By Sissy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
& Chris (email@example.com)
When Trivette pushes open the door to her office, she stands quickly, hoping for good news. When she sees the look on his face, her hopes fade. She slowly sits back down, a look of total dejection on her face. “Jimmy?”
“I’m sorry, Alex. As I told you on the phone, we found his truck but that’s it. It looks as if he just stopped, got out and walked away.” He sits on the corner of her desk, wishing he had something more positive to tell her. “We couldn’t even find any footprints along the road to indicate which way he might have gone.”
Alex lays her head in her hands, crying, “Oh, God, Jimmy, what could’ve happened to him?”
“I … don’t know, Alex, but we’re not quitting.” He stands and turns to face her, “I’m going back out there to make sure nothing gets overlooked. You gonna be all right?”
“Yes, Jimmy, I’m fine. You go on, see what you can find. Just let me know if you find anything, okay?”
“I will, Alex.” He touches her hand and leaves her office. After a few minutes, she stands and moves to the window, looking out over the city but seeing nothing. “Oh Walker, where are you?” He’d been missing over 12 hours and Alex is beside herself with worry. When he hadn’t come home last night, she knew something was wrong and had called Jimmy about midnight to see if Walker was working on something that would have made him so late. When Jimmy told her that they had just wrapped up a case and hadn’t yet started another one, fear had settled in her stomach like lead. She had been up most of the night, pacing the floor, before calling Jimmy at daybreak to see if they had found anything. He had told her that Walker’s truck had just been found on county road 67. He was on his way there now and would call as soon as he found out anything.
Needing something to occupy her mind, she showered, dressed and headed into the office. Now all that was left to do was wait.
She stops at C.D.’s after work, not feeling up to going home to an empty house again. The ranch is where she feels the closest to him but it has been terribly lonely these last few months. When she sees Jimmy sitting at the bar talking to C.D. she walks over to join them, hoping that maybe, just maybe, one of their leads had turned up something but in her heart she already knows the answer.
“Alex, you look plumb tuckered out, darlin’. You ought to take some time off and get some rest, honey.”
“I can’t C.D. The Mendalson case starts in two weeks and I’ve still got tons of work to do on it. Although I’m not sure what good it’s going to do without …” Tears fill her eyes. She brushes them away, surprised that she has any tears left. Lately it seems that she cries at the drop of a hat.
“Without … Walker?”
“Yes, he’s the key witness for the prosecution. If he doesn’t testify, Mendalson will probably walk.”
“I remember that case. Mendalson was finally arrested for setting up a cocaine distribution ring in one of the local high schools. Walker was the only witness to his dealings but, Alex, that happened what, six … eight months ago?”
“Almost a year, Jimmy. He was arrested just three months before we were married.”
“How come it has taken so long to get to court, Alex? Isn’t a delay this long kinda unusual?”
“Yes, but Mendalson’s lawyers are sharp. They pulled all kinds of strings to get it delayed. Then when it finally got to the point where the judge wouldn’t delay it anymore, Mendalson suddenly came down with a heart problem. And last month his doctor finally released him with a clean bill of health and the trial starts in two weeks.” She slides off the stool, and turns to face her friends, “I think I’ll take your advice, C.D., go home and see if I can get to bed early.” As she walks away, “Goodnight.”
“You hang in there, honey, if you need anything, you let me know, you hear?” They watch in silence as she pushes the door open and disappears into the night.
“Jimmy, I’m really worried about that little lady. If she keeps going like she is, she’s going to end up in the hospital.”
“I know, Big Dog. I’ve talked to her about it several times but she says if she doesn’t keep busy, she’ll fall apart. Truthfully, I think she’s just about there already.”
When Alex starts loosing her breakfast at least twice a week, Jimmy and C.D. insist that she see a doctor. She argues with them for a few days but finally relents and makes an appointment.
When the doctor finishes the examination, he tells her to get dressed then come into his office. When she opens the door to his office, he’s sitting at his desk looking through the reports on her tests. He gestures to a chair, “Please, Alex, sit down.” He takes several minutes reading through the papers then looking up at her, “I don’t know how to tell you this, Alex. I’m really surprised you didn’t guess it yourself.”
“Guess what, doctor. Is something wrong?”
“No, not really.” Knowing about Walker’s disappearance, he’s hesitates to tell her without someone being with her. He softly says, “Alex, you’re pregnant.” He watches her closely unsure of what her reaction will be. The expression on her face doesn’t change but the tears begin falling as she whispers “Walker”. When he finally gets her quieted down, “Alex, didn’t you have any idea you were pregnant? I mean …”
“No … I guess I wasn’t even thinking about … .” She wipes her eyes again, “How far along am I?”
“About three and a half months. I’ve got some instructions for you that I want you to follow to the letter. You’ve let yourself get rundown and if you’re going to have a healthy baby, we need to concentrate on getting you back in shape.” He lets her digest this news before he continues. “I want you eating three regular meals a day, and at least 8 hours of sleep every night.”
She smiles at the doctor through her tears, “I can handle the three square meals, but I’m not promising anything about the 8 hours of sleep. I’ll do the best I can, but no guarantees.”
“Well, anything more than what you’re getting now will be an improvement. … Now, who can I call to come pick you up? I don’t think you should be driving in your state of mind.”
“I’m all right, doctor, I can get home by myself.”
“Alex, I call someone, or I’m admit you to the hospital overnight. The choice is yours.”
She stares at him for several minutes then realizes that he is serious. She smiles at him, “Jimmy, I guess.” She gives him the number than waits for Jimmy to arrive.
“Alex, how did it go in court today?”
“C.D., I’m running out of delay tactics and the judge is starting to get real upset with me.”
“Well, maybe you should go ahead and finish it, honey. You’ve managed to drag this trial out over five months. You’ve got to start thinking about this youngun you’re carryin’. It’s almost time for that him to make his appearance, isn’t it?”
“I know, C.D. I figure I have at least another two weeks but I think you’re right. This trial has got to come to an end. I don’t think the judge will grant me any more postponements.”
“Maybe it’s for the best, honey. If you don’t get him on this, you’ll get him on something else. A guy like that is bound to get into some underhanded business and as soon as he does we’ll nail him.”
“You’re probably right, C.D. I’ll give my closing argument, and … well, then we’ll see what happens.”
As Alex predicted, without Walker’s testimony, the jury had no choice but to render a not guilty verdict.
When Alex leaves the courtroom, she’s relieved that it’s finally over. Maybe now she can relax and think about the baby. Walker’s baby. As she gets into her car to go home, she feels more at peace now then she had since Walker disappeared. She has a long weekend ahead of her and she is going to take full advantage of it, by sleeping whenever she feels like it and eating whatever she wants.
By Sunday morning she has slept so much she feels like a bear in hibernation. Knowing that her due date is just a couple of weeks away, she spends the morning fixing up a bassinet in the living room. Jimmy had already set up the crib in her bedroom for the time being. After Walker gets back they will move it back into the nursery. She makes the trip up and down the stairs several times before she has everything the way she wants it. On the last trip down with a blanket for the bassinet, she feels a stab of pain across her back. She sits on the bottom step until it passes, then gets up and puts the blanket in the bassinet. When she turns to go into the kitchen, another pain tears across her back, nearly taking her to her knees. This one scares her so she grabs her purse and car keys and starts out the door. Just as she opens her car door, another contraction hits her, and she feels a flooding of wetness. She knows she’s in trouble so she sits down on the ground, gets her cell phone out of her purse and dials Jimmy’s number.
After several rings, she finally hears, “Trivette.”
She’s panting, trying to breathe through the pain. She finally manages a weak, “Jimmy!” squeezed out between her lips.
“Alex? Is that you Alex?”
“Baby … coming … hurry … at home” She manages to get out before doubling over with another contraction.
“I’m on my way, hang on, Alex.”
Trivette arrives 10 minutes later, right behind the ambulance. The paramedics find her beside her car in full labor. They quickly get her into the ambulance and proceed with delivery because this baby isn’t waiting. He makes his appearance into the world screaming at being taken from his warm cocoon, and he is letting everyone know he isn’t happy about it. A husky 8 pound 2 ounce, redheaded boy. He cries until they clean him up and place him in Alex’s arms. As soon as they do, his cries turn to whimpers, he yawns a couple of times and closes his eyes.
The tears are flowing unchecked down her cheeks as she gazes at her son, “Walker, we have a son,” she whispers as she gently pulls him close and kisses him softly on the cheek. This should be the happiest day of her life but one thing is missing—Walker.
After the birth of her baby Alex takes a three-month leave of absence to try to get her life into perspective. Nearly 8 weeks into her leave, she finds that she has settled into a pleasant routine that revolves almost exclusively around her son. The one thing marring her happiness is the fact that she still does not know what has happened to Walker. He is alive; her heart tells her he’s alive but it’s been almost a year now, and they don’t know anymore now then they did when he first disappeared. She’s cried a river of tears and just when she thinks she can’t cry anymore, she sees his picture or some other reminder of him and tears will flood her eyes. Tonight is one of those times. She puts the baby into the bassinet by the fireplace, picks up a book and sits down on the couch to read. As she reaches to turn the lamp on, she catches a glimpse of Walker’s picture on the table next to the couch and the tears fill her eyes. “Oh, Walker,” she sobs. She picks up his picture, holding it against her chest, and lies back against the couch, crying until she finally falls asleep from sheer exhaustion.
“Alex,” She hears the whisper but it doesn’t register until, “Alex.”
She slowly opens her eyes and sees her cowboy kneeling next to the couch. Believing it’s just another dream, she snuggles further down on the couch and closes her eyes again. When she hears his soft “Alex” again and feels his hand against her cheek, she opens her eyes again. “Walker?”
“It’s me, Alex, I’m home.”
She rubs her eyes, not believing what she’s seeing. She sits up and tentatively reaches out for him. He takes her hands and pulls her close. Pulling back, she frames his face with her hands, and begins touching his lips, his eyes, sliding her fingers over his face, then through his hair. “Please tell me this is not a dream.”
“It’s not a dream, honey. I’m really here.”
Circling his neck with her arms, she pulls his head down and touches her lips to his. As his taste fills her senses, she truly believes that her husband has come home. He holds her like he’s never going to let her go when movement near the fireplace catches his eye. As his eyes take in the site before him, he opens his mouth to speak but can’t get the words out, they seem to be blocked behind the lump in his throat.
Alex turns then, and pulls him gently over to the bassinet. She picks up the baby and holding him between them, she murmurs, “Our son.” She looks up to see tears running unchecked down his cheeks.
He hesitantly reaches out to touch his son on the hand and when the tiny fingers curl around his, his heart nearly bursts. Without taking his eyes off the baby, he whispers, “When?”
“Eight weeks ago tomorrow.”
He looks up at her, “Alex, I’m so sorry I wasn’t here for you.”
She runs her fingers through his hair, “I know, it’s okay.”
“No, it’s not okay. I should have been here.”
“Darling, listen to me. I know you would have been here if it had been in your power. You’re here now. That’s all that matters.”
With her arm around Walker’s waist, Alex gently pulls him down with her to sit on the couch. Walker reaches over to touch her face and murmurs “I’ve missed you so much. I was afraid I was never going to see you again. Afraid you would forget me.”
“Darling, I could never forget you. You are my life. You and only you make my life complete.” They sit wrapped in each other’s arms, holding the baby between them, and holding on to each other, afraid if they let go one would disappear.
Sometime in the early morning they stand and with arms still around each other, they go upstairs to their bedroom. As Alex starts to put the baby into the crib, Walker lays a hand on her arm, his eyes silently asking if he can put their son to bed. He takes him gently from Alex’s arms, holds him against his chest for several minutes then kisses him softly before lying him down in the crib. He pulls a blanket over him and brushes his hand over the baby’s head before turning his attention back to Alex.
She moves into his embrace, circling his neck with her arms, pulling his lips down to hers and touching them lightly. Walker moans softly, tightening his hold and deepening the kiss. Probing deep with his tongue, igniting a fire that has been dormant far too long.
Walker steps back and looks into her eyes, “Is it okay? I mean … can we …?”
He starts unbuttoning her shirt and slides it off her shoulders. He unhooks her bra and lets it follow the shirt. His gaze lingers on her full breasts, knowing that, for now, they belonged to his son.
Alex keeps her eyes locked on his as she pulls his shirt out of his jeans, slowly pushing it up, until he takes over and pulls it over his head. Dropping her hands to his chest, she brushes them through the soft hair and over his nipples, feeling him quiver under her touch. She reaches down to unbutton his jeans, and then pulling the zipper down, lets them fall to the floor. Lowering her eyes, she sees his swollen member hidden behind the thin fabric of his briefs. As she looks up at him, he reaches down and slides his briefs down to join his jeans on the floor. Her hand moves to touch him but is stopped when he takes her hand in his and brings it to his mouth, kissing each finger. As he releases her hand, his eyes drop to her jeans. He unfastens the button then slides them slowly over her hips, taking her panties with them. As she steps out of them, his gaze starts at her feet and travels slowly up her body until his eyes lock on hers again. Reaching out he pulls her into his arms, whispers into her ear, “It’s been so long and I want you so much, I’m not sure I can wait much longer.” He drops his lips to hers, kissing her with tenderness, then as the kiss deepens, it becomes more urgent and demanding.
He lowers her to the bed, feeling her quiver as he lowers himself over her. He thrusts his tongue into her mouth as he sinks down into her. She clings to him as he withdraws almost completely before pushing into her again, hard and deep, bringing soft, low moans from both of them. A joining of two bodies and two scarred souls straining to reach an ecstasy that will fill the deep need they have for each other. A swift surge moves him deeper and harder inside her. He groans, “Oh, God, … Ahhhh …Oh, God.” With one final thrust, he hears her cry his name, as he wraps his arms around her, pulling her against him as they plunge over the edge into the abyss of pure ecstasy.
As his body collapses on her, he starts to rise, but her arms around him tighten, “No, stay with me”
“I’m too heavy.” When her arms don’t release him, he rolls both of them to their sides pulling her head to his chest. Loving the feel of her against him, a feeling that he will never take for granted again.
They lay together like this a long time, lost in each other. Then as he begins rubbing his hand up and down her back she snuggles her head under his chin and whispers, “I’ve missed you so much.” She moves her head slightly to kiss his throat, then down his chest. When she nibbles at his nipple, she feels him responding inside of her.
He tilts her head up, kissing her softly, then brushes his lips over her eyes and across her cheek. As he nibbles at her ear lobe, he whispers, “I love you” before moving his lips back to cover hers again, dipping his tongue into her mouth, rubbing against hers. Reaching down between them, he touches her tender flesh. She groans and presses herself tighter against him. He rolls them, placing her on top, letting her set the pace. She sits up, and gyrates her hips against him. As she starts rocking back and forth on him, he places his hands on her hips. When he feels the desire heating up his body, he begins moving with her. Her pace increases and so does his. When she starts to feel the essence of pleasure nibbling at her senses she lies back down against his chest. He brings his arms around her, feeling the rumble starting deep down inside of him, also.
When the strokes grow stronger, she molds like liquid fire against him as the rumbling turns into an avalanche pushing them over the edge. As their hearts slow and their bodies relax, he rolls her to his side, withdraws, then brings her back into his arms, kisses her softly, and closing their eyes they fall into a deep satisfying sleep for the first time in almost a year.
is awakened by the soft cries of their son and when she moves to get up, Walker
raises up on one elbow, watching her as she gets the baby and brings him back
to the bed. Walker moves the pillows up against the headboard and she sits down
with her back against them. Walker molds into her side while she nurses the
baby. As he watches the baby nurse, he
reaches over to touch him, brushing his hand gently through the soft hair on
his head, laying his finger in the baby’s hand, watching as his tiny fingers
close around his, he promises to always be there for him. As he looks at him,
he murmurs, “He’s a pretty big boy.”
“That he is. Almost 16 pounds and I think he needs more of a name than what I’ve been calling him. I’ve left his birth certificate open, so, we do need to talk about a name. I’ve been waiting for you to get back. I couldn’t name him without you.” She looks from the baby to him, tears glistening in her eyes.
“But … honey, you didn’t know if I was ever coming …”
“No! I knew you were still alive. I knew.” She touches his cheek with her hand, and touches her lips lightly to his. “I knew.”
Walker moves closer, laying his arm along side of the baby. “I was so afraid I was never going to see you again. They made it impossible to escape. But you were on my mind constantly. I never would have made it without your memory to hang on to.”
“Shh … I don’t want to hear about where you were, not yet. I don’t want you to think about me here without you. Tonight it’s just us, just you and me. I don’t feel up to sharing you, maybe tomorrow but not tonight.” She leans her head against his, and shuts her eyes, not wanting to think about what he might have gone through.
He senses her anguish concerning his captivity and tries to take her mind off of it by asking, “So, What have you been calling this little tiger? Surely you’ve been calling him something?”
“Just … CJ. So who do you think he looks like?” She gives him an impish grin.
“Well, not Trivette, that’s for sure, and the hair is the wrong color for C.D.” He looks into her eyes, seeing the sparkle there that he has missed so much. “He could look like you if his eyes were blue and his hair wasn’t red.”
“Well, you’ve eliminated all but one. So … I guess we call him junior.”
“Alex, you wouldn’t do that to our son, would you?”
“Well, we could call him Ray after your uncle, Cordell after you or maybe John.”
“How about Ray Cordell John Walker? That would cover all the names you’ve mentioned.”
“That’s fine, I like it.”
“Alex, I was joking. You can’t be serious? Don’t you think that’s a lot for a little guy like him to pack around?”
“Oh, I don’t know, I think he’ll grow into it just fine. Don’t you?”
He looks at Alex then at his son, smiles and murmurs softly, “Yeah … I guess he will at that.” He kisses her softly and touches his forehead to hers.
“Good. But now, I need to change … Ray Cordell John Walker and tuck him back into bed.”
After putting the baby back into his crib, she moves back to the bed and slides under the blankets next to Walker, snuggling as close as she can get. He wraps his arms around her, kisses her hair, and feeling totally contented, they close their eyes, and fall into a relaxing sleep.
As they come down slowly from the high their lovemaking has produced, Walker pulls her up against his side. She lays her head on his shoulder, slides her arm across his stomach, and brings up her leg across his thigh. Then she closes her eyes, lets out a soft sigh, and falls into a restful sleep. In a few minutes, he joins her.
Alex stretches her arms over her head, then reaches for Walker but the bed is empty. She sits up quickly, looking around the bedroom, noticing that it looks the same as it always does. The baby is still asleep in his crib. Panic sets in, “Oh, God, it couldn’t have been a dream.” She tearfully calls, “Walker?”
“Did I hear my name?”
Her head jerks around and she sees him standing in the bathroom doorway, with just his jeans on, rubbing his head with a towel. She jumps out of bed, rushing into his arms. Holding on for dear life. “Oh, God, Walker, I thought it was all a dream.”
“No, honey, it’s not a dream but if it is, I don’t ever want to wake up.” He holds her tight until she calms down.
When Ray starts whimpering that it’s time for breakfast, Alex turns to look his way, smiles up at Walker, then wipes her eyes as she reaches for her robe on the foot of the bed. Walker takes it from her and helps her into it then he picks up Ray from the crib.
As Walker’s arm brushes Ray’s cheek, the baby turns his head in the direction of Walker’s arm and begins the sucking motion. “I can’t help you that way, big guy. You’re gonna have to let your Momma take care of that.” He touches his lips gently to the baby’s forehead. As Ray opens his eyes for his first look at his daddy, Walker’s eyes takes on a sparkle. He kisses him again before giving him to Alex, then watches as she sits down in the rocking chair, bares her breast, and begins nursing her son. Before he returns to the bathroom, he leans over and kisses the top of her head.
After Alex gets her shower, she dresses and goes downstairs to find Walker in the kitchen, fixing breakfast. When he hears her enter, he turns and smiles at her, “Hungry?”
“Famished.” She moves up to him, kisses him softly, then turns and sits down at the table as he sets a plate of eggs, bacon, and toast in front of her. He picks up his plate and sits down across from her.
“Since the big guy has had his breakfast,” he smiles softly, “I thought we should have ours.”
When the plates are pushed back, Alex picks up her juice and looks at Walker, “You’re going into Dallas today, aren’t you?”
“I really should, honey. It isn’t fair not to let them know I’m back. Especially C.D. and Trivette.”
“You haven’t told anyone that you’re home?”
“No, you were all I could think of.” His eyes lock on hers, “I didn’t want to call … I wasn’t sure how you would react so … I just came straight here.”
“Darling, why don’t I call them and ask them to come out. You could see them privately, before you go into Dallas?”
He looks at her for several seconds, “That’s not a bad idea, honey. Obviously I want them to be the first to know and if I drive in someone may see me before I see them.”
As she rises to make the phone call, “By the way, Alex. Where's my truck?”
She picks up the phone and turns to face him, “I had them put it in the shed out back … I couldn’t take seeing it sitting out front, knowing you weren’t here. It … will probably need a new battery.”
He moves up to take her in his arms, “That’s all right, hon. I’ll take care of it later.” He nuzzles his face into her hair as she dials Jimmy’s number.
After several rings, “Trivette.”
“Jimmy, can I ask a big favor?”
“Of course, Counselor. You know all you have to do is ask, and if it’s in my power, you got it.”
“Would you go by and pick up C.D. and come out. There’s … something I want you to see.”
“What’s up Alex, the baby cut his first tooth?”
“You’ll just have to wait till you get here. Just hurry, but be prepared for a surprise, okay?”
“Well … I guess begging won’t get you to tell me, so … I’ll get C.D. and be right out.”
She hangs up the phone and turns in Walker’s arms, kissing him softly. He tightens his arms and deepens the kiss, stirring the fires of passion again. “I did … tell him … to hurry.”
“I heard. Maybe if we hurry …” Before he can finish his sentence, a cry is heard from upstairs. “I guess we’ll have to put this on hold.” Kisses her on the nose, “the man is demanding attention.”
He releases her, and as she turns to go upstairs, he lays his hand on her arm, “Let me.” She nods and he turns, heading upstairs. He returns several minutes later with the baby, who has stopped crying and is sleeping peacefully in Walker’s arms. “I think he was just feeling lonely.”
“I think you’re probably right. You can put him in the bassinet until he decides he’s hungry.”
Walker kisses him on the forehead and lays him in the bassinet. As he covers him, he hears a car coming up the drive.
“They’re here, darling. Why don’t you stay in here while I let them in.”
Alex opens the door to let Trivette and C.D. into the foyer. “Okay, Alex, we hurried, now where’s the surprise?”
“In the living room, Jimmy.” She stands back as they walk into the living room. When they suddenly stop, she knows they’ve seen Walker.
Jimmy is the first to respond. “I was hoping that this was why she sounded so excited on the phone.”
Walker takes him into a warm embrace, as tears fill their eyes. “God, I’m glad you’re back, partner.”
“It’s good to be back, Trivette.” He stands back and turns toward C.D., “C.D., are you all right?”
Alex moves up on one side of C.D. as Walker takes him in his arms, pulling him into a hug. “C.D.?”
“I’m … all right …” He pushes Walker back looking intently at him. “I … guess I should have believed Jimmy, when he said maybe you were back.” C.D. pulls him back into his arms, then says, “Lord, you sure are a sight for sore eyes, Cordell.” Then pulls him and Alex both into his arms. “Has Alex introduced you to the newest member of the family?”
“Yes, C.D., she has. He’s quite a big guy.” Still watching C.D. to make sure the shock wasn’t too much on his heart. “C.D. are you sure you’re all right?”
“Yes, Cordell, I’m more than alright. It was a shock to see you, but I’m fine and feeling better all the time. What in the world happened to you, son?”
They all go to the kitchen and sit at the table waiting for Walker to tell his story.
“Well, it all started when I got a call just before I left Ranger Headquarters. The caller was a young boy. He was crying and said he needed my help to get away from his abusive father. Apparently, the father was a heavy drinker and would beat the boy every time he got drunk. He refused to tell me where he lived but said he would meet me on county road 67 by the bridge. He said he’d only wait for me until 5:30. I told him I was on my way.” He looks at Alex with sadness in his eyes. “I thought I’d only be gone a short while so I didn’t even think to call. Maybe if I had … Anyway when I got to the bridge, I found him sitting on the ground beside the road. I got out of my truck and started toward him but as soon as he saw me, he jumped up and ran into the trees. His face looked like he had been beaten pretty badly.
I heard him crying so I followed him into the trees. When I found him, a man was holding him around the throat and had a gun pointed to his head. I drew my gun but he told me to drop it or he’d blow the kid away. I don’t know if he would have or not and I couldn’t get a clear shot at him so I didn’t want to take the chance. When I dropped my gun, another man came up behind me, threw some leg irons at me and told me to put them on. Once I was secured in the leg irons, they let the boy go and he took off into the woods. Looking back, I’m still not sure if the kid was part of the plan or not.
They cuffed me with my own handcuffs, and made me get into a closed van. I was blindfolded and anchored to rings in the floor. We drove all night and after a while I lost my sense of direction. When the van stopped, it was daybreak and we were at some shipyard. I was forced onto a freighter and locked in the brig below deck. They took the handcuffs and the blindfold off and gave me food and water then they disappeared.
I have no idea how long I was on this ship. I never saw the light of day. The only light was a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling. Eventually three men came and got me. They put the handcuffs and blindfold back on before we went topside so I still had no idea where I was. Once we got off the ship, I was put into a wagon and taken down a very bumpy road for what seemed like hours. When the wagon stopped, they took the blindfold and the handcuffs off.” He stops, takes a deep breath, and looks at Alex. He picks up her hand and holds it in both of his as he continues. “I spent the next eight months … working on a chain gang.”
“Good Lord, Cordell.”
“About two months ago, the same men came back, blindfolded me again and took me to a small village. They shoved me into a small hut, handed me the keys to the shackles and handcuffs, and told me to go if I could find my way back. I finally unlocked the shackles, but I … didn’t leave. I don’t know how long I sat there. I figured if I set foot outside that hut, they’d be waiting to kill me. The next morning, I decided that whatever was waiting for me outside couldn’t be any worse then what was inside, so I just walked out and … nothing … was waiting.
That’s when I found out I was in South America.”
“South America!!! Oh … sorry Cordell, go on.”
Walker looks up and sees tears in Alex’s eyes. He takes her hand and pulls her to sit on his lap, holding her close. “Are you alright, Alex? If you’d rather not hear this, I’ll understand, honey.”
“No … I’m … alright. Please … go on.”
“Well, since I didn’t have any money, or anything of value to sell, I had to work my way back, that’s what took me so long to get here.”
“Lordy, Cordell, why didn’t you call? We would have come down to get you in a heartbeat.”
“I know you would have, C.D. But … you have to understand, I’d been gone almost a year, I had no idea who was behind my kidnapping or why I was taken. I don’t know C.D., but … while I was gone … there were so many things running through my mind. Why did they take me? Why didn’t they just kill me? I had lots of time to think … and some of the things I was thinking just about drove me crazy. I started thinking that if they did this to me … maybe they had done something … to all of you, too. I wasn’t sure if any of you were still alive.”
Alex listens to the anguish in his voice and sees the pain in his eyes, and realizes it had been a lot harder on him then it had been on her or C.D. and Jimmy. At least they had each other. He had had no one. Alex tightens her arms around him and lays her head against his.
“I didn’t know who was responsible … I didn’t know who I could trust. I got paranoid, not trusting any one but myself.” He glances at Alex, “I had to see for myself what I was coming back to. That’s … why I came straight here.” He turns to look into Alex’s eyes, “if I found … you here, waiting for me then I knew everything would be alright.” His next words were only for Alex as he softly spoke, “When I saw you asleep on the couch … that’s when I first dared to hope. Dared to believe. And when I saw that little one in there, I thought for sure that I’d died and gone to heaven.”
“Oh, darling, it had to have been awful for you.” She kisses him softly, “I had C.D. and Jimmy to help me through this time, but you … you had no one.”
“No, Alex, I did have something,” he turns and looks at his friends then back at Alex, tears glistening in his eyes, in every ones eyes, “I had memories of my friends and … of you.”
The room goes silent until C.D. clears his throat, “Ummph … why don’t I make us some coffee. I could use a cup right about now.”
“Yeah, me too, Big Dog.” He stands and gets the cups while C.D. putters around making the coffee.
“I’ll just have juice, C.D.”
“Oh, that’s right, I forgot. Jimmy, get Alex a glass of orange juice, will you?”
“Got it.” As if on cue, Ray lets out a lusty cry, letting everyone know that he’s hungry.
Alex stands and starts into the living room with Walker following closely behind her. She picks up the baby, and sits down in the rocking chair to feed him. “Honey, why don’t you go out there and visit with C.D. and Jimmy. Maybe the three of you can come up with something that will tell us why this happened. Just don’t go making any plans without me. I’ve had all the surprises that I can handle for a long time.
He kneels down beside her chair, kisses her softly and cups the baby’s head in his hand, “Don’t worry, honey. There won’t be any surprises. Except me taking some time off, maybe. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”
Alex lays her hand to the side of his face, and murmurs, “I thought we got a good start last night, don’t you?”
“That was just a dent; it’ll take me the rest of my life to catch up.” He catches her giggle in his mouth as he kisses her than stands and goes back to the kitchen.
Listening to the voices coming from the kitchen, “But, Cordell, why all the way to South America?”
“I think I can answer that one, Big Dog. Walker is to well known in Texas. They had to take him completely out of circulation.”
When Alex finishes feeding and changing Ray, she takes him to the kitchen with her. Immediately, C.D. and Jimmy start squabbling about whom gets to hold the baby first.
Walker moves up to Alex, “Sorry, guys, Daddy has first priority.” He takes his son in his arms, kisses him softly on the cheek then folds his arms around him and sits down at the table.
“Alex, sit down. We think we might have an idea of who was behind Walker’s disappearance.. We’ve been going over what was happening around here just before he disappeared and ended just before he was released. And we’ve …”
“Well … yeah, that’s the one. We thought it was strange that his lawyer kept delaying the trial, then all of a sudden, he’s ready. And didn’t you say that without Walker’s testimony, you didn’t think he would be convicted?”
She’s nodding her head in agreement, “Oh, God, why didn’t I think of that? I should of known he had something to do with your disappearance.”
“Honey, you had no way of knowing. Lordy, the trial didn’t start till Cordell had been gone for three months. No one had any idea. And right now, we have no proof that he was involved.”
“You’re right, Big Dog, but with all the facts in front of us now, it’s not hard to figure out his thinking. Take Walker out early enough so that no one would link him to it. Keep him out of circulation till the trial is over, then turn him lose. He can’t be arrested again, double jeopardy.”
“Jimmy, you make it sound so simple. But why didn’t he just … kill Cordell. Why hide him away like that then turn him lose.”
“C.D., I think I can answer that. Mendalson’s not a killer. If anything had gone wrong, he didn’t want to go to the chair. He just wanted me to disappear for awhile. I don’t think he counted on Alex dragging the trial out as long as she did, hoping … that I’d show up.”
She sits beside him, tears filling her eyes; “You mean … my postponements kept you in captivity longer?”
Walker puts his arm around her, holding her tight, “Honey, you didn’t know. You can’t second-guess your decisions now. You did what you thought was right. You can’t blame yourself for something you had no way of knowing.”
“I know … but …”
“No … no buts. Okay?”
“Okay.” She answers as she lays her head against his.
“Walker, don’t you think we should go talk to Capt. Price and get the search for you called off?”
“You’re right, C.D. Can I catch a ride back to town with you two?”
“Walker, you aren’t going to leave me here, I’m going with you!”
Walker turns to face Alex, seeing the determined look in her eyes. He smiles, “I wouldn’t think of it, Alex..” He stands, still holding the baby, and with his free arm pulls Alex close. “Are you ready?”
“Just let me get the diaper bag.”
When Trivette stops the car in front of the Courthouse, he knows it will be tough getting Walker inside without being mobbed. He tells C.D. the best way will be to keep Walker and Alex between them as they make their way up the steps. When Walker gets out of the car, he takes the baby from Alex and offers her his hand.
Then she reaches to take the baby, he gives her a questioning look, “Because people are going to want to shake your hand or hug you.”
He nods and hands the baby back to her. He puts his arm around her waist and with C.D. and Trivette on either side to them they start to walk inside. When people catch sight of Walker, whispers turn into shouts of, “Is that Walker”, “Hey, Walker”, “He’s back”. A crowd starts forming and following the group as they make their way inside. They manage to get in the elevator without any followers, but when the door opens, the hall to Ranger Headquarters is lined with Texas Rangers and courthouse employees all wanting to shake his hand and welcome him back.
He finally makes his way to his desk, noticing that it was just as he left it. He looks at Trivette, silently asking why, “No one wanted to admit you weren’t coming back, so outside of finishing up your paper work, it has stayed the way you left it.”
He gets Alex, with the baby, seated at his desk then turns to face his fellow Rangers amid shouts of “Where you been, Walker” “Glad you made it back”. The room grows quiet as Capt. Price makes his way through the group.
He walks up and stands in front of Walker, stares at him for a few minutes then reaches out to take his hand, “Glad you made it back to us Walker. You’ve been missed.” He glances at Alex and the baby, standing now, and thinks that this is the happiest he’s seen her in nearly a year. Bringing his eyes back to Walker, “You up to explaining where you disappeared to, and why?”
After he gives a shortened version of everything that had happened, several begin asking questions. That’s when Capt. Price holds his hand up and quietly informs the Rangers that they have cases of their own to take care of. Each one shakes Walker’s hand and return to their desks.
“Walker, do you have any idea who was behind this?”
Walker moves to stand behind Alex and placing his arm around her waist, “Well, Captain, I think we’ve come up with a good suspect, but proving it may take some time.”
After a thorough investigation and striking plea bargains of several of his underlings, Mendalson is finally arrested for the kidnapping and confinement of a Texas Ranger. Alex prosecutes and no one is surprised when Mendalson receives a 60-year prison sentence which, given his age, amounts to a life sentence.
Alex, Walker, C.D. and Jimmy, along with most of Texas Ranger Company B gather at C.D.’s after the trial to celebrate finally putting away Mendalson for good.
Walker is sitting on the couch with Alex wrapped tightly in his arms. She has just given him the news that he’s going to be a father again and there are tears glistening in his eyes. He promises to be at Alex’s side throughout this pregnancy and birth. He still gets angry when he thinks about how Mendalson forced him to miss out on the birth of his first child. But the past year has brought him more joy then he ever thought possible.
Walker turns to look at his son sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace, playing, “What, son?”
“Can you help me?”
“Sure. What’s the problem?”
“My truck won’t go.”
Walker smiles at Alex and gives her a soft kiss on the cheek before joining his son on the floor. “Well, let’s take a look at it.”
Alex smiles as she watches the interaction between Walker and Ray, thankful to have them both in her life and looking forward to the birth of their next child.