The Acquittal

By DAWN R. HORTON

            As the courtroom emptied she just sat looking straight ahead, wondering what had just happened. It all seemed like a dream now.  It could have turned out so differently.  She could be just like her cell mate... in on trumped up charges that weren’t even her doing.  She looked up to say a silent prayer to God for the outcome that she had received today.   She was one of the lucky ones.  Justice had been done.  About that time she felt a hand on her shoulder and the soft whisperings of her name, “Alex.”  She turned to see Cordell Walker standing by her side smiling down at her, it brought a warm feeling to her heart.  He had been through this whole ordeal with her.  Fighting day and night to find the evidence that would clear her good name.  She couldn’t believe how supportive this man, that now meant so much to her, had been.  He knelt down and softly said ,“are you ready to go home.”  Alex smiled up at him and shook her head in the affirmative... but honestly she was in no shape to go home to her empty apartment.  She was still dealing with the ordeal of being behind bars.  To think that she had put so many people in jail and then being faced with the challenge of being there herself... the very thought made her shake.  She couldn’t let Walker know this... he had been so worried he didn’t need to know how scared she was now.  She could tell he hadn’t slept through this whole ordeal... but then again neither had she.  It was now time to just get on with their lives. 

As Walker drove Alex home they were both unusually quiet.  Neither one knowing quite what to say to the other.  They had spent so much time concentrating on clearing her name that they had forgotten what it was like to just spend time together.  Walker knew that Alex was going to have some issues to deal with and he was hoping that she would let him help her.  He was also very curious about the bruises to her face.  Neither she nor her father had mentioned anything about what had happened to her while she was incarcerated.  He knew he did not want to leave her.  She had spent all that time alone... he just wanted to stay with her; to hold her; let her know she was safe now.  He didn’t know if she would want that though... she was an independent person and did not like accepting help from others.  But he was not others... he was the man she loved...that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.  At least that is what he hoped. 

          They arrived at Alex’s apartment complex.  Walker got out to walk Alex to the door.  She stopped as they approached and fumbled for her keys.  Walker was there quickly to help and open the door for her.  “Here Alex let me get that,” he said as softly as possible not wanting to startle or upset her any further.  She just looked up at him tears already present in her eyes.  

          Walker said nothing just quietly guided her into her apartment, the fear on her face was evident and it was almost more than he could bare.  He loved her... he knew that now.  He really truly loved this woman, and he was going to be there for her no matter what.  They would get through this together.

          “Alex would you like some tea,”  Walker offered hoping to get her to relax a little.  She shook her head and said,  “Thank you.  I’m going to get cleaned up if you don’t mind.”  “I’ll be here when you get out... take your time.” She smiled and exited to the bathroom.  Once inside the door she let the tears flow, she thought about the women who were ready to beat her, if not worse and she thought about her cell mate.  How unfair the “system” had been to her.  Alex knew she could help her cell mate and the plan was already in the works.  That at least eased her pain a little.  Being able to help someone always made the pain easier. 

          Alex exited the bathroom her bout with tears still evident in her red swollen eyes.  Upon hearing her enter, Walker turned to hand Alex her tea when he noticed she had been crying.  He quickly set the tea down and wrapped her in his strong arms Walker felt her begin to cry again.  “ shh Alex it’s ok.  You are safe now.  I am not going to let anything happen to you.  I know you have been through hell and I hope you’ll let me be here for you .  Let me help you. Know that when you are ready to talk I am here.”  Walker gently brushed a strand of hair away from her bruised cheek and really wanted to know how that happened... but for now he would refrain from asking. 

          They stood there holding each other not saying anything for quite sometime.  Neither one wanting to let go of the other.  Hesitantly Walker said, Alex I would like to stay here tonight... I am just too tired to drive to the ranch.”  Alex smiled knowing this was his way of not making her have to ask or feel like she was being  “taken care of.” “Sure, Walker I am glad you are staying.” With that said, Walker made a fire in the fireplace while Alex went to change.  When she came back he had arranged pillows and blankets in front of the fireplace and two steaming mugs of tea.  “ Take two,” Walker said with a grin.  When she entered the living room he handed her a cup of tea and patted the place next to him at the same time.  She took a seat and a drink of the tea.  “Thank you Walker,” Alex said as she flashed him the beautiful smile he loved so much. “You are very welcome.”

          Silence ensued for quite sometime.  They both just sat staring at the fire drinking their tea.  Finally Walker spoke with a soft caring tone, “Alex do you want to talk about it.” Silence was all he received in return.  Alex knew that she wanted to tell him everything she just wasn’t sure she could... It was all still so fresh.  They sat quietly for a few more minutes then Alex finally broke the silence.  “Walker I know you want to know what happened and I know talking it through will help, but I am just not sure.”  Walker was puzzled.  “Not sure of what Alex.” Alex decided to just jump in after all this was the man that she trusted more than anyone.  “I was so scared Walker.  I didn’t think I would ever get out of prison and I wasn’t sure I would live to see the trial.”  Alex paused and Walker reached for her hands.  Alex tensed slightly but then forced herself to relax.   “I had put many of those women behind bars and they made no bones about letting me know they were not happy about that.”  “Is that how you got the bruises on your face,” Walker asked finally seeing the opportunity.  Alex squeezed his hands tighter, “ah I see you noticed.” Smiling slightly she continued telling him about the women who came to beat her up in the shower room. “It was awful Walker I tried to fight them but there were just too many.  If it hadn’t been for my cell mate....  “Alex paused, a shiver running through her body as the thoughts truly sank in.  “My cell mate probably saved my life.”  Walker pulled her close and whispered,  “remind me to thank your cell mate.”  Alex, who had now begun crying chuckled a little at his remark.   “Thank you for staying Walker.  I really didn’t want to be alone.”  “Well Alex I’m glad you confided in me, I will do anything to help you through this.  I just want to be here for you.”  And with that he carefully pulled her close realizing for the first time just how important this hot- headed, stubborn, very attractive ADA had become to him.  He had fallen in love with her.