The Way They Were

Murph  HISTORYPRO

 

 

This story is a personal dedication to the original theme behind Walker. It is an effort to reclaim the passion, dedication, and message that seem to have been lost….

 

The reddish-orange glow of the morning sun was just appearing over the tops of the trees as Texas Ranger Cordell Walker, coffee in hand, descended the steps of his ranch house porch. The air was crisp, but not cold, and he was dressed in a denim shirt, jeans, and boots. Taking a big breath of fresh air, Walker sighed and sipped his coffee in quiet pleasure. All was right with the world at this moment, and he wanted to take the time to appreciate that, because he knew it wouldn’t last long.
Hearing someone approach from behind, he turned to see his fiancée, Assistant District Attorney Alex Cahill, dressed in a linen suit, walking toward him. Her blue eyes were reflected in the sunlight and it glinted in golden swirls off her blond hair. As she got near him, she took the cup from his hand and with easy familiarity, sipped it appreciatively.
Walker not only didn’t mind her sharing, he welcomed it. Here was the one person with whom he had shared everything with. His hopes, dreams, fears, disappointments, happiness, and, yes, even his body. She knew him, he never had to explain a mood or a feeling to her. She sensed it. And, just like the sunrise in front of him, having her with him made his world seem right.
He smiled a Walker smile at her. His smiles included much more than just his lips. His eyes lit up with all the emotion he kept inside. Alex returned it with one of her own, and, as one movement, their arms went around each other. The closeness of their bodies reinforced the feelings of safety and contentment. Although the day would certainly offer it’s share of danger and discord, the love they had was the foundation of their beings. No matter how frightening or difficult life became, they knew they could count on that love. It was a trust, never to be broken, never to be denied by one of them. But, soon, that trust would be tried. It would suffer, and it would be stretched to its very breaking point. And, only the help of an innocent would save it, if anyone could…

 

Alex walked down the hallway to her office in the courthouse. She was a little late. Whenever she stayed over at her fiancée’s ranch that usually happened. She smiled to herself, though, when she thought of how he had felt making love to her this morning. Of course, until they were married, this part of their relationship would remain “undercover” so to speak, but she didn’t care. Not having people know didn’t make it any less enjoyable to her. Still, she did want the wedding to be accomplished so she could openly express her feelings to her friends and live with her husband. She completely understood Walker’s trouble committing to a wedding, but still, it did hurt on some level. There was just a tiny, nagging doubt, that although she was sure of his love for her, his commitment might be unattainable.


Alex shook her head to clear the negative thoughts. She had a lot to do today, and did not want to dwell on them. She looked up in surprise to see a familiar face from the past.
“Alex,” Paul said. “I haven’t seen you in years! What are you doing here?” Paul Duquesne was a handsome man still. Alex had always wanted to date him in law school, but he was always more interested in work, than romance. His dark hair and beard had a hint of salt and pepper now that made his strong face and lean body look distinguished and sexy.
“I work here.” Alex stuttered, surprised at the effect he still had on her. “What are you doing here?”
Paul laughed. “Research. I am retired already, believe it or not. I help do pro bono work for the homeless and physically challenged people these days. I really enjoy it.”
Alex believed him. He looked relaxed and happy. “Would you like to go to lunch today?” she blurted out. She knew Walker would be busy as usual, and, for some reason, she needed to talk to someone today.
“That sounds good.” He replied with a grin. Alex noticed that he smiled with his eyes just like Walker did.
“I will meet you at my office at 12:30. It’s on the third floor.” Alex said, adding with a little pride, “Assistant District Attorney.”
Again, Paul gave her a big smile, looking into her blue eyes with honest respect. “I will meet you there, counselor.” He turned and walked down the hall in the opposite direction. Alex watched him go for a moment thinking about how driven and self-consumed he had been in school. He sure seemed changed now she thought to herself.

Walker sat at his desk consumed in paperwork for the Evans murder case. A drug dealer had been killed in a deal gone bad. The obvious suspect was the buyer, but he and Trivette had made no progress toward finding him. Their only other case involved a homeless woman who had been found dead. Her body was in the morgue, but Walker assumed the death would be from natural causes.
Trivette came through the company door. “Walker, we got an address for someone who may have known Evans. Also, the coroner is done with the homeless woman. The address is way out in the southern city section, so if you want to go to the coroner first, have lunch, and then take the Evans lead…” He stopped as Walker’s phone rang.
“Walker.” He answered tersely.
“Hi, it’s me,” came the softer tones of Alex’s voice. “Just wanted to make sure that you won’t be available for lunch….”
Walker cut her off. “No, we will be out tracking down a suspect Alex. Sorry.”
“That’s okay.” Alex was disappointed, but that wasn’t anything unusual. “Will I see you tonight?”
Walker shifted uncomfortably in his chair. With Trivette standing right there, he was reluctant to make plans with Alex that he could overhear. “I’ll call you.” He said quickly, and then muttered goodbye. Trivette, knowing it was Alex, felt a little pang of regret for her. Why did his partner treat his fiancée so coldly? I guess he thinks he is being all business thought the younger man. But, Alex is a human being too. And I know his lack of sensitivity has to hurt sometimes.

Alex hung up with Walker. Once again she felt slightly like she had been rebuffed. Shrugging her shoulders, she passed it off as just Walker’s sense of dedication to his job, not even realizing how much little acts can add up to very big consequences.
At 12:30 exactly, Alex looked up from her paperwork when she heard a knock on the door. Peeking his bearded face in, Paul grinned, “I can come back later?” he offered seeing how busy she was.
Alex couldn’t help but smile at his handsome face. “No,” she said. “I am hungry, and ready for a break.” She picked up her coat and appreciated how Paul graciously helped her into it. Then he actually opened the office door and followed her through. I could get used to this treatment Alex thought pleasantly.
As they rode to the restaurant, Paul told her about his work with the homeless. He felt really rewarded by it. Currently, he was working on the case of a homeless woman who had been murdered and the family he had found insisted the police were treating it as a natural death. Alex made a mental note to ask Walker about this one.
As the lunch progressed, Alex found herself relaxing more and more. Paul talked about many different subjects, and she found herself forgetting work for a few minutes. He politely congratulated her on her engagement and made it clear that he was very happy for her and wanted to be no more than friends. She found herself completely spellbound by his stories of the homeless, and enjoyed his company immensely.
Just as they were beginning dessert, Alex ventured to ask about Paul’s personal life. He hesitated, and just when Alex started to feel like she had asked about something too personal, he began talking.
“I was married to a wonderful woman, Alex. She loved me unconditionally. But, until I finally lost her, I never realized how very rare our feelings for each other were.” He began.
“Did she die?” Alex asked gently.
“Not physically, no, but her love for me eventually did. I could have stopped it, but my work was too important at the time. My clients were much more important to me than she was. And, you know, I never realized it. I didn’t until something happened. But, by then, it was too late….” His voice trailed off. Then, his face brightened slightly. “ After she left me is when I finally came to my senses and retired. Now, I work with good people, and I have the time to really appreciate them.”
Alex listened to her friend with sympathy and understanding. She too, knew how a busy professional life could exclude a fulfilling personal one. And, she wondered what tragedy had pulled apart Paul and his love. For the second time that day, her thoughts turned to her fiancée and how much she loved him, yet how often work came between them.

Walker and Trivette strode into the Company B office and slipped wearily into their chairs. The Evans lead had turned out to be useless and they had spent almost the entire day on it. They were both disgusted with how this case was not progressing. Suddenly, Trivette’s phone rang.
“Yeah, Jimmy,” he answered tiredly. “Oh, sure Mary, we just got back. Be down in a few. Sorry….” He told the coroner.
“Walker, that was Mary. She’s still holding that homeless woman for us.” Trivette said to his partner. Walker, still in a bad mood, rose and headed for the door without a word. Trivette looked a little surprised, but then followed his partner.
Downstairs in the morgue, Mary O’Donnell noticed the Rangers coming in the door. “She’s right over here, Rangers.” Mary lead them to a table and carefully uncovered the face of an extraordinary beautiful, young woman. Walker’s reaction was noticeable. He sucked in his breath as he stared at he girl’s face.
“Cause of death?” He said impassionately to the coroner. She noticed his reaction, but kept her voice businesslike.
“Three gunshots to the lower abdomen.” She replied tersely.
Trivette had to turn away for a moment. Catching his breath he turned back, keeping his eyes on his partner’s wooden expression. “All in the same place?” he asked, “Why?”
Mary slowly pulled the sheet over the still figure of the girl. She did not like how Walker had not even blinked. Softly, she said, “This girl was four months pregnant, Ranger Trivette. I’d say whoever killed her wanted to make sure they got the baby too.”
Walker turned and strode out of the morgue without a word. Trivette thanked Mary and followed his partner. Back in the office, Walker still had not said a word. Trivette tried to draw him out. “Well, I have a list of all missing girls about her age. I’ll start tracking that down….” He stopped when he saw that the hand Walker was holding his coffee cup with was shaking noticeably. “Walker….” He began.
“Not now, Trivette.” Walker said softly. “I gotta go home….”
With that, he turned and left the office. A few minutes later Alex walked into the room, and, seeing Walker’s empty desk, looked questionably at Trivette.
“I honestly hoped he had gone to see you,” Trivette said to her. “We just found out our homeless woman was a double homicide. She was four months pregnant.”
Alex’s face drained of color as the news sank in. She slid down into Walker’s empty chair. Her frustration and helplessness overcame her for a second. “I’m not doing it this time Jimmy!” she said through tear-filled eyes. “I just can’t keep chasing after him every time a tragedy happens. He knows I am here. I have been in my office. Why won’t he come to me?” She burst into honest tears. The other Rangers in the office looked over in concern. Trivette, not feeling at all embarrassed, moved over to her and held her while her tears came down. He understood how she felt. Walker’s refusal to turn to his friends in times of need hurt them all, Walker included. And Trivette did not know the answers.
Suddenly, Alex straightened in his arms. “I’m going to be sick,” she whispered to him, and he guided her from the room, waiting outside the bathroom for her. While he waited an older gray-haired ranger approached.
“Jimmy, if you want to take Alex home, I’ll take care of your paperwork,” he offered. “I think there’s a time for work, and a time for your friends, and now is the time for friends.” He gestured back toward the Ranger office. “Most of the guys here understand, believe me.”
Trivette thanked him with just a look, and watched him return to the office. When Alex came out, he gently put his arm around her, leading her to her office to get her coat. Watching how her shoulders drooped and her eyes brimmed with tears as she gathered her things, he couldn’t help but wonder how his partner could not seek out and accept her love in times like this. Was there a point when the denial of accepting help proved to be too much for a relationship? How much hurt would it take to truly break this amazing woman’s heart? His eyes filled with tears for a moment, but he wiped them away before Alex could see them.

 

The next morning Walker returned to work on time and was there working when Jimmy came in a little late. He looked up at his partner and frowned slightly. “I had an idea about the case. I was hoping to check it out before noon!”
Trivette looked at his controlled face and just snapped. “I was up late comforting a friend of mine!” he practically shouted at Walker.
Walker, as usual, looked bewildered. “Well, I’m sorry,” he replied sincerely, not realizing at all that the friend was Alex.
Before Trivette could answer him Alex strode into the office. She had dark circles under her eyes and did not look well. Trivette’s heart went out to her when she saw Walker, and realized that he hadn’t even called her the night before.
Laying some paperwork on Trivette’s desk, she began speaking without a word to her fiancée. “There’s a pro bono lawyer named Paul Duquesne interested in the case of the homeless girl’s murder. The family, name is there, (she pointed to the folder) thinks this girl is their sister. Paul would like to help any way he can.” She added using his first name on purpose. “We are having lunch together today. Is there anything you guys need me to ask him?”
Trivette gave her his best smile. “That’s great Alex. Having her name will help us a lot. I will let you know before noon if there is anything you can ask him for us.”
Walker suddenly realized several sets of eyes around the room were focused on him. He stood up and walked around the desk to Alex. He noticed how she did not meet his eyes. “Are you okay?” he asked, worry in his voice.
“Sure, I am fine.” She threw his usual answer back at him calmly.
Although he could see she didn’t look fine, there was nothing to do but accept her answer. He looked down, and then risked a question to her.
“Alex, can I join you for lunch today?” he asked cautiously.
“Sure,” Alex said graciously. For the first time, she realized that his presence at lunch would mean that they would only talk business, and she almost wished he hadn’t asked.
Trivette and the rest of the Rangers in the room felt the tension between Alex and Walker. Suddenly, she turned on her heel and left. Mouth slightly agape, Walker watched her retreating back.

Alex was tired. Her back hurt, and her period was due any minute. She wished she could skip lunch and just go home to bed. Her thoughts were interrupted by a tap on her door. Looking up she saw the door swing open and Paul’s kind face appear.
Seeing her face, he frowned slightly. “Hey, you don’t look so good. Sure you want to do lunch? It can wait.”
Alex swallowed hard. He seemed to pick up on her feelings, and right now they were so close to the surface. She wished they could be alone at lunch so she could talk about her fears and hopes.
Paul slipped in the office. He walked over to Alex as she stood. When she flinched as her back gave her trouble, he automatically put his hand on her back and rubbed gently. It was not a pass, he just reacted to a friend in pain. Alex smiled her thanks. Just then, Walker came in the door.
Seeing a strange man messaging his fiancée’s back actually caused a spark of jealousy within him. He looked at Alex in surprise.
Alex turned to him matter of factly, and introduced Paul. “Cordell Walker, this is Paul Duquesne.” She said formally. She purposely avoided mentioning she and Walker’s relationship because this was a business lunch. The two men shook hands, and they proceeded out of the office to Alex’s car. Since she felt bad, she handed her keys to Paul, asking him to drive. The two men sat silently in the front seat on the way to the restaurant. Walker looked at Alex quizzically a few times, but chose not to say anything.
When they were seated and had ordered at the restaurant, Paul turned to Alex with concern on his face. “Are you sure you are okay?” He asked. “Not trying to be rude here counselor, but you do look kind of peaked.”
Alex gave him a grateful smile. “Thanks for the disclaimer, but, I know I look bad. That girl’s death was so tragic. I just keep thinking about that baby…” Her voice shook a little and trailed off.
Paul automatically reached to take her hand, but Walker’s was already there. He held her hand softly and looked into her eyes.
“We don’t have to talk about this now, Alex.” He said softly.
She met his gaze with a steady one of her own. Her eyes filled with held-back tears, and she blurted, “But, I need too. I can’t just put it all in a secret place and just forget it like you. This was a child. A symbol of her love for someone. And, now they are both gone…!”
Walker was a little shocked by her strong reaction. Paul could see that communication was very strained between the two of them at the moment, so he offered help.
“She was a runaway. Her name was Sherry Meyers and she lived in Pittsburgh. Her parents are dead, and I think she felt that her older sisters resented having to raise her. So, obviously, she decided to start her own family. It’s a common thing with young girls. I guess a child is such a symbol of complete love…” His voice trailed off.
Walker’s face was back to his businesslike mask again. “Did anyone know her boyfriend?” he asked matter of factly.
Paul looked at Alex before continuing. Her jaw was set, and he was certain that she should not be hearing this conversation.
“They don’t know Ranger Walker,” he said simply. “But, let’s change the conversation for awhile shall we?” He looked pointedly at Alex.
Walker was confused. Why was Alex acting so unprofessional? It bothered him, but then, he didn’t always understand her moods. The meal passed without further embarrassment to him, although he was dying to ask more questions about the murdered girl.
Once they got back to the office, Alex dropped them off and headed home. She said goodbye to Walker and, not wanting to embarrass him, didn’t even attempt a goodbye kiss. Walker was a little surprised, but not really unhappy at the lack of public affection. That had always been uncomfortable for him.
Paul looked at the red-bearded ranger for a moment. He had realized over the course of the lunch that Walker was a complicated man. But, he also saw something he didn’t like.
His take on Walker was that he had learned to deal with the stress of his job, by tucking the tragedies away. Never acknowledging them, never acknowledging the feelings they created in him.
But, Paul could see something else. He could see how much this was hurting Alex. She was a sensitive, caring woman. And there was no place in her beautiful soul to hide away life’s tragedies.
It worked for Walker, but it was destroying his friend Alex. He sadly considered whether he had the right to broach the subject with this man who was basically a stranger. He thought of his former wife, and how he had let her down. He knew that it wouldn’t bring back what they had, but he could at least pass on what he had learned to help his friend Alex.
“Walker, is there some place we could talk?” he asked.

Walker looked at Paul across the table. He felt very uncomfortable that the conversation had turned to his fiancée. He didn’t know why this man was interested or cared.
But, Paul was not going to give up. “I know you think it’s none of my business, Walker. But, Alex is my friend, and she is very unhappy.”
“How do you know she is unhappy?” Asked Walker.
“You have to look at her, Walker.” Paul sighed. “She is not like you. She needs to discuss her feelings with someone. Shouldn’t that someone be you? Believe me. I know, because I lost my wife over the same thing. I never had time for her feelings. And besides, they just reminded me of my own which I wanted to bury.”
Walker stared at him. His words began to sink in. Maybe Alex did need him to listen to her? She was always open to him, but, he often shut her out from his feelings. She had leaned on Trivette the other night. Maybe it should have been him?
“Paul,” Walker finally said, “you are a good friend to Alex.” He smiled at the other man. “I think, maybe, I can take the rest of the day off. My fiancée needs to talk to me.” Paul smiled broadly as Walker left. Thank you, Lord, he silently mouthed.

Driving to Alex’s apartment, Walker’s Cherokee sense kicked in. There was something wrong with Alex, and, for once he did not have a clue what it was. It was more than the death of the young runaway. Something else was deeply affecting her. Fear clutched at his heart as he pushed down harder on the accelerator.
Pulling up in front of her apartment, he practically ran to the door. Alex didn’t answer his knock immediately, and he was fumbling for the key when she opened the door. Her hair was disheveled from sleeping and she looked surprised when she saw him standing there looking worried.
“What?” Alex blurted out when she opened the door. “Oh, Walker,” she added when she saw him, “what do you want?”
Walker saw how tired she looked and immediately knew he should have called. “Were you sleeping Alex?” he asked. “I will come back later.” He turned to go.
Alex swung the door open wider, and, and catching his arm, she gently turned him into the apartment. “Well, you are here now. We might as well talk.” Still dressed in her terrycloth robe and slippers, she nestled down in the nearby recliner.
Walker wanted to sit close to her, to feel her warm body touching his. The communication that went on between them would be much easier for him if they were touching. He guessed he used her presence as a way of channeling his deepest feelings. He knew he needed to tell her this, but could not get the words out. So he sat uncomfortably on the end table in front of her.
Alex looked at her fiancée closely. She wanted to see him as a stranger might if she could. She wanted to understand him without the blinding light of love covering up all the dark spots she may have missed. What she saw for the first time was not a proud, capable, lawman contented with his ability to solve a crime, and bring the bad guys to justice.
What she saw this time, was a confused, almost frightened man whose eyes begged for her understanding and forgiveness. But, instead of giving in to her feelings for this incredible man, Alex held back. She didn’t know why, but somehow she knew that, if their marriage was really going to happen, then he had to do this by himself. And, for some unfathomable reason, Alex knew that there was another place in her heart that needed her attention even more than Walker did right now. And she knew this place would have a lasting impact on their relationship.
When Walker still remained speechless, Alex made a painful decision. “Darling, I think that until you decide what is really in your heart, and what is truly best for you, then, well, ….I think we should put our marriage on hold. I truly don’t know anymore what you want, and I’m not sure you do either.”
“Alex,” Walker was visibly stunned by her words. He tried to grab her hands, but she pulled them back.
“You see, that’s what you do.” She was getting upset. “You will comfort me in private, so you know what to do, but, in public, I am not your fiancée anymore. I know you think it’s embarrassing to hold hands or stop for a quick kiss or hug. And, you know what, that is embarrassing to me as well. It is very hurtful to feel that you don’t want to acknowledge your love for me in front of others. It hurt like hell last night when you left the office without talking to me, so I talked to Jimmy instead.”
Walker listened in stunned silence. His intellect trying to figure out what she was saying, but his heart breaking for how he had treated this wonderful woman.
The ringing of the phone startled them both. Alex rose to get it.
“Hello? Yes, he’s right here….” She handed the phone to Walker without expression.
He looked at her in apology, and held the phone to his ear. “Yeah, Walker.” He listened intently for a few seconds, then hung up the phone. Turning to Alex, he told her the caller was Trivette, that he had some new leads, and that he had to go.
Alex nodded her head in resigned silence. With trembling fingers, she removed the engagement ring from her left hand. Reaching out and taking Walker’s hand gently, she placed the ring into his palm. Her pale face reflected her extreme emotion. She looked him in the eyes, and very softly said, “I’m sorry, Cordell. I just can’t deal with it anymore. It’s not your job, it’s your choices. I can deal with not seeing you for days on end. But, when I do see you, I have to know that I am special to you. That you want me as your lover, your friend, and your wife. I don’t want to be a District Attorney all the time. I hope you can find it in your heart to understand….”
Walker stared at her in silence. He felt like someone had just literally ripped his heart from his chest. Alex turned, and went into the bedroom, shutting the door on Walker and all they had had together. Slowly, like an old man, Walker gathered his hat and gunbelt. Glancing at the closed bedroom door, he carefully slipped the ring into his left shirt pocket – over his heart. Then he left.

Trivette looked up as his partner strode into the office the next day. Walker’s shoulders were slumped, and he moved more slowly that usual. Well, something between him and Alex again he thought, knowing Walker wouldn’t tell him. I’ll have to ask her later.
“Hey, Walker,” he began, “we got a lead on the runaway Sherry Meyers. Paul Duquesne gave us a list of possible acquaintances in the Metroplex area.”
Walker was looking at a picture of Alex and him fishing that sat on his desk. They were sitting very close, and his arms were wrapped around her. How could I lose her?
“Walker?” Trivette repeated.
Breaking his reverie, Walker grabbed his hat. “We better get to it then.”
The two lawmen left the office. For the next several days they tracked down every name on Paul’s list, and every area Sherry Meyers had been seen in.
Meanwhile, Alex continued her work as ADA, although her mind was not really fully engaged on it. She continued to be tired, and was often sick to her stomach, symptoms she attributed to her depression over breaking up with Walker. She and Trivette had talked at length about it, and although it obviously upset him very much, he didn’t encourage her to go back to Walker.
About three weeks later, Alex became very dizzy at work, and decided that it was time to see the doctor. In her heart, she already knew what the diagnosis would be. She was pregnant. The night that she and Walker had failed to use protection was all it took. Now, she was pregnant, but no longer even engaged to the father.
Coming out of the medical office building, Alex stopped for a break sitting on a bench in a small city park. As she watched, children ran across the playground, laughing, shouting, and climbing on the jungle gym. Her hand went to rest on her stomach. She realized what a miracle had indeed taken place in her body. She still had no idea if Walker would want this child, but she knew it was a part of her forever. And she would protect it with her life. I guess the mothering instinct has already kicked it, she smiled to herself.

Walker and Trivette stood over the beaten and bruised body of Keith Evans. “I’m going to ask you one more time, Evans. Who killed your brother?” Trivette said in a threatening tone.
Evans squirmed on the ground in pain for a moment. Then he laid still. “I did.” He said so softly they barely heard.
“You killed your own brother?” Trivette asked in amazement. “Why, for God’s sake?”
“Because of what he did to his girl.” Evans choked out. “She was pregnant, and he didn’t have time for that. It interfered with his job too much. And, besides, he felt women should be seen in private only, no strings attached to him then, if you know what I mean.”
Trivette and Walker looked at each other. “What was her name?” Walker demanded.
“It was Sherry. Sherry Meyers. She was beautiful, and she wanted that baby more than anything.” Evans began to cry.
“Come on, let’s go.” Trivette gently picked him up and headed for the truck. Walker followed. Well, I guess that solves two cases he thought. But, for some reason, it didn’t help. He hadn’t seen Alex in almost a month, and before that she looked unwell. If I hurt her in any way, I’ll never forgive myself. Then he thought about that and realized clearly that he had already hurt her deeply.
When they got back to the station, six new cases lay on Trivette’s desk. “Geez,” he said, “they must call straight up here from booking. There’s not even time for the paperwork!”
Walker wasn’t listening. “Trivette,” he finally said. “I gotta go see Alex. There is something wrong, and I can just feel it.”
Trivette gave his partner a surprised look. Six new cases and he was going to see Alex first? He watched as Walker strode out of the office.
Striding quickly down the hall, Walker bypassed the secretary, and without knocking grabbed Alex’s door knob. It was locked.
The secretary looked up and noticed it was him. “She had a doctor’s appointment today, Ranger Walker.”
“Do you know where?” Walker asked with genuine concern.
His worry was so evident that the secretary went against policy and gave him the address. “Good luck!” She called at his disappearing back as he rushed out of the office.

Alex sat basking in the warmth of the park bench. She closed her eyes and held her face up to catch the warm beams of the sun. She didn’t even see Walker slip up quietly and seat himself next to her. But, the second the smell of his cologne wafted into her nostrils, she knew it was him. She turned to face him on the bench.
She wasn’t sure how she would feel seeing him after all these weeks, but the sight of his red-beard and open-necked cowboy shirt sent her senses reeling. And then she saw the dark circles under his eyes, and the tired way his shoulders drooped. She reached out and held his hand, loving the feel of his rough skin against her soft palm.
“You don’t look too good, Cowboy.” She said softly. Alex watched in amazement as Walker’s eyes filled up with tears. They were on a public bench in front of dozens of people.
As his shoulders began to shake imperceptibly. Walker tried to make himself say the words he had practiced all the way over here.
“Alex, I love you. You are my first priority, always. And, I’m so sorry that I haven’t been able to show it before now. I have been acting like a fool.” With that, he leaned forward gathering an amazed Alex into his arms. He tenderly kissed her on the lips, with no reserve, no holding back. The few people who did notice their affectionate display in the public park only smiled knowingly to themselves. That’s what the world needs more of they thought.
Suddenly, and unashamed, Walker dropped to his knee and took Alex’s left hand. Producing the engagement ring, he looked into her blue eyes. “Will you please marry me Alex?” he asked.
He was so sweet, but suddenly Alex panicked. “Walker, there is so much more than just us to consider now.”
He rejoined her on the bench, putting a strong arm around her. “Alex, I know now that family comes before work, you believe that don’t you?”
Now it was her turn to cry. Walker was lost again. “What is it? You can tell me.” He asked.
“I am afraid,” Alex shook her head.
Walker was astounded. “Afraid of me?”
Alex desperately thought of a way to say this. “Walker, your job, the professional aspect of it….they don’t lend to outward expressions of love, but, you and I can find a way to compromise on this.”
Walker nodded, “Sure, we can.” And to prove it, he kissed her again.
Alex’s lips trembled. Finally, she blurted out, “But, I’m pregnant now! This child is a gift from God. He or she will need all the time, love, compassion, and affection I have. But, you. Are you willing to do that Walker?”
Walker stared at her for a moment grasping her meaning. She was afraid to tell him about his own child, because she knew his emotional status may not be able to cope with that much commitment. He felt almost like a bullet had struck him in the chest. All the walls he had carefully set up to guard himself from his feelings now seemed like an intolerable cage that he wanted desperately to break out of.
He slowly lowered his hand to rest on Alex’s abdomen. A new life was growing there. A life that had come at least in part from him. A life that had come from their love. He lowered his head to rest on his hand. He wrapped his arms around Alex and held her tightly, but so gently. She could feel the wetness of his tears through the cotton of her dress. Softly she stroked his hair, all the love she felt for him radiating into his body.
Running a hand across his face to dry the tears, Walker once again dropped to his knees in front of Alex on the bench. “ I need to say it right this time.” He said sincerely in a trembling voice.
Holding her hand and slipping the engagement ring on, he said, “Will BOTH of you marry me? I promise to make changes. I promise to be a loving, caring husband AND father.” He put his hand on her abdomen again. Looking straight into her eyes he firmly said, “I love both of you!”
Alex pulled him up into her arms, and whispered, “Yes, darling, and thank you for the precious gift you have given me with your love.”
Walker laughed in happiness. Turning to his fiancée, he said, “Well, a think a marriage is needed immediately! If that’s okay with you?”
Alex too smiled happily. “Well, I’m not sure how my boss would take an unmarried pregnant ADA, so if that is really what you want too??”
Walker pulled her into another tight hug, and very passionately kissed her on the lips. “I have no objections Counselor.” He said in a husky voice. “Especially, if we get to practice for the honeymoon?” Alex giggled at his inference. Then, Walker stood up and did something that really amazed her.

“Hey, everybody!” he announced to the crowd. “We’re having a baby!!!!”
Soon, strangers were around them smiling and congratulating them. And, as Alex watched her Cowboy, she realized his love was genuine, and that he took to this public display of affection like a fish to water.
“What have I created?” she smiled to herself as she felt his strong arms around her, knowing the answer immediately. “We’ve created a family, that’s what!”

THE END