WHITEWATER, continued
By Jennifer George

 

The sun was sinking low on the horizon by the time they started to load the last of the rafting group onto the helicopter. Before getting everyone back to the camp base, Walker made sure the bodies of Mary Beth, Bannister, and the fisherman were retrieved. Though Walker tried to get Alex onto the helicopter with the first group to go, she refused to leave without him. He looked at her as she sat on a log. Her elbows were resting on her legs and she held her head in her hands. It had been a long day and he knew she was tired.

 

Walker strode quietly over and knelt down in front of her. Placing his hands on her knees he said softly, “Alex…its time to go.”
She slowly lifted her head to gaze into his eyes. “I’m so sorry, Walker. If it hadn’t been for me…” 

Walker hushed her, placing his fingers on her lips. “There’s no need to be sorry, Alex.   You had no way of knowing some lowlife jail escapee would be taking over the rafting trip.”

“But why is it that trouble seems to follow us wherever we go? It seems like we can never take a trip anywhere, or even try to relax without something happening…without some…goon…taking away our happiness!” she said, tears starting to fall.

Walker reached up to brush the tears from beautiful face, and trying to lighten her mood said, “Did you know that when you cry, your eyes become a deeper shade of blue…you have beautiful eyes Alexandra.”

Alex smiled through her tears, “You’re just trying to make me feel better.”

“Well, yes, but…I meant it.” He kissed her then and drew her to her feet. “Come on, we have to be gettin’ on the chopper.” Placing an arm around her shoulders, Walker lead her toward the waiting helicopter. He didn’t notice the smile on Alex’s face as she thought about how much closer they had become during this trip, and she wondered how long it would last…how much longer until he became the same reserved cowboy she knew.

Walker helped Alex into the helicopter, then climbed in behind her, taking a seat next to her. She placed her head on his shoulder as his arm went around her. Almost immediately she fell asleep.

During the ride back to the camp base, Walker was deep in thought. Alex was right, he thought. It seemed like every time they tried to get away from it all for some rest and relaxation, trouble seemed to follow them. He thought about the time he went fishing in Louisiana with C.D. and Trivette, trouble sure found them there! He thought about the time he and Trivette were acting as technical advisors for a movie. It was supposed to be an easy job, much more relaxing than their day to day jobs, but again, they found trouble there too. And now the rafting trip Alex took him on. He looked down at her and caressed her arm as he thought about her and the previous night they shared. He smiled as he remembered how they were caught kissing and how close they came to making love. The memory brought a smile to his lips and a blush to his face. It was a beautiful evening…the calm before the storm, for the next day they found trouble. A long sigh escaped his lips. They all needed some relaxation, somewhere they could relax without trouble finding them, where no one would know where they were. An idea came to him just as they arrived at the camp base.

Walker gently shook Alex awake. “Wake up, sleepyhead.”

Rising from his shoulder, Alex rubbed her eyes and ran her fingers through her hair.
“I must look a site for sore eyes.”

Kissing her on the cheek, Walker grabbed her hand. “Nope, beautiful as always.” Alex shook her head in bewilderment as she followed him out of the helicopter.

In spite of the events of the past two days, Walker seemed relaxed…and Alex was enjoying this side of her cowboy.

The next hour was spent giving their statements to the authorities. With the equipment and supplies they had, C.D. set about making coffee for everyone while Walker had his wounds tended to by paramedics.

Alex smiled as she approached Walker with two cups of coffee. His shirt was off and she could see his muscular chest and arms, and she unconsciously licked her lips. When the paramedic finished bandaging his chest, Alex stood in front of him and helped him put his shirt back on. Straddling the log he was sitting on, she handed him one of the cups of coffee, kissing him sweetly on the lips before he could take a sip. She started to pull back and was pleasantly surprised when Walker pulled her face back to his with his free hand, kissing her with more passion than he had intended.

“Well, Cowboy, think I’ll take you whitewater rafting more often!”

“Not a chance, Alex.” he retorted, chuckling.

“Its almost time to head back to Dallas. I’m sorry this trip wasn’t more relaxing…”

Reaching over to silence her with a finger to her lips, then brushing back a lock of her blond tresses that had fallen over her eyes, he said, “Alex, I’ve told you it wasn’t your fault.” Then, with a mischievous smile, “Besides…we aren’t going back to Dallas.”

Alex looked at him with raised eyebrows. “We aren’t?”

“Nope.”

“Where are we going, then?”

“I don’t know.”

 

You don’t know!…Walker!”

His eyes twinkling, “Oh Alex, relax. You were right when you said that every time we go somewhere, trouble follows….sooooo, we’re going to go somewhere unplanned, somewhere we can’t possibly find trouble.”

“What do you mean…unplanned?”

“We’re just going to jump into your car and drive…where, I don’t know. But, I figure since we aren’t planning where we’re going, trouble won’t follow us.”

“Alright…as long as we don’t end up in the Badlands!”

Thirty minutes later they were all piled in Alex’s car…Alex and Walker in the front, with Walker driving, and Trivette and C.D. in the back. It wasn’t long before C.D. and Trivette were asleep. Walker and Alex were awake though. Every so often they would sneak what they thought were surreptitious looks at each other. Soon, Walker reached out and grasped Alex’s left hand, giving her a smile as he did. It wasn’t long after that Alex fell asleep, Walker still holding her hand.

The sun had been up about an hour when Alex began to wake. She began to stir in her seat, and stretched her limbs as best she could. Letting go of Walker’s hand, she stretched her arms above her head, yawning as she did. Unbeknownst to her, Walker was watching as much as he could (and still keep his eyes on the road!). He loved how the morning sunlight reflected in her golden hair and felt a warmth in his body as he noticed how her shirt pulled taut over her chest as she stretched her arms over her head.

“Good morning, sleepyhead” he said as she turned to look at him.

“Morning yourself” she replied. Then, as if on impulse, she leaned across the seat and kissed him ‘good morning’ on the cheek, causing him to blush.

Trivette had also awaken and had witnessed the kiss himself…and Walker’s blush. Feeling the need to tease him to make him blush further, he piped up from the back seat, “Just what has been going on while C.D. and I were sleeping?” in a tone that implied there was more going on than what he knew to be true.

Walker, blushing more furiously, merely muttered “Trivette!”

“Cordell…you didn’t answer the question.” C.D. chimed in.

Walker just shook his head as Alex giggled, then was about to try changing the subject, when C.D. bellowed from the back seat, “Cordell…where in the tarnation are we!”

“C.D…what’s the problem?” Walker answered innocently.

“Cordell, I just saw signs for New Mexico!…where the hell are we?!”

“Yeah Walker…where are we?” Trivette piped in. He wasn’t alarmed by where they were, figuring Walker knew what he was doing…but he was interested in why they weren’t headed toward Dallas.

“Well…to tell you the truth Trivette…C.D…I’m not quite sure where we are.”

“NOT QUITE SURE!” C.D. bellowed, “Dadgummit Cordell….WE…I….JUST WHERE IN THE….CORDELL!”

By now Alex was laughing loudly. Her laughter was contagious and soon Trivette was laughing, but he wasn’t sure just what was so funny, only knowing that whatever it was, it was making C.D. madder than a hornet’s nest.

“C.D…now calm down…you’re getting too worked up.”

“Don’t tell me to calm down…TELL ME WHERE WE ARE AND WHY WE AREN’T HEADED FOR DALLAS!” C.D.’s face was beet red, and little veins were popping out on his neck.

“Walker’s right…you need to calm down before you give yourself a heart attack.” Alex said, trying her best to stifle the giggles, but not quite succeeding.

“C.D…we aren’t going home. I figured since trouble seems to follow us whenever we make plans to get away…well…we’re gettin’ away…but we aren’t making plans as to where we’re going.”

“So you have no idea where we’re going?” C.D. asked in a controlled voice.

“No.”

“THEN JUST WHERE IN TARNATION ARE WE GOING!?”

By now, Alex, Trivette, and Walker were laughing uncontrollably.

Wiping the tears that were running down her face, Alex turned to look at C.D. “C.D… we’re just driving until we find a place that…that….strikes our fancy.”

“Yeah C.D…until we find a relaxin’ place that couldn’t possibly have any trouble waitin’ around the corner for us…so just breathe deep and relax.” Walker said with a shake of his head.

C.D. stared at Walker for a beat, then after turning his stare onto Alex, and then Trivette, he mumbled to himself and sat back again. Still giggling, Alex turned around and fiddled with the radio until she found a station playing country music. They drove in relative silence for a few more hours.

Just before noon as they were driving down a tree lined highway, they came upon a driveway flanked by two stone pillars. Walker almost missed it as they drove past, he was busy sneaking glances at Alex, watching and listening as she hummed along to the tune playing on the radio.

Suddenly he hit the brakes, and with tires screeching he made a quick turn to go back.

The others grabbed onto their seats to steady themselves. “Sheesh Walker, you’re driving like you’re on a chase! What gives?” Trivette asked. “Don’t tell me you found trouble!”

“I’ve found the place!” Walker shouted with a sufficient amount of glee, pointing in the direction of the driveway.

All eyes turned to where Walker was pointing. There in the midst of a wooded area, lush with trees and flowers, were the stone pillars and a stone retaining wall with a sign proclaiming the place “Siesta Lake”…and below that a smaller sign, “Boat Rentals, Camping, Fishing Pier”.

“Cordell, I knew you’d find just the place! I felt it in my bones.” C.D. said, causing Trivette and Alex to erupt in laughter all over again.

In unison, Trivette, Alex, and Walker stated, “He felt it in his bones!”

“Ok you guys…lets eat lunch, then go rent a boat.” Walker said as he steered the car toward the lake.

 

Two hours later C.D., Alex, and Trivette stood on a boat waiting for Walker. He was finalizing the rental. The weather was warm and the sun still high in the sky. Alex was thankful she had thought to bring a long a swimsuit and shorts for herself and Walker, they had changed into them after lunch. C.D. and Trivette though, didn’t have anything more than what they had on their backs.

“That’s ok,” C.D. said, “there’s always skinny dipping.”

“NO!” both Trivette and Alex declared together.

“Wouldn’t be a good idea, Big Dog” Trivette told him. “Water’s too cold.”

“Yeah, C.D…water’s too cold” Alex chimed in. “Wouldn’t be good for you.”

“Gotcha!” C.D. hollered, laughing at their faces, distorted in distaste at C.D.’s suggestion.

“Big Dog!” Trivette hollered good naturedly, as Alex playfully punched C.D. on the arm.

Returning to the boat, Walker called out, “Hey…what’s all the standin’ around! Let’s get going!”, as he reached for the rope securing the boat to the dock. C.D. and Trivette both ran for the helm, and began fighting over who would get to pilot the boat, as Alex held out her hand to help Walker aboard…which he accepted with a smile. Threatening Trivette with a story about when he was young, C.D. won the piloting contest and steered the boat out onto the lake.

As they left the dock, the sound of a loud gunshot filled the air. Acting on instinct, Walker pushed Alex down, landing on top of her. Trivette and C.D. whirled around searching for the source of the shot.

“Dammit! This can’t be happening!” Alex cried.

“Shhh.” Walker whispered, touching the side of her face with his fingers. He remained on top of her, protecting her from any harm. He looked wildly about, seeking out the source of the shot as well.

Trivette turned around, a look of relief on his face. “Its ok Walker, just another boat backfiring.”

“Yeah…so you can get up off Alex now.” C.D. snickered. Trivette guffawed.

With a wry look on his face, Walker looked back down at Alex, seeing the same look of relief he had seen on Trivette’s face. Even though Trivette and C.D. were there, and watching them, Walker uncharacteristically planted a kiss Alex’s lips before getting up.

He stood up and held out a hand to help Alex up, but she remained lying on the boat deck, staring at Walker…stunned that he had kissed her, albeit briefly, but he had kissed her in front of Jimmy and C.D.!

Smiling at her, Walker gently coaxed her out of her trance by simply calling her name. “Alex.” She blinked her eyes, then beginning to blush, she reached out, took Walker’s hand and stood up. She looked back at Trivette and C.D., blushing more furiously at the wide grins on their faces.

The lake was fairly large and nestled in a wooded area, the water was blue and clear. Walker marveled at how the water was as blue as Alex’s eyes when they had tears in them. They spent the next several hours boating around the lake, enjoying the calm.

 

They found a secluded spot in a small bend in the lake, and stopped the boat. Walker, Trivette, and C.D. immediately went for the fishing poles. For a little while Alex stayed by herself, enjoying the warm sun. Feeling slightly neglected after a while, Alex decided to get their attention, especially Walker’s. She got up, and walking past the men, went into the cabin, emerging a few minutes later wearing her swimsuit.

 

It was a navy blue one-piece that accentuated every curve. She walked past the men again, very aware that their gazes followed her. She walked to the other end of the boat, stood on the edge, and executed a graceful dive into the water.

The men were speechless as they watched her walk past. As she stood on the edge of the boat ready to dive in, Trivette whistled between his teeth. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…that’s what I call a ‘body of evidence’.” The splash from her dive brought them out of their reverie.

“Man…why don’t you go swimming with her Walker?” Trivette asked.

“No…I don’t think so.” Walker answered. Really he wanted to, but he was afraid. Afraid of his feelings. Afraid of what he’d do in the water with her. Besides, he knew they’d have an audience of two as long as they were together in the water.

“Oh come on!….go get in the water with her!”

“No.”

“Walker! You can’t just let her swim alone.”

“Jimmy…leave Cordell alone. He don’t want to swim.” C.D. said, with a wink to Trivette when Walker wasn’t looking.

Catching on, Trivette continued. “Come on…yes he does want to swim…he’s just bein’ his usual exasperating self.”

 

He landed with a tremendous splash right next to Alex. When he surfaced Alex was inches from him, and giggling. She had watched with great amusement as C.D. pushed Walker into the water. After a backwards glance at C.D. and Trivette to throw them a searing glare, Walker turned back to Alex, and with a raised eyebrow said, “You think this is funny, huh?”

Alex just giggled some more. The giggle turned to a squeal and then a sputter as Walker splashed water in her face.

“Why you..” Alex cried as she reached her arm back to splash water back at him. She didn’t get quite far enough before Walker, acting quickly in anticipation of her revenge, grabbed her arm and pulled her to him, silencing her with a kiss.

Alex was at first indignant at having water splashed in her face, but she soon forgot about the anger as Walker’s lips closed over hers. Her arms went around his neck as she sought to deepen the kiss, and felt his arms encircle her waist.

C.D. and Trivette watched the water splashing, but as soon as the kissing started, the two of them looked at each other in triumph. Another conspiracy accomplished. “Come on Jimmy,” C.D. grinned, “lets leave the lovebirds alone. I hear the fish calling!” He grabbed Jimmy by the arm and started to pull him away.

 

“Aw come on Big Dog…I was enjoying that!” he complained as he was led away.

“Jimmy…you got a lot to learn, son! Back in Balt - I - more, it may have been acceptable…” C.D. began to lecture.

None of this was heard by Walker and Alex, they were too wrapped up in each other; but, being afraid of an audience he broke off the kiss and looked toward the boat, and noted that they were alone. Looking back to Alex he saw the dazed, just kissed look in her eyes. Running his finger over her kiss swollen lips, he softly whispered, “Have I ever told you how beautiful I think you are?”

“Cordell Walker, what has gotten into you.” Alex whispered as she claimed his lips with her own. The kiss grew more passionate as Walker wound his hands in her hair. When she wrapped her legs around his waist, he broke off the kiss with a husky “Oh my God!” His body was reacting to having this beautiful woman so close.

“Alex…why don’t we…uh….why don’t you go get dried off and meet me at stern.”

With a smile twitching her lips, knowing full well the effect she had on him, she kissed him lightly and said, “Ok cowboy…see ya sternside.” Walker watched her as she swam away from him to the boat. It took him a little while to compose himself before he made his way to the boat.

 

Alex had changed back into her shorts, tank top, and light denim shirt, running into Walker as she left the cabin. Encountering his damp clothes, she stepped back quickly, but her eyes stayed glued to his chest as she took note of the way his wet shirt clung to his muscles. It took a lot of self control and restraint to keep herself from reaching out to touch him, to run her hands over his muscular arms and chest. Walker smiled when he saw the look on her face, now it was her turn!

“I’ll uh…meet you…back there.” Alex stammered, blushing as she tore her eyes away and made her way to the stern.

Walker quickly changed and was about to head back to Alex when C.D. and Trivette barged into the cabin, fish in hand.

“Walker…we’re gonna fry up some fish for dinner.” Trivette said as he held up some fish. “Which one do you want?”

“None. I’ve…got other plans” he replied, his face beginning to redden.

“Ah yes…with the pretty lady.” C.D. stated with a knowing grin. “Don’t you worry none, Cordell. Jimmy and I’ll be busy in here frying up the fish for our dinner. You just go have a good time” he finished as he pushed Walker out the cabin door.

“C.D. why is it he always ends up with the pretty woman…and I end up with you!” Trivette crowed as he ducked, just missing the towel C.D. threw at him.

“You just shut your mouth…or I’ll…I’ll…I’ll make you clean the fish!” he said with a sneer.

As Walker left the cabin, he peeked around the corner, spying Alex at the railing, looking at the sunset. He was struck once again by her beauty, and for a while just stood there observing her…watching as the soft breeze blew her hair back, checking out her long legs from her tennis shoes, worn without socks he noted, to the hem of her khaki shorts, then up her slim body, noting that she was not wearing the denim shirt over her white tank top. In his usual fashion, he silently crept up behind her, stopping just inches from her.

“Don’t you just love the sunset, Walker?” Alex intoned softly.

“I must be slipping…you knew I was behind you.”

“I heard you when you came out of the cabin…some minutes ago” she said as she turned to him, her eyes sparkling…knowing full well he had been checking her out.

“Oh..” he muttered, blushing slightly. Looking out at the fading sunset, he answered her question, “Yes…I love the sunset, its beautiful”, then turning to meet her eyes, “…but then, so are you” as he closed the inches between them and kissed her softly. Breaking off the kiss, Walker took her by the hand and led her back toward the cushions. Sitting down upon them, he sat with his legs apart, then pulled Alex down into his lap, settling her between his legs. He leaned forward enveloping her in his arms.

Alex was surprised at how loving Walker had been lately, and wondered again how long it would last, how long before he became the exasperating cowboy she knew so well. But, knowing it would soon end, she was savoring each moment. Sighing contentedly, she wrapped her own arms around Walker’s and leaned back into his chest.

“That sounded like a sigh of satisfaction.” Walker whispered close to her ear. “Are you happy, Alex?”

“Mmmmhmmm. Very happy Walker.” Grasping his arms tighter, she softly said, “I just love nights like this. Sitting outside on a breezy evening, looking up at the stars, in the arms of…” her voice trailed off, not wanting to admit her feelings for him.

“In the arms of someone you love?” Walker softly whispered.

Alex’s heart nearly stopped. Walker could hear the indrawn breath. Slowly she turned her head and looked deep into Walker’s eyes. “Yes” she whispered breathlessly before Walker’s lips descended on hers, as he gently lay her back on the cushions, deepening the kiss.