***Disclaimer: I own NOTHING, and "sons of thunder" all characters with the exception of Brooke Parker are mine. The songs "lifeline" and "pliable" belong to Brooke Fraser, and her respective companies. I am making no money off of this, and this story is for entertainment purposes only. ***

That out of the way, please read and review, and let me know what you think. Oh, and action IS coming, just be patient with me while I'm setting up characters. FYI: this story is set in the fall of 1999, when Carlos and Trent in the "Walker Texas ranger" series seemed to drop off the face of the earth. I plan to have them involved in the wedding of Walker and Alex, and they may be a bit AU for "walker" but I think fine for this story. Please let me know if it's that far removed and needs to be labeled "AU".

As always please read and review!

Safe: A Sons of thunder fic

Chapter one: Dinner at Walker's

The sun had already set beneath the skyscrapers, and buildings that dotted the landscape in downtown Dallas, as Trent Malloy's workday drew to an end. In the midst of cases Carlos and he stacked up, he was in need of a break. At least that's what Carlos convinced him of earlier today. They were debating where to pick up lunch when Carlos spoke up.


"You know Trent, this is gonna kill us if we're not careful." Carlos moaned. Trent furrowed his brow, thinking his statement was a bit vague. He spoke to figure out what he really meant.

"Forgive me, Carlos but I think that's all just part of the job. We investigate people who may or may not be dabbling in illegal activities often in sketchy neighborhoods…." he said before he heard Carlos speak again, interrupting him.

"No, No, I don't mean that. I mean all this running around, eating crappy food. Just this pace alone does a number on us. Even you said last week that you felt things needed to change."

"I meant in my personal life." Trent explained, as he turned the car back towards their headquarters.

"This is your personal life, buddy. You can't place your work in a box that doesn't effect you, or this new thing you have going." Carlos resorted.

"You mean of course my faith right?" Trent pried, though he knew perfectly well what his friend meant.

"Well, your faith has always been there, just not like this." Carlos explained, as Trent brought the car to stop at a red light.

"You're right." Trent said with a hint of regret in his voice. "To be honest I've been feeling I need more downtime."

"And finally get a girl one of these days." Carlos mumbled barely loud enough to be heard. Trent shot him a look. "Ok, OK, fine. Woman, you want a woman."

"Thanks." Trent said with a chuckle.

"So we're heading back to the office then." Carlos said, noting the roads around them alluded to them being a mile or so from it. Trent nodded, and laughed again.

(((((end flashback))))

Trent then fished the car keys from his pocket and looked to see Kim, their office manager hanging up their office phone. She was a short, slim woman in her late twenties, who wore her curly auburn hair in a choppy pixie cut. She was good at what she did, and was quite a character. Her humor made their days easier, and her honesty helped remind them that Thunder Investigations was, in fact, a business. Until nine months ago they had hardly made any money. This was mostly due to them giving in to people who flaked out on paying them the amount promised, or paying them in material things other than cash. A break came when someone they investigated owed money to the government, they were rewarded with ten percent of what was collected, a cool three-hundred thousand dollars.

"Any new cases?" he asked.

"No, not for today anyway." Kim said, her eyes sparkling as she smiled at him. "I just got off the phone with Carlos, he says Walker and Alex want to meet you at Walker's house for dinner. Carlos also mentioned something about them inviting a lady friend from out of town. I think, he thinks he's got a shot with her." Kim rolled her eyes and chuckled. Both of them knew that his "shot" usually latest three dates, and then fizzled. Trent chuckled in agreement and spun the keys in his hand on his forefinger before flipping them up in the air and catching them.

"I guess I'm off to dinner then. Thanks again, Kim." he said, smiling.

"No problem." she said, as she set a few pieces of paper in their proper files.

Trent was about to walk out when a thought struck him.

"Hey, did he mention if I should bring anything?" he asked.

"Aww, Trent, you're always the considerate one." she teased, half-heartedly. "No, he didn't mention anything, but you can't go wrong with dessert." she offered.

Trent smiled, lines forming around his blue eyes.

"Will do. You have a blessed night Kim." he said as he turned around and headed for the door. She bid him goodbye, and shook her head. Over the past six months he had been subtly changing things. One thing she noticed was his goodbyes changed, from simple "have a good night" to "God bless" and "have a blessed night", depending on who he was talking to. She secretly hoped he didn't become overbearing or stiff with his beliefs. She respected his beliefs but if he got heavy-handed he would have a fight on his hands. Then again, if past behavior was an indicator of future behavior he would remain the big-hearted, tough, adorable man he always was. She reassured herself with those thoughts as she heard the door close as he left.

As Carlos was already on his way to the Walker residence, Trent proceeded solo, and stopped in a local grocery store and picked up an assortment of pasties. It wasn't much, but something to say he cared. As he purchased the assortment his eyes moved across the store, and his eyes flitted across a selection of flowers in the floral department. Their color made him smile, but a strange ache filled his heart. It took him aback, as he didn't normally have that reaction to a floral display. Thoughts swirled in his head, and images followed. A picture of single red rose being slipped behind the ear of a lovely woman. He couldn't see her face. It was the idea of love, ever so palpable, ever so distant. Trent had never been married, not even close. The girls Carlos had set him up with were just that, girls, not women. They giggled at his jokes, and flattered him but had little depth under their pretty faces and figures. After those dates Trent turned to helping those around him. If the dating pool was that shallow, he didn't want to waste time swimming in it. There were so many other things to use his strength towards. He learned long ago when he was in the Army that the wrong woman could drain everything good and decent out of a man. He knew God had forgiven him for the misguided relationships in his past, but he still couldn't forgive himself completely. He never thought he would fall from grace as much as he did when he left seminary school to sign up for the Army. While he never forgot his faith, boundaries that used to clear became blurry, and some were crossed. What he thought was a expression of love, wasn't complete. It was tainted. A impatient customer's grunt snapped him back to reality, and he thanked the cashier and made his way out of the store.

The faint colors of the setting sun still clung at the horizon with hues of purple as Trent drove the remaining distance to Walker's ranch. Anticipation made him smile. Walker and Alex had long been a part of his life, since he was a rebellious youth. He didn't know where he'd be today without Walker walking beside him, teaching him discipline, manners, and confidence through martial arts. He silently thanked God for the provision.

Within a few minutes his house was in view. He turned the car down into Walker's driveway, and parked his car behind Carlos'. He exited his car, and made sure to lock it and remember the dessert he brought. He was about to knock on the front door when it opened. A dark-haired woman stood in front of him with a garland of flowers around her neck. Her face was long but pretty, with high cheekbones and a strong nose. Her face had minimal makeup, just enough to illuminate her brown eyes, cheekbones, and lips. She wore a simple grey dress with a red belt synching her under her waist. Not that she needed it, as she was quite slender. Her hair was long and possessed gentle waves that fell to her waist.

"Hi-ya." she said with a smile. Her voice sounded strange to him, like she had an foreign accent. "You must be Trent." Trent nodded. "Well, I'm Brooke Parker."

Trent smiled, extended his free hand and shook hers firmly. He couldn't help but wonder why flowers hung around her neck as she gracefully stepped aside and let him through, letting him see the brown cowboy boots she wore on her feet.

As if on cue, Brooke spoke again.

"Your friend Carlos thought I was Polynesian." she explained, gesturing to the garland of red, orange and yellow flowers. Trent chuckled, smiling.

"Did you correct him?"

"Well Walker did that before I had the chance." she whispered, leaning in so he could hear. Trent nodded and chuckled in acknowledgement. Before he could ask her another question, Walker, Alex and Carlos came up to meet him.

"Hey, Trent. How's the day been?" Walker asked.

"Long, but I'm grateful for the invite."

"Did you meet Brooke already?" Alex asked, reaching out to embrace Trent briefly. He returned the hug and nodded.

"Yes, she answered the door actually."

Alex looked at his hands and saw he held a container of food in his hands.

"Oh you didn't have to Trent." she said, taking the package from him, and setting it on the kitchen counter.

"Well I know not to come to a dinner without bringing something."

"Yeah, but you didn't bring flowers for the young lady." Carlos said with a smug smile. A snicker from Brooke let him know it wasn't anything to be smug about, and his smile faded.

"Hey, it was a nice thought, Carlos. Next time it might be good to learn where the girl comes from."

"Hey, I saw a picture, and your file did say pacific islander." Carlos said, trying to justify his mistake.

"Yet, you missed the section on her father being from Fiji and her growing up in New Zealand." Walker corrected with a good-natured nudge in his ribs.

"I didn't get that far in the file." Carlos confessed, before looking at Brooke again, who he saw was still wearing the garland around her neck. "But look, she's still wearing it."

Trent shook his head at his partner. If he really wanted to impress Brooke the least he could do was do his homework. Trent stepped forward, and gestured for Carlos to follow him. He did.

"I think she's wearing it because she's a lady, and a lady will not let you know right away that you hurt her, but try to play it off."

"Hurt her?" Carlos asked, getting a bit offended on his friend's accusation. "You think I meant to do that?"

"Carlos, you dug up a file on her, and then didn't bother to get the details correct. You would have been better off just buying her a bouquet, then trying to act like you knew something you didn't." Trent said, keeping his voice down and making sure he still smiled, so that no one was the wiser. Carlos suppressed the urge to roll his eyes. Even If Trent was partly right he would still feel like a fool. A cold sweat crept up on his neck, thinking of it.

"Play nice boys." Brooke said, making both men jump. Brooke laughed which made them let out a few nervous chuckles. "I'm not offended." she reassured Carlos. She then turned to Trent, making eye contact. "Thanks for thinking of me though Trent." she said, with a smile that was small but sincere. Trent flashed one back, and she broke eye contact, her brown eyes flitting away and back to what Walker and Alex were doing.

Brooke would be a fool to not realize how Carlos's gesture could be seen as a come-on. She looked over at Alex, and gave her a look that said "what do I do?" Alex laughed and waved her off. She knew Brooke would get used to Carlos' personality soon enough.

"How about you get the rolls from the counter, and the sweet tea from the fridge." Alex said. Brooke nodded, and went to retrieve what Alex requested.

"Everything smells great Alex, did you make everything or did Walker pitch in?" Trent asked as he was directed to his seat at the table.

"Walker made the broccoli and the rolls, and I made the oven- fried chicken." Alex answered. "Though I admit the chicken recipe is Brooke's and I helped her make the sweet tea. She just came into town in the early afternoon, I couldn't overload her with work as soon as she got off the plane."

"So what do you do for a living Brooke?" Trent asked as she set down the pitcher of tea, and sat down across from him.

"I, write music." she said simply, with a small smile. Walker chuckled.

"She's being modest, Trent. She's quite a composer, and a fine singer if I'm any judge."

"Walker please." Brooke protested. Her eyes and cheeks to echo a pang of embarrassment.

"Aww, that's the Kiwi modesty for you. They never like to take too much praise for anything." Alex chimed in.

" 'Kiwi" meaning?" Carlos asked with a quizzical brow, as he sat down next to Trent at the dinner table.

"It's a term for a native of New Zealand, like me." Brooke answered. Carlos' brow didn't change, but became more exaggerated. Brooke laughed at his facial expression, making her eyes sparkle in a way that made Trent feel like something had electrocuted him. "Well, you see, we have this little flightless bird where I come from, called a Kiwi, and for some reason, we're called Kiwis."

Carlos' brow softened and he nodded.

"Well how about we start before the food gets cold." Alex said. She had a feeling the conversation could go for a good while. "Would you like to say the blessing Trent?"

Trent smiled. "Yes, I would." It was nice to be asked something that a year or so ago he would of forgotten to do. He watched as the rest at the table joined hands, with Alex grasping Brooke and Walker's hand. He then saw he would be the one to grasp Brooke's other hand, and offered his hand to her. She took it, and bowed her head before he could maintain eye contact for too long. "Lord, we thank you for the gathering of friends here, and the food you have provided for us. Please be with us as we enjoy each other's company and bless this food before us. Amen."

"Amen." the rest repeated, and they let go of each other's hands. The way Brooke's hand gently brushed Trent's made his hair stand up on end. There was nothing seductive about her movements, or anything she'd said thus far, but he couldn't deny something was making him feel strange.

"So I hear you two are private investigators." Brooke started.

"You heard right." Trent replied, flashing her a small smile.

"Why, you aren't in need of any investigating are you?" Carlos asked, his eyes shining with interest. He then felt a gentle kick from under the table. It was Trent. Carlos bit the inside of his cheek to keep from returning one in check. Trent flashed him a smile that he knew meant, "Cut it out before I really kick you." A nervous feminine chuckle, and whisper emerged from the other side of the table. Carlos' face began to turn red when he replayed his question in his head, it sounded now like it was an innuendo. "Oh, man." he said, looking back at Brooke to search her expression for offense. He saw her nose crinkle and a bright smile formed on her face, before a volley of laughter left her lips. One by one, they awkwardly joined in laughter, all except Carlos.

"You're a funny one Carlos." Brooke said when the laughter subsided.

"Thanks." he said simply as the blood rushed back out of his cheeks. He pressed his lips together and looked over at Trent. "Well, I think I've had my share of embarrassing moments for the day. Why don't you take her question Trent. Can you pass the rolls please Walker?"

"Sure, Carlos." Walker said as he picked up the basket of rolls, and passed them to his left.

"Well, I guess I'm partially to blame Carlos. I'm sorry Brooke. I just know my partner's, well… tendency to flirt, and I guess I jumped to conclusions." Trent confessed feeling a bit bad about his mind being in the gutter. "Yes, Carlos and I, along with our secretary run Thunder Investigations, above Uppercuts bar, owned by a friend of ours, Butch. Our secretary is Kim, and with her help we have time to actually do the investigating while she helps keep records, and whatever else we need help with she chips in."

"Yeah, whether we want it or not." Carlos chipped in.

"She sounds like a quite a girl. How long have you been working together?" Brooke asked.

"Oh, I'd day what the past nine months now." Trent answered, as he helped himself to the broccoli passed to him.

Brooke couldn't help but see a lingering sparkle in his eyes as he spoke. She gave a small smile, and turned to getting herself some food before it got cold. Everyone else did the same, but the silence was not uncomfortable, it was actually just the opposite. She watched as the men poured the amber colored tea into their glasses.

"I hope you like the tea. It's been a while since I've made it for Texans."

"Well, we'll see." Carlos said as he took a sip. He smiled and nodded. " Mmm. It's good."

"I'd say it's approved Brooke." Trent said with a reassuring smile. "What I'm curious about is this chicken. It's your recipe right?"

"Yes, but Alex prepared it." she replied.

"But the real question is how do you know our Alex and Walker?" Trent asked. He then stabbed a piece of chicken he had cut, but stopped when he looked up to see a glimmer of pain flash in Brooke's eyes. She had tried to mask it, but he saw it nonetheless. His lips turned to a frown, as he placed the fork back on the side of plate. "I'm sorry. If it's hard for you…"

"Oh, don't be sorry Trent. It's a good question, it's just one with a long explanation."

"I can help you with it Brooke." Alex offered while briefly rubbing Brooke shoulder.

"No, Alex, that's ok. I don't want to ruin the evening."

"You won't." Trent reassured her. "Really, Brooke we want to hear about your life. We all have sad stories." He knew it to be true, especially in the field they worked in.

Brooke gestured towards Trent's plate, in a gesture that reminded him of something his mother would do if he wasn't eating. He flashed her a rueful grin and finally stabbed his piece of chicken and popped it into his mouth. He voiced his approval and he continued to eat while Brooke came up with the words to her story.

"Well, I met Walker after my father died." she began. She watched as the sympathy grew in the men's eyes across from her. It gave her more confidence to continue. "My sister and brother-in-law had also died in a car accident, the same one as my father. I was a legal immigrant then, but not a resident. I was only 15 and I didn't know what to do. I was angry, sad, and confused. I was sitting in a small chapel with my horse my father bought me tied to a post. Walker had walked by and his instincts told him to go inside. He found me on the floor, crying. The priest thought I was drunk, because I just groaned and could hardly stand. Walker saw me and knew better. He actually got down on the floor with me, and tried to get what was bothering me out of me."

"What exactly were you groaning?" Carlos asked curiously.

"Well, Carlos, there's a chapter in the Bible that speaks about a woman who was so grieved in her heart, she cried and tried to speak but no words came out. The priest saw her in the temple and thought he was drunk. Sometimes there's some sorrow that can't be expressed in words." Walker explained. He did it to give Brooke a break. "When she actually started speaking I couldn't understand her at first."

"So what made you understand?" Carlos asked. Brooke spoke up to answer his question.

"Well, he told me that he was a cop, and that whatever was happening he could help me with, my mouth could form words again. So I told him, and he informed me that he had to take me to social services. Then, over the next few weeks, while social services placed me in a foster home in Dallas, Walker kept in touch. He encouraged me, and told me he would be praying for me, and that I should not lose faith in finding a home. The social workers said it was a miracle that a couple just happened to be talking to a social worker friend, and he mentioned me and my story. They already had two daughters, twins, but they felt like they should meet me. They traveled to Dallas, and the next thing I knew I was living in California."

"That was ten years ago. I'm surprised we never heard about you, or ever saw you." Carlos said.

"I was only in Dallas for a month or so." Brooke explained. "The accident happened in San Antonio while I was visiting friends. They were in the car to pick me up when a driver going the wrong way on the freeway sideswiped them, which made the car flip." She paused. The details making her throat grow tight. Trent heard the change in her voice and spoke up.

"You don't have to go any further." Trent reassured her, reaching across the table to squeeze her hand. He wanted to say he was glad she was ok but it wasn't the place, or the time. He noted her long slender fingers and her pretty olive complexion. He heard Carlos cough quietly next to him. He knew it as a signal to stop what he was doing. "So, tell us about your family in California." Trent asked as he slowly took his hand off of Brooke's. The question made Brooke's eyes brighten, and a smile appear on her lips again.

"My family, wow, well they're wonderful. William, my bonus father, as I like to call him owns a winery. My mum is Emma and she designs wedding gowns, and bridesmaids dresses and the like. Before they adopted me they had Anna, and Katie, twin girls. They were ten when I first met them. Now they're almost twenty."

"Wow, a winery owner, and a designer." Carlos said aloud, when he only meant to think it. Brooke grinned trying to guess what he was thinking.

"I know, it's kind of embarrassing."

"How is that Brooke?" Walker asked.

"Well, people make, assumptions about me when they hear that, like that my family is loaded, and that I'm some sort of spoiled rich girl who doesn't want a job, and couldn't care less about anything more than myself."

"I bet the second part couldn't be further from the truth." Trent said.

"You're right there Trent." Alex said, with a motherly pride in her voice.

"I can't imagine how hard that would be." Carlos said "I mean, I lost my brother when I was twelve, so I know what it's like to lose family, but an entire family."

"Ditto." said Trent. "It's only by the grace of God that you got through it, I can tell."

"Well that's very astute of you," Brooke said, "But frankly I've been starving since four this afternoon."

"Oh, sorry, sure, let's eat." Trent said, flashing her another rueful smile, before taking her advice and digging into his food. "Is there lemon vest in this?" he asked after he swallowed a bit of the meat. Brooke nodded. Trent smiled. "It's good. I'll have to get the recipe for my mom."

They kept the conversation from then on light. Mostly revolving around funny stories of childhood, pets, and friends. Brooke knew why Walker spoke so highly of Trent and Carlos. They seemed to be fun-loving, big-hearted men who would risk their lives in a second for a higher cause.

Carlos was the more flirtatious one, while Trent was so compassionate it was hard to tell what he meant unless you knew him well. His comforting squeeze of her hand demonstrated how fast the line could blur. The men's looks were lost on her either. She could tell they were close though they were so much different in appearance. Carlos, was the heavier set of the two, though he looked strong to her. He had laughing brown eyes, and a pleasant face, with a mischievous smile that she was sure had gotten him out of more than a few jams.

Trent was her height with dirty blond hair cut so his bangs fell on the side of his face, framing pretty blue eyes. His frame was slim yet muscular and even his black leather jacket and blue sweater couldn't hide his muscular shoulders.

It was Trent that she found her eyes flitted over to more than she wanted to be known. There was just something in his eyes, that seemed to intensify every other good attribute he possessed. There was a inner light that intensified his handsome face, and make his skin seem to glow. His style seemed to be much like her own, unpretentious, real. It was time to ask him some questions of her own, to get a better view of him.

"So, Trent, I know your father was a pastor, but how was it that you found your own way in your faith?" she asked.

"Mmm, good question." he said, glad and sorry she asked all at the same time. He wasn't sure she'd like his answer. "Well when I was a kid I rebelled against just about everything, and my father called on Walker here to teach me a thing or two. It was then that I started to see what my parents were always trying to teach me, that God loved me, and had a plan for my life. I actually gave my life to God when I was 11. When I was graduated from high school I went to seminary school like my dad wanted, but, the way they went about teaching there just seemed to be so…" he paused trying to find the right words.

"Dry?" Brooke offered. His eyes flashed at her comment.

"Yeah, it was dry, and I didn't want to lose my faith in the process of trying to maybe be something that I wasn't called into. So, I signed up for the Army, which is hindsight was both a blessing and a curse. You see, I never forgot my faith, or lost hope in him, I just, got distracted. When my father died it was a wake up call to take things more seriously, and that God had bigger plans for me than I did for myself."

"I don't know why you make it sound you was such a horrible person during that time." Carlos interjected. "You're one of the best men I've ever known in my life. You're kind, generous, courageous, and a lot smarter than me sometimes."

Trent chuckled nervously at his remark, he didn't want to take all the credit for the work God had done.

"But I can't get into heaven being good, as much as you would like to think so." Trent said with a sad smile. "You see, Carlos, you can't say you love someone without commitment, and commitment takes time. If you don't take the time to be with someone, you can't say you're committed."

"So you're beating yourself up for not being committed to God until recently?"

"I'm not beating myself up, I'm just trying to be honest here." Trent tried to explain. Brooke listened as they continued to discuss the matter. When there was a pause she decided to speak.

"Maybe I can put it think way Carlos." she started. She had his attention then and he motioned for her to go on. "I was reading a book by C.S. Lewis, a theologian. He once wrote 'the safest road to hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.' Trent may not of hit rock-bottom in the rebellion department, but he still hurt God's heart by just trying to be "good."

"Uh, huh." Carlos said, as he was slowly beginning to understand all the little changes Trent had been making. He often spent time in the mornings quietly reading his well-worn Bible and sharing whatever jumped out at him, praying for their meals, and saying quick prayers before work began. His friend seemed comforted and calmed by the words he shared so he never thought of it as a bad thing. They needed all the help and hope they could get some days. He sometimes knew that Trent disapproved of his actions, but he never grew uncaring or distant. If anything he cared more. He was always there for a listening ear, and advice, whether he wanted it or not.

When dinner was over they retired to the living room a while, but before they did Walker got Brooke's attention with something written on a napkin.

Trent watched out the corner of his eye as her eyes moved over the note. There was no denying it now, he was attracted to this woman. The more she spoke the more depth came out of her. Since this wasn't a dating situation per say he couldn't be too forward, or ask too many "date" questions. He smiled to himself. Could it be he'd found someone at a friendly dinner with people they had both known for over 10 years? He wasn't one hundred percent sure, but time would tell. He saw Brooke excuse herself from the table and move away into the living room. A few moments later he heard piano playing a bit too clear to be a stereo system.

"Did you get a new stereo system Walker?" Carlos asked, peering into the living room. He didn't see a stereo but he did see Brooke, seated at a chair in front of a large keyboard, playing a melody he felt was familiar but couldn't place. He thought a moment. Alex spoke up before he could think of a name to the melody.

"'Music of the night' ? Really Brooke?" Alex teased. Trent chuckled as she then changed the tune to the theme from "Beauty and the Beast". She shot them a cheeky grin, before removing her hands from the keys, stopping the melody.

"Well Alex, I could take requests." she said half-heartedly.

"How about you play one of your songs Brooke?" Walker insisted. They all heard her take in a breath and sigh. Why does the night feel like it's about me? she thought.

"Ok, since I'm not here that often, but please make note, I didn't come here to endorse myself."

Carlos chuckled at her statement, and looked over at Trent still standing at the entrance to the living room. He leaned over so that only Trent could hear him. "Well I think she's doing a good job endorsing herself to you buddy." Carlos said. He knew the look Trent got in his eyes when a woman catch his attention. His eyes would focus in on her, and his body would turn towards her. His voice would become just barely an octave lower. He watched his expression turn sober again, and he wondered what was wrong. He raised his eyebrow and gave his friend a questioning look.

"I think I need to make a call." Trent said barely loud enough for Carlos to hear.

"Oook." Carlos said. "You might miss her song though."

"I'll be on the porch, if anyone asks where I am say I needed to answer a call."

"But I'd be lying, since you're making a call."

"Ok, ok, tell them I had to call my…" Trent said before his words trailed off, and he stood and left the kitchen to go outside. Carlos watched out the corner of his eye as his friend dialed a number on his cell as he sat on Walker's front step. His ears itched to know who he was talking to, and what he was saying, but he walked away because he wanted privacy. Carlos knew it was better to respect that or chance straining his friendship with him. If Trent kept something a secret it was for good reason. He looked back over at the others who were talking while Brooke searched for something in a portfolio. She straightened up, and placed some music in front of her. She looked in Carlos' direction.

"Where's Trent?" she asked. The question surprised Carlos.

"How you know he wasn't in the room?" he asked.

"I heard the door close." Brooke said simply. "Is he ok?"

"Oh, yeah. He just had to call someone. Maybe his mom or something." Carlos said with a shrug.

"I'll wait for him then." As soon as the words left her mouth she heard the front door open, and then quietly shut.

"Welcome back buddy." Carlos teased.

"Sorry, didn't mean to keep anyone waiting." Trent said though he was looked at Brooke when he said it.

"I'll start some coffee while Brooke starts. I'll be listening from the kitchen." Alex said, tapping Brooke playfully on the shoulder, and giving walker a quick peck on the cheek.

Brooke did start, and she her hands moved on the keys before she sang:

"This carnival sometimes,has sinister intentions. only your intervention can save me now.

You have to have balls nowadays Not to give in to temptation These regular revelations from you Show me how

I'm workin' to be pliable Take me in your hands and mold me I am yours That's undeniable But I am weak so take me in And hold me

All these worldly things That I can't even touch Everyone else is grabbin' them And enjoyin' them so much To resist them Takes more than my might So through your strength Oh heal me tonight I'm workin' to be pliable Take me in your hands and mold me I am yours That's undeniable But I am weak so take me in And hold me

I'm workin' to be pliable Take me in your hands and mold me I am yours That's undeniable But I am weak so take me in But I am weak so take me in And hold me"

Brooke looked up from the piano to scan their faces. She knew the lyric "you gotta have balls nowadays…" would raise maybe a few eyebrows. She saw the eyebrows raised mostly were Carlos'.

"So I'm guessing you're not playing your music in many churches." Carlos joked. Brooke chuckled along with the others.

"Eyebrow raising lyrics aren't commonplace in what I write. I just, felt very…honest when I wrote that. I thought I needed to share it with you all tonight. For whatever reason." Brooke said with her gaze flitting over to Trent for a few seconds. He gave her an warm smile, that brought a small one out of her.

"Well I think it's well done." Trent said. "It's honest. Our lives aren't always neat, orderly and church service worthy." he said, as a encouragement to Brooke, and a playful jab at Carlos.

"Hey! I was just looking out for her. Didn't want her to get kicked out of any church gigs." Carlos said. Brooke laughed.

"I think I know well enough not to say a slang for anatomy in a church, or any other time for that matter. The meaning is that you have to have some serious courage to turn down things everyone else eagerly takes." she responded.

"Well Trent knows all about that. You'd be proud of him." Carlos said without a hint of irony in his voice. He was dead serious. Brooke nodded thoughtfully, and looked over to catch Trent leaning towards her looking at her. It made her jump inside, and it must of showed on her face, as his eyes flitted away, and she thought he saw his cheeks flush with color.

"I'm proud of any man following his calling in life. Whatever that is." Brooke said as she placed her music away in her folder.

"You're not playing another one?" Trent asked, slightly disappointed but trying to not show it.

"Oh, I'm playing another one, I just know this next one by heart."

"What's this one called?"

" 'Lifeline' . It's about finding out that you need people in this journey, and don't have to walk through life alone."

Her hands moved once again to the black and white keys and she began to play. Her voice was delicate but held an underlying strength that bubbled up when needed, and drew back when the moment called for it. A warm soprano that could go into a lower register quite easily. The more she sang the more Trent wanted to hear. He wanted to get inside her head, and that scared him. As scared as he was, he knew fear what not an option, being wise was.

After she finished playing the song Alex emerged with the dessert Trent had brought, and a few coffee mugs with steaming hot coffee. Brooke then got up from the chair she sat in and made her way over to the couch, and sat down, suddenly looking tired.

"Thanks Alex." Trent said as he grabbed a mug, and picked up two plates of pastries from the tray, and another mug, and brought it to Brooke.

Brooke's eyes brightened but there was a question in them. Trent heard Walker chuckle and Carlos whisper something. "I thought you looked tired, and I'm just trying to help." Trent said, to her, and to everyone else.

"Thank you." Brooke said, chuckling at the arrangement on the plate he gave her.

"What?" Trent asked as he sat down on the couch a cushion away from her.

"Oh, nothing." Brooke said, looking at the pastries in front of her. They were some of her favorites, but she wouldn't let him know that.

Alex flashed her a grin and sat down, not wanting to give her a hard time about it, not now anyway. She put an arm around her and squeezed her shoulders. The gesture made the men smile.

"What? I've missed her. She's only been in California for ten years, or traveling or recording…"

"Or just being normal." Brooke added.

"Oh, yeah living on a Napa valley vineyard is normal." Carlos remarked.

"That's what I thought when I moved there. Coming from Naenae in the capital city of New Zealand, it wasn't exactly the safest area to grow up in. Gang violence was prevalent, and still is. My mother tried to shelter us from it. It made my sister tougher than I was, and I was always a bit naive. We never got into anything too dramatic thank God, but my mom knew how to pray, and taught us to. I always knew God loved me, though I didn't really know why. Only ten-percent or even less of New Zealanders would call themselves "born again", or "Christians" even."

"Wow, here it's more like the opposite." Carlos noted. "It's called the Bible belt for a reason." Trent chuckled and asked her when she actually began to follow Christ with her heart. She told him the story, about the overwhelming feeling that God loved her, and wanted her to know Him in return. Her voice was sincere, and her eyes gleamed with an affection when she spoke about God.

"God, please help me out here. Everything this girl says draws me in." Trent pleaded silently. He didn't want to jump the gun and ruin a perfectly good friendship, or let this pass him by. Doubts flooded his mind when he discovered that she was only visiting for two weeks then flying back to California. Much like Maria, a woman he had helped leave her abusive husband. He was supposed to visit her once she got settled, but in the midst of starting a new business it got pushed to the side. Would he let this opportunity get pushed aside as well?

Brooke did her best to be open and honest with her new friends, but she felt a fear creep up in her. Trent, she thought, was acting a little too interested in what she had to say. Maybe it was his natural affinity for unraveling mysteries and fitting puzzles together that made him pay so close attention. Perhaps it was something else, but she didn't have the ego to think it was because he was romantically interested in her.

Time moved along as the group played a few games and laughed together. The evening began to slow and Alex suggested Brooke and herself get home. Brooke was staying with Alex since the older woman found it ridiculous to worry about wasting money on a hotel when she could stay with her. On the announcement that they were leaving Carlos and Trent offered to walk them to Alex's car.

"Let us walk you two out." Carlos more like a statement than a question.

"Are you afraid we'll be kidnapped, never to be seen again?" Brooke asked overly-dramatically.

"Actually, it's not too uncommon for Alex." Trent said.

"Hey, I always get out alive." Alex said, not wanting to scare Brooke on her first night back in town. They purposely didn't share many harrowing stories for just that reason.

"Any more talk of kidnapping and Brooke might want to hire a bodyguard." Carlos thought aloud.

"You wish." Alex said under her breath.

"What was that Alex?" Carlos asked with a furrowed brow as they excited out Walker's front door.

"Nothing, Carlos." Brooke said, grinning to herself.

They were all careful to navigate the steps and uneven ground that was between them and their cars. The gravel and dirt crunching and moving beneath their feet. The air was cooler than it was previously, and the absence of a moon made the driveway strangely dark. Brooke walked forward and saw Trent's light blue two door corvette convertible parked in the drive way as it was dimly illuminated by the light from the house's windows. "Nice car, Trent."

"Thanks." he said. "Do you have a car while you're here?" he asked before he could stop himself.

"Yes. A four door automatic, if you want to know." Brooke answer.

"Sorry, I don't know what I was thinking." Trent said shaking his head. Brooke seemed to pay no notice to his goof up from then on.

"Thanks for the company tonight guys. Hopefully we can do it again." Brooke said with a smile.

"It was our pleasure. Good to meet you Brooke." Carlos said warmly.

"Same to you," Brooke said. "and to you, oh protective one." she teased as she turned to look at Trent. The remark made Trent's face grow hot, and he was sure he would be seen blushing if there was enough light for it to be seen.

"Good night, Brooke."

"Good night guys." Brooke said. She then crossed the space between them and embraced both men in turn. When she hugged Trent her face grew hot when she could tell how well-built he was. She mentally chided herself for noticing and stepped back, suddenly feeling shy. Her shyness grew when she could see the lingering warm smile on Trent's lips. She scratched the back of her head, and bid them farewell again, awkwardly, turning to Alex's car. Alex also said her goodbyes as Brooke leaned up against her car waiting for her to unlock the doors. Alex finally did unlock the doors and Brooke opened the passenger side door, and slipped into the seat. It must have been done hastily because of Alex's reaction when she sat down in the driver's seat next to her.

"Well who's jumping like a jackrabbit?" Alex remarked. "What's got you all flustered?" Alex asked before realizing it may have had something to do with one of the men. Brooke said nothing, so she changed the question to be more precise.

"Did Carlos get you upset?" Alex asked as she started the car.

"Um, oh, no, he's fine. A little uncouth at times, but he's a good guy." Brooke said, not noticing her arms were crossed across her chest. The car inched forward, and Brooke watched out the side view mirror and noted the men were still lingering in the drive, watching, getting smaller as the car moved forward.

"Uh, huh. So…your anxiety has nothing to do with our preacher's son does it?"

Brooke sighed, and smiled despite herself.

"He seems wonderful." she said simply.

"That he is. One of the best men I've ever known, besides Walker." Alex said. Alex turned on the radio to hear an amusing song on come through the speakers "The only boy who could ever reach me, was the son of a preacher man." a Motown song sang. Brooke's eyes widened and she let a nervous chuckle pass her lips. Alex joined in, and gestured for her to change the station. They didn't speak about Trent on the way to her home, but they didn't need to. Brooke had a feeling when she came to Dallas that things would change for her, and they seemed to be faster than she expected. She prayed it was for the better.

AN: In case you're wondering if Brooke partially based on Brooke Fraser, yes, she is, but her story and life have been changed a lot. I just modeled the character after her looks, and maybe a bit of her personality, and of course, some of her music.