Jade stood with chills racing up and down her spine. With the look in
Cameron’s eyes frightening every cell in her being, she couldn’t
imagine why she’d chosen to do this. Everything about this seemed
wrong, and as she saw the vile look in Cameron’s eyes, it only seemed
to get worse.
Cameron smiled as he watched her carefully. While this wasn’t exactly
how he’d planned on getting Jade, this would work quite nicely. Things
were working out even better than he’d planned them.
He stood and slowly walked around her as he perused her every features.
His smile faded to a less threatening stance as he stood before her,
“I’ve wanted you from the first moment I saw you.”
Her stomach warned of impending revolt while she stamped it back down
so that she could proceed with her end of the bargain, “Why me?”
“Why not you?” He asked as he gently reached out to touch her cheek.
She fought the urge to flinch as she continued to meet his eyes in an
act of defiance, “What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means that any man would be a fool to deny himself of your company.
You’re everything a man could want in his life.”
“I’m sure your wife will be displeased to hear that,” She spoke coldly.
He slipped his fingers into her hair and drew her forward, “Make no
mistake about it, Jade. My wife is a business venture and nothing more
“Does she know that?” She asked as she looked up into his eyes as he
held her within the confine of his arms. She placed her arms against
his chest in an effort to put some distance between them, but his hold
was strong and unmovable.
“She’s knows what I want her to know,” He spoke with assurance as his
eyes caressed her face. He lowered his lips towards her but stopped
short of closing the distance between them.
“Is that the way you treat your women? As employees with only certain
uses assigned to each of them?”
“Are you afraid I’ll treat you that way?” He questioned as he allowed
his hands to gently roam her curves, “Oh Jade, have no fear. I see in
you a woman with a clear head for intelligent thought, and a passion
for life that has been inhibited up until now. I would offer you the
world, and you would never be bound by anyone’s rules…including my own.”
“And why would you give me this kind of opportunity?” She asked as she
swallowed a lump in her throat.
“Because you have everything that I want and everything I need,” He
whispered lightly as he seized her lips in a powerful kiss.
Jade knew he was going to kiss her, but she still hadn’t been prepared.
She wiggled to get away from him, but instead, his arms tightened
around her, pressing her against his chest. She didn’t want this. She
certainly didn’t want him. She never had, but she had been willing to
come here in order to save Grady from prison.
Cameron held her close to him as he continued to plunder her mouth.
He’d been waiting for this moment for too long, and now he was going to
enjoy every last moment of it.
The more she tried to pull her mouth away from him, the more he seemed
to secure his hold upon her. Alarm bells clamored in her head, and she
knew that she had to get out of here.
He tightened his grip upon her as he swept her up against his chest and
placed her upon the sofa. He pressed her back upon the cushions as his
mouth ravaged a relentless assault upon hers. She pushed him back
slightly while he dropped his mouth to her throat to relish every inch
of her skin.
“Whoa…you don’t think…what about your wife?” She struggled for any
thing that could distract him from his seemingly desperate desire for
“She won’t be home for hours,” He murmured against her throat.
“Cameron,” She spoke his name in an attempt to get his attention, but
he seemed to ignore her as he began to drag the strap of her summer
dress down her shoulder. She gasped as she wriggled desperately against
“Jade, you know you want this as much as I do,” He spoke as he drew his
tongue along her pulse.
“Like hell I do,” She brought her knee into his groin with all the
force she could muster. She heaved his body off of hers as he landed in
the floor. She scrambled off the sofa and ran for the door.
“This isn’t over, Jade,” Cameron breathed raggedly, “I’m going to have
you. It’s just a matter of time,” He promised as he heard the front
door slam as she ran from his home. She wasn’t going to elude him. He
would have her…no matter what lengths he had to go to, he would have
her…and nothing anyone could do or say would stop that.
“So this is just a tad bit awkward,” Avery began clearing her throat as
a long silence had passed between her and Grady after Susan’s removal
from the room. While she’d intended upon diving into the case
head first hoping to get some miracle solution to the problems that
Grady had found himself in, it seemed that despite that initial drama
she’d shared with Susan, Grady was being anything but helpful as he’d
remained mute from that moment on.
“Try being on this end,” Grady shrugged his shoulders, rolling them in
a somewhat disturbing motion as his intense green-blue eyes returned to
hers once again, “I didn’t wake up this morning imagining that I’d be
spending my day here with you under close quarters like this.”
“Yeah, well I should be at the cabin right now with Russ,” Avery
replied simply feeling on edge as she shifted in the seat across from
him, “so we won’t even get started on how badly this day has gone.”
“At least you’re not in jail…” he paused thinking about their
surroundings, “well you know what I mean…”
“No, I’m not, but I’ve been surrounded by police for the last few days
as Bruce decided it might be cute to use my home for a dumping ground
with his latest unfortunate victim,” Avery confessed biting on her
lower lip with an afterthought, “but that’s not what’s relevant right
now as we need to get to what’s going on with you.”
“Wait a second,” Grady sat up straighter as if his curiosity was piqued
by her words, “are you telling me that Bruce Mathis dumped a body at my
“That’s right,” Avery nodded in response feeling a shudder creep up
over her spine, “right in the middle of our bedroom which I’m sure will
give you a good laugh at my expense, but still…”
“Avery, that’s not funny,” he frowned upon her words, “as you and Russ
are both lucky you weren’t there when Bruce made the drop…”
“Yeah well as much as I’d like to say we were blessed that we missed
the effort he’d put forth, he documented it on video tape, thus
reminding us all over again what an idiot I was for being with him in
the first place and before you say I told you so, don’t start because
this isn’t about Bruce. This is about the predicament you’re in
Grady,” she warned him sharply watching as he sank back into his chair
“You’re the one who brought him up,” he reminded her pointedly, “and
you’re the one who put him in the position to torment my brother.”
“Yeah, I did Grady,” Avery nodded in response feeling the corners of
her lips grow tight at the words he threw back at her, “I made a
mistake…a big one and I’m learning to deal with it and hope that I can
find a way out of it before it costs me my life and my family which is
something that you should be considering yourself now that the police
have you pegged for a would be murderer.”
“I didn’t try to kill anyone and you know that Avery,” he shot back at
her with a grumble thinking about what the police were saying about his
part in Kipp Mahoney’s downfall.
“I know that Grady,” Avery replied honestly meeting his gaze full on,
“I know that you’re not capable of something like that even if
sometimes you scare the hell out of me.”
“Oh right,” he rolled his eyes at her, “Like you give a damn about what
I have to say or what I do? I think you enjoy getting me worked
“Oh sure, don’t you know it? I just love when you come rip
roaring drunk into my home and make a mess of the serenity that Russ
and I are trying to have going between us,” Avery glared back at him as
her frown deepened.
“Hmm, well since you keep bringing serial killers into the picture, I’d
imagine that I’m small potatoes in comparison,” he quipped watching the
anger build up over her already tense features.
“You’re a pain in the ass Grady,” she leaned forward staring him down
as she clenched her fingers around the pen she’d been holding while
silently praying that she didn’t break it in two upon listening to
“Hmm, gee now here I was thinking that very same thought about you
Avery seeing as you baited my brother into marrying you and you do
everything in your power to make him…”
“Happy,” Avery cut him off abruptly, “which is why I’m sitting here
with you right now trying to fix the damage that’s been done to our
family. Grady, the last thing I want is to see you go down for a
crime that I’m certain you didn’t commit and as much as you hate me,
you don’t want to spend your life in jail either, so since we’re both
on the same page where that’s concerned, how about we get back to
working on your defense here?”
“Fine, but don’t think I’m happy about it,” he paused retreating back
to his chair as he watched her move in a similar position as if she was
trying to keep from losing her cool, though Grady could see she was
close as he couldn’t help but offer up a few more words, “though I must
admit that you’re an upgrade from Susan.”
“I think Satan is an upgrade on Susan,” she remarked sourly as her
seriousness returned to her, “though seeing as she came over here, I
have to wonder why she showed up to ’help’ you as something didn’t ring
right in her being here.”
“Yeah, that’s an understatement,” he huffed thinking about his
“She’s up to something and I’m starting to wonder if her coming over
here wasn’t a part of Cameron’s master plan here,” Avery thought aloud
watching as Grady seemed to share the same idea. She leaned
forward, lowering her voice a bit as the lines around her features
softened with the question, “Grady, what really happened with you and
He remained silent as if contemplating whether or not to open up to her
before he finally let out a sigh of defeat as his conscience got the
best of him, “I went over to his office to tell him that I was leaving
the case he had me working on. He’d been bothering Jade and I
wasn’t about to stand back and let it continue. He threatened
her--he had some information that could hurt her with if I didn’t agree
to keep working for him and I kind of lost it. I hit him and then
the next thing I know I was being brought down here on assault charges,
which hey I could deal with until this whole thing with Kipp Mahoney
“Speaking of which, Grady we need to talk about what happened with you
and Kipp the night of the party,” Avery hesitated as her own dark
memory of the night that nearly ruined her life forever flashed before
her eyes, “I said before that night was something that I’m sure the
prosecution would use against you if they knew that you and Kipp were
fighting with one another like that, but since I was the only one there
at the time, then we can move on to the part where your prints were at
his apartment and on the gun…”
“I don’t know how the hell that happened,” he answered honestly shaking
his head as the weight of the situation fell upon him once again,
“Avery, I never met the guy before that night at the party when you and
I were…” he paused, “well the point is that I didn’t know the guy and I
vaguely remember what happened although…”
“Although what,” Avery watched the color drain from his face as a
realization hit him, “Grady, what aren’t you telling
“Avery, the media got wind of the situation that arose between you, me
and Kipp,” he explained feeling as if he’d been kicked in the gut as he
thought back to the newspaper article his father with had presented to
him after a fight had taken place between Grady and Russ, “Someone
offered up surveillance photos from the party and sold them to the
papers along with the story about you and Brant running away to be
married. There were some not so flattering photos in the paper
with you, me and this Kipp guy…”
“Oh boy,” Avery gasped realizing that with that news the situation was
going from bad to worse as a thought occurred to her, “well maybe we
can use this to our advantage in court and prove that things aren’t
always as they seem.”
“You mean it only appeared that I was about to beat the hell out of you
and of the guy who stepped in my way,” Grady grumbled sarcastically
realizing that the more he thought about it, the worse it was starting
to feel for him.
“Well, sort of because you mentioned something about there being an
article about Brant and I being married, right?” Avery watched as his
expression darkened and a flicker of anger flashed behind his eyes,
“Grady, what I’m trying to get at before you decided to snap at me
again is that Brant and I weren’t married on that island. That
story was completely false and shameless, uninformed gossip at best,
which is exactly what could be said about the pictures of you with Kipp
and I. No one is going to put any validity upon them considering
that other tales in the publication were nothing short of fiction…”
“Yes, but you’re forgetting that I’m up for attempted murder here Avery
with my prints on the would be murder weapon,” Grady leaned in towards
her, “so that in itself will make any picture that anyone can dig up
look like it’s only proof of my guilt.”
“Then we’re back to how you could’ve possibly gotten your prints on
that gun. Grady, are you sure that you weren’t ever there at
Kipp’s place?” Avery questioned in a tight whisper.
“I think I would’ve remembered being there if I knew where the guy
lived. I don’t just forget where I’ve been,” he stated firmly
certain he’d never been to the location in question.
“Just like you didn’t forget where you were the day you hopped into my
shower with me,” she threw back at him, her face turning a pale shade
of red almost as soon as the words fell from her lips.
“Yeah, well okay so that was the one monumental mistake I’d made about
where I was that I’d just as soon forget,” Grady groaned in response
vowing to put that moment out of his memory forever.
“Hey, I’m not saying it’s one of my most memorable moments there Grady,
but I guess what message I’m trying to convey here is that when you’re
drinking sometimes you do or say things that you wouldn’t normally do,
so if it’s at all entirely possible that you could’ve been drinking
and…” she started up again.
“It didn’t happen,” he cut her off abruptly, “Avery, it never happened
and I can say clearly that whether I was sober or drinking, I have
never had any contact with Kipp Mahoney other than that night at the
Ashford mansion and even then I had no idea who the hell he was.”
“Fine, then what did you do after the party? Do you have an alibi
as you’re going to need one at the very least,” she suggested hoping
there would be more to his side of things than the mounting evidence
“Avery, we both know that doesn’t matter if my prints are on that gun
and how they got there is beyond me…no, I take that back. I know
exactly how they got there,” Grady clenched his fists as he thought of
the man who had been pulling his strings from the moment Grady marched
into his office to warn him to back off, “Cameron’s set this up.
I know he has and if we can only prove that. I mean it all makes
sense with him sending Susan down here because that had to be how she
knew about things. He must‘ve urged her to come down here and
well…I don’t know…lock me up for the rest of my life.”
“I wouldn’t put it past Cameron,” Avery noted with a frown, “as he’s
ruthless from everything I’ve heard about him over the years which is
why I couldn’t believe that you’d agreed to work for him in the first
“I thought it was a good idea at the time,” he blurted out with a groan.
“You mean you thought it was a good way to get at me and destroy me,
right?” Avery questioned with a hint of bitterness in her voice.
“It wasn’t entirely about you as I’ve had more than enough of the
Ashfords, but the fact that I’d get to bury you in court, didn’t hurt,”
he added honestly unable to contain the wicked smirk that spread over
“It never would’ve happened Grady because your client is a mean son of
a bitch that is going down one way or another,” she paused
contemplating her words, “but for what it’s worth, I’m glad that you
reconsidered representing him as it says a lot about you there.”
“It says that I’m insane because now I’m in jail because of it,” Grady
shook his head as he thought of his impulsive actions, “I should’ve
just played it cool a little while longer and found a way to deal with
him in such a fashion that he didn’t have me locked up in here while
Jade is out there on her own vulnerable to whatever he has planned.”
“He won’t get to her Grady,” Avery promised solemnly, “if he even
thinks about hurting her, well, he’s not going to get the
opportunity. Russ and I can make sure that she’s safe while we
work on getting you out of here…”
“Now you’re talking like that same hopeless dreamer who wanted to be a
professional baseball player at the age eight,” Grady couldn’t help but
laugh despite the situation they were in, “I told you then and I’ll
tell you now it’s an impossible mission Avery. Things like what
you think about don’t just happen…”
“Maybe not, but as long as someone’s willing to fight for what’s right,
then there’s always hope,” she added encouragingly.
“Oh sure, so we’ll just work on proving that Cameron was the one who
planted the finger prints and set me up even though we have nothing
more to run with other than his threats,” Grady threw out a pointed
“Hey it’s a start. I mean with your brother’s recourses and my
talent for winning over a jury, we can make the world finally see
Cameron as the monster he truly is,” Avery added sitting up straighter
as she released the pen she’d been holding.
“Yeah well that’s easier said than done,” he let out an ironic laugh as
a sigh spilled from his lips, “because to do that we’ll probably need
some hefty miracles since Cameron is working so hard to make me look
“Even so, miracles do happen Grady and I swear to you if Cameron’s the
one doing this to you, then I’m going to do everything in my power to
make sure that he goes down for this. He’s not going to get away
with trying to hurt you, Jade or anyone else. You have my word on
that,” Avery promised them as she reached out across the table to
squeeze his hand gently despite the tension that clearly was alive
between them, “I’m not about to let someone like that take your life
away from you.”
Grady felt the brush of her fingers against his hand before he really
registered the gesture and almost as soon as he’d realized what she’d
done, Avery had done the same and withdrew her hand clearly shaken by
the movement as she leaned back into the chair uneasily before
him. Feeling a thick silence in the air, Grady cleared his throat
trying to find the right words to say when he and Avery had almost
shared a moment of actual civility with one another after all the time
they’d spent feuding with one another.
“You know I don’t deserve any of this,” Grady offered up in a neutral
tone trying to refrain from spilling out the words that were
registering in his mind after all Avery was trying to do for him.
“You’re right,” Avery nodded in response throwing out an uneasy smile,
“you don’t deserve me or my time, but we’ll work on the ways you can
repay me once I clear your name.”
“I knew there was a catch with you Avery as there’s always a catch,” he
answered flatly trying to read whether or not there was teasing in her
tone as her dark eyes dropped to the pad of paper before her avoiding
any further words from him.
“It seems to be the name of the game with us Grady, but for what it’s
worth, we’ll find a way to make the world see you’re innocent so that
you can get back to your life and to the woman you love without fear of
Cameron destroying all you’ve worked so very hard for,” she remarked
contemplating the next course of action in his case as it seemed that
she had her work cut out for her if she was going to convince Coral
Valley that Grady was innocent after all.
“Are you sure you’re ready for this? The guest house is free, or even
better, you could just stay with me at the mansion,” Ken offered as he
looked over at Caitlin from the driver’s seat. After her release from
the hospital, he’d been more than happy to provide her a ride home.
Only now that they were at her building, he could see from her pale
complexion that perhaps she wasn’t ready for a step this big.
“No,” Caitlin spoke in a barely audible voice as she looked at the
building that housed her apartment. She’d thought she was prepared to
return to her apartment, to reclaim that part of her life that Jimmy
had invaded and attempted to take for his own. She just wasn’t sure
that she could do this without falling apart.
“Caitlin,” He spoke her name gently as he reached over and slipped his
fingers through hers, “You don’t have to go back up there if you don’t
“Yes, I do,” She said tearfully as she looked to him, “I need to do
this. Jimmy has stolen enough of my life already. I can’t let him take
my life in Coral Valley too. This is my way of starting to take it all
“You don’t have to prove anything to anyone, Caitlin,” He lifted her
hand to his lips for a tender kiss, “Least of all to me.”
“I do have to prove something, Ken. I have to prove to myself that I
can do this,” She smiled half heartedly at him as she gently squeezed
his hand, “I’m going to need you by my side.”
“I’ll be with you every step of the way,” He assured her before he
leaned over and gently kissed her, “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Caitlin smiled reassuringly, “Now…I could use your
arm to steady me.”
“Of course,” He smiled as he got out of the car and walked around to
her side. He opened the door and extended his hand to her, “Take it
“I’ll be okay,” She promised him as she held onto him and stood from
“Yes, you will,” Ken patted her hand upon his arm gently, “You’re going
to be even better than okay.”
She leaned into him as he led her into the building. She stepped into
the elevator along with Ken and smiled as he wrapped his arms
completely around her as the lift took them towards her floor.
“Thank you for being here with me,” She spoke softly as she held onto
him, “It means the world to me as I really don’t think I could do this
“I believe that you could. I have faith in you,” He spoke as he kissed
the top of her head, “You’re stronger than you give yourself credit
“I think you give me too much credit,” She sighed as the doors opened
on her floor.
Ken held onto her for a moment longer before he stepped onto the floor
ahead of her and looked back to her, “One more chance to call this off.”
She stepped onto the floor beside her and took his hand, “No turning
back. Let’s go.”
He nodded as he led her down the hallway to the door of her apartment.
He held the key out to her as she looked to the door and nodded.
Caitlin unlocked the door and stepped inside to find her mother
lighting a candle upon the coffee table in the middle of the room,
“Caitlin,” Julia smiled as she turned to see Caitlin standing in front
of Ken, “Welcome home, sweetheart.”
“Mom,” Caitlin repeated herself as she stepped inside and looked
around, “You cleaned everything…”
“I’m sorry if I overstepped my bounds,” Julia began nervously.
“No, not at all. Thank you so much,” Caitlin moved quickly to hug her
mother, “Thank you for this. You just made it a lot easier to come
“That’s all I wanted to do for you, baby girl. I just wanted you to be
able to live here again without reminders everywhere,” Julia explained
as she hugged her daughter in return.
Ken smiled as he watched the mother and daughter scene unfold before
him. While he and Caitlin had both been worried about how this
particular home coming would go, it seemed that Mother knew best and
had made sure their worries were for naught. He could only hope that
the ease Caitlin felt in this moment would last during the days she
would live here in the future.
Johanna finished taping a box closed, having spent the morning helping
Zack pack his things for the move out to her house. She’d known it was
a difficult decision for him, but she also knew that she’d make him
glad that he’d made his choice to be with her and their baby.
She paused as she watched him bring a suit case out of the bedroom. She
smiled as she placed the tape down upon the box and walked over to him,
“I’m glad you’re moving in with me, Zack. You won’t regret it.”
Zack smiled gently, “Well, right now, the only thing I’m regretting is
that I have a two year lease on this apartment,” He shrugged, “I guess
I could always use it for an office away from the hospital.”
“There you go,” She nodded, “You could have a lab to do your research
without being paged away for other hospital business.”
“This might work out,” He nodded, “I’ll keep my office set up in the
spare bedroom the way that it is. I’ll leave my bed here too because
there’s no sense in taking it to your house.”
“See, this is working out already,” She smiled as she wrapped her arms
around his waist, “Zack, I know this is going to be difficult for you,
but I want to make the absolute best of it.”
“We’re going to make the best of it,” He nodded as he held her in his
arms, “This wasn’t what I’d planned, but we’ll work it out. Besides, I
have a feeling that maybe this is where I’m supposed to be. I’ve spent
most of my life trying to fight against the world to have life the way
I want it. Maybe this is life’s way of telling me that the fight is
over. This baby gives us both a new chance to make a life together, and
I’m thinking that maybe that’s not such a bad thing.”
“But what about Blake?” She noted, “I know that you love her, Zack. I’m
“I know, and I wouldn’t dare to make it seem as you were. It’s just
that there are times in life when you don’t get everything the way you
planned it. Besides that, Cait always said that Blake and I couldn’t
work together as a couple. In retrospect, I think maybe she was right.”
“Well…this is certainly a moment for the record books. I never thought
I’d hear you say that Caitlin was right about anything.”
Zack grinned, “Just don’t tell her that I said it. I’d hate to see that
ego of hers swell.”
Johanna laughed softly as she met his eyes, “What do you think about
her relationship with Kenneth Ashford? Is that really good for her?”
“To be honest, I’m not quite sure,” He admitted, “I hope so. I mean,
she clearly cares about him more than I’ve seen her care about any man
in a long time. It’s just that I don’t particular trust the Ashfords.”
“Me either,” She nodded, “Maybe we can just keep an eye on them.”
“I think maybe we should,” Zack agreed. While he’d gotten his life in
order with the absence of an Ashford in his life, he wasn’t so sure
that his sister’s would turn out any better.
Jade ran into the Coral Valley police department, having stifled her
tears enough to feel the brunt of the panic she’d been pushing aside
since she’d left Cameron’s mansion. The thudding of her heart pounded
in her ears at such a volume that she couldn’t hear anything around
her, including a friendly voice calling out to her.
“Jade?” Russ asked as he stepped towards her, “Jade…hey…” He began
again, trying to get her attention. He stepped in front of her and saw
the alarm within her eyes, “Jade, what’s wrong?”
She looked around as if she were lost and searching for some hint of a
way out of the labyrinth she’d landed in. Her hands trembled as she
fidgeted in nervousness.
He gently placed his hand upon her arm and led her aside, leading her
into an empty office. He assisted her to sit upon a sofa before moving
to a water cooler and getting her a small cup of water. He knelt down
before her and gently placed the water in her hand, “Jade…take a slow
breath, and then tell me what’s going on.”
Jade took a deep breath before she sipped the water. She closed her
eyes before she spoke, “This is a nightmare, Russ. Everything is going
to hell, and I have no idea how to stop it.”
“What’s happened?” He questioned in concern, “Jade, what happened when
you left the station?”
She slowly opened her eyes and met his. He was so much like Grady, and
yet at the same time, they were opposites in many ways. She looked down
into the water, feeling a wave of nausea hit her as she was forced to
tell the story, “Russ, this is all because of me.”
“Jade, that’s not true, and…”
“Russ,” She said his name firmly as she looked up to him, “No, you
really don’t understand. Grady attacked Cameron because he threatened
me. It wasn’t just any threat either,” She paused, “But this story goes
back much further than that.”
“What do you mean?” Russ asked in confusion, “Jade?”
“When I was fifteen, my father traded me to Nicholas Ashford for some
debt he owed. I was drugged, placed on a bed in a hotel room, and raped
by Nicholas Ashford and several of his business associates.”
He gasped in shock and horror, “Jade, I had no idea.”
“Nobody does. I’ve kept it a secret from everyone. It’s hard enough to
deal with without everyone pouring out their sympathy on me, but it’s
not going to be that easy anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that apparently there were pictures taken of that night,” She
paused as she met Russ’s eyes, “And Cameron Stone has them.”
“He what?” He asked in anger as his own sense of morality had him
itching for a chance to get his hands on the slime intent on torturing
Jade nodded, “And when Grady went into Cameron’s office to quit the
case, Cameron threatened to send them to all the tabloids. Cameron just
wants Grady out of the way because he wants to come after me, Russ. I
don’t know why. I don’t know what I’ve done to make him want me so
badly, but he doesn’t want to give up, and worse than that, he’ll
destroy anyone or anything that stands in his way. I went to Cameron’s
to try to reason with him, but then I got there,” She paused, “And I
guess desperation got the best of me, and I offered to trade myself for
Grady. I thought I could do it, but when that man put his lips on me,”
She shuddered in revulsion as she stopped talking.
“Jade, Grady would never want you to do that, no matter what the
“I know that, but I just wanted to help him. He wouldn’t be in this
situation if it weren’t for me. I’m going to destroy him just like
“No,” Russ declared firmly as he gathered her attention once again,
“Jade, you are nothing like Susan. You’re not setting out with the goal
of destroying Grady. You love him, and he loves you. He never had
either of those while he was with Susan. You’re not the one causing
this situation. Cameron Stone is,” He seethed with anger, “And I swear
to you that it’s not going to continue.”
“Russ, I didn’t tell you this so that you could end up in jail with
Grady. You have a wife and baby to think of,” She reminded him, “Just
keep them safe.”
He smiled softly, “I will, but Grady will want me to keep an eye on
you, and that’s what I intend to do. Besides, if the situations were
reversed, I have a feeling that Grady would try to do what I wanted and
look after Avery despite his misgivings about her.”
Jade smiled slightly, “He probably would. He loves you so much, Russ. I
just don’t want this to hurt the both of you. I never wanted to cause
Grady so much pain, but…”
“But you didn’t cause his pain. Cameron Stone has, and we’re going to
find a way to stop him, Jade. I promise you,” Russ assured her as he
thought of what his brother had been trying to do. While he had thought
he’d known Grady’s temper, he was surprised to find out that there was
a damn good reason behind the attack, and Russ planned to let his
brother know that he was behind him one hundred percent.
Brant stepped into the boutique, unable to believe that he’d ever set
foot in the place to begin with as no one would ever dream of finding
Brant Ashford in such a place, but as he thought of what his intentions
were for the time being, he realized that he could afford to let go of
his macho image for a little while in the name of making Avery smile
again. Casually perusing the racks of baby clothing before him,
he couldn’t help but chuckle every now and then at the thought that
seemingly went into a child’s wardrobe. How amusing it was indeed
as he began to skim through the various selections before him.
“May I help you with something,” a petite blonde woman questioned
flashing him a sexy smile as she looked just as out of place in the
store than he did. His eyes casually perused her, taking note of
her long legs despite her height as the very flattering, very short,
black skirt she was wearing left little to the imagination as it was
topped off by a hot pink halter type top. One look into her blue
eyes and there was no mistaking that she was certainly the kind of
woman that Brant would’ve had no problems picking up and charming for a
quick fling once upon a time even considering where he’d encountered
her, but even with her cute, perky sex appeal, Brant realized that
wasn’t really what he’d had in mind when he smiled back at her.
“Actually, perhaps you can,” he cleared his throat turning his focus
back to the clothing before him, “I’m looking for something sensational
for a little one and I’m not quite sure what would be good enough for
“Are you looking for something for a boy or a girl,” she inquired
watching s he turned his attention to the rack before him once again.
“I’m not really sure actually, but I was hoping that I could find
something that was really wonderful,” Brant slowly turned to find her
standing beside him, much closer than she’d been seconds earlier when
he’d first encountered her.
“I’m assuming it’s a gift for someone as you don’t quite strike me as
the normal kind of clientele we get in here,” the girl questioned as
Brant noted the flimsy nametag she’d had above her left breast before
he realized that she‘s noticed that he‘d obviously noticed her.
“And why is that,” he couldn’t help but question leaning in against the
rack as she struck a pose, flashing him another sexy smile.
“Because usually the men that come in here have their significant other
attached at their hip if they’re looking for their own child,” she
shrugged casually, “and seeing as I don’t see a wife directing you
around or a ring on your finger, well I’d guess you’re in that single
and searching category still.”
“You get all that by the fact that I’m not wearing a ring or with
someone huh,” he couldn’t help but be amused as she stepped in closer
“Among other things,” she nodded licking her lips, “which makes me
wonder if you’re really in here looking for something for a gift or
perhaps you were just seeking out an excuse to come in here and talk to
me, which I don’t mind at all. You seemed a little lost before
you came in here, and with that,” she motioned to the outfit he’d
picked up, “well you know all you had to do was ask and I’d be more
than happy to have dinner with you…”
“Actually Jenny,” he used her name with heavy emphasis as he began to
explain himself, “I really am here looking for…”
“There you are. Brant, I almost thought I’d lost you,” a voice
roared through the store as Brant looked up to find Heather approaching
far too rapidly for his liking and before he could open his mouth to
protest or spin on his heel to run off in the opposite direction, she
was up against him throwing her arm out around him with heavy
emphasis. “Darling, I thought for a moment there that I’d lost
you in the hustle and bustle of shopping since I know how much you
actually loathe my taking you out with me for a shopping spree, but
don’t think that you’re getting out of this that easily as you promised
to help with the bags,” she paused to place a quick kiss on his cheek
before thrusting her half dozen bags from an obviously well planned day
of shopping into his arms rendering him stunned in the moment.
“Heather I really don’t think that…” he began at a loss as Heather
reached out to squeeze his cheeks, shaking her head at him as she
offered up a wicked grin before turning to address the salesclerk
“Thank you so much for finding my husband and keeping him entertained,
but he’s got all the entertainment he could need with me, so you can go
away now,” Heather glared at the girl causing the girl to leave rather
suddenly and silently before Heather focused her attention on Brant
once again flashing him a daring smirk before her voice was laced with
sarcasm, “Miss me, honey?”
“Only in your dreams,” Brant groaned dropping her bags to the ground as
she placed her fingers down over the center of his chest in an
obviously intimate fashion as she spied the skanky salesclerk watching
the both of them from the far corner of the store.
“Oh now is that anyway to treat your wife darling?” Heather questioned
curling her lip in a pout as she stepped in closer to him, rubbing
herself against him as she threw her arms around his neck, demanding
his full attention as she pulled him into an impromptu, wickedly wild
kiss knowing full well that she’d just succeeded in ruining Brant’s
chances for a date with the overzealous salesclerk. Finally
satisfied that she’d given him something to be miserable about, she
pulled away from him with a satisfied smirk, “See, now wasn’t that so
much better than slumming with someone like that?”
“You’re delusional. You know that,” Brant groaned wiping at his
lips as if he couldn’t get the taste of her off of him fast enough as
he shuddered at the thought of Heather’s shameless display, “When are
you going to get it in your head that we’re over, Heather? I’m
not taking you back.”
“Like I would waste my time trying to win you over again,” she rolled
her eyes in response, “How pathetic do you take me for?”
“You really want me to answer that one,” he threw out a pointed look
eliciting a huff from her as she folded her arms in front of her chest
defiantly, “Yeah, I didn’t think so.”
“Actually, the only pathetic one I see here is you considering that not
only did you let me slip out of your life, but you didn’t get the other
girl either,” Heather taunted him as she motioned to the baby outfit in
his hands, “Let me guess, you decided to be the better man and kiss up
to Avery now that she and Russ got together. You know speaking of
Russ, I had a feeling he was hot stuff in his own working class,
average Joe kind of way, but I didn’t realize that your little lawyer
girl would take to the type. I guess it goes to show you that
well, that sometimes being an Ashford isn’t everything when it comes to
true love seeing as Avery couldn’t wait to toss you like yesterday’s
trash which is kind of poetic considering how horrible you were with me
in thinking that my act of indiscretion was the worst possible thing
that could‘ve happened to you considering that I didn‘t do you nearly
as badly as Avery did. Though I will tell you now that if you‘re
hoping that you and I can find some kind of way to come to a reunion
between us, well it‘s too late as you‘ve already missed your
opportunity with me,” she dangled her oversized ring in front of his
face, “as I’m taken.”
“Gee, who was the unfortunate sap dumb enough to commit himself to a
life sentence of misery with you Heather,” he questioned not really
caring as he tried to remain unphased by her words.
“Cameron Stone,” she blurted out with a proud smile watching the shock
that spread over his features as for the first time in her life she
witnessed Brant Ashford completely speechless. Taking advantage
of the moment, she continued to boast, “That’s right Brant. I
found someone who had everything that you don’t and he gives me what I
“You mean full access to his bank account and full reign to run out on
him with any moron you pick up along the way,” Brant shot back icily
before offering up a simple shrug of his shoulders, “though you know I
must say while I would like to feel sorry for the schmuck, well I think
you two were meant for one another. The way I see it after a few
months of being with you, he won’t have to worry about that fortune he
clings onto so tightly as you’ll just piss it all away from him.”
“Oh Brant, you think you’re cute now, but when Cameron buries you in
court--and he will bury you, well you’re going to be the one who is
left in the poor house as he’ll get everything he deserves from you,”
she snapped back at him.
“Which is absolutely nothing and that’s pretty much what he seems to
settle for seeing as he married you,” Brant glared at her, “as that
move on his part speaks for itself. I guess it’s better he’s the
one who is played for the fool instead of me as marrying you would’ve
been the biggest mistake of my life.”
“I would’ve given you everything you wanted and more,” Heather declared
with a huff, “I loved you with everything I had Brant, but you were too
stubborn to see that.”
“No Heather, you were just too in love with what I could give you in
terms of status and the money,” he shook his head at her, “It wasn’t
ever about love for you.”
“Like it ever was for you,” she huffed once again watching the
expression that shifted over his features as a silence fell over them.
“I guess you’ll never know, will you,” Brant replied cryptically as he
took a step back placing a distance between them, “though you know
Heather, if you could’ve thought about us instead of the career
advancement that you obviously weren’t cut out for, then maybe just
maybe you might’ve found yourself in a very different position in your
life right now.”
“Don’t try to play the moral high ground with me Brant because we both
know that my sleeping with that producer pales in comparison to the
ways in which Avery Morrison played you for a fool,” Heather remarked
sourly, “She’s been whoring herself out since the moment you decided to
chase her around town, but you were too big of a moron to see the truth
that was right before your eyes.”
“Speaking of whores,” his gaze dropped down to her abdomen as it dawned
in on him where they were with one another, “how does Cameron feel
about having married you once some other unlucky bastard knocked you
up? Couldn’t get the baby’s daddy to give you the fortune you’ve
spent years dreaming about so you figured you‘d schmooze Cameron,
right? No wait, I take that back. I have a better one here
to ask…since you feel compelled to be so forthcoming with me today,” he
stepped in towards her, his dark eyes ablaze with curiosity, “Tell me
Heather, is that baby Kipp Mahoney’s like the rumors have been flying
on about around here, or did you sample the goods with Russell Denton
before you laid the big score down with Cameron?”
“Go to hell Brant,” Heather cursed at him slapping him clear across the
cheek before quickly snatching up her bags and marching out of the
store in a huff.
“That’s exactly where I would’ve been had I not gotten rid of you when
I did, Heather,” he shouted after her not caring about the stares he
was getting as he found himself far more irritated with her than he’d
been in quite some time.
Though as he thought about the night that Avery had encountered Russell
and Heather in bed with one another, he couldn’t help but wonder if
maybe just maybe he was onto something about Russ and Heather.
Suddenly a whole new world of possibilities was open to him as he
pondered how he could use Heather’s ‘delicate’ situation to create a
sense of doubt in Avery’s unwavering love for Russell. Maybe
things weren’t looking so bleak after all, he decided selecting a few
pieces of clothing before preparing to make his next move in creating a
doubt in Avery’s mind that would ultimately lead her back into Brant’s
“I cannot believe I let you talk me into coming here for lunch,” Diane
rolled her eyes as they stepped into the sports bar. She groaned as she
spotted the sports channels on every television within the
establishment, “Ben, come on. Can’t we go somewhere else?”
“No, we absolutely cannot. I’ve been wanting to come here for years,
but I’ve never gotten the chance. So, you can do me this one teensy
little favor, and at least enjoy a hamburger and a beer,” Ben urged her
as he led her to the bar to take a seat.
“What can I get you?” The bartender asked before he noticed Diane,
“Die? Triple Threat Die? Oh my god…I haven’t seen you in ages. How the
hell have you been?”
Diane looked up to the bartender with wide eyes as she blinked in soft
“Hell yeah,” J.T. smiled as he leaned over the bar, “How have you been?”
“I’ve been very good,” She smiled as she leaned over to Ben, “This is
my boyfriend, Ben. Ben, this is J.T. We used to play darts together in
“Really?” Ben asked in amusement, “I’m learning all kinds of
interesting things about you.”
“You mean she’s never played darts with you?” J.T. questioned in mock
horror, “That’s just a damn crying shame. Come on, Die. Let’s go show
your boyfriend what you’re made of,” He said as he moved around the
bar, took Diane’s hand, and practically drew her through the room.
Ben chuckled as he followed along with them, finding that being with
Diane was never without surprises and unexpected thrills.
Jenna paced around the police station feeling a need for some air as
the last thing she wanted to do was have a run in with Douglas
again. While Hart had urged her to perhaps get some air, she
wasn’t quite ready to leave just yet either especially not when things
where her brother was concerned weren’t making any sense. She
didn’t buy for a second that Grady had done anything to harm Kipp, yet
the police weren’t ready to open themselves to any other options.
That in itself had her beyond frustrated as Hart had finally decided
that it was best for them to take some time away from the police
“Let me get the car Jen,” he had said coaxing her into finally agreeing
to take some time out from what was going on.
Now as Jenna noted the time, she stepped out into the lobby finally
fishing into her purse to dial the one person she was certain could
help her bring some clarity to the situation at hand. Quickly
dialing the number Jenna waited two rings before the familiar voice on
the other end of the line picked up.
“Mom, hey it’s me Jenna,” Jenna began desperately.
“Baby, what is it? What’s wrong?” Dorothy questioned her voice
full of worry at the tone her daughter had opened the conversation with.
“Mom, I’m at the jail right now. Grady Denton has been arrested
for the attempted murder of Kipp…” Jenna started unable to contain the
emotions going through her voice at this moment in time.
“Douglas’s son?” Dorothy registered what Jenna was saying, “And
Grady? Now I don’t buy that for a second…”
“Neither do I, but for some reason the police seem to think they have
this overwhelming evidence against Grady and…” Jenna stopped herself
overcome with emotion, “Mom, can I just come over for a little while
and see you? I ran into Douglas and…”
“Oh baby, of course you can. If you’d like I can come down there
to be with you,” Dorothy suggested quickly.
“No, I don’t think there’s anything more I can do in being here as they
aren’t any closer to finding Kipp than they were before. They
just now have this ridiculous theory about Grady which makes absolutely
no sense considering that where they should be looking is into the man
Douglas is. He’s sleeping with this horrible woman that works for
Cameron Stone and…” Jenna stopped herself feeling another shudder race
over her, “Mom, can we just talk about this at your place as I’d rather
not get into all of this over the phone.”
“Of course,” Dorothy replied clearly a bit shaken by her daughter’s
words, “I’ll put some tea on and you know if you need Preston to come
down there and get you…”
“Hart’s with me,” Jenna explained trying to keep her tone even, “He’s
just bringing the car around and then we’ll be on our way over.”
“I’ll be waiting for you then sweetheart and just know that I love
you,” Dorothy added affectionately as Jenna couldn’t help but smile as
the sound of her mother’s voice seemed to always provide some kind of
comfort for her.
“I love you too mom. I‘ll see you soon,” Jenna replied unable to
contain the soft smile that blossomed over her as she hung up her cell
phone ready to share her concerns with her mother as suddenly the urge
to get out of the police station overcame her. She began to head
towards the exit when much to her dismay Patrick appeared clearly set
on stopping her as he cornered her in the lobby.
“I heard you were still here,” Patrick began in a neutral tone, “I was
hoping that maybe we could have a word with one another.”
“Gee Patrick, I’d really like to, but seeing as my day has really been
anything, but wonderful and that we have that whole issue of a
restraining order between us, I think I’m going to have to pass on that
one,” she rolled her eyes, her words dripping with sarcasm as she
attempted to brush past him.
“I don’t think you heard me Jenna,” he reached for her arm pulling her
back in towards him, “I said I’d like to speak with you.”
“And I was trying not to flat out say it, but you can’t take a hint,”
she shoved him away from her, “I’m not interested in whatever it is
that’s on your mind.”
“Well maybe we can work on making you interested Jenna seeing as you
and I have some unfinished business between us,” Patrick insisted
curling his fingers around her wrist tighter than before as he pulled
her in closer to him, “as I was kind of hoping that we could work on
repairing the damage that’s been done to our relationship with one
“Hmm, that’s funny because I was under the obvious impression that we
don’t have any kind of relationship, so I strongly suggest you let go
of me or else…” she began to warn as he smiled down at
“You don’t really want to hate me, do you Jenna? I mean really we
had a nice time when we were out with one another that first time,” his
grin expanded as he tugged on her arm drawing her in closer to him as
his breath spilled upon her, “You know one day I’m going to be a very
important man in town. I won’t be just a Lieutenant as I’ll be
running the show and when I do, well I can promise you that I’ll look
after those who have been especially nice to me Jenna. I’d like
for us to be on good terms for when I’m the Chief of Police because I
have a feeling that it will be very beneficial for the both of us.”
“And I have the feeling that I’m going to get myself another go round
in court with you if you don’t let go of me because I’ll have no qualms
about letting go of my career if this time I get in a few good blows
here and there,” Jenna warned sharply, “Now let go of me.”
“All this hostility,” he shook his head at her clucking his tongue with
the movement, “Jenna, is this really necessary considering that I’m
certain we can truly benefit from having a civil relationship of sorts
between us. I think you’re a smart woman with a lot of goals that
I think you’ll find can be achieved easier should we gain and
understanding between us.”
“The only thing I want you to understand is how much you repulse me
Patrick,” Jenna remarked sourly bringing her knee up into his groan
area feeling him retract his hold on her as he stumbled back in
agony. She adjusted her purse strap over her shoulder glaring
down at his bent form as she scowled at him, “and you can quote me on
that in the next police report I’m sure you’ll have drawn up against
me,” she huffed marching out of the police station as Patrick watched
her retreat in agony.
“This isn’t over Jenna,” he warned under a pained breath realizing that
very soon his ship was about to come in and when it did, he was going
to make damn certain that people like Jenna paid for their lack of
respect where he was concerned. Sure, maybe right now he was
playing it safe, pretending that he was okay with where he was in life,
but soon enough with the help of his latest associates he was quite
certain he’d not only be the one replacing Dave Warner as Chief of
Police, but soon after that he’d show Jenna a thing or two about what
it meant to defy him. That much he was certain of.
“That certainly was something,” Seth couldn’t help but laugh as he and
Blake sat down on the sofa in the guest house on the Ashford property
after their grueling photo shoot with Sal, “I mean sure I certainly
don’t mind being on the other end of the camera, but with being the
model, well that’s hard work.”
“See and here you kept thinking that it was easy for the talent to
strike a pose,” she couldn’t help but tease leaning her head on his
chest as he curled an arm around her, “It takes a lot of effort there
to look good for the cameras.”
“Not for you it doesn’t as you’re radiant all the time, but for me,
well I felt completely awkward,” Seth confessed leaning over to kiss
the top of her head, “but then again I’m always that way when someone
is taking my picture.”
“You weren’t awkward with me the other night,” she tilted her head up
to meet his dark eyes as she wiggled her brow at him teasingly.
“Yeah well then you weren’t paying attention because it took a while
for me to warm up,” he reminded her in a whisper the warmth of his
breath dancing over her excited skin as she let out a tiny giggle.
“Somehow I never imagined you’d ever have to take a while to warm up
especially when we’re together,” Blake teased hinting at something a
bit more intimate as she shifted on the sofa beside him, seeking out
his lips as she slid her arm around his torso.
“Well, not when we’re like this, but with the cameras I can be a little
shy,” he confessed nibbling on her lower lip as he pulled her more
completely into his lap enjoying the change of positioning between them
as she curled her arms around his neck squeezing him in closer to her.
“Hmm, well maybe we can work on breaking you of that shyness as I
happen to think that you’re sexy behind or in front of the camera and
you don’t have a thing to be shy about,” she tried to assure him
dipping down to taste of his lips once again as a shiver raced over her
and a warmth settled in the pit of her stomach reminding her all over
again about the pure heat of Seth’s masculinity beneath her. She
wiggled a bit settling into just the right place on his lap as their
mouths meshed in another intense collision rocking her straight to the
core as it seemed that the initial exhaustion she’d felt from their day
out in the sun hamming it up for the camera had faded and was replaced
with something far more primal and needy.
Threading her fingers through Seth’s hair, Blake dipped her tongue into
his mouth feeding from the sweetness of him until she found herself
lost in that same whirlwind of desire that only Seth could bring out in
her. The hot and wild feel of him trapped beneath her sent her
soaring to the places she’d shied away from for years as in being this
close to Seth she was met with a feeling of brazen boldness that she’d
long since denied herself over the years, but as she bumped her hips
against Seth, she vowed no more.
“Blake,” he murmured her name, his own hands cupping her spine as they
parted and his dark eyes sought out her own sparkling blue gaze.
“Yes,” she questioned drawing in an excited breath as he held her,
tentatively massaging the contours of her body.
“I thought you’d mentioned that you wanted to rest for a while and then
perhaps work on making some kind of dinner together to make up for the
meal that we had to throw away this morning,” he reminded her thinking
of her words as she’d declared she was famished half way through the
“Well, I’m sure that’s what I said, but right now I think I could skip
straight to dessert,” she announced diving in for another reckless kiss
before she breathed against his lips, “although I might have some fruit
in the refrigerator and perhaps a good merlot we could enjoy along with
the more pleasurable things I have right before me…”
“I think I’ve created a monster,” Seth couldn’t help but tease sliding
his fingers out over her pert bottom, “but I must admit that I’m rather
enjoying it just as long as the feeling is mutual.”
“The feeling is very mutual indeed,” Blake promised him catching his
mouth with hers once again as she felt a low rumble rise in the pit of
her stomach alerting her to the hungers that extended beyond her body’s
craving Seth, “although maybe you do have a point about the food there.”
“I thought I might,” he couldn’t help but laugh feeling her begin to
move off of him as he caught her arm mid-movement drawing her to him
for another quick, tantalizing kiss, “though I hope that we can have
this to be continued as I‘m rather enjoying this…”
“That’s a promise sexy,” Blake nodded eagerly before getting up off of
his lap and rushing into the kitchen ready to get started on something
to tide her over long enough for her to enjoy the afternoon with
Seth. Quickly she shuffled through the refrigerator seeking out
the fruit plate she was certain she’d left inside and almost
immediately she spotted it, but much to her dismay the wine she’d
thought she’d brought up from the wine cellar was missing.
“Need any help,” Seth questioned stepping in behind her as he slid his
arms around her waist.
“Not at all because I know you’re bound to be a distraction,” Blake
announced leaning back into him catching a faint murmur in the back of
her throat as his lips dropped down to the back of her neck tempting
her a further step or two towards passion, “I found the fruit.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” he replied lazily nibbling on her earlobe as
Blake felt a rush of excitement zip over her every synapse.
“I didn’t find the wine though,” she closed her eyes dropping back into
him as his lips weaved their magical spell over her, “although I’m sure
if I can make a quick run downstairs to the cellar, then we can fix
that problem that oh…that…well…” she bit on her lip feeling his palm
slide up over her abdomen in a torturous movement before she forced
herself to stand upright, “I should get to that before we never get to
where we need to be.”
“I thought we were working on it,” he teased watching her melt against
her persuasions as she slowly spun around in his arms to face him.
“I really need to go find that wine,” she breathed heatedly hating to
break the contact between them as his arms hung loosely around her.
“How about I go with you so that way we don’t miss each other too
long,” he suggested with a sly, evocative grin as Blake wondered if
they’d even make it as far as the wine cellar down below.
“Fine, but I’m warning you if you don’t behave,” she poked at his chest
vowing to keep him waiting for more a little bit longer as she reached
for his hand keeping a distance between them, but not enough to
completely sever the contact between them as she lead him towards the
staircase leading down to the wine cellar.
“Yes,” he questioned lazily tugging on her arm to pull her in closer to
him, “What are you going to do to me?”
“You don’t want to know,” she wiggled her finger at him before reaching
for the light on the stairs.
“Oh yes I do,” Seth teased catching a stern look from her before she
guided him down into the basement of the guest house eager to retrieve
the wine or at least have him begging for her a bit longer as she
thought of what wine from the collection would be best for such an
occasion. Although Blake was quiet certain that there wouldn’t be
anything labeled, white hot seduction, she was willing to try to find
something that might do just the trick as she had a great many plans
for Seth before this day was over.
“Wow, I didn’t realize that you had a basement under this place,” Seth
noted taking in their surroundings as she guided him through the
basement to the area designated for the collection of wines the
Ashfords kept handy over the years.
“Yeah well there’s a lot you weren’t aware of, but this, well this is
just kind of an added bonus for those in the mood for some privacy,”
Blake confessed thinking about the time she’d spent in the guest house
over her years at home. While life always hadn’t been perfect for
her, this had always kind of been her serenity--well, this and the
stables as it had given her the freedom to live the illusion that she
was on her own able to do what she wanted without the restraints that
came about with being an Ashford. Now as she guided Seth through
the basement she thought about those such times when she craved to be
the strong, independent woman without her family holding her back, “As
you can see it’s very private as there isn’t anyone around except for
us and the wines down here…”
“Hmm, now that does sound like company we can certainly keep for the
occasion,” Seth remarked with a hint of a smile as she stopped at the
foot of the wine cellar.
“Now you be very careful in here as Brant has a few things that
absolutely cannot be touched as he’s big on his wine collection,” she
rolled her eyes thinking about her brother’s ridiculous overpriced
hobby as she began to open the door to the wine cellar, “although maybe
he might have something we might enjoy today and what Brant doesn’t
know won’t hurt him.”
“Uh oh, spoken like a woman destined to find herself in some kind of
trouble,” Seth noted watching the wicked expression that grew over her
features as she spun around to face him again sliding her arms around
his muscled contours.
“Oh you have no idea,” she assured him unable to contain her enthusiasm
as she threw her arms around him realizing that she’d been the one
who’d been going through all the torture in staying away from him.
Grabbing him with extra emphasis, she kissed him completely ready to
devour him as she leapt into his arms, but clearly Seth wasn’t prepared
for her sensual assault. He haphazardly threw his arms around her
holding her against him as he stumbled on his feet shifting around
enough to fall back against the door to the partially opened wine
cellar only to feel the earth move behind him as he fell back into the
thick of the rows of bottles and bottles hidden away from the rest of
“Seth, watch out,” Blake cried out realizing that it was too late as
they slammed back into the nearest rack of bottles sending them down
with a crash as Seth repositioned her in his arms in an attempt to
shield her from the glass that was now flying through the Ashford wine
cellar. He clenched her closer to him as he landed on his butt in
the middle of what appeared to be a pool of red wine as Blake cried out.
“Are you okay,” Seth questioned taking a moment to catch his breath as
he held Blake securely in his lap amazed that she hadn’t been
completely drenched by the wine that now soaked his jeans and t-shirt
as he sat atop the marble flooring.
“I am for now, but Brant is so going to kill us,” she confessed turning
her attention to the rack of bottles that were almost all completely
destroyed as Seth held her in his arms. Turning her attention to
him once again, Blake’s eyes widened with a newfound horror, “Seth, are
you okay? Did you get any glass on your or in…”
“I’m fine,” he assured her quickly feeling the wine soak straight down
into his boxer shorts, “though I’m sure this kind of puts off what we
had going on as I’d imagine it’s probably a good idea for us to clean
this up before your brother comes around on a rampage…”
“As much as I’d like to say that wouldn’t be the case, well, I think
Brant’s not going to be too happy about this,” Blake sighed heavily
realizing that her enthusiasm had put a damper on the mood as now they
had a bigger problem to deal with. Still, as she thought of how
eager she was to be with Seth, she felt herself tuning out of the
moment once again.
“Hey, do you hear that,” Seth questioned bringing Blake out from her
fantasizing about what might’ve been.
“Hear what?” she asked trying to shake the vivid images as Seth
continued to strain to listen to something.
“That,” Seth urged her on again as Blake too heard the sounds of liquid
seemingly running off beyond the floor of the wine cellar. She
gave him a strange look before she turned her attention to the liquid
on the floor watching as it all seemed to run down to the far wall in
the wine cellar seemingly disappearing in underneath the wine casing
before them. “It almost looks like it’s going outside.”
“That’s impossible,” Blake started to argue with him, “Seth, we’re
“Even so it’s like it’s leaving the basement here,” Seth pointed out
once again watching some of the wine continue to pour out of the room
making a new sound of it’s own as Blake slowly pulled herself together
enough to move up off of him.
“That shouldn’t be,” she insisted stepping in for a closer inspection
as Seth managed to muster up the strength to pull him wine soaked body
up off of the ground and move in behind her.
“Maybe not, but there’s a distinct sound Blake. It’s almost as if
it’s going down still…” he paused listening for another minute or so
before he reached out to the wall before him touching the bottles at
random, “Blake, it sounds like there could be something behind here.”
“Seth, I already said that we’re in the basement so there’s no way that
there would be something back there. I know there are rumors
floating around about this place and it’s secrets, but I can assure you
that there aren’t any…” she came to an abrupt halt with her words as
Seth rotated a wine bottle just a bit causing the wall before them to
move with the motion revealing a darkened staircase before them.
Blake gasped in surprise as her eyes fell upon the corridor now
pretended to her.
“I take it you didn’t know about this,” Seth noted her surprise as he
moved in beside her.
“Not at all,” she shook her head in confession, “I mean sure there were
stories, but Seth, my home never had any secret passages or hideaways…”
“Apparently it does,” Seth craned his neck to get a better look down
the winding staircase before he turned to look at Blake again, “Shall
we take a look?”
“Well, I suppose we could, but maybe we should get a flashlight first,”
Blake suggested finding herself overcome with an air of curiosity as it
seemed that suddenly she was a stranger in the home she’d spent a great
many years in during her youth.
“That sounds like it’s probably a good idea,” Seth nodded in agreement,
“Do you have any around here?”
“Yeah, they’re up in the kitchen next to the stove. In the
overhead cabinet. There should be a few of them,” she confessed
keeping her eyes glued upon the passageway before her.
“Okay, I’ll go get them,” Seth offered up slipping out of the cellar as
Blake peered down the staircase wondering just what secrets lay below
as it seemed that her home clearly had more secrets in store for her
than she’d ever dreamt possible as suddenly the tales of the Ashford
legacy and the tall tales she’d heard in her youth were becoming a
reality right before her very curious eyes.
“So here we are,” Guy put the car into park turning to face Mindy only
to find her fidgeting on the seat beside her, “Mindy, stop that.”
“Stop what,” she frowned gazing up at him once again as she tapped her
fingers nervously on the window beside her.
“That,” he urged again, “Mindy, stop that as I know what you’re
thinking right about now.”
“Somehow I seriously doubt that one,” Mindy argued with him a sigh
spilling from her lips, “because as I said before you didn’t have to
bring me over to the Ashford mansion like this. I was perfectly
content to be back at the apartment waiting for you to return for our
dinner date so to speak after you’d have time with your mother.”
“I won’t be long and besides given that she’s trying to make some
progress with Russ, then maybe just maybe she’ll be willing to extend
the feeling your way which will help us with what we have ahead,” Guy
suggested seeing the doubts flash over Mindy’s features.
“Guy, this is a really bad idea because we both know that your mother
isn’t going to accept me in your life and really if you take a long
hard look at that in itself, perhaps that’s a good thing since I’m not
really the person you’re in love with and…”
“And you’re just making excuses not to join me,” he frowned back at her.
“You’re damn right I am,” she folded her arms in front of her chest,
“I’m not going in there.”
“Now you’re acting like a two year old,” Guy frowned back at her,
“Mindy, I’m not asking you.”
“So what you’re telling me now,” she huffed in response, “Well gee Guy,
then let me be the first one to tell you to piss off then because no
one tells me what to do.”
“Mindy, look I’m not trying to be bossy, but it’s just…” he started to
argue with her once again, “fine, but if you change your mind, then
don’t hesitate to come upstairs because I’d really like you with me.”
“And as much as I’d like to help you out, I’m not about to get into a
screaming match with your mother,” Mindy replied stubbornly as he shook
his head at her feeling his frown deepen.
“Fine, then don’t,” he huffed storming out of the car taking a moment
to look back at her as he watched her reach over to the ignition to
turn the car one once again so that she could listen to the
radio. Shaking his head as he turned away he realized that
suddenly he was starting to feel like a married man in the midst of a
fight with his wife, but to hell with it. He wasn’t going to
bother pushing Mindy anymore than he had to right now as he was more
concerned with getting in a quick visit with his mother.
Still, he probably should’ve left her back at the apartment, he
reasoned thinking about how persistent he’d been in coaxing her into
joining him. Okay, so maybe he’d lied a tad bit about what they
were going to do as he’d hinted at them having a night on the town,
which was still full well his intentions, just after he visited his
mother. However, Mindy was proving to be impossible far more than
he’d imagined as he thought to her sticking it out in the car.
“Well don’t think I’m going to hurry out then,” he muttered under his
breath making his way into the Ashford mansion and marching up the
stairs with an exaggerated stomp as Mindy’s behavior left a sour taste
in his mouth. Clearly she was in the mood to be obstinate and Guy
would have to find out how to turn that around before they wound up
blowing things at the upcoming promotional party his mother was still
thinking about launching for beholder.
Now as he stood outside the door to the room his mother was in, Guy
knocked once, twice before reaching out to turn the knob. Much to
his dismay he found it locked as he knocked again, worry evident in his
voice as he spoke out to her.
“Mum, mum are you in there?” he knocked again tapping his knuckled
against the door once again as he heard the sounds of shuffling
followed by a thud from behind the door. Instantaneously his
heart rate quickened as he pushed at the door again, using his weight
to try to break it open as another rustling sounds rose from the thick
door before him, “Mum! Mum, what’s going on?”
Taking a step back as Guy heard another sound rise from the bedroom, he
drew in a breath ready to find a way inside that room whether or not
the Ashfords were happy about his methods as he took a running start
towards the door, only to have Brooke open it seconds before his
impact. She saw his intentions as she stepped aside allowing him
to fly into the room tumbling onto the bed face first as a gasp fell
from her lips.
“Good heavens Guy what were you doing,” she questioned clenching her
robe around her body tighter than before as she looked at her son with
“I heard noises in her and I was worried when you didn’t answer,” Guy
explained with a grumbled untangling himself from the blankets on her
bed as he looked up at her once again, “Mum, what was going on?”
“Nothing,” she answered swiftly bringing her hand up into her tousled
hair, “I was just sleeping when you arrived.”
“Mum you just seem so, well flushed and you look a bit winded,” Guy
started again reaching out to her, “Are you sure that everything is
okay? I mean when I saw that you had the door locked…”
“Oh well that’s just because I tend to do that now after everything
that happened with Bruce,” Brooke adjusted the tie on her robe before
offering her hand out to him, “as it’s just a defense mechanism you see
and now that you’re here, well there’s really no need for me to keep it
locked like that as I’m sure you and I have a lot to catch up on with
“Still, what was that noise? It sounded like a crashing sound,”
Guy eyed the room intently spotting the curtains blowing in the wind
bringing in a chill as he noticed the open window before him.
“Oh well, I was just outside on the balcony getting some fresh air you
see,” Brooke began rushing over to the window and bringing it to a
hasty close, “but now, well now that you’re here I see that it is
rather chilly outside…”
“But you said that you were just sleeping,” Guy gave her a look of
“Oh well I was and then I heard the door and I ran to the window over
there,” she motioned to the glass behind her before guiding him away
from the window, “but when I got out on the balcony I realized that
whomever was there hadn’t been actually seeking me out, so then I came
back in here and stumbled over that footstool over there, but now, well
now I’m fine.”
“Are you sure,” Guy questioned hesitantly, “I mean you didn’t hurt
yourself or anything, did you?”
“No more than I’ve already been wounded,” she waved at his words
dismissively, “though right now I’d rather focus on you instead of
me. How about we sit down for some tea as I could have one of the
maids bring some up for us to share or we could even go downstairs to
the dining room.”
“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea considering that you might’ve
hurt your ankle in the fall,” Guy reached out to brace her up against
him, “as maybe we should take a look at it and call someone in since
you’ve been through so much…”
“Guy, I’m fine. Really I am and you worry far too much about me,”
she shook her head at him as there was another faint tapping sound that
came from the window leading to the balcony.
“What was that?” Guy questioned turning towards it once again as Brooke
reached out to him letting out a low, whimpering moan.
“Oh Guy, maybe you’re right,” she nearly fell into him tumbling down
onto the bed and taking him down beside her, “Son, perhaps you should
go get someone as my ankle does rather hurt.”
“I had a feeling it might. Let me take a look at it,” Guy
suggested moving in to inspect the ankle as it seemed that all was in
tact with his mother, “Everything appears to be okay.”
“Well I could’ve sworn that…” Brooke started catching a shadow from the
balcony out of the corner of her eye as Guy brushed his fingers against
her ankle once again. Letting out a hefty yelp, she cried out in
agony, “Oh Guy, that hurts. It could be broken…”
“Now that you mention it, it does look rather swollen,” he nodded in
agreement reaching out to the phone beside her bed, “I’ll call someone
over right now.”
“Oh you can’t,” Brooke slammed her hand down on top of his, “At least
not with this phone as it isn’t working today. Something about
there being some damage that was done to the line after the string of
storms that have been happening around here, but I know that the one
downstairs is working. I also have some pain pills that one of
the maids were going to bring up to me, but perhaps if you went down
there to retrieve them while you made your call, then maybe that would
do the trick.”
“Mum, I really hate the idea of leaving you alone considering that…”
Guy began once again as she stretched out a bit more on the bed letting
out an overemphasized wail of agony.
“Guy please don’t argue with me,” she begged of him, “Just go get my
pills and then I’m sure I’ll be better.”
“Mum I really don’t think that I should leave you now considering
that…” he watched her face twist with obvious discomfort as he rose
from her side, “I’ll be right back.”
“I’ll be right here waiting,” she tried to assure him watching him slip
away before she moved her attention to the window once again.
Once she was certain that Guy was out of earshot, she rose from the bed
in a haste, throwing open the doors to the balcony as her eyes fell
upon the bare muscled chest of her companion as he stood before her
rubbing his hands against his arms frantically.
“You could’ve at least let me have my shirt,” he began to frown as she
tugged on his arm pulling him back into the room with her.
“There wasn’t any time and there still isn’t as my son should be back
any minute now,” she scurried around the room seeking out his shirt
from the floor and tossing it at him before she began to push him out
into the hall, “Look, I know that this wasn’t what we planned, but I’ll
call you later. We can finish what we started perhaps tonight
when things are a bit more quiet.”
“Well, I don’t see why we have to finish them now considering that it’s
only your son that…” he curled his lip in a frown as he eyed her
intently, “You’re not ashamed of me now, are you Brooke?”
“Believe me lover, there is nothing more that I would want to do than
show you off to the world, but with everything that’s been happening in
my daughter’s life, now isn’t the time to drop this kind of bombshell
upon my children,” she reached out to touch his cheek in a tender
gesture before leaning in to steal a kiss from his lips, “but soon I
promise you we’ll be able to let the world know that you’re mine.”
“It’s not soon enough Brooke,” he whispered against her lips curling
his arm around her small frame before pulling her in closer to him,
“You know you’re killing me with all of this, don’t you?”
“I’m sorry, but I swear to you that soon there won’t be anymore of my
pushing you away as I’ll be able to have you with me all the time,
whenever I want you,” Brooke purred as her gaze lingered over the
muscled contours of his very chiseled form.
“You’d better be careful Brooke because if you wait too long, then
someone else might snatch me away from you,” he teased with a wink.
“And if she even tries, I’ll scratch her eyes out as you’re mine,” she
threw her arms around his neck drawing him in for another lingering
kiss, “every irresistible, erotic inch of you belongs to me.”
“And it’s every irresistible, erotic inch of me that wishes I could
stick around instead of being swept out of her like the dirty laundry,”
he began to protest as she heard the sounds of footsteps from below.
“You have to go now,” Brooke insisted shoving her out of her room as
she motioned towards the far end of the hallway, “Take the back stairs
as they’ll lead you out the servant’s entrance.”
“I came in that way, remember,” he pointed out with a grumble.
“Good, then you’ll know where you’re headed to,” she pushed him further
along into the darkness before rushing to meet Guy at the top of the
steps as he carried a glass of water and her pills with him.
“Mum, what are you doing,” he questioned in confusion, “I thought we
agreed you’d stay put.”
“I just couldn’t wait any longer as I was in so much pain,” she leaned
to the side bracing herself on the wall as she reached out to him
snatching up the water and the pills, “but thank you for bringing these
so quickly as I truly thought I would be lost in agony if I had to wait
a second more.”
“Mum, I thought we agreed you’d stay in bed as you really shouldn’t be
moving around like this especially on that ankle with the doctor on his
way over,” he began to chastise her.
“Oh you’re absolutely right. I should be in bed and if you’ll
help me, then I promise I won’t go around trying to run off on you
again,” she promised emphatically placing her arm around him as he
guided her to her room once again and she took one last look down the
darkened hallway feeling a bit more at ease now that she’d sent her
lover away for the time being before she had to explain herself to Guy
in ways she clearly wanted to avoid at all costs.
Mindy tapped her index finger on the steering wheel looking up at the
Ashford mansion as she felt her frustrations mounting. She
should’ve known that Guy was up to something when he’d tried to coax
her into leaving the apartment by tempting her with dinner. While
they hadn’t had much contact with one another lately due to the things
that had been happening around them, Mindy had decided that perhaps
tonight was a great night to start talking about the things that had
been weighing upon her mind since she and Guy had crossed paths
Of course a great job of talking she was doing now it seems, she
frowned as she thought of the way that Guy had marched out of the car
clearly irritated with her, but still she was doing the right
thing. Brooke Morrison hated Mindy with a passion and no near
death experience was going to change that. Mindy was well aware
of that and she knew that deep down Guy had to see that as well, so
then why was she feeling horrible for dismissing Guy as she had?
Why was guilt riding in the pit of her stomach over such an obviously
right decision that was made on her part.
“Because you were acting like an idiot Mindy,” she scowled back at her
appearance in the rear view mirror feeling guilt tug at her insides for
the way she refused to just go along with Guy. Even now she hated
that she’d sent him away angry as that certainly wasn’t the way she
wanted to start things with him. Still, as she began to stew
about it, she realized that she was going to have to swallow her pride
a bit if she hoped on getting in good graces with Guy.
“Oh hell,” she cursed throwing open the door to the car and snatching
up the keys from the ignition as she began to march out of the car
decidedly towards the front door to the mansion, when she was
sideswiped by a blur moving in rapidly beside her. Before she
knew it, she found herself butt first on the ground staring back at a
pair of dark eyes before her.
“What in the world was that?” he questioned in confusion blinking back
in obvious surprise as their encounter had rendered them both flat on
“I was about to ask you the same thing,” she gave him a quick sideways
glance, “What’s the hurry?”
“Well I was just…” he paused as if taking in her features for the very
first time since they’d collided as the beginnings of a smile spread
over his handsome face, “Rambling?”
“What?” she blinked back in confusion before his face finally
registered in her memory bank, “Charmed and Delighted?”
“That’s right,” he couldn’t help but laugh thinking to the night they’d
met in the small out of the way coffee shop not long ago, “Long time no
“I suppose you could say that,” she couldn’t help but smile in return
as his dark eyes seemed to penetrate hers, “although I wasn’t expecting
to bump into you like this.”
“Neither was I, but I’m almost glad that I did,” he confessed pulling
himself up off of the ground and dusting himself off before offering
his hand out to assist her.
Reluctantly she accepted his hand as she felt him hoist her up off of
the ground so quickly that she stumbled forward into his arms.
“Well, I’d have to say fate obviously wants for us to come into contact
with one another since we keep meeting this way Rambling,” he winked
down at her feeling her fingers curl over the center of his shirt as a
breath caught in her throat.
“I don’t think it was exactly supposed to be like this,” she offered a
polite smile making no attempt to move out of his arms as she tried to
balance the furious pounding in her heart at the feel of his hold upon
“Hmm, I don’t know I tend to rather enjoy it with our meeting this
way. It sure beats the hell out of some of the receptions that
I’ve been getting lately in this town,” he confessed sliding his arm
around her waist more securely as she felt a blush rise over her
“Yeah well while I don’t mind getting up close and personal with people
to offer up a warm welcome, I don’t usually make it this up close…”
Mindy confessed taking a step back as she felt embarrassment flood over
her at her lack of coordination around him.
“Oh I don’t know, I tend to enjoy these chance meetings between us,” he
replied with a sexy smile, “although it might increase the fulfillment
we get out of them if perhaps this time we exchange names with one
another before we part ways. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“Well, I suppose that might add one type of satisfaction to the
encounter, although the element of mystery does tend to hold a certain
appeal to it,” she teased back finding herself uncharacteristically
flirty with him.
“Ah, a tease huh,” he chuckled in mild amusement, “so you’d rather keep
me guessing than share the name of one of the most beautiful women I’ve
encountered here in town. Somehow I find that quite unfair seeing
as I’ve done nothing but try to be cordial.”
“Indeed you have, but once you know my name, well you might find your
interest dwindles,” Mindy remarked with a flirty smile.
“I see, so then you’re saying if I provided you with mine, then you
would feel less compelled to share this moment with me,” he arched a
speculative brow as Mindy spoke up quickly.
“I never said that.”
“But you didn’t not say it either,” he threw back at her.
“What?” she couldn’t help but give him a strange look at he offered his
hand out to her.
“I think I’m going to take a chance on this one,” he offered up with
another bright, radiating smile, “I’m Hunt. Hunt Lockhart and you
“Mindy,” she felt her breath catch in her throat as he raised her hand
to his lips offering up a polite kiss atop of her palm, “Mindy
“Well Mindy Carmichael, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” Hunt whispered
against her skin causing a heat to stir up inside of her stomach as her
pulse rate quickened to what had to be by far the most unruly pace.
“Likewise,” Mindy felt herself caught in a moment she hadn’t quite
planned upon as Hunt’s eyes gave her a very hefty perusal showing his
obvious appreciation for the women before him. She fluttered her
eyelashes unable to keep from doing the same with him as she took in
every inch of him, quite pleased with what she saw before her until her
eyes fell upon his bare feet. Unable to contain the puzzled
expression that overtook her, Mindy’s eyes returned to his once again,
“Don’t tell me you lost those in our accident here?”
“What?” he questioned looking down to his feet for a brief moment of
embarrassment, “Oh no of course not. I left them out back as I
got them soaking wet when I was leaving before and…”
“And?” she arched a curious brow.
“Well, I was just on my way out and…” he paused trying to think a way
out of the odd situation he’d found himself in, “What are you doing
here? Do you know the people who live here?”
“Do you?” Mindy questioned curiously unable to contain her amusement as
she was almost certain he’d started blushing upon her questioning.
“Oh yeah, yeah of course I do as I was…well, I was working inside you
see and I lost my shoes in the process of what I was doing which is why
I was coming out to my car to get cleaned up…” he began searching for
the right words as Mindy gave him a doubtful expression, “What about
“What about me?” Mindy repeated with a simple shrug of her shoulders.
“Well, what are you doing here? Do you have any kind of business
inside?” he questioned turning the focus to her.
“I actually came here with my…” she bit on her lower lip not wanting to
think of what she was supposed to call Guy in this moment in time, “a
friend of mine actually. He was visiting his family and I thought
that I’d just wait out here since, well since it’s such a nice morning
“That it is,” Hunt nodded in confession, “almost too nice to be wasting
it working away inside.”
“So what was it that you said you did again,” she inquired her nose for
news and her obvious interests for the man before her taking over.
“I didn’t, but I suppose I should’ve although well, I’m kind of running
late and as you can see since my shoes were stuck out back in some of
the mud,” he motioned to the dirt that now tracked up the side of his
slacks, “well I really should be going as I’m late for my next job.”
“Oh, well don’t let me hold you up, although you know if we go out back
I’m sure I could help you with your shoes and then maybe you wouldn’t
have to drive around barefoot,” Mindy suggested hoping to assist him
with the trouble he’d found himself in.
“Nah, I never really liked that pair anyways,” he waved his hand at her
dismissively, “but thanks for the offer.”
“Anytime,” she smiled politely.
“Well, alright, then I guess I’ll see you around town Mindy,” he waved
at her after an awkward silence had passed between them.
“Sure, I look forward to it Hunt,” she replied watching him hurry off
to a car that was seemingly tucked away behind a thick brush of
shrubbery parked near the gate to the mansion. Unable to contain
the urge to keep her eyes upon him, she heard him curse something she
couldn’t quite understand before he looked up at her again throwing out
one last wave in her general direction before getting into his car and
taking off as Mindy was left wondering just what it was that Hunt was
all about as she had certainly found herself interested in learning
“Oh Mindy, get over yourself,” she reminded herself pointedly as Hunt’s
car drove off away from the estate leaving her to focus back upon the
great sacrifice she was about to make for Guy in taking such a bold
step to make nice with his mother. Sometimes it just wasn’t worth
the effort, she thought to herself pushing all other thoughts aside as
she grudgingly walked up to the porch of the Ashford estate hoping that
things wouldn’t turn out to be a total disaster like she’d imagined.
Judy sat at her desk at Ashford and Hart attorneys, attempting to get
some work done. Unfortunately, it seemed as if her mind kept wandering
back to Deidra. She’d seen Deidra go through depressive bouts before,
but she’d never seen her in such a state as the one caused by Bruce
Mathis. The name alone frightened Judy to the core, but to know that
her target could now be considered a target was almost more than she
“What?” Judy looked up to see Richard standing before her. She’d so
hoped that she wouldn’t run into him and could just write off their
time together as a dream. Richard, however, seemed to have other plans.
“Are you busy? Or could I borrow a few minutes of your time to take you
to lunch?” He asked with a soft smile.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” She replied simply.
“Why not?” He asked as his smile faded.
“Because you just went through a horrible ordeal with your wife, Rick.
Your wife,” She repeated, “And from what I’ve seen on the news as of
late, I think she remains your wife. And I won’t be the other woman.”
“Judy…you just don’t understand how things are. When Brooke was
kidnapped, I had to be there for my children.”
“Don’t use them as an excuse for what your heart did, Rick,” She spoke
softly, “I saw the genuine concern in your eyes for her. I can’t blame
you for that. It’s part of what makes me love you. You still love her,
Rick, and I can’t and won’t be the other woman who waits in the wings
in the hopes that she’ll push you away again.”
“It’s just that she went through so much, and I couldn’t just leave
“No, you can’t, Rick. That’s not the kind of man you are. You’re a good
man and a good husband. I won’t change that just because I love you. I
just want you to be happy, and right now, it seems that your place is
Judy stood and walked around to him. She gently touched his cheek
before she drew him into a gentle kiss, “I love you, Richard Morrison,
and because I love you, I have to walk away…again,” She smiled sadly
before she walked out of the office and down the hallway.
Richard stood stunned for a moment before he opened the door to follow
her. She stepped into an elevator, and he rushed down the hallway in
pursuit of her. As he neared the elevator, he watched the doors close,
shutting him out of Judy’s life yet again. He couldn’t believe that
they were reliving the same tragic scene all over again, and that he
once again stood alone and heartbroken without the woman he’d lived to
Diego knocked gently on Deidra’s door before he heard her invitation to
enter. He opened the door with a smile, “I’m Diego Hernandez, shrink on
the fourth floor. Welcome to Coral County Regional.”
“Well, I am attracting all kinds of attention,” Deidra smiled as she
walked over to him and shook his hand, “Thank you for the welcome.”
“You’re welcome…again,” He smiled, “I actually came by because I’m also
kind of the informal in house morale booster. I heard about the chaos
of yesterday, and I wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“That’s very sweet of you,” She led him over to her sofa, “Please have
a seat,” As they sat down, Deidra leaned onto the back of the sofa as
she turned to look at him, “Actually I’m doing quite well considering.
I can’t really say that I’m okay with everything, but I’m making the
best of the day I’ve got ahead of me.”
“Is hospital security keeping an eye on you?”
“No, I have a private…well, I guess you’d call her a body guard. She’s
watching my back, and I don’t have any illusions about this guy coming
after me. I know that Bruce Mathis is out there, and whether I like it
or not, until he’s caught, I have to be doubly on guard.”
“You seem to be handing this especially well,” He noted.
“Not as well as it seems. I’m actually a basket case when I have any
chance to think about it for any period of time. Staying busy helps,”
She admitted as she met his eyes, “Besides, right now, I’ve got enough
to deal with as I settle in here at the hospital.”
“How’s that going anyway? Are you settling in here okay?”
“Yeah, I think so. It feels like I’m doing some good here.”
“I believe that you are,” Diego smiled, “From the ladies I’ve seen
exiting the building today, they’ve seemed to be happy with their
decision to visit a doctor here. I think that’s a rather large
testament to your bedside manner.”
“Now I feel like I’m being flattered,” She laughed softly, “Is that
part of your morale booster job description?”
He nodded, “Yeah, I think so. Is it working?”
“Yeah, I think it is,” Deidra grinned.
“Then my work here is done,” He smiled as he stood and extended his
hand to her once more.
“Thank you for coming by, Diego. It’s nice to have someone to talk to
who isn’t fretting over me,” She smiled.
“Then you can call me anytime you want,” Diego shrugged, “I’m on the
fourth floor most days. Just drop by if you want to chat.”
“I will. Thank you again,” Deidra smiled as her visitor left. With
colleagues like Diego, she was feeling more comfortable at CCR every
“Where is he,” Cameron demanded glaring at Patrick as the police
lieutenant tried to shoo Cameron away from plain sight of the others at
the police station. Despite Cameron’s initial beginnings of
protest, he grudgingly followed Patrick into an empty interrogation
room where he could continue questioning the man who worked for him,
“Patrick, where is Grady Denton?”
“He’s being taken care of as we speak,” Patrick informed Cameron in a
hushed whisper, “although I thought we agreed that it would be best if
you weren’t here for this boss. When you called and said that you
wanted to make sure that Grady Denton didn’t get out of here alive,
well, I already put the wheels in motion and I was going to call you
when it was done as…”
“The plans have changed,” Cameron hissed feeling the brunt of Jade’s
refusal fueling his fire where revenge was concerned. While he’d
tried to play it cool, there was no denying the anger that had shot
straight down to the core as he promised himself he would find a way to
see to it that Grady and Jade were apart forever. Now as his dark
eyes narrowed with rage, he looked to Patrick with demanding eyes.
“But I thought you said…” Patrick began in confusion, “I arranged for
it to be taken care of after he was done speaking with his lawyer as I
thought that perhaps this evening might be a good time for…”
“His lawyer,” Cameron repeated taking in Patrick’s words, “You mean
“No, Grady didn’t take the bait with Susan as you were hoping as Avery
Denton stepped in to his defense. The bitch has some balls
considering that I was under the impression that she and Grady hated
one another, but then there she was ready to jump to his defense…”
Patrick began to explain to Cameron as a twisted smirk spread over
Cameron’s dark features.
“Really,” Cameron noted as the wheels in his head began to start
turning, “and you say that Grady and Avery are with one another at this
“They were the last time I checked though their time was almost
up. I’d imagine that someone was picking him up right about now
and getting her out of here which will leave us enough time to finish
that job you asked to have completed,” Patrick offered up hoping that
would be good enough as pleasing Cameron was vital for his future.
“Actually, as I said before, plans change,” Cameron stirred over
the newest course of action burning behind his sinister smirk.
“Alright, then what would you like to see happen because you know
whatever it is, I can do it for you boss,” Patrick offered up eagerly.
“Give me a few minutes alone with Mrs. Denton,” Cameron decided
realizing that there would be one sure fire way to make Jade reject
Grady in every way imaginable.
“Mrs. Denton,” Patrick questioned puzzled by Cameron’s request.
“That’s right,” Cameron nodded eagerly, “as you said it yourself Grady
and Avery have no love lost between them. While she might be
trying to find a way to help him out, a man like Grady would never
accept any help from an enemy. That’s clearly the message he
believed he was trying to convey when he assaulted me and it wouldn’t
be out of character for him to be so abrasive with Avery as well…”
“Ah, I see,” Patrick started to take note of where Cameron was heading
with things, “So you want me to go in there and have a few minutes
alone with Grady’s lawyer so that we can get the wheels turning in a
“Nah, this time I think I can handle this one as I’d love nothing more
than to be the person to seal Grady’s fate this time around as he’s
caused me far too much grief already,” Cameron decided slipping his
hands into his pockets and withdrawing the leather driving gloves he’d
always carried with him. Now it would seem they’d provide him a
much better means of cutting Grady out of Jade’s life forever as
Cameron was about to make things happen in ways that no one had ever
imagined until this moment.
It was brilliant, truly a spark of genius, Cameron boasted to himself
watching as Patrick slipped out of the room muttering something about
having to check on Grady before Cameron made his move. Now as
Cameron thought about the idea, he wondered why it hadn’t hit him
sooner as it seemed that this was far better than what he’d laid out
for Grady with Kipp’s shooting. In dealing with Avery
Morrison-Denton it would be as if he was killing two birds with one
stone--one very lethal stone indeed and Grady would have no one to
support him with this one fatal mistake he’d be making.
“Alright, it’s clear,” Patrick broke through Cameron’s thoughts as he
re-entered the room once again, “Grady was just taken back to his cell
and Avery’s still in the back taking a moment to collect herself.
Clearly she and Grady had some kind of intense session between them and
she appears to be a bit wound up. I made sure that one of the
officers let her have this time on her own before she returned to her
family up front.”
“Excellent,” Cameron smiled now pleased with his latest course of
action as Patrick motioned towards the hallway once again.
“It’s the third door on the left, but if you want me to take care of
this so that you can get out of here boss,” Patrick offered up once
“Not a chance as I’m truly going to enjoy this one. Give me ten
minutes and then see to it that Grady returns to witness just what he‘s
been capable of with his hatred,” Cameron divulged brushing past
Patrick as he thought to his latest plan to destroy Grady in the eyes
of the citizens of Coral Valley forever. Granted Cameron had been
a bit hasty in dealing with the Kipp situation, but now as Grady’s
arch-rival had come into the front burner ready to let bygones be
bygones, Cameron thought about all the research that Thea had done
about the lawyer who undoubtedly would bring about the most headaches
to Cameron’s cause.
It had been a treat when Cameron had learned of the rivalry between
Grady and Avery, but more so in Cameron’s latest notion, it would clear
him of the troubles that Avery could cause him in the courtroom as she
took Stone Corp through the ringer with her position at BBK. Even
now Cameron felt like a child on Christmas morning as he pondered just
how brilliant this latest plan of his was. With Avery out of the
picture, it did so many things for him--things that would ultimately
bring him one step closer to his goal of having Jade and taking down
Slowly Cameron slipped into his gloves taking in a calming breath as
his enthusiasm was bursting from within. It wasn’t like him to
feel a sheer thrill at the thought of getting down and dirty as that
was by far Thea’s element, but now as he prepared for his first meeting
for the notorious Avery Morrison-Denton, he found himself far more
eager than he’d been in years about taking part in a piece of the grunt
work. With that thought in mind, he reached for the doorknob
gently easing the door open as his eyes caught a first glance of the
dark haired woman seated at the table before him. Her eyes were
glued to the pages before her as she faced the far wall with her back
to Cameron as she was unaware of his presence in the room.
Cameron could smell the faint scent of her perfume raising through the
stale generic smell of the room they were in with one another and as
the hints of jasmine drifted over his senses, he couldn’t help but find
himself ready to burst into a victory dance at how easy this one final
task in the road to destroy Grady would be. There she was a mere
few feet in front of him so very lost in her pathetic attempt to save
Grady, when in only a few moments she wouldn’t have any concerns with
Grady Denton’s case. Then again, she wouldn’t be bothered with
any concerns at all in a short while as her life will have come and
gone in the blink of an eye as fate had a much higher purpose for her
to serve with Grady’s destruction. She was a beauty, a vision of
all that Cameron held dear to him as he took note of the sliver of skin
that was revealed to him with her hair pinned up in a simple, gold
clip. She wouldn’t know what was coming and Cameron would have
Grady set for the electric chair by the end of the night as he stepped
forward ready to embark upon the greatest triumph of his life.
“Say goodbye Avery,” he mouthed under his breath extending his hands
out towards her neck, ready to squeeze her life away as a pen rolled
off of the table beside her and she let out a soft curse.
“Damn,” she remarked sliding her chair out a bit to lean down to
retrieve the pen when her eyes fell upon the pair of crisp, clean,
shiny black shoes behind her causing her to jump up from the chair with
a horrified gasp.
“What in the world?” she demanded spinning around to face him directly
as Cameron’s eyes fell upon her. She eyed him intently, her own
dark gaze filled with a surprise and fear as she took a step away from
him creating a distance between them, “What are you doing in here?”
“I…” Cameron found himself frozen in the moment rendered speechless as
he watched a dark strand of her hair sway with her movement, framing
her features in such a way that Cameron was struck with a moment of
familiarity. He dropped his hands into his pockets straining to
keep his gloved fingers from showing as he continued to watch her in
“Yes?” she questioned with the beginnings of a frown as she gave him a
quick once over, “Is there something I can do for you?”
“Is it really you…are you…” he started stammering over his own words as
he managed to pull one of his gloves off of his hand within his
pocket. He extended his arm out towards her, his hand drifting in
towards her cheek as Avery pulled back with a jolt, “What are you doing
here? How did you…”
“How did I what,” Avery questioned as the color drained from his
features and his dark eyes seemingly filled with some kind of inner
turmoil with the moment. He seemed shaken, clearly wound up and
as Avery blinked back at the stranger before her, she found her gaze
drifting to the bruise that tarnished his otherwise flawless complexion.
“You can’t be here,” he continued baffled by what he saw before him, “I
know that you wouldn’t be here when you aren’t supposed to be.
This isn’t what I was expecting and now that I…no,” he shook his head
as if trying to dispel the image of her from his mind as he brought his
hand up to his head, “this isn’t happening…”
“Look if you’re lost or something and you need help,” Avery’s voice
softened as she reached out to him unable to keep from feeling sorry
for the obviously shaken man before her as he trembled before her.
“No, don’t touch me,” he shouted back at her his voice rising with the
moment as he took a cautious step backward, “You aren’t here.
This isn’t real and it’s not you--not when I warned you to stay away…”
“Stay away,” Avery repeated in confusion.
“You shouldn’t be here. Not now…not when I warned you how
dangerous things could be,” Cameron reached out to her once again
touching her shoulder.
Avery felt an icy shudder pass over her upon the contact between
them. She opened her mouth to speak up again in protest when the
door to the room opened and she felt a rush of thunder fall upon her as
the man who’d approached her was now laying face first against the
table top with someone plummeting on top of him pounding away behind
“Stay away from her you son of a bitch,” the new arrival roared in an
obvious rage as Avery slowly registered the sound of his voice.
“Grady,” Avery questioned watching as Grady seized the man by the
collar rolling him around on the table top as the man bounced beneath
Grady slamming into the table again.
“You stay the hell away from her,” Grady growled down at the man as
Avery searched for an officer who might’ve brought Grady into the room,
but before she could locate one, she heard the sounds of the table
bucking in the middle as the man Grady was on top of now fell to the
floor with a resounding thud.
“Grady no…wait,” Avery tried to capture his attention as two uniformed
officers rushed into the room pulling Grady off of the man who now lay
on the floor, his lip covered with blood as Grady bucked and struggled
against the officer’s restraining him.
“Let go of me!” Grady shouted out as his eyes remained upon the man on
“Grady, hey,” Avery stepped over to him seeing the way in which the
officers were shoving him around as her anger mounted, “Let go of my
“No way,” one of the officers shook his head at her ready to take Grady
away as Patrick Sharpe appeared in the doorway.
“What is going on in here,” Patrick questioned looking to the man on
the floor and rushing to his aid as he helped the man off of the
ground, “Are you alright?”
“Do I look alright,” the man growled in response glaring over at Grady
as he began to adjust his tie.
“Do you want to press charges again, Mr. Stone,” Patrick inquired as
the other officers maintained their hold on Grady.
“You’re damn right I do as I’m not about to let this one go,” he
replied now driven with a new fire as Avery spun around to face him
again, her eyes wide with astonishment.
“Stone--Cameron Stone,” Avery blurted out feeling her heart racing in
her chest as she thought of the scene that had just transpired between
them before Grady’s arrival.
“That’s right and this time, well, this time your client is going down
and there isn’t a damn thing you or anyone can do about it,” he
announced keeping his eyes upon her for a lingering moment before
heading out of the room in a haste.
“You blew it this time, Denton,” one of the officers poked at Grady
ready to take him back to his cell as Avery returned her focus to Grady
“No, don’t you dare take him anywhere,” Avery commanded marching
towards the officers with a newfound determination, “I want a word with
“No way,” the other one shook his head in refusal.
“If you don’t give me that then I swear to you that I’m going to see to
it that Chief Warner hears all about what just took place as the police
department clearly is at fault for not having someone to attend to my
client so therefore…” Avery spouted out as Patrick waved his hand at
“Give them five minutes,” he urged them on as the three officers left
the room giving Grady and Avery a moment alone with one another.
Once the door closed, Grady turned to Avery, his face now bloodied by
his own fresh wounds.
“Are you okay,” he asked stepping towards her as he lifted his still
handcuffed hands out to her, “Did he hurt you?”
“No,” Avery shook her head unable to contain the lump of emotion that
hung in the back of her throat, “but if you hadn’t shown up when you
did--Grady, if you hadn’t come in here like you did just now…” she
trailed off suddenly reminded of the eerie feeling Cameron had brought
out inside of her as tiny tremors overtook her and she felt a panic
sweep down upon her.
“What? What happened Avery,” Grady questioned again moving in
closer to her as her tears overtook her. He took a step forward
reaching out to her despite the restraints upon him, “Avery, talk
“Oh God, Grady, I think you just saved my life,” Avery burst into full
blown tears unable to shake the feeling that had overtaken her as she
felt Grady touch her shoulder in an attempt to be comforting before she
leaned into him unable to contain herself as her fears about what
might’ve happened carried over her.
“It’s okay Avery. You’re safe now,” Grady promised maneuvering
his arms around her in a comforting gesture as he wondered just what
Cameron might’ve done to her had Grady not arrived. Now as he
thought about the position he’d found Cameron in hovering over Avery,
Grady feared that the road to proving his own innocence had just taken
a turn for the worst as it seemed Cameron wasn’t above doing whatever
it took to see to it that Grady was locked away forever. As Grady
thought to how shaken Avery was, he realized that Cameron would stop at
nothing to take away everything that meant anything in Grady’s life and
as Grady pondered the situation he’d found himself in, he realized that
now more than ever Jade and the rest of his family was in grave danger
at the hand of a madman like Cameron Stone.