The Freeze Zone

                                                            By Sissy (sissy@svs.net)

Chris (ckline-usa@foreverliving.com)

“Amy, is she alone?”

“She is for now, but she has an appointment with the DA in 25 minutes.”

“That’s all right; this won’t take long.” Walker moves past her desk and pushes open the door to Alex’s office.

Alex looks up when she hears the door open, “Darling, what a nice surprise.” He closes the door and she stands as he walks around her desk. He slides his arms around her waist, pulls her up against him and kisses her lightly on the lips.

“Hi. Are you busy? Can you spare me a couple of minutes?”

“For you, I can always find a minute or two. What do you need? Besides the obvious.” She smiles, pulls him closer and gyrates her hips against his.

“Alex, behave yourself. That’s all we need, someone catching us making out in the ADA’s office.”

“I can’t help it, darling.  I just can’t get enough of you.” She murmurs softly.

“Alex…” He whispers then kisses her softly, turns her around and gently urges her to sit down.

“All right, I’ll behave. Now, what did you want.”

“Alex, I’ve got to go to Fairbanks, Alaska to escort a Russian emissary back to Dallas as a favor for the Governor. It has to do with Dallas being the Sister City to Biysk. The Governor said to call it a paid vacation and if you can get off, you could go with me. How about it, hon, it could be a second honeymoon.”

“Wow, two honeymoons in less than six months. Seriously, though, I would love to, providing this Johnson trial is over before we have to leave. We should go to the jury by Friday. When are we supposed to leave and how long will we be gone?  I have a trial coming up around the end of November”

“We leave on the 28th of October for about a week. Do you think the Johnson trial will be over by then?”

“Well, it had better be, or I’m losing my touch. That gives me two weeks.  I should have everything wrapped up long before then.” She looks up at him, “Won’t it be pretty cold up there by then?”

“I suppose so, why?”

“Well, that means we need to take winter clothes.  How cold does it get up there, anyway? Do you think our winter clothes will be warm enough?”

“I don’t know Alex. Honey, you keep this up and you’ll talk yourself out of going.”

“Not me, Walker. I come from Minnesota. I was just thinking of all the snuggling we can do to stay warm.” She stands, turns to face him and puts her arms around his neck, pulling him close for a passion-filled kiss.

Walker pulls back slightly, whispering, “Alex, you’re incorrigible. And you tell me I’m obsessed.” He claims her lips again, probing with his tongue, as his hand slides up under her jacket. She moans against his lips as he caresses her breast. She can feel the warmth from his hand even through her clothes. He pulls her up tight against him.  She feels his need for her and the kiss deepens.

They both jump when the intercom buzzes, “Ms Cahill, your meeting with the DA is in ten minutes.”

Alex takes a deep breath to steady her breathing before touching the button, “Okay, Amy, thank you.” She smiles at Walker, “We’ll finish this at home tonight.” She kisses him quickly and, after straightening her clothes, turns to leave her office with Walker right behind her. They realize as they pass Amy’s desk that she is giving them the once over and, Amy, seeing their flushed faces, is well aware that she had interrupted something.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Looking out the window as the plane circles the city of Fairbanks, Alaska, Alex is awed by the how clear the night sky is. “Oh, Walker, look. There are the Northern Lights.  Isn’t it beautiful?” Walker leans over to look out the window with her, smiles at her enthusiasm and kisses her lightly on the cheek.

Leaving the plane, they claim their luggage and, going outside, they locate a cab to take them to their hotel. “Oh, Walker, it’s colder here than I thought it would be.” He opens the cab door and she climbs in,  “Brrrrr…Come on, get in, hurry.”

“Alex, I thought you were from Minnesota? What happened, your blood thinning out?

“That was a long time ago, Walker, now hurry, shut the door.” As Walker settles into the seat, a shivering Alex snuggles up to him as close as she can get without climbing into his coat.

“Alex, this is Alaska, it’s suppose to be cold here. Think about something else, like the sun, that’ll warm you up. Would you look at these buildings, just like any other city in the USA. You wouldn’t know you were in Alaska, if it wasn’t for all the snow and the freezing temperatures.”

“I can’t think of anything but the cold. I knew I should have put long johns on. Doesn’t he have a heater in this car?”

“Come here, hon,” Walker puts his arms around her and pulls her close. Kissing her gently on the lips. “Alex, you really are cold! We definitely need to warm you up.” Tightening his hold and lowering his lips to hers, he kisses her softly and deliberately, prolonging the kiss.

As she starts to respond, he pulls back and looks into her eyes,  “Walker…”

“Shh…Are you warm, now?” He feels her nod as she lays her head against his shoulder.

*****

The porter sets the luggage down and after Walker tips him, he turns and leaves them to settle in. “Walker, the first thing I’m gonna do is get some winter clothes, real winter clothes. And what do they call those boots? Mukluks, I think.”

“Alex, we’re not going to be here that long.”

“When are you suppose to meet this emissary?”

“He is suppose to meet us here at the hotel, day after tomorrow.  I wanted to get here early so we could do some sight seeing. I’ve always wanted to ride in a dog sled so maybe we could check that out while we’re here. And I know you’ll want to go shopping, won’t you?”

“I’d love to go shopping but I don’t want to freeze doing it! I wonder if I can find the weather on TV.” She switches on the TV with the remote control, finds a weather station and sits down to watch it while Walker goes to the balcony doors and stares out over the city. It’s only 8:00 p.m. but the night is beautifully lit up with millions of stars. It’s not hard to know why they say Alaska is at the top of the world. 

“Walker, they just said it’s only 15 degrees, and it’s expected to drop to zero tonight! It doesn’t get that cold in Texas even on the coldest day!  Now I know I’m getting heavier clothes in the morning.”

“Alex, honey, you’re getting carried away with this cold thing.” He walks over to Alex, kneels down in front of her and takes her hand in his, “You’re not going to be so obsessed with the cold that you spoil our trip are you?”

She pulls her eyes away for the TV screen, looks at him, and realizes that she has done a lot of complaining. “I’m sorry, darling. I guess I just didn’t realize it would be this cold. I’ll get some warmer clothes tomorrow and we’ll see all the sights and shop for some souvenirs to take back for everyone.  Maybe we can even find a way for you to take a ride on a dog sled.” She leans over and kisses him tenderly. “I sorry about all the griping about the cold, forgive me?”

He returns the kiss, stands, and pulls her up to him, “Forgiven. Now, let’s go down and see about something to eat? I’m starved.”

*****

Sitting at the table in the dining room, “Oh, my, I can’t believe this menu. King Crab, steaks, it’s a cornucopia of delicacies from all over the world. It’s going to be hard to decide.” Walker is glancing around the room while Alex is deciding.  Suddenly, he notices someone watching them.  The man looks familiar but before Walker can get a good look, Alex nudges him, “I think I’m going to have King Crab. How about you, Walker, have you decided yet?”

“Huh? Oh, I think I’ll stick with a steak. Alex, did you notice that guy dressed all in black standing by the door over there?”

Alex turns and glances at the door, “I don’t see anyone like that, Walker. What kind of dessert are you getting?  They have Chocolate Cake on the menu.  Since it’s my favorite, that’s what I’m having.” She looks back at Walker and notices that he’s still looking around the room. “What are you looking for?”

“I thought I saw someone I knew. But he’s gone now.  Anyway, I don’t want any dessert, Alex.”

After a leisurely meal, they drink their coffee, do some people watching and make small talk, but Alex notices that Walker continues to search the room with his eyes looking for someone. “Walker, we’re on vacation, and you’re still in Ranger mode. Come on, honey, now who’s spoiling everything.”

He turns to look into her sky blue eyes and takes her hand in his, “You’re right; I’m sorry.  I guess this Ranger mode is hard to turn off sometimes.  It’s probably just my imagination anyway, so as of now this Ranger is on vacation with his beautiful wife. Are you ready to go? I saw a shop I want to check out. I saw something I want to get for C.D.”

When they walk out of the dining room, they don’t notice the man in black watching them from the shadows. He follows them at a distance, taking every precaution not to be seen. He’s already made one mistake and that was letting the bearded man see him in the dining room. ‘Maybe he didn’t get a real good look at me.  After all, it has been twenty years. A man can change a lot in that time. But I would know you anywhere, Walker, the years haven’t changed you at all.’

***

The hotel has several shops on the first floor.  Walker and Alex do a little shopping for souvenirs and Alex gets a parka, a couple pairs of ladies winter underwear, gloves and a beautiful pair of Mukluks. “I’m ready now, Walker, bring on the cold.” After paying for their purchases, they turn and start back to their rooms, window shopping on the way.

While looking into a window at some items on display, Walker glances up and sees the reflection of the man in black in the window.  He watches him for a few seconds but when he turns quickly to look behind him, the man is gone.

“Walker, who are you looking for? We don’t know anyone up here. Come on, honey, you’re starting to spook me.”

“I’m sorry, Alex, but I saw that same man in black again, watching us. I thought he looked familiar the first time I saw him, but I can’t get a good look at him.”

“Your imagination is working overtime, honey, let’s go to our room. I’m getting tired. This has been a very long day. I think the time zone has changed three times on the way here. Isn’t this where they have six months of daylight and six months of darkness? I hope not. Winter is dreary enough without it being dark all the time, too.”

Making their way toward the elevators, Walker is still on the alert for the man in black but he is nowhere to be seen.

As the elevator doors shut, the man in black steps out of the shadows. Going to the desk, he inquires as to what room Mr. Walker is in. With that information attained, the man in black leaves the hotel.

*****

Alex wakes the next morning to Walker gently kissing her on the neck, “Come on, hon, are you going to sleep all day? It’s almost 9:00 o’clock. We’ve got things to do and places to go.”

“Hmmm?”

“Come on, babe,” he nuzzles her neck with his lips, “Come on, Alex, it’s snowing. You’re missing…Alaska.”

“Oh…Walker, snow just makes it colder.” She mumbles as she slides down under the blankets.

“You got the winter clothes, now, Alex, so you ought to be prepared. Let’s go!”  He says as he yanks the blankets off of her.

Walker! Stop it! She’s frantically reaching for the blankets, but Walker has pulled them off the bed. She then curls up into a tight ball.

Walker looks at her all curled up, starts toward her, then stops and goes out on the balcony for just an instant.  He returns to the bed where Alex is still curled up, takes the large double handful of snow and drops it on top of her.

She screams and jumps up, “Walker, what….” When she sees the snow on the bed, she grabs what she can of it and takes off after him. She corners him and tries to put it down inside his shirt.  He grabs her hand and with a lot of pulling and pushing, twisting and turning, they find their way back to the bed. They fall in a tangle of arms and legs, right into the wet spot made by the snow. Both are laughing so hard they are almost crying.  They lie together on the bed for several minutes, slowly calming down, “Walker, I am so glad I married you.  It’s a joy to wake up with you every morning. Don’t ever change, darling, I love you just the way you are.”

“I love you, too, baby. You’re the reason I want to wake up every morning. You are my life.”

She looks at him with dreamy eyes, reaches up, puts her arms around his neck, pulls him close and gently nibbles his bottom lip then lets her lips brush across his.  She releases him and starts to roll away from him to get up but the fire has been kindled and he pulls her back into his arms. She feels the pull of his lips, the caress of his tongue, and the touch of his hand kneading her breast. They make love quietly and tenderly, completely lost in the desire for each other, a joining of bodies and two loving souls. After the fire has been extinguished, they lay in each other’s arms a long time, content in their love.

By the time they shower and dress, they realize that breakfast has turned into brunch.  After brunch, they spend the day wandering around the city, taking in the sights, meeting new people and making a deal for Walker to take a ride on a dog sled the next day.

*****

While they are out sightseeing and shopping, the man in black is checking out their hotel room, searching it diligently but making sure nothing looks disturbed. When he sees the gun in the suitcase, he deliberates about taking it but decides to leave it as he found it. Just before he starts out the door, he turns around to make sure everything is just like he found it.  Satisfied, he turns and leaves the room.  As he closes the door, he hears people talking as they leave the elevator. He quickly turns and slips around the corner and down the stairwell. As he makes his way down the stairs to the basement, ‘So, Walker has taken a bride, huh. Doesn’t look like he did too bad either. He always was a lucky s.o.b. I hope his luck holds while he’s here.’

*****

“We’ll leave this stuff in the room and I want to freshen up before we eat, okay?” Walker unlocks the door and follows Alex into the room. After shutting the door, he stops in the center of the room. Alex turns and sees him standing quietly with his eyes shut, “Walker, what’s wrong?”

He’s still for a moment, then, “Alex, someone has been in our room, while we were out.”

“Darling, it was probably the maid. We did leave the place in a mess, what with the snow.”

“No, it wasn’t the maid. This visitor was a man. I can smell his aftershave. I’m pretty sure the maids are girls.”

“Why would anyone be searching our room. We’re not here on business.”

“I don’t know, Alex, it doesn’t make sense to me either. I think we had better be more careful. Start watching our backs.”

“Walker, are you sure about this? You’re not just reading something into all of this are you? Maybe, the man in black has you a little paranoid.”

“Alex, as much as we’ve been through, I’m not going to take any chances. I’m going down to the police station tomorrow and get permission to carry my gun.  I know I can; I just want to clear it with them first.” He takes her in his arms, kisses her on the cheek, turns and goes into the bedroom.  Rummaging around in his suitcase, he brings his gun out.

Alex follows, “Walker, do you really think that’s going to be necessary?”

“I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think it was necessary, Alex.”

“Whoa, you are tense, aren’t you? Honey, is there something you’re not telling me?  I mean, is it just not knowing what’s going on that has you so uptight or do you know more about what’s going on than you’re telling me?”

“I’m sorry, Alex. You’re right, not having a clue as to why this is happening has me disturbed, but you know as much as I do.  We don’t know anyone here that I’m aware of.  The only thought that comes to mind is that someone from either my past or yours is following us.  I just don’t know. Whatever’s going on, it’s just going to be you and me, hon, we’re a long way from Dallas.”

Alex puts her arms around his waist, “Darling, ‘you and me’ have done pretty well in the past, haven’t we? Whatever happens, as long as we’re together, we’ll work through it.”

Walker touches his lips to hers, “You’re right. We do make a pretty good team, don’t we?” He holds her close for several minutes. “Now, how about dinner? Let’s go to the Turtle Club. I remember seeing that place today. I think it was out on the old Steese highway.”

*****

After dinner they enjoy the Western Band, and Alex even gets Walker to dance to a couple of slow dances before leaving for their hotel. Walking down the hall toward their room, arm in arm, “I really enjoyed tonight, darling, very relaxing music, almost like back home.”

“It did feel like that, didn’t it. I guess the two largest states have some things in common, huh.” Walker unlocks the door and follows Alex into the room, shuts the door and reaches for the light switch.

“Leave the lights off, Walker, and your gun in its holster.” Demands a voice from the shadows.

Walker grabs for Alex, pulls her behind him, and stops his movement towards his gun, “Who are you? What do you want?” 

“Just a little conversation, Walker, that’s all.”

“You seem to have us at an advantage.  You know who we are but we don’t know you.  Care to identify yourself?”

“In due time, Walker. First, I need some information about you.”

“What kind of information?”

“Personal information. Like where you’re from, what line of work you’re in, and the lady’s name.”

“Why should I tell you anything? I’m not sure that’s in our best interest.”

“Believe me, I have no desire to hurt either one of you. If I did, I could have taken you both out at any time today.”

“My name is…”

“I know who you are, I just need to know everything else.”

“I’m a Texas Ranger, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. That’s also where we live. This is my wife, the former Alex Cahill.  She’s the Assistant District Attorney in Tarrant County.  Now it’s your turn.”

“What are you doing in Fairbanks?”

“We’re here to escort an emissary from Russia back to Dallas.”

“I pretty well had you figured for a lawman. You would’ve really had to change to go bad. When is this emissary coming in?”

“That I won’t tell you. How do I know you aren’t after him?”

“I’m not after anyone. I just want to get an idea of how long you’ll be in Fairbanks, besides we need to get reacquainted.”

“Reacquainted? Are you telling me that you know me?”

“That’s right, from about twenty years ago. We worked together for awhile back then.”

“Twenty years? That’s just about when I left the Marines.”

“That’s right. Now, I’m going to let you turn on the lights on but first you, both of you, have to give me your word that whatever is said here will go no farther.  My life could depend on it.  Will you agree to that?”

“Before I agree to anything, I need to know why you’re even risking revealing yourself to us? Especially since it, supposedly, is dangerous for you.”

“Because you’ve already seen me, at least twice that I know of.  And it’s very likely that we’ll run into each other while you’re here. I’m pretty sure of what your reaction will be when you see me.  This way, the element of surprise will be in a controlled situation. I can’t have you blowing my cover wide open, not yet. So, do I have your word?”

Walker is quiet for several minutes.  As he listened to the man speak, a voice seemed to be pushing up from the back of his mind, a voice from long ago, but as yet, he can’t put a name to it. “Alright, you have my word.”

“And Mrs. Walker?”

“If Walker gives his word, you have mine, also.”

“Turn the light on then, but, Walker, keep your hand away from the gun, and stay by the door.”

Walker, keeping Alex behind him, reaches over and flips the light switch. When the lights come on they see a tall black man, in black pants and a black turtleneck sweater, standing by the bedroom door.

“Well, Walker, do you remember me?”

Walker’s face lights up in recognition and a large smile as he rushes towards him,  “Scott. Scott Thorton!” He reaches to grab his hand to shake then changes his mind and pulls Scott into a warm hug, then pushes back, “God, man, I thought you were dead. Whatever happened to you? You look great!”

“It’s good to see you, too, Walker. You haven’t changed a bit. Except for the beard. Looks like you kept in pretty good shape. And married now, too. You always did have all the luck.”

“Alex, come here.” Walker brings her closer, “This is Scott Thorton, one of the best friends I ever had in the Marines. Saved my hide many times over in Vietnam.  Because of him, I came back in one piece.  Scott was the mother hen of the squad, made sure everyone was accounted for after every defensive action.”

“Scott.” She shakes his hand, then as the two men sit down, she sits on the arm of Walker’s chair.

“So this is the woman who finally got you to settle down, huh? Any children?”

Walker blushes slightly, “No, we’ve only been married eight months….So, Scott, what have you been up to and why all the secrecy?”

“When I got back to the States, I hooked up with the FBI, working mostly in Washington, until about three years ago.  I went undercover and finally infiltrated a multimillion-dollar crime syndication that is big into opium shipments. Fairbanks is where it’s all coming down. All the main players will be here in just two weeks. And in all probability, this hotel is where it will happen. When I first saw you in the dining room, it really shook me up. I couldn’t imagine that you would be mixed up in anything like this but I had to make sure so I searched your room. I’m sorry about that.”

“I knew someone had been in here. Earlier today, right?”

“I thought I left it clean? How did I give myself away?”

“When we came back from shopping, Walker said he could smell aftershave so he knew someone had been in here.” Alex laid an arm across Walker’s shoulders, and smiled down at him.

“You two are married, but you still call him by his last name? Now, that is different.”

Walker looks up into Alex’s eyes. The love he feels for her is very apparent, “That’s a long story, Scott and, if you ever get to Dallas, maybe I’ll tell it to you. But I can put your mind at ease, we’ll be leaving tomorrow or possibly the day after. We’re escorting a Russian emissary back to Dallas. He is supposed to be here tomorrow morning so I’m afraid we’ll miss your take-down.”

“That’s best, really, it could get messy. If by some chance you run into me anywhere, just play along, you don’t know me from Adam, okay?”

The two men spend the rest of the evening and early morning reliving old times. Alex sits with them for awhile, but ends up asleep on the couch.

“Looks like you’ve got quite a woman there, Walker. It’s not hard to see that she is very much in love with you.”

“I know. She means the world to me, too…. Scott, what are your plans after this is all over? Will you stay with the FBI or move on to something else?”

“That’s a good question, Walker. I’m not sure.  I’ll probably stay in law enforcement but no more undercover work. I’m getting too old for this stuff. Who knows, I may come to Texas and look you up after this is all over just to see the quieter side of the law.”

Alex hears the last of his words, stretches and sits up, “Did I just hear you say something about Texas and the quieter side of the law?  Scott, there is nothing quiet about the Texas Rangers, especially this Ranger.” She rises from the couch and moves to Walker’s chair.  Coming up behind him, she puts one hand on each shoulder, squeezing gently as Walker places his hand on top of hers.

“Whatever his life is like, evidently it hasn’t changed your mind about him. He has someone to share it with and sometimes that makes a job easier to do.  Maybe that’s what I should do, find me a good woman, settle down, and raise a family before it’s too late.” He can almost feel the love that radiates from these two. “Well, I need to go, let you good folks turn in.” He rises and starts moving toward the door, “It’s really good to see you again, Walker, wish it was under better circumstances.”

“Scott, keep in touch this time, okay? Good friends are hard to come by.”

“I’ll try to do that. You guys take care, now.” He opens the door and glances out to make sure the hall is clear.

Alex reaches out and lays a hand on his arm, “Scott, you’re welcome at our house, anytime. Be careful.”

“Thanks, Alex.” He slips out the door and he’s gone.

 “I always wondered what happened to him, Alex. He disappeared just before we came back to the States. I tried to find him, but it was just like he never existed.”  Walker takes Alex in his arms and pulls her close, so glad to have found her and that his life hadn’t gone in that direction.

“I hope everything turns out all right for him.  He must lead a very lonely life.”

*****

The next morning they received word that the emissary they are to escort to Dallas would not be arriving until late afternoon so they make arrangements to take the dog sled ride before noon. As they wait while the dogs are being hitched to the sled, “Alex, why don’t you come with me? The musher said the dogs could pull both of us with no problem. You shouldn’t get cold since you have the parka on and those, what did you call them, mukluks?”

“I don’t know, Walker, how long is the ride?”

“I’m not sure, I think he said a couple of miles. Come on, it’ll be fun. I’ll even let you snuggle with me!” Alex finally agrees and when the musher brings the sled up, he gives Walker a parka to wear, stating that he would need it to block out the wind, and something to cover his head. Walker settles down in the sled and Alex sits in front of him with her back against his chest.  The driver puts a blanket over their legs and tucks it under them. As the musher yells at the dogs, Walker wraps his arms around Alex and holds her tight. The sled jerks and they quickly speed off down the trail with the driver yelling ‘MUSH’ every so often. As they near the turn around point, the team slows and begins turning in a wide arc to head back the way they had come. Just then a moose steps out of the trees and the dogs begin barking at it and jumping one way then another and the sled tips over, dumping Walker and Alex out into the snow. The team takes off back towards town leaving the sled lying on its side. The driver begins chasing after the dogs, telling Walker and Alex that he’ll be back for them after he catches the team.

“Alex, are you alright?”

“I’m fine, how about you?”

“I’m okay. But it’s too cold to sit here and wait.  Let’s follow the sled trail back to town, that way he won’t have so far to come back for us.” Walking single file, they began trudging back through the snow following the trail that the sled had made in the snow. After walking what to Alex seemed like hours, Walker stops and points off to the right, “Alex, see that weird looking tree, if I remember right, that was the halfway point.  So we’ve only got about a mile to go.”

“God, Walker, I’m so tired. This snow is really hard to walk in. It seems like we’ve been walking forever. I don’t think that guy is coming back for us, do you?”

“He may have had to walk all the way back, too, Alex. Those dogs were moving at a pretty good clip. Let’s rest over there by that tree for a few minutes. I’ve got the blanket; we’ll wrap up in it.” Moving under the overhanging branches of the large fir, they sit close together, and as Alex snuggles up against Walker, he takes the blanket and wraps it around them both and with his arms around her, they try to rest before starting out again. They doze off as they start getting warm, not noticing that snow has begun to gently fall.

“Alex? Honey, wake up. It’s snowing, we need to get moving, before it covers the sled tracks.”

They move out quickly, walking as fast as possible in the snow.

“Walker, the tracks are starting to fade out. What are we going to do when we can’t see them anymore?”

“The trip out was a straight shot, so we need to keep moving in a direct line back, hopefully the driver will be back to get us shortly.” The lightly falling snow eventually covers the tracks but they keep moving forward hoping that they don’t get disoriented and start moving in a circle. After a half-hour of plodding along, Walker stops. “Alex, do you see that? What does that look like to you?”

She stops and looks in the direction he’s pointing. “It looks like a light, maybe in a window? How far do you think it is?”

“It’s hard to tell through this snow. The only thing is, if we go toward it and it goes out, we’ll be lost for sure.  I think we’ve been straying off the trail anyway, but how far, I don’t know. There’s just not very many landmarks out here.  This is something we both have to agree on, Alex.  Keep going the way we were or head for the light?”

“Walker, you’re the one with the survival instincts, I’m not going to doubt them now. I know you’ll do what you think is best for us. I put my life in your hands a long time ago, if anything happens, at least we’ll be together. I love you, darling.”

He pulls her close, kisses he softly on the lips, “I love you, too, Alex. We’ll get out of this, don’t give up, yet.  My gut instinct tells me to go for the light.”

Alex returns his kiss, “Then the light it is.” They turn and begin the trek towards the tiny speck of light. They walk a long time before it finally starts getting bigger. With teeth chattering, “Walker, I’m so tired and I’m really getting cold. I don’t know if I can make it.”

He hears the exhaustion in her voice and pulls her close, “You can make it, hon, here, lean on me.” He puts his arm around her to give her support and with them leaning on each other, they continue on their way.  At the edge of a tree line, they finally see the outline of a small cabin. The sight gives them new energy and they quicken their pace. They stagger the last few yards to the side of the cabin.

They walk around it to find the door, and see a snowmobile parked under a small lean-to. Walker goes up to the door and knocks. He waits a few seconds, and knocks again.

“Who’s there?”

“My name’s Cordell Walker. My wife and I got lost trying to find our way back to town. Can you help us?”

The door opens just enough for him to see Walker and Alex, then he slowly opens it wider. “Come on in.” An old man with long white hair and an even longer white beard stands there motioning for them to enter.

With his arms around Alex, they stagger through the door. Walker helps her to sit in a chair next to a pot-bellied stove. “Thank you. We were getting tired and pretty cold when we saw your light. If we could use your phone, we’d appreciate it.”

The old man snorts, “Don’t have no phone. Did you come out from Fairbanks?”

“Yes, are we very far from there?”

“’Bout a mile. But might as well be 20 with it snowing like this. What were you doing out here, anyways?”

“We were riding in a dog sled when it tipped over. The driver took off after the team and was supposed to come back and pick us up. We started walking back but the snow covered the sled tracks and we got lost. Can you help us get back to Fairbanks?”

“Yeah, I can get you back. Why don’t you all get warm and I’ll fix us a bite to eat, then I’ll take you back. Have to go after supplies anyway.”

Walker and Alex take their parkas off and get just as close as possible to the old pot-bellied stove and as they warm up, their shaking subsides. Alex whispers, “Walker, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a stove like this.”

“I know. But it evidently gets the job done.” He murmurs. “Are you getting warm?”

“Finally. I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold.”

“Chow’s ready.”

They turn around to see the old man standing at the table, already set with plates, a large pot of stew in the center and a heaping mound of sourdough biscuits in a bowl. As they sit down, he says, “Help yourselves. It ain’t much but it’s fillin’.”

“This is really good Mr….?”

“Jenkins. Just plain Jenkins. And thank you, ma’am. Glad you like it. Stew and biscuits is pretty much it out here. Nothing fancy, but it keeps a body goin’.”

They eat in silence and a large portion of the stew and biscuits disappear. Then as Walker pushes his plate back, “Have you lived up here, long? I saw a snow mobile outside, is that the standard mode of transportation up here in the winter, now?”

“I’ve been up here all my life. Settled next to Fairbanks about ten years ago. The snowmobile is a lot cheaper than keeping a pack of dogs, nowadays…I…. ah…don’t want to be nosy but I noticed you’re packing a gun. Are you the law or the outlaw?”

Walker laughs, realizing the old man was pretty sharp to have noticed the gun. “I’m a Texas Ranger. We’re up here to escort a Russian emissary back to Dallas…Would it have bothered you if I’d have said outlaw?”

“Nope, not really, as long as you leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone. The number of gents hiding from the law up here’d surprise you. Most of ‘em stay to themselves.” The old man gets up and starts clearing the table.

Alex rises and starts to help him, “Is there anyway, we can repay you for your hospitality? I notice you have some apples there. What if I made you an apple pie, to thank you for your help.”

The old man gets a gleam in his eye and his mouth starts to water, “Ma’am, I haven’t had an apple pie in ten years. Can you really do that for me?”

“Well, I think so. I think I see everything I need. Do you have a pie pan?”

“Uh…. I don’t think so. Those pans there is all I have. I knew it was to good to be true.”

“Don’t give up yet, let me see what we have here.” She looks through his stack of pans and picks up a 9-inch cake pan. “I think I can use this. It may not look like a pie, but it sure will taste like one.” She rounds up everything she will need, and what she can’t find, she makes do with what ever will work. Inside of ninety minutes, the apple pie sits steaming hot on top of the stove.

It’s all the old man can do to keep his hands off of it. “Ma’am, is it alright if I…”

“It’s your pie, Jenkins. If you want to eat the whole thing, that’s your choice.” She takes a knife, slices it into six pieces, and scoops one out onto a plate then slides it over in front of Jenkins.

He cuts a small bite, forks it into his mouth, and as he chews, he shuts his eyes and a dreamy look comes onto his face. He swallows, “Ma’am, I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.” He opens his eyes and looks up into Alex’s eyes and smiles, the first smile they have seen on his face since they came into the cabin. “Oh, where’s my manners. Please help yourself.”

“No, Jenkins, the pie is all yours. Enjoy it. If I had the time I’d make you another one, but the man we are supposed to meet will be arriving in a little over an hour so we really need to get back to Fairbanks.”

“Oh, yes, ma’am. Soon as I finish this pie we’ll be on our way.” He eats the pie slowly, relishing every bite. When he finishes, he pushes away from the table, puts the rest of the uneaten pie in an old icebox, puts his coat on and they go outside.

Walker and Alex watch as he starts the snowmobile and backs it out of the shed. He stops it, gets off and pulls a sled loose from under the snow and hooks it to the back of the snowmobile.

“Now, if you two want to get on, we’ll be on our way.” Walker helps Alex onto the sled, and then sits down behind her, wraps his arms around her and signals Jenkins that they are ready.

They arrive back in Fairbanks around 2:00 p.m. They thank Jenkins again, and when Walker tries to pay him, the old man said the pie was more than enough pay. He waves goodbye to them and drives away on his snowmobile. Walker and Alex get a cab and go to the place where they started on the dog sled ride.  The only one there is the musher’s daughter and she informs them that he hasn’t returned yet. Walker tells her what happened and she says she will get her brother to go out with his snowmobile and hunt for him. She tells them that this has happened to him before because his dogs have a fear of moose. She tells Walker and Alex not to worry, they’ll find him, and she apologizes for the inconvenience.

When Walker and Alex arrived back at their hotel, “Alex, that message I received at the desk, was from our Russian friend. He had to take a later flight and won’t get in here till 7:15. If you want to take a shower and get a nap, you have plenty of time. When you’re done, I think I’ll shower, too.  I don’t think I’ve ever been as cold as I was out there just before we found that cabin.”

Alex moves up to Walker, slides her arms around his waist, pulls him close, and whispers softly, “How about we share a shower, then go to bed and get warm.” She touches his lips lightly with hers, but as he moves against her, she turns and with her arm still around him, leads him into the bathroom.

*****

Later, before leaving for the airport, “Alex, I found that number for that musher.  I’m a little worried about him. I think I’ll call and see if they’ve found him.” He talks on the phone for a few minutes, then hanging up the phone, he looks at Alex and grins, “They found him and his team. Parked in front of a saloon. Evidently he found his own special way of warming up.” They both laugh and leave their room, bound for the airport.

*****

Alex and Walker are waiting at Gate 7 when the plane lands carrying their emissary. “Walker, how do we know who he is?”

“He is suppose to be carrying a Stetson, a white one. The Governor sent it to him, as a gift several months ago. I just hope he doesn’t forget it.”

“There’s a man over there with a Stetson, Walker. Is that him? He’s looking at us, maybe since you’re wearing one, he feels like we are his contacts.”

As they start walking toward him, he moves up to them, “Mr. Valker?”

“Yes, Mr. Borsky? I’m Walker, and this is my wife, Alex. I hope you had a pleasant flight. I have a cab waiting to take us to the hotel. Our flight to Dallas leaves at 8:10 tomorrow morning.”

“Hello, Mrs. Valker. You were very kind to meet me. This Alaska reminds me of my home. Very cold. Yes?”

“Call me Alex, Mr. Borsky. And yes, it is very cold.”

“I vill call you Alex, if you vill call me, Max.”

“Okay, Max it is. Shall we go to the hotel?”

As the cab pulls up to the hotel, Walker notices a large limousine in front of them and several men walking into the hotel. “Alex, I think the group is arriving early.  Maybe we should wait here for a few minutes.”

“I think so, too. I see…” Alex receives an elbow nudge and goes quiet. “Walker, do you see that man over there? The one with the cane?”

“Shh…I see him Alex. That’s why I think we should wait.”

“Is there a problem, Mr. Valker?”

“No Max, I just thought we’d wait till this group in front of us is out of the way. They look kinda rough.”

“Da, that they do.” They watch as the group of men move into the hotel and disappear into the elevators before leaving the cab.

They move quickly to the elevators, all without incident, and after dropping Max off on his floor, they continue up to theirs.  As the doors open and they step out onto their floor, they see the group they are trying to avoid, standing in the hall, three doors down from theirs. Hearing the bell on the elevator, they turn and look at Walker and Alex.

Thinking quickly, Walker turns his back, takes Alex in his arms, pushes her back into the elevator and kisses her passionately, drawing it out until the doors close behind them. He pulls back, still holding her in his arms, and touches the button for the floor above theirs.

Alex looks into his eyes, “Darling, I don’t know what brought that on, but I love it.” She puts her arms around his neck to pull his lips back to hers.

He kisses her softly, “Alex, the group of men with Scott was standing just down from our room. Kissing you was the first thing I could think of that would hide us from them. Evidently their room is on the same floor as ours.”

“Walker, are you sure they didn’t see us?”

“I’m sure they did, but I doubt if they could tell who we were.  This could get sticky trying to get in and out of our room.” As the elevator doors open, they exit and stand in the hallway. “Alex let’s go down the stairs, it’s close to our room. If they’re not in the hallway, maybe we can get to our room without them seeing us.”

Taking the stairs down to their floor, Walker slowly pushes open the heavy door and seeing the hall empty, they move quickly to their door.

As Walker unlocks the door, “Well, what a small, small world this is. This is the last place on earth I thought I would ever see you, Walker.” He turns to see the man with the cane, coming toward him with Scott following behind.

He pulls Alex to his side and slightly behind him, and gives him a cold stare, “Strausser.”

“What are you doing in Fairbanks, Walker. Texas get tired of you?”

“I don’t think it’s any of your business, Strausser. I didn’t know I had to check in with you before I took a trip.”

“You still have a smart mouth, Walker. Who’s the young lady with you?” He looks more closely at Alex, “Well, I do believe it’s the lady ADA from Dallas. I take it you still hold that job?”

“I figured you were busting rocks somewhere, Strausser.”

“Oh, the lady’s manners are as bad as yours, Walker. Well, don’t let me keep you, just stay away from me, Walker, and we’ll get along fine. Remember, in Alaska, you’re nothing but a private citizen; the Texas Rangers have no jurisdiction here.” Strausser nods and turns back towards his room, leaving Walker and Alex staring after him. They turn and enter their room and lock the door.

“What do you make of that, Walker? I’m really surprised he let us go that easy.”

“It isn’t over yet, Alex. I think our trip has taken on a little danger. We had better start looking over our shoulder.”

Late that night, Walker wakes to noises coming from the other room, as he sits up in bed and reaches for his gun, a whispered, “Don’t do it, man. Or your wife is dead.”  Stops him cold. He brings his hand back down to the bed as the lights come on.

“Walker, what… ?” She blinks her eyes against the bright light, then sees three men, standing around the bed. She reaches for Walker at the same time she feels his hand on her arm, letting her know he’s there beside her.

There are clothes lying on the bed for the both of them and they are told to dress as quickly as possible and with no talking. Walker is permitted to hold a blanket up in front of Alex while she dresses and after he dresses they are given parkas and boots to put on, then taken out of the room and down the service elevator to the basement garage. Just before they are forced into a car, they are blindfolded.

Thirty minutes later, they are helped out of the car and loaded into a large snow crawler. After an hour of crawling through the snow, the machine comes to a stop and they are shoved out into the snow. They lay still as the noise of the engine slowly fades into the distance.

Walker takes his blindfold off and turns to Alex, helps her up and removes her blindfold as well.

“Oh, God, Walker. I was so scared. I thought for sure they would shoot us.”

He takes her in his arms and pulls her close. “That might be preferable to what’s in store for us out here, Alex. I have no idea where we are or which way to go to get back.”

Her voice small and scared,  “Oh, darling, after being dumped in the snow yesterday and almost freezing, I’m not sure I’m up for this again.” He holds her tight against him, feels her shivering, and knowing it isn’t entirely from the cold.

“Come on, Alex, let’s follow the tracks as long as we can, walking will help us keep warm.” They start following the tracks but it isn’t long before they start to fade because of the light snow that is falling.

Stumbling through the snow, not knowing where they are, or where they are going starts taking a toll on Alex’s frame of mind. She slows down and Walker has to keep urging her forward. Finally he puts his arm around her for support and to coax her to keep walking. He suddenly realizes that she is crying.  He stops, turns her around in his arms and looks into her eyes, “Alex, honey, don’t, we’ll make it, we’ve got to keep moving.”

“Walker, we don’t even know if we’re going in the right direction. We could be going away from Fairbanks instead of towards it or we could be traveling in circles.” She leans against him, sobbing uncontrollably, “Darling, I love you so much. I just wish we could’ve had more time together.”

“Shh…Alex, please. Don’t give up yet. Look, it’s starting to get light, maybe we can tell where we are when it gets lighter.” He holds her tight against him. “Come on, baby, let’s rest a little while, get our strength back and then we’ll go on.” He guides her over to a tree and they sit down.  He pulls her close and kisses her softly, knowing this could be their final moments. “Alex, you are my soul mate and I love you more than life itself. We’ll always be together no matter what happens, I love you.” He feels her relax against him and he tightens his arms around her. As the cold creeps in on him, he finds it harder and harder to stay awake.

Walker blinks his eyes, trying to bring his fuzzy surroundings into focus. He sits up quickly, remembering the cold and the snow. “Alex?

“She’s all right, friend. Right thar beside you.” Walker turns to see Alex lying beside him on the bed, blankets pulled up to her chin. “She’s fine, just a little cold but she’s getting warm now. How do you feel?”

“Jenkins! What…How did you find us?”

“I was running my trap line early this mornin’ and found you all under a tree right next to one of my traps. This is not my regular day to run my traps but for some reason I did anyway. Good thing, too.  You two wouldn’t have lasted much longer out there. Here, have a cup of tea, it’ll warm up your innards.”

Walker takes the tea and sips it quietly while watching Alex. He leans over and brushes her hair away from her eyes and gently touches his forehead to hers, saying a silent prayer.

A half-hour later, Walker is standing at the window, staring out at the snow-covered land, wondering how such an innocent trip could have brought them so much danger. It seems that no matter where they go, danger always seems to follow them.

“I think your lady is waking up, friend.”

Walker turns to see Alex moving her head from side to side on the pillow.  He goes to the side of the bed and sits down on the edge just as she sits up, “Walker?

He takes her in his arms, holds her close to his chest, “I’m here, Alex. It’s alright, we’re fine.” As he gently strokes her hair, whispering into her ear. “Relax, hon, it’s okay. Jenkins found us. How are you feeling?”

“Oh, Walker, I thought we we’re going to die out there. I was so cold.”

“I know, me, too. Are you all right, now? Warm now?”

Alex leans back and looks into his eyes and murmurs, “We did it again, didn’t we?”

He nods, smiles, “I guess we did. Someone is watching over us, that’s for sure.”

“Would the little lady like some hot tea? It’ll sure warm up the innards pretty fast.”

Alex turns to face Jenkins, smiles at him, “ That’s twice you’ve saved our lives, Jenkins, you must be our guardian angel.”

“Bah, I just didn’t want anything to happen to my pie maker, is all.”

Alex takes the tea and as she sips, “Walker, what time is it? Have we missed our flight to Dallas?”

“I’m afraid so, Alex. But we need to get in touch with Max, let him know what has happened. Can we impose on you again, Jenkins?”

Walker tells Jenkins the events of the last day and he agrees to take them to Fairbanks as soon as they can get ready.

************

Arriving back in Fairbanks they happen to see the Fairbanks News Miner and read about the big raid on an opium cartel that occurred early that morning, with all main players either dead or in jail.  Mr. Paul Strausser was arrested and immediately taken to a high security prison because of his contacts.

After reading the paper, Walker and Alex thank Jenkins with Alex promising to bake him another pie before they leave Fairbanks. They get a cab back to their hotel where they find that Scott has been frantically searching for them.

“Thank God, you two are all right. As you know, everyone arrived early and I wasn’t real sure when the take down was going to occur. I couldn’t break my cover until after it was all over. I went to your room looking for you but I was too late. I figured Strausser would try to get rid of you after that encounter in the hall, but I didn’t know for sure until I tried to find you. I got in to question Strausser but all he would say was that you were icicles.  Then he just kept laughing like he had lost his mind. So, Walker, exactly what happened to you two?”

Walker explained to Scott how they were kidnapped and left to die out in the snow, and how Jenkins had found them in the nick of time. “I’m really sorry, Walker.  If I’d have known this was going to go down two weeks early, I would have let you know.  We just got word yesterday and there was no way for me to contact you without blowing my cover.  I never for a moment thought any of the main players would know you two. Talk about a twist of fate. How do you know Strausser anyway?”

“He tried to set up a drug cartel in Dallas about five years ago, but the Rangers took him down and Alex was the prosecutor.  He got out on bail and disappeared before he could be brought to trial.  Hopefully, this time he’ll pay for his crimes.  Now, we need to find Max, our emissary, and get a flight to Dallas.”

They locate Max, explain the circumstances of the delay and book another flight at 3:15 that afternoon. Alex leaves Walker in their room talking with Scott while she makes a trip down to the hotel kitchen.  She returns to the room 2 ½ hours later with two containers.

“Scott, I have a big favor to ask.”

“You just name it Alex.  I owe you two big time. What’s the big favor.”

“Do you know where we can get one of those big snow machines, one with a half track, to take us on a little trip out into the country?”

“I take it you want to go out to this Jenkins’ place, right? Do you know how to get there?”

Walker turns to Scott, smiling broadly, “He brought us back to Fairbanks twice. I’m pretty sure we can find it without any problems.” He takes Alex in his arms, and with a worried expression on his face, “Alex, are you sure you’re ready to go back out into that snow again?”

“Darling, if I never see snow again, it’ll be to soon, but I want to do this for Jenkins.  After all that he’s done for us. He saved our lives twice. I feel we owe him a lot more, but this is what really makes him happy so it’s the least I can do. Beside we’ll be together, won’t we?”

Scott has been standing off to the side taking in the conversation between Walker and Alex.  He could feel the love that radiated between them. He realized that these two had something that was quite rare, a life-bond that could never be broken, at least not in their lifetime.  They have an aura of love about them that one could almost see. As long as they face their destiny together they would never be defeated.

*****

When Scott stops the snow crawler in front of Jenkins’ cabin, the door flies open and Jenkins comes storming out with his shotgun ready to face whoever is invading his space. When he sees Alex and Walker get out of the machine, he lowers the gun and stares with a puzzling expression on his face. “Well, what are you two doing out here. I figured you’d had enough of our snow by now.”

“We came out to properly thank you for saving our lives, not once but twice, Jenkins. We think an awful lot of you. We wish you would let us do more, but since you won’t, will you accept this little gift in appreciation for all that you’ve done for us?” Walker hands the package to Jenkins and stands back after he takes it.

“Ms Alex, I only did what was right. I don’t need no thanks for just doing what needed to be done.” By now, his nose is getting a little whiff of what is in the package. “Ms Alex, is this what I think it is?” He starts to undo the box and when he sees the two apple pies, he breaks into the biggest grin, which is easy to see even with the white beard. “Well, I’ll be! Two! Ms Alex, I don’t know what to say.”

Alex moves up to him and gives him a hug and a kiss on his cheek. As she moves back from him she sees the glistening of tears in his eyes. “Just enjoy them, Jenkins. I don’t think we’ll ever forget you.” Tears are glistening in her eyes, now, too.

“Jenkins, I want to thank you for all you’ve done, too. If you ever need anything, anything at all, I want you to get in touch with me. This card has our address and our phone number on it. Okay?” Walker moves closer and hands him the card and shakes his hand and gives him a quick hug. “Will you promise me that, Jenkins?”

“Well, I don’t know. I don’t have a need for much stuff.”

“Promise me, Jenkins, please?”

“Well…all right.”

Alex gives him another hug then she and Walker climb back into the snow crawler and leave Jenkins to enjoy his apple pies.

*****

Scott, Max, Alex and Walker are standing in the waiting room at Gate 7 waiting for their boarding time.

“Well, Scott, where do you go from here?” Walker inquires, “We’d be glad to have you visit us in Dallas.”

“I’ll be here for awhile, testifying in court, and taking care of all the residuals of this operation.

But who knows, when I’m done here I may take you up on your offer.”

“Whatever you do, keep in touch, okay?”

Flight 426 to Dallas, Texas boarding at Gate 7

“That’s us, darling.” Alex moves up to Scott, hugs him, “It was real nice meeting someone from Walker’s past, Scott. You’ll always be welcome in our home.” She moves back to Walker’s side as he reaches out to shake hands with Scott.

“Take care of yourself, Scott, and don’t lose yourself, again.” Walker smiles, gives him a brief hug, then turns and with an arm around Alex’s waist they follow Max on to the plane.

******

When the plane lands in Dallas, there is a welcoming committee for Max Borsky, and as the Governor comes up to greet the emissary, Walker and Alex back off to stand on the sidelines. After turning Max over to the committee, the Governor turns to Walker and takes his hand in a firm grip, “I heard about the trouble you ran into in Fairbanks. I sure am sorry that had to happen. But you know being a lawman, the unexpected can always happen. I’m just glad that both of you are all right.” He looks at Alex to include her in the apology. “I want to thank both of you for doing this favor for me. I knew I could count on you. I’ve already talked to your bosses.  You have the next week off to make up for all the trouble you had to go through in Alaska. Enjoy it.” Shakes the hands of both of them again, then turns back to the welcoming party.

As they turn away from the mass of media and greeters, they see CD and Trivette standing back at the fringe of the group. They move up to them and after a lot of hugs and kisses, they all head back into Dallas to CD’s place where Alex and Walker are prodded to give their complete version of their adventure in Alaska. After they relate what transpired on their trip, CD and Trivette lean back in their seat, amazed that a simple trip could change to a life-threatening encounter in the frozen north. CD is the first to break the silence. “Well, honey, what did you think of that place way up there? Ready to go back?”

“CD, if I never see that place again, it won’t upset me in the least.”

******

Six weeks later:

“Amy, is she alone?”

“She is for now, but she has an appointment with the DA in 25 minutes.”

“That’s all right, this won’t take long.” Walker moves past her desk and pushes open the door to Alex’s office.

Alex looks up when the door is opened, “Hi cowboy, this is a surprise.” He shuts the door and she stands as he walks around her desk. He slides his arms around her waist, pulls her up against him and kisses her lightly on the lips.

“Hi. Are you busy? Have you got a minute?”

“For you, all the time you want. What do you need, darling?” She smiles, pulls him closer and kisses him lightly on the lips.

“Alex, I love you.” He whispers and returns her kiss with an added nibble on her ear.

“Walker, behave yourself. Someone could come through that door at any time.” She kisses him lightly, turns around and sits down at her desk. “Now, behave, and tell me what you want.”

“Well, Alex, I’ve got to escort Max, back to Fairbanks and I was wondering if maybe you would like to go with me.”

Walker…

The End