Episode 100 

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 than that.”

“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 her.

“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 him, “No…no!”

“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 brother’s house?”
“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 once again.
“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 up.”
“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 Grady.
“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 irritating ex-wife.
“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 Cameron?”
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 popped up.”
“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 me?”   
“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 against him.
“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 place.”
“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 his features.
“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 look.
“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 guilty.”
“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 want to.”

“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 back.”

“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 slow.”

“I’ll be okay,” She promised him as she held onto him and stood from the car.

“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 without you.”

“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 for.”

“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, “Mom…”

“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 home.”

“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 not blind.”

“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 his family.

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 circumstances were.”

“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 Susan did…”

“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 the baby.”
“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 to him.
“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 before her.
“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 need…”
“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 waiting arms.


“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 shock, “J.T.?”

“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 tournaments.”

“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 station.
“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 another.”
“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 her.       

“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 photo session.
“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 the basement.
“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 underground.”
“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 obvious astonishment.
“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 one another.”
“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 heavy skepticism.
“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 again. 
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 the ground.
“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 see, huh?”
“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 her.
“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 features.
“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 are…?”
“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 Carmichael.”
“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 you?”
“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 and all…”
“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 more.
“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 could bare.


“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 her.”

“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 with Brooke.”

“Judy…please, don’t…”

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 love.


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 day.


“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 Susan?”
“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 very moment?”
“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 new direction?”
“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 again.
“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 the Ashfords.
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 amazement.
“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 handcuffed fists.
“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 the floor.
“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 client.”
“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 once again.
“No, don’t you dare take him anywhere,” Avery commanded marching towards the officers with a newfound determination, “I want a word with my client.”
“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 the officers.
“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 to me.”
“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.

...to be continued...