the popcorn that he had promised and sits the bowl on the table in front of the couch. The three little ones sit on the floor eating. Walker sits in the recliner, with the memories of the three separate incidents that his kids had experienced, still etched vividly in his mind. But the kids seem to have already forgotten. He closes his eyes, and silently gives thanks to the Man upstairs that all ended well.

 

His feels a prick on his cheek, opening his eyes and looking at the kids, he sees three smiling faces. Closing his eyes again he feels another prick but this time when he opens his eyes he sees Jimmy’s arm dropping. Glancing down he sees two kernels of popcorn lying in his lap. He looks back at the kids just in time to see more popcorn heading his way. He laughs and before long there is a full-scale popcorn battle going on. Which ends with Walker lying in the middle of the floor with all three coming at him ready for a little wrestling.

 

“What in the world?” The kids all jump up and turn at the sound, and Walker sits up, “Need some help there, do you, Walker?”

 

“Uncle Jimmy, Aunt Josie.” They squeal and run up to them. Trivette squats down and hugs all three, and then they turn to Josie for some of the same. “Where’s Josh and Cindy? Didn’t they come with you?”

 

Josie returns the hugs, “Fraid not, guys. They are spending the night with their Grandma and Grandpa. I guess you guys had a popcorn fight, here, huh?”

 

“Looks like you have everything under control, Walker. But I’m not sure who was winning there. Looks like you were on the bottom, man.”

 

“I was beginning to wonder that myself.” He stands and brushes the popcorn off his clothes, “What brings you two out here. Did you all come out to check up one me?”

 

“Just wanted to see how you handle the little people. Looks like you’re doing all right.”

 

“Come out to the kitchen, I’ll make us some coffee. Why don’t you three see how much of that popcorn you can pick up, just don’t eat it, all right?”

 

“Hey, how about if I hold the bowl and you three see how fast you can fill it up, okay?” Josie picks up the bowl and sits on the couch while the kids start hunting for popcorn. Trivette follows Walker to the kitchen.

 

“Well, Walker, how’s it going so far. Any problems, yet?”

“It’s not as easy as I thought it would be but, truthfully, I’m really enjoying this time with the kids. Guess I going to have to find a way to spend more time with them.”

 

“I know what you mean, Walker. This is the time in their lives when they’re learning so fast. It’s kinda scary knowing you may miss something if you’re not with them all the time.”

 

“That’s it, Trivette. That’s it, exactly. But even if you are with them constantly, you’re still going to miss some things.

 

“Walker, you have a little girl in here that’s just about asleep on her feet. Think she would let me give her a bath and get her ready for bed?” Josie walks out to the kitchen carrying Chrissy in her arms.

 

Walker takes Chrissy from Josie, “Sweetheart, would you like for Josie to help you get ready for bed?  When you get in bed I’ll come up and tuck you in, okay?” Chrissy nods, Walker gives her a kiss and gives her back to Josie. As they start up the stairs, he hears Chrissy asking Josie if she knows any good stories.

 

John and Jimmy come out to the kitchen and John climbs up in Walker’s lap and, as Jimmy moves to join his brother, Trivette puts his arms out to him,  “Hey, Jimmy, how ‘bout sitting on my lap. I could sure use some hugs.” Jimmy turns to look at him, smiles and moves over to get in his lap. Trivette picks him up and gives him a hug, “Can’t ever get too many hugs now can we?”

 

“Daddy, when’s Mommy coming home?” John has his head against Walkers’ chest, “ It seems funny her not being here.”

 

“I know son, but she’ll be back day after tomorrow. So will your sister. Till then its just going to be us guys and Chrissy. Do you think we can handle things until Mom and Jessie get back?”

 

“Uh huh.” John nods, and yawns.

 

“Come on, son. I think it’s bed time.” Walker looks at Trivette and notices that Jimmy is asleep in his arms. “I guess these two will get baths tomorrow morning.”

 

Trivette follows Walker up the stairs, between the two of them they get pajamas on the boys, and tucked into bed. Walker tucks the blankets around them both and kisses them goodnight, shuts the light out and closes the door. He sees Josie standing by the nursery door, “All asleep?”

 

“They’ve had a busy day. I’ll say goodnight to Chrissy and join you downstairs.” As he enters the room, he sees Chrissy standing up in the crib, yawning. “Hi, baby. Gimme a kiss, its bed time.” Chrissy puts her arms around her Dad’s neck, squeezing tight, kisses him on the cheek, and Walker lays her down and covers her up. “Goodnight, baby. I love you.”

 

“Luv you, Daddy.” Chrissy yawns and shuts her eyes. Walker watches her for a few minutes then walks out and closes the door.

 

Trivette and Josie sit in the living room talking to Walker, and after his assurance that he is doing just fine, they call it a night and head for home. Walker turns the lights out, locks the doors and decides to wait for Alex’s call in their bedroom. He gets a shower and stretches out on the bed. Just as he reaches over to get a book off the nightstand, the phone rings.

 

“Walker.”

 

“Hi, Cowboy.” Alex murmurs in a soft voice. “I sure do miss you.”

 

“Hi, yourself. I miss you, too. Are you enjoying yourself?”

 

“I could enjoy myself more if you were here with me, it’s lonesome here without you and the kids.”

 

“What time is the wedding tomorrow?”

 

“It starts at 3:00 p.m. We’re leaving around 2:00 p.m. The reception starts at 5:00 p.m. and should be over by 10:00 p.m. I may leave earlier Sunday than I had originally planned.”

 

“Any particular reason?”

 

“No, I just want to get home. I’ve enjoyed my time here, and it was good to see Susan but I really don’t know many other people and Susan and Jack will be leaving for their honeymoon early in the morning. Besides, I’m ready to come home.”

 

“John mentioned tonight that your not being here seems funny and I guess I’d have to agree with him. They really miss you, too. Trivette and Josie came by for a little while this evening. Their kids are with Josie’s parents this weekend and I think they came out to check up on me.”

 

“How is everything, no problems?”

 

“We’re doing fine, honey. But we’ll all be glad to have you back home. I may not be so quick to encourage you to go away, anymore.”

 

“Susan wants to show me her dress, tonight, so I’ll say goodnight. Sweet dreams. I’ll call you tomorrow after the wedding, it’ll be too hectic to call before. I love you.”

 

“I love you, too, baby. Goodnight.”

 

******

 

The next morning Walker wakes up to a lot of laughing. He slips on a pair of his workout pants and starts looking for the kids. The boys’ bedroom is empty, as is the nursery. Hearing giggling from the first floor, he quietly goes down the stairs. Hearing the tinkling of glass he walks to the kitchen door to see that John had fixed breakfast for Jimmy and Chrissy.  John is trying to clean up some of the spilled cereal and milk before he sits down to his bowl of cereal.

When Walker walks into the room, John looks up at him, silent, not sure how he will react to the mess he has made.

 

Chrissy breaks the silence with, “Hi, Daddy. Want ceeweall? Eat, go see Mego!” She holds her spoon up for him to take a bite. Walker leans over and takes the offered cereal.

 

He sits down, looks at John, “Are you the one fixing breakfast?”

 

John swallows hard, “Yes, sir.”

 

“Well, I think I’ll have cereal this morning, too.” When he smiles, John visibly relaxes and jumps up to get another bowl and a spoon for his dad.

 

As he eats breakfast with the kids, he hears something but can’t quite figure out what it is, “What’s that noise? Do you hear it, John, Jimmy? Almost sounds like water.” When he says this, John jumps up, runs out of the kitchen, and Walker hears him running up the stairs. He gets up and follows him up the stairs and as he reaches the top landing he realizes that the floor is squishy. Hurrying to the bathroom, he sees the tub running over, and John frantically trying to get the water turned off. Walker quickly shuts the water off and pulls the plug then turns to John, “Did you do this, John?”

 

In a very tiny voice, “Yes.”

 

“Why, John. What were you trying to do?” Walker was trying his best to keep his voice even and calm.

 

“Well, you said something about me and Jimmy taking baths this morning and I started the water, then Chrissy wanted out of her crib, and wanted breakfast and I took her downstairs. Then Jimmy came in and I fixed his breakfast, too. I forgot the water. I was just trying to help, Daddy, like Mommy wanted.” John was talking so fast Walker was having trouble keeping up with him.  As John explained, Walker could see the tears building and start down his cheeks, joining the water on the floor.

 

“Why didn’t you wake me up when Chrissy wanted up.”

 

“I went to get you once, but you were sleeping real good, and smiling, and I figured you was real tired, so I decided to let you sleep. I’m sorry, Daddy.”

 

“Well, I think your heart was in the right place, it just looks like things got away from you. It’s going to take a lot of work to get this cleaned up, think you’re up to it?”

 

“Yes, Daddy. What do you want me to do?”

 

“First we go to the kitchen, get Chrissy and Jimmy, and bring them up here where we can keep an eye on them.”

 

Leaving John to watch Chrissy and Jimmy, he heads to the basement to get the shopvac to clean up the water.

 

It takes him all morning to get the water up, thank God it hadn’t gotten to the other rooms, just the hallway and part of the stairs.

 

Looking into the boys’ bedroom, he sees both of them sitting on the floor with coloring books, but he doesn’t see Chrissy. “Where’s Chrissy, boys?”

 

Walker goes to his bedroom first and he finds her trying to pull one of his white T-shirts on over her head. He laughs, “I found her, boys.” He turns, gets the shopvac and takes it back to the basement. He returns upstairs to his bedroom and finds Chrissy sitting at Alex’s dressing table. Coming up behind her and looking into the mirror at her reflection he sees a face with lipstick smeared from one check to the other.

 

“Hi, Daddy. Me pretty?” Delight shining in her eyes.

 

“Oh, Chrissy.” Walker sighs. “Yes, Chrissy, you are very pretty, baby. But you shouldn’t get into Mommy’s stuff without asking first. Come on, baby, lets see if we can get you cleaned up before lunch.

 

At noon, Walker has finally gotten Chrissy cleaned up and both boys have had their bath. After lunch since he didn’t get to it earlier, he goes to the barn to get the stalls mucked out and the horses fed. Keeping Chrissy occupied is no problem since she likes horses anyway and John is helping as much as he can. He looks out the barn door every once in a while, checking on Jimmy, who is playing by the Ram in the front yard.

 

When he finishes, he picks up Chrissy and they start for the house. Chrissy wiggles to get down, “Come on, Jimmy, its nap time.”… ‘For me, too.’

 

“Daddy, can you get my boat?”

 

“Sure, where is it?”

 

“In the back of the truck.” Walker moves to the tailgate, but watches Chrissy as she tries to get into the swing on the front porch. As he pulls the latch up, he’s knocked to the ground with a sudden rush of water. Stunned, he sits in what is now mud, wondering what in the world had happened. Laughter is what finally gets through his soggy thinking, and looking at the kids, they are laughing so hard they are almost rolling on the ground. Realizing he isn’t hurt, he can’t help but smile, too.

 

“Well, does someone want to tell me how all this water got in the truck?”

 

It takes several minutes before the kids can talk, and they look from one to the other. “Jimmy, you were playing here, can you tell me?”

 

“I put water in the truck for my boat but it took to long to fill up…and I forgot it. Are you mad, Daddy?” Jimmy was looking very solemn, just a little scared.

 

“No, Jimmy, I’m not mad. Nothing was hurt, except my dignity.  At least it’s not something I have to clean up, aside from me, that is.” Getting up, he realizes he can’t go inside with all this mud on him. “John, would you run upstairs in my bedroom and get me a pair of my workout pants, should be a pair lying on the bed.”

 

Okay, Daddy.” When he returned with them, Walker sat down on the porch and took his boots off, then his pants and slipped on the workout pants.

 

“Okay, now, where were we? Nap time. Come on kids, upstairs. You, too, John. You need some quiet time, too.” After getting Chrissy and Jimmy down, and leaving John lying on his bed coloring, Walker goes back downstairs to get his muddy clothes and put them in the laundry room. Then sitting in his recliner going back over the day, wondering if Alex had days like this with the kids, too.

 

He leans back in the recliner bringing the footrest up, and putting up his feet, he closes his eyes for just a minute, “Daddy? Daddy? Trying to get out of the recliner before dropping the footrest, the recliner tilts forward, throwing him to the floor.  As he tries to catch himself, he jams his little finger into the floor. “Daddy?” He picks himself up and, shaking his hand, rushes upstairs to see what is wrong with John.

 

Seeing that he isn’t in his room, “John, where are you?”

 

“Here, Daddy. In the bathroom.”

 

“Well, what’s wrong, John?” He grabs the knob, turns and pulls, and stumbles backward with the knob in his hand. “What in the …? John, what happened?”

 

“I don’t know, Daddy, I tried to open the door and the knob came off in my hand. I can’t get the door open.”

 

“I’ll … think of something, John, just take easy, okay?” Walker is quiet for a couple of minutes, thinking, “John can you get that knob back into the hole in the door?”

 

He listens as John tries to do what he asked, “I can’t get it in Daddy.”

 

“All right John, let me check on the other two kids and I’ll get right back to you, okay?”

 

“Okay, Daddy.”

 

Walker goes looking for Chrissy and Jimmy. He finds them standing in the doorway of the nursery watching him. “Can you two stay in there and play until I get John out of the bathroom?” They both nod their heads and go back into the room. Walker races down the stairs to get his toolbox that’s in the basement and brings it back upstairs. He checks on the other two first than starts working on the inner workings of the doorknob. Finally after 20 minutes he gets the door open.

 

John comes rushing out, “Whew, Dad, that’s was wild!” He goes in search of Jimmy and Chrissy.

 

Walker picks up the doorknob from the bathroom floor and, seeing that it’s broken, says, ”Well, I guess this calls for a ride into town.”

 

Walker goes into his bedroom, to change out of his workout pants into a pair of jeans and a clean shirt then goes looking for the others to get them ready for the trip to town.

 

He looks John and Jimmy over and sees that they are fine. He picks up Chrissy and takes her into the bathroom to wash her face and to comb her hair. After washing her face, he starts brushing her hair. He always enjoys brushing her hair. Not to many people know it, but he likes brushing Alex’s hair, too. “Ow, Daddy that hurt.” Looking for the tangle, he discovers a wad of gum in her hair.

 

“Chrissy, how did you get gum in your hair?” She looks up at him and shrugs her shoulders. ‘How in the world do I get that out. If I cut it out it will leave a bald spot. Maybe Josie can help me.’

 

He picks up Chrissy and goes into his bedroom to call Josie. “Josie? This is Walker… No we’re fine except Chrissy has some gum in her hair…. Josie quit laughing and tell me how to get it out…Peanut butter? Are you sure…Okay, okay, what then…It just washes out, huh…Okay, I’ll try that, but if it doesn’t work, I’ll be calling you back…. Thanks, Josie.”

 

He sends John to the kitchen to get the peanut butter and while waiting takes Chrissy’s clothes off, sets her in the tub and wets her hair.  When John returns with the peanut butter, he takes a glob and rubs it into the hair with the gum. “Well, I’ll be! It’s working.” He then washes and rinses Chrissy’s hair, dries it and brushes it out. “It beautiful again!” He dresses her and then load’s all the kids into the Ram and after securing them into seatbelts, heads for town.

 

After getting a new doorknob for the bathroom, he takes the kids to C.D.’s for supper. With the two boys leading the way and carrying Chrissy, Walker enters C.D.’s.  When the kids see C.D., they run to him, wrapping their arms around his legs, “Grampa”, and Chrissy is squealing to get down. Walker stands her on the floor and she makes a mad dash for C.D., too. Walker smiles at the picture of C.D. squatting on the floor and hugging the three excited kids. C.D. picks Chrissy up and leads the way to a booth. After everyone is seated, “Well, Cordell, this is an unexpected surprise. What brings you town this evening?”

 

Walker explains the reason for the trip, “And I thought we could have supper here with you before going back.”

 

“Well, that’s great, you know I always like to see these guys. What you guys, want, as if I didn’t know.”

“Cheeseburgers!” All three shout at once.

 

“Three cheeseburgers it is. How about you, Cordell, what do you want?”

 

“Bring me a bowl of your chili, C.D.”

 

After they’ve all eaten and visited with C.D., Walker loads the kids up for the trip home. By the time he arrives all three are asleep. He picks up Chrissy and Jimmy and carries them inside, John wakes up and follows them inside and upstairs. After getting them all into bed, he heads for the shower, and then to bed, too.

 

He nods, then jerks awake, wanting to wait for Alex to call, but his eyes just don’t want to cooperate. When the phone rings, he jumps, and quickly picks it up. “Walker.” He says in a groggy tone.

 

“Hi, honey. Did I catch you asleep? I’m sorry.”

 

“That’s all right, Alex. How did the wedding go.”

 

“It went just fine, no problems at all. They’re leaving for their honeymoon first thing in the morning and right after they leave, I’m leaving, too. I’ll call just before I do, okay?”

 

“That’s fine, honey. We sure do miss you around here. I’m glad you got away for a little while, but I’ll sure be glad when you get back.”

 

“I enjoyed seeing Susan, again, but I’m ready to go home. I should be there by 10:00 at the latest. I’m going to let you get back to sleep. I’m going to turn in myself. Goodnight, darling, sweet dreams.”

 

“Goodnight, baby, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

*******

 

The Williams’ drop Jessie off first thing in the morning and by 10:00 a.m. all five of them are sitting on the front porch when Alex drives up. As she gets out of her car, all the kids run up to her for hugs and kisses, while Walker stands back, watching with eyes full of love for this woman, this mother of his children. As the kids turn back to the house, Walker moves up to Alex and, taking her into his arms, pulls her close and kisses her tenderly. He looks into her eyes and kisses her again, with more longing and desire. Alex pulls back, “Whoa, Cowboy. You really did miss me, didn’t you?” She touches his lips again with hers, “But, I think we still have eyes watching. Maybe we ought to save this till later?”

 

He turns, with his arm around her and they walk to the house. “Well, it still looks the same. Except for that mudhole, there. And why is Amigo so excited to see me?”

 

“It’s a long story, I’ll tell you tonight.”

As the day goes on, Alex finds popcorn in the oddest places in the living room, like on the mantle and inside the fireplace. She also finds the peanut butter jar in the bathroom and a new knob on the door. And as she starts doing some of the laundry she comes across Walker’s muddy clothes. She doesn’t mention any of this to Walker, knowing how hard he has tried to keep everything in order around the house. She does find one thing that she just can’t keep quiet about, though. One of Walker’s t-shirts that has lipstick smeared on the front of it. She goes in search of him for an explanation, finding him on the front porch in the swing, “Walker, can you tell me about this?”

 

“About what? Oh! Well, uh, you see …”

 

Unable to contain her smile and with a twinkle in her eye, she says “It has blond hair on it, too, and it sure isn’t mine. Have you been messin’ around with another woman while I’ve been gone?”

 

“Ah…you caught me. Yes…well, you see, it was like this.” The twinkle and the smile leave her face replaced by a somber expression.

 

“Walker!” Just then Chrissy comes running out the front door, sees the t-shirt with lipstick on it, and stops in her tracks.

 

Looking at Walker, “You tell Mommy?”

 

“No, sweetheart, I haven’t.”

 

Chrissy walks up to Alex, looks up at her, “I sorry, Mommy.”

 

Alex stoops down in front of Chrissy, “You did this?”

 

Chrissy nods her head, “You mad, Mommy? I sorry.”

 

“No, honey, I’m not mad.” Gives her quick kiss and a hug.

 

“Okay.” She takes off to find the boys.

 

Alex turns to look at Walker, who is smiling at her, “Gotcha.” He takes her hands and pulls her down to sit beside him. He puts his arm around her and kisses her softly, “Alex, you should know by now, there will never be anyone but you in my life.” Kisses her again, but deeper this time.

 

“I know honey, and I do trust you, but there are women out there who would love to get their hands on you.” She whispers against his lips.

 

“Oh! And why haven’t I seen any of these women? And who are they?”

 

“Do you want me to name names?”

“If you can?”

 

“Well, there’s Mary Ann, Dianne, Patty, Linda, Pam, Shirley, Debbie, Melissa, Tammy, Crystal, Jennifer, Tina, Denise, Londa, Leliana, Jamie, Michelle, Gail, Rhonda, Shawna, Leigh, Ina, Wendy, Janny, Tina, Lace, Kera, Star Eagle, Amanda, Andrea, Jana, Eva, Liz, Clarise, Toni, Connie, Carolyn, Jen, Catherine, Kathy, Susie, Mimi. Dani, Stephanie, Dawn, Renee, Lindy, Beth, Terry, Regenia, Shel, Carol, Fran, and especially Chris and Sissy, and I know I’ve forgotten some, too!

 

The End

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

                                 In The Nick Of Time

 

He quietly enters the house by the front door, sits on the bottom step of the stairs to remove his boots then as he climbs the stairs, he unbuttons and removes his shirt. By the time he reaches the bedroom door he has all of his clothes off except for his pants.

 

He pushes the door open, enters and closes it silently. He drops his shirt on the chair and removing his trousers, lays them on the chair, too. Crossing to the bed, he gazes down at the beautiful woman sleeping in the ray of a moonbeam that had fallen across her as she slept and as always, she is wearing one of his white shirts.

 

He watches her for several minutes, aware of the restlessness that seems to grip her. As she rolls over to the other side of the bed, he lifts the blankets and almost like a feather, slips under, feeling the warm spot that she left behind. He lays his head next to hers, slides his arm across her waist, and almost instantly, he feels the tension leaving her body, her breathing becomes more shallow and as her fingers touch his, he closes his eyes and soon joins her in sleep.

 

She wakes slowly, hearing the chirping of the birds in their morning song. She opens her eyes to see the sleeping form of her husband lying next to her, one arm across her stomach. Realizing that he had slipped in sometime during the night and knowing this is why she has awakened so refreshed. Moving her head slightly she looks at his face, smiles and mouths the words, ‘I love you’ then closes her eyes, just content to have him next to her.

 

A whisper, “I love you, too.”

 

Her eyes open instantly, seeing him watching her. She smiles, moves closer and touches her lips lightly to his, “Hi, Cowboy,” she murmurs, as she snuggles into his chest.

 

He tightens his arm around her pulling her closer, “Hi, yourself,” and closing his eyes nuzzles his face into her hair, enjoying the feel of her touching him.

 

“What time did you get in?” Her voice low and husky with sleep.

“I’m not sure, around midnight, I think. Why?” He kisses her hair, tilts her head up just a little and kisses her ear.

 

“Just…. wondering how much sleep you’ve had?” Her body responding, just by being close to him.

 

“I don’t need much sleep for what you have in mind.” He slowly traces his tongue around her ear.

 

“Mmmmmm…and just what….do you think I have in mind?” She turns her head to face him, catching his bottom lip in her mouth briefly, then sliding her lips down his neck.

 

“I’m…not…sure, maybe…. something… like this,” His hand moves to cup her breast through the shirt.

 

She moans, and moving her mouth to nibble at his nipple, she hears his breathing quicken, as she moves her lips across his chest. “Maybe.”

 

He pulls her up and his mouth finds hers, his tongue caressing hers. She flattens her body into his, feeling his need pressing against her. She reaches down, removes his shorts and closes her hand around him. He jerks unable to keep his body from reacting. He quickly removes her shirt and buries his face in her breasts. Suckling one then the other.

 

“Darling, I need you,” she barely whispers. When he hears this, he shifts his body to cover hers, parting her legs with his knee. As he penetrates, she thrusts her hips up to meet him, not willing to wait. The pace increases as the passion grows, the thrusts become harder, deeper, then they grip each other tightly as their bodies stiffen in the throes of ecstasy. Slowly the two come down from the high that was created by their love. He withdraws, rolls to the side and, still holding her, pulls the covers over them. They lay spent and contented until, ……..the door opens……

 

“Hey, Daddy’s home!!!”

 

The End

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Sequel”

        In The Nick of Time

 

“Hey, Daddy’s home!!!”

 

Walker sits up quickly, “Hey, guys, weren’t you all told not to come into our bedroom without knocking?”

 

They all stop in their tracks, looking at each other.  Jessie, the oldest, says, “Yes, Daddy.”

“Well, how about we try that, huh? Go back outside and knock but be sure to wait until one of us answers, okay?”

 

“Okay, Daddy.” All four turn and quietly file back out of the room, with Jessie pulling the door shut after her.

 

As soon as the door is shut, Alex quickly finds her shirt and puts it back on, frantically trying to put the buttons into the buttonholes. Walker reaches down under the blankets and locates his underwear, slips them on, and grabs a pair of workout pants that he keeps at the foot of the bed, not exactly for times like this, but for emergencies.

 

“Knock, knock,”

 

Whispers, “Alex, are you….”

 

“I think so. You….”

 

“Yeah.” They sit up in bed with the blankets at their waist, “Come in.”

 

All four come bounding back into the room with the two smallest jumping up on the bed, all trying to hug their daddy at the same time. Then Chrissy moves over and sits on Alex’s lap, John and Jessie sitting on the bed between their Mom and Dad and Jimmy’s arms are still wrapped around Walker’s neck.

 

“We’re sorry, Daddy, about forgetting to knock, but you’ve been gone so long.  When we saw the Ram out front, well…we just forgot.” Jessie murmurs softly, being the self-appointed spokesman for the group.

 

John lays his hand on Walker’s arm, “You’re not going to be gone like that again are you, Daddy?”

 

“I don’t know, son.  I may have to go away again one of these days, but, I’m on vacation now, okay?” He looks at Alex and winks.

 

Amidst a lot of, “Great,” “Can we go riding” “Will you wrestle with me, Daddy?” “O boy” and bouncing on the bed, Walker manages to finally say, “Hey, how about you guys go get dressed so that we can get up, and then after breakfast maybe we can make some plans. Okay, Alex?”

 

“Okay, with me. Jessie, you help Chrissy okay?”  As the kids scramble off the bed, “Oh, Jessie, would you pull the door shut when you leave?”

 

As the door closes, Walker turns to Alex with a gleam in his eye, “And why, may I ask, did you want the door shut?”

 

“Cause, I’m not through with you yet.” She murmurs as she puts her arms around his neck and pulls him back down on the bed.

He disengages from her arms, goes to the door, and turns the key to lock it. “No more surprises.”

Then, on his way back to bed, he rids himself of the clothes he has on, crawls back into bed and takes her into his arms. He covers her mouth with his and probing with his tongue, he slips it between her lips and explores her mouth fully. He feels her moan against his lips as he finds her breast, caressing gently, and brings his knee up between her legs as she rubs her hand over his chest and then down to his belly and touches his manhood causing him to press his body into hers. She moves beneath him, letting him know that she wants him now. He enters quickly, thrusting deep, then pauses before he begins moving again. As the passion builds, the thrusts become faster, deeper, until the last thrust, which brings waves of pleasure rolling up through their bodies. With a sharp cry, she falls away into the fire, feeling him following a few seconds later.

 

They lay quietly for a few minutes, then he withdraws and rolls to her side. Raising up on his elbow, he kisses her softly and looks down into her eyes, “God, I love you.”

 

She puts her arms around his neck pulling him down for another kiss, “No matter how much you love me, I love you more.”

 

“That so, huh? I could say the same thing, you know.” Starts kissing her on the neck, murmurs, “I want you again, right now. Can you tell?”

 

She giggles, “Yes, darling, I can tell. But I think we had better get up and get dressed before our four little Walkers start pounding on the door for breakfast.”

 

“I guess you’re right,” He reluctantly pushes back and stands, his desire showing plainly as he turns and goes into the bathroom.

 

Alex gets up quickly, follows him into the bathroom and shuts the door.

 

*****

 

While Walker helps Alex clean up the kitchen, the kids are sent to do their morning chores. “Darling, about these undercover assignments.”

 

He turns, sees the worried look on her face, “Hon, I’m way ahead of you.”

 

“Oh, what does that mean?”

 

He turns her around and takes her in his arms, “I’ve already decided to talk to the Captain.”

 

She smiles, touches his lips lightly with hers, “And what are you going to tell him?”

 

“Just that I’ve got too many responsibilities to be going undercover, except with you, that is.” He kisses the tip of nose. “They’re other men just as capable as I am that can do that job.”

 

“I agree.  You should have quit a long time ago.  You’re too well known.  It’s just a matter of time before you get caught and I don’t want to think about what would happen if you did.”  She buries her face in his chest, “I don’t think I could survive if anything were to happen to you.”

 

“You would, if for no other reason, than the kids, but I know how you feel. My world would cease to exist if you weren’t in it anymore.”

 

“You told the kids you were on vacation, for how long?”

 

“I’ve got five days, but I want to go in later and talk to the Captain. How about you, can you get off?”

 

“I’ll go in with you so that I can rearrange my appointments, but I don’t think I’ll have any problems.” She reaches up to touch his lips gently with hers. He places his hand behind her head, letting his fingers tangle in her hair as he pulls her closer, deepening their kiss.

 

The stampeding of feet on the stairs pulls them apart, but he still holds her in his arms as the kids come running into the kitchen. Jimmy is the first one through the door, shouting, “They’re smooching again!!”

 

Walker kisses Alex on the nose as he releases her, and the kids start pulling on their arms, “Come on, you guys. You said we were going riding.”

 

The two ‘smoochers’ laugh and Walker says, “All right, all right, lets get this show on the road.”

 

*****

 

Alex and Walker spend the morning with the children, taking them on a ride to the lake and ending with a picnic lunch. When they return to the ranch, they prepare for the trip to Dallas. They drop the kids at the Hope House, while Walker and Alex go to the Courthouse to their respective offices, so Alex can rearrange her appointments and Walker can talk to the Captain.

Trivette is coming into work when he sees Walker leave the Captains office, noticing the big smile on his face, walks over to him, “Hey, Pard, what are you so happy about? The only time I can remember you smiling like that is when you got married or found out you had another baby on the way.” Pats Walker on the back, “Well, I know for a fact you’re already married, so congratulations, Man, this will be five, won’t it?”

 

“Trivette, knock it off will you, we’re not expecting again. I was just telling the Captain that I wouldn’t take any more assignments for undercover work.” Noticing the puzzled look on Trivettes’ face,  “Look, when I got home last night, it hit me really hard about what would become of my family if anything happened to me. And he agreed with me for a change, which makes me a very happy man. Okay?”

 

“Man, I’m glad to hear that. You should have done that a long time ago. I always felt you were taking a big chance, too many people know you. I’ll bet Alex is glad, huh?”

 

“Yeah, Trivette, very glad. Now, I’m outta here. I’m on vacation. See you Monday.”

 

“Hey, with all this time off, be careful, you know the dangers of being home so much.” Laughs at his expression then ducks as Walker takes a swing at him.

 

That night, the kids in bed, prayers have been heard, and all is quiet.  Walker and Alex lay together wrapped in each other’s arms, he murmurs, “Alex?”

 

“Hmmm?”

 

“I’m not sure I did the right thing about this undercover work?”

 

Alex sits up quickly, turns to look into his face, “Walker…why would you say that?”

 

He pulls her back down beside him and brings her up tight against him. “I’m really gonna miss the welcome I get after being gone for several days. You know, like the one I got this morning?”

 

Alex giggles then kisses him softly, “Well, darling, you can do one of two things.”

 

“What’s that?” He brings his hand up inside her shirt, gently caressing her breast.

 

She takes his hand from her breast holding it still. “You could stay in town for three or four days, every so often. That would be one way.”

 

“I don’t like that way. What’s the second way.” He moves his lips to her ear, running his tongue around the edge as his hand starts moving again…down this time.

 

“Or…oh, God……we can…pretend……aaah……that you’ve been gone…Walker……on undercover…every morning.”

 

“I’ll…take the second…choice.” Moves his lips to hers, kissing deeply.

 

A murmur, “Darling…….. the door…locked ”

 

The rustling of blankets…the click of the key being turned…more rustling of covers…then

 

“Come here, woman.”

 

The End

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

       The Ultimate Fear

 

 

When Walker shoves the door open to the DA’s office Alex stands and seeing the look on his face, terror fills her heart, “Walker … what…?”

 

He moves up to her quickly and takes her in his arms pulling her close, but sensing that something dreadful has happened, she pushes him back. “Walker, don’t … oh, God, tell me what’s wrong.”

 

“It’s Chrissy, she’s missing. She didn’t get off the bus at the HOPE Center.” He sees the tears and the pain gathering in her eyes, and his heart just about breaks.

 

As what he is saying penetrates her mind, her knees weaken. He tightens his arms around her to keep her from falling and guides her to the couch and sits down with her. As she struggles with the news, her mind just keeps thinking, ‘My baby! Chrissy is missing? She’s only 6 years old, my baby.’ She grabs Walker shirt with steel fingers, “Walker … no … please. She’s just a baby.”

 

“I know, hon. I wanted to tell you first, before we start backtracking. We need to find the last place she was seen. I’ve already got people looking for her but I need to go, too.” He pulls her into his chest, feeling his shirt dampen from her tears. “Do you want to stay here, or go home?”

 

She pushes away from him, “What do you mean? I’m going with you, I can’t just sit around here, I’ve got to help.” She closes her eyes, burying her face against his chest, “Oh, Walker,” she wails, “She’s so little. What could have happened to her?”

 

“I don’t know, Alex, but we’re going to find her, okay? We have to believe that.” He squeezes her to him, kisses the top of her head, and then stands to leave.

 

She stands with him and lays a hand on his arm, stopping him, “Walker, what can I do? I’ll go crazy if I just sit around waiting for you to call me.”

 

He takes her hands in his, and looking deep into her eyes, “Call the school, find out if she got on the right bus. Maybe she got on the bus to go home instead of the HOPE Center.” He stops then at the idea that she may be at the ranch by herself. “I’m going out there right now to see if that’s where she went. I’ve got my cell phone, if you find out anything, call me. I’ll do the same.” He kisses her quickly and turns to leave the room. Pauses, looks back at Alex, “We’ll find her, hon, I promise.” Then he’s gone.

 

Alex calls the school and is informed by Chrissy’s teacher, that she did get on the bus to the HOPE Center. Learning this she calls her husband, “Walker, they said she got on the right bus. Maybe you should go talk to the bus driver?”

 

“I’ll go there now. What’s the driver’s name?”

 

“He drives bus No. 10 and his name is Charlie Becom. Lives out on Marshall Drive, last house on that road.”

 

“Got it. I’ll call as soon as I know any thing.”

 

*****

 

When Walker turns onto Marshall Drive, he notices that the left side of the road is heavily wooded with underbrush right up to the road. Coming to the last house, he pulls into the drive and parks by the side of the house. Getting no answer when he knocks on the door, he walks around to the back of the house and seeing the bus he moves over to it and pushes the door open. Climbing up inside, he kneels down checking under the seats, seeing nothing, he stands and walks down the aisle, looking in all the seats, nothing. The last bench, however, has several papers scattered on the seat. Picking them up, he sees Chrissy’s name scrawled across the tops of each one. Clutching them in his hand, ‘She was here!’ He leaves the bus, returning to his truck. As he starts to back out, a car pulls in behind him and a man gets out and rushes up to the truck window.

 

“I just heard. Have you found her yet?”

 

“No, but I found her papers in your bus out back. Do you remember where she got off?”

 

“God help me, I don’t.” He wipes his eyes with the back of his hand, “My mind was on my dental appointment, and … for the first time since I started driving I forget to check my bus to make sure everyone had gotten off. When I heard about her missing, I came right back here to look, … but … I guess you didn’t find her.”

 

“No, I didn’t. If she fell asleep, the first thing she would have done would be to come to your house when she woke up. But since you were gone…!” He drops his head down to rest on top of the steering wheel, suddenly he sits up, “Please … move your car, I’ve got to check the other houses up the road, she might have tried them.”

 

“No one lives in any of them. They haven’t been sold yet.”

 

“Then maybe she tried to walk out. Please move your car.” After Becom moves his car, Walker tears out of there like the devil is after him.

 

As he drives up the road, he calls Alex, and tells her what he has found. When he hears her trying to choke back the tears, his heart flips flops and he feels tears build up in his eyes. “Alex, honey, I’m going to pick up the kids and take them to Hope Center, then I’ll come get you. I want you with me.” When he comes to a crossroads, he drives one way for a couple of miles then turns around and drives the other way. Looking at his watch, he realizes that it has been two hours since school has let out.  He finally gives up, and goes to pick up his kids.

 

*****

 

He taps on the door lightly then pushes it open to find Alex standing in front of the window. She turns when she hears the door, her face lighting up with hope only to fall when she looks into Walker’s eyes.  He moves up to her, takes her in his arms holding her close as she sobs quietly against his chest. Rubbing his hand up and down her back, “Are you ready?”

She nods her head, and he turns with his arm around her waist, picks up her purse, hands it to her, then gently guides her out of the office.

 

*****

 

She sits quietly, leaning against him, “Where are we going, Walker?”

 

“Home. I want to make sure she hasn’t some how found her way home.”

 

“Oh … honey, that’s a long way for her to walk. Do you think she could find her way home from school?”

 

“Well … maybe not from school, but Mr. Becom’s house is just on the other side Tanner’s woods and that’s just up the road. Maybe she tried coming that way.”

 

“Oh … God, Walker that woods is a wilderness. I wouldn’t even try to walk through there.”

 

“I know, hon, but you never know what goes through a kids head.”

 

When he stops in front of the house, Alex immediately jumps out and rushes up to the door. As she unlocks it, she realizes that Chrissy is not inside the house because of the locked door. She turns to look at Walker only to see him running for the barn.

 

She quickly follows him and watches from the door of the barn as he thoroughly checks the stalls, the tack room and any place else that a little girl might be asleep, waiting for someone to come home. When he finally stops his frantic search he walks up to Alex, “She isn’t here.” He takes her in his arms, knowing that he isn’t giving her much hope with his actions. He feels as lost as she is.

 

Alex puts her arms around his waist, feeling the dejection in his body, knowing he is taking this just as hard as she is. “Honey, we’ll find her. I know we will. We just have to keep faith.”

 

“That’s suppose to be my line, baby. But you’re right, we have to have faith.” He pulls her close and kisses her tenderly then just holds her.

 

In a soft hushed voice filled with fear, “Oh, God … Oh, God, Walker … look.”

 

He turns around to look behind him and sees Chrissy standing at the corner of the corral looking toward the house. At her side is a beautiful silver wolf. With her hand on the animal’s back, she seems to be saying something but neither one of them can hear what it is.

Walker tightens his arm around Alex and whispers softly, “Alex … kneel down with me.  Real … slow.” With her breath caught in her throat, she does as he says. “Don’t make any sudden moves, honey. And no matter what happens, don’t run. Okay?” Without looking at her he feels her head nod against his shoulder.

 

A little louder than a whisper, “Chrissy.”

Chrissy doesn’t move but the wolf turns his head towards them and just stares at them. Then he takes two steps towards Alex and Walker, causing Chrissy, to turn in their direction. When she starts to move toward them, the wolf steps in front of her and looks up into Chrissy’s face.  She puts her hand on his head, speaks quietly to him and the wolf backs away from her. She turns then and runs just as fast as she can right into her Mom and Dad’s open arms.

 

Walker watches the wolf for several minutes, then as the animal turns around and slowly trots away he turns his attention back to his daughter. With the tears, and hugs and kisses, the terrifying ordeal is over. He picks up his daughter and helps Alex to stand then starts walking with them back to the house.

 

Inside, Walker calls Trivette at Ranger Headquarters and tells him to call off the search. “Chrissy is home. I can’t tell you any more because I haven’t had a chance to get the full story from Chrissy yet.  Just tell everyone that she is home and all right and to thank them for all of their help. I’ll come in shortly and pick up the other kids.”

 

“Hey, man, you stay with Chrissy, I’ll go pick them up and bring them out, it’s time for me to pick up Josie and my two anyway. See you in about 20, alright?”

 

“Thanks Trivette. I appreciate that.”

 

*****

 

Walker goes into the living room and joins Alex on the couch where Chrissy is sitting in her lap. “Chrissy, can you tell us what happened?” He watches her face as she tries to get her thoughts together.

 

“I fell asleep on the bus.” Walker reaches over and picks up her hand, urging her to continue. “When I woke up everyone was gone. I went up to the house but no one was home. I didn’t know what to do then, I just sat down on the porch,” She looks from Walker to Alex, “and I guess I cried a little bit.”

 

Alex pulls her back against her chest in to a hug, “Oh, honey. It was all right to cry, you were scared.”

 

Walker, still holding her hands, waiting silently for her to continue. “I went back to get in the bus, and I heard a noise, when I looked up I saw an eagle in the sky.” She sits up then from Alex’s arms, and looks intently into her Dad’s face. “I remembered that story you told about the eagle showing you the way in the woods, and … I started to follow it.” When she sees the smile appear on his face, her face brightens and she continues with her story. “Sometimes it would disappear so I’d stop and wait. Then I’d hear it scream and there it was again. One time ... when he was gone for a long time, I just sat down and waited. I … I fell asleep.  But when I woke up there he was like he was waiting for me. When he started screaming, I started to get up … that’s when I saw it.”

 

“Saw what, honey?” Alex is listening intently, not really understanding, at least not like Walker is, but knowing that somehow what Cherokee blood she had gotten from him had brought her home.

 

“The big dog.” Chrissy feels her mother stiffen, “But he was nice, Mommy. He came up to me and kissed me. And when I got up he started walking away. I didn’t want him to go it wasn’t so scary when he was there. I looked up at the eagle and he was going the same way the dog was, so I went with the dog.  He … brought me home.” Walker moves closer and takes Chrissy and Alex both into his arms in a contented embrace. Chrissy, in a muffled voice, “Did I do all right, Daddy?”

 

“Honey, you did just fine. When we saw you by the barn, what did you say to the wol… the big dog, when he moved in front of you?”

 

“I just told him it was all right, that you were my Mom and Dad.” Walker tightens his arms around them, pulling Chrissy’s head against his chest, and Alex’s cheek against his. “Daddy will I ever see him again?”

 

“ If you ever need him again, I’m sure he’ll be their, baby.” As he sits quietly with his wife and daughter in his arms, he sends a silent prayer to the spirits for bringing his daughter home safely to him.

 

When he hears a car outside, he stands and goes to the door and pulls it open as the rest of his family comes flying up on the porch and into the house. They all congregate around Chrissy who is still sitting on Alex’s lap.

 

Feeling happy at being the center of attention, she willingly tells her story again. As she finishes, Walker watches to see if any one shows any doubt to what she has said.  John and Jimmy both beam with joy at the adventure she’s had with, “Wow” “Wish I could have seen them” almost wishing they had been there, too. Jessie stares at her little sister, grateful that she is home, and feels just a little awed at Chrissy’s encounter with creatures from her dad’s stories.

 

Walker moves off to the side, letting his daughter bask in her fame. Trivette listens to her story then moves back to stand at Walker’s side. “God, Walker, do you think that’s the way it really happened?”

 

“I don’t know Trivette, but Alex and I were out by the barn when we first saw her and there was a beautiful silver wolf with her.”

 

“Man, that sounds like some of the stories you use to tell.”

 

“Yeah, ain’t it great!”

 

The End

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sounds of Silence

 

He’s been sitting at his desk for at least an hour, leaning back in the chair, coffee cup in hand, staring at nothing in particular when he should have gone home hours ago.  Trivette has finally run out of excuses to keep hanging around and looks over at his partner, “Are you going to be all right, Walker?”

 

“Yes, Trivette.” He quietly replies, “I’ll be fine. Go on home, Josie’s going to get worried if you keep hanging around here.”

 

“Are you sure you won’t come with me, have dinner with us? Josie would be glad to see you.”

 

“No, Trivette, thanks anyway.  I’m going to head home. I’ve got some chores that need to be done.” He stands slowly, takes his hat from the rack and walks toward the door dreading the idea of going home.

 

He takes his time driving home knowing what he’s going to find when he gets there.  Even driving slow he eventually arrives at the ranch.  He parks the Ram, gets out and with dragging feet makes his way up the steps to the porch.  He sits down on the swing wishing he could turn back the clock but knows that that is impossible.  He stays on the porch a while longer until he can’t put it off any longer, then stands and goes to the door.  His hand hesitates on the knob, then slowly turns it and pushes the door open.  He walks inside and shuts the door then leans back against it.

 

Silence!  It was deafening!

 

He never realized the sound of silence could be so loud.  He didn’t think he would ever get used to the silence that had taken over the house. He missed the sound of his kids playing and the bickering that’s always part of a household with four kids.  Even old Poptart was quiet, curled up in the recliner when she was usually being held by one of the kids.  He missed walking in the door and having the kids all jump him for a good wrestle. He missed tucking them in at night and listening to their prayers. Missed seeing toys scattered around on the floor.  He even missed the constant begging to go to the barn and ride the horses.

 

But most of all, he missed Alex. The way she would greet him when he got home, keeping the kisses subdued knowing there were always little eyes watching.  She always made it up to him though when the lights went out and they were in bed.  He missed seeing her during the day, too.  She always found a reason to stop by Ranger Headquarters or he would make an excuse to go to her office.  It was rare if they didn’t see each other at least once during the day.

 

One week wasn’t that long, just seven days.  That was how long they are going to be gone to visit Alex’s Dad in New York.  But after just two days, a week seemed like eternity.

 

She had asked him to come along but he and Trivette were working on a case and he didn’t feel he could leave.  Of course, as soon as his family was gone, they got the lead they needed and the case had been closed yesterday.  If he could turn back the clock, he would go with them.  ‘Well, it’s not too late’, he thinks.   He goes to the phone, calls the airport and makes a reservation on the next flight to New York.

 

The house could be silent without him.

 

The End

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Officer of the Court

 

 

Jessie came bounding down the stairs, “Mom, have you seen my blue sweater?”

 

“Wasn’t that the one you had on in the barn last night?”

 

“Drat …. yes … it was..”

 

“Jessie, you can wear mine if you want, it’s in my closet.”

 

“Thanks, Mom.”  Jessie turns and starts back upstairs then pauses, “Where’s Dad? Has he already left?”

 

“Yes, hon, he had to go in early this morning. Jessie, would you see what’s holding up your brothers and your sister? You’re all going to be late if you don’t get a move on.”

 

As Jessie disappears upstairs, John, Jimmy, and Chrissy come hurrying down, “We’re all ready, Mom. Just waiting on Jessie. She said she would take us to school this morning.”

 

Alex meets them at the bottom of the stairs, checking everyone over as they each kiss her on the cheek before rushing out the door to get in Jessie’s car.  “Hurry up, Jessie, they’re all waiting.”

 

No sooner has the words left her mouth then Jessie is planting a kiss on her cheek, but before she can get to the door, Alex stops her with a hand on her arm. Softly reminding her, “Be careful, baby.”

 

She looks her mom in the eyes, at 16 she is already as tall as Alex. Leans in and kisses her on the cheek again, “I will, Mom. See you tonight.” A quick hug then she, too, is out the door.

 

Alex watches as the car, that’s carrying all of her children, move down the lane and out onto the road, disappearing from sight. Then closing the door, she goes back into the kitchen for another cup of coffee. Looking at the clock, she sees that she still has almost two hours before she has to leave for work. She takes the coffee and heads back upstairs, to make her bed and lay out her clothes for the day. Entering the bathroom, she takes her robe and Walker’s shirt off and stands looking into the mirror at her still youthful looking body. After four children she has still managed to stay slim, much to the delight of her husband of sixteen years.

 

Moving into the shower she turns on the water and adjusts the temperature, shuts her eyes and lets the pulsating spray lull her into a dreamy state.  Feeling a draft of cool air, she turns just as a hand touches her arm. She jumps and lets out a yelp, which is cut off by a mouth coming down on hers.

 

Alex relaxes as the taste of her intruder fills her mouth. She brings her arms up around his neck pulling him closer. When he pulls back, she looks into his eyes, “Walker, you scared me half to death,” then touches her lips lightly to his again.

 

Murmuring against her lips, “I wanted to surprise you.” Moving his hands up and down the length of her body, brings soft moans form her.

 

“Well, you did that, Cowboy.”  She caresses his back with her hands, moving them down to his bottom pulling him tightly up against her. Feeling his arousal against her stomach, she brings her hand down between them, caressing him lightly before moving her hand back up behind his head bringing his mouth hard against hers. She meets his tongue with hers, strokes it, and explores the inside of his mouth.

 

He slides his hand from her waist to cup and then caress her breast, which immediately responds by swelling into his hand.  His fingers begin moving lower still, sliding down between her legs to touch her there so gently that the fire that ignites inside her as a result is so overpowering that her knees weaken. He reaches behind her and shuts the water off, smiles down into her eyes, then presses another quick, hungry kiss on her mouth before scooping her up in his arms and carrying her into the bedroom.

He lowers her gently to the bed and lies down next to her, bringing his leg up across hers. She surrenders her lips to him, opens her mouth to him, and moans at the hot wet invasion of his tongue. He moves his hand to gently caress her breast while his other hand strokes her at the juncture of her thighs.

Aching and yearning, she presses tightly against him, desperate for more, for the feel of him inside of her, for his body to join with hers.  He lifts his head, and his eyes meet hers. She finds warmth and an intense, burning desire for her in their depths.

He touches his mouth to her lips then settles on top of her and thrusts into her deep and hard groaning into her mouth. His hand finds her breasts, her nipples, at the same time he starts to move. He thrusts deep, the pace increasing as the passion builds within them.

Alex digs her nails into his back as she wraps her legs around his waist. Suddenly, she jerks and stiffens, pulling his hips to her as she cries out, “Walker,” she gasps as her world explodes. He groans in response, thrusting deep, and finds his own release, burying himself deep inside her quivering body.

He lies still on top of her for several minutes then his lips brush her hair, his warm breath filling her ear with a whisper, “I love you.” He withdraws and moves to her side keeping her within his arms.

He feels his body stir when his soul mate snuggles deeper into his embrace, her body wiggling deliciously against him. “I love you, too, honey.” She lies curled in his arms for several minutes, then groaning she finally sits up, “But … if I don’t get up and finish my … shower, I’m going to be late for work.” She leans over and touches her lips to his, and as she stands, he watches her appreciatively as she walks toward the bathroom.

Alex is dressed and ready to leave for work by the time Walker comes out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist.  She kisses him softly, then picks up her briefcase and starts for the door. Just before she leaves the room, she pauses, turns to look at Walker, “Pick me up at the courthouse for lunch, say about noon?”

“I’ll try, honey.” Blows a kiss at her and gives her a seductive smile, as he lets the towel drop. She raises an eyebrow, smiles wickedly, takes one step toward him, then reluctantly turns and leaves the room.

 

*****

Alex opens the door to the judges chambers, lays her briefcase on the desk then moves to the closet, takes her coat off and hangs it inside. There’s a soft knock on the door as she takes the robes out of the closet and slips them on. “Come in.”

“Your Honor looks chipper this morning. Must be the spring weather.” The bailiff, Martin Thomas, has been with Alex since she had accepted the appointment as Dallas County Juvenile and Domestic Court Judge two years ago.

“Well, it’s a beautiful day, Martin.” Remembering the sendoff her husband had given her earlier.

“Ah … Your Honor?”

“Oh … yes, Martin. Guess I was daydreaming. Have we got a full case load ahead of us today?”

“Yes, Your Honor, we do. You know what it’s like when spring starts busting out.”

“Only to well, Martin. Well, shall we get started?  I’m ready if you are.”  He opens the door to the courtroom and follows Alex, pulling the door closed after him.

 

*****

 

At ten minutes till noon, Alex enters her chambers, not quite as perky as when she left, looking forward to the lunch break with Walker. She sits down at her desk, picks up a paper that Martin had handed her, but instead of reading it, she leans back in her chair and just sits there with her eyes closed.  A knock on the door brings a smile to her face, hoping it’s her husband. “Come in.”

 

The door opens and Walker enters and pushes the door shut. She stands and moves toward him. He smiles at her, “Your Honor,” and moves close taking her into his arms.

 

“Hi, Cowboy.” She kisses him softly, then lays her cheek next to his and just lets him hold her. He brings his hand up and begins to undo the front of her robes.

 

“I always get a funny feeling when I kiss you when you have your robes on. Like I’m going to get called for contempt of court.”

 

“Oh, Walker, don’t be silly. I’m still the same whether I have the robes on or not.” She steps back and begins to slide the robes off. He moves behind her and catches them as they slide off her shoulders. She takes the robes from him and hangs them back into the closet.

 

“No, you become Your Honor, when the robes go on and I should respect that.” Moving up behind her he pulls her back into his arms, moves her hair to the side, and kisses her softly on the neck.  “And you are always a judge whether you are wearing the robes or not.”

She turns around to face him, “Just like you are always a Texas Ranger. But when we’re in each other’s arms, we’re just husband and wife. Not a Ranger and not a judge.” Bringing her arms up behind his neck, she pulls him close for a tender, lingering kiss. As he starts caressing her back, she leans back slightly, “You never did say why you returned home this morning. I thought you had to go on stakeout with Jimmy!”

He pulls her close again, “I couldn’t get you off my mind so I just told Trivette I was taking the day off.” Gives her several butterfly kisses on her lips, eyes, and cheeks before returning to her lips with a deep sensuous kiss.

 

When he releases her mouth, “Walker, I know better than that. Now, why?”

 

“They got the ones we were after last night. When I got there they were just finishing up. Trivette and I helped with the moping up then he went to the office and I … went home.” He looks deep into her eyes, “We don’t have to many mornings to ourselves anymore and I wasn’t about to let this chance get away.”  He begins trailing kisses down her neck then up to her ear, bringing soft moans from her.

 

“I’m glad.  But it won’t be any better next week. The kids are all on spring vacation.”

 

He groans at the news then says, “Maybe we could let Jessie to watch the home fires one night and we could go out on the town. How’s that sound to you?”

 

“I think that’s a good idea. We’ll ask Jessie tonight.” She kisses him then turns to pick up her purse, “Come on, Cowboy, I’m famished.”

 

*****

 

Her first case after lunch was a petition filed by a father, Jason Marlow, to have his 15-year-old daughter returned to him. Claiming that no evidence was found that he was abusing his daughter, either physically or sexually.

 

Alex looks at the man sitting with his lawyer and then looks at a young girl, who obviously is very scared, sitting next to the social services agent, before reading the papers filed by the state.  “Mr. Marlow, have you taken the advice of the court and sought out counseling for controlling your temper?”

 

“Ah … not as of yet, Your Honor, but he will, I’ll see to it.”

“Mr. Harper, would you please let you client answer the question, please?”

“No, Judge, I haven’t.” He looks up at his lawyer, “And I don’t intend to. It’s ridiculous. I don’t have a problem with my temper, my problem is with a daughter that keeps mouthing off to me.”

Alex stares at Marlow for several minutes then turns toward the welfare agent. “Have you discovered any new evidence supporting your claim of sexual abuse by Mr. Marlow of his daughter?”

“No, Your honor. Medical examination shows that she has been sexually abused but we have no proof that Mr. Marlow is the abuser. Just the word of Stephanie, his daughter, that he was, physically and sexually, abusing her. And we strongly recommend that she be taken from his custody.”

“That’s a lie, I never laid a hand on her.” Marlow jumps up and looks at his daughter with a look of pure meanness, “Wait’ll I get you home, you little …”

“Shut up and sit down, Mr. Marlow, before I have you thrown out of my courtroom! Mr. Harper, please restrain your client.”

Mr. Harper finally gets his client to sit down, but Marlow is still glaring at his daughter. Alex slams the mallet down to get Marlow’s attention, “Mr. Marlow, your petition is denied. Stephanie will be put in a foster home until she reaches her eighteenth birthday. And you are ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from your daughter or you will serve a sentence of six months to a year in jail for violation of that order. Is that understood?”

Mr. Harper stands, “Yes, Your Honor.”

Marlow jumps to his feet, vehemently arguing with the decision. “You can’t do that, she’s my daughter, you can’t take her away from me. You have no right to interfere.”

“I have every right to interfere, Mr. Marlow, for the protection of your daughter. Mr. Harper, I recommend that you get Mr. Marlow out of my sight before I have him thrown in jail for disruption of my court.”

Marlow shoves his attorney back and starts toward the bench, his face red from rage, “I’ll show you what I think of your right.” Before he can get within three feet of her, Marlow is jerked back and handcuffs are put on him before he even knows what has happened.

Alex looks up to see Walker putting handcuffs on Marlow, and the courtroom security guard helping to hold him. She knew Walker had been sitting in the back of the courtroom but hadn’t realized that he had responded so quickly. She smiles at her husband, and glancing at the guard, “Throw him in jail until he cools off.” Bringing her eyes back to Walker as Marlow is being led away, “Thank you Ranger Walker. I appreciate your help.” Then in a whisper only he can hear and a look showing that she means it, “I’ll thank you proper tonight.”

“Glad to help, Your Honor.” He winks at her then turns to leave the courtroom.

The rest of the afternoon, Alex is kept so busy that by the time she finishes with the last case, she has forgotten about the Marlow case. Martin Thomas follows her into her chambers behind the courtroom and helps her take off her robes. “Glad this day is over, Your Honor, I don’t think we’ve had a day like this for a long time.”

“You’re right about that, Martin, I’m ready to go home and enjoy the weekend.” She turns to take Martins hands in hers, “How’s your wife doing? Any changes?”

“No, Your Honor. She’s the same, no changes. As long as the pain stays away, she does alright.” Martin Thomas’ wife has been fighting ovarian cancer for the past year and he is devoted to taking care of her. He has someone come in during the day but he stays with her every moment that he isn’t working. He turns to leave, “The boys are coming for the weekend, she’s always glad to have them spend time with us.”

“That’s nice. Tell her I said hi. And Martin? If there is anything I can do ….”

“I know. I appreciate you offering, it means a lot to us. Oh, and how is that family of yours?”

“They’re fine, Martin.”

“You got a nice looking family, Your Honor.”

“Thank you, Martin.”

“I … guess I’d better be going, she’ll be expecting me.” He turns and opens the door, “I’ll see you Monday morning?”

“I’ll be here. Have a nice visit with your boys, Martin.”

“Thank you, Your Honor.” He shuts the door after he leaves.

 

*****

Just before Alex gets ready to leave she turns as she hears a knock on the door, ‘Oh, no, now what?’ She opens the door to see John and Jimmy standing there in their Boy Scout uniforms with full backpacks. “What’s going on? What are you two doing here?”

 

“Mom … did you forget? You were going to drop us at Mr. Donaldson’s house.” John sees the blank look on his mother’s face. “Our overnight camping trip?”

“Oh, no, I forgot all about it. Have we still got time?” When Jimmy nods, she grabs her coat, and her purse, digging for her car keys as she heads for the door. “Well, let’s get this show on the road then, Okay?” The boys grin and help her put on her coat as they head for the car.

When she gets to Donaldson’s house, the scoutmaster, a bus is being loaded with backpacks and boy scouts, about 15 in all. She gets out and after finding out the return time, she gives both boys a kiss and a hug, and a reminder to be careful and to have fun. As she watches them board the bus she hears comments like, “Gees, you still getting kisses from your mother?” “Are we a mama’s boy?” and she hears answers that warms her heart. “Sure do, don’t you?”  “Yeah, I’m a mama’s boy, you jealous.” These answers coming from a thirteen and an eleven-year-old.

When Alex gets home she sees Walker’s truck and Jessie’s car parked in front of the house.  Seeing the horses in the small corral at the side of the barn she knows that Walker is doing the barn chores. Sitting her briefcase on the porch she makes the walk to the barn to let her husband know that she is home.

When she first sees Walker he is shirtless, busy mucking out the stalls. She hears soft music coming from the radio in the tack room. She watches him for a few minutes, admiring the strong hard muscles that are now shining with sweat from his exertions.

Walker senses that he is being watched and turns, knowing that it is Alex. He smiles at her, leans the pitchfork against the wall, and walks up to her, reaching out to take her in his arms. Realizing that he is all sweaty, he pulls back, not wanting to get her clothes dirty. “Hi, baby.”

She sees his hesitation and moves up against him, pressing her body tightly against his. “Alex … your clothes …”

“They’ll wash.” He puts his arms around her then and places his lips lightly to hers. She circles his neck with her arm moves her mouth over his in a long lingering kiss. When his hand moves to cup her breast through her clothes she arches against him. His hand starts to unbutton her blouse when her hand on his stops him. Pulling back from the kiss, she whispers, “Jessie’s home.”

“Oh … well, guess we had better put this on hold then, huh?”

“I … think so.” She snuggles into him, “Darling, do you think we’ll ever get to the point we won’t want to make love every time we touch each other?”

“Not in this lifetime. I want you as much now if not more than when I first fell in love with you.”

“I’m looking forward to the future with you, honey.” She kisses him softly, “I’ll get out of here and let you finish. I’ll change clothes and then get dinner started. It’ll just be the three of us tonight.”

“I know the boys went on a scouting trip but where is Chrissy?”

“She had the sleep over at Tammy’s, remember?”

“That’s right, I forgot about that.” A quick kiss to her cheek then he backs up from her, “I’ll be about another 30 minutes then I’ll be in.”

“Okay, hon, dinner should almost be ready by then.” She turns and leaves the barn.

 

*****

 

Walker grabs his shirt after shutting off the radio, hits the light switch and closes the doors to the barn. Almost dark, he notices streaks of lightning off to the south, smiling at the thought of his boys’ camp out getting rained on. As he nears the back door, he hears his wife and daughter talking quietly in the kitchen working together getting dinner ready. But he doesn’t notice the eyes watching him from the shadows of the small shed behind the house.

Walker pushes the door open, hearing, “Hi, honey,” gives her a quick kiss, wanting to take her in his arms but reluctantly refrains, as he moves over to Jessie

“Whew, Daddy, you need a shower.” But she leans over and kisses him on the cheek anyway.

“That’s where I’m headed.” But before leaving the kitchen he turns,  “No date tonight, Jessie?”

“No, not tonight, but I do tomorrow night with Mike. We’re going dancing over in Ft. Worth.”

 “Sounds like fun.” He replies as he starts upstairs.

 

*****

 

When Walker returns to the kitchen, he sees Alex putting the finishing touches on the entrée and Jessie tossing the salad. “Anything I can do to help?”

“Nope, we just about got it, honey.”

Noticing the full trash can, “Well, since we’re in for rain, I’m going to take the trash out now. Be right back.” Pulls the sack out of the trash container, ties it shut, and goes out the back door to where the garbage cans are located by the shed, behind the house.

Putting the lid back on the can, he turns to go back to the house when he hears a slight noise. The hairs rise on the back of his neck and alarm bells goes off in his head. As he turns back to investigate, he sees movement just before something that feels like a baseball bat hits him right in the side of the head, and stars explode before his eyes. Then everything goes dark.

 

*****

 

Alex returns to the kitchen after putting everything on the table and Jessie is upstairs getting something from her room that she wanted to show to her dad.

Wondering what is keeping Walker, Alex picks up the napkins and starts for the dining room when the door opens. “Is it raining yet, hon.” But when she looks up, it isn’t Walker standing there, it’s Jason Marlow.  “Wha …!” then noticing the club in one hand and a gun in the other, she hears Jessie coming down the stairs.

Instead of running away from him, like Marlow expected, she runs right at him shoving him with all her might.  Catching him off guard, he stumbles backward, almost falling to the floor. She spins around running for her daughter.

“Mom, what …?”

Run, Jessie, run!” Alex cries as she starts up the stairs. Hearing the terror in her voice, Jessie turns around and heads for her parents’ bedroom, standing at the door waiting on her mom. When Alex reaches the top of the stairs she turns and sees Marlow at he bottom aiming a gun right at her back.

He fires as she turns and grabs Jessie, shoves her into the room, then slams the door shut and locks it. When the gun goes off Jessie screams, grabbing her mother and holding on tight. But Alex pushes her to the window.

 

*****

 

Walker wakes to the rain beating down on his face, he blinks his eyes, causing a blinding pain to stab through his head. He quickly closes them. With the cold rain beating against his face, he opens them again, slowly this time. Still unable to get his mind to grasp what has happened, he lies still staring up into the dark night. Then he hears it. A gunshot.

He sits up quickly, bringing back the blinding pain with a vengeance. He lowers his head to his hands trying to get his mind to working again. When he hears the screams, his body jolts to action. Getting to his feet takes about all the energy he can muster. He staggers, falling back against the shed. Maintaining his balance is the hardest thing he feels like he has ever done. As he leans back against the shed, his mind finally realizes that whoever hit him is now in the house threatening his wife and daughter. This thought galvanizes him to move, however haltingly, toward the back door. Realizing that he can barely walk, barely see, and his blood running like a river down his chest to the floor, he leans against the wall just inside the back door trying to get his head to clear. He knows he isn’t in shape to go chasing after this maniac that is pounding on the door upstairs. Moving into the dining room, he sees the table set for dinner and with tears stinging his eyes, he wonders if his world will ever be right again. CRASH!  When he hears the door give way and the screams that follow, he forces himself to makes his way to the bottom of the stairs, stopping long enough to push the panic button on the alarm system next to the door. He knows it will bring help, but wonders if it will be in time.

 

*****

 

Jessie is already out the window on the porch roof, when the door breaks open and Marlow rushes in.  Instead of following Jessie, Alex slams the window shut and turns to face the mad man making his way toward her. “I told you it wasn’t over. Now you’ll pay for interfering where you had no right.” He raises the gun, and squeezes the trigger just seconds after she falls down behind the bed. She tries to scramble under the bed but it is to low. No place to hide! Her heart is beating so fast she can feel it pounding in her chest. She breaks out into a cold sweat as she turns over to face her attacker.

She takes a deep breath and stares at him as he comes around the foot of the bed. “Marlow, you still have time to stop, don’t make it any worse than it already is.”

“Shut up, you bitch.” He starts laughing hysterically, “Oh, sorry. Shut up, Your Honor!”

“Come on, Marlow, you don’t want to do this.”

“Oh, yes, I do Your Honor. You’ve taken my girl away from me and she’s all I had. Now you’re gonna pay.”

While he is raving at her, she notices that Jessie has raised the window and is climbing back into the room. Alex is hoping that she’ll run out the door and leave her to handle this, but knows in her heart that Jessie won’t leave her. As she watches Marlow’s finger tighten on the trigger, she unconsciously grits her teeth and feels her muscles stiffen as she waits for the bullet to enter her body. She screams and rolls toward the wall, just as she sees Jessie slam something down on Marlow’s back.  He screams in surprise as he pulls the trigger, sending the bullet into the carpet not more than an inch from Alex’s nose. He grabs at his back as he drops the gun to the floor. When he turns around to go after Jessie, she sees the pencil sticking out of the back of his neck.

You bitch, you stupid little bitch!” He screams. He pulls the pencil from his neck and grabs Jessie by the arm. She screams and claws at his face. Her scream breaks off when he drops the pencil and locks both hands around her throat.

Alex grabs the gun from the floor and fires. Then watches as a red stain covers the back of his shirt. He hands slowly open, releasing Jessie from their grip, then he turns to face Alex before dropping to the floor.

Then Alex, still on her hands and knees, slowly stands and moves over to Jessie, taking her into her arms, just as Walker reaches the door. He stands there, taking in the sight before him, Alex and Jessie clinging to each other. Knowing that his wife and daughter are all right, and the emergency situation is over, he sags to his knees. Still holding on to the door jam and smearing blood as his hand slides down, trying to keep from falling on his face.  He groans as his knees hit the floor.

Hearing the groan, Alex jerks around and sees Walker sitting in the doorway. She rushes to his side gathering him back into her arms, “Oh, God, Walker.”

Jessie comes up on his other side, seeing the horrific amount of blood, gasps, “Daddy!” Then between the two of them, lower him onto his back on the floor.

He manages a weak “I’m alright. You and Jessie …?” fighting hard to stay conscious.

“We’re fine. Jessie get me a towel.” Jessie jumps up to do as Alex asks. When she returns with the towel, Alex presses it to the side of his face.

He whispers, “I love you.” Hearing the sirens in the distance, he slowly relaxes in Alex’s arms and just before he slips into darkness he hears, “I love you, too.” and feels a soft kiss on the corner of his mouth.

As he closes his eyes, Alex hears the pounding on the front door, “Jessie, go let them in.”

When she opens the door the first one in is Jimmy. She throws her arms around his neck, “Hurry, upstairs, Daddy’s hurt.” Jimmy moves out of the way to let the paramedics in, then follows after them up the stairs.

He stands to the side as they put Walker on the gurney, he sees the bloody towel on the side of his head, Alex clinging to his hand, and then as he glances around the bedroom, the sheet covered body and knows that something really terrifying happened to his friends.

As the gurney with Walker is carried down the stairs, Alex stops next to Jessie long enough to tell her to get the boys, pick up Chrissy, and bring them to the hospital. She lets Jimmy take her in his arms for a comforting embrace, “Jimmy, I’ll tell you all about it at the hospital.”

He nods his head, lets her go with, “I’ll help Jessie get the other kids then I’ll see you at the hospital.”

Alex whispers, “Thank you,” then follows the paramedics out of the house and climbs into the ambulance with Walker. She picks up his hand bringing it to her mouth as the door is shut and then the ambulance with siren wailing speeds off into the darkness.

 

*****

 

Alex is staring at the clock in the waiting room when Jimmy and her children rush through the door, taking her into a group hug. After several minutes of silent prayer, Alex sits down with everyone gathered around her and starts her story beginning with the episode in the courtroom and stopping with the death of the man in her bedroom. All are quiet for several minutes, then Chrissy asks the one question that is on everyone’s mind. “How is Daddy?”

Alex turns to take Chrissy, her youngest, in her lap, “Your Daddy is going to be fine, he was hurt pretty bad but it’s not life threatening. He has a gash in his head and a possible skull fracture but he’s going to be all right.”

John pipes up with, “We should have been there.” Indicating Jimmy and Chrissy along with himself. “He wouldn’t have dared to tackle all of the Walker’s together.”

Trivette starts laughing “You can say that again, John. Looks like he had his hands full just taking on your Mom and Jessie.”

The others join in the laughter and as the atmosphere is lightened, the doctor comes to the door asking, “The next of kin for Cordell Walker?” When everyone stands up and moves toward him, even Trivette, the doctor’s eyes widen and a smile lights up his face. “Well … I just wanted to tell you that as soon as he’s settled into his room, you can see him.” He hesitates for a minute, “all of you, if you’re quiet.”

 

*****

 

A week later, Walker is released from the hospital. The doctor figures if he tries to keep him longer than that he would leave on his own, anyway. Alex picks him up in her car after work and with the all kids out on overnight stays elsewhere, they have the night to themselves.

His head is covered in bandages that are hiding a hairline skull fracture and two long gashes requiring a numerous number of stitches. Also two broken ribs where he had also been hit with the club after he had fallen to the ground. His face, which had swollen to the size of a basketball the day after the beating, is now back to normal, except for small gash on his cheek, requiring six stitches and a blackened right eye, which is now fading to a yellowish hue.

When Alex stops in front of the house, he figures that all of his kids would be waiting to welcome him home, but when no one shows, he asks Alex, “Where’s the kids?”

“They’re all spending the night with friends, wanting to give us a night alone.” She helps him up from the car and with him leaning on her they start for the house. Giving him an impish smile, “Although I wish they had waited till you were feeling better.”

Going up the steps is the hardest part of the walk, but he finally makes it and as Alex opens the door, he moves slowly inside. She shuts the door and turns to find herself in Walker’s arms, loosely, but still there, nonetheless. “Walker … I don’t think you should …”

He lowers his lips to hers in a passion filled kiss, drowning out her protest, then as he pulls back, he murmurs, “If you think I’m going to let this time alone with you go to waste, you don’t know me very well.” With her protesting every step of the way, and him promising that he can perform, they make their way up the stairs into their bedroom. Alex is right, he isn’t up to much more than just lying in the middle of the bed but that is alright with her. She undresses him and herself and begins teasing him until he is groaning in misery. But her teasing him is her undoing as well. Realizing that he has lots of injuries, she tries to be careful but with passion taking over, she forgets about his bruised body and rides him until she collapses against him. When he groans she quickly rolls off of him, “Oh, God, Walker, I’m sorry.” She sits up and looks down into his face, eyes closed to her apology. “Are you all right?”

He groans, “I think you broke a few more of my ribs and …” When he sees the scared look on her face he starts laughing, and Alex gently nudges him in the ribs, “I’m fine, you just touched a sore spot.”

“I’m sorry, honey. I knew we shouldn’t have …” He puts his arm around her neck pulling her head down and kissing her with a promise of much more to come. When his tongue slides between her lips, Alex feels fire shoot clear down to her toes.

Huskily murmuring, “Yes, we should have. Give me a moment, and we’ll do it again.” Pulling her down beside him, he begins to gently massage her breasts, first one then the other, until Alex’s body is ablaze with passion.

Alex looks at him for a long moment, her eyes as hot as his, then turns her attention from his face to other, more interesting parts of him. She rubs her hand over his belly. The muscles tighten under her soft caress, then she bends her head and replaces her hand with her lips, nibbling and licking and biting. When she takes him this time it is with a gentler ride. But the finale is the same. Exploding stars and wave after wave of pleasure sweeping through their bodies. As heartbeats return to normal, she nestles into his uninjured side, her head on his shoulder and her arm across his stomach, just below the bandage over his ribs. In just a matter of minutes they are both asleep.

 

*****

 

The both wake to the sound of a car, but when no knocking on the door follows, they relax and drift back to sleep. It isn’t long before they wake again but this time to the whinnying of the horses. Alex sits up, grabs her robe off the foot of the bed and goes to the window. “It’s Jimmy, he’s taking care of the horses for you.” She turns to look back at Walker who is trying to get up, she moves to his side helping him to stand. She picks up his pants and hands them to him, “Better put these on, you don’t want to go out in the buff.”

He looks at her and smiles, “You don’t either.” She looks down and sees her robe gaping open, revealing more than she intends. She grabs her clothes and goes into the bathroom. By the time she has her shower and is dressed, Walker is already downstairs, sitting in the swing on the porch. She joins him just as Jimmy walks out of the barn.

Sitting down on the steps, facing the two in the swing, “God, Walker, you look like you been rode hard and put away wet.”

Without batting an eye, “Trivette, I feel like it, too.” The arm he has around Alex’s shoulders tightens slightly, just enough that she can feel it but not enough where Trivette could see it.

“Alex, how are you doing? Any misgivings about accepting this appointment, yet?”

“No, Jimmy, none at all. We both talked this over thoroughly when the offer was made and we knew the risks involved. Which aren’t any worse than what I faced as District Attorney. Or any worse than what you and Walker face on your jobs every day. As a matter of fact, I think my jobs leaves me in less danger than either one of you.”

Walker does tighten his arm considerably now, “That’s my girl. Leave her alone Trivette. She does a pretty good job of taking care of herself.”

“Well, I can’t argue with that. By the way, how is Jessica holding up? This had to have really been a traumatic experience for her.”

“She’s doing just fine, Jimmy. Came through it with flying colors. I’m really proud of her.”

“You can tell she’s a Walker, that’s for sure.”

“When I saw her climb back in that window, I was scared to death for her. But very proud that she wouldn’t leave me.”

“Honey, you knew she wouldn’t leave you alone to fight that man before you put her out that window, didn’t you?”

“Well, yes, but I was hoping.” She turns around to look into Walker’s eyes, “In a way, I guess she’s like me. I can’t walk away from someone I love either when they’re in danger.”

“One things for sure, if she wants to be a Texas Ranger she’s got the right credentials.”

“Oh … and what are they Jimmy?”

“Just being a Walker, that’s all she needs.”

 

The End

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Sleepless in Dallas

 

Alex, having done nothing but toss and turn since going to bed, sits up, knowing that sleep will not come easily tonight.  She turns on the small light at the side of the bed, stands, and walks over to the window, staring out into the night.  Looking up into the sky full of stars, she whispers, “Walker, I miss you,” as tears silently make their way down her cheeks.  She hears a light tap on the door and turns to see her oldest son entering the room.

“Mom, are you all right?”

Quickly wiping her tears away, “Yes, son, I’m fine. You should be in bed. You have a big day ahead of you tomorrow.” She takes him in her arms for a quick hug, “your first big karate tournament. I’m very proud of you and so is your father. He wanted to be there for you  …” The tears start again.

“I know, Mom.  If it weren’t for him, I’d never have gotten this far.  He’s quite an inspiration. He makes you believe in yourself. And now we have to believe that he’s all right and that he will be coming home soon. I know in my heart that he will be there tomorrow.”

“I do believe, John but I still worry about him.” John guides her to the bed and makes her sit.

“I know, Mom, we all do.” A noise at the door causes them to turn, seeing Jimmy and Chrissy standing at the door.

Alex holds her arms out to them and they quickly come over to her. She takes them into her arms, “What are you two doing up? Have we got a conspiracy going on here?”

“No, Mom, we were just worried about you and Dad.”

“I’m fine, Jimmy. But I guess I not the only one worried about your dad. It helps just having you here with me, although you should all be in bed.”

“Guess we’re all just having the same problem, Mom. We’re all concerned about Dad.”

They turn to see Jessie coming into the room.

“Jessie! What are you doing here.” She stands as Jessie comes up to her and takes her into her arms, holding her tight. “Is there a problem at school?”

“No, Mom. Everything’s fine. I was planning to come home tomorrow, anyway. Couldn’t miss the chance to see John win his first tournament. And on his sixteenth birthday, too.” Looks at John and smiles, “besides college can survive without me for a couple of days. I hadn’t planned on leaving till this morning, but … I … felt like I should be here. Nobody has heard anything about Dad?”

Alex shakes her head, “No, honey, nothing. But I’m sure he’s fine.” She sits back down on the bed, whispers, “He has to be,” as tears slide down her cheeks.

Jessie kneels down in front of her, “He is Mom, he’ll be home, I just know it.” She takes Alex’s hand in hers and reaches out to take John’s. He, in turn, takes Chrissy’s hand, she takes Jimmy’s and he picks up his Mom’s free hand. They bow their heads in silent prayer. 

They spend the next hour talking about their father and the impact he has made on their lives as he guided each of them in their desire to succeed at whatever path they chose.  

Suddenly Alex stands, eyes shut, listening.

Jessie sees the quiet look on her face, whispers, “Mom, what’s wrong?”

She smiles as tears fill her eyes. “He’s here.”

The four look at each other, then up at their Mom.  Suddenly from the doorway they hear, “Looks like a family meeting. Mind if I join in?”

At the sound of his voice, the children run to their father, shouting in delight, “Daddy!” He pulls them into a group hug.

They finally release him and back away, watching as his eyes lock with Alex’s and he makes his way to her.  He wraps his arms around her and pulls her close, burying his face into her hair. Jessie nudges the other three, whispers, “Let’s go.” They quietly leave the room, pulling the door closed behind them.

He pulls back and seeing the tears in her eyes, brushes them away with his thumb and whispers,  “You knew I’d be back, didn’t you?”

She pulls him close, and murmurs softly, “I never doubted it for a minute, honey.”

The End

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

Full Circle

 

The moon is full and the night is warm as they sit side by side on the swing that’s swaying slightly, each lost in his own thoughts of the events of the past twelve hours.  Walker has his arm around her shoulders holding her close into his side, his head resting against hers.

 

“Well, hon, we’ve gone full circle.” He murmurs into her hair, “ With Chrissy getting married this afternoon, we’re back to the way we started.”

 

“Yes. Just the two of us, again.” She whispers softly, turns to kiss him lightly on the cheek, then turns her head back to rest against his. “I’m going to miss having the kids around, but I’m looking forward to it being just us again.”

 

“Yeah, me too.” He tightens his arm slightly. She can still ignite the fire within him; it just doesn’t burn as fierce as in the past. It’s more like contented warmth that glows continually in his heart.

 

“It was nice seeing all the kids and their families together here again. Did you know that Jimmy’s wife is expecting?”

 

“That’s great. That’ll be four grandbabies.”

 

“What are you doing, darling, keeping tabs?”

 

“Well, I do like the babies. So far John is the only one that’s supplying them. With his two boys and one in the oven, and now Jimmy’s got one coming, that’ll be four. The way Jessie is going she may never have any.”

 

“She’s like you, honey. She’s to dedicated to her job.” She turns in his arm to look at him, “Do you remember how long it took you to finally take the leap?”

 

“I remember, and I regret every day I put it off.” He kisses her softly on the lips, looking at her with memories of the hunger they had for each other back when they first got married. “At least once we were married we didn’t put off starting a family. She’s been married what, five years now?”

 

“If I remember right, we didn’t wait for marriage to start our family. Remember?” She leans into him, laying her head on his shoulder, thinking of the night in the barn so long ago.

 

“I could never forget that night, honey.” Kisses the top of her head. “It seems like we kept the nursery kinda full after that.” Walker smiles as the memories fill his mind and he nuzzles his face into her hair.

 

“So, what do we do now that the house is empty again?”

 

“Whatever we want, honey. Whatever we want.” They sit quietly, relaxed in each other’s arms, thinking about their wonderful 36 years of marriage.  “Do you have any regrets, Alex?”

 

“Not one. I’d do it all over again as long as you’re by my side.” She turns and kisses him softly on the lips, then snuggles closer.

 

Her body stiffens for just a few seconds, then he feels her shiver in his arms, “Come on, hon, lets go in, you know how the dampness aggravates your arthritis.” He slowly eases himself up and takes her hand and helps her to stand.

 

“Yes, I know, and I do feel kinda tired. ”He slides his arm around her waist and she puts hers around his as they turn to go in the house.

 

With their advancing years, the master bedroom had been moved downstairs. Because of Alex’s arthritis, he says, but the stairs were getting hard for him to take, too. Going to their bedroom he helps her get ready for bed when the memory of the night that Jimmy was born comes to mind. He had been right here in this bedroom stuck in bed with the mumps. He smiles and chuckles a little at the thought as he helps Alex into bed.

 

“What are you laughing about?”

 

He smiles as he sits down on the edge of the bed beside her, “Just thinking about the night Jimmy was born.”

 

“That was a wild night, wasn’t it?” As he stands, she takes his hand in hers, “You aren’t going to stay up long are you?”

 

“No, I’m just going to lock up and get the lights. I’ll be right back. Do you want anything before I come to bed?”

 

“No, I’m fine. Don’t be long, you know I don’t sleep well without you here with me.” She murmurs as he walks away.

 

“I’ll be just a minute.”  After making sure the doors are locked and then getting the lights he returns to the bedroom. Standing beside the bed, he looks down on his wife, already asleep. She’s just as beautiful as ever. Her hair is snow white and she has a few wrinkles but she has the same sparkling blue eyes that still melt him whenever she looks at him. He reaches down and brushes the hair from her eyes, and touches her check softly, causing her to stir slightly.

 

Going to the other side of the bed he sits down on the edge and removes his shoes, then his shirt. He stands and unbuttons his pants, letting them fall to the floor. As he raises the blankets to get into bed, he feels a slight twinge in his chest, pauses, than lays down beside Alex. He puts his arm around her as she rolls over into his side, lays her head on his shoulder, and slides her arm across his stomach. Then with a slight shiver she relaxes.  He kisses the top of her head, pulls the blankets up around them and slowly closes his eyes.

 

He sits up when this bright light hits his eyes. “Who are you, what are you doing in here?”

 

“My name is Andrew. And I’m here to take you home.  Alex is waiting there for you.”

 

The End

.

May the end be years and years away.

 

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