“TIL DEATH DO US PART”
AFTER WALKER WAKES UP
He looked into the faces of his three friends as they crowded around his hospital bed and struggled to remember what he was doing there; coming up blank he asked, “What happened?”
“Cordell what’s the last thing you remember?”
“Alex and I were on our way to an arraignment and she was complaining about my AC being out and worrying we were going to be late.”
“What about the accident, do you remember that?”
Jerking his head back to Alex he asked, “We were in a wreck? Are you okay?”
“No honey, it wasn’t us in the wreck…” She realized what she had just called him and hoped that Jimmy and CD had not noticed her slip, “There was a yellow car driving like a maniac, he caused it and there was another car half on half off the bridge; you pulled the mother out and had to crawl into the car to get the little girl; right after you pushed her through the window the car went over and landed upside down in the creek bed below…”
Realizing how hard it was for her to tell him he reached out and took her hand firmly in his as he prodded, “Go on.”
“I was stunned for a minute but then all I could think of was the fact I had to get you out of the car; I don’t even remember how I got down there, I know I fell at least once; I was trying to pull you out and then there were some other people pushing me out of the way. They carried you away from the car just before it exploded and once they got you back to the top they started working on stabilizing you before they loaded you into the Medivac.”
The anguish in her voice had him wishing he could pull her into his arms to comfort her, she had obviously been distraught; he squeezed her hand and said softly, “Hey, I’m going to be okay; remember I’m stubborn and mule-headed, you can’t get rid of me that easily.
CD broke in saying, “Jimmy and I got the sidewinders responsible for all this, couple of rich younguns who thought they were above the law.”
“I never had a doubt, my partner here is relentless.”
Jimmy stood up straighter and beamed with pride at the words. “Hey, nobody gets away with hurting my partner, intentional or not.”
Suddenly another man entered the room and looking at them all he asked, “Why wasn’t I told my patient was awake? All of you need to leave while I examine him.” He winked at Alex as he said it.
She tried and failed to suppress a grin; she and the doctor had definitely gotten off to a rocky start but once she’d realized the man really did have Walker’s best interests at heart they had called a truce. Releasing Walker’s hand she said, “Come on guys let’s go.” At the doorway she paused before asking, “When can I come back?”
“I’ll need to run a few tests, give me a couple of hours.” Once they had all left the doctor said, “I hope you know how lucky you are; unless we made her that woman only left your side to shower, change clothes and eat, she even had her secretary bring her caseloads over.”
“She’s definitely a great friend.”
Staring at his patient in disbelief the doctor said, “You must have hit your head harder than I thought; either that or you’re in denial, her feelings are much deeper than friendship.” Getting back into professional mode he poked and prodded then said, “I’m going to order some tests, soon as I have the results I’ll let you know.”
“So when can I get out of here?”
Shaking his head he replied, “When I think it’s safe for you to leave and not a minute before; don’t force me to sedate you to keep you from escaping.” As he headed for the door he said, “They’ll come get you in a few minutes to take you for those tests.”
After the doctor had left Walker thought about what the doctor had told him about Alex and looking over at the other bed in his room he could tell that it had been slept in. Was the doctor right about her feelings? Granted they had recently begun officially dating, but was she in love with him? The possibility both intrigued and terrified him! Before he could dwell on it longer they came to take him for x-rays and a CT scan.
CD, Jimmy and Alex had gone to get some food while they were waiting to be allowed back in his room; the three of them couldn’t stop grinning at each other, once again Walker had beat the odds and while neither of the men would dare say it aloud both of them believed that Alex had a lot to do with it.
“Sweetheart, now that we know Cordell is going to be okay I think I’m going to get Jimmy to give me a ride home, I’m feeling kind of tired.”
“Are you okay?”
“I’ll be fine, why don’t you go on back and tell him that I’ll stop by tomorrow.”
“Okay, I’ll do that; you two take care of yourselves.” She got up and left the table.
As soon as she was out of sight Jimmy rolled his eyes saying, “Geez, that was subtle, you might as well have been giving her permission to go jump his bones.”
“Well if she did I’d say it was about danged time, those two have been pussy footing around long enough, I’ve never known two people more in love than they are and they still haven’t figured it out.”
“Hey at least they’re dating now and did you hear what she called him up there earlier?”
With a huge grin he threw his arm across his young friend’s shoulders and said, “I heard it loud and clear and I didn’t miss him holding her hand either, maybe there’s hope yet.”
THREE DAYS LATER
She smiled over at him as they pulled into the driveway of the ranch; she knew how much he had hated being in the hospital, but for once the doctors had been firm.
Opening the car door he stepped out and took a deep breath; after being in the hospital for so long he’d almost forgotten what fresh air smelled like, he could literally feel himself beginning to relax as he looked around. Hearing a joyful whinny his eyes went to the corral where he spotted Amigo dancing in excitement.
“Don’t even think about it Cowboy, you’re supposed to go straight to bed.”
“Come on Alex, I’m fine. I’ve been cooped up for days and I really just want to walk around for a few minutes.”
Knowing that arguing was pointless she sighed in defeat saying, “Okay, but I’m going with you.”
Going over to his horse he saw that he appeared well cared for and checking in the barn he quickly found the rest of the horses were fine as well; it was obvious that the stalls had been cleaned recently and he shook his head saying, “Who…”
“Honey, I called Angus as soon as I knew you would be in the hospital for a while, he’s been taking care of all your ranch work while you were laid up.”
Giving her a grateful look he replied, “You’re amazing Lady.”
“Don’t you forget it either Cowboy.”
They shared a kiss and walked around a few more minutes before he finally admitted he needed to go inside.
Following behind him she couldn’t stop thinking about how close she had come to losing him. Just the thought of her life without him in it…it had definitely been an eye opener for her. They had started as adversaries but had become friends, good friends and lately they had taken the first tentative steps in taking their relationship father.
With every step he took he was more aware of the woman behind him. There had been times in the past few days when he had felt the Great Spirits beckoning to him but her presence kept him from crossing over.
Once they made it into the house she gently pushed him into his recliner saying, “I’ll get you some lunch, any preferences??
“I’m not really hungry, maybe just some soup?”
“”You got it.”
A few minutes later she returned to the living room and found him fast asleep. She smiled, put the soup back in the refrigerator and walked back to him. She unfolded the blanket from the couch and draped it over him. Leaning over she gave him a gentle kiss whispering, “Sweet dreams Cowboy.”
Waking up a while later it took him a minute to remember where he was and when he did his eyes automatically began looking for Alex; he saw her stretched out on the couch engrossed in a Stephen King novel and being careful of his injured side he lowered himself to the floor and slid over to where she was, he grabbed her leg and gave his best evil laugh.
Jumping straight up in the air she screamed and as soon as she realized what had happened she threw her book at him saying, “That wasn’t funny; you could have given me a heart attack.”
Gingerly pulling himself up onto the couch he replied, “Then I’d have to sit beside you in the hospital; I don’t know how you can read those anyway, I’d have nightmares for sure.” Realizing she was shaking he climbed to his feet and put his arms around her as he said, “Alex, I’m sorry.”
Wrapping her arms tight around him she buried her head in his shoulder and finally let the tears fall that she had been holding in since he was first injured. When she pulled herself together she said, “I’ve never been so scared in my life, when that car went over with you in it I thought sure you would be dead when I managed to get to you and being with you at the hospital not knowing when, or if, you would wake up…” she raised her hands to his face and continued, “I’m not sure I could go through that again, but…”
He stiffened in her embrace, pulled away and walked outside where he sank down onto the porch swing and was amazed at the pain he felt, not in his side, but in his heart.
With a look of puzzlement she followed him and sat down beside him; she saw hurt in his eyes and wondered what it was about. “Walker?”
Taking a deep breath he said, “I’m okay now, you can go home.”
“Go home? What are you talking about?”
“Look I understand, my job is dangerous, the two of us thinking we could be more than friends was crazy…what woman would want to risk a future on a man who might be gone tomorrow?”
Suddenly she realized he was reacting to what she’d said and taking him in her arms she said, “You listen to me Cordell Walker, I’m not that easy to get rid of! If you had let me finish talking…what I was going to say was that I knew there was a possibility that it would happen again; you have a dangerous job and I’ve always known that. Do you really think it would hurt me any less to lose you if we went back to being friends only? We were just friends when you went after Bodine and I was terrified you wouldn’t come back; so don’t even try it.”
He knew she meant it and relaxed into her embrace as he said, “Promise me that you’ll keep setting me straight when I have doubts.”
Laughing she said, “Absolutely, Cowboy.”
Capturing her lips with his he kissed her then pulled back saying, “I’m starving, I fell asleep before I got my soup earlier.”
Climbing to her feet she helped him up saying, “Come on then, let’s see what CD put in your freezer we can have for dinner.”
“CD’s been here?”
“Yep, that soup I tried to give you earlier was from him.”
Shaking his head he replied, “I swear he’s worse than a mother hen sometimes.”
“Kind of odd though…”
“He was talking about staying out here with you for a couple of days since you didn’t have anyone else around, but soon as I told him I’d take care of you he never said another word.”
Giving her an incredulous look he began laughing and gasped out, “Oh sweetheart, you fell right into his trap; he’s probably still bragging to Trivette about how he got us out here alone.”
It only took a few seconds for her to realize he was right and she laughed right along with him. “Any complaints, Cowboy?”
Giving her a long, lingering kiss he whispered, “No complaints at all.”
As they walked inside together she said a silent prayer of thanks that the latest crisis was over, that she had been given another day with the man at her side.
At the same time he was making his own silent prayer of thanks that he was alive and had more time to spend with the woman who was beside him . He put his arm around her before saying, “Alex, in case I haven’t told you, thank you for staying with me at the hospital and for being here now.”
Looking into his eyes she replied, “You’re welcome, but truthfully I didn’t have a choice…” she paused for a second, gathered her courage and added, “That’s what you do when the man you’re falling in love with needs you.” She was afraid she’d said too much and pulling away from him she hurried to the kitchen saying, “I better get started on dinner.”
Standing in his living room he let her words sink in and thought, “I had it just right a few days ago…intrigued and terrified.”