Walker wrapped his arm around Alex's shoulders and led her towards the Ram.
The sun was setting and a cool breeze was lightly blowing this late autumn afternoon. They walked in silence as they contemplated the events of the past week. Then Walker briefly broke the silence,
“Alex, how about we go to the ranch, and talk?’
“Okay.” Alex nodded her head slightly letting it rest on his shoulder, taking comfort from his touch. She felt a slight twinge of fear, or perhaps just nervousness, as she realized the magnitude of the discussion they were going to have. But the release of Vincent Pike had set off a chain reaction in Walker. Alex had seen a new side of him, a deeper, caring side, one she had always believed had existed. But it scared her. Perhaps he’d never be able to show her that side of him. But she also understood the quiet, reserved and passionate Ranger even better.
The sun was sliding behind the horizon as the RAM pulled up to the house. Not much had been said during the drive allowing each to compose their thoughts, put things in order. What needed to be said couldn’t be rushed or even forced. Alex knew Walker cared for her and she knew how deep her feelings went for him, but now she prayed the unspoken could be said, that they could reach an understanding about their relationship, if or where it was going, where they stood with each other.
They stopped at the porch and moving to the swing Alex sat down. Looking at Walker it was obvious he was deep in thought and she wondered where he would start. He had moved to the railing, looking out towards the horizon and setting sun. She wanted so much to wrap her arms around him and tell him how much she loved him, but he had to come to her. There was no way Alex could live a life of uncertainty, and now was their chance at forever. Alex had finally learned what had been holding Walker back and yet she knew it was all in his hands. If he couldn’t get past the ghosts Alex would have to walk away.
“Alex, I’m sorry…I wanted to tell you about Ellen awhile ago. But every time I started something came up or I just couldn’t say the words. What can I say…Ellen was…” Walker paused and looked towards Alex. Her eyes were downcast and he knew what he was about to say was going to hurt her but she had the right to know. “Alex, Ellen was fun…so energetic. She also was bold…never afraid to speak her mind with me. We would go for these long walks and she would talk my ear off…she talked about everything. She was never afraid to say something to me, and I respected that.”
Walker’s heart was breaking as he watched Alex sit on the swing, emotionless. He watched as a single tear fell from her eye and rolled down her cheek. He knew this was painful for her but he knew that until she knew everything about Ellen they couldn’t move forward and would never had what he wanted and dreamed to have with her. Until these emotions for Ellen were taken care of Walker wouldn’t be able to hold Alex in his arms and love her unconditionally.
Going to her Walker knelt beside her. Taking his hand he gently wiped the tear from her cheek and tilted her head upward so he could look into her bright blue eyes. “Alex, I’m sorry…I know this hurts you…but Alex, I loved Ellen, she meant the world to me…Alex, with you though, it’s different. Ellen meant the world to me, back then…back when my world was a very different place. I can’t explain it…I’ve held on to it, I’m not even sure why. With you my world is bigger…wider…clearer. I wouldn’t have been ready for you ten years ago. Ellen was the right woman for me then. But now I’ve grown…and you’ve come into my life. Ellen will always have a special place in my heart…but Alex…only you are right for me now.”
Alex had heard the words and sighed. She had longed to hear him speak like this to her and now that he had she wasn’t sure how to respond. Her body wouldn’t move…she was frozen in place trying to figure out what to say.
“Walker, you say these words, and yet you wouldn’t let me in. I’m hurt…we’ve known each other for so long and yet every time you hurt you walk away. If I mean so much to you why won’t you let me in your life? I want to be there for you…I want you to know that you can come to me like you did Ellen.”
Looking away for a moment Alex could see the guilt in his eyes. She knew the words had touched a nerve and as much as she wanted to take them back they had been said. But they also had needed to be said…if they were to spend the rest of their lives together he couldn’t continue to push her away when things got rough.
“ I was unsure Alex…of what we had. When we first met it had been so soon after Ellen…and there was and still is so much of her in you. That scared me, it was like I was falling in love with her all over again. As time went by and we grew closer I found myself…well I was scared, Alex. I woke up one morning and realized that I had fallen in love with you.” He had moved to the railing again and Alex looked up with a start at his words. Had she really heard right…did Walker just say what she thought he said? “I was scared…” he continued… “Scared that the same thing was going to happen to you. I thought putting distance between us would protect you…so for the past several years I have denied my feelings for you. Well I’ve tried to. But every time I stepped back I wanted to be closer to you. Alex…if anything ever happened to you…I couldn’t bear the THOUGHT OF it. You are the most important thing in my life. I’m more myself with you than anyone else…you have touched my very soul…something I never thought anyone would ever do. Who I am...what I am…you have stood by my side through it all.”
Alex was both stunned and elated. So he did love her, she was his world now, a different world that included Ellen but where Ellen no longer consumed him. She got to her feet and wrapped her arms around his waist, laying her head on the back of his shoulder, “I understand,” she whispered.
Walker felt a sigh escape him. Alex was so wonderful, he didn’t have to say everything, she saw right through him and understood. Taking her hands from his waist he turned in her arms, wrapping his arms around her and gazing into her lovely crystal blue eyes, “Too much time has gone by…there are so many feelings I between us and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to tell you exactly how I feel…Alex…I love you.”