Episode 102 

Dave gave out a long sigh and stretched at his desk. He rubbed his eyes, glancing at the clock. It was almost eight and he'd definitely put in some overtime. He'd been at the office for over twelve hours and definitely needed the escape. After all the drama that the station had gone through with Cameron, Grady and Avery, he needed a break from it. He found his mind wandering to Deidra and how he hadn't had the chance to spend as much time as he wanted with her lately. He definitely needed to grab a bite to eat and wondered if she was home. He picked up the phone and dialed her number expecting to get the answering machine, but was pleasantly surprised when he heard her pick up.
"Hello?" her voice rang out through the receiver.
"Hey Deidra, it's Dave," he sat forward in his chair pushing all his papers to the side.
"Hey Dave," her voice sounded very stressed and very drained.
"Are you alright?" Dave asked her as he felt worry building up. "You don't sound too good."
"Oh I'm alright," Deidra yawned slightly, "Just exhausted and in need of a good nights sleep if that's possible."
"Oh," he gave out a sigh of relief and leaned back in his chair once more, "I was actually calling to see if you wanted to, you know go get something to eat, if you haven't already that is."
"That's so sweet of you. But I'll have to take a rain check. I was about to lay down to get some sleep. How about tomorrow night?"
"Alright you get to bed and I'll pick you up for dinner about seven tomorrow?"
"Sounds good to me. Night Dave." and with that she was gone putting one of his fears to rest as he was glad to see that at least someone he was worried about was taking it easy unlike him.
Dave hung up the phone and stood up stretching. With one last glance around the office, he put on his jacket and was about to leave when the conversation he had with Avery came popping back into his mind and how he promised her he'd keep Grady save.

He sighed to himself knowing his job still wasn‘t completed for the night, "I guess I should take a peek in on Grady before I head out."
He grabbed the keys off his desk and made his way into the cells. "Grady?" he called out when he didn't see Grady anywhere. "Grady, hey, what the hell?"
He walked over to the cell and saw Grady's body sprawled out on the cell floor. Grady’s body was still surrounded by a pool of blood as Dave flashed back upon Avery‘s words and panic took over him. He quickly unlocked the cell and rushed over to Grady's body checking for a pulse. "There's no pulse. Grady come on Grady."
Dave pulled out his cell phone and called for an ambulance. "Yes, this is Dave Warner, Chief of Police, I need an ambulance at the Coral Valley Police Station."
"What's the nature of the emergency?" a woman asked.
"It's Grady Denton...he’s been stabbed." Dave tore open Grady's shirt and saw the wound through the crimson caked around it.    

He tore off his shirt sleeve and applied pressure to the wound. Dave leaned down, listening to see if Grady was breathing and checking to see if Grady's chest was rising and falling. Neither of them were occurring so he quickly administered CPR desperate to keep Grady from meeting an untimely ending.

"Come on Grady," he begged doing fifteen chest compressions and two breaths.
Dave continued to administer CPR on Grady, once in a while checking for the rise and fall of his chest. His hope fading with each set of new compressions as he thought of his promise to keep Grady safe. He continued to apply CPR as his mind raced on what was happening here knowing that on some level he should‘ve been more careful--that he should‘ve listened to Avery‘s words putting more weight upon them. Finally after what seemed forever he got a pulse from Grady.
“Thank God,” Dave let out a breath of relief realizing that Grady had come out of the darkness that had threatened to engulf him for the time being as Dave heard footsteps in the distance alerting him that he was no longer alone. 

The paramedics had arrived, entering the small area to alert Dave that the ambulance was there while they carefully tended to Grady putting him on the backboard. One of the paramedics walked over to Dave, "Chief do you know if this wound was self inflicted?"
"I…I don't know," Dave ran a hand through his hair and sighed, "I walked in here and he was on the floor, not breathing...no pulse,"
"Well, he's got a pulse now," the Paramedic noted.
"I gave him CPR," Dave informed him, "I was a firefighter before I was a cop and they teach you these things."
"Well Chief, your actions already made a difference," the paramedic assured him, "This guy would have no chance if it wasn't for you. Let's just hope he makes it through."
The paramedics loaded Grady into the car and rushed him to the hospital while Dave glanced around the cell taking in the scene. The whole floor was pretty much covered in blood as were Dave's clothes. He walked into the office and grabbed a pair of gloves and went back to the cell to examine what happened. He searched the cell for anything that Grady might have used to self inflict the wound. After finding nothing he sat on the bed and sighed. The glimmer of something shiny caught his attention in the cell next to Grady's. He stood up and walked over to the cell, the door slightly ajar. He pulled it open and caught sight of a blade, caked in blood. He grabbed hold of it and bagged it for evidence. He then grabbed his phone and made another call. "Yes, this is Dave Warner. I need a fingerprint analyses right away. There's been a stabbing here at the Coral Valley police station. Can you bring in one of your CSI to check it out? Thanks." he pocketed his phone and glanced around once more. His night had just gotten longer as he made his way to his desk, to fill out some papers and make a few more phone calls.


Russell stepped out of the kitchen doorway eyeing Jade as she stood across his living room looking out the front window as if lost in her own private hell even now after Cameron’s threats had seemingly passed for the moment.  Still Russ could see that the aftershocks of his evil brought about an uproar in Jade’s life far more than she was willing to openly admit as she clung to her silence.  He could see how clearly torn she was about the situation she’d found herself in as his own heart was filled with worry for his brother.  Even now he was certain that Cameron was only warming up in this war he’d waged on the Denton family and it felt as if things were only going to get worse from here on out.  Still, as Russ thought about everything that was at stake, he realized that he couldn’t just let Cameron get away with destroying everything that Grady had worked so hard to achieve in his life.  It just didn’t seem fair even if Grady had been impossible every now and then and right now Russ found himself wishing above anything that he could have his brother safe and away from Cameron’s manipulations as Jade’s worries seemed to pass over into his own thoughts.
“Hey you,” Avery’s voice beckoned Russ from his own tortured thoughts as she entered the living room placing her hand on his arm in a tentative movement.  Slowly, he tilted his head in her direction seeing the lines of exhaustion that now swept over her otherwise flawless features as it seemed that this day had also done it’s worst upon her even after having taken a shower to try to melt some stress from her.  Her eyes were darker than usual and her mouth seemed to be curved in a slight frown as there was no mistaking the signs that she too had been pushed to the limit and left in an uncertain position after Cameron had stepped into their world. 
Remaining silent, Russ pulled her into his arms suddenly needing to hold her more than anything as his fingertips brushed over the damp tendrils of her hair with the movement.  He could smell the sweet scent of the citrus shampoo she’d used drift over his senses as he bent down just enough to kiss the top of her head before she curled her arms around him in an attempt to bring about a closer bond between them.
“How is she holding up,” she finally asked in a light whisper after the seconds they shared in their embrace had passed.
“I’d like to say that she’s doing better, but we both know that’s not going to be happening anytime soon--at least not as long as Cameron’s out there doing his best to destroy Grady,” he remarked sourly as his jaw clenched with anger, “I just can’t believe that this is happening.”
“Neither can I as it truly feels like someone out there is out to get our family.  I mean if you think of everything that’s happened--” she stopped herself as her gaze tapered off towards their master bedroom suite unintentionally as the thought of Bruce‘s last attempt to reach out to her came into her mind.
“You know,” Russ began sensing her tension as he held her, “maybe we should just pack it up and go to my parents house again.”
“No, Russ, being here is what’s best for us,” Avery insisted straining to dismiss the thoughts that had haunted her from the moment she’d stepped into the guest shower to clear her head.  While she’d told herself that she wasn’t going to let Bruce or Cameron turn her world upside down, the sad truth to the matter was that she couldn’t shake the way both men had made her feel. 
The very memory of the moment she’d discovered that Bruce had penetrated her seemingly calm and peaceful moment of happiness and turned it into an uproar, things had begun to change for Avery.  She’d tried to pretend that she could look beyond what had happened, but the more she dwelled on it, the harder it was to step forward.  Even now as her eyes were drawn to that master bedroom door once again, she felt a shiver dance up and over her spine as it seemed that Bruce had still found a way to intrude upon her life in ways she never dreamt possible when she’d made the mistake of welcoming her into her life not so long ago.
“Hey,” Russell beckoned her back to the moment as he massaged his fingers down over her arms, “Avery, you don’t have to prove anything to me as we both know that it’s perfectly okay to be somewhere else right now especially after the day that we’ve had with one another…”
“Russ, I can’t let Bruce take this away from us,” Avery declared as if trying to will herself to stop focusing on a man who at the moment wasn’t up front and center posing the greatest threat to her family. 
Turning away from Russ, Avery looked to Jade, who was now lost in her own misery and Avery realized that in some ways that while it felt as if Bruce was the worst threat to her happiness, there were far more dangerous forces moving in against the Denton family.  While she’d thought Bruce was the darkest of fates to fall upon her, just the thought of the way in which Cameron had approached her, she feared that something far worse could come about by his involvement in her family’s affairs.  Even now as she pondered what Jade must be going through to have someone like Cameron trying to manipulate her and ruin her life, she started to feel the weight of the unsettling things that were happening in Coral Valley.  With that thought in mind, she remembered her promise to Grady and in that instant she forced herself to push away her fears and doubts and just focus on what was important at a time when things felt so bleak.
“We need to focus on Jade and helping her through this,” Avery suggested dismissing any worries she’d had about Bruce invading her life as she watched Jade lost in her a world of misery due to Cameron’s latest ploy.
“I know, but I’m not sure how we can make this any easier on her,” Russ confessed at a loss thinking of how his own concerns for his brother had overtaken him as well.
“We might not be able to make it easier, but at least we can remind her that we have each other,” Avery offered up in a hopeful tone as she tried to think about what Grady would want them to do at a moment like this, “She needs to see that she’s not going through this alone.”
“You’re right,” Russell nodded in agreement wrapping his arms around her for another lingering moment, “I just put some water on for tea and maybe that’s what we all could use right about now.”
“I can go and get it,” Avery suggested tilting her head up to look at him as his sympathetic green eyes were still fixed upon Jade.
“Actually, I was thinking that maybe you should have a word with her,” Russell confessed turning his attention to his wife once again, “as you were the last one to speak with Grady and I’m sure she’d like to know all about what kind of frame of mind he was in.”
“I don’t know if that’ll be very reassuring after what happened with Cameron,” Avery answered with a moment’s hesitation.
“Even so, maybe just knowing that you’re going to do everything possible to help my brother might be enough to help her find a little peace tonight,” he added quickly hearing the water he’d put on the stove squealing from the kettle it was in as Avery nodded in agreement.
“I’ll see what I can do,” she decided giving his hand a quick squeeze before watching him return to the kitchen he’d come from minutes earlier.  Now as Avery felt her stomach tied in knots, she turned around to watch Jade for another moment before taking a step forward in the hopes that she could provide some kind of comfort to the woman Grady loved.
Somehow nothing felt right as Avery opened her mouth to speak up in an attempt to reach out to Jade, but as if Jade sensed Avery’s approach she broke the silence all on her own while keeping her eyes glued to the window before her.
“This feels like I stepped into some kind of nightmare,” Jade divulged wrapping her arms around her body in a tighter display than before as she seemed unable to shake the chills that were eating away at her, “I mean how could something go from being right to having come to the point where they are so horribly wrong like this?”
“We’re going to find a way to get him out of jail soon Jade,” Avery offered up supportively praying that her words would prove to be true as she thought of the evidence stacking up against Grady, “It’s only a matter of time before…”
“I don’t know if we have that Avery.  With Cameron’s evil, I think time is the enemy,” Jade blurted out spinning around to face Avery as Avery noted the tears that were now trailing down Jade’s face, “I mean if you really think about it, this isn’t going to stop just because we wish it so.”
“No, it’s not, but I swear to you that I’m going to do everything in my power to get Grady out of jail and back with you where he belongs,” Avery insisted with a newfound determination in her voice, “That’s where he wants to be you know--with you.”
“And I want to be with him more than anything in this world, but the reality is that Cameron isn’t about to let that happen,” Jade argued unable to contain her tears as a tiny shudder passed over her, “with the look in Cameron’s eyes when I saw him earlier tonight, he’s not going to stop.  He’s not going to let go of this until he’s found a way to take Grady away forever.”
“We’re not going to let that happen Jade,” Avery remarked overcome by her own emotions as she reached out to the petite woman before her, “Grady is not going down for this as we both know he’s innocent and I’ll keep fighting until the world sees what we know to be true.”
“And what happens when Cameron keeps buying off the law?  When he takes things to another level where we can’t find a way to defeat him?  Then what?” Jade countered as her own worries consumed her.
“We won’t let it get that far,” Avery added determination in her tone.
“Avery, that’s nice when you say it, but we both know that wishful thinking isn’t going to free Grady,” Jade frowned as the realist in her came to the surface, “Cameron isn’t going to do anything to make this situation go away and it’s only going to get worse.”
“Cameron might have an agenda, but he’s not going to win.  Jade, you can’t stop fighting for what you believe in because a creep like Cameron has decided to make your life miserable,” Avery reached for her hand offering up a supportive squeeze, “Listen to me on this one.  I know what it’s like to have a monster trying to destroy your life, but when it comes down to what really counts, well you can’t let yourself believe that they’re going to take you under.  You can’t allow them to have that much power over you…”
“It’s just I’ve been through so much already Avery and now with Cameron wanting to take the most horrible moment in my life and use it against me in the hopes of hurting Grady…” Jade let out a tiny sob clearly overwhelmed with the situation.
“Cameron’s a sick bastard and what happened to you was horrible,” Avery offered up catching the look of surprise in Jade’s eyes as realization dawned in upon her.
“Russ told you, didn’t he?” Jade questioned her tone weakening as another shudder overtook her.
“He didn’t say everything, but I heard enough to know that there’s no excuse for what Cameron is doing to you.  It’s bad enough to have to deal with something like that in your life, yet to have someone try to use that kind of tragedy against you just proves what kind of sicko he really is, but Jade even with what he’s trying to hold over you, you need to know that you’re not to blame for what happened back then or for what’s happening with Grady now.  You were a victim and I can see that you’ve fought like hell to move on with your life.  It’s obvious that you’re a strong woman with very heavy convictions and you can’t let Cameron steal those from you.”
“I can’t help what’s happening as I’m powerless with what’s going on.  I feel as if I’m sinking under and the harder I try to fight the situation I’m in the more I’m drowning in it,” Jade confessed tearfully overcome with emotion, “I feel like I did that night when those men were…” she choked up as her tears fell harder than before.
“Hey, it’s okay,” Avery reached out to embrace her feeling the weight of Jade’s tears upon her as she found herself hating Cameron Stone more than she’d ever been capable of hating someone in her life as it seemed that man was doing his hardest to not only destroy Grady, but to hurt Jade in the worst possible way, “Jade listen to me.  Cameron won’t win.  We won’t let him take everything away from our family and you have to keep believing that he’s going to pay for each and every one of his crimes sooner or later.”
“But at what price Avery?  How do you know that day will ever happen and who’s to say that when it does, it won’t already be too late for Grady?” Jade questioned wiping at her face.  “We both know how the evidence looks in the case against Grady.”
“I realize that Jade, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t hope out there for this to turn around in our favor.  I know in my heart that Grady is innocent and I swear to you that I’ll give my all to letting the world see the Grady Denton we both know and love.”
Jade let out an ironic laugh despite the situation as she wiped at her cheek once again, “I can’t believe I’m hearing you say that considering how much trouble Grady’s given you and Russ over the last few months.”
“Well, what can I say?  I’m a sucker for the stubborn, brooding, impossibly miserable type,” Avery couldn’t help but tease as a sad smile swept over her features, “and besides, from the way I see it, so are you and it’s a damn good thing that you are because Grady needs someone like you in his life.  He’s spent far too many years being miserable and I think you’re exactly what he’s been missing.”
“A lot of good my loving him has done for him,” Jade sighed hearing the faint sounds of the phone ringing in the background as Avery reached out to her once again.
“Hey, the way I see it, you’ve helped Grady turn his life around and if nothing else you both have given one another chance at finding that happily ever after that you’ve both been waiting for.  I mean sure Grady’s often stubborn and reckless and quite honestly a major pain in the ass, but I can see that he loves you and that says a lot about your relationship as Grady doesn’t fall easily.  Plus, knowing that you’ve stuck it out with him and given him the benefit of the doubt when most women would’ve walked away, well that is all I need to know that you need to keep holding onto that hope for a future with one another,” Avery continued supportively before offering up a teasing grin, “and hey I have to add that selfishly I like having you around because you can help me deal with Grady when he’s at his worst thinking I’m the devil.”
“He really goes too far with that,” Jade noted shaking her head with heavy disapproval, “and I just wish that he’d see that.”
“Well, not that I think he’s done the right thing with how he’s been, but Grady is very passionate about those he loves just like Russ is and I think that Grady had some heavy misconceptions about my intentions with Russ and that caused him to react.  Even though Russ hides it better, he’s the very same way and it often gets him into trouble.  Though when it comes to looking out for those they love, the Denton brothers will move heaven and earth to protect them even if it means jumping to some unnecessary conclusions. Even if it‘s infuriating at times, well it‘s part of their charm.”
“Yeah well I can take the passion, but the rage is something that needs a little work,” Jade conceded standing up straighter as she tried to focus on something other than the way the day had gone about.
“Well that’s where we come in,” Avery added brightly, “as we women need to keep them in line when they get a little too hot to handle there.”
“That’s easier said than done,” Jade let out a tiny laugh as she and Avery settled into a lighter conversation with one another.
“Too true, but if Grady’s anything like Russ, I might be able to help you with this one where it counts,” Avery started to explain to her.
“That sounds like it might be interesting to hear,” Jade decided with a grin as Avery motioned for Jade to come over and take a seat on the sofa with her.
“Oh believe me, it might prove to be a very worthwhile tip as it works wonders on Russ and…” Avery started hearing Russell step out of the kitchen alerting them to his presence with the sound of his footsteps as Avery lowered her voice to a whisper, “but I think you’ll have to hear it later now that he’s back in the room.”
“I completely understand,” Jade giggled in response as Avery stood upright spinning around to see Russ frozen in place, his face drained of all color as her smile faded.
“Baby, what’s wrong,” Avery reached out to him upon noticing that his hands were shaking and suddenly the moment of lightness she and Jade had been sharing was replaced by a sinking feeling of worry, “Russ, what is it?”
“The phone--” he managed to get out as his words were shaky at best, “that was…”
“Was what?” Jade questioned sensing the somberness of his mood as she rose from the sofa as well, “Russ, what happened?  Is it Grady?”
“He’s been…he’s…” Russell’s voice shook with emotion as he looked from Avery to Jade, “there’s been an accident.”
“What kind of accident?  Russ, what’s going on,” Avery questioned in a panic as he seemed to be lost in the moment, slipping into a dark place as his eyes glistened with tears of worry.
“Russ, what happened to Grady,” Jade’s voice rose in a panic as she rushed over to his side, “Russ, please tell me…”
“He’s been attacked,” Russell blurted out his voice cracking with the moment, “They won’t tell me much more than he’s on his way to the hospital and they’re afraid that he won’t…”
“Won’t what?” Jade asked again, fear settling in the pit of her stomach.
“Russ,” Avery reached out to touch his arm gently, “honey?”
“That he won’t make it.  They said that when he was discovered things were looking bleak and now,” he trailed off overcome with emotion as Jade took a step back shaking her head in disbelief as her tears returned to her.
“No, oh God no,” Jade cried out praying that the worst hadn’t happened to the man she loved as it seemed that somehow Cameron had found another way to destroy her life in a fate far worse than she’d ever imagined possible if he’d played a hand in Grady’s attack.  Now as she sank down upon the sofa once again unable to refrain from breaking down with emotion, she just prayed that somehow the person Russell spoke with was wrong--that somehow Grady wasn’t fighting for his life in the moment as she had far too much living to do with him in the future.  Turning her head up to look at Russ and Avery who were now caught up in an embrace with one another, she spoke up with a newfound determination in her tone, “We have to get over to the hospital.  We have to be with him.”
“I’ll get the car right now,” Avery decided looking between Jade and Russ, “We’ll get over there to find out what’s going on.”
As Avery walked out of the room, Jade threw Russell a pleading look as she found the strength to pull herself to her feet again, “Russ, we can’t lose him…he can’t die on me…not now…”
“We’re not going to Jade,” he reached out for her hugging her tightly as he said a silent prayer that they wouldn’t lose Grady forever.


Heather paced around the study of the mansion wondering where in the hell her husband was as right about now she was more than fit to be tied.  As if it wasn’t bad enough that she’d had to run into Brant again after all this time, but then to have to deal with his insults, it had been far more than enough.  She was furious and in a rage ready to rip him to shreds if need be as he had no right to disrespect her in such a way--especially not now that she was Mrs. Cameron Stone.  She had the power and authority to crush Brant like the bug that he was and right about now she wanted to do nothing more than to just give into that urge as she concocted various methods of torture to the arrogant Ashford in her mind, but alas when she’d returned home after her shopping spree she’d found that Cameron was no where to be found and that in itself had her ready to climb the walls of the mansion.
“Where are you Cam,” Heather frowned pacing over the oriental rug that lay over the Italian marble flooring beneath her as she thought to how her husband’s absence at a time like this was the last thing she’d wanted to deal with.  Sure, she was used to dealing with impossible people on her, own, but by God she was married now and that meant that she had someone else to share her thoughts with.  She should be with Cameron right now telling him all the ways in which she was ready to have him help her make a fool of Brant Ashford as she was ready to have him become the epitome of the ultimate loser in Coral Valley for all he’d done to upset her as he deserved nothing less than the worst.  However, now that she’d spent over an hour on her own waiting for Cameron to arrive home, Heather had found that patience certainly wasn’t a virtue she’d still possessed from within.  Then again it had been a while since she’d had any real virtues that she could hold onto as time and experience had taught her what being a good girl got you--absolutely nowhere and right now Heather didn’t want to be stuck in a rut, in the middle of nowhere. 
Sure, maybe she had it all with Cameron as her husband as he carried a title that instilled fear in the hearts of those who dared to defy him, but it didn’t seem that reputation had carried over onto her as quickly as she’d hoped for.  She’d expected Brant to react upon her revelation that she was Mrs. Cameron Stone, but instead his all but laughing in her face over it hadn’t been the reaction she’d been seeking out.  She wanted him to quiver with fear and with regret over the ways in which his hasty actions had left him out in the cold and without her love, but instead he’d been cruel and callous and that simply wouldn’t do--especially not now when Heather wanted the world to see her as the strong-willed, ruthless, winner takes all kind of gal that she’d become.
“That’s it,” Heather declared reaching for her jacket as she marched out of the study, her high heeled shoes clicking rapidly over the marble flooring as she vowed to seek Cameron out at his office even if he’d been buried in his work.  She needed him right about now and whether he wanted the intrusion or not, his wife deserved his time and she was about to start demanding it.  They were supposed to be partners and if nothing else, that in itself warranted her a little bit of his time even if their relationship wasn’t entirely conventional in the traditional sense.  She had things that she needed and right now she needed Cameron to provide them and that was all there is to it.
“So there,” she mouthed to herself making her way to the front door and throwing it open with an emphatic gesture ready to march down to the heart of the city to Cameron’s offices when she found herself face to face with one of the last people she’d been expecting to see before her.
“Good evening,” Diego Hernandez flashed her a slow, sensual smile as his dark eyes gave her a brief perusal, “Is this a bad time?”
“Seeing that you’re here, I think it’s about to become one,” Heather scowled back at him, “What do you want?”
“A smile would be nice, but I’m guessing that’s out of the question right about now, huh?” he couldn’t help but tease.
“Well, that might be able to be arranged as in about five seconds I’m going to have security throw you off the property and then you’ll see me smiling as I’ll be the one to lock you up and away from the rest of the world until I’m content with your paying penance for your crimes,” she remarked sourly throwing out a daring expression.
“I suppose you could take that route, but then you wouldn’t be able to have this back,” Diego held up her small, red, leather Italian handbag that Cameron had picked up for her while they were out on their honeymoon with one another, “though if you really don’t want it…”
“Give me that,” Heather reached out to try to snatch it from him as he took a step back holding it just out of her reach.
“On one condition,” he threw back with obvious mischief in his tone.
“And just what might that be,” she glared at him unable to contain the groan that overcame her in that moment.
“That you let me inside and give me a chance to get a few things out in the open that I skipped over the other day in our less than savory encounter with one another,” Diego suggested with a heavy sigh, “I’d really like the opportunity to give this another try.”
“Oh now is that your concerned, psychiatrist act coming to the surface or your fears about avoiding losing your medical license driving you to coming here tonight to apologize to me?” she arched a curious brow wondering just what had giving Diego the courage to dare to approach her after he’d locked her up in that padded cell.
“Actually, an apology wasn’t a part of what I wanted to speak with you about, but if you feel one is necessary, then I suppose I may be able to offer that much,” Diego watched her reach for the handbag once again before pulling it back towards his chest away from her, “Now, about my coming in to have a word with you…”
“You don’t deserve the opportunity,” she huffed throwing the door open wider before allowing him access to her new home.  Once he breezed in past her making his way into the grandiose foyer, she marched up behind him feeling her mounting frustrations about her bad encounter with Brant coming to the surface, “So now about that groveling…”
“It’s not going to happen Heather, but what I will say is that I was wrong in my approach with you,” Diego spun around to face her once again, seeing the fire burning behind her eyes and the sexy scowl that fell upon her slightly parted lips as she seemed wild with the moment.  The kissable pink color of her stained lips reminded him of the cherry sweetness he’d tasted that night in his car when she’d approached him on erasing the boundaries of their relationship by diving into a new more primal level with one another, but as he shook his head, he forced himself to focus on what he’d come over for.  Clearing his throat, he spoke up once again, “I shouldn’t have locked you up like that.”
“You’re damn right you shouldn’t have and you’re lucky that I didn’t have your balls in a vice for making such a presumptuous, thoughtless move as you were way out of line and you deserve a far more severe punishment than what I promised you when I left,” Heather hissed in response taking a step in towards him as her blue-green eyes narrowed in upon him, “You made a huge mistake in locking me up.”
“It gave you time to think, didn’t it?” Diego questioned a hint of hopefulness in his tone, “I mean, while you were in there other than thinking about all the ways in which you wanted to have a lynch mob after me, it got you thinking about the turns your life has taken over the last few months, yes?”
“The hell it did,” Heather snatched her handbag from his hand harshly before offering up a simple shrug, “as I spent most of my time just pretty much wanting to have you strung up and humiliated in front of all of Coral Valley.”
“Gee, and here I was hoping for some compassion from you,” he searched her features, “you know like what I saw in you the night we were at the children’s hospital with one another.  Remember that Heather?”
“I’m trying to forget,” she groaned in response rolling her eyes as a shudder overtook her, “as that was by far one of the worst nights of my life and for it to have been on a holiday no less.”
“Now I know that couldn’t possibly be true as you felt something that night about those children and when I saw you with Randy Henderson, well I saw what you did for him and it was a very touching gesture Heather.  That moment the two of you shared was something that…” he continued to speak to her as she moved past him into the study once again.
“All I did was play a few video games with the brat,” Heather stated plainly, her voice devoid of any emotion.  She reached for the glass of sparkling grape juice she’d been sipping on earlier in the evening when she’d found herself longing for a much needed glass of champagne, but as she’d thought of her unborn child, she’d opted to remain firm to steer clear of alcohol until the time was right.  Still as she let her gaze linger over to the assortment of bottles Cameron had across the way, she realized that time couldn’t happen soon enough.
“Heather, I saw you give him that money,” Diego continued to remind her of the moment she’d kept quiet about for so very long, “I saw the way in which being with him effected you and in that moment I never saw anything more beautiful than that.”
“Oh please,” she rolled her eyes turning around to face him once again, “don’t give me that crap Diego.  You know as well as I do that flattery isn’t going to work now that you’ve been so rude to me.”
“Then how about reality Heather?  Let’s see how you deal with that,” Diego’s soft gaze shifted as he approached her, “Maybe you want to forget the way you reached out to Randy that night, but I haven’t.  I saw how you pushed aside your own concerns and issues with me to give that boy the kind of Christmas he and his family have dreamt about for so very long.  While you wanted to keep that hidden from the world Heather, I saw it and when I saw it I knew that you deserved far more than this.”
“Than what?  Having all my dreams come true?” she questioned blankly, “Take a good look around Diego.  I have it all as this home is one that any woman would dream about and my husband is rich and powerful and influential and…”
“Evil,” he cut her off bringing about a scowl from her, “Heather the man has done so many horrible things to people like poor Randy Henderson and I would hate to see you become yet another victim in his ruthless game to conquer the world.  You deserve better than a man who is going to hurt you.”
“Jealousy doesn’t suit you Diego,” Heather waved her hand at him dismissively.
“This isn’t about jealousy and you know it.  I want to make sure that you’re safe Heather and if it bothers you that I care, well I’m sorry, but as much as I’ve tried to shut this worried feeling off, I can’t do it,” he blurted out his voice full of raw, intensity as his dark eyes fell upon her once again, “I don’t want to see you lose everything because of a man like Cameron.”
“Cameron is exactly the kind of man I’ve dreamt about sharing my life with,” she argued with him, “and while I know you’re upset that I didn’t live by your guidelines for the good life, I’m happy here.  I have the world at my fingertips and my dreams are coming true one by one.”
“I see,” Diego frowned folding his arms in front of his chest defiantly, “and am I to presume that those dreams include your spending all your nights alone in this house while he’s off doing as he pleases?”
“I was just on my way to go see him at his office,” she threw back sharply, “that is until you came over and decided to annoy me.”
“Then far be it for me to stop you from seeing the man of your dreams, but mark my words Heather, your husband is trouble and the more you avoid that reality, the harder it’s going to be for you to break free of him and his hold on you,” Diego’s voice pleaded with her, “and if you can’t think about that for yourself, at least think about what your child needs.”
“My child needs a good home, with someone to support his or her needs.  Cameron is going to give my baby that,” Heather hissed bringing her hand over her abdomen protectively, “He’s going to give us everything we need to make it in this world.”
“Is he really?” Diego questioned poignantly shaking his head at her as she spoke of what he felt were obvious delusions on her part.  Still, he couldn’t force her to think anything otherwise, he realized as he took a step back letting out a soft sigh of defeat before speaking up again, “Obviously there isn’t anything I can do or say to change your mind on that, can I?”
“No you can’t,” she nodded simply, “so if that’s all you came over here to say, then you can leave now.”
“Fine, but Heather if you ever change your mind about things or you need to speak with someone…” he started giving her one last chance to reach out to him.
“I won’t,” Heather folded her arms in front of her chest stubbornly before standing up taller and motioning towards the way he’d come in, “so you can leave now.”
“If that’s really what you want, then I wish you the best of luck Heather and I hope that I’m wrong about your life with Cameron.  I really do,” Diego finished giving her one last look before exiting the room and leaving her alone again.
While lashing out at Diego had felt good, she now felt an overwhelming sense of emptiness fill her up inside as she was truly alone in this moment.  Sure, she’d been on her way to see Cameron at his office, but where was he when she really needed him?  What was so important that he wasn’t around to see her at a time when her world was falling apart at the seams?  Even now as she focused upon the ring that she wore proudly on her finger, she wondered if maybe she’d come into the marriage with Cameron with all the wrong assumptions about how life could be.  Could she have made a mistake in jumping into matrimony or were Diego’s words just haunting her far more than she cared to admit?
“Damn it,” she cursed under her breath balling her fists up at her side as she drew in a slow breath ready to chase after Diego ready to tell him off for bringing forth so many conflicting thoughts of doubt and uncertainty from within. 
He had no right to speak to her in such a way and now he was going to pay for it, she vowed marching out into the hallway ready to catch him before he left, but before she could make her way to the front door, she caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of her eye that made her stop dead in her tracks.  As a familiarity of a perfume she’d long since forgotten filled her senses, she felt a shiver race over her before she slowly turned in the direction of the flicker of that something she’d seen moments earlier.  Now as she made her way into the foyer, she found herself met with the eyes of the past that she’d never thought she’d see again as her heart pounded in her chest.
“Hey Heather,” her new arrival greeted her with a smug expression waving a hand out in her general direction as Heather felt her heart stop in horror.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Heather questioned unable to mask the shock and surprise that overtook her as she realized that Diego Hernandez wasn’t the worst fate to fall upon her for the night it seemed.
“About to make up for lost time,” the new arrival explained sliding the green jacket she’d been wearing off of her shoulders before holding it out for Heather to take off her hands, “so tell me, what do you say?  Feeling up for it?” she finished.
“Do I have a choice,” Heather questioned unyielding from her position as the woman before her flashed her a sinister smile.
“Not if you want to keep living this posh lifestyle you don’t,” the woman remarked sourly as Heather realized that suddenly things had gone from bad to worse as there was no avoiding the demons of the past that had come calling in one of the worst possible moments of her life.


“Thanks for coming over here so late Mr. Ashford,”  Shawn Williamson offered up with a polite smile motioning to the chair before his desk as he circled around his small office nervously, “Can I get you something to drink?  A brandy perhaps?”
“I’ll pass this time Shawn,” Brant waved his hand dismissively as he eyed the private investigator with obvious interest before taking a seat in the chair the man had suggested, “so what do you have for me?  Something good I hope.”
“Oh I think you might enjoy this one,” Shawn explained eagerly as he circled around his office ready to divulge the details of his latest find with Brant, “as it’s exactly what you were hoping for here.”
“I certainly hope so as there really hasn’t been much to go on lately it seems,” Brant frowned thinking about his search for the elusive Angela Meloni since Christmas time.  While he’d been focused on getting back in Avery’s good graces, the very thought of the woman who’d tossed him away still ate at him as he found himself curious to learn more about the woman that had evaded his pursuit.
“Well, while I’d like to say I got exactly what you were looking for, I only got another lead to go on and I got it in a very surprising outlet,” Shawn continued to offer up the details to a very interested Brant, “as I went into that town where she donated all that money to the charity and I got one of the ladies who’d been on the charity board talking about Angela.  It seems that she vaguely remembered Angela, but at the same time the woman couldn’t stop talking about Angela’s very ‘good looking’ husband she’d had at the time.”
“Husband,” Brant’s jaw dropped in astonishment thinking back to the passion he and Angela had shared with one another.  She’d been wild and insatiable--a far cry from a happily married woman, yet as he thought about the men’s clothing he’d found in the beach house, he started to wonder if perhaps Angela’s husband was out for the holiday leaving her to play and play she did, Brant mused with a hint of a smile before his frown returned to him, “are you sure about that?”
“As sure as ever as I started taking a good look into his history and that’s where I found some information on the enigmatic Ms. Meloni,” Shawn explained reaching for a few newspaper clippings that he’d dug up in the  small town the search for Angela had taken him to, “and as you can clearly see, that’s where I hit a bit of a jackpot, wouldn’t you agree?”
Brant reached for the clippings snatching them from Shawn’s hand as his he found himself more eager than ever to see the man who’d been lucky enough to have Angela as his bride and as Brant’s eyes fell upon the page before him to take a good hard look at the muscle bound man before him, he felt his anger building with the moment.
“As you can see Cary “The Killer” Meloni was a prize fighter,” Shawn broke through Brant’s thoughts as Brant eyed the photo before him with intense scrutiny seeing Angela with her arms draped around the bronzed, perfectly chiseled sandy haired man beside her.  She had that same sexy, irresistible smile that Brant had remembered fondly, but this time she was using it to cling to a man that Brant found himself wanting to rip to shreds despite his size and his clear cut fighting abilities.
“Cary was apparently the next big thing out west and over in Europe where he spent half of his time with Angela,” Shawn recalled the tale he’d uncovered as Brant thumbed through clipping after clipping about Cary’s victories as each new page displayed Angela at his side as his obvious cheering squad, “While I tried to see what more I could find on her, the only thing that really kept coming up was information on Cary and his fighting abilities.  I mean the man was hot--really hot and up and coming in his sport, but with the girl, well all they really spoke of her was that she was his pretty, young wife supporting his career in every sense of the word.  It gets pretty vague about Angela, but in one of those clippings Cary was quoted as saying that he liked to keep his private life private as it was independent of his life with his wife.”
“So where is “The Killer” now,” Brant questioned sourly unable to mask his obvious distain for the man before him, though as he began to stew in his thoughts about the reason why Angela could’ve kicked him out of her life, he could vaguely recall her speaking of the man whose robe Brant had tried on for good measure in the midst of their sexual roller coaster ride with one another.  To think that Brant had stepped into “The Killer’s” shoes and rocked his wife’s world was a bit flattering, but damn that man for having Angela when right now Brant was thinking about an encore presentation to the time they’d shared with one another.
“He’s dead,” Shawn replied bluntly bringing Brant out from the place he’d been as Brant’s eyes widened in surprise.
“Come again,” Brant blinked back at him.
“He died mysteriously out in New Jersey about five years ago,” Shawn continued with his tale presenting Brant with another package of clippings, “It turns out he had a big fight in Atlantic City that night it happened--one that was going to put him on the map and make him a major contender here in the states, but a couple of hours before the fight, his manager realized he’d disappeared and two days later they were dragging his body out of the Atlantic--at least what was left of him by the time he finally got caught in a fisherman’s boat.
“You mean he was…” Brant arched a curious brow taking a look at the image of Angela and the man before him.
“Murdered?” Shawn read his thoughts before nodding, “that’s generally what the thoughts were surrounding his death, but with no evidence and no suspects, well the police had nothing to go on and they ruled it an unsolved mystery--some speculating that Cary Meloni got into some trouble with gambling debts that finally caught up with him as he’d had rumored mafia ties at the time and others just said that he’d had enough of the life and wanted to back out of the fight that night with disastrous consequences,” he shrugged in conclusion, “either way it’s all tall tales at this point.”
“And Angela, what of her?” Brant questioned eagerly wondering just what could’ve happened to Angela after her husband had suffered such a tragic fate.
“There’s the interesting part,” Shawn confessed quite baffled by what he’d uncovered, “Despite Angela and Cary’s three year marriage, there’s nothing on her beyond those clippings.  Her life after Cary’s murder seems to have been erased and even the time they’d spent together before all appears to be an illusion.  I haven’t found anything in terms of a marriage license for them, nor have I found anything that links them other than the word of a woman in Jersey and those clippings.  It’s as if like Cary, his wife has been written off the canvas.”
“No, that’s not possible,” Brant shook his head in refusal to accept that, “She’s real and she’s very much a part of the picture.”
“Even so maybe she doesn’t want to be found.  Perhaps part of what happened to Cary has kept her in the shadows not wanting whomever was after him to be after her as well,” Shawn suggested with a shrug, “in these kind of cases people who want to disappear tend to make that happen if they have the resources and the means.  If the stories flying around about Cary’s royalties he made in the business were true, then she’d be set to hide anywhere.”
“Then explain how I was able to find her?  How she was at that beach house I told you about and about that man who’d I’d suggested you look into finding…” Brant offered up refusing to accept a dead end where Angela was concerned.
“Brant, he’s disappeared as well and from the looks of things I wouldn’t doubt that he’s fallen to the same fate that Cary Meloni happened upon as it seems that anyone who comes into contact with this woman doesn’t live to tell the tale,” Shawn frowned heavily thinking about the information he’d happened upon.
“She’s not a murderer if that’s what you’re trying to imply,” Brant answered swiftly refusing to think the worst about the woman he’d shared one of the most incredible times of his life with, “It’s not in her.”
“Maybe not, but someone in her life wants to make sure that death surrounds her and if you keep looking for her, I have a feeling you’re asking for trouble Brant,” Shawn stated with a warning tone leaving Brant to wonder just where the search for Angela would lead him as he was suddenly certain that she was in far more trouble than he’d ever imagine and in that moment he vowed to himself that he’d make sure to find her again one way or another.


Cameron checked the time for the fourth time in the last two minutes wondering what in the world was taking his men so long to get Angel on the phone.  While he’d been adamant about wanting to speak with her, he now realized that it was vital that he do it now more than ever especially after having read up on Avery Morrison for the last hour and a half.  It seemed as if he’d seriously underestimated the enemy and now as Avery’s face lay spread out across the photos before him, he couldn’t stop thinking about Angel and his urgency to get into contact with her.
Hearing the phone ring, Cameron nearly leapt out of his chair as his every reaction was heightened by the surprise he’d felt in crossing paths with Avery.  Now as he tried to dull his senses down to a normal moment as he reached for the phone, he hoped that it was Angel on the other end of the line as he wanted nothing more than to hear her voice to make certain he wasn’t making a horrible mistake when he’d come to town ready to take out the Ashfords.
“Speak to me,” Cameron spoke smoothly into the phone despite his racing pulse as he hoped to hear her soft, feminine tone on the other end of the line, “Angel?”
“No Boss, it’s me Smithy,” the man on the other end explained with a sigh.
“Smithy, what’s going on,” Cameron’s fingers clenched tighter over the phone as he sat up straighter in his seat, “Where’s Angel?”
“That’s just it Boss,” Smithy hesitated as it was obvious he was trying to keep from revealing what was on his mind, “It’s just that well, we went looking for Angel--you know we did what we could to find her--to locate her like you asked for, but…”
“But what?” Cameron’s voice darkened with menace, “Smithy?”
“She’s not around,” Smithy blurted out shamefully, “I mean we thought we had a fix on her, but then, well you know how Angel is.  She just up and vanished and no one knows where she went as no one really saw her leave…”
“You’re telling me you just let her slip away undetected,” Cameron’s voice roared with anger, “I thought I told you the last time she did that to you idiots that it would be your heads if you let her…”
“We were watching her.  We were keeping an eye on her like you asked, but Boss, you know how she is.  She’s stubborn as all hell and Tommy thinks that she may have drugged him with some sort of sleeping pills before she slipped out of our sight.  You know she wasn’t happy about having to be locked up with us even if it was for her own good. You know what a stubborn, free spirit she can be and…”
“And you make sure that you find her,” Cameron warned sharply, “as I’m sure that you can do that one thing I’ve asked of you.  It isn’t that difficult of a task considering how important she is to me.”
“I know Boss, but you’ve said it yourself that sometimes she’s far more trouble than she’s worth and lately, well lately she’s been really impossible if you don’t mind my saying so.  She’s been moody and irritable and…”
“And nothing.  You find her and make damn sure that she calls me or else it’s your head,” Cameron snapped hanging up the phone with a resounding slam before he felt a groan fall from his lips.  Now looking to the photograph before him as he’d been with her, he found himself wondering just where she’s snuck off to this time, but he was confident that sooner or later he would find her again and when he did, he’d make certain that things were exactly as they should be before he moved forward in his quest to take out Grady Denton and the Ashford family for ever daring to cause him grief in the first place.  That much he was certain of.


"Ben, where are we going?" Diane asked walking slowly, as Ben's hands were covering her eyes.

"It's a surprise. You'll see in a minute," he smiled kissing her shoulder as he continued to guide her.

"If it's another sports bar," she smiled poking him playfully in the side,
"I'd encourage you to reconsider your choices there."

"Haha very funny," Ben chuckled in amusement, "but no, not another sports bar. I'm sure you're real disappointed with that."

"Oh I'm crushed," Diane play pouted and smiled, "When can I look Ben!"

"Just hold on," he paused her and slowly she felt herself rising.

"Are we on an elevator," she questioned trying to remove his hands from her eyes.

"Hey, hey no peeking," Ben chuckled, "You'll see in time, just have some patience."

"Ben Walters, I have no patience," she laughed leaning against him.

"Well, have some for me," he gave her a quick kiss as the upward movement stopped.

"Oh, I hate when you do that," she smiled wrapping an arm around his waist.

He just laughed and directed her to the spot he wanted her to be at. He paused her and then removed his hands from her eyes, "alright you can look."

Diane opened her eyes and took in the surroundings. They were on a rooftop with a blanket and a basket set neatly in front of them. The position they were in, was enough to give them a great view of the setting sun. "Oh Ben, it's gorgeous."

"I hoped you'd like it," he sat down on the blanket and motioned for her to do the same.

"Like it? I love it," she smiled sitting in between his legs resting her head on his chest.

"Good, I'm glad," Ben leaned down kissing her head, and reached around to pour them some drinks. Once he had the drinks set he wrapped an arm around her waist possessively and held her close to him.

"It's so beautiful," Diane sighed motioning to the sunset.

"You're beautiful," he leaned his chin on her shoulder and kissed her cheek.

"Aww Ben," her face grew slightly red, "Your making my ego grow."

"As it should, for I only speak the truth," he smirked kissing her neck.

"Mmm," Diane gazed back up at the sunset, "I hardly remember the last time I saw a sunset. I mean really took the time to see one."

"Oh yeah?" he asked setting down his drink and wrapping his other arm around her.

"Yeah," she smiled at the feeling that Ben was giving her. She felt save in his arms and that was a feeling she hadn't felt in a long time. "Last time I saw a sunset like this, was probably when I was eight. I was outside on the swing set just watching and I was thinking about how romantic it would be, just to sit and watch a sunset with a guy I really cared for. A guy that would be someone special."

"Maybe you'll have that someday," Ben teased.

"Ahh you!" Diane elbowed him lightly in the stomach then leaned her head against his chest and sighed "Thank you Ben."

"For what?" he asked running a hand through her hair.

"For this," she glanced up at him, "For giving me something that I've wanted since I was a kid."

"Well you're most very welcome," Ben leaned down kissing her forehead, "I can't imagine doing this with anyone in the world but you Diane."

"Oh Ben," Diane sighed turning around to face him, "how can you make me do this?"

"Do what?" he questioned raising an eyebrow.

"This," she grabbed his hand and placed it on her heart, "Feel that? Feel how fast it's beating? That's what your love does to me Ben Walters."

"And my love is something you will have for a long time Diane Stevens," he leaned down and pressed his lips against hers.

Diane wrapped her hand behind his neck and pulled him closer to her. He complied with her demand and laid her down on the blanket. Ben pulled away from the kiss and just glanced down at her, running his hand over her cheek. "What?" she asked curiously.

"I'm just admiring how beautiful you are," he pushed a strand of her hair out of her faced and tucked it behind her ear, "And how lucky I am to have you."

"Are you kidding?" Diane asked him not letting him answer, "I'm the lucky one. How many girls have a boyfriend that takes them up on the rooftops to watch the sunset, or gets into bar fights over her, or loves her as much as you love me? I'm the blessed one Ben."

"Hey! I'm suppose to be the one being the romantic," he smiled trailing his hand lightly over Diane's cheek, "I love you."

"And I love you." she leaned her cheek into his touch. "You see if I say I love you too, I realized that it sounds kind of forced, or like your obligated to say it. When you say I love you, it's not forced. It's really what you mean."

"Good I hope you mean it." Ben sat up and reached for the basket, "because I have something I want to know."

Diane sat up with him and put a hand over her heart as she watched him look through the basket. "What are you looking for?"

"You'll see," he said rummaging around the basket.

"Well what did you want to ask me?" she questioned, her heart speeding up even more.

"I wanted to ask you if..." he was cut off by the ringing of his cell phone. He glanced down and saw that it was Seth calling him, "It's Seth."

"Well, maybe you should answer it."

"But it's our night," he leaned over and kissed her.

"Seth hardly calls your cell," she reminded him, "it might be important."

"Fine," he sighed and answered the phone, "What's up Seth?"

"Is Diane with you?" Seth asked him in a panic sounding voice

"Yeah, she is," he glanced over at Diane, "Why what's going on?"

"Jade is extremely upset.  Cameron Stone’s been a real creep to her lately and Ria just called to tell me that well," Seth began and took a deep breath, "Grady's been stabbed,"

"What?" Ben's jaw dropped as the words sunk in. "Grady was stabbed?"

"He was what?" Diane asked, her heart dropping at the thought of what's going on with Jade.

"Yeah, and they don't know if he's going to make it.  Blake and I are on our way over to the hospital to be with Jade right now as Ria mentioned that Russ, Avery and Jade were on their way over there," Seth's voice had dropped lower before a sigh overtook him. "Jade is really torn up about all that’s happened so far and I know this is going to kill her if Grady doesn’t make it through.  Is there anyway you guys can get over to the hospital as I‘m sure Jade could use her best friend right now?"

"Yeah, we'll be on our way," Ben hung up the phone and looked over at Diane, "Grady's been stabbed."

"When? How?" Diane questioned, the worry all over her face.

"I don't know," Ben packed up the blanket as Diane got up and paced, "All I know is Jade is going to lose it if Grady doesn‘t pull through this one."

"We need to get over there," Diane urged him, "She needs me right now."

"I know," he grabbed her hand and headed for the elevator.

"I just hope that Jade is going to be alright," she glanced up at him as they made their way down. "She's gone through so much already and this isn't going to help a thing."

"I know honey," he wrapped his arm around her, "But she's got you for a friend. That makes a difference."

"I hope so," she sighed nuzzling into his shoulder, "I just wish I could help her more."

"You help her the best you can," he assured her as the elevator stopped and they made their way out to the car. "And that's everything a best friend can ask for."

They climbed into the car and drove in silence for a while. Diane was glancing out the window with a worried expression on her face. Ben rested his hand on her leg and gave her a reassuring pat, "Everything will be alright Diane."

"I hope so," she turned back to face him and ran her hand across his cheek, "I'm so sorry about tonight."

"Don't worry about it."

"But I do," she sighed, "You made all these plans, all these preparations to make everything so sweet and so romantic and this happens."

"Diane," he brought her hand to his lips and kissed it, "I love you but Jade needs you. We can make moments for us anytime but Jade needs you now."

"I know," she smiled and ran her hand through his hair, "I love how understanding and compassionate you are."

"And I love you," he continued to drive towards the Denton place.

"Oh, Ben?"

"Yeah?" he asked as he turned the radio on softly.

"What did you want to ask me?" she questioned grasping his hand in hers.

"Never mind, it can wait," he gave a slight smile as he continued the drive.

Jade rushed into the hospital unable to move fast enough on her feet as her fears about the man she loved consumed her.  Suddenly all her thoughts about Cameron were replaced with her hopes that this was just a bad dream--a horrible nightmare that she’d wake up from with Grady’s arms around her assuring her that everything would be okay, but as she spotted Ria up ahead, she found herself hit with the ultimate blow reality had given her as her friend approached her with sad eyes.
“Jade, I just heard,” Ria approached her solemnly, “I’m so sorry.”
“What happened to him?” Jade questioned desperately as Russ and Avery rushed up from behind her.
“Where’s my brother,” Russell demanded unable to contain his worries as he felt his heart pulsating in his chest at a rapid pace fearing the worst about Grady’s condition.
“What happened?” Jade asked again needing to know more about the man she loved as her fears consumed her.
“He was stabbed while he was in jail,” Ria explained briefly, “They don’t know all the details, but when Chief Warner found him he’d already lost a lot of blood and he wasn’t breathing.  Chief Warner administered CPR on him and brought Grady back from…”
“From what?” Russell demanded, “What the hell happened to my brother?”
“He lost a lot of blood, but right now we have the best of the best here at the hospital working on him.  Dr. Raines is in there with him right now doing everything in her power to see to it that this situation doesn’t take Grady under,” Ria explained trying to keep her voice even as Jade broke into full blown tears before her.
“Ria, be straight with me.  How bad is it?” Jade pleaded desperately.
“It doesn’t look good,” Ria confessed hating to be the one to share the news with Jade, Russ and Avery, “When Chief Warner found him, he’d already lost a lot of blood and he didn’t have a pulse, though when the paramedics arrived, he had a weak one going.”
“Does that mean that Grady’s going to…” Avery questioned in horror thinking about her promise to protect Grady and get him out of the situation Cameron had put him in as she flashed back to the moment that Grady had stepped in to protect her, “Is he going to be…”
“We’re doing all that we can and I will go back in there and check on how things are going,” Ria explained turning her attention to Jade, “we’re going to do everything that we can for him Jade.  Dr. Raines is really, truly one of the best and I know she’ll do everything in her power to help Grady.”
“But that still might not be enough, will it,” Jade questioned feeling as if she’d been hit by a ton of bricks as the thought of losing the man she loved fell upon her, “We still might lose him, won’t we?”
“Jade, I…” Ria tried to think up something to say that would alleviate her friend’s fears, but she came up short as a silence overtook her.
“Oh God,” Jade cried out feeling her knees grow weak as she stumbled backwards with the moment.  Russell reached out to her touching her arm as she felt the world spinning around her as it seemed that Cameron had finally found a way to shake her world apart as in losing Grady, she would truly have lost nearly everything in her life that had given her hope that happiness was possible again. 
“Jade,” Russell hugged her tighter feeling her trembling in his arms as her tears overtook her.
“This is all my fault,” she sobbed unable to contain herself, “If we lose him it’s all because of me--because he loves me.  Cameron did this because of the way I feel about Grady and now we could lose him forever because I wasn’t strong enough to just give Cameron what he wanted.”
“No, that’s not true,” Russell tried to reason with her, “That’s not true.”
“Yes it is,” Jade sobbed harder than before, “This is all because of me and now Grady could lose his life because of it,” she cried out feeling the happiness she’d fought so hard to reclaim in her life come crashing down around her with each passing second that Grady‘s life was on the line.  In that instant Jade felt far worse than she‘d ever imagined for having played an involuntary role in Grady‘s demise now that she‘d rebuffed Cameron‘s advances.  As she thought of the man she loved desperately fighting for his life, she felt an overwhelming sense of guilt and anguish take control of her causing her to collapse in Russell‘s arms overcome with tears as she prayed that her fatal mistake wouldn‘t be the end of the man she loved.


The paramedics arrived at the hospital, rushing Grady into the emergency room. Dr. Elizabeth Raines rushed over as soon as she saw them bringing in the gurney. "What do we have here?"

"Abdominal laceration." the paramedic replied.

"How?" she asked walking with them and examining Grady at the same time.

"Knife wound. Penetrated the skin, and possible ruptured organs," the paramedic continued on, "the police chief said that he was unresponsive, but got a pulse after he administered CPR."

"Okay, this wound tore through muscle and punctured an organ." she replied, checking the wound, "he need to go to the OR stat!"

They took Grady over to the operating room and prepared to do surgery. Dr. Raines walked into the room and began to work on him. "Oh yeah, he's got a lacerated kidney and a puncture to the liver. Whoever did this did a number. Family here?"

"Not yet I told the reception to notify us when they arrive." the nurse responded handing her the scalpel.

"Okay, there's a lot of internal bleeding going on." Dr. Raines noted.

"Is he going to make it doctor?" the nurse asked giving her a serious look.

"I hope so. I really do," Elizabeth continued to work on Grady.

The operating room was in full use as they worked on Grady to try and make him stable. The nurses and Elizabeth Raines worked hard to fix the internal problems. The surgery was going successful until Grady flat lined. "Quick, paddles"

The nurse grabbed the paddles and handed them to Elizabeth. "Okay how much?"

"750," Elizabeth put the paddles on Grady's chest, "Clear!"

Nothing happened. Grady was still flat lined. "Okay let's try it again. Higher...and clear."

Still nothing happened. The nurse looked over to the doctor with sad eyes, "I think we lost him."

"Don't ever tell me I lost one of my patients!" Elizabeth barked out, "Crank it up some more, and clear."

Once again Grady didn't respond to it. The nurse rested her hand on Elizabeth's shoulder, "I'm sorry doctor. You did all you could."

Elizabeth looked down at Grady's lifeless body and shivered. "I just...I can't believe..."

"You tried doctor." the nurse ran her hand along Elizabeth's back, "And that's the best you could have done. He's gone."

Elizabeth turned away from Grady and stared blankly at the wall. She then turned back to Grady and grabbed the paddles. "I am not losing him. Crank it up some more."

The nurse continued to look at her with sad eyes but she did what Elizabeth said and turned the voltage up. Elizabeth pressed the paddles to Grady's chest, "And...clear."

With that Grady's heartbeat came back slowly and the monitor no longer showed a flat line. Elizabeth silently cheered and continued to work on Grady. She successfully got him sewed back up without another scare and examined him once again.

"Is he going to make it doctor?" the nurse asked her.

"I honestly don't know. The surgery was a success, but I can't determine what will happen now. Only time can determine it." she sighed sitting down in the chair.

"And if he does survive?"

"Strong possibility of brain damage," Elizabeth noted watching Grady's chest rise and fall.

"In your opinion do you think he'll make it?" The nurse asked sitting down in the chair next to Elizabeth.

"I honestly don't know.” she shrugged and leaned her head in her hands.

...to be continued...